Archive | France

Recipe | Chocolate, chestnut and ginger Yule Log


  That Old Chestnut…


Chilled milky blue light rested over the Alpilles mountains as I drove towards my final pre Christmas job down in the south of France.



In the run up to Christmas I am cooking for a couple of energetic families with lots of kids and a delightfully broad palate. This is a private chef’s dream as its  the ideal way to plan menus with the freedom to go to the market and see what looks best for dinner.  As expected there are piles of pumpkins, squashes, mushrooms, stacks of oysters and bundles of cardoons.





Now I don’t have a Scrooge like bone in my body, I love Christmas with all its trimmings. Mince pies, open fires, mistletoe, twinkling lights, the smell of fir trees, starting one meal pretty much having just finished the last, long walks and the toffee sweets from tins of Quality Street (but definitely not the pink or orange ones so maybe I have a little Scrooge in me).




Traditions down here are pretty similar to the UK, midnight mass, decorated trees, Christmas markets, last minute present dash, Council funds blown on Christmas street lighting etc.  Sounds familiar? Yes, until we get to the food.  There are no mad dashes here to get their orders in for large free range bronze turkeys ( that turn out to only just fit in the oven), goose mostly makes it onto the Provencal Christmas table in its engorged liver form and I haven’t even seen a sprout.  There are however heaps of capons to choose from ( castrated male cockerels) a process made worth it as it improves the texture and flavor of the flesh, although I can’t help but feel sorry for the chaps.




The Christmas meal in Provence is surprisingly relatively humble. Served on Christmas Eve before midnight mass “Le Gros Souper” consists of salt cod, snails, soups and vegetables like celery, cauliflower, cabbage and spinach, maybe some anchovy paste and aioli, but no meat. Then its off to mass…




Now just before you get too shocked and think the French have converted to  Puritanism especially as we are talking about food I will add that the meal is traditionally served at a table laid with three table cloths, three sets of candles, 7 different wines and for the grand finale when they come back from mass – 13 desserts.  Yes that’s right 13!

These will include  –

Dried fruits and nuts that represent the four orders of Friar, raisins (the Dominicans), dried figs,  (the Franciscans), hazelnuts (the Augustinians) and almonds (Carmelites).  A fougasse (bread) which must be torn and not cut to avoid bankruptcy in the coming year (good to know), and is to be dipped in sweet wine. Black and white nougat representing good and evil, fresh fruits and dates. Calissons  (marzipan diamond shapes covered in icing), candied fruits, quince cheese, oreillettes ( crispy sugary deep fried bread) and Bûche Noël   -the chocolate Christmas log.

The part of the tradition I really like the idea of is the ‘Le Cacho Fio’. Where the oldest and youngest of the family select the largest log from the wood pile (often fruit or olive wood) and walk three times round the table with it then throw it onto the fire where it is meant to burn to light the New Year ahead.






Chocolate, chestnut and ginger Yule Log 

serves  8 to 10 people

Chocolate Icing

100g milk chocolate

100g dark chocolate

100g unsalted butter

Melt all the above ingredients in a bain-marie, mix together then leave to cool and thicken.   This will take about 30  – 60mins.


200g dark chocolate 70 %

7 eggs

200g caster sugar

6 tsp cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp ground ginger

1 tbs icing sugar to decorate



1.Pre heat oven to 170 c and line a 35 cm by 25 cm tin with low sides ( swiss roll tin or shallow baking dish works) with baking parchment.

2.Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie then leave to cool whilst you..

3.Separate the eggs

4.Whisk the egg whites with 50g of the sugar till they form soft peaks

5.Whisk the yolks with 150g of the sugar, coco powder and spices until thick ( a couple of minutes)

6.Whisk the egg yolk mix and melted chocolate together.

7.Add the egg whites in thirds.  The first third will help slacken off the mix and you don’t have to be too dainty.  When adding the next two thirds be more delicate as you want to keep the air in.

