2014 : What a Year That Was

Once more you have made a year very special. Readership increased by 70% which resulted in Pebble Soup ranking 28 in December. I've been working with some wonderful people and shared some great recipes with you. In 2014, I pluck up the courage to make my writing more personal.
 
Because of its popularity, Pebble Soup attracted more and bigger brands in turn  allowing  for better give-aways,  I was delighted to share with you, some of the products which I was sent for review and I intend to continue doing so in 2015.
 
Consolidating on the previous year, I wrote food articles for Great British Chefs and travel pieces for Trip Reporter on a regular basis.  The cherry on the cake came with my very own food column in The Greenwich Visitor. There were some great commissions from national newspapers and each time I shared with you, what happened "behind the scene" .
 
All in all 2014 was a great vintage at Pebble Soup and I have high hopes for 2015. Thank you so much for dropping by regularly.
 
I wish you a wonderful 2015, may your dreams come true.
 
Solange with love x
 
Here a few 2014 highlights


In January, I had to face up to my Gingerbread Men addiction. February's Kiwi Muffins recipe was extremely popular. March was cold but didn't stop a  inspiring visit to Vienna for Trip Reporter. In April, I worked with Mustard Maille to create a Salmon and Dill Verrine.


During spring and summer, I attended a class at the Ateliers des Chefs where to my amazement, I baked macarons, a triumph on the other end entering #Tuscanycookoff was a disappointment, rules changed at the last minute, I since heard that could be reported and I think bloggers should be more forceful with these matters.

Volunteering in Greenwich park Queen's orchard and Bringing vegetables back home boosted creativity, you particularly liked another muffin recipe, this time: chocolate and beetroot. Last but not least a few chefs cooked us breakfast and lunch.
 
Dragon fruit cheese cake dessert
 
The rest of the year went slightly crazy with developing recipes for magazines and travelling for articles and if it's anything to go by, 2015 will bring you recipes from Canada, Greece, Turkey among other things.
 

Chicken/Turkey with Vanilla & Maple Syrup Wrap

chicken turkey vanilla maple syrup mission wrap

When this post will be published, Christmas won't have happened yet but at Pebble Soup we'll have already eaten the left-overs. Did we get a Tardis for Christmas? sadly no.

Chicken or Turkey with Vanilla and Maple syrup wrap

I accepted a mission.
Mission Deli, as in the Wraps were looking for new recipes for their web-site blog. The perfect opportunity to try a Vanilla 'n Maple Syrup Glaze. Of course it has a hint of sweetness but the vinegar cuts right through it and the end product is like nothing else. You've got to try it. 

It's tasty and healthy perfect for Boxing Day and hopefully you'll make it again in the new year.
Vanilla & Maple Glazed Chicken/Turkey
 
Chicken or Turkey with Vanilla and Maple syrup wrapPREPARATION: 10 MINS
SERVES: 2
COOKING: 20 min
 
INGREDIENTS:
300g free range chicken goujons or left over turkey
Freshly ground salt and pepper
½ fresh Orange or 50ml of juice
75ml Maple Syrup
1 ½ teaspoons Taylor and Colledge Vanilla Bean Paste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
¼ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1 wrap per person + salad or spring onions, mashed avocado any green which takes your fancy.
 
METHOD:
 
Season the chicken/turkey with salt and pepper and fry it in a little hot olive oil so that it browns. If you are using the chicken you need to cook it through which should take about 8 mins. If you are using the turkey you just need the colour.
 
Meanwhile, combine maple syrup, vanilla bean paste, orange juice, olive oil, vinegar, thyme and chilli in a small bowl and whisk until well combined.

Pour the mixture over the chicken and let it reduce for 10-15 minutes. Keep an eye on it, when it glaze the meat, it's ready
 
LAST STEP
Serve on a plate immediately  drizzling it generously with the pan juices so that dinners can make their own wrap. I've used mashed avocado and lamb lettuce to add to the wrap but anything which takes you fancy or is in the fridge will do nicely.

