The French’s Favourite Casserole: Blanquette de Veau

With the Charlie Hebdo event in Paris still shocking us all profoundly, we’re definitely turning to comfort food – and this Blanquette de Veau is a real French classic at this time of year.

In the Annex of Mad About Macarons, I have suggested recipes for using up egg yolks before saving the whites for your macarons. This is one of them. Blanquette de Veau is most often translated as Veal Casserole in White Sauce.

Blanquette de veau

‘White sauce’ doesn’t sound too sexy, does it?  Blanquette sounds fancier in French but the English translation just doesn’t give it justice.  It even sounds a bit bland.  To me, white sauce conjures up dull images of a plain béchamel sauce with flour, milk and butter.  This casserole couldn’t be further from plain!  For a start, there is no flour in the sauce; instead, the casserole is simply thickened by reducing the natural stock at the end and whisking in egg yolks and cream with a flourish of nutmeg and lemon juice.

Why Blanquette de Veau?

Veal Blanquette is a pure and simple French Grandmother’s dish which is passed on from family generation to generation.  It’s a casserole that’s so simple to prepare. “Blanquette” refers to the way it’s cooked: there’s no need to brown the meat beforehand; instead the veal is just placed in a large pot together with its partners in taste and, as it bubbles away merrily, you can get on with other things.

 

French blanquette de veau casserole

It’s also Antoine’s favourite casserole – as long as it’s full of flavour.  It has a rich, creamy fragrant sauce with a hint of lemon and, for me, the touch of cloves just gives it that extra touch of warmth.  When it’s packed with comfort and flavour, you can see why the French consider it their favourite national stew!  It may be seen as family fare but serve this version at a dinner party and it works – ça marche!

It only really works, however, if you carry out the necessary extra steps at the end, otherwise the taste is nothing like the real thing.  I’ve seen recipes that just use crème fraîche and don’t take the time to whisk up the classic sauce using egg yolks to complete the dish. I’ve tried them and the resulting taste is well, bland. Let’s say it’s like making a curry without any spices…

My favourite French butcher in Le Vésinet near Paris

Blanquette de Veau is from our Ile-de-France region around Paris.  My local butcher, Monsieur Le Corre, is passionate about hunting and takes great pride in his best quality meats, often showing me the simplest way to prepare some classic cuts with a different twist (I’ll post on this later).  He’s also partial to showing off his latest catch, too!  For a blanquette, ideally you’ll need a mixture of best quality veal: mainly breast and shoulder. If you can’t get good veal, then chicken will also work well (use free-range, if possible) – and I’ve also seen many fish blanquette versions too.

Take the time in the last couple of steps to thicken the sauce.  Have I stressed enough how important this is? In true lazy gourmet style, however, I cheat a bit in the recipe by using frozen pickling onions from Picard, our favourite French frozen store.

creamy veal casserole made like the French

Blanquette de Veau Recipe

Recipe slightly adapted from one of my all-time favourite cookbooks, France: The Beautiful Cookbook – Authentic Recipes from the Regions of France by The Scotto Sisters and Gilles Pudlowski.  This book is full of the French classic dishes – I’ve particularly found that the savoury dishes are spot-on each time.

Preparation Time: 35 minutes
Cooking Time: 2.5 3 hours

1.5kg veal (mixture of breast & shoulder), cut into chunks
1 onion
3 cloves
bouquet garni (1 bay leaf, 4 sprigs thyme, 3 sprigs parsley)
1 leek (white part only), sliced
2 carrots, cut into chunks
250ml white wine
150g crème fraîche
2 large egg yolks (or 3 medium)
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
grated zest of half lemon (unwaxed)

Garnish:
24 small pickling onions (or use frozen)
24 small button mushrooms (Champignons de Paris)
30g butter
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1. Stud the onion with the cloves.  Place the veal in a casserole dish and add the carrots, onion, leek and bouquet garni.  Pour in the wine and add just enough water to cover the meat and vegetables.  Bring to the boil, skimming the surface for the first 10 minutes of any scum.  Cover and simmer gently for 2.5 hours. 

ingredients for blanquette de beau French casserole recipe

No need to brown the meat – just place the ingredients in a pot!

