Eggfree Crespeou | Vibrant Layered Chickpea Pancakes

Crespeou (pronounced cres-PAY-oo) is a Provencal (France) layered dish normally composed of mini-omelettes filled with herbs and vegetables, and then layered in alternating colours. I make my usual chickpea flour pancakes/pudla/cheela instead of omelettes, to make the dish egg-free. It is a simple technique using common ingredients to produce a vibrant savoury cake.

Prepared in advance, the dish can be served hot or cold. Serve warm with a tomato and red onion salad, or, even better, wrap in foil, refrigerate and serve next day. Take it on picnics and to potlucks.

Similar dishes include Sweetcorn, Spring Onion and Chilli Pancakes, Farinata with Tomatoes, Onions and Cheese, Socca, and Pudla with Green Coriander.

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Fennel a la Greque with Parmesan

When I had a fennel bulb sitting in the bottom of the fridge, my friend Jude came to the rescue with this easy cooked-in-the-oven dish, a la Grecque in style, melt-in-the-mouth in texture and oh-my-goodness flavour-wise.

The fennel, topped with parmesan cheese, is slowly cooked in wine and olive oil until achingly tender, then uncovered and left to crisp and caramelise. It is perfect either hot from the oven or at room temperature. It works well as a side dish, starter or part of a mezze, tapas or grazing plate.

Similar recipes include Fennel Jam, Baked Fennel Stuffed with Feta, Fennel and Potato with White Peas and Garlic, and Braised Fennel with Capers, Olives and Ricotta.

Browse all of our Fennel dishes and our A la Grecque recipes. Or explore our Late Winter dishes.

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Sauce de Tomate | French Tomato Sauce

France is full of sauces. If you are going to categorise French food broadly, you might say – meat, sauce, butter, baked goods. It is pretty accurate – one of my comprehensive books on French cooking contains 2 salads (and some vegetable recipes). To be fair, the salads can be the base for many variations. And to be more than fair, I have spent time working in France so know that there is a large variety of salads. But, yes, meat is the focus.

So, with a love of French food, we pick and choose from amongst the cuisine, and make to our vegetarian style.

This is a beautiful version of a Tomato Sauce – one to add to our many tomato sauces – and, like the others, it freezes very well. Similar to many French recipes, there is a base sauce, beautiful on its own, and a few variations of sauce that can be made with the addition of one or two more ingredients.

Similar dishes include Freeze Tomatoes for Winter, Italian Tomato Sauce, Another Italian Tomato Sauce, and Spiced Tomato Puree.

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Seasonal Cooking | Simple Beautiful Summer Salads

Sometimes we forget that simplest is bestest.

Elizabeth David is the best source of simple but utterly delicious salads. I love to read her books, and today I have taken the liberty of reproducing some of her beautiful salads.

Similar posts include 30 Great Salads for Early Summer.

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Gratin de Chou-Fleur | Cauliflower Gratin with Blue Cheese and White Pepper

How long is it since you have had cauliflower with white sauce? Not since a visit to your Grandparents for Xmas in 1980? Well, I hope to change that with this baked dish – Cauliflower Gratin with Bechamel Sauce with Blue Cheese and White Pepper. It is topped with breadcrumbs which gives it a crunchy, delicious texture to contrast the softness of the cauliflower.

Similar recipes include Zucchini Gratin, Creamy Potato Cheese Gratin, Pasta Bake with Cabbage and Cheese, and Gratineed Sweet Potato.

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How to Make Bechamel Sauce | White Sauce

Bechamel is a classic French sauce made from butter, flour, and milk, stock or wine, made to compliment the foods they are served with. Sauce Bechamel, a gorgeous creamy sauce, has a number of traditional variations. In addition (and every French person might turn in their grave over this) it is very common in parts of the world (such as Italy and India) to use it in toasted sandwiches with a variety of other fillings. And it is incredibly delicious in this latter day variation.

Some of us who are old enough remember our Mothers making cauliflower drenched in white sauce. We have come a long way since then!

Luckily Bechamel sauce is very easy to make.

Similar recipes include How To Make (and Freeze) Beurre Manie.

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Soupe au Celeri-Rave | Celeriac Soup with Cheese Croûtes

Celeriac undoubtedly makes one of the most superb Winter soups. In parts of France, such as the Savoie where cheese plays an important part in the cuisine, the soup is frequently topped with croûtes of toasted cheese.

