Ingredient of the week……………. spelt

Risotto purists will be screaming abuse no doubt at this bastardised version of such a classic Italian dish, but I make no apology for taking it’s name in vain. I am a lover of a classic risotto, but this more nutty version is good too. Less creamy, yes, but I think the nuttiness and robust flavour and texture of spelt grains more than makes up for this. Widely recognised for it’s health benefits, this ancient grain is hardier and more nutritional than it’s more familiar cousin, wheat. If you aren’t so sure, give this delicious version a go.

Beetroot and Spelt Risotto with Camembert

A nutty and wholesome alternative to a more traditional risotto using pearled spelt berries

Photo by Ian Wallace

Serves: 6

300g pearled spelt grains

750ml-1 litre chicken or vegetable stock

350g raw beetroot, peeled and diced

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 red onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tsp chopped fresh thyme, plus a few leaves to garnish

125g Camembert, sliced

25g grated Parmesan

55g pecan nuts

1 red whitlof, shredded

salt and pepper

Soak the spelt grains in boiling water for 20 minutes. Drain and shake dry.

Place the stock in a saucepan and heat gently until it just starts to simmer.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion, garlic, thyme and some salt and pepper for 5 minutes until softened. Add the beetroot and fry for a further 5 minutes.

Add the spelt and stir-fry for 1 minute until all the grains are glossy. Add the wine and simmer until reduced, about 3 minutes.

Then add half the stock and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add the remaining stock and cook, stirring until the spelt is tender and most of the stock absorbed, about 10 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in half the Camembert and all the Parmesan, cover pan and leave to sit for 5 minutes.

Heat a small frying pan and fry the pecans for 3-4 minutes until lightly browned.

Spoon the risotto onto plates and serve topped with the remaining cheese, pecans, the shredded whitlof and a few thyme leaves.

Recipe of the week – beef

Beef with salt roasted celeriac and walnut Gorgonzola pesto

Delicious combination of earthy flavours and textures in this quick and simple mid week supper – photo Ian Wallace

Serves: 6

1 large celeriac, trimmed (about 1kg)

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp sea salt

1kg piece beef filet

pesto

100g walnut pieces

1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley

2 tbs green olives

2 anchovy fillets, drained and chopped

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

55g gorgonzola cheese

2 cups Autumn salad leaves, such as radicchio, red oak leaf, red chicory

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 200c/180c fan-forced and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Make the pesto. Place the walnuts, parsley, olives, anchovies and some pepper in a food processor and blend until smooth. Blend in the oil, half the balsamic vinegar and then stir in the gorgonzola. Season to taste and set aside.

Peel the celeriac and cut in half, then cut each half into 1 cm thick slices. Combine the oil and salt and rub all over the celeriac pieces. Arrange on the prepared tray and roast for 30 minutes until charred and softened. 

Meanwhile, season the beef fillet. Heat an oven-proof frying pan over a high heat and when hot add the beef. Sear for 5 minutes until browned all over. Transfer to the oven and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and rest for 5 minutes.

Cut the beef into 6 thick steaks and arrange on a second baking tray. Spoon the pesto onto each steak and return to the oven for 5 minutes until the beef is cooked perfectly and the pesto golden.

Divide the celeriac between plates and top with the beef steaks. Spoon over any pan juices and serve with some mixed salad leaves.

© photo Ian Wallace

© recipe Louise Pickford

First published by Taste.com.au

2019 cooking courses

So looking forward to a whole new year of exciting cooking classes at Come Cook In France. As well as some of my regular classes, this year I am adding some full day and residential courses, hosted by the wonderful Les Soeurs Anglaises in The Dordogne.

Dinner is served at Les Soeurs Anglaises after a wonderful day of cooking

The Cook Club courses are held in my kitchen at home and run from 9.30am to 2.30 pm. We cook up until about 1 pm when we sit down and enjoy the fruits of our morning’s labours. I run approximately 2 Cook Clubs per month.

23rd February – Japanese Cooking

The first course of the year is a fascinating look into some of my favourite Japanese dishes. I will be explaining some of the more unusual ingredients. I will demonstrate prepare and cook gyozas. Then together we will make Udon noodle soup with salmon and a tataki of beef.

