Tag Archives: seasonal food

The Taste of Spring: Crisp Asparagus and Sweet Pea Salad with Poached Egg and Fresh Goats Curd

26 Mar
Spring Asparagus, Fresh Goats Curd & Poached Egg Salad

Crisp Asparagus and Sweet Pea Salad with Poached Egg and Fresh Goats Curd

This morning I woke up and thought: “I’m going to walk to the markets, buy whatever is in season, fresh, and locally grown- and just make something delicious.” And that’s what I love about France. Whether you’re in Paris, or a tiny regional village somewhere, the local growers markets will always be there to supply the best quality produce- and most importantly- it’s LOCAL, and IN SEASON, meaning you’re supporting local farmers and businesses, with the knowledge that your produce is ultra fresh and didn’t travel half way across the continent before you bought it.

A sure sign of spring, the markets right now display a stunning array of all things bright and green. These impressive, plump, deep purple and green asparagus spears instantly called my name. Sitting right next to a basket of fresh sweet peas in their pods, with the local vendor positioned right opposite the stand of my favourite cheese man- it was an instant match made in heaven. With the best produce, freshest ingredients and dash of inspiration, you simply can’t go wrong.

Farmers Market Violet Asparagus

The fresh asparagus was calling my name

Mr Gouiran et son chevre

15th Generation local cheesemaker Mr Gouiran and his Goats milk cheeses

The process of preparing my yummy lunch today made me realise how much cooking is actually like a short love affair – in this case mine was no more than a spring fling: It starts with the usual chemistry of checking each other out at the market, them being impressed enough with what you find to take it home, admiring your new possession, photographing it to capture it’s beauty, imagining all the wonderful things you’re going to do to it, carefully preparing for the big moment, making sure all is well placed, aesthetically balanced, and then savouring every last moment of your time together…

Of course that’s the romanticised version- but since I’m in France, I figure I’m allowed. Hmmm… does that mean those who are handy in the kitchen make better lovers? Now there’s a debate of it’s own! Drop your comments in the box at the end of this post, I’m keen to hear what my readers have to say about this…

Asparagus and Peas

Violet Asparagus and Green Peas

Peas in a pod

Peas in a pod

Asparagus Spears

Is it just me or ate these peas and asparagus are gettin' it on?

Fresh Brousse de Chevre

The Real Deal: Fresh, local goats milk artisinal Brousse cheese

Artisinal Fresh French Goats Cheese

Market-fresh chevre au poivre by 15th generation artisinal cheesemaker

Ok, that’s probably enough of the food porn… now here’s that recipe:

Recipe:

Crisp Asparagus and Sweet Pea Salad with Poached Egg and Fresh Goats Curd

Ingredients:

Serves 2:
1 dozen fresh asparagus spears
250 grams fresh goats curd cheese (or similar depending on availability)
2 handfulls de-podded sweet peas
Extra virgin olive oil
Fleur de sel
Fresh cracked black pepper
2 free range eggs

To serve:
Fine shavings of Italian Cacioricotta cheese

Directions:

Cut asparagus spears at approximately 4/5th of their length on a 45 degree angle- if you bend the spear, the place where it snaps is where you should but it. Discard fibrous ends.

De-pod sweet peas and discard outer pods. Prepare two pots with boiling water. In one pot add salt and quickly blanch the asparagus and peas until just cooked and crisp. Remove and drain immediately. In the other, poach 2 eggs till medium-runny in boiling water with white vinegar.

Return asparagus spears to pan and coat lightly in olive oil with a pinch of fleur de sel.

Arrange fresh goats cheese and poached egg in centre of plate. Place peas around them and individually place asparagus spears on top.

To serve: add fine shavings of Cacioricotta cheese, fleur de sel and cracked black pepper over the asparagus.

Serve with a crisp white wine.

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Mushroom Magic. C’est la saison des champignons! Mille-feuille croustillant aux champignons et crème de noisette

26 Sep
Mushroom mille-feuille with hazelnut creme

Mille-feuille croustillant aux champignons avec oignons caramélisé, chèvre et crème de noisette

This week browsing the Parisian growers market I was so excited to discover almost 10 different varieties of French mushrooms are now in season that I decided to dedicate an entire post and recipe all to the humble, versatile mushroom. My first ever sighting of the remarkable giant cèpe conjured up magical, childhood memories of fairy-tales and illustrated story books- not to mention left me wondering how and what you cook with a 2kg cèpe mushroom which is bigger than the average Parisien chiwawa!

As a sure sign that winter is approaching- the varying damp and rain cultivates very specific mushrooms in regions with specific seasons- some varieties make very brief appearances and you will only see them on sale for a week or two a year. The different varieties open up so many new possibilities for pairing flavors, textures and ingredients with a seasonal ingredient that is both a star on it’s own, and equally as brilliant as an accompaniment.