8.Gently pour into the prepared tin and bake for 25 mins.

When cooked leave to cool in the tin.


Chestnut Cream

200g vac packed cooked and peeled chestnuts

200ml double cream

4 dessert spoons icing sugar

seeds from 1 vanilla pod

In a food processor blitz the chestnuts until dust like.  While the motor is still running add the vanilla pod seeds, icing sugar then slowly poor in all the cream.


When the sponge is cool carefully flip it out onto a clean tea-towel or a piece of baking paper.       Spread with the chestnut cream then roll using the paper as an aid to keep it tight and together.  Expect charming cracks to appear.


When the icing has thickened drizzle on top then leave till ready to serve

Dust with obligatory snow like icing sugar.



This weeks statistics

Satsumas consumed  – 236

Olive oil used – 3.4 liters

Christmas gifts received  – 1 (oyster from the oyster man so I was pretty chuffed)!

Dogs 0 / Children 8


This weeks transport

Mercedes E class ( quick ‘stocking the Christmas freezer’ job in Surrey), Ryanair  flight to Dublin ( quick night out on the town), BA flight to Marseilles,  Renault Twingo ( rubbish at overtaking, excellent for u turns on narrow French roads).





I am returning to the West country for Christmas where preparations I am assured are almost complete. The venison has been ordered (the non flying variety), the stockings for the chimney have been found and the local Riverford knobbly carrots arrive Monday (despite the nature of his job F.C. cares greatly about food miles). However I did get an email from my father, knowing I like things just so in the food and drink department, wanting to ask in my professional opinion would Santa prefer a Fino or Amontillado this year?

I wish each and every one of you a very happy holiday, may your plates be groaning with festive goodies and of course have a very Merry Christmas.



Philippa x








Recipe | Roast porcini with anchovy breadcrumbs and Chanterelles with lardons and cheese toasts


The fun-gi gets chosen…..

This week I find myself waking up with stunning views across a vineyard in the Languedoc Roussillon  region of France.  I am cooking for a fun group of clients who are staying in a tiny village near Uzes, with charming crooked streets and a 17th century pigeon tower.  I only mention the pigeon tower as the birds each morning try and pelt me with their white missiles as I walk down to the bakery.  I should warn these flying beasts I have a few recipes I wouldn’t mind trying with their plump little bodies but I forget the French for “Just you wait till I get my hands on you”



It is a warm 30 º C here but inevitably autumn has started to touch the land and the leaves are beginning to rustle and turn golden.   I am never sad to see the seasons change, as with it comes different produce to grow or buy, cook and eat.  That is not to say I have dismissed all summer produce, for instance now is my favorite time to eat UK tomatoes as they have had the chance to develop a fuller flavor with the warmth of the September sun.  It is also a great time to look out for bargain summer ends like cheap boxes of peaches, apricots and strawberries or better still hedgerows of free wild blackberries and raspberries all of which make great jam or can be frozen for later use.




photo  – Left – Wild blackberry picking.  Right  – Home made yogurt with hazelnut and almond granola and blackberry compote.

Always keen to shop at local markets I jumped at the chance to try the small, non touristy offerings of the neighboring villages;  Sainte Chaptes on a Thursday and Saint Quentin la Poterie  on a Friday. At Sainte Chaptes, small but funtional, there was a veg man, a butcher and bizarrely someone selling bed mattresses with dried beans – perhaps some princess and the pea marketing technique that is yet to grip the rest of Europe?  There was admittedly not much choice but I decided this was a good thing, everything was produced locally therefore fresh and seasonal and I couldn’t spend ages dithering at what to cook for that nights’ dinner party.  My mind was made up when I spied a healthy looking box of Autumnal chanterelles and some huge porcini.




