Archive for September, 2009

September ‘Meanderings’ …

All images ©’Meanderings through my Cookbook’ www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Pictured (top to bottom)
Spanish Style Chicken with Red Peppers
Tarte au Citron

Baked Tomato Stuffed Marrow

Raspberry Bakewell Pudding

100_2357-crop-spanish-style-chicken-with-red-peppersBefore I review my cookbook meanderings for September, I’d like to pause to raise a glass to toast chef and food writer Keith Floyd, who died on 14 September 2009.  He was always such fun to watch, often sharing a bottle of wine with the food he was cooking and never afraid to say when a dish had not worked out quite as he had originally planned. His programmes, in particular those in later years, gave insights into the cultures and kitchens of those he interviewed, as well as showing us a wide range of traditional recipes and his own variations.  His recipe for Rabbit with Red Peppers  is one of our favourite recipes (except I make Chicken with Red Peppers, as rabbit is so difficult to get).  I will have to make some again soon in his honour!

100_2336 Tarte au Citron with berriesI have enjoyed looking through the French cookery books and trying to hang on to some of our summer holiday food memories.  We have eaten savoury galettes, a Basque-style Tortilla omelette and Far Breton.  I have posted a Tarte au Citron recipe, but I have yet to find a reasonably authentic French pork pâté recipe to try out.  I have re-invented my usual Ratatouille recipe adding some home dried orange peel, a tip from Cooking in Provence by Alexander MacKay & Peter Knab, where it is used in their version of Ratatouille.  I found it really adds a ‘sunshine’ flavour and smell of the Mediterranean. I will keep a jar of crushed dried peel in the cupboard from now on: just remove the zest, but not the pith, with a peeler and dry in the airing cupboard (takes about 3 days) or in a very low oven (takes about 6 hours).  I’m sure I will continue to explore recipes from France in the coming months.

100_7970   Baked tomato stuffed marrowIn the meantime, I have been starting to make use of the wonderful Autumn fruits and vegetables that we have acquired: a chance find of damsons on an Oxfordshire country lane and the large quantities of cucumbers and beetroot bought on the local market.  I had planned to make chutneys and pickles in October so I had plenty to get on with!

At the end of October we are going to Amsterdam for a few days for a short break: a special birthday celebration.  Alongside traditional Dutch food, there seems to be much variety coming from the melting pot of the many different cultures who call the country home following centuries of exploration and conquest.  I will be looking out for Erwtensoep (a thick pea soup, which I am fairly sure I have eaten before and should be great if the weather is 100_7608 Raspberry Bakewell Tartchilly), pancakes, Dutch Apple Pie, peanut biscuits (remembered fondly from my previous visit) and spiced biscuits called Speculaas.

For a full list of postings since my August Meanderings see below.  (Recipes already posted have been highlighted and the others will appear in coming weeks.)

September Recipes …

Baked Tomato Stuffed Marrow
Lime & Basil Baked Salmon Parcels
Raspberry Bakewell Pudding
Rich Coconut Dessert Cake
Roast Lamb with Chilli Sauce
Roasted Lemon Chicken
Tarte au Citron

Back to basics:
Basic Recipe: Tortilla Omelette – with Bacon, Mushroom & Spinach

 Meanderings ‘a la carte’ from previous months

‘For what we are about to receive…’ October 2009 and beyond

Food for the mind…

Non Fiction Food book
I am still reading In the Devil’s Garden: a sinful history of forbidden food by Stewart Lee Allen.  No recipes, but lots of fascinating foodie facts and theories.  Not a book to rush through, I expect it will be dipped into for some time to come.

… and for the October table …

I’m still on the hunt for an authentic French pork pâté recipe and would also like to try making an open French Apple tart while there are so many good Autumn apples available (though sadly our own tree has failed badly this year).  I want to continue to cook with the great Autumn produce: marrows, squashes, apples and pears in particular and I will be making some of our favourite chutneys and pickles to see us through the winter months.

Recipe books I’ll be looking through…
A Pocket Book on Pickles & Preserves: Techniques, Hints & Recipes by Olive Odell – Pub: Octopus
Home Preserves by Jackie Burrow – Pub: Treasure Press
The Penguin Book of Jams, Pickles & Chutneys by David & Rose Mabey – Pub: Penguin
The Perfect Pickle Book by David Mabey & David Collison – Pub: BBC
Home Preserving & Bottling by Gladys Mann – Pub: Hamlyn Kitchen Library 

Happy Eating!


