Friday, 31 July 2015

Mussels in saffron soup

Probably the most popular soup in Brittany is mussel soup and this recipe is one of my favourites:
For 6 persons

1 kg fresh mussels
3 tbsp olive oil
1 bottle dry white wine
1 shallot onion
1 leek
2 cloves garlic
1 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
10 black pepper corns
Sprinkle of saffron
150 ml of fresh cream
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt & Pepper


Rinse the mussels in cold water removing all beards and algae. Discard any lifeless mussels which refuse to close. Store in a cold place. Chop up the onions, leeks and garlic. In a large pot heat olive oil adding all the ingredients except wine and chives. Mix well but don't overheat. Add white wine and boil for five minutes or when mussels have opened. Discard any not opened.  Remove the mussel shells from the stock and then remove mussels from their shells discarding the shells. Set aside. Reduce the stock. Add saffron and cream, bit of lemon juice if necessary and salt and pepper to taste. Make some Julienne vegetables, blanch them and add to soup. Reintroduce the deshelled mussels to the stock and keep warm. You can then serve direct with home made bread and some nice white wine! 

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Scallops Skate Wing & Turbot

One of the joys of cooking in Brittany is the amazing range of great seafood and fish available in the food markets. One of my favourite dishes is scallops in a curry Sauterne sauce served with a little spinach. The golden orange colour of the sauce complements the colour and texture of the scallops and spinach.
Scallops in curry Sauterne sauce

Skatewing is a delightfully easy fish to deal with once you have mastered how to remove the skin and prepare it. I like to pan fry in butter and garlic with lots of lemon and capers.

To finish dinner it is hard to beat a tiramisu with fresh strawberries. I have yet to meet someone who won't ask for more!! 

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Confit de Canard

It's a wonderful dish for a green winter and today in Brittany and most of Northern Europe, the rain and the wind are doing their worst for our unfortunate visitors. So why not get your oven on and  prepare this warming duck dish which is so easy and so welcome on a stormy summer evening!! 

Ingredients for 4 
4 large duck legs
30g sea salt
1 tbsp black peppercorns, crushed
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
2 fresh bay leaves , sliced
4 sprigs of thyme, finely chopped
800g duck or goose fat, melted


Curing the duck legs
Lay the duck legs on a baking tray  flesh side upwards and sprinkle the sea salt, peppercorns, garlic and thyme evenly over the tray. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge overnight. Next day rinse the marineade off the duck legs and pat dry with a cloth. 

Cooking the duck legs
Preheat oven to 140 degrees C. Place the duck legs in a large flameproof casserole dish. Cover with the melted fat and cook on top of stove on a gentle heat. Bring the fat to just below simmering point. There should be no bubbles breaking the surface (if you have a thermometer, check the temperature which should be 85 degrees C. 

Once simering transfer to the oven and cook uncovered for 2 and a half hours or until the duck legs are very tender. Leave to cool (in fact you could leave the legs in the cooking fat for up to three days in the fridge to further improve the flavour).

Finishing the duck legs

Remove the duck legs from the cooking fat. Over a medium heat in a dry frying pan, crisp and colour the duck legs on the skin side for 5-7 minutes, regularly removing excess fat. 
Serve with salad, fruit (oranges) lentils or beans.