Alouettes sans Tête or Little Beef Parcels

The title of the dish really translates as “larks without heads”, which would seem very off-putting were it not for what it actually covers.
In a country where people are very happy to go hunting and eat small birds,
it would be natural to evolve a dish with that name.
However, I am happy to say that you will not need small birds but very tender and thinly cut minute beef steaks.
So, you can continue feeding the small birds in your garden without any pangs of conscience.

In Corsica, the beef is replaced with veal escalopes.
Most butchers sell rosé veal and you may prefer to try that.

This dish is cooked without any added fat and freezes well.

Serves 4:
8 very thin minute beef steaks ( approximately 80 or 90g each)
3 smoked back bacon rashers, fat removed
2 small carrots
1 branch celery
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 small onion
A handful of flat leaf parsley
10 pitted black olives
Tomato sauce, home made if possible, or a tin of chopped tomatoes
300 ml red wine
100ml water
Salt and pepper to season ( Remember that the bacon and the olives will provide salt)

1. Put the bacon, onion, garlic, celery, parsley and carrots in a food processor and whiz. Cook quickly in a non-stick frying pan without any fat. ( The bacon will provide enough fat).

2. When this filling is cooked, put a tablespoon in the middle of each steak and fold the meat carefully to seal the filling in. To ensure that the parcel remains closed,you have 2 options: using a wooden toothpick, pierce the layers of meat firmly, or using strong white cotton thread and tie the meat.
(One disadvantage of using cotton thread is that you need either scissors or a very sharp steak knife to undo the parcel and the sauce may splash a little).

3. Put the tomato sauce in a pressure cooker and place the meat parcels delicately on top. Pour the wine and add the olives. Cover with the water.
Cook for 15 minutes.
Serve with tagliatelle or any other pasta of your choice.

Bon Appétit!


Beignets de Courgettes ( Small Courgette Fritters)

Courgettes are abundant and there are many ways to prepare them.
There is also the courgette flowers fritters which are a delicacy in their own right. But the flowers are not easy to find, unless you are growing your own courgettes.
So, this time, I shall simply make Beignets de Courgettes.

This can be a starter, a main dish, served with a salad, or a vegetable dish.
I have even eaten these delicious fritters at breakfast in my favourite place in Corsica.

Simple to make but very tasty, you should be able to enjoy them at any time of the day. They are great on a picnic, they can be frozen and warmed up in the oven. Ideal for a packed lunch as well, they are so versatile you will want to make them in batches to have in reserve in your freezer.

Makes approximately 30 fritters

2 medium size courgettes, peeled and thinly sliced
A handful of basil leaves, rinsed and torn to be incorporated in the batter plus a few leaves kept intact for decoration.
200ml sunflower oil

For the batter:
1 large egg
120g Self Raising flour
100ml milk
1small glass beer
Salt and pepper

1. Heat up the oil in a non-stick frying pan or in a deep-fat fryer.

2. Dip each slice of courgette in the batter and fry . Turn once to ensure even cooking on both sides.

3. When the fritters are golden, remove them from the frying pan and place on kitchen paper to absorb excess fat.

4. Decorate with a few basil leaves.

Serve warm with a cool rosé wine.

Bon Appétit!