Chickpea Niçoise Salad

Niçoise salad is so called as it’s a salad from the city of Nice in France. I don’t believe that this really resembles at all a Niçoise. Ignoring the fact that there is no tuna or hardboiled eggs in it (unsurprising since the recipe is from ‘Bosh – Healthy Vegan’), generally most versions seem to have green beans and new potatoes. Even so, this is a tasty recipe which has elevated the protein packed chickpea to a healthy vegan fish substitute. Maybe what you need if you’ve not managed to distribute all of your Halloween treats. Sadly I didn’t have much of a Halloween this year, it was spoilt by Avanti West Coast rail service who cancelled all trains from London to the North-West after my weekend break to the Big Smoke. The original Candyman will have to wait for another week as I’m determined to see if it’s still as terrifying as it was when I watched it for the first time, at the age of twelve. In the meantime, I’m consoling myself by reading ‘Necropolis: London & it’s Dead’.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 tin (400g chickpeas)
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 small carrot
  • 2 small cornichons (or 4 capers)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 sprig dill
  • handful parsley leaves
  • 2 tbsp hummus
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 25g fresh basil
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 300g mixed tomatoes
  • 2 little gem lettuces
  • 150g podded broad beans (I used frozen edamame beans defrosted in the microwave)
  • 35g pitted Kalamata olives

Method

1.) Make the tuna substitute. Peel the shallot and carrot and roughly chop those and the celery and throw them in a food processor. Add the cornichons. Zest and juice the lemon and add that also. Add the dill and parsley. Blitz until everything is finely chopped.

2.) Add the hummus, drain the chickpeas and add those too. Pulse a few times so everything is combined but there is still some texture.

3.) To make the dressing, peel and grate the garlic and finely chop the basil, setting aside the leaves. In a container of some form, whisk together the oil, vinegar and mustard. Add the basil stems and garlic to infuse with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

4.) Chop up the tomatoes and rip up the lettuce. Add to a big bowl with the olives and broad beans.

5.) Toss with the dressing to coat everything and divide between two plates.

6.) Add the chickpea mixture on top and serve.

Cheese & Potato Nests

A little behind on the posting yet again but I did have three interviews for two jobs this last week. I did end up with two job offers so at least it was time well spent. I have a good feeling about the job I picked as my new employer has at least one cat who nearly made an appearance on Microsoft Teams during our interview. I find that having a cat is always a sign of good character! This is my last French recipe for the time being as I can’t realistically pretend I’m on holiday anymore even with a mini-two day heatwave in Manchester. Cheese and potato is a big crowd pleaser and I served these with some pan fried fish. Again, this was from Rachel Khoo’s ‘Little Paris Kitchen’ as it’s the only French cookbook I own. Weirdly, this is a recipe made up by the Reblochon company to try to sell their cheese.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 500g waxy potatoes (Maris Peer or Charlotte are recommended)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pack quorn bacon
  • 100ml white wine/stock
  • 250g Reblochon (or 250g of a mix of Reblochon and brie as I used)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Method

  1. ) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C
  2. ) Melt the butter in a microwave for 10 seconds
  3. ) Brush a 12 space cupcake tin or a 6 space muffin tin with the butter
  4. ) Peel the potatoes and chop into matchsticks. Then set aside. You could use a mandolin but I’ve abandoned these after cutting my fingers to shreds.

5.) Peel and finely chop the onion.

6.) Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onion and the bay leaf. Fry for about 5 minutes until starting to soften. In the meantime, chop up the quorn bacon into cubes. Then add to the pan and fry for another couple of minutes.

7.) Break up the cheese into blobs.

8.) Add the wine or stock and cook down until there’s just a couple of tablespoons left.

9.) Remove the bay leaf and tip the mixture into the bowl with the potatoes.

10.) Add the cheese and give it all a stir.

11.) Divide it between the 12 cupcake places or 6 muffin places.

12.) Bake for 15 – 20 minutes. I’m not sure you can really overdo these. If the potato sticks are a bit burnt at the top, all the better.

13.) Serve by scooping out with a spoon.

Fougasse + Beef & Wine Soup

During my holiday staying close to the town of Fougasse, I took it upon myself to try all of the fougasse that I could find. I normally don’t allow myself too much bread at home due to a mild gluten intolerance and a complete incapacity to stop myself eating the whole lot in two days. I was intrigued as to how homemade fougasse (from Rachel Khoo’s ‘Little Paris Kitchen’ would come out compared to the real-thing. The answer was pretty good though I think they put more oil on the outside of the bread that I tried to give it a nice crispy toasted flavour. Fougasse originates from focaccia but is spread out further for the crispiness. As for the beef and wine soup, I’ve just always had an eye on it from the cookbook ‘Two Greedy Italians’ but wasn’t sure how it would work as a vegetarian option. The soup itself was pretty salty using stock and parmesan but it paired very nicely to dip the bread into. As a recommended serving, I would serve a small portion of the soup with the bread as a starter.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 10g dried yeast
  • 250ml tepid water
  • 400g strong white flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (plus extra to brush)
  • 500ml ‘beef’ stock – I used Massel beef flavoured stock which I find has a very convincing beef flavour
  • 250ml white wine
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 50ml double cream
  • 50ml parmesan

Method

1.) Measure out the tepid water into a measuring jug and add the yeast. Leave it to brew for about 10 minutes.

2.) Measure out the flour with the salt, stir the salt into the flour so that when you pour the water on, it doesn’t instantly hit the salt which will kill the yeast.

3.) Mix the yeasty water with the flour. Knead by hand on a floured surface until the dough is soft and smells of yeast or as I did in a stand mixer with a dough hook (5 minutes). The dough will be very soft.

4.) Cover with cling film and leave to rise for 1 hour, then place in the fridge overnight.

5.) Knead the dough for 5 minutes, place back in the bowl, put a damp tea towel on top then leave to rise for 30 minutes.

6.) Split the dough into two and form an oval with each. Cut slashes into the dough like the veins of a leaf.

7.) Line a baking tray with baking paper and place the dough on top. Leave to rise for an hour.

8.) About 15 minutes before the hour is up, preheat the oven to 240 degrees C.

9.) Brush the doughs with olive oil. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Then turn the oven down to 210 degrees C and bake for a further 12 – 15 minutes.

10.) For the soup, measure out the stock and grate the parmesan.

11.) Add the stock and wine to a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Cook for 1 minute then turn down the heat.

12.) Measure out the cream and add to the soup with a pinch of cinnamon.

13.) Tip in the parmesan and stir to melt. Serve with pieces of bread.

Galettes

Having just spent a week in Provence, I usually like to try to make some dishes of the local cuisine after I arrive home. I think it’s an attempt to convince myself that I’m still on holiday. Towards the end of the trip, we visited a hilltop village which catered very well to English tourists by selling all sorts of crêpes and this put the idea into my head. The word galette more refers to the shape of the dish so a galette can be savoury – a crêpe made with buckwheat flour (as above) or sweet. The sweet version is kind of like a pie with the ends folded over, usually filled with some sort of fruit. These savoury ones are featured in Rachel Khoo’s ‘Little Paris Kitchen’. The recipe in Rachel Khoo’s book does call to leave the batter overnight but I must admit I wasn’t well prepared enough to do this and it was still very tasty. As a filling you can have whatever you like but I used spinach (in an attempt to reach my 5 a day fruit and veg recommendation), eggs, quorn ham and a selection of french cheese (Reblochon, Brie and my personal favourite Brie de Meaux).

Serves 4 for lunch, 2 for dinner

Ingredients

  • 200g buckwheat flour
  • salt
  • 600ml water
  • butter
  • 1 pack quorn ham
  • 1 bag spinach
  • 4 eggs
  • 150g cheese (I used a mix of Brie de Meaux and Reblochon)

Method

1.) Mix the flour and salt in a bowl.

2.) Gradually add the water and whisk after each addition until you have a smooth batter (but don’t overwhisk).

3.) Let the mixture refrigerate for an hour minimum or preferably overnight.

4.) When ready to make the galettes, preheat the oven to 180 degrees C

5.) On a baking tray, spread out the spinach, places slices of the ham around, tear up the cheese and add blobs everywhere. Move the spinach around so there’s some wells then crack the eggs into there.

6.) Bake in the preheated oven for around 10 minutes.

7.) In the meantime, start making the galettes.

8.) Put a frying pan on a medium heat and add enough butter to melt and cover the pan.

9.) Add enough batter that with a bit of tipping the pan, it is covered with the batter. (The recipe is supposed to make 10 – 12 galettes though I found it made a bit less)

10.) After a minute or so, use a spatula to loosen the edges of the galette. start lifting the galette to check if it’s done, then when it looks done on one side, use the spatula to turn over the galette and brown on the other side.

11.) Repeat with butter and buckwheat flour mixture until all is used up.

12.) Serve up the galettes and top with the quorn spinach mixture (or whatever you fancy)