(please note that quantities are approximate – I may vary them, depending on how it looks in the pot)
Serve on its own or as an accompaniment to veal, pork or chicken, with a big pot of French mustard on the side
10 or so lettuce leaves (any type of green salad leaf)
4 onions – or about 8-10 new baby onions
367 432 peas (that’s what it seems like – but make it about 800g, unshelled)
butter, olive oil
salted pork (this is optional – depending on how you feel and if there any any vegos)
First I like to fry the onion in a good chunk of better and olive oil until almost golden as I enjoy the sweetness (and easier to digest).
– I read a recipe where a women likes to caramelize a bit of sugar in her pot first, but I really don’t think you need to when the new vegetables are so sweet and fresh
Once onion is done, add the salad leaves and stir well until leaves are floppy. If using pork, add now too.
Then add the carrots, potatoes, turnips, all cut into random, small chunks (some like to perfectly dice each vegetable but I think this looks too neat!), and herbs.
Add water to the pot, until vegetables are just covered, close lid and simmer after boiling for about one hour – or until vegetables are to your liking (the French have a reputation for very well-cooked vegetables, something unheard in the Asian-focused cuisine so popular in Australia!)
Remember to add the shelled peas about half-an hour into the cooking time. I don’t like to add them from the beginning as they can get mush
“Cauliflower Polonaise’ (from Stephanie Alexander)
– serves 4 with these quantities, but I always tend to double it!
2 hardboiled eggs (no time for arguments!)
2 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs
oil or butter for frying the capers
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
freshly ground black pepper
Oh, and I almost forgot: a small cup of home-made vinaigrette (I have added this to the recipe as I like it moist!) – mustard, lemon juice, salt, pepper, red-wine vinegar, olive oil
Steam cauliflower, section it up and then put aside on a serving dish. (You may like to prepare all the ingredients ahead, so that the dish is served hot or warm, or otherwise serve at room temperature).
Shell the eggs, and separate the yolks from the whites (my husband thinks I’m nuts every time I insist on doing this). Chop up the whites and then crush the yolks with the back of a fork, keep apart in bowls for later.
In a frying pan, toss the breadcrumbs in the butter, always tossing to avoid them burning. I like my mix to have larger crouton-sized chinks as well as crumbs, so maybe do the chunks forst and then add the crumbs at the end. Fry until very golden.
Drain and then fry the capers in some oil or butter until they open.
Scatter ingredients over the cauliflower in this order – egg whites, yolk, breadcrumbs/ croutons, capers and then the parsley. Pour over with vinaigrette… et voila!
With these quantities, you can serve this to 6-8 people and still have left-overs.
This is one of those dishes that just gets better and better on the second and third days. Ideally, I make this the night before serving.
(I change my portions each time, according to how it looks in the pot, so these quantities can be varied according to your taste)
4-5 medium onions, sliced (I love them!)
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 eggplants, sliced
8 zucchinis, sliced to 1cm thickness
3-4 capsicums (that is, peppers or poivrons, depending on your country!) – green, yellow and red, seeded and sliced
1 x 690g bottle crushed tomato pulp (you may not want to pour all of it in)
2 x 800g tin tomatoes
olive oil, sunflower oil for frying
chopped parsley and torn basil
Cut the eggplant into 1cm (or finer if you like) slices, place the slices in layers on a large tray, sprinkling salt over each layer. Cover with tin foil, weigh down with a heavy book and leave for one hour.
Heat up a generous amount of oil in a large cast-iron casserole/ heavy-bottomed pot and fry the onions over medium-low heat until soft and golden.
While the onions are frying, seed and chop capsicums, chop zucchinis, chop garlic.
As the onions become soft and golden, add the capsicum and the garlic and stir well. Increase heat to medium-high, stirring frequently to mix the ingredients.
Lower heat, cover with lid. Cook for further 15 minutes.
During this time, rinse the eggplant slices, drain through a colander and pat dry with tea towels.
Prepare one or two fry pans for shallow frying eggplants with generous amount of blended olive oil/ sunflower oil in each.
Stir in the tomatoes into the pot.
Stir in zucchinis to the pot, add freshly ground pepper and continue simmering with lid on.
Over a high heat (watch that the oil doesn’t burn) fry the eggplant slices until golden, re-adding oils to the pan/s regularly. This step is one of the most time-consuming in this recipe, but I really think it makes a difference to the dish. Once slices are cooked, I lay them aside on paper towels on a large tray.
Please note: I don’t salt the pot until I’ve tasted it with the eggplant added – even if the eggplants have been well-rinsed there can be a residue of salt.
Once all the eggplant slices have been fried, I add them to the pot, taste for salt and then re-cover and leave simmering for another 20 minutes.
Serve cold, warm or hot the next day with torn basil leaves and freshly chopped parsley.
