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Bacalao and Paddling Pools

This week the kids started their summer break. I managed to break free of my terminal denial of the situation and threw the oldest two into a local adventure playground.  Armed with sandwiches and juice I released them, handed over my phone number and drove away.  They, of course loved it!  So did I, because it gave me time to recreate one of the dishes I had in Arles, a creamy salt fish dish Bacalao y Bechamel.

We ate at this wonderful tapas restaurant and It was one of the dishes that stuck with me. The creamy sweet roux and the salty shards of fish were a heavenly combination.  I made my own version and I happily give you the recipe.  I added breadcrumbs on top and served with a side of green peas. Mainly because I made it for the kids supper.  Feel free to leave out the breadcrumbs and serve it with crusty bread or a simple bean dish.

I can’t seem to stop making pasta as you will see by the photos below. I am also shooting a pesto/gremolata story with Lisa this week, so made a gremolata, which then ended up on the pasta. The kids also demanded oatmeal cookies.

This weather is divine and long may it stay.  Lola as she was leaving for the park, looked at the pink princess blow up paddling pool in our back yard. “Hey mum, you can sit in there in your swim suit with a glass of wine and a magazine, all on your own. Wouldn’t you like that?” ……Hmmm I just might Lola.

Have a wonderful day!

Rachelle x

 

 Bacalao Y Bechamel

Ingredients

  • 500g salt cod fillet soaked overnight in cold water
  • 1 white onion finely chopped
  • 50g gruyere cheese grated
For the Bechamel
  • 25g butter
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 500ml milk
  • Sea salt
Drain the cod and put it in a saucepan. Pour in water to cover and just bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and set aside for 10mins.  Then remove the cod from the water and discard the skin flake into bite size pieces, set aside.
In a large frying pan melt the butter and add the chopped onion, with the a pinch of sea salt.  When the onion is translucent (around 5mins).  Add the flour and stir until the butter has been absorbed and you have a floury claggy mess.
Then a little at a time add the milk, let the flour absorb all the milk before you add the next bit. Keep going until your claggy mess begins to form a smoothish sauce (it wont be totally smooth because of the onions). This process takes about 8mins.
When all the milk is absorbed. Cook for another couple of mins stirring constantly and then turn off the heat. Add your grated cheese and flaked fish. Place in an oven proof baking dish. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top if you wish.
Turn on the oven to 180C and cook for 20mins.
Serve with crusty bread!

 

 

 


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Its a Chilli Thing

It’s a school day, its 7.00 am and the kids are up and shouting names of various breakfast cereals at me,  except for The Ru, who of course is demanding “Ha” (ham). Tilda is running around chasing The Ru and shouting “Torti”..Lola is lying on her back with her legs in the air singing Marry the Night…I tune it all out and start cooking breakfast…”Uhh mum what are you cooking?” asks Lola, “Huevous Rancheros darling”. She looks at me and rolls her eyes..”Your weird”………..go figure.

I started the week assisting Lisa Barber who is shooting David Everitt-Matthias new book. He is the chef at Le Champignon Savauge. His food is sublime, we tried, amongst other things his truffle infused risotto, it was heavenly!  Tomorrow Lisa and I will be finishing the week photographing pestos and gremolata’s.  I have been designing recipes that are not only delicious but look great too.

A pesto doesn’t just have to be the usual basil, olive oil, pecorino, pine kernels combo. I love to experiment with different ingredients. My addiction at the moment is rocket. It works as a wonderful peppery base for a pesto. I add goats cheese or any soft mild cheese. I also love to add walnuts, or sunflower seeds, or hazelnuts. Then bring out the flavours with a little lemon  juice and season. Its all about balance, pepper, mild, deep, sharp, sweet.

As well as making pestos I have been cooking vietnamese inspired food. I think it is one of my favourite cuisines. Its totally addictive, mainly because of the chlli, lime and sugar elements in a lot of the classic dishes.

I leave you with a few photos of this weeks eclectic cooking and also my recipe for rice paper wraps and chilli dipping sauce.

Have a wonderful day

Rachelle x

These I cooked for about an hour and then placed in the fridge with a glug of olive oil. I use them as and when I need them. Hence Huevous Rancheros for breakfast.

Green olive and thyme and a ton of olive oil

Gluten free and divine. I topped this with vanilla cream and cocoa powder.

I told you it was a pretty eclectic week!

Rice Paper Wraps with Chilli Dipping Sauce

These are wonderful they make me happy and the kids help me make them sometimes. It is a great Saturday lunch activity.

