Tag Archives: French

Parisienne Café (or French Coffee)

A child of the 1970’s, I have memories of many trends and fashions that were introduced, often in bad taste, but this morning I woke up (worryingly) thinking of French coffee, thoughts that instigated a little trip down memory lane. Each Sunday, my dad would cook – usually something from his Supercook cookbook collection – whilst sipping large glasses of homemade wine (another story). After the mid-afternoon lunch, he would retire to HIS chair and snooze whilst mum and I would clear up – her washing and me drying. That done, there would be a return to the dining table for French coffees, a job that was mine as I was particularly good at floating the cream. This little ritual was then followed by another: a few games of Backgammon with my dad –inevitably he won!!!

So this morning, I’ve whipped to Tesco’s for the papers and some double cream and we will have a little history repeated, except it’s Connagh who plays me at Backgammon….he doesn’t always win! Funny old world….

I’ve used cognac here because it’s what we happened to have, but you can of course make liqueur coffees with pretty much any thing you fancy: whisky for an Irish or Highland Coffee (depending on where your whisky hails from), Amaretto for an Italian Classico or rum for Calypso Coffee…the list goes on and the choice is yours! Whichever you choose, liqueur coffees are rather indulgent and have a definite ‘chillax’ affect!

Serves 1

What you need…

1 glass, glamorous if possible (I need to get some!)

2 teaspoons demerara/brown sugar

1 tablespoon cognac/brandy

Strong, hot coffee

Double cream

What to do…

Double up on the ingredients and make two – these should be enjoyed together!

For each one, tip the sugar in the bottom of your glass and then pour over the Cognac. Make up your coffee (I use Taylors Rich Italian ground coffee to make up a cafetiere). Pour the coffee into the glass, leaving about a centimeter at the top. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Gently and slowly pour the double cream in over the back of a dessertspoon and watch with delight as the cream floats on the top! Do not stir!!!

Sip the delicious liqueur-infused hot coffee through the cool double cream – absolutely delightful and soooooo indulgent! Enjoy!

Inspired by…

The 1970’s and increasingly odd thought patterns when I wake up in the mornings – recipes, recipes!

How easy…

You don’t have to ask, really. Just go steady with that cream!

 

Coq au Vin

 

This is an oldie but a goodie: rich and flavoursome – perfect for a winter supper. The basis for this recipe was pulled from my dad’s ‘Supercook’ collection. Anyone my age will remember this phenomenon that went through the very hot year that was 1976 through until 1979. The weekly (I think) magazines were collected and ultimately inserted proudly into the white and gold Supercook binders. My dad loved to cook and experiment and Supercook was the source of many of his weekend recipes. Try this one – it’s another of those that I love – you pop them in the oven and they finish themselves off whilst you make the kitchen tidy again.

Serves 4

What you need…

1 x baking dish (mine is 30cm x 20cm x 7cm deep)

10 – 12 chicken thighs

4 tablespoons flour, well seasoned with sea salt and black pepper

Splash of rapeseed oil

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

200g lean bacon, chopped

12 shallots

1 teacup parsley, chopped

2 bay leaves

½ bottle red wine

125ml boiling water

2 x Knorr chicken stock pots

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

200g button mushrooms, cleaned

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 180°c / 350°f / gas 4.

Make some chicken stock by popping the stock pots into a jug and then filling it to 125ml with boiling water, dissolving the stock evenly into the water using a balloon whisk.

Coat the chicken thighs with the seasoned flour.

Heat the oil in a deep-sided frying pan. Add the chicken and fry on a medium-high heat until gold brown. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken pieces and pop them into your baking dish – they’ll fit nice and snugly.

If the frying pan is dry, add another splash of oil and when hot, add the garlic, onion and bacon, frying gently until pale gold.

Stir in any leftover coating flour (this will make the sauce lovely and thick), and then add the shallots, parsley, bay leaves, wine and stock.