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I often abandon traditional roast dinners in the hot weather, but this zesty lemon flavoured dish has a ‘summery’ feel and would be good served with salad, although it could equally as well be eaten with potatoes and vegetables.  The original recipe was called Chicken with Spicy Potatoes, which was how I first served it, except I successfully used chicken thighs in place of the chicken legs.  The original recipe suggested that the chicken was served with a simple side dish of green peas as well as the potatoes in a spicy sauce, instructions for which were included.  I decided the chicken part of the dish was more successful on its own and I had better spicy potato recipes in other places. 

The original recipe was found in the July 2009 issue of the ASDA free instore magazine. This recipe is extremely lemony but we like it that way.  It might be wise to halve the amount of lemon to give a less strong flavour the first time it is made.

Variation – see further down:
Roasted Lemon Chicken with Rosemary & Red Onion

100_4886 Lemon chicken

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Roasted Lemon Chicken
(Serves 4)

4 Chicken leg or breast quarters
1 or 2 chicken thighs per person, depending on size
1 large onion, cut into eight pieces
2 garlic cloves, halved
2 lemons, washed

1.  Preheat oven to 190oC/Fan 170oC/Gas 5.

2.  Put the chicken pieces, removing the skins if you wish, into a greased roasting dish along with the garlic and onion pieces.  Halve the lemons, squeeze the juice over the meat and place the shells in the dish.

3.  Cover and bake for 45 minutes. If you wish to crisp the chicken skin then uncover the dish for the last 5-10minutes, but add a little water if necessary to stop the pan drying out and burning.

4.  For a citrus gravy, thicken any meat juices with cornflour, first straining out any bits and removing excess fat.

5.  Serve with roasted or spiced potatoes and peas or salad.

Variations on this recipe:

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Roasted Lemon Chicken with Rosemary & Red Onion
(use red onions in place of white and add four or five sprigs of fresh rosemary – preferable to dried)

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In her novel Chocolat, Joanne Harris writes a little about the Mexican background of the history of chocolate and the novel’s heroine, Vianne, serves her customers hot drinking chocolate flavoured with chilli. It may seem unusual, but cocoa has also long been used to complement the flavour of meat and is a key ingredient in the Mexican dish ‘Mole Poblano’. Chocolate and chilli are surprisingly good together, the heat of the peppers blending beautifully with the rich dark flavour of cocoa.  The Basque country of South West France, the city of Bayonne in particular, is well known for its fine chocolate and on holiday last year we enjoyed sampling a chilli flavoured variety. The chilli was surprisingly subtle but with a definite hot spicy ‘kick’.

I was delighted to discover this recipe for a spicy marinade for roast lamb which contained chocolate – and it was every bit as delicious as I hoped it would be. I made a few adaptations, using fresh orange in place of orange juice and squeezing some of this juice over the rice to give it a citrus flavour. The recipe would work equally well with some good thick lamb steaks or slow cooked lamb fillet.  The original recipe for Leg of Lamb with Chilli Sauce comes from Hot & Spicy Cooking: Exciting Ideas for Delicious Meals with recipes by Judith Ferguson, Lalita Ahmed and Carolyn Garner.

100_7613 Lamb with Chilli Sauce

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Roast Lamb with Chilli Sauce
(Serves 4)

1kg/2¼lb leg of lamb (or replace with lamb steaks or fillet)
5ml/1tsp cocoa powder
125ml/½tsp Cayenne pepper
125ml/½tsp Ground Cumin
125ml/½tsp Paprika
125ml/½tsp Ground Oregano
140ml/¼pt water
140ml/¼pt orange juice (2/3 oranges depending on size – includes garnish)
140ml/¼pt red wine
1 clove of garlic, crushed
30g/2tbsp brown sugar
15ml/1tbsp cornflour
Pinch of salt
Orange slices and fresh coriander to garnish

1. Trim the paper thin skin and any large pieces of surface fat from the lamb with a sharp knife. Place lamb in a shallow dish.

2. Cut one orange in half and remove a slice or two. Place in a covered container to reserve as a garnish. Squeeze the juice from the remaining pieces of orange and take enough from other oranges to make up to a generous ¼pint.

