So, it is really cold and again, soups bring comfort and warmth. Anyway, there is never a need for a pretext to eat soups.
Combining a fairly sweet vegetable such as the parsnip with the acidity of the apple and the spicy oil brings a change. I like this soup to be fairly thick, so it can be a snack, a starter or a main course, served with thick slices of warm country bread. For its consistency and acidity, I have used a whole Bramley apple, but any variety of apple will do. Being post Christmas, I have replaced the cream with evaporated milk. Will it really make a change to the waistline, I wonder.
- 4 big parsnips, peeled and sliced
- 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 whole Bramley, peeled , cored and quartered
- 150ml evaporated milk
- 2 soup spoonful chilli infused olive oil
- 2 reduced fat vegetable stock cubes
- Put the parsnips, onion and apple and the 2 stock cubes in a pressure cooker/ cooking pot with enough water to cover.
- When it is cooked, whizz, add the spicy oil and the milk and serve immediately.
- A cool Chablis goes well with this soup.
Tip: Do not use any salt because the stock cubes are already salty and although you can always add salt, it is near impossible to remove.
Some fish today to make a quick meal that will not tax the digestion as the main cooking method will be “en papillote” (in a foil parcel).
For contrasting colours and textures, I have chosen cod and salmon. To add taste, the sun-dried tomatoes and chives with be added to the sauce.
- 2 cod fillets
- 2 salmon steaks
- 4 sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, chopped
- fronds of a fennel bulb
- 1 bunch of chives , finely chopped
- 1 glass of dry white wine
- 125ml single cream
- 2 tablespoon cornflour
- Place the fillets on foil in a baking tray, sprinkle with coarse sea salt, add the fennel fronds, tomatoes and drizzle with the tomato flavoured olive oil. Close the parcel and put in a pre-heated oven at 180C for 15minutes.
- Meanwhile, pour the wine in a saucepan, heat up and add the cornflour gradually. Whisk to avoid the formation of lumps. When the sauce has thickened, add the cream and the chives. Turn off the heat.
- Take the fish out of the oven and place in an oven-proof dish, without the foil. Pour the sauce on top and cook in the oven for a further 10 minutes.
- Serve immediately with steamed baby potatoes, creamed fennel bulbs or diced courgettes.
If you are on a pre-Christmas diet, omit the sauce and drizzle the fish with olive oil and lemon juice just before serving.
To answer the question of what to serve with lamb shanks cooked in red wine, a polenta came to mind.
It provided a quick and delicious accompaniment and I added some crème de courgettes. To complement the polenta, a generous topping of the cooking jus rounded the taste.
The polenta I use is a pre-cooked maize one and it is ready in a few minutes. You have to stir it constantly as it has a tendency to plop out of the saucepan if left unattended and it thickens very quickly. It sometimes looks like the lava of a volcano and it is certainly very hot!
The addition of the crème de courgettes gave a different flavour to it and incorporated the vegetables. The meat jus, essentially meat gravy with a strong red wine, was pleasing to the palate.
Serves 4 :
- 500ml salted water
- 3 tablespoons maize polenta
- For the Cream of Courgettes:
- 2 medium-size courgettes, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 onion, peeled and quartered
- 2 frozen cubes of garlic and parsley sauce
- 125ml single cream
- Cook the courgettes and onion in a pressure cooker and whizz.
- Add the cream and the garlic and parsley sauce.
- Bring the salted water to the boil and add the polenta, stirring all the time.
- When it is cooked (refer to the instructions on the packet for the cooking time), add the cream of courgettes and stir.
- Transfer into an oven-proof dish for 10 minutes at 180C.
- Just before serving, ladle some of the meat jus on top.
Note: I have mentioned before how to make garlic and parsley sauce, garlic and basil sauce and garlic and coriander sauce in convenient ice cube containers for some of the previous recipes. I will do a separate post to recap all that.
Or… see the post of Coquilles Saint Jacques à ma Façon
A little improvised sauce for a pasta dish that does not take very long to prepare. In fact, it will be ready by the time the pasta are cooked.
On this occasion, I used the beautiful papillon shapes or farfalle but you can use anything you have in your cupboard.
- 200 g farfalle, dry
- 1 medium-sized onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 2 small carrots, peeled and chopped
- 3 large chestnut mushrooms, peeled and sliced
- 100g crème de Brie cheese
- 1 tin coconut cream
- 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
- 1 teaspoon ginger paste
- Bring 1 litre salted water to the boil, adding 2 drops oil. Then add the pasta and cook to your taste.
- Gently sweat the onions in a frying pan with the sunflower oil and add the carrots and the mushrooms. Stir constantly.
