Monthly Archives: January 2011

Butternut and goat cheese risotto


The Italians serve risotto as a starter, in smaller portions, which I think is a better way of appreciating it than when you get a big main course plateful. This recipe serves five, as usual here on the blog!
For a light lunch, serve with a crisp salad and some sliced Speck or Parma ham.

Ingredients list:
Risotto Arborio 250g
Shallots 3
Olive oil 20ml
Butter 20ml
Handful of fresh chopped basil and parsley
Stock 450g (Chicken cube and water is fine)
Pumpkin or butternut squash flesh 250g (peeled and diced)
Salt and pepper
Dry white wine 200ml
Creamy goat cheese 125g
Some grated cheese for topping

For the wine, I used a lovely Sancerre with hint of citrus and a crisp finish which made the dish taste quite lovely and lemony- like an italian lemon grove! You need a zesty and quite acidic white for this.

Prepare the squash flesh by peeling and dicing it with your sharpest knife.

Season the butternut with salt and pepper and rub some oil into the cubes. Put in a roasting oven for 15 min, checking and shaking regularly. Take out when the flesh is tender et slightly charred on the sides.

Chop the herbs and shallots finely and fry them in a thick bottomed pan: I used a wide cast iron one that I’ve owned for the whole of my Londoner’s life.

Add the rice to the pan with the fried shallots. Add the stock and wine bit by bit while turning: let it bubble on low heat. When  all of the wine and stock has be absorbed, the rice should still be slightly ‘al dente’ under the tooth. Better to leave it too soupy than to dry it out! Check the seasoning and add some- or not. I added a good scraping of butter but you don’t have too if it is moist enough.

At the last minute, chuck the cooked flesh and the goat cheese into it.
Just before serving, pour into a warm gratin dish, with a sprinkling of olive oil, some cracked pepper and a generous amount of grated cheese such as cheddar and put back a few minutes under the grill until it turns a nice golden colour, 3 to 4 min at the most.

Once you’ve got the hang of it, risotto is actually a fool-proof dish and a great fall back recipe for when the cupboard is bare. The key is to cook it long enough and not to let it dry out.

Udon noodles with rocket salad and smoked salmon


You must have guessed by now that I am very fond of Japanese cuisine, despite having never been to Japan! I do enjoy the clean and fresh taste of Japanese food and the care that goes in the presentation of each dish. I first discovered it at the Japan Centre in Paris when I was a student and I always go back to it whenever I feel like healthy, lean, recipes that taste good and look good.

Ingredients list:
1 thick filet of smoked salmon cut up in cubes
2 handfuls of rocket salad
1/2 cucumber cut up in julienne (ie. thin sticks pushed through a mandoline)
12 cherry tomatoes in half
Udon noodles for 5 (about three little bundles)
Dress with: soya sauce, oyster sauce, olive oil and sundried tomatoes

Wash and cut the vegetables. Boil the noodles for 6 min in salted water and rinse quickly under the tap. Toss the drained noodles in a large shallow dish and chuck the vegetables on top. Dress with a sauce made of one part soya sauce, one part olive oil, a dash of oyster sauce or fish sauce and some chopped sundried tomatoes.

This is not very typically japanese at all but inspired by many similar salads that are served around in London. I like it because it looks good and the ingredients are very easily available in the “West” without having to go all the way to Regents street or Chinatown- though I do love making the trip when I can! Udon noodles are thin wheat noodles similar in shape to Soba noodles but of a lighter colour.

NB: Utensils are crucial and having the right ones is certainly paramount in order to succeed with Japanese recipes: I use a steel mandoline to cut up my vegetables and I recommend purchasing one before attempting anything! Once hooked you’ll be using it for all your veg and salads…

