Saturday, 27 July 2013

Z is for Zest

When I started this blog, I didn't really think through that there aren't many words beginning with 'z' let alone words connected with entertaining guests and food.  But zest is fortunately one of them.

Zest has to be fresh.  If you zest your (citrus) fruit too far in advance then the flavour disappears.  I use two tools for this: a microplane and a zester depending on how large I want my zest strips.

And I use zest in lots of things such as my BBQ butterflied lamb recipe (when I use the zester), and also when I cook spinach (when I use a microplane).

Once the leaves have just wilted in hot water, I drain, grind over lots of black pepper and add the zest of a lemon to serve.  I do this as I find this gives the veggie the flavour it needs without leaving a splodge of unappetising stodge when the juice breaks down the structure of the leaves too much.  If you have a pool of liquid in your spinach dish...this is why.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

L is for Lamb à la Rick Stein

The weather's turned warmer and we're having a BBQ.  But since this is a Sunday and usually devoted to roasts, we already have a leg of lamb in the fridge waiting to be cooked.  And I love lamb.  So we've decided to BBQ it à la Rick Stein.

  • One leg of lamb (with the bone in if you can butterfly it yourself, or ask your butcher to do this)
  • 1 lemon (unwaxed)
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 3 sprigs of rosemary
  • 3 chillies (deseeded)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Olive oil
  • S&P
  1. Snip off any excess fat or sinew from your lamb and make sure that it lies flat
  2. Zest the lemon and squeeze half of the lemon for its juice
  3. Strip the herb leaves from the stalks and snip in a cup with the ends of a pair of scissors
  4. Snip the bay leaf into thin strips
  5. Chop up the chilli and spread over the lamb with the garlic, lemon and chopped herbs
  6. Season the meat to taste and put the lamb in a large freezer bag
  7. Slug in a good glug of olive oil and massage the ingredients into the lamb through the plastic (keeping hands clean)
  8. Set aside and allow to marinade for at least an hour before putting it on the BBQ to cook
  9. Serve with lightly-toasted pitta bread and salad
And if you wanted, through the wonder of (stolen) technology, you can see how Rick does it himself!

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

B is for Bastille Day

Next Sunday is Bastille Day and the day that the French celebrate all things linked to Liberté, Égalité et Fraternité (brotherhood).  The day commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison in 1789, the freeing of many political figures, the start of the French revolution and the beginning of the road to becoming a republic.

And in planning my own celebrations for the weekend, I came across a post on one of my favourite blogs, Creature Comforts, for a French style picnic (or pique-nique) featuring a savoury and sweet clafoutis.

The pictures (as usual) are beautiful and the post also links to some very cute printables courtesy of the publishers (Chronicle) of The Little Paris Kitchen, the recipe book published by Rachel Khoo to accompany the eponymous BBC series.

Now the picnic with the weather we're expecting is a little optimistic, but I do love a good savoury clafoutis and so thought this was the perfect occasion to dig out my Marie Claire Ideés recipe for a favourite cherry tomato/goat cheese version.

  • 4 large eggs
  • 300 mls of whipping cream
  • 250 mls of whole milk
  • 4 heaped soup spoons of corn flour
  • 150 grams fresh goats cheese
  • 350 grams of ripe cherry tomatoes
  • 1 bag of basil
  • 20 grams of butter
  • S&P

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC
  2. Beat the eggs and then incorporate in the corn flour spoon by spoon, before adding in the cream and milk
  3. Cut up the basil into strips, reserving a floret for decoration at the end
  4. Add to the creamy mix and season to taste
  5. Butter an oven proof ceramic dish that is big enough to take all the liquid
  6. Arrange the tomatoes in a single layer and tear the goats cheese into lumps and arrange evenly
  7. Pour over the creamy mix and put the dish in the oven until it's cooked (approx. 40 mins) but still has a slight wobble
  8. Serve warm or cold with the garnish of basil (set aside earlier), some crusty bread (baguette works best) and a salad

You can also add pitted, chopped black olives to this, meat (lardons work well) or replace the goats cheese with another soft one.

For more Bastille day ideas, check out my Pinterest board on the celebration.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

F is for Fika

This lovely Swedish word is a noun and a verb and communicates laid back snacking in a way that no other word in any language manages.

It really is nothing more than a drink (usually coffee or tea) and a snack (more often than not baked but almost always on a doily) and is enjoyed between neighbours, friends, colleagues and acquaintances, and at any time of the day (or night).

And now I've discovered it's a cookbook..and has been for a while now...

...with the most beautiful layout inside, with each recipe spanning four pages, with ingredients first...

...and instructions second...

Now I just need to work out where I can get my mitts on a copy.