Migas

If you always end up with left over bread this is a really tasty way to use it up.

This dish apparently started with poor shepherds in Spain and Portugal. I like recipes that allow you to use up what’s available and this is perfect for using up scraps of streaky bacon, ham or other smokey meats or cold cuts

This dish does use a lot of oil, which is why I’ve included it amongst the poor filth recipes. It’s quick, easy to make and tastes great. I like for breakfast/brunch with fried eggs. It also makes a fantastic hangover cure.

Ingredients

500 Grams Stale bread (broken into chunks of various size, but not as small as breadcrumbs)

1 Onion (cut into fine slices)

2-3 Cloves of garlic

50 Grams Chorizo (peeled and sliced)

1 Red pepper (cut into 1cm strips)

50 Grams Streaky bacon or other left over meat or cold cuts (cut into 2cm slices)

1 Tsp Smoked paprika

2-3 Tbsp Olive oil

Method

Serves 4

  • Heat a large high sided pan and add the chorizo, and streaky bacon until it starts to crisp up. Remove from the pan and set to one side
  • Add the onion, garlic, red pepper and paprika to the pan and cook in the juices released from the chorizo and bacon until the onion becomes translucent
  • Add some oil to the pan and then add the stale bread chunks. Fry until the bread starts to brown, stirring regularly so it doesn’t burn
  • Add the meat back to the pan and stir well
  • Serve with fried eggs.

Cucumber and Mint Mojitos

These are not mojitos in the true sense (I’m not really a fan of rum). But they are incrediblely refreshing, and a great Summer drink.

I make individual ones in a cocktail shaker (a great addition to your Amazon wish list if you don’t already have one). You can also increase the ingredients and make a big jug of these if you have friends round.

I have included the recipe for a simple syrup, but if you’re short on time you can buy this pre made. Make sure to have plenty of ice.

Ingredients

Simple syrup

250 Grams Sugar

250 ml water

For the cocktail

1 Shot Simple syrup

1 Shot Gin

Cucumber

Mint leaves

Lime

Soda or tonic water

Method

  1. To make the simple syrup, add the sugar and water to a pot and heat until the sugar was dissolved, set to one side and allow to cool
  2. With a potato peeler shave ribbons of cucumber and add to a tall glass and top up with crushed ice.
  3. Roughly chop a tablespoon of cucumber and add to a cocktail shaker along with 5 mint leaves and a wedge of lime. Muddle these in the shaker (this a fancy term for giving them a bit of a bash to release their flavour, I do this with butt of a wooden spoon, but use what you have)
  4. Add a shot of gin and a shot of simple syrup to the shaker, along with a couple of ice cubes and shake for all you’re worth. If you are making a jug of these, then make sure to stir thoroughly
  5. Pour into your prepared glass and top off with some tonic or soda water and a sprig of mint and wedge of lime if you’re feeling especially fancy

Cherry Clafoutis

This is one of the quintessential French desserts and it’s actually quite easy to make.  It’s basically a baked custard/batter with fruit.

Cherries are a traditional, but you can use other fruit like blueberries or apricots.

Straight from the oven, dust with a little icing sugar before serving.

I use frozen cherries that I allowed to thaw. This is mainly because fresh cherries here in Ireland are really expensive, and because the frozen type usually have the stones removed. Purists argue that the cherry stones add an almond flavour, but I think this is nonsense.

Ready for the oven.

If you have a blender you can make the batter in this or just use a bowl and whisk if you don’t. This should normally be cooked in a round pie dish and served in wedges. I didn’t have one, so my clafoutis is was probably a little deeper than the regular type. It also looks prettier cooked in a round dish but ho hum, you use what you have.

It’s usually served just warm or at room temperature. It’s traditionally served with whipped cream, but ice cream is also delicious.

