dairy-free and egg-free cooking for pleasure

Latest

A Spicy Moroccan fish ragoût with chickpeas, honey, and almonds


This lovely recipe comes from a French blog called A Taste of My Life, which is full of good things. It can be made with fresh or frozen fillets. We enriched the dish by making a stock from prawn heads and shells, cooked for 15 min with a bay leaf, dried celery, salt, and 1 l water. Rice is an excellent accompaniment. For the gluten-tolerant, couscous grain (with a few raisins – see Olive Oil, Garlic & Parsley, the book, for a method) is also nice. Any left-over ragoût can be re-heated successfully.

  • 1 lge onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2.5 cm fresh ginger
  • 2 lge tomatoes or 400 g tinned tomatoes
  • 500 g firm white fish fillets (hake, ling, cod)
  • 400 g tin chick peas
  • a handful of dried almonds
  • ½ bunch of fresh coriander
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 lge pinch of chilli powder or cayenne pepper
  • ½–1 l fish stock
  • salt
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • freshly-ground pepper

First prepare all the ingredients as the cooking steps follow each other fairly fast and furiously. Slice the onion, crush the garlic, and grate the ginger; chop the tomatoes, if using fresh.

Cut up the fish fillets into chunky pieces and drain the chick peas.

Put the almonds in a small pan of water and bring to the boil. Let them bubble for a few seconds before skinning/peeling them.

Wash and dry the coriander.

Heat the oil in a thick-bottomed sauté pan and soften the onion on a low heat for 5 min, turning it over occasionally.

Work in the crushed garlic, grated ginger, cumin, turmeric, and the cinnamon stick for a couple of minutes before adding the chilli powder or cayenne pepper, the tomato, a large pinch of salt, and fish stock to cover, and simmering for 10 min with frequent stirring.

Add the fish to the sauté pan and simmer for another 5 min or until the fish is almost cooked. At the same time, grill the almonds lightly.

Mix the drained chick peas and the honey in to the fish and cook another 2–3 min. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Snip in the coriander, scatter over the almonds, and serve.

Advertisements

Beef and beer casserole – Carbonade de boeuf

The ingredients assembled

Even in Provence it gets cold, especially in the evening, and the idea of a beef and beer casserole has had particular appeal this winter, to warm the kitchen and ourselves. Finally, one got made.

Carbonade de boeuf  is traditional in Northern France and Belgium, what might be termed Flanders, an area famous for its bleak weather – and its beers. You don’t need a special beer to cook this, though one might wash it down a treat. For myself, I’d rather have a robust red wine.

Along with the brown sugar, vinegar, black peppercorns, and onion, the beer and long slow cooking make for beef that melts in the mouth while diffusing wonderful hints of all those flavours – it’s a far cry indeed from leathery, tasteless fried steak.

Lard is the traditional cooking medium, olive oil less authentic but arguably nicer. The stale bread acts as a primitive thickener, but can be omitted without problems. If you have time, cook the carbonade for as long as 3–4 hours, in a lower oven.

Baked potatoes go well especially as there should be lots of sauce. Other possible accompaniments are red cabbage and apple, or a potato, chicory, and bacon salad – for recipes for these see the Book.

  • 300–400 g onions
  • lard or olive oil
  • 800 g – 1 kg lean braising steak, in thin slices, cut on the bias, if possible
  • 1 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp wine vinegar
  • 2–3 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt
  • 1 heaped tsp coarsely crushed black peppercorns
  • 500 ml light beer or lager
  • 1 slice of stale bread, optional
  • 1 tbsp strong Dijon mustard

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3/170°C.

Slice the onions thinly.

On top of the stove, heat enough lard or olive oil to cover the base of a heavy casserole, and brown the beef on both sides, a couple of pieces at a time, adding more fat or oil as necessary between batches.

When all the meat is done, toss the onion in the same pot, having reduced the heat and added more lard or oil, until they are soft (about 8–10 min), then stir in the brown sugar and the vinegar and cook a further 1–2 minutes, not more.

Return the beef to the pot, layering it alternately with the onion. Place the thyme and bay leaf in the middle and season with salt and the crushed peppercorns. Pour in enough beer to cover by just under 1 cm and crumble in the bread.

Cover, place in the oven, and cook for a minimum of 1½ h.

