I had a rather embarrassing experience in Nice, in fact, which makes me seriously cringe everytime I think about it. There was me, a pale Irish girl in her vintage bikini (only cool in Camden by the way) casually going for a dip in the mediteranean sea. Aware that I was surrounded by impossibly lithe and gorgeous French women it was probably obvious that I was more than a little self conscious.
Anyhoo, that didn’t stop me from rather tentitively entering the water when at the very same moment a rather forcesome wave took me by surprise and dragged me into the water like a ragdoll. And they just kept comin’. Wave after wave after wave. Yes, I was drowning but I was more concerned that my bikini top had managed to come completely off and I was free dangling all over the French riviera – nb. only foreign women can do this with style!! Most girls might be delighted that the sexy waiter from the beach restaurant would run to their rescue – I, on the other hand, was mortified. When he, along with a few other brave helpers, managed to drag me unto the shore it took me more than a few minutes to compose myself. Gasping for breath and looking like a drowned rat (a topless drowned rat no less) it took a while for me to notice the row of devastingly beautiful Frenchies laughing their asses off at my rather unfortunate endeavour into the ocean.
Where was I? Oh yeah, French Woman Don’t Get Fat! They have a little bit of everything they like. They eat for sheer enjoyment as well as nourishment. And they do it all in moderation. Kinda makes you sick, doesn’t it? But I do think I could take a leaf out of their book – quite literally – and sample one of the fantastic dishes featured in this new cookbook, which is to accompany the previous title of the same name:
Madame Guiliano was on a morning talkshow recently cooking this very meal and it just struck a chord with me. I didn’t even need to buy the cookbook to remember the recipe because it just made food sense to me. I loved her French manner – that cocksure intimidating exuberance most of them possess – but I loved it even more that she despaired at being asked how many calories were in the dish. Throwing her hands in the air she exclaimed that they had totally missed the point. It kinda all ties in with my own new eating mantra. Remember? Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants. Well, there’s a quare few plants in this one, however, I’m not claiming it’s the healthiest recipe I’ve posted. Then again, if you’re overly concerned about the calories you are totally missing the point!
2 chicken breasts
handful pitted green olives
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp oil
3 garlic cloves
small tub plain yoghurt
handful chopped flat leaf parsley
2 spring onions
salt and pepper
In a dish marinate the chicken in lemon (zest one and cut both into quarters), chopped olives, honey, oil, garlic and seasoning. I squeezed the juice of one lemon over too although they will exude juice in the pan anyway. Set aside.
Finely grate the courgette, carrot and potato and squeeze all excess form the veg. I take some in my hands and press tightly over a sink although you could wrap the veg in a towel and wring out the juice this way. Place in a large bowl, season, add a little oil and mix thoroughly.
In a large skillet/frying pan, add the chicken – there should be no need to add oil to the pan first. Cook for approx 10 mins on each side – try not to move it arund the pan too much, as you want it brown nicely. Whilst it is cooking in the pan, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat a tbsp of oil in a medium pan and add the veg mixture. Mould it to the shape of the pan as if making one large pancake. Cook on a medium heat for 10mins or until it begins to brown one side. Carefully flip over the rosti – I used the plate technique to be on the safe side, as it is rather large.
In a small bowl mix the yoghurt, parsley and finely chopped spring onion. Season and mix throughly. Set in fridge until needed.
Finish the chicken off in the oven for no longer than 10mins. There’s no easy way to say this but my breasts where huge so they took around 40mins to cook through but they were deliciously moist.
By the time the chicken is ready the rosti should be good to go. I like to slice my chicken breasts for serving just because it looks prettier and when you spoon over the juice the meat really soaks it up! We had half a rosti each, which sounds like a lot but it really isn’t when you think about the ingredients. A little yoghurt dressing on the side and et voila, a perfect (and easy) French dish:) Do you think if I eat enough of it I’ll get skinny?