Gratin Dauphinois an Inheritance Recipe

Margot  of Coffee 'n Vanilla hosts this month #Inheritance Recipes challenge. The theme is Back to School. Here is the link: Inheritance Recipes Challenge is "back to school".

If I have to look the past in the eye, back to school never brought a lot of excitement. As a kid, it meant the end of perfect days: reading and day dreaming. In my teaching days, September brought a sense of panic and the default mode was work 24/7, not much time to think about "what's for dinner?"
When food becomes sustenance only, some turn to  sandwiches or grab the first thing they see in the fridge. I make Smash, we all have a little vice. This one comes from my younger days, leaving with an invisible dad and an omnipresent mother who could not boil water without letting it burn but she had perfected instant mash potato.
Though when my dad made an appearance at the week-end, he cooked a few dishes extremely well: his infamous Tarte Tatin and a mean Gratin Dauphinois and when I think back to the Septembers of my childhood, that's the dish I associate them with.
It's a decadent dish which is slightly more complicated than it looks. So here are a few tips
The technics
The potatoes needs to be sliced really thinly, dad used a food processor. It takes a long time to cook. Start it at 210C for 15 minutes and reduce the oven to 180C for another 40 minutes.
The sauce
It has got to be cream, may be not a litre of liquid cream as my father insisted on using, probably 200gr of thick cream fraiche cut with milk will suffice, double cream works well too.
The flavouring
 In my view a good gratin Dauphinois is one which will keep the horror of going back to work or school and the vampires away. Wipe the side and the base of the baking plate with garlic gloves and press some more garlic in between the layers
Don't hold back the pepper either.
My mum in her strange cooking ways, pre-cooks hers long in advance, uses gruyere between the layers and re-heats it. I am certain that she never read the Larousse Gastronomique but that the way it recommends with a layer at the top and one at the bottom.
Gratin Dauphinois
4 large potatoes
2 cloves of garlic
250g of cream
1 small glass of milk
salt and a little more pepper than your usual
method: serves 4
  • peel and slice the potatoes, the trick is to slice them with the food-processor so that the slices are very very thin and you can see through
  • rub garlic on the bottom of the oven-proof dish and its side
  • place a layer of slices in dish, top with cream and a little milk salt, pepper, crushed garlic
  • renew the operation until you run out of slices, every couple of layers add the garlic
A Coffee 'n Vanilla and Pebble Soup Challenge

Inheritance Recipes - August Round up -

A plate of food is often much more than that. With Inheritance Recipes we encouraged you to tell us stories. We never expected so much support on our first month challenge, you've tweeted, re-tweeted adding Inheritance Recipes to all sorts of social media and we thank you all for this.

Now it's time to round up all the recipes and to announce the winner chosen by Janice as in Farmer's Girl. Janice faced a difficult choice did a sterling job. She told us "I loved so many of the recipes but wanted to make sure that the one I chose really met the criteria".
The theme this month was summery/cool/easy recipes and here is the round up:
Starting at the beginning (for once) with
Fresh ideas for picnics and family parties:

From Margot who worked tirelessly behind the scene of the challenge, 2 recipes from here native Poland, Polish Quick Eating Salted Dill cucumber in Brine and a
In keeping with the liquid theme from the Hedge Combers Royal Barley Water Recipe
De tout Coeur Limousin sneaked in a little dose of liquid in her smoky charred aubergine, pepper & tequila salsa and added sorrel and mint  to her Labneh
Diana as in Little Sunny Kitchen joined the party with her Spinach Pastries (Fatyer Sabanekh) 
Cool and Easy to prepare mains:


I brought my grand-dad's Shashuka and Jen's food added a dish she remembers from her childhood an easy baked Smoked Sausage Pasta

Sweet things:

To kick off the sweet batch Foodie Quine with her Gran Ma Monearn's shortbread

Choclette as in Tin and Thyme made us want to go foraging to bake her Chocolate Blackcurrant Buckle