- Stir in the ginger paste, the coconut cream and the crème de Brie at the last minute.
- Drain the pasta and toss in the frying pan. Stir.
- Serve immediately with a cool white wine.
Friday fish takes simple forms at times and the favourite salt cod provides a standby meal, frequently eaten in Marseille and in Provence in general.
The accompaniments vary a little but the remaining saltiness of the fish is well-balanced by the potatoes, the carrots, the cauliflower, sometimes green beans, and the hard-boiled eggs. What does not change is the fish and the garlic mayonnaise from which the dish takes its name. The combination of fresh, steamed vegetables, and of the cod is very healthy. If you are watching your cholesterol levels, go easy on the mayonnaise and the eggs.
This is a complete meal in itself and it can be eaten in any season, although it is preferred in Winter. If salt cod cannot be found, frozen unsalted cod can be used, although the taste is somewhat altered.
On this occasion, the aïoli became very simple because I did not have any cauliflower or green beans and I did not wish to make the garlic mayonnaise from scratch. I used some shop bought mayonnaise, added the garlic and some chopped capers for a change. I also sliced the potatoes and the carrots, so the presentation was a little different from the usual one but the taste was the same. I also part shredded the cod.
- 2 thick slices of salt cod , cut in half
- 1 small cauliflower
- 4 medium-sized potatoes, peeled
- 4 medium-sized carrots, peeled
- 8 hard-boiled eggs, cut in half
- garlic mayonnaise
- De-salt the cod in cold running water over a period of 12 hours, at a frequency of once every 3 hours. (see previous posts using salt cod)
- Hard-boil the eggs and shell them. Once cooled, cut them in half.
- Steam the fish with the carrots and the potatoes in a pressure cooker together with the cauliflower florets.
- Serve with the garlic mayonnaise.
A very cool rosé or a cool white wine go well with this dish.
This is the season when a fair amount of Brocciu (or Brousse in French) is consumed.
When I cannot find it, I use Ricotta although it is a little different in that it is made from ewe’s milk and it is good if you are lactose intolerant.
It is a soft, velvety and fresh cheese which is found in many Corsican recipes. It can be eaten immediately after being made or affiné for a month.
Having made some beignets with it (recipe here), I thought it was time to give a little information about it.
This ideal fresh cheese does not have a strong flavour. Combined with herbs from the maquis like nepitta, wild mint, or with wild asparagus, spinach , Swiss chards it makes a very good filling for courgettes, aubergines, cannelloni, omelettes, pies, gratins and fish. It also makes very good beignets (fritters). It can be added to soups as well.
Eaten at the end of a meal, as a dessert, on its own or as the main ingredient of a delicious cheesecake, the Fiadone, it evokes Corsican cuisine immediately. It can also replace crème pâtissière in fruit tarts. Enjoy a cool glass of white wine with it or a sparkling Muscat at the end of a meal.
Recipe ideas using brocciu:
Cannelloni au Brocciu et aux Epinards = Cannelloni with Ricotta and Spinach
Pain au Brocciu et au Figatellu = Brocciu and Figatellu Bread
Beignets de Brocciu = Ricotta Fritters
The days are getting shorter but it is still very sunny and warm in Corsica and lunch can still be enjoyed outdoors.
The little cheese fritters are perfect for the apéritif or for a starter or even a packed lunch, although the notion of packed lunch does not exist in Corsica. Meals are too important to be skipped or reduced to food in a plastic container.
It takes very little time to cook the beignets and even less time to eat them.
Serves 4 :
- 250g brocciu* ( or ricotta)
- 150g Self-raising flour (or plain flour and a sachet of yeast)
- 10ml chestnut beer (Pietra)
- 20ml sunflower oil
- Mix the flour with the beer in a large mixing bowl and add the cheese, breaking it with a fork. If the mixture is too thick, add a little water.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan and shape little parcels of dough with tablespoons. Put the parcels one at a time quickly in the frying pan and cook until golden.
- Drain and place on kitchen roll to absorb excess oil.
- Let the fritters cool a little before serving them with a cool rosé.
Tip: I have used Pietra beer because it adds a distinctive chestnut flavour to the beignets. The beer tends to give extra fluffiness. A pancake mixture with eggs can also be used.
Like all fritters, these can be served with a salad if you prefer to have them as a main course.
They also freeze well, so you can make a bigger quantity and enjoy them at later stage.
* Find out more about brocciu here
Other recipe ideas using brocciu:
Cannelloni au Brocciu et aux Epinards (Cannelloni with Ricotta and Spinach)
Pain au Brocciu et au Figatellu (Brocciu and Figatellu Bread