3. Leaving aside the cornflour, mix at least half of this orange juice with the remaining marinade ingredients. Pour this over the lamb, turning well so it is completely coated. Cover and refrigerate for 12-24 hours, turning occasionally.

4. Drain the lamb and place in a roasting pan. Reserve the marinade. Cook in a pre-heated 190oC/370oF/Gas 5 oven for about 2 hours or until meat is cooked according to taste basting occasionally with the marinade juices.  (If you usually leave the joint to roast while you are out then put most of the juices in the roasting dish and cook on a lower setting, turning the temperature up and basting the joint for a final 10 or 15 minutes before resting and serving the meat.)

5.  Remove lamb to a serving dish to rest and keep warm.  Add any remaining juices or a little water to the pan, stir to loosen the sediment, strain and put aside for a short while.  Skim off any fat that rises to the surface.  

6.  Mix the cornflour with a small amount of water in a sauce pan and then stir in the skimmed, strained marinade juices.   Heat gently, stirring all the time, until thickened. (This can also be done in a jug in the microwave by alternately giving short bursts of heat and stirring until thickened.)  More orange juice, wine or water can be added if necessary. Keep a little orange juice back to stir through the rice, if you would like.

7.  Garnish with the reserved orange slices and sprigs of coriander.  Serve with white boiled rice, stirring through just a little reserved orange juice to give a zesty flavour, the sauce and mildly spiced vegetables curry (so it does not overpower the lamb dish, but including more coriander which complements the citrus flavours).  The original recipe suggests you could also serve this with boiled potato and conventionally cooked vegetables.

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Having bought a marrow on the market I wanted to find a simple recipe so I could stuff and bake it.  I found several online and eventually decided on this very simple meat free version.  It is worth spending time reducing the tomato mixture as this gives a really rich smooth sauce.  Don’t stint on the basil either as it is delicious. If necessary dried basil could replace fresh, bearing in mind that as always with dried herbs you will need to use half the quantity of fresh. I have added a small amount of sugar to counteract the acidity of the tomatoes, something I regularly add to most tomato based recipes.  There are marrows everywhere on the market at the moment so we will be having this again!

I found the recipe for Baked Stuffed Marrow on the All Recipes site, but felt it needed to have the word ‘tomato’ added to the title. This is an ideal vegetarian main course, but it could also be served as a side dish or a simple starter before a fishy (but tomato free) main course. A variation is given on the site for ham and mushroom stuffed marrow rings (replacing the celery with 125g chopped mushrooms and 100g chopped lean ham, using only one tin of tomatoes and replacing the basil with parsley) plus a link is given for a meat filling. 

100_7970   Baked tomato stuffed marrow

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 Baked Tomato Stuffed Marrow
(Serves 4)

1 short thick marrow (about 900g) preferably evenly shaped
40g butter
1 onion, chopped
celery sticks, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 x 400g tins plum tomatoes, chopped
a large pinch of sugar
3 tbsp shredded fresh basil
50g fresh white breadcrumbs
25g mature Cheddar, finely grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh basil to garnish (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 190oC/Gas 5. Lightly grease a large ovenproof dish.

2. Cut the marrow into eight rings, roughly 4cm thick – two per person. Unless the marrow is very young and tender remove the peel and take out the seeds. Season the rings lightly with salt and pepper and place them into the greased dish in a single layer.

3. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and gently cook the onion and celery for about 5 minutes until translucent and soft. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute.

4. Stir in the chopped tomatoes with their juice, add the pinch of sugar and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes reducing the mixture until thick. Stir in the shredded basil.

5. Spoon the tomato mixture into the hollowed-out marrow rings, spreading any leftover tomato mixture between the rings. Tightly cover the dish with foil to allow the marrow to cook in the steam and place in the oven to bake for 30 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, mix together the breadcrumbs and cheese. Remove the foil and sprinkle this mixture over the tops of the marrow rings. Return to the oven, baking for a further 15 minutes or until the topping is gold and crispy, with the marrow tender and juicy.

7. Serve hot, scattered with fresh basil leaves, if liked. It is recommended that this is served as a vegetarian main course with wholegrain bread and a leafy salad, but a smaller portion could be served alongside crispy bacon or ham as a side dish for those who want meat.