6th March – Pasta Making

This is always a hugely popular course and this year we will be stuffing lasagne sheets to make cannelloni, hand-cutting pappardelle and using a pasta machine to make different flavoured linguine. You can then make one of 3 different sauces to serve with your own home made pasta.

23rd March – Fish Cookery

So many people seem a little fearful of cooking fish, yet are huge fans of eating it. This course is perfect as we look at some of our favourite whole fish and get to grips with scaling, filleting and cooking several completely different varieties.

4th April – French Classics Revisited

This is one of my favourite courses as I like to take some of the classic French dishes such as duck confit or tart tatin and give them my own twist. So duck confit could be spiced with star anise and hoisin sauce before roasting, whilst fresh mango makes a quite delicious tart tatin, especially with home-made palm sugar ice cream.

17th April – Thai and Vietnamese Cooking

As a huge fan of South East Asian cookery I love introducing people to the amazing flavours and unusual ingredients of this fascinating cuisine. We chop, slice, crush, pound and fry some of the most yummy dishes you can imagine.

18th May – Pizza Workshop

The first day course of the year is such an exciting one. Hosted by Les Soeurs Anglaises we will have access to a pizza oven in order to cook up some truly awesome pizzas. After an introduction of how to get your pizza oven started up, we will make pizza dough, allowing time for it to rise. In the meantime we will crack on with all the yummy toppings, finishing the afternoon off our wood smoked pizzas, fresh from the oven.

13th-17th June – Cookery Workshop

I am super excited about my first residential cookery course at Les Soeurs Anglaises. After a meet and greet welcoming dinner we will spend 3 days preparing, cooking, eating, dining, relaxing and sharing foodie stories in the beautiful surroundings of our accommodation. Using locally produced and sourced ingredients we will cook French inspired dishes with a nod to modernity.

Please email me at louise@comecookinfrance.com or go to my contacts page for more details.

Eat your greens

With winter well and truly taking hold here, I start to yearn for spring and all things green. Well luckily you don’t really need to wait at all, there are so many delicious winter greens to keep you going until the first shoots of spring announce the beginning of the new growing season, just a few weeks away.

Here are a few of my favourite winter dishes using a selection of cabbages, leeks and spinach.

Kale ribollita with chargrilled sourdough

A hearty spring soup full of green vitality makes the perfect supper dish with slices of chargrilled garlic bruschetta.

Serves 4

Prep time: 1 hour (includes cooking beans)

Cooking time: 50 minutes

Soaking time: overnight

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle

1 onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, 2 chopped 1 left whole

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 large leek, trimmed and sliced

1 large carrot, finely chopped

1 large celery stalk, finely chopped

400g can chopped tomatoes

1 litre chicken or vegetable stock

500g kale, trimmed and shredded

4-6 slices sourdough bread

For the beans

125g dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight in cold water

1 onion, quartered

1 garlic clove, peeled

1 sprig fresh rosemary

6 black peppercorns

Method:

Start by cooking the beans. Drain the soaked beans, rinse and place in a saucepan with the quartered onion, garlic clove, rosemary stalk and peppercorns.  Add 1 litre of cold water and bring to the boil, skimming the surface. Cover and simmer gently over a low heat for 50-55 minutes or until the beans are tender.

Drain the beans, discarding the the onion quarters and rosemary stalk. Transfer half the beans and liquid to a food and puree until smooth. Return to the pan.

Make the soup. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan and gently fry the onion, garlic, rosemary and a little salt and pepper for 10 minutes until softened. Add the leek, carrot and celery and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes, the cooked bean mixture and stock. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently over a low heat for about 20 minutes until the carrots are tender. Stir in the kale and cook for a further 10 minutes until wilted

Meanwhile, heat a ridged grill pan until hot and grill the sourdough until lightly charred on each side. Cut the remaining garlic clove in half and rub over the toast. Drizzle liberally with extra virgin olive oil. Spoon the soup into bowls and serve topped with the bruschetta.


