Tag Archives: garlic

Celery leaf pesto, the herd, and a close encounter with clingfilm

About 15 years ago when I was first studying naturopathic medicine, I remember mentioning the dangers of vitamin D deficiency on a forum for young mothers I used at the time. The reaction was patronising and along the lines: ‘poor sleep-deprived lamb! Should we alert the men in white coats now, or shall we watch her unravel a bit more first?’

New theories always go through the same tedious, but inevitable cycle: ridicule, violent opposition, and finally acceptance as self-evident.

Many medical circles, and certainly the WHO, view orthomolecular therapy with the same scathing derision as they did vitamin D 15 years ago, despite increasingly compelling evidence from more and more studies and trials worldwide. Facebook, the great financial interest-free adjudicator, even zaps all reference to therapeutic benefits claiming ‘fake news!’ And yet they give air(head) time to The Orange Toddler who, in a recent attempt to denigrate Sweden’s lack of confinement in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, said: ‘Sweden is suffering very greatly, you know that right, because they’re doing the herd, they call it the herd’. He really needs to learn to keep his mouth shut, preferably for ever.

In France a legal request has been submitted to the government by six doctors to petition the use of orthomolecular treatments, in particular the IV vitamin C protocol used by Professor Marik of EVMS, on the premise that it is unethical to withhold treatment that could help or cure patients. (Protocol here.) At low doses, vitamin C is a nutrient; at high doses, a therapeutic drug. Unfortunately I doubt anything will come of it because, as usual, financial interest will prevail.

My cooking is a bit eccentric at the moment as I’m using anything and everything to hand to avoid going shopping. My last visit to the supermarket was traumatic: They had created makeshift queue separations with clingfilm (I kid you not) and I propelled myself into one of these extremely aggressive bouncy plastic ‘walls’ trying to distance from someone practicing close social proximity. I must have received an electric charge, because my hair stood on end and the clingfilm and I became one. Any vague semblance of dignity I might have managed to conjure in my fetching builder’s dust face mask vanished in a heartbeat. Clingfilm 1, hair 0.

I didn’t have basil so substituted celery leaves and celery. The result was surprisingly creamy and delicious. Garlic is a great antiviral so I used even more than usual. The added bonus is that it makes social distancing easier!

Ingredients (serves 4)

Handful of celery leaves

1 celery stick, peeled and sliced

75g pinenuts

4 cherry tomatoes

3 cloves of garlic, peeled

3 tablespoons olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chilli powder to taste

2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Blend the ingredients in a food processor to form a thick paste and stir into freshly-cooked pasta.

Toulouse sausages with Puy lentils and exiled hens

Our hens are in exile; they have been forced from their homeland by an overabundance of horses. Four was fine, desirable even; it created a cosy ‘chicken sandwich’ environment. But the newly-arrived pony was the final straw – she’s a Quadruped Lout Too Far and a tiny bit scornful perhaps at the deference required to lay an egg.

So they’ve set up camp on the fourth-floor shelf of the workshop on some torn-up sheets. Not without much shrill, dyspeptic screeching, I might add. I feel a bit bad that all they found for their nest was old sheets and not pashminas, but such is the life of a hen. I only discovered their new hideout because, reaching for an old sheet to clean my saddle, I unwittingly scrambled an egg at my feet. I assume they think that the workshop is horseproof – I’m afraid they’re in for a surprise 😉

Puy Green Lentils (grown on the vocanic soil of the ‘Massif Central’) are prized above other lentils for their strong peppery flavor and firmness, even after cooking. High in fiber and protein, they also contain dietary fibre, folate, vitamin B1, and minerals. As if all that isn’t enough, they also have a very low GI (glycemic index).

Ingredients (serves four)

4 Toulouse sausages

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small red onion, peeled and chopped

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

5 mushrooms, peeled and sliced

3 medium sized carrots, peeled and cut into 3cm pieces

1 tin (400g) of plum tomatoes

200g of Puy lentils

2 sprigs of rosemary

1 bay leaf

250ml chicken stock

seasoning to taste: sea salt, fresh black pepper, paprika

Preheat the oven to 150°C. If you have a griddle pan, griddle the sausages briefly. If not, searing them will do just as well. Gently fry the onions, garlic and mushrooms in olive oil to soften them. Add the griddled/seared sausage, the plum tomatoes and carrots and continue to heat. Add the lentils, chicken stock, herbs and seasoning and bring back to a gentle simmer. Cook in the oven for about 45 minutes, checking from time to time that there is enough liquid – the lentils absorb an enormous amount.

