Tag Archives: ginger

cherry and mint compote

25 Jun


Buy two kilos of cherries at the local market, so cheap! Remember that you are only one person and cannot eat all the cherries.

Stone a kilo of cherries. Wish you had asked for a discount because of all the stones. Put cherries in large saucepan. Admire scarlet-stained hands, briefly pretend to be Lady Macbeth, or a character from Scandal. Re-evaluate recent culture consumption.

Add a handful of sugar (do not measure, it’s Sunday) and a handful of torn mint leaves. Squeeze in the half a lime left in the fridge. Since it already resembles several of your favourite cocktails, add a generous tablespoonful of vanilla-infused rum. And slice a nub of ginger, about the size of your first thumb joint. (Don’t slice your thumb though.)

Teach flatmate the word “macerate.” Go running with her in the sunshine. Discover free sparkling water fountain near your house. Rejoice.

Come back from run, find a jar of ginger juice in the freezer. Drink it, grateful to your past self, while heating cherries. Let the mixture bubble gently for five or ten minutes until cherries are the desired degree of done: soft but not totally collapsed.

Serve warm with mascarpone and meringues for an afternoon snack. Serve cold over yoghurt for breakfast. Especially good with soft, mild goat’s cheese.

Use the syrupy cherry juice leftover to make jelly: for every 100g juice, soak 3g leaf gelatine in cold water. When the the gelatine is soft, stir into the warm (but not hot) cherry juice to dissolve. Pour into little cups or pots. Leave to set in the fridge.

Or just use the juice for cherry-mint cocktails, add vodka or gin, more mint leaves and free sparkling water.

Let the summer begin!


butternut, lentil and ginger soup

11 Oct


Halfway to the metro stop is an Indian grocery shop, open until the small hours. I pop in for milk and butter and get distracted by yellow split peas, coconut oil, natural peanut butter, things that can’t be found in French supermarkets. Plantains, orange flower water. Large bags of hazelnuts and almonds are much cheaper too. I stock up on grilled and salted corn kernels, for the new English flatmate and I are addicted, and crystallised ginger.

There is always a friendly word and a smile. Once they added a jar of ginger-garlic paste  to my bag as a gift. It is a perfect pick-me-up for a nearly bare fridge, with stir-fried cabbage or chicken or chickpeas. Yesterday I bought red lentils for a kitchen cupboard soup. Squash keep well for a long time, and even make a nice decoration. Chicken stock (from the freezer) really rounds out the flavour for a satisfying rich taste. Everything else came from the cupboard. I baked the squash before going out in the morning, then barely needed half an hour before lunch to make a hearty meal.

I was worried it would be boring, but the soup had depth, sweet and spicy. The lentils make it filling, needing only a baguette with some blue cheese for sharp contrast. And it was a perfect autumn colour.


Obviously you can use fresh garlic and fresh ginger, but it is useful to have a jar of ginger-garlic paste and a jar of curry paste on hand. Peek into the Indian grocery stores around La Chapelle and Gare du Nord for inspiration.


Butternut, lentil and ginger soup

serves 4

1 butternut squash

2 onions

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp ginger and garlic paste

1 tsp madras curry paste

200g (1 cup) red lentils

125 ml  (1/2 cup) white wine

750ml (3 cups) chicken stock

salt and pepper

extra water

Peel and thickly slice butternut squash. Bake in a 200C oven with a little olive oil and salt until soft and caramelised around the edges.

Roughly chop the onions, sautee in olive oil until translucent. Add the ginger and garlic paste and garam masala, stir for a minute. Add the lentils and let them toast for a minute as well. Pour in the white wine and chicken stock. Cover and let simmer until the lentils are cooked through. It won’t take long. Meanwhile, cut up the roasted squash, then add to cooked lentils.

Blend everything together (careful not to burn yourself on the hot liquid/steam). Taste and season with salt and pepper. You may need to add up to 250ml extra water depending on how thick you like it.

Serve with crusty bread and a sharp cheese.

fig and ginger millefeuille

19 Oct

If I am lucky enough to get my hands on a platter of figs (hurry to the market in the place d’Aligre, there may still be time!) I am reluctant to hide them in a cake. Rather a tub of a ricotta and a spoonful of honey to make me happy.

In the south of France recently, our tree only had a handful of the tiniest purple ones. I ran around the block looking for figs and considering all the possbilities for an interesting recipe. Since last year when an angry farmer confiscated my brother’s pickings and threw them under his tractor, then cut down the tree out of spite, there are no more figs to be had!

But I had an idea, inspired by Pierre Herme: a millefeuille de pain d’épice – or a stack of spice bread – interleaved with a light gingery pastry cream and some just-baked figs. A few drops of olive oil and honey, a few grains of sea-salt and five minutes in the oven only enhanced the sweetness and collapsible nature of our figs. The pain d’épice is sliced thinly and toasted to a crisp with a little butter, providing a good crunch to add to the soft figs and subtle cream.

