Sunday, 13 September 2015

Food from Friends

What a summer it's been- and made all the more special thanks to friends. We've had get-togethers and adventures with old friends, but have also enjoyed making new friends along the way, (especially in the Auvergne), which was a lovely surprise.

On returning from our travels, one more surprise for me- a 'Welcome Back' present awaiting us on the doorstep- from a friend's allotment.

When I opened up the bag- this is what was inside:

Welcomed home with veg!

So this week's blog is all about how I made four main dishes- and the same again of leftover lunches- from this bountiful bagful.

I started with the Swiss Chard ( or blettes as it is known in French).

This excellent vegetable is a story of two halves: the leaves which are like spinach and can be used in the same sort of dishes, or can be stuffed like cabbage leaves; and the stems which are like celery and make lovely soups but also gratins and tasty side dishes too.

Swiss Chard- a story of two halves

I decided to make a Quiche Aux Blettes (Swiss Chard Tart- but it sounds tastier in French) with the leaves and a Lyonnais-style side dish with the stems.

Wash the leaves well and wilt down in a saucepan (with just the water clinging to them- no more) then drain and squeeze the leaves dry using a J cloth or tea towel.

Squeezed Chard
Fry some bacon lardons ( or toast some pine nuts for a completely veggie version) and lay in the bottom of a baked pastry case, add the chard and some grated cheese of your choice. 

Nearly there
Beat 3-4 eggs with 200 ml of milk and pour over the mixture in the pastry case. Bake at 170 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until risen, firm and golden.

Quiche aux Bletttes

With sweetcorn to start, and a green salad to accompany- the quiche was a real feast- and the leftovers made two lunches as well.

Likewise the side dish went beautifully with some poached salmon.

Slice the chard stems into bite size pieces. Fry 1 sliced onion and 1 clove of garlic (minced) in some oil, then add the chard pieces and brown a little. Add 1 tbsp white wine or dry sherry and a crumbled vegetable stock cube. Cover with a lid and simmer until the liquid has nearly all been absorbed. Just before serving boil quickly to evaporate the last of the liquid  and whisk in a knob of butter to make the dish glossy.
Lyonnais style Chard- bubbling away

Now for the big beast- that golden marrow!

First job- cut it in half- and use one half for a Mediterranean Tian and the other was to be stuffed and served with salad.

A marrow to be proud of!

I sliced one of the marrow halves lengthways, scooped out any large seeds to make a trench and filled it with beef ragout ( spag bol sauce basically!) 
Beef ragout
and topped with grated cheese-
Ready for the oven

Bake at 180 degrees until the marrow is tender and the cheese golden brown (abut 30 minutes).

Stuffed sliced marrow
The next dish- a Mediterranean Tian - takes a little more work but it's well worth it.


1 courgette ( or half a marrow!)
400g bechamel sauce
1 aubergine
2 peppers
125g mozzarella
salt pepper and oil (for browning)
breadcrumbs and Parmesan for topping

First make your bechamel sauce in a saucepan (you can add a little grated cheese if you want too).
whisk up your bechamel sauce
Next slice your veg into rondelles and soften them a little in a frying pan with some oil.

slice your veg into rondelles
Spread the sauce in a layer in the bottom of a gratin dish

Spread out the sauce
Layer in the veg and the sliced mozzarella
Season well and place in oven.

Ready for the oven
Bake in a hot oven (200 degrees) until the veg are tender and the sauce is bubbling and golden. Next time I make it, 10 minutes before the end of the cooking I will sprinkle on breadcrumbs and Parmesan to make a crunchy, cheesy topping- so I suggest you do that this time too.

Mediterranean Tian
Any leftovers from this went into a glorious minestrone soup for lunch:

Use-it-All-Up Minestone Soup

Last but most definitely not least, the potatoes.

So many delicious things can be made from the humble spud- but this time I opted for a recipe I gleaned in the Auvergne- Truffade- which is a sort of cheesy, bacon and potato hash. This has to be one of the most delicious things- if you like bacon, potatoes and cheese. which I do- and I recommend it out of all the dishes on this post.

I par-boiled the potatoes until just tender and fried off the leftover bacon lardons ( from the quiche).

I added the potatoes and fried for a while, turning frequently to distribute all the golden crunchy bits from the bottom of the frying pan.

Fry the bacon and potatoes
Lay in a gratin dish with slices of either Tomme cheese ( a lovely stretchy cheese from the Auvergne) or mozzarella. Season well.

Lay in a gratin dish with cheese
Pour over a small carton of creme fraiche and bake at 200 degrees until bubbling and golden ( 20 minutes or so).

Phew! Four main dishes, two sides and umpteen leftover lunches- not bad.

Many thanks to all our friends and family for making this summer such a special one.