In an attempt to revive my quite frankly lacklustre French skills, I have decided to try and cook at least two dishes from the supermarket magazine every month. The current rentrée edition includes ideas for exciting packed lunches (draw faces on quiches) and an article on that cool new trendy foodstuff, the crumble.
The results? Well, I think my kitchen French came through for me, although how much of it was actual textual comprehension and how much of it was looking at the pictures and basic reasoning I don't know.
I intended to make the rosemary chicken skewers, but lacked one vital element: the skewers. Instead I fried off chicken pieces with onion and rosemary, which was perfectly pleasant but nothing special or particularly complicated to write more about. To accompany this, I went for green beans (the Dutchman's favourite) and a spinach and chickpea warm salad/side dish/thing. There were two elements of this (recipe below) which made it stand out. First, the chickpeas are flavoured as they cook by the additions to the water. This is a simple idea which I'd never heard of before - ok, yes, you add chickpeas to stews and so on, but just plain boiled chickpeas? It added a little something. In this instance the flavourings were garlic and bay, but I think they could be played around with: lemon and thyme; garlic and sage; white pepper and basil? And that's not even considering the flavourings of the Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Levantine traditions of chickpea wizardry. The second element was the vinaigrette. Very simple, just oil and vinegar, but I think it brightened and lifted the spinach.
And now to the good stuff. Those process and food porn shots at the top of the page? That's a salted caramel and apple compote. OH YIS. Very easy to make and very easy to eat. It was part of an article in the Delhaize magazine which included a blackberry and cuberdon compote. Cuberdons are a Belgian sweet sort of like a jelly baby with a liquid centre. They are incredibly sweet and are one of those things which taste amazing at the first bite and then rapidly fill you with sugar and regret. Probably won't be trying that one... But! Salted caramel and apple! That totally counts as one of your five a day, right? It is made from fruit! We ate it warm, poured over a slice of plain vanilla sponge, accompanied by crème fraîche. (I may also have eaten it straight from the pot. Ahem.) Although I think there is something in the apple's cooking juices which lengthens the sauce, and stops the caramel from hardening, the photo above makes the caramel look a lot thinner than it was. I think this tastes like it was a lot more effort - three ingredients, plus water, and ready in under half an hour.
Ragout De Pois Chiches Aux Epinards
Recipe adapted from the August/September Delhaize magazine. For two.
- 125g tinned chickpeas
- 1 spring onion
- 250g spinach leaves
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp vinegar (original recipe called for sherry; we had red wine)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 clove garlic
- olive oil, salt and pepper to taste
(the original recipe also called for 100g soft goat's cheese to crumble over the top, which we didn't do but I would definitely try another time)
1. Simmer the chickpeas in water flavoured with the garlic and bay leaf (for cooking times use tin instructions). When cooked, drain and place in a bowl.
2. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan and add the spinach leaves - you will probably need to do this in batches, waiting for the first to wilt a little before adding the next. Mince the spring onion and add it to the pan. Cook together on a low heat for a few minutes.
3. Prepare the vinaigrette by whisking together the oil and vinegar.
4. Combine everything and serve!
Compote De Pomme Au Caramel Au Berre Salé
Recipe adapted from the August/September Delhaize magazine. Makes one pot, or enough as part of dessert for four people.
- 500g Cox apples
- 100g caster sugar
- 20g and 30g salted butter
- vanilla pod
1. Peel the apples and cut into small dice. Melt 20g of salted butter in a saucepan, add the split vanilla pod, and lightly stew the apples for about fifteen minutes, or until they reach a consistency you like - I've made it with apple pieces that still had a bit of crunch and with pears which went from rock hard to deliciously slumped in the blink of an eye.
2. Whilst the apples are cooking, make the caramel. In a (heavy-based) saucepan (with quite tall sides) melt the sugar into 2 tbsp water (about 20 ml). Once the sugar has melted completely, watch the liquid until it turns a 'caramel' colour. The darker it is, the more intense the flavour, but be careful as it can go from golden brown to burnt very easily... Take the pan off the heat and add the 30g butter, whisking it in. This is where the 'pan with tall sides' caveat comes in: the caramel will bubble up when you add the butter. It will be HOT so please be careful. Salted caramel is a glorious thing, I don't want anyone to have to go to casualty before getting to taste it. (Incidentally, if you are as much of a fan of salted caramel as I am, check out David Lebovitz - both this recipe and the other links beneath it.)
3. Add the caramel sauce to the apples and mix together. Serve either warm or cold. Or keep it all for yourself.