Category Archives: Winter Warmers

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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Boeuf Bourguignon

Another French classic that along with Coq au Vin is my standard dinner when we have lots of people. Ever so easy to prepare and even better made in advance this is perfect for dinner parties, especially if like me you have littlies and are always short on time. In truth it’s one of my favourite dinners ever, meltingly tender beef that’s been braised for hours in an obscene amount of red wine with the added richness of oodles of bacon lardons, shallots, garlic and mushrooms. What’s not to like? Even our wee ones enjoy this super rich beef stew.

Boeuf bourguignon originates from the Burgundy region of France where it was traditionally made with a bottle or two of burgundy. I’ll probably be extradited from France for saying this but you really don’t need to use a particularly good bottle of wine, and indeed it would be a very expensive dish if you were to do so. I use the fabulous red plonk we get from our local market competitively priced at a euro a litre.

Whatever you do don’t hurry the cooking time, the beef should be gently braised for hours and literally melting.Try to start preparations a day in advance and marinade the beef overnight in the wine and herbs. I’m convinced it makes a huge difference.

Enough for 4 adults or a family of 4 with some lovely leftovers:

800g of beef shin or chuck, cut into a large 5cm dice

a litre of red wine

3 sprigs of thyme

3 bay leaves

salt & pepper

olive oil

a small onion, diced

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

a large carrot, sliced

2 celery sticks, sliced

175g of lardons, or streaky bacon diced onto fine strips

250g of shallots, peeled and cut in two if large (left whole if small)

200g of whole button mushrooms

a little beef stock (optional)

Place the beef, herbs (the thyme sprigs left whole), a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of coarsely ground black pepper and the red wine in a large non-metalic bowl. Stir around a little, cover with cling film and leave to marinade in the fridge overnight.

The next day drain the beef retaining all the lovely wine marinade and herbs. Pat the beef dry on kitchen roll.

In a large casserole or saucepan (one that you have a lid for) heat two tablespoons of olive oil on a high temperature. When very hot fry the beef for a few minutes on all sides until browned. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Reduce the heat to low and into the same pan add the onion, garlic, carrot and celery. If there’s not much fat left after frying the beef add another tablespoon of olive oil. Stir regularly and cook over a lowish heat for 10 minutes until a little softened.

Return the beef to the pan along with the wine marinade and herbs. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook on a very gentle heat uncovered for an hour, until the wine has reduced by about a half.

Meanwhile in another large pan or saucepan fry the lardons or streaky bacon, there’s no need to add any additional fat. Fry for 5 minutes then add the shallots. Cook the shallots and lardons for a further 5 minutes before adding the mushrooms for a final 5 minutes.

Once the beef has been cooking for an hour stir in the lardons, shallots and mushrooms. Cover the pan and continue to simmer very gently on the lowest heat setting you have for another two hours. Taste along the way adding more salt and pepper as necessary. If the liquid appears to be evaporating too much add a little beef stock, but this may not be necessary. The Bourguignon is ready when the beef is meltingly tender and it’s so worth continuing to cook gently until you reach this point.

Remember to remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs!

Great served with a pile of buttery mash, Boulangere or Dauphinoise Potatoes (recipe coming soon)

If you like this, how about my Coq au Vin, Braised Venison or Beef in Guinness recipes?


Braised Venison in Red Wine & Brandy

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Last week we were very kindly given a couple of haunches of venison from the local chasse (hunters).Talk about local, they might even have been living in our garden. We see them quite often here but only for a split second before they shyly scarper away. Wild deer are extremely timid creatures.

Venison is such a wonderfully lean and incredibly flavoursome meat, I love it. With haunch number one I removed most of the fabulous meat, cut it into 4 cm cubes and left it to marinade for a couple of nights in red wine, brandy, juniper, bay, thyme and plenty of black pepper, before slowly braising in the marinade with carrots, onions, garlic, celery and lardons. The remaining scrags of meat and bone were braised in more red wine and veggies and greedily enjoyed that evening with a pile of buttery mash. Haunch number two is in the freezer awaiting inspiration.

I often use juniper berries as a flavouring with game. For this dish I use them loose as part of the marinade then tie them in a piece of muslin for the cooking, so as to extract maximum flavour without the risk of accidentally eating one which is not a particularly pleasant experience.

