An easy chocolate pudding made with neither dairy nor egg, but don’t let that fool you – it’s rich, chocolatey and delicious. You can prepare it a day or two in advance, making it a perfect dish for entertaining.
- 100 g good quality dark chocolate (dairy-free of course) such as Green and Blacks
- 300 ml coconut cream
- 1.5 tbsp cocoa (or to taste)
- 2 tbsp caster sugar (or to taste)
- 2 heaped tbsp freeze-dried raspberries (optional)
- a handful of fresh summer fruits (optional)
Put a bain-marie (easily made by putting boiling water into a saucepan and placing a smaller saucepan inside it so it’s sitting in the hot water) on the hob on the lowest heat, and melt the chocolate and coconut cream together. Give it a stir every few minutes until all the chocolate is melted. Taste it at this point. If it needs to be more chocolatey, sift in the cocoa, so that it doesn’t make lumps. If the mixture needs sweetening (which it probably will unless your dark chocolate is very sweet) add the sugar. Stir for a few more minutes on the hob. Remove from the heat when you’ve got a smooth mixture that tastes right to you.
The next step of the recipe will ensure the mixture stays smooth as it comes down to room temperature. For this, transfer to a mixing bowl, and whisk vigorously by hand (or equivalent speed in a mixer) for 5 minutes. Cover and leave to cool in the fridge (this speeds up the process), whisking again every 10 minutes or so, as it cools down. This should take about 30–45 minutes.
When the mixture has come down to room temperature, you can add the freeze-dried raspberries, whisk one last time and your work is nearly done. By this point, it should have taken on a slightly lighter colour, and be about the consistency of thick cream. Pour into ramekins, and place in the fridge for a minimum of 20 minutes.
Remove from the fridge just before serving, top with a handful of fresh raspberries and blueberries or other summer fruits, and tuck in!
The solution to knowing exactly what is in your hamburger is to make your own. It’s neither hard, nor very expensive, as you only need about 100–125 g meat per head.
Unexpected though it may seem, a good recipe appears in the first volume of Simone Beck, Louisette Bertholle, and Julia Childs’ Mastering the Art of French Cooking, published back in 1966. It only needs slight modification for the lactose- or egg-intolerant, and I would say for the better!
In France, butchers mince the best cuts of beef. Elsewhere, since this is a dish calling for a top cut, it is advisable to buy lean steak and grind it at home, in a mincer or food-processor.
Serve with, say, baked or sauté potatoes and a green vegetable, such as cabbage with garlic and fennel seeds (see the Book), unless you want the traditional hamburger garniture, in which case dispense with deglazing the pan at the end.
- 1 lge onion
- olive oil
- 400–500 g fresh minced beef, without fat
- 2–3 sprigs or ½ tsp dried thyme
- salt and freshly milled pepper
- 12.5 ml wine, red, white, or rosé
Chop the onion finely and soften it in a tablespoonful of olive oil in a frying pan in which the burgers can eventually be cooked.
Mix the onion and its oil into the mince – if it has all been absorbed, add 2–3 tsp fresh olive oil to the meat to hold the mixture together – and season with thyme leaves and salt and black pepper to taste. Work the mince into a homogeneous ball.
Flour a plate and your hands and shape your patties one by one, pressing them firmly together. Personally I prefer to make them with a diameter of about 5 cm which is smaller than the typical industrial size, but means that they are easier to handle and cook.
Fry the patties in hot oil, about 2–3 min a side if you like them well done on the outside and pink in the middle, otherwise longer, and turning the heat down once the meat is sealed.
Transfer them to a warm serving dish. Deglaze the pan with the wine, pouring it over the meat as soon as it has reduced by at least half and thickened.
This is a nice, and flexible, dish. You have only to remember that the fish needs to sit in its spicy coating for an hour or so if it’s going to be really flavourful. Should you not have one of the seasonings, it won’t be a disaster.
In the original recipe (from Meera Taneja’s The Indian Epicure), the fish is fried, but, in my experience, baking gives very tasty and also more presentable results, as the fish doesn’t stick to the pan.
You can use any firm white fillets, fresh or frozen: coley, haddock, hake, ling, pollack, sea bass, or cod, are some of the possibilities.