Away from the heat, work the mustard into the sauce, taste, and serve from the casserole, or, if you prefer, transfer the meat to a hot dish and keep it warm while you blend in the mustard and adjust the seasoning. Pour the finished sauce over the meat having removed the thyme and bay leaf.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Dairy-free fruit cake for Christmas, Easter, and in between


This is a delightful and easy cake to produce, and we have added it to our repertoire of dairy-free and egg-free cakes (two others can be found in our book). The present recipe came from the web but has undergone some changes, and there’s plenty of room for further adaptation.

As long as you include some 600 g dried fruit, the proportions of each fruit and the fruit itself can be varied,  dried cranberries or blueberries replacing some of the sultanas, raisins, or currants, for instance. You can be as generous as you like with the (dark or light) glacé cherries and the peel, the latter being better quality when not pre-chopped. You may also want to add more or less of one of the spices, all a matter of taste.

Lard, incidentally, is the traditional fat for fruit cakes, according to The Constance Spry Cookery Book. A vegetable fat is obviously a viable option (we are anyway speaking of only 45 g – one and a half ounces – of which 15 g is for greasing the mould).

This type of cake usually improves with keeping, but I’ve not yet been able to test this!

  • 45 g lard or vegetable fat
  • 150 g candied peel and glacé cherries
  • 1 lemon
  • 360 g plain flour
  • salt
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon powder
  • ½ tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp mixed spice (quatre-épices in you’re in France)
  • 240 g soft brown sugar
  • 240 g sultanas
  • 240 g raisins
  • 120 g currants
  • ¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C.

Prepare the tin first, greasing it inside with approx 7 g lard or vegetable fat before lining it with paper to 2 cm above the sides and brushing the paper with another 7 g or so melted lard or vegetable fat.

Chop the peel, if necessary, and the glacé cherries, and grate the rind of the lemon.

In a mixing bowl, sift in the flour, a good pinch of salt, and all the spices. Rub in the remaining 30 g lard or vegetable fat and incorporate the sugar.

In a second bowl, mix together the dried fruit, peel, glacé cherries, and lemon rind, before incorporating the fruit mixture thoroughly into the flour. Make a well in the centre and blend in 280 ml cold water.

In a small bowl, pour 2 tbsp warm water over the bicarbonate of soda and when the latter has dissolved, work it into the cake mixture with a light touch.

Pour the mixture into the greased tin and bake in the centre of the oven. After 1 hr turn the temperature down to gas mark 2–3/160°C for a further hour, or longer if required. Test by plunging a skewer deep into the cake: it should come out clean.

Turn the cake out of the tin when it is cool enough to handle and see how long you can keep people off it.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Chocolate bark – a delicious dairy-free and gluten-free treat

This is heavenly food, and healthy too, involving nothing more than dark chocolate, dried fruit, and nuts (it is taken, with minor changes, from Food for Think, a source of good things).

The fruit and nuts may be varied as you please, for example, with candied peel or chopped almonds or something more radical such as salted cashew nuts. High-quality dark chocolate is essentialensure it doesn’t contain lactose or skimmed milk. For another idea, try Orangettes in our book.

  • 60 g dried apricots
  • 60 g hazelnuts, shelled
  • 60 g walnuts, shelled
  • 60 g sultanas or raisins – or a mixture
  • 200 g dark chocolate (e.g., Lindt 70%)

Chop the dried apricots and the nuts and mix together along with the other dried fruit.

Soften the chocolate gently in a bain-marie, that is, one saucepan, containing the chocolate roughly broken into shards, sitting in a larger pan containing water that is kept simmering over a low flame.

Meanwhile, line a baking tray with non-stick greaseproof paper. As soon as the chocolate has melted, pour it carefully on to the centre of the paper (it has a natural tendency to spread in a neat circle if you keep pouring in the same place). Starting in the middle, spoon the fruit and nut mixture evenly over the chocolate, pressing it down lightly both to embed it and to spread the chocolate out more.

Refrigerate just until the chocolate has hardened. Cut or break off wedges as required. It keeps well – if you are strong-minded.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Taking the bait – how to cook whitebait

Frying fish, said Elizabeth David, is something best left to restaurants. However, whitebait (in the UK, the small fry of herring and sprats, according to Jane Grigson), should you be able to get hold of some, can easily and successfully be cooked at home. How do you deal with them?

The first thing (once de-frosted, if bought frozen) is to rinse them in cold water, and turn them over in the process, as you may find bits of seaweed here and there, particularly if they are fresh. Then either leave them to drain, or pat them dry with a clean tea-towel. Coat lightly and evenly with flour, and season with salt and pepper. Chop some parsley.