Make it as rustic or elegant as you like: pipe neat droplets of ginger cream onto perfect squares of pain d’épice, sandwich with figs and adorn with a strip of crystallized ginger. Or serve family style: a gorgeous dish of just roasted figs, a dish of pastry cream and a pile of spice bread to pass around. Create deliciously messy tartines, jammy figs squashed onto crunchy gingerbread: a worthy vehicle for those fresh figs (and an excellent way to liven up any sad supermarket specimens).

Fig and ginger millefeuille

serves 4

4 giant or 8 small figs

1 tsp olive oil

1 tsp honey

pinch sea salt

1 loaf pain d’epice (or gingerbread), slightly stale

20g butter

for the pastry cream:

300ml milk

45g light brown sugar

2 tbsp finely chopped crystallised ginger

3 egg yolks

30g light brown sugar

15g (1 tbsp) flour

30g (2tbsp) corn flour / maizena

100g crème fraîche

to serve: 2 figs + strips of crystallised ginger

Heat the oven to 180C . Halve the figs and place in small baking dish, cut side up. Drizzle with olive oil and honey and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 5-10 minutes until soft without losing shape. At the same time, heat a large baking tray with the butter on it. As the butter melts, slice the pain d’épice as thin as you can. (It helps if it is a little stale.) Aim for 12 slices roughly the size of a playing card. Remove tray from oven, tilt to distribute melted butter evenly. Rub the pain d’épice in the butter on one side, then turn over. Toast in oven until crisp – but be careful not to burn.

Make the pastry cream: heat the milk, the 45g sugar and the ginger until it boils. Whisk the egg yolks and the 30g sugar to combine, then sieve in the flour and cornflour. Pour half of the boiling milk into the egg mixture and whisk thoroughly to temper it (stop the eggs from cooking too quickly) then tip it all back into the pan. Gently bring the custard back to a boil and whisk until thick (about 3 minutes). Pour out onto a clingfilm-lined tray, cover with more clingfilm and refrigerate. This way it should cool down quickly.

Just before you are ready to eat, beat the pastry cream to remove any lumps and fold in the crème fraîche. Do not overmix or it will be too runny. On each plate, layer a pain d’épice toast with a dollop of cream, half a baked fig and repeat. Finish with a third slice and decorate with a sliver of crystallised ginger and a slice of fresh fig.

Alternatively, serve up the figs on a platter with bowls of ginger cream and pain d’epice for everyone to help themselves. Eat immediately.

chicken soup with lemon, ginger and nam pla

7 Oct

Sunday was market day. Two pineapples, lots of lemons, a bag of carrots that went mouldy the day after, and a chicken, its head lolling grotesquely. Squeamish girls, we asked for the head and feet to be chopped off.

Sunday night we had roast chicken and leek tart. I boasted that I had not been really sick, stay at home miserable sick, for more than a year.

Wednesday the leftover roast chicken went in a pot with a red onion and a dodgy carrot. The tiny apartment was invaded by chicken stock, the scent of smug preparation. We thought of risottos, soups, pasta.

Thursday morning I got sick. Nauseous, head-spinning sick. At a creepy crawly pace I cut salmon slices at work. Whipped eggs and almonds. For once I didn’t want to taste the latest experiment: turmeric, pistachio and rose-water tart. I just wanted to go back to bed. To have someone make me chicken soup.

No-one made me soup. I went home early (was accosted by a creepy pony-tailed man who insisted on complimenting my breasts) and dozed off alone on the sofa.

I made me soup. I chopped onion and courgette, grated ginger. Skimmed the fat off the stock. Pulled the remaining scraps of chicken from the grey carcass. Stirred, slowly. I squeezed in half a lemon and added a tiny splash of soy sauce and fish sauce, nam pla, for flavour without salt.

It was clear if not pretty, a lemon slice floating on the surface. Light and bright and soothing. Just right (and just easy enough) for sad invalids. When I feel better, I might add salt and pepper, bulghur wheat or rosemary-garlic croutons, cherry tomatoes. Cream. Endless possibilities.

Chicken soup for sad, sick people

For the stock:

1 leftover chicken carcass (roast or not), a little meat left on

1 red onion

1 carrot

For the soup:

a little olive oil

1 red onion

1 courgette

1 inch ginger

50ml white wine

leftover chicken pieces

chicken stock

2 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp nam pla (fish sauce)

juice of 1/2 lemon

lemon slice, to decorate

Make the chicken stock: (Preferably the night before.) In a huge pot, place your chicken bones, hopefully with a little meat left on, onion and carrot. Fill the pot (at least enough to cover the chicken). Bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer for at least one hour if not two. The kitchen should smell satisfactorially chickeny. Let cool and skim off some of the fat on the surface.

Make the soup: Heat olive oil in a large saucepan. Finely dice the onion and courgette and grate the ginger. Sautee the onion until translucent, then add the courgette and ginger. Cook and stir every now and then until the courgette is nice and soft. Add the white wine and let most of it bubble off.

Now add enough stock to fill your saucepan. While it heats, pull any leftover chicken meat off the bones and shred it with your fingers. Add to pot. Squeeze in the lemon juice, add the soy sauce and nam pla. Let it warm to desired temperature, then serve with a slice of lemon.

If you are not sick – I hate you. But you may add fun things: croutons, parmesan, black pepper, creme fraiche, lardons.




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