Enough for 4 grown ups, or a family of 4 with a few leftovers:
a kilo of venison shoulder, haunch or leg meat, cut into 4cm cubes
400ml of red wine
3 tablespoons of brandy
10 juniper berries
4 sprigs of thyme
3 bay leaves
a large pinch of sea salt
a teaspoon of roughly ground black pepper
a tablespoon of plain flour
2 tablespoons of olive oil
200g of lardons or streaky bacon
an onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
2 carrots, sliced
2 celery sticks, sliced
400ml of good quality beef stock
a little chopped fresh parsley to serve

Firstly marinade your meat, at least overnight, maybe for two nights if you have the time. Place the venison pieces in a large bowl with the red wine, brandy, juniper berries, thyme (leave the sprigs whole), bay leaves, salt and pepper. Stir everything around a little, cover and place in the fridge to marinade.

When it’s time to braise, drain the meat from the marinade, making sure you retain all the lovely liquor. Set aside the marinade and dry the venison on some kitchen roll. Coat the meat in the tablespoon of plain flour. Tie the juniper berries in a small square of muslin if you have any.

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large casserole dish until very hot. Add the meat to the pan and brown on all sides. You may need to do this in a couple of batches. Once browned remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Lower the heat and add the lardons or streaky bacon, diced onion, garlic, carrots and celery to the same pan. Add a dash more olive oil if there wasn’t much left after cooking the meat. Cook on a low heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Reintroduce the venison to the pan, along with marinade liquor, herbs and muslin juniper parcel. Bring to a simmer before pouring in the stock.

Bring back to a simmer and allow to cook on a very gentle heat for two to two and a half hours, until the meat is extremely tender. Have a final taste check and add more salt and pepper to suit. Don’t forget to remove the bay leaves, thyme sprigs and juniper bundle (if used).

Serve with a sprinkling of fresh parsley over the top. Braised venison is particularly great served with my Boulangere Potatoes (made with thyme) and a simple steamed green veggie.

If you liked this, have you tried my Beef in Guinness, Pot Roast Chicken in a Lardon, White Wine & Creme Fraiche Sauce, The Best Chilli on Carne ever, or Coq au Vin recipes?


A Tartiflette for your Valentine?

This French classic from the Alps has to be the ultimate in staying in cuddling up in front of the fire cold winter night comfort food. Coupled with a fine bottle of vin rouge, a simple well dressed green salad and plenty of crusty bread this would be my perfect Valentines supper, and I’d be lovingly making this for my husband tomorrow if he happened to be in the same country as me! But alas he’s beavering away at home in France fitting new floors and ceilings whilst I’m camping out with the nippers at my parents house in Herefordshire.

Not exactly the healthiest of recipes which is why I’ve left this little gem until February, but nevertheless a wonderful and special treat. Potatoes, lardons (or streaky bacon if you can’t source), meltingly soft onions, cream and oozy cheese and that’s it. Splurge on some top quality cheese here, it’s worth it. Reblochon is traditional but Tomme de Savoie, Compte or Gruyere work well too, or any combination of these. So so simple and divine beyond belief. I defy any bloke not to be chuffed with this super calorific little number!

Enough for a romantic gorging for two, possibly with a few tasty leftovers

olive oil

220g of lardons or streaky bacon, diced

2 average sized onions, finely sliced

500g cooked potatoes, sliced

120ml double cream

220g Reblochon, Tomme de Savoie, Compte or Gruyere cheese, sliced

salt & black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6.

In a large and deep frying pan fry the lardons or streaky bacon in a little olive oil until slightly crisp. Add the sliced onion and fry for at least 15 minutes on a low heat until very very soft. Now stir in the cooked sliced potatoes and continue to sauté until everything is slightly browning. Season with plenty of freshly ground black pepper and a little salt (be cautious with the salt, you may not need any at all) and stir in well.

Place in an overproof dish and pour over the cream. Layer the cheese slices over the top and place in the oven. Bake until bubbling and slightly golden on top.

Eat immediately, as if you couldn’t resist! Lovely with a simple well dressed green leafy salad, plenty of crusty bread and a fine bottle of gutsy red wine.


Beef in Guinness

This is about as winter warming and comforting as food can be, and just perfect for all the snowy weather we’re all getting at the minute! I made this last weekend when it was minus 9 outside and in the midst of a snow storm!. I didn’t actually set foot outside all day. We all tucked in and devoured it with fervour.

Strangely enough the first time I ever cooked beef in Guinness, or black beer, was in the semi tropics of Bolivia. Staying in a picturesque mountain side hut overlooking the Andies with my friend Enda we made the most of having our very own outdoor kitchen for a few days and cooked up some triumphs with great local produce from the village a steep 3km trek away. Not only did the village have fresh homemade pasta for sale (this is extremely rural South America, not Italy, we’re talking about!), but we managed to find some very novel in those parts black beer (and some pretty good local red plonk to boot too!). And as the beef looked particularly scraggy and distinctly unappetising I figured the best treatment for it was to stew it up for a few hours in the beer. And what a result, I remember it being the best meal we’d had in weeks. Admittedly not the best choice of dinner to be eating in 35 degrees of heat but nevertheless it tasted damned good at the time. Happy happy memories!

Our wonderful outdoor kitchen

The view from the upstairs sleep deck, that's the bottom of my sleeping bag!

Anyway, I digress! Here’s a considerably more refined recipe for Beef in Guinness cooked with winter veggies and pearl barley. I used some pumpkin in mine which melted beautifully into the gravy, but I’ve usually used swede or parsnips in the past, even some turnip, but more often than not a mixture of what I happen to have in. These root veggies hold their shape a good deal better than my pumpkin.

For a family of four:

800g of braising steak

2 tbsps of plain flour

salt & pepper

olive oil

1 large onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 carrots, sliced (a little thicker than a pound coin)

2 sticks of celery, sliced

500g of pumpkin/squash/swede/parsnips/turnips or a mix of a few of these. Peeled and cut into a 2 cm dice

2 tbsps of tomato puree

750ml of Guinness – equates to 1 and a half cans (some unfortunate person gets to finish the can!)

500ml of beef stock

4 bay leaves

4 sprigs of thyme

125g of pearl barley

Place the 2 tablespoons of flour in a large bowl and season with a little salt and pepper. Cut the beef into 3 to 4 cm chunks and roll around in the flour until evenly coated.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large casserole or saucepan and brown the beef off on a medium heat. Turn the meat every few minutes until all sides are browned. Once browned remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Into the same pan add the onion, garlic, carrots and celery. If there’s not much fat left from the beef add another tablespoon of olive oil. Continue to cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring everything regularly so nothing catches.

Add the browned beef to the pan along your chosen veggies and 2 tablespoons of tomato puree. Give everything a good stir then add the Guinness, beef stock, bay leaves and thyme. You can leave the thyme sprigs whole, and remove the empty stalks at the end of cooking just as you would the bay leaves (far less fiddly than removing the leaves I find). Last but not least stir in the pearl barley.

Bring to the boil and simmer very gently for 2 hours with the lid on. Stir periodically so as to ensure nothing catches on the bottom of the pan. The stew is ready when the beef is very very tender.

Serve with oodles of mash and the rest of the Guinness, or like myself a large glass of vin rouge.

Have you tried my other winter warming recipes? How about my Sausage & Bean Stew or Comfort Cottage Pie,


Pot Roast Chicken in a Lardon, White Wine & Creme Fraiche Sauce with Leek & Mustard Mash

This was our Sunday dinner last weekend and inarguably makes my Sunday Food Heaven top 5 list!. We all LOVED it, and needless to say there weren’t many chickenie leftovers!

I’m really into pot roasting meat these days as it by-passes having to use an oven, and as I’m sure most of you are well aware our temporary gas oven is worse than dreadful and best avoided at all costs. I daren’t buy a decent bird or joint of meat until it’s replaced, unless I can pot roast it on the hob. If you have a slightly older chicken (as we had, a gift from a neighbour) then this is also a particularly great way to cook it and retain as much moisture in the meat as you can. Older in age I mean, not old in the sense of it knocking around the fridge for a couple of weeks!.

Steamed in plenty of white wine, lardons (or streaky bacon if you can’t source), thyme, bay, garlic and onion, then thickened with a little crème fraiche at the end, this is a rather splendidly rich dish yet somehow light at the same time. I like to serve a mound of fluffy leek and wholegrain mustard mashed potato on the side as well as a simple steamed green veg, and in our case french beans fresh from the freezer (fresh from the garden last summer anyway!). Leek & mustard mash is also great with sausages, a pork joint or chops or just a plain roasted chicken.

