Simple Moussaka

This is a quick and healthy moussaka that can be made even if you have just come back from a walk in the country, as was the case this week.  Eating blackberries on the way helped, of course!

It is not the recipe for a traditional moussaka and I replaced the lamb with bacon and did not use any cooking fat.

Serves 4:

2 large aubergines

1 big onion, peeled and sliced

3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced

2 small carrots, peeled

6 slices of back rashers smoked bacon

2 tablespoons grated parmesan

5 slices emmental cheese

A handful flat leaf parsley

1. Top and tail the aubergines and steam them in a pressure cooker, making sure they remain firm.

2. Meanwhile, whizz the bacon, onion, garlic, carrots and parsley and cook in a non-stick frying pan without any fat.

3. Slice the aubergines and place them in an oven-proof dish. Cover with a layer of the bacon mixture and sprinkle the parmesan on top.

4. Add another layer of aubergine slices and put the emmental slices on top. Put the dish in the oven at 180C for 20 minutes and serve with a green salad and a cool Pinot Grigio.

Bon Appétit!

Tip: I tend to make a larger quantity of the bacon mixture which freezes well and use it for pasta sauces or as filling for provençal vegetables.


Simple Red Onion Risotto

An easy and comforting dish which requires little preparation and is perfect for chilly evenings.
It originates in Northern Italy, in the Piedmont region, where the best rice for risotto is grown.

Serves 4:
300g risotto rice
1 big red onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1litre vegetable stock
1 small glass dry white wine
Grated parmesan
Salt and pepper to season

1. Gently fry the onion in the olive oil in a cast iron pot until tender and add the rice, tossing it quickly until it is transparent.

2. Add the stock, a little at a time, until it is all absorbed, then add the wine until it is also absorbed.

3. Simmer for 20’minutes or until all liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.

4. Add the parmesan, stir well and cover. Leave for 2 minutes and serve.

Bon Appétit!

If you have some dried cèpes (Porcini mushrooms), prepare them and add them to the rice, having used their stock for cooking the rice.

Autres Coquilles Saint Jacques = Scallops with a Difference

Another family favourite is to use scallop shells and fill them with salt cod, mushrooms and a creamy sauce.
You will know by now that we like salt cod, desalted.
Apart from being healthy, it is part of a culture of growing up by the sea and enjoying all kind of sea food.
This is again an easy dish to prepare and can be made in larger quantities to freeze. I have never tried to freeze the scallop shells as I don’t think they would resist the very low temperatures but the fish mixture freezes well.
Fishmongers are usually happy to let you have free empty scallop shells if you ask.
I believe you can buy some oven-proof dishes in that shape but I prefer to use the real shells which are very attractive.
Usually 1 shell per person is fine but it is easy to double the quantities, depending on your appetite.

To fill 8 scallop shells you need:

300 g salt cod, de-salted ( see previous post on Buljol on 4 September 2014)
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 Portobello mushrooms, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped,
A handful of flat leaf parsley, rinsed and finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tub of crème de Brie or 1 tin Carnation milk
3 spoonfuls grated parmesan

1. Cook the cod and onion in a pressure cooker. ( check times with pressure cooker instructions).

2. Gently fry the garlic and mushrooms in a non-stick frying pan.

3. Put the fish mixture and mushroom mixture in a mixing bowl and add the parsley and crème de Brie. Mix well.

4. Fill the shells with the mixture and sprinkle a little grated parmesan on top.
Put in a pre-heated oven at 200C for 10 minutes.

Serve immediately with a salad or any vegetable. This time, I have used mini corn cobs.

Bon Appétit!

Tip: condensed milk can replace Crème de Brie if you are watching the calories.
A little mashed potato can be added to the fish mixture and so can a few prawns.
Salt cod can be replaced with smoked haddock or fresh salmon.
Of course, you can add a fresh scallop in each shell.


Stuffed tomatoes, Provençal style

photo 5

Summer is definitely over, so it’s time to put tomatoes in the oven.
For this, I will use a stuffing similar to the one I use for aubergines, courgettes and peppers, which is my version of a bolognese sauce. By making a larger quantity, I will either freeze some or cook spaghetti tonight.

Serves 3:
3 beef tomatoes, rinsed.
6 rashers of smoked back bacon, all fat removed
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 medium-sized carrots, peeled and sliced
2 sticks of celery, rinsed and sliced
Celery leaves, rinsed
A handful of flat leaf parsley, rinsed
Parmesan to sprinkle over the tomatoes
1 soup spoonful olive oil1. Cut the top third of the tomatoes and reserve. With a grapefruit knife, scoop out the inside flesh of the tomatoes and reserve. Lightly salt the inside of the tomatoes and turn them upside down in an ovenproof dish to disgorge their 2 photo 4
2. Put all the other ingredients and the tomato flesh in a food mixer and whizz.
3. Gently dry fry this mixture in a non-stick frying pan, without any oil for 5 minutes.
4. Fill the tomato shells, sprinkle the Parmesan on top and drizzle with olive oil. Place the ‘hats’ (top third of the tomatoes) and cook in a pre- heated oven at 200C for 10 minutes.Bon Appétit!Notes: For a vegetarian version, omit the bacon and use some cooked couscous instead.
If you use this mixture for a pasta sauce, add a small tin of tomato purée and a dash of red wine.
Lasagne and Farfalle pasta are also delicious with this sauce.
These stuffed tomatoes do not freeze well because their skin is too thin.