Category Archives: Dinner Party

Clementine and Almond Cake

Clementine & Almond Cake

I know, I know, I know it’s not really the time for cakes in health-conscious diet-ridden January. But it’s REALLY cold here, as it is in the UK. And now that the christmas cake’s finally been gnawed away (it was huge!) I’ve been in need of a little cakey sustenance to ward off the cold. And on the whole this is about as healthy as a cake can be. No butter, no icing, no drizzle, not even any flour. Just cooked (whole!) clementines (or tangerines or satsumas), ground almonds, eggs and sugar. Oh and a little Amaretto to perk things up a little. And it’s a truly wonderful all-rounder of the cakey world, equally delicious as a tea time treat (yes I’m entering it!) with a cuppa, an elevensie with a coffee or even a dinner party pud dolled up with a spoon of mascarpone or creme fraiche.

Originally a Nigella recipe that I’ve slightly adapted over time, but interesting the exact same recipe’s been sighted in a Bill Granger book too. And I mean EXACT. So who’s copying who Nige and Bill?!

As this month’s Tea Time Treat’s theme is the citrus fruit I’m entering Bill’s/Nigella’s recipe to the challenge. TTT’s is jointly hosted by Lavender and Lovage and What Kate Baked

Tea Time Treatrs logo

I’m also putting it forward to the One Ingredient Challenge, hosted by Laura at How to Cook Good Food (this month’s host to the Orange Challenge) and Nazima at Franglais Kitchen.

One-Ingredient-Oranges-300x199

Clementine & Almond Cake

Clementine & Almond Cake

375g of clementines, tangerines or satsumas (they all work!)

5 large free range eggs

225g of golden caster sugar

250g of ground almonds

a heaped teaspoon of baking powder, sieved

a tablespoon of Amaretto

a little icing sugar for dusting

Special Equipment: a 21cm spring-sided baking tin lined with greaseproof paper

Place the clementines in a saucepan and cover the fruit with cold water. Bring to the boil, cover and leave to simmer away for 2 hours. Top up the water level as it drops. After 2 hours remove from the water and allow to cool for a few minutes. Whiz to a pulp in a processor.

Pre-heat your oven to 190ºC.

Now on with this cinch of  a cake. Whisk up the eggs in a large bowl, using a balloon whisk. Then whisk in the sugar followed by the ground almonds and baking powder. Finally stir in the clementine pulp.

Pour the cake mixture into your lined cake tin and bake in the pre-heated oven for around 40 minutes. It should be golden on top, firm to touch and an inserted skewer will come out clean. Leave to cool in the tin on a cooling rack.

Once cool carefully remove from the tin and lightly dust with sieved icing sugar. Serve as is or with a naughty spoon of creme fraiche or mascarpone.

Here’s some other Chez Foti cakey treats you might like to try: Chocolate Pumpkin Cake, Courgette Cake with Homemade Lemon Curd, Super-Fruity Banana Mini Muffins

Clementine & Almond Cake


A Guest Post by Anneli from Delicieux – A Very Merry French Christmas!

Finished dishLouisa and I both live in South West France in the rolling countryside of Gascony. Although we have never met in the flesh, we soon found that we have a lot in common; both being food bloggers, both growing our own vegetables, both having two small children of similar age, and of course, both having up and left the UK to pursue the good life here in France.

And what a good life it is too! I have been here now for five years and I absolutely love it. I feel spoilt to live somewhere so beautiful. I am touched by the unhurried way of life and the sense that time has almost stood still, both in the architecture of the villages and also in the mentality of the locals!

By that I mean this wonderful sense of doggedness that the French have about their traditions and their food. Always French wine, always local produce, always French cheese. And why not when what they have is so goddamn good! Why import goods when they have all they need right here?

I live in ‘duck’ country. Foie Gras, Confit and Magret are a staple on every restaurant menu in the Gers I think! And yet I am never bored by them. They are so quintessentially ‘French’ and they do them so well that they always delight. When I think of traditional French food, for me, it must include duck in some form or another.

Louisa and I got together to think of a blog challenge ingredient or subject we could both get our teeth into and Louisa suggested something for a traditional French Christmas. I immediately knew that I wanted to use duck so I did a bit of research to see how the French like it at this time of year.

