Monday, 3 March 2014

Creamy Blue cheese and Red onion Pasta (with a Quercy Twist)

This is a dish I have developed from various recipes that I've tried, but the addition of walnuts give it more of a local South West France feel. Once you've prepared your onions it's a very quick and easy supper dish.

Ingredients for 4 people

400 gms of penne pasta (or any pasta you like)
150 gms of crumbled gorgonzola or similar mild blue cheese
3 large red onions
6 tbsp of olive oil
2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
A good handful of roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
About 70 gms of toasted chopped walnuts
Salt & ground black pepper to taste


First prepare the red onions which will go into the sauce for the dish. Peel and slice them into rings about 1 cm thick. Toss them into a roasting tin with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, add a sprinkling of salt and ground pepper then roast at 190 degrees centigrade
for 30-40 minutes. Give the tin an occasional shake during the cooking to make sure the onions cook evenly. They should be tender but slightly caramelised when ready.

Cook the pasta as per the instructions on the packet. Drain and return to the pan, with a little of the cooking liquid retained.

Add the crumbled blue cheese, onions with all their juices, walnuts and chopped parsley.

Stir quickly and serve immediately.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Susie’s spiced Summer vegetables

Susie’s spiced Summer vegetables

Summer vegetables are now abundant here in France with their lovely warm colours & tastes that work so well with a bit of a spicy twist – so great to go with BBQ food. I have found this wonderful mixture of spices Melange Couscous (see below) in markets & shops here, don’t know if you can get it anywhere else but if you are here or coming soon to visit us I will certainly lay some stocks in for you to try. Let me know if you can get the same thing where you are.

Ingredients for 4 - 6 people

500gms sliced courgettes
1 chopped red pepper
1 chopped yellow pepper
500 gms tomatoes cut into quarters
3 medium sized red onions sliced thinly
4 chopped garlic cloves
500 gms broad beans
Small bunch of chopped coriander – including all the stalks
Salt /pepper to taste
Table spoonful of vegetable oil
A cup full of veg stock

1 teaspoon of Melange couscous – a mixture of ground dried spices – coriander, paprika, pimento, cumin, fennel & caraway.


Sauté the sliced onions in oil in a pan (suitable to put all the veg into) until soft, then add the courgettes, peppers & tomatoes. 

Stir all together then simmer for 5 minutes until nearly soft but not mushy!!

Add the garlic, fresh coriander & the stock plus a little salt & pepper to taste & simmer for a few more minutes.

Finally add the broad beans & spice mixture & simmer for 5 minutes until the beans are soft.

Then serve hot with your choice from  the Barbeque.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Le Cake

Here’s a wonderful savoury ‘apero’ snack often referred to in France as ‘Le Cake’. During our “Draw it, paint it, cook it, eat it” weekend this proved to be a huge success particularly when consumed with a sparkling kir!


200g plain flour
150g grated Comté cheese (Cheddar works fine too)
100g melted butter
150g Lardons (smoked or unsmoked)
50g chopped pitted black olives
3 large eggs
7g sachet of quick action dry yeast
A few sprigs of thyme & rosemary, stripped & chopped
Salt & pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of milk

Butter & line a 2lb loaf tin & preheat your oven to 200°c /gas mark 6.

Mix the cheese, flour, yeast, lardons, olives, herbs all into the melted butter. Then add the whisked eggs & milk plus a little salt & pepper.

Mix well and pour into the prepared tin. Bake in the oven for 10 mins at 200° then turn down to 180° and cook for a further 20 minutes or until risen and browned.

Don’t worry if there is a little bubbling butter on the top at this stage because it should be absorbed during cooling.

Leave in the tin on a wire rack to cool for about 20 minutes, then turn out and eat warm.

It's also very tasty cold and keeps for a few days.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Zingy, crunchy Flapjacks


180g unsalted butter

180g dark brown soft sugar

160g golden syrup

1 x tbs of black treacle

340g porridge oats

250g chopped walnuts

Grated zest of 1 large orange

1 x tsp powdered ginger


Melt the butter in a saucepan then add the golden syrup, treacle and sugar.

When the sugar is completely dissolved in the butter remove the pan from the heat and stir in the porridge oats, chopped walnuts, ginger powder and grated zest of orange.

Line a 20 cm square greased baking tin with greaseproof paper.

Pour the mixture into the tin, squashing down evenly.

Bake in a preheated oven 150° c for 30-40 minutes until firm to the touch but don’t let it go too hard.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool for about 10-15 minutes.

Take out of the tin and cut into squares – it’s easier to do this before it gets too cold.

As an alternative to the walnuts I sometimes use chopped up dried apricots which give you a chewier version.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Stuffed mushrooms with walnuts, goats cheese & bacon

This makes a lovely starter for 6 people:


12 x medium sized mushrooms (about 6cm diameter)
2 tbs cooking oil (don’t waste olive oil)
1 stick finely chopped celery
1 finely chopped red onion
100g bacon lardons – I use smoked ones
150g soft goats cheese
About 10 chopped walnut halves
Salt & pepper to taste


Remove the stalks from the mushrooms and reserve to use for another day/dish – I use the chestnut brown ones which I buy in our local market, but any good sized mushrooms will be fine

Gently sauté either side of the mushrooms in a non stick pan using a tablespoon of hot oil. Cook for a few minutes to soften slightly then place them open side up in a greased ovenproof dish ready for stuffing.

Sauté the celery and onion in the rest of the oil until soft then add bacon & walnuts and continue cooking for about 5 minutes until the bacon is cooked.

Take off the heat and leave for a few minutes to cool a little before putting all of this mixture into a blender along with the soft goat’s cheese. Blitz the mixture to make a rough paste which you can use to stuff the mushrooms, adding salt & pepper to taste – you probably won’t need much salt if you have used smoked bacon.

Place the stuffed mushrooms in a preheated oven (180° C) for half an hour.

Serve two mushrooms per person with a few sprigs of water cress or mixed salad leaves of your choice and drizzle with a simple vinaigrette dressing.

Didn't have any pictures of mushrooms so thought as it's Valentine's day this "heart" jug would be appropriate.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Susie's Mum's Shortbread

Recently I've been doing lots of baking and yesterday I decided that I fancied making some shortbread, so I dug out my Mum's recipe and made it. Have to say it tasted as good as I remembered so thought I'd share the recipe with you. Incidentally I have photographed it on my Grandmother's Shelley Tea service, which is over a hundred years old, bringing back lots of childhood memories.

Ingredients - enough for twelve wedges.

175 g plain flour

110g unsalted butter

50g caster sugar


Put softened butter into a mixing bowl.
Add the flour and the sugar and knead with your hands until you have made a dough. This takes about five minutes depending on how soft your butter is.
Roll out the dough on a flat surface to fit into a lined round baking tin (20cm diameter).
Press the mixture down gently into the baking tin and crimp the edges with a fork to make a pattern all the way round, making sure the top is fairly flat.
Prick all over with a fork so that during cooking it doesn't rise.
Put into a heated oven 175° C for 20 minutes then turn the oven down to 150°C for a further fifteen minutes or so, until the shortbread is a light golden brown.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool, gently sprinkling a little caster sugar over the top whilst it is cooling.
When cool remove from the tin and cut into 12 wedges and store in an airtight container.

For a yummy dessert leave the shortbread whole, cover with Creme fraiche or whipped cream and place summer fruits like strawberries and raspberries on top - delicious!

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Salmon & Broccoli tart

This is a really lovely light supper or lunch dish for four people and doesn’t take long to prepare and cook. If you happen to have any leftover cooked salmon this is a perfect way to use it up.


300 g of fillet of salmon

250 g of small broccoli florets

Packet of puff pastry

2 tbs Creme fraiche

3 large eggs

1 lemon

½ litre of water

Salt, pepper & grated nutmeg


Poach the Salmon gently in a pan with ½ litre of water, juice of a lemon and salt & pepper until cooked (I put the fish into cold water which I bring to the boil, turn off and leave for about 5 minutes).

Put salmon to one side to cool. Once cooled drain and flake the fish and discard the liquid (could be used for fish stock).

Cook the broccoli florets in boiling water until al dente. Drain and plunge into cold water to keep the colour nice and bright.

Roll the puff pastry out to fit the lightly greased or lined flan tin and trim to fit. We’re lucky in France because we buy it pre-rolled and cut for a round flan dish.

Whisk the eggs and a pinch of salt & pepper up to together in a bowl. When light and fluffy gently fold in the crème fraiche and add the cool, flaked salmon.

Pour the mixture into the flan case and carefully arrange the broccoli florets on the top.

Sprinkle a little grated nutmeg over the finished dish and place in a preheated oven (200 degrees) for about 30 minutes.

When cooked serve with water cress or a green salad. As an alternative you could serve it with the Crunchy winter salad which I posted on the blog a couple of weeks ago.