Recipes for deliciously easy sauces, condiments or preserves. Also includes edible decorations for plating.

Smoked Haddock Fishcakes with Tartare Sauce

Tintin may still make the odd appearance in French shop windows following Spielberg’s film, but I’m frankly fascinated by Captain Haddock’s nose. It reminds me of a one-liner by Steve Martin in the film, Roxanne (based on the French story of Cyrano de Bergérac by Rostand) referring to ze nose:
“Do you have a license for that?”

Photos are all over the supermarkets to promote the film!

My handsome French teacher at school back in the 80s was also embellished with a nose – or nez, or even pif to be familiar – that was so spectacular that a group of us in class wrote a piece entitled, “Why do Frenchmen have big noses?” We could not have been serious. I was eventually punished for that one when I broke my nose 4 years ago, falling with my complete weight on the hooter. Now I’m constantly reminded of my lesson in this freezing weather when my nose lights up à la Rudolf with its license to glow in the cold.

Do you remember Gérard Depardieu’s legendary nose in Cyrano de Bergerac? As Depardieu’s name suggests, he is a dieu on stage. I saw him larger than life in person recently at the première in Paris of his new Telefilm, Rasputin (in French and Russian). Hang on to your seats, folks. This film is spine-tingling. I can’t think of anyone who could play the part of Rasputin as well as Gérard. You can smell it will be a hit.

I wonder if Captain Archibald Haddock could sniff out these Scottish fishcakes from The Black Island? Although it’s more of a weekday family supper, serving mini portions as a Scottish starter has been a surprising hit with French friends at weekends. I love the smokiness of the fish but what really makes it? The simple, homemade tartare sauce. You know what’s coming, don’t you? It’s another handy recipe to use up your egg yolks for making macarons!

églefin fumé or haddock, please?

You can use any smoked fish or a combination of smoked and plain fish but I personally love making it all with smoked haddock. It took me a while to get the tongue around the French word for haddock: églefin; but did you know that églefin fumé can result in funny looks at the poissonerie? I stand corrected as they say that smoked haddock is just known as…

‘Haddock’ (with a French accent, please.)

 

Recipe: Smoked Haddock Fishcakes and Tartare Sauce

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Chilling Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Fishcakes

300g smoked haddock
2 bay leaves
milk
500g potatoes, cooked
zest of an untreated lemon
1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp chopped chives
2 tsp horseradish sauce
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp capers, chopped
1 egg
oat flour (to shape) or plain flour
100g breadcrumbs or panko

Tartare Sauce

2 egg yolks
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp Dijon mustard
200ml olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp gherkins, finely chopped
1 tbsp capers, chopped
1 tbsp dill, chopped
1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon

Poach the smoked haddock

1. Poach the fish in milk (just enough to cover up to 1/3 of the fish) with the bay leaves for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool, then strain, skin and flake the fish to ensure there are no bones.

2. Mash the potatoes, mixing in the mustard, horseradish, lemon zest, capers and herbs. Season well then add the flaked fish.

3. Divide the fish mixture into small patty cakes (about 2.5 cm thick for starter/hors d’oeuvres size). Form into a shape then roll into the flour. Beat the egg in a separate bowl, dip the patties into it, then cover in the breadcrumbs or panko.

4. Chill for at least 30 minutes in the fridge until needed – this is when I make the tartare sauce. You could freeze the fishcakes at this point, placing them openly on a baking sheet. When frozen, transfer to containers and freeze for up to 3 months.

5. Fry in batches in hot olive oil for 5 minutes on each side until golden and crispy. Keep them warm until serving with the tartare sauce.

Make the tartare sauce. Ensure your ingredients are at room temperature to make the perfect sauce. This sauce can keep for 3 days in an airtight jar in the fridge, so it’s handy to make this in advance.

  1. Whisk the egg yolks, salt and mustard with a metallic whisk in a glass bowl. Gradually add the olive oil, dribbling it finely and regularly, whisking all the time. Once the mixture starts to thicken, add the white wine vinegar (use a good quality one.)
  2. Add all the remaining ingredients and mix well.

I wonder how on earth the Tartare sauce formed the map of Corsica? It wasn’t the Black Island but the ‘Island of Beauty’, as my Corsican husband calls it.

Who nose?

Beet-Horseradish Macarons with Apple and Salmon

Are you all enjoying the festive season? Still merry? Dead beet? In just a few days it will be out with the old and in with the new. Out with the Scottish piping bag! By that I’m referring to the Scottish bagpipes since we’re just back from a wonderfully cosy, family Christmas in Scotland and so now feeling rather patriotic. I wonder if my French neighbours would mind if I took up the bagpipes in 2012?

