It all began with salmon and a written recipe, that got passed around. The dish got raving reviews, and I was asked to publish a blog about what I cook everyday.

After many requests, here is the blog. This is no fancy French cooking, just everyday tasty dishes, easy to cook, that should keep you away from pasta, unless you actually want to eat some :) Feedback on recipes is most welcome.

Don't hesitate to ask for recipes with specific ingredients, I'll check if I have something in mind :)

On a final note, some of the recipes posted here will be suitable for vegetarians, but not for vegans. I enjoy things like milk, eggs and cream too much to remove them from my recipes :-D

Monday, May 2, 2011

Tomato and Tuna Tartare

This fresh dish is perfect for hot summers. Generally, this is served as a starter, but you can use it as a main course by increasing quantites and add some salad and feta cheese for example. No cooking necessary, which is always a plus!

You need
  • Tomatoes
  • Canned tuna (about half a medium-size can)
  • Basil
  • Olive oil
  • Vegetable oil (I usually use sunflower oil, for its bland taste)
  • Vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chives (can be optional if you don't like them, but they add a nice taste :))

You need about 1.5 to 2 tomatoes per person, depending on the size of the tomatoes, how hungry people are, or if you’re serving the dish as a starter or main course. For a main course, I would use 4 tomatoes per person and use a full can of tuna for 2 people.
  • Dice the tomatoes in small cubes, pour salt on them.
    Tip: put the tomato cubes in a strainer while you prepare the rest, so that the salt can do its work, i.e. get the excess of water out of the tomatoes.
  • Put the tuna in a bowl and attack it with a fork so that the pieces of tuna are not distinguishable any more (see what I mean? You want one heap of tuna, not pieces).
  • With a fork, mix some vegetable and olive oil with the tuna. Usually, I use a ratio of 2/3 of vegetable oil and 1/3 of olive oil, otherwise, the tuna will have a very strong olive and bitter taste. Adjust as you taste the mix, depending on your personal preference.
  • Shred the basil leaves in small pieces and add them to the tuna mix. Add salt and pepper as well. Taste to see how you like it.
  • Optional: add some chives cut in little pieces. Don’t put too much of them otherwise you will cancel out the basil taste.
When done, your tuna mix must not be dry and it should have a nice basil and olive oil taste, and a faint taste of chives if you chose this option.

Serving the dish
  • Put the tomato pieces in a small round container (you can use a square one as well, round just looks better :)). The pieces need to be packed tight in the container.
  • Take out the plates in which you’re going to serve the tartare.
  • Place the plate upside down on top of the container with the tomatoes.
  • Make the plate and the container do a 180° flip, the tomato pieces should fall on the plate in a nice round heap. Remove the plastic container.
  • With a spoon, scoop some of the tuna mix and place it delicately on the tomato pieces.
A simpler way of presenting the dish is to use metal circles that will shape the tomatoes easily. But not everybody has metal circles in their kitchen (I sure don't! :))

For a nice finish, you can add some pepper again (to have some little decorative black dots) and plant a whole basil leaf on the tuna heap. You can add a few square of feta cheese as well, and one full chive.

Put the plates back in the fridge if need be, serve cold.

  • Instead of using oil to mix the tuna, use Tartare cheese (Boursin would do as well, but I cannot guarantee it as I'm more familiar with Tartare cheese).
  • You can also replace oil with Philadelphia cheese for a taste blander than with Tartare or Boursin. (Special thanks to Sarah who introducted me to the tuna/Philadelphia mix :))
  • Do a three-layer dish: one layer of tomatoes, one layer of cheese (Tartare, Boursin or Philadelphia that you accomodated to your taste) and one layer of tuna.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Salmon with dill cream sauce

Simple, tasty and easy to do, it's a nice change from the just-grilled salmon.

