Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Recipe: Livarot and Spinach Filo Parcels

Serves 2


400 g Frozen spinach leaves

100 g of Livarot, sliced

10 cl cream

Cumin seeds

1 tsp ground cumin

Chopped chives

Salt, pepper

4 sheets of filo pastry

40 g melted butter

1. Defrost the spinach and cook on a medium heat until all water has evaporated. Add the salt, pepper, cream, chives, and cumin and mix well. Heat through for a further 2 minutes and then remove from the heat and put to one side.

2. Preheat the oven to 180°C (th.8).

3. Prepare the filo pastry: brush the sheets with the melted butter then lay one sheet over the other (to leave two sets of two sheets). Line a baking tray with baking paper and transfer the filo pastry.

4. Spoon a small amount of the spinach mixture into the centre of the filo sheets, then top with half of the Livarot, and repeat with a layer of the spinach mixture.

5. To make the parcels, fold the sheet into the centre on one side, then the other. Then fold the remaining sides into the middle of the parcel and secure with a toothpick. Brush the parcel with melted butter and make up the second parcel.

6. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, or until golden.

Serve with a green salad.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Cheese of the month: Livarot (Normandy, France)

Livarot comes from the "Pays d'Auge" region in Normandy, France, and is an AOC (PDO) cheese.

Made with cow's milk, it has a soft texture an earthy (even farmy) taste. It has a washed rind of an orange colour. It is characterised by 3 - 5 rings of bullrush which are wrapped around the outside, originally put in place to keep the cheese's shape whilst maturing. The bullrushes are picked in August then washed, boiled, and dried, before being wound round the cheese by hand. This is what gives Livarot it's nickname of "le Colonel", as the rings of dried bullrush resemble the stripes on a Colonel's uniform.

Livarot usually comes as a 450g round, but smaller "Petit Livarots" are also produced. For more information on this cheese please visit:

Alternatively, if you are interested in adopting one of the Normand cows, please see below!

Thursday, August 26, 2010


I discovered these whilst on holiday (also during the day trip to Aix-en-Provence: I love that town!)

A speciality of Aix, Calissons are a kind of almond shaped petit four. They consist of a fruit paté made from almonds, glacéd melon, and orange peel, which is then topped with icing. They melt in your mouth and are quite moreish.
I am not sure if they are easy to find outside of France, but if you do see them they are worth a try!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Market: Aix-en-Provence

Market: Aix-en-Provence

If you are like me, a good food market with ample free tasters is just about the best way to spend a morning. Whilst on holiday in Cassis, Provence, I took a day trip to Aix-en-Provence. It is a lovely colourful town with lots of old streets to walk through, and boasts, amongst other attractions, no less than 40 fountains. When we were there it happened to be a market day (ok, so it wasn't a coincidence...). There were three different markets on the same day- one for flowers (Place des Prêcheurs), one for antiques, (Place de Verdun), and one for food (also Place de Verdun). The food market was the largest and had wonderful stalls stacked with fresh produce.

Some of the products on sale were:

-Tomatoes (almost the size of melons)
-Fresh fruit (yellow and white peaches, cherries, melons, apricots...)
-Hams, patés and dried sausage
-Gigantic basil plants-Tapenades
-Provençal "navette" biscuits
-Olive oils

It is one of the best markets I have been to, not only were the products on sale amazingly fresh, but most stalls were giving out free samples so by the end of the morning we did not feel the need for lunch!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Recipe: Peach and Almond Tart with Lavender Cream

I made this last night and thought it turned out quite well. It is nice served as it is, but for the more adventurous it can also be served with a lavender infused crème fraîche.


-3 ripe peaches (white or yellow)
-125g ground almonds
-125g unsalted butter (softened)
-125g golden caster sugar
-2 eggs
-40ml cream
-1 x ready rolled shortcrust pastry (for desserts, to fit a 30cm diameter tart tin)

Lavender cream:
-200ml crème fraîche
-4 heads of lavender

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C (fan assisted, 190°C if not).
2. Prepare the lavender cream: mix the crème fraîche with the lavender 'buds' and put in the fridge to infuse.
3. Line the tart tin with the pastry, pushing it down firmly on the sides (some ready made ones come with greaseproof paper, but if it doesnt you may need to grease the tin first). Prick the base with a fork then cover with some more greaseproof paper, fill with baking beans and bake blind for 15 minutes.
4. Meanwhile cream the butter and sugar in a bowl. Then add the almonds, cream, and eggs and mix well. Put to one side.
5. Using a sharp knife, stone the peaches then slice into thin crescent shapes.
6. Take the tin out of the oven and remove the baking beans and greaseproof paper. Spread the almond mixture onto the base of the tart, then arrange the peach slices on top (I like a swirly pattern but this can be difficult to achieve!).
7. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until golden. Leave to cool then serve with the lavender cream.

Recipe: Berenjenas Fritas con Miel

Fried Aubergines with honey

This is a spanish recipe from my good friend Diana Garcia :-)

Ingredients: aubergines, flour, water, salt, honey, sunflower oil.

Wash the aubergines and leave them in a bowl of salted water to soak for 40 minutes.

Put the flour and water into a large shallow bowl and mix well until you have a thick batter, making sure there are no lumps.

Rince the aubergines and cut into strips (like chips), add salt to taste. Then dip them into the batter mix, covering them.

Heat up the oil in a frying pan on a medium heat. Fry the aubergines until they are golden.

Remove the aubergines and put them on a plate, arranging them in a pyramid shape.

Spoon honey over the top.

I haven't tried this recipe yet but it sounds delicious!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Gaillac Fete des Vins

Gaillac Fete des Vins

Every year in August, the town of Gaillac (South West France) celebrates it's wine. This wine region is not very well known outside of France and the festival is a good opportunity to discover the different types of wine.

Gaillac wine is AOC (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée) and there are 6 main varieties:

"Fraîcheur Perlée" AOC GAILLAC

At the festival each wine grower has a stand and you are able to taste all the wines. (They obviously hope you will buy a bottle or two!). There is also music and fireworks- it is a great day out! more information on the wine region can be found at : www.vins-gaillac.com

Friday, August 6, 2010

Whitecross Market

I was at a training course yesterday near Old Street, East London, and was delighted to stumble across this market. In an area dominated by East End caf's and "Happy Day" supermarkets I was surprised to find this oasis of culinary delights! The street is lined with food stalls selling food from around the world (Asian, French patisseries, Tapas etc…). I went for an Italian ciabatta with roasted vegetables and Taleggio cheese- yum! There are also stalls selling clothes and jewellery. It is worth a visit if you are in the area. It gets very busy at lunchtime however (lots of "City Boys" were queuing up for their lunch….)