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I first served Raspberry Bakewell Pudding when my parents came to lunch (after all the recipe had come from their newspaper) and we all thought it was absolutely delicious.   Technically, according to the Hairy Bikers Food Tour of Britain (which visited the home of this dessert, Bakewell in Derbyshire), Bakewell Pudding is made with Puff Pastry and Bakewell Tart with Shortcrust.  I love the buttery-almondy ‘frangipane’ filling of Bakewell Tart, or Bakewell Pudding, if you prefer.  (Frangipane is the term commonly used for a filling either made from or flavored with almond extract.)  This is a development of the original pudding idea, with the addition of whole raspberries bringing a whole new dimension to the traditional British dessert.  When we are in France we enjoy eating the widely available open Pear Tart (Tart au Poires), which also has a frangipane filling but in a pâté brisée pastry crust.  I have successfully made Pear Tart at home several times and eventually I will take a photograph and add the recipe this site.   This recipe good if you have frozen raspberries to use, providing you drain them well to stop the pudding becoming soggy.  It’s a great way to remember the summer!  The original recipe uses ready made puff pastry, but Shortcrust or Pâte Brisée could be used instead and I am sure other fruit could easily be substituted.  I also reduced the quantities slightly, as I was one egg short, but the quantity easily served 6 people. I was generous and used more raspberries in the base of the actual pudding than the original recipe and additionally served a few extra sugared raspberries on the side.  A slice of this could also be served as a luxurious cake at tea-time.

The original recipe comes from Celebs magazine, which is delivered with the Daily Mirror newspaper.  It was advertising a new TV series ‘The Hairy Bikers Food Tour of Britain’, where the Hairy Bikers travel the length of the country searching out regional dishes and ideas.  It is a long series of 30 episodes which I have recorded but have yet to completely watch.  I enjoy watching the Bikers with their quirky humour and presentation and I hope there will be more recipes as good as this one!  In September 2010 Zeb Bakes added a post about her delicious looking Apricot Bakewell Slice. I really must have a go at making an apricot version soon, especially now I have managed to track down some Mahleb in our local Turkish shop.  (On my package the spelling is Mahlep.)

100_7608 Raspberry Bakewell Tart

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Raspberry Bakewell Pudding
(Serves 6)

1 pack of puff pastry or Quantity of Shortcrust or Pâte Brisée pastry using basic recipe
4-5tsp raspberry jam (the recipe said seedless but I used one with seeds in and it was fine)
110g/4ozs fresh Raspberries (or defrosted Raspberries well drained) – plus more to serve
85g/3ozs unsalted butter
85g/3ozs caster sugar
4 eggs
110g/4ozs ground almonds
A few drops of almond essence
Icing sugar, cream and a few extra sugared fruit to serve. 

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 190oC/370oF/Gas 5.

2.  Roll out pastry and use to line a 25cm loose-bottomed flan tin.  Leave the excess pastry over the side of the tin.

3.  Spread the pastry base with jam.  Lightly crush the raspberries and place evenly in the tin on top of the jam.

4.  Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy.  Add one egg and a tablespoon of ground almonds, mixing well.  Continue alternating until all the eggs and almonds are incorporated.  Add a few drops of almond essence.

5.  Pour the mixture evenly over the fruit in the pastry case and spread evenly.  Trim the excess pastry level with the top of the case (you can leave this until after cooking if you prefer, but the pastry will be more brittle when cooked).

6.  Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 35-40minutes until lightly browned.

7.  Dust with icing sugar just before serving either warm or cold with a few extra raspberries and cream.

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This way of cooking salmon was simple with a beautiful citrus flavour and was perfect for lunch on a warm late Summer Sunday.  The fish was placed on a bed of tomatoes in a greaseproof parcel, topped with a knob of flavoured butter and a slice of lime before being baked in the oven.  As well as using lime as a garnish, I squeezed lime juice over the fish before cooking.  The lime slices looked rather sad when they had been cooked so I suggest they are added towards the end of cooking time so they would be fresher and more attractive.  It was one of those days when I had no fresh basil in the house so I had to substitute dried: it was just about satisfactory, but I would definitely use fresh if available. The original recipe suggested individual parcels of fish and this would be lovely if being served at a dinner – one parcel per guest.  However, for a family meal it would be perfectly satisfactory to wrap all portions in the same parcel, with aluminium foil being much easier to use than greaseproof paper or baking parchment. 

