Archive for the ‘France’ Category

So good that our friend’s David & Nicola fed this to their two-year old son Theo and he had seconds! We had trouble with the pastry, but the humid day really didn’t help. If you’re having trouble put the pastry in the fridge after bringing it together in the food processor to keep it cold, it will really help.

We served this at a French-themed dinner party where everyone brought a course and a complimentary wine to go with it. There was Quiche Lorraine for starter, leg of lamb roasted with lots of garlic and served with dauphinoise potatoes, an apple tarte tatin and some French cheeses. We are now all on a diet!

Quiche Lorraine – cuts into 8 slices

For the pastry:

  • 175g plain flour
  • 100g cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 egg yolk
For the filling:
  • 200g pancetta, sliced into cubes
  • 50g Gruyère
  • 200ml carton crème fraîche
  • 200ml double cream
  • 3 eggs, well beaten
  • pinch ground nutmeg
  1. For the pastry, put the flour, butter, egg yolk and 4tsp cold water into a food processor. Use the pulse button to process until the mixture binds. Tip out onto a lightly floured surface, gather into a smooth ball, then roll out as thinly as you can. Line a 23 x 2.5cm loose-bottomed, fluted flan tin with the pastry. Trim the edges with scissors so it sits slightly above the tin – this way it will not shrink below the level of the tin (don’t throw the trimmings away yet). Press the pastry into the flutes, lightly prick the base with a fork, then chill for 10 minutes. Put a baking sheet in the oven and heat oven to 200C/fan 189C/gas 6.
  2. Line the pastry case with foil, shiny side down, fill with dry beans and bake on the hot baking sheet for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and beans and bake for another 4-5 minutes until the pastry is pale golden. If there are any small cracks or holes use your pastry trimmings to patch them. This part can be done the day before.
  3. Heat a small frying pan and fry the pancetta for a couple of minutes. Drain off any liquid, then continue cooking until they start to colour, but aren’t crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels. Cut three quarters of the cheese into small dice and finely grate the rest. Scatter the diced cheese and pancetta over the bottom of the pastry case.
  4. Using a spoon, beat the crème fraîche to slacken it then slowly beat in the double cream. Mix in the beaten eggs. Season, but go easy on the salt, and add nutmeg. Pour three-quarters of the filling into the pastry case.
  5. Half-pull the oven shelf out and put the tin on the baking sheet. Quickly pour the rest of the mixture into the case – so you get it right up to the top. Scatter the grated cheese over the top, then carefully push the shelf back in. Lower the oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden and softly set (the centre doesn’t need to be too firm). Let it settle for 4-5 minutes before removing from the tin.
Wine Suggestion: it is quite hard to match egg dishes with wine, but the addition of the cream, crème fraîche and pancetta helps. You need to balance the saltiness from the pancetta and the creamy and rich filling; so a white from Alsace with a touch of sweetness balanced by fresh acidity is a good match. We had a Clos Saint Landelin Grand Cru Vendange Tardive Riesling from 2001 – this is a late harvest wine that in most years is very sweet, but in 2001 had great fruit but ended up being just off-dry. With a beautiful balance of acidity and a mellowness from 10 years of age this worked a real treat and had layers of flavours that complimented the quiche superbly.
(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Reserve du Reverend, Corbières 2009, €9.95 from Mitchell & Son, Dublin

Jules and I regularly drink wines from the south of France, we find them reliable and usually good value; the Reserve du Reverend is no exception.

Corbières is the largest appellation in the Languedoc, southern France. As such it has the advantage of good, warm weather and plenty of sunshine. It also has cooling breezes sweeping up from the Mediterranean into the Pyrenees. This breeze helps keep the grapes from getting too hot and then becoming jammy and alcoholic.

Like many wines from this area the Reserve du Reverend is a blend of Carignan, Grenache and Syrah; these grapes give a juiciness without any hard edges. The joy here is the balance of brambly, dark berried fruit and the easy, velvety and slightly herbal spices. A wine that doesn’t try to be any more than enjoyable and drinkable. Because it succeeds at this there is a big cheers from me.

A wine that is as easy to drink on its own, or with rustic French fare: grilled meats, roast duck, lamb or ratatouille.

