Clementine and litchi amuse bouche..and a sous-chef.

Voiçi my very first starter I made in my mother’s house as a child. With a few changes here and there, it is better served now as a small amuse bouche before dinner. It is still very light and fresh and I’m still proud of my very first attempt! The little glasses it is served in (in the photos), are the original glasses from my mother that I used about 40 years ago for my starter of clementines and litchis.  So, les verrines is not something new…it was already a successful concept 40 years ago!


  • Marinate the fruit in the vinaigrette for about an hour, but not longer.
  • Use mandarins or orange segments instead of clementines.
  • Try serving it as a bigger salad by placing the fruit on a bed of salad greens and add some shredded smoked salmon.
  • Can be used as a fruit salad…replace the vinaigrette with a sauce: clementine juice, sugar, a little water, few drops of lemon juice, zest of a clementine…simmer untul reduced to a syrup. Add a few drops of Clementine liqueur just before serving.
  • Replace the raspberries with a small scoop of raspberry sorbet.

..clementines, licthis and old tools from childhood..

…and a sous-chef..

To me, December is a month of remembrance, memories, reflections. Many memories surface during this time…some of which are funny, some sad, some without any particular significance and because memories aren’t always honest, I remember them all as dear, solely because they have brought me to this point where I am today and who I am today.

Christmas was a time in our house where things happened according to my mother’s schedule. She was a formidable woman who had the ability to organize an army into baking cookies. So,  under her hand, Decembers were very busy in our house and all the while she hoaxed me into thinking chores were fun! Baking cookies, cleaning the silver, polishing floors, washing curtains, ironing the Christmas tablecloth, decorating the living room, cooking jams, preparing for holidays…these were the things that filled up our month, with my mother holding the reigns firmly in her hands and me a close step beside her.

..chef et sous-chef..

I was sous-chef from a very young age,  whether it was washing the curtains or cooking a meal or baking the cookies. A very important position…the sous-chef! Without me, how could she have hung the wet heavy curtains  on the line to catch the sun…without me, how could she have polished the silver in time for Christmas,…without me being in charge of the cookiemaker, we would have no coffee cookies for December? It  would be disastrous…scandalous! How would the maizena cookies have jamfilled centres without me? Christmas would be sad and lonely, if I hadn’t had the responsibility of lavishing it in swirls of silver and gold streamers and glitter and shining stars!

It is of course one of the big secrets…the complete confidence of a chef in his/her sous-chef! My mom trusted me with many things, so much so that I was allowed the responsibility for the starter at a big dinner. This was my first ever solo contribution to a dinner.  She also allowed me the key to her dinnerware cabinet where I could choose something for my starter. Such an important position…the sous-chef!

So here I am presenting my first starter, then as a sous-chef in my mother’s kitchen. The only difference is that now I’ve been promoted to chef. I have my own kitchen. And the starter is now served as an amuse bouche.

..May your December memories be as dear as mine!..

..amuse bouche in old childhood glasses..

..à la prochaine..


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12 responses

  1. What wonderful memories, Ronelle…and your new banner is stunning!

    03/12/2010 at 16:53

  2. Hey Ronelle! I love your mother’s glasses. They look so beautiful in that top photo with the amuse bouche of lychee and clementine. Ooh, and I bet those clementines are Algerian, no?! I would imagine that at least being where you are…
    Great post, Ronelle-hope you have a relaxing weekend too;-)

    03/12/2010 at 17:03

  3. A lovely post! That amuse-bouche is delightful.

    Cheers and bon weekend,


    03/12/2010 at 17:25

  4. I’m sitting in my office reading your post, Ronelle, and my mouth is LITERALLY watering! It looks so fresh and beautiful, and I can imagine the flavor combination.

    And, as always, I love your stories!

    03/12/2010 at 19:37

  5. Tchin Tchin.. Wonderful post..I love the new banner too..

    Your maman was beautiful:) Crisp clear refreshing verrines..

    Love the old kitchen things too..Thank you~

    03/12/2010 at 21:50

  6. Ronelle – I am going to present these fruit beauties late Christmas Eve – after the 30 have left and the ten stick around and will have a taste for something fresh. The memories are so poignant – should they be accurate? Does it matter? It is what survives. Smiling through the post…

    04/12/2010 at 04:30

  7. ‘n Lieflike artikel wat my hart baie goed doen! Uitstekende fotografie, mooiste resep en skets en mooi herinneringe. I have given you a on my new blog.You are one of my inspirational “gurus” Will you visit and take a peek?

    04/12/2010 at 14:19

  8. What a sweet story! Your mother must have been a wonderful teacher and entertainer. These verrines do looks like something you would see in a fine cooking magazine today! I have never eaten a lichee! I will have see if I can find them.

    04/12/2010 at 16:14

  9. Your amuse-bouche look so fresh & colourful especially served on that lovely gold rimmed platter!! great idea Ronelle.

    05/12/2010 at 09:54

  10. Oh! Ronelle – Can you help me -I’ve been searching your blog for individual savoury tarts, something like Leek & Gruyere or similar- but don’t know what category to look in. This week we have our French language class, break-up party & I would love to make something savoury to take as finger food. xx

    05/12/2010 at 10:09

  11. Love the new banner and the new look! These amuse-bouche are delightful! If only I could get a hold of fresh litchis! I had them around last year and made a pudding or something with them. Lovely, dainty, elegant and fond memories that you are gracefully sharing with us!

    07/12/2010 at 04:45

  12. Ronelle~ you know I always love stopping by to see your holiday decor and what your are cooking – and you never disappoint.

    What lovely memories you share.

    I especially love the glasses and tools from your childhood.

    …and yes, your new banner is wonderful.


    08/12/2010 at 15:59


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