Category Archives: Mains

The best Garlic Bread, and a Chorizo, Potato and Rosemary Pizza

Garlic Bread

It’s most definitely pizza weather here at Chez Foti. We’ve had seemingly ceaseless rain, gales and miserable cold for way too long now, since New Year’s Day to be exact. And it’s getting kind of depressing now, in a British wintery kind of way. Our garden is one big muddy swamp and the wee pond a lake, just a shame we don’t have any duckies to appreciate it. Bet they’re the only ones happy round here. And the forecast for the next week is still more rain, a little snow, and grey, grey, GREY. AHRRRRRR. Where’s that gorgeous south of France sunshine and glorious blue sky that amazed and cheered me through the last two winters?  OK, enough said, weather rant over (well I AM English!) and on with a couple of recipes to insulate against the outside nasties.

You really can’t get much better winter warming and cheery fodder than a homemade pizza, especially a heftily insulating one with a gutsy topping of Potatoes, Chorizo and Rosemary. Admittedly not one of my healthiest of recipes, but hey ho everything in moderation, and it is rather good. And if you want to omit the Chorizo it’s equally as tasty with just Potatoes and Rosemary. Don’t be put off by the way with the idea of potatoes on a pizza (and try not to think about the carb overload), they really work!

Chorizo, Potato & Rosemary Pizza

Living so close to Spain Chorizo is cheaply abundant in these parts and I cook with it regularly, though much more so in the winter. It’s one of my staple store cupboard ingredients and gets used to liven up many an Omelette or Tortilla, Salad (Chorizo & Manchego Salad), Veggie Side ( just a little is fabulous sauted with Cabbage, Chard or Spinach and even roasted with Pumpkin or Butternut) or Soup (Butternut Squash & Chorizo Soup with Chorizo Croutons, Caldo Verde). And then there’s obviously Paella and other rice based dishes that it works so well with. But there’s no qualms about it, Chorizo’s not the healthiest choice of ingredients, but a little really does go a long way in the flavour stakes and it can be used remarkably sparingly. Though perhaps, ahem, not so sparingly on this particular pizza!

And I also have my favourite Garlic Pizza Bread, made exactly in the same way as pizza but simply containing a topping of Garlic (lots of), fresh Parsley or Rosemary (lots of) and good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil (again LOTS OF). It’s that simple. Whenever we have a pizza night I always start with one  or two of these naughty little herby numbers to get things going. And it’s equally as delish with rosemary or parsley, just go for what you fancy or happen to have in, but be generous!

I shall be entering my herby post to Karen of Lavender & Lovage’s February Herbs on Saturday challenge.

Herbs on Saturday

Garlic Pizza Bread with Parsley or Rosemary

The Best Garlic Bread!

Serves 4 as an appetiser

One quantity of Pizza Dough (I use this Jamie Oliver recipe, using part semolina flour when I can get hold of it)

2 cloves of Garlic, finely chopped

Salt & Pepper

2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil plus a little extra for drizzling

a few sprigs of Parsley or Rosemary, leaves removed and roughly chopped, be generous!

Special Equipment: a Pizza Stone, Pizza Baking Tray or an ordinary Baking Tray

Pre-heat your oven to as hot as it will go. Place your pizza stone or baking tray in the oven to heat up.
Start with making your oh so simple topping. Crush the chopped garlic with a little salt using the flat edge of a large knife. Mix the garlic with the olive oil, a generous amount of black pepper and the parsley or rosemary. Leave to infuse while you prep the pizza base.

Roll out your pizza dough to your desired size and thickness. I like mine very thin, particularly as this is only an appetiser. Place on your hot pizza stone or baking tray.

Evenly spread over the garlic and herby oil and place in your very hot oven for a few minutes until golden and crisp. It should only take about 5 to 8 minutes and watch as it can burn very easily.

Drizzle with a little more olive oil, slice and serve.

 Chorizo, Potato & Rosemary Pizza

Chorizo, Potato  & Rosemary Pizza

Serves 1 to 2 (depending on how much of a pizza monster you happen to be!)

One quantity of Pizza Dough (as per Jamie Oliver recipe if you wish)

2 – 3 tablespoons of Tomato Pizza Sauce (see below) or my slow cooked fresh tommie sauce (which I so happen to have half a freezer of still!) A Glut of Tomatoes Pasta Sauces

150g of small Potatoes, washed but with skins on, waxy ones work the best but any will do really!

80g of Chorizo, skin removed and finely sliced

2 or 3 sprigs of Rosemary, leaves removed and roughly chopped

a 125g ball of Mozzarella, sliced

Salt & Black Pepper

Special Equipment: a Pizza Stone, Pizza Baking Tray or an ordinary Baking Tray

Pre-heat your oven to as hot as it will go. Place your pizza stone or baking tray in the oven to heat up.

Cook the potatoes until almost tender. Once cool enough to handle slice.

Now for the pizza. Roll out your pizza dough to your desired size and thickness. I personally prefer mine very thin. Place on your hot pizza stone or baking tray.

