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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Gazpacho: Healthy, Nutritious and perfect for summer

Do you love watching friends and family tucking into a healthy nutritious dish that you prepared at home? Then you must try Gazpacho, the Spanish soup made in advance and served cool. 

It’s summer time here, scorching hot and like everyone one, else the least time I spend in the kitchen in front of a hot stove the better.

I make mine with lots of tomatoes, scientifically proven to be full of antioxidative properties: tomatoes contain lycopene as well as other carotenoids.
You might not have heard of carotenoids, but they protect us against cancer as well as heart diseases. 

 You need three main vegetables, and of course, wonderful healthy extra virgin olive oil for this soup.

Three main vegetables for Gazpacho

Make sure also that you wash your vegetables well; we often don’t spend enough time doing this.

You"ll need a good blender for this recipe; it will save you time and energy.

Here’s what you need for Gazpacho: for 4 – 5 servings

About 8  medium sized  tomatoes cut into quarters 
1 clove garlic       
Four tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Two tablespoons of red wine vinegar
1   cucumber (half   for the soup and the other half for garnishing) 
1 chopped  green pepper (Bell pepper)
1 small onion
½ teaspoon salt
A few drops of Tabasco sauce and a few basil leaves (optional)
Ice cubes or cold water

Simply put all the vegetables into your blender together with the vinegar and salt and blend until you get a nice smooth mix. Then add the extra virgin and Tabasco. Blend again and put in the fridge for a few hours.

To serve you need to add some cold water or ice cubes – you don’t want you Gazpacho to be too thick.
You can also serve some more chopped vegetables either mixed together or separately (cucumber red pepper)

Some homemade croutons complete this truly lovely soup.

                                          Bon appétit.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Salade Niçoise: A Simple Healthy Summer Dish your Family will Love

With the  hot weather here in Provence, nothing beats a Salade Niçoise. Thankfully, there are no rules and regulations for this dish.

It’s hot here in Provence, south of France but you  still have to prepare  tasty healthy family meals for the family and house guests. Here is one of my favorite recipes – simple, economic and light, Salade Niçoise made with extra virgin olive oil  is perfect for those hot summer days.

 This dish which originates from Nice  is  made with fresh ingredients, highly colorful and full  of health benefits. Not only that, this French  composed salad is quick, economic and nutritious. Although there are quite a few variations to this dish, remember no olives or olive oil – no salade niçoise. 

The recipe is for four to six people. I include potatoes here as my young house guests seem to be super hungry at lunch time and I like to add fresh basil herbs and garlic to my vinaigrette.

Healthy Salade Niçoise

You can use fresh tuna steaks for this recipe: even better if you grill them  on a barbeque rather than pan fry. Rub the clean fish all over with olive oil and grill lightly for 5 to 7 minutes. Cover and allow to  cool while you prepare  the rest of the salad.

For Salad Niçoise

For the Garlic olive oil vinaigrette

1 small crushed garlic clove (optional)
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
5 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Fresh basil (optional)
For the salad

3 large eggs
Cos lettuce leaves
250g French (green) beans
1 Lebanese cucumber sliced
½ red sliced onion
4 tomatoes cut in 8
3 waxy potatoes cooked and  quartered
1 tin of tuna chunks or fillets in olive oil, drained
1 tin of anchovies in olive oil, drained
½ cup of green or black olives
To prepare the garlic olive oil vinaigrette, combine the garlic with the mustard into a bowl. Then add the vinegar and stir. Add the olive oil, one tablespoon at the time, until all ingredients blend together. Place the dressing in the fridge until ready to use.
Meanwhile, bring 2 pans of water to the boil. In the first pan, plunge the eggs into the boiling water and cook for about six minutes from the time the water comes back to the boil. The shelling of these eggs can be quite delicate, because the white is so fragile. Crack the shells by rolling them on a flat surface, and then refresh them with cold water. The water will penetrate the cracks in the shell which can be removed more easily.
Put the beans in the second pan of boiling water. Blanch the beans for about 3 minutes. Drain them and refresh them under cold water for them to keep their bright green color.
Begin to assemble the salad.
Place the lettuce leaves on a large serving platter, add the cucumber and onion slices on the top. Add the tomatoes, green beans and potatoes. Add the drained tuna chunks or grilled steaks; arrange the half eggs on the top of the salad. Finally, scatter olives and anchovies on the top of the salad. Drizzle with olive oil dressing before serving.

Bon appétit! 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Why Everyone's Making the Switch to Bag in Box

Boxed Wine is here to stay, even in France where the Bag in Box competition took place in March.

No one thought that buying wine in a box would be so successful. Wine snobs fretted when they were first introduced refusing to believe you can buy decent wine in a box. Thankfully, they’re finally getting over their shame. Bag in box (BIB) is so successful in France that they even have a yearly competition, great incentive for national and international winemakers.

 Bag in Box competition has done even better this year.
Held for the third consecutive year in Toulouse, south-west France even more boxes were on display this year – 384 samples entered this year representing 16% more than last year.  Good to see too is the foreign participation: entries this year came from South Africa, Argentina, Australia, Bulgaria, Spain, Italy, Luxembourg, Romania, and the US.

Judged for Quality, not for the boxes in France's Bag in Box Competition 

Winemakers get rewarded for the quality of their wine. No silver or bronze medals but a 'Best Wine in Box award' which will give them added value when the wines go on sale in supermarkets and other retail outlets. At this year’s competition, 123 judges tasted, discussed and gave 113 awards.

 More and more popular

Thankfully the stigma of buying and offering boxes of wine is on the way out. You should no longer be looking at boxed wines as being subpar. The quality of wine sold in boxes these days are much more superior to that of 6 years ago.

Here’s why you should be buying your wine in a Box:

There’s no pressure to finish off the bottle

Once open, you can easily store your box in the fridge. Here in Provence, nothing beats a chilled Rosé on a hot day. Thanks to the airtight seal there’s little oxidation so my red and rosé wine can last a couple of weeks.

More value for money

Buying bottles of wine is more expensive than buying boxes. As a consumer, I appreciate this difference in price.

The environment

Bottles carry a bigger carbon footprint than boxes.

If you care about the environment and shrinking your carbon footprint, you will look more carefully at eco- friendly measures you can adapt on a daily basis.  Think of the packaging involved in buying 6 or 12 bottles of wine – all those bottles, all the material to separate the bottles.

The technology behind bag in box has vastly improved over the years. If like me you enjoy a glass or red with dinner, your boxed wine will last much longer sitting in its lovely box in the fridge.

Judging with full concentration  at Wine in Box competition