Quinoa salad with broccoli, preserved lemon and avocado oil 

The preserved lemon adds a lovely zing to this salad dish with the combination of dried fruits, nuts and green veg. Perfect for lunch.

Serves

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Cooling time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

200g quinoa

350g broccoli

3 spring onions

1 small avocado

2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as coriander and mint

50g dried cherries

30g pumpkin seeds, toasted

4 tablespoons avocado or extra virgin olive oil

1 lemon, squeezed juice

2 tablespoons finely chopped preserved lemon

2 teaspoons honey

salt and pepper

Method:

Rinse the quinoa under cold water and drain well. Heat a frying pan until hot, add the wet quinoa and stir over a high heat, firstly until dry and then continue for a further 1-2 minutes until lightly toasted and starting to crackle.

Add 450ml cold water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the pan. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer over a very low heat for 12 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat but leave undisturbed for a further 5 minutes. If there is any liquid remaining drain through a sieve and leave to cool.

Trim the broccoli, discarding the stalk and cut into florets. Place in a steamer and cook over a medium heat for 3 minutes until al dente. Remove and let cool.

In a bowl, lightly whisk the oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, the preserved lemon, honey and some salt and pepper.

Combine the quinoa, broccoli, spring onions, pumpkin seeds and cherries. Add the avocado and herbs and toss together. Add the dressing, stir well.

Tip: if you prefer serve this salad warm, rather than allowing the quinoa and broccoli to cool completely.


Orecchiette with softened spinach, Dolcelatte and hazelnuts

A classic combination of spinach and dolcelatte cheese is given a modern twist with the addition of toasted hazelnuts

Serves: 4

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 shallots, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 lemon, grated zest

500g spinach leaves, washed

50g hazelnuts, roughly chopped

50g butter

350g dried orecchiette pasta

150g dolcelatte cheese

4 tablespoons mascarpone cheese

salt and pepper

freshly grated Parmesan, to serve

Method:

Heat the oil in a large frying pan or saucepan and gently fry the shallots, garlic, lemon zest and a little salt and pepper over a low heat for 5 minutes until softened. Add the spinach leaves and stir well, then cook over a gentle heat for 2-3 minutes until wilted.

Melt the butter in a small frying pan and add the hazelnuts. Stir over a medium-low heat until the nuts and butter turn a lovely nutty brown colour.

Meanwhile plunge the pasta into a large saucepan of lightly salted, boiling water and cook for 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain well reserving 3 tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Return the pasta and liquid to the pan.

Stir in the spinach mixture, dolcelatte, mascarpone and all the Parmesan. Stir well over a low heat for 1 minute until the pasta is well coated with the sauce. Divide between bowls and serve topped with the hazelnut butter and some extra, freshly grated Parmesan.


Baked savoy cabbage with Emmental and breadcrumbs

A fabulous way to bake cabbages in a creamy, cheesy sauce topped with crispy breadcrumbs and Parmesan. You can use any cheese you like.

Serves: 4

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

1 medium savoy cabbage. About 650g

25g butter, plus extra for greasing

1 whole nutmeg

500ml single cream

150g Emmental, grated

50g freshly made breadcrumbs

25g freshly grated Parmesan cheese

salt and pepper

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200c/400f/ gas mark 6 and grease a 2.5 litre baking tin with a little butter. Remove any really large tough outer leaves from the cabbage and very carefully cut into 6 wedges making sure you cut through the stalk so that the wedges remain attached at the base.

Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a rolling boil. Add the cabbage wedges and blanch for 4-5 minutes until vibrant green. Using tongs or a slotted spoon remove the cabbage from the pan. Shake off excess liquid and drain on kitchen towel.

Arrange the wedges in the prepared baking tin. Season with freshly grated nutmeg, salt and pepper and dot over the remaining butter. Scatter the Emmental between the cabbage pressing some down into the leaves and pour over the cream. Scatter over the breadcrumbs and the Parmesan and transfer to the oven. Bake for 30-25 minutes until bubbling and golden.


Recipes © Louise Pickford 2019

Images © Ian Wallace 2019 ( ianwallacephotographer.com )

First published by Sainsbury’s magazine March 2016