Tag Archives: vegetable

Aubergine caviar – In praise of simple food!

“Caviar d’aubergine” or Aubergine dip is a traditional middle eastern dish and I love it everywhere and anywhere because it is super healthy and oh so simple to whip up. I can hardly believe I have not yet included it in this blog… For us, it always goes with our family size pot of hummous and lots of fresh veg and homemade bread to dip in.

I have been recently immersed in the excellent book by Dr Michel de Lorgeril “Le nouveau régime méditerranéen”- a well written, even humorous scientific essay-

IMG_7185 and I am loving the idea that simple, century-old recipes still hold the key to good health and longevity. Aubergine salad or dip is one of the staples of the Mediterranean diet and as such needs to feature in a balanced diet. So here it is : not a fad’ and not made of fancy expensive ingredients nobody has heard of – just authentic, simple and classic food.


 Ingredients List:

  • Aubergines, 4 medium size
  • Tahini, 3 Tbsp
  • Lemon juice,  of 1 lemon
  • Pinch of salt
  • Garlic cloves, 2
  • Olive oil
  • Pepper and smoked paprika to taste

Slice the aubergines in two halves, drizzle a little oil over and put them in the oven for 1h at 160°.

Once cooled, peel them and cut them up in chunks. Press them with a potato masher or put them through the food processor with all the other ingredients until you get a smooth cream.

Check the seasoning. It needs to be sharp and well balanced but not too pungent. One tip: cut each garlic clove in twos and removed the greenish shoot in the middle to take the edge off the garlic but still have a beautiful  flavour.

Serve with oatcakes or flat bread. Or just with cut up raw carrots and peppers if you are going Paleo!

A venitian market

A venitian market

Risotto de potiron, pancetta et piment doux en VF

English version here!

Ce Risotto de potiron, pancetta et piment doux est paru dans le journal du Lycee de Londres pour Halloween mais je la remets ici en l’honneur de mes visiteurs francophones, pour les remercier de leur soutien et de leur vote! Je suis sur la page 1 du Concours MarieCLaire Idées mais continuez de cliquer sur le cupcake rose…

Liste des ingrédients :

  • Potiron 250g
  • Riz Arborio 450g
  • Sancerre (ou autre blanc) 500ml
  • Bouillon de poulet 1L (Maggi cubes et eau)
  • Pancetta en cubes ou lardons 250g
  • Echalotes émincées, une grosse poignée
  • Huile d’olive 40 ml
  • Butter 40g
  • Sel et poivre
  • Laurier-sauce, 2 feuilles froissées
  • Gousses d’ail, 2 écrasées
  • Piment doux ou Piment d’Espelette, 1 cuillère à soupe
  • Noix muscade, 1 cuillère à café
  • Cannelle, 1 cuillère à café
  • Parmesan, 2 cuillères à soupe

Coupez le chapeau du potiron et grattez l’intérieur de la courge avec une cuillère pour en retirer les graines. Utilisez cette cuillère en métal pour évider la chair par larges copeaux : Essayez de garder le potiron intact si vous projetez un dîner d’amis afin de servir le risotto à l’intérieur. L’effet sera festif et raffiné !

Sinon, coupez des parts comme dans une orange et  taillez la chair au couteau.

Mettez les cubes ou les copeaux de chair dans un plat à rôtir et passez au four 40mn (180C).

Grillez la pancetta au four en même temps que le potiron, pour la rendre croustillante et éviter trop de gras dans le plat final.

Préparez votre bouillon de poulet et réservez.

Rincez le riz sous le robinet.

Faites fondre le beurre dans l’huile à l’intérieur d’un grand fait-tout : Jetez l’ail écrasé et les échalotes émincées dans l’huile chaude et faites sauter sur feu vif.

Lorsque le tout est doré, ajoutez les cubes de potiron rôtis, assaisonnez bien avec les épices et continuez de cuire durant une dizaine de minutes, à feu doux. Le potiron doit être bien recouvert de sauce.

Rajoutez les feuilles de laurier, en les froissant entre vos doigts.

Rajoutez le riz en une seule fois; puis versez le vin, verre par verre, suivi du bouillon et continuez de remuer sur feu doux jusqu’à ce que le riz ait absorbé tout le liquide.

Ceci prendra bien 45mn et plus vous opèrerez lentement, plus le résultat sera moelleux.

Assaisonnez légèrement avec le sel et le poivre.

Saupoudrez généreusement de parmesan en fin de cuisson. Décorez avec les cubes de pancetta. Si le risotto vous semble un peu sec, vous pouvez ajouter une grosse cuillère de crème fraîche à cette étape.

Lorsque je fais un risotto et que je ne suis pas trop pressée par le temps, je le fais assez liquide et puis je le parsème de parmesan et retour dans un four très chaud pour le laisser mijoter 5 bonnes minutes: C’est prêt lorsque le grain est ferme mais parfaitement cuit. Servez avec un sauternes ou un muscat bien glacé. Les notes de fruits confits de ces vins doux conviendront à merveille aux saveurs douces et acidulées de ce plat et à la chaleur de ses épices.

Si vous avez envie de voyager plus avant dans mon répertoire gourmand, revenez visiter mon blog: http://www.travelsaroundmykitchen.com

Note : Le piment d’Espelette est une spécialité du pays basque. C’est un piment doux au parfum de rose qui convient délicieusement à ce plat. A ramener de vos vacances ! PS: Look for the English version HERE

risotto sur l'AGA

Velvet smooth courgette bake

Summer is a time for enjoying all the wonderful mediterranean vegetables that we don’t tend to get for the rest of the year. I try and make use of the seasonal cornucopia of tomatoes, aubergines, courgettes and others as much as I can!

