Archive | September, 2011

Au Revoir France, Baked Camembert followed by Tarte Tatin

30 Sep

French month came to a sweet end with a home baked Tarte Tatin. So to start we went for something pretty simple, crunchy French Bread, a whole baked Camember, home grown tomatoes and crunchy Dill flavoured cornichons. Not a meal for every day, but one to savour for its rich indulgence! Washed down with a nice glass of wine, I could have been in France.

The Tarte was pretty simple to make. 6 apples were cored, peeled and halved. Sugar and water were heated until a caramel formed and then butter was melted in to the mix. The caramel was quickly poured into the cooking dish, topped with the apples, which were in turn brushed with butter and topped with sugar.  Half an hour in the oven and the hot brown apples were then ensconced in a blanket of puff pastry. Back in the oven for another half an hour. Once it was cooked, a couple of hour were needed to wait for the sugar to transform itself into caramel from its molten lava state! We served it with a splodge of creme fraiche, yummy. Not my best pudding, there was some caramel ooze from the tin, I think I’d like another crack at it as this attempt could have had more caramel notes, instead it wasn’t quite like the picture, just a slightly caramelly apple pie.

So for a super easy assembly dinner, you can’t beat bread and cheese 8/10 for supper. 7/10 for the Tarte, not perfect and a lot of washing up needed.


Crepes and mushrooms

27 Sep

A simple, super tasty meal this evening, following Raymond Blanc’s recipe for crepes / pancakes but with the substitution of some rye flour in place of some of the plain for an additional savoury flavour.

Some butter went into the frying pan and heated until browned, and then combined with two eggs, 200ml of milk and 100g of flour and some seasoning. This sat and rested on the side in the kitchen whilst a filling for the crepes was prepared.

Some chopped smoked streaky bacon was fried until crisp and then a clove of garlic and some shallots were thrown in. Once these were soft, several handfuls of sliced mushrooms were added and later this was finished off with lots and lots of black pepper and some creme fraiche.

The pancakes were fried off one by one before being rolled around the creamy mushroomy bacony sauce and topped with grated Gruyere cheese and accompanied with some salad (not pictured…)

Mrs M scored it 8 out of 10.


Mr M

Savoy cabbage with Pommes Dauphinoise

26 Sep

Both Savoy cabbage andPommes Dauphinoise are things we often make and have established recipes for, but in the spirit of the year’s food exploration I closely followed the recipe as dictated by Mr Blanc – he should know, after all.

A mandolin would have been useful for prepping the pommes, but I resorted to a knife and did a good job of getting the apparently crucial, exact, and uniform, 2mm slices which went into a pan with boiling milk and simmered for 8 minutes. It was then seasoned and a large amount of grated Gruyere cheese and grated nutmeg thrown in before the lot was placed into an oven dish and cooked for another 25 minutes.

Unlike our usual recipe for Pommes Dauphinoise, there wasn’t much garlic – according to the recipe, rubbing clove of garlic on the oven dish was sufficient (hmm…).

To go along with the above, I fried some chopped garlic, bacon, salami and shallots and then added some chopped cabbage and some water, adding a lid for the cabbage to steam for a few minutes.


Mrs M scored it 7.5 out of 10 (possibly in revenge for my score of yesterday, i suspect!)


Mr M

Braised Lamb and Butterbean Stew with Garlic Sausage.

26 Sep

We invested in Raymond Blanc’s Simple French Cookery for more recipe inspiration, we picked this dish to eat last Friday. Lamb neck fillets were defrosted over night to provide the basis for this dish. Unlike Raymond I am all about convenience, so a tin of butterbeans (rather than the soaking the dried version) were acquired from the cupboard. We already had some garlicky Saucisson in the fridge. Garlic, tomatoes from the garden, streaky smoked bacon, seasoning and bouquet garni were the only other ingredients required.

After braising the lamb, I deglazed the pan with a dash of water and poured the juices over the lamb fillets. The tomatoes and whole peeled garlic cloves were also added to the pan. Water was added to cover the lamb, this was then cooked for an hour on the hob on a gentle simmer. After an hour of cooking the beans, bacon and sausage were added with the bouquet garni for a final hours cooking.

