Endive and panic in the air

Before and after pictures

Recently, I threw a million balls in the air, and guess what: they have all dropped back down THIS WEEK or so it seems. Bouncing on the top of my head, I even caught, an arrogant wheezing little one bouncing on the tip of my nose, not nice at all.
You know the feeling: panic sets in, you are running around, mixing every thing up, achieving nothing or very little. I don't know what you do it that case, as for me, I wash my hair. Usually it does the trick.
Out of all of the balls, I managed to catch one, it had the following writing engraved on it: 5 a day, out of all of them, it had to be that one! Let me explain, every now and then, I challenge myself with: "be good". This time, I was going to eat more vegetable and to that effect had bought French chicory as the ultimate challenge.
French Chicory is very popular in Holland, Belgium and France, not so much in Britain. I understand that in the state, chicory is different all together. Back to French chicory, it is available all year round, the pearly white leafs come from the fact that it is forced. When cooked blanched (or steamed), it will need to rest for a while so that most of the water drips out.

Endives and ham

one and half time as many endives as there are people
one thin slice of cooked ham per endive
cheddar or gruyere
for the white sauce you will need
a dollop of butter
white flour
and milk

  • cut the hard end of the endive off, with a sharp knife, take the little "heart" out, this is where the bitterness leaves, so I was told.
  • steam the endives until tender when cook, put them aside for at least an hour to drip all the water out
  • prepare the white sauce (bechamel)
  • roll the slice of ham around the endive, place in an oven dish
  • pour the bechamel over
  • top with cheese
  • cook for 25 minutes, grill the top if necessary

Chilli week-end

Guess where he and I went this week-end. here are a couple of clues


what next?

You've got it

chilli jellies & jams
All this and much more at the "Chilli Fiesta" which took place at West-Dean gardens near Chichester a thoroughly enjoyable event, highly recommended.
Early September the gardens will organise a similar week-end around the tomato.
Carluccio will be, every festival needs its celebraty chef. Check it the program out if you were to be in that part of the world then.In the meantime is somebody was willing to try out this recipe for chutney, I would be curious to know the results. got it from Rosemary Moon's booklet
Sweet aubergine and mango chutney
2 large green mangoes
2 large aubergines
1 large piece fresh root ginger 8-10 cm
2 red chilies
2-3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp sea salt
500 ml distilled malt vinegar
1 kg unrefined demerara sugar
prepare the fruits and vegetables, peel the mangoes and cut the flesh away from the stone. chop the mango and aubergines into 2.5 cm chunks. Peel the ginger, de-seed the chilies then finely chop them together with the garlic.
place all the ingredients together in a preserving or very large pan and bring slowly to the boil. Simmer for 45-60 minutes until well reduced but still moist.
Pour into warm jars, seal.

Dulce de Leche & cheese cake

I was minding my own, surfing happily when I came across Dulce de leche on Sophie's site. Then a cascade of unforeseen events happened: before I new it, I
a) had entered a muffin competition
b) was searching frantically for the origins of Dulche de Leche in my grand-mother's battered cookery book. Mémé had no connection with Argentina or anywhere else further than 1km away from her flat.
c) cooking a cheese-cake for poor Bob and June who need cheering up.
All this, in a happy jumble with no particular order.

Let's, at least try to put back some chronology , as I was reading Sophie's blog, something was really nagging me, I had seen a similar recipe before a long time ago. Then in a flash it came to me, Confiture de lait mais c'est bien sure: Mémé 's book.
Mémé 's book has neither cover nor back, so no way to know what it is called or when it was published. Further research dated the first recipe to the 14th century, place it in Normandy, so dulce de leche might have originated in France, but it has dropped in popularity when in Argentina it is staple foods.
If there is an easy way, take it. So the next day I set to cook

Dulce de Leche the easy way
1 can of sweetened condensed milk (while you are at it you could do two cans).

  • Place unopened can(s) of sweetened condensed milk in a sauce pan, covered with water.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Simmer for 3 hours IF it is not submerge the whole time, IT WILL EXPLODE, you have been warned.
  • Leave it to cool before you open the can. IF you don't IT WILL POP OUT AND BURN YOU, this is a bit over-dramatic however though a really simple recipe it has to be handled with care.

The longer you cook it, the thicker it becomes, after 2 hours you can drizzle it, 3 hours is excellent consistency for cheese cake.

Now for the cheese cake, I found this recipe in "the hairy bikers ride again". I can confidently tell you that it taste delicious though I will not have the opportunity to taste it as it is all gone.

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake


serves 8

  • 400g Hobnobs (oat biscuits)
  • 150 g melted unsalted butter
  • 750g cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 600g dulce de leche
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbs cornflour


  • Preheat oven to 300°F (140°C).
  • Put the Hobnobs cookies in a plastic bag and bash them into crumbs with a rolling pin
  • Pour over the melted butter and mix well
  • Press evenly into the bottom of a lightly buttered 23cm springform tin.
  • With an electric mixer beat cream cheese, the dulce the leche, your vanilla
  • add the eggs when at the time
  • Finally beat in the cornflour
  • Pour the mixture on the top of the biscuit base
  • Bake for 1h30 min. When cool, remove from the tin, grab a piece for you and serve.

Ratatouille & summer

Summer is here, Yipeee, fleeting sensation of crystal clear light, burning heat and smells. Lovely cooking smells, grilled peppers, herbs, ratatouille, just kidding not that one.

