Tag Archives: Eggs

Leek & Goats Cheese Tart


I actually set out to make an asparagus tart, but couldn’t find any priced at less than €4.50 a bunch at the market yesterday (I know they’re having a laugh aren’t they?!) so I made a humble leek tart instead jazzing it up with some punchy goats cheese that we always seem to have so much of lurking in the fridge.

I don’t make tarts or quiches all that often, and every time I do I always wonder why not. They’re really not that fiddly or time consuming, and the pastry can be made in minutes in advance and happily stored in the fridge for several days, or even shop bought. I tend to make a double quantity of the pastry so that I can make a couple of tarts at a time, or a large and several minis for the kids, as they always prefer anything made in miniature. Mini Quiche Lorraine recipe coming shortly!

Enough for four:
pastry ingredients:
130g of plain flour, plus a little extra for rolling
35g of butter, cut into small blocks, straight from the fridge, plus a little extra for greasing the tin
30g of hard vegetable fat, cut unto small blocks, straight from the fridge
a pinch of salt

filling ingredients:
30g of butter
3-4 medium sized leeks (about 350g prepped and sliced weight)
150g of goats cheese, cut into small pieces (you can include any scrag ends or rind!)
3 large free range eggs, beaten
180ml of half fat creme fraiche (or full fat if you prefer)
salt & pepper

19-25cm width quiche or flat tin

Start by 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 in the bowl and whiz until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add a splash of very cold water (about a tablespoon) and whiz again. When it starts to come together in a ball it’s ready, keep adding a few drops of 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 together in a mixing bowl. Rub the fat into the flour with your hands until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add a splash of water (about a tablespoon) and mix into the flour and fat with your hands, trying to bring it all together. Keep adding a further few drops of water until the dough comes together and is very smooth. 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. Remove the tough green ends from the leeks and wash the remaining lengths of leeks (you can do this by making a cut across the top and slicing lengthways down a few centimetres, then fanning out under a cold running tap). Once washed, slice them across into 0.5cm thick rounds.

Place a large deep sided frying pan or a saucepan on a gentle heat. Melt the butter and then stir in the cut leeks and a generous pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook on this gentle heat for about 15 minutes, stirring regularly, until the leeks are very soft.

Lightly grease your chosen flan tin with butter.

The pastry should now be rested. Roll it out on a floured surface into a round that will fit your tin. Transfer to the tin. Cut off any excess pastry; there should be just enough pastry to overlap the sides by a few mms (the pastry will shrink a little when cooked). Prick the base all over with a fork. Brush the pastry case with a little of the beaten egg for the filling.

You now need to ‘bake blind’ the pastry case in the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes until it’s almost cooked.

Once ready, remove from the oven and dot the goats cheese evenly over the base. Then layer on the cooked leeks. Whisk the creme fraiche into the eggs, season with a little salt and pepper, though not too much as the leeks have already been seasoned, and carefully and evenly pour over the leeks.

Place the tart in the oven and cook for a further 30 minutes until the top’s a lovely golden brown.

Allow to cool for a few minutes and serve whilst warm. Lovely with a light green salad, and perhaps a few buttered new potatoes.


Homemade Fish Fingers

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Virtually all kids (and grown ups!) adore fish fingers so why not make your own?   You can honestly put them together in little more than the time to cook frozen shop bought ones. And if time’s a problem, why not make a big batch and store them in the freezer for a later convenience dinner? The difference in quality between a homemade fish finger made with real fish fillet and a processed shop bought one made with minced/ground fish is enormous and it’s truly worth the little added effort.

I believe that getting your kids to eat and love fish from a very early age is really important. It’s been proven over recent years that the nutrients and minerals in fish, and particularly oily fish, are particularly good for the heart and can make improvements in brain development.