If you happen to have fussy kids (we have one!) then with very little effort you can adapt this dinner to suit the whole family. If your kids don’t ‘do’ sauces as many seem not to (our daughter recoils with horror at anything other than gravy!) then they can just have the plain chicken, leaving even more delish sauce for those that can appreciate it. Similarly on the mash front I tend to keep a little plain mash back before adding the mustard and leeks. As it happened they both ate the lot today, sauce and all.

Enough for 4:

2 tbsps olive oil

salt & pepper

an average sized chicken (about 1.5kg)

1 smallish onion, finely diced

5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

200g lardons or streaky bacon

500ml white wine

500ml chicken stock

4 large sprigs of thyme, leaves removed

3 bay leaves

4 heaped tbsps of creme fraiche

For the Leek & Mustard Mash:

900g of peeled potatoes, cut into large chunks

1 tbsp olive oil

2 large leeks, thoroughly washed and finely sliced

30g butter

a dash of milk

salt & pepper

1 to 2 tbsps wholegrain mustard

Add the olive oil to a very large saucepan or casserole dish (it must be able to easily contain the chicken and have a lid), place on a low heat. Season the chicken all over with a  little salt and black pepper, massage into the skin. Place the chicken in the pan and turn every few minutes until it’s golden brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Place the onions and garlic in the same pan and sauté on a gentle heat, stirring regularly, for 5 minutes. Add the lardons and cook for a further 5 minutes. Put the chicken back in the pan with the onions and lardons, along with the white wine, chicken stock, the thyme and bay leaves and last but not least a generous grinding of black pepper.

Bring to the boil and simmer very gently for one and a half hours with the lid on. The chicken is ready when it falls easily off the bone.

Whilst the chicken is simmering away make your mash. Boil the potatoes in a saucepan of boiling salted water. While they’re boiling saute the sliced leeks in a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan, stir regularly and saute for about 10 minutes until very soft. If the leeks are catching on the bottom a little too much, add a splash of water. When the potatoes are cooked drain and leave to steam for a couple of minutes to dry out. Mash with a potato masher, mashing in the butter, a dash of milk, a pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Stir in the cooked leeks and the wholegrain mustard. Start with just one tablespoon of the mustard and taste, add more to suit your taste – I like about two tablespoons!.

When the chicken’s cooked, remove from the pan and leave to rest in a covered dish or a roasting pan covered with foil, so that it stays warm. Stir the creme fraiche into the sauce and bring back to the boil. Allow to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the sauce has reduced and is a little thicker. Pour into a serving jug.

Carve the chicken and serve with a generous pouring of sauce over thet top, a mound of mash and a green veggie on the side. Perfect.

Have you tried my Coq au VinSimple Chicken Stew or Chicken, Pumpkin & Borlotti Beans recipes?


Sticky Apple Pudding

As I’ve said before I don’t make many baked puddings these days as our gas oven is so awful they tend to come out with a barely cooked top and a very burnt bum. But after steaming christmas puddings a few weeks ago I had a rather rare brainwave that I could steam a pud and bypass the dratted oven altogether. Amazing.

So here it is, christmas pudding aside, my first ever steamed pud, and what a triumph. Not a pretty triumph, but a wonderfully sticky and ever so naughty triumph….and a triumph not too suitable for those sticking to a New Year diet! And even if you don’t have a dodgy cooker like me please try a steamed pud, they’re so moist and sticky and utterly delish. Watch out for lots more Chez Foti steamed pud recipes coming up.

I set out to make an apple pud, as we still have lots of stored surplus from our apple harvest in the Autumn, and besides we all love an appley pud. So I took a normal steamed apple pud recipe (which is essentially just the same as a sponge cake recipe but with apples on the top) and stickied (loving my new word there) up the apples with some good old Golden Syrup and added lots of lemon zest to the sponge base. Yum. Combining the lemon and apple together worked marvellously, my winter pudding heaven!

Enough for 4:

3 tbsps of golden syrup

65g butter, at room temperature

3 apples, peeled, cored and cut into a small dice

a little flour and butter to grease and line the pudding basin

65g caster sugar

1 lemon, zested

1 and a half eggs, beaten

85g self-raising flour

3 tbsp milk

Place the golden syrup in a deep frying pan or saucepan along with 20g of the butter. Heat until bubbling a little and add the diced apple. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.

Meanwhile  beat together the rest of the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, preferably with an electric whisk. Add the lemon zest and beat in the eggs. Then beat in the flour and milk.