 While the Scots celebrate ‘Hogmany’, on New Year’s Eve on 31 December, the French have a more formal dinner affair. It normally lasts all evening; in fact, there have been occasions when we’ve been so carried away at the table that midnight has struck as we’re tucking into the cheese board and just about missed it! And that’s long before dessert is even served. Last year, I just about fell asleep in the pudding from fatigue and the liquid refreshments, willing myself to continue into the early hours. Och, it’s not the age it’s the mileage, eh?

Feeling patriotic, Scottish smoked salmon is definitely on my menu for starters (or hors d’oeuvres.) My favourite is Salar Hot Smoked Salmon from the Outer Hebrides in North-West Scotland, but you can use any good quality wild smoked salmon – or in the photo, I used Smoked Salmon with 5 peppers from our local supermarket’s gourmet section (OK, it’s from Monoprix, but I’m just telling you where I shop since nobody ever approaches me for advertising, I never have freebies to post and so this is just simple old me. Voilà.)

 

We filled the suitcase with the Salar smoked precious stuff, hoping that Ryanair Staff wouldn’t take a liking to it and confiscate it at airport security. I was too worried about being blown back with the wind rather than anything else. Edinburgh was incredibly windy and I’m not just talking about the after-effects of the Christmas sprouts here. Don’t get me started on as-much-as-you-dare-with-Ryanair. ‘Haste ye back’ to the recipe!

 

One of the recipes that’s given on the back of the Salar smoked salmon pack is a simple apple and horseradish sauce to accompany it. The apple makes this sauce so deliciously light.  At first guests think it’s pure cream looking at the colour, but on tasting they dollop on more when they realise it’s mainly apple with half fat crème fraîche tossed in as an afterthought!  Serve a little on serving plates and provide extra sauce on the table.

For that extra special touch, this goes famously with a beetroot and horseradish macaron (see mini macs savoury macarons on p.103 of Mad About Macarons.)

Another party? I’m dead beet…

Horseradish and Apple Sauce for Hot Smoked Salmon

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Chilling Time: 30 minutes

1 tart apple (e.g. braeburn, granny smith)
1-2 tbsp cream of horseradish (according to taste)
juice of 1 lemon
handful of fresh dill, finely chopped
1 small 12cl carton low fat crème fraîche (15% fat)

1.  Grate the apple then quickly add the lemon juice so that it won’t turn brown.

2.  Mix in the other ingredients and season to taste.

 

Fiddling around in Picasa, I noticed I could make a collage!  Isn’t that pretty?  Not pretty, not awful just pretty awful. OK, I’m still learning. Great fun!  Coming on Friday – a simple, light but fancy French dessert to serve with your macarons for a New Year dinner menu.

Sticky Toffee Pudding Sauce

sticky toffee pudding dessert

Dribbling with sticky toffee sauce

Why don’t the French do sticky toffee pudding? OK, it’s PUD. It’s sometimes pud that can arrive with a thud. Serve too much of it at the end of a meal and my slender French lady friends would secretly panic: you could be made silently responsible for damaging their elegant silhouettes (known as taille de guêpe – literally translated as having a corset waistline like a wasp.)

These beautiful French girlfriends have made me learn so much over the years – simply because I wanted to be just like them. Now if the puddings were poshly presented as individual minis on large, look-at-me plates and surrounded by zigzags of sticky toffee sauce, then it’s definitely accepted: we’re in chic-land.

My French parents-in-law returned from the UK recently and ever since, even they are hooked on “steecky tofffeee puddeeng”, like some of our French friends. In the UK we all fond of our sticky toffee pudding.  So much, that mention the initials, STP, and most people know what you’re talking about.  With Granny and Grandpa, we soon realised that my kids had already sussed our ‘secret code’. “Are they allowed some STP, Mummy?” Before even answering, my kids would promptly jump up and down, chanting: STP, STP, STP, pleeeeease! So much for me being the French Police (yes, that’s my nickname back in Scotland, would you believe it?)

Sticky Toffee Pudding is so popular that it tends to be on most British restaurant dessert menus. As the book was originally aimed at British readers, I couldn’t resist making sticky toffee pudding macarons (see p.86), plus I added a sticky toffee giant macaron dessert (p.118) which is just as wicked as the original puddings but as they’re macarons, they are much lighter in calories and completely GLUTEN FREE.

The French (et al ;-)) adore salted caramel sauce.  This darker toffee sauce is just so quick to make and extra sticky – ideal for dribbling over waffles and pancakes, but also handy for jazzing up desserts such as chocolate fudge cake, brownies, ice-cream (see p.125 of the book) and the giant sticky toffee macaron puddings.