Smoother the base with your tomato sauce, followed by an even scattering of the chorizo, potatoes, rosemary and mozzarella. Finely add a generous grinding of black pepper and a little salt.

Place in your extremely hot oven and cook until crisp, golden and bubbling all over. This could be anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes! Our woodfired bread/pizza oven usually takes less than 5 minutes and the electric oven around 10.

Slice and enjoy. With a salad if you want to feel just a little less indulgent!

Tomato Pizza Sauce

Enough for two large pizzas:

2 tablespoons of olive oil

a clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

a 400g tin of good quality chopped tomatoes (or fresh obviously!)

a generous pinch each of sugar, salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan on a gentle heat and fry the garlic for a few moments, ensuring you do not burn the garlic. As soon as it takes on any colour and you can smell it cooking throw in the tomatoes, sugar, salt and pepper and give everything a good stir. Cook gently for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning to suit. You can either use the sauce as it is or blitz with a stick blender or processor for a smoother texture (I rarely bother!).

You might also like:

Pizza Puttanesca

Pizza Puttanesca

Roasted Wild Mushroom Pizza Recipe

Roasted Wild Mushroom Pizza


Rosemary and Cannellini Bean Risotto…and a tale of Bugs in the Borlotti

Rosemary and Cannellini Bean Risotto

I’m a huge risotto fan and make them pretty often, but I have to say this is a particularly blindingly good one. Luxurious, decadent, dreamy, sumptuous, comforting, warming. And all without too many calories, much effort and minimal expenditure. And it’s here that I should really point out it wasn’t entirely my own recipe, but more on that later!. If you like your beans, rosemary and risotto then I urge you to make this, I’m confident you won’t be disappointed. The creaminess of the beans works wonderfully in a risotto, adding a luxurious depth of texture and flavour to an otherwise frugal dish. And whilst I’m on the subject of risotto I’d love to hear what your favourites are?

Now there’s a little story as to how I came to back this heavenly supper….so stay with me here, this blog’s a bit of a longie today! I’ve recently been perusing a new to me book, The Best-Ever Easy-to-Use Herb Cookbook by Joanna Farrow, a gift from the lovely Karen of Lavender and Lovage, for winning November’s Herbs on Saturday Challenge (for my Roasted Wild Mushroom Pizza blog).

Herb Cookbook

It’s a lovely book, full of really interesting and innovative herby recipes from soups and salads, baking and mains through to desserts and sweets with absolutely gorgeous photography throughout. Being a bit of a risotto fiend I was immediately struck by a recipe for Rosemary Risotto with Borlotti Beans, having never used beans in a risotto before and happening to have a huge tub of homegrown borlotti begging to be used.

Now the observant amongst you may be confused at my recipe for Cannellini Beans when I’m writing about Borlotti. On inspection of the borlotti, in readiness to soak and boil, I sadly discovered my tub to be jumping with nasty little mite type bugs. I even tried to wash and soak a few but the bugs had penetrated the skins and the bugs and borlotti had to be binned. And fed instead to my chickens. But not without cooking in a tasty little stew first. My chickens must be the fussiest chickens to strut the earth, they don’t do raw veggie or fruit peeling but will eagerly peck away at anything cooked. So every now and again I treat them to a pot of slow cooked peelings and chopped old veggies, cooked for free on the top of my woodburner, and this time it included the buggy borlotti. And they loved them! Though I wonder if their coop was unusually stinky that night? Does anyone else cook for their chickens, or is it only crazy little me?!

My Bugged Borlotti & Veggie Stew - a winter warmer for the chickens!

My Bugged Borlotti & Veggie Stew – a winter warmer for the chickens!

A few of my ladies tucking into their tasty warm stew

A few of my ladies tucking into their tasty warm stew

As well as switching the beans, I also strayed a little from the original recipe by using shallots instead of an onion since we still have a surplus of homegrowns to use and besides I virtually always use shallot in a risotto. I added a few sticks of my celery too as it’s still growing here, I say a few as my plants are smaller than shop boughts. I also substituted mascarpone for half fat creme fraiche as let’s just say I’m cutting back on the calories a little this month. I don’t do the ‘D’ word. Last, but possibly most importantly, I oomphed up the quantity of rosemary. By about four times! The original recipe, for four people, called for a teaspoon of rosemary. I halved the quantity to serve to two people and added a dessertspoon, which in my opinion was bang on the flavour.

I’m entering my blog to quite a number of challenges, so bare with me here! Firstly, of course, to Karen’s Lavender and Lovage Herbs on Saturday challenge, as without my previous win this recipe would never have entered my realm of culinary possibilities!

herbsonsaturday

Secondly to Bookmarked Recipes, an event held by Jacqueline over at Tinned Tomatoes and one I somehow as yet have never entered, so here’s my first ever entry!

bookmarked recipes new logo

Thirdly to Credit Crunch Munch, as I hope you’ll agree with is a pretty frugal munch, an event jointly hosted by Camilla of Fab Food 4 All and Helen of Fuss Free Flavours.

