French Brussels sprouts en gratin- Gratin aux choux de Bruxelles et saucisses

[su_spacer]Brussels sprouts! I hear you! What an awful vegetable. You don’t like it, you don’t know what to do with it and with all the good will in the world and you trying to eat your green, you just can’t get it down your throat.

I have to sell this recipe to you because my Brussels sprouts en gratin goes down really well with grilled meat as a side dish. Besides, it’s my Dad’s recipe. That on its own brings so much to the plate.

You can double the quantity of brussels sprouts (I tend to go the opposite way)

Well I say it’s my Dads’ but he initially got it from the French magazine “Femme Actuelle” sometimes late 80’s early 90’s I reckon. He worked on a few substitutes on the meat addition.

This recipe dates a bit in our family..

So let’s get on with the recipe.


Serves 2-4 people
Prep: 10 min/ Cooking: 5 min (pan) and 30 min oven time

For the base
– 400- 500g of brussels sprouts (if fresh, parboil them for 3 min, if frozen, just use straight away)
– 200 g of sausages of your choice, You could use steak strips or 50 g of bacon (or a mix of all this)
– Salt and pepper to taste
– 1 cube of bouillon (or equivalent)
– 50 g of comte or gruyere cheese
– 1 tbsp of oil

For the Béchamel sauce (you could get away with half the quantity)
– 60 g (2 heaped tablespoons) of flour or cornstarch
– 60 g of butter
– 400 ml of milk, at room temperature
– 1 egg yolk (optional)
– 1 tsp of mustard (optional)
– Salt and pepper to taste
– A generous pinch of nutmeg

The glorious brussels sprouts gratin on an Iftar table



Cook the brussels sprouts in a bouillon for 10 min max (water + the cube). Having parboiled them should remove some of that strong taste they usually have.
Drain and set aside.
Preheat the oven at 200 C.
Poach the sausage if you are going that path. Do not forget to prick them in the water. Set aside.
If using the steaks, cut into strips and sautee in butter or olive oil over high flame. Season to taste.
If using bacon, cut into strips and fry. Set aside. I use Turkey bacon when I have them around.

Prepare the Béchamel sauce

In a deep pan, melt the butter. Add the flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir and let the flour “fry” for a couple of minutes.
Grad and manual whisk and gradually add milk as you whisk along. The trick is to reduce the heat to a bare minimum, add the milk by 1/4 cup (ish) and whisk to homogonize. Do that ask you go along and get to half the quantity of milk. Then you can pour the rest of it into the pan and bring to heat to medium.
Stir from the bottom of the pan to ensure no sticking is happening on your watch.
Cook for about 10 min then add the yolk and the mustard. It should have thickened by now and bubles would have surfaced.
Knock of the heat and set aside. Stir regularely the first 5 min otherwise you get an umpleasant crust.
Assemble the gratin

Fold all ingredients in the sauce and stir. Grate the cheese on top and place in the oven for 15-20 until dark specks of gratinated cheese appear.

Serve warm with a salad or a nice grilled piece of meat.

My Dad’s original recipe cutout 


Serving of baked crab cakes with its sauce

Homemade crab cakes recipe


I fell in love with crab cakes while in Canada. I’ve been making them since.

Crabs are not always cheap or easy to come by good fresh ones, which is what this recipe is all about. But if you find any good crab, make crab cakes.

Fried crab cakes

I have twisted recipes to come up with my own: I use panko instead of the usual bread crumbs, I add mustard, chives, and potatoes to my mix. I use a good deal of brown meat from the crab while most of the usual recipes call for white meat only. We find that this adds a real craby taste to them and we like them that way.

So here is how I make my version of crab cakes. I bake them to avoid them mess and also extra calories. I also serve them with a lemony remoulade or a tartare-style sauce.

The use of a good amount of brown meat make them delicate to handle, so I bake them after they spend a bit of time in the fridge. You could still fry them by really want to make sure you can flip them without shattering them.




