Time again for some December ambiance!
After putting up our tree we enjoy a candle lit dinner with music and good wishes for the season. It has been our family tradition for many years to put up our tree on the first day if December and light a candle every night for the whole month of December for someone – people who aren’t with us any more, people who are still with us…This year is no exception. We finish our evening with a small and light dessert. A white chocolate panacotta and dark chocolate mousse – a combination of light dark chocolate mousse and the contrasting white panacotta with smoother texture. The mousse is the only chocolate mousse I’ll ever make and it comes from the collection of chocolate desserts from Pierre Hermes. I’ve been making it for years and haven’t yet come across any better, any lighter, any more delicious! the panacotta is simple and classic with some white chocolate added.
- Don’t overwork any mousse! Always stir gently until just mixed.
- Never boil chocolate, melt at gentle heat in the microwave or over simmering water until just melted. It melts from the inside outwards, so ti will still hold its shape, but the inside will already be melted. Stir often.
- Use older egg whites for better lightness(as well as nicer meringeus).
- Use egg whites at room temperature.
- Mix egg whites into the chocolate mixture as follows: Scoop a third of the beaten egg whites into the chcolate and whisk to make the mixture lighter and easier to fold in the rest of the egg whites. Fold in the egg whites with a big whisk in a figure eight shape, without whisking. Fold in until JUST mixed. don’t overwork!
- A mousse gets heavier the longer it stands. I usually serve a mousse within a day. Of course it can be eaten afterwards, but it is more creamier and has lost that lightness that is so typical of a mousse.
- Decorate with some chcolate petals or sprinkle some golden flakes over the top.
I took my husband and his saw down to the Loire and we came back with with some tree brances covered with moss. It was to be our tree for this year. I enjoy a live tree, and this year was one made fom some dried brances from our own river across the road. It always feels special to go and pick up some branches by the Loire, come back home, stick them into a garden urn and hang them with decorations and fairy lights.
…reading and looking…
…moss from the garden and old postcards…
…just some prettiness…
…colour from dried hydrangeas…
…christmas dinner from 2008…
…Tokala and Ayiani in the snow…
…la neige au bord de la loire…
…la loire and two of us…
… chocolat chaud devant la cheminée…
* Trucs et astuces de grand-mères.
Pears in red wine. Always a winner in our house during the winter and especially over the festive season. In this recipe I used a cabernet sauvignon, but I have also used a (moelleux) sweet white wine before like a Montlouis moelleux or a semi sweet, which is just as delicious. Decorate the pears in red wine with some edible gold leaf and the pears in white wine with spun sugar. A post on how to make spun sugar will follow soon – before Christmas!
Why not gather all your wine corks and display them in pretty empty containers somewhere. Always a good talking point and especially the men like to dig and see the wines that passed through. I also colletct the wine cases, hoping I can get hold of enough to convert them into drawers and kitchen tops and units for Coin Perdu, our house in Corréze. They also make nice storage space in the pantry, can be used in the wine “cave”, the cats sleep in the empty ones and some even carry small twigs for lighting fires in my atelier.
In October we had one day of grape picking at the vinyeards of our friends Vincent and Tania Careme. The domaine vincent Careme is a bio vinyeard where no chemicals are used, wild herbs and weeds are allowed to proliferate, adding to the health of the grapes and picking is still done by hand. They have a traditional Saturday during grape harvesting in Octobre, when all their friends and family get togetherfor a day of grape picking, press the grapes, feasting on a huge lunch, continue picking afterwards, pressing again and finishing off with some more eating. We were all dead tired, but what fun we had, one of which was a grape fight when everybody started getting tired and sticky towards the evening. Here are some pictures of the Saturday at Domaine Vincent Careme.
…starting off early morning…
…up and down…
…emptying the bucket…
…into the remorque…
…taking a break…
…something for the thirst…
…at the cellar…
…onto the press…
…late afternoon fatigue…
Soon to be followed: More about the wines of Vincent and Tania, their wine cellar in the typical “caves” of Touraine, a sculpteur doing his artwork in one of their caves and the many pleasure(and hard work) of daily life at Domaine Vincent Careme.