For Christmas, I saw in Delicious Magazine last year that you could make a Cranberry version (their recipe included Brandy, so you could replace the rum with it.) Just add 100g of cranberries to the sauce and hey toffee, you’ve made a festive version to jazz up your puddings.

Update: I also just discovered that my friend, Carolyn of All Day I Dream about Food made special gluten-free, low-carb Sticky Toffee Puddings for a guest post over at Cara’s Cravings. Worth checking out for anyone who is looking for a sugar-free version.

Sticky Toffee Sauce

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes

150ml double cream
85g dark muscovado sugar
100g unsalted butter
2 tbsp golden syrup (or corn syrup)
2 tbsp dark rum

  1. Put the cream, sugar and butter into a saucepan, stir and bring to the boil.  Cook for 3 minutes, then stir in the syrup and rum.
  2. Cook for a further minute, until the sauce is smooth and thickened.
  3. Set aside until needed and warm before serving.

Licking the spoon is acceptable but I strongly urge you to resist temptation of licking the plate (at the table, anyway.) I’m sure you agree that is definitely not in chic-land.

Don’t forget the International Giveaway of Mad About Macarons over at The Three Little Piglets.
Today is the last day for entries so hurry over now!

Basil & Lime Pesto: Quick and Saucy

Could you get me some basil, please? Antoine came back from the market with not just a few leaves but two huge plants of my favourite herb. There was only one thing for it; while it was so fragrant and fresh, I needed something that was quick to make: PESTO and pronto!

 

Only one problem: as I was finishing up stocks in the fridge before going on holiday, I had run out of fresh parmesan (and also the traditional pecorino) cheese.  So, the cheese was simply replaced with more toasted nuts and the juice of a lime.  Hey pesto, this could be adapted to add to all sorts of sauces at the last minute. It’s a great flavour enhancer to add to all kinds of dishes – even Thai rice noodles.  Adapt it to your own taste, using cashews or walnuts instead of pine nuts; add a red or green chili for some heat; use coriander instead of basil…

What’s more, the sauce freezes well.  As it’s oily, it won’t be a complete solid mass when frozen so you can use the amount needed without having to defrost a whole jar.

Hey pesto!

Basil and Lime Pesto

For 2 jam jars

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

2 basil plants, leaves only
2 garlic cloves, peeled and inside core removed
60g toasted pine nuts (or cashew)
1 untreated lime, zest and juice
140ml olive oil
seasoning

Throw all the ingredients in a blender, adding the olive oil gradually while mixing.  Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Creamy Lemon, Prawn and Asparagus Spaghetti

This has to be one of my favourite pronto pasta dishes after home-made pesto.  It’s “fast food”, easy, scrumptious and what’s more – it uses up egg yolks!  I mentioned this recipe briefly in the egg yolk pages in the book’s annex, but here it is in more detail.

I played about with a fish recipe for John Dory with Sorrel in my tattered and splattered Crème Fraîche Cookbook (Boutron/Ager) one night, since the photo had fresh noodles and called for egg yolks and lemon.  And since I only had prawns to hand and some fresh asparagus, this just evolved.

Vegetarians can omit the prawns and have a lovely lemony cream sauce with the asparagus.  I’m using asparagus, as it’s the end of its season here, but you can omit this and toss in fresh or frozen peas instead. It’s as simple as that.

My sincere excuses to my Italian friends for this photo.  As you can see, I do love pasta with my parmesan. Parmesan isn’t normally served with seafood pasta dishes, but I personally adore it.  Each time I sprinkle it on, my Corsican Mother-in-Law reminds me. Constantly; with that disapproving half-eye cringe. But I still love it, even if my feet shuffle under the table.

prawn lemon and asparagus spaghetti

Serves 4

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 12 minutes

12 giant prawns
3 egg yolks
2 lemons, untreated
20 cl tub crème fraîche
50g freshly grated parmesan
1 tbsp fresh lemon thyme
bunch of green asparagus (optional)

1. Firstly, get some freshly cooked prawns and shell them.

2. Cook dried spaghetti in boiling salted water for about 10 minutes or until al dente.

3. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, mix the yolks, the juice and zest from the lemons, crème fraîche (or cream if you’re feeling decadently creamy), the parmesan and herbs, then season.

Mix lemon zest/juice, yolks, cream and parmesan

4. If using, break the stems off the asparagus (where they break naturally, about quarter up from the bottom) and cook them for about 5 minutes until al dente in boiling salted water.

5. Drain the pasta and in the same pasta pan, add in the sauce and toss the pasta in it.  Add the prawns, asparagus and decorate with extra fresh herbs such as lemon thyme or chives.

Serve pronto with a chilled glass of Chenin Blanc or Chardonnay.