Grease and line a small pudding basin. Add the sticky apples first, then pile the cake mixture on top.

Cover the basin with a couple of layers of foil or baking paper forming a pleat on the top, and tie round the sides with string to secure firmly in place.

Place the basin in a saucepan of simmering water (the water level should come to about two thirds of the height of the basin) and simmer for an hour with the saucepan lid on. It’s cooked when you can insert a fork or skewer and it comes out clean.

When cooked turn out on to a plate and serve immediately with lashings of custard.

If you like this recipe, how about trying my Bread & Butter Leftovers Pud


Butternut Squash & Chorizo Soup with Chorizo Croutons

We’re still munching our through all our lovely homegrown squash and pumpkins and in an effort to add a little variety to our staple pumpkin or squash soups I’ve been experimenting with adding new flavours, and the addition of a little Chorizo is a definite favourite in the Foti household! The kids and Phil go crazy for it. Admittedly a pretty heavy soup, especially with the addition of homemade Chorizo flavoured croutons, so probably best kept for the depths of winter like we’re in now. A very comforting and filling ‘meal’ of a soup.

Living so close to Spain Chorizo is really cheap and easily available here, and so I tend to cook with it quite a bit these days. It is however also pretty easily available in UK supermarkets. It’s a great flavour and colour enhancer to meaty stews, casseroles and soups and I regularly add a little to salads, omelettes, pizzas and pies.

I’ve used Butternut Squash in this recipe, but you could substitute with any other flavoursome squash or pumpkin. I didn’t bother to peel my Butternut as the skin is perfectly edible when cooked…and as it’s to be whizzed up you can’t tell the difference. By roasting the squash first you intensify it’s sweetness which works wonderfully with the intense meatiness of the Chorizo.

Enough for 4 grown ups:

850g Butternut squash, cut into 2 cm dice

olive oil

salt & pepper

1 onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced

70g Chorizo, finely diced

600ml of chicken stock

For the croutons:

70g stale chunky white bread, cut into about 1.5 to 2cm cubes

olive oil

25g Chorizo finely diced

a pinch of Spanish sweet smoked Paprika (optional)

salt & pepper

Combine the squash with a tablespoon of olive oil, a little salt and a generous grinding of black pepper. Place on a baking tray in a preheated oven for about 25 minutes at 220°C. The squash is ready when it’s soft and starting to brown a little.

Meanwhile heat another tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan and add the diced onion and garlic. Saute for about 5 minutes until softened a little, now add the Chorizo. Continue to cook on a gentle heat for a few more minutes, stirring regularly so nothing catches.

Once the squash is roasted add it to the onions and Chorizo and cook for a further couple of minutes before adding the stock. Bring to the boil and leave on a gentle simmer for 10 minutes.

While the soup is simmering prepare the croutons. Add a good glug of olive oil to a frying pan and heat. Add a pinch of Spanish sweet smoked Paprika if you have any (it’s one of the main colourings and flavourings in Chorizo), the Chorizo pieces, a little salt and a good grinding of pepper. Heat until the Chorizo is starting to ‘bleed’ it’s lovely oil and colour. Now add the bread pieces to the hot oil. Cook on all sides until the cubes are coloured and crunchy, making sure they are regularly turned.

After ten minutes of simmering remove the soup from the heat and whiz thoroughly, I usually use a stick blender to do this as it’s much less washing up than a processor or blender!. Taste the soup and add plenty of freshly ground black pepper to suit, it’s unlikely you’ll need more salt.

Serve piping hots with a generous scattering of the fried Chorizo pieces and croutons.

Here’s Jacques enjoying his crispy croutons!:

If you like this, have you tried my Creamy Roasted Pumpkin Soup recipe?


Beetroot, Spinach & Chickpea Curry

Guess what’s in season at Chez Foti at the minute? Beetroot, hence the recent influx of recipes! It’s probably growing a little later than most as I didn’t get around to sowing my seeds until early October. What an easy peasy veggie to grow and so so delicioso. Not to mention pretty as a picture to cook with, if you don’t mind your food a tad on the barbie pink side!. This is my first ever attempt at a beetroot curry and I must admit a highly successful one. Beetroot’s natural sweetness works really well with a touch of heat and spice.

And a very healthy recipe too, great if you’re still keeping up those New Year’s resolutions. Which I’m not. Failing miserably as ever.