Serves 2 to 4 (depending on cakes’ size)
Prep: 7 min – Cooling: + 2 hours – Baking: 20 min/Frying: 4 min

For the crab mix

  • About 300 g of crab meat (50% brown and 50% white)
  • 150g of boiled potato, mashed
  • 2 tbsps of crackers, crushed
  • 1 tsp of mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp of dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsps of chopped chives or parsley
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of freshly crushed black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of lemon zest
  • 2 tbsps of spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1 egg yolk

For coating

  • 1 cup of panko

For the accompanying sauce

  • 3 tbsps of mayonaise
  • 1 tsp of dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp of brined capers or gherkins, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsps of lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp of lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp parsley or chives, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste



Mix all the ingredients listed for the crab mix.

Prepare a flat plate or tray which can fit into the fridge: cover it with a layer of foil and fill it with  panko.

Wet your hands and make 4 to 6 balls then flatten them to a 1 1/2 cm thickness. Scatter panko from the top. Cover the crab cakes with cling film and place them in the fridge for 2 to 6 hours to firm up.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Cover a baking tray with baking paper and brush with oil.
Bake the crab cakes for 20 mins.


 Accompanying sauce for the crab cakes

Mix all ingredients and place in the fridge for at least 30 min.

Serve on the side of the crab cakes, along with celery sticks and anything else you fancy.




Indian-Pakistani inspired curry: a Tikka masala-meets-jalfrezi on a bed of basmati rice

Having missed the smell of Indian and Pakistani food in my flat and having my mother over for a month, I thought I’ll introduce her to a food she thinks is over-spiced, hot and always containing fenugreek.

She was not happy that the folks in the Sub-Asian continent have something similar to our Mlaouis (in the form of parathas) and Tannourt bread ( in the form of Tandoori bread)..


Today’s recipe is rather a combination of chicken tikka masala and jalfrezi curry on a bed of Basmati rice with Saffron, lemon, cumin seeds and green cardamom. All is layered and finished cooking in a dum biryani style. What’s not to like? We were 2 hungry women and we didn’t leave a single grain of rice behind.

This recipe looks too long but it’s so easy to make. The result is just worth it. It’s so comforting and very satisfying.

My mother loved it and she asked for another “sample” of Indian/Pakistani food..How is that for a result?

Oh, and for the record, I got her hooked to mango chutney and garlic naans. Pretty proud of myself!



Serves 3 to 4
Prep: 5 min – marination time: minimum 2 hrs- cooking: 30-45 min
  • About 500g of chicken cut into chuncks (bones in) and marinated for at least a couple of hours (see below)

For the chicken marinade

  • 1 tbsp of minced Ginger
  • 1 tsp of crushed Garlic
  • ¼ tsp. of Red Chilli Powder
  • ¼ tsp. of Turmeric Powder
  • 1 tbsp. of Lemon Juice
  • 1 tbsp of Tandoori powder or good Garam Masala or 2 tbsp of a good Tikka paste
  • 2 tbsp. of Vegetable Oil
  • 2 tbps of plain yogurt

For the curry (in order of use)

  • 5 Tablespoons clarified butter
  • About 6 to 10 curry leaves
  • 1 tsp of black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 Tablespoon jeera (cumin seeds)
  • 1 onion thinly sliced
  • About 10 cm cinnamon stick broken into 3
  • 2 Tablespoons garlic and ginger paste (or grate them fresh)
  • 1 Tablespoon coriander powder – preferably home roasted and ground
  • 1 Tablespoon red chilli powder
  • About 10 cm cinnamon stick broken into 3
  • 1 tbsp of tikka paste (or use garam masala before the end of simmering)
  • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp of chopped hot chili


To add 2 minutes before the end of curry-cooking stage
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, cut lenthwise
  • 1/2 red and/or bell pepper, cut lengthwise
  • ½ medium onion cut in quarters then halves (which makes 8 chuncks)
  • 1 tomato roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp of garam masala (if you haven’t used the tikka paste in the curry)
  • For garnishing
  • 1 tsp of slivered fresh ginger
  • A handful of coriander leaves
For the rice (7 to 8 min cooking in boiling water)
  • 1 cup of basmati rice (soaked for 30 min and washed 3 until water is clear)
  • ½ tsp of cumin seeds
  • 3 or 4 green cardamoms
  • A pinch of saffron threads
  • Less than 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 cup of rice needs 1 ¾ of water to cook it
 For the yoghurt-harissa dip (Adapted from  Jamie Oliver)
  • 1 cup of yoghurt
  • 1 tbps of harissa
  • 2 tbps of chopped cucumber
  • A sprinkle of salt
  • A sprinkle of cumin seeds
  • A hint of freshly grated ginger