2. About 45 minutes before the end of cooking, prepare the garnish.  Wash mushrooms, pat dry and cut into halves or quarters, depending on their size.  Fry them at first without any oil or butter (my tip – not in the original recipe!) in a non-stick pan until they have given out all of their juices.  This concentrates their flavour.  THEN add 25g of the butter and the lemon juice to them and set aside. Sauté the onions in a small pan with the rest of the butter until golden.

vegetable garnish for blanquette de veau

3. Lift the lid of the casserole dish and smell these flavours!  Discard the bay leaf and thyme stalks. Remove the meat and vegetables with a slotted spoon and transfer to a large serving dish, adding the mushrooms and pickling onions.  Set aside and keep warm in a cool-moderate oven.

Blanquette de Veau French veal pot casserole

4. Boil the cooking liquid over a high heat until reduced.  Meanwhile, in a bowl, hand-whisk the crème fraîche, lemon zest, yolks, grated nutmeg, and season with salt and pepper.  Blend in 3 tablespoons of the hot stock then quickly whisk in the yolk mixture back into the stock.  Stir constantly until thickened but do not boil (it will reduce its subtle flavours). Whisk until the sauce is smooth and velvety.

how to reduce sauce for a blanquette casserole

Pour the sauce over the meat and serve with basmati or Thai rice.  This dish is also lovely reheated the next day.  For busy gourmets, this dish can be prepared the day before a dinner party.  Just prepare steps one and two in advance then chill in the fridge.  Make the sauce on the day of serving and voilà!

classic blanquette de veau or French veal casserole recipe

Antoine loves to serve this with a delicate white wine, such as an Alsace Riesling or Pinot Gris, otherwise a St. Véran, Marsannay or other Burgundy will be fabulous.

Blanquette de Veau (French Veal Stew)
Prep Time
35 mins
Cook Time
3 hrs
Total Time
3 hrs 35 mins
 

Recipe slightly adapted from one of my all-time favourite cookbooks, France: The Beautiful Cookbook - Authentic Recipes from the Regions of France by The Scotto Sisters and Gilles Pudlowski.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: French
Servings: 6
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 1.5 kg (3.5 lb) veal mixture of breast & shoulder, cut into chunks
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves
  • bouquet garni 1 bay leaf, 4 sprigs thyme, 3 sprigs parsley
  • 1 leek white part only, sliced
  • 2 carrots cut into chunks
  • 250 ml / 9 fl oz white wine
  • 150 g / 5.5 oz crème fraîche
  • 2 large egg yolks or 3 medium
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • grated zest of half lemon unwaxed
Instructions
  1. Stud the onion with the cloves.  Place the veal in a casserole dish and add the carrots, onion, leek and bouquet garni.  Pour in the wine and add just enough water to cover the meat and vegetables.  Bring to the boil, skimming the surface for the first 10 minutes of any scum.  Cover and simmer gently for 2.5 hours.
  2. About 45 minutes before the end of cooking, prepare the garnish. Wash mushrooms, pat dry and cut into halves or quarters, depending on their size. Fry them at first without any oil or butter (my tip – not in the original recipe!) in a non-stick pan until they have given out all of their juices. This concentrates their flavour. THEN add 25g of the butter and the lemon juice to them and set aside. Sauté the onions in a small pan with the rest of the butter until golden.
  3. Lift the lid of the casserole dish and smell these flavours! Discard the bay leaf and thyme stalks. Remove the meat and vegetables with a slotted spoon and transfer to a large serving dish, adding the mushrooms and pickling onions. Set aside and keep warm in a cool-moderate oven.
  4. Boil the cooking liquid over a high heat until reduced. Meanwhile, in a bowl, hand-whisk the crème fraîche, lemon zest, yolks, grated nutmeg, and season with salt and pepper. Blend in 3 tablespoons of the hot stock then quickly whisk in the yolk mixture back into the stock. Stir constantly until thickened but do not boil (it will reduce its subtle flavours). Whisk until the sauce is smooth and velvety.
Recipe Notes

