Sunday, February 22, 2009

Stating the Obvious

The other day my fan mentioned to me that my recent blogs were a succession of recipes.

Thank you for pointing out something of which I was totally unaware, as I blog in a somnambulistic state and am amazed on waking to find that there is a new blog entry!

So while you wait for the next blog entry that isn’t a recipe, perhaps you’d like to catch up with this and this from my archive.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

French Onion Soup

I made this last night, much better than wearing an extra pullover in these freezing temperatures!

Serves 6

1½ lb (700 g) onions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 oz (50 g) butter
2 cloves garlic, crushed and finely chopped
½ -1 teaspoon soft brown sugar
2 pints (1.2 L) vegetable or beef stock.
10 fl oz (275 ml) dry white wine
2 tablespoons Cognac (Optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Home made chunky croutons.
Grated cheese.

Place the saucepan on a high heat and melt the oil and butter together. When this is very hot, add the onions, and sugar, and stir them well from time to time until the edges of the onions have turned dark – this will take approx 6 minutes. Then reduce the heat to its lowest setting, add the garlic and leave the to carry on cooking very slowly for about 30 minutes, by which time the base of the pan will be covered with a rich, nut brown, caramelised film.

After that, pour in the white wine, bring to the boil, add the stock, then stir with a wooden spoon, scraping the base of the pan well. As soon as it comes back to simmering, turn down the heat to its lowest setting, then leave it to cook very gently, without a lid, for about 1 hour. Season as required.

If it's extra-cold outside, add a couple of tablespoons of Cognac!

Spoon into bowls, add chunky croutons, grate cheese over the top and put under hot grill until the cheese has melted slightly.

Serve. Remember it will be VERY hot!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Puy Lentils with Sprout Leaves

I’ve adapted this from Thomasina Miers’ recipe.

This is a very different way to use Brussel sprouts and might even convince entrenched sprout haters to try it!

Serves: 4-5

300g Brussels sprouts
350g Puy lentils
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion or 5 shallots, finely chopped
2 small carrots, finely chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, green inner shoot removed and finely chopped
½ - 2 bay leaves
1 tbsp chopped thyme leaves
500ml chicken or vegetable stock
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Extra virgin olive oil and parsley to serve


1 First prepare the sprouts, or, if you can get them, use sprout tops. With a small paring knife, slice a few millimetres off the base and discard. Then cut two or three thin slices off the base of each sprout into a bowl. The leaves will then start to come away from the core. Do this with the knife and add to the bowl. When you come to the core, slice in half or into quarters.
The aim is to have a bowl of wispy, thin sprout slices and leaves that you can add to the lentils. I found this a bit fiddly, but it’s worth persisting with.

2 Put a saucepan of lightly salted water on to boil, add the lentils and allow them to cook for approx 10 to 15 minutes until the lentils are just tender but still have a nice bite to them.

3 In another pan, add a slug of olive oil and sweat the shallots or onion gently until soft and translucent.

4 Add the carrot, celery, garlic and bay leaves and cook over a low to medium heat until the vegetables are soft (about five minutes). Add the sprout leaves and thyme and stir-fry for a few minutes before adding the drained lentils and stock.

5 Cook together for about five minutes until the stock has been absorbed and the sprout leaves have wilted. Take off the heat, (add lemon juice, zest and chopped parsley, all optional), and drizzle with your best-quality olive oil. Season to taste and serve.