About Me

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I’m Bella, a 21 year old food fanatic and I have big plans of eating my way around the entire world! I was born in Java, Indonesia – so I am a ‘cappuccino’ as one Indonesian man called me (a mixture of brown coffee from my Dad and white milk from my Mom…) or just simply put – half Irish / half Indonesian! I live in the west of Ireland with my Mom, Bernie and twin sister, Ayessa.

My Moms dream was to travel around the world – and that she did. I have an inkling that I am following in her footsteps. As for my twin, when we are not fighting –  I spend time cooking for her and she spends time practicing her artistic makeup ideas on me!

Mangetout, my food and travel blog is a place for me to write about the things I have come to learn about food and the world. I have just come back from living in the south of France for 1 year and a half. I was an intern, studying abroad for college. In 2014 I took a gap year from my studies to embark on a 7 month food and exploration expedition around south east Asia. At the end of my first major trip I decided to leave college and work towards a career in the food industry! This blog is going to be my cyber journal of all the things I discover both foodie and travel wise.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Dinner Soiree, Provence






What a superb night ! Simple cooking, fantastic company & great laughs. It was our 1st proper night to pull off a soiree for 6, beautiful people. The conversation flowed, the laughs exploded & of course the food was centre stage.

Samuel, one of our friends we have luckily met along the way started of the evening with his 'Banging Brushette'. Like I said -  simple cooking, yet scrumptious & moreish! It was a delight & a must try for everyone. So lets begin & put his little creation to good use -

Ingredients as per 6 people

1 packet Vienna Bread
About 2 packets of organic cherry tomatoes
1 big bunch of fresh basil
1/2 bunch of fresh mint
3 cloves wild garlic
3 balls of Buffalo mozzarella (boiled in cling film to separate the milk from the actual cheese)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 + 1/2 Tsp sea salt
1 + 1/2 Tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Packets of good quality Parma Ham

Method

  • Wash all ingredients, then boil some water for the mozzarella
  • Chop the tomatoes in half & add to a bowl
  • Mince up the wild garlic & add to mixing bowl
  • With your hands roughly break pieces of the mint & basil into the bowl
  • Add the 2 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, sea salt & pepper - mix & much together
  • Drain the mozzarella & get some sheets of cling film, wrap them in the cling film fairly tightly
  • Add the mozzarella balls to the boiling water & leave the milk + actual cheese to separate - this will take about 3-4 minutes depending on how hot the water is
  • Get the Vienna bread & toast until browned on both sides
  • Mozzarella -  WARNING: they become extremely hot so take care! Drain the mozzarella balls using a colander. Use a sharp knife to slit 1 side of the cling film open. 
  • Get a cup/ bowl & allow the milk drip into it. Keep the milk separate from the soft cheese. (This will look like you have just popped it into the oven - it becomes beautiful & melty)
  • Get your assembly line going - bread, tomatoes, Parma ham & melty mozzarella
  • Assemble all these ingredients together & arrange nicely on a plate with big bunch of rocket in the middle
  • Server immediately so your hungry guests can tuck into a warming melted mozzarella mess !
Not so fussy or difficult is it ?!

So Mr Sam started us off with a 'bang' & I left us with smooth & silky fresh pasta with a homemade basil & wild garlic pesto !

Ingredients as per 6 people

3 bunches of fresh basil
3 fairly big size wild garlic cloves
240g of freshly grated Parmesan
9 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Fairly big pinch of salt & pepper
3 packets of lardons (smokey bacon)
1 packet of spinach
1 & 1/2 red onion

To serve - fresh fettuccine pasta, rocket & cherry tomatoes 





Method
  • Roughly chop the basil, garlic & grate the Parmesan
  • With a mixer (a pestle & mortar would work better) throw in all ingredients & blitz until a mush forms
  • Start to slowly add the extra virgin olive oil so it doesn't go everywhere !
  • Have a taste & check the flavouring - does it need more Parmesan perhaps? More olive oil? You need to try at this stage to ensure your pesto comes out superb ! I left mine at room temperature ( I didn't want it to be fridge like cold when hitting the warm pasta
  • In a pan fry the lardons
  • While the fats is being extracted get working on the red onion - nice delicate slices, so bust the skin of the onion ( hardest part I find !) split it right in half then cut going along the lines of the onion. Throw into the lardon pan
  • Wash the spinach & throw into the pan - get everything covered in that lovely lardon juice
  • You want a slight crunch to the onion so fry for about 3-5 minutes at a medium to high heat !
  • When the starter is being served boil up your pot of water for the pasta - add a good pinch of salt (it makes it boil faster)
  • Wash the cherry tomato's & rocket for garnish
  • Cut the tomatoes any way you like, add some salt & pepper & a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil - mix until all tomatoes are coated then leave o one side
  • Fresh pasta takes about 3-5 minutes so pay attention (don't be drinking to much wine ;) ha ha) or just follow the manufactures cooking guides - they can't be wrong after all !
  • The  minute the pasta is ready - get the pesto, spinach, lardon & reed onion mixed into it
  • Scatter the cherry tomatoes & rocket on top for a funky
  • Serve quick so its piping hot !

An absolutely fantastic night ! The food was delicious & everyone had a great night - so much so we started planning the next one ! Sometime in the next 2 weeks I think... I'll be cooking the starter the next time, while Sam slaves away in the mayhem of a very small kitchenette. I've weirdly been thinking about what to make for a la prochaine <next time> & I'm thinking Asparagus with a homemade Hollandaise sauce ! What does that sound like ?

So from myself & my beautiful Enya thank you to our scrumptious, funny & adorable friends - Samuel & his <coeur> (love) Marion, Pierre - Jean & Yassin for being brave enough to venture into my cuisine & laugh on while I snipped away at any plant I found in front of our studio to make the table look that bit more colourful! And also to the lovely Charlotte & Reneau who joined in after the feast was had.

Finishing off the evening, we listened to the music blaring from the nearby French pub, while tucking blissfully into Enyas homemade Lindt Corn Flake nests !

With French sunny love,
Bella :) x