Homemade Fish Fingers

Homemade Fish Fingers

Great for 9-12 month babies, fingers foods, toddlers and pre-schoolers, big kids, big people, freezing, making ahead

makes 6-8 fish fingers:

200g of sustainable white fish fillet (cod, haddock or pollack are all perfect)

a tablespoon of plain flour

a medium free range egg, beaten

40g of panko, white breadcrumbs or polenta (or a combination of any of these)

2 tablespoons of sunflower oil

Take the time to carefully examine your fish fillet for any bones, removing any that you find with tweezers. Cut the fish into 6 – 8 even fingers.

Now assemble three shallow flat bottomed dishes. Put the flour in one, the beaten egg in the next and the panko/breadcrumbs/polenta in the final one.

Simply dip each fish finger first into the flour, then into the egg and finally roll it around in the crumbs. Place on a plate until you’re ready to use. They can be frozen for later use at this stage.

Heat the oil in frying pan until a breadcrumb sizzles and turns brown when dropped in. Carefully place the fish fingers in the pan and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, turning on all sides until golden brown and crisp all over. Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper.

Serve with mash or chips and plenty of veggies.

Homemade Fishfingers

How about trying some of my other toddler-tastic recipes? Kids Fish Pie, Sunday Dinner Leftovers Cakes, Chicken, Egg & Veggie Fried Rice or Lasagne ?


Bejeweled Eggs!

8 months +, toddlers & young children

As part of my series of baby and toddler foods, in conjunction with Oogaa silicone feeding products, here’s a perfect recipe for introducing your baby to soft lumps in his or her food. Plain scrambled eggs were one of the first foods my two really loved and devoured, and as they grew accustomed to little lumps I started scrambling the eggs with an assortment of finely diced veggies and a little cheese and they probably loved my ‘bejeweled’ eggs even more than the plain scrambled. And it’s still a firm favourite today as a quick and easy no brainer supper served with little slices of wholemeal toast and butter on the side.

For very little ones dice the veggies as finely as you can, increasing the size as they get older and more accustomed to lumps and bumps. Stick to veggies that will soften well on cooking for the very wee ones, like mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, courgette (or diced pre-cooked veggies like broccoli and carrots) etc. Slightly older babies and toddlers love it with sweetcorn and peas, as indeed I made mine with today, but these are slightly harder to break down and digest in tiny tums.

Eggs are a wonderful food for babies and young children, providing an important protein source and packed full of vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, various Bs, iron, calcium, phosphorus and potassium. Cheese is also an important source of calcium and protein.

Enough for one large portion, double if Mum wants to eat too!

5g of butter

a slice of onion, very finely diced (about a 1⁄16th of a small onion)

a fine slice of red pepper, very finely diced (about a 1⁄16th of a whole pepper)

10g of sweetcorn, fresh, canned or frozen (replace with finely diced courgette, mushroom, or pre-cooked carrot or broccoli if your baby is very little)

10g of fresh or frozen peas (replace with finely diced courgette, mushroom, or pre-cooked carrot or broccoli if your baby is very little)

a slice of tomato, very finely diced (about an 1/8th of a whole tomato)

a free range egg, beaten

a teeny weeny ultra fine grinding of black pepper

10g of a mild hard cheese (like cheddar), grated

Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the onion and pepper and cook for about 4 minutes until soft, stirring regularly. Stir in the peas, sweetcorn and tomato and cook for a further 2 minutes. If the pan becomes dry add a splash of water.

Stir in the beaten egg, very finely ground black pepper and grated cheese. Continue to stir until the egg is cooked through. Allow to cool for a few moments then serve.

Have you tried my other baby recipes? How about the ever so tasty Sweet Potato Daal for Babies & Toddlers, Baby Pasta & Purees, Chicken, Veggie & Egg Fried Rice or Kid’s Bolognese?


Sunday Dinner Leftover Cakes

Ever wanted some inspiration of what to do with all those Sunday dinner leftovers? How about throwing them all together, forming into little patties, coating with egg and breadcrumbs and frying them up? And then serving with any leftover gravy. I would love to take the credit for these tasty cakes of loveliness but I can’t, they were thought up by the ingenious husband of a friend of mine. You know who you are and I thank you! We’ve made them on many a Monday, and I’d go as far to say my kids actually prefer them to their Sunday dinners.

