Creamy Leek risotto with Prawns and Mango

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What better way is there to spend a warm spring evening than eating al fresco, surrounded by the heady scent of roses and birdsong, eating a fragrant risotto and sipping a well chilled glass of white wine. I can’t actually think of any.

The essence of a good risotto is Italian Arborio rice and patience. Patience is a virtue that we have all had to learn how to practice during this difficult period, and a lesson that I for one, needed to learn.

The pleasure that I get from my garden is second to none, and I feel blessed that this period of confinement has given me the opportunity to see it change and grow from the emerging of the tulips and apple blossom, to the very first white flowers on my fledgling lilac tree. followed by bluebells, cornflowers and iris, and the anticipation of the peonies, who, when they finally arrived, did not disappoint. Now it is the turn of the roses ……

The mild creaminess of the leeks and the subtle floral, sweetness of the mango, works amazingly well with the slightly salty prawns. I added a little dusting of paprika to my prawns to give a little extra je ne sais quoi.

Ingredients
(serves 2)
1 cup of Arborio rice
1tablespoon of butter
1 small leek finely chopped
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
1/2 a large ripe mango cut into 1cm cubes
1 cup of cooked prawns cut in to two of three, depending on the size
1/2 cup of medium sweet white wine
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 litre of mild vegetable stock (I used 1/2 a Knorr cube with herbs and olive oil for pasta or rice)
Method
Gently soften the leeks in the melted butter, taking care not to brown
Add the garlic and rice and stir until completely coated in the butter and gently cook, stirring gently for around five minutes (the smell of the garlic and leeks is amazing.)
add the white wine and allow to reduce slightly, then add the lemon juice
Stir in the stock 1 ladleful at a time until the stock has been almost all been absorbed and the rice is fully cooked (add extra water if necessary – I still had a little stock left in the jug)
Gently stir in the mango and heat through, then add the prawns and gently stir until they are heated through also and the rice fluffy.
Serve immediately in warm bowls and decorate with a prawn.
I sprinkled mine with paprika, but a little parmesan works well also.
This is one of my favourite ‘go to’ dishes, as it is so simple, yet so delicious. I also serve this in small ramekins as an entree
Let me know if you try it
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Chocolate Pots and plant pots

A Taste of two Cities

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I have been cleaning the many plant pots that we inherited with our house. It is quite satisfying scraping off years of mud and moss and lots of fun lining them up and hosing them down afterwards. Now they are all stacked up and ready to store in our newly created frost proof garden store beneath the exterior stairs.
If you are working hard in the garden at this time of year, but want to look forward to a wow factor dessert as a reward, then my chocolate pots are ideal.
Made in the morning they are ready grace any table at dinner time.
Simple beyond belief, they cannot fail to impress, especially if you serve them in little porcelain coffee cups, as in the photo, and surprise guests who think that you are giving them a cup of hot chocolate.
I have shared this recipe with so many friends over…

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Salmon with feta and red peppers

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I was very excited last weekend to receive a delivery from ‘Oliviers & Co’. Those of you who have been reading my recipes for a while will know that I use their products a lot in my salads and dressings. Being on partial lockdown and restricted to remaining in the Bourgogne, I cannot get back to Paris where all my precious oils and vinaigres are, as I have practically exhausted my supply here. But in the mean time, I ordered a little selection of my favourites to keep me going.

I was particularly excited to receive the new ‘douceur de vinaigre au Pamplemouse rose’ and first used it to dress an orange, kiwi and pineapple fruit salad, but it really came into play when I mixed it with some huile d’olive et mandarine fraiches and drizzled it over salmon which had been topped with crumbled feta cheese and oven baked with some new potatoes. (apologies for the feta, I do not have a real oven here, only an ven grill and things do tend to get caught on the top.)

I served this with ribbons of courgette, very lightly steamed so they retained a little ‘bite’, and tossed these in a little Olivier & Co huile d’olive et thyme frais presses, which is also new to my collection.

Even though we have not been able to get back to our apartment, we have been able to get out and about a little in the beautiful surrounding countryside. There is nothing like an expanse of green to refresh the mind and stimulate the senses, especially when it is bordered with blue. It feels so good to be able to be able to stride out, instead of shuffling behind a supermarket trolley at a safe distance from the person in front.