Enjoying the summer tastes and building sandcastles!

Here I give you a family recipe that has delighted us for generations with its simplicity and rich taste:

Ingredients list:

  • 4 big courgettes
  • Creme fraiche 125 ml
  • Milk 60ml
  • egg 1
  • Grated Emmental 100g
  • Pepper
  • Pancetta

Take 4 beautiful  courgettes, rince and slice them in half.

Steam or boil them briefly until slightly tender but not fully cooked.

Slice them thinly and lay the slices into a buttered dish.

Cover the first few slices with a few spoonfuls of cream and a bit of grated cheese and layer the dish until you run out of ingredients. Best to use quite a deep dish and not too large, like a tureen for meat loaf or patés for example.

Beat the whole egg in a glass of milk and and pour over the top. Add cubes of pancetta and ground pepper to taste. You can sprinkle the top with Parmesan if you don’t eat pork. I never use salt here because of the cheese!

Bake on medium heat for 35 minutes until it is properly roasted and very soft, and you can serve it with a spoon. Guaranteed to please everybody including those who think they have no taste for courgettes! How deluded…

Dunes and kite surfers at L'Espiguette

This was the view last week and the location of a great “cousins” picnic, on what is officially for me the most beautiful beach in the world: Our sea to the South, Camargue to the North and the foothills of the Cevennes dreamily appearing to the East in ghostlike shadows…


Creamy spinach risotto


This meal I made a couple of nights ago was inspired by a wonderfully creamy dish I enjoyed at Sketch with a side serving of Mozzarella ice-cream… I have attempted to recreate it in my kitchen, as simply as possible, and helped in that by the always concise and effective recommendations of Ginette Mathiot in “La Cuisine de Ginette Mathiot”. The result was effortless and delicious but don’t take my word for it and try it for yourself… Alternatively, go for the real thing and book a lunch at Sketch where it is on the rapide gourmet menu and sample real artist food – it is always well worth it!

Ingredients list:
Arborio rice 300gr
1 large bag of fresh baby spinach
Butter 50gr
Liquid (see recipe below) 600 to 700ml
2 maggi cubes
2 shallots
Parmesan 15gr
Grated comté 50gr
Salt and pepper to taste

Finely chop the shallots and fry in the butter in a cast iron pan or skillet: Rinse the rice under cold water, strain and add to the pan. Fry until the grains turn slightly transparent. Move them around with a wooden spoon to avoid sticking.

Steam the cleaned spinach leaves in a pan with a little water then liquidize the lot and top up the resulting green liquid with water in order to get about 700ml in total. Add 2 small magi cubes diluted in a bit of water and pour into a measuring jug.

Slowly pour the liquid into the rice and add more every time it has been absorbed. Cook on slow heat with a lid. This should take about 15mn of constant care!

When the rice is soft but not mushy, turn off the gas and add the grated cheeses. A turn off the pepper mill and it’s ready to eat with the aforementioned side dish of Mozzarella ice-cream on a bed of “rocket” and balsamic dressing! It impressed the children, in any case!
-But all good things come to those who wait (as we say in France: Tout vient à point à qui sait attendre) and so this recipe will come in my next post!

Japanese raviolis

My love affair with Japanese food started when I was a student in Paris, going to Japanese language evening classes after the Sorbonne and popping into Ozu films afterwards with a long-haired philosophy student who shared a love of Spinoza… Then, I learned how to deftly roll out sushis or fry tempura but today I am experimenting with pasta. The very same type of pasta early italian explorers like Marco Polo might have brought back in their luggage !

Ingredients list:
2 tbsp japanese soy sauce
pinch of white pepper
1 tbsp of mirin (sweet japanese vinegar)
1 egg
2tbsp sesame oil
Finely shredded cabbage (a big handful)
3 or 4 shiitake mushrooms (soaked in hot water)
A few shredded spring onions
Minced pork 150 g (optional)
A few drops of oyster sauce
A packet of gyoza wrappers
All of the ingredients can in found in the Japanese Centre in Regent Street, London. This is also where I found a cunning spring onion shredder that I now use all the time and the lovely raviolis press featured in my photo! It makes the whole job so much more enjoyable- but you can press the raviolis by hand with a fork just as easily.

Mix the shredded vegetables, the seasoning and the pork in a bowl then refrigerate for 1/2 hour. You can decide to forget the pork and do a vegetable version as in the photo above.
Take a wrapper and put a little mix in the middle. Wet the edge with a pastry brush then close one half over the other and press to stick between your fingers.
Store them on an oiled plate as you make them. Do not overfill or they won’t look good!
Then put some rapeseed oil in a cast iron pan and drop the raviolis one by one when the oil is hot. Quickly fry both side. When you have a good batch of them in and looking golden, with almost no oil left, pour a small glass of water in the pan, put the lid on and let it stem for 3 or 4 minutes. Serve hot with some stir-fried cabbage and soya shoots and a dash of tamari (japanese sweet soya sauce) or oyster sauce.
This went down particularly well with hungry children tonight – and they did not even notice the vegetable content!

PS. There is an Ozu film festival at the BFI South Bank this week! I’ll try not to miss it…