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Salade Piémontaise

The ‘salade Piémontaise’ (Piedmontese salad) sounds very Italian but is in fact a classic French bistrot recipe. I loved buying this salad at my favourite local deli in Paris called ‘Davoli’ (Rue Cler, 7ème). Their’s was excellent and we loved having saucisson sec sandwiches with baguette bread, butter and crunchy pickles.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

2 large potatoes
1 large carrot
100 grams peas
1 tomato (chopped in cubes)
A large handful of finely chopped pickles
4 eggs (hard-boiled)
4-5 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp mustard
2 tbsp crème fraîche
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
Parsley (a handful, chopped)
Salt and pepper

Boil the eggs until hard. Set aside to cool. Boil the potatoes and carrots until tender (I pre-slice them so they will cook faster). Add the frozen peas during the last minutes so they don’t get too soft. Drain. When they are ready, set aside to cool and chop the potatoes and carrots in coarse cubes.
Chop the tomato in cubes, set aside. Now you can make a small vinaigrette with the olive oil, mustard and vinegar, salt & pepper.
Toss everything together in a salad dish. Add the vinaigrette, mayonnaise, pickles and crème fraîche. The quality of the mayonnaise very important. Make sure you buy a nice rich mayonnaise, preferably sold in the fresh department. Mix well then add the boiled eggs (cut in 4), the parsley, salt and pepper. Keep refrigerated before serving. Et voilà!

Chicken & Ham Pie

 

There’s something about pies that’s so old school, so cozy and most of all so delicious. I always envied kids in old movies having a wholesome pie served for dinner at the table. So now and then, I love baking a good old-fashioned pie and the kids love this one in particular.

Ingredients:

400 grams chicken breasts, cooked and cooled
200 grams chopped ham
200 grams frozen peas
80 grams butter
70 grams flour
1 bay leaf
a pinch of thyme
1 cube chicken stock
600 ml milk
half a glass of wine (optional)
Coarse salt and pepper

Pastry:
2x 230 grams sheets of puff pastry (I use Herta)

Cook the chicken breasts in the boiling salted water, add a pinch of dried thyme, pepper and a bay leaf. Cook for 10-12 minutes. Place aside and let the breasts cool, then slice them approx. 2 cm.

Chop the ham, and put the frozen peas in the left-over water of the chicken to thaw for a couple of minutes. Drain and set aside.

Pre-heat your oven 190°c.

For the bechamel pie sauce, melt the butter in a casserole, and gradually add the flour and the milk with a whisk on medium heat. Crumble in the cube of chicken stock. It should become thicker and thicker. By now you can add the half glass of wine – (this is optional). Lower the heat and stir firmly and quickly until desired thickness. Set aside and leave to cool in a bowl.

While all ingredients are cooling off, you can prepare the pastry. I love to make a home-made pastry, but when I don’t have the time, I am very satisfied with the ones I buy from the supermarket (in my case Herta). Line your pie dish with the first pastry sheet. Mix all the cooled ingredients for the pie filling together and spoon in the pie dish. Cover with your second pastry disc and seal together by pressing firmly on the side of the dish with your thumbs. Cut off excess pastry dough and re-roll to create 8 leaves to decorate the pie. You can use a knife and cut out leaf-shaped figures and using the tip of the knife, draw the lines of the leaf (see pic). Finally, brush the pie with the egg to give it a nice golden hue in the oven. One last thing, take a stick and prick the centre of your pie – so your pie won’t puff up from the middle.

Cook approx 20 minutes – it’s always good to check during the last five minutes – all ovens have different strength.

I usually serve this with a spinach and pine-nut salad or a Piedmontese salad (see recipes).

Makes 8 generous slices.