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Posts Tagged ‘French’

My love for tartiflette knows no bounds: tender slices of potato, smoky bacon and browned onions melded together by hot melted cheese sets my heart a-flutter (and, if I consumed it as frequently as I wished, would probably also stop my heart). Designed to revive hard-working mountain dwellers in the Haute Savoie, nowadays it’s also the perfect calorie-fest after a hard day’s skiing. It’s hearty, rich, warming and utterly, utterly delicious. The cheese of choice is Reblochon a mildly pungent, nutty cheese from the French Alps which has a melty, soft texture and turns bubbly, golden and crisp around the edges when baked. During three lovely months spent in the Haute Savoie, living in the lake-side town of Annecy, I worked my way through a good number of tartiflettes made with all sorts of cheeses. Whilst they were all great (especially the goat’s cheese ones) the classic recipe is definitely the best. If you should find yourself in the area you can’t go far wrong at Le Freti, cheese shop by day and restaurant by night. Just be sure to book a table in advance. (more…)

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It’s another Avignon-inspired recipe for you today! Going back to Les Halles market – the one to give you foodie dreams for years to come – I mentioned the boulanger who sold apple pie by the slice. His pie/tart was not the usually fancy affair with neatly sliced apples delicately arranged in concentric circles but a handheld, picnic-friendly pud.  A sweet apple compote was sandwiched between two layers of flakey, buttery puff pastry while the top was covered in a crackly layer of golden sugar. Thin squares of pie were sliced up and wrapped in a napkin for eating on the spot. The perfect end to a simple lunch of cheese, bread and tomatoes eaten on a sunny park bench overlooking the Rhone river. (more…)

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Last week my mum and I went on a last-minute city break to Avignon where we indulged in sunshine, shopping and lots and lots of beautiful food. Since coming back I’ve been on a Provençal cooking kick having been overloaded with inspiration on our mini holiday. Just wandering around the wonderful indoor market is enough to make you want to sell up and move to France: the stalls were overflowing with all manner of heirloom tomatoes; tiny, round green and yellow courgettes; plump purple- and white-flecked aubergines; strings of garlic; fat bundles of fresh herbs and about 20 types of onion. The delis had big bowls of ratatouille to take home and reheat alongside stuffed tomatoes, rabbit stew, individual egg and vegetable flans and roasted meats. Hams and whole salamis hung above mountains of olives and the boulanger oppostie sold crunchy, fresh sourdough bread, fougasse studded with nuts and apple tart by the slice. Other displays contained jewel-like candied fruits, macarons and iced, almond-shaped Calissons from nearby Aix. (more…)

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For several years before I got married, my mum and I took summer holidays together, sometimes inviting my brother or my now husband to join us for a week or two. Our holidays always went along the same lines, observing our family traditions. We would rent a gite somewhere in rural France – Lac d’Annecy, Brittany, Normandy, Corsica – and spend our time visiting nearby markets, walking, having long relaxed breakfasts in the morning sun and cooking the sort of dishes that she and I love. Stuffed tomatoes is one such dish and would appear at least once or twice per holiday in various guises.

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Gratin dauphinoise is a sinfully good, classic French dish that I wish I could eat everyday. Unfortunately my hips would never forgive such indulgence so this dish is reserved for high days and holidays only. Oh, and those days when you realise you ‘accidentally’ bought too much cream and need a way to use it up. I can’t only be me who does that, right?

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With summer in full swing (ha! what’s all this wet stuff coming from the sky?), the shops have ripe, red strawberries piled high and as you walk past their perfume lures you to take the inevitable detour and come home with a box full. Wimbledon is also in full swing and tennis fans will all be sipping Pimms and munching on overpriced but utterly delightful strawberries and cream while they wonder at the Williams sisters’ latest outfits, swoon over Nadal and appreciate the snazzy new roof. (And, of course, cheer for our guy Andy!)

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There are so many things I’ve been planning to make and blog about recently and for all sorts of reasons I’ve not made them. Instead, today I’m sharing a recipe I didn’t really intend to. I often find myself whipping up a quick cake or cookies on a whim, often before I’ve done the weekly shop which means making do with whatever ingredients I have and perhaps using up some things that are past their best.

Last night I fancied using up two slightly ‘mature’ eggs in something cakey and almondy. As usual I was fresh out of almonds so I turned to my standby block of marzipan – yes, there’s always one on hand for nibbling. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention. I was pleasantly surprised by how good these little madeleines were; the perfect balance between pillowy-light cake and moist, rich almond. 

Marzipan Madeleines

Makes about 16

  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 40g sugar
  • 80g plain flour, plus extra for the tin
  • a pinch of salt
  • 80g unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for the tin
  • 100g marzipan, grated or cut un finely

Brush a madeleine tin or small bun tin generously with melted butter and dust with flour, turn upside down and tap off the loose flour. Chill in the freezer.

Heat oven to 200°C.

In a medium bowl beat the eggs and sugar until very pale and fluffy, they should be double or triple the starting volume.

Place a sieve over the bowl and sift in the flour and salt. Fold together with a metal spoon.

Gradually add the melted butter, stirring well to incorporate. Finally, fold in the marzipan.

Remove the tin from the freezer and spoon in the batter. Fill each hole until almost full* and bake in the centre of the oven for 10 mins.

Remove from oven and cool in the tin for 1 minute before turning out onto a cooling rack.

If you have any extra batter, brush the still-hot tin with more butter, fill the holes and bake for 9 mins (the heat from the tin will kick-start the baking).

*About this full

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