Wild boar roast in chocolate and cranberry sauce with poached pears


Perhaps you read Asterix like me when you were younger and perhaps you too did dream of the famous feasts under the oak tree after beating up a few Romans… Anyhow… You don’t have to own up but you might enjoy this most civilised version of the old boar roast!
I served it for Christmas lunch and it was such a success, Cacophonix might have belted out one of his songs afterwards- if only he’d been there!
Remember to get your butcher to prepare a nice rolled up roast-beef style joint, two days before.
Ingredients list:
Wild boar 2 kg
Sugar 200g
Pears 3
Fresh cranberries 150g
Beef stock or cube with water 500ml
Cinnamon sticks
Olive oil
Butter 30g
Dark chocolate 50g
For the marinade, the day before:
Red wine 750 ml/ 1 bottle
Shallots 3 
Garlic clove 1
Black pepper 1 tsp
Bouquet garni
24h before roasting, prepare the marinade and cover the meat in a shallow dish. Cover and reserve in the fridge. Turn it once or twice after this.
On the day, pour 200ml of water in a large pan and stir in 150g of sugar. When it reaches bubbling, poach the quartered pears into it for a few minutes.
In a small pan, add 50g of sugar to some water and cook the cranberries until soft.
Drain the marinade into a third (!) saucepan, add the stock and the cinnamon stick and let it boil then simmer for about 40 min until reduced by at least half! Check the seasoning.
Put aside and you will add the chocolate and cooking juice right at the point of serving.
Preheat the oven to 180°. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and brown the rolled joint in it for a few minutes. Transfer to a roasting tin, put the butter on top and roast for 40min or until the juices run clear but the meat is still pink and tender! Once I overcooked it, waiting for my guests, and it is such a shame because boar becomes very tough very quickly… 
As with all meat, let it rest a few minutes, covered in foil before carving. Add the sliced pears around the meat, ready to serve.
Pour the cooking juices into the reserved sauce with the chocolate: check for flavour! This dish has to have big and strong flavours- add chocolate or seasoning if necessary- Think Obelix! Heat up and whisk before pouring onto the sliced roast. Decorate with the cranberries.
The bold and great mix of flavours is irresistible but not for the faint hearted or anyone afflicted with a modest appetite… Choose your audience!
Recipe inspired by Trish Deseine in her book Nobody does it better.

Pumpkin pie



My son came back one day from school with this recipe and we have done it time and time again since! It has become a firm family favourite and I give it to you just as it is. Pretty quick.

Ingredients list:
500g cooked pumkin flesh
50g crème fraiche
2 eggs
50g brown muscovado sugar
vanilla drops

Make a short pastry by mixing 150g plain flour, 20 g rice flour, 1 spoonful of sugar and 60 gr butter in a food processor. Add a small sherry glass of cold water in drips as soon as the mix starts forming crumbs. Make a ball of it, slip into a plastic bag and into the fridge.

Take the cooked pumkin flesh and put in the mixer with the beaten eggs, the cream and the sugar and spices. It must be finely mixed to produce a smooth creamy filling. Choose a nice bright orange pumpkin for colour!

Roll out the pastry and lay it into a medium pie tin. Prick it with a fork. Blind bake it in a hot oven for 15mn. Then pour the mix in and bake another 30mn at 18O C.

Serve warm or cold.

This is originally an American pudding but the Brits have adopted too and with good reason because it is so tasty. This version is perfect for cinnamon lovers such as me and my youngest son – who put cinnamon everywhere we can…

Panetone bread and butter pudding


The ideal recipe for using up stale panetone and brioche, left over after the festivities. It tastes fabulous especially for the vanilla, rum and cinnamon added to it!

First make an easy egg custard:
2 medium egg yolks
one whole egg
Single cream 500ml
Brown sugar 2 Tbsp
Cornflour 1tsp

Other ingredients:
Rum and vanilla, for flavour
Half a stale panetone or Pandoro

Mix all the ingredients with a whip then heat the mix up in a pan until near boiling point and cook for 4 minutes whilst still whisking from time to time. The liquid must thicken a little but will remain very runny.

Put aside to cool and add 1 capful of vanilla essence and one of dark rum.

Cut up the stale panetone in slices and arrange them tightly into a deep baking dish. Put a few shavings of butter on the top and pour the custard over. Sprinkle with cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg. Add a few extra raisins if you like. But let it rest for a while before baking. Then bake at 160˚for half an hour or until the pudding is soft set.

Serve with any remaining custard or fruit compote. I served it post-Christmas with some frozen red fruit and cranberries stewed in sugar, like a fruit sauce or coulis.

It reminded me of comforting childhood puds like “pain perdu”, lost in cinnamon, and mushy biscuits crushed in warm custards – the kind you make up for babies but never quite grow out of…
Try this recipe with stale pain au chocolat or brioche and it is very likeable too!