It seems that they like to roast a whole duck and use chestnuts in the stuffing. In fact, upon further investigation, it would appear that chestnuts are a very traditional ingredient in Christmas cooking. I guess not so different from the British roast turkey with chestnut stuffing…

I decided to have a go at putting these traditional Christmas ingredients together in my own way and an idea began to form. I chose to use duck breast in this dish, for me it is the Rolls Royce of duck meat and it allows you to have more control when cooking it, keeping it nice and pink and moist.

To accompany my juicy duck meat, I made a chestnut puree with a little ricotta to make it super creamy. And I added a few ‘devilled chestnuts’ as well – just fried off in some paprika. These added another dimension and texture to the dish. All served alongside a crunchy yet soft potato rosti and some stir fried cabbage. It was winter on a plate. Rich, nutty, juicy and yummy. I would be very happy to eat this at Christmas – or any other day of the year!

Here’s how I did it:

Duck Breast with Chestnut Puree & Devilled Chestnuts served with a Potato Rosti & Cabbage  

Serves 2

 1 large French duck breast or 2 British duck breasts

4-5 smallish potatoes

1 egg yolk

1 tbsp olive oil

250g vacuum packed cooked chestnuts

1 tbsp Ricotta cheese

100ml milk

1 tsp paprika

1/3 of cabbage, shredded

  • First of all, peel your potatoes and par-boil them for 7 minutes in salted water. Then drain them and set aside to cool. Once cool, coarsely grate them and add the egg yolk and mixGrated Potato
  • Heat your oven to 150 F/180 C. Heat your olive oil in a frying pan and then split your grated potato in half and press into two metal rings if you have them. If not, just make two balls and then press each one flat to make the rosti. Fry on each side until nicely brown, 5-7 minutes each side. Then place them in the oven to keep warm and to ensure they are cooked all the way through.Rosti
  • Meanwhile, re-heat your chestnuts according to package instructions. For mine, I just pierced the vacuum pack and then cooked them in boiling water for 5 minutes.Chestnuts in pan
  • Release your chestnuts and set aside 10-12 to ‘devil’ later. Leave the rest in the pan and add the milk and using a hand held blender, blitz to make a thick puree. Add the ricotta and stir through. It should be as thick as cream cheese and a pale beige colour. Season generously. Set aside to heat though just before serving.
  • Now prepare your duck – score the skin in a criss-cross as in the picture and season on both sides of the duck. Heat a non stick frying pan and place the duck in the pan with no oil, skin side down and leave without touching it for 10 minutes to cook. Then turn the duck over and cook for 5 more minutes. Then remove, cover with foil and leave to rest for at least 5 minutes – longer if you want.Raw Duck
  • Meanwhile, to cook the cabbage, take a table spoon of the duck fat from the pan cooking the duck and add to another pan. Then fry your cabbage in the duck fat for 10 minutes until wilted and cooked through. Season well.
  • Chop your reserved chestnuts and toss them in the teaspoon of paprika. Heat another spoonful of duck fat in a small pan and fry your chestnuts in it for 4 minutes to ‘devil’ them. Also, gently reheat your chestnut puree.Devilled Chestnuts
  • When you are ready to slice your duck, pour any juices that have collected whilst resting into your chestnut puree. Then slice into at least 8 diagonal slices.
  • To serve, spread some puree across the middle of your plate. Place a potato rosti on one side and some cabbage on the other. Top the rosti with 2 slices of duck and the cabbage with 2 slices of duck. Finally, sprinkle the devilled chestnuts down the middle of the plate and serve.Finished dish

Blog by Anneli Faiers from www.delicieux.eu

Biog: I am a Private Chef  living South West France. I am a 36 year old, mother of two, living the rural dream. I love to cook all food and am inspired by fresh produce and the cuisine here in France. From rustic traditional dishes, to vegetarian, to fine dining, I try to cook it all and share my journey with you. Stop by and check it out.

Thanks for having me Louisa and Happy Christmas everyone!

And if you want to check out my own guest blog on Anneli’s site then please drop by to: www.delicieux.eu. Mine’s a very naughty but festive Chocolate & Chestnut Bûche de Noël.