Credit-Crunch-Munch

Fourthly (yes really!) to another new challenge I’ve just come across, Flavours of Italy, a European food event held by Simply Food, and this month hosted by Divya’s Culinary Journey,
and with the handy theme of Italy, home obviously of the wonderful dish that is Risotto.

Flavours of Italy logo (2)

And finally to Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays as it so happens to be a Monday (not that I think that matters?!) and my risotto’s made from scratch.

Made with Love Mondays

 Phew, are you still with me? Now on with the recipe:

Rosemary & Cannellini Bean Risotto

Rosemary & Cannellini Bean Risotto

Great for family or grown up dinners, dinner parties (it’s that good!), vegetarians, mid-week or weekend suppers

Serves 2

a tablespoon of Olive Oil

2 Shallots, finely diced

a stick of Celery, finely diced

a large clove of Garlic, finely chopped or crushed

140g of Risotto Rice

90ml of White Wine

450 to 500ml of hot Veggie Stock (I used my favourite Marigold)

2/3rds of a 400g tin of Cannellini or Borlotti Beans (drained and rinsed) or 85g of soaked and cooked beans (though I wouldn’t advise cooking this few beans on their own, I soaked and cooked a huge batch for several recipes – look out for them in subsequent blogs!)

2 tablespoons of half fat Creme Fraiche (or full fat or Mascarpone if you’re feeling more indulgent)

a dessert spoon of chopped fresh Rosemary

35g of Parmesan or Grana Padano Cheese

Salt and Pepper

Heat the olive oil in a heavy based saucepan on a gentle heat. Fry the onion, celery and garlic for 5 minutes until very soft, stirring regularly.

Stir in the rice ensuring the grains get a good coating of the oil. Pour in the wine and stir. Allow to simmer away on a gentle heat. Once most of the wine’s evaporated pour in a ladleful of the hot stock. Continue to stir at intervals adding further ladlefuls of hot stock every time the last one’s nearly all absorbed.

Meanwhile prep the beans. Blitz about two-thirds of the beans in a food processor or with a stick blender. Set the remainder aside.

Once the risotto rice is about three-quarters cooked, stir in the blitzed beans. Continue to cook the risotto, adding more stock as and when required.

When the rice is tender, but still has a tiny bit of ‘bite’, stir in the remaining whole beans, creme fraiche, Parmesan, rosemary and a generous pinch of black pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt and pepper to suit. Cover the pan and leave the risotto to rest for 5 minutes so that the risotto absorbs the flavours fully and the rice finishes cooking.

Serve, with extra Parmesan if you wish. And a glass of crisp white wine.

Here’s some of my other Risotto Recipes you might like to try:

Butternut squash risotto

Roast Butternut Risotto with Butternut Crisps

Spinach, Courgette & Pesto Risotto

Spinach, Courgette and Pesto Risotto


Pizza Puttanesca

Pizza Puttanesca

We do eat quite a few pizzas at Chez Foti, probably too many. Well about once a week if the truth be known. But in my defense they are always homemade. And I’m not being a ponsey foodie by saying that. Believe me I’ve absolutely nothing against good quality take away pizza, but we do live in distinctly rural SW France and without wanting to be too rude, the quality of the take away pizzas in these parts is considerably below par. Bordering inedible. Which is a shame as the only two fast food joints in a 25 km radius both happen to be pizza take aways!. And once or twice bitten I won’t be going back. Just don’t get me started on the supermarket offerings either. Think 80s Britain, say no more. Hence I’ve become a bit of geek at homemade pizza ….. and homemade Thai/Chinese/Indian to boot!. And we do happen to have an original bread oven in our lounge that bakes the most perfect pizzas.

I love playing around with inventing toppings and this recipe so happens to be one of my favourites of the moment. Think Puttanesca Sauce but on a pizza. Puttanesca, in case you didn’t know, is a tomato based sauce revved up with oodles of garlic, anchovies, capers, chilli and olives. And it’s sublime on a pizza with the addition of Mozzarella and a little Parmesan. Pizza simplicity at it’s best.

Pizza Puttanesca

Made with Love Mondays

I’m also delighted to be entering, for the first ever time, my Pizza Puttanesca to Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays, a weekly series promoting, sharing and celebrating foods made entirely from scratch. Foods without any of the nasties and all the good stuff!.

Pizza Puttanesca

Serves 1 to 2 (depending on how much of a pizza monster you happen to be!)

