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>Salmon and spinach pie
2 round circles of puff pastry (frozen, all butter)
3 nice slices of smoked salmon
A big bag of spring greens or spinach leaves
1 Pot of crème fraiche
Grated gruyere or parmesan 50g
Pinch of grated nutmeg or all-spices
Butter for cooking the spinach 50g
Warm the oven: pastry raises better in a hot oven. Now oil and prepare a pie dish and lay one circle of pastry in it. Prick with a fork. Cut the salmon up and scatter at the bottom of the dish. Beat the egg, pepper and cream together and keep aside.
Wash the greens thoroughly in cold water with a dash of vinegar and drain well.
Put the butter in a thick cast-iron pan and melt the spinach on low heat until it has reduced to half its volume! Thankfully there is plenty of it in season now.
Mix the cream and egg with the spinach and reserve. Add the grated cheese, the pressed garlic and the spices.
Now pour this on top of the salmon, cover with the second circle of pastry and glaze with a bit of egg yolk – what’s left in the pan where you beat your egg is enough.
With a sharp knife, incise the crust with a pretty but simple pattern and put in the oven at 210°C on the middle rack. Bake for 20mn or until the pastry has raised and taken a golden tinge.
Serve hot but be careful because pies tend to remain very hot inside: that is why they make traditional picnic food and used to be eaten in the field after a hard morning’s work! Their crust acts like a natural lid and keeps food piping hot for very long… Which is very handy when your children only arrive at the table after you’ve shouted for twenty minutes… But maybe it’s just us!
>This is dedicated to a lovely boy who has recently adopted it as his favourite dish… A dish signed with love – and illustrated by a kiss shot at the V&A.
Classic Cesar salad
Ingredients list for the sauce:
I soft boiled egg
2 anchovy fillets
1 garlic clove
1 spoon full of lemon juice
15 cl of virgin olive oil
1 tsp of Dijon mustard
1 tbsp of red wine vinegar
You will also need:
1 Romaine lettuce
A few thick slices of stale bread
Shavings of parmesan
This is a classic salad and it is a great “fast food” recipe: It is made by the time you dial the Pizza number and is much healthier…
First boil your egg (2 minutes from boiling point) in a small pan. Carefully peel the shell off: the egg white should be cooked but the yolk runny. If under-cooked it can be a tricky operation… However messy it gets, put the egg into a blender then add all the other ingredients one by one.
Blitz for a few seconds. It will go paler and thicker, a bit like a mayonnaise.
Now cut up your bread and fry the chunks in olive oil quickly. Dry on a kitchen towel.
Wash your lettuce and cut it up into a large bowl. Pour the sauce evenly. Scatter the “croutons” and parmesan on top. The creamy white sauce over the green leaves make a very pretty dish! No wonder it’s a restaurant favourite.
If you wish to make this a fuller meal, you can add fillets of cooked chicken or sliced ham. But I prefer it pure and simple and true to the original!
Pains au lait from The Larousse Gastronomic Dictionary
This is a sweet and buttery bread served for breakfast or for the “goûter des enfants” at 4 O’clock. And Wednesday afternoon is my favourite time to bake bread with the children- today, just my youngest!
Put 500g of flour into a pyramid shape in a wide dish. Add a pinch of salt, 20g of sugar and 125g of soft butter. Add a packet of bakers yeast or fresh yeast (20g) mixed in a bit of hot water. Mix everything together with a wooden spoon then wet the mix with 250ml of warm milk (full milk, do not boil).
Work well with floured hands then roll in a ball and cover with a plastic bag and hand towel. Leave to rise in a warm, draught-free place for the night or about 12 hours.
In the morning, knead further until the dough responds with elasticity and spring; divide the mix in 10 to 15 elongated balls, make a cross with a knife on the top, brush with a beaten egg and bake in a hot oven (250°) for 45 min. Tip to get a soft crust: put a small bowl of water in the oven with the buns.
There is real magic in bread: how it is so simple and so truthful but at the same time mysterious and archaic… Something that really entrances children when they knead and feel the dough getting warm and alive in their hands: I love their smile and their pleasure when “it works” and the bread finally rises like a crackled sponge from the depth of the bowl…