French

french-restaurants

Posters of three of Karl Lagerfeld’s photographs are being given away for free at the Little Black Jacket exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. You can just help yourself!

Fines de Claire oyster starter at Colbert on Sloane Square, which officially opens tomorrow.

Little fluffy clouds over Chelsea.

Healthy breakfast at La Brasserie.

Love.

Spotted this pretty bag at Ted Baker on King’s Road.

A guilt-free hot dog!

And now, just counting down to Homeland! 😀 x

 

So far this week I’ve indulged in a take away pizza, pralines and cream ice cream and even syrup pudding – the last two together! Admittedly I’ve also been to the gym three times already this week but that’s not my point. The fact is, as the temperature continues to drop, it is so easy to reach for stodgy carbs for a bit of comfort eating.

But I can’t let that ‘winter coat’ thinking carry on because I’m going to be spending Christmas and New Year in a bikini. I can’t wait!

Needless to say, I was over the moon to be invited to La Brasserie to try their detox breakfast this morning – probably my healthiest breakfast meeting yet.

And with my green tea …

I had grapefruit …

And the mixed berries compote with greek yoghurt, which was soooo good and tasty!

And my very lovely company had the fruit salad.

La Brasserie is a great place to hang out at any point of the day or night. It’s a local’s haven and it has a french sophistication that makes you feel you could be in Paris. Definitely a great way to start the day!

ComtĂ© is one of my favourite cheeses. I’d discovered it whilst studying in the Franche-ComtĂ© region for my third year at university, in a town called Besançon. And now, I find it every Saturday at the Duke of York Square food market.

I’ve always loved using ComtĂ© for cooking. I guess it comes from my days of living amongst the Jura mountains when my friends and I would gather regularly for fondue before heading out. But there is more to ComtĂ© than fondue and the kind folks at ComtĂ© Cheese have shared a couple of their recipes for you to try.

But before the recipes whet your appetite, I just want to flag up that there are free ComtĂ© tastings around the UK with the Foodies Festival Tour, if you’re not going to be dropping by the King’s Road sometime soon. And tomorrow, on Saturday July 14th, there will be a free tasting at the La Cave restaurant in London’s Borough Market for the Bastille Day Festival. @Comte_Cheese are also running a Twitter competition to celebrate Bastille Day. So look out for that too!

So, for the recipes …

Stuffed tomatoes with Comté

Ingredients

For the tomato sauce

  • 80-100ml/3-3Âœfl oz olive oil
  • 1 white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed and sliced
  • 2 tbsp tomato purĂ©e (if the tomatoes are not very ripe)
  • 1kg/2lb 3oz ripe plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 4 pinches salt
  • 2 pinches freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 pinches sugar (optional)
  • 3 fresh basil leaves

For the stuffed tomatoes

  • 4 x 200g/7oz ripe tomatoes (preferably marmande or beef, organic if possible)
  • 200g/7oz minced pork
  • 60g/2oz fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 free-range egg yolk
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp roughly chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 sprig fresh tarragon, leaves picked, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing and drizzling
  • 60g/2oz ComtĂ© cheese, chopped into small cubes
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. For the tomato sauce, heat the olive oil in a pan over a medium heat and gently fry the onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes, or until softened but not coloured.
  2. Stir in the tomato purée, if using, and cook for one minute before adding the chopped tomatoes. Season to taste with the salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Bring to a simmer, then cover with a lid and cook over a low heat for a further 20 minutes. Taste again and correct the seasoning if needed, adding the sugar if necessary. Stir in the basil.
  4. Pass the sauce through a mouli or fine sieve into a pan and set aside until needed.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
  6. For the stuffed tomatoes, trim the bases of the tomatoes so they sit flat on the work surface. Slice off the top third of the tomatoes and reserve (this will serve as the ‘lid’ for the stuffed tomatoes).
  7. With a spoon, scoop out the pulp and juices of the tomatoes into a bowl. Add the juices and pulp to the pan with the tomato sauce.
  8. Mix all of the remaining stuffed tomato ingredients, except the Comté cheese, together in a bowl until well combined. Stir in half of the cheese.
  9. Season the insides of the tomatoes with a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  10. Divide the pork stuffing into four equal portions and roll each into a ball big enough to fit inside the tomatoes. Place the stuffing into the tomatoes, then sprinkle over the remaining cheese. Top each stuffed tomato with the reserved tomato ‘lids’.
  11. Brush a baking dish with a little olive oil then place the tomatoes on top. Drizzle with some more olive oil and cook in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the tomatoes are tender and the stuffing is cooked through.
  12. To serve, reheat the tomato sauce and pour into the baking dish with the stuffed tomatoes. Alternatively, pour the sauce into individual serving dishes and top each with a stuffed tomato.
Seared Steak with a Brioche and Comté Gratin