A very seasonal Gooseberry Jam by our very own friendly Judge which will never thank enough Janice as in Farmer's Girl

Quick and fun Honey Joy from Green Gourmet Giraffe and Raspberry Lemonade truffles by Play Dough and Popsicle

An amazing no-bake Oreo Icebox Cake by Little Sunny Kitchen

and the winner is:
Our warmest congratulations to the Made in Pink who picked the strawberries in her local farm with her little one and baked a the "super duper easy to make" Strawberry Pie . Your Lakeland set of cake pans is on its way, we are looking forward to see what you'll create next

Hope you'll join us for the September Challenge hosted by Margot at Coffee and Vanilla.

Vinothec Compass - Greenwich Peninsular -

'Vinothec Compas' is a new restaurant and wine cellar/bar/library attached to the Greenwich Peninsula Golf Range near the O2.

When we first moved to Greenwich, in the days prior the Dome, we were greeted by two neighbours who knocked on the door one evening, complete with a bottle of wine, large smiles and a couple of chairs. "It's a street tradition," we were told during a conversation which involved a lot of golf-talk.

Barbara had recently taken up golf, little by little, her enthusiasm spread and many more neighbours joined her at the local golf club. Needless to say that he and I stayed well away. Both thinking along the same lines, He: "This looks to much like sport, I don't do sport". I: "This is a sport of no interest since it doesn't involve water".

Therefore when last month, I told Barbara that we were going to the brand new Greenwich Peninsular 60 bays golf driving range, she almost fell off her chair. I had to quickly explain that we had kindly been invited to the launch party of Vinothec Compass, the restaurant attached to the golf driving range. Her balance was restored.

But on arrival, we couldn't help it, though optional, we grabbed a club each and under the expert eye of a puzzled coach, demonstrated that sports and moreover exercise on land will never ever be our forte. Though we thoroughly enjoyed the experience, especially since, by some kind of miracle, it didn't involve any casualty and was rewarded by a glass Pol Roger Champagne accompanied by  artichokes amuse-bouches prepared in the open kitchen overseen by Michelin trained Chef Jordi Rovira Segovia and chef  Daniel Rodriguez Navas.
Artichoke like salsify isn't a vegetable favoured by restaurateurs, rarely making an appearance on menus,  therefore these unusual canapés bide well for the rest of the tasting menu. Indeed it was a gastronomic experience which I highly recommend if you are passing near the O2. It's well worth stopping at the Vinothec Compass. The baby squid was perfectly cooked (which is an art in itself), I can honestly say that it was the best I ever had. The suckling pig with piquillo peppers was a delight. Sweet things are not forgotten, the mini tarte Tatin produced on request was very nice too.

But food is not all, as this is a restaurant with a cave attached or vice-versa. One of the founder Arnaud Compass who introduced himself as Wine Raconteur has created a paradise for wine lovers. Over 600 wines will definitely attract more than golfers. The emphasis focuses on unusual wines from all over the world. 

I didn't know that wine was produced in Morocco but the Tempranillo I tried made me regret this oversight. If Compass and team focus on small producers, they also offer the more familiar wines at a price starting at less than a fiver per glass to bottles costing over £100. The beer drinkers are not forgotten, Vinothec Compass has a range of craft beers too.

More to read:
Vinothec Compass including menu and story

Chris Osbourn's account of the evening: A stroke of genius

and from Foodaholic

Disclaimer: We would like to thank the Vinothec Compass team for inviting us  we enjoyed an evening of golf and menu tasting as a guests of Vinothec Compass. I received no further remuneration to write this post.  I was not expected to write a positive review – all views are my own. I retain full editorial control.
Vinothec Compass Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


And The Cook Like Celebrity 2015 Champion is.......

#CookLikeCelebrity was a series of first.  First time in a cooking context. First time on a cruise-ship. First time, I baked brownies. So what happened?.....

