Monthly Archives: June 2010

>Smoked cod in onion and white wine, Spanish style

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Fish is on the menu this week, may-be in anticipation of more exotic summer delights…

Ingredients list for two people:
1 large fillet of smoked cod
2 thinly sliced onions
1 handful of cold-water prawns
Pinch of smoked paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper (or chilli powder)
1 glass of dry white wine
2 Bay leaves

Sweat the onions until tender in a shallow cast iron pan with a bit of olive oil. Add the fish and pour enough wine to cover. Add the bay leaves, the spices and simmer on low heat for 20 min with the lid on. Serve with fried potatoes or a potato gratin.

Smoked cod is both healthy and relatively cheap so this is a perfect dish for entertaining on a budget! This recipe is also very good with Pollack (Colin).

There are lots of variations on that theme in the Spanish cuisine but this I love for its simplicity and robust flavours.

>Roasted cod loins with cherry tomatoes

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I love fish but these days you are sometimes made to feel somewhat guilty for advocating such irresponsible tastes… So to get to the bottom of it (no pun intended), I went to see the amazing Natural History museum current exhibition “The Deep”  and immediately afterwards searched the Internet for the Marine Conservation Society which is responsible for updating a list of “dos and donts”  on http://www.endoftheline.com. Consulting their Good Fish guide, I was happy to learn that being a responsible shopper does not mean you have to forgo fish altogether but just that you need to be informed of what to buy when and from where.

Ingredients list:
Wild caught Pacific cod (The Atlantic one is scarcer so caution is advised when buying it)
(Choose firm loins – 200g per person)
4 streaky bacons
A spoonful of pesto
Ditto for Harissa (chilli paste)
Handful of fresh parsley and coriander
Juice of one lemon
Handful of roasted cherry tomatoes
Chopped sun-dried tomatoes
8 to 10 cherry tomatoes

This is quick and needs to be messy so don’t hesitate to use your hands: Smear the fish loins with pesto and Harissa, sprinkle the herbs and baste generously with the lemon juice. Especially if you have been a bit too keen on the Harissa.

Wrap the streaky bacon around each piece of loin, put in an ovenproof dish and scatter the tomatoes around. Sprinkle a bit of olive oil and pop into the oven (grill mode) for 10 minutes max- More if cooking from frozen. The dish comes out with a lovely, spicy sauce and melting tomatoes, infused with all the flavours of the sea…

Enjoy the healthiest protein around with a clear conscience.

>Elderflower cordial with lemon and lime

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 Having spent a sunny week-end in the English countryside, I came back with the picture of a young dear running across my path as I jogged (wonderful!) and a posy of creamy elderflower umbrellas. I set to work as soon as I got home and here is the recipe- you’ll have to wait 48h for the final word on it but it’s worth writing it all down now! The season is short for those fragranced blooms…
Ingredients list:
1 kg of sugar
1 litre of water
10 to 15 heads of fresh elderflowers
2 lemons plus zest
1 lime
2 teaspoons of citric acid
Pick the flowers, trying to avoid putting in too many of the small stems and reserve in a bowl. Boil the sugar in the water for a few minutes, making sure all the sugar is dissolved. Pour the boiling syrup over the flowers and then the mix back into the pan for a simmer of a few minutes again.
Zest and slice the lemons and lime and put them into the bowl where you now pour back the cooling syrup. Add the citric acid – available at most chemists. My local one stocked it, god bless her!
Leave to steep at least 48hours covered in the kitchen. Later strain it first into a sieve then through a cheese cloth or fine sieve and bottle in clean glass bottles until ready to use.
This drink is sharp and refreshing and encapsulates for me all the pleasures of an English summer in the country – walks in the woods and wild encounters with Bambi included!

>Chocolate and pear tart

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Some days, even the healthiest yoga-crazed fitness addict craves pure, shameless indulgence and this pudding is for days like that: When nothing but a good book and a slice of really decadent tart will do ; days when virtue is for everybody else and lust gets the better of you.
Ingredients list:
Pralinoise chocolate 200g
Puff pastry 1 sheet ( my latest version above was done with homemade short pastry)
Pears 3 mature ones
Eggs 2
Butter 100g
Ground almond 100g
Caster sugar 100g
Pre-heat your oven to 220°C. In a big bowl, whisk the soft butter, ground almond and sugar until pale and fluffy. 
Add the beaten up eggs and whisk until smooth.
Unroll the pastry and lay into a  buttered pie dish. Prick the bottom with a fork to avoid unsightly bumps later.
Peel and core the pears. Cut them in quarters. Reserve.
Melt the chocolate in a small pan plunged within a bigger one full of water (bain-marie for the experts). This is the best way not to burn chocolate. But add a drop cold water if the mix gets too dry.
Pour the melted chocolate over the pastry base. Then pour the almond and eggs mix over and lay your pear slices on top. Sprinkle with a spoonful of crushed hazelnuts.
Bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Shopping notes:
Pralinoise is a classic chocolate bar distributed by Cadbury France. It is chocolate with hazelnut paste. Mon Ecusette de Noireuil – as Andre Breton called his own daughter- could be quite addicted to it… 
If you can’t find it, replace by semi dark chocolate with a good spoonful of Nutella. This recipe was a special request from my lovely ex-au pair Kinga and so it jumps the queue. Tomorrow I will write about Cod and fish which was tonight’s subject…

>Light tahini dip for crunchy vegetables

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I am not a big fan of mayonnaise and in any case I have never succeeded in making a good enough one so the dislike must be mutual: I dont like it and it doesnt like me… but I have recently come across this dip and for me it ticks all the boxes  that mayonnaise does not:

  1. Lean and light – not oily
  2. Tasty in an exotic kind of way
  3. Quick to make
  4. Impossible to fail!

Ingredients list:
1 garlic clove
Tahini 50 ml
Silken Tofu 115g
Lemon juice to taste
Rapeseed oil 50ml
Spring onion 1 chopped
Light soy sauce 1 tbsp
Same amount of water
Pinch of salt and smoke paprika

Crush the garlic and stir in the tahini. In a blender, add the tofu, lemon juice and the tahini mixture. Then drizzle in the oil and soy sauce. Add water in if it feels too thick and stir in the chopped spring onion and the salt and paprika. Re-ajust with more lemon juice or oil if needed. The mix must be creamy and of a pale buff colour like a really nicely set mayonnaise.

Serve with lots of vegetable sticks (carrots, cucumber, celery) or some vegetable crisps. Enjoy immoderately! If more moderate, you can keep it in the refrigerator in a screw-top jar for a fortnight.

Nutrition notes: A lighter dip, full of good quality protein and low fat. You can up the content in healthy Omegas by using a bit of linseed oil or whizzing a cup to linseed into the mix. Good for your colon and easy on your arteries – who would want mayonnaise instead?!
Recipe adapted from “Food combining for weight loss and health” by Gilly Love and Patrizia Diemling.