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The last (French) supper

16 Jun

As the title states, I had a lot of stuff to use before I headed back to the not so glorious weather as the Cote d’Azur, but wonderful United Kingdom. Massively misjudging how much stuff I had to take back meant I had to leave the collection of herbs and spices that we had collected. I am probably a bit more frugal than most and I really didn’t want to leave them but paying 10 Euros per kg of excess baggage meant sacrifices had to be made (unfortunately.)

I had some frozen spinach to use, as well as puff pastry, a lemon and feta. I brainstormed and tarts were formed. Yummy and giving me less guilt about wasting food! Perfect hot or cold, for lunch or dinner or even a picnic. And ready in about 20 minutes!

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Spinach & feta tart

Serves 2 or more depending on how big you like your portions

Half a pack of puff pastry, rolled into a rectangle

About 100grams spinach, thawed if frozen

1/2 a pack of feta cheese

Squeeze of lemon juice

Few grates of lemon rind

Pinch of chilli flakes

Garlic clove,  crushed

A little olive oil

Pinch of nutmeg if you have any goes quite nicely!

Method

1. In a bowl, combine the thawed and drained spinach, crumbled feta, lemon juice and rind, garlic with salt and pepper, nutmeg and a glug of olive oil.

2. Arrange your mixture on the rolled out pastry, leaving a pastry border of about an inch or more for those who love their pastry.

3. Bake in a preheated oven at 190 C for around 20 minutes.

Tomato thyme and feta tart IMG_20130615_075622

Serves the same amount

Half a pack of puff pastry, rolled into a rectangle (or however you like to be honest.. Go wild.)

The other half of the pack of feta

2tsp dried or fresh thyme

Any tomatoes you have, thinly sliced, enough to cover the pastry

Method:

1. Crumble the cheese evenly over the pastry, arrange the tomato slices over the cheese so that there is no gaps between them. Drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle over the thyme and season with pepper (feta is salty enough! ). Bake for around 20 minutes in a preheated oven at 190 C.

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Posh egg ‘McMuffin’ with emmental, beetroot, honey mustard and rocket

18 May

My take on Mc Donalds famous ‘McMuffin’
I LOVE MC DONALDS BREAKFASTS – actually better than their lunchy/dinnery/midnight snack or what ever you want to call it burger/wrap menu…

Basically looked in the fridge, saw what needed to be eaten (emmental… beetroot… rocket…) and with a dollop of honey and chilli mustard, perfect quick and cheap brunch treat. I keep my muffins in the freezer so they don’t go all stale and also because I hate buying a packet and feeling guilty about wasting food so I eat a muffin a day (or two) which is just annoying! First world problems hey, shameless. Image

Serves one,
Ingredients:
1 wholemeal (trying to be healthy!) muffin, sliced
slice of beetroot
handful of rocket
a few slices of emmental (it’s not very strong so for flavour purposes have a chunky slice –  going to try it with good old British cheddar next time, think it will be better!)
1 large egg
half a teaspoon mustard
splash of olive oil
rock salt and freshly ground pepper

Method:
1. Heat a frying pan with a splash of oil and fry your egg
2. Spread the mustard on one half of the muffin, and arrange your cheese slices on the other side, pop under the grill until melted/toasted.
3. Add your beetroot slice to the mustard-covered muffin, then the egg, rocket, salt and pepper and finally Imagepop on the cheese muffin hat and eat!!

Feta, beetroot, cherry tomatoes, olive, rocket and lentil salad (so healthy a cake must be eaten afterwards)

6 May

I’ve been eating so many salads recently as the weather has finally become what I like to call ‘beach hot’ (a temperature gauged on if it’s hot enough to go to the beach to sunbathe… thought it was quite good no!?) here in Nice, which is not a bad thing I suppose!

Perfectly balanced with the sweet beetroot salty olives and feta, earthy lentils, fresh rocket and a sharp wholegrain mustard,  olive oil and balsamic dressing (phew what a description). You can alter the quantities as much as you fancy, I’ve just given a rough idea as to how I assembled mine.