Ingredients

For the fruit

450 Grams Cherries (fresh or frozen)

3 Tbsp Caster sugar

For the batter

100 Grams Caster sugar (plus a little extra to coat the baking dish)

4 Eggs

1/2 Tsp Salt

1 Tsp Vanilla extract

200 Mil Milk

150 Grams Plain flour

30 Grams Butter (melted and allowed to cool slightly, plus extra for greasing the dish)

Method

  1. Cover the cherries with 3 Tbsp of sugar and allow to macerate for an hour
  2. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius)
  3. Add the milk, salt, vanilla extract, and eggs to a blender and give a quick blitz
  4. Add the flour to the blender and whizz for 1 minute, before adding the cooled melted butter. Whiz for another 30 seconds
  5. Rub a knob of butter along the inside of your baking dish, and a couple of tablespoons of sugar to the dish and shake this around the dish so that it sticks to the butter. Discard any sugar that hasn’t stuck to the butter
  6. Spread your fruit across the base of the dish, and then gently pour over the custard
  7. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. To check if the clafoutis is cooked, stick a knife in the centre of the dish and if it comes out clean the clafoutis is cooked. If it doesn’t give it another 5 minutes and check again

The “Friends” (Jennifer Aniston) Salad

Sometimes random things pop up on your social media feed and this was the “Friends” salad, apparently the female cast members all ate the same thing every day for lunch for 10 years.

I followed the recipe provided by icecreamandneondreams.com and I have to say it’s very tasty (maybe not eating it every day for 10 years), but definitely worth including in your salad or lunch dish rotation.

Needless to say its very healthy with plenty of fibre and protein and full of lovely flavours that compliment each other. Like any salad you can play with the ratio of ingredients depending on your taste

The original salad doesn’t have any dressing, but you can also add some olive oil and lemon juice if you think it needs it.

Ingredients

250 Grams Bulgar Wheat (dry weight cook according the instructions on the packet)

1 Large or 2 small Cucumbers

400 Gram Tin of Chick Peas

1 Small red onion (finely sliced)

200 Grams Feta Cheese (crumbled)

50 Grams Shelled Pistachios

2 Tbsp. Fresh mint (chopped), or 2 tsp dried mint

2 Tbsp. Parsley (chopped)

Method

  1. Cook the bulgar wheat according to the instructions on the packet and allow to cool
  2. Cut the cucumber in half lengthways and scoop out and discard the watery seeds on the middle. Cut each half in half again and slice into 1 cm slices (you can make them chunkier if you prefer)
  3. Drain the chick peas and add to a large bowl along with all the other ingredients and mix well. Have a taste and add some salt and pepper if you the salad needs it

Healthy Mexican Breakfast

I love a hearty breakfast, and this is quick enough for a weekday breakfast but you might prefer to save it for the weekend as it makes a great brunch/lunch dish.

I have shown quantities per person, so just up the amounts based on how many people you’re cooking for. I know we don’t usually use herbs at breakfast time, but the coriander and mint really make this delicious (I love picking this from my window box). This meal has plenty of fibre and protein and will fuel you for a good part of the day. If you are gluten free, you can swap the wholemeal tortilla for corn tortilla (just make sure to check the label, to ensure they are GF)

Ingredients (per person)

1 Wholemeal torilla

2 eggs

1/2 Avocado (diced)

6 Cherry tomatoes (halved)

1 Spring onion/scallion (finely sliced)

1 Tbsp Mint (finely chopped)

1 Tbsp Coriander (finely chopped)

100 Grams Canned black beans

Chilli powder – according to taste

1 Tsp Oil

Method

  1. Heat oil in a small pan, crack both eggs into the pan (I like to add a little water and cover with a lid so they steam fry, but feel free to cook the eggs your preferred way)
  2. While your eggs are cooking, slice the vegetables and herbs. Place the tortilla on a plate
  3. Place your eggs on top of the tortilla, and use the same pan to warm through the black beans
  4. Scatter the vegetables, herbs and heated black beans, across the tortilla and eggs and sprinkle with chilli powder (or sliced fresh chillies if you prefer) according to how spicy you like your food.

Pissaladiere

This dish is from the south of France, and is like a cross between a tart and a pizza.

