Tag Archives: french

Eggplant cutlets, beans & spinach with a red wine roux

10 Oct

Man has often rued his lack of roux-making (ho! ho!). This should set the record straight. It should also address that other record, of French insistence on every meal having meat in it. Man Woman get stuck on a cheese and bread diet whenever we visit Paris. We suggest they consider something along these lines.

While there may appear to be 1,001 ingredients in the below dish, you probably do have most of it in the house and can chop and change a bit (this is our vesion of a roux recipe which called for herbs we do not possess – ie. marjoram, and we actually used spinach stalks instead of celery). Also all the other elements can be made while the sauce is being stirred. This’ll suit a dinner party as the elements can be made ahead of time, but it’s quick enough for a mid-week meal too – no more than 45 minutes from start to plate.

Red wine roux

  • 1.25C boiling water
  • 2 tsp vegetable boulion (or stock)
  • 25g butter (or vegan magarine)
  • 3-4 TBSP flour
  • 1 white onion, minced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4C finely chopped celery or spinach stalks
  • 3/4C red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary – or 1tsp fresh leaves, crushed

Eggplant cutlets

  • 1 small eggplant
  • 1 egg
  • 1C (or so) bread crumbs (Panko best)

Beans and greens

  • 1 tin (or cup) buttery beans – such as flagolet, canneli, butter beans, etc
  • 1.5C chopped fresh spinach
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Ground black pepper

Making the sauce

In a saucepan on medium heat mix boiling water and boullion (or stock) until dissolved.

In a small frypan melt the butter and stir in the flour, stirring for five minutes over a low heat until it starts to smell toasty. Add the onions and garlic to the butter-flour mix (I think there is a proper word for this) and continue stirring for three minutes.

Put the celery/spinach stalks in and stir for another couple of minutes. The add the boiling water mix to the fry pan and whisk until it creates a smooth even mixture. Add a bayleaf and other herbs and bring to the boil.

After a few minutes, slowly add the wine and continue to stir bringing to biul again. Then lower to a simmer for 5 – 10 minutes. Adjust herbs, garlic and maybe a dash of red wine vinegar to taste. If it’s become too gravy-like, just add a bit more water.

Other elements: Eggplant cutlets

While the sauce is being brought to the boil, etcetera. Cut a small eggplant into 4-5 thick slices – about 1.5cm thick heat. Sprinkle with salt and chuck into a hot oven, about 15 minutes, until cooked through.

Create a crumbing station: one plate of mixed egg, one plate of bread crumbs. Dip each cooked eggplant slice into the egg, then into the crumbs and set aside. Do this twice for each slice.

To cook, pour a little vegetable oil into a fry pan. We used only a little – it was less than 1cm deep. Fry eggplant for about 2-3 minutes each side, then set aside on paper towels to drain.

Other elements: Spinach and beans

Simply chuck a can of beans into a saucepan and warm over low heat. Just as the sauce and eggplant is about ready, throw in the chopped spinach, drizzle over lemon juice and sprinkle in black pepper.

This isn’t as hard as this long list suggests!

Estimated cost: £4.50

Musical accompaniment: Robert Stillman, Machine Song


Tomato and red onion tarte tatin

1 Aug

I promise we have made this prettier than these pictures, but I’ve not uploaded the pics to the computer and it’s been ages since posting, so just look at the above pictures, imagine a 30-40 per cent visual improvement and you’re there.

French cuisine is really not often very amenable to the absence of meat, over-fed livers and the like, but we’re determined to defy French conservatism. Like vegetarian Jacobins or something equally historically significant.

As you’ll see from the pictures, we’ve made this both with shallots and red onions. It really, really doesn’t matter. Roma/plum tomatoes, normal vine tomatoes – whatever. Choose what looks best in the fresh veg aisle.


  • 60g white flour
  • 30g mature cheddar cheese or parmesan
  • 30g butter
  • 2 TBSP water
  • 15g self-raising flour


  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 1/2 -1 TBSP sugar
  • 5 shallots or 2 red onions, sliced into thick rings
  • 2 sliced garlic cloves
  • 5 or so tomatoes halved (whatever fills your pan)
  • 1 – 2 tomatoes cut into thick slices (to sit on top of other fillings)

If you’re good you can make the pastry while the filing is cooking, but you will need some pretty impressive powers of multi-tasking to do so very effectively.

So, melt butter and sugar in a pan of around 20cm diameter. Then add balsamic vinegar, garlic and place the cut tomatoes and onions/shallots face down. Squeeze in as many as possible and keep the plate on low heat. Maybe even chuck a few extra wedges in here and there. Throw another tablespoon of balsamic (or more) over the stuff and sprinkle with salt.