A lot of recipes will put mushrooms with garlic, which of course is delicious but beware  not to overpower them.  Use the cloves sparingly and pay great attention to how fierce  you fry them as there is almost nothing worse than the obnoxious taste of even slightly  over cooked garlic.  The earthy woodland floor taste of mushrooms marries particularly well with the sweetness of prawns and a splash of fino sherry or dry white wine and of course cheeses like Parmesan or Gruyere are other great partners.





I decided to use the mushrooms in a starter and so that evening’s menu read as follows;


Amuse Bouche

Sweet onion and saucisson  tortilla brushed with aioli


Pan fried chanterelles with pancetta, garlic and cheese toasts

Roast porcini with breadcrumbs, anchovy butter and parsley


Grilled veal chops marinated in whey, lemon and garden thyme with mixed grilled vegetables and crispy thin potatoes


Hedgerow blackberry semifreddo


This postcard recipe gives you an idea with what to do with some of the first wonderful Autumn ingredients, wild mushrooms.




When served together these two recipes serve 6 as a starter. I put both the finished dishes in the middle of the table for people to help themselves.



Pan fried Chanterelles with pancetta, garlic and cheese toasts

200g Chanterelles

1 small glove of garlic finely chopped

1 tbsp finely chopped parsley

50g lardons

Cheese toasts

1 small baguette

100g cheese – I used blue and goat

2 tsp dijon mustard

1 tbs creme fraiche

The cheese toasts can be made up to 1/2 hour before serving


  1. Mix the creme friache, mustard and cheese together, season with black pepper.
  2. Slice the baguette into thinish slices – two each should be perfect.
  3. Smear the cheese mix on each of the breads and lay out on a baking tray.

4)Bake in a 180 º C oven for 10 mins.

While the cheese toasts are baking cook the chanterelles

  1. Check they are clean  – brush off any dirt, and pick out any stray leaves and bits of                      forest floor.  Any particularly big ones can be ripped in half.
  1. In a wide frying pan ( you don’t want the mushrooms being over crowded and sweating) add 1 tbs olive oil, 1 tsp butter and the garlic and gently fry, just as the garlic starts to turn golden add the lardons.
  2. Fry for a couple of minutes then add the chanterelles, season with salt and pepper and add the parsley.
  3. To serve place the hot cheese toasts on a serving platter and sprinkle over the mushrooms mix. I finished the dish with some crisped up Parma ham.

Roast Porcini with anchovy breadcrumbs

1 porcini roughly 250g ( you can use a few smaller ones but the big one looks impressive and its pleasurable to slice it at the table)

Anchovy Breadcrumbs

150 g breadcrumbs

2 tbs anchovy butter (mix two finely chopped anchovy fillets with 1 tbs soft butter)

1 tbs finely chopped parsley

1 tsp lemon zest

1 tbsp grated parmesan



  1. Slice the porcini in half and put into a baking dish, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with 2 tsp olive oil
  2. Mix together all the breadcrumb ingredients
  3. Sprinkle this over the mushroom and bake for 10 min at 180ºC ( if cooking the two dishes together just put it in at the same time as the cheese toasts.
  4. You can serve it in the baking dish or laid out on a wooden board for that charming woodland touch.


I am all wrapped up here and am on my way to Dorset where I suspect I will be busy as a bee……



Recipe | Tart



The collective noun for tarts? Answers on a postcard…

The last garlic bulb has been plucked from the string, my suitcase is packed and sad au revoirs said.  I have finished here in Provence and am on my way to take a “wee” trip across Scotland.  Driving away I wistfully turned to get one last glimpse of the fig tree that was about to produce an army of ripe fleshy fruits.



Always keen to gather new facts, I reflected on some of the things I had learnt over the summer about the French way of life;

1) The further south you travel the more kisses are given and received upon greeting, its a time consuming delightful 3 in Provence.

2) In the South, olive oil largely replaces butter in cooking and is the star of many of the provincial dishes; ratatouille, tapenades, soupe au Pisto, and the dressings, dips and marinades of the region.