One quantity of Pizza Dough (I usually stick to this Jamie Oliver recipe, using part semolina flour when I can get hold of it)

2 tablespoons of Olive Oil

2 cloves of Garlic

a Red Chili (or go wild with 2 if you like your heat), finely sliced

4 Anchovy Fillets in oil

a 400g can of good quality Chopped Tomatoes or 450g of ripe and flavoursome Fresh Tomatoes (I’m still using up my frozen stock from The Great Chez Foti Tomato Harvest!)

a very large pinch of Black Pepper

a pinch of Sugar

a dessertspoon of Capers, rinsed

40g of stoned Black Olives, halved

80g of Mozzarella cheese, finely sliced

a heaped tablespoon of finely grated Parmesan or Grana Padano

Special Equipment: a pizza stone, pizza baking sheet or an ordinary baking tray/sheet

Pre-heat your oven to the hottest it will go and pop your pizza stone or baking tray in to warm up.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan on a gentle heat. Fry the chili, garlic and anchovies for a few moments  until the anchovies are almost disintegrated. Slide in the tomatoes and add a very generous pinch of coarsely ground black pepper and a small pinch of sugar. Give everything a good stir. Allow to simmer gently for 20 minutes.

The sauce is ready when it’s considerably thickened and very flavoursome. Stir in the capers. Have a taste check adding more black pepper to suit. Obviously you could add salt but there’s a fair whack already in there from the anchovies so it’s unlikely you’ll need more.

Now for the pizza. Roll out your pizza dough to your desired size and thickness. I personally prefer mine very thin. Place on your hot pizza stone or baking tray.

Spread the puttanesca sauce evenly over the base. Place the halved olives and slices of mozzarella. Scatter over the parmesan or grana padano.

Place in your extremely hot oven and cook until crisp and golden. This could be anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes! Our woodfired bread/pizza oven usually takes less than 5 minutes and the oven at it’s hottest around 10.

Pizza Puttanesca

You might also like: 

Roasted Wild Mushroom Pizza            Butternut, Feta & Red Onion Tart with Thyme

Butternut, Feta & Red Onion Tart with Pine Nuts and Thyme

Jacques mushroom picking

 


Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni with Hidden Veggies Tommie Sauce

Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni

It’s really REALLY cold here. Bitter. Wet. Icy. Windy. Needless to say I’m avoiding leaving the snugly fires of our house as much as possible, even to go shopping. And being the frugal month of January I’m attempting a fridge, freezer and cupboard blow out using up a whole host of lurking need-to-be-used ingredients. On a recent inspection I handily discovered a tub of almost-out-date ricotta as well as a ball of just-out-of-date mozzarella, dried cannelloni that I’ve had for too long to mention, frozen spinach that somehow never gets used in our house and frozen chopped tomatoes that are still cramming up the freezer from last summer’s enormous glut, plus some pumpkin (I still have six to munch through!) and a random red pepper. So I set to to make stuffed cannelloni placating any requirement to leave the confines of Chez  Foti and brave the weather.

So a vegged and healthied-up version (I can’t help it!) of a Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni (flavoured with a little Parmesan and Nutmeg) was born, covered with oodles of Tomato Sauce enriched with Celery, Carrot, Pumpkin & Pepper. Then topped with a little Mozzarella and Parmesan and baked in the oven.  And the kids ate it. Even enjoyed it. Admittedly not without a good deal of ‘encouragement’ at first, but that was to do with the off-putting (to them) abundance of green in the cannelloni, which on tasting they did actually like. Job done. Oodles of veggies filling those precious wee tummies. And one happy Mummy. And us grown up folk enjoyed it too!

Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni

Incidentally this is a great tommie sauce to serve on it’s own with pasta, I’ve been making a version of it (Kids 5-a-day Pasta Sauce) for years for my monsters and they always love it. It’s also a great way of ‘healthying-up’ a homemade pizza, and they’ll never know!

I’m entering my blog, for the first ever time to the first ever Pasta Please, a monthly blogging event held by Jacqueline of the wonderfully inspirational Vegetarian blog Tinned Tomatoes. This month’s theme happens to be Cheese and since my dish contains a trio of Ricotta, Mozzarella and Parmesan I think I qualify!

pasta please

Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni with Hidden Vegetables Tomato Sauce

Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni with Hidden Veggies Tommie Sauce

Perfect for Toddlers and Young Children, Bigger Kids, Family Dinners, Mid-Week Suppers

Serves 4 hearty appetites (or a family of 4 with plenty of tasty leftovers):

For the  Hidden Veggie Tommie Sauce:

a tablespoon of Olive Oil

a small Onion, diced

2 cloves of Garlic, finely chopped

a large Carrot*, diced

a stick or two of Celery*, diced

200g of Pumpkin or Squash*, diced

half a Red Pepper*, diced

600g of Chopped Tomatoes (a can and a half)

a heaped dessertspoon of Tomato Puree

130ml of water

a teaspoon of dried Oregano or a dessertspoon of chopped fresh Oregano

Salt & Pepper

a pinch of Sugar

* Please use whatever veggies you happen to have in, though to aid your disguise it’s best to stick to neutral or orange/red coloured ones!

For the Stuffed Cannelloni:

160g of dried Cannelloni

350g of frozen Spinach, defrosted (or finely shredded and steamed fresh spinach)

a 250g tub of Ricotta

40g of Parmesan (or Grana Padano), finely grated

a large pinch of Nutmeg

a large pinch of Black Pepper

a squeeze or two of Lemon juice

For the Topping:

a 125g ball of Mozzarella

30g of Parmesan (or Grana Padano), finely grated

Pre-heat your oven to 190ºC.

