blue cheese-stuffed mushrooms

This is the last Christmas post. Promise.

Mushrooms, stuffed with blue cheese, coated in breadcrumbs and roasted until golden. Simple as that.

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I tried a recipe from my pile of cookbooks a few months ago where an egg was cracked into a Portobello mushroom and baked until they were both supposedly cooked and I wasn’t a huge fan – I loved the concept but I was faced with the dilemma of having a runny egg and undercooked mushroom or a cooked mushroom with an overdone egg; double edged sword in my opinion.

But I took the idea and ran with it regardless. For this dish I used brown button mushrooms which are smaller than Portobello so they cooked faster and I knew the cheese would be fantastic at any consistency.

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I began with about 15 mushrooms, peeled and stalks removed, I mixed 100grams of Danish blue vein cheese with a dollop of Greek yoghurt until it was nicely combined and relatively smooth. Next, I put them in the fridge so the cheese could set and had another glass of champagne.

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I then proceeded to coat the mushrooms in whisked egg and rolled them in a mixture of panko breadcrumbs, flour, salt and pepper before roasting them in a hot oven for about 20 minutes.

What I like about panko breadcrumbs above everything is their size; they aren’t as fine as regular breadcrumbs and maintain a nice crunch after cooking instead of absorbing too much moisture.

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You could use any kind of cheese you want for this – I would recommend something creamy like gorgonzola, feta or chèvre but you could also make it work with cubes of cheddar or camembert.

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I want to be able to say that this dish is wonderful hot or cold, and would make a great accompaniment to a cheeseboard or meze plater, but all of the ones I prepared had vanished seconds after the dish was placed on the table – an excuse to make them again, I say!

 

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raw food club: courgette and mushroom salad

Summer is upon us, my friends! I know that it feels like winter ended about yesterday, and European Spring really isn’t much better than winter, but believe me; it will just jump out from around the corner and it will be here!

Plaza de España - Sevilla, Spain
Plaza de España – Sevilla, Spain

Summer is the time for salads. There are several reasons why this is the case; when the temperature is up in the early forties, we want to spend as little time in the kitchen near a hot stove, and the idea of a hot meal is far less appealing. So here is my solution.

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This is my raw courgette and mushroom salad with feta and pickled radishes. The acid in the dressing slightly pickles the mushrooms, taking the raw edge off their earthy flavour, making them juicy with an awesome zing. In contrast, the courgette is fresh and crunchy, I slice it as thinly as possible with a mandolin to create an almost leafy texture.

For the dressing, you will need:
1 clove of crushed garlic
1 teaspoon of lemon zest
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar

Combine all of the ingredients with a bit of salt and pepper and set aside. Peel and thinly slice 6 button mushrooms and pour the dressing over top to marinate the mushrooms. Thinly slice 2 courgettes, if you don’t have a mandolin you can use a regular knife to slice them as thinly as possible, you can also use a vegetable peeler to get a more desirable effect.

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Combine the courgette slices with 2 handfuls of torn spinach leaves, mix through the mushrooms and ¼ cup of feta (mine was homemade, just saying). Top with a small handful of pickled radishes, adding a tablespoon of the pickling liquid overtop. You could also a handful of roasted almonds or ½ of a diced avocado. The almonds could also act as a substitute for the feta.

If you are having trouble finding pickled radishes, they are so easy to make! Here is how I do it; thinly slice a bunch of radishes – enough to fill whatever size jar you have, for a small jar add ½ a teaspoon of salt and sugar each and fill the jar with vinegar or vodka. Screw the lid on and give it a good shake, the radishes will be nice and pickled after a few days and will keep for a while in the fridge. Easy!

Courgette and mushroom salad, homemade feta, spicy buttered potatoes
Courgette and mushroom salad, homemade feta, spicy buttered potatoes

This salad is takes about 10 minutes from start to finish which is perfect on a sunny day when cooking is the last thing on your mind! Serve by itself for lunch, or with some buttery boiled potatoes as a meal, or it is ideal accompanied with an antipasto platter of cheese, olives, capers and breads.

quirky quiche (or another q adjective?)

  Next week will mark three months since I arrived in France, wow it has gone so quickly! The other day I realised that in those three months I had not yet eaten a French quiche, a dish that I have always automatically thought of when I think of French cuisine.

Luckily, this was about to change as I am the only one in the apartment for the next week weeks and was given a carton of eggs the other day, and I don’t eat eggs by themselves and quiche is an easy way to use up a lot of eggs in one go.

There are literally a million different variations of quiche (okay, maybe not literally but there are a lot) so the first step after acquiring your eggs is to decide what else your going to fill it with. So I was bumbling around on the internet looking for a recipe that would use the ingredients I had waiting to be used in my fridge and I found a recipe for a ‘Rainbow Quiche’ which 1) looked delicious, 2) mainly used most of the things I had, and 3) was obviously a sign that this was meant to be a celebration quiche to celebrate the overturning of DOMA and Prop 8. And boy, this sign was delicious!

As you can probably guess, a Rainbow Quiche is a quiche full of colourful ingredients so feel free to pick and choose whatever vegetables you want. The recipe called for three small capsicums, each of different colours and finely diced, half an onion some broccoli and a cup each of spinach leaves and sliced mushrooms. I personally had a big issue with this part of the recipe, why measure mushrooms in cups? You can’t go and buy a cup of mushrooms or measure it out, so why say it? By the way, a cup of mushrooms is two medium sized ones.

I could not find any spinach at the grocery store and I hate broccoli more than I hate anything in the world, so I omitted these ingredients and replaced them with a diced tomato and half of an avocado. I also only had two kinds of capsicums so I switched the orange one for 100 grams of lardons (bacon bits) because they are almost the same colour and they are yummy.SAM_0803_edited

So here is what you need to do to make your Rainbow Quiche Lorraine…

Line a pie dish with savoury pastry, shape it nicely, poke it all over with a fork and put in in the refrigerator to chill.

In a large pan or skillet, heat a bit oil or butter (depending on what vegetables you plan on using, or really to your own preference) and add the onions. I also added some crushed garlic because I love it, and have recently discovered all of its amazing nutritional properties. If you are using lardons then add them when the onions start becoming slightly translucent. You know that the lardons are cooking nicely when they start to release all of their juices, the onions will start to absorb this and become full of flavour!

Next add whatever vegetables you have decided to use, sauté them until they are tender before seasoning with salt and pepper and some dried herbs. I added the tomato after I did this so they hadn’t gone too mushy when I assembled the quiche. I also didn’t add the avocado, along with a few sprigs of fresh parsley until just before putting the vegetables into the pastry. Remove the mixture from the pan and leave on a plate to cool slightly, this is so it doesn’t melt the pastry. I almost stopped right here, because it already looked amazing and I wouldn’t have minded eating it just like this!

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The recipe that I was loosely following called for 6 eggs and 1 3/4 cups of milk or demi crème whisked together with a dash of salt but I was scared that this would be too much for my little dish, and I also had a lot of vegetables so I used 5 eggs and 1 1/2 cups of milk knowing that I could always whisk another egg if I didn’t have enough. Spoon the vegetables into the pastry mold and spread evenly. Cover with a cup of grated cheese, basically any kind will do; mozzarella, nacho cheese, I wish that I had used crumbled feta but instead I used Emmental. I would probably advise not to use this as it didn’t go nice and gooey like I would have liked but rather went all crusty and crunchy.

Pour the milky egg mixture over top and place in the oven for 45 minutes on about 180°C. It is lucky that I used only 5 eggs because the mixture was this close to overflowing as I placed it in the oven!

You know it’s ready when you can stick a knife in it and pull it out without any egg sticking to it, it should be nice and golden on top. Leave it to sit for about 10 minutes before serving. I served mine with a nice rainbow coloured salad. And ate half of it in one sitting, but it is supposed to be 8 servings, I guess for people with no appetites. Enjoy!SAM_0809_editedSAM_0814SAM_0817_edited

terrine forestière

Wow wow wow! I have been so busy having so much summer fun that I completely forgot to keep sharing my summer fun…

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Yesterday I tried my hand at making “terrine forestière”, which is french for “picnics are fun” (it’s not really). I then took my marvelous dish to my pique-nique d’été; which is French for summer picnic (this time I’m telling the truth). I would know this as the recipe I used is from my Christmas present, a cookbook called ‘La petite cuisine à Paris’, which is completely in French. It’s written by Rachel Khoo (www.rachelkhoo.com or @rkhooks on twitter), she is an English chef who moved to Paris to discover her culinary dreams and it’s an amazing book!

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This recipe sticks true to the French motto of ‘take some ingredients and mix them with a tub of crème fraîche.’ You will also need four eggs, 400grams of wild mushrooms (or the tame kind from the supermarket), a finely diced onion, a few cloves of crushed garlic, two spoonfuls of Dijon mustard, about a handful of fresh parsley and a pinch of nutmeg… which I forgot.. woops!

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Start off by lining a large loaf or casserole dish with baking paper and turning the oven on to 160°C, easy enough. Melt a few knobs of butter in a pan, side note:  is a knob of butter an actual measurement?!, and fry off your onion and garlic until golden. Slice your mushrooms in half, you still want them to be reasonably large so if they are small then skip this step. Basically you want them all to be about the same time so they will cook evenly. Now add them to the pan and cook until they have released any water they have retained; about ten minutes. This gives you just enough time to make the batter, or to talk to the travel agent about your visa (an exciting yet awkwardly timed phone call). Whisk the remaining ingredients together (this includes your tub of crème fraîche) and add as much salt and pepper as you desire.

Place the mushrooms in the dish and pour the crème fraîche mixture over top. Pop it into the oven for 30 minutes, alternatively you can split the mixture in half and cook in two smaller dishes which should only take 15 minutes.

Its best eaten warm so after leaving it to sit for a bit post-cooking, it will be at the perfect temperature after you have packed the picnic hamper, found your summer hat and headed off to the park! Bon appetit!

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