Except for a scoop of ice cream from the fridge, I don’t think there is a quicker, easier and more delicious dessert than a crumble.
I grew up with crumble in my mother’s house. Usually an apple crumble, made in her usual pyrex glass baking dish and she served it with fresh cream scooped from the full cream milk my father brought home from the farm every other day.
Crumbles have changed a little face today, being now made with all kinds of fruit, topped with all kinds of different toppings, either sweet or salty, served from a big dish or as individually petite servings. It is popular with old and young and equally at home at the family table or finishing off an elegant meal.
…frozen berries whole year long…
I especially favour red berris for a crumble. I love the colour and I love the sweet/tartiness of the berries and now that we can have berries available the whole year in frozen form, I could’nt be happier. I don’t feel guilty for eating berries frozen out of season, for the simple reason that they are so healthy and low in sugars, and they add some welcome colour towards the end of winter when the root vegetables and bleak winter foods start getting a bit difficult to swallow down.
…slowly and deliberately…
- With a bag or two of frozen red berries in the freezer you have dessert at the tip of your spoon whole year. *Add beaten egg whites and some whipped cream and refrigerate for a feather light mousse. *Defrost in the firdge and add to a salad. *Mix to a puree and add to a vinaigrette. *Make a coulis for ice cream or a chutney for foie gras or roasted duck. *Bake a muffin on a sunday morning. *Simply saute with a bit of honey in a pan and spoon over french toast. *Make a sorbet to lift a heavy winter casserole. *Spoon over joghurt for an evening snack. *Simply defrost to room temperature and nibble on a handful. Any more ideas?
When I was born all those years ago, a neighbour further down our street came over to see the newborn baby, me. She congratulated my parents and gave my mother this little cup and saucer with the wish that when I turn 21 one day, I should drink from this cup, and with it all the good wishes and happiness she wishes for me in life. So. I turned 21 and I did drink tea from this cup and I am a happy person! I own this little cup today and it got damaged with all our moving around, but I carefully glued it all together and low and behold, it still holds a cup of tea without leaking…. and even in that I find solace. Our lives aren’t perfect either, but we can be happy and content, by opening up to it. Not that I dedicate my happiness to the drinking from the cup, but symbolically it means to me that every good wish we receive will eventually help fill our cup. Given of course that the wishes are really meant and not only empty words!
I love this little cup and saucer and have started carrying on the tradition. This specific cup and saucer is promised to a little six year old girl named Karla, who will one day have her tea poured into this imperfect, but beautiful and unleaking cup. I have in the meantime started collecting my own special little anitique cups and saucers to pass onto my grandchildren one day and other new born babies who come into my life. My wish will also be that their cup be filled with happiness.
LASTLY: An update on the spices of Zlamushka:
- My husband drew a name from all the comments recieved on the two pervious posts and Monique at latabledenana, is the lucky winner and her parcel as well as Zlamushka’s will soon be on its way.
- The list of the secret ingredients can be seen in an update on Zlamushka’s spices.
Similar posts you might be interested in :
Like last year, it is time for a little December ambiance. On the 1st December, we dress up our tree and charm up some corners, put on music, light candles, drink wine and end the day with a special meal. It puts us in the mood for winter, brightens the grey days, stalks the blues, lifts the spirits, welcomes the rain and the frost and if we’re lucky, brings on some snow. Just as they do in the Northern countries, we burn tea lights every evening, light lanterns outside and finish the evenings with a hot chocolate by the fireplace. This year saw some cheating in decorating the tree, which had been a few days earlier…but that’s OK; it’s always good to break tradition a bit!
A traditional dessert of cinnamon dumplings, finishes off this 1st of December. May your December 2008 be as spirited and bright and gay as you want it to be.
*Recipe adapted from “Huisgenoot wenresepte 2 “, written by Annette human and originally entered by Mrs. C. Ligthelm of Pretoria, SA.
