Saturday, 10 August 2019

Sauce and Spice

Or what to do with leftover curry.

I made a big batch of Chicken Korma the other day, and there was plenty left over.
I could just freeze it - and have the same meal again another day- but as there was more sauce than chicken left in the pot, I decided to use it up in different ways.

Firstly, I made a super quick dhal (using tinned lentils and tinned onions- but you could cook your lentils and onions in the normal way too of course.)
Just mix 1/2 tin onions( or 1 chopped onion gently fried) and 1 tin of green lentils ( water and all) with 1 tsp ginger, 1 tsp minced garlic and 1 tsp finely chopped chilli. Add 300 ml leftover curry sauce and simmer for 20 minutes or so.

Green Lentil Dhal
Next I made a Goan Curry Soup. Just blitz the leftover curry with 300ml chicken stock, 1 tsp chilli, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp turmeric and 1 cup of apple juice.

Blitz together your ingredients
Serve with some cooked rice or coconut cream to thicken.

Goan Curry Soup
Lastly I had a choice of two dishes ( only enough leftover sauce for one- but here are both the recipes so you can choose.)

First of all, a Tarte à l'Indienne ( or Curry Quiche).

Mix your leftover curry sauce with 4 beaten eggs and a splash of milk or coconut/almond milk.
Pour into a pre-cooked pastry case ( 23 cm in diameter ) and bake at 170 degrees until set and golden. (Aprroximately 1 hour- but keep checking).

Tarte à l'Indienne
Lastly, try this Curried Gnocchi Tray Bake.

You can make your own gnocchi from leftover cold mashed potato or cooked pumpkin ( or use a storecupboard packet for speed).
To make your own, mix 2 cups of cold mashed potato or mashed pumpkin with 1 egg yolk and 1 cup of flour, salt and pepper.
Form into little balls and flatten slightly with a fork. 
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and drop the gnocchi in one by one. As they cook, they will rise to the surface. Skim them out with a straining spoon and put them in a buttered dish.

Image result for pumpkin gnocchi
Cooked pumpkin gnocchi
Mix the little dumplings with cooked broccoli, chard, spinach or leeks and your leftover curry sauce.
Gnocchi ready for the oven
Sprinkle over some breadcrumbs and bake until golden and bubbling in a hot oven (180 degrees) for about 20 minutes.
This is a one-pot dish, and needs nothing else with it- so plate up and enjoy!

Curried Gnocchi Tray Bake

And so ends my tale of leftover curry sauce. I hope it inspires you to make some spicy saucy dishes yourselves.

Nothing left for me now except the washing up.

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Apero Time!

Apéro dinatoire

My favourite way to entertain- and be entertained- especially in the summer, is to host an apéro dinatoire. (Posh drinks and nibbles- or tapas or canapés- call it what you like). Essentially, it is gorgeous little nibbly things to go with drinks which can last ( or be replenished as the evening goes on.)

The great thing about these evenings is that they are often spur of the moment invites- which means you have to raid your cupboards and fridge and rustle up some nifty nibbles from nothing. No planning. No fuss. Just whatever you've got.

So here are my speedy suggestions:

Toasts/ Croques

If you have a loaf of bread ( or ready made toasts) then you can make a start. Just slice, toast,  rub with a cut clove of garlic and top with whatever is handy- sardine, tuna or liver paté, grated fresh tomato, or a caviare d'aubergines if you have a bit more time.

Prick 2 aubergines all over and rub with some olive oil then roast whole in the oven for 25 minutes or so until soft and wrinkly.

Aubergines looking tired and emotional

Scoop out the flesh and mix it with 1-2 crushed cloves of garlic, 1 tbsp honey, some lemon or lime juice, salt and pepper. Spread onto garlicky toasts.

Aubergine Toasts with Gazpacho Verrines
I also like to make mini croques-messieurs, toasting little bits of bread with cheese, ham and mustard. (Or make full-sized ones and cut into bite-sized pieces.)

Mini Croques-Messieurs

Cold soups in little glasses go down well and are quite fashionable. Gazpacho ( as shown above ) is always popular or try a Courgette and Coconut Velouté

Courgette and Coconut Verrine
Dips and Chips

If you have a bottle of mayonnaise, a natural yoghurt or some crème fraiche then you have the makings of a dip.
My favourites are mayo mixed with mustard ( great for dipping mini frankfurters), crème fraiche with chilli sauce and chopped coriander or chives for dipping veg  or yoghurt with chopped gherkins and olives for a tartare sauce dip.
Or try this hummus-y style dip - made from leftover baked beans!

