Raining in the Alps!

Last week, as in most of Europe, it was unbelievably hot, so days were spent in various lakes around here ( we have little ones staying) but then on Friday afternoon the clouds burst, the lightning flashed, the thunder roared and the hail came thumping down. ( Just look at any videos from the Tour de France and you will see what I mean ). Being in the Alps, when it is dreary is a bit like being in Blackpool or Galveston ( apologies) in the summer when the weather is bad.

Some of us took a walk in the rain to the local river, to see if there were any tadpoles left ( no, the river was too fast) before Himself made them Crêpe Salée for lunch ( cheese and ham pancakes to you and me) . Himself has become a Dab Hand at pancake making, making them fresh every morning to order. Sometimes with scrambled eggs, sometimes with a fried egg, mostly with crispy bacon, beautifully arranged by Miss Tess ( along with a drizzle of maple syrup) or plain with a light sprinkle of cassonade for young Master Sam.

The latest breakfast order, is still pancakes for Sam but Miss Tess has moved onto fried eggs on toast!

Whilst they were out I decided to make my Tart Abondance, this time I have had a recipe update courtesy of La Grange restaurant in Morzine, and as I had apricots to use ( it is apricot season here) I went ahead and made double the amount of pastry, as I am about to concoct an Apricot tart.

For the filling, I made Almond paste, using 250 grams ground almonds, 100 grams caster sugar and one beaten egg, mixed together either by hand or in a food processor.

I stoned 500 gram of apricots

Line a quiche type dish with the pastry and bake “Blind” at 200 C for about 20 mins. Remove from oven, cool, then spread the almond paste onto the pastry case and then arrange to apricots on top of that. Bake again for about 15 mins, to finish the pastry and to cook the apricots.

Cool and then glaze the apricots using apricot jam, diluted slightly with water and heated so that it will pour over the tart.

Serve Luke warm with vanilla ice cream.

Funnily enough, the following day we went to the Zip wire park and whilst the little ones were zooming through the trees, I sat and watched from the nearby cafe. The special of the day was Apricot Tart! Later on we took the kids to La Grange for dinner, where Miss Tess, had the Abondance tart for her main course, Chocolate fondue ( she shared this with Himself) for dessert, But the special of the day was ? Yes Apricot tart !

Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler

Laissez Les BonsTemps Rouler, the motto of the Big Easy.

The Big Easy, New Orleans. Along with Cajun and Creole cuisine, Beignets at Cafe du Monde, Zeydecko music, Mardi Gras, Swamps and Bayous, this is New Orleans.

I received a new cook book. A gift from a dear friend, who hails from Louisiana, or to be precise New Orleans ( and I do wish that UK TV and Radio presenters would pronounce it correctly. It is not Or – Leans but New Or-LONS). Anyway putting pronunciation to one side, for those of you who do not know, New Orleans prides itself on its gastronomy.

Foods from the area have been immortalised in the Hank Williams song, ” Jambalaya, Crawfish Pie, Filé Gumbo. I have several cook books from this region, all thanks to Phyllis and so it was with interest that I scoured this one for some new ideas. And what did I find? A new recipe for Calves Liver, and as himself had been asking for it, I made it my mission to source some, and I did!

New Orleans has become, a melting pot of cultures. It is a wonder that the city survived and grew, it is below sea level and surrounded by bayous and swamps. There was a huge influx of migrant workers, from Canada ( French speaking, Cajuns ) Spain, it had been a Spanish colony, and from all over Europe, Germans included, the Caribbean, as far afield as the Philippines, and of course the African slaves

Many of the famous New Orleans restaurants serve more traditional food, that is what the locals like and that is what the tourists want to try! Food that is rich and heavy, laden with carbs and calories, but oh so yummy! ( my favourite is BBQ shrimp! Not what you think, giant shrimp baked in the oven with BUTTER, garlic and lashings of black pepper! Oh So Bad, but OH so Good!) Traditional recipes might include such things as, Alligator, Opossum, Turkey, Dove, Quail, Frogs, Squirrels, Rabbit, Snake, Venison ( home slaughtered) Turtle, Salt Pork, Wild Boar, Catfish, Oysters, Crab, Shrimp and Crawfish ( mudbugs). Not forgetting also the vegetables, celery, peppers, onions, sweet potatoes, okra, rice and corn.

Among the famous restaurants to be found in New Orleans, are Antoines (1840), where they created Oysters Rockefeller, and Eggs Sardou, Tujagues (1856), Café du Monde (1862) ,Commanders Place (1893), Madam Begue (1894) now incorporated into Tujagues, Galatoires (1905) and Broussard’s (1920)

Onto Liver and Bacon, I had to try this recipe, which is to be found in the Tujagues cookbook, by way of Madame Begue. She served it for breakfast to the dockers and port workers and to this day Tujagues serves it for Brunch. The recipe calls for it to be served on Grits, almost not available in the UK, even Whole Foods did not stock it, ( to my mind, not missed, but if you are from the Deep South, then it must be grits!) What are grits, I hear you ask! Well just watch the movie “My Cousin Vinnie” and it will give you a clue!

