French Wines with Style - A Blogger challenge-

There is no denying that writing this post feels slightly odd. When I agreed to take part in French Wines with Style, a bloggers challenge funded by FranceAgriMer, I ran the event pass my dad. He was completely bemused, "What do you mean? why do our wines need promoting? surely French wines are the best." he said and in doing so, echoing the voice of millions of French people who know nothing else but their French wines and  would never dream of drinking anything else but what they know.
A couple of weeks later, my father had died. We stood, glass in hand, in his favorite café, in a small French town situated "sur la route du soleil" between Beaujolais and Côtes du Rhône" toasting his life with his favorite rosé and white wines. The red was reserved for occasions such as a family meal at home. 



I haven't had the opportunity to experiment with "Les Dauphins". A Côtes du Rhône Village 2011 (RRP £7.59), a classic Rhône wine described as "bursting with ripe summer fruits, all backed up with rich, spicy and peppery flavours" but I had had time to go to my local wine shop and asked for advice on pairing it. There, I was given the 3 Golden Rules of matching wine and food

Rule number 1 : Weight of wine with weight of the dish - Wines, heavy in alcohol, such as this Cotes du Rhone at 13.5%, are perfect partners for hearty stews.
Rule number 2: Match acidity with high acidity. That's why cold white wines are so delicious with  fatty/creamy dishes.
Rule number 3: Tannins go well with protein but not with fatty foods so don't even think of serving that Bordeaux with a cream-sauce.
And a last mysterious rule added  as an after-thought just as I was leaving the store; one for me to ponder on the road: Match sweetness with saltiness.

I also had the time to enjoy the bottle of Domaine de la Croix Belle. A Grenache Blanc-Viogner 2010 (RRP £8.95). A wine from the Languedoc. Languedoc- Roussillon is the world's largest wineyard with 270,000 hectares of wines. Imbued with Mediterranean sunshine, it produces charming underated wines. My dad would have approuved of The domaine de Belle Croix. A medium weight wine with the distinctive character of the Viogniers, I found it fresh and spicy.

So I opted for pairing it with crab cupcakes and drunk it as an aperitif.




Crab cupcakes

Ingredients
makes 18 cupcakes

2tbsp salted butter
1/2 small onion diced finely
1/4 diced red pepper
64g polenta
6 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 and a pinch of baking powder
60ml full fat milk
60ml cream
225g crabmeat well drained and all the "bits" picked out

For the frosting you will need to mix 90g of cream cheese with a little milk and 2tsp of lemon juice

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4 and spray nonstick cupcake tin

In a pan melt the butter and cook all the vegetables till soft

In a saucepan cook the polenta according to instruction. leave it all to cool

Then mix everything in a large bowl, adding the crab last

Spoon the mixture in the cupcake tin, you will have to cook it in three batches

Cook for 15 minutes, rotate the tin half way through

Add the frosting when cool

Enjoy

Disclosure, I was sent a hamper with the two named wines, a small selection of mixed herbs, mustard and bbq sauce to complete the challenge.





Coffee Ice-Cream & Digital Note Pads

A food blog is many things, the obvious being a record of recipes. And, to be useful, records need easy access.

On Pebble Soup, readers can get to recipes by using
Labels, a full set of which is found at the end of each page and a selection on the left-hand bar.

Then there is  Google search at the top which allows a search by key words and the

yearly archives with its drilled down list which will give a list of recipes.

Therefore finding a recipe is not really a problem but I wanted something more visual and pretty which called for a note pad.

There are a few note pads around and a quick read on various forums pointed me in the direction of Evernote and Pepper Plate. First impression, "not user friendly enough for me" so I opted for a lesser known note pad which will display collections of recipes on a caroussel. I opted for Spring Pad.