The resulting dish contained tender nuggets of lamb in a gently orange sauce and butterbeans nestled in amongst pink chunks of bacon and sausage. It had a softly smoked flavour, with the beans countering the slight fattiness of the lamb. Served with beans and jacket potatoes this was a hearty meal to end the week on and created a nice warm spot in my belly as the nights start to draw in and the air takes on an autumnal chill.

Mr M gave it a measly 7.5, I shall have to work harder to impress!

A quick dinner – Omlette with cheese and salami

21 Sep

After spending an age trying to sort out car insurance, we were too late to make our originally planned onion soup. Instead I whipped together a quick salad and Mr M got on with cracking some eggs and making a couple of fabulous omlettes with onions and cheese (and home grown tomatoes in his). A tasty side portion of Saucisson completed our Francophile fast food. A simple score of 7.5 for this dinner.

Sole meuniere

19 Sep

A blog post that is a few days later as we’ve been off on holiday and eating out all the time.

A simple dinner of sautéed potatoes, slow roasted tomatoes and fried fish. Following the instructions on the label, the fish was fried for about 4 minutes a side. Per the instructions in the cookbook, a separate clean frying pan was used to lightly brown some butter which then had some lemon juice to it before being drizzled over the fish.

Mrs M scored it 7 out of 10.

Mr M


Salmon au poivre and hollandaise sauce

14 Sep

A magpies first tonight. I attended to make hollandaise sauce, which is one of those things I have tended to observe more on posh cooking programs than on my own plate!  Surprisingly it was quite easy to make and very tasty.

The salmon was dead simple. Half a tablespoon of black peppercorns were smeared onto 2 pieces of fish, rested for an hour to infuse and then simply pan fried for a few minutes each side. Potatoes and green beans accompanied the fish.

Whilst the potatoes were cooking I reduced a tablespoon of lemon juice, two tablespoons of wine, some peppercorns and a bayleaf until I had about a tablespoon of liquid. I added this to 2 egg yolks and a dash of cold water. This was whisked for a few minutes and then melted butter was trickled in whilst I continued to whisk. Not having any Chervil I added thyme instead. The sauce was kept warm until ready to serve.

Mr M gave my efforts 8 out of 10. A fair score I think!


Normandy Chicken Fricassee

13 Sep

More slowly cooked goodness.

Onions and bacon were fried off and set aside, with the bacon fat and some butter then used to brown off some chicken joints that had been coated with seasoned flour.

These were thrown into a large pan with some cider, chicken stock, seasoning and a bayleaf.

After 25 minutes of simmering, the onions and bacon rejoined the chicken along with some mushrooms. Another 15 minutes and to finish some creme fraiche and Dijon mustard were stirred in.

As an accompaniment some slices of apple were fried in some more butter until brown.

Mrs M scored it 8 out of 10.

Mr M



12 Sep

A nice fresh vegetable mix of garden tomatoes, courgettes, peppers, red onions, garlic and aubergines. Lightly pan fried and enhanced with basil and thyme. Served with pasta for a quick and healthy tea, just 6.5 from Mr M as I think the vegetables had lost some crunch.


Moules Mariniere

10 Sep

Wed night was a cheeky Steak Frites night,  so we decided not to blog it. Mr M and I both had Thursday off French food. Friday however saw a return to our cuisine of the month with mussels.

I was surprised how cheap a kilo of mussels was, even in Waitrose. I was also surprised how smelly they were when Mr M and I got them out for cleaning, debearding and hunting for dead uns.

Smelly part over, I got to preparing the ingredients for the sauce. Finely chopped shallots, garlic, wine and a bayleaf plus some seasoning were all assembled. After frying the shallots the other ingredients were all chucked in a big pan with the mussels. Once the wine was boiling, the mussels were steamed with the lid on for 4 minutes.

Once the mussels were cooked, Mr M checked for closed ones and I thickened the cooking liquid with a little flour. After pouring the sauce of the mussels we served them with the obligatory frites and a roll for the juices.

Fresh like the sea, garlic tang, wine sauce, I quite enjoyed these. Not so true for Mr M and I am not quite sure I like them enough to go through the hassle of cleaning them at home. Just a 7 for these.  Beouf Bourguinon tomorrow.