Ingredients

  • 1 sirloin steak
  • Salt and pepper
  • Âœ cup red wine
  • 10g butter, cubed
  • 2 Tbs thickened cream 

Brioche and Comté Gratin

  • Âœ brown onion, sliced
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • 50g ComtĂ©, cut into small cubes
  • Âœ small brioche loaf, sliced
  • Dijon mustard to serve

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C.
  2. Season sirloin steak with salt and pepper. In a hot oiled pan, cook sirloin for 2 minutes each side, transfer pan to the oven to cook for a further 5 minutes or until cooked to your liking. Remove the steak from the pan and allow to rest.
  3. Deglaze the pan from the oven with red wine; simmer for 1 minute on a low heat before stirring butter and cream through.
  4. For the brioche and comté gratin, sweat onion in a saucepan. Reduce pan to a low heat before adding milk, eggs, thyme, seasoning and comté. Whisk to combine thoroughly.
  5. Fan brioche in a small baking dish and pour custard mix over. Bake gratin for 10 minutes or until golden.
  6. Remove gratin from the baking dish and place on the serving plate. Slice sirloin steak, assemble over gratin, top with red wine sauce and serve Dijon mustard on the side.

Bon Appétit!

This afternoon I enjoyed an indulgent 5 course lunch at Le Cercle. I arrived at the basement restaurant, which is situated just off Sloane Street, feeling slightly hurried and ravenous.

So when I sat down at my booth and managed to take in the Flower Menu which consists of five courses and an optional sommelier wine pairing, I felt like I was being to forced to somewhat relax.

I had never been to Le Cercle before. It’s not an obvious place to spot from the main road but once you are there, it feels like an intimate local gem. I really like the dĂ©cor.

At lunch time, the place was quiet but there were a few people dining in pairs: mostly women, catching up with each other. Apparently for dinner, the atmosphere changes and is more buzzy.

The Flower Menu launched on Tuesday and continues until 2nd June 2012 – perfect for The Chelsea Flower Show! And to start with, I had the Confit Salmon with white beetroot, horseradish granitĂ© and Borage, which was accompanied by a 2009 Pinot Black, Dom: Schlumberger “Les Princes Abbes”.

 

The starter was perfectly light. I enjoyed the beetroot and horseradish as well as the salmon and trout roe.

The second course consisted of Pan fried Sea Bass, green almond coulis, black aubergine and Daisies.

What surprised me most about this dish was the honey and maple syrup glazed aubergines. The burst of sweetness with each mouthful was a real delight.

This course was matched with a 2012 Coteaux d’Aix en Provence, ChĂąteau La Cost, “Rose d’une Nuit”.

The third course – and yes, I was still going – included a roasted lamb chump, polenta fries, confit tomatoes and Rosemary flower.

And whilst I am not generally a fan of polenta, this was definitely my favourite pairing with the 2009 Cotes de Francs, Duc de Nauves. I loved this wine the most and it matched the lamb very well.

For the fourth course, I received a slice of langres cheese with caramelised fig and chilli rhubarb.

On the menu however, do expect to see St. Maure (unpasteurised goat’s cheese) and Lavendar. The cheese dish was paired with a 2009 Saumur, Langlois-ChĂąteau.

For the finale, I tried the dark chocolate tart and violet ice cream with a 2009 Gaillac, “Les Gravels”, Domaine Rotier.

And wow, what a way to finish a meal. The tart was wonderfully light. It wasn’t too rich but it tasted divine – and the wine was perfectly suited.

Admittedly, when I first looked at the menu I was filled with slight panic: 5 courses for lunch! But actually, the portions worked very well.

The menu costs ÂŁ35 per person and if you would like to include the wine pairings (which I wholly recommend) then it is ÂŁ60.

So if you fancy a girly catch up like the other ladies in the restaurant, this could be a place to add to the list – especially during the Chelsea Flower Show.

Bon Appetit! And if you do make down there for the Flower Menu, do let me know which dish you enjoyed the most.

Le Cercle on Urbanspoon

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