Just warning you from the outset, this is what I would call a weekend recipe.    Some elements can take a while.  None of it is difficult but things like caramelising the onions, or proving the dough can take a while.  So I usually make this at weekends when I’m pottering around and can do things like laundry while the dough proves.

https://sunnysidefoodtravel.files.wordpress.com/2021/03/img_20210329_1911347856694583709994229.jpg?w=768

If you see anchovies and immediately say no way, I would recommend giving this a chance.  The sweetness of the onions, definitely tempers the fishiness of the anchovies and the combination works nicely.

If you really are anchovy phobic you can swap it for roasted red pepper, this also allows vegans and vegetarians to enjoy it (just remember to swap out the butter for olive oil if cooking for vegans or people who are dairy free).

This can also be eaten hot of cold, I love it with a cold beer or glass of wine.

For the dough

2 Tsp Dried yeast

250 Grams Plain flour

3 Tbsp Olive oil

1/2 Tsp Salt

For the topping

40 Grams Butter

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

1.5 Kg Onions (Finely Sliced)

1 Tbsp Dried thyme

24 Black olives

16 Anchovy Fillets (or slices of roast pepper if you don’t like anchovies

Method

  • To make the dough, mix the dried yeast with 120 ml of warm water (not too hot or you’ll kill the yeast), leave in a warm place for 10 minutes until a froth appears on top of the mixture.
  • Sift the flour into a bowl and add the salt, olive oil and yeast mixture. Mix until the dough forms a ball. Turn out onto to a floured surface, and knead for 10 minutes (or use a mixer with a dough hook, but personally I like to do it by hand its very therapeutic if you’ve had a stressful week)
  • Rub a bowl with olive oil, put your kneaded bowl of dough in the bowl and cover lightly with olive oil. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel (or I always use the little disposable shower caps you get into hotels), leave in a warm space for 1-2 hours
  • Remove the dough from the bowl and knock the air out of the dough with a light punch (like OI said this can be very therapeutic). Knead for a couple of minutes and then cover again and leave in a warm place until the dough doubles in size
  • For the topping, melt the butter and olive oil in a large frying pan, add the onions and half the thyme and cook over a gentle for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions are dark and caramelised
  • Preheat your oven to 200 degrees (Celsius), and grease a 34 cm x 26 cm baking tray. Roll your dough out thinly to fit the baking tray and transfer the dough to the baking tray and brush lightly with oil
  • Spread the cooled onion mixture evenly across the dough
  • Lay the anchovies on top of the onion mixture in a rough lattice pattern, and the olives should go in between the diamonds created in the lattice. It’s a rustic dish, so don’t panic if doesn’t look entirely uniform
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes

Carcassonne – The Food

Inside the walls of the medieval city there are numerous cafes and restaurants selling everything from crepes and baguettes through to fine dining restaurants.

The Occitane region enjoys a great climate and has lots of regional specialities. Truffles are found locally and are highly prized. People either love or hate them, but I adore them. Weight for weight white truffles are more expensive than gold. Most of us aren’t lucky enough to afford the fist sized truffles kept under glass cloches. However, specialist shops sell a range of products including truffle oil, truffle honey, tapenade and truffle salt.

White truffle and shaving blade
Well guarded truffles

The other main speciality of the region is cassoulet. If you haven’t had it before it’s a rich dish of white beans, duck legs, and Toulouse sausage. You can find this in pretty much every restaurant in Caracasonne. Like every peasant dish, this is made to fill you up and keep you feeling full. While it’s delicious it’s important to warn that you will probably need to lie down after eating of it, but it is good fuel for sight seeing.

Thick and unctuous, cassoulet is the perfect meal after a day’s sightseeing.

We found great little bistros that offered simple tasty food, starting at 3 courses for 15 Euros for the daily Prix Fixe menu, and were happy enough to stay with these.

Chevre wrapped in filo pastry with salad
Steak and frites

These bistro meals were usually uncomplicated with cheese, soup or charcuterie to start, fish or meat for the main and dessert or cheese to finish.

Chocolate tart
Cherry clafoutis

The area also has some great wine. We usually orded the house wine, which was affordable and very drinkable.