Due to the lack of grits, I served it on Pasta. Not sure He really appreciated the effort, and I think I will stick to my usual, simple quick fry of thinly sliced calves liver.

However, if you are in the mind to try this traditional New Orleans way of cooking, here goes!

You will need

1Kilo Calves liver sliced ( not too thin)

2 Large Onions sliced

Flour for dusting

400 Grams streaky bacon or lardons

1 Cup stock

Salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy frying pan, cook bacon over medium-high heat until crispy. Remove, drain and allow to cool. Chop bacon. Season liver using salt and pepper. Dust liver in flour. Pan-fry liver in the bacon fat until golden brown on each side, approximately 10 minutes. Remove from pan and keep warm. Add onions to the pan, sauté over medium heat. Until caramelized. Add the bacon and liver ,pour in stock, bring to a boil, and cook until heated through, serve over a bed of Grits ( if you can find them !)

Bon appétite

What would you like for dinner?

Occasionally, I make the mistake of asking Himself the question “What would you like for Dinner?”

I say,  Mistake, as he always comes up with some phantasmagorical answer. He mutters, well I really liked the pasta  dish you made last night, or a Stir Fry ( what does he mean by that?) or Steak and Kidney Pie or Pudding ( for one person, I don’t think so) and so yesterday, he said Liver and Onions. He really likes liver, especially Calves Liver, and so I thought I would indulge him. Well, it was not to be, I went to Whole Foods, who can always be relied upon to have good meat, but not a bit of Offal in sight. SO that threw me a bit, and I wandered into Marks and Spencers food hall as I needed Milk anyway.

Inspiration hit me, a Poké Bowl. I hear you ask, what on earth is a Poké Bowl. I first ate a Poké Bowl in The Ned, in the city of London. The building itself is worth a visit, it is part of the SoHo House group but was designed by Sir Edwin Luytens (NED) over 100 years ago. It is a hotel but has 8 restaurants one of which is KAIA, and that is where I ate a poké bowl.

Poké is Hawaiian to slice, or to cut crosswise, and is one of the main dishes of Hawaiian cuisine. It moved across to mainland USA ( probably California in the 1970’s) and was predominantly served using raw fish, usually Tuna and Hawaiian spices. As with everything else, the traditional food becomes mainstream and cooks started adding their own touches to this dish that around 2012 it became popular in the USA and by 2016, the number of restaurants serving Poké rose to over 700. Cooks now added chicken, shrimp, avocado, Ponzu sauce, teriyaki sauce, mushrooms, onions, coriander, carrots, peppers and noodles. There is even a three day “I Love Poké Festival!”

And so it was, in Marks and Spencers, I found my inspiration, egg, noodles, coriander and bean sprouts. This is the Ultimate, make up your own poké dinner. This is a rough guide.IMG_2038

  •  egg noodles ( could use rice, vermicelli)
  • Some chopped Spinach ( Kale or broccoli)
  • sliced mushrooms (enoki, shiitake, chestnut )
  • grated carrots ( raw beetroot, radishes)
  • beansprouts
  • sweet red pepper cut into strips
  • crushed garlic
  • small bunch of coriander, chopped
  • spring  onions cut and sliced
  • grated fresh ginger
  • half an avocado per person, cut into slices
  • edamame beans ( frozen, but defrosted)
  • some chopped chillies if desired
  • salt to taste
  • Seaweed, dried ( Nori)
  • sesame oil
  • 1 Litre vegetable stock ( I used  Swiss vegetable Bouillon powder)
  • fresh salmon, skin removed and cut into strips, (I used about 6 oz for 2 people)
  • large raw shrimp ( I allowed 6 each)
  • chicken breast  cut into strips  if using chicken

Start by making the stock, IMG_2039then

  • Heat some sesame oil in a wok and sauté first the shrimp and then the fish  and then the chicken if using. Remove from pan and set aside.
  • Add more oil and sauté the garlic and ginger, do not let it burn. then add the vegetables followed by the stock and then the noodles. The noodles only take a couple of minutes to cook so make sure you have your serving bowls ready
  • Ladle the mixture into bowls adding the fish and/or shrimp and/or chicken divided equally between the bowls, garnish with the avocado slices
  • And there you go, what could be easier, but totally fresh and having many of our fresh  vegetables in one go.

Not sure how authentic this is, but certainly tastes good and looks good, so much so that himself said after one bowl, “Please ( sir) can I have some more!”