Monday, 17 November 2014

Carrot ginger and coconut soup


With the evenings drawing in and winter fast approaching, I thought I would introduce you to one of my favourite soups. I was first introduced to this soup over a year ago by a lady called Dorothy who runs the Cobalt Cafe in Great George St in Dublin, Ireland. It was the glowing log fire which had attracted me into the cafe and the unusual antiques within which are for sale. But I was struck by the powerful combination of tastes and textures this soup offers. After a year of persistent questioning and interrogation, Dorothy finally gave in and let me have her secret recipe. It was well worth the wait as I am sure you will agree once you have tasted it yourself.

You will need:

3 tbsp of coconut oil
3 onions peeled and chopped
4 small potatoes peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic peeled and grated
800g carrots peeled and grated
4 tbsp of peeled and grated fresh ginger
Chicken/vegetable stock (1000ml)
400ml tin of coconut milk
200g cooked chick peas
Fresh juice from 1 lemon
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 tbsp of curry powder (mild)
1 tbsp of ground cumin
Fresh chives or parsley  (optional)


Heat the coconut oil in a large saucepan and once hot add the onions and garlic. Mix and allow to soften up then add the curry powder and the cumin. Keep mixing and then add the grated carrots and ginger. Add the stock and keep mixing. Add the finely chopped potatoes and allow to cook for around five minutes. Add the chick peas and the coconut and mix well for three minutes. Remove from heat and liquidise the soup using a hand blender. Dress with fresh chives or parsley as you wish and serve.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

A Ligurian Olive Grove

We may be in Nice but being so close to the Italian border demands a visit to the world famous olive groves of Liguria high up in the Mediterranean Valley of Argentina! The ROI Estate of Franco Boeri is only a two hour spectacular drive along the sky high autostrada through numerous tunnels as you pass along the Cöte d'Azur and the play places of the very rich and famous including Monte-Carlo, Monaco and Cap-Martine. As is often typical with borders, the tempo changes as soon as you cross into Italy and we see less expensive villas and more commercial enterprises particularly greenhouses of every description in every possible elevation! When you get to Sam Remo you follow the signs inland to the "Valle Argentina" and your destination village of Badalucco high up in the spectacular mountains of chestnut trees yet only 30k from the Mediterranean Sea.
The Boeri family have been cold pressing olives here since the early 1900's but the uniqueness of the valley was noted in Roman times when only "freemen" we're allowed to cultivate the olives. It has given rise to a unique variety of olive - the taggiasca  which Franco and his ancestors have made world famous through their cold pressing techniques and processes. With only 6000 olive trees on 26 hectares, the ROI Estate has won applaud from culinary chefs and restaurants the world over. It was wonderful to be taken on a tour of their mill and a free tasting of three distinct cooking oils. The family welcome visits all year to the mill and you can even send your children on a tour in season when they collect the olives straight from the trees and run through the process of production. It is evident that Franco and his family respect their unique environment and are making an extraordinary enterprise from their local olives. We left with lots of goodies and are sure to return again and again in the future. It is a fabulous trip with a delightful destination. However you can also shop online for their products here:

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Walking the Royal Way

One of the reasons to get out and walk is that you see a lot more on two legs. This is all the more evident when walking the old road from Tourrette-Sur-Loop to Vence in Provence. It is all the more necessary in the middle of cooking school when rich sauces and delicious desserts are being consumed on a daily basis!  I took the old road for the simple reason that there would be less traffic on it but had no idea when I set off that it would be so lovely. Neither did I know that this old route was actually fairly famous as the gentry took it from Vence to Tourrette -Sur-Loop paying their respects to Saint Mary Magdalene on route where a little shrine remains in her honour. It was just like a step back in history where cocks of hay still sit on fields and honeysuckle and roses peepout at you from the hedges! No blackberries at all but lots of fig trees bursting with ripe figs just ready for my picnic as well as green olive groves, roses and passion flowers. I even came across a pepper tree which was a first for me! When you remember that this is a walk in late September and I am more minded of summer days in Crete I see why this part of France is so very popular with visitors from more northern climes! 

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Cider House rules in St Goueno

Our local cider producer, Cidre Fermier has just gained a gold standard award for his cider. He has a little organic orchard and a tiny bottling plant and shop but is open every day in the summer for our students to visit. Just knock on his door and you will have to practice your French.  If you are lucky bring your car so that you can take a few boxes of the cider home with you. All our students get the opportunity to taste the cider during their time with us. Without doubt it has exceeded all expectations and so long may Cidre Fermier rule in St Goueno.

Latest Review on Trip Adviser

If you're looking to learn to cook wonderful food in France then look no further. I have just returned from a delightful week learning to cook delicious food under the expert tutelage of Poul.

When researching my trip I wanted a school where I would learn a variety of dishes (including starters, mains, sides and desserts), would be taught in a relaxed environment and most importantly would be able to get 'hands-on' in the cooking experience. French Dining School delivered on all of these points, meeting and far exceeding my expectations.

Expect to cook a two course lunch and three course dinner every day (apart from Thursday where lunch is free for exploring!), as well as lots of other little treats along the way (think cheesy biscuits and tasty cookies!). Poul made sure we were always learning something new but still had time to taste, experiment and learn new techniques. I cooked many things that were new to me, and picked up some extra tips and tricks gleaned from Poul's many years working in restaurants.

Meals are enjoyed with the other students in Poul's lovely home, where the wine is free flowing and the conversation even more so. Poul also arranged lovely accommodation for me in Gaynor and Ray's local B and B which I also highly recommend.

100% recommended, amazing experience.

Molly P July 2014

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

A Visitor to our garden

What a surprise our cooking students got last week when this little fellow came up our garden and looked into our kitchen! We had just been planning the Friday dinner and how we would prepare a Beef Wellington for the main main dish! I guess this guy heard our conversation and took off fast when he saw Poul in his chef outfit! So unlike the little tame deer who approached Poul on holiday in Spain  which we could not get rid - he was afraid of the dogs in the area and felt safe with Poul. It took us hours to find his owner and even when we did, Tinto (his name) was still reluctant to leave our company. I wonder how long this little fellow will remain in our woods?!Venison anyone? No he is far too cute!

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Rhubarb soup with mint

You will need:

4 sticks of rhubarb
1/2 a stick of vanilla
1 pt of water
6oz sugar
5 sprigs of mint
1 lemon


Take the leaves of the mint sprigs. Peel the rhubarb and cut it into thin slices. Put the rhubarb peel in a saucepan with the water, sugar stick of vanilla, the juice of the lemon and the by now leafless mint sprigs, let it simmer for 10minutes. Sieve the liquid and add the rhubarb slices. Bring it to the boil, take off the heat and leave to cool. Cut the mint leaves into thin strips. Serve the soup ice cold with the chopped mint leaves on top.
Serves 8 people