Thursday, 28 November 2013


To say that I love France is an understatement. I was lucky enough to spend eight months working in Paris and I had some amazing adventures (which I am not yet ready to disclose here) As you would expect, I love French food, but I have to change many recipes because there isn’t a lot of vegetarian food in France. I have a raft of French recipes to share but today I have added this easy Asparagus Tart recipe because it is so typically French, it’s perfect for a summer evening and because Asparagus is at its best in Australia right now. This tart is more like a French Pizza than a typical tart, so I cooked it on a pizza tray!

Asparagus used to be served before weddings in France for its supposed aphrodisiac properties. It contains folic acid,  a fantastic protection against liver disease, which may help counter balance the red wine you consume with this meal. 

French Asparagus Tart

              Short crust pastry                                                  Filling

          250g plain flour                                  1 - 2 bunches of asparagus
          120g butter cut into cubes                    200g  Gruyere Cheese
          pinch salt                                           2 eggs 
          5 tbls cold water                                 250ml Creme Fraiche or cream
                                                                  Few sprigs of fresh thyme    
                                                                  Salt and Pepper   

Make a shortcrust pastry, rubbing butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs, add salt and enough cold water, approx 5 tablespoons until the pastry comes together. Put it into a plastic container with lid and put it to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. You can use plastic wrap but I try not to!

Roll out the pastry on a floured board into a round shape that will be just a bit smaller than a pizza tray. Butter a pizza tray, place the pastry carefully on to the pan and turn to edges of the pastry back onto itself to form a rim,  the pastry will be double thickness on the edge. (This stops the filling from running out.) Prick the base of the tart with a fork. Rest this in the fridge for a further 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 190 degrees fan forced.

Add baking sheet and baking beads and blind bake for 10 -15 minutes and until it starts to brown around the edges. Take out the paper and pie weights and bake a further 8 minutes. 
While this is baking, trim the ends of the asparagus and cook in boiling water or steam for 3 mins or until they are just tender. Don't overcook!  Drain and pat dry.
Whisk the eggs, Creme Fraiche, salt and pepper together. Spread 2/3 rds of the gruyere cheese on to the base of the pastry shell. Take the asparagus and lay it on top of the cheese, spears pointing into the centre, so it looks like the spokes of a bicycle. Carefully pour in the egg and cream mixture, add the rest of the cheese and sprigs of thyme.
Bake for approx 20 minutes. Serves 6 - 8 people. I have served this with some roasted baby tomatoes on the vine and a green salad. Perfect! 
If you would like to learn more about asparagus, check out this link.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Greetings from Adelaide

I am beginning a journey! I have no itinerary or route planned. It requires no ticket or foreign currency and I have no idea how long it will take. All I know is that it involves exploring world food and turning the recipes into great tasting vegetarian meals. So if you are interested, come on the journey with me and let’s see where it takes us!

I have started this blog to share my passion for food and I hope you get some inspiration to try these recipes for yourself. I will try and post 1 recipes a week, more if I have time.

 I am always on the lookout for new recipes to try. Sometimes they work really well, often I change them and adopt them. My family will tell you that there have been disasters, and I am not too proud to admit that. Often I get an idea from something I have read, tasted or grown and if I can't find a recipe I will invent one. My recipes will always - be vegetarian, use fresh (often home grown) vegetables in season, will occasionally use cream, will often include chocolate.

Beetroot - More than just pickling

I have just harvested the last of my beetroot and I have been trying to decide how to use it. Did you know that beetroot has been around for a very long time? It is related to the ‘Sea Beet’ which has grown wild along the coastal areas from India to Great Britain (Not that I have ever seen any wild ones). It has changed its shape over the years too. Early French beetroot was elongated, like a fat carrot and was called ‘Rouge Crapaudine’. And although the name means "Toad",  probably because the beetroot was so ugly, I have my own interpretation of this word. 

I have not been able to find a good French recipe for Beetroot Dip but we can go to the Middle East for this one. This is a great recipe to use in the summer or winter. I like to include this in a Mezze spread or just add some bread or savoury biscuits and serve with drinks.

Beetroot Dip
1.5 hrs to cook beetroot
10 mins to make the dip


3 medium sized beetroots with stalks and leaves removed
¼ cup caster sugar or less if you prefer
1 ½  tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
1 ½ tsp sweet paprika
½ tsp salt
1 tbl olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
½ cup plain yoghurt
1 tbl chopped parsley (optional)

Wrap beets in foil and cook in a moderate oven 160 – 180 fan forced for approx. 1.5 hrs.
When cool, slip off the skins.
Chop beetroot and place it and all other ingredients except the yoghurt into a food processor and process until you reach a consistency that you like. It should have some texture but no big lumps. Stop occasionally and scrape down the sides. This should take approx. 3 minutes. Turn the beetroot into a fancy dish and stir in the yoghurt. I like to add a little chopped parsley too. You can eat this straight away or chill in the fridge for an hour and enjoy with some warm flat bread. This can be stored in the fridge for approx. 3 - 4 days. (The sugar seems to bring out the rest of the flavours so don't omit it altogether).

Chocolate Beetroot Macadamia Brownies to Die for

I have used beetroot in a chocolate cake before but but then I worked on the following recipe and made the best chocolate and beetroot combination. America - eat your heart out!

1.5 hrs to roast beetroot
10 mins to mix it 
25 mins cooking time
 400g whole raw beets (3 medium beets)
100g unsalted butter, plus a little extra for greasing your pan
200g bar plain chocolate (70% cocoa)
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g caster sugar
3 eggs
100g plain flour
25g cocoa powder

100g unsalted macadamia nuts

Wrap your whole beets in foil and roast in the oven at 160c fan forced for approx. 1.5 hours or you can microwave them in a covered container with a little water, if you chop them first. I prefer to roast them. When cool enough to handle, slip off the skins.
Butter a baking tray/tin 20 x 30cm and line with baking paper. Chop the chocolate roughly, (no tasting at this point) and cut the butter into cubes. Put the cooked beetroot into a food processor and blender with the chocolate, butter and vanilla. Whizz until the mix is as smooth as you can get it. The chocolate and butter will melt as you do this and look like a gooey mess.
Give the macadamia nuts a bit of a bash with a rolling pin, until the pieces are a nice size. Put the sugar and eggs into a bowl and beat using an electric beater on low until thick, pale and foamy. Spoon the beetroot mix into a bowl then use a large metal spoon to fold it into the whisked eggs gently, because you want to keep as much air in the mixture as possible.  Add macadamia nuts.  Sift in the flour and cocoa powder together, then, gently fold these into the mixture to make a smooth batter.
Pour into your prepared tin and bake in a moderate 180ยบ oven for 25 mins or until risen all over. Cool completely in the tin, then cut into squares. I generally sprinkle the top with a tiny bit of icing sugar. It is hard to only eat one of these!