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Stay safe everyone

 

Vegetable Pot Luck and End of the Confinement

The strict confinement in France due to COVID 19 that began on the 17th of March finally came to and end on 11th of May. This meant that we could go out without a printed attestation stating our names, date of birth and place of birth, plus the appropriate document (I.D. card or passport) corroborating this information. We also had to state where we were going, why and have a valid reason for doing so, then add the date and time and sign the document. All this had the desired effect of discouraging people from venturing out unless absolutely necessary.
Living in such a beautiful place a Burgndy, it was very frustrating not to be able just to go for a walk in the hills behind my house, but yesterday we were able to do just that (although we are restricted to driving within a 100km distance from home.)
It was a sheer joy to be able go out and once again enjoy the peace and tranquillity  of the countryside and be able to walk somewhere other than, ‘at a safe distance’, around a supermarket.

Today’s dish, as the title suggests, does not come from the supermarket, but mainly from our own garden (celeriac, leeks and carrot) and the local fruit and vegetable market, which is once again open.
It is cold and wet outside and not a bit like the month of May, so something warm and hearty is required. I put to use a celeriac root that I picked yesterday. It reminds me of the ‘mandrake root in the Harry Potter film, what do you think?

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Ingredients
1 shallot finely sliced
1 clove of garlic crushed
1 small leek finely chopped
1 small / medium courgette cut into cm cubes
2 medium carrots cut into cm cubes
Half a celeriac root cut into 2cm cubes
2 handfuls of dried green Puy lentils
1 can of chopped tomatoes
2 empty tomato cans filled with vegetable stock (I used a Knorr Mediterranean stock cube)
Light olive oil
Oregano
Freshly ground black pepper

Method
Gently sauté the shallot, garlic and leek in a little oil for 3 or 4 minutes, taking care not to brown
Add the carrots, courgette and celeriac and gently sauté for a further 4 or 5 minutes
Season with oregano and black pepper (salt can be added at the end of cooking if required)
Add the lentils, tinned tomatoes and vegetable stock
Cover and gently simmer for around one and a half hours, until the lentils are soft.

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I served this with wheat grains, but brown rice would also be an option.
I wasn’t sure about using the celeriac in this way, as the flavour is quite strong, but it was delicious.
Maybe a recipe to file for the next chilly day.
Bon appétit

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The tranquil countryside behind Les Libellules

And to close a photo from our walk yesterday when the weather was fine- sheer bliss
(the ‘featured image’ of the flowers by the gate is also from yesterday’s walk)

 

 

 

 

Hospices de Beaune and Courgette and tomato tagliatelle

 

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The Hospices de Beaune, also known as ‘Hotel-Dieu’ was founded in 1443 by Nicolas Rolin, the chancellor to the then Duke of Burgundy, ‘Phillipe le Bon’, and his wife Guigone de Salins, as a free hospital and refuge for the poor.
This was unique at this time as Rolin set out to make the building aesthetically beautiful on the inside and out, using the distinctive polychrome tiles that the region is famous for on the magnificent roof of the building.
He also had revolutionary ideas on standards of cleanliness and the provision of fresh food and drinking water from the hospices own well and well equipped kitchens. And he founded a training school for local women of good repute to nurse the patients and assist in the pharmacy where all the medicines were prepared, forming the religious order ‘Les soeurs Hospitialieres de Beaune’, who cared for patients here as late as the 1970’s.

 

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Regular followers will know that I have the same ethos as Nicolas Rolin and like to prepare everything seasonal and fresh. So as the tomatoes and courgettes have begun to ripen, here is a simple little dish using them and my own freshly made pesto (see below), and fresh pasta. Just right for these long hot summer days as a light lunch.

Ingredients
(serves 2)
2 generous handfuls of fresh tagliatelle per person (I used shop bought, but as soon as I have a proper kitchen, I plan to make my own, so watch this space)
1 tablespoon of fresh pesto
1 table spoon of good quality olive oil, plus extra for cooking
half a courgette diced
2 tomatoes diced
A handful of pine nuts
A little garlic salt and freshly ground black pepper and dried crushed chilli flakes

Method
Sauté the courgettes for5 minutes until beginning to soften
Add the tomatoes and cook over a gentle heat for around 10 minutes until both are slightly caramelised
Add the pine nuts and season with garlic salt and black pepper and reduce heat until pasta is ready
Cook the pasta in boiling slightly salted water for 10 minutes while the tomatoes are cooking
Mix the pesto and olive oil in a basin and pour over the cooked drained pasta and stir to coat.
Serve the pasta and top with the vegetable mix, very lightly sprinkle with the chilli flakes and serve immediately.
I do not put parmesan with this dish as I think theses flavours stand up alone, but experiment and see what you think.