Let me introduce the other two contestants: at the top, next to Executive Chef, Paul Carroll is Urvashi Roe of Botanical Baker: Urvarshi bakes splendidly,  she is a former contestant on Great British Bake Off. Her addition of botanical ingredients make her pictures instantaneously recognisable.

Andrea Soranidis as in The Petite Cook is a relative new-comer to the food-blogging scene. Something you wouldn't know by looking at her blog. It's neat, sleek and professional. Andrea is a natural.

Behind the scenes:
As I left home for Southampton cruise terminal, where the contest was going to take place, there was no doubt in my mind that Urvashi was going to win.

Though, we were about to compete against each other, the three of us were getting on well from the very first photo-shoot. Before being taken to the galley where the competition was to take place, we were given an VIP tour of the Celebrity Eclipse 

Behind the scenes: I soon realise why going on board a cruise ship was a first for me. I am not sure that my itchy feet and backpack are made to cruise but at least now, I'd love to give it a go.

Too soon, we gathered in a lounge where we were told which signature recipe we were to recreate: 3 Chocolate Brownies. Judging by the large smiles on either side of me, I was the only one who had never baked a brownie.

Behind the scenes: I never had the opportunity to make a batch of brownies but I learnt a valuable lesson on the day: confidence is part of the winning process.  
And, I had a special weapon up my sleeve, my mate Michelle as in Greedy Gourmet. Michelle once described brownies which she makes to perfection in these terms : "moist, soft and squidgy on the inside and slightly crisp on the outside." If the brownie is too dry, it's a cake, if it's too squidgy, it's a mess. Cooking time is essential.

Behind the scenes: There was a funny moment, in my panic, I forgot to integrate the flour and it's only on my way to the oven with the tray that I noticed the consistency. This could not be correct. A quick glance at Chef, a double take to the work-station and yes the flour was still there.

Have you ever wondered how these contests work? Candidates are given a recipe-sheet with the instructions, most of the ingredients are ready to use, weighed and lined up on the work-top. In our case, we were also offered a tray of decorations for the finishing touch.

And then it was time for the judges to decide which was the best. Not before we described why we had chosen to present the brownies in such a way. That took me slightly aback but if I am not the best baker in the world, I surely have ways with words. I only had to look at my effort and "deconstructed" sprung to mind which was as well as the brief was for Deconstructed 3 Chocolate Brownies.

I am very proud to say that I won the contest. It only sank in on the train back home. I am "Cook Like Celebrity" 2015 champion and this was my brownie

if you fancy trying the recipe at home, here it is:

Deconstructed 3 Chocolate Brownies 

#‎CookLikeCelebrity was organised in partnership with Great British Chefs and Celebrity Cruises. It took place in the galleys onboard the Celebrity Eclipse

Croissant Crown : Brunch Fit for a Queen

Inspiration comes from many quarters. But it's one thing to see something and another to make it at home without instructions. I once struggled with a Melon de Dinde but the results were definitely worth it, succulent meat made really moist by the fat simmering inside. 

Starting from the reckless principle: if they can do it, I can do it too. When I came across a picture of une couronne de croissants fourrés, there was no doubt in my mind. This beautiful thing was to be the next brunch.

For once, it was dead easy. Start with a tin of uncooked dough for croissants,  sold in shops for £1.50. The stuffing is left entirely up to the imagination. I would think that cheddar will be high on the list however here, I made used of the mozzarella which was languishing in the fridge and left-over ham shreds.

The trick, if ever there is one in this case is the place all the triangles with their small side touching one another in a circle on the work-top, place the fillings on the top and roll the croissant as normal. there will be gaps and therefore a little spillage but that doesn't matter. Cook according to the instructions. Et voila

A tear and share - happy meal.

Bloggers, have you entered your recipe in the Inheritance Challenge yet?
Grab the logo below and link up here
I entered My Croissant Crown in the Baking Explorer and Cakeyboi's

"I Made This" : Butter

Do you remember the ending few seconds of each X-files episode when a little voice proudly declared "I made this". That little voice skipped and played into my head as I turned the handle of this ever so low tec hand-held gadget that you have to love it for just what it represents.

