Total Pageviews

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Rosemary, I love you!

Rosemary is native to the Mediterranean area where is grows wild alongside that other favourite and multi-use herb, thyme. One whiff of smoke heavy with the scent of burning lemon and pine and I’m transported back to Spain where once we gathered large bunches to set ablaze on the barbeque. A member of the mint family rosemary is cultivated everywhere and has many uses other than culinary.  Once upon a time it was used as a remedy to cure ailments of the nervous system and any brunette will soon to tell you the benefit of hair rinsed in water infused with those long, silvery, aromatic needles.

Easter has to be the time for rosemary to come into its own when lamb is seldom off the menu and now is the time to gather the flowers too for later use in drinks or as a garnish especially on anything chocolate and to give fruit salads and egg dishes that certain something!

Pick each flower carefully and freeze in ice cube trays making sure to freeze the water in two stages otherwise the flowers will float to the surface and will be useless when the time comes to show off their beautiful colour and delicate shape.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Spaghettini with Courgette & Tuna

This is one of those throw together meals where I do not bother too much with measurements. If we are hungry then I will just add another courgette or two or a few extra tomatoes to bulk it up – guessing as I go. Once dished up it is important to offer everyone a black pepper grinder, a pot of (Maldon) sea salt and some freshly grated parmesan which some may say is sacrilegious with fish. These are essential extras to draw out the flavour. You will be surprised just how much they enhance this dish.

Please note, too, that this is not a wet sauce so do not panic. An extra drizzle of olive oil on the served dish will not hurt a bit if called for. The ‘dryness’ leaves a satisfying aftertaste.

Serves: 4


2 tablespoons olive oil

250g baby plum tomatoes

4 medium sized courgettes/zucchini, grated

4 spring onions, white part only, finely sliced lengthways

2 garlic cloves cut in slivers

12 mange tout/snow peas, finely sliced lengthways

2 tablespoons salted capers, rinsed of salt and dried on kitchen paper

3 lemons, grated rind of 3 to garnish, juice of 2

500g fresh tuna

500g spaghettini (1 packet)

Oregano, to garnish

Parmesan to garnish, optional


Try to be as organized as possible by having all the vegetables chopped and ready to go and it does wonders for the stress levels if someone lends a hand to either cook the pasta and/or the tuna freeing you up to deal with the vegetables. It is important all three things come together at the same time. Do not forget to heat your plates in advance so put them in a low oven, now.

Place the water on to boil in readiness for the pasta to be cooked.

Heat the oil in a large pan on medium heat and gently cook the onions and garlic for a few minutes. The texture result you are looking for is for everything to be crunchy, not over cooked and not too soft. Add the tomatoes and cook a further two or three minutes - they must remain firm but be hot. Add the mange tout, courgettes and capers. Stir for a few minutes, season and add the lemon juice. Rev up the heat to reduce any excess liquid, remove from the heat and keep warm.

Add the pasta, two teaspoons salt and a few drops of olive oil to the boiling water and cook the pasta until al dente. Strain, add a little more oil, stir through and keep hot.

Sear the tuna on both sides in a lightly greased frying pan for 2-3 minutes of both sides on high] heat. It must be rare in the middle and seared well on the outside. Remove from the heat, rest a minute or two and cut into bite size pieces.

To serve:

Place some pasta in each bowl, add the vegetables, the tuna and garnish with oregano and lemon rind and offer everyone those necessary condiments.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Smoked Salmon Tartines

Become a tartine maker and surprise impromptu guests by coming up with endless combinations of toppings at any given time that calls for drinks and a nibble of something a bit special. Their beauty lies in the softness of the bread, their visual appeal and the fact you can make them any size you like according to the ingredients you have on offer. Use your imagination and get tartine making!

A vital piece of equipment is a pasty cutter and better still if you happen to have one of those little tins of different sized pasty cutters – about ten to a tin. I usually choose the third smallest cutter. This is the best size to cut a tartine that fits perfectly in the mouth and so it becomes a delicate execution and one that pleases women who wear lipstick.

I always have bread in the freezer and there is always something in the fridge that is suitable to make an emergency tartine or two. Tartines, canapés and crostini are all part of the same family but tartines are made from bread while the others are not. Any variety of bread will do as long as it is fresh (frozen and thawed is okay) they can be lightly toasted and always lightly buttered so the bread does not become soggy. Make them in advance if you have time but be sure to cover them with foil and place in the fridge until ready to serve.

The tartines in the above photograph I made with fresh, white, sliced bread cut with a 3cm (1.5inch) cutter. Lightly toasted, lightly buttered, topped with a piece of smoked salmon, a blob of sour cream, a teaspoon of caviar and a sprig of mint. PERFECT!

Proscuitto & Zucchini Puff

Posted by Picasa
Moving on from my fruit tarts I'm now thinking up exciting new combinations using vegetables instead. If you don't like to make your own pastry buy the block butter puff. It is by far the best and far superior to those flats sheets from the frozen section of the supermarket.

Heat a thin, flat baking sheet and carefully removed it from the oven and line it with baking paper, roll out the pastry to whatever size suits you and prick a 5cm border all the way round the pastry to make an edge. Place the pastry on the hot, lined sheet. Thinly slice vegetables of your choice, season and moisten with olive oil and glaze the edge with milk or a beaten egg and bake at 180C for about 20 minutes until the pasty is cooked and brown.

The above photograph is my version of a recipe I saw in a newspaper recently: -

I gently fried a few mange tout (snow peas) and 1 small leek, white part only and 3 spring onions, white and green parts, until softened but still a little crunchy. I sliced 1 courgette (zucchini) on a mandolin lengthways and made alternating layers with slices of proscuitto up and down the pastry. I placed the green vegetable mixture on top of the proscuitto and drizzle a little olive oil over the top of the whole thing and seasoned it well with sea salt and many twists of cracked black pepper.

It was baked for 25 minutes at 180C. Served four and made a nice lunch alternative.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

glazed pears

These quick and easy glazed pears make an outstanding dessert in no time at all. Served hot or cold, alone or with chilled cream or ice-cream they are simply delicious.

Serves: 6


250g raw castor sugar

250ml dessert wine or sweet table wine

165ml water

1 vanilla bean split and scrapped

3 pears, halved and cored with a melon baller


Place all the above ingredients, expect the pears, in a wide pot and heat gently on medium - stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the pears, cut side down, cover with baking paper and a weight and simmer until tender – about 15-20 minutes. Set aside in the syrup. Just prior to serving place the pan back on the heat and cook on a very high flame until the sauce caramalises. Remove the pears carefully from the syrup and gently place one on each plate, pour over any remaining syrup. A sprinkling of icing sugar adds a nice touch to the finished dish.

recipes on the Food Vine - at a glance!

Cakes and Biscuits


Fig & Walnut Palmiers
Canapés & Tartines
Chantilly Cream with Smoked Duck Breast
Lovin’ Spoonfuls
Goat’s Cheese with Beetroot Log
Goat’s Cheese with Leek & Red Peppers- A Christmassy Affair
(mini) Scotch Eggs
Smoked Salmon Tartines
Chicken Chivry
Chicken roll with boursin and proscuitto
Christmas Terrine
A Christmassy Affair- Goat’s Cheese with Leek & Red Peppers
Fennel & Oyster Soup
Just for starter, Scallops with Avocado
Bavarois with Fresh Figs
Chocolate Pavlova with Raspberries
Chocolate Puddings
Citrus –“ making the most of”
Clafoutis aux Cerises
Glazed Fruit Tarts
Glazed Mango with Mascarpone & Grand Marnier
Glazed Pears
Happy Easter – Paska
Pears with Sangiovese and Caramel
Persimmon Sorbet
Quince time
Raspberry Coulis – A Rush In Red
Summer Pudding
Watermelon Granita with Ginger Syrup
Citrus – ‘making the most of’
Negroni - one for the Chef
Orange Blossom Cordial
Pedro Ximenez
Taking Tea
Happy Easter Paska
Mini Scotch Eggs
Aspic Eggs with Jamon Iberico
Cep Omlette
Mini Scotch Eggs
Tomato with Goat’s Cheese & Quail Eggs
Esqueixada of Cod
Gravlax with Dill & Mustard Sauce
Haddock logs
Harlequin Sashimi
Sardines – Double Header
Sole Food
Squid rolls
Swordfish Escabeche
Tuna Escabeche
Quail with Duck Liver and Olives
Rabbit with Prunes and Armagnac
Hearts in the South West (duck breasts and hearts)
Kitchen Garden
Flower Ice bowls
Micro Herbs & Greens
Rice &; Pasta
Pea & Mint Risotto
Purple Pesto
Risoni with Pancetta and Tomatoes – summer on a plate
Spaghettini with Courgettes & Tuna
Beetroot Salad
Carrot, Orange & Tarragon
Hot Watermelon with Goat’s Cheese
Sublime Tomato Salad
Beetroot Marmalade
Confiture de Pasteque
Dill & Mustard (Gravlax)
Onion Marmalade
Pomegranate Molasses and Yoghurt
Purple Pesto
Asian Mussels
Just for starters… Scallops with Avocado
Prawns with Lemongrass and Palm Sugar
Razor Clams
Ajo Blanco
Fennel and Oyster Soup
Gazpacho – three times a winner
Hot Hearts –
Stocks and Glazes
Aspic Eggs with Jamon Iberico
Herb and wine infusions
Glazed Turnip
Crush & Dice (garlic & onion)
How to Chiffonade
How to Julienne
Napkin Folding
Seasoning the pan
Sole Food
Christmas Terrine
Duck Liver Parfait in Glazed Blood Orange Aspic
Vegetable Dishes

Beetroot with Goat's Cheese
Corn Puffs
George’s Onion & Feta Tart
Goat's Cheese & Beetroot Log
Marinated Aubergine/Eggplant
Proscuitto & Courgette Puff
The green kumato
©Cheryl Stevns 2008-2010

Saturday, March 6, 2010

George's Onion & Feta Tart

We all loved this tart George provided for nibbles at our after sailing drinks last week and so much so his recipe has been the talk of the CYC (Cruising Yacht Club). My only modification was to use pitted Sicilian olives instead of his recommended small black ones. I love the unusual green colour of Sicilian olives, their chunky appearance and their special unique taste sets them apart from other varieties as well as providing a good colour contrast to the anchovy.


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 kg onions, finely sliced
1 tablespoon soft brown sugar
2 tablepoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 x 375 g packet puff pastry
25gm Parmesan cheese, finely grated
150gm Feta cheese, crumbled
8-12 Anchovy fillets, drained and halved lenghtways
Handful small black olives
2 tablespoons oregano leaves


Place the olive oil and onion in a saucepan over a medium heat and cook for 20 minutes
stirring occasionally until soft. Add the sugar, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Cook for
until the onion is soft and caramelized. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220ºC. Roll out the pastry to a 20 x 40 cm rectangle on a
lightly floured surface. Place on a lined baking tray. Score a 1 cm border around the edge
taking care not to cut all the way through to the bottom. Prick the pastry with a fork and
sprinkle the Parmesan cheese within the scored edge. Place the onion on top of the pastry base add the anchovies and olives.

Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is puffed and golden brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with cheese and oregano leaves.

Serves: 6