This recipe uses leftovers from a roast pork Sunday lunch and combines diced roast pork (obviously!), apple sauce, mashed potatoes and lots of veggie leftovers (I used carrots, peas and courgettes). They’re equally, if not more delish made with leftover roast beef and a desertspoon of creamed horseradish, or lamb and a little mint sauce…. just throw in whatever you have leftovers off…they’ll undoubtedly be good.

For the coating I used Panko for the first ever time. They’re Japanese breadcrumbs that are particularly light and crispy and make for a wonderfully crunchy coating, available at most Asian stores and bigger supermarkets. If you can’t source use ordinary breadcrumbs (either packet or homemade) or polenta or a 50/50 mixture of the two.

This recipe makes 8 cakes, but make as many as you have leftovers for. They freeze well.

Enough for a family of four:

140g cold roast pork, finely diced

120g cold leftover veggies, finely diced

320g cold leftover potato mash

a tablespoon of apple purée or sauce

black pepper

a heaped tablespoon of plain flour

2 eggs, beaten

4 heaped tablespoons of Panko, breadcrumbs or polenta (or a combination of any of these)

sunflower oil for frying

leftover gravy and apple sauce to serve

Place the diced pork, veggies, mashed potato, apple purée and a grinding of black pepper in a large mixing bowl. Combine thoroughly with a spoon. Divide into 8 equal pieces and shape each into a flattened round patty.

Get three flat bottomed bowls. Place the flour in the first, the beaten eggs in the second and the Panko, breadcrumbs or polenta in the third. Now cover each patty first with the flour, then with the egg and finally with the Panko, ensuring that each are evenly coated in them all. This is quite a delicate operation so be gentle or they’ll easily fall apart.

Place in the fridge until you’re ready to use, ideally for at least 30 minutes to give them a chance to firm up a little more.

When you’re ready to cook them pour enough sunflower oil into a large frying pan to cover it’s base and heat for a few minutes on a medium heat. Carefully place the patties in the pan and fry until golden brown. Turn over and fry the other sides until golden too. This should only take about 5 minutes in total. You may need to do a couple of batches.

Serve immediately with re-heated leftover gravy and some more apple sauce/puree. The wee ones like theirs with baked beans, peas or sweetcorn. Grown ups with a salad.


Sausage & Courgette Pasta Carbonara

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We seem to eat carbonara way too often in our house these days, it’s my staple no brainer meal-in minutes-supper that we all adore and we’ve almost always got the ingredients in for, especially now we’ve got a ready and usually very abundant supply of eggs!. And what’s not to like about this killer simple combo of pasta, eggs, bacon and cheese?! In an effort to vary our regular dinner I’ve been experimenting with tradition a little lately, by ‘healthying’ up our carbonara’s with various veggies. Mushrooms, courgettes, broccoli, roasted squash and pumpkin all work great. I went one step further this week and bravely ditched the bacon and replaced it with some very good quality toulouse sausage, and together with courgettes we had one very very tasty carbonara variation which I can thoroughly recommend.

I tend not to add any cream to my carbonara, especially since I’ve been using our own deliciously creamy eggs, but feel free to add a little to your eggs if you feel you should. Most dried pasta works well with carbonara but for some reason I usually use penne or fusilli, though I’m sure it’s more traditionally made with spaghetti or tagliatelle.

For a family of four:
a tablespoon of olive oil
300g of good quality sausages
2 courgettes
a large clove of garlic, finely sliced
240g dried pasta
3 free range eggs
3 heaped tablespoons of grated Parmesan plus a little extra for sprinkling
salt and pepper

Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a large frying pan and heat. Cut the sausages into small bite size pieces and place in the pan. Quarter the courgettes lengthways then thinly slice, add to the pan too along with the chopped garlic. Cook on a medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring regularly so nothing catches. The sausage should be cooked through and a little browned and courgettes soft.