The curry
Melt the ghee in a hot wok or large frying pan. Add the spices, curry leaves and onions and allow to sizzle for about 30 seconds.
Once the onions are translucid, add the ginger and garlic paste, add the tikka paste if using it and stir.
Add tomatoes and about ¼ cup of water. Let simmer for about 10 mins.
Pick up the curry leaves and the cinnamon stick and liquidize the sauce with a mixer. Put them back and set aside.
In a another pan, shallow-fry the chicken (or bake it until halfway cooked).
Add the sauce on the top of the chicken and let simmer, covered.
A couple of minutes after the sauce has reduced, add the onion slices, bell pepper, green chillies and tomato. Set aside
The Spices-scented basmati rice
Cook the rice for 7 to 8 minutes in boiling water, covered.
Once the rice is dry and cooked through, transfer 1/3 to a pyrex dish (or similar), layer the reduced
curry, cover with the rest of the rice. Bake in a preheated oven at maximum for 10 min. I usually
cover the dish with aluminium foil to trap the steam and allow the rice to infuse, just like for a dum
Garnish with slivered ginger and chopped coriander.

The yoghurt dip
Mix all ingredients and serve on the side.


Note: I used a decent store-bought tikka paste but you can use any other paste you like (Indian-inspired). If you can’t get hold of any, here’s Jamie Oliver’s post of how to make some of them. The recipes cover Jalfrezi, Korma, Rogan josh, Tikka Masala paste ……

Zucchini flower fritters and sweet tartlets for my 400th post

Well yes, I just noticed that my 400th post is going to be savoury and not sweet although I can sneak some pics of some baking I’ve recently done..

To all those folks out there following “loudly” (commenting and sharinng thoughts). I would love to thank you for your support and being my “e-buddies”.

To all those “descreet” folks who are following this blog, I will be glad to get to know you!

I’m posting a fairly easy recipe today. The main ingredient is zucchini flowers. It’s Italian inspired although the coating might be personalized.

My “vegetarian” lunch

Zucchini flower fritters is one of the things you either like or hate..I like them, my husband can’t stand them. But they definitely make an impression.


Serves 2
Prep: 5 min – cooking : 4 min

  • 4 fresh zucchini flowers
  • 1/2 cup of polenta
  • 1/2 cup of potato flakes (for puree), or allpurpose flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chili, paprika to taste (optional)
  • Onion or garlic powder, to taste (optional)
  • 1 egg
  • Oil for frying


Heat the oil in a pan.

Pick the zucchini flowers, have 3 separated plates or bowls ready: one for lightly beaten egg, one for polenta and one for the potato flakes (or you can mix the last two). Season to taste.

Coat the zucchini flowers with the egg, remove any excess. Coat with the polenta and the potatoe flakes and shallow-fry until golden or golden brown.

Drain and serve warm, right there because these zucchini flower fritters and best served the same moment they’ve been fried.

And since it’s a kind of anniversary here..I will still share with you some of the sweet baking I made lately..

German chocolate cake with coconut and redcurrant (coulis and fresh berries)

This one are a combination of my German custard pie and the Alain Ducasse’s lemon tarts..

Alain Ducasse’s lemon tartlets (with 20 min baking time so the custard sets) topped with a coconut streusel leftover from here. In between, there is a luscious homemade blueberry marmelade

Here is another combination of leftovers (all of which have been pulled out of the freezer before being used):

Tartlets over a sweet shortcrust dough, with a layer of vanilla custard, a layer of lemon curd and a layer of blueberry marmelade.  All topped with a coconut streusel leftover from here and baked to perfection
Oozing goodness from the tartlets with 4 layers (custard, lemon curd, marmelade and streusel)