Coeur à la crème

Coeur à la crème is an old-fashioned French dessert. The classic version is made with unsalted cream cheese, whipped egg whites and caster sugar, beaten together and then put into a special mould with a perforated bottom, which you line with cheesecloth and then leave in the fridge so that the liquid can drain out into a dish.

Once the coeur has set, usually the next day, it can be unwrapped and unmoulded.

The coeur in the mould wrapped in cheesecloth

The coeur unwrapped

The coeur unmoulded

My version is slightly different from the classic, but equally delicious. I used a tub of double cream, a drained tub of Faisselle de Rians fromage frais and four tablespoons of vanilla caster sugar. These were whipped together with a fork and then packed into the cheesecloth-lined mould. This was then placed into a larger shallow bowl, covered with clingfilm and refrigerated overnight. The following day, a lot of milky-coloured why had drained away, which is exactly what you want. This means that the coeur is now firm and can be unmoulded.

I’ve had the mould for ages, at least 16 or 17 years and I bought it in France, because I couldn’t find them for sale in the UK when I started looking. Of course, nowadays you can find them online in a variety of sizes.

Coeur à la crème with strawberries and strawberry coulis

Anyway, I served the coeur with some strawberries and a strawberry and crème de cassis coulis, which was made by liquidising several strawberries with a small glass of cassis and then sieved and put into a squeezy bottle.

Seared tuna steaks

Sometimes there is hardly any cooking involved.

Egg-fried rice is simplicity, this has peas and chopped chillies added to it and drizzled with toasted sesame oil, and the salad is the crunchy white parts of Chinese leaves with a mirin and yuzu dressing.

The tuna steaks were just seared so that the insides remained lovely and raw and everything was dressed with nori flakes, some tamari soy and a few coriander leaves.

From start to finish, this took less than 10 minutes to cook.

Blanquette de veau (sort of!)

A blanquette is a dish in French cuisine that is cooked with the aim of keeping a pale colour, with no browning of the meat or other ingredients.

A classic blanquette has the sauce thickened at the end with egg yolks, but I didn’t do this because the sauce was a reasonable consistency by the time the meat was tender.

Anyway, I softened some finely chopped carrot, celery, shallot and leek in butter and sunflower oil, without allowing the butter to brown and then added about a third of a bottle of white wine and some chicken stock. To this, I added diced British rose veal shoulder and halved button mushrooms together with a couple of bay leaves, a crushed clove of garlic (not traditional), a teaspoon of salt and a third of a teaspoon of Epices Rabelais, a French proprietary brand of mixed spices and dried herbs.

This was simmered for about an hour or so, until the meat was tender. At this point I added about 300 ml of single cream and reduced the volume of liquid so that the sauce coated the back of a spoon.

To serve, I cooked some plain white rice, which the French call riz créole, and some steamed asparagus.

To drink we had a bottle of red Saumur-Champigny, although a white wine would be a more classic accompaniment.

Chicken and mushrooms in oyster sauce and stir-fried vegetables

A nice easy Chinese evening meal.

The chicken was breast meat, cut into thin chunks and fried in groundnut oil with ginger, garlic and spring onions to which I added some light soy sauce and oyster sauce and continued cooking. Then I added the mushrooms (enoki and shitake), plus some water. To finish, I thickened the sauce with some potato flour paste.

The vegetables were blanched beansprouts and blanched pak choi, fried in groundnut oil with garlic, ginger and spring onions and with some black vinegar and dark soy sauce added, with some shredded red pepper for colour.

To finish, there was some egg-fried rice.

Retro or classic?

A simple dish of mozzarella and tomatoes, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and black pepper is one of life’s joys, when it comes to food.

Some people might think of this as a blast from the past, a bit of 1970s retro but I prefer to see it as a true classic.

The same applies to breaded escalopes or schnitzels. These things are popular for a reason, and the reason is that they are just incredibly satisfying things to eat.

Smoked mackerel fishcakes

I like fishcakes a lot, but the ones you buy are often a real let-down. I’d bought the smoked mackerel fillets for a paté but I had some leftover mashed potato, so I made these instead.

They are simplicity itself. I flaked the mackerel into a bowl with some chopped parsley, a little salt, some Aleppo pepper flakes and the mash and then mixed everything together by hand.

I shaped the mixture into patties which I coated in dried breadcrumbs and left in the fridge to chill for a couple of hours. You don’t need to do the flour/egg/crumb process here because the crumbs will stick to the potato.

They were shallow fried in some rapeseed oil and served with peas and horseradish sauce.

You could add some capers to the fishcakes, I think that would work well, or maybe some chopped gherkin, but you need to keep them quite dry or they might fall apart in the frying pan.

A quick food round-up

This isn’t a post with recipes, but more of a catch-up of a few things I’ve eaten this week.

First off, I made some pork burgers which we had with fries, fried onions, salady bits and bobs and relishes;

Pretty decent for a mid-week evening meal. The burgers were just minced pork, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper and some dried herbs (sage, thyme, marjoram) and Aleppo pepper flakes.

Then, on Saturday evening we had one of those stand-by dishes, chicken breasts stuffed with Gruyère cheese and wrapped in Parma ham, served with fresh linguini and a simple tomato, garlic and fresh basil sauce;

And, finally, Sunday brunch, a Turkish-style affair with sucuk sausage, fried eggs, toasted pitta and pickled Turkish chillies, accompanied with strong Moka Express coffee;

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