For the Rice Paper Wraps

  • 1 pack of rice paper sheets (the round ones)
  • 150g of cooked prawns
  • Half a cucumber cut into half inch lengths
  • Handful of mint leaves
  • 2 spring onions cut into matchsticks
  • 50g Firm tofu (optional) cut into matchsticks
  • 1 packet of mung bean glass noodles (soaked in hot water and drained)
For the Dipping Sauce
  • 1 tbs water
  • 1 tbs light soy sauce
  • 3 small red chillis (diced as small as you can)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (mashed)
  • Juice of a lime
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
Ok these measurements are a guideline. Taste and add more or less of any of the ingredients to make it more spicy more sweet more citrus. Its up to you.
Making the wraps
Prepare all you ingredients and fill a large bowl with warm water.
Take a chopping board and place a clean tea towel on top. Take your rice paper round and dip it in the warm water, turning it evenly so the wrap softens (if the water is too hot it will disintegrate).
Then carefully place the soft wrap on top of the tea towel, this absorbs the excess water. then a 3rd of the way from the bottom of the wrap layer your ingredients, leaving at least 2cms on either side of the wrap clear.  Fold the sides of the wrap in and so you seal the sides and then fold the bottom of the wrap over the filling and roll away from you so you end up with a spring roll shaped wrap. Cut in half and then repeat until you have used all the ingredients.
Dip in the dipping sauce and eat and be happy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Reality Bites

Its great to be back home but the grey dull after the heat and blue skies in Arles is kind of depressing.  When I am feeling a little under the weather (no pun intended), I turn to baking. Specifically bread making.  I find the process of kneading really therapeutic, I think its a combination of the physical process, turn the brain off and just knead and also the joy that occurs when the dough rises.

This week I decided to go all out and make some pasta too. Making pasta is one of the simplest things to do and the pay off is huge.  You don’t even have to invest in a pasta machine, just roll it out and cut it, or even tear it into Fazzoletti, (handkerchiefs). You roll the dough out as thin as you can bear and then tear the pasta into little handkerchief shapes. I use this method a lot when making gluten free pasta as he dough doesn’t lend itself to a pasta machine at all

I made a wonderful sun dried tomato foccacia to go with the pasta I love this bread and the kids love to do the dimpling, little fingers make more holes therefore more olive oil can be accommodated, its all good…..

My gift to you today is my recipe for  walnut and goats cheese pesto. This is fab as a pesto  but also works as a filling for ravioli.

Rachelle x

Walnut and Goats Cheese Pesto

  • 50g walnuts
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 100g wild rocket
  • 120ml Olive Oil
  • 50g mild goats cheese (chevre)
  • pinch of sea salt
  • juice of half a lemon.
Makes enough for 4 people
Place all the ingredients except the olive oil and goats cheese,in a food processor, whizz then add the oil. Tip out into a bowl and tear up your goats cheese into bite size peices and stir into the pesto. That’s it!

 

 


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Happiness is……

I think the last year or so has taught me that no matter how much you believe in something, there is always some one else who doesn’t believe…more. You can either argue, agree or walk away.

OK you can’t walk away from your kids! But apparently there is some kind of maternal instinct thing that stops you doing that and if that doesn’t work, at least you can put them to bed at 7pm (for the first 6yrs anyway) and then there is school etc.

I left my like minded children behind for four days and did something that I have wanted to do for years. I spent the last four days in Arles in the South of France. It was the Recontres d’Arles and it was amazing.  The most beautiful town hosting a ton of photography exhibitions, lectures, slide shows and films. It was wonderful and to be in the sunshine immersed in such creativity was a true joy.  The food was wonderful, fresh ingredients simple simple dishes, carpacchio of beef with capers and lemon. Wonderful seafood, prawns with a touch of paprika and sweet butter.

My obsession with all things tapas was satiated as well. There is a little restaurant off the side streets of the Place de Forum. Bodeguit Restaurant. If you go to Arles please go there. The food is fabulous, not expensive and the service was friendly and fun. If you do go,  you have to order the seafood platter. It was the most sublime calamari, and prawns served with garlicky beyond belief alioli and the sweetest capers. We ordered it 3 times!

I leave you with a simple recipe that I made for one of my evenings eating on the terrace of the hotel. Take some lambs lettuce or any green lettuce leaf, add chopped heirloom tomatoes, apricots and port salut cheese. Toss together with lemon juice, olive oil and fresh sea salt. I used the local salt, Fleur de Sel De Camargue, use any sea salt you have to hand.

I took a ton of photos and here are a few that I chose to help describe my experience in Arles. I hope you enjoy them.

See you soon

Rachelle x

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Love the Pig!

I think it was Kate Moss who said “No food tastes as good as thin looks”.. Hmm well I’m sorry Ms Moss, you have not eaten twice cooked pork. Oh my god I think I am obsessed. Its the third time I have made it this week! I have switched from a mainly vegetarian diet to eating my body weight in Pig.

