Tag Archives: Wintery

Skiing fuel and mountain food, Isola 2000, Alpes-Maritimes

29 Jan

Last weekend I took my first ever ski trip to Isola 2000, a mere 2 hour bus journey from Nice.

club montagneAs the resort is so close and fares are incredibly cheap it seemed silly not to take up the opportunity to learn to ski. I was doubtful of how everyone seems to rave about how ‘amazing skiing is oh my god you have to go!’ after spending the Saturday hurtling down a mountain unable to stop or turn, shouting ‘PAAARDDOOOON’ to innocent bystanders. Sunday however changed my outlook from being scared and a bit confused to how people enjoying feeling completely out of control speeding down a mountain on two sticks. The technique of shifting weight to turn and stop finally clicked and I spend an amazing (in control!) day skiing down the green runs, relaxing and really enjoying myself (simple pleasure, I know.)

The combination of the spectacular landscapes, blue skies, peaceful silence from the snow, the adrenalin of carving up a mountain, chocolate chaud breaks and of course the wooden mountain-side restaurants complete with log fires has got me hooked.

Skiing and the fresh mountain air really builds up your appetite! For one lunch I fueled up on fresh, wood-fired pizza whilst sitting outside watching people ski pass. For my other lunch I opted for a ‘club sandwich de montagne’ a rustic ancienne baguette stuffed with tomatoes, spinach, gherkins and reblochon – a soft, slightly nutty, strongly flavoured sheep cheese which is a specialty of the Alps.

In every restaurant there were ‘spécialités de montagne’ (literally – specialties of the mountain) which included infamous raclette – a semi-wheel of cheese which is slowly melted and scraped off to cover potatoes, gherkins and varieties of cured meats. It is perfect wintery warming food. I did not have any this time round but when I next go skiing it is on the menu!

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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.

Galette des rois

11 Jan

At this time of the year you cannot walk into a supermarket, boulangerie or café without being confronted with a huge variety of different galletes des rois. IMAG1030
Originally eaten to celebrate the epiphany, they are now more of the French mince pie – a special gateau only eaten for a few weeks of the year.

Traditionally they are a brioche pie filled with frangipane. However, you can buy ones today that are filled with chocolate cream, salted caramel, topped with chocolate and pretty much anything tasty you can think of!

In the boulangeries of Nice I also have come across rings of brioche topped with candid fruit next to the traditional galletes. A few minutes on Google image trying various combinations of couronne (crown) brioche, noel, rois blah blah I finally figured out that they are a special variety to the South. Even more choice of galettes for me to taste yaaay!

The best part of theses however, (and no, for once it is not the eating!) is that inside the galette is hidden a lucky charm – la fève. And… whoever eats the slice of galette that has the charm inside, is crowned king for the day! I like this power. I’m going to buy one later for Ollie and I… do you think there is any way I can figure out where the charm is hidden?! hehehe
Picture is of all the coronnes in the boulangerie at the end of my road!

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Pumpkin and Chestnut stuffing

3 Jan

Whilst back in Wales for Christmas, my contribution to our Christmas feast (with 13 for dinner – every kitchen appliance was on continuous full throttle!) The stuffing I made was actually to use up some leftover pumpkin and chestnuts from my mum’s ‘festive pie’ she makes ever year (it’s actually a Moroccan recipe from Good Food magazine years ago, but for some reason it has become one of the centrepieces for our dinner!)
As with any vegetables, roasting brings out the flavour and makes it lovely and soft to combine. We had ready to eat chestnuts so they didn’t need any preparation before constructing the stuffing balls. As we only had a small amount of pumpkin leftover, I made 13 mini stuffing balls, although this recipe could make around 6 large ones. A bit of a wintery twist from the standard sage and onion! stuffing

N.B Pictures are of the uncooked stuffing balls, I was so eager for Christmas dinner (basically, I’m just very greedy) that I completely forgot to take a picture of the finished product!

Makes 13 mini or around 6 large stuffing balls

85g peeled pumpkin cut into squares (needs to be roasted at around 180C in some olive oil and seasoned for around 1 hour before needed)
100g ready to eat chestnuts
40g breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper
Pinch of nutmeg

Method:
1. Smash the chestnuts up on a bowl so that they resemble dark brown wet-ish breadcrumbs (weird comparison I know). Combine with the roasted pumpkin, you will probably find the pumpkin breaks up into smaller pieces as you combine (you want it to do this by the way!)
2. In a blender, whizz the bread into fine breadcrumbs. Add to the bowl of pumpkin and chestnuts and combine with a good pinch of salt, pepper and nutmeg.
3. Mould into small balls. You can then refrigerate for a few days before using, or bake for 30 minutes at 180C (for mini stuffing balls) or around 45 for larger ones.

 

 

 

Spicy butternut squash soup

22 Nov

This is the second recipe using the other half of the butternut squash I bought last week. Another wintery, comforting meal. Butternut squash gives a really thick, wholesome soup which makes it easily substantial enough with a lump of bread and cheese for a good dinner.
I took inspiration from Lorraine Pascal’s recipe and used a good sprinkle of chilli and ginger, along with a squeeze of lemon before serving.
This feeds 4 for a starter or 2 for a main course, it is a very good value meal, especially if using dried chilli powder or flakes and dried ginger.

Ingredients:
Half a butternut squash
1 medium onion
1 garlic clove
1 Whole chilli or a pinch of flakes/powder (or as much as you like – depending on how adventurous you are feeling!)
Half a vegetable stock cube diluted with 1 litre water
One thumb’s worth of grated fresh ginger or a pinch of dried ginger
A squeeze of lemon (or lime) juice
Salt and pepper

TIP: Add curry powder instead of chilli and ginger for another take on spicy butternut squash soup!

Method:
1.Heat your oven to 190celcius (fan)
2. Half your butternut squash lengthways, season with salt and pepper and place a peeled garlic clove into the hollow of the squash. Put in the oven for around 40minutes or until you squash is soft and easily scoopable.
3. While your squash is cooking, heat a tablespoon of olive oil large saucepan on a low heat and once heated, add your onion. It should soften and not sizzle and burn if the heat is correct. Fry your onion for 5 minutes then add your spices. Take off the heat if the onion is cooked. Prepare your stock.
4. Once the squash is soft, roughly cut your garlic clove and add it to the pan, then scoop out the flesh from the squash and add it to the pan.
5. Pour your stock over and with a hand held blender, blend the ingredients together.
6. Reduce on a simmering heat until you have your desired consistency. Add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice to serve. You can also add a blob of crème fraiche!