Pour the sauce over the meat and serve with basmati or Thai rice. This dish is also lovely reheated the next day. For busy gourmets, this dish can be prepared the day before a dinner party. Just prepare steps one and two in advance, cool then chill in the fridge. Make the sauce on the day of serving and voilà!

 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

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Beetroot Horseradish Risotto – with Macarons

I’m often amazed how some of my recipes, like this Beetroot Horseradish Risotto, have been created to accompany a macaron!

The other day I was walking on the sweet side in Paris with a lovely group of Americans as part of my chocolate and pastry tour and, as you can imagine, I tend to become particularly passionate when somebody asks about macarons.

Beetroot & Horseradish macaron

Beetroot & Horseradish Macaron in Mad About Macarons

One question has remained with me this week: “Do you like savoury macarons – and when would you eat them?” Well, I love them – especially if they have a wee kick to them. Let me explain.

Beet and horseradish or wasabi macaron

By adding some heated spice to the filling, the intriguing sweetness of the macaron shell puts out the fire.  Have you tried these beetroot (or beet) and horseradish macarons? (The recipe  is in the book). They’re great with bubbles or red wine as an apéritif but they also go so well with one of my favourite risotto recipes, ideal as a starter.  It’s also a wonderful talking point at the table: once friends thought I was serving a steak tartare – as an ex-vegetarian, I was just as surprised as they were!

Normally you’d expect the beetroot to give the risotto or macarons an earthy taste but the result is instead ever so delicately sweet.  Try these beetroot and chocolate fondants – it’s not unlike the carrot cake idea or chocolate and zucchini/courgette cakes, where the vegetable just acts as a fun and extra squidgy ingredient.  But here, in a gluten-free macaron, it’s a colourful change!

beetroot horseradish risotto with savoury beet macaron

This light risotto blushes with the beetroot, taking on the most vibrant natural red colour.  The added touch of creamy horseradish just gives it that je ne sais quoi. It’s healthy, cheap to make, and ideal to serve at any time of year – and great fun for the holiday season.

Beetroot Horseradish Risotto

Serves 4 as a starter (or 2 as a main course)

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes (+ 45 minutes if using raw beetroots)

400g pre-cooked beetroot / beets (or 2 small raw beetroots)
1 tbsp olive oil
knob of unsalted butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
250g risotto rice (carnaroli)
150g ( or glass) white wine
800g vegetable or chicken stock
60g freshly grated parmesan
salt & pepper to taste
2 tbsps crème fraîche
2 tsps horseradish sauce

1.  Wearing rubber gloves to avoid staining your hands, peel and grate the beetroot. (If using raw beetroot, rub on coarse sea salt and wrap them up in aluminium foil and bake at 180°C for 40 minutes and leave to cool.)

2.  Fry the onion in the olive oil and butter over a medium heat until softened (do not brown) for about 5 minutes.  Add the chopped garlic and stir until softened for another couple of minutes.  Add the rice and stir until the grains are all coated and shiny.

3.  Add the wine until it has disappeared into the rice.  Gradually add the hot stock, a ladle at a time and stir continuously until each time the stock has soaked in.  Cook for 15-17 minutes.  After about 10 minutes, stir in the grated beetroot.

4.  When the rice is cooked, stir in the crème fraîche, parmesan and horseradish and take off the heat.  Add salt (fleur de sel) and pepper to taste.

Serve in small pasta bowls, decorate with fresh herbs and more parmesan shavings and a mini beetroot and horseradish macaron (recipe on page 103 of Mad About Macarons!)