While this is going, mix together pastry ingredients. Then wrap in plastic and keep in the fridge for about an hour. (You could do this before the cooking, actually)

Move the pan into an oven in low heat. I like to cover the tomato/onion mix with a lid or foil because it’s really best not to let it dry out. Cook for about 20mins – half an hour.

When the onions are softened and tomatoes cooked through and similarly soft, you can take the pan out of the oven and hopefully by this time the pastry has rested in the fridge.

Carefully place the pastry over the tomato mix, checking first that it’s still quite liquidy. It should be a sticky kind of liquid – not as thick as honey, but on its way. Try to tuck the pastry into the pan, but it might just end up ‘rustic’.

Put back in the oven at around 180C for about 20 minutes. Take out when pastry is hard.

Let cool for a couple of mintues then tip over, placing a plate inside or over the pan and quickly flipping.

Best served with a green or rocket salad.

Estimated cost: £6

Musical accompaniment: Anna Calvi

Deep fried camembert with quince paste

6 Apr

Alright. This is deep-fried cheese. Deep-fried cheese.

Man Woman has had such a dish once or twice in our restaurant-going lives, but we never deep fry (well, wanting not to waste/use too much oil, this was kinda a shallow fry) and the idea of deep-frying something as artery assaulting as camembert was, in frankness, embarassing to ourselves.

But a friend brought us some camembert from a trip to Paris (some might say under duress) and we thought, we’re going to deep fry that mother. We’re going to batter it and fry it and eat it. We used quince paste – membrillo or marmelada if you’re Spanish or Portuguese respectively – and this does require something jammy to go alongside. Iceberg lettuce underneath provided a very welcome freshness and a scattering of herbs lightened also.

This is excellent. This is scary good. I fear we might deep fry more camembert on special occassions. This was intended as a first course, but after it we could only stomach a small glassful of gazpacho – totally sans fats. Eat this. Make this. It’s good. It is pure decadence and indulgence. Fatty and bad for you, but the French seem to manage it without getting heart disease and early onset type 2 diabetes, so in moderation, go like the clappers.

Deep fried camembert

  • 165g camembert (2/3 of a 250g wheel) cut into 6 wedges
  • panko bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • plain flour
  • membrillo or mermelade – Iberian quince paste
  • iceberg lettuce
  • parsley
  • chives

Cut your camembert into wedges of your choice. On one plate mix up some cracked black pepper and flour, in a bowl alongside whisk an egg briefly, in a further plate fill with panko bread crumbs.

You’ll need to alternate hands so as to keep one dry and good for use in flour, and the other ‘wet’ for dipping into the egg mix.

So coat the wedge in flour, dredge in egg then coat in panko crumbs.

Do this for all your wedges, then repeat. Double-crumbing is necessary to provide a great thick crust and is pretty damn easy to do.

Heat vegetable oil in a small pan until it’s hot enough that a small piece of bread will bubble and colour quickly after you drop it in.

We shallow fried, so put the camembert wedges in batches in, cooking for about a minute on each side. Just important to watch it develop a golden brown colour and then flip or remove. Drain excess oil on a kitchen towel.

Serve on top of iceberg lettuce and scattered pieces of marmelada or some berry compote (our attempts at a yellow pepper jam failed miserably – not in season yet – so thus the cop out with the marmelada, which works very, very well).

Estimated cost: £3.00

Musical accompaniment: The Low Anthem

Puy lentils & asparagus with mustard, buffalo cheese and beetroot

22 Feb

Lately Man Woman have just been copying meals we’ve had out at home. This one is a homage to an entree we had at Cornercopia in Brixton on Saturday night (an excellent experience all ’round). This was eaten as a main for us on Sunday night, but could easily become a rather classy-looking entree for parties.

Also, just a point, how good are puy lentils? I think we can all agree that red lentils are a bit crappy, but Man Woman could eat puy lentils by the handful.

Puy lentils & asparagus with mustard, buffalo cheese and beetroot

  • 1/2C dry puy lentils
  • 8 – 10 asparagus stalks
  • 3 small beetroot
  • 100g buffalo cheese (or whatever cheese you fancy, white and blue cheeses are probably best)
  • Your best whole-grain mustard
  • 1 shallot
  • handful of nicoise olives
  • 3 bay leaves

Soak the puy lentils (not very necessary). Put in a pan with 1 C of water and bay leaves and bring to boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until testing tells you it’s done. Season.

Meanwhile, just as lentils are nearly ready, fry your finely sliced shallot in olive oil in a pan. After 2 minutes, add the asparagus, cook until asparagus are cooked through, remove asparagus but continue cooking shallots until caramelised.

Serve asparagus on a bed of puy lentils. Crumble over cheese, throw on a dollop of wholegrain mustard, drape some slippery onion rings and scatter wedges of beetroot and olives about the place.