Blitz 2 tbsp beans with 2 cloves of garlic, juice of a lemon, 1 tsp chilli paste and 2 tbsp olive oil

Baked Bean 'Hummus'

Lovely for dipping baby potatoes, courgettes, radishes or tortilla chips

Dips and Chips
Incidentally the chips are made from sliced tortillas ( straight from the freezer), tossed in olive oil and seasoning and baked for 5-10 minutes in a hot oven:

Baked Tortilla Chips
Pastry Bits

It's always worth having a roll of puff pastry in the fridge or freezer for making impromptu titbits. You can make savoury croissants, straws or puffs in a matter of minutes.

For croissants- use a circle of pastry, cut into 16 triangles and each triangle spread with a topping of your choice- sundried tomato paste, pesto, tapenade, curry paste, even Marmite (although Marmite croissants might be a step too far for French guests!)

Croissants spread and ready for rolling
Roll up into croissant shapes from the outside of the triangle into the centre. Brush with egg or milk and sprinkle with sesame seeds or parmesan. Bake at 200 degrees until risen and golden.

Mini croissants and cheese straws
Or use a rectangular sheet of pastry, cut into smaller rectangles for Ham and Cheese Puffs:

Lay a slice of ham and some grated cheese on top

Fold in the edges and seal, bake until golden brown and puffy:

Ham and Cheese Puffs

Cheese Tuiles

I make these with St.Nectaire but it would work with Manchego, Comte, Cantal or Port Salut too.

Just slice some cheese into small cubes:

Dice the cheese

Lay little piles of the cubes on some baking paper:

Make little piles of cheese
Put in a hot oven to melt and meanwhile crush a tablespoon of hazelnuts:

Crush hazelnuts for sprinkling
As the cheese melts, sprinkle on the nuts to toast in the oven.

Sprinkle on the nuts as the cheese melts
When the cheese is bubbling, take out the tray, allow to cool slightly then loosen the tuiles and place on a rack to cool.

Tuiles au Saint-Nectaire

Phew! That's enough for now I reckon. Time for a drink.

What- no nibbles?

Monday, 24 June 2019

A Taste of Summer

For you, what does summer taste of?

For me, it's strawberries, new potatoes with mint, asparagus...or combinations of these.

So, as summer has well and truly arrived here in the Auvergne ( apart from the torrential thunder storms), I thought this month's blog should celebrate some of those lovely flavours.

We are starting with at trio of strawberry puds and finishing with a sirop de menthe ( mint cordial) to refresh on a hot summer's day.

Our strawberry patch is the gift that keeps on giving at the moment- so ideas to use up the glut are needed, once all the jam making has stopped. (It's too hot now!)

This trio of desserts can be served separately or all three at once in mini-portions as an Assiette Gourmande.

First one is really simple and combines lots of summer tastes: Strawberry, Mint and Basil Tartare.

Just wash and slice your strawberries, coat them in a teaspoon of olive oil and crème de cassis. Add some chopped mint and basil leaves and spoon the mixture into a chef's ring. Press down lightly and then unmould. Decorate with a few more leaves.

Strawberry, Mint and Basil Tartare

Next, equally simple- Sticky Strawberries with Pistachios.

Wash and slice your strawberries and mix them with a tsp each of rosewater and runny honey. Toss in the crushed pistachios or hazelnuts and serve with crème fraîche or hazelnut yoghurt.

Sticky Strawberries with Pistachios

Now for something a little more time consuming: Charlotte aux Fraises Façon Yvette.

For this recipe- and expert demonstration at our Atelier de Cuisine yesterday- my thanks to Yvette L. You will thank her too when you make it yourselves.

You will need:

300g fromage frais
50 g icing sugar
250g strawberries
1 packet of boudoir biscuits
syrup for soaking- can be alcoholic ( ie crème de cassis or mûre) or blackberry cordial or fruit juice mixed with a little icing sugar)

1. Mix together the fromage blanc and the icing sugar
2. Wash and slice the strawberries and combine with the fromage frais.
3. Soak the boudoir biscuits one by one in the syrup and use them to line the sides of a bowl or mould.
Soak the sponge fingers one by one
4. Put in half the fromage blanc mixture, then a layer of biscuits, then the rest of the mixture and finish with a layer of biscuits

Keep going until the Charlotte is full
5. Place a saucer or plate on the top and weight down with a tin.
6. Place in the fridge for at least an hour before unmoulding and serving.