Beetroot horseradish risotto with red wine and a savoury macaron

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Beetroot Horseradish Risotto – Printable Recipe

Beetroot and Horseradish Risotto
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
If using raw beetroots, add
40 mins
Total Time
50 mins
 

A light risotto with beets and with a subtle kick of horseradish as a quirky twist to a classic Italian risotto - and served with mini savoury beetroot and horseradish macarons from my book, Mad About Macarons!

Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Starter
Cuisine: French, Italian
Keyword: beetroot, horseradish, beet, risotto, macarons,
Servings: 4 people (as a starter)
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 400 g (14oz) pre-cooked beetroot / beet or 2 small raw beetroots
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • knob of unsalted butter
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove finely chopped
  • 250 g (9oz) risotto rice carnaroli
  • 150 g (5.5oz) or glass white wine
  • 800 g (1.75 pints) vegetable or chicken stock
  • 60 g (2oz) freshly grated parmesan
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsps crème fraîche
  • 2 tsps horseradish sauce
Instructions
  1. Wearing rubber gloves to avoid staining your hands, peel and grate the beetroot. (If using raw beetroot, rub on coarse sea salt and wrap them up in aluminium foil and bake at 180°C for 45 minutes and leave to cool.)
  2. Fry the onion in the olive oil and butter over a medium heat until softened (do not brown) for about 5 minutes.  Add the chopped garlic and stir until softened for another couple of minutes.  Add the rice and stir until the grains are all coated and shiny.
  3. Add the wine until it has disappeared into the rice.  Gradually add the hot stock, a ladle at a time and stir continuously until each time the stock has soaked in.  Cook for 15-17 minutes.  After about 10 minutes, stir in the grated beetroot.
  4. When the rice is cooked, stir in the crème fraîche, parmesan and horseradish and take off the heat.  Add salt (fleur de sel) and pepper to taste.
Recipe Notes

Serve in small pasta bowls, decorate with fresh herbs, more parmesan shavings and a mini beetroot and horseradish macaron (recipe on page 103 of Mad About Macarons!)

 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

Pair with a fruity red wine with a hint of spice such as a Médoc, Pinot Noir from Alsace, Côte-du-Rhône – or a chilled rosé from Provence.

 

Red Onion Chevre Tatin

I’m thrilled to be a guest over at Ann Mah’s Tuesday Dinner series with this easy red onion chèvre tatin recipe.

Ann inspired me to pack my bags and jump on the train to France’s gastronomic capital, Lyon. Reading her book, Mastering the Art of French Eating, you may just find yourself doing the same! When I met Ann in Paris we munched on macarons with chocolat chaud but today it’s virtual and savoury.

Red Onion Chevre Tatin

In short, this is one of my favourite savoury dishes that’s handy to make with basic ingredients I like to keep in the fridge and pantry. It’s also so easy that it’s not much of a recipe. By following a classic tarte tatin recipe (see Mango and Orange Tarte Tatin for example), you can make up your own creations using different fruit and vegetables.

This is a baked version of a French salade de chèvre chaud (packed with onions en plus) since it can be made easily in advance and popped in the oven while picking up the kids. It’s also great for all seasons and, depending on who’s sitting at the table, it can be dressed either up or down for something simple but oh-là-là effective.

Here’s the recipe but pop over to Ann’s website for the chatty part, which is far more interesting! It’s always a delight to see when someone has made the recipe.

Red Onion Chèvre Tatin

Serves 4 as a light dinner

Special equipment: a frying pan that can transfer to the oven

2 large onions
2 red onions
large knob of butter (30g)
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp herbes de Provence
3 crottins de chavignol (fresh goat’s cheese)
1 ready-rolled puff pastry round (all butter is best)
Handful of walnuts

1.  Peel and cut the onions into thin slices. Meanwhile, over a medium-low flame, melt the butter with a dash of olive oil in a sauté pan that can be transferred to the oven. Add the onions to the pan and leave to soften and cook for 20 minutes, turning only once or twice to coat the onions in the butter and oil.