After a long week at work and on a rainy Friday night in the middle of our Irish summer it was good to get home, cook a simple pasta and open something uncomplicated but well made, balanced and enjoyable.

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We opened this as a a birthday on a week night treat. We wanted bubbles, but also liked the idea of lower alcohol, and it hit the spot very nicely!

Antech, Doux Blanquette Méthode Ancestrale NV (£8.95 form the Wine Society, UK)

This wine is a bit of a throw back and is made in a more rustic way than the sophisticated Champagne method. The grapes are grown to extra ripeness and partially fermented to about 5% alcohol. The wine is then transferred to bottle where it ferments a little more, giving the fizz. Made from Mauzac, the result is an apple pie of a wine; in fact we’re going to serve an apple pie or tarte tatin next time we open a bottle! It has a real creaminess with soft and mouth-filling bubbles. Though not completely elegant and sophisticated this nonetheless oozes charm and playfulness. The flavours are dominated by apples, but we also got rich double cream, poached pears and a touch of quince plus hints of caramelisation (like you get when cooking a tarte tatin). Delicious!

In contrast to Champagne and many traditional sparkling wines this has bags of fruitiness. It is comparable with the very fruity Moscato d’Asti, which like this has naturally low alcohol. The Blanquette however has a good dollop of acidity, which comes from the Mauzac grape, to make it all the more refreshing and attractive.


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Harvey Nichols, Plan de Dieu, Cotes du Rhone Villages, 2008 €14.95

We had actually tried another Cotes du Rhone Villages from a different wine shop (which will remain nameless as we’re in the business of recommending not slating wines) and it wasn’t good enough to have as our wine of week. To be fair though it too was a 2008, which wasn’t a great vintage in the Rhone, with poor weather (rain and hail storms) in July and August.

This wine was a bit lighter in colour than you would expect for a southern Rhone red which probably also reflects the difficult vintage. More importantly though there was plenty of red berry and black pepper aromas with a slight herbal note.  A perfect wine for uncomplicated food; try it with steak, sausages or stew.

Well done Kelly in Harvey Nichols wine shop in Dundrum who suggested we try it.


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Jono picked up this Whiting for just over €3 for 500g – the challenge then was finding a recipe to use it with. This one is from “I Know How to Cook” (the French Silver Spoon) which we got at Christmas but hadn’t used yet. The sauce is delicious and the fish cooks just right. Next time you see some bargain whiting, grab it!

Whiting  to serve 6 (we only used half the amount of fish but kept the quantities for the sauce)

  • 1/2 an onion, chopped
  • 3-4 shallots, chopped
  • small handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 250g tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and torn up small
  • six fillets of whiting (or whole whiting, scaled and cleaned)
  • 400ml white wine
  • 50g butter, plus a bit more to grease the dish
  • 30g flour
  • juice of a lemon
  • 2 tbsp creme fraiche

Preheat the oven to 220C and grease a flameproof dish with butter.

Mix onion, shallot, parsley and tomatoes together in a bowl and season. Spoon into your greased dish.

Put the fish on top and pour the wine over everything.

Bring to the boil over a high heat and then cover with buttered greaseproof paper.

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, soften the butter slightly (if its come straight from the fridge) and mix to a paste with the flour.

Transfer the fish to a serving dish and keep warm (but don’t put it back in your hot oven at this stage or it will over cook).

Boil the juices in the pan and reduce.

Gradually stir in the paste, making sure each bit is fully blended in before you add more.

Stir in lemon juice to taste, add the creme fraiche and adjust seasoning.

Pour the sauce over the fish and put some more parsley over the top.

Serve with some steamed baby spuds.

Wine suggestion: Kelly from the wine shop in Harvey Nichols (Dundrum) suggested La Griffe Bernard Chéreau, Muscadet Sevre et Maine (€15)  and it was a great match: honeyed, minerally and rounded. I know we always suggest Muscadet with white fish but it goes!

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From The Corkscrew on Chatham Street (off Grafton St in Dublin): three guys who are passionate about their wines!

This is one they import themselves and I can see why: it has a fullness and roundness to the body and fruit while balancing a real easiness of drinking. The flavours and aromas of grapefruit and apple meld well with the fullness and juiciness to give a delightful wine that works very well with winter dishes of chicken and turkey, but equally on its own too. €14.95 and well worth it .


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