Tag Archives: French

A guest post by Anneli from Delicieux – Slow Cooked Blue Cheese Pulled Pork with a Cider and Apple Sauce

Pork with Roquefort

Comfort Food Makes You Feel Good!

After the fun we had on our last blog challenge (Traditional French Christmas), Louisa and I decided to embark upon round two! We settled on the theme of ‘Comfort Food’ this time as it seemed fitting for this time of year and the kind of food we have been wanting to eat.

Comfort food is a great phrase. It can mean many things to many people. Ultimately, for me it represents food that makes me feel snuggly and happy. Food I like to eat in front of the TV whilst cosy on my sofa. It’s not fancy or frilly, it’s hearty and honest and leaves you feeling satisfied and content.

I have been cooking a lot in my Slow Cooker this year, lots of delicious stews and curries. Meat cooked in the slow cooker becomes incredibly soft and tender which I find very comforting. I also appreciate that it does not take much effort, I love having popped dinner on in the morning and just forgetting about it until the evening. Fantastic food, fuss free, that makes me very happy indeed!

The dish I have decided to share with you was one that I made on a Sunday (officially the best day for comfort food!) whilst I was actually not feeling particularly well. I was wearing my comfy trousers and had spent a fair chunk of the day curled up on the sofa under a blanket snuggling with my kids. The fire was roaring whilst outside the wind was blowing and it had been raining all day. I just about managed to throw a few things into the slow cooker that morning so I had a minimal amount of work to do to get dinner onto a plate. Oh yes, this was a day when comfort food was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Slow Cooked Blue Cheese Pulled Pork with Cider & Apple Sauce served with soft buttery mash and garlicky courgettes was my finished dish and my oh my, it was a heavenly combination. I think mashed potatoes might actually be compulsory with all comfort food, not much can beat them when served with a lovely hot sauce or gravy.

For this dish, pork shoulder is cooked in the slow cooker covered with cider on a bed of apple and onion for 8 hours, or even longer if you like. This creates such tender pork that you can take a fork to it and just pull it apart into juicy strands, super succulent and delicious. The sauce is simplicity itself, the apple and onions are just blitzed into the cider with a hand held blender and then boiled to reduce a little. Meanwhile, some roquefort cheese is crumbled over the pork and melted under the grill before serving with that wonderful mashed potato and lashings of hot cidery sauce. This takes comfort food to a whole new level of contentedness!

So if you are feeling under the weather or out of sorts, then I have the remedy for you. Just follow these instructions and you will be on the road to recovery in no time…

Slow Cooked Blue Cheese Pulled Pork with Cider & Apple Sauce

Serves 4


  • 1 small shoulder of pork around 1kg
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 500-600ml of cider
  • 150g Roquefort cheese
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 tbsp creme fraiche


  • Place your chopped onion and apple in the bottom of your slow cooker. Cut any string off from your pork shoulder and lay it on top of the onion and apple.Pork Shoulder in slow cooker
  • Pour over enough cider to go half way up your pork shoulder. Don’t be mean, the more cider, the more moist!
  • Put your slow cooker on to high and cook for 8 hours or low and cook for 12 hours.
  • Once cooked, remove the pork and take two forks and ‘pull’ the pork apart, tearing it into shreds. Place on a baking tray and crumble your Roquefort all over liberally. Put under the grill for 5 minutes or until all your cheese has melted over the pork

Pork with Roquefort

  • Whilst your pork is under the grill, pour the remaining cider, apple and onion into another saucepan and using a handheld blender, blitz until smooth. Then spoon a little of the sauce in to a small bowl and add your corn flour and mix to combine.
  • Meanwhile, bring the sauce to a simmer then stir in the cornflour mixture to help thicken. Let the sauce bubble away and reduce until you are happy with the consistency. You may find you have a lot of sauce…just freeze what you do not use for the next time you have pork. Just before serving, stir in a tablespoon of creme fraiche
  • Cider sauce
  • Finally serve the pork with some creamy mash and vegetables and pour the cider sauce all over the pulled pork and bubbling blue cheese
  • Finished Dish - Slow Cooked Blue Cheese Pulled Pork with Cider & Apple Sauce

And you will surely be comforted!

If you enjoyed this post then be sure to hop over to check out Louisa’s take on comfort food on www.delicieux.eu

Thanks for having me over again Louisa. Always a pleasure and I look forward to ‘Round Three’!

Louisa: I’m entering this gorgeous guest blog to a couple of challenges for Anneli. Firstly, being a slow cooker wonder recipe, to Credit Crunch Munch, an event co-hosted by Helen from Fuss Free Flavours and this month by Camilla from Fab Food 4 All. And secondly, being a made from scratch lovliness, to Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays.


Made with Love Mondays


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.

