Foodies trip : le Tour de France des Chocolatiers!


Fancy a trip in France, chose according to the chocolate house location… Here are few. I thing I might do a Tour de France.

FOODIES TRIP
Article en version bilingue français / anglais. Article available in French and English.

Ce mois-ci, notre escapade gourmande n’est pas réservée à une region mais à un métier: chocolatier. Nous avons sélectionné pour vous, 9 adresses complètement fondantes un peu partout en France. Voyagez gourmand!

This month our foodies trip is not dedicated to a region but to a savoir-faire: the art of chocolate. We selected for you 9 adresses all over in France full of melty promises. Travel foodie!

BAYONNE
Chocolat Cazenave

Une belle maison qui existe depuis 1854, où la tradition du choix de fèves de cacao nobles se perpetue d’années en années. L’ancien atelier historique a été désormais transformé en un délicat salón de thé où il fait bon déguster la tasse de chocolat à boire moussé à la main, grande spécialité de la maison.

A traditional factory created in 1854, where the tradition of selecting…

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Bonne Annee 2015!!!


So, 2015 is HERE! Whoop! Whoop!

We have officially started the New Year and one of my many resolutions is to do better at posting new recipes on this blog!

But before you “tut tut”, I’d like to inform you that my life has been for the past 6 months very interrupted, by families visiting from France, the release & PR of a book and a Half marathon…

The second half of 2014 was a logistical nightmare and that doesn’t include a full time job which demands regular travelling and few medical problems… A part from that, I have loved loved 2014 and can’t wait to see what 2015 has up its sleeve… in 11 months, I will 40 and very very very much look forward to it!

To wet your appetite on what is cooking in the next few weeks, check out these pictures and tell me what you see!

Bonne année 2015 and check you out later x

The Nutter In Chief

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Nutter’s Truffles


Chilli truffles, Coco coated, coconut & Hazelnut truffle

Chilli truffles, Coco coated, coconut & Hazelnut truffle

Up to now the only reason I would buy dark chocolate was to put myself off of chocolate bars… Dark chocolate last longer and the longer the tablet is in my bag, guiltier I feel about buying the rubbish one bounty, white Kit Kat and white chocolate tablets…

I am not a big fan of truffles, but, having purchased a whole lot of  dark 74% tablets I thought it is about time that I played around with some. So here we go

This is my fist ever batch of truffles. Full fat and proud.

Ingredients:

  • 300g 74% dark chocolate tablets
  • 75g unsalted butterDSC03566
  • 75g double cream
  • Desiccated coconut or grated white chocolate
  • Dried chilli flakes
  • 10 whole roasted hazelnut
  •  Teaspoon of Madagascan vanilla essence
  • Coco powder

Method:

Break the dark chocolate tablets in small pieces and place them in a ceramic bowl, then melt slowly in a bain marie until all the lumps are gone.

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Ready mix

Cut the butter in small chunks and add to the chocolate. Gently stir with a spatula until the butter too has melted.

Now remove the chocolate from the heat and while continuously stirring add the double cream and the vanilla, mix well until it is completely integrated to the chocolate. Then transfer immediately in a bowl with a lid. Once the chocolate has cooled down. Cover the bowl and place it in the fridge for at least an hour or overnight.

If you choose to leave the preparation overnight in the fridge, you might have to leave it at room temperature for at least an hour before you start working the truffles.

Please remember that, just as butter and chocolate melt at the contact of the DSC03599human hand’s heat, so will the truffles melt as you start rolling them. Just don’t handle them too long and it will be fine.

To roll the truffles, scoop from the bowl with a tea spoon, place it in your hand and start rolling in the palm of your hands making sure that it is a lump free and compact ball.

Immediately place the now formed ball in the bowl with chilli flakes and lightly roll so the flakes will stick on the truffle without incrusting in.

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Chilli truffle

Chillies are hot so, the lighter the covering on the surface, the better.

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Coconut truffle

Now repeat the process with the desiccated coconut…

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classic truffle

Do the same for the classical truffle with the coco coating.

For the truffle with the whole nut, add the nut before rolling into a perfect ball, then dust with either chilli, coconut or coco powder.DSC03604

If your hands become really sticky, just rinse with cold water and carry on. Do not use hot water to rinse your hands as the truffles will melt quicker in your hands…

Repeat the above until you get bored…

If you do get bored after you have done the quantity of truffles you needed. Just turn the left over into spreadable chocolate.

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Whole hazelnut truffle

To do this, dissolve a bit of sugar into some double cream and gently fold into the now melted chocolate until you obtain a spreadable consistency.

Note: if you intend to add sugar to your truffles, dissolve it in the double cream before folding in it in the truffle mix.

Et voila!

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Apero – bouchees


So, friends have decided to drop by mid-afternoon and there are left over festive stuff hanging about… French call this l’Apero, short for Aperitif (see below for definition).