I am rather pleased with the result

 Click on the link to access http://springpad.com/#!/pebblesoup 

Of course all this work was bought to you by several cups of coffee and the odd

Coffee Ice-Cream

Ingredients
150ml expresso coffee or 2 tsp instant coffee dissolved in 150 ml of boiling water
150ml full cream milk
100g light brown sugar
5 large egg yolks
300ml double cream

Method
combine coffee and milk allow to cool
In a heatproof bowl beat the egg yolks, sugar until thick and pale, stir the milk mixture in
Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir with a wooden spoon until you get a custard looking mixture which coat the wooden spoon
Add the double cream when cool and churn in ice-cream machine.



Devilishly Good: Chicken, Chickpeas, Chorizo

A Indian-food warehouse opened a couple of miles away. Some kind of spices and exotic dry-goods heaven, every row more colourful, aromatic than the other.

As for every heaven there is hell. Hell, in this super-shop, takes the shape and of the bargains section. To step into "heaven" customers must first pass a display of crates of.....at a ridiculous retailing price. This is how 12 cans of chickpeas ended up in the kitchen cupboard. If you know any good chickpeas recipe, do not hesitate to drop a comment, as one can eat so much hummus.

Last night, I decided to confront the chickpeas mountain. Have you ever noticed that the items left to their own device, in the dark corners of your kitchen cupboards tend to reproduce. I honestly thought that only of few tins were left but oh no, there are still 7, time for the thinking chef hat.

Often, the best way to tackle a problem is to split it into small size problems. So there are 7 tins of chickpeas in the pantry and one jar of chilly infused oil, pair them up (obviously not the 7 tins, one will do).

Then, what about that chorizo which has been hanging there for a long time. It could be used with fish or chicken. But a couple of years back, I promised myself, never ever to cook fish and chorizo together: ugly connotations attached to that dish. So the recipe is going to be chicken, chickpeas, chorizo throw in shallots and passatta for good measure. The result was magnificent, a devilish triumph, to be enjoyed al-fresco.
Chicken, Chickpeas, Chorizo

Ingredients
As many chicken breast as there are diners
1/2 tin of passatta
200g of chorizo
1 tin or chickpeas
10 shallots
chili infused oil mixed with veg oil or veg oil and a slice chili
salt, pepper

Method
In a frying pan, heat the oil ( and chili) throw in the chorizo.

When the chorizo is fried but not brown, it should have "given out" a little more oil, time to add the shallots
Reduce the heat, cook for 10 minutes then add the chicken, cook for a couple of minutes both sides.
Add the chickpeas, the passata cover simmer for 15 minutes- if the aspect is too liquid, reduce by increasing the heat and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Disclaimer: I would like to thank him for the photography work.


Give-Away #17: Three Thorntons' Union Jack

This give away is now closed, the winners are #8 @ashlallan, #11maxineflossy, #21 fabfood4all. Thank you to every one who enter, keep an eye on the next give-away a fantastic baking book.

It is so quite around here. There is an unnatural stillness which bodes no good. Residents are gazing at their surroundings in disbelief, along the thoroughfare huge planter full of busy-lizzie have been positioned along the railings. Our area is being cleaned and polished. It is going to be......chaos soon, the Olympics are a few days away and Greenwich will be on show.

At Pebble Soup HQ, we are doing our best to ignore the signs of doom. We are pre-celebrating calmly by eating our flags, encouraging you to do the same.
Thornton's Best of British range was launched earlier this year to celebrate 2012 with iconic products and now they are offering three Pebble Soup's readers the chance to win a chocolate flags each. Good Luck...to us all.

How to enter the give-away

Use any or all of the three methods for one or three chances to win one flag

Method #1 Leave a comment below to tell us what is your favorite chocolates flavour.

Method #2 Click on the Tweeter Bird on the left hand side and follow me @solangeweb, then tell me in comments section below you have done so. If you are already a Twitter follower just say so.

Method #3 Spread the word, copy and tweet the following sentence and then tell me in comments section below you have done so.




Give-away closes on the 15th July at midnight.