2.  Preheat the oven to temperature suggested on box of puff pastry.

how to make savoury tart tatin

An upside down tart so the cheese is hidden. Woah!

3. Stir the balsamic vinegar, herbes de Provence and salt and pepper into the onions. Slice the crottins of goat cheese in half horizontally and distribute them on top of the packed caramelised onions. Top with the large disk of puff pastry, tucking it in around the sides of the pan. Prick the pastry with the fork then transfer to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden.

4.  Remove from the oven. Place a plate larger than the pan over the top. Turn the tatin upside down quickly on to the plate.

Serve with a salad tossed in olive oil, balsamic vinegar and extra toasted walnuts.

onion chevre tatin

Make this tarte tatin with white onions, too, and serve with a chilled Sauvignon Blanc. Ideally, serve a wine from the Loire Valley since it’s The French region for goats cheeses. For a change from Sancerre, why not serve a Quincy?

That now makes two tatins at the table, ready for dinner tonight chez Ann Mah.

Bon Appétit! 

White Asparagus French Clafoutis

White Asparagus French Clafoutis

White Asparagus French Clafoutis

When the asparagus season finally pokes its head out to say bonjour, it’s time to get totally asparagused. Hearing the calls of ‘Aspergez-vous!’ at our local market just outside Paris, I do what I’m told and end up buying so much asparagus that I could open a shop with all the elastic bands they’re bound in.

Weigh-laden with our usual favourites from Monsieur Dee’s poultry stall, I couldn’t help swooning over impressively fat, fresh white asparagus spears which are first to arrive pride of place from sun-kissed Provence.

White Asparagus French Clafoutis

Snapping white asparagus French Clafoutis!

It’s time to snap these asparagus stems. Snapping asparagus is easy when they’re fresh: they should be firm, have compact heads and not look dry at the stems. Just snap them where they break naturally, about 1/3 from the bottom. Ideally, eat asparagus fresh on the day, otherwise store white asparagus in the fridge for up to 4 days in a humid kitchen towel, heads upwards.

I love tossing fresh white asparagus in sage butter and serving simply with a crunchy baguette, but this is a warmer starter to welcome this chilly Spring. I discovered the recipe in a magazine last year featuring Eric Fréchon, chef at Le Bristol, Paris. But could I find the magazine that I’d painstakingly placed in a ‘safe place’ for this season? No (don’t laugh, Mum). Luckily, I jotted it down and see he’s written a book on Clafoutis.

Macaron lovers will be glad to note that it uses up FOUR egg yolks, but don’t be fooled: this is such a light way to start a meal – and it’s gluten free, too.

white asparagus French clafoutis

white asparagus French clafoutis

White Asparagus French Clafoutis Recipe

Serves 6

Recipe Adapted by Eric Frechon, Author of Clafoutis.

Preparation Time: 40 minutes
Cooking Time: 35 minutes

1 bundle white asparagus (500 g /1 lb)
3 eggs
4 egg yolks
10 g (4 tsp) cornflour

300 ml /10 fl oz single cream
100 g /3 oz fresh parmesan, grated
Seasoning
Handful of pine nuts (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Wash the asparagus spears and snap them 2/3rds of the way down, where they break naturally. Peel them as close as possible to the spear heads. Keep the peelings!

2. Cut the asparagus in 3, reserving the spear heads.

3. Fill a large pan with water and bring to the boil with the asparagus peelings, adding a tablespoon of sugar (to reduce the bitterness).
When bubbling, remove the peelings and cook only the spears for 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon.

4. Using the same cooking water, drop in the rest of the asparagus chunks and cook for 7 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, prepare the clafoutis batter: mix the eggs, cornflour, cream, grated parmesan and season with salt and pepper.

