Friday, 24 September 2010

Really Easy Cheesecake

A recipe from my friend Marie, she said it was easy and she was right......

Get a packet of ginger biscuits, crush them up. Remove small child from kitchen having a tantrum because she wanted to eat the biscuits. Melt some butter, mix with biscuits, press into cheesecake tin, chill.

Whisk up tub of Marscapone and tin of condensed milk (which I have managed to find in France, hurray!!) with juice & zest of some lemons or limes for a good 4 minutes. Apparently if you don't do this for long enough, it won't work. Not being prepared to take that chance, I whisked it for ages........

Pour into tin, chill

And that's it. Chuck on some chocolate curls if you're feeling really extravagent - we didn't have any chocolate :-(

My dinner guests loved it, the kids ate 2 lots each, I finished what was left for breakfast the next day, fantastic.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Trifling Trifle

I've never even attempted to make trifle before as it's one of those desserts that seem to have far too many things in it. However, last month I got roped into helping a friend make 170 of them for an English meal we were doing for the locals, and I realised quite a bit of cheating can be done.

So you need:

Sponge fingers (they call them boudoirs over here for some reason)
Carton of Ambrosia ready made custard (to be found in the "Exotic Foreign Food" section of the supermarket over here along with such delights as Marmite and lemon curd)
Tin of mixed fruit cocktail
Tub of thick cream (best substitute over here is Marscapone mixed with single cream, the French just can't do proper cream)
Hundreds & thousands

Break up the sponge fingers, put them in the bottom of the bowl, chuck in the mixed fruit cocktail, make the jelly up (this usually involves pouring over boiling water and stirring, not too arduous), pour it over and leave to set in the fridge. Then pour over the custard, leave in the fridge a bit longer, then add a layer of cream and top off with hundreds and thousands to keep the kids happy. Or if it isn't for the kids, don't forget to chuck sherry over the sponge fingers before you add the rest.

Easy! And the French seem to love the stuff and think it's incredibly difficult to make so you can pretend to them that it was......

Monday, 16 August 2010

Easy fajitas

This is something I make all the time. Just made it this evening as I found out the French student staying with us loves them. It's really easy.......

Get some chicken breasts, cut them into strips. Also cut a couple of onions and peppers into strips, (even better, get someone who really likes fajitas to do all the chopping for you) chuck them into a wok or frying pan with some olive oil, lemon juice, dried oregano and chilli flakes or some of that very lazy chilli stuff they sell in jars for people like me.

Mix together. Fry. Stir occasionally.

Serve with tortillas, grated cheese, creme fraiche or sour cream and salsa (from a jar, obviously)

Job done!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Sphagetti a la Carbonara

Just made a recipe for spaghetti a la carbonara sent to me recently. Never actually made this before, I mean, you can get it in jars, right? Still it looked easy enough, although separating an egg comes close to triggering the faffometer. Still, here's the recipe:


cream (I use a 20cl carton of semi épaisse)
shredded ham (instead of using bacon bits or having to chop the ham yourself!)
parmesan (ready grated)
salt & pepper to taste
1 egg yolk

Whilst cooking the spaghetti, heat the cream gently in a pan, then add the shredded ham and the parmesan and salt & pepper if needed. Drain the spaghetti and serve on to plates. At the last minute add the egg yolk to the cream mixture, blend in and serve over pasta.

This is for two people.

It's really quick and doesn't involve frying bacon and what not."

Well, it was really quick, didn't have parmesan but used emmental instead, and allumettes de jambon (that's diced ham to you and me). Fed it to the kids for tea and the verdict was "better than the stuff you get in the jar".
Reckon it'd be really good with a nice mature cheddar too.... if only it were readily available over here for anything less than an extortionate price *sigh*

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Ersatz Italian Sausage Primavera

Was given this recipe:

"Ersatz Italian Sausage Primavera"

I love Italian sausage simmered in a yummy tomato sauce, loaded with veggies & served over pasta or polenta or mashed potatoes or any other starchy side dish. I've never actually found real Italian sausage in France, so any French sausage will do nicely (Toulouse, garlic, chipolata, even merguez). This is SUPER EASY - I like the polenta with it (1 minute polenta is readily available). It's a great way to throw in those healthy veggies, esp. for kids!
Ingredients :

Any sausage
olive oil
bottled pasta sauce
garlic powder
dried basil and/or oregano
bit of sugar
frozen or fresh, cut-up veggies of your choice (leftovers are fine)
mushrooms (fresh or frozen), optional
red chili pepper flakes, optional (for those who like it fired up)

Drizzle olive oil into a somewhat deep frying pan w/lid (I like using the non-stick type). Heat & put in ALL ingredients together. Add a bit of water, as well - this should be nice & saucy. Seasoning is to taste - the addition of the sugar & balsamic vinegar will give it a rich, slightly sweet & tangy taste. I like to add the extra garlic & herbs, too, to jazz up the bottled sauce. You could use red wine, instead of the vinegar, but save that for drinking!!

Simmer for @ 45 min. minimum, even longer on a very low flame. Stir occasionally. That's it! Serve with pasta, naturally, or polenta, or any other starch. You could also add chunks of potato to the cooking sauce  then you'll have a true one-pot meal!