Terms and conditions:
Three Winners will be selected by Random website shortly after closing date and announced on Twitter and on this page.
Only 3 entries allowed per person, all entries will be verified.
This give-away is open to UK residents only.
There is no cash alternative.

Earlier this year, I interviewed Keith Hurdman, Thorntons Master-Chocolatier Read the full interview here.

Family Friendly Fridays - June Round Up -

Hosting Family Friendly Fridays  for Ren as in Fabulicious has been a thrill. Doing so, made me realise me how much talent was involved in our everyday cooking. Not only we try to serve the tastiest dishes we can, we also go a long way to create meals with whatever ingredients are presented to us, from "here and there" either in veggie boxes, allotments, gardens, markets..... name it, sources are a-plenty and in doing so we are working wonders. We can be very proud of our culinary skills and our inventiveness
  


Shaheen at AK2 has worked her magic on beetroot leaves to present us with these incredibly ingenious Leafy Beetroot Bites  a leafy various of Pakoras

  






Sian at Fish Fingers for Tea cooked a recurring dish Bacon and Spinach Oven Baked Risotto, one of the many dish you've got to try, tasty, easy. One which doesn't require you to watch over it.


Creativity takes all sort of shape and form and often it comes out best in cakes. Our very own Kitchen Goddess in Training's recipe is a prime example of this. "Mini" portions are the trend as they make for gorgeous looking bakes and I defy you to resist Emmy's adorable Miniature Carrot Cakes










At Mint Custard, Becky continues the theme of small but perfectly fun food, she presented her family with lamb sliders.

Sliders are small sandwiches. Originally small hamburgers, they are all the rage at the moment. Becky made her sliders with pittas, definitely original koftas sliders.

When it came to Ren at Fabulicious, the brain and heart behind Family Friendly Fridays, she came up with a mysterious answer to the eternal problem: "What to feed them?". Breakfast was sorted with a Meli-Melo of Tomato and Parmesan. We've possibly all cooked meli-melos at a stage or another, not knowing we were doing so.





The next recipe entered is my dad's signature so I was curious to see how Kavita had changed this to make it easy. I was not disappointed and the step by step will help me cooking it next time I go to see him. Easy Dauphinoise potatoes by Kavey Eats.





Now for Cakes and biscuits, Gocha at Coffee 'n Vanilla has her hands full juggling with family and work, she send us a slice of Lemon, Vanilla 'n Poppy seeds Cake, no doubt that was very much appreciated in the school lunch box.




Chocolate, Ginger, Coffee -Not all in one - cookies were baked by Cake, Crumbs and Cookies. Cookies are some of the most immediately rewarding bakes, baking cookies with kids is always a joy, as there is lots they can participate to.




From Domestic Goddess we got not one but two recipes. Both quick and adding an international flavour to dinner, first her Cannellini Beans Stew made out of desperation, a creative use of "what is left in the pantry". Then Oven Baked Kedgeree, a step by step recipe from our who Goddess got a tip from Lady B: "Through all the prepared ingredients in a dish, covered in the oven, until you are ready to eat, which makes it perfect for an easy supper." Three cheers for Lady B.


Charlotte was pressed-gand to send one of hers. Charlotte' Kitchen Dairy is always full of projects and quirky ideas so I begged...... and she kindly replied with Lentil Tamarind and Date Dansak, a super-speedy beauty, the Dansak....... not Charlotte.





Dinner wouldn't be dinner without a pizza. This was provided by Karen at Lavender and Lovage. Karen is a trained chef and her blog is the place to go to if you need weekly meal plans and inspiration for friendly recipes. Her Piquant Pizza with Goat's Cheese Chorizo and Chillies is next on my list to cook.





Last but not least was my Oven Lamb Baked Risotto. I thank every one who has help to made this edition of Family Friendly Fridays a fab collection. July's will be hosted by Ren Behan herself see you there. 



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