 
Chicken or Turkey with Vanilla and Maple syrup wrap

Christmas in Avignon

Going to Avignon earlier this month, made me realised how much unnecessary pressure we put on ourselves in the Anglo-Saxon world. When there,  on several occasions, I mentioned, "Black Friday" just to be met with a look a complete incomprehension.
 
It was the start of the second week in December and shops had just started displaying their Xmas goods. Les Halles - the largest intra-muros food market- wasn't showing any sign of Christmas yet. 

mur vegetale avignon

One peculiarity of Les Halles in Avignon is its wall, 30m x 11,50m, set up by botanist Patrick Blanc. It has a sophisticated irrigation system, as you can imagine, being in the south of France. Growing vertically is an interesting concept. A Pebble Soup's guest blog post which is still very popular was written about this subject matter, Urban Eden in the Sky
Traders mentioned the Christmas tradition of the 13 desserts, symbol of Christ and the 12 apostles. The 13 desserts traditionally end the "big supper" on Christmas eve before midnight mass. 

Though there are variations, it's often green melon kept safe in straw since harvest, apples, pears, grapes, nuts , figs , oranges, mandarins and nougat. There is jam, "focaccia" and mulled wine too.
 
Of what I have seen tradition has evolved a little and the fruits are often "confits".
Avignon fruits confits

Another outlet which should not be missed when strolling in the papal city is Aline Géhant's, a chocolatiere with a real talent for soft but strong flavours. Her chocolates infused with star-anise (badiane) or lavender are unique.

This was a bit of behind the scenes of my press trip to read more about Avignon head to Trip Reporter where the article was published

Give Away #29 : Two 50ml bottles of the new Quizas Seduccion by Loewe

This Christmas, I would like to add my present under 2 lucky readers' Christmas tree. I searched for something relevant to the latest news and as from this month, I am writing The Greenwich Visitor food pages, going local seemed to be the answer.
 
For once it's not food related, Christmas Give Away is a  chance to win
 
Not one but two 50ml bottles of the new Quizas Seduccion by Loewe which is launching at The Fragrance Shop in the Lewisham Centre this Christmas to give away to two lucky readers.
The range is from Loewe, a luxury Spanish label, which is based in the cultural capital of Madrid, and who specialise in high quality perfumes, aftershaves and luggage. With unrivalled experience in luxury perfumes since 1972, The Fragrance Shop is one of the very few retailers to stock Loewe scents in the UK.
 
Quizás Loewe Seducción is a floral-fruity fragrance with aphrodisiac powers. It opens with a fruity cocktail of tempting passion fruit, sweet orange and blackberry. Its full floral heart combines elegant Sambac jasmine with strong tuberose and orange blossom. The base of the perfume features sweet notes of caramel and vanilla.
 
The Eau de Parfum comes in an elegant black bottle in 30ml (£44.50), 50ml (£62.50) and 100ml (£85). The give away is 50 ml.
 
You will need to collect the 50ml eau de parfum bottle from The Fragrance Shop, Unit 63A, Lewisham Centre, SE13 7EP. An opportunity to have a look around the vegetable and fruit market.
 
Three ways to win
 
 1 – Comment on the blog Leave a comment below, telling us what is your Christmas wish.
 
2 – Twitter Follow @solangeweb on Twitter. If you already follow, it goes without saying that you are welcome too. Then tweet the following:
I've entered @FragranceShopUK 'n @solangeweb #giveaway to win a 50ml #Quizas #Loewe eau de #parfum #PebbleSoupXmas http://www.pebblesoup.co.uk/2014/12/give-away-29-two-50ml-bottles-of-new.html

Cut and paste is safer. I'll track your entry with the Twitter handle   

3- Facebook Like Pebble Soup page   

Entries will close on Friday 19th December at midday (12.00GMT) collection in person from Lewisham Fragrance Shop

Terms and conditions:
Winner will need to collect the 50ml bottle directly from the fragrance shop in Lewisham or send a trusty friend.
One Winner will be selected via digital Randomiser shortly after closing date and announced on Twitter and on this page.
Only one entry per category per person, (1 comment, 1 twitter, 1 facebook) all entries will be verified.
This give-away is open to UK residents only.
There is no cash alternative. 
The prize will have to be claimed within 3 days so please make sure you check your account for notification.
 