Estimated cost: £3.10

Musical accompaniment: Paul Kelly

Dark chocolate ganache tarts (ManWoman vs Bourke St Bakery, take two)

1 Dec

So, not daunted by the less than perfect first attempt at a pate brisee, Man Woman tackled the BSB cookbook again. Fear has no meaning in this flat. 

And this time, we gave ourselves time and defrosted the frozen pastry cases the day before, planning to make the custard for chai-spiced creme brulee tarts the night before we had guests over. We were very pleased with our impressive level of organisation.

Only to find, Bourke Street thwarted us again. In fact, it takes two days to make the custard – one night, you see, for the milk to infuse the chai spices. My bloody oath. Anyway, so this left Woman (for in truth, the rouse is up, Man was in Warsaw on work at this venture) with a conundrum, and forced her to go to Waitrose in the middle of the night in her gym gear and buy chocolate. Never before has she been made to feel like such a ‘woman’.

This recipe is inspired by the Bourke Street ganache, but they called for milk chocolate and we can’t be having that. Also they called for heavier cream, which I didn’t have to hand and I’ll be damned if I go back to the supermarket even later at night for double cream. I have some dignity.

What ensued was very, very rich – but quite yum. Definitely in need of some berries to lighten the load and, perhaps, a long digestive period after mains to make room.

Dark chocolate ‘ganache’ tarts (makes 5 tarts)

  • 200g dark chocolate (70%)
  • 200ml single cream (18% fat)
  • punnet of raspberries
  • punnet of blueberries
  • icing sugar for dusting
  • 1/4 portion of Bourke Street Bakery cookbook pate brisee (sorry, can’t bring myself to plaigarise)

So, crack good quality dark chocolate into a large bowl. Bring cream to boil in a saucepan and immediately  pour over dark chocolate, stirring until blended. Pour (or, seriously this is thick stuff, you’ll have to dollop or spoon or heave it) into cooked pastry shells.

Top with berries and icing sugar before serving. Watch guests struggle to finish against their will.

Estimated cost: £8

Musical accompaniment: Janis Joplin

Vegan cassoulet

30 Nov

This dish was inspired by a practical joke. A friend of ManWoman’s loves his hearty meaty cassoulet with the usual suspects: pork sausages, goose, duck, mutton. So, on a trip to Paris last year ManWoman said we could procure some cassoulet. Instead we bought a can of ratatouille and cassoulet, and swtiched the labels. Needless to say said friend, bottle of red decanting and rubbing his hands with meatlust, was served ratatouille.

ManWoman did feel a little guilty in such a blatant fraud, so this dish, a stand-out vegan cassoulet, is a ManWoman take on this traditional French slow cooked dish – showing that a cassoulet can be hearty and filling – not wanting for anything other than a red wine decanting on the counter.

Vegan cassoulet (serves 4 with bread)

  • 4 vegetarian (vegan) sausages chopped
  • 1/2 C giant white butter beans, soaked then cooked
  • 1 can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 150ml water
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 leek, chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic
  • 2 stalks thyme
  • 1 tsp whole back peppercorns
  • 1 dried kashmiri (or other hot) chili whole (removed when bay leaves are taken out)

Heat oil or butter (that’s not vegan then but), then over low to medium heat cook leeks, carrots and garlic for about 4 minutes – just to soften. Add everything else.

Cook over medium heat, covered, for as long as possible. Slow cookers are ideal (if not mock up your own, as Man will be demonstrating in a photo to follow shortly).

Serve with crusty bread.

Estimated cost: £3

ManWoman vs the Bourke Street Bakery: Pâte brisée, take one

25 Nov

One of the advantages of being so vocally food obsessed, is this obsession is routinely fed, as it were, by friends. Our friends are feeders. Man Woman have been brought mamma-made Kurdish breads from Gothenberg, mamma-made spanakopita from Thessaloniki, home grown herbs from about the place. It’s a sweet gig.

One of our most loved, and daunting, food-related gifts has been the Bourke Street Bakery cookbook. Being from Sydney we felt something of a national pride at looking through the amazing, hardcover book, involving multi-page recipes for everything from pizza dough to puff pastry. We’ve already picked the low-hanging fruit from the book. But last week, we took on the pate brisee (sweet pastry).

What ensued was not perfect (we have learned we must cut larger pastry discs), but despite the preparation time being spread out over days, plucking a flaky, buttery, delicate piece of hot pastry out of the oven was worth every re-reading of the dense instructions. Also, we left the timing way too late, so we couldn’t make the chocolate ganache we intended, but had to cobble together a raspberry-topped ricotta filling. Passable.

You may now view our valiant, if imperfect, attempt.

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