Lime & Basil Baked Salmon Parcels was a slight adaptation of a recipe taken from a book found in the library, Cooking with Salmon, the King of Fish by Jane Bamforth.   Originally called Herby Salmon Parcels, this is one of several recipes I made and we enjoyed from the book.

100_4623 Herby Lime Baked Salmon Parcels

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Lime & Basil Baked Salmon Parcels
(Serves 4)

1 lime
50g/2ozs butter, softened
2tbsp finely chopped fresh basil (or 1tbsp dried basil if fresh unavailable)
4 tomatoes, sliced – preferably Italian plum tomatoes if available
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
4 salmon fillets (one per person)
1tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper to season

1.  Remove the rind from the lime with a zester, taking care not to remove any white pith.  Cut the lime into 8 slices on a plate and reserve any lime juice that collects.  Add the butter and chopped basil to the lime zest and blend well.  Roll this butter mixture into a log shape and chill in the refrigerator.

2.  Pre-heat the over to 190oC/375oF/Gas 5.  Cut one piece of greaseproof paper or baking parchment per portion, large enough to fold over and hold together.  Alternatively cut one large piece of parchment or aluminium foil big enough to hold all portions and fold over.

3.  Arrange one sliced tomato for each portion of fish, sprinkle each equally with the garlic and season.

4.  Place one piece of salmon on top of each tomato pile.  Cut the butter log into four equal pieces and put on top of the fish.  Tip any lime juice that has collected with the slices equally over the pieces of fish. Drizzle each with a small amount of olive oil.

5.  Fold the paper over to make neat parcels, tucking the ends upwards so that the juices are contained.  If they do not keep together then the paper can be stapled, but be very careful to remove each staple before serving.

6.  Place on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes.  Five minutes before the end of the cooking time open each parcel (dispose of any staples you have used) and place two slices of lime on each piece of fish.  Leaving the parcels open cook for a further five minutes.

7.  The salmon can be served in its opened parcels, however as the paper becomes discoloured during cooking it is probably more attractive to remove it.  Serve with new potatoes and a green vegetable.

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One of our favourite French desserts is Tarte au Citron or French Lemon Tart and it is surprisingly easy to make.  It is one of those food items that we cannot leave France without having at least once. Tarts of varying quality can be found across France in supermarkets and patisseries and often have the word ‘Citron’ drizzled on top in chocolate or gold wording on chunk of decorative chocolate.  This recipe is for a much simpler version without the chocolate but you could add that if you wished as well.  I just served a summer fruit accompaniment of blueberries and strawberries with my Tarte au Citron and gave it a dusting of icing sugar.  For those who wished, pouring cream was available at the table.  It makes an excellent dessert when entertaining friends.

This recipe came from The French Kitchen by Joanne Harris & Fran Warde: Joanne Harris is a well known novelist many of whose books I have enjoyed (including Chocolat which was also filmed).   I would certainly repeat this Tarte au Citron recipe and next time would very much like to make it with authentic Pâte Brisée pastry as suggested in the recipe.  This soft but often difficult to handle pastry, made with butter, egg and sugar, is regularly used for French patisserie.  On this occasion I substituted the simpler shortcrust for the recommended pâte brisée (see basic recipe post for information on how to make these).

100_2336 Tarte au Citron with berries

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Tarte au Citron (French Lemon Tart)
(Serves 6)

Quantity of Shortcrust or Pâte Brisée pastry using basic recipe

Lemon filling:
2 eggs
100g unrefined sugar
150ml double cream (I used Elmlea half fat)
zest & juice of 2 lemons
50g butter

1.  Heat the oven to  200oC/400oF/Gas 6 for blind baking if you are using a shortcrust pastry shell. 

2.  Make pastry case (either Shortcrust or Pâte Brisée) using basic recipe and chill for at least 30minutes. For the shortcrust pastry shell only, blind bake for 10minutes (I fill the empty pastry shell with dried beans).

