Tag Archives: black olives

Sea bass in oatmeal with courgette and anchovy purée


Fishmongers in France are always keen to advise on inventive ways to prepare their produce. My favourite one writes his recipes down for me, correctly assuming that I’m only half listening and will never remember unless he does. This morning he was absent and when I asked his replacement for suggestions on how to cook sea bass, she curtly replied that I could ‘fry it, braise it, BBQ it, steam it, grill it or bake it.’ Her jaded gallic shrug after this exhaustive list seemed to imply that her final unspoken suggestion might be that I should ‘stick it’. Who knew sea bass was so versatile?

However prepared, sea bass is delicious and an abundant source of omega 3 fatty acids, iron, vitamins and minerals.

Ingredients (serves 4)

750g sea bass

1 egg, beaten

150g rolled oats (oat flakes)

20g butter

2 courgettes, peeled and sliced

1 medium-sized potato

10g parmesan cheese, grated

4 anchovies

sea salt, ground black pepper, Espelette pepper

8 black olives, chopped

olive oil

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 sprig of thyme

4 slices of lemon

Coat the fish with the beaten egg and then cover with rolled oats and set aside. Boil the potato and courgettes, drain well and purée. Add the grated cheese, anchovies, seasoning, black olives, olive oil and garlic and mix well over a very gentle heat for a few minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Melt the butter in a large frying pan with a sprig of thyme. Shallow fry the fish for about five minutes on each side and serve with the warm purée and a slice of lemon.


Olive, red pepper and anchovy cake and a volatile hoarder


To follow on from this post, unfortunately our black hen died. Hens seem to be so vulnerable to attack from disease, foxes, dogs and perhaps even other hens. I imagined she was suffering from depression when maybe she was just sad to be sick. 😦

We were (when I say ‘we’ I suppose I mean ‘I’ as, unlike me, neither husband nor son obsesses about our animals) rather worried about the white hen who had disappeared suddenly. We eventually found her over a week later under two enormous bales of hay in a little-used barn, sitting on no fewer than 23 eggs; The little minx had obviously been hiding, laying and hoarding! Don’t ever let it be said that hens can’t multitask. So to add to our  animals’ extensive list of mental disorders, we now appear to be the proud owners of a compulsively hoarding hen.  Can anyone tell me where I can get my hands on an animal that doesn’t have ‘issues’?

This savoury cake is based on an old French recipe and goes beautifully with soup or hors d’oeuvres. It’s quite light and crumbly and, being made with spelt flour, healthy, wheat-free and low GI.


175g spelt flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon paprika

1 pot of yoghurt (125g)

3 organic eggs, beaten

100ml olive oil

50g red pepper, finely chopped

40g black olives, stones removed

50g sun dried tomatoes

6 anchovies

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Combine the flour, baking powder,  bicarbonate of soda and paprika and add the eggs and yoghurt, mixing well. Continue mixing and add the olive oil until you obtain a homogenous paste. Stir in the other ingredients and once well combined, spoon the mixture into a medium-sized, oiled loaf tin. Cook for about 40 minutes, or until a fork comes out clean.

Basque Chicken

Our multi-talented Spanish carpenter, who my husband disparagingly refers to as the ‘poet’ (as in Real Men Don’t Do Poetry), gave us several jars of his home-made spicy tomato sauce, which my son then referred to as ‘ketchup in a jar’. Between them, husband and son make quite sure that neither carpenter nor tomato sauce get too up themselves.

Poulet Basquaise should really be made with Espelette pepper, which is a cross between paprika and chilli pepper, and is a speciality of the village of Espelette in the Basque country.

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 chicken thighs and 4 legs

1 tin of peeled tomatoes (or homemade if possible)

1 tin of white beans

4 cloves of garlic

1 onion

5 mushrooms, sliced

1 bell pepper

1 cup of black olives

olive oil

sprig of rosemary

1 glass of white wine

seasoning to taste (salt, pepper, paprika, chilli powder or if possible Espelette pepper)

Chop the onions, garlic and mushrooms and add to the olive oil in an oven-proof casserole dish. Cook until golden and then add the chicken pieces, which should also be cooked until golden-brown on both sides. Add the wine, herbs and seasoning and cook for about 2 minutes so that the chicken can absorb the wine. Add the tomatoes and heat until simmering. Lastly add the beans and olives and cook in a medium oven (150°C) until the tomatoes begin to caramalise (just under two hours).

Poulet Basquaise is usually served with sauté potatoes or rice, although I often serve it with polenta and a crisp green salad.