Start with making your sauce. Heat the oil in a saucepan on a medium heat and add the onion. Fry for 5 minutes before adding the garlic and all other veggies bar the tomatoes.

After 10 minutes throw in the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, dried oregano (if using), water and a pinch each of pepper, salt and sugar. No salt for very little littlies! Allow to simmer away for 20 minutes or until all the veggies are very tender.

Once cooked take off the heat and stir in the fresh oregano (if using). Blitz the sauce with a stick blender or in a processor until smooth. Taste and season if necessary.

Meanwhile prep the cannelloni. Mix together the spinach, ricotta, parmesan, nutmeg and pepper. Season with a squeeze or two of lemon juice. Now for the messy business of filling up the cannelloni tubes!. I found a very good tip on Jamie Oliver’s site of using a plastic bag with a snipped corner to pipe the filling in. It worked wonderfully and was no fiddle at all.

Filling cannelloni

Filling the Cannelloni with the snipped corner of a plastic bag!

Place your filled cannelloni in the bottom of a greased (with a little olive oil) small baking tray or oven dish. The pasta should fit snugly.

Now smother in the Tommie Sauce. Top with the mozzarella slices and the parmesan. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 35 to 40 minutes until the pasta’s cooked through and the cheese golden and bubbling on the top.

Go eat. My kids ate there’s as is, but us grown up folk had a simple green salad on the side.

Here’s some of my other spectacularly well Hidden-Veggie dinners that go down well with the wee folk!:

Kids Bolognese
Super-Seasonally Vegged-Up Cottage Pie
Cheese, Courgette & Tomato Bread & Butter Pudding
Chicken & Apricot Tagine
Chicken, Veggie & Egg Fried Rice
Super-Vegged Up Chilli
Kids Fish Pie
Noodles with Pork & Veggies
Cream of Veggie Super Soup
Sunday Dinner Leftover Cakes
 
Cheese, Courgette & Cherry Tomato Bread & Butter Pudding

Savoury Bread & Butter Puddin

Kids Fish Pie in Oogaa bowls

Kids Fish Pie

Super Vegged Chilli con Carne

Super Vegged-Up Chilli con Carne


Roast Butternut Risotto with Butternut Crisps

Butternut Risotto

We’ve still lots of lovely butternuts left from my autumn harvest, and thankfully they keep really well in a cool dark place for several months. They’re most definitely one of my very favourite veggies and so usefully versatile getting regularly thrown in many a Soup, Curry, Stir Fry or Stew and even in pasta dishes (think Carbonara or Mac ‘n Cheese). They even shine on a Tart or Pizza too. But a Butternut Risotto happens to be one of my favourite uses of this glorious veggie, and is a firm Chez Foti winter comfort food favourite.

This is actually a recipe I make with the littlies in mind and uses cream cheese, but if you want to make a  more grown up version replace the cream cheese with a goats cheese. I use plenty of fresh sage which I’m particularly partial to with squash or pumpkin and cheese, but if your kids are herb adverse then leave out. If making for very little littlies then omit the wine too and use ‘baby’ stock cubes available from most major chemists or supermarkets.

After watching Nigel Slater’s recent series I now always keep my Butternut Skin shavings and briefly roast them in the oven (which you’d be using anyway for this dish) in a little olive oil, salt & pepper and make some totally delish freebie Butternut Crisps. They’re wonderful served as a little crispy side to soups or risottos.

Cubes of Butternut

Since I’m using fresh sage in my recipe I’m entering my post, for the second time this month, to Lavender and Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday challenge, this month hosted by Vanether at Bangers and Mash Chat. Please do go and check out all the entries, there’s sure to be something you fancy!

herbsonsaturday

Butternut squash risotto

Butternut Squash Risotto with Butternut Crisps

Toddler and Young Children, Bigger Kids, Family Dinners, Mid-Week Suppers, Grown Up Dinners

Enough for a family of 4:

a largish butternut squash, peeled (keep the peelings if you want to make crisps!), seeds removed (these can also be deliciously roasted) and cut into 1.5cm cubes

2 tablespoons of olive oil plus a drizzle for the crisps if making

salt & pepper

3 shallots or a small onion, finely diced

2 sticks of celery, finely diced

20g of butter

220g of risotto rice

a glass of white wine

a litre of chicken or veggie stock, piping hot

a dessertspoon of finely chopped fresh sage

75g of soft cheese or goats cheese

a heaped tablespoon of Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese

Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC/Gas Mark 4. Place the butternut cubes on a large baking tray and drizzle over a tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Ensure the cubes are equally coated and place in the hot oven to roast for about 35 minutes. They’re ready when they’ve taken on a little colour and are completely tender and soft.