…a frosty visit…
…les poêmes et le sapin…
…where’s the snow?…
…corners and candles…
Today was a romantic day. A soft rain was misting over the Loire, colouring the light to a translucent gray. It was a monochrome painting, a grisaille, an underpainting preparing the canvas for colour. Much like art. It was a day of tones and values. The shadows were deep, the lights were light, the air was soft, feathered. A day of dimension whithout hues.
And so I took out the colour palette and started painting. A spattering of bright reds and luscious velvety burgundies, a drop of sensual translucent syrup. A dollop of stark white cream…a highlight…a shadow. Making food is preparing the canvas. Serving food is painting the canvas. Eating is appreciating the art.
I had a crazy craving for pineapple yesterday, so I went on a hunt and found the sweet Victoria from South Africa, the big green andwatery pineapple produced in Costa Rica, coming from Miami, Florida????…. and lastly the heavy, bland one from the Ivory coast. First painting them(and in the meantime eating some), I afterwards made a carpaccio from the small , sweet Victoria, which has a beautiful dark yellow colour and an intense flavour.
…Pineapple carpaccio with saffron syrup and pine nuts…
- Take a pineapple of your choice(I prefer the small dark yellow Victoria), peel and cut into thin slices.
- Arrange on dessert plates.
- In the meantime, bring a 1/2 cup of water to the boil, add 1/4 cup of sugar, a pinch of saffron threads, juice of half a lemon and zest of a lemon. (Be careful fro too much saffron, it is very powerful. Two to three strings on 1/2 cup water is plenty) Reduce until syrupy, about 15 minutes. If you want a thicker syrup, simmer for longer.
- Leave aside to cool down.
- Dry roast a handful of pine nuts in a pan, leave to cool.
- Spoon some juice over the pineapple slices, decorate with some pineapple leaves and sprinkle with the roasted pine nuts.
One Victoria pineapple serves 2 people
When you start getting all kinds of cravings, you must either be very pregnant OR very depressed OR very much on a road back to good health. I’ve been candidate in all three categories at some stages in my life, but thankfully I fall in the last one now!
I have been absent for some time, due to some health hiccups. Thank you for the caring support and encouragement I’ve received from friends out there. Slowly but surely I’m starting to dance to the rhythms of everyday living again and what better way than to tag along some indulgence. Chocolate. The cooler evenings ask for more drama at the end of a meal; something comforting, rich and lasting. Not that I have made that many meals these last few months! I have a wonderful husband who happily took over the role of chef. And he did such a great job that I probably would’ve assigned him permanently to this position, were I not quite stingy with sharing my reign as maestro in the kitchen! I think I can safely say I’ve claimed back my apron with this decadent, gooey chocolate dessert.
I’m sure everybody has his/her own unique recipe for this dessert and they’re all good. Some tips I could pass on for those who make it for the first time:
- Be sure to keep the portions very small, because it is extremely rich and 5 spoon fulls of satisfaction can keep you going for the whole week.
- Play around with presentation to suit your meal – something more elegant in an interesting ramekin, served with some whipped cream or créme fraiche on the side, decorated with a mint leaf or some red berries. Or finish off a light meal by the fireside in a rustic fashion, by serving your chocolate desserts in tiny “cocottes“(pots), directly from oven to plate, with some cold ice cream as accompaniment.
- This dessert is best eaten warm. Not directly hot from the oven as you don’t want to scorch your palate into kingdom come, but certainly warmer than room temperature. Let it cool for about 15 to 20 minutes before serving.
…decadence in a “cocotte”…
- 150g dark chocolate
- 125g butter
- 3 eggs
- 100g castor sugar
- 3 Tbsp flour
- 1 tsp natural vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
- Butter 6-8 ramekins(depending on size) and sift lightly with flour.
- Break the chocolate into pieces and melt with butter over boiling water, or in the microwave(stir frequently).
- Add the eggs to the chocolate mixture, one at a time while continuing whisking.
- Add the sugar, pinch of salt and lastly stir in the flour.
