For those who like it lean – and not so lean!

Strawberry parfait. Picture: Salvelio Meyer

French strawberry parfait (with a little cheating!). Picture: Salvelio Meyer

FRENCH women don’t get fat because, if super-svelte champagne fundi  turned food writer Mireille Guiliano’s portion sizes are to be adhered to, even leprechauns would be uncharacteristically lean.
The by now famous author of French Women Don’t Get  Fat has produced another guaranteed  money-spinner – The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook.
On the Global Table blog today we’re testing a recipe from this book, besides also preparing a dish from a locally published title, Errieda du Toit and Francois Ferreira’s  Huiskok Glanskok.
But first, back to Ms Guiliano. The dish we tested was for a delectable-sounding  strawberry parfait, which Guiliano suggests you serve with a refreshing glass of demi-sec or half-dry champagne, preferably the budget-busting Veuve Clicquot brand of which she is the former CEO and president!
The recipe seemed perfectly sound until I discovered her suggested 35g of strawberries per person equated  to, wait for it, a single berry. That’s what my trusty electronic scale indicated, at any rate – yes, just one of Woolies’ juicy specimens  weighed exactly that. In my book one strawberry certainly doth not a strawberry parfait make.  In fact I had to up it to four berries per person before it even started looking like my idea of the classic dish!
Guiliano soaks the berries in lemon – no sugar – then layers them with plain yoghurt, not the thick and indulgent Greek stuff that would add a few calories but surely taste significantly better. Hers must have been sinfully sweet to start with because even Woolies’ best would have been more straw  than berry without at least a small dusting of caster sugar.
The recipe tested from Huiskok Glanskok was altogether more viable for anyone above a double-zero dress size. Ferreira pan-fries crunchy, fresh pears in butter and brown sugar – now that’s more like it – then tosses them over butter lettuce along with some creamy blue cheese soaked in port. See both recipes in full below.
* The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook is published by Simon & Schuster and Huiskok Glanskok is by Human & Rousseau. – Louise Liebenberg

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Strawberry Parfait from ‘The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook’

I have duplicated Mireille Guiliano’s recipe, which serves one person, exactly as is below. However, as mentioned, The Global Table verdict is that you’ll have a far nicer dish if you allow 3 to 4 big, fleshy strawberries per person (ie 35g x 4 as one decent-sized strawberry weighs around 35g anyway!) I also sprinkled a level teaspoon of caster sugar on the berries and, given you’ll be using more fruit, upped the lemon juice to around 1 tablespoon. The use of freshly-ground pepper with fresh strawberries may sound a little strange at first, but this is actually an old favourite in countries like Italy or France. Try it – the flavours work really well together – but I believe pink peppercorns are even more delicious as they are more aromatic (and less burny!) in flavour, besides their colour also complementing the strawberries beautifully. You should be able to pick them up at any spice shop – in Port Elizabeth, try the one at the 6th Avenue Shopping Centre in Walmer.  – Louise

Ingredients

35g fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled and sliced; 1/2 tsp lemon juice; 110g plain yoghurt; freshly ground pepper

Method

In a small bowl, toss the strawberries with the lemon juice. Using a parfait dish or other small glass dish, alternate layers of yoghurt and strawberries, grinding a bit of fresh pepper on top of each layer of strawberries. Serve immediately.

Pear and port-soaked blue cheese salad. Picture: Salvelio Meyer

Picture: Salvelio Meyer

Pear and port-soaked blue cheese salad from ‘Huiskok Glanskok’

Francois Ferreira’s recipe is simple but delicious and serves 6 people as a side dish. He says it was inspired by the Mediterranean, using port from the Klein Karoo, blue cheese from Stellenbosch and pears from the Langkloof. I didn’t have butter lettuce but three baby cos lettuces were a fair replacement. Also, don’t overcook the pears as they should still have a bit of crunch; around 7 minutes including turning time should be ample. I really liked this recipe but Salvelio felt I had overdone the blue cheese a bit, as it obviously can dominate the dish (especially given the added booze factor!) I, on the other hand, felt the dish would be even more delicious if a sprinkling of toasted nuts such as walnuts or even slivered almonds were added. – Louise

Ingredients

100g butter; 60ml brown sugar; 6 pears, quartered (pips removed); 2 heads of butter lettuce, washed and drained; 80ml lemon juice; 2 x 125g triangles of Creamy Blue cheese soaked in port for four hours.

Method

Melt the butter in a pan, add the brown sugar and fry the pears until light brown.

Pile the butter lettuce on a serving platter and sprinkle lemon juice over. Arrange the pears on top and crumble the blue cheese over the pears.

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