During this cooking time place the peelings on a separate baking tray and drizzle with a wee bit of olive oil and a little salt & pepper. Place in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes until crisped up, checking regularly as they’re quick to burn. Once ready remove from the oven and drain on kitchen paper until you’re ready to serve.

Now to make the risotto. Heat the butter and another tablespoon of olive oil in a large heavy based saucepan on a gentle heat. Add the shallots or onion and celery and saute for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.

Stir in the rice ensuring the grains get a good coating of the butter and oil. Pour in the wine and stir. Allow to simmer away on a gentle heat. Once most of the wine’s evaporated pour on a ladleful of hot stock together with the sage. Continue to stir at regular intervals adding further ladlefuls of hot stock every time the last one is nearly all absorbed.

When the rice is on the edge of being ready and tender stir in the roasted butternut cubes and cream cheese/goats cheese. Allow to bubble away for a few minutes more before finally stirring in the Parmesan or Grana Padano. Taste and season with black pepper to suit. You probably won’t need to add any additional salt as there’s plenty in the stock and cheese.

Serve the risotto with a few butternut skin crisps on the side. A word of warning, whilst the crisps look pretty served on top of the risotto (as per my pic) they quickly become soggy from the steam!.

Here’s some other Chez Foti risotto recipes: Spinach, Courgette &  Pesto Risotto, Asparagus, Pea & Lemon Risotto, Sausage & Courgette Risotto

Butternut Squash Risotto


Happy New Year, and a Parsley Pesto to you!

Parsley Pesto

Well christmas was mayhem at Chez Foti. Lots of friends and family guests, way too much food and good wine, late nights, plenty of doggie walks in the glorious (and surprisingly mild) sunshine and a couple of days of sledging in the Pyrenees. A fabulous time. And now the house is quiet, well as quiet as it gets with a two and a four year old and two chaotic doggies. Here’s hoping you all had a fab festive time and wishing everyone the very best for 2013.

I have to admit to very little on the cooking front since New Years Day. After weeks of pre-christmas freezer-filling baking and cooking it’s been a welcome break to gorge on the leftovers and eat simple pasta suppers. But I have been making plenty of my own pesto, which is ridiculously quick and simple to make. I’ve been using parsley instead of basil, and almonds instead of pine kernels, with fabulous results. My basil finished weeks ago in the garden but the Parsley’s still in happy abundance. And you really can’t beat a bowl of pasta served plainly and simply with lashings of homemade pesto. Though if you want to veg things up a little, as I always do, it’s wonderful with a handful or two of steamed french beans or courgette strips running through the pasta too.

Being of largely herby composition I’m entering my pesto to Lavender and Lovage’s  Herbs on Saturday challenge, this month hosted by Vanesther at Bangers and Mash Chat. 

herbsonsaturday

Spaghetti with Parsley Pesto

Parsley & Almond Pesto

Enough for 4 servings:

40g of parsley, thick stalks removed, washed

a clove of garlic, finely chopped

40g of Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese

60g of whole almonds

75ml of good quality extra virgin olive oil

a squeeze of lemon juice

salt & pepper

Simply place all the ingredients, bar the lemon, salt and pepper in a food processor and whiz until you have a your desired pesto texture. I like mine fairly rustic with a few lumps and bumps. Or place all the ingredients in a bowl and blitz with a stick blender. Both work equally well. Taste and season with a little lemon juice, salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Et voila, you have super-quick super-tasty homemade pesto. Serve with pasta and/or veggies of your choice.

Bonne annnée everyone!

Parsley Pesto


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.


Chicken, Pumpkin & Borlotti Stew

Unfortunately there’s been a distinct lack of blogging action of late and way too many nasty germs floating around at Chez Foti. Viruses, bugs and colds a plenty but I’m keeping everything crossed the family’s all better by the end of the weekend. Even Dotty the pup was rushed to the emergency vets with a life threatening tick bite. Yes really!. Without the hefty injection and drugs he gave her she wouldn’t have made it much more than another 12 hours apparently. Luckily I myself have managed to escape the worst of all this sickness, bar the usual night nurse sleep deprivation and requirement to watch round the clock CBeebies anyway.

This was our first stew of the winter. A gloriously warming, boldly flavoured and slightly sticky stew of Chicken, Pumpkin and Borlotti Beans. The ingredients are loosely based on a Leon recipe I made a few times last year, but I’ve chopped and changed everything around quite a bit from the original here. The kids both loved it, and as Jacques’s going through a particularly fussy stage these days I was delighted that he devoured his bowl. Flavoured with plenty of rosemary, red wine vinegar, a little chilli, garlic and honey, what’s not to like?

Move over Ratatouille!

My official wee taste tester, move over Ratatouille!

I used my homegrown borlotti for the first time in the stew and was very happy with the results. Whilst the yield from the plants was more than a little disappointing the small harvest I have will allow for three or four more hearty family meals over the winter. I think I’m going to give them another whirl next year, even for the gorgeous pods alone:

My ever-so-pretty Borlotti Beans, when fresh the pods look like the beautiful one on the right, when dried out and ready to pick like the one on the left

Try to marinade the chicken the night before, or at least a few hours, to boost the wonderful flavours. I served it for the kids with mash as they love their mash, and for us with couscous. The latter being a little hit and miss with the littlies these days and thus unworthy of the rejection risk!.

If you don’t have any flavoursome pumpkin it can happily be substituted with a tasty squash.

I’m entering this blog to November’s Lavender and Lovage‘s Herbs on Saturday recipe challenge, this month hosted by Jen at Blue Kitchen Bakes.

herbsonsaturday

Chicken, Pumpkin & Borlotti Stew

Chicken, Pumpkin & Borlotti Stew

Toddlers & Young Children, Bigger Kids, Family Dinners, Just Grown Ups

Serves 4

For the Marinade:

2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar

a tablespoon of wholegrain mustard

a tablespoon of honey

a tablespoon of olive oil

a heaped tablespoon of chopped fresh rosemary

2 bay leaves

a fresh red chilli, seeds removed and finely sliced (less for kids or those adverse, if they don’t like a little heat)

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

a generous pinch of black pepper

4 free range chicken thighs, skin removed

For the Stew:

a large onion, diced

2 carrots, peeled and sliced

500g of flavoursome pumpkin or squash, peeled, seeds removed and cut into chunks

400g can of chopped tomatoes

400g can of borlotti beans, drained, or 125g of soaked and pre-cooked dried beans

500ml of chicken stock

Place all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and combine, then thoroughly rub into the chicken thighs. Cover and leave in the fridge to marinate for a few hours or overnight.

Once marinated remove the chicken from the bowl and set aside the lovely marinade which you’ll use later. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large casserole or heavy based pan. Fry the chicken until golden on all sides, remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the onion to the same pan. Fry for 5 minutes before adding the carrots and pumpkin. Continue to cook for a further 5 minutes before throwing in the rest of the marinade, chicken thighs, chopped tomatoes, borlotti beans and stock.

Give everything a good stir and bring to a simmer. Cover and allow to slowly simmer for an hour. Et voila, one big pot of healthy loveliness!. Taste and season to suit and serve.

You might also like:

Chicken & Apricot Tagine: Boeuf en Daube

Chicken & Apricot Tagine with CouscousBeef in Daube recipe


Roasted Wild Mushroom Pizza

There’s been a good deal of wild mushroom foraging recently at Chez Foti. Magnificent Parasol Mushrooms have been popping up literally all over our garden the last couple of weeks and I’ve been on a bit of a picking and eating frenzy. I wasn’t too sure what they were at first but after consultation with two sets of very knowledgeable neighbours and my trusty mushroom book I was pretty excited to find they were exceptionally good to eat!. And in fact some of the finest mushrooms I’ve ever tasted. We also have ceps and chanterelles growing in our garden, but there’s been very few this year (and neither in my opinion have been as good as the Parasols).

And so there’s been no end of wonderful freebie wild mushroom dinners lately at Chez Foti. Mushroom bruschetta, tarts, pizzas and risottos a plenty. Times like this make living here pretty special, when you really can eat off the land.

Parasol Mushroom

I make a lot of pizzas as at Chez Foti. Mainly because we have an original wood-fired bread oven in the lounge of our house which bakes amazing pizzas throughout the colder months (it’s too hot to light up most of the summer). But this pizza was actually baked in my new oven, testing out it’s pizza baking capabilities. And I wasn’t disappointed, it did the wonderful foraged mushrooms the justice they deserve.

I’ve been experimenting lately with tomato-less bases or ‘white’ pizzas, well since the tomatoes finished anyway (although it seems I have half a freezer of tomato sauce to use up!) . The ricotta, lemon zest, chili and parsley base on this pizza complements the heavenly rich roasted garlic and thyme wild mushrooms. Incidentally don’t skip on the pre-roasting of the mushrooms; roasting gives them a much stronger, richer and somehow more meaty texture and flavour. Truly divine.

If you can’t forage or buy your own wild mushrooms choose some interesting shop bought ones, big or small. Ideally anything but the boring and bland button mushies anyway!.

Jacques looking pretty happy with our find

I’m entering this blog to a couple of bloggie challenges. Firstly, as there’s a fair flavouring of herbs, to the lovely Herbs on Saturday challenge, the baby of Karen @ Lavender & Lovage, and this month hosted by Blue Kitchen Bakes.

And secondly to Simple and in Season, held by Ren Behan of the fabulous Fabulicious Food blog!

Roasted Wild Mushroom Pizza

Serves 1 – 2 (depending on your appetite for pizza!)

One quantity of pizza dough (I usually stick to a Jamie Oliver recipe, using part semolina flour when I can get it)

175g of wild or interesting shop bought mushrooms, wiped but not washed

2 tablespoons of olive oil

20g of butter

a few sprigs of thyme, leaves removed

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and cut in half

salt & freshly ground black pepper

120g of ricotta

zest of ½ a lemon, plus a little juice

½ a red chili (or a whole one if you prefer), seeds removed and finely sliced

a heaped tablespoon of finely chopped flat leaved parsley

a heaped tablespoon of finely grated parmesan

extra virgin olive oil or truffle oil to finish

Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC.

