french food

All posts tagged french food

Simplicity At Its Best: Mediterranean Dinner in France

Published July 28, 2014 by The Feminist

france

When I was on holiday in the South of France (I don’t mean to rub it in) I discovered one simple truth: simplicity is the key to good Mediterranean cooking. With ingredients that you can count on just one hand, you can conjure up the most delicious dish imaginable.

So there I was…in my (temporarily rented) garden… watching how the boats sailed into the harbor… and I just knew that I had to attempt one of those classic, simple dishes myself.

So meet this delicious Coeur de Boeuf and Burrata mozzarella starter. In my homecountry  Belgium, I would never have voluntarily opted for a tomato and mozzarella salad at a restaurant. The tomatoes taste like water, the mozzarella tastes like water… I just found it really bland and boring most of the time. Until the French Riviera made me realize that a simple plate of tomato-mozzarella can be truly magical if you have the best products on the planet to work with. These Coeur de boeuf tomatoes were juicy, succulent and bursting with flavour and the burrata mozzarella… by golly, don’t get me started on the mozzarella! Burrata is the creamy King of mozzarella cheese: a texture that almost resembles thick yoghurt and a lovely rich flavour that almost does not require any additional seasoning. To make my version of this Italian classic dish extra special, I used some extraordinary olive oil I bought in Nice in the restaurant Oliviera (which I already blabbed on about in my previous post). It has a lovely sweet and nutty, almondy flavour and gives a peppery finish at the back of your tongue.

DSCN4066

Ingredients:

  • Burrata mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • Coeur de boeuf tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Good quality olive oil
  • Fresh basil

Following  the rules of simplicity, I also made this lovely fish dish: locally sourced fish topped with an almond and red pepper tapenade on a bed of courgette and fresh flageolet beans. Served with some homemade garlic bread (really really garlicy!)

DSCN4068

Just spread some good quality, store-bought almond and pepper tapenade (preferably bought at a local market, of course) on top of your fish. Put in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 200°C until tender and juicy. Cut the courgettes into thick slices and take the beans out of the pods. Blanche the beans al dente. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a huge pot, add the courgettes and salt and pepper and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the blanched flageolets and let it simmer for a further 10 minutes. Right before serving stir in some fresh basil leaves and sprinkle on some lemon juice.

Now pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy the sun!

 

 

Looking For Frenchspiration: Lavender and Lemon Curd Cupcakes

Published June 10, 2014 by The Feminist

french

Imagine you’re craving something sweet but don’t have a lot of baking ingredients lying around. Imagine you’re hungry. Imagine you’re me.

Well, then you would probably look across the Belgian border and get your inspiration from the French. France is known for its classic and yet simple desserts and tarts, so it would have been absurd not to go in search of some Frenchspiration!

So there I was, sitting in my garden with the sun shining on my face, asking myself one simple question: If I were in the South of France right now, what would I want to eat? As if it were a sign from above, this stupid, annoying fly/bee/ weird-looking-and-flying-kind-of-object started harassing me. I chased it down the garden until the unidentifiable flying object managed to seek asylum in a bush of lavender.

Lavender!

The French Gods had spoken.

Lavender is probably the Frenchiest of things imaginable (Next to croissants and wine of course. ) and it is a marvelous ingredient to cook with. From lavender and honey roasted lamb shanks to lavender and apple tarte tatin. Lavender is  something that belongs in everyone’s kitchen, not just everyone’s bathroom.

Apart from the lavender, lemon is the other main flavour in this dainty cupcake. Since I didn’t have fresh lemons lying around, I decided to use my cherished jar of good quality lemon curd instead. It gave the cupcakes a zingy flavour and its sticky richness was hugging my dessert-loving heart.

Lavender and lemon are truly a match made in heaven. C’est l’amour.

Trust me. (The French know a thing or two about love.)

DSCN3933

Ingredients (makes 6):

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 jar of good quality lemon curd
  • 1 ½ tsp fresh lavender, finely chopped (plus some extra to garnish)
  • 20gr butter
  • 60ml milk
  • 60gr plain flour
  • 70gr caster sugar
  • ¾ tsp baking powder

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C. In a large bowl, mix together the butter, sugar, flour and baking powder until you get a sandy consistency.
  2. Stir in the lavender and pour in the milk. Mix well.
  3. Add the egg white and whisk until everything is combined. Stir in a tablespoon of lemon curd.
  4. Pour the mixture into your cupcake cases and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
  5. Leave to cool completely before spreading a generous layer of lemon curd on top. Finally, sprinkle on some extra lavender
  6. Bon Appétit!