Meanwhile cook your pasta to packet instructions. Try to time it so your pasta is cooked and ready at exactly the same time as the courgettes and sausages.

Crack the eggs into a small bowl and lightly whisk, stir in the cheese, plenty of freshly ground back pepper and a touch of salt.

As soon as the pasta and sausages/courgettes are cooked and still piping hot throw into one pan and immediately add the eggy mix. Stir everything around really well. Don’t put the pan back onto the heat or you’ll have pasta with scrambled eggs, what you’re after is a glossy eggy coating. Taste and add further salt and pepper if necessary.

Serve immediately with a further sprinkling of parmesan.

If you like this how about trying my Pasta & Meatballs, Smoked Salmon & Broccoli Penne, Pumpkin Macaroni Cheese or Roasted Veggie Lasagne recipes?


Nigella’s Choccie Brownies

If I want to bake something yum quickly then this is what I make, such a doddle, quick and generally faultless….even in our worse than useless oven (though admittedly I do occasionally have to slice off a burnt bum!). But this week we had the good fortune of Grandma’s wonderful fully functioning temperature controlled oven! Hence the run on half term baking.

I often serve brownies as a crowd pleaser pudding when we have friends round, and tend to keep a few in the freezer for impromptu visits. Unbelievably great served warm with ice cream and hot choc sauce.

Sadly I can’t any glory for the recipe as it’s originally the lovely Nigella’s (from her How to be a Domestic Goddess book) and was brought to my attention by the even lovelier supermum-supercook Lucinda. Lucinda used to bake my husband (and occasionally me) whole batches of these lovely brownies when he was working for her as a builder a few years ago in London, he’s such a sucker for homemade cakes and would gladly except them on part payment terms! Since leaving London I’ve taken over baking the brownies and do you know what, he still doesn’t rate them as highly as his Lovely Lucinda’s…despite using the exact same Nigella recipe. But luckily all those who don’t know Lucinda do!.

The original recipe calls for walnuts (250g) which occasionally I add, though more often don’t as we never seem to have any in. I’ve also added fresh raspberries and white chocolate chunks to the recipe in summers past which takes the humble brownie to a whole new level. As so much chocolate goes into these brownies you can really tell the difference if you use a good quality bar with a minimum 70% cocoa solids content.

Makes 30 – 35 small brownies:

300g butter
300g good quality plain chocolate, broken into chunks
5 medium eggs
400g caster sugar
1 dessertspoon of vanilla extract
185g plain flour
a large pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 180°C.

Butter and line with baking paper a brownie tin that’s about 25 by 30 cm (or even a little smaller if that’s what you have).

Melt the butter and chocolate in a saucepan over a very low heat, stirring very regularly. Once melted set aside to cool for a few minutes.

Meanwhile whisk the eggs in a large bowl and whisk in the sugar and vanilla extract. Stir in the slightly cooled chocolate mix. Finally add the salt and flour and combine the whole lot together with just a few turns of your mixing spoon. Apparently the trick to great brownies (from Lucinda the Queen of Brownies herself) is not to over stir the mixture. I get my three year old daughter to do this bit for me, a perfect task for her none too deft little hands!

Scrape the mixture into your tin, shake a little to evenly distribute and place in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes.

Towards the end of the cooking time regularly check the brownies as you don’t want to overdo them. They’re ready when the top is dry with a paler brown surface, but the middle is very dark brown, dense and still a little bit gooey. Remember that they’ll continue to cook a little more after they’re removed from the oven.

Whilst still hot score the top into little brownie squares


Here come the Chickens!

Since the first day we arrived at Chez Foti back in November 2010 we’ve wanted chickens, and it seemed we were the only ones living here without them! A while back some of our neighbours asked if we’d like theirs when they went off travelling for 5 months, so we’ve kind of been waiting until now to have their brood. And what a lovely gang they are too. Seven hens and a mighty fine and very gentle cock, named Rocky the Rooster. We’re so loving having them and I’m certain this is the just the start of our chicken owning lives.