More of a grown up curry today, but you could always tone down the chilli and serve to your wee ones. They may just love a pink dinner!

Although I’ve called this a Beetroot, Spinach and Chickpea Curry, I actually used my beetroot tops instead of spinach, but I’m guessing these are only available to those that grow their own. I use them regularly in stews, curries and stir fries just as you would spinach, and if you don’t mind the pink tinge from the stalks they’re a wonderful veggie freebie.

Either serve the curry on it’s own with steamed rice and/or chapattis, or as a veggie side to accompany a larger meal.

Enough for 4 as a main curry, or lots more as a veggie side

2 tsp of cumin seeds

2 tsp of coriander seeds

1 heaped tsp of turmeric

sunflower oil

1 onion, finely diced

2 cloves of garlic, grated

a thumb sized piece of ginger, grated

3 small dried chillies, finely chopped

6 baby beetroot or 1 to 2 large full sized ones, cooked and cooled (see my Goats Cheese & Beetroot Salad recipe for how to cook beetroot), diced into 1 cm pieces

1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

1 x 400g tin of chick peas

200ml of water

200ml of plain yogurt

200g of spinach leaves or beetroot tops, washed and roughly chopped

salt & pepper

juice of ½ a lemon

Grind the cumin seeds, coriander seeds and turmeric together.

In a large saucepan or frying pan, heat a little sunflower oil and fry the spice mix until you can smell the spices, stir continuously so the spices don’t catch and burn. Add the ginger, garlic and chillies and cook for a minute or two, stirring continuously. Add the onions and continue to cook until the onions are soft.

Now add the beetroot and chickpeas and cook for a further few minutes, stirring regularly. Add the chopped tomatoes, yogurt and water, bring to the boil and simmer for twenty minutes.

Finally add the spinach or beetroot tops to the curry and cook for a few minutes until the greens are tender.

Stir in the lemon juice, plenty of freshly ground black pepper and a generous pinch of salt. Have a good taste to check the seasoning, adding more lemon, salt or pepper to suit.

If you like this, how about trying my Goats Cheese & Beetroot Salad or Potato, Cauliflower & Pumpkin Curry recipes?


A Simple Chicken Stew

Hoping you all had a wonderful christmas with lots of tasty fodder, and wishing a very happy and prosperous 2012!. My apologies for over three weeks absence from the blog, but Chez Foti all went to England for Christmas and although it was my best of intentions to continue blogging, time was most definitely short….and the laptop I intended to use was festively soaked in rather too much vin rouge (luckily it’s now made a full and dried out recovery).

To kick off the New Year I’m blogging my very simple, and not to mention very healthy, Chicken Stew recipe. I tend to make this with the kids in mind, though more often than not it’s our family supper too. Any leftovers get put into small portion sized tupperware pots and frozen for a later convenience dinner for the wee ones.

You can add lots of different veggies to the stew, depending on what’s in season or what you have lurking. Today I used cauliflower, carrots, some pumpkin and a few green beans from the freezer. Peppers, squash, mushrooms, swede, parsnips, sweet potato, cabbage, peas, spinach etc are all great additions. This stew’s a lovely way to fill up those wee little tummies with an abundance of good veg.

Enough for 8 children’s portions or a family of 4:

3 whole chicken legs, skin removed

olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 carrots, sliced

2 sticks of celery, sliced

500g of other veggies, cut into appropriate sized pieces

a large glass of white wine (optional)

a heaped tbsp of tomato puree

3 bay leaves

2 sprigs of thyme (optional)

500ml of chicken stock

black pepper

Add a good glug of olive oil to a large saucepan or casserole and place on the heat. Add the chicken legs and fry on  both sides until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the onions and garlic to the pan and fry for a few minutes until softened, adding a little extra olive oil if necessary. Now add the carrots and celery and all the other veggies, though if you’re using less robust veggies like cabbage, spinach or peas add these towards the end of the cooking process. Cook all the veggies for a few minutes, stirring regularly.

Return the chicken to the pan, along with the white wine if using, the tomato puree, the bay leaves and thyme (if using). Pour in the chicken stock and add a good grind of black pepper.

Bring to the boil and cover and simmer gently for one hour, until the chicken is falling off the bone and the veggies are very tender.

Remove the chicken from the bone and return the meat to the stew.

Serve with a big pile of fluffy buttery mash.


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