You need
  • Salmon fillets
  • Dill
  • Crème fraîche (the one you find at Morrisons is very good for this dish)
  • Red vineagar (avoid balsamic vinegar because of the slightly sweet taste)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

  • Pre-heat your oven for about 10 minutes at 180°C
  • Pour a tiny amount of olive oil on each salmon fillet. Spread it so it covers the whole surface of the fillet.
  • Put some salt, pepper and dill on the surface of the fillet. During cooking time, this mix will make a nice thin crust on the fillet.
  • Put the fillets in the oven and let them cook. Cooking time varies depending on the thickness of the fillets and how you like your salmon to be cooked. Tip: a few minutes before the salmon is cooked, switch your oven to grill position
  • When the fillets are almost cooked (or when they’re grilling), take out a small saucepan.
  • Pour some crème fraîche in the pan – quantity varies depending on the number of fillets and how much you want to drown your salmon in sauce (although one might question the concept of drowning a fish, but that’s a debate for another day… :)).
    If you’re eating rice with it – which tastes very nice – you may want to cook enough sauce to season the rice with. Use ½ to 1/3 of a crème fraîche pot for 2 fillets + portions of rice for each person.
  • Heat the crème extremely slowly while stirring – position 1 on the hob. Use the smallest saucepan you have, and the smallest spot on the hob – so it doesn’t curdle
  • When it’s more fluid (due to the heat), add half a teaspoon of vinegar, salt, pepper and dill. Taste the mix, as depending on taste, you may want to add more of the ingredients (I love vinegar, and tend to add 1 whole teaspoon, even more sometimes). Even if you don't like vinegar, add some anyway. It will add a stronger taste to the sauce, otherwise, it's going to be a bit bland.
  • Take the saucepan off the hob while you taste and adjust, otherwise the sauce is going to boil.
  • Once you’re happy with the taste, put the saucepan back on the hob for a minute, making sure it doesn’t boil and stir.
  • If you find the cream too thick for your taste, add half a teaspoon of milk. If still too thick, add more milk in increments of half teaspoons.
  • Once the sauce is nicely hot, pour it in a bowl or equivalent.
Remove the salmon fillets from the oven, bring the bowl to the table, and each guest can pour the sauce on the salmon and the rice (or anything you’re serving the salmon with).
Diced Chicken à la Audrey

An alternative to chicken coated in breadcrumbs

You need
  • Diced chicken (or chicken you dice yourself)
  • Herbes de Provence (Sainsbury's Mixed Herbs will work perfectly as well)
  • Garlic
  • One egg yolk
  • A few tablespoons of flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cooking oil

Preparation and cooking

You need 1 chicken breast per person, or 150 to 200 grams of diced chicken per person, depending on how hungry they are. If you go beyond this quantity, you may need a second egg yolk. You can adjust as you’re preparing anyway :)

  • Break an egg, and put the yolk in a plate (do whatever you want with the white... shampoo your hair with it for example, egg white is supposed to be good).
  • Place the chicken pieces in the plate and mix to make sure the pieces are well coated in egg yolk.
  • Sprinkle flour on the chicken pieces to make a nice white coat. Tip: once you’ve coated the chicken in egg yolk, put the pieces in a strainer, and then sprinkle with the flour. This way, you avoid having big chunks of yolk-flour mix in your plate.
  • Pour some oil in a frying pan (medium heat, I usually put in on 3 out of 6 to start with).
  • Put the chicken pieces in the frying pan, sprinkle them with herbs and garlic. Quantities at your discretion, depending how you like to season your chicken. I usually generously pour the herbs but I’m more moderate with garlic as it has a strong taste.
  • Make sure you turn the chicken pieces in the pan so that all sides get nicely cooked. Add a bit of oil if you don’t have enough to finish the cooking (flour absorbs the oil).
  • Towards the end when the chicken is well cooked inside, raise the heat of the hob for two minutes to golden the coating (if it’s not golden yet – it all depends on the hob).

Serve hot out of the pan :) Since the meat is fried with oil, it’s better served with light things like salad or green vegetables, but fries go well with that dish as well!!