I know it sounds strange but similar to scent, food can bring me back to happy moments in my past. I smell tarte tatin and I am immediately transported to a small village restaurant in the coastal town of Port Grimaud (near St Tropez) where we shared the dessert as a birthday treat for my mother many years ago.
There are few things I enjoy more than cheese! The variety in cheese is astounding and it can bring you on a journey right from your own kitchen. France is undoubtedly the kingpin of cheese producing but many other nations are catching up. Ireland’s farmhouse cheese movement has produced some incredible dairy products in recent years. Similarly, in the US, Vermont has seen major developments in farmstead cheeses and is producing some to rival France. Continue reading
Duck is one of my favourite things to order out, it is so tasty and predominantly healthy. The meat is leaner than chicken! The skin however is another matter! I dont often cook duck at home but decided to try it this week, partially because they were on offer in my local butchers. Duck is great with a fruity sauce so I went with a cherry sauce but you could use an orange or plum sauce if you wanted. The key to making this healthy is, unfortunately, to remove the skin before cooking! Continue reading
This is exactly the kind of thing I like to eat on a sunny summer day. Its hearty and filling yet fresh and healthy. Nicoise is one of those recipes that has so many interpretations, its hard to identify the original. So Ive decided to just go with the way I like it to taste. Salty with anchovies, sweet and sharp with balsamic vinegar (I know this is probably a cardinal sin!) and lots of salad material to munch on! The lettuces I use have lots of bite to them but feel free to vary them to your taste. Yum! Continue reading
In theme with my latest intrigue into French Cooking, I attempted to make macaroons recently. These little beauties are notourious for being difficult to make. In truth, they are really not that hard. It is important to be thorough when following the recipe for macaroons, but mostly its all about patience. There is nothing overly complicated about it!
I decided to do raspberry macaroons as they are cute and pink. I also love raspberry jam so that was a definite deciding factor!
The below recipe comes from the lovely Harry Eastwood and is really yummy! For anyone who is interested, these work out at 3pp each but they are totally worth it! They are lower in fat than usual macaroons as they have no buttercream filling!
- 200g Icing Sugar
- 100g Ground Almonds
- 3 egg whites
- Pink food colouring
- 200g raspberry jam
- Preheat oven to 170 degrees C. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment
- Blitz almonds and icing sugar in food processor until they appear like the consistancy of flour
- Whisk the egg whites and salt until you have stiff peaks. Slowly whisk in caster sugar and food colouring until evenly distributed.
- Gently fold in almond mixture until mixed. ensure you are being light handed and try to use a metal spoon.
- Spoon mixture into piping bag. Pipe little pools of the mixture onto baking sheets (approx 40 blobs!) Ensure you leave a little space between for rising.
- This one is important. Bang the baking sheets one at a time onto the kitchen counter, this will help the mixture to settle and will discourage splitting. Let the shells sit for 30 minutes.
- Cook shells for 30 minutes. Allow to cool. Sandwich shells together with raspberry jam.
I love food, we all know that. There is something really special about french food though. On my recent holiday in France, I really struggled between wanting to taste all the wonderful buttery creations, and remembering that they are just not that healthy. It is a myth that the french eat buttery, fatty foods all day every day. They have a great attitude, everyone deserves treats but in small doses! They generally eat a healthy combination of lean meat, fish, exciting salads and green vegetables, all flavoured with spices and herbs (ok and SOME fat!). The problem is finding that moderation and altering recipes to be slightly healthier! Thats what I discovered in my new cookbook.
Harry Eastwood grew up in France but struggled with keeping her weight under control when surrounded with such wonderful choice of flavoursome food! In her new book, The Skinny French Kitchen, she endeavours to create stylish, classic french dishes but she has modified them to be healthier versions of the traditional. She has achieved this with great success. The main reason I love this book is that not only is it healthier, it does not compromise on flavour.
I have a list as long as my arm of the recipes I want try from this book and I will be posting my success or failure as I proceed. Yesterday for lunch I made French Onion soup and boy was it yummy. Rich but without all the usual unecessary fat that is usually present.
My other forays into french cooking from this book have also been pretty successful. Harry gives clear and easy instructions which takes the mystery out of foods that formerly seemed complicated, such as eclairs. I made mini eclairs to take into work and they went down a treat. The nicest thing is that nobody had a clue these were lower in fat. Again the key with these is smaller amounts of butter! I really cannot express how much you cannot notice the difference!
The favourite recipe I have made so far from the book is the classic profiteroles! These always light up eyes when they appear. These ones were light, fluffy and still decedant! Filled with creme patisserie and topped with hot chocolate sauce, they cant exactly be called low fat but they are certainly less rich than other versions. Simply yum!
I would certainly recommend this book to anyone, I have had so much fun cooking from it so far! My next challenge is the ultimate french sweet treat….Macaroons! Watch this space guys!