Made it with those yummy little herby sausages they do in Lidl but I bet it'd be brilliant with proper British sausages like you can't get here *sigh*. Chucked in some lardons (that's small bits of bacon to us Brits) I found in the freezer too. Having no idea what Polenta is (check it out on Wiki here if you're as ignorant as me) I did it with what my youngest calls "spiral pastas" and the kids hoovered it up, broccoli, carrots and all! Very easy, very tasty. Nuff said.

Oh, never heard of "Primavera" either but I have an excuse for that, apparently it's an American thing. More info here.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Cuban Roast Chicken

I'm on a roll now, people keep sending me recipes so I guess I'd better get my finger out and actually blog some of them......

So next up, this one:

That Med Lemon Chicken recipe sounds delicious - I do chicken with citrus lots of times. Another variation for you to try, esp if you like ethnic-easy - and exotic for France - is this CUBAN roast chicken :

Prepare EXACTLY as your friend's recipe, except leave out potatoes & herbes de provence. Instead of straight lemon juice, use a combination of lemon, orange, & lime juice (or buy the 100% citrus juice melange from Lidl, dirt cheap), salt & pepper, sliced onions or dried onion, & LOADS of garlic (however you prefer, fresh cloves or powdered). Roast as you normally would, allowing to brown & crisp at end.

Serve with plain steamed rice (easiest way you can make it) & a bowl of hot, canned black beans (if you can't find canned black beans, then pink or red or white would do). Also, you can quickly saute big chunks of bananas till slightly crisp & serve all together. A typical Cuban spread!!!!!

And it was bloody delicious!! Had to go and cook it chez les guinea pigs due to my oven cooking slower than just leaving the food out in the sun would have done. Used actaul oranges, lemons and limes instead of juice as we happened to have a load lying around after a recent cocktail party, like you for the sauted bananas, they went really sweet, it's a great combination. Nothing was left except bones and citrus rinds, which went into the composter, got eaten by the dog and sicked up the next day (you probably didn't need to know that though......)

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Roast duck with cherries

Next up, this rather good duck recipe:
Ok, here's a fab & EASY recipe for roasting duck legs (or, you could certainly use cut up chicken, if duck isn't available). I think pork could also be done this way - why not?

You'll need : a roasting pan w/cover or just use aluminum foil

duck legs (or chicken pieces) - leave skin on

salt & pepper to taste

garlic powder, onion powder or flakes

herbes de provence

1 bottle (or can) of dark cherries in their own juice (I buy these at Lidl - very cheap & perfect for this recipe). Attention : You will absolutely need the cherry liquid!

Preheat oven to 230 C. Place duck legs in roasting pan. Sprinkle with all the seasonings (I don't use precise measurements either - use your own judgement). Pour over the cherry liquid from bottle or tin - keep cherries. Roast covered for @ 1 1/2 hrs, basting a few times (here again, you can test for doneness yourself). Add cherries for the last 1/2 hr. of roasting, & uncover, as well, so skin gets nice & crisp.

That's it!!! So easy & really delicious. Goes beautifully with rice or plain buttered noodles, or whatever!
I made it using a tin of confit de canard and chucked in some spuds to cook in the duck fat to avoid having to cook rice or noodles separately, and it was delicious! Once again, my guinea pigs descended like a plague of locusts and all that was left were a few bare bones.......

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Microwave Chocolate Cake

This one comes from my fellow expat Jo who has lived in Alsace since we graduated too many years ago. And she's a vegetarian, I have no idea how she manages to have an interesting and varied diet in this land of murderous carnivores........

She writes:

Yeah, just the thing for lazy buggers or when you get a surprise visit and haven’t got anything to give them with their cuppas. Dom’s mum gave me these recipes, hard to believe as she’s anything but a lazy cook.
200g butter

200g dessert chocolate

200g sugar

200g flour (self-raising if you have it, otherwise add a sachet of “levure chimique” (baking powder))

4 soup spoons of rum

6 eggs

Melt chocolate and butter for 2 mins, leave to stand for 2 mins

Stir in the sugar

Add eggs one by one whilst whisking

Add the flour and baking powder if you’re using it

Put in a buttered microwavable recipient

Cook (uncovered) for 11 mins on full power

Wait for 5 mins then turn out onto a cooling rack
And voilà!
So, I thought,measuring out quantities, bit of a faff, but at least it's all the same amounts.........mixing stuff together, also faffy, but if you have your other half sitting around talking b*llocks, which mine seems to spend a lot of his time doing, you obviously put him to work:
Decided to put only 5 eggs in as one of our chooks lays eye- wateringly large eggs which always have double yolks, these things are huge, bigger than the duck eggs! Also may have slipped up a bit with the rum bottle, 4 soup spoons didn't sound like much.......

Anyway, chucked it in the micro ondes and.......voilà:

And no, that's not custard, it's home made eggnog from my OH's colleague in Brussels. More than slightly alcoholic........