Parsnip and Pear Soup

Parsnip & Pear Soup

There’s been a frenzy of activity in the Chez Foti kitchen this last week, brought on by my sudden and slightly panicked realisation we will be ten for christmas. Which obviously is very wonderful but I’ve got my work cut out! And after a few trials this is the soup I’ve decided to kick off christmas day lunch with, using our lovely parsnips and the last of the pears from the garden. It’s quite a light, yet creamy, soup flavoured with plenty of nutmeg and white pepper, and will be served with Parsnip Crisps (time permitting on the day!) and Mini Pear, Stilton & Shallot Tarts (blog coming soon!).

Parsnips

We’ve opted out of turkey for the main event this year and I’ve purchased a rather large piece of  imported British Beef instead (thanks to the lovely people at the Singing Frog Farm). The Roast Beef will be served with Yorkshire Puds, Chipolatas, Duck Fat Roasted Spuds, Roast Parsnips, Sprouts with Chestnuts, Roasted Pumpkin with Lardons and Lemon Butter Carrots. With lashings of Red Wine Gravy and Horseradish Sauce of course. As for the pud they’ll be my Great Granny’s Christmas Pudding, that my mum’s very kindly made this year and will be bringing over by special delivery. And for the christmas pud haters a Chocolate & Chestnut Bouche Noel (or Yule Log to you and me, but sounds a tad more sophisticated in French, made, photographed and now frozen and also coming to you in a blog very soon!). Oh I’m hungry just thinking about it. 10 days to go,  yikes!  Here’s a sneeky peek of the log:

My Chocolate & Chestnut Buche Noel, coming in a blog very soon!

My Chocolate & Chestnut Buche Noel, coming in a blog very soon!

Being full of seasonal goodness I’m entering my Soup to Ren Behan of Fabulicious Food‘s Simple and in Season bloggie event, this month hosted by Karen of Lavender and Lovage.

Simple and In Season

Parsnip & Pear Soup

Parsnip and Pear Soup

Serves 8 to 10

2 tablespoons of olive oil

25g of butter

a very large onion, or 2 mediums, diced

a kilo of parsnips, scrubbed and peeled

220g of pears, peeled and cored

a level teaspoon of ground white pepper

a level teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg

2 bay leaves

2 litres of good quality chicken or vegetable stock

5 heaped tablespoons of half fat creme fraiche

A little milk for thinning (optional)

Heat the oil and butter in a very large pan on a gentle heat. Add the onions and saute gently for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile prep the parsnips. As mine are organic and homegrown I tend to leave the skins on but it’s probably best to peel them otherwise. Cut into 2 to 3 cm chunks. Throw the parsnips into the pan. Allow to cook for a further 10 minutes, regularly giving the pan a good stir so nothing catches.

Stir in the pears, white pepper, nutmeg and bay leaves. Then pour over the stock. Bring to a simmer. Allow to bubble away for 15 to 20 minutes or until the parsnips are very soft. Take off the heat and leave to cool for a few minutes.

Remove the bay leaves then blitz in a food processor or blender or with a stick blender until silky smooth. Stir in the creme fraiche until it’s perfectly incorporated. I like my soups around this thickness but you may wish to thin some more with a little extra milk.

Serve immediately!

Here’s some other Chez Foti seasonal soups:

Butternut Squash & Chorizo Soup with Chorizo Croutons

Pumpkin & Bacon Soup

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Greens Soup)

Parsnip & Pear Soup


Fig, Goats Cheese & Red Onion Tarts

We’re in the midst of fig season here in France and I’m loving it. Without a doubt they’re one of my favourite fruits and as we’re relative newbies here only in our second fig season they still feel rather decedent and exotic. Sadly we’re the only people I know of without a single fig tree in the garden so I have to rely on friends and a couple of our holiday home neighbours’ trees to feed my indulgence. I really must get around to planting our own trees next spring.

Last Saturday we were happily invited to my friend Debbie’s house for a spot of fig picking and horsey riding for Francesca. Five kilos later we came home (not counting the umpteen in our tummies). I’m afraid to say I put most of them in the freezer to make into jam when I’ve a little more time on my hands than this week. The rest were made into several batches of these gorgeous wee Fig, Goats Cheese & Red Onion Tartlets and a fabulous Fig & Pear Crumble (which I shall be blogging shortly too).