Over the last few months Phil’s been gradually preparing their new home, converting a section of the original pig sty into a chicken shed. They now have a new roof, strengthened structure, new mud brick walls (which I hasten to add I also got my hands mucky in helping construct!), and a window and shutter.

After a couple of days in their new chickenopolis they were set free to roam around as free range as free range can be. And I think we have some very happy hens as they’ve not stopped laying ever since.

As for the kids, they’re more excited about the chickens than christmas! Every day Francesca wakes up and begs us to let her go and let the chickens out and check for eggs. And on her way home from school, she’s literally exploding with excitement to check the chicken house again!  Little Jacques spends hours studying them totally and utterly enchanted, and squeals with delight at their every move. When he’s in the house, he’s always pushing chairs up to the windows so he can be high enough to look out at them. It certainly beats tv. Even Freddy the dog seems to have taken to them, always eyeing them up with a good deal of curiosity….though luckily not in a lunch or dinner kind of way!

And as for the eggs, they’re obviously totally yummy. The kids are going crazy for dippy eggs and solders which they seem to be having rather too often lately!. As well as lots of poached and scrambled eggs, we’ve also been gorging on some fantastic omelettes and I even put them into some lovely homemade custard at the weekend. Watch this space for lots of eggy recipes!


Friday Night Fish & Chips, with homemade Tartare Sauce

Fish & Chips, now where do I start?  I LOVE FISH & CHIPS, if anyone asks me what’s the main thing I miss about living in the UK, the answer’s always Fish & Chips….family and friends aside it is in fact the only thing I truthfully miss!  F&Cs were our standard ‘too lazy too cook’ take away supper, usually on a Friday night, and even ranked above a curry!.

Obviously living in France you just don’t get F&Cs, these funny French people don’t know what they’re missing!. So I started to make my own…usually as a Friday or Saturday night treat for the family. Mine are way healthier as I don’t own a deep fat fryer. Nor do I ever want to, not for health and safety reasons you understand, but for the fact I know we would use it just a little too much!. My chips are oven baked and my fish breadcrumbed and fried in just a little oil. And do you know what, they’re really really good.  Not the same as battered and deep fried, but still really good.

To save on time you could always breadcrumb a large batch of fish fillets or fingers and freeze them, then bring out and use just as you would shop bought ones. For the breadcrumb outer layer I use  a 50/50 mix of breadcrumbs and polenta; the polenta adds a little extra crispy crunch.

And if you’re going to go to the trouble of making your own fish & chips, why not make some tartare sauce to have on the side?.  I’ve really got into making my own mayonnaise lately (which is the base for tartare), and as long as you make it in a food processor you’ll be amazed at just how quick it is….and how good!  Admittedly, the first time I attempted to make mayonnaise I did so by hand with a whisk, and whilst it tasted divine I wasn’t exactly in a hurry to be making any more! The recipe makes way too much for one meal, but keeps for up to a week in the fridge.  A great excuse for another fishy dinner.

Fish & Chips for a family of four:

400g sustainable white fish fillets

2 tbsp plain flour

1 egg, beaten

a handful of white breadcrumbs

a handful of polenta

sunflower oil

800g Desiree or other floury potatoes (about 3 large), peeled

salt & pepper

some lemon slices

Preheat your oven to as hot as it will go  230 – 250°C/Gas 9.

Cut the potatoes into 1 cm thick slices lengthways, then each slice into 1cm thick chips.  Place in a large pan of boiling salted water and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the water and drain well.

Place the chips on a baking sheet or roasting pan, drizzle with a little sunflower oil, salt and pepper and mix well until all the chips are coated (there shouldn’t be any excess oil in the pan).

Place in the hot oven for 15 to 20 minutes, turning every few minutes to prevent burning.  They’re ready when golden and crisp.

Whilst the chips are in the oven, prepare your fish.  Check the fillets for bones and remove if you find any. Cut into two large grown up pieces and two smaller child size ones….or cut thin strips across the fish to make fish fingers (I make two per child).