Bring to the boil, stirring, then taste. Season. Taste. When you’re happy, carry on.

Tip the mushrooms into the baking dish over the chicken and then pour over the sauce from the frying pan. Cover with foil and pop in the oven for 1 hour until the chicken is tender.

Serve your lovely Coq au Vin with green vegetables (we favour broccoli) and potato – baked or sautéed if you fancy. It’s lovely, definitely French and just perfect for a winter family supper! Enjoy!

Inspired by…

Supercook

How easy…

Very easy. The only bit I don’t like about this is the prep of the onions and shallots, which instigates a bout of violent sneezing and then mascara-ruining crying. But once that’s out the way, a simple but lovely dish!

Steak au Poivre

A classic I know but, oh how wonderful and totally indulgent – a real treat. I don’t eat steak much and have a growing concern about the amount of hormones pumped into livestock, so when we do occasionally have fillet (2 or 3 times a year, I feel the need to stress) we bypass the supermarket and visit butchers whose meat we know to be as happy and healthy as possible. The sensation as this fabulous meat alights your tongue – ahhh, worth a celebration all by itself!

Serves 4

What you need…

4 gorgeous fillet steaks, about 4cms thick

2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns

Splash of olive oil

2 shallots, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

Beef stock made from 1 stockpot (I use Knorr) dissolved into 400ml boiling water

1 tablespoon brandy/cognac

150ml soured cream

Salt for seasoning

What to do…

Prepare your steaks waaaaaay ahead of time if you want to optimise the flavours and textures. Start by crushing your peppercorns. You can use a pestle and mortar to do this or put them between 2 A4-sized pieces of cling film (on a board) and bash them with either a rolling pin or meat tenderiser).

Fillet doesn’t need tenderising. Instead, put a teaspoon of olive oil onto one side of each steak, spreading it evening over and then, using the heel of your hand, massage the steak – it needs no more than this. Then sprinkle over the crushed peppercorns, pressing them into the meat, saving just 2 teaspoons for use in the sauce. Flip the steaks over and repeat the process on the other side. Cover the steaks with cling film and set aside for several hours.

When you are ready to cook the steaks, get the sauce in order! Using a medium-sized saucepan, pour in your oil and add the shallots and garlic. Cook on a medium heat for a couple of minutes until they begin to brown. Add the beef stock and saved peppercorns. Add the brandy/cognac and continue simmering until the sauce is reduced by half – 4 – 5 minutes.

Remove the sauce from the heat and let it cool for 5 minutes. Then, gradually add the soured cream, stirring continuously – if you add too much, too fast it will curdle so take your time. Once it’s all in, check the taste and season with salt; then put the sauce back on a low heat, whilst you cook the steaks.

For the steaks, take a heavy frying pan and pop it onto a very high heat. Dry fry them (remember, you’ve already rubbed oil into them) quickly for about 1 minute on each side, then lower the heat and cook them how you want them – rare, medium rare, well done etc. Lots of recipes quote timings on this but I’ve found that with steaks this thick, it’s easier to take a sharp knife and cut into the middle of the steaks whilst they are in the frying pan and just check them out!

When they are about there, spoon any cooking juices into the sauce and then serve these mouthwatering steaks immediately with their delicious sauce.

Serving Suggestion…

We like Steak au Poivre with mushrooms that have been cleaned and sliced and then fried in a combination of butter, truffle oil and salt. Potato Dauphinoise works spectacularly well with the peppercorn sauce and the wilted spinach is the token healthy green on the plate! Just yum, yum, yum!

Inspired by…

Well, Delia is partly responsible, as is saveur.com, the online version of the New York Times and my take on all of that…but also our local butcher, who explained to me how to treat the fillet steak with respect: massage only!

How easy…

It’s really very easy. The key is in having the time to do it in a relaxed fashion, which lets face it, is the only way – this meat is expensive and deserves time and respect to properly enjoy the well-earned results. Just find an excuse to indulge!