Category Archives: Cooking
I had a really fun day yesterday preparing Junglefrog’s latest “Orange Photography” challenge.
Since Simone posted the assignment with a gorgeous pumpkin-bowl soup image, I’ve been trawling the web for recipes for orange coloured food which also evokes the feeling of Fall. I thought I’d have a go at making some Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Sage. This being my first attempt at home-made gnocchi I am pleased with the outcome: they’re perhaps not the cutest gnocchi you’ve ever seen, but the consistency and flavour are spot on. The rest of the batch is in the fridge for a dinner party I’m throwing, which funnily enough is made up by chance of “orange” coloured dishes: Sweet Potato Gnocchi, Chicken Curry with Wild Rice, and a Hazelnut Cake with Saffron Cream and Fresh figs! It should be fun and I’ll let you know how the cake comes out.
In the meanwhile, here’s the recipe:
Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage Butter
(source Bon Appétit)
2 lbs (450g) sweet potatoes, rinsed, patted dry, pierced all over with fork
12oz (340g) fresh ricotta cheese, drained in sieve 2 hours
1 cup (85g) grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons golden brown sugar
2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 3/4 cups (about) all purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
6 tablespoons chopped fresh sage plus whole leaves for garnish
Cook the sweet potatoes (either microwave or peel and boil). Mash once cooked. In a large bowl, add to the mashed potatoes the ricotta, Parmesan, brown sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, and nutmeg; mash to blend. Mix in flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, until soft dough forms.
On a floured surface divide the dough into pieces and roll into long rope. Cut each rope into 1 inch pieces and roll each piece over with a fork to indent.
Bring large pot of salted water to a boil and working in batches, boil the gnocchi about 5 minutes (they float when ready). Cool completely. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until butter becomes brown (but not burned!), swirling pan occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped sage and remove from heat. Season the sage butter with salt and pepper.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, sauté half of the gnocchi until heated through, about 6 minutes. Empty into an oven-proof baking sheet and place in warmed oven to keep while sautéing the remainder gnocchi.
Divide gnocchi and sauce among shallow bowls. Garnish with sage leaves.
It’s not been a fabulous Summer for fruit in the Dordogne this year, however notably the fig trees are still quite robust and full of life.
Some people swear that the gorgeous dark purple variety are sweeter than these vibrant green ones, yet I guess it’s all a personal preference of taste and how you use these ancient fruits. The other night my friend Moira the served figs sliced in four, filled with fresh goat cheese and chopped mint, nestled amongst thinly sliced Parma ham…simply delicious.
If you have any special recipes featuring fresh figs, I’d love to hear about them.
I also would like to say “Thank you” to Junglefrog for the appreciation my photo of Ajo Blanco soup received. I have a big smile on my face, and I’m looking forward to October’ Food Photography Challenge.
Enjoy your day!
What I love about following good food blogs is when the imagery and the recipes meld together in my head and the imagination of my taste buds take over. I can vicariously prepare and enjoy a dish from a well written and photographed post. It makes me want to cook: to smell the fragrant odors while simmering, to feel the different textures and to sense the various flavors balancing each other, it is almost like smelling a wonderful perfume.
Food and photography are two of my favorite things, so when I read a few weeks ago about the Junglefrog Cooking Photography and Styling Challenge, I thought to myself: “What a fun project!”, thus today’s post.
The challenge here was to shoot a white colored dish and one of my all-time favorite dishes which is white and originates in Spain: “Ajo Blanco” soup. A white “gazpacho” made with garlic, almonds, and bread. Since I am clinging to the last days of summer, I thought I’d make a batch of “Ajo Blanco”; if you’re a fan of garlic, this will become one of your favsorites too, hands down.
AJO BLANCO – WHITE GARLIC SOUP
Prep Time: 15 minutes, Yield: 4 servings
4 oz (1/2 cup) blanched, peeled almonds (or use slivered almonds)
3-4 slices stale baguette or white bread
3 cloves garlic
4 cups (32 oz) water
5 Tbsp extra virgin Spanish olive oil
3-4 Tbsp Spanish sherry vinegar
16-20 seedless green grapes (optional)
salt to taste
Peel garlic. Trim crust from bread and soak in 1-2 cups cold water.
Blend garlic and almonds into a food processor or blender on pulse until smooth. Remove bread from water with slotted spoon and squeeze out excess water. Tear bread into pieces and add bread and 1 tsp salt to blender. Blend on pulse.
While blending, slowly drizzle the olive oil, then the vinegar, and finally the water into blender. Taste. Adjust salt, vinegar and oil to taste.
Strain through a sieve into a container or bowl. Press as much as possible through the sieve. Seal and chill at least 2-3 hours or overnight. Mix soup before serving.
Serve by ladling soup into soup bowls, garnish with the sliced grapes and toasted, sliced almonds.
That’s all there is to it!
If you try this savory soup, please drop me a line and let me know what you think.
I’ve made these twice now, they’re just too easy and decadent not to! Please click thru to the image on Flickr for the recipe.
when there’s a table covered with bowls of olives prepared a hundred ways for you to choose from,
when teas and herbs are scooped out with little shovels into simple paper bags,
when the selection of fresh fish is abundant,
and of course when you are willing to buy black fungus to eat with eggs!
It’s been five years now since we’ve been living “on the road”, having enjoyed every minute of it. There are definitely the pros and cons to such a lifestyle, but I’ve fine-tuned the process to fit our needs. So as I state in the title: “Must Have Items”, this is purely from personal experience of what Bumpy and I can live with and without.