 

 

Gardiane de Boeuf AKA Beef Gardiane

On a recent visit to Avignon, flavours associated to my early childhood tickled my nose, once more. First meal, I ordered a Gardiane de Boeuf, a speciality of the area, now made with beef, yesterdays with bull meat.

guardiane de boeuf - beef gardiane recipe - camargue recipe
Growing up in Nimes with a bullfighting aficionado for a dad, I had my fair share of bull meat. Gardiane was always on restaurant menus and always a family favourite.

Bull is now replaced by beef, as sourcing bull is complicated. Guardiane is a dish typical of Camargue, the Rhone delta, a wonderful swamp where flamingos, local horses and bulls live roam.
 
The dish called Gardiane as it was gardians' pack lunch. Gardians are horsemen who tended to bull herds, in another words a cow-boys and gardiane is a sophisticated boeuf bourguignon.
 
The meat needs to marinate over night. This is a dish with strong flavours which requires rice and/or wild rice to soak up the lovely juices.
 
Have a peep at the ingredients:
 
1 kg stewing beef -diced- serves 4 to 6 people
2  onions -peeled and chopped-
2 carrots- peeled and sliced
3 or 4 cloves garlic, left whole
3  anchovy fillets
green olives as many as you like
1/2 bottle of red wine
500ml beef stock
1 sprig rosemary
1 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
olive oil
Salt and pepper
 
Method
Peel and slice the onions. Peel the garlic cloves and leave them whole. Place in a bowl with herbs and a little olive oil. Marinate overnight.
 
The next day, Heat a pan with a little olive oil. Add beef pieces, mix and allow to color slightly, retrieve the meat and replace with  the onions and garlic for 5 minutes.
 
Meanwhile, rinse, peel and cut the carrots into thick slices. Add them to the pan, stir.
 
Add the anchovies, bouillon. Salt and pepper, add the olives and cover with red wine.
 
Simmer with a lead on for 2 hours.
 
When cooked, taste to check the seasoning. Increase heat to reduce the juices
Serve Camarguaise rice, a delicious French rice, firm and rather plain in flavour often mixed with black wild rice.

Palais des papes
Inside the Palais des Papes in Avignon - Article soon on Trip Reporter
 
 

Miele Secret Supper Club

The black car rolled silently down our little street, I jumped in and off we went toward a secret destination for a steam dinner prepared by Nordic Chef Martyn Mied.

First impression: Miele London Gallery with its exciting kitchen appliances had been tastefully transformed into a "food theatre"

Here I was going to have my first taste of hay hash. At this stage, I got a little confused. Not helped by my neighbour who was looking at me with a knowing smirk.
 
Obviously, I had missed a trend and here it is explained as Nordic food is on the rise.  Ashes from burnt hay are sprinkled on food in upscale restaurants, something which has been done from way-way back but has been revived by René Redzepi of Denmark's Noma.
 
It's said to add bitter and smoky flavours to the dishes. Ashes worked well with Mackerel & Beet. The colours were drastic and the smoky flavour noticeable.

Usually burning your food is not quite acceptable unless you are chef Mied and then it becomes an art. Vegetables are burnt too to add extra crisp, as in the Seabass and Burnt Chicory

 
After 6 courses we parted with a delicate plate of Luxury Chocolate
 

 
disclaimer: I was a guest at the Miele Secret supper club, no money was exchange and I was not requested to write a review. I would like to thank FrankPR for inviting me
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