a food stylist's blog

Cooking courses and food tours in SW France

Sumac Chicken 

 

Barbecued chicken with sumac, pomegranate molasses and mograbiah

Here I use a whole chicken, butterflied, so it cooks evenly on the barbecue. Alternatively use chicken thigh joints and cook for 10-12 minutes each side.

Serves 4

1.75 kg free-range organic chicken

4 tbs extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle

1 tbs ground sumac

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp clear honey

2 tsp pomegranate molasses

1 garlic clove, crushed

juice 1/2 lemon

salad

200 g mograbiah or pearl couscous (see tip)

50 g picked watercress leaves

50 g dried cranberries

50 g blanched almonds, toasted and chopped

2 spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced

2 tbs each chopped fresh mint and parsley

salt and pepper

Ask your butcher to butterfly the chicken for you. Combine half the oil, sumac, cinnamon and salt and pepper and rub all over the chicken. Leave to marinate overnight. Return to room temperature 1 hour before cooking.

Preheat the barbecue for 10 minutes until hot. Place the chicken skin side up on the barbecue plate, close the lid, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 20 minutes. Flip chicken over and cook for a further 10-15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through (to test skewer the leg meat, if the juices run clear it’s cooked).

Whisk together the remaining oil, honey, molasses, garlic and lemon juice and season to taste.

Transfer the cooked chicken to a board, chop into 8 large pieces (a meat cleaver or large knife is good for this) and place on a large platter with any juices. Pour over the dressing over the chicken and leave to rest in for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the salad. Cook the mograbiah in lightly salted boiling water for 10-12 minutes until al dente. Drain, refresh under cold water and drain again, shaking off excess water. Place in a large bowl, add a glug of olive oil, stir well and leave to cool. Stir in the watercress, cranberries, almonds, spring onions and season to taste. Spoon onto plates and top with the chicken using the beautiful juices to dress the salad.

Tip: Mograbiah is a larger variety of couscous often referred to as pearl couscous and is used in the same way. It is great in salads or can be used to thicken soups and stews. It is available from most larger supermarkets or specialist food stores.

 

Apologies followers, the first time this published, there were strange things happening, hopefully you can all see it now as it was intended.  July is crazy month here in France and to accommodate all your culinary aspirations we are offering a whole host of fabulous day courses at Come Cook In France.

July 11 Cook & Dine

Join me for an afternoon of hands on cooking. We will prepare a wonderful 3 course dinner to be enjoyed together alfresco as the sun goes down. You will learn new skills as well as get the opportunity to cook a meal for your partner, friends or family as non-cooking participants can join us for the evening meal.

This course costs 125 euros for cooks and 45 euros for guests

 

July 14 Cook Club – Barbecues are for more than burgers

For my wonderful group of regulars, plus any one else who would like to join me for a really fun morning of cooking, followed by a relaxed lunch under the vines. A morning course with techniques on how to cook better over charcoal and then 3-4 dishes incl butterflied chicken, Tex-Mex pulled pork and maple grilled salmon

July 21 – Cook Club Great Italian Cooking

Morning course preparing classic Italian dishes, so pasta or gnocchi, risotto, slow braised rabbit or chicken and a semi-freddo with poached fruits

July 28 – Thai Banquet

Morning course preparing 5-6 amazing Thai dishes. Learn how to make salt n pepper squid with home made sweet chilli jam, caramel beef cheeks, green papaya salad, crispy skinned fish with tamarind, coconut tapioca with pomegranate

All Cook Club courses are 70 euros per person

July is crazy month here in France and to accommodate all your culinary aspirations we are offering a whole host of fabulous day courses at Come Cook In France.

July 11 Cook & Dine

Join me for an afternoon of hands on cooking. We will prepare a wonderful 3 course dinner to be enjoyed together alfresco as the sun goes down. You will learn new skills as well as get the opportunity to cook a meal for your partner, friends or family as non-cooking participants can join us for the evening meal.

This course costs 125 euros for cooks and 45 euros for guests

 

July 14 Cook Club – Barbecues are for more than burgers

For my wonderful group of regulars, plus any one else who would like to join me for a really fun morning of cooking, followed by a relaxed lunch under the vines. A morning course with techniques on how to cook better over charcoal and then 3-4 dishes incl butterflied chicken, Tex-Mex pulled pork and maple grilled salmon

July 21 – Cook Club Great Italian Cooking
Morning course preparing classic Italian dishes, so pasta or gnocchi, risotto, slow braised rabbit or chicken and a semi-freddo with poached fruits

July 28 – Thai Banquet
Morning course preparing 5-6 amazing Thai dishes. Learn how to make salt n pepper squid with home made sweet chilli jam, caramel beef cheeks, green papaya salad, crispy skinned fish with tamarind, coconut tapioca with pomegranate

All Cook Club courses are 70 euros per person

 

 

 

 

 

Lemon crumbed fish with a shaved fennel, parsley and capers salad

Serves: 4

This is such a simple way of jazzing up baked fish fillets and is great for a mid week supper, ready in under 20 minutes!

50 ml extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, crushed

grated zest 2 lemons

75 g day old bread, crusts removed

2 tbs freshly grated Parmesan

2 tsp chopped fresh lemon thyme

4 x 200 g white fish fillets (see below)

salad

1 medium head fennel, trimmed

50 g baby spinach leaves

1l2 bunch fresh flat leaf parsley

2 tbs baby capers, drained

a little extra virgin olive oil

a little fresh lemon juice

salt and pepper

new potatoes, to serve

Preheat the oven to 190c (fan forced 170c). Heat the oil in a frying pan and gently fry the garlic and lemon zest over a low heat for 2-3 minutes until softened. Add the breadcrumbs, stir for 2-3 minutes until coated with oil but not browned and remove from the heat. Stir in the Parmesan and thyme and season to taste.