6. Drain the asparagus chunks and, using a hand blender or food processor, mix the asparagus and cream together.

7. Pour into a non-stick tart dish and decorate with the asparagus spears. I like to sprinkle over some lightly toasted pine nuts for a crunchy texture.

8. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes until golden.

 Note: If making individual versions, pour into 6 silicone briochette moulds and bake for only 25 minutes. Turn them out directly on guests’ plates for a posh but simple starter.

Enjoy this asparagus clafoutis either warm or hot from the oven and serve with a glass of chilled Pinot Blanc from the Alsace.

White Asparagus French Clafoutis

White Asparagus French Clafoutis

White Asparagus Clafoutis Recipe
Prep Time
40 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
1 hr 15 mins
 

A deliciously light starter to celebrate the asparagus season this spring. Recipe Adapted by Eric Frechon, author of "Clafoutis" and executive chef at the Bristol in Paris.

Course: Side Dish, Starter
Cuisine: French
Servings: 6
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 500 g (1 lb) bundle white asparagus
  • 3 eggs organic
  • 4 egg yolks organic
  • 10 g (4 tsp) cornflour
  • 300 ml (10 fl oz) single cream
  • 100 g (3 oz) fresh parmesan grated
  • Seasoning
  • Handful of pine nuts optional
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/320°F/140°C fan/gas 3. Wash the asparagus spears and snap them 2/3rds of the way down, where they break naturally. Peel them as close as possible to the spear heads. Keep the peelings!

  2. Cut the asparagus in 3, reserving the spear heads.
  3. Fill a large pan with water and bring to the boil with the asparagus peelings, adding a tablespoon of sugar (to reduce the bitterness).
  4. When bubbling, remove the peelings and cook only the spears for 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon.
  5. Using the same cooking water, drop in the rest of the asparagus chunks and cook for 7 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the clafoutis batter: mix the eggs, cornflour, cream, grated parmesan and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Drain the asparagus chunks and, using a hand blender or food processor, mix the asparagus and cream together.
  8. Pour into a non-stick tart dish and decorate with the asparagus spears. I like to sprinkle over some lightly toasted pine nuts for a crunchy texture.
  9. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes until golden.

Recipe Notes

If making individual versions, pour into 6 silicone briochette moulds and bake for only 25 minutes. Turn them out directly on guests' plates for an elegant but simple starter (or prepare in advance and reheat before serving). Enjoy this asparagus clafoutis either warm from the oven and serve with a glass of chilled Pinot Blanc from the Alsace.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

Now it’s your turn to snap them this Spring and become totally asparagused!

 Aspergez-vous!

Lemon Sauce for Roast Chicken and Stuffed Mini Pumpkins

This week the Autumnal chill has hit abruptly, just as much as returning to school routines after the mid-term holiday. Fumbling for lost gloves, struggling with a new swift boot walk as feet are in straight-jacketed shock with thick chaussettes, plus attempting to look like the chic French women with their scarves nonchalantly thrown over shoulders, I found myself gravitating towards the magical sizzling chicken rôtisseries dotted along the street on the way to the market.

That was it; roast chicken for a perfectly quick, comforting dinner. Mention chicken in St Germain-en-Laye and there’s only one place to make for at the market: in the central aisle, you’ll find Monsieur Dee. He’s not difficult to find since he pulls the crowds not just for his graceful service but his produce is in another league – such as the enormous duck filets, paupiettes parcels and saucisses de volaille (poultry sausages.)

By the time I arrive, most of the roasted chickens have disappeared. Before I know it, in pops a few extra chicken filets and a customary ‘bouquet du jardin’ of parsley on the house, as he tells me persil is for les dames, pas les hommes. Adoraaable Monsieur Dee!

