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Apricot Lollipops

As easy as 1, 2, 3….
A healthy, tasty treat for children going back to school. Even if they are not too keen to eat fruit as part of their 5 a day, the chocolate should encourage them to try this.
I have used Swiss dark chocolate because the contrast with the fruit is greater but also because it is healthier than white or milk chocolate.
These little lollipops can be made with plums which are abundant in this season.

1 or 2 ripe apricots per child (or adult in need of a treat)
100g Swiss dark chocolate (this will be sufficient to coat 500g of apricots)
1 small plastic coffee spoon per apricot

1. Rinse the apricots and pat them dry with a kitchen towel.
2. Slit one side of each apricot and remove the stone delicately.
3. Insert a small plastic spoon in each apricot so that the rounded part nestles where the stone was.
4. Melt the chocolate over a “bain marie” ( break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a Pyrex bowl over a saucepan containing boiling water, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon).
6. Turn off the heat and dip each apricot in the chocolate then let them dry before serving.

Bon Appétit!

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Cream of Mushrooms

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This easy starter can become a pleasing sauce if you thicken it a little.
It will go very well on grilled steak, gammon, chicken or fish. It will also be delicious in lasagne.
You can also use Portobello mushrooms.

Serves 4:

You need:
500g button mushrooms, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled
50g unsalted butter or slightly salted butter, in which case you use less salt
2 tablespoons corn flour
1 big tin unsweetened condensed milk (i.e.Carnation)
A handful of flat leaf parsley
1 vegetable cube
Pepper

1. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan and toss the mushrooms in it for 5 minutes over a low heat.
2. Whizz the mushrooms in a food blender with the garlic and the parsley. Reserve.
3. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Add the cornflour slowly, stirring all the time. Pour the milk gradually, making sure to avoid lumps forming. (If they do, pour the mixture in the blender and this will get rid of the lumps).
4. Dissolve the vegetable cube in a little hot water and pour into the saucepan.
5. Finally, add the mushroom mixture, stirring well and heat over a low heat for 5 minutes.
6. Serve immediately.

Bon Appétit!

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Stuffed Aubergines

Here is another childhood memory dish which is a classic of the healthy Mediterranean diet.
Great uncle T. who was a philosopher and had sailed the Seven Seas, used to call it ” little black patent shoes” because the very shiny aubergine skin can be such a dark purple that it looks black.
We knew what treat was in store when he mentioned the little black patent shoes that great aunt M. had prepared.
This is a family favourite and ensures that children eat a variety of vegetables in a fun way.
For a vegetarian version, replace the bacon with the flesh of the aubergines and tomatoes.

1 aubergine per person
6 slices smoked back rashers of bacon
1 big onion peeled and sliced
3 cloves garlicpeeled
1 big carrot, peeled
1sprig flat leaf parsley
Parmesan shavings
Pepper to season

1. Pre-heat the oven at 200C.
2. Rinse the aubergines and steam them briefly.
3. Meanwhile, whizz all the ingredients in a food processor.
4. Check that the aubergines are still firm and cut them in half lengthwise.
5. Scoop out the flesh delicately with a tablespoon.
6. Place the aubergines in a lightly greased oven-proof dish.
7. Lightly cook the stuffing in a non- stick frying pan without oil (the bacon will provide sufficient fat).
8. Fill the aubergines shells and sprinkle the parmesan on top.
9. Cover with foil and put in the oven for 20 minutes At 200C.

Serve immediately.
This can be a main dish or an accompaniment to a roasted meat.

Bon appétit!

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Stuffed tomatoes, Summer Version

 

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1 medium-size tomato per person
1 tablespoon tuna chunks in brine/spring water
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon of olive oil

1. Rinse the tomato.
2. Using a grapefruit knife, cut out the top of the tomato and scoop out the flesh. reserve the flesh to make a juice or a sorbet. Reserve the top of the tomato as well, for decoration.
3. Fill in the tomato with the tuna, sprinkle with lemon juice and olive oil and decorate with the top of the tomato, as a hat.

For the sorbet:
1. Whizz the tomato flesh in a liquidizer.
2. Sieve the mixture in a fine mesh sieve.
3. Add some strawberry syrup.
4. Pour into a sorbet maker and follow manufacturer’s instructions.
If you not use a sorbet maker, pour the mixture into a metal ice cube tray and freeze for 1 hour.
5. Take out of the freezer and scrape the iced tomato with a fork to break up the icicles.
6. Serve in cooled sorbet dishes and decorate with fresh mint leaves.

Bon appétit!

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Velouté de Tomate

For Summer evenings this velouté will make a tasty starter, hot or cold.
It is very healthy and fat-free and evokes the Mediterranean but If you feel a little less healthy, add some single cream.

Serves 4:

1kilo ripe tomatoes, rinsed and quartered
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
4 garlic cloves, peeled
A handful of flat parsley leaves
Salt and pepper

1. Put all the ingredients in a big cooking pot and cook until the tomatoes are tender.
2. Liquidize with a food blender and sieve.
3. Serve either hot or cold and decorate with parsley.

Bon Appétit!

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Melted Leek and Scallop Tart

To prolong the holiday feeling, I decided to re-create a delicious dish we ate recently in Corsica. The very talented chef, Jean-Pierre, called it a Tarte fine de Fondue de Poireaux aux Saint Jacques.
This was served as a starter but I made it as main course, so I was a little generous with the scallops.

Serves 4:

500g scallops
3 medium-size leeks, washed
250g frozen puff pastry ( As I am not J-Pierre, I did not make the pastry)
1tablespoon sunflower oil
10ml dry white wine
Salt and pepper

1. Pre-heat the oven at 200C.
2. Slice the leeks in half and cut into rings.
2. Heat up the oil in a non-stick frying pan and sweat the leeks until tender.
3. Add the wine and continue cooking for 1 minute until the wine is totally absorbed. Reserve in a warm dish.
4. Cook the scallops for 1 minute in a non-stick frying pan. Reserve.
5. Roll out the pastry and line a 20cm round oven-proof dish.
6. Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes.
7. Take out and garnish with a thick layer of leeks and the scallops, making sure both leeks and scallops are dry to avoid making the pastry soggy.
8. Put back in the oven for 5 minutes.
9. Take out and serve immediately .

Bon Appétit!