Heat a drizzle more oil in an oven proof frying pan or skillet and fry the fish fillets for 1 minute, turn over and carefully top with the breadcrumb mixture (don’t worry if some falls into the pan). Transfer to the oven and bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile make the salad. Using a mandolin or sharp knife finely shave the fennel into a bowl add the spinach, parsley and capers. Combine a little olive oil and lemon juice and season to taste. Serve the crumbed fish with the salad and some boiled baby new potatoes.

 

 

 

StrawberriesHere in France the strawberry season starts off early with the arrival of a small, slightly oblong little strawberry called gariguette. One might expect a rather sharp, watery, bland little fruit but actually gariguettes are renowned for their sweet and well rather strawberry-like flavour – sadly so many strawberries you buy today, because we demand year round availability, share very few similarities to the fruit I remember with such fondness from British summers past. From then on as the weeks pass, more and more strawberries of different shapes, sizes, and flavours appear in the markets and without doubt it is a joy to behold.

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This year, with it’s unseasonably dry and warm spring, strawberries abound in the markets, so it was the perfect excuse to get cooking. To be totally honest I prefer my strawberries as nude and natural as the day they were born, plucked from my fingertips straight into the mouth, but I wanted to preserve their flavour for later in the summer when they will become nothing but a distant memory (until next year anyway). With a fridge also packed full of yogurt it seemed only right to join them together in a richly intense strawberry yogurt ice cream. Wow, that was definitely one of the best food decisions I have made this year – it is sooooo delicious – rather typically the weather has turned and it feels more like January than mid May today, but hey ho, who needs sunshine and warmth to enjoy a little ice cream!

Strawberry ice cream

Strawberry yogurt ice cream

1 kg strawberries, hulled

300g caster sugar

2 tbsp strawberry liqueur or cassis

1 tbsp lemon juice

500g Greek yogurt

Combine the strawberries, sugar, strawberry liqueur or cassis and lemon juice together in a large bowl and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until syrupy.

Transfer to a blender with the yogurt and puree until really smooth. Cover and chill for 2 hours. Transfer the mixture either to an ice cream machine and freeze according to the instructions or to the freezer.

If using a freezer stir the ice cream every 2-3 hours, as it starts to crystallize until the mixture is creamy. Leave until frozen. Remove from the freezer about 15 minutes before serving and scoop into bowls.


And then, just because life would be a little less satisfying without, it was meringues, strawberries and of course cream…………..

Strwberries and Cream

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Next on my seasonal hit list is rhubarb, actually a vegetable that we treat like a fruit (the opposite of the tomato, the fruit we tend to use as a vegetable) and a part of the sorrel family, hence perhaps the sharpness of it’s stem. It is this long red/green stems that we cook down to a deliciously tart sauce, that once sweetened can be added to cream and yogurt for a fruit fool or diced and roasted in the oven with cinnamon, sugar and a hint of orange. My favourite way to cook with rhubarb though is in a crumble, and here it is combined with a simple sponge cake, strawberries and almonds to provide the most satisfying combination of dishes.

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Rhubarb, strawberry and almond crumble cake

Serves: 10

125g softened butter

125g caster sugar

3 eggs, lightly beaten

125g self-raising flour

500g trimmed rhubarb, sliced into 2 cm peices

150g strawberries, hulled and halved

crumble topping

150g plain flour

1 tsp ground cinnamon

100g chilled butter, diced

100g caster sugar

25g porridge oats

100g nibbed or flaked almonds

icing sugar, to dust

crème fraiche or Greek yogurt, to serve

Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan-forced and grease and line a 22cm cake tin with baking paper. Start by making the crumble. Sift the flour and cinnamon into a bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture forms crumbs. Stir the in the sugar, oats and almonds and set to one side.

Make the sponge. Place the butter, sugar, eggs and flour into a food mixer or processor and blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Spoon the sponge mix into the prepared cake tin and smooth flat.

Scatter the rhubarb and the strawberries over the sponge mix and then cover with the crumble mixture so you can still see a little of the fruit. Bake for 11/4 hours or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Serve still slightly warm, dusted with icing sugar, and some crème fraiche or Greek yogurt.

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As the ground starts to warm after the winter chill, the garden is abloom with spring flowers and the first signs of life in the veg plot start to twist and turn their way towards the sun. It is still too early for any homegrown asparagus but as I drive around the local area I noticed several of the local producers have started to advertise their early crop and it won’t be long before bundles of vibrant green asparagus stalks are all over the markets.

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It is without doubt my first real treat of the season and I am going to pair some tender young stalks with soft poached duck eggs. For something a little different to normal I have scattered over a little dukkah, an Egyptian blend of toasted nuts and spices, which marries perfectly the soft creaminess of the egg and the sweet, almost citric flavour of the asparagus. A bed of creamy tahini yogurt and a slug of fruity olive oil makes this combination truly delicious.

Asparagus with duck eggs, tahini and dukhah

Serves: 2

4 tablespoons Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon tahini paste

1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 duck eggs

1 bundle young asparagus, trimmed

2 teaspoons dukhah*

a drizzle extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

Combine the yogurt, tahini, lemon juice and salt and pepper, to taste. Divide between 2 plates.

Cook the duck eggs in a small pan of boiling water for 7-8 minutes. Drain and immediately refresh under cold water to stop further cooking. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, peel the eggs and cut in half.

Plunge asparagus spears into a saucepan of lightly salted boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Drain immediately and shake dry.

Arrange the asparagus spears over the tahini sauce, pop the egg halves on top  and scatter over the dukhah. Drizzle with a little oil and serve.

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  • dukhah is available from Middle eastern stores, delis and some supermarkets

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