(yum! – and great served as an entree)
2-3 bunches green asparagus
a good cup full of grated Swiss Gruyere (my favourite chees ever!) or Parmesan
3-4 chopped dried chillies (or 1-2 fresh – very hard to find in these parts!)
salt and pepper
chop the ends off the asparagus spears (I never peel the ends!), then rinse and pat dry in a tea towel
pour olive oil into bottom of a good heavy baking dish and swirl to spead oil
place spears, then top with cheese, then chillies, drizzle more oil (go on! – this is an incredible sauce at the end in which to dip crusty bread into) and add salt, pepper to taste
bake in moderate to hot oven (in my gas oven I cook them on ‘7’) for 30 mins (or for however long you like, depending on how much crunch you want to leave in the spears)
Et voila, so simple and delicious!
…and a note on the wine! Asparagus is notoriously difficult to match with wine. But if you really can’t resist, go ahead and enjoy them with a dry but fruity white
Simple Country Lentils (serves 6)
500g green Puy lentils
2 onions, diced
4 carrots, chopped
250g salted pork, cut into chunks (optional)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 sprig fresh thyme
country sausages/ frankfurters (1-2 per person) – (optional)
parsley and mustard for serving
pepper to taste (if you are using the salted pork you will not need to add any salt)
Fry your onion until golden in a generous amount of olive oil, in a heavy casserole pot
+ During this time, boil a full kettle of water for pouring over the lentils later – the hot water greatly reduces the cooking time +
Add the roughly cut chunks of salted pork and fry for a few minutes, stirring frequently
Add the carrots and the garlic, give a good stir
Now add the lentils, stir well
Pour boiling water to cover well.
N.B. During the cooking, you will find that the lentils soak up a lot of water, you may need to add a second pot of boiling water over the mixture if you have no liquid left. I know, it may look like you are drowning the lentils with water, but believe me it does dry up!
Add herbs and pepper to taste.
N.B. You do not need to add salt if using the salted pork (I’ve made that mistake!) – but if you’re not using meat DO NOT salt at this point. – adding salt to lentils during cooking may toughen them up. Add it after the cooking.
Cover with lid and let simmer for one hour (if you have too much liquid, leave the lid slightly ajar) – or until lentils are tender.
Voila! – and enjoy with a light red or a dry white…
Gratin d’Endives au Jambon (serves 6-8)
(NB: my quantities are always on the generous side – I prefer to have left-overs than not enough!)
8-10 endives (depending on size)
8 slices ham
60g plain flour
200g Swiss Gruyere, grated (the AOC Gruyere ‘Alpage’ or ‘Reserve’ are incredible! – and even available in Australia)
1 litre full cream milk
Trim stems off endives, pull off any discoloured leaves, then cut in half (I do this to help with cooking them through and browning)
Fry the endives in a pan over a low-medium heat with a little olive oil. As they begin to brown (or burn!), you can pour in a small amount of white wine to keep the pan moist. Fry until golden/dark golden and moisture has evaporated
(NB: some like to steam or boil the endives to part cook them but I prefer to fry them as I find there is too much liquid in the baking dish later when serving)
+ Heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (about 7 or 8 on my gas oven) +
While the endives are cooking, prepare the cheese sauce (I like to grate the cheese before beginning the sauce so that your hands are free to keep stirring – and ready to be added when needed)
Melt butter in large saucepan
Heat milk in a different saucepan (it helps reduce overall cooking time if the milk is warm)
Stir in flour with a wooden spoon and cook for a few minutes over a gentle heat, stirring continuously.
Once it becomes a golden paste, pour in heated milk gradually, stirring continuously
(NB: How much milk you add depends on how thick or thin you like your sauce – my husband likes it thin and runny but I like it thickish and runny – so you may want to use less or more than the 1 litre. Just remember it will thicken over the heat eventually!)
add salt, pepper to taste
Once it comes to the boil, add the cheese and stir until melted.
Remove from heat.
Oil a large gratin/ baking dish
Gather your endive halves, wrapping two halves inside each slice of ham (as though it’s a whole endive)
Place them in the baking dish and pour cheese sauce over the top – add a little extra grated Gruyere if desire
Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden
1.5kg roll of roasting pork – preferably of shoulder (fillet is drier and less fat, don’t want that)
1 litre full cream milk
2 large onions, sliced
6 carrots, cut into in large chunks
8 potatoes, as above
8 small turnips, as above
4 cloves of garlic
bunch fresh thyme
bunch fresh sage
2 sprigs rosemary
Fry up the onions in heavy cast iron pot with a big chunk of butter (30-40g) and a little olive oil, until golden.
Add the roll of pork and brown on each side over medium -high heat.
When the meat is almost all browned, add the garlic and salt, pepper to taste. I find garlic burns very easily, so I add it near the ned of the browning.
Pour over the milk (meat should be 3/4 covered, if not add more ) and add the herbs.
Cover with lid and let simmer for an hour.
Add the carrots and turnips and keep simmering for another hour.
Add potatoes and keep simmering until they are tender.
Serve with lashings of dijon mustard on the side and a big white or red wine!
N.B. If this is prepared the night before eating, I don’t add any of the vegetables until the next day.
And. I cook this for a few hours, the longer the better. I like it when the meat falls apart. A lot of recipes cook it for less though, and you keep the form of the pork roll and then slice it. As the French say, ‘as you want’…