1. Year-round clothes – basic items which would get us thru any season, anywhere. Heavy winter clothes are not convenient to pack, so when we find ourselves in places such as Budapest for Christmas, we just throw on another sweater and have a shot of palinka! Clothing which requires dry cleaning is also not part of the scheme: it’s either machine or hand-wash. Accessories are great and easy to pack. One day I’ll write a post about my packing habits.
2. Two sets of copies of important documents – this includes photocopies of passports, birth certificates, residence permits, drivers license, dog passports too! I’m sure you have your own similar system for your trips, which I’d love to hear about for new ideas. On a side note: I’ve also photographed all these documents and saved them as encrypted PDFs on a USB key, which I always have in my handbag at all times.
3. Medication, First aid kit, medical documents – Duh, a no-brainer. I double check all expiry dates on meds and bring the old stuff to any pharmacy (it’s bad for the environment to dump in the garbage or toilet).
4. Laptops & external hard drive – we each have our own (I even carry around a wifi router!). The external hard drive is crucial to life in general. I back up, back up, back up. More on that another time.
5. Stereo & iPod – The iPod we’ve had for years and its followed us on all our trips. The stereo/iPod dock is a recent purchase and I was reluctant to spend so much, but with rationalization, it became apparent that we really “deserve” (cough cough) good sound. I hate to admit it, I love blasting that thing and dancing around the house!
6. Good kitchen knives / saute pan (kitchen utensils) – Eating out in restaurants can be entertaining, it can also start to get tiresome. Plus part of the fun of living in new places is to discover the regional gastronomy. Local markets are colourful , you get to support home-grown produce, and people love to talk about what makes their particular goods special. Once your basket is full, it’s time to head”home’, and there’s nothing more frustrating than to go into a kitchen only to discover a mish-mash of dull knives and crappy pans. Thus, we bring our own. I happen to like Henkel (except when I’m not paying attention and chop off half my finger nail).
7. Coffee maker – Another pet peeve: we like strong coffee with warm milk in the mornings. This press is small, lightweight and also doubles as a tea pot.
8. Box containing our favorite cooking staples – Hot oil, spices from our trip to Morocco, Herbes de Provence, Balsamic vinegar syrup, Worchestire, Tabasco, Herbal salt and mixed pepper.
9. Excersie mat, resistance bands and DVDs – I fall prey to not consistently being in shape, but with these tools, I am more motivated and less likely to let myself go into the deep end of total lethargy. Small and easy to pack, they can go anywhere.
10. Little luxuries – ahhhh! A girl needs even just a touch to make her life feel special. I’ll let you know later what mine are that fit into our lifestyle.
…and I ate it all (with some help!). The sun is back and we’ve arrived in Schladming, home to World Cup skiing and more incredible vistas. With meals which end like this, thank goodness there are plenty of hiking trails around!
Photos in this set.
Mais non! How can a simple egg be transformed magically into one of the worlds’ most famous omelettes? The answer can be found at La Mere Poulard on the Mont St Michel in Brittany, France.
They shared some of their secrets as I promised not to tell, but hey, let them come and find me! The key for the light and fluffy texture is achieved through much hand beating of the egg whites in a copper pot (there is a chemical reaction with the whites, similar to adding cream of tartar), then they fold in the yellows, then they bake it in an open pan on top of the fire.
Et voila! Now you too can try this at home for your Sunday brunch. Bon Appetit!
Thanks for lunch Bumpy
Today we roasted a chicken. Not any old chicken, but one of our prized fowl from Jean and Yvette!
Jean and Yvette were our closest neighbors when we lived in the Perigord. They adopted us, and we them. Living a simple life, raising a couple of chickens, guinea fowl, ducks and rabbits, they seem to us to have the “quality of life” question answered.
Yvette’s chickens merit extra special attention when preparing them. So here is my basic recipe:
Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F.
Prepare a liquid/paste of olive oil mixed with “Moroccan” spices (cumin, oregano, paprika, salt & pepper, garlic powder — basically, whatever ground spices you feel like using). We sometimes add extra hot cayenne for a little “kick”.
Rub the paste all over the bird. Place garlic slivers under the skin.
Make a “stuffing” of old bread cut into cubes, garlic, parsley, thyme, roughly chopped nuts, raisins or bits of fresh apple (or other fruit). Mix it all together and just before you put the bird into the oven, thoroughly douse the bread mixture with Cognac (or Calvados, Armagnac etc). The bread bits do not need to be soaking, as the mixture will absorb juices from the bird. I suggest not to stuff the bird too early, otherwise the stuffing become soggy.
You can place potatoes around the bird, and douse them with olive oil and spices too.
Bake the bird at the high temp for about an hour, depending on the size of the bird. The skin should be crispy.
Saturday is “market day” in many cities and villages across France. Beaune is no exception, with its covered market hall at the center of the village square; every Saturday becomes a feast for the senses. Outdoors on the square you’ll find the fruit and vegetable sellers, but also bread, cheese, a stand where they sell a variety of olives, sun-dried tomatoes, “Herbes de Provence,” and spices from Morocco. There are tables of “saucisson” (dried sausage), chickens on rotisserie spits (the smell makes your mouth water), oysters, soaps made with olive oil, honey, wine….you can even find pots and pans to cook all your market finds in!
We love market days and after a few visits, we find our “favorite” sellers. We prefer the side aisles where some very local farmers show up, such as the woman in the photo, who had a couple of chickens, a rabbit, and some vegetables from her garden.