- 2 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 med onion
- 1.5 cm piece of fresh ginger
- 1 green chilli
- 1 tbsp fresh coriander
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 750 g fish fillets
- olive oil
- garam masala
- 1–2 lemons
The easiest way to make the coating is to whizz the following ingredients to a paste in a food processor: the coriander seeds, the cumin seeds, the roughly chopped garlic, onion, ginger, green chilli, and coriander leaves, the turmeric, and salt to taste. Add a drop of water only if necessary.
If however you are working by hand, heat the seeds to make them easier to pound, and grind them in a pestle and mortar, along with the garlic; grate the onion and ginger; and chop the chilli and coriander leaves finely. Mix all these ingredients together, adding the turmeric and salt.
Rinse and dry the fillets. Arrange them flat in a single layer in a baking dish greased with olive oil. Make two or three diagonal slashes in each fillet and spread the spice mixture all over, pushing it down into the slits. Leave in a cool place for at least an hour.
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5/190°C, and sprinkle the fillets with olive oil before placing them in the centre of the oven for 20–25 min.
When the fish is ready, it can be served directly from the baking dish, lightly peppered with garam masala, and with quarters of lemon and accompanying dishes on the side.
I’ve got several posts backing up for lack of pictures, but this elegant dish, which well deserves its Basque description ‘gachucha’ or ‘gracious’ and which can bring a bit of summer and spice into winter, without too much trouble or expense, has already attracted the photographer’s eye!
The recipe is given in Cuisine du Terroir, by the Master-Chefs of France. It needs nothing grander than short-grained or pudding rice, which they recommend you don’t wash, to prevent it going sludgy.
Romano peppers are, incidentally, what would be used locally.
- 150 g green and/or black olives
- 2 med to lge onions
- 1/2–1 (lactose-free) chorizo sausage, hot or mild
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 250 g short-grained rice
- 100 g homemade smooth tomato sauce (see the Book) or 1–2 tbsp tomato paste
- a lge pinch of cayenne pepper or chilli powder
- 150 g smoked streaky bacon
- 500 g green and/or red peppers
If you have olives seasoned with herbs or garlic, say, you can skip the blanching. Should you have plain olives in brine, bring a small pan of water to the boil, drop the olives in, and drain as soon as the water comes back to the boil. In either case, stone and chop them roughly.
Slice the onions finely, and skin and slice the chorizo.
Heat all but 1 tbsp of the oil in a thick-bottomed saucepan or casserole and soften the onion slowly for 7–8 min. Add the rice (unwashed) and stir it in the oil until the grains become translucent. Mix in the tomato sauce or paste and pour over enough boiling water to come about 2 cm above the rice. Without stirring, add two-thirds of the olives, two-thirds of the chorizo, a little salt, and the cayenne pepper or chilli powder.
Cover tightly and cook very gently without stirring for 25 min.
Meanwhile, cut the bacon into lardons, and wash, tail, seed, and cut the peppers into strips. In the last spoonful of oil, crisp the lardons, set them aside with a slotted spoon, and soften the pepper strips in the same oil.
In a ring mould (or, failing that, a pudding basin or soufflé dish), arrange the remaining chorizo slices and olives and all the lardons around the bottom. Fill it with the cooked rice mixture and press it down evenly. Unmould on to a platter and pile up the peppers in the middle or around the rice, according to the shape of the mould.
Nothing else is required as an accompaniment.
This tart brings out all the latent flavour of even sun-starved tomatoes. And the contrast in texture between the crunchy pastry and the deep soft filling makes it quite different from a pizza. The colours are a pleasing reminder of summer. Those inclined to vegetarian cuisine can use vegetable fat for the pastry and leave out the bacon, though it does add a little crispy something.
- shortcrust pastry dough, using 250 g flour, 80 g lard or vegetable fat, ¼ tsp salt (for a method of making pastry and rolling it out, see Olive Oil, Garlic & Parsley – the book, otherwise use your own)
- 1–1.5 kg ripe tomatoes
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 250 g onions
- olive oil
- 2–4 sprigs or ½ tsp dried thyme
- 1 pinch of sugar (optional)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1–2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1–2 tsp harissa or ¼ tsp chilli powder or 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 3–4 rashers of streaky bacon
- black olives
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6/200°C.
Roll out the pastry dough, make a tart shell, and bake it blind (i.e., prick the pastry base with a fork and cover the whole tart mould with greaseproof paper weighted down with dried or ceramic beans) for 10 min. Set it to one side.