One Pot Ratatouille

Baby Foods & Weaning 7-9 Months plus, Toddlers & Small Children, Older Kids, Grown Ups

We love ratatouille at Chez Foti, and it’s a regular feature on our dinner table throughout the summer. Originally from Provence, it’s a classic Southern French veggie side dish, and made with good quality (preferably organic) tomatoes, peppers, courgettes and aubergines it’s utterly delicious and bursting with vibrant summer flavour. My kids have always loved it too, they eat it these days on a bed of pasta or couscous with a few cheesie sprinkles (they LOVE their sprinkles!). Last summer when they were considerably smaller (and fussier) I diced all the veggies to a smaller size, as large chunks seemed to put them off. And when Jacques was really tiny and weaning I whizzed up my ratatouille with a stick blender and served it to him with baby pasta stars. If you’re making for babies or little kids do not add any salt.

Us grown up folk prefer to eat our ratatouille in a large shared bowl (with a luxurious drizzle of extra virgin olive oil over the top) with plenty of fresh bread and maybe the odd sneaky merguez sausage on the side. It’s great served as a veggie side dish to a roast or cold cuts too, or with pasta or couscous like the kids.

My ratatouille recipe is probably somewhat old school now, in that it’s made as I’ve always made it with all the veggies in one big pot. It seems that most modern recipes call for the roasting or sauteing then layering of each of the veggies separately and diss my old fashioned all-in-one stew method. I personally like it both ways, but Mr F (who’s a big ratatouille fan) and the kids prefer this one pot wonder way….which is also quicker and requires less washing up!

Like all our dinners over the summer the veggies were all freshly picked from the garden, though admittedly I had to buy some peppers as mine are very slow to fruit this year. The courgettes, tomatoes (well obviously!), aubergine, garlic, onions, thyme and bay were all Chez Foti. It really is rather special being able to walk out of the front door and pick all your dinner’s ingredients, and after a year and a half of growing my own the novelty most certainly isn’t waining. And I hope it never does.

I’m entering this blog to the lovely Herbs on Saturday challenge, held by Karen at Lavender and Lovage.


Enough as a main for four big people, or several more as a side dish:

4 tablespoons of olive oil

a very large or two medium white or red onions, medium dice

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

a large aubergine or two small

2 peppers (preferably a red and a green one, or two reds)

2 courgettes

a small glass of white wine (optional)

700g of fresh chopped tomatoes (3 or 4 very large) (OR 600g of good quality tinned chopped tomatoes)

3 bay leaves

several sprigs of fresh thyme (be generous!)

a teaspoon of sugar

salt and pepper

Dice your veggies. If cooking for bigger kids and adults try to cut the peppers, aubergines and courgettes to a similar 3 cm ish slice size. I slice the aubergines into rounds (of about 4 to 5mm thick) then quarter the slices (or eighth if very large). The courgettes are sliced to the same thickness then cut in half (or quartered if very large). If making specially for babies (that do lumps) or toddlers cut to a much finer, more acceptable to them, dice.

Make a small bouquet garni of the herbs by tying together the bay leaves and thyme sprigs with string.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or casserole. Add the onions and saute on a medium heat for 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and allow to cook for a further minute. Next throw in the aubergines and peppers followed by the courgettes about 5 minutes later. Stir frequently so nothing catches.

Pour in the white wine (if using) and allow to simmer for a few minutes until much reduced. Now stir in your chopped tommies, bouquet garni, sugar, a generous amount of back pepper and salt (go easy on the pepper and no salt for babies and small children). Bring everything to a simmer, stirring from time to time, and allow to cook on a fairly gentle heat for about 45 minutes partially covered with the lid. The veggies should be very tender and tomatoes much reduced.

Have a final taste check, adding more pepper, salt and sugar to taste (no added salt for babies or small children though). Fish out the bouquet garni and serve hot or cold.

Eat and enjoy as you so desire!

How about trying some of my other summery recipes? Garden Pasta, Tagliatelle with Cherry Tomatoes & Mascarpone, Paella, 70s Flashback Stuffed Marrow or A Couple of Tomato Tarts?

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

A Summery Chicken, Asparagus & Lemon Cassoulet

Family Dinners, Grown Up Dinners

I love cassoulet. It’s probably one of my favourite winter dinners, but boy is it filling. Way too heavy for this time of year anyway. So here’s a fabulous recipe for an altogether much lighter and healthier take on a cassoulet using chicken instead of duck and adding lovely in season asparagus to replace some of the beans.

I wish I could say I devised this recipe myself, but alas no it’s from my beloved Leon book by the inspirational Allegra McEvedy. Ever since I’ve had the book I’ve been excited about trying this particular recipe and have rather impatiently been waiting for the asparagus season to commence. And now we’re in it, I’ve made cassoulet three times already and always a success. Equally great for a family supper, a lunch or dinner party. Everyone seems to love it and it’s surprisingly quick and easy to assemble.