3) If you are French and want to show true finesse when eating pudding, never pick up your spoon – it is there to trick you.  Use your fork for everything, including ice cream.

4) Everyone stops for lunch.


I am not sure what the collective noun for tart is, a bust, romp or flush perhaps but reflecting on the last few weeks I sure have whipped up a few for the midday meal.  Lunch is a long, leisurely social meal here and a tart is undeniably a great dish for a crowd. You can even make it with varied  halves so that it has a child and adult friendly side.




Tarts are also a great way of using up left overs. From serving up many a cheese board at dinner I was frequently left with little bits which made the most delicious 4/5/6/7 types of cheese tarts. Each one unique and delicious.  Likewise, remains of a mixed grilled vegetable salad can be transformed into a lovely filling, as can the sides of fried aubergines, slow cooked courgettes, roasted tomatoes and so on.  It is also always great to add dollops of pestos and olive tapenades.




A good quiche Lorraine and a chilled glass of Grand Cru Preuses Chablis can hardly make for a happier lunch but I wont bore you with the recipe.  What I will say though is, if you do decide to make one keep the filling fairly shallow, so much more elegant than a thick eggy bacon type quiche. Add some créme fraîche to the eggs and cream, oh and don’t forget to sprinkle the blind baked pastry case with lots of grated gruyere  – should have just given the recipe!




This postcard recipe is more of a starting block for a tart.  Fillings can be chosen on what you have in the fridge, an abundance of whats in the garden, something that catches your eye at the shops or perhaps suitable left overs from yesterdays dinner. If serving more than one tart I like to use different pastries so maybe a shortcrust then a filio or puff pastry base and also make them in different shapes – circular, round or rectangular, be creative.  Like the French, sit down and take time over your lunch,enjoy, et bon appetite!



Serves a greedy 6 or a more restrained 8.

You will need a 30cm oven proof fluted glass tart dish – this way you can cut and serve it in the dish.


For the pastry

250g plain flour

100g cold salted butter

6 tbsp cold water


  1. Add the flour to a mixing bowl and using the large side grate in the cold butter.
  2. Rub together with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. Sprinkle over the cold water and mix confidently bringing the mix into a ball.
  4. Roll the pastry into a circle and line the tart dish ( lightly flouring the rolling pin and work surface),
  5. Prick the pastry case with a fork and rest in the fridge for at least one hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 190 ºc , line the pastry with baking parchment and fill with pie weights ( dried chickpeas/rice/ceramic baking beans) and bake for 15  minutes.




For the filling

600g to 800g of filling – could be grilled vegetables, roast tomatoes, fried lardons, baked vegetables, grated/crumbs of cheese….. (Just note if using vegetables like tomatoes make sure they are not too wet by straining off excess juice.

8 free range eggs

300ml double cream


1)Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat lightly, whisk in the cream and season with salt and pepper.

2)Pour into the baked pastry.

3)Add in the filling of your choice and top if desired with extra grated cheese or dollops of pestos/tapenades finely chopped herbs.

4)Bake at 170º for 30 – 40 mins until set.


Most delicious when served warm with crunchy green salad and a glass or two of chilled Chablis.



Recipe | Summer pudding in Provence


The butcher, the baker, the baker, the baker, the baker, and the baker

The local village  has a population of about 12  ( OK, I under exaggerate)  and yet it has not one but two thriving bakeries.  The interiors are not chic, just simple Formica tops, local event posters decorating the shabby walls and of course trays of delicious freshly-baked bread. This is great proof of consumer power and the importance of supporting local shops.




Many of my clients ask for no bread to be served with meals.  There also seems to be an ever increasing amount of people with gluten and wheat problems – now is not the time to go through all the possible reasons for these intolerances. However I will say this, before you scream and run from the bread bin, ask yourself, are you eating real bread?  Industrialisation has hugely changed the way wheat is farmed, milled and made into bread and some say that these process-heavy production methods (particularly milling and fermentation) may make it disagreeable for our bodies to digest.  In my view, quick-fermenting, bright-white, long-lasting, pre-sliced loaves should not be classed as bread.