Tarte au pomme

Carcassonne

Low cost airlines can be great for opening routes to places you may not have normally visited. One of these is the ancient city of Caracasonne in the Occitane region of France.

The city has two parts, the Cite (old town), which contains the largest medieval town in Europe and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. There has been a settlement in Carcasonne since around 3500 BC, and because of it’s strategic position has been taken by everyone from the Romans, Visigoths, and Moors.

The castle was also an important hub during the crusades when infighting amongst christian sects like the Cathars and Knights Templar were rife (if you’re a history fan or have ever read any of Dan Brown or Kate Moss’ books this will make more sense).

The fortified city was demilitarised by Napoleon Bonaparte, and fell into disrepair until thankfully restoration began in the mid 1850s.

Inside the walls of the Cite the are countless artisan shops selling hand made confectionery, toy swords shields, and costumes (little visitors go crazy for them), and regional specialities. As well as fabulous well priced restaurants, with Prix Fixe 3 course menus starting from 15 euros per person.

The city is split by the River Aude, the new city still has lots of character. The main square is the Place Carnot, with a very pretty marble fountain in the centre and bars and restaurants lining the edges. A market is held there twice weekly, although I missed both due to how my flights fell.

The city seems to be busiest in July and August, and although the place is super quaint and amazing to look at, it is very quiet outside this time . We stayed in a great Air B&B, but most hotels, including those inside the old town seem well priced. We didn’t have time, but if you are driving/renting a car, you can organise visits to local vineyards within about 20 minutes of town.

Place Carnot

If you are bit of history nerd, enjoy good restaurants and aren’t too put out that there isn’t a throbbing nightlife scene then Carcasonne is the place for you.

Spicy (Vegan) Dauphinoise Potatoes

Classic dauphinoise potatoes are loaded with cream and sometimes cheese, and are one of my favourite things to eat.

The first time I made this I had spuds but no cream, so these were basically an experiment. But it was a really yummy one. It’s also nice to mess with the classics sometimes.

I could eat a massive bowl of this on its own, but it’s works really well as a side dish to marinated tempeh or chicken or fish if you’re a carnivore. This is full of creamy, garlicy, chilli gorgeousness.

Left overs are also great heated up with a fried egg on top.

1Kg Potatoes

400ml Tin of Coconut mik

3-4 Cloves of Garlic (minced)

1Tsp Chilli flakes

1 Tsp Ground ginger

1Tsp Tumeric

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius)
  2. Peel and slice your potatoes as finely possible. Some people use a mandolin, but I’ve never been able to use one without cutting myself, I just use a kitchen knife
  3. Add the coconut milk, garlic and spices to a saucepan and heat over a gentle heat, add the sliced potatoes and simmer very gently for 10 minutes
  4. Line a baking dish with parchment paper (you don’t have to this, but it does make it easier to clean the dish afterwards)
  5. Add the potatoes to the dish and spread evenly before putting in oven for 40-45 minutes. Test with a fork to make sure the potatoes are soft

Halloumi Bake

Healthy food can still be rich and unctuous. This makes a great week night dinner or you can assemble and bake the following day.

Packed with flavour and protein, this makes a deeply satisfying meal. I love it served with salad and crusty bread.

Ingredients

200 Grams Halloumi (allow the halloumi to come to room temperature before using)

340 Gram Tin of Chick peas

400ml Passata

150 Grams Mushrooms (roughly chopped)

1 Onion (roughly chopped)

1 Courgette (roughly chopped)

Large sprig of thyme

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius)
  2. Add oil to a large pan over a medium heat, add onion, courgettes and mushrooms, and thyme and cook for 5 minutes, stirring until the vegetables start to soften.
  3. Add the chick peas and passata, and simmer for a another 5-10 minutes before transfering to an oven proof dish
  4. Slice the halloumi into 1cm think slices and brush or spray with a little oil
  5. Top the vegetable mix with the halloumi and bake for 25-30 mins or until the cheese had turn a rich golden brown.