3.  Heat oven (or reduce temperature) to 180oC/350oF/Gas 4

3.  Place the eggs, sugar and cream in a bowl with the lemon zest and juice and whisk until creamy.

4.  Melt the butter gently and whisk into the lemon mixture.

5.  Pour lemon mixture into the chilled pastry case.

6.  Carefully place tart into the centre of the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

7.  Reduce the oven temperature to 160oC/Gas 3 and bake for a further about 20minutes or until the filling has set.

8.  Leave to cool for at least 1 hour before serving.

9.  Decorate with a dusting of icing sugar or chocolate shavings.  Can be served with summer berries or slices of orange and if needed, some pouring cream.

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Since I found this recipe in late August (2009) I have made it three times, twice as a contribution at shared lunches.  It has received lots of compliments and is an ideal dessert to make as it eats well cold and can easily be made a day ahead of time. 

The recipe was adapted from one in the August 2009 issue of the ASDA free instore magazine.  The recipe said that the ingredients would separate into a pastry crust, egg custard filling and coconut topping. It was called The Impossible Pie, but the separation into layers has never taken place for me.  I have found that there is a slight crust which forms on the bottom but the texture of the finished dessert is much more like a dense coconut cake so I have re-named it Rich Coconut Dessert Cake.  I have substituted sunflower margerine for butter as.  It is very rich and can be a bit indigestible so a small piece is enough as one serving, especially if served with fruit.

100_7747 Magic Coconut Pudding

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Rich Coconut Dessert Cake
(Serves 8)

125g/4ozs margerine or butter
250g/8ozs sugar
250g/8ozs dessicated coconut
4 eggs
125g/4ozs plain flour
2.5ml/½tsp ground nutmeg
2.5ml/½tsp vanilla essence
250ml/½pint milk, full or half fat

1.  Pre-heat oven to 350oF/180oC/170oC(Fan oven)/Gas Mk4

2.  Lightly grease a 10″ pie or flan dish.  If loose bottomed then line with tin foil first.

3.  Cream the butter and sugar together. 

4.  Beat in the eggs and stir in the coconut. 

5.  Sieve the flour and the nutmeg into the mixture and add the vanilla essence. Fold well in.

6.  Gradually whisk in the milk.

7.  Pour into the prepared dish and bake for 45mins to 1 hour until the top is golden and a skewer or knife inserted into the middle comes out cleanly.

8.  Serve warm with mixed berry fruits or mixed tropical fruits and a sprinkling of coconut.  Can also be served cold.

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Last year on holiday in the French Basque country the Spanish influence was clearly visible on the menus and in the supermarkets.  One of these was the Tortilla, sometimes called a Spanish Omelette – a Spanish word being used just over the border.  In Italy the word used for this type of dish is Frittata.  The French word is, of course, Omelette, which is the English word too: usually a very plain dish, but not an easy one to perfect and made with a few added herbs – very different from the rather substantial Tortilla.  In its simplest form, the Tortilla is a potato and onion filled omelette, sometimes including bacon or ham.  In a French supermarkets we found a pre-cooked Tortilla which just needed reheating in a frying pan.  We tried one out of interest and it wasn’t too bad, but not a patch on the home cooked version.  Tortilla is so simple to make and the basic ingredients (eggs, onion, potato plus, if you wish, meat, tomato, or a green vegetable) are usually readily available in the kitchen. It is a good way to use up leftover meat, especially ham, bacon, poultry or sausages – I have made Spanish style omelette on many occasions without a recipe.  Tortilla is an inexpensive and substantial quick and easy meal, whether for a family supper or eaten with friends at lunchtime and can be served hot or cold, although I have to say I much prefer the hot version. 

Nevertheless, this time I decided to look for a basic recipe with correct quantities as I wanted to post the Tortilla here.  I found a good recipe in one of my favourite cookery compendiums, Leith’s Cookery Bible: Completely Revised & Updated Edition – Prue Leith & Caroline Waldegrave.  My adaptation of the basic recipe is given below with the added ingredients separately shown, but next time I might choose different ones.  One good addition would be chorizo, a spicy Spanish sausage, which would help add a little Spanish authenticity to the dish.  I found that having a very low heat under the tortilla from when the eggs are added helps to keep the underneath from burning before everything is properly set, plus the finished Tortilla is much easier to remove from the pan. 