- Fill the ramekins 3/4 with the chocolate mixture.
- Bake in the oven for about 12-15 minutes, until the top starts to crack and the pudding starts pulling away from the sides, but still feels soft when pressed down on the top. The core should be thick and runny….gooey is the right word. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly.
- Serve warm with créme frâiche or cream or even a dollop of vanilla ice cream.
Serves 6-8 people
A big THANK YOU! to TASTEmagazine in South Africa, who named Myfrenchkitchen in their August issue as the Best blogger from abroad. I feel very honoured. Read more about the magazine and its impressive list of awards here.
I was sharing company with four very accomplished artists in the kitchen who were mentioned for…Sophia from Capetable for Best local living, Nina from My easy cooking for Best make-me-now-pics, Jeanne from Cooksister for Best veteran site and Inge from Vanielje kitchen for Best leisurely read. A belated congratulations to you all!
…OK, let’s eat!…
I can’t imagine who wants to side step dessert…!
I’m a dessert person, however small it may be. Just don’t heap up my plate with mountainous triangles of cheesecake! A dessert is the ending to a good meal, as a small starter is the beginning… just like a story. A meal is story telling after all. Like any good story, it needs an attention grasping first sentence to create anticipation. And it needs a creative ending to make the reader sit back with a sigh of contentment and contemplate the delight of escaping in dreams and living and being…
A small, light dessert, mostly with some kind of fruit does exactly that for me. With an espresso afterwards. Maybe a chocolate as well. A sensual experience. Then I too can sit back and contemplate the delight of living, breathing and eating….
Papillote with saffron-pineapples and raspberries.
- To prepare one papillote: cut a rectangle of baking paper about 40cm long. Fold the two long lengths over to the middle, overlapping by 3 cm and press folds in the paper. Fold the two short sides over to the middle and press folds in the paper. When you open up your paper, you will clearly see the folds of the little rectangle in the middle of your paper. That is where you filling will go.
- Filling: A handfull of pineapple chunks, cut to your desired size.
- A few raspberries.
- Grated lime rind
- Freshly squeezed lime juice
- Fresh passion fruit pulp
- A few strands of saffron.
- Fold your papillotes and place them, opened up, on a baking sheet.
- Place in the middle of each papillote some pineapple and raspberries. Sprinkle with a strand or two of saffron. Drizzle with some lime juice and honey and top with passion fruit pulp.
- Close the papillote by folding the long ends over the filling, overlapping on top. Take each short end on the side of the filling and twist to opposite sides like a candy wrapper. Fan open up the wrapper ends to make attractive twists.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 210 degrees C for about 15-20 minutes.
- Leave to cool. Place the papillotes on individual plates, pull open the overlapping tops and serve slightly warm with Bulgarian joghurt on the side.
I received The Yummy blog Award from the elegant and talented Jennifer at Vegeyum a few days ago. So I thought I would bake Jennifer a cake, a typical South African way of showing appreciation. I grew up with my mother constantly baking a cake of some kind for a someone of some kind to say a thank you of some kind. It made everybody happy. My mother was happy, because she loved doing it, the receiver was happy of course and the people in close vicinity were happy, since everybody got to share in the gift.
So I baked her a cake, a strawberry tart.
I like simple. And that goes for desserts too. Well, actually, according to various opinions, I can rather complicate life, but let’s say then I try to keep it simple. I tried to make a simple strawberry tartlet, with just a tiny twist… The first attempt was a failure in terms of presentation, but it tasted not too bad. Or so my audience said..
Cookie crumb base: Mix about 12 speculoos, crumbled, with 40 g of melted butter. With the aide of cooking rings, shape into round bases and set aside in the fridge.
- 250ml milk
- zest of one lime
- 3 large egg yolks
- 60 g sugar
- juice of half a lime
- 35 g Maizena
- 25 g butter
- Heat the milk and lime zest and leave aside to infuse.
- Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until light and creamy
- Stir the maizena into the lime juice and add to the egg yolks.
- Slowly add the warm milk through a sieve, while whisking. Return to the heat and cook over low heat until thick, while constantly stirring.
- Remove from the heat, add the butter, cover with cling film and leave aside to cool down and store in the refrigerator until needed.
Remove the cookie crumb bases from the fridge. Fill up with the cold lime cream and top with strawberries, finely sliced. Remove the rings carefully. Finish off with a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts. Serve with a red berry coulis. (optional) And now this is where I failed. My lime cream was too runny and I couldn’t use the rings, so I escaped out of my predicament with the help of some tartlet pans…
The second attempt was made with meringue, which is quick and simple, but it wasn’t what I was looking for either. I’m not too crazy about meringues. The audience was happy again though…
- 2 egg whites at room temperature
- 1 ml salt
- 125 ml castor sugar
- pinch of cream of tartar
- Heat the oven to 120 degr. C. Line a baking sheet with Bakewell paper.
- Place the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar in a clean, dry glass bowl or better yet, copper bowl,
- Beat on high speed until firm.
- Add 2 high spoon fulls of sugar to the mixture and beat again until stiff and glossy.
- Fold in the rest of the sugar.
- Shape big spoon fulls of meringue onte the baking sheet, depending on how big you want your little tartlets, shaping a hole in the centre.
- Sprinkle some sugar over the top, allow to stand for about 3 minutes to give the sugar chance to melt(adds a crystallized appearance to the meringues)
- Bake for about 20 minute, cover with a sheet of peper and bake another 40 minute. Switch off the oven and leave the meringues in the oven, to dry out completely.
Strawberries: Wash and cut a handful of strawberries into quarters. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of sugar, a drizzle of white balsamic vinegar, some grated lemon zest.
Fresh whipped cream with a packet of stabilizer added to keep the cream firm. Joghurt can be added to make lighter.
Serving suggestion: Place a meringue on each individual plate. Fill with a scoop of whipped creme, arrange some strawberries on top and drizzle some of the juice of the strawberries over the top. Finish off with a sprinkling of chopped pistachio nuts and mint and a drizzle of thick balsamic syrup(optional).
The third attempt was probably more what I was looking for and it actually delighted my taste buds, like all strawberry tartlets do! Voila!! My most favourite dessert…for now.
- 125 g castor sugar
- 1 vanilla pod
- 250 g flour
- 125 g butter at room temperature
- 1 egg
- Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod and mix with the sugar.
- Sift the flour onto the work surface and work the butter through with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Make a hole in the centre of the flour mixture and break the egg open into the centre. Add the sugar.
- Mix the ingredients lightly together with the fingertips, until a dough forms. Knead lightly with the palm of the hand to shape into a ball. cover with clingfilm and leave to rest for an hour in the fridge.
Cream filling: Mix together 200 g of mascarpone cheese and 2 tablespoons of Bulgarian joghurt. Add some lemon mint chiffonade. Leave to infuse.
Strawberries: Wash, cut and sprinkle lightly with rose water.
- Roll out the dough and cut into desired shapes for your tartlet pans. Cover the bases with bakewell paper and add beans(blind baking), leave in the fridge for a few minutes.
- Prick lightly with fork and bake blind at 200 degr. C for about 12 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and bake for another 3 minutes until golden.
- Remove from the oven and let cool. Once cooled, remove the shells from the tartlet pans.
- Fill with prepared cream, add washed and cut strawberries.
- Warm some jam of your choice, add a few drops of rose water and glaze the tartlets.
- Decorate with fresh or crystallized untreated rose petals.
While making this strawberry tart, it so happened that I stayed very true to my original statement of Myfrenchkitchen, which says something like this: “Life in a kitchen is an everyday audition and here I telltale of my surrender to the failures, the successes, the hitches and pleasures……that life in a kitchen forks out.”
Thank you for honouring me with this award Jennifer.
The Yummy Blog award was first conceptualized by Roopa of Kitchen Treats. Hi dear readers/fellow bloggers, I am starting an award category called “Yummy Blog ! ” where the blog with most yummy recipes/photos will get the award. The person who receives the award should display the “Yummy Blog !” logo on their blog and also the meaning of the award which is “Yummy blog award is the award given to the blog with most yummy recipes/photos” The receiver should also quote their favorite yummy-licious :) dessert(s) that they have ever prepared/eaten. Dont restrict yourself to any dessert, chocolate bars also welcome:). Also the receiver should pass on the award to four other bloggers who’s blog they find “yummy” and let them know about the rules:)
I am now passing this on to:
- Jeanne at Cooksister, who always has me pinned to her writing and images and recipes and bucketsful of zest for life!
- Lucy at Kitchen notebook, whose stories and food experiences are so vividly shared with us, it is a magical carpet ride every time I visit there!
- Ann and Jack at Redacted recipes, who can make a kitchen spin with action between the two of them, always fun, always exciting!
- Hilda at Dhanggitskitchen, who has me running to my camera, completely fired up with inspiration, every time I leave there…she has some photography secret I would love to discover!
- See also my link list for more inspirational work.
And lastly, if you have the time, please see my friend’s daugther Claire’s thesis project on designing a cooking station. This is her final year in design and she would like some public input before her final presentation, so feel free to comment.
I’ve been treated to many delicious meals during our visit in SA, of which this pear salad is one. My good friend Colette, whipped this up one hot afternoon after coming back from our “hunt for all things old”.
Colette’s pear salad
2 firm pears
mixed salad leaves
handful of peppery rocket leaves
white balsamic vinegar
Wash and cut the pears into eight parts.
Heat some butter with a spoonful of sugar in a pan, add the pears and sauté over high heat until nicely caramelized.
Spoon into a dish and leave aside. Add the walnuts to the same pan and brown quickly over high heat. Set aside
Deglaze the pan with some white balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and a pinch of salt.
Arrange the salad leaves on 2 plates, spoon the hot pears on the salad and sprinkle the walnuts. Spoon the deglazed pansauce over the salad and finish off with some shaved parmesan cheese, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of pepper.
For a more substantial meal: Add some crisp fried parma ham/bacon, or goats cheese, or some flaked white fish to the salad.
Finish off this late afternoon meal, much later, with tea and a freshly baked cupcake that you’ve bought on your way home at the sweet deli just around the corner.
This post was a mother and daughter effort. Our eldest visited for the week end from Toulouse, where she’s doing her last year in architecture. Sharing a love for art and camera and food, we worked in a team to do “cocolat chaud à notre façon”. A mere twenty two years ago, she was sitting feet and all on the kitchen counter, licking from the mixing bowl. Now she is as apt at living an adult life as she was then at licking a bowl. I enjoyed this experience with her, making our hot chocolate, setting up for the photo shoot, choosing the best shot and ending with sipping our chocolat chaud.
Chocolat chaud à notre façon(Hot chocolate our way)
- Heat up a cup of milk per person.
- Melt about 1 heaped tablespoon of cooking chocolate chips (70% cocoa) per cup, together with 2 tablespoons of water. Alternatively you can use 125 g of dark chocolate to 250 ml of milk.
- Add the melted chocolate to the hot milk and simmer gently for about 5 minutes.
- Remove from the stove and whisk with a frother(or in a chocolatiére) until foamy.
- Pour into cups and sprinkle with cocoa.
- Serve with brown sugar lumps on the side.
- For a creamier version, replace some of the milk with cream.
- Add mint leaves to the milk to infuse and remove before adding the chocolate. Serve, topped with a mint leave, dusted with icing sugar.
- Add a cinnamon stick to the milk and infuse.
- Add some orange peel to infuse with the milk and serve afterwards with sugared orange peel dipped in chocolate.
December is chocolate time – chocolate for gifts, chocolate truffles, chocolate mousse, souflé, cookies, in a cup, saucy over veal….