 Why would you make your own butter?
There is no rational reason for making home-made butter, if only to enjoy that moment when you look inside the jar and you see the cream separating, the buttermilk raising and the butter forming. That's the "I made this" moment.

 Turning cream into butter has never been difficult, it can be done in a food processor or even a plain jar, it's a matter of shaking the cream a medium speed. In this case, by turning the handle.
I am afraid to say it's not economical either, unless you have free access to a cow in the back garden. For 400-450g of butter you'll need 900ml double or whipping cream.
But it's fun and you are certain that your butter will not contain additive. Butter can be flavoured. Add garlic, parsley and eh, presto: Garlic Butter for an Italian evening.  Add a touch of icing sugar and a sprinkling of cinnamon to your homemade butter and serve with tear-and-share sweet breads, snack-attacks sorted.
With the buttermilk I made a scones-crown
How to make butter?
Pour the cream in the Butter Churner and beat it at a medium speed for 10 to 15 minutes. First the cream will thicken to eventually stiffen and form butter clumps and a whitish liquid. Carry on churning for a few minutes. Then you'll need to rinse the remaining buttermilk from your butter. That's when paddles are handy but you can do it by hand. Et voila "you made this too"
Disclaimer Silver Mushroom sent me their Kilner Butter Churner for trial. I was not asked to write a positive review. The Kilner Butter Churner can be found online and in shop RRP £22.00

Lobster Ravioli

You know what the wise woman says "every single cloud deedah deedah...." however, when it comes to fishing policies, it's hard to imagine that the adage applies. 
Loster Ravioli Canadian Recipe
Lobster Ravioli served in The Canadian -VIA train across Canada -
I still maintain that (collective) we don't do enough and this is going to end up in tears but in the meantime, something is happening for which we had no warning.

The price of lobster is falling drastically, 70% in recent years, according to the Wall Street Journal.

This is likely to make a huge difference to the choice of main dish at Christmas. Already Iceland (the supermarket not the country) chose to make this once expensive crustacean one of its showpiece, at what we can expect to be a very reasonable price.
lobster lobster ravioli

Why is this happening?
The Atlantic temperature is rising, lobsters hatch sooner, little ones grow faster. Concomitantly there is less danger to the small lobsters as there predator, cod, is overfished, told you it's a mess. In return Canadian and American lobsters abound.
Looking at the bright side of things, we can, for a while at least, make the most of the not-so-good situation and eat lobsters while keeping an eye on the ever more complicated list of sustainable fish to eat published by the Marine Conservation Society.
At least, if produced "en masse" lobsters are likely to arrive frozen are ready to cook which make recipes such as lobster ravioli, much easier to prepare at home.
I had a lobster ravioli for brunch while travelling in the Canadian, four days across Canada for Trip Reporter and I loved it. Here is the easy way to cook it at home. A lot of "cheat" is used but cooking from scratch for a small amount doesn't make sense.
Lobster Ravioli
Fresh lasagne sheets (dried can be used too, half cook them first, handle when cold)
Lobster meat
Double cream
Tarragon, salt pepper
1 egg, whisked
the proportions depend on the quantity you will be making. The filling needs to be rather thick. Weight the lobster flesh and start adding 1/4 of the weight in cream.
Mix lobster and cream in a bowl. Use a hand-blender to a "mash". add herb and seasoning
Place a sheet of lasagne on the work top.
Top with a teaspoon of the mixture leaving 12cm between the "blobs".
Paint the egg on the lasagne between the lobster fillings, this will act like a glue.
Cover with the other lasagne. Press where the egg has been painted but not to close to the filling as it needs a bit of space to expand.
Cut the shapes and boil for 5 minutes (3 if al dente)
Serve with cream sauce and grated cheese
Dear Bloggers-Readers have you entered the #InheritanceRecipes Challenge yet


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