Master J adores his figs too, though they’re not the choicest of foods for a lad going through potty training. Last Autumn I took my daily walk with Jacques-on-my-back past one particular fig tree which he’d scream at as we got closer, screaming for me to pick him some. Funny at first, but the screaming carried on for the subsequent four months until well into January and there was snow on the ground, and each time with me painstakingly trying to explain the figs were all gone and he’d have to wait until next September. Anyway at least September’s come around again and he’s one very happy wee (and exceptionally regular) chappie. And a happy chappie with a few more words than last year, namely ‘Mummy pick fig NOW!’.

Anyway enough fig talk, on with the tarts, or tartlettes if I want to be really posh. I made several batches of these last year too, and always a success. The sweetness of the figs and balsamic caramalised red onions is cut through with a little sharpness from the goats cheese and the savory notes of thyme and addition of black pepper to the pastry. Perfect for parties and buffets, or as a nibble served with pre-dinner drinks or a starter with a few dressed leaves on the side. Admittedly they’re a tad on the fiddly side but can be made in large batches and handily frozen. And so well worth the effort.

I’m going for my first ever trio of bloggie competitions with this recipe, so keep on in there while I detail them all. Firstly, I was very pleased to see September’s One Ingredient Challenge is the Fig, a wonderful competition held jointly by Laura at How to Cook Good Food and Nazima at Working London Mummy (this month is Laura’s turn).

As thyme is such a crucial ingredient to my tarts I’m also entering Karen at Lavender and Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday Challenge (again I know, but it’s such a lovely competition!)

And last but most certainly not least my tarts are also entering Ren Behan’s Fabulicious Food Simple and in Season Competition, this month hosted by Katie at Feeding Boys and a Firefighter.

Phew, that’s a whole lot of competitions, now on with the recipe!

Fig, Goats Cheese & Red Onion Tarts

Makes 24 mini tartlets:

For the Pastry:

200g of plain flour, plus a little extra for rolling

100g of butter, cut into small blocks, straight from the fridge

100g of hard vegetable fat, cut into small blocks, straight from the fridge

a teaspoon of coarsely ground black pepper

a generous pinch of salt

an egg yolk

For the Tarts:

3 tablespoons of olive oil

3 red onions, very finely sliced

2 dessertspoons of balsamic vinegar

salt & pepper

12 to 15 very ripe figs (about 320g)

150g of goats cheese (preferably in a log shape)

a few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed

a little more extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Special Equipment: 

2 small x12 tart or fairy cake tins

Start with making your pastry. I use a food processor for speed but you can make it by hand too. If you’re using a processor place all the ingredients (bar the egg yolk) in the bowl and whiz until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and continue to whiz. When it starts to come together in a ball it’s ready, add a few drops of very cold water until this happens. Remove from the processor and shape together. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before using.

If you’re making the pastry by hand place all the ingredients (bar the egg yolk) together in a mixing bowl. Rub the fat into the flour with your hands until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk splash and mix into the flour and fat with your hands, trying to bring it all together. When it comes together in a ball it’s ready. You may also need to add a few drops of water for this to happen. Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 190ºC (gas mark 5, 375ºF).

Whilst the pastry’s resting make your filling. Heat the oil in a saucepan on a gentle heat. Add the finely sliced onions and cook slowly for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring regularly, until very soft. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and a pinch each of salt and ground black pepper. Allow to bubble for a minute or two before setting aside to cool.

Meanwhile cut each of the figs into 6 segments, and cut the goats cheese into 24 thin rounds.

Roll out the pastry on a floured surface as thinly as you can, to a one to two millimeter thickness. Cut into rounds with a 8cm diameter pastry cutter (or like me an upturned thin wine glass – every time I make tarts I curse myself for not having a correct sized cutter!). Re-work the leftover pastry until you have 24 pastry rounds.

Lay the rounds in the two tart or cake tins and press down lightly. Place a small teaspoon of the red onions at the bottom of each, followed by a slice of the goats cheese, a scattering of thyme leaves. Finally place three fig segments on the top of each, plus a fine grinding of black pepper and the merest drizzle of olive oil.