So what can you do with this?

So what can you do with this?

No matter how posh your left over nosh is, you must see this as a great opportunity to get rid. I tell you why; this means that you and your household will not consume it during January and add to the weight that you have already gained during the festive period… so, share the “love” selfishly… Of course.

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See below how everything was used to create a beautiful, appetising and welcoming bouchées display.

Sundried tomato & Radish

Sundried tomato & Radish

The bouchée above is sundried tomato with radish at both ends. The tomato bring the tanginess needed to inject life in the bland radish….

Beet-radish-olive

Beet-radish-olive

Next we’ve got more radish but with beetroot and black olives. Olives even in brine are still salty. So against the radish and precooked beetroot, you will not need to provide a deep for this little skewed trio.

 
Salami mon cheri

Salami mon cheri

This one is has a baby salad leaf, a slice of chorizo and a cherry tomato cut in two. Just fold the salad leaf into a chorizo and impale the cherry tomato halves on each side of the stick.

Fatty liver

Fatty liver

For this one, I used duck foie gras brought back from France. Foie gras can be really fiddly to handle and if you are not careful you might have to just spread it like butter. Do not leave it at room temperature before cut it to your preferred shape. Once it is out of its container cut it as soon as.

Foie gras on toast

Foie gras on toast

So, for this little bouchée, all I used were toasted granary slices, a little salad leaves and slices of the foie gras which, needs no distractions nor butter. It likes to party on its own so, a good toasted bread or French toast will do. You can get your foie gras from French clicks here in the UK – http://www.frenchclick.co.uk.

The oyster & pearl

The oyster & pearl

Next is my show piece: smoked oyster & pearl. For this one get the smoked oyster from Tesco, Sainsbury’s or Waitrose’s tined fish aisle.

Oysters & Pearls

Oysters & Pearls

The montage here is a fresh tomato ring lined with a small green salad leaf, topped with the smokes oyster and a squirt of salad cream… Mayonnaise works too as long as it is squirty.

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Bun & Cheese anyone?

Next, we’ve got Bun & Cheese. This is very very Jamaican. The Jamaican bun is a very spicy and sweet dark brown bread.

Close up Bun N' Cheese

Close up Bun N’ Cheese

It is also very pasty in the mouth and I recommend it in moderation. For the bun and cheese bouchées you need butter to hold it together.

Smoked salmond bouchee

Smoked salmon bouchee

Last but not least of the bouchée, we’ve got toasted brown bread and smoked salmon… That’s it.

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Caesar salad

Can’t do all that without a little salad on the side. So, this one in a Caesar salad my way: it contains, bleu cheese, mix coloured salad (pre-packed) and for crunchiness, we’ve got crispy onions and blue cheese vinaigrette (I love cheese).

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Fruit platter

Of course we cannot have all this and not feel guilty. The fruit selection is here to balance it all out… not! On this little platter we’ve got pomegranate – better to buy the fruit and deseed it yourself than buy it ready from the shop. With it we’ve got white & red grapes and also kiwi… no particular reason for this combo. I had them in the house.

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A table! tuck in

And to wash all this down, we had ginger beer, some red wine (French Ronciers) and water on tap bien sure. It goes without saying that the bin saw none of that.

L’apéro: it is short for l’apéritif and it is a bit like an informal pre-diner drink with savoury finger food… It is not meant to fill you up… so go easy.
Bon appétit 

Wheat and Spinach soup


Spinach and Wheat soup - Serving suggestion

Spinach and Wheat soup – Serving suggestion

Well, it is winter, what more do you expect? I just fancied this afternoon something green and nutritious. I am calcium deficient and do consume an awful lot of whole milk and this was another way for me to consume a medical cabinet without going via my pills box… or out to get other ingredients for that matter.
So, to make this soup, you will need:

  • 500grs frozen whole spinach leaves
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 100 wheat
  • 4 garlic cloves

    Raw wheat and red onion

    Raw wheat and red onion

  • 2 stock cubes
  • 1l whole milk
  • 4 table spoons of corn oil
  • 50grs mince beef
  • Dry thyme
  • 1 Brazil nut.

Prep: Start by melting the 2 beef stock cubes in 700ml of hot water and set aside. Rinse the wheat under cold water, set aside, chop the onion, and garlic leave to the side.
Method:In a sauce pan, heat 3tbsp of corn oil and brown ¾ of the chopped onion, add the wheat, garlic and all 700ml of stock. Cover and leave to cook for 45min adding water from time to time until the wheat softens. Once the wheat is fully cooked, add 1l of whole milk with the spinach, adjust the seasoning and leave to simmer until the spinach softens… about 5-7minutes. Keep an eye on it otherwise the milk for foam and spill over… and stink up the flat!