Start by roasting off your mushrooms. Tear or cut the mushrooms into large bite size pieces. Combine in a small baking dish with the olive oil, butter, thyme, garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper. Place in the oven for 10 minutes, giving everything a good move around half way through.

Meanwhile prepare the ricotta base. Mix together the ricotta, lemon zest, chili, parsley and a pinch of salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Once the mushrooms have roasted remove the garlic from the pan and finely slice. Add the garlic back to the mushrooms. Turn the oven temperature up to the hottest it will go and put your pizza stone or baking tray in to heat up.

Now for the pizza. Roll out your pizza dough to your desired size and thickness. I personally prefer mine very thin. Place on your hot pizza stone or baking tray.

Spread the ricotta evenly over the base. Scatter on the mushrooms and sliced garlic and sprinkle over the grated parmesan. Finally give the pizza a squeeze of lemon and a generous drizzling of some very good extra virgin olive oil OR if you’re lucky enough to have any (I’m not!) I’m pretty sure truffle oil would be sublime.

Place in your extremely hot oven and cook until crisp and golden. This could be anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes! Our woodfired bread/pizza oven usually takes less than 5 minutes.

Lots of lovely Parasols

Master J having a good look through Mummy’s Mushroom Book!

Pumpkin Carbonara

I finally picked the rest of our pumpkins and squash yesterday. Frosts are on their way and I wanted to get them under cover sharpish. I have to admit most are looking more that a tad sorry for themselves and in need of some strong sun to finish ripening, and being a bit of a novice at these things I’m not really sure what to do! I grew lots of pumpkins last year in my first season of growing but they were all fully ripened and orange by now. Should I keep them inside and bring them out on sunny days? Or resurrect and put in the poly tunnel? Or should I just eat them as they are? Any pumpkin professionals out there willing to offer me some advice?

The last of the pumpkins & squash!

Luckily I’ve already picked lots of fully ripened radiantly orange pumpkins and so it’s pumpkin with everything these days at Chez Foti. And as usual I’m loving adding a seasonal touch of healthiness to our favourite family suppers. It was the turn of the carbonara this week. Much as I love carbonara made traditionally with just eggs, bacon and parmesan it’s not exactly nutrient rich and I’m reluctant to give it to my kids in its basic form. Whilst Mr F and I will happily eat a large leafy salad on the side the kids won’t, so I like to add some veggie goodness to the sauce. Pumpkin works wonderfully with both parmesan and bacon and so it’s a natural for carbonara, and I also like to add a little fresh sage which is the perfect paring for pumpkin and bacon.

The first pumpkin of the year

If you don’t have any flavoursome pumpkin to hand (and believe me it’s not nice to cook with if it isn’t!) you can happily use butternut instead.

Since my carbonara is flavoured with sage I’m entering the recipe (for the second time this month!) to Lavender and Lovage’s October Herbs on Saturday blog challenge.

Pumpkin Carbonara

Enough for a hearty meal for a family of four:

500g of flavoursome pumpkin or butternut, peeled

a tablespoon of olive oil

salt & pepper

240g of dried pasta of your choice, or equivalent in fresh

200g of streaky bacon or lardons, cut into small strips

a heaped teaspoon of finely chopped fresh sage leaves

1 large or 2 medium garlic cloves, finely slices

3 eggs, free range

3 heaped tablespoons of finely grated Parmesan or Grana Padano

Start with roasting your pumpkin or butternut. Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC/Gas Mark 6. Dice into smallish 1 to 1.5cm cubes, toss in the olive oil and a pinch of salt and black pepper. Place on a roasting tray and roast for 25 to 30 minutes until soft and slightly browned, turning once or twice during the cooking time.

Cook your pasta to packet instructions. Try to time so your pasta is cooked and ready at the same time as the pumpkin roasted and bacon browned.

Meanwhile heat a frying pan on a medium heat and fry off the lardons or streaky bacon (in their own fat) with the sage and garlic. Drain off any excess fat. Fry until the bacon is a little browned.

While the bacon’s frying, whisk the eggs lightly and stir in the Parmesan and a generous pinch of black pepper (you shouldn’t need any further salt as there’s plenty in the bacon and parmesan).

As soon as the pumpkin, pasta and bacon are all cooked and still piping hot throw them all together in one pan and thoroughly stir in the egg and Parmesan mix. Don’t put the pan back on the heat or you’ll have pasta with scrambled eggs! What you want is a lovely glossy eggy coating. Taste and add further pepper if it needs it  (I do like lots of pepper on my food!).

Related Posts: 

Butternut Squash & Chorizo Soup with Chorizo Croutons

Pumpkin & Bacon Soup

Sausage & Courgette Carbonara

Pumpkin Mac ‘n Cheese


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