A Come Dine With Me special

On holiday in the south of France last week with four other foodie types and some clever bod had an idea: why not make use of the local produce and the villa’s fab kitchen in a Come-dine-with-me-style cook-off? The Channel 4 TV show is one of my guilty pleasures so I was pretty excited when our names went into an ashtray (no hat was available at the time) and we were each allocated a course to cook.

The menu on the night was as follows:

Chilled cucumber and dill soup
Pea and parmesan arancini
Mini moules mariniere

Starter (by @simongoble)
Fresh vegetable risotto with gorgonzola

Fish Course (by @COOKBOOK_HQ)
Cod with a herb and multi-seed crust, roasted vine tomatoes

Main Course (by non-tweeter Aaron)
Spicy Tuscan bean stew with chorizo

Dessert (by @dsingleton)
Pear tarte tatin and homemade lavender ice cream

I don’t really do delicate food – as you can see from some of the big old cakes that feature on this blog – so was initially dismayed when I drew the amuse-bouche/canapé course. I tried my best to scale down dishes that I would normally serve in great big bowls and, surprisingly, it turned out fairly well. So well, in fact, I thought I’d you’d like the recipes to have a go yourself (they serve five).

Chilled cucumber and dill soup


  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, coarsely chopped
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 250ml vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 125ml double cream
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  • Place cucumber, onion and stock in a small saucepan, bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer until soft
  • Using a blender puree with dill and cream until smooth
  • Add salt and pepper according to taste
  • Pour into a container with a pouring spout
  • Cover and refrigerate to chill until ready to serve (I served mine in some swish looking martini glasses)

Pea and parmesan arancini


  • Approx 200g risotto mix (see recipe in link below)
  • 50g peas
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • 600ml oil for frying
  • Rocket leaves to serve


  • Make up a basic risotto recipe. I have my own depending on what’s in the cupboard but you can find a easy-to-follow one here
  • Add a large handful of fresh peas and an extra 100g of parmesan to the risotto mix near the very end of it’s cooking time
  • Roll the risotto into walnut-sized balls
  • Dip the balls in the beaten egg
  • Coat the balls in breadcrumbs
  • Deep-fry in the hot oil for 2-3 minutes until golden
  • Remove from the oil and place on a sheet of kitchen roll to absorb any excess oil
  • Serve on a bed of rocket

Mini moules mariniere


  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 500g mussels, de-bearded and carefully scrubbed
  • 1 bunch of herbs de provence or similar bouquet garni
  • 150ml white wine
  • 200ml double cream
  • Crusty bread to serve


  • Fry the onion and garlic in the oil with the herbs in a large, deep saucepan
  • Tip in the mussels
  • Pour in the wine and simmer for approximately four minutes with a lid on until the mussels are open and pink in colour (discard any that fail to open with the heat – they’ve probably been dead for yonks)
  • Remove the parcel of herbs
  • Stir in the cream and cook for one more minute
  • Serve steaming in little bowls with plenty of crusty bread to mop up the sauce

And here’s the end product, yum!

I’m just glad I didn’t do pudding. After the four types of wine we served with dinner, I’m not sure I would have been able to locate a plate, let alone serve up anything appetising!  Indeed, the hangover might be one of the reasons we still haven’t decided who won the competition…

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