Everybody has a truffle recipe. Mine comes from way back, from Letitia Prinsloo (owning Femenika at the time), who opened up the Institute of Culinary Arts in Stellenbosch SA, in 1995. I have not yet come across a more delicious chocolate truffle.
- 50g butter
- 20ml icing sugar
- 15 ml rum
- 2 egg yolks
- 250g finely grated chocolate(70% cocoa)
- 20ml cocoa
- 50ml ground almonds roasted
- melted dark chocolate
- Whisk the butter until soft.
- Add the sugar, rum, egg yolks, grated chocolate, cocoa and almonds and mix.
- Shape into small balls, roll in sifted cocoa and store in fridge.
- If preferred, melt 500g dark chocolate over gentle heat and dip the truffles into the melted chocolate, in place of rolling in cocoa, after you’ve let them cooled overnight in the fridge.
- Serve with a pinch of gold leaf for that festive sparkle.
This preserve can be made on the stove, but I prefer doing it in the oven. The edges of the quince get slightly charred which give them an attractive appearance and adds to the flavor. It can be served with game meat, pork, foie gras, duck…in fact, it is wonderful as an accompaniment with any red meat. It can also be served as a dessert with a dollop of crème fraîche or ice cream. I enjoy it slightly heated up. It goes well with cheese and as a friend Fanta, suggested, wonderful with a cured Manchego cheese.
I don’t peel the quince, nor do I take out the seeds. They are loaded with natural pectin and I like the appearance with the seeds left in. It also suits our rustic lifestyle, where the rythm of the vineyards and the untamed flow of the Loire and our love of the countryside colour the food we put on our table. If you want your quince to have a nice red colour, cut the slices already the previous evening, put in your pan and cover and add the rest of the ingredients the next day.
- About 5 to 6 big quince, well rinsed and dried
- 5 sterilized preserve bottles(500 ml volume)
- 500 ml water
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 5 star anis
- 7-8 cloves
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- zest and juice of a lemon
- a few fresh rosemary leaves
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
- Cut the quince, unpeeled into slices about 8 mm thick.
- Place the slices in a large oven pan.
- Sprinkle with the lemon juice and the zest.
- Add the star anis, cinnamon sticks and cloves.
- Pour over the sugar and water.
- Tuck in the rosemary branches.
- Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes or until the quince is soft.
- Remove from the oven and layer in hot, dry, sterilized bottles. Decorate with some rosemary and a star anis. Fill with the syrup and close the jars tight.
- Store in a dark, cool spot.
I have made these tartlets so many times before, using all different kinds of ingredients and they are a winner every time, enjoyed by young and old. They are rustic and full of heart, quick and easy to make. My kind of thing. Given of course, that you use ready made puff pastry. In summer, it is great with cherry tomatoes and of course all the wonderful seasonal fruits availalble. In winter, red caramelized onions, or cubed sweet potatoes. I tried this time to use mozzarella with the figs in place of the goat’s cheese that I always use. It didn’t turn out too bad, but I have to admit, I prefer the goat’s cheese. It is up to you to try both and choose what you prefer, or even leave out the cheese. Don’t forget the mint leaves though, they add to the harmony of the whole ensemble. I don’t give exact quantities, it is up to your taste.
Fig and goat’s cheese tartlets
- puff pastry
- melted butter
- 12 small figs
- goat’s cheese/buffalo mozzarella cheese
- brown sugar
- fig balsamic vinegar/port
- icing sugar
- small mint leaves
- cream/crème fraîche/natural joghurt/ice cream
- Heat the oven to 200 degrees C.
- Unroll the puff pastry and cut 4 squares of about 10 x 10 cm. Place the squares on a baking sheet, lined with baking paper.
- Prick the inside of each pastry square with a fork and brush with the melted butter.
- Tear the goat’s cheese/mozzarella cheese into pieces and place in the middle of each square.
- Clean the figs with a towel and cut a cross on the top. Push to open up like a flower and place three opened up figs on top of the cheese.
- Place a drop of fig balsamic vinegar/or port onto each fig. Be careful not to drop too much for it will make the tartlets soