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Monday, November 22, 2010

lifting your spirits!

two reasons to be cheerful.... saucisson and Sicilian olives.....yum!

courgettes with mint and sea salt

Middle Eastern food has long taken my fancy and never more so since discovering Julie Le Clerc’s gorgeous book, Taking Tea in the Medina. Chicken kebabs with toum; olive and parsley salad; lamb and hummus pizza and this simple method for preparing courgettes with mint and sea salt are but a few of my favourite dishes from her exotic collection.

Serves: 6


800g courgettes thickly cut on the diagonal
3 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons fresh mint, leaves only
80ml olive oil
Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste


This is a painless operation if you have a mini food processor – in which case place the garlic cloves, chopped in half; the mint leaves, torn up and the olive oil inside and give them all a good whiz. Otherwise, pound the garlic, mint and salt together to form a smooth paste then gradually add the oil. Pour the mixture over the courgettes and coat them well, use your hands to ensure a good result.

Bake the courgettes in a moderate oven 180C for about 45 minutes until tender. Allow to rest before serving and sprinkle liberally with sea salt and a few grindings of black pepper.

courgettes with mint and sea salt - printer friendly recipe, click here:

Monday, November 8, 2010

porcini mushroom lasagne with prosciutto

1st November 2010 is a very special day shared by two important anniversaries: our tenth year at Broke Road Vineyard and the Food Vine’s 2nd birthday. By co-incidence this double celebration marks the publishing of my 100th recipe.

I wanted to write a new recipe to celebrate this triple anniversary, one that would express all the things we love about home: warmth, comfort, coziness, peace and happiness. I also wanted to write something for Alan who absolutely loves pasta and so I went home to my spiritual food heart and came up with the following.

Now there is nothing new about the concept of porcini mushroom lasagne but there is everything new about this recipe and this is the only place you will ever find it.

A few pointers first: heavy le Creuset saucepans are a big plus when making the mother sauces which are: béchamel (milk based) espagnole (brown stock based) velouté (white stock based) and allemande (egg enriched velouté). These mother sauces consist of a butter and flour roux to which their respective liquid is added. Skill is required when adding liquid to a hot roux to avoid lumps so the aid of a heavy based pan gives more control and it is a wise move to do this off the heat. The purchase of a silicone-coated whisk to avoid scratching the enameled surface is necessary if you want to preserve the quality and finish of these expense pans.

I hit upon the idea to make up the lasagne in my le Creuset terrine dish. I wanted to be able to cut short slices that would be high enough to show off the layers but delicate enough to serve as a starter. Less is more and never more so than in the case of lasagne.

Serves 4 as a starter 3 as a main
Oven: 180C


30gm dried porcini mushrooms
325ml boiling water to soak mushrooms, water preserved
400gm brown Swiss mushrooms, storks discarded, sliced
100gm prosciutto cut into 1 inch or 2.5cmquares
3 cloves garlic, sliced
6 sprigs of thyme, stems discarded
2 tablespoons grape-seed oil
2 tablespoons sherry
Salt to taste
Cracked black pepper to taste
6 sheets pre-cooked egg based lasagne cut to fit the terrine (4 layers in all)
110gm parmesan cheese, grated

Sauce Ingredients:

76gm unsalted butter
76gm plain flour
300ml porcini soaking liquid
300ml milk
300ml double cream
Salt to taste
White pepper to taste

Mushrooms Method:

Rehydrate the porcini by soaking them in 325ml boiling water for 30 minutes. Strain the mushrooms, squeeze our excess water, rinse under the tap and dry on kitchen paper, chop and set aside. Set aside the soaking liquid.

Sauté the prosciutto in one-tablespoon grape-seed oil, for one or two minutes until crisp. Remove, drain on kitchen paper.
Add one-tablespoon oil to the pan and fry the brown mushrooms. Do not be tempted to add more oil as they release their juices soon enough. After a minute or two add the chopped porcini and the garlic and continue to sauté until the all mushrooms are coloured. Deglaze the pan with the sherry and let it completely reduce before adding the chopped prosciutto, the thyme and finally the seasonings. Set aside.

Sauce Method:

Melt the butter in a medium sized pan, add the flour and cook out on a medium heat for five minutes. Remove the pan from the heat; add the porcini soaking liquid slowly whilst constantly stirring to avoid lumps. Return to the heat and add the milk and stir until boiling – simmer on a very low heat for ten minutes. Add the cream, stirring all the time then season well with salt and pepper and taste to make sure the seasoning is adjusted correctly. Remove from the heat. Do not rush this lengthy process; a very smooth, velvety sauce thick enough to hold its own between layers is what you are looking for.

Grease the terrine very lightly with a little grape-seed oil. Place a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the dish, add a layer of pasta to cover, add another layer of sauce then one-third of the mushrooms, one-fourth of the parmesan and repeat with: pasta, sauce, mushrooms, parmesan and then do it again. The final top layer is pasta, sauce and remaining parmesan.

All the ingredients fit exactly into the dish with no shortages or leftovers. If you do not have a le Creuset terrine find a similar size dish, which is: Length 28cm, Width 8cm, Depth 6cm or in inches: Length 11, Width 3.5, Depth 2.5.

Place the finished terrine in a hot oven for 30 minutes until it is cooked through, brown and bubbling on top. Allow to rest for ten minutes before plating up.

This lasagne recipe is a balancing act of tastes and flavours, each one subtly enhancing but not outdoing the other. I hope you enjoy it.

Note: I used, Barilla La Collezione Lasagne all’Uovo

porcini mushroom lasagne printable recipe, click here:

Friday, November 5, 2010

marinated kipper fillets with lemon and grainy mustard dressing

This 99th recipe on the foodvine should well have been the first! I only wish I had a pound for every time I made this dish when I lived in London. Anyone who knows me well will remember how often I served it - from two people to one hundred and as many times. Kippers are hugely popular in the United Kingdom so it is not surprising I gave it a good innings.

Marinated kipper fillets are great for lunch or as a starter for a dinner party but equally good as part of a large buffet. If freshly smoked are unavailable use frozen.

Serves: 4


1 packet frozen kipper fillets, skinned
1 medium Spanish red onion, very finely sliced
2-3 lemons, very finely sliced
1-tablespoon grain mustard
1-teaspoon caster sugar
pinch salt
cracked pepper to taste
2-tablespoons white wine vinegar
125ml extra virgin olive oil
Parsley, finely chopped to garnish (optional)


Skin the kipper fillets and slice them lengthwise into 4-6 slices depending on the width of each fillet, mix with the sliced onion and place in a serving dish large enough to accommodation the kippers and the onion in one layer with no gaps - a tight fit.

Cover the dish with overlapping lemon slices.

Mix together the mustard, sugar, salt, pepper, vinegar and oil and pour over the top. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 48. Parsley looks nice for added colour but it is not particularly necessary.

Note: any bones in the kippers more or less disintegrate or at least soften enough to be edible. The lemon slices although tart can be eaten. Remove from the refrigerator thirty minutes before serving.

kipper fillets with lemons, printable recipe, click here:

Monday, November 1, 2010

mussels with pernod and mayonnaise

How to steam open a kilo of mussels with a good slug of pernod!

Wash thoroughly, debeard and place the mussels in a large saucepan, add a generous slug of pernod, cover with a lid and shake over the burner until all the mussels open. Add a couple of tablespoons of your best mayonnaise, two teaspoons of grain mustard and a handful of chopped parsley. Gently mix the ingredients through the mussels, add salt and pepper to taste and cook for a further minute. Turn the mussels out immediately onto a large serving platter and discard any that have not opened.

This unusual but impressive method of preparing mussels comes from my belle-soeur, Anita, in France.

Mussels with pernod and mayonnaise, printable recipe, click here: