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Being blessed with a number of excellent cooks, we eat very well at Villa Diodati. Here are some of the recipes from dishes particpants have contributed.

Papillotte Salmon with oven-baked potatoes (serves 4)

-4 salmon steaks
-Oil or butter
-Salt, Pepper
Preheat the over to 200C. Wrap the salmon steaks in foil paper. Pour a little oil or put a bit of butter on top, and season with salt and pepper to taste, before closing the foil.
Also wrap the potatoes in foil. Put everything into the oven, and let it cook for approx. 45 minutes.

Cream sauce for the potatoes
-2 cloves of garlic
-70 ml of thick cream
-6 yoghurts (about 90-100 cl)
-(optional): 1 teaspoon mustard
Chop the garlic and the parsley into very small pieces. Mix with the thick cream and the 6 yoghurts, and add the mustard if you want it.

Contributed by Aliette de Bodard. Eaten at VD1 in Schloss Lohrbach, Germany.

Vegetable soup

(You'll have to adjust proportions for taste and the desired quantity.)

2 big leeks
2 or 3 medium-sized potatoes
2 big carrots
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh or sour cream for garnish

Wash, peel and chop all the vegetables. Put them in a big cooking pan with water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and let simmer until all the vegetables are soft, about a half hour. Put the soup through a blender (maybe a small quantity at a time). Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot, with a tablespoon of cream in each bowl. A little fresh chopped parsley on top is a nice touch too.

(Leeks, potatoes and carrots are the base, but other vegetables can be added: turnip, parsnip, kohl rabi, rutabaga, cabbage, onion, etc.)

Contributed by John Olsen. Eaten at VD1 in Schloss Lohrbach, Germany.

Cheese tart

For one large tart :

Pie dough for a large tart dish (I always buy the dough; I NEVER make it)
About 200 to 250 g of comté or gruyere, grated
250 g of fresh cream
4 eggs
Salt and pepper to taste
A big pinch of ground nutmeg

Roll out the dough (leave it a little thick) and place it in a floured or buttered tart dish. Poke the dough with a fork in a dozen or so places. Sprinkle the grated cheese evenly across the tart. Beat the eggs thoroughly, add the cream and beat some more. Mix in the salt, pepper and nutmeg, and pour this mixture over the cheese. Bake immediately in a pre-heated 200C oven for about 40 minutes. It should have risen up a lot and be dark brown on top.

Serve immediately, with a hefty green salad along side.

Makes about 5 or 6 servings.

Contributed by John Olsen. Eaten at VD1 in Schloss Lohrbach, Germany.

Duck fillets flambéed in Calvados

3 duck fillets
2tbsp unsalted butter
Salt and pepper
cup (125 ml) Calvados
1cup (250 ml) water or chicken stock
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Generously salt and pepper the fillets

Brown the butter in a frying pan and sauté the fillets for 2 to 3 minutes on each side.

Reduce the heat, pour in the Calvados, increase the heat and ignite the liquor with a match. Be careful.

Shake the pan gently until the flames die out.

Add the water or stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer. Cover and cook for four to five minutes (depending on how thick they are).

Remove the fillets to a cutting board. Keep warm.

Let the liquid in the pan continue to boil so as to reduce to about one third its original volume. Pour off into a container from which you can easily pour the sauce, such as a measuring cup. Keep warm.

Slice the fillets across the grain, and arrange on a serving plate, and pour the sauce over them. Sprinkle the parsley on top.

Makes about five servings.

This is a great dish with the bulgar wheat/cumin recipe.

Contributed by John Olsen. Eaten at VD2 near Compiègne, France.

Bulgar wheat with cumin

1 cup of bulgar (cracked) wheat, the large grain kind
2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp cumin powder
2 cups water or vegetable broth, heated
pinch of cayenne pepper
chopped fresh mint and/or parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Over low to medium heat, brown the bulgar wheat in the olive oil in a frying pan or sauce pan. Add the cumin powder and seeds, and the cayenne pepper while browning, and stir often to prevent the wheat from sticking or burning. When the wheat is slightly browned, and nicely coated with oil, add the water or broth, cover, reduce heat, and allow the wheat to entirely absorb the liquid. Salt and pepper to taste. Fluff with a fork and serve immediately, with plenty of chopped fresh mint or parsley on top.

Serves 3 to 4, depending on your appetite. This makes an elegant side dish for duck or other poultry, or a good but simple vegetarian main dish on its own.

Contributed by John Olsen. Eaten at VD2 in Jaulzy, France.

Bibi's orange cake

for the cake :
1 cup (2 dl) fine breadcrumbs
1 cup (2 dl) sugar
1 cup (2 dl) finely ground almonds
1 tbsp baking soda
grated zest of orange
(save the orange for the coulis)
4 whole eggs
2 dl peanut oil
powdered sugar

for the coulis:
2 cups (4dl) water
2 cups (4dl) sugar
julienned strips of orange zest from 1 orange (the peel with the white removed)
2 oranges cut in sections
Grand marnier (optional)

the cake :
- Line the bottom of a 12-inch or 30 cm oiled cake pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Oil the paper.
- Stir all the dry ingredients together, add the eggs and blend well with a wooden spoon or a hand mixer. Add the peanut oil and mix until integrated. The batter will be rather thick. Pout the batter into the pan.
- Put in a cold oven, turn on to 325F (180C or about 7) and bake for 40 minutes or until the cake comes away from the sides of the pan.
- Remove from oven and let cool on a cake rack before inverting onto a cookie sheet. Remove the oiled paper.
- Before serving, dust the top with powdered sugar and decorate with strips of julienned orange zest.

the coulis:
- Heat water and sugar while stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add the julienned strips of orange zest and boil for five minutes. Remove the strips and set aside.
- Add the sections from the two oranges, white membrane removed. Boil to reduce to a thick syrup.
- Remove orange pulp to a sieve and press all the syrup into the pan. Add the Grand Marnier, if desired. Add the julienned strips of zest.
- When serving the cake place a few spoonfuls of coulis around or under each slice.

I used organic ground almonds and bread crumbs from organic whoe wheat bread. I also used brown sugar, cutting back the quantity by about a quarter in both the cake and the coulis. The next time I make this cake I'll try cutting back a little bit on the oil too. There was much too much coulis, so more cutting back is possible. I omitted the Grand Marnier.

I have also tried this recipe with lemon instead of orange and that's good too.

Contributed by John Olsen. Eaten at VD2 in Jaulzy, France.

Olsen's vegetarian lasagna

for 1 large rectangular baking dish:

olive oil, plenty
1 large onion
1 large eggplant/aubergine
3 or 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
fresh or dried thyme, rosemary, oregano, 1 bay leaf
2 small zucchini/courgettes
1 large yellow bell pepper
1 lb mushrooms
2 lbs fresh tomatoes, blanched and peeled
1 small (or medium-sized) can tomato sauce, if you feel it's necessary
1 cup good red cooking wine, or more if you feel it's necessary
Salt and pepper

1 lb or more lasagna noodles (the thin kind that you don't need to pre-cook)

béchamel sauce:
2 or 3 cups milk
2 or 3 tbs flour
grated nutmeg
- lb mozzarella (aged or fresh), thinly sliced
- lb ricotta
- cup grated parmesan

Chance and Sara must be on hand to cut, peel and chop the vegetables into very small pieces.

In plenty of olive oil, over medium to low heat, slightly brown the chopped onion in a large frying pan or sauce pan.

Add the eggplant/aubergine and continue to cook. Add the garlic and herbs during this time. Stir occasionally. Adjust the heat as necessary. It shouldn't cook too fast.

When the eggplant/aubergine is done, add the zucchini/courgette, and continue to cook until these, too, are done. Continue to stir occasionally.

Add the mushrooms and continue to cook until they're done. Stir more often now, to help the vegetables blend.

Add the tomatoes and continue to cook. The secret is to slightly brown the tomatoes, though by this time it may be difficult to tell whether they're browned or not.

When the sauce is nicely thick and simmering, almost ready to start sticking to the pan, add the wine, cover and let the sauce simmer for about half an hour.

If the sauce appears to need more binding, add the can of tomato sauce and cook for another five minutes. Salt and pepper to suit your taste.

béchamel sauce:

While the sauce is cooking, make the béchamel sauce. I make it WITHOUT butter, so it's a little lighter, which is appreciable in an already rich dish.

Mix the flour into the COLD milk, and stir and stir and stir until it is all dissolved. The flour must be well mixed into the milk.

Over LOW heat, slowly bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring constantly.

When the sauce has thickened, add the salt and pepper and the grated nutmeg. Let it simmer another minute or two.

Remove from the heat, cover and set aside. Keep warm.

assemble the lasagna:

Pour a little juice from the sauce (or water if your sauce is too thick) over the bottom of the baking dish, just enough to cover the bottom.

Put a layer of noodles on the bottom of the dish, overlapping them a little.

Cover the noodles with a layer of sauce, sprinkle with a third of the parmesan, then place half of the mozzarella slices and spread half the ricotta on top. Drizzle about half of the béchamel sauce over this layer.

Repeat this operation.

Finish with the final third of the sauce, and sprinkle the final third of the parmesan on top.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake in a 325 F oven for about a half hour. Remove the foil and continue to bake for another 15 minutes. Don't hesitate to let it bake a little longer if you think it needs it (the blend of flavors will forgive you). Drizzle more olive oil over the top during this stage, if you feel it's necessary. Add a little water around the edges, if the lasagna appears too dry.

Be your own judge. C'mon, step forward. Take a little responsibility. Your guests will thank you for it.

Makes about eight big servings. Serve with a nicely seasoned green salad.

Contributed by John Olsen. Eaten at VD3 near Bar sur Loup, France.

Salmon and Salmon Chowder Serves six


* 4-6 large potatoes, diced
* 100 gr. bacon, chopped
* olive oil
* 2 large onions, chopped
* 2 cloves garlic, chopped
* 1 l broth
* 2-4 bay leaves
* white wine to taste
* brandy or cognac to taste
* salt
* pepper
* 200 ml cream
* 500 g salmon filet, cut small
* 200 g smoked salmon, cut small


In a large stockpot over medium heat, sautee the diced potatoes in olive oil for about ten minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper. When they begin to get soft, add bacon, onions and garlic. Cook for another 8 to 10 minutes, or until the onions are transparent.

Add the broth and bay leaves, reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in the salmon filet and wine, and simmer for another 5-10 minutes.

Add cream and brandy, and season to a touch *less* salt than you normally like (the smoked salmon adds additional saltiness). Just as the chowder is nearing the boiling point, add the smoked salmon. Remove from heat and serve.

Contributed by Ruth Nestvold. Eaten at VD3 near Bar sur Loup, France.

Thai Green Curry

The key ingredient here is the Thai Green Curry paste itself; grab a pot of it from somewhere reliable.

It is also nice, if possible, to get the following ingredients:
* Combava leaves (similar to lime leaves)
* Thai basil (a more peppery flavor than regular basil, which you can use as a substitute)
* Thai eggplant. There are two varieties, a golf ball-sized one and another that is smaller -- about the size of a large pea. If you can't get them, just use nice chunky vegetables like eggplant, zucchini, and white mushrooms.

For 2 people:

* 2 tbsp veg oil
* 1 handful fresh cilantro/coriander (chopped fine)
* 2 to 3 tbsp of the curry paste
* lg. pinch of ground coriander
* lg. pinch of ground cumin
* 2 cans of coconut milk
* Chicken breast for omni/carni types, cut in pieces (cubes, strips) of an enticingly appropriate size
* 3 tbsp fish sauce (nuoc mam)
* 2 tbsp brown sugar
* Thai eggplant OR eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms -- quantities as desired, in pieces similar to the size of your chicken chunks
* 4 Combava leaves, split
* 12 Thai basil (or regular basil) leaves
* 1 small spicy thai pepper, chopped fine.

Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the chopped coriander. Fry while stirring for about thirty seconds, then drop in the curry paste and the ground spices. Stand back while you fry and stir the mixture for about a minute and watch out if you need to inhale; the curry paste can liberate some fairly fierce fumes.
Add the coconut milk by bit and simmer briefly, then throw in the chicken and cook until it is done (probably 5 - 7 minutes).
At this point you can basically dump everything else in and simmer until the veggies are done.

Now I will do what I REALLY HATE in recipe books:
Serve the curry over your previously prepared rice.

(Doesn't that drive you up a wall? You're going along, cooking the stuff, and then suddenly there is a reference to something that you should have already finished that takes half an hour?).

Eat. A few cold beers on the side is highly recommended.

Contributed by Jeff Spock. Eaten at VD2 in Jaulzy, France.

Pancit Pilipino (good for four people)


rice noodles/ or rice vermicelli. Also known as sotanghon noodles (a small pack will do)
1 carrot
1/2 cabbage
1/2 broccoli
1 cup mushrooms (if you're not using meat)
1 courgette
shrimps (500 grams will do or a bit more depending on how much you like shrimp)
soy sauce
some people use fish sauce, but I prefer buollion cubes. It doesn't smell too fishy and produces the same effect.


Slice all the veggies. Traditionally it's julienne (thin slices, but medium slices will do too) Start by stir frying the onions, garlic, mushroom, courgette, half of the sliced paprika and shrimp. When the shrimp looks like it's fairly cooked, add the carrots and broccoli add the cabbage as last so it doesn't wilt and get overcooked

As with all stirfry things, veggies should be firm and not overcooked. When you reach that point just turn off the heat.

In a separate bowl, soak the noodles in hot water mixed with buollion or soy sauce to add taste. Soak for about 10 minutes. By this time, the noodles will have softened enough and soaked up enough taste too. Drain the noodles.

Next part is really easy. Drain the noodles and mix the noodles and the stirfried veggies and shrimp. Chicken can be used eventually in place of shrimp, but shrimp is just super-yummy.

Can be served with crispy fried chicken or spring rolls with a side dish of rice.

Contributed by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz. Eaten at VD3 north of Nice, France.


Other pages of mine:

Clarion West 98 | Cutting Edges: Or, A Web of Women | Joe's Heartbeat in Budapest | The Aphra Behn Page | ECHO

© Ruth Nestvold, 2009.

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