….. Jumping off my high horse and mounting “ma bicyclette” early every morning I cycle into the village to buy “les baguettes” and a few croissants.  It always pays to have a special smile for your baker (and butcher) so it was with great delight that whilst snapping a few photos through the door of the bakers at work, they caught my eye and lured me in with macaroons and freshly baked croissants.




Swooning slightly watching the skill of the five bakers while they rolled out the croissants and baked rack upon rack of loaves I was drawn into the romance and charm of this art.  After my tour of the different work stations and having been fed and plied with delicious strong black coffee and pastries  I bid my farewells and returned to the house to start the preparations for lunch.




I hate wasting food. After my visit to the bakery I am even more conscious of not wasting any of yesterdays bread so am continuously thinking of ways to use it.   Here are some of the recent second lives I have given it…




From top left moving clockwise – sausage rolls (bread in the filling), panzanella – toasted bread dressed in vinegar, oil and tomatoes, ,oysters with gruyere and breadcrumbs, Moroccan meatballs – I often add bread  that has been soaked in milk or whey to meatballs to soften the texture, crisped up and herbed bread for pate, stuffed squid with bread and chorizo,

On the blue moon occasions where we have an abundance of croissants left I love making it into summer pudding, adding peaches and apricots to the usual orgy of berries.  A perfect dessert for the warm long lunches in Provence.


Summer Pudding with a french twist

Serves 8

you will need

5 x 1 day old croissants sliced horizontally into 3 or 4 (my other favourite is using day old ciabatta or you can use a farm house white)

800g of fruit  – which could include blackberries, raspberries, strawberries – cut into chunks if very big, red currents, black currents, apricots and peaches cut into chunks the same size as the cut strawberries. Use mostly berries in the mix with maybe just 5 apricots and 3 peaches.

250g castor sugar

400ml red wine –  I once used Chateau Latour 1998 only because the client had some left and told me to!  Otherwise a busty french red would be perfect.  Like wise if using ciabatta maybe its more fun to use an Italian red like Valpolicella.  Always cook with wine you would be happy to drink.

1 vanilla pod

1 cinnamon stick



1)In a saucepan add the wine, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla pod – spilt lengthways and seeds taken out then the seeds and pod added.

2)Heat until the sugar is dissolved – a couple of minutes

3)Add half the fruit, bring to a simmer for 2 or 3 minutes then turn of the heat.

4) Add the rest of the fruit and gently stir. Leave to one side.

5) Line a 3pint bowl with the sliced croissants to form a layer.  

6) Strain the fruit through a sieve, saving all the delicious juice. Then place the fruit in the lined bowl. Pour over some of the juice, keeping the rest for serving. Top the pudding with more sliced croissant pieces, a bit more juice and then cover the bowl with cling film.  Weigh the pudding down with a small plate and a weight on top  – a mortar or a few tins usually work and leave in the fridge for at least 6 hours.

To serve remove the weight and the cling film, place a plate over the top and flip over, pour over some of the the reserved juice.  Serve with a big jug of double cream.




I must confess the croissant  summer pudding did not have time to be photographed before it was eaten, pictured above and below is its’ Portuguese cousin made last summer. I used red wine from the Douro region and a home-made white loaf.







Recipe | Fig, feta and spinach fataya with honey and mint yogurt


Starting the party…

Friday, 8:30 pm. Outside the dining table is adorned with vases of mint and lavender, flickering candles, gleaming cutlery and beautiful French linen.  Long shadows are cast across the olive grove as the last of the evening sun casts a pink haze over the Alpilles hills and the indefatigable cigals provide the music of Provence. The guests are about to arrive.  Snapping out of the dreamy bliss that this kind of setting lulls you into, party season here has definitely kicked in and the food has been flying out the kitchen.