Jack Be Little Pumpkins

Just across from Monsieur Dee’s sizzling poulet rôtis is la maison Huet, who always put on such a parade of forgotten vegetables that the conversation in the queue is guaranteed to provide an exchange of interesting recipes. Below left are the round Parisian carrots I talked about in this vegetable soup recipe post, but this time I was determined to do something other than use these mini pumpkins as decoration. They’re called Jack Be Little.

How to cook a Jack Be Little: I was told to simply prick it a few times, stick it in the microwave for 3 minutes on full blast, cut the top off, scoop out the seeds and fill the remaining hole with a mixture of emmental cheese, bacon and crème fraîche. That’s it; ridiculously easy and delicious to boot. Instead I filled each mini pumpkin with a mixture of bacon, cooked chestnuts, parmesan, crème fraîche and parsley.

For each individual pumpkin, briefly fry 4 cooked chestnuts, 1 chopped smoked bacon rasher, 1 tbsp freshly grated parmesan, finely chopped parsley, a tablespoon of crème fraîche and season to taste. Fill the cavity with it, then place under a hot grill for a couple of minutes. Then serve with a spoon and mix the whole thing up with the pumpkin flesh at the table.

And the kids’ favourite part to go with the roasted chicken?  A creamy, tart lemon sauce. I’m surprised that my girls would like such a simple sauce so much. What I love about it, is that it’s another way to use up yolks so it’s now added to the growing egg yolk recipe collection. It’s also a lovely sauce to accompany any leftover turkey!

lemon sauce recipe for roast chicken or turkey

Jack Be Little and Jill Be Quick with dinner …

Lemon Sauce Recipe for Roasted Chicken or Turkey

Serves 6

Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes

200ml chicken stock
3 egg yolks
juice and zest of 1 lemon (untreated)
100ml cream

1. Bring the chicken stock to the boil.

2. Meanwhile, whisk the yolks with the lemon juice, zest and cream in a bowl and gradually whisk the mixture into the hot stock.

3. Keep whisking until the sauce thickens slightly and bubbles.

Lemon sauce for roast chicken or turkey

Monsieur Dee thought we’d be celebrating Thanksgiving since we speak English. As our American friends are gearing up for next week, we’re instead celebrating la fête du Beaujolais Nouveau tonight in France. Apparently this year it’s another fruity success, with a hint of peaches.

Ah, it reminds us of our student days; 21 years ago, I met my Frenchie over a glass of particularly banana-flavoured Beaujolais Nouveau. Although, if you want my opinion, this lemon roast chicken and the pumpkin would partner well with a Gaillac or a Côte du Rhône white. I mean, look what happens after a glass or two of Beaujolais! I ended up haveeeeing to speak French!

Cheers!

 

The Cutest Wombat Bento Box by Pudding Pie Lane

I don’t watch TV much these days but I’m hooked on Top Chef. It showcases France’s up and coming professional chefs, as they battle it out in front of the daunting cameras – all sweat and tears to seduce the eyes and tastebuds of the discerning jury with their innovative dishes based on each set task. The jury? We’re talking Thierry Marx, Jean-François Piege, Ghislaine Arabian, and Christian Constant, s’il vous plaît. One of the surprising tasks last week was to come up with an artistic and healthily balanced bento box. The additional jury was even tougher this time: a group of sophisticated 8-year-old French children.

Bento boxes are something I only discovered recently by visiting Xinmei Wang’s blog, Pudding Pie Lane. If you don’t already know it, then I urge you to check it out. Xinmei’s creatively cute bento boxes are what first caught my eye, then I returned for more doses of her sense of humour. You get a glimpse into her life as a student while at Cambridge University. Yes, Xinmei is a clever cookie and in her spare time in between essay writing, she skillfully bakes and cooks up dishes not only on a limited budget but with the minimum of equipment, perfecting the art of getting by on a microwave. Let me hand you over to Xinmei.