Friday, 14 May 2010

Mediterranean Lemon Chicken

Well I have been given some recipes to try for my lazy cook collection and this is the first of them from my friend Chrissie up in Brittany. She writes:

"Take the biggest baking tray with deepish sides you can fit into the oven and fill it with chicken thighs, drumsticks and smallish or halved par boiled spuds. Slosh over this plenty of olive oil and lots of 'herbs de Provence' salt and pepper. Lastly, cut a couple (we use four) lemons into quarters and squeeze them over the top of the chicken. Now, the fun bit. Put some hot soapy water in the sink 'cos you're going to need it. With clean hands (we do try) get in there and mix the whole lot together. Once you've done that and washed your hands pop the whole thing into the oven until cooked ! The house, by the way, will smell amazing!"

Sounds nice and easy, doesn't it? Obviously I didn't bother peeling the spuds or anything, parboiling them is enough of an effort. You can get ready peeled & cooked spuds here vacuum packed but didn't have any handy and as yesterday was yet another Bank Holiday here, I had to use actual potatoes......the rest of it was very simple though and the results were fantastic, tried it out on some friends they loved it too, nothing was left, not even the juice!

My friend Guy in this photo is highly qualified as far as eating goes, he once challenged a friend to see which of them could eat the most beef in a year, you'll find the journal of that year here, needless to say he won, being an insanely competitive person ........not sure how great it was for his health though.

So thank you, Chrissie, a great recipe, really easy to do and tastes fantastic! Oh and the kitchen does indeed smell amazing......

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Lazy stir fry

Well first of all a big thank you to all the people who have sent me easy recipes, I will be trying them all in the next few weeks to make sure they are indeed faff-free enough to be included here. Couldn't really get this across to my chef friend who was telling me about his "simple" sweet potato recipe last night, he was most offended when after a 10 minute explaination I told him it wasn't at all simple for us mere mortals...........

Anyway, today's recipe is something I eat a lot because not only is it easy, it's quick to cook as well. Get a chicken breast, chuck it in a frying pan, if you're feeling really keen, chop it up first but I often don't bother if I'm just cooking for me, it's easier to pull it apart in the wok once it's cooked. Maybe bung in some veg like peppers, courgettes and aubergines if you can be bothered to chop some up (they do come frozen ready chopped too, even over here) Fry it for a bit in oil, then chuck in something no kitchen should be without: sweet chili sauce.
This is available from all good supermarkets, except in France where we have to drive all the way to Bordeaux to a fabulous place called Eurasie (they even have a website here) where you can buy civilised stuff like Patak's curry paste and huge bags of ground coriander. No so in the local Leclerc where you're lucky to find such exotic foreign fayre as Marmite and lemon curd. Anyway, back to the sweet chili sauce which is fantastic for loads of things but I use it mainly in stir fries. Cook the chicken in it til it goes all nice and caramely (is that a word?), add a splash of soy sauce and there you are. Serve with rice or noodles (Eurasie do the lazy precooked version where you just open a sachet and chuck them in the wok, guess which ones I use.....). If you really want to push the boat out you can go to the trouble of opening a tin of bamboo shoots to chuck in , or beansprouts are nice too.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Easy curry

OK, so here's my first recipe offering, really easy curry. The secret to a good, tasty curry is cooking it for ages. And ages. Not the 20 minutes recommended in a lot of recipe books and on the back of Patak's curry sauces. Not that I'm dissing Patak's, they are great for lazy buggers like me......just ignore the instructions.

So you get some meat, I use pork a lot because it's really cheap and lamb isn't, at least not over here in La Belle France. Living here is why I have to make my own curry, the French as a nation are apparently allergic to spicy food. Get some onions, essential ingredient in just about every thing I cook. Fry the onions in some oil, doesn't matter what sort (maybe not engine oil though) for ages on a low heat til they're really golden brown, lots of people don't fry them for long enough.

Don't ask me how many "some" is, I don't do quantities, if you're the sort of person (like my dear husband) who feels the need to measure precise quantities of all ingredients and prepare them in little bowls like they do on Blue Peter, this probably isn't the blog for you. Once you're onions are a nice colour, add the meat in chunks, fry it for a bit then chuck in some curry paste. I tend to use the aforementioned Patak's, it's got all the spices you need in one place and there's no faffing about roasting cardamom pods and the like. Use the mild curry one then you can always chuck in some killer chillies later on unless you're catering for a bunch of lightweights.

Stir it all around for a bit, then add a load of water, and leave it to cook. For ages. Whilst you go and do something useful with your time like randomly surfing the internet or playing Lord of the Rings online. Even better, leave it to go cold after a few hours then fire it up again the next day. Keep chucking water in if it gets too gloopy. Then about an hour before you want to eat it, bung in a tin of tomatoes, or if you're feeling really keen, actually go to the effort of chopping up some tomatoes to put in. Then you can add some veg, whatever you like, prechopped frozen are often my légumes of choice.

And there you have it, job's a good'un, you can leave it bubbling away til your guests arrive, no last minute messing about in the kitchen, just stick the pot on the table, sprinkle over some chopped coriander (if you can be bothered) and hand them a ladle. You might have to go to the effort of cooking some rice, but then you can always get it in those handy microwaveable sachets these days..........