Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Black Treacle

Image result for treacle

Not the most imaginative of titles - but, if, like me, you want to use up a tin of treacle, it should point you in the right direction. 

Black treacle (sometimes caled molasses) is one of those ingredients that is sometimes difficult to source outside of the UK. Although apparently we used to export it :

Image result for treacle mine
Only kidding!

 Unctuous, sweet and sticky- it is made from the syrup left behind as sugar is being refined. It is a wonderful addition to cakes, biscuits, puddings and also meat dishes and BBq sauces. If you can't find it, you can substitute maple syrup, dark honey or caramel sauce.

There are so many dishes that you can make from it- treacle toffee, treacle tart, treacle sponge and so on. I'm concentrating on just a few: Jamaican Ginger Cake, Sticky Toffee Pudding with Fudge Sauce,Treacle Soda Bread and Spicy BBQ pork ribs. Plus of course some ideas of how to use up any leftovers.

So, starting out nice and simple- here is a recipe for Jamaican Ginger Cake which is much much nicer than the bought variety and can be whipped up in less time than it would take you to go to a shop and buy one- even if it's the corner shop on the corner of your street!

175g plain flour
1 level tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp rum (optional)
75g black treacle
75g golden syrup
75g soft dark brown sugar
75g butter
1 large egg

1. Sift all the dry ingredients together
2. Melt together the syrup, treacle, butter and sugar
3. Add these to the dry ingredients, along with the milk
4. Pour into a greased and lined loaf tin and bake for 1 hr at 175 degrees until firm and when a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Jamaican Ginger Cake
This cake will keep well for up to a week, wrapped in foil or stored in a tin. I like to use up the last few slices in a trifle: just soak slices of cake in a little sherry, top with mandarin orange segments and a little of their juice, pour on some custard or whipped cream or both , chill and serve.

Treacle Soda Bread is one of the easiest breads to make and its dark richness goes well with Seville marmalade, or crumbly cheese or smoked salmon.


250g plain flour
200g wholemeal flour
50 g porridge oats
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
150 ml natural yoghurt
250 ml milk
1 tbsp melted butter
2 tbsp black treacle

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees and grease and line a baking tray
2. Mix together all the dry idngredients in a bowl
3. Warm the milk, butter and treacle then add it all to the yogurt
4. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ones and turn the dough out onto a floured board
5. Shape into a round, cut a cross in the top, sprinkle on some more flaked oats
6. Place on the tray in the oven and bake for around 30 minutes.

Treacle soda bread

Now for a savoury dish- Spicy BBQ ribs. These are pork spare ribs, coated in a treacly BBQ sauce and slow cooked until the meat falls off the bone.

1 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tbsp black treacle
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp cider or white wine vinegar
1 heaped tsp mustard
1 tsp crushed cillies or fresh chilli finely chopped
3 tbsp tomato passata
400g fresh pork spare ribs

Mix all the condiments and the passata together in the bottom of a heavy casserole or slow cooker.

Add the ribs and coat thoroughly.
Cook for 4-5 hours in a slow cooker or 2-3 hours in a conventional oven (175 degrees) until the meat is tender. Add a splash of water from time to time if needed.
Serve with fries, sweet potato or green veg.

Spicy BBQ Ribs

Bonfire Baked Beans
Any leftover sauce is sublime mixed with a tin of cannellini beans and some sliced cooked sausage to make Bonfire Baked Beans.

And finally, I made James Martin's iconic Sticky Toffee Pudding with Hot Fudge Sauce.

50 g butter
170g brown sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
2 tbsp black treacle
2 eggs
200 g self raising flour
200g chopped dates
290 ml boiling wtaer
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp vanilla

110 ml double cream
50 g butter
50g dark sugar
2 tbsp black treacle
1 tbsp golden syrup

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Grease and flour a 23cm cake tin
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a food processor until pale and fluffy. Add the golden syrup, treacle and eggs, a little at a time, and blend until smooth. Add the flour and blend, at a low speed, until well combined. Transfer to a bowl.
  3. Meanwhile, blend the dates and boiling water in a food processor to a smooth purée. Stir in the bicarbonate of soda and vanilla.
  4. Pour the date mixture into the pudding batter and stir until well combined.
  5. Pour the mixture into a cake tin and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is springy and golden-brown.
    Sticky Toffee Pudding
  6. To make the sauce, heat all of the ingredients in a pan, stirring occasionally, until boiling.
  7. To serve, remove the pudding from the tin and place onto each of 6 serving plates. Pour over the sauce and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream
  8. Toffee Pudding and sauce

The leftover pud keeps well in foil, or in a tin- but it can also be eaten as a cake, spread with a little butter like a teabread.
Buttered toffee 'bread'
Happy baking!

Image result for stuck in treacle
Time to get stuck in!

Sunday, 25 June 2017


Image result for surprised cockerel

Our neighbours have a cockerel who, mercifully, doesn't wake us in the morning with the usual 'Coc-a-ric-o'.
Instead he sings at 6pm each evening with a welcome chant of 'A-pér-o!'
It seems that even the chickens in France understand the important things in life!

They make pretty good eating too- as was ably demonstrated at our final Atelier de Cuisine this month, before the long summer break.

On the menu for this 'end of term' special was a cold soup made from fresh green vegetables and coconut milk to start; chicken cooked in coca cola served with a potato and onion tortilla for main course; and a rhum baba style pudding with fruit salad.
The starter is a good one for when you have an excess of veg ( from your veg garden, or when cheap and in season in the shops).

Soupe Froide au Lait de Coco (de Joselyne)

Serves 6

2 courgettes
200g green beans
150 g peas
300g spinach or chard leaves or lettuce
200 ml coconut milk
seasoning (salt, pepper, nutmeg)

1. Prepare the veg, cutting the courgettes into small cubes.

Prepare the green veg
2. Cook in 600ml boiling water until tender
3. Add the coconut milk and cook for a further 5 minutes
4. Blitz the soup with a hand blender and add the salt and pepper (and nutmeg if you like it) until you are satisfied with the seasoning.

Blitz the soup with a hand blender
5. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours and then serve in dainty glasses.

Soupe Froide au Lait de Coco

Cold soups have featured before on the blog- like these Gazpacho Shots:

Gazpacho Shots with Aubergine Toasts

Gazpacho Soup II
Now for the main course, with that surprising chicken.
I would never have thought to mix my soft drinks in with my meat, rather than drinking them- but you can always learn from other people. I have altered Yvette's recipe here slightly, as I preferred to use fresh onions rather than dried. I hope she forgives me.

Coq au Coca (for 6)

6 chicken thighs (skinless but bone-in)
1x 330 ml tin cola
2 onions, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
1 heaped tbsp gravy granules

1. Preheat the oven to 210 degrees
2. Brown the onions in a heavy based casserole dish, add the garlic.
3. Lay the chicken thighs over the onions in the dish
4. Pour on the cola and sprinkle on the gravy granules

Chicken ready for the oven

5. Place a lid on the casserole and cook for half an hour in the oven.
6. After 30 minutes, uncover and contine to cook for a further 30 minutes until the sauce is syrupy and the chicken is tender.
Coq au Coca
As you can see, the chicken was served accomapanied by a delicious tortilla made with eggs, potatoes and onions. Here is the recipe:

Tortilla (for 6)

6 eggs
500g firm fleshed potatoes
1 large onion
salt, pepper, oil

1. Peel and slice the onion
2. Peel and slice the potatoes into thin rondelles

Potatoes and onions prepared
3. Cook the potatoes in the oil over a low heat for 15 minutes
4. Add the onion and contine to cook until they start to lightly brown
5. Beat the eggs, add plenty of salt and pepper and pour them over the potatoes and onions
6. Cook without stirring for a further 5 minutes until the egg looks set underneath
7. Slide it out onto a plate, turn it upside down using another plate and return it to the pan to cook on the other side for a further few minutes.

Tortilla really is the best friend of the leftovers cook- a handful of cooked potates, veg, leftover salad, even pasta can be used up and made into a meal with the simple addition of beaten eggs. I make it using leftover spaghetti bolognaise:

Spag Bol Frittata
Finally, it's time for the pièce de resistance- the dessert!

I would make these again any day- so simple, no need for yeast or proving. Decorate them as you want, with cream, fruit or crème anglaise.

Bouchées au rhum façon baba (de Joselyne) 
Makes 10 mini babas.

100g self rasing flour
80g sugar
2 small eggs
50g melted butter
For the syrup- 250ml water, 100 ml dark rum, 100g sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
2. Pour the flour, sugar, beaten eggs and melted butter into a large bowl and mix well.

Mix it all together in order
3. Pour into moulds (eg. dariole moulds or muffin cases), place on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 15 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, pour the syrup ingredients into a pan and heat over a medium heat until it reduces slightly.

Warm the syrup until it reduces slightly
5. Take the babas out of the oven, unmould them and place in a large gratin dish

Babas ready for their rum!
6. Pour over the warm syrup and let them soak it up. They will drink it all thirstily so don't worry that there is too much liquid.
7. Serve cold.
Bouchées au Rhum

And so we sat down to a delicious 4 course meal- this being the Auvergne, there was a cheese course in between- and celebrated the start of the summer holidays! 

Cock-a-doodle doo!

A la rentrée!*
*Some photos courtesy of Huguette- merci!


Monday, 8 May 2017

Ready Set Go!

Image result for jelly images free
This month I have gone a bit wobbly.
Or to be precise, my recipes have a wobble theme running through them.

I've featured jellies before on this blog of course- but always sweet ones, using fruit flavoured jelly crystals, rather than gelatine. Like my Muscat Jelly:

Muscat Jelly

Or my Mulled Wine Jelly - for using up leftovers at Christmas:
Mulled Wine Jelly
Or even a jelly baby jacuzzi- for children's parties:

Jelly Baby Jacuzzi- sorry about the nudity!

This time I am being much more grown up and making a savoury terrine, with salmon and lentils - all set together using gelatine.

First, cook 1 cup of Puy lentils in 5 times their volume of water with two bay leaves. Drain and cool, then season well with salt and pepper.
Then cook two shredded leeks in butter until tender and again cool and season well.
Now poach 1 salmon fillet in some white wine and a little dill if you have it.
When cool, flake into pieces and reserve the cooking liquor.

Line a small terrine dish or loaf tin with cling film. Cover this with slices of smoked salmon so they overlap the edges a bit. Make sure there are no gaps.
Line your dish with clingfilm and slices of smoked salmon

Soak 6 gelatine leaves in cold water and make up 200ml of  hot fish or vegetable stock (added to the cooking liquor from the salmon). Squeeze out the gelatine leaves and add to the hot stock, stirring to dissolve the gelatine.

Mix together your leeks and lentils, checking the seasoning as you go.

Mix together lentils and leeks
Time to begin layering up your terrine- on top of the smoked salmon, spoon on a layer of lentils and leeks, pressing down as you go.
Then a layer of flaked salmon: 

Layer on the flaked salmon
And finish with a layer of leeks and lentils.
Gently pour on the gelatine stock, allowing it to soak in. Then fold over the smoked salmon to make a parcel, do the same with the cling film, press down well and leave to refrigerate for a couple of hours.

When you are ready to unmould the terrine, turn it out onto a plate and peel off the cling film. Any excess jelly will come away with the film. 

Et voilà!
Serve sliced as an entrée
Ready for its close-up
And the leftovers make a lovely main course salad the next day.

Salmon and lentil terrine
You will probably also have leftover lentils and leeks, which again are marvellous in a salad or as a side dish with sausages or pork chops. Mix them with a little crême fraîche and Dijon mustard to enhance the flavour.

It's a short blog this month- but next month look out for an Atelier de Cuisine special as we celebrate the end of term!
Image result for happy jelly babies
Class of 2017!

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Sweet memories

 Cream Tea
And so, sadly, it was time to take my leave of all my new found friends in the Auvergne- but not before we had one last 'Recettes Partagées'.

This time, the theme was distinctly sweet.

It was my turn to present first of all, and so ( by popular request) I made a 'Teatime Anglais' or English cream tea. Scones, jam and cream and cups of proper Tetleys.

Well readers, they loved it. Who wouldn't?

Much more interesting though, from my point of view, was the recipe for 'Bugnes' presented by Marie-Claude.

These are little Lyonnais fried pastries- dusted with sugar- very like doughnuts but flavoured with lemon or orange. Essentially, you make a sweet pasta dough- and then deep fry it.What's not to like?

Ingredients:  Warning- this makes dozens and dozens (scale the ingredients down for a smaller batch or freeze the excess).
500g plain flour
5 eggs
150g sugar
150g butter
2 tsp baking powder
1 dessertspoon rum
grated zest of 1 lemon

All ingredients in the bowl

Place all ingredients in a bowl, mix well with your hands until you have a supple and smooth dough, ready for rolling. (You can use a mixer of course).
Form a smooth dough

Roll out thinly on a floured work surface, then use cookie cutters in any shape or variety that you choose to cut out the shapes. You can use the leftover pieces any way you like too- as twists, plaits ..whatever.
Heat up some flavourless oil and  deep-fry them quickly in batches.

Deep fry quickly

Drain on kitchen paper and serve warm, dusted with icing sugar. Heaven!


Other sweet treats this time included a Ginger Bread Pudding- that is to say, a bread pudding but made with pain d'épices (gingerbread).

1 lemon
300g ginger cake or pain d'épices
50g sultanas
50g mixed candied peel
150ml milk
2 tbsp rum
2 apples
4 eggs
60g butter
1 sachet vanilla sugar

1. Wash the lemon then grate its zest and squeeze it for juice
2. Break the ginger cake into large pieces in a bowl and add the sultanas, peel, milk and lemon zest. Leave to soak.
Let the mixture soak up the liquid
3. Peel the apples and cut into small dice and add to the lemon juice
4. Add this to the mixture along with the beaten eggs
5. Line a cake dish with baking paper.
6. Melt the butter and coat the paper with it

Line a cake dish with paper and melted butter
7. Sprinkle on the sugar and coat the melted butter with it.
8. Pour in the ginger cake mixture and bake for 25-30 minutes at 160 degrees or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Gingery Bread Pudding

One treat left over from my summer bottling and jamming were some Boozy Peaches. I chose some of our best pêches de vigne, slipped the skins off under hot water, took out the stones and placed them in sterilised jars with 100g of sugar, a split vanilla pod and enough alcool à fruits to cover them. (This is readily available in France, where everyone makes their own alcoholic drinks from fruit if they can. You can use brandy instead.)

Boozy Peaches
Seal up the jars and store in a cool place.
It is best to turn these regularly to allow the sugar to dissolve completely.

After a few months, you have delicious jars of Boozy Peaches- wonderful with ice cream, or placed atop stale cake and covered with creme anglaise and whipped cream to make trifles.

Top rounds of stale cake with peaches, custard and cream

Any leftover liquid makes a nice liqueur to drink too.
Can't beat a trifle!
And finally, one last dessert from Marie-Claude.
At our pot-au-feu afternoon, we all had to make an apple tart for dessert- all to the same recipe and to serve 8.
16 tarts were duly baked and served to the waiting crowds- but alas, that meant that none was left for the hungry volunteers next day who came to wash up and clean the village hall- and to eat Les Restes.

To the rescue, Marie-Claude! Up at dawn, she baked 3 more tarts for us all to enjoy.

Line a tart tin with shortcrust pastry and coat the base with 2 tbsp of apple compote. Then peel and finely slice 4-5 dessert apples (depending on size) and arrange them on top of the compote in a circular pattern.
Bake at 160 degrees until the apples are tender and the pastry golden.
Whilst warm, brush the top with a little jam ( apricot is traditional, but I used peach for mine and it was good).
Serve dusted with icing sugar if you can.

Tarte aux Pommes

Bravo Marie-Claude et à bientôt!