The evenings menu read as follows;


Garden fig, spinach and feta fataya with honey and mint yogurt


Salad of pan fried quail breast with toasted hazelnuts, apricots, chicory and sherry vinegar.


Grilled whole bream with roast potatoes, fennel, black olives, aubergine and rosemary.


 with fig jam and walnuts


Apple sorbet served with shots of chilled French gin.





Most gatherings start with a bottle or two of delicious local rosé (Mas de la Dame and Domaine Guilbert being two of my current favourites) along with a little something to nibble.  I am not sure how I feel about the word canapé, taken from the French word “couch”, I much prefer amuse-bouche, to amuse the mouth, for me a much more appealing thought. Before becoming a private chef I never gave much thought to these pre dinner snacks.  In the restaurants I worked they were generally not required and I rarely go to the sort of function where they would be served. Although I did go to one at Nobu where sensational platters of sushi were brought out. Myself and a chef friend promptly placed ourselves strategically  by the kitchen doors to get first dabs and so of course failed to do any networking but did get a veritable feast.



Now I find a certain amusement in thinking about and creating them.  Its hard to be original and there are some classics that truly are delicious when well executed; smoked salmon blinis, raw oysters, devils on horseback and so on but as variety is the spice of life I am always looking for new ideas.


Duck eggs and celery salt ( the duck eggs were a delightful gift to the hostess and swiftly got eaten)


Hummus with crudités and poppyseed crisp bread, potted trout with toast 2013-08-08_0001

For small parties I quite like something that needs a little explaining or has some personal touch like produce that has been picked from the garden.  I have been playing around with fillings for the Lebanese fataya and as we have an abundance of figs to use I made a very popular fig, spinach and feta variety with mint and honey yogurt (recipe below) .  The garden has also been producing an abundance of courgettes along with their flowers which have been making a few appearances pre dinner.

Young courgette batons deep fried with chilli, mint and vinegar ( served on the F.T. market dependant)


Courgette flowers with ricotta, honey and mint.


A fine way to start the evening, along with a glass or two of the ubiquitous Rosé.


Finishing the evening with another flourish after dessert can be dangerously close to over kill, however a little something with your coffee or vervain tea can also be a delight.  Chocolate is an obvious choice. In St Remy there is the renowned chocolatier Joël Durand and his chocolate alphabet collection. Personally I am not sure if I have met anyone I liked enough to share a box of these with, they are so good. Instead my favourite finale at present is 3 gently toasted almonds discreetly placed on the saucer and a sharing bowl of juicy iced cherries.  So when the last cigale has finally stopped chirping and the cigars are lit everyone feels well and truly replete.






Fig, spinach and feta fataya with honey and mint yogurt


Fataya dough

White Bread flour, 250g

dried yeast, 7g

warm water, 150ml

fine sea salt, a pinch

olive oil, 1tbsp

Mix the flour, yeast, salt and oil in bowl, add the water and knead until smooth (about 8  to 10 mins) leave to prove until doubled in size ( it will take about one hour)




Spinach, 150g

Finely diced white onion,1

feta crumbled, 1oog

Ripe figs, 2

Slowly fry the onion in 1 tbsp olive oil until lightly cloloured and sweet. Add the spinach and cook till wilted. Drain off any excess liquid. Chop the figs and add to the spinach along with the crumbled  feta.  Season with salt and pepper.

When the dough is ready, divide it into 12 equal (ish) balls. Roll them out into disks and brush with water, place a dollop of the fig mix in the centre then bring together into a triangle. I snip the corners to stop from getting an overload of bread.


Place on a lightly floured baking sheet and bake in a 180 c oven for 12 – 15 mins until golden.Serve warm with a yogurt and honey dip.

Yogurt dip

3 tbs plain yogurt

1 tsp runny honey

4 mint leaves finely chopped.

Mix all the ingredients and pour into a small bowl for serving.