Celeriac is that ugly looking bulb, hard to peel because of the lumps and bumps, but  makes the most smooth soups.

Croûtes are pieces or slices of bread which have been grilled with cheese on top. These are floated on top of the soup. These are optional, of course, but delicious. Make them thick or thin, use Gruyere, or Parmesan or whatever cheese you have at hand.

Similar recipes include Celeriac Soup with Mustard, Root Mash with Wine Braised Shallots, Fava Bean Soup, French Pumpkin Soup, and Roasted Parsnip Soup.

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Asparagus Baked with Butter, Wine and Herbs

I do love those dishes you can do in under 10 mins, or if you are throwing them in the oven and they don’t take any effort, under 20 mins. We are all busy women, right? Doing a hundred things, with responsibilities for a hundred more. Between running my business, doing my “giving back” community volunteering work, running a house and large garden, cooking my heart out, grabbing coffees with friends – well, life is always full. Days are long, tummies get hungry (especially mine) and dinner is demanded on the table, like, NOW.

Right now, life is busier than it has been, and so the focus is on more of the dishes that are wonderful-without-effort.  For example, I’ve been known to put on a pot of pasta (to eat with olive oil, black pepper and pecorino), throw these asparagus in the oven, cook some Quick Zucchini and Garlic, and serve all with slices of crusty bread, to great family applause. All done in 15 mins if you turn the oven on when you come through the door, and before while you open some great wine to sip while cooking and chatting. Then for dessert – fruit and soft cheeses. Done.

You have to have these types of dishes. Some days you want to spend 3 hours on a meal. On other days you want a decent meal between the time you get in from work, and the time you rush out to meet the girls from the book club.

Similar recipes include My Favourite Grilled Asparagus, Quick Zucchini and Garlic, Asparagus Raita, and a Quick Asparagus Soup.

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French White Bean and Leek Soup | Crème d’Haricots

In 1990, Le Crueset published a book called French Country Kitchen, and it is still one of the best recipe books I have for simple but authentic French recipes. I spent quite some time working in France, so this is a go-to book when I am feeling nostalgic about French people, food, cheese, wine, and their habit of sitting observing the day. Sadly, most of the book is non-veg, but the Soups, Salads, Vegetable and Hor d’Oeuvres chapters provide just enough vegetarian recipes to justify its place in the cookbook bookshelves.

It is Spring time right now, with all of it’s changeable weather, and we have had storms for the past week. I suddenly had a yearning for soup. This easy soup from the Le Crueset book is perfect. Beans are soaked, simmered with leeks and herbs, and then pureed with cream.

The recipe specifies flageolet beans – when I began cooking with these beans in the 1980’s they were available locally but a recent hunt for them failed to locate any. They can be purchased online, dried or canned, but are rather expensive here. It seems that they are grown in Australia and are very popular (!!) but that might be an exaggeration. So I substitute any white bean that I currently have in the pantry.

Similar recipes include White Beans and Pasta in a Beautiful Broth, White Bean and Broccoli Soup, Greek White Bean Soup, Italian White Bean Soup, and French Cream of Tomato Soup.

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Velouté d’asperges | Cream of Asparagus Soup

This soup, so they say, is reminiscent of the creations of the 18th century French grande cuisine. Asparagus was introduced by the Italians during the Renaissance, and was part of a change in eating habits that saw vegetables introduced into grande cuisine. Previously they had been considered the food of peasants.

This soup is thick, smooth and delicate as well as utterly delicious. It is simple to make with easily accessible ingredients. It is the perfect soup for year-round enjoyment, as it can be served cold in Summer and hot in Winter.  We’ve been making this soup since the early 2000’s.

The soup can also be made quickly and easily in any high speed blender that also heats foods as it blends. I have given the instructions for making it this way as well as the usual, stove-top method. In the blender it takes around 15 mins, including cooking the asparagus. When you are using the high speed blender (mine is a Vitamix), then there are no worries about stringy stalks on the asparagus – all is blended into a smooth, perfect soup.

Similar recipes include Cold Cucumber Soup, Sweet Cashew Cream, Minty Cucumber Yoghurt Soup, French Bean and Leek Soup, Spring Onion and Green Pea Soup, Chilled Asparagus Soup, Gentle Asparagus Soup, and Asparagus Raita.

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