Monday, 27 June 2011

Pear tart (with a base)

This is my mum's recipe, I tend not to use a base on my tarts, but that was a special request of my friend Lilanthi who tasted the dessert when we visited my parents.
Again, an easy and very French dessert.

Pear tart


- Shortcrust or puff pastry

- 120g almond powder

- 2 eggs

- 25cl cream

- 100g sugar

- 4 pears

Precook the pastry in the tart mould till slighly golden.

Mix well eggs, sugar, add the almond powder and the cream.

Cut the pears in slices and arrange them on the pastry.

Pour the mix over the pears
Cook at oven 180 degrees for approx 45 minutes

Source: recipe from my mum and photo from me.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Mediterranean Fish Soup

Fish soup photo by Jpazam

When I was little, my dad was taking my brother and I fishing near the harbours or in the rocks, in Saint tropez, where we were spending our summers, we were going early in the morning, and my brother was protesting, always impatient.
Saint Tropez
Saint Tropez Fisherman net and boat

It was great fun fishing with the bamboos we'd carefully selected to turn into fishing rods, using various baits. With the mediterranee being so transparent, we could see the fishes approaching most of the time, which was making the activity even more exciting. We were getting small fishes of all sorts, colourful or ugly and rocky, red, rainbow...
Harbour fishes
Little green crab hidding - hard to groab!

and when the fishes were failing to fall in our traps, we'd go in the rocks trying to catch little green crabs, those who add such a great taste to the soup.

- 1kg of varied small mediterranean rock fishes
- 1 small rock crab

- olive oil

- 3 or 4 tomatoes

- 3 garlics sliced
- thyme - laurel
- pepper

- 1 to 1l 1/2 of water

- as many garlics as guestsplanted on a fork each

Wash the fishes, roughly scale them. Do not empty them. Heat the oil in a pot at medium fire (preferably not metal) and throw in the fishes. mix the fishes until they are soft and falling apart. Add the three tomatoes, and the garlic, herbs, pepper and water. Simmer for approx 1/2h Pass the fish soup through a vegetable grinder. Prepare croutons , and the rouille (mayonnaise with rouille spice mix) Serve the soup with the croutons, the garlic planted forks and the rouille

Source: familly recipe from my mum, and fish soup photo by Jpazam, other photos by me.
Saint Tropez
Saint Tropez
Saint Tropez
Harbour fishSaint TropezSaint Tropez

Monday, 13 June 2011

Tomates farcies (Stuffed tomatoes)

This is one of my favorite french dishes, full of flavours and one of these dishes that are even better reheated. Not difficult and great for eating at work the next day, it can be a main on its own, or served with rice or couscous. A doodle to make, you can leave the dish to simmer whilst you are busy doing something else.

Stuffed tomatoes: finished dish

Ingredients for 4:
For the meat stuffing:
- 500g minced pork
- 500g minced beef
- 1 onion or shallot chopped
- 2 clove garlic peeled and chopped
- thyme
- laurel
- salt, pepper
- 16 tomatoes approx(if you have more, add them to the dish anyway)
- olive oil

Mix all the meat stuffing ingredients together using your hands. Divide it in equal size balls (smaller than the tomatoes).
Stuffed tomatoes: meat stuffingStuffed tomatoes: Cooking the meat
Heat the olive oil in a pan and sear the meatballs - don't cook them, just brown the outside. Then reserve them.
Stuffed tomatoes: reserving the meat

For a better presentation, cut a reversed pointy hat in the tomatoes - so that they can contain a meatball each. However ince I could not find reasonnable sized tomatoes, I cut the tomatoes in two and cooked the tomatoes alongside with the meat.
Stuffed tomatoes:fresh ripe tomatoesStuffed tomatoes: Cooking the tomatoest

Using the same pan, with the meat juice, cook the tomatoes, and first cook the tomatoes upside down to cook the flesh inside.

Stuffed tomatoes: Cooking the tomatoest
When the inside is confit looking, turn them all around and drop a meatball in each of them, place the lid of the pan 1/4 open and let it simmer for 1/2h, until the tomatoes are soft and the meat is simmering in the juice of the tomato.
That's it, the dish is ready!

Source: my mother's recipe, and my photos.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Lancashire black peas

Lancashire Black Peas

I just wanted to share with you a local/regional discovery. In spite of having lived in Lancashire for 12 years+, I failed to realise one of the old traditional food of Lancashire is bl;ack peas. They were featured at Accrington food fair and I did not miss the sampling. They taste very much like mushy peas, slightly different, and they are to be sprinkled with salt and pepper. My opinion? I really liked them, and the pot they were in was way too small!

Lancashire Black Peas

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Corsican Chestnut flour flan

Slice of corsican chestnut flour flan

I recently visited the French island of Corsica, for a familly visit. I did not land straight in my familly, instead we chose to drive some of the island for a few days. Starting with Cap Corse, then going along the whole East Coast down to Bonifacio and back up to Porto Vecchio.

The Island, besides being absolutely beautiful, has a lot to offer to foodies. It has rather stayed unspoilt for most of it, and the local produces are of great quality.

The Olive BranchCows in the way

Centuri harbourCorsican flag near Patrimonio (on the wine trail)

Corsican restaurant menu board

The island harbours a great quantity of chestnut trees in the mountainous areas (The centre of the island - see map above) and the corsicans who used to live in autarcy, make good use of the chestnuts. The latter, besides being eaten by the wild pigs, are used for human consumption for making flour amongst other uses.

Mattei Mill on the Cap Corse
Chestnut flour is ground in the winter for the whole year, so the locals buy it then and store quantities for the rest of the year. I had tried to cook with chestnut flour years ago, but was unsuccessful as I then used it pure. This time around, I got some tips from my aunt, who told me that for uses such as in shortcrust pastry, a ration of 20/80 mix of Chestnut and wheat flour) or 1/3-2/3 depending on one's taste is usual since chestnut flour is so strong. It is however used pure in cakes, or flans, dishes in which flour is not the main ingredient in general.

Before reaching my aunt's house in Propriano, on our costline drive, I have had the opportunity to taste a chestnut flan in a restaurant (the Bosco) in Ajaccio that I found delicious. The meal at the restaurant had nothing special to it, but the dessert made up for the whole. When I asked my aunt, she though I was talking about a flan in the style of a steamed creme caramel, more common, but the one I tasted was more like a French flan, made with chestnut flour.
Just to mention for coeliacs, chestnut flour is glutenfree.

Corsican chestnut flour flan
Flan for 6 people:
- Shortcrust pastry or puff pastry
- 90 g chestnut flour
- 20g walnut and sesame powder
- 120 g sugar
- A few drops of vanilla
- 6 whole eggs
- 20 g melted butter
Add Image
- 1/2 pint milk
- 80ml single cream
- A pinch of salt

Lay the pastry in a tart mould, and cook at 220 degrees until golden.
Sieve the Flour with the walnut powder. add the sugar, salt, and mix well.
Make a well and pour in the beaten eggs. Mix well and carefully.
Add the cream and the milk
, then
the butter.
Pour the mix in the cooked pastry and place in the oven at 180 degrees for about 30 min. watch that the top takes a golden colour.

And if you happen to have some of the delicious Corsican mountain honey, a filet of it on the tart makes great presentation and great extra flavour.

Corsican chestnut flour flan and local mountain honey

Source: recipes, my own alteration of a french flan, photos by myself.

Corsican chestnut flour flan