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Wholesome and filling enough for a satisfying dinner or a healthy lunch. Super quick to put together, no expensive or obscure ingredients to hunt down, no excuses not to make it. Many people on ‘health’ binges often eat plates and plates of salads, often loaded with creamy dressings, cheeses and bacon, which to be frank is just not going to make much difference, may as well just tuck into that carbonara.

Serves 1:
A tablespoon of crumbled feta
1 small beetroot
2.5 tablespoons cooked brown lentils (or whatever type you have, just not mushy red lentils!)
A few cherry tomatoes
A few handfuls of rocket
3/4 black olives, chopped

Method:
Wash all salady bits and dry well, chop up your olives and beetroot, half your cherry tomatoes, crumble your feta, make your dressing by using 2 tbsp good olive oil combined with 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar and 1tsp wholegrain mustard and assemble. Voila.

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p.s I am doing a student marketing campaign to encourage people to sign up to volunteer for various music festivals in the summer, if you could click on this link below you would be doing me a massive favour!
http://www.phansta.com/1140/27/view.html

Skiing in Auron and Pain Bagnats

5 Mar

Last Sunday we took yet another ski day-trip, it’s just too fun/close/(relatively) cheap not to make the most of it! This time, we decided to go to the resort of Auron, which is another small, family resort in the Mercantour national park area. Like Isola 2000, it’s less than 2 hours by bus from Nice.

To be quite honest as it’s a lot lower than Isola, it was a warm +6 C which meant slushy skiing and lots of ugly brown mud/mountains. We didn’t like it as much as Isola but you know, can’t really complain about spending a relaxing Sunday on the slopes.

One of my favourite parts (obviously) of skiing is having a hearty lunch outside in the sun on the side of a mountain in preparation for an afternoons skiing. Laaavely.

The restaurant with the best view (priorities hey!) we came across on the slopes was la Bergerie, despite it being absolutely heaving (French half term…) we were served quickly. The menu was mostly Provencal-inspired dishes, hence choosing between us the Raviolis Nicois in a meaty sauce daube and the Pain Bagnat Revisité.

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The Pain Bagnat is amazing (basically a Nicois salad in a bun.) It is one of my favourite food discoveries here, which is perfect as the boulangerie on the corner of our road does the best one using their own fresh olive bread bagnat rolls. The Pain Bagnat Revisité  was more of an elegant, open sandwich type dish, being in a restaurant and costing 14euros what do you expect. I must admit the hearty roll is a lot more satisfying.

I went to the boulangerie today to pick up a pain bagnat for lunch. Due to it

being 2pm (the French eat their lunch at 12pm sharp) there were non left. No worries. I bought myself a bagnat roll and made myself a Pain Bagnat à la Phoebe (that is, without anchovies, eww.)

Serves 1 hungry person, 2 hungry-ish people

Ingredients:                                                                 IMG_20130305_163836

1 giant olive bread roll
1 tin tuna in olive oil
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
handful rocket
5 black olives, halved
a few slices of red pepper
a few slices of hard boiled egg
anchovies (optional)
good olive oil and balsamic vinegar for drizzling

Method:
1. Slice  your bun, drizzle the olive oil onto the bread, spread the tuna on the bread then pile up all the other ingredients. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and balsamic et voilà!

My southern French chunky aubergine tapenade

25 Jan

Tapenade is everywhere In Nice, served with your aperitif, as a starter, there’s even a restaurant named after the stuff!
This southern French speciality is one of my favourite snacks or lunch. However I am not too keen on the ones that are a little too overpowering on the anchovy taste, hence the reason why I invented my own.
You can find such a variety of different tapenades here, including roasted red pepper tapenade, green and black olive tapenade, tomato tapenade and my favourite, aubergine tapenade! It’s amazing! I don’t know why I haven’t discovered it before but it is going to be a common snack or lunch made in my kitchen from now on. Simple, tasty and full of olive oil goodness. My tapenade can be eaten hot or cold, on some crusty baguette or toast, served a salad. It keeps for days and serves ¾ for a light lunch. If desired, you can add a couple of anchovies or capers to the mix.

Ingredients:
1 medium aubergine
8 black olives, stones removed and roughly chopped (I prefer to use olives with stones in as I believe they have more flavour than pitted ones!)
A few tablespoons of good olive oil
1 fat clove of garlic
Salt and pepper

Method:
1. Heat your oven to 190C. Wash and chop your aubergine into small chunks, leaving the skins on (gives it more flavour and texture plus there’s more nutrients in the skin!) peel and finely chop your garlic.
2. Spread the aubergine chunks out on a large roasting tin, sprinkle with the chopped garlic, 2/3 tablespoons of olive oil and season well. Leave to roast for around 40 minutes, tossing halfway.
3. Chop up your olives and place into a bowl big enough to hold the aubergine chunks. Once the aubergine is cooked, add everything (including the olive oil in the roasting tin) into the bowl and with a fork roughly mash everything together until combined.
It is important to mash when hot as it is a lot easier!
Voila! Eat hot or cold! Image

The healthiest, most fulfilling salad ever eaten

16 Jan

It’s healthy January. I am going to the gym, eating lots of seasonal fruit and veg and lowering my carb intake (for a while anyway – baguettes and homemade chips just call out for me to eat them sometimes.) So, I came up with this salad to eat. I managed to find a butternut squash in an organic stall in the market (uncommon in France – they usually sell watery, tasteless spaghetti squash) so thought of some loveeeellyy meals to make with it. Genuinely never felt more satisfied after eating a salad. If you think they are only for light lunches or starters, think again. It’s also super healthy, full of avocado, spinach, lentils (protein-packed and cheaper than lean meat/fish), olive oil and a bit of feta cheese for flavour and protein.

Serves 2 for dinner (big plates!)
Ingredients:
½ butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes.
½ red pepper, cut into cubes.
400g tin of puy lentils, drained and rinsed.
A few handfuls of washed spinach.
Few handfuls of rocket and lambs lettuce.
Cherry tomatoes, halved (as many as you like)
Feta cheese, crumbled (again, as much as you like)
To make the dressing:
2 tbsp good olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon wholegrain mustard.IMG_20130115_014204

Method:
1. Prepare your squash and pepper, in a roasting tin, lug a few tbsp olive oil over and season. Place in a preheated oven (180C) for around 45minutes until nicely roasted.
2. In a large salad bowl, add your salad leaves, tomatoes and lentils. Make your dressing by shaking all the ingredients in an old jam jar (make sure it’s well sealed!) or stir vigorously in a bowl. Once combined, add to your salad and toss so everything is covered.
3. Once your squash is cooked, divide the dressed salad onto two plates, top with the squash and pepper, and sprinkle over the feta cheese and sliced avocado.

Ventimiglia’s healthy pasta with courgette, tuna, tomatoes, basil and capers

10 Jan

New Years resolution: To carry on eating as healthy as possible. And to drink less wine. The French price of wine has my student self constantly stocking up on cheap, decent wine (good rosé is in abundance down here in the Cote d’Azur!)and having oh too casual glasses of it in the evening. Therefore, a healthy, balanced meal with no wine is what we had tonight. Using wheat pasta bought from the market in Ventimiglia, Italy just before Christmas, made this dish a little bit more special.
Easy and super tasty! Plus tinned tuna for protein keeps the cost low.
Serves 2.

Ingredients:
120g tinned tuna in olive oil (way less ‘fishy’ tasting and more ‘tuna steak’ tasting that tinned tuna in brine)
1 dessertspoon capers

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1 tablespoon roughly torn basil
125g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 courgette, thinly sliced lengthways
1 clove garlic, chopped
140g Maccheroni al ferro or anything like wholewheat penne
Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling
Good olive oil, salt and pepper

Method:
1. Place your strips of courgette on a piece of foil on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, season and pop under the grill to colour.
2. Meanwhile, cook your pasta. Whilst the pasta is cooking, fry your chopped garlic in a large frying pan until lightly brown. Turn to a low heat and add the halved tomatoes, you don’t want them to go mushy – just slightly. Add the tinned tuna. When the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the saucepan, coating with the sauce.
3. Your courgette will be cooked by now so add these to the saucepan along with the capers. Serve, and top with Parmesan and the basil. Enjoy with a glass of rosé if feeling naughty.

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