Charlotte aux Fraises

Finally- to refresh the parts that haven't yet been reached. Try making a fresh mint cordial.

1. Start with a bunch of mint ( about 150g).
Take the leaves from a bunch of mint
2. Bring them to the boil for 5 minutes in a litre of water.
Boil up your leaves
3. Leave to infuse overnight.
4. The next day, strain off the mint and put the liquid back in the saucepan with the juice of 1 lemon and 800g of sugar
5. Bring to the boil and reduce for about 10 minutes until starting to go syruppy.
6. Meanwhile sterilise some old fashioned lemonade bottles ( if you have them- or other glass bottles if not) with boiling water.
7. Pour the syrup into a measuring jug and make back up to 1 litre with boiling water
8. Pour into the bottles and leave to cool.

Bottle it up
9. Serve diluted with plenty of ice.

Here's to summer!

Home made Sirop de Menthe 

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Pulled Pork and Crackling

Mmm..tender roast pork with all the trimmings (including crackling). What could be better?

Well, another 4 leftover meals from a roast that only cost £3.50 in the first place sounds pretty fine to me.

So, our Easter Monday roast made filled rolls, Peking Pancakes, Puffy Porky Pies and Pork Chow Mein.

Sorry, but there wasn't any leftover crackling.

If you have a slow cooker, Pulled Pork is the easiest roast in the world to make.
Cut the skin and fat off your meat- this is going to make the crackling- and put the joint in your slow cooker with a glass of red wine, a glass of water, 1 tsp salt, two bay leaves, some small peeled onions, two tsp of brown sugar and 2 tsp of paprika.
Leave to cook on Low for 6-7 hours, according to the power settings of your cooker.

The meat is cooked when it can be pulled apart with a fork ( or probably a spoon!). Drain off the juice, wrap the pork in foil and leave to rest whilst you thicken the gravy.

Pulled Pork ready for resting
For the last hour of cooking time, make your accompaniments- roast potatoes, parsnips, veg- whatever you can cram into a hot oven whilst you make the crackling.
Heat the oven to 210 degrees.
Take the pork skin, scald it with boiling water and dry thoroughly. Score the surface with a sharp knife and lay in a baking tray. 
Rub vegetable oil over the surface and sprinkle with rock salt.
Bake for 20 minutes or so, until crispy enough to cut into strips to serve with your roast.

Crispy crackling
Still lots of meat left over of course.

Loads of leftover pork
I divided it up into 4. The first batch went into Puffy Porky Pies ( with lashings of leftover gravy).

I try to keep trimmings of pastry in the freezer, ready for defrosting and rolling out to make pie tops but here is a quick method of making some puffish pastry.

Pulse 180 g of flour and 90g of butter together in a food processor.

Blitz flour and butter
Add 180g of cream cheese or petits suisses

Add in the cream cheese
Pulse to a soft dough. It will be very soft- so needs to be wrapped and refrigerated for an hour before rolling out as thinly as you can on a well floured board.

Wrap and chill your dough
Meanwhile mix the portion of leftover pork with gravy and place in a pie dish. Top with your pastry. Trim and bake at 180 degrees until golden brown.

Puffy Porky Pie
You could put the next lot of leftover meat into sandwiches, baguettes or rolls- with just some brown sauce to accompany it. Yum!
Or be a little more adventurous by wrapping it in steamed Chinese pancakes with spring onions, sliced cucumber and hoisin sauce to  make Peking Pork Pancakes:

Peking Pork Pancakes

Or a healthier version, wrapped in lettuce leaves to make Asian Pork Parcels with a dipping sauce:

Asian Pork Parcels
I made a Pork Chow Mein. Equally simple.

Cook and drain some egg noodles ( and dress with some sesame oil if you have it).

Egg noodles cooked, drained and dressed
Then stir fry some spring onions, green beans or mangetout and mushrooms:

Stir fry some veg
Add the pork:
Pork in the wok
Add 2 tsp of Chinese 5 spice, 2 tbsp each of soy sauce and chilli sauce:
Add your flavourings
Add some beansprouts, the noodles and a splash of water or rice wine:

Noodles and beansprouts in
Et voilà:
Pork Chow Mein
Any leftovers go well with some miso paste and hot water to make a Miso Soup:
Miso Noodle Soup
Or make little saucer-sized pancakes with a pinch of turmeric for colour and fill with your leftover Chow Mein to make Ban Khoai:

Ban Khoai
Phew! A veritable pork pilgrimage. I hope there's something here to appeal to everyone.

Image result for piggy snout
Well, perhaps not everyone.