The original recipe calls for chicken supremes but I’ve successfully replaced with cheaper whole chicken legs but feel free to go with the original if you prefer breast meat. When I made the cassoulet for a dinner party I cut down on the asparagus (as 3 bundles was just a tad too expensive at E4.50 a pop!) and used half asparagus, half sliced courgettes and this worked marvellously.  I’d also say that you could omit the chicken altogether and replace the chicken stock with veggie to make a really interesting vegetarian dinner.

Try to start this dish the day before and leave the chicken to marinade in the fridge overnight, or at least for a whole day.

By the way that’s Dotty in the background. She’s the newest member of the Foti clan, a gorgeous little fluff ball of a Collie pup. And no she didn’t get to eat any!.

Enough for 4:

2 unwaxed lemons, zested and juiced

6 tablespoons of olive oil

8 cloves of garlic, finely sliced

6 sprigs of fresh thyme

4 bay leaves

black pepper & salt

4 whole free range chicken leg pieces, skin removed

2 bunches of asparagus, or 1 bunch and 1 large courgette

2 medium onions, diced

2 x 400g tins of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

a large glass of white wine

400ml of chicken stock

8 tablespoons of breadcrumbs plus a little extra olive oil for drizzling

4 lemon wedges to serve

Place the lemon zest and juice, two thirds of the olive oil, half the garlic, the thyme and bay leaves, a generous grinding of black pepper and a pinch of salt into a large bowl. Add the chicken and rub the marinade thoroughly in. Cover with cling film and leave to marinade for the day or ideally overnight.

The next day preheat your oven to 200ºC/Gas Mark 6.

Heat the remainder of the olive oil in a large frying pan on a medium heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade, set aside the marinade. Fry the chicken on all sides until a little golden. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the onion to the pan for a couple of minutes, stirring regularly. Now add the remainder of the garlic and the marinade and fry for a couple more minutes. Tip in the beans and the white wine. Give everything a good stir and leave to bubble away for a few minutes until the liquid has reduced by half.

Meanwhile prepare your asparagus. Remove and discard the woody ends and cut the stems into roughly one inch lengths ensuring the heads remain whole. Retain four whole asparagus stems for the top. If using a courgette slice in half lengthways then slice across in roughly 0.5cm slices.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the asparagus (and courgette if using). Have a taste check and season really well. Place the beans in an appropriately sized ovenproof dish then tuck the chicken legs in.

Pour over the chicken stock until you can just see the liquid level below the beans.

Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top and place the four whole asparagus spears on the crumbs. Drizzle a little olive oil over everything.

Place in the preheated oven for 45 minutes to an hour. The crumbs should be golden and edges bubbling.

Great served with a light salad and lemon wedges on the side.

Here’s another couple of fabulous Leon recipes to try The Best Chilli Ever, and Chicken, Pumpkin & Borlotti Beans.

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


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?

Moules Frites, Mussels Marinieres & Chips

Mussels are a real treat in our house, though being as cheap as chips and abundant as they are there’s no real reason for this. They also happen to be my husband Philipe’s absolutely most favourite dinner, but only with a simple Mariniere sauce and served with a mound of chips and plenty of fresh bread on the side to soak up all the lovely broth. Plus a little bowl of homemade mayonnaise. Whilst I’m sure our kids would love Moules Frites too, they’re a grown up late night treat in our house to messily and greedily tuck in to when the kids are safely tucked away in bed.

The fiddliest bit of cooking mussels is in preparatory cleaning and de-bearding. It really is worth taking the time to thoroughly clean each individual shell and pull off any hairy ‘beards’, at least if you want to up your chances of avoiding poorly tummies. In doing so discard any broken or open shells. Once this fiddly task is done they’re unbelievably easy and quick to cook.

Traditionally Marinieres sauce is made with shallots, garlic, fresh herbs and white wine. I tend to add a little creme fraiche or double cream to mine, but feel free to omit if you don’t do cream sauces. I love using tarragon with it’s slight note of aniseed, but if you don’t have any to hand it’s just as nice with only parsley.

I cook my own chips to serve with mussels, but as I don’t have a deep fat fryer mine are more healthily baked in the oven. And they really don’t take long to cook either, parboiled for 4 minutes then roasted in a little sunflower oil in a very hot oven for a further 15 to 20.  Barely longer than shop bought oven chips yet so much better, they really are surprisingly good.

Enough for two hungry big people:

For the Moules Mariniere:
a kilo to a kilo and a half of fresh mussels
15g of butter
a tablespoon of olive oil
a shallot, finely chopped
a large clove of garlic, or two small, finely diced
a large glass of white wine
a tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley
a tablespoon of chopped fresh tarragon (optional)
salt & pepper
4 tablespoons of creme fraiche or double cream

For the Frites:
2 large potatoes, Desiree or other floury ones, peeled
2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
salt & pepper

Start with thoroughly cleaning all your mussels, scrubbing the shells and removing their hairy beards. Discard any with broken or open shells. Set aside until you’re ready to cook them.