Chicken curry with mango, carrots and sweet potato

We had a ten-month old labrador bitch to stay for the weekend; a real doll.  My husband, who can never resist a doll, invited her based on the assumption that such chaos would ensue, I would give him a break from my constant whining for another dog (yellow labrador girl puppy, not that I’ve given it any thought or anything :-). Anyway, ha ha! Big miss on his part. There is nothing like the satisfaction of having a sleeping labrador on either side of your feet in the evening. I do admit that the frenzied partying beforehand was slightly more wearing but, all things considered, all this weekend did was make me even more entrenched in my opinion that owning fewer than two dogs should be illegal 😉

This was concocted whilst dodging eight furry and frenetic legs in the kitchen. Never let it be said that I’m not a skilled multi-tasker. It is full of beta-carotene, making it an excellent dish for the winter. Beta-carotene enhances the immune system by increasing the number of infection fighting cells. It also helps protect the respiratory tract. Foods rich in beta-carotene include sweet potatoes, carrots, mango, apricots, kale, spinach, turnip greens, winter squash, collard greens, cilantro and fresh thyme.

Ingredients (serves four)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon coconut oil

4 chicken thighs

1 onion, thinly sliced

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

6 mushrooms, peeled and sliced

1 mango, peeled and sliced

4 carrots, peeled and cut

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

2 green chillies, chopped

1 tablespoon of peeled, grated fresh ginger

1 cinnamon stick

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

3 teaspoons cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground  black pepper

200ml chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 150°C. Take a medium-size casserole dish and fry the onion, garlic, mushrooms and chicken in the olive and coconut oils for a few minutes, until they start to brown. Add the seasoning (cumin seeds, salt, pepper, ginger, turmeric, cinamon stick…) and continue to brown stirring frequently to avoid sticking. Add the carrots, sweet potato, mango and chillies and then the chicken stock. Bring to a gentle simmer, stir and put the casserole in the oven for about two hours, checking from time-to-time that there is enough liquid. The result should be tender and just beginning to caramelise.

Perfectly scrambled eggs with porcini and smoked salmon

We have just arrived back from a busy and exciting trip to London (where I got some great food ideas – watch this space), but I appear to have returned minus my cooking mojo. It’s amazing how quickly my default-to-lazy kicks in. I couldn’t think what to cook for lunch today and might even have resorted to opening a tin of something if I’d had one to hand #shockhorror 😉 My husband solved the problem by disappearing into the woods and proudly returning with yet another kilo of porcini (yawn). I just about managed to rustle up this plate of Scottish smoked salmon (far and away the best!) and scrambled eggs with porcini, chilli peppers and garlic; a truly eclectic dish! Lėo, my son, on seeing this exclaimed ‘oh great: a picnic lunch!’ He has never yet been known to lose his cheekiness mojo…

Ingredients (serves two)

1 mushroom-obsessed husband. Failing that, a farmers’ market will do.

20g butter

2 medium-size porcini mushrooms, sliced

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 chilli pepper, finely sliced

4 large organic eggs

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Break the eggs into a bowl and whisk gently until well combined. Add the seasoning. Fry the sliced mushrooms, garlic and chilli pepper in the half of the butter in a heavy-based saucepan until soft (roughly ten minutes). Pour in the beaten egg mixture and stir briskly with a wooden spoon or fork. It’s extremely important to make sure that the egg doesn’t cook too quickly, or overcook to avoid it becoming dry and flaky. Keep the heat low. Once the egg is almost cooked, remove from the heat and add the remaining butter. Continue to stir with the wooden spoon – the eggs will finish cooking in the heat remaining in the pan. Serve immediately with smoked salmon and a green salad.

Chilli con carne and itinerant horses

This is the sort of dish that is even better a day or two after it’s made, which is just as well really as I had no time to prepare lunch, having spent all morning chasing our Houdini horses. They escape more regularly than I like to admit – let’s just say that they are well-known by everyone within a 5 km radius and by the town ‘Mairie’.

Ingredients (serves 4)

250g dried red kidney beans (soaked overnight and boiled for 10 minutes)

500g minced beef

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 medium onions, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

6 tomatoes, blanched and skinned

1 red bell pepper (cut into strips)

4 chilli peppers (sliced)

6 mushrooms, peeled and sliced

2 tablespoons of tomato purée

2 glasses of red wine

250ml beef stock

1 sprig of rosemary and 2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon Worcester sauce

1 square of 80% dark chocolate

Seasoning to taste : sea salt, black pepper, chilli powder

Preheat the oven to 150°C. Pour the olive oil into a medium-sized casserole dish and heat. Add the onions, garlic, mushrooms and mince and brown well, stirring around a bit. Once browned, add the bell pepper, the chilli peppers and the tomatoes and continue to cook until gently simmering. Add the tomato purée, the kidney beans, Worcester sauce, seasoning, stock, red wine and herbs and bring back to a simmer. Cook in the oven for about two hours, checking from time-to-time that there is enough liquid. Add the dark chocolate, stirring well to melt, just before serving.

May be served as a standalone dish, like soup, or with coleslaw and green salad.

Green beans with pesto and flashbacks to the ’70s

Apologies to those not familiar with the hysterical British comedy series ‘Fawlty Towers’, but everytime I make something with basil I think of Sybil Fawlty’s dulcit tones shouting; ‘BASIL! BASIL!’ and his comeback, which was more often than not something along the lines : ‘Coming my little piranha fish’.

Basil is high in vitamins and minerals in general and vitamins A and K and iron in particular. It also has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.

Ingredients

Two handfuls of fresh basil

1 handful of pinenuts

1 handful of cashew nuts

8 cherry tomatoes

3 tablespoons of olive oil

2 tablespoons of freshly-grated parmesan cheese

Sea salt, pepper and paprika to taste

Blend all of the ingredients in a food processor to form a paste. Serve with either green beans or pasta.

Gallery

Cod with basil and tomatoes

This gallery contains 1 photos.

A lady fishmonger served me this morning and, instead of enquiring into the corpulence of the people I was going to cook for, took the time to explain this delicious recipe to me. There was a massive queue, but she … Continue reading

Gallery

Cod in chickpea batter (gf)

This gallery contains 3 photos.

When I asked for cod filet for three this morning, the fishmonger asked if it was for three normal people or three rugbymen. I had replied that it was for three normal people before wondering if this wasn’t perhaps stretching … Continue reading

Gallery

Tunisian meatloaf

This gallery contains 1 photos.

Although I never let slip a chance to take a cheap pop at vegetarians (our horses, for example – how could anyone in their right mind just eat grass all day?), I’m not exactly a flesh-ripping carnivore myself. In fact, … Continue reading

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.

Chicken in the pot

This dish is traditional Sunday fare in Aquitaine. It was made popular by Henri IV who declared his hope to be that France would become peaceful and prosperous enough for every family to be able to enjoy ‘poule au pot’ every Sunday. This is obviously my ‘take’ on the dish; I don’t think that French families had access to Lee and Perrins sauce in Henri IV’s day.

Today is election day. Here’s to hoping that our next president will bear Henri’s good intentions for peace and prosperity in mind…

Ingredients (serves 6)

1 chicken

1 onion

1 leek

3 cloves of garlic

3 medium carrots

1 cup of peas

5 mushrooms (sliced)

1 courgette

rosemary, bayleaf

olive oil

glass of white wine

Lee and Perrins sauce

2 tablespoons of redcurrant jelly

seasoning to taste (sea salt, pepper and paprika)

Lightly brown the onion, garlic and mushrooms in the olive oil in a casserole dish. Add the chicken and brown on both sides. Add a good slug of Lee and Perrins and the redcurrant jelly and continue heating. Add the sliced carrots, rosemary and bayleaf and turn chicken right-side-up. Season generously and add the glass of white wine. If you don’t have any wine open, you can use apple juice for a sweeter taste, or just water with a tiny bit of chicken stock.

Put the lid on the casserole and cook in a medium oven (150°C) for about an hour and a half. You should check half way through that there is still some liquid left in the bottom of the casserole (a couple of centimetres is ideal). If there is too much liquid you could take the lid off for the last 15 minutes. The peas and sliced courgettes should be added about 20 minutes before serving so that they stay firm.

This is lovely served with mashed potato any green vegetable.

Toulouse sausages and Tarbes beans

I prepared this today for lunch as our son had a friend to stay and ‘bangers, mash and beans’ is always a great favourite with little boys. The advantage of Toulouse sausages is that they are so substantial and meaty that chewing time is longer than less ‘manly’ sausages. Increased chewing time = longer (blissful) silence at the table! What’s not to like?

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 Toulouse sausages

olive oil

can of peeled tomatos

1 onion

2 cloves of garlic

sprig of rosemary

5 medium-sized mushrooms

250g of Tarbes beans (precooked)

Lee and Perrins sauce

Seasoning (sea salt, pepper, cayenne pepper)

Chop the onions, garlic and slice the mushrooms and add to the olive oil in a casserole dish. Sear the sausages for a few minutes on either side on a griddle if you have one, if not in a frying pan and then add to the casserole dish. Once everything is golden brown, add the tomatoes, beans and the rosemary. Season to taste (salt, pepper, cayenne and Lee and Perrins). Cook for about an hour and a half in a medium oven (150°C), until the tomatoes begin to caramelise.