For this blog post I wanted to create a recipe with the mushroom as the star of the dish. Since the choice was so overwhelming I found it hard to follow a minimalist approach and ended up buying 3 varieties in one go (not to mention burning a neat 15 € sized hole in my wallet). Thanks to my over enthusiasm for pricey, fancy fungi, the following recipe is made with a combination of seasonal varieties but would of course be equally as good, if not better with just one variety alone, left to shine as the hero of the dish.

Before I start on the recipe, here’s some pics of the markets this weekend showing a few different varieties from the farmers markets. Some of these are certified bio/organic so the prices on display are obviously much higher.

champignon de paris

Champignons de paris

Chanterelles

Chanterelle mushrooms

Baby Cèpe mushrooms

Baby Cèpe mushrooms

Porto bello mushrooms

Porto bello mushrooms

Pleurote Mushrooms

Pleurote (oyster) mushrooms

Children eating at markets

Mushroom-eating munchkins! Too cute to leave this one out. The potato, mushroom and gruyere fritters they were eating looked pretty good too!

Hungry yet?

Hope so! Here’s the recipe for a delicious seasonal dish with typical French flavor profile made with market fresh mushrooms and Mille-feuille (flaky layered pastry). It’s not difficult to make, but can be a bit fiddly and certainly not achieved in a hurry. Use whatever mushrooms are in season (picured example includes girolle, cèpe and chanterelles), a mild goats cheese that’s soft enough to spread on the flaky pastry, a good quality ready-to bake Pâte feuilletée and fresh thyme if possible.

Mille-feuille croustillant aux champignons avec oignons caramélisé, chèvre et crème de noisette
(Wild mushroom mille-feuille with caramelized onlion, goats cheese and roast hazelnut crème)

Ingredients (serves 2):

I sheet flaky savoury pastry (Pâte feuilletée) cut into 4 x 10×6 cm rectangles
100 ml crème fraîche épaisse or equivalent (fat content is not important)
3 tbsp fresh, diced parsely
2 tbsp fresh or dry thyme leaves
450 grams fresh seasonal mushrooms
50 grams soft mild (spreadable) goats cheese
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or organic, demi-salted butter
3 tbsp hazelnut oil
1.5 medium-large brown onions
1 tsp balsamic vinegar or red wine
1 tsp brown sugar
2 hand-fulls whole hazelnuts
White pepper
Sea salt

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees celsius. On a lightly greased tray lay out the rectangles of cut pastry and put hazelnuts in an oven-proof dish. Bake for 20 mins or until the pastry has puffed and turned golden brown, remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

cepes, girolles, chanterelle

cepes, girolles, chanterelle

Hazelnuts

Begin preparing the caramelized onion. Dice onion finely length-ways and add into a heavy-based saucepan with olive oil, balsamic or red wine and brown sugar. Keep stirring and cooking the onions slowly on low heat until they are translucent, soft and toffee brown, whilst preparing the mushrooms.

Rinse all mushrooms well and pat dry immediately to remove excess water with a clean tea towel or kitchen paper. Slice cèpes (or similar bigger meaty varieties) length-ways and leave other smaller mushrooms whole.

Heat olive oil and 2 tbsp hazelnut oil in a frying pan and add parsely, thyme and sea salt. Add all mushrooms, starting with the bigger ones. Add white pepper and cook the mushrooms, continually stirring, until they have reduced in size and start releasing their juice. Remove from heat and slowly separate the liquid away from the mushrooms, collecting all the juice into a separate bowl.

herbs

Thyme and parsely

cooking mushrooms

Cooking mushrooms

Mushroom Juice

Mushroom Juice- becomes the flavoursome basis of the hazelnut creme

In a blender or coffee grinder, combine 2/3rds of the roasted hazelnuts, 100 mls creme fraiche, mushroom juice , 1.5 tbsp hazelnut oil, and 15 mls warm water. Whizz until smooth and pourable, adding sea salt to taste.

Hazelnut creme in blender

Making the roast hazelnut creme in blender

hazelnut oil

Hazelnut creme sauce

Roast hazelnut creme for serving

Prepare Pastry layers by gently separating each rectangle of cooked pastry into two layers. The base becomes the centre layer and the top is used as the first layer or top of the mille-feuille.

Return mushrooms in pan to the heat and re-cook them to heat and remove any excess moisture. Add more fresh herbs if desired.

Place pastry bases on a serving dish and gently layer the caramelized onion to the base, then sprinkle roughly chopped roast hazelnuts over the onion. The nuts are an important textural elemetn to this dish so avoid omitting them.

Pastry base

Mille-feuille base with caramelized onion and hazelnuts

Add a 1.5 cm high layer of mushrooms over the top.

Spread a fine layer of goats cheese over both sides of the middle pastry layer then add this to the base.

On top of the mid section add another layer of mushrooms

Base layer

The base layer

chevre

Spreadable fromage de chevre

Mille-feuille before adding top layer

Mille-feuille before adding top layer

Finally, add one of the top layers from the baked pastry to the mille-feuille. Drizzle the hazelnut creme over the top and finish with chopped hazelnuts.

Serve immediately.

Take picures.

Enjoy every morsel and…

Tell me what you thought!

À savourer!

🙂

Mille-feuille

finished_plat

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