Variations on the same theme Tabbouleh is a super easy, super fresh, super summery, super delicious and super underrated salad originally from Lebanon. It has a lot of different variations, but some ingredients such as mint, onions, bulgur or semolina are indispensable to give …
No pain, no tartines Ollie and I usually have breakfast no matter the time we wake up. It is, after all, the most important meal of the day. Sometimes we want something sweet, usually peanut butter and banana toasts for me (very American, …
Pie, tart or quiche?
Ollie and I had many debates around pie. In the south of France, I have always used the word “pie” (tarte, in French) to describe any filling enveloped at the bottom by some golden pastry. How lexically wrong was I ! A pie is, for fervent pie lover Ollie, pastry base and pastry top making a recipient for the filling. No pastry base, no pie. No pastry top, no pie.
Now that we are all on the same page (of the dictionary), I can tell you all about the vegan cheese and onion pie that we – Ollie – made last winter.
After another one of our debates, Ollie decided to show me what a “real” pie was. He wanted something very British, comforting, that would get us through the dark and cold winter days feeling warm and content.
Since becoming vegan, I hadn’t used any of the vegan cheese alternative thinking they would merely be a bland nutty mix, not adding anything to the taste or flavour – WRONG – so I was a bit reluctant when he talked about a cheesy pie. Then I started laughing when he added the word potato – WRONG. Surely, you can’t put potato in pastry – WRONG ! Looking back, I am not sure why you wouldn’t or shouldn’t, but I still had preconceived ideas about food and I was thinking that pastry and potato together would make anything stodgy, heavy and difficult to digest – WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.
This pie is the best pie I have ever eaten, and I look forward to colder days to make it again. It is cheesy, creamy, full of flavour and simply heartwarming.
Without waiting any longer, here is the recipe. Bon appétit !
Vegan cheese potato pie
- 2 shop bought vegan puff pastry
- 375 g Maris Piper potatoes
- 1/2 onion
- 150 mL soya cream
- 1 tsp of wholegrain mustard we used Maille
- 2 spring onions
- 15 g of fresh parsley
- 20 g fresh chives
- 225 g vegan cheese we used the Viviera block
- Salt and pepper to taste
Wash and quarter the potatoes - you do not have to peel them - and the onion. Put them in a large pan, cover with cold water and add a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and cook for 20-25 min until soft.
When the potatoes are cooked, drain them, then return them to the pan and leave it to steam for 5 minutes. Chop the boiled onion and add it to the pan.
Add all the remaining ingredients to the potatoes and onion, mixing well to combine. Add salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Roll out one of the pastries, until it forms a disc big enough to line the base of a cake tin, with surplus hanging over the sides. Prick the pastry with a fork to avoid it rising during cooking. Add the potato mixture to the tin, and smooth it off with a spoon. Roll out the other pastry to a disc big enough to cover the pie, again with some surplus, and place it on top of the potato mix. Trim away the excess pastry and press the edges together to avoid the pie from leaking.
You can glaze the top of the pie with some plant based milk, if you would like to, then cut a hole in the centre to let the steam out.
Put in the oven and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes.
Wait for it to cool for about 5 minutes, then serve with salad on the side.
Dauphin, Dauphiné, Dauphinois, Dauphinoise
Dauphinoise Potatoes, or Gratin Dauphinois in French, is a very traditional French dish from the Dauphiné region everyone loves; it doesn’t require a lot of ingredients, it is easy to make and it’s delicious. The original recipe is made with milk (or cream, if you could afford it back in the days – and when I say “the days” I mean 18th century) and potatoes. Easy, peasy.
Side note – if you want to read about the Dauphiné region and why it is called like that, please visit Wikipédia.
So easy and peasy that I had completely forgotten about it, until my 90-year-old grandmother made one for Ollie and me last February.
My grandmother, my father’s mother, moved from Sidi Bel Abbes in Algeria (palm trees and sunny beaches) to the Dauphiné region in France (snowy mountains and icy cold) in 1962 with her husband and her two children. And she never left. She now lives in a spacious apartment near Grenoble, and has a breath-taking view of the Chaine de Belledone (Est) from her living room and can almost touch the Vercors (West) from her kitchen.
We used to go and visit her every year in February to go skiing and I have the greatest memories of those times. Not only because of skiing – which is a pretty amazing activity – but also because of the food. My grandmother was and still is an excellent cook; she can make up a sumptuous meal from scratch and with only a couple of ingredients, but she can also spend hours in the kitchen baking her usual marbré (marble cake) for at least 10 people or cooking traditional Spanish (migas, olla, paella), North African (couscous) or French (gratin dauphinois) dishes.
Since I moved to the UK, I hadn’t been able to keep the traditional February ski visit and it left me feeling quite nostalgic every time I was thinking about it. This year, I decided it was time to revive those types of family traditions, especially as this is the year my grandmother turns 90. Yes, 90 years old. And I think she has more energy and brains than I do!
So here we are, Ollie, me and my dad, ringing the bell of her 6th floor apartment in our ski gears on 17th February 2019. And nothing had changed; the apartment looks exactly the same, immaculate and furnished like it was still the 70s. The marbré cake had also been done in my honour, and a gratin dauphinois was waiting for us in the oven for dinner. Yes, I have to admit that I avoided the “Nan, I am vegan” conversation…so just for her and because she had put lots of efforts and love in this, I didn’t say a word and ate her amazing cake and delicious gratin.