I don’t want to bang on too much but please if you don’t ever cook Chinese food, just try this. Its easy cheap and its divine. Ok it is not slimming food but its not like you are going to cook it everyday…(hmm I have an excuse, I had to test the recipe for you).

I made this dish with the kids glued to the TV. All went swimmingly until The Ru, decided to demand “Ha” (Ham) mid fry of the pork belly, then there was a “Ha” off and it all went horribly wrong….  I did not really get a chance to take as many photos as I would have liked, but you have the recipe so go for it.

Have a wonderful week, I am off to France tomorrow and will be back at next week.

Rachelle x

Twice Cooked Pork

You do not need a ton of specialist ingredients for this dish. Just a couple of things Shaoxsing rice wine and fermented salted black beans. Both things you can pick up in most supermarkets and if you can’t find them, then use a black bean sauce and sherry as substitutes.

Prep everything before hand and you will find this a really quick dish to make. I added what veg I had in my fridge so please feel free to do the same. I served it with egg fried rice but you can eat this with plain rice or even some egg noodles dressed in some sesame oil and light soy sauce.

Enjoy x

Serves 2

For the poaching

  • 300g pork belly
  • 600mil of water
  • 1 tablespoon of shaohasing rice wine (or sherry)
  • 1 inch piece of root ginger sliced roughly
  • 3 spring onions roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce
  • Quarter of an onion
For the stir frying
  • 1 tablespoon of cornflour or rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon of Chinese 5 spice
  • 1 yellow pepper sliced
  • 1 spring onion chopped
  • Half a white onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 carrot slice thinly on an angle
For the Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of chilli bean sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of fermented salted black beans (washed and crushed)
  • 1 tablespoon of shaoxsing rice wine or sherry
  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of chilli oil
  • pinch of sugar
Veg Oil for Frying the Pork
Method
Take your strips of pork belly and put them in a saucepan big enough for all the other ingredients too. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20mins. While this is simmering prep all the ingredients for the stir fry and mix the dressing ingredients together.
Drain the pork belly and when it is a little cooler, cut off the top layer of fat (if you feel so inclined, yeah whatever Kate!). Then cut up into bite size pieces. Put in a medium bowl and toss in the cornflour and 5 spices.
Put about an inch and a half of veg oil in a wok or deep frying pan and on a high heat fry the pork pieces for a couple of minutes until brown and crispy. Test the oil is hot enough by putting a small piece of bread in, when it begins to sizzle and brown add the meat,
Place the pork on paper towel and discard all but a tablespoon of oil.  Put back on a high heat add the veg stir fry for a few minutes then add the pork, and then the sauce. Stir fry for a couple more minutes. Serve with rice or noodles.
Yummmmmm x

 

 


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Garden Roses and Rocket

“Oh my god Mummy guess what?” Lola interrupts me and has a look about her that means she is about to reveal something incredible.   “You can buy two packets of Jammy Dodgers in Iceland for one pound…..” I have no words,  I just look at my friend Lisa, who is falling over laughing.

Jammy Dodgers aside (I’m sure you will all be rushing out to claim the bargain of the week). It has been a really productive and fun week. It has been the perfect balance of hanging with my kids and working.

Its summer so floral jobs are arriving on my doorstep.  I designed and made floral’s for a first communion in Henley on Thames. What a joy to be working with flowers again.   I sourced most of my flowers from Green and Gorgeous in Oxfordshire. My friend Rae grows the most wonderful English garden flowers.

I have also had a week of cooking a ton of Asian food. Oh my god, Hackney is such a great place to source ingredients.  I am totally on a Vietnamese kick at the moment and I promise I will post some recipes in the next week or so.  I am frantically trying to get ready for my trip to France this week. I am so excited to be going to Arles during the Recontres d’Arles.  It is going to be an incredible experience and I am sure I will gather lots of inspiration for recipes there.

Today I feel to share a simple salad recipe with you. I always try to make sure there is fresh fruit in the house and it is rare this time of year for there not to be rocket leaves in my fridge. I think the peppery little leaf is my favourite. I throw it on warm pasta and toss with olive oil sea salt and whatever shards of cheese are in my fridge. I can pretty much eat it out of the bag like a packet of crisps.

I paired the peppery leaves with fresh apricots, just torn into bite size pieces. Make sure the apricots are juicy and soft. I then added some soft goats cheese and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.  Simply divine. The apricots and the goats cheese is a match made in heaven.

Well,  I hope you have a wonderful week.and I leave you with a few photos of my flowers and of course the goats cheese and apricot salad.

Rachelle x

 

 

 


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