Ratatouille, is the essence of a pebble soup recipe: simple, full of flavour made out of a little of this, some of that, could be made 3 ways and don't forget to add a dash of unusual.

The Ratatouille recipe I use, is a combination of hours of watching others cook and hours of cooking. One thing is for certain, a good ratatouille need to be re-heated and preferably re-re-heated. It does not take very long to prepare.



2 large aubergines
2 onions
2 green peppers
2 tin tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
4 tbs olive oil
1 tbs of herbs (herbes de Provence)
a "big" pinch of sugar
salt and pepper


  • peel and chop the onions, the peppers, the aubergine (cut the slices in 2) and the garlic

  • heat the oil and add in this order, stirring as you go along

  • onions, fry until transparent

  • garlic and peppers, fry for 5 minutes

  • tinned tomatoes

  • seasoning: herbs, salt, pepper, sugar

  • aubergines

  • if you use the pressure cooker, cooking time is 30 minutes without it will take 45 minutes in a large saucepan with a lead .
  • open add the courgettes and continue to cook on low heat for 30 minutes.

I do not salt the aubergines before cooking them, they don't seem are not bitter any longer. Monique is Nice used to add bacon, but if you do so reduce the salt.

The number of serving tips is countless here are some: lovely with fried eggs, roasted chicken,

you may remember the pain bagnat, well I have realised that "pressed down" sarnies are in fashion, so why not do the same: fill a ciabatta with ratatouille, roll in a cling-film and press it down with a board until the bread absorbs the juices,

if you have a little left, line a tart-tin with puff pastry cover with the left overs and slices goat cheese, cook in the oven for 20 minutes,

and finally if fish is on the menu, place the fish in an aluminium foil cover with ratatouille, fold tightly, place on a tray and bake for 15 minutes.

Baba Ganoush & 12 countries

You know that it is a "passion-obsession" when you wake up wondering : "How is "blabla " doing?"
For the past 2 days, the first thing coming to my head has been : How may countries have dipped in "pebble soup"?
1 week 12 countries

How exciting, this is just brilliant.

I shall smother the devilish little voice saying :
-Might be only one person per country, with a loud
- And what about the other 182 countries or there about?
No, no no you will not get me down that slippery slope, devilish little voice. This is not like me, I am not a mathematician. But I have spotted large expanse of white empty spaces on google-stats' map. So cunningly, I cooked for them.

Well let's get this right, I did not exactly cooked for the billions of people out there who are not reading my blog (yet), that would be tilting "passion-obsession" into "madness-obsession". I selected a recipe that I love which these countries have in "common with variations".
Russia, Ethiopia, countries in the Middle East and at the edge of the Mediterranean, Egypt, India, Bangladesh and Greece all prepare it "same-same but different" ways.
Janice first mentioned it to me, and I use an adaptation of Sophie Grigson's recipe to make this delicious Aubergine dip.

Serves 6; Prep. 20 minutes; cooking: 20 minutes

2 aubergines
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Juice of 1 lemon

6 tbs of olive oil
4 tbsp tahini paste (I use the light kind)
2 tbsp fresh mint or parsley, chopped
1- 1 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin

salt and cayenne pepper

  • Pre-heat oven to 190C/380F/Gas mark 5
  • Prick the skins of the aubergines so that they don't explode in the oven.
  • Place the Aubergine in a tin, in the oven for 20 minutes, it does not matter if it is longer, as long as they are soft inside and slightly shrivelled outside, leave them to cool slightly
  • Remove the skin
  • Tip into a food processor small bowl, add the garlic, the lemon juice and tahini
  • Add the olive oil as you whisk
  • Finish by adding the salt, cumin, cayenne pepper to taste,
  • Give it a last whirl, it should be smooth add water if necessary.

Cool it 1/2 hour further in the fridge, Serve with warm pitta, it will blacken slightly but that does not affect the taste.

Pain bagnat at the beach

I went to the "O2" formerly known as the dome. Well, call me party-Popper but I think that "the beach" is the reflection of a very sad state of affairs.
I do not object to the concept: indoor-beach: bizarre but why not; man-made complete with lights imitation, sun for the day, moon in the evening : good; free entertainment for kids and grown ups : excellent.
What I do not like AT ALL is the distortion of simple pleasures, beach but no water, beach but no weather, beach but only certain prescribed activities (please, let's make sure that we all do the same at the same time, here is a timetable) at that point, I have got to say NO that is NO beach. Have the organisers given a thought about the wonders of the fresh salted air that make your skin crispy and itchy, the sand in your food, the endless hours spent doing nothing or nothing much, that for me is a beach so on that "moany"-note, I leave you with the sound of the crickets, find a bit a open space (balcony will do) & try the following recipe.

Pain bagnat
It is said that this sandwich was originally invented for the "boules" players in Nice, the flavours combine and seep in the bread while it is being weight down, it can also be made a day in advance.
make 4
1 French bread (baguette), white bread rolls can be used too
olive oil
can of tuna
3 tomatoes sliced
1 hard boiled egg
red or green pepper finely sliced
few spring onions or small white ones
pitted black olives (optional) could use olive paste
  • Slice the bread length-wise
  • brush the olive oil on the inside
  • sprinkle basil
  • spread the rest of the ingredients
  • wrap in cling film
  • weight it down with a chopping board for as long as possible
  • unwrap and cut large slices.
Sue gave me a recipe of a picnic loaf which works on the same weighting down principle using: ciabatta, olive oil, pesto, sliced mozzarella, feta cheese, rocket, fresh or sun dried tomatoes.



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