Lindy’s Pesto

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Ingredients
50 gm of pine nuts
50 gm of freshly grated parmesan cheese
A large bunch of fresh basil
1 large clove of garlic
3 tablespoons of olive oil + extra for storage
Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper to taste

Method
Lightly toast the pine nuts and leave to cool
Put the cooled pine nuts, parmesan and basil in a food processor and blend for 20 seconds son the slowest speed
Add the olive oil a tablespoon at a time, checking the consistency
Add a little salt and pepper to taste
What you do not use, can be stored in the fridge in a sealed jar, covered in a little extra oil and kept up to two weeks.
To make a lighter sauce for pasta, the pesto can be mixed with crème fraiche, to give a milder flavour and a more fluid consistency.

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Puy lentil and halloumi salad and how does your garden grow

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Spring has truly arrived and along with it the opportunity to eat outdoors and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of nature.

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The scent of apple blossom and lime flowers is carried on the air with the sounds of a distance cuckoo, and the melodic singing of a multitude of birds. What is not so melodic are the mating calls from the frogs and toads in the pond, but it makes me smile to hear them.


My garden is not really a garden, but a wild place where nature has been allowed to run amok. I love to see bees forage for nectar amongst the flowers that have seeded themselves wherever they like.


I love also the fresh tastes of spring, and this salad is another one of my, make what you can with what you have meals, that has turned out to be a favourite with my veggie daughters’ and my non veggie husband alike.
It is quick, simple and nutritious to make and tastes full of flavour.

Ingredients (serves four)
2 cups of Puy lentils cooked in slightly salted water for around 40 minutes until soft, but not mushy, drain and leave to cool
1 avocado finely sliced
1 courgette finely sliced
A handful of pine nuts slightly toasted
A handful of fresh mint finely chopped
1 block of halloumi cheese in fine slices
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of lime juice
Maple syrup or balsamic vinegar

Method
Chargrill the courgette slices and set aside to cool
Mix the olive oil and lime juice and toss the avocado, cooled courgette, lentils in the mixture then gently mix in the pine nuts and mint
Grill the halloumi on both sides
Arrange the lentil salad on a serving place and top with slices of halloumi
Drizzle with Maple syrup or balsamic vinegar if preferred
Serve immediately
(This delicious salad can also be served as a starter for 6)

 

 

April in Paris and Warm Courgette and Avocado Salad

 

IMGP5154Spring has finally arrived, my favourite time of year in Paris. Warm enough to stroll around in light trousers and jacket, and sit outside a pavement café people watching. But not hot enough to make public transport unpleasant. Plus the Easter visitors have left and the summer ones not yet arrived in droves, so the city is relatively calm.

I would recommend this time of year to visit, even if you do run the risk of the odd April shower, especially as the trees are all in bud and the blossom is in bloom.

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I love cooking this time of year also using fresh ingredients, so I am gong to pot a lovely salad that I made using my newly sprung fresh mint.

Ingredients
(for two people as an accompaniment)
1 large courgette, washed and finely sliced
1 ripe avocado cut into small slices
A good handful of pine nuts
bout 12 decent sized fresh mint leaves, rolled and finely sliced
1 Tablespoon of white wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon of lemon juice
1 Tablespoon of olive oil (I used ‘Oliviers & Co. Olive oil with mint
1 tablespoon of light olive oil for frying

 

Method
Sauté the courgettes in the light olive oil until slightly charred on both sides
Add the pine nuts and cook stirring for 2 minutes
Add the white wine vinegar and lemon juice and reduce until only half the liquid remains
Transfer to warm serving dish and toss in the avocado
Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the mint leaves.
Serve immediately with either some grilled fish, chicken or spring lamb cutlets
For a veggie option serve with grilled haloumi

This is also great cold with feta cheese crumbled over the top before you drizzle the oil

 

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Paris in the Springtime