While I was chomping on my potatoes and thinking how great and simple this dish was and why I hadn’t done it yet, I realised how easy it would be to turn it vegan and that’s where this recipe comes from.
Side note 2 – I am now trying to create a great vegan recipe of the marbré, which proves to be quite challenging, but I will succeed. I hope.
A lot of people add grated cheese in their gratin dauphinois, but I think this is a sacrilege (oui, oui). For my gratin Dauphinois, you will only need potatoes, soy milk and soy cream, a bit of garlic and a bit of ground nutmeg. That’s it. I hope you will like it as much as we do (I have converted Ollie).
We had it last time with a bit of French green beans sautéed in garlic, parsley and olive oil and a Linda McCartney vegan beef roast. It was lush.
Gratin Daupinois (V, Vg)
- 5 or 6 big potatoes waxy type
- 2 gloves of garlic
- ½ teaspoon of numeg
- 180 mL of soya cream
- A bit of soya milk
- Salt and pepper
Pre-heat the oven on 200 °C. Wash and peel your potatoes, then slice them really fine. Peel the garlic and grate it.
Take an oven baking tray, and rub the freshly grated garlic using your (clean) hands inside the tray. Then put a drizzle of soya cream at the bottom, and start arranging your first layer of potato slices on top. Then another drizzle of soya cream, and another layer of potato slices etc…until you have no more potatoes or cream left. Put some salt and pepper in between every two layers otherwise your gratin will be a bit bland.
Cover your potato layers with some unsweetened soya milk, add a bit salt and pepper and the ground nutmeg and put in the oven for about an hour. Don’t worry if the top layer of your gratin starts to look a bit brown; it will give a great texture and flavour to your dish.
Remove from the oven and wait a little bit for it to cool down.
Et voila ! Bon appétit.
Orange L’orange est ma couleur favorite : j’aime son éclat, sa chaleur et sa nature joyeuse. J’adore porter des vêtements orange, j’aime l’odeur des pelures d’oranges et de mandarines, j’aime passer mes mains dans la flamboyante chevelure d’Ollie et j’adore les carottes, les potirons et …
Orange is my favourite colour; I love its brightness, its warmth and its joyous character. I love wearing orange clothes, I love the smell of satsumas and oranges peels, I love running my hands in Ollie’s fiery hair, and I absolutely love carrots, butternuts and pumpkins. But I love pumpkins best. They are so pretty with their round uneven shape, their stringy flesh is so sweet and tasty and when they are carved for Halloween, I love how they shine in the dark and how they smell of melted butter.
Ollie and I did carve pumpkins for Halloween, but unfortunately, they didn’t have enough flesh to make anything out of it. After a few days, we placed them in our garden for bugs and small animals to feast on, and as they decompose, they are also great compost for the garden. Win-win.
After that, I hadn’t let go of my idea to make pumpkin recipes though – my father calls me “Dogmatix” from the French comic strips Asterix and Obélix – so last time Ollie and I went shopping and saw a lot of pumpkins – Halloween leftovers, I suppose – being sold for less than £1, we couldn’t resist. We bought two medium ones, and I got so excited over the possibilities of creativity they offer, I couldn’t wait to get home and start cooking. We decided to make pumpkin pie first and, with the leftovers, if any, some soup.
I love Pumpkin pie. I discovered it for the first time when I was in New York; I was lucky enough to live in the city that never sleeps for a few months, over the Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas period. I had never heard of it or even thought that you could bake with vegetables (I have since discovered carrot cake, avocado brownies, sweet potato pie, chickpea meringues etc), so when I first tried it, I was extremely surprised of how good it was. The soothing of the spices, the ethereal consistency, how it melted in my mouth… it was a revelation. Since then, I make a pumpkin pie every year in Autumn, and I think this year, it was the best one I had ever made (the importance of being modest, chapter 1).
A bit of pumpkin pie history
Pumpkin pie is very popular in the US and in Canada, but is not at all in England or in France – which is quite amusing, as we know that most Americans descend from European who settled in the country from the 17th century! I have also read that, a French chef called Francois Pierre la Varenne, was the first to actually put a recipe for pumpkin pie in his cookbook “Le vrai cuisinier Français” in 1651…
About 4 centuries later, A taste of Fritish is proud to present this delicious Pumpkin pie recipe, that is probably very far away from the recipe from the 17th century but really, really, really good and that will have your kitchen smell of nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger for a day !
- 500 g pumpkin cooked and pureed
- 1 can of coconut milk
- 2 eggs
- 170 g brown sugar (or less if you don't like it too sweet)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 Shotcrust pastry
Preheat oven to 200 C
Cut the top of the pumpkins, and scoop the seeds out. Put the pumpkins in the oven for about 25 min (more if they are big). When they are cooked, take them out of the oven and let them cool for a little bit. Then scoop out the flesh and put it in a bowl: it should come really easily if your pumpkin is well cooked and you should be left with only the skin.
Mash the pumpkin flesh into a purée with a potato masher or a fork. You will need 500g of it, so use the rest for soup or something else!
Transfer your shop bought pastry to a pie dish, cut out the excess and create holes at the bottom with a fork.
In a large bowl, put the pumpkin purée, the coconut milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. Mix well: it should result in a very wet batter. Pour into a prepared pie dish. Bake about 50 minutes.