A Cornucopia in Provence

Landing in Marseilles the plane doors opened and the warmth of the Provencal sun brought an instant smile to my face. Our bags all safely packed in the car and my stash of loose leaf tea accounted for ( you can take the girl out of England but ….) we set off for the drive to the house. The journey was littered with the glorious sights typical to the terroir; hectares of olive groves, fields of sunflowers, rows of hazy lavender, fig trees groaning  with ripening fruit and speedy trucks laden with sweet Cavaillon melons  – these alone are worth making a trip here for.



On the first day of work I was up early and off to the food market at St Remy . From experience if you get there when it opens you miss the hoards, get to shop with the locals, practice your French and have time for a peaceful coffee and croissant. Giddy with excitement at all the produce on offer, sad I know but us chefs and foodies get a real kick out moments like these, I could hardly choose what I wanted to buy and cook with first. Then, across an increasingly crowded market, I saw them.



The embarrassment has long since passed of picking fruits and vegetables up to examine them and give them a good sniff to check their quality, even if I do get odd looks from less hands-on shoppers and vendors anxious for the safety of the produce. This is the best way, short of nibbling some but this I feel takes inspection too far, to know what you are going to get. I had spied probably the world’s most attractive tomatoes. Their smell instantly transported me back to my childhood and the poly tunnels my grandfather grew rows of tasty unique shaped and colored ones in.  Round and red? Ha! These tomatoes were a world away from the dull uniform ones often found in supermarkets.  Kissed by the sun they are delicious simply with a pinch of salt and olive oil.  The family I am cooking for this summer grow olives to make their own olive oil so this simple preparation did make it onto the lunch menu.




With guests coming for supper the next day I decided to prepare a starter with these tomato hunks, and include in the meal a few other delights like baby purple artichokes that I picked up at the market.  The menu read as follows ;




Chilled cucumber and creme fraiche shots with Cavaillon melon


Warm borlotti bean, fig and local tomato salad with walnuts, blue cheese and french dressing.


Grilled Lamb with anchovy sauce and barigule ( a Provencal specialty with artichokes and white wine as shown above).


Garden Apricots baked with honey and thyme served with home made cardamom ice cream, yogurt sorbet and hokey pokey.



For this postcard I thought I would share the borlotti bean and tomato salad recipe;

Fresh Borlotti Bean, Tomato and Fig Salad.

serves 4 as a starter

Fresh Borlotti beans  – buy about three big handfuls of the pink pods

6 figs ( for those acutely aware of seasons these were ones picked from the garden last year and frozen – they survive extremely well, for this salad I roasted them for 15 mins at 180 with a little olive oil and seasoning)

your choice of tomatoes  – any color/shape will be lovely providing they are tasty.

a small handful of walnuts

150 g of blue cheese – its all about salty bleu d’Auvergne  for me at the moment

salad leaves for 4 people ( about 150g) – I like peppery rocket with this salad


dressing  –

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp dijon mustard

3 tbsp olive oil.

In a bowl place a pinch of salt and a little ground pepper, whisk while adding the vinegar and mustard then olive oil .


To cook the borlotti beans pod them and put the beans in a saucepan covered in at least 4 cm of cold water with a bay leaf, clove of garlic, grinds of black pepper, a dash of olive oil. Bring to the boil then simmer until soft  – about 40 minutes. When cooked, drain off the liquid until there is just enough to cover the beans – the cooking might have bought it to this level anyway,  season with salt, pepper, 1 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tsp red wine vinegar, this is always best done when the beans are warm as they soak up the flavor.



Assemble the salad by gently tossing the figs, rocket, tomatoes and walnuts in the dressing, pile on a serving platter or individual plates,  spoon over some warm borlotti beans and crumble over some blue cheese – et voila !



With the table cleared and the dishes washed and put away  I was ready for bed and to dream of what next would catch my eye while down in the south of France.




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