Variation – see further down: 
Minted Smoked Salmon & Fennel 
100_4194 Tortilla with bacon, mushroom & spinach

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Tortilla Omelette – with Bacon, Mushroom & Spinach
(Serves 4) 

Basic recipe
Knob of butter and 1tbsp olive oil for frying
45og/1lb potatoes, peeled, sliced and par-boiled until just cooked
1 small onion thinly sliced
Salt & Pepper
4 eggs, beaten
5fl ozs/¼pint/140ml single cream (Elmlea low fat is ideal) – optional 

Additional ingredients for this version
100g/4ozs bacon pieces, chopped
50g/2ozs button mushrooms, quartered or sliced if large
50g/2ozs chopped spinach, well washed and drained
50g/2ozs grated cheese, Spanish Manchego or Mozzarella if available, or Cheddar 

1.  Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan and very gently fry the  onion until soft.  

2.  After about 5minutes stir in the cooked potato and season with salt and pepper.  If you are adding extra ingredients you can add them now, apart from spinach and others which need very little cooking. 

3.  Leaving just a thin film in the pan, pour any excess oil into the beaten egg.   

4.  Quickly stir the spinach, if using, into the pan at this point and then pour in the egg mixture.  Beat the egg well, mix with the cream if using and then pour back into the pan over the potatoes and onions.  

5.  Cook over a very gentle heat, stirring a little to work the egg through the mixture so it can set evenly.    

6.  Be careful that the underside does not burn and when it is golden gently ease the Tortilla away from the pan.  

7.  You can either turn the Tortilla by inverting the pan onto a plate, inverting onto a second plate and then gently returning to the pan or instead of inverting you can finish cooking the top under a medium grill.  If you want a cheesy top then scatter over the grated cheese before grilling until it bubbles 

8.  Serve in wedges with a salad, either hot or cold.  This could also be cut into small pieces and served as part of a buffet. 

Vegetarian Variation: 
It goes without saying that Tortilla in its simplest form with just egg, onion and potato is vegetarian, but the addition of other non-meat ingredients is popular.  Mushrooms and/or chopped fresh tomato is delicious as is a cheesy topping. 

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Minted Smoked Salmon & Fennel Tortilla Omelette

Basic recipe as above,  including potato
Red onion in place of white (optional)
1 small packet of smoked salmon offcuts
1 small fennel bulb, finely diced
2-3 tbsp fresh mint, chopped

Fry fennel with onion in butter/oil mixture.  Par boil potatoes, preferably new ones, with sprigs of mint.  Cook gently for about 10 minutes with partly cooked onion and fennel to allow flavours to be absorbed.  Combine with the salmon, cut into large pieces, pour in the egg mixture and cook, as above.  Serve with salad or peas.

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LOOMIS Susan - Tarte Tatin
Tarte Tatin: More of La Belle Vie on Rue Tatin
Susan Herrmann Loomis – pub: Harper Collins

As part of our holiday to Brittany, France, we planned to spend several days in Normandy, so when I spotted Tarte Tatin on the library shelf it seemed a perfect book to take with me to get a flavour of  the region. 

This second book, I discovered, follows on from Loomis’ first book, On Rue Tatin, which I am now hoping to track down and read as well.   On Rue Tatin tells of how cook and writer Susan Loomis and her artist husband moved from the USA to Normandy and settled into an ancient property in need of renovation in the village of Louviers.  (The village is close to the cathedral city of Rouen, famed in particular for its connections with Joan of Arc.) 

This second book, Tarte Tatin, has plenty of local colour and character in its tales of village life, with tales of shopping in the local market and enjoyable meals shared with a jolly sounding group of friends. With the family, now numbering four, having settled into the community and putting down roots, the dream to open a cookery school finally becomes reality.

The book is filled with food related information with plenty of recipes to try out, most feeling French but with an American twist.  On return from holiday I made Loomis’ Raw Beetroot Salad, which I have already posted: an extremely simple recipe which was a great success. There were plenty of other recipes that caught my eye and which I hope to eventually try out.  Corn Bread, Allspice Ice Cream, Ginger Madeleines, Rosemary Baked Potatoes, Three Nut Biscotti and Winter Fruit Tarte Tatin caught my eye in particular.

Susan Loomis has also written recipe books, including Farmhouse Cookbook, French Farmhouse Cookbook and Italian Farmhouse Cookbook.

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