Now assemble three large flat bottomed bowls or dishes.  In the first place the flour, the second the beaten egg and in the third the breadcrumbs/polenta. Dip each fish piece first in the flour and completely coat, then in the egg (again completely coat) then the breadcrumbs.

Heat 3 tbsps of sunflower oil in a large frying pan until very hot.  Add the fish pieces and fry for 5 to 8 minutes (depending on the thickness of your fish fillet) turning once until golden brown and crisp.  Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper.

Serve immediately with the chips, slice of lemon, peas and tartare sauce.

Here’s a pic of Jacques eating his first ever takeaway fish & chips, whilst at my mum and dads house in the UK this summer.  Needless to say he enjoyed them about as much as his mother!

 Tartare Sauce:

1 egg

½ level tsp salt

½ level tsp mustard powder

½ clove of garlic, peeled

100ml sunflower oil

75ml olive oil

pepper

1 dessertspoon lemon juice

1 tbsp flat leaved parsley

1 heaped tbsp rinsed capers

4 cornichons (baby gherkins)

Break the egg into your food processor and add the salt, mustard powder and garlic.  Whiz up a little.  Combine the two oils in a jug.  With the food processor whizzing, start to add the oil (through the processor feeding tube) in a very slow steady trickle, pouring as slowly as possible.  The mayo will seem very thin at first, don’t worry as the more oil you add the thicker it gets. Continue until all the oil has been incorporated.

Now add some pepper, the lemon juice, parsley, capers and cornichons to the processor and whiz again.  It’s ready when it’s as course or fine as you want it to be. Adjust the salt, pepper and lemon juice to suit. Et voila tartare sauce made in minutes!


Bread & Butter Leftovers Pudding

I don’t make many puddings.  Not because I can’t, but for three reasons. Firstly, my oven is rubbish; it’s a temperamental cheap (and very temporary) gas oven that can only function semi-correctly on one exact shelf position….and even that manages to destroy anything that’s ever so slightly delicate!  All things cakelike, flannish, or puddingy are baked at my own risk and generally come out with a black burnt crisp on their bottom.  Obviously we’re hoping to replace the damned thing with a super-duper all singing all dancing electric oven in the very near future.  The other reason is simply time!  I tend to focus my spare minutes on filling tummies with main courses, and rarely have the luxury of time to put a pud together too.  Reason number three is that neither of my children have particularly sweet tooths and puddings are generally left to the consumption of Philipe and I, and neither of us truthfully need those extra calories!

Bread & butter pudding however ticks all the above problem boxes!   Being quick to cook it never burns it’s bum too badly, is incredibly quick to put together and isn’t too sweet to put the kids off.  And it resolves another problem we have at Chez Foti ….. what to do with all our leftover bread. Today being a Sunday I had a few free minutes and made my pud using just some stale bread, but I often bung in old croissants (wonderfully rich), brioche (even more wonderfully rich) or pain au chocolat (sublime) ….. or more often than not a mixture of all of these!  If you do use these richer breads omit the butter as they already contain a heart stopping amount.

If I do go to the trouble of making a pud, I tend to make a large one so there’s plenty of leftovers for the next day.

Enough for 6

150g leftover bread, croissants, brioche or pain au chocolat – in slices (you need enough to make up 2 layers of your dish)

butter – enough to butter the bread and grease your dish

50g raisins or sultanas

3 eggs

400ml whole milk

50g golden caster sugar, plus a little extra for sprinkling on the top

a little nutmeg

Preheat your oven to 180°C/355°F/Gas 4.

Butter your bread and lay half the slices in a buttered overproof dish, filling in all gaps like a jigsaw to make a complete layer.  Scatter over the raisins or sultanas.  Add another layer of bread.

In a large jug or a bowl whisk the eggs lightly and then whisk in the milk and sugar.  When combined pour evenly over the bread.

Grate a little nutmeg and sprinkle a fine layer of sugar over the top.

Place in the oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the custard has set and the top is a lovely golden brown.

Serve immediately with lashings of custard.


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