Heat some olive oil in a large, heavy frying pan or skillet. You do not need lots of oil, just enough (about a millimetre in depth all over) to avoid it all being absorbed by the whitebait.

Once the oil is hot enough to be almost smoking, carefully (and it may well spit from residual water) put the whitebait in the pan so the fish are all separate, and fry quickly (around 2–3 minutes) until browned, turning them over once in the process (very delicately as they become fragile and break up very easily). Once they look done – as in the picture below – they need to be served straight to warmed plates, parsley-adorned, and eaten immediately: being small and individual, they cool very quickly.

Serve with either lemon juice or white-wine or cider vinegar.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Spaghetti with scallops in olive oil, garlic and parsley


Scallops start arriving fresh in the autumn and are so delicious in combination with olive oil, garlic and parsley that our book has a variation on the same theme that can be eaten just with bread.

The present dish comes from Marcella Hazan’s The Essentials of Italian Cooking. However, we’ve found that a splash of rosé or white wine improves the original. Although scallops that are shelled when you buy them are the nicest, they can equally be bought pre-shelled or frozen.

Don’t worry if the scallops are ready before the pasta: they can wait a few minutes.

The following quantities are enough for four people.

  • 450–500 g spaghetti
  • 2–4 scallops per person
  • 1 lge clove of garlic
  • a handful of parsley
  • 1 fresh chilli, red or green, or 2–3 dried red chillis
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • 50–75 ml rosé or dry white wine
  • 1–2 tbsp breadcrumbs

Put a generous pan of salted water on to boil for the spaghetti.

Meanwhile, rinse the scallops thoroughly, separating the coral (the orange part) from the white part, to remove grit. Pat as dry as possible with a cloth or kitchen roll and cut the white parts into quarters and the corals in half, discarding any black bits.

Chop the garlic, parsley, and chilli very finely; the latter two can be done together.

Drop the spaghetti into the boiling water when you are ready to cook the garlic. (If the pasta is ready before the sauce, keep it warm having mixed in a trickle of olive oil.)

During the time the spaghetti is cooking, heat 2 tbsp olive oil and the garlic together gently in a frying or sauté pan until the garlic begins to take colour, then stir in the parsley and chilli. Add the scallops and a pinch of salt and cook for 3–4 min, stirring almost constantly. The scallops are done when they begin to look white rather than translucent.

If the scallops have released too much liquid, reduce it by turning up the heat briefly, having removed the scallops with a slotted spoon; then return these to the pan, pour in the wine and toss them in it until the wine bubbles.

Turn the scallops and the sauce into the pasta.

Finally, stir in the breadcrumbs and serve.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Pumpkin and almond tart – gorgeous & dairy-free


At this time of year, the markets and local shops have pumpkins piled high, adding their colours to the autumn spectrum. Pumpkin features in quite a few Provençal recipes, none perhaps nicer than this Christmas dessert – worth enjoying on other occasions too.

  • unsweetened shortcrust pastry dough (see Olive Oil, Garlic & Parsley – the book for a method), using 50–60 g fat for 180 g flour
  • fat to grease the tart mould
  • 250 g pumpkin, rind and seeds removed
  • 100–150 g shelled almonds
  • 90 g (vanilla) castor sugar
  • 3–4 sml pieces of orange zest

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6/200°C.

Roll out the dough, line a greased, 22 cm, tart mould, and bake blind (i.e., the dough pricked with a fork and covered in greaseproof paper weighted down with dried or ceramic beans) for 7 min.

Remove the beans and greaseproof paper. Return the shell to the oven, having pricked the base again with a fork, for a further 2–3 min, then set aside. Turn the oven down to gas mark 4/180°C.

Blanch and peel the almonds by immersing them for 1–2 min in boiling water, taking them out with a slotted spoon, and slipping off the skins when you can handle them.

Cut the pumpkin into small cubes and cook gently in a covered pan, with 2 tbsp water, until soft enough to be crushed with a spatula (5–8 min). Mash with a fork, return to a low heat, uncovered, and stirring often, reduce to a thick purée (approx 5 min, some liquid will always remain).

At the same time, grill the almonds until lightly coloured. Put them through a food-processor, along with the sugar and orange peel, whizzing until you have a medium-fine crumble. Turn out into a mixing bowl and stir in the pumpkin, using a draining spoon to transfer it from the saucepan.

Fill the waiting tart shell and return to the middle of the oven for 20 min.

Serve hot with a sweet white wine such as Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise or de Rasteau. Any left over can be eaten cold.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine