Best recipe: Salade nicoise

Salade nicoise

I wanted to have one salad recipe in my 100 recipes to cook in your lifetime challenge. Salade Niçoise is one of the more popular recipes so I choose it. The salad is named after the city Nice in France.

Salade Niçoise is a composed of tomatoes, green beans, tuna, hard-boiled eggs, black olives, anchovies and dressed with a vinaigrette. It is served with or without a bed of lettuce. The tuna may be cooked or canned.

If you consult your Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide, you’ll want to choose fish which are ranked “Green – Better choice”, such as Australian Bonito, troll or line caught Albacore Tuna and Skipjake Tuna. Bigeye Tuna, Southern Bluefin Tuna, Yellowfin tuna, and many imported canned tuna are on the “Red – no” rank.

Avoid adding cooked potatoes, rice, or sweetcorn to your nicoise – they don’t really fit into the mixture of fresh vegetables that makes up the original dish.
Provence Cookery School by Guy Gedda and Marie-Pierre Moine

Salade Niçoise recipe

bunch of lettuce leaves
2 ripe tomatoes or 8 cherry tomatoes
2 eggs, hard-boiled
1/2 red capsicum
100g cooked green beans
8 black olives
200g canned tuna in springwater, drained
1 tsp lemon juice
4 anchovy fillets packet in oil (optional)

Dressing
3 Tbsps extra virgin olive oil
3 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
1/2 Tbsp red or white wine vinegar
salt and pepper

  1. Make the dressing by putting all of the ingredients in a glass jar and shake to combine. 
  2. Tear the lettuce leaves into small bite-size pieces. Rinse, drain and dry in a salad spinner.
  3. Cut the tomatoes into halves, then again into 2 or 3 wedges.
  4. Peel the eggs and cut them into quarters length-waves.
  5. Cut the capsicum into fine strips.
  6. Drain the anchovy fillets well on kitchen paper, then cut in half length-ways (optional).
  7. Select your serving dish and arrange the salad ingredients over a bed of lettuce leaves
  8. Spoon the dressing over the salad and gently toss the ingredients.
  9. Season with salt and pepper.

Serves 2.

Cooked for the 100 recipes to cook in your lifetime challenge.

Best recipe: French onion soup

french onion soup

I got a little worried at the first reading of the Onion soup Les Halles recipe, as I don’t own either ovenproof soup crocks, nor a propane torch. The recipe I’ve chosen comes Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook. I’ve never tried authentic French onion soup in a restaurant, mainly because I love to have snails or frog’s legs as a starter, so I’m not sure how to judge a good onion soup.

My first challenge was researching to find out what a bouquet garni is made up of.  For this dish, I decided to use celery, basil leaf and thyme. My second challenge was converting the recipe to metric and halving the amount. I used the very handy The Cookbook People’s Kitchen Conversion Cheat Sheet.

My eyes started to get teary cutting the first onion, so I precariously tried to chop it at arms length. I was worried I’d cut myself because I could hardly see through the tears. Fortunately, I washed the board and knife, wiped away my tears on my t-shirt sleeve, and then other next three onions were tearless. I have heard the rumour that a blunt knife makes cutting onions harder.

There is some debate about how long it takes to caramalise the onions* – most recipes have 30 minutes, and some suggest at least an hour. Felicity Cloak’s recipe suggests “This will probably take between 90 minutes to 2 hours, depending on your nerve.”

Flour is often added to thicken the soup, but I didn’t add it. Emmenthal works as well as Gruyere on the toast. Some people prefer to serve the cheesy toast on the side. Apparently the soup improves the day after cooking, but I didn’t notice any difference.

French onion soup is ideal as a winter dish. You could easily make a vegetarian version by changing the stock, and I’m sure this dish has many restorative powers.

French onion soup recipe

Adapted from Onion soup Les Halles recipe from Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook.

For the broth:

100g butter
4 brown onions, thinly sliced
2 Tbsps port wine
2 Tbsps balsamic vinegar
4 cups of homemade chicken stock or beef stock (or vegetable)
100 g bacon, cut into cubes
bouquet garni

For the croutons and cheese:

8 baguette croutons
3/4 cup grated Gruyère cheese 

 For the broth: 

  1. In a large pot, heat the butter over medium heat until it has melted and begins to brown. Add the onions and cook over medium heat. Keep an eye on the onions so they don’t burn and stir occasionally, until they are soft and browned (for at least 30 minutes)*.
  2. Increase the heat to medium high and add the port wine and the vinegar. Don’t forget to stir in all that brown goodness from the bottom of the pot into the liquid. Add the chicken, beef or vegetable stock.
  3. Add the bacon and the bouquet garni and bring to a boil.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Reduce to a simmer. Cook for 45 minutes to an hour. Remove the bouquet garni before serving.

For the croutons and cheese:

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Place croutons on a baking tray.
  2. Toast croutons on one side in the an oven for about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the croutons from the oven and turn them over, and sprinkle on the grated cheese.
  4. Return the croutons to the oven, and toast until the cheese has melted.

Add the croutons to the soup and serve immediately.

Serves 4 people.

Cooked for the 100 recipes to cook in your lifetime challenge. 

Restaurant review: Montrachet

montrachet-snails

The day of our special occasion, we received a text asking to confirm our reservation. We both appreciated the small touches of good old fashioned customer service.

We were looking forward to dining at Montrachet in Paddington and dressed up for the event.

Of course, it has a very French decor with red leather chairs and benches. The tables are crowded up against each other to make the most of the available floor space. It wasn’t full on a Monday night, but there were only a handful of empty tables.

The waiters and waitresses were attentive and wore cute stripped waistcoats.

The menu is very French and we started with entrees of:

Escargots en Cocotte – Snails baked in little pots with garlic butter, tomato, spinach and topped with puff pastry lids
A very generous serve with 3 snails in each pot (so in total 9 snails).

Bouillon RichelieuxFoie gras with a trio of ravioli: chicken and black truffle; Prawn; beetroot and goat cheese cooked in a beetroot broth
Melt in your mouth pasta pockets.

montrachet-duck

Followed by mains of:

Bouillabaisse – Reef fish, scallops, fresh green prawns and scored cuttlefish served in a rich seafood broth with aioli and garlic French toast
Large pieces of fresh seafood in a divine tomato based soup.

Canard aux Deux Façons – Confit roasted duck leg and roasted duck breast served with a pea and vegetable ragoût
Crispy skin with moist meat in a sauce of summer vegetables.

And perfect homemade Pommes Frites (potato chips). I normally like them cut thin, but I guess most Australian like them thick as they were served.

Sadly we were too full to be tempted by the chocolate truffles, Grand Marnier souffle, crème brûlée, or the french cheeses.

You can also eat at the marbled comptoir (counter).

The opening hours are not what you’d expect, but civilized for the staff. Lunches are Monday – Friday from 12.00pm and Dinners are Monday – Thursday from 6.00pm.

Please leave your jeans at home!

Highly recommended.

Montrachet
224 Given Terrace
Paddington Q 4064
Phone: 07 3367 0030

Montrachet on Urbanspoon

100 recipes: Mussels

Best recipe
Moules marinière with cream, garlic and parsley – Rick Stein

About

French: Moules marinières

Moules marinières is mussels cooked with white wine and herbs. It is traditionally from Brittany, France. A few years ago, a survey found that the average French person’s favourite dish was moules marinières.

When purchasing fresh mussels look for ones with firmly shut shells, and pry them open (if needed) with a knife before you serve them.

Julia Child recommends serving mussels with French bread and a light, dry white wine.

If you consult your Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide, you’ll want to choose seafood which are ranked “Green – Better choice”, such as Blue Mussels, and also a better choice are Green Mussels imported from New Zealand.

For choosing sustainable seafood:

Multimedia

Variations

About | 100 Recipes | Outtakes

Tomato salad

tomato_salad

You’re probably wondering why there is even a recipe here for tomato salad. A few extra simple steps make all the difference from a soggy mess into something tasty.

We have used heirloom black Russian tomatoes in this dish. Any type of tomato will do, but make sure it is ripe and flavoursome. Consider varying the fresh herbs to whatever you have in the garden. Finely chopped shallots would also be suitable.

The dressing is a little on the generous size, so leave it in a glass jar in the fridge if you end up with too much dressing to tomato ratio (like I did).

tomatoes, sliced
parsley, finely chopped
basil, f inely chopped

Dressing
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp red or white wine vinegar

  1. Slice the tomatoes and place them in a colander over a bowl to collect the excess juices. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Leave to drain for 15-30 minutes. Stir occasionally, but there is no need to press them.
  2. Arrange tomato slices on your serving dish. Top with the parsley and basil leaves.
  3. Mix the olive oil and vinegar together in a cup and then sprinkle the dressing over the salad.
  4. Leave to stand at room temperature for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Antipasto

An antipasto platter is one of the easiest dishes to make for entertaining. Every so often, we use up whatever we can find in the fridge and have it for lunch. You could also raid your home-grown preserves or vegetable patch. I’ve found it’s best to keep within one cuisine.

Italian antipasto

artichokes, marinated
capsicum, marinated char-grilled
mushrooms
olives
tomatoes, semi-dried
zucchini, sliced length-ways
grissini or ciabatta bread
boccochini, pecorino, provolone, mozzarella
prosciutto, parma ham, or salami

Greek mezze

cucumber, ribbons
eggplant, marinated char-grilled
dolmades
olives
tomatoes, semi-dried
pita bread
hommus
feta, cubed

French hors d’oeuvre

anchovies
vegetable crudites
olives
french loaf
tapende
fromage frais aux fines herbs

Spanish plate

caperberries
olives
peppers – pequillo or padron
manchego cheese
chorizo, jamon serrano

The ingredients listed are only suggestions – select a couple for less people. Arrange all ingredients on a large serving platter or individual small bowls. To make a more substantial meal serve with crusty bread.

Coq au vin and boulangere potatoes (French)

Coq au vin and boulangere potatoes

Cooked for the French entry of the Euro Cup and Plate challenge.

Coq au vin

8 organic chicken drumsticks
1/2 bottle red wine
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of thyme
250g bacon, diced
60g organic butter
1 large onion
1 tbsp oil
30g plain flour
1 litre chicken stock
125ml Rosso Vermouth
2 tsp tomato paste (puree)
1½ tbsp softened butter
1 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp chopped parsley

  1. Divide chicken into pieces, if needed.
  2. Put the wine, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper in a bowl and add the chicken. Cover and leave to marinate, preferably overnight.
  3. Saute the bacon in a frying pan until golden. Lift out onto a plate. Melt a quarter of the butter in a pan, add the onion and saute until browned. Lift out and set aside.
  4. Drain the chicken, reserving the marinade,and pat the chicken dry. Season with salt and pepper. Add the remaining butter and the oil to the frying pan, and saute the chicken until golden. Stir in the flour.
  5. Transfer the chicken to a large saucepan or casserole dish and add the stock. Pour the Vermouth into the frying pan and boil, stirring, for 30 seconds to deglaze the pan. Pour over the chicken.
  6. Add the marinade, onion, bacon and tomato paste.
  7. Cook over moderate heat for 45 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

Serves 4.

Variation: Saute a handful of button mushrooms in butter and add to the mixture with the bacon.

Boulangere Potatoes

1 kg potatoes
1 large onion
2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
500ml chicken or vegetable stock
25g organic butter, cubed

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Thinly slice the potatoes and onion (drag out the mandolin, if you have one).
  2. Build up alternate layers of potato and onion in a 20 x 10cm deep dish. Between each layer sprinkle with parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Finish with a layer of potatoes.
  3. Pour the hot stock over the top and dot with butter.
  4. Bake, covered with foil, on the middle shelf of the oven for 30 minutes. Check the potatoes and add more hot water or stock if needed to the potatoes remain submerged. Bake for another 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and the top golden brown.

Serves 4.