Ready mince

Ready mince

Once the spinach is soft enough, remove from the stove and blend immediately.
Now for the mincemeat, heat 1tbsp of corn oil, dry fry the last quarter of finely chopped onion with the mincemeat and a pinch of salt. Stir continuously until the water coming out of the meat dries out and the meat becomes crispy.
The meal is ready to serve… Preferably with Garlic butter bread. I couldn’t be bothered to get out of my flat today, so, I just used what was in the house…

Up close - Spinach and  Wheat soup

Up close – Spinach and Wheat soup

Note:

if you do not have mincemeat, just use strings of bacon or toasted sesame seeds. You could also replace the wheat with potatoes (I didn’t have any in the house so, used wheat found in the back of the cupboard). If you are not fan of milk, just use water during the cooking and add crème fraîche just before serving.
Bon appétit!

3/3 Tomato conserve – The vegan set


Thank you for coming back for the last in the series. in this post you will find vegan options to impress those special guests using your tomato conserve.

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Easy vegan canapés

The tomato can be used as a base for canapés.

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The Tofu canapé

The Tofu canapé:
Here, the first set of canapés is made out of thin French toast, smooth spreadable tomato conserve. Rocket salad, fried courgette and browned tofu. For the courgette and the Tofu, cut them in the size you will use in your canapés, then, dust with salt and pepper. Heat. 2 table spoons of rapeseed oil then brown each side of the tofu and courgette. This will only take about 1 min and half per side. Leave both to cool down before the montage, or the rocket will become limb.

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The caviar of lentils canapé

The caviar of lentils canapé:
The canapé above is made of French toast, tomato conserve spread, rocket salad, grilled tomato caviar of green lentils.
Cut a fresh tomato in the size you will use on your canapés, again, dust with salt and pepper, drizzle with rapeseed oil and place under the grill for about 5 mins each side. Do keep an eye on it or it will burn. For the lentils (precooked), measure the quantity you will use for the canapés, add a dollop of the smooth conserve with melted dairy free butter and black pepper. mix. Now you are ready for the montage: toast, spread, rocket leaf, grilled tomato, lentils caviar.

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The vegetable platter

The vegetable platter:
Serve the tomato as one of the dips for a vegetable platter. Here the patter includes cucumbers, carrots, red and yellow peppers, potato chips and Shop bought humous.

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roasted vegetable and tofu

Oven roasted vegetable and tofu served warm on a bed of rocket salad.
As you can see, I have used the left over from the vegetable platter, added some onion rings with tofu chunks and placed in the oven for 45 minutes at 180C. Serve warm and top with partially crushed cashew roasted nuts

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Aubergine layer & Lentils caviar

Aubergine layer & Lentils caviar
Cut your aubergine in 2 cm thickness, do the same for courgette, tomato and tofu. Pre fry the aubergine and courgette in olive oil for 1 min on each side before mounting and ready for the oven. In the following order: aubergine, tomato conserve, courgette, tomato conserve, fresh tomato and then, tofu. Dust with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and place in the oven for 30 mins at 180C. Layers to be served hot with a caviar of green lentils. The caviar is made out of precooked lentils, a small amount of the mouth conserve and dairy free butter.

I hope you have enjoyed the series and will be posting your comments here.

Et voila!

2/3 The tomato conserve – how I use mine


Smooth tomato conserve

Smooth tomato conserve

If you missed out on the recipe of my tomato conserve last week please click here.

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Toast and tomato spread

Fancy laying off butter for a while, use the  conserve as spread on a piece of toast for breakfast or snack.

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tomato canapé

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tomato canapé

Vegetarian Fresh tomato canapé:
All you need is rings of fresh tomato,  rocket leaves, wedges of mozzarella, smooth tomato conserve, and poppy seeds. Montage in that order.

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Aubergine and chicken roast

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Aubergine and chicken roast

Aubergine and chicken roast:
Preheat the oven at 180c.
Cut the aubergine steak length way in 2cm thickness. Spread the tomato conserve on top, add slices of yellow pepper, red onions, strips of precooked chicken, salt and pepper then drizzle with a spoon of olive oil. Top with Emmental cheese and place in the oven for 30 minutes.

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spinach & Ricotta tortellini with carrots and ham

Fresh spinach & Ricotta tortellini with carrots and ham– takes 5 minutes
Still using our smooth conserve.
In boiling water cook your fresh tortellini with chunks of fresh carrots for 3 minutes. Remove the pasta from the boiling water and in to a bowl. Chop fresh parsley and some ham. Add on to the pasta with a table spoon or two of the tomato conserve. Done!

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Baked Pollock & aubergine

Baked Pollock (fish) & aubergine:
Cut a thick steak of aubergine, dust with salt & pepper fresh garlic paste then drizzle with groundnut oil. Do the same for the fish and place both in the oven at the same time for 45 mins at 180c.
The aubergine will come out cooked but slightly chewy and the fish will be dry on the outside but moist inside.
Serve both with the chunky version of the conserve on the side.

Bon appétit!