Skin and chop the tomatoes. Finely chop the garlic and, separately, the onion, and soften the latter slowly in a generous tablespoon of olive oil.
If the oven is not already alight from baking the pastry, put it on at this point (gas mark 6/200°C).
With a draining spoon, so as to leave as much liquid behind as possible, add the chopped tomato to the onion in the pan, followed by the thyme, sugar, if you judge the tomatoes need a flavour-enhancer, salt and pepper, and the chopped garlic. Cover, and cook down gently for 5–10 min. Stir in the tomato paste and harissa, chilli powder, or cayenne pepper, and cook another 3–4 min.
While the tomato is cooking, cut the bacon into small strips and brown in their own fat, before spreading them over the partially cooked pastry shell. Cover with the tomato mixture and arrange some olives on top.
Bake for 25–30 min in the middle of the oven. Serve hot or cold.
Can you ever have too many chicken recipes? This one’s rich and delicious. It’s a simplified version of a standard North African dish, that can be found in David Scott’s Traditional Arab Cookery, a book so much used in our kitchen that our copy’s yellowed by turmeric. If you have a whole chicken and can make a stock from the carcass, it will be all the nicer. Rice or couscous (except for the gluten-intolerant) will go perfectly – for recipes, see Olive Oil, Garlic & Parsley.
- 100 g almonds (shelled)
- 1 chicken (approx 1.5 kg), jointed, or 4 joints, leg or breast
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2–4 cloves of garlic
- 2 tbsp parsley
- 100 ml olive oil
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 275 ml chicken stock (for a homemade one, see a recipe in Olive Oil, Garlic & Parsley) or water
Blanch and peel the almonds by dropping them into boiling water for a couple of minutes and removing the skins, which come off satisfyingly easily.
Skin the chicken pieces as far as possible and season generously with salt and pepper.
Crush the garlic and chop the parsley finely.
Let the garlic take colour in about three-quarters of the olive oil, heated in a thick-bottomed frying or sauté pan (with a lid). Stir in the turmeric before adding the chicken pieces and browning these all over.
Meanwhile, bring the stock, or an equivalent amount of water, to the boil and pour over the chicken to cover. Stir in the chopped parsley, seal with a lid, and simmer for about 1 h, turning the chicken over 2–3 times, and adding more stock or water if necessary.
Towards the end of the cooking time, fry the almonds in the last quarter of the oil, drain on kitchen paper, and scatter over the chicken just before serving.
Strawberries appear in Provence after Easter. And this year, spring having been wet, they are not as fragrant as they might be. Perfect candidates for this tart where the glaze brings out all the latent flavour of the fruit.
The three parts, the pastry, the glaze, and the strawberries may each be prepared beforehand. The glaze (made according to the recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1, by Simone Beck, Louisette Bertholle, and Julia Child) is arguably the fiddliest bit, but it truly enhances the strawberry flavour, and can be made in quantity, stored in a jar, and re-heated when needed.
The fat for the pastry can be vegetable fat or lard. The latter is no longer so disapproved of by nutritionists.
- unsweetened shortcrust pastry dough (see Olive Oil, Garlic & Parsley – the Book for an easy and reliable method, if you don’t already have your own), using 50–60 g fat for 180 g flour
- fat to grease the tart tin
- 500 g fresh strawberries
- 175 ml apricot jam or red-currant jelly, for the glaze
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6/200°C.
Roll out the pastry, line a greased tart tin (22 cm), and bake the pastry blind (i.e., the pastry base pricked with a fork, and the whole tart mould covered with greaseproof paper weighted down with dried haricot or ceramic beans) for 7 min.
Remove the beans and greaseproof paper, prick the pastry base again, and return it to the oven for a further 7–10 min for a fully baked shell. Set it aside to cool, but keep the oven on.
While the pastry is baking, hull the strawberries, leaving them whole.
To make the glaze, first strain the apricot jam, if used, through a sieve to remove skins (if the jam is very stiff and dense, soften it over a gentle heat first). Then heat the strained jam or the red-currant jelly with the granulated sugar, in a small saucepan, over a medium heat, stirring continuously, with a wooden spoon, for 2–3 min. The glaze is ready when it coats the spoon with a thin film and drips off stickily. Don’t overheat it or it will become brittle on cooling.
Arrange the whole strawberries in circles, stem-end downwards, on the tart base. Pour over the warm glaze and return to the oven for 5 min. Serve warm or cold.