Place in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the pastry’s golden brown and crisp.

How about trying my other tart recipes? A couple of Tomato Tarts or Leek & Goats Cheese Tart.


Boeuf en Daube for The Care to Cook Recipe Challenge

What dish would you cook to welcome someone into your home? This is the question posed in the Care to Cook Recipe Challenge I’m entering, a competition held by Vanesther at one of my favourite family food blogs, Bangers & Mash Chat. The challenge raises awareness of the wonderful charity TACT who provide fostering and adoption services to help some of the most vulnerable children and young people in the UK. TACT have recently launched their own cook book Care to Cook with recipes donated by the charities adopters, supporters and staff. At only £3.00, with all proceeds directly benefiting adopted children and their new families, this has to be a steal!.

Living abroad and in a particularly nice place to kick back in (well we think so anyway!) we regularly have friends and family to stay at Chez Foti. With almost all of our guests coming from England, I always try to serve something classically French for at least the first dinner. A couple of weeks ago we had my brother in law Patrice and nephew James to stay for a week and I made Boeuf en Daube to welcome them to our home.

Our Pyrenean View

Beef in Daube recipe

Boeuf en Daube originating from Provence is a fabulously fragrant, hearty and gutsy braised beef dish slow cooked in the oven in red wine, lardons, chopped tomatoes, shallots, garlic, thyme and orange peel. Although similar in sound to a Boeuf Bourguinon it tastes pretty different due to the addition of tomatoes, preserved anchovies and orange peel and the slow baking in the oven rather than on a hob.

I used my first pulled carrots of the year to make this, possibly a little on the small side but I couldn’t resist. It goes without saying that the garlic, shallots, onion and herbs were all homegrown Chez Foti too.

The first carrots of the season!

The beef is great served at this time of year with roasted new potatoes (roasted whole in the oven with plenty of rosemary, lemon wedges, garlic, salt, black pepper and olive oil) and a simple braised or steamed seasonal green veggie (I served mine with braised chard). And a nice bottle of red obviously. By the way the beef is even more amazing served the next day or the day after that, so a great dish to be made in advance.

Enough for six grown up folk: 

1.2 kilos of beef shin or chuck, cut into a large 5 cm dice

salt & pepper

3 tablespoons of olive oil

200g of lardons or diced streaky bacon

a medium onion, diced

10 shallots, halved

5 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped

650ml of red wine, nothing too special

3 carrots, sliced

2 sticks of celery, sliced

a 400g can of chopped tomatoes

250ml of good quality beef stock

2 tinned or jarred anchovies (preserved in oil)

3 large strips/peelings of orange zest

4 large sprigs of fresh thyme

4 large sprigs of fresh parsley

3 bay leaves

Season the beef with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat the oil in a large heavy based casserole or Le Creuset (it must have a lid and be oven proof). Fry the beef on a high temperature until browned on all sides. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Now fry the lardons or bacon in the remainder of the fat. Once they’ve taken on a little colour remove from the pan with the slotted spoon and set aside with the beef.

Reduce the heat, and into the same pan and fat throw the onion and shallot halves. Stir at intervals but allow to gently saute for 8 to 10 minutes until softened. Add the garlic for a further couple of minutes before re-introducing the beef and lardons to the pan.

Pour over the wine and give everything a good stir. Bring to a simmer and allow to simmer reasonably vigorously for 30 minutes until the wine is considerably reduced.

Meanwhile prepare a bouquet garni of the herbs by tying together the thyme, parsley and bay leaves. Peel three strips of orange zest from a whole orange, each of roughly 6cm by 2cm.

Once reduced add to the beef the carrots, celery, chopped tomatoes, beef stock, anchovies, orange zest, bouquet garni and a generous grinding of black pepper.

Bring back to a simmer and take off the hob. Cover and place in a preheated to 160ºC oven for 2 hours, but giving everything a thorough stir at least a couple of times during the cooking process (add a little more stock or water if things start to look a little dry).

Here’s some other classic French dinners I’ve served to welcome our guests to Chez Foti: Coq au Vin, Boeuf Bourguinon, Moules Frites, Tartiflette, A Summary Chicken, Asparagus & Lemon Cassoulet


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