Cathy Gayner has spent 50 summers at her farmhouse in South West France. All proceeds from her debut cookbook will go directly to the charity Age Unlimited, which cares for disadvantaged elderly and young people.
All recipes extracted with permission from Recipes from Le Rouzet: An English Cook in France, by Cathy Gayner, photography by James Murphy.
Originally this was a dressing I concocted when my husband, Richard, was on a diet but it’s good enough to use even if you are not worried about your figure. It’s my dressing of preference in the summer when I am producing arrays of salads and therefore using a great deal of oil.
1 tbsp strong olive oil
5 tbsp good chicken stock
1 small garlic clove, crushed
½ tsp tarragon leaves, very finely chopped
½ tsp parsley, very finely chopped
½ tsp basil leaves, very finely chopped
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1. It’s a bit of a bother to finely chop the herbs, but it’s really worth it, because they become part of the dressing rather than ending up as an addition to the salad leaves.
2. Mix everything together and set aside until ready to use.
I love this salad but I do realise that it may be thought a little odd. It’s a strong, hearty dish, more Italian than French, and useful amongst a selection of salads at lunchtime.
2 heads of radicchio
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
2 x 400g tins of haricot beans, drained and rinsed
4 tbsp finely chopped parsley1 dessertspoon capers
200g black olives, pitted (don’t use ones already pitted as they seldom taste as good as they should) and roughly chopped
100g Parmesan, shaved
White wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
1. Cut each radicchio into 8 segments, trying to keep each bit attached to the core. Cook on a griddle pan until lightly charred on each side and transfer to a serving dish.
2. Drizzle over some olive oil and season.
3. Stir the garlic into the beans and season generously. Add 4 tablespoons of olive oil and then vinegar to taste.
4. Add the parsley, capers and olives to the beans and spoon the mixture around the radicchio. Finally scatter over the Parmesan shavings.
This is the quickest, easiest tart ever; you don’t even have to pre-cook the asparagus.
110g unsalted butter
140g plain flour
30g strong Cheddar or Parmesan, grated
1 bunch of asparagus, with the woody ends cut off
100g Parmesan, grated
200ml double cream
2 eggs, plus 2 extra yolks
Salt and pepper
1. Put all the ingredients for the pastry into a food processor and mix until the dough forms a ball. Press the dough into a 20cm tart tin with a removable base. Prick really thoroughly all over, even up the sides (this will prevent shrinkage), then chill in the fridge.
2. Cook the pastry in an oven preheated to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas 4 for 15 minutes or until pale gold in colour.
3. Mix the cream, eggs and cheese in a bowl and season well.
4. Arrange the uncooked asparagus in the tart tin. I do it in a wheel shape, cutting the tops off so that the stems fit, and then sprinkling the tops amongst the ‘spokes’, but you can place the asparagus in rows if you prefer.
5. Pour over the cream mixture and bake the tart at 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas 4 for about 40 minutes.
CHICKEN STUFFED WITH TAPENADE
If you are a purist you can make the tapenade yourself, but then the dish becomes more time-consuming – and the point of it is that it is quick and easy. This is also very good cold.
1 pot of tapenade
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 really good chicken
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
1. Mix the tapenade with the lemon zest, garlic and parsley.
2. Using your fingers, gently separate the skin from the flesh of the chicken and spoon in the tapenade mixture. Ideally, push it down both the breast and the legs; this is fiddly but not difficult.
3. Season the skin and pour over the oil and the lemon juice.
4. Roast at 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6 for 20 minutes per 500g, plus 20 minutes extra.
5. Serve with mashed potato and the juices.
6. A simple green salad is the only other thing you need.
BAKED CHOCOLATE MOUSSE
Our elder son John and his wife Tessa chose this pudding, a delicious and easy recipe I have been making at Le Rouzet for years, for their wedding dinner. I always used to serve it with crème fraîche but they vastly improved it by serving it with honeycomb ice cream, a wonderful combination.
150g butter, plus extra for greasing
150g caster sugar3 large eggs, separated
150g dark chocolate (70%)
Icing sugar, to serve
1. Grease a 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin.
2. Beat the 150g of butter and sugar till pale. Beat in the egg yolks.
3. Melt the chocolate in a bowl placed over a pan of simmering water. When the chocolate has cooled slightly, add it to the butter mixture.
4. Beat the egg whites until they are stiff and fold them gently into the chocolate mixture.
5. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for an hour at 170°C/Fan 150°C/Gas 3. Leave it to cool in the tin on a rack and when ready to serve, turn it out and dust it with icing sugar.
From France Today Magazine