Ever wondered how to be a food blogger as a student, meaning a very stretched budget? I like baking and everything I do is in my spare time (often procrastinating from writing my 10th essay of the term!) I study Economics at Cambridge so have never taken any courses related to baking or cooking, I’ve taught myself from various cookbooks, but occasionally like to make up my own recipes to ‘see what happens’. I especially love baking for my friends at Uni and more recently making bento boxes after I saw them on another site. Not only are they a (quite literally) healthy break from the cakes and cookies, but also look incredibly cute!

You may wonder how I manage to make this bento box in my tiny puny midget University kitchen (aka ‘gyp room’), with just a microwave, kettle and toaster. How did I cook the eggs? How did I boil the rice? And just how did I manage to make the wombat/bear/generic-furry-animal bento so astoundingly amazingly awesomely cute?

For the first two, that’s the Art Of Getting By On A Microwave. For the third one, well, that’s a secret 😉

At my University we’re all catered, so we have limited cooking means, and I’ve often had to make do. I don’t go to the hall to eat very often, however Harry Potteresque Cambridge University dining halls looks like (or should I say ‘however Cambridge-esque Harry Potter looks like!’). Maybe because we have to eat by candlelight at dinner every night. This may sound cool, but the novelty wears off when you’ve accidentally eaten sponge cake instead of chicken.

Not that I have ever done this. But anyway, I’m going to show you how you can make this bento in your very own box of a ‘gyp room’ so you can make one yourself!

You will need:

1. Rice! How to cook them in the microwave? Well:

  • Buy/borrow/find a pyrex bowl with a lid.
  • Put 1 cup of rice in it and rinse the rice. Soak with just over 1 cup of warm water for 15 minutes minimum (this is important!).
  • Microwave, with the lid on, on HIGH for 5 minutes.
  • Stir the rice around to get all the uncooked bits evenly distributed.
  • Do this two more times, or until the rice seems cooked when you stir it. It will depend on your microwave.

2. Eggs!

  • boil them in the kettle (see the bottom of this post). After it is boiled and cooked, separate the yolk from the white and mix it with the rice to colour it yellow. This makes said rice taste creamy and yummy.
  • You can even make scrambled eggs in the microwave by cracking them into a bowl, adding milk and seasonings, then microwaving in about 2 or 3 thirty second bursts (stirring between each one).
  • (I have, however, yet to figure out how to make eggs in the toaster.)

It’s a funny thing about eggs, because, well….

…please don’t judge me, but this one time, I went out to eat at a very posh restaurant where the menus have words like ‘mouli’ and ‘pousse café’. You see, one of the things was some chicken and ‘hen’s egg’ dish. And, seeing that, my thought process went something like this:

1)    Oooh! Hen’s egg! I’ve never had that before.

2)    I’m going to order it.

3)    That was very yummy.

4)    Wait a second.

5)    Hm.

6)    A hen’s egg is just an egg.

7)    Oops.

My friends have never let me forget that.
So moving swiftly on, here is a nice photo of the steps needed to make the wombat bento. You can put anything you like in the bento as extras, I have used random bits of veg, crabsticks, dumplings and pork fritters. You will also need:

  • Seaweed sushi nori for the eyes and mouth
  • Black sesame seeds for the eyelashes
  • Ham for the ears
  • A mushroom (I used a date instead, but you might find that a bit strange) for the nose
  • Ketchup for the cheeks

Et voila! You are done. I hope you like it!

Thanks so much, Xinmei. I think the Top Chef contestants could have done with checking out your bento box for their task last week, especially since one of the young jury members said she hoped to see a bento box with a cute bear’s head and none of them had this wombat beauty. The chefs could have also impressed the jury by telling them it was made with hens’ eggs! You know, I ate out in Paris last night (yes, hubby took me out after 7 months, bless him, so it was posh to shut me up) and the first item on the menu was…”oeuf de poule...” It cracked me up!

I say this is the cutest bento box but believe me, Xinmei has many more wonderful creations over at Pudding Pie Lane: check out her bento panda (‘Pandi’.) Please say hello from me and try not to make any hen jokes.