Preheat your oven to 230°C, or as hot as it will go.

Peel and slice the potatoes into chips, cutting first lengthways into 1cm slices, then into 1cm thick chips. Unfortunately any thinner and they’re a bit too tricky to oven cook. Place the chips in a saucepan of boiling water and simmer for 4 minutes. Drain well and leave to steam for a couple of minutes.

Carefully empty the parboiled chips out onto a large baking tray and coat them evenly in 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil and a little salt and pepper. Place in the hot oven for 15 to 20 minutes, turning at least a couple of times during the cooking time. They’re ready when they’re golden and crisp.

About half way through the chip’s cooking time start the Moules Mariniere. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan (one big enough to easily hold all the mussels, and one that has a lid) and gently fry the finely chopped shallot and garlic for about 5 minutes until very soft, stirring regularly. Add the wine and herbs and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Stir in the cream or creme fraiche (if using) and bring back to a simmer. Tip in the mussels, shake around in the sauce a little and put the lid on. Steam the mussels on a medium heat until most of the shells are open, this should be only about 2 to 3 minutes.

Serve the mussels and chips immediately with a pot of mayonnaise and plenty of fresh bread on the side.

If you like this have you tried any of my other fishy recipes, Salmon Fishcakes with Herby Garlicky Mayo, Fish & Chips with Homemade Mayo, Kid’s Fish Pie or Smoked Salmon & Broccoli Penne?

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.

Goats Cheese & Beetroot Salad

A grown up salad today, our late night supper of last night!. Admittedly it’s a tad cold outside and not exactly salad eating weather, but with the addition of hot goats cheese crunchy toasts this makes a pretty good winter warmer of a salad.

Salad au Chevre appears on virtually every restaurant menu around us here. The first couple of times I ordered it I was expecting a large leafy salad with a little goats cheese tossed in. Alas no. It is in reality two or three large hunks of goats cheese on toast placed on a few stray lettuce leaves, sometimes with a scattering of walnuts, and usually with a little honey drizzled over the top. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not really complaining as I love it, but it hardly constitutes a ‘salad’ does it?!

So here’s my compromise on the salad. Lots of salad leaves (I used rocket from the garden), diced beetroot (it’s majorly in season @ Chez Foti right now) and walnuts (picked down the lane a few weeks ago) all tossed in a simple walnut oil and red wine vinegar dressing, with three slices of toasted french bread and goats cheese….and a generous drizzle of honey. Honey in fact from our roof. A few months ago we had three bees nests removed and reaped the sticky benefits with a few jars of honey. So all in all there weren’t too many food miles clocked up in this salad!.

I’m loving our homegrown beetroot. Not only is it exceptionally easy to grow with minimal watering or effort, it just seemed to look after itself, but it’s so sweet and delicious. I’m also finding great use for the leaves and stalks in curries, stir fries and stews, and taking great delight in the pink beetrootie tinge they add!

Local beekeepers removing the bees nests from our roof!

Homegrown rocket & beetroot

For a hearty dinner for two:

6 baby beetroot, or 1 very large full sized

2 very large handfuls of flavoursome baby leaves or rocket, washed

40g of walnuts halves

1 tbsp of red wine vinegar

3 tbsps of walnut oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 slices of good quality french bread or sourdough, cut into 1cm thick slices

a little olive oil

130g of goats cheese (preferably in a log), cut into 12 slices

honey to drizzle

Firstly you need to cook and prepare your beetroot. Place them whole with the skin still on and a few millimetres of the root and stalks attached (this prevents them bleeding out too much colour) in a pan of boiling water.  If you’re using baby beetroot, simmer for about 30 minutes, if full sized for about an hour and a half. When cooked remove from the pan and allow to cool. Slip off the skin, root and stalk – it should all come away very easily. Dice into small even sized pieces.

Now to make your dressing. In a bowl whisk the red wine vinegar, walnut oil, a pinch of salt and a generous grinding of black pepper together.

Grill the bread slices on both sides until slightly golden. Drizzle over a little olive oil and place a couple of slices of the goats cheese on each piece and put back under the grill until the cheese has melted.

Meanwhile place the salad leaves in a bowl with the diced beetroot and walnut halves. Add the dressing and toss lightly together. Lightly as you don’t want the beetroot to stain the leaves too much. I actually tossed the salad leaves and walnuts separately to the beetroot to prevent this!.

Place the salad on a plate with the goats cheese toasts on top. Drizzle a little honey all over, but particularly on the goats cheese. Serve immediately!

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