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Showing posts from August, 2011

Prunes in Armagnac

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A month or so ago I found some prunes just lying around doing nothing. Since it was a wet afternoon and I was thinking about sunnier days, I decided to soak them in some armagnac in a Gascogne manner. Actually, this is not really a Gascogne manner - it’s just what I do. There are many variations on prunes in armagnac and maybe my method is not entirely traditional, but it works for me.

You could, of course, use brandy if armagnac is in short supply or a bit too expensive but if you’re approached by anyone looking even slightly like they come from the south of France and asking awkward questions, then please tell them that you’ve never heard of me and that I never said the bit about brandy.

Once the prunes have matured they not only smell fantastic, they’re also extremely useful. They can be used in tarts, clafoutis and many other desserts but they’re also great in sauces and stuffings with pork and poultry or in terrines and casseroles.

Probably the favourite way of eating them in t…

Rosewater Rice and Chocolate Coconut Tarts

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For this month’s We Should Cocoa challenge Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog has challenged us to use both rose and chocolate. I thought of a number of ways to put the two flavours together, but came to the conclusion that this isn’t an easy combination to carry off. So in the end I thought it would be safest to borrow a few ideas.

I’ve pinched the idea of the tart case from a Donna Hay recipe. Essentially she uses a simple coconut macaroon recipe to make tart cases by shaping them in muffin tins. It might not be as adaptable as a conventional pastry tart case but with the right filling it makes a great alternative. For the filling, I’ve added rosewater to rice, which is a combination that seems to turn up everywhere from Greece to India and most places between. Finally, all that sweetness needs some dark chocolate on the top to balance it – or maybe I was just thinking about Bounty bars.

This should make 8 – 10 tarts, depending on exactly how big your muffin tin might be.


For the tart …

Smoked Garlic Soup

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Not that far from here, just across the Channel in the north of France, lies the little town of Arleux, where they’ve been producing smoked garlic for over 400 years. Originally, it seems, the garlic was smoked to ensure that it could be kept for a long period but these days it’s more for its flavour.

I first heard of Arleux when I came across a version of this simple soup, although I have to admit that this recipe is not authentically Arleusienne. It’s also not as overwhelmingly garlicky as you might think, especially since I’ve near enough halved the amount of garlic in the original.

Quite rightly the people of Arleux celebrate their local produce by holding a festival - ‘La foire à l'ail fumé’ - in September every year  and have a Confrérie to support and promote the garlic - La Confrérie de l'Ail Fumé d'Arleux. I’m particularly pleased to note that they wear fantastic hats. (Although possibly not as fantastic as the hats of La Noble Confrérie du Gâteau Battu – but tha…

Coconut Sorbet – A Random Recipe

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For this month’s Belleau Kitchen Random Recipe challenge I arbitrarily selected the book “Simple Good Food” by the formidable Jean-Georges Vongerichten, co-authored by the redoubtable Mark Bittman. This is an excellent book which I’ve used on many occasions – in fact, it tends to fall open at the Pork Baeckoffe page. This time, though, I opened it in the dessert section and came up with Coconut Sorbet.

I’ve looked at this recipe in the past and somehow it just seemed too simple to work. Oh me of little faith – I now know that it’s excellent. Really simple to make but delicious to eat. It’s called a sorbet and technically I suppose it is but the result is a lot creamier than any normal sorbet and pure in both colour and taste.

The sorbet worked really well alongside mango and berries dressed with a little lime juice but it was also lovely on its own. I’ve halved the quantity given in the book because that’s all my little ice cream maker can handle but it still produced a fair amount. …