Here I omitted the prawns and tossed in some roasted chicken leftovers…

Creamy lemon spaghetti with asparagus, lemon thyme & chicken

Et voilà. Keep the egg whites for a batch of macarons!

A huge thank you to my friend, Manu, from Manu’s Menu: she has been very generous in passing on a Versatile Blogger Award, plus others.  It means so much coming from Manu, as I’m always in awe of her fabulous Italian recipes:  her detailed step-by-step guides make it possible for us all to recreate her perfect dishes in our own kitchens.  Merci, Manu!  Congratulations to you, on winning the May Recipe Challenge at Food Frenzy with your Macarons with White Chocolate and Mint Ganache!  They are amazing. 🙂

Guest Recipe: Caesar Salad Dressing with Croutons

Fancy a change of scene?  Well, this week we’re heading into the country.  We’re dropping in on my friend, Brandie, in Southwest Virginia, for a recipe to help us use up our egg yolks. Imagine the scene near the Appalachian mountains: it’s like a setting for a movie!

When I first discovered Brandie’s blog a few weeks’ ago, The Country Cook, I was instantly made welcome with her down-to-earth style of recipes and wonderful sense of humour.  Since then, her warmth and charm continue to ooze out of her blog; you get the feeling you live just next door and are dropping in to say hello, exchanging recipes, tips and discussing kids and life in general.

If you don’t know Brandie already, you soon will.  Don’t you just feel from her dazzling smile that you know her already?  Voici la belle Brandie – here she is, my friends!

Brandie, The Country Cook

First, let me say thank you to Jill for inviting me here today. Getting invited to do a guest recipe post on Jill’s “Le Blog” is kinda like getting invited to an elegant dinner party. You immediately start thinking,

“What should I wear?”

“What sort of hostess gift should I bring?”

“I’m definitely going to have to shave my legs.”

“Please, please, please do not let me drop anything down the front of my dress.”

You get the point.

It was such an honor for me to be asked by Jill to showcase a recipe on her blog and I certainly did not want to disappoint her or her lovely readers.

Jill tasked me with coming up with a recipe that uses egg yolks (since so many are leftover from making her lovely macarons).

I mulled it over for a bit and decided to share a recipe that is one of my favorites – Ceasar Salad Dressing.

I just adore Caesar Salad with homemade croutons and sometimes with grilled chicken. Jill tells me this goes best with a glass of California Chardonnay – and I would have to agree.

If you’ve never attempted to make your own salad dressing, I implore you to try it now. The depth of flavor just cannot be captured in a bottle. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not above using the bottled stuff but sometimes I want to bring something special to the table and this really does the trick. Especially if the salad is going to be the main star of your meal.

This is a two-for-one special today. I’m also going to share a homemade crouton recipe. They are so easy to make and the great thing about homemade croutons is you won’t break a tooth on them like you do the prepackaged ones.

Caesar Salad Dressing

Ingredients:

2 garlic cloves (if your cloves are on the small side, use 3)
1 cup mayonnaise
1 egg yolk
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. water
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp. granulated white sugar
½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. Dijon Mustard
salt & pepper to taste (about ¼ to ½ tsp each)

Directions

In a food processor, finely process the garlic until minced. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.

How easy is this recipe?

Put dressing into a lidded container and pop it in the fridge for a few hours or overnight to give the flavors time to blend together (trust me –this makes a big difference in taste).

Cook’s Notes: If you are squeamish about using a raw egg yolk in your dressing, I would suggest purchasing pasteurized eggs. However, if you are using very fresh eggs, you should have no problems with your egg yolks. Just crack it into a separate bowl first, to ensure the color and texture look normal for an egg.

Homemade Croutons

Ingredients:

½ loaf of stale French bread, cubed
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Garlic Powder (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F). In a medium bowl, add cubed bread.  Drizzle olive oil all over the cubes until lightly coated. Sprinkle on salt, pepper and a little garlic powder.

Place cubes on baking sheet and bake for about 10-14 minutes until lightly browned.

Thank you again to Jill for letting me share this recipe with y’all today. I really hope you enjoy it and I hope  you’ll come by and see me sometime over at The Country Cook.

Enjoy!

Brandie

Thanks so much, Brandie, for sharing such a tasty recipe. Shave your legs for doing the post….see what I mean, folks? She has you in stitches! I don’t know about you, but I’m making double portions since it’s one of my favourite salads.

Now that we’ve tasted that delicious dressing and crispy crrrroutons, I’ll continue sipping that glass of chilled Chardonnay and head on over to Brandie’s blog.  She’s continuing to cook up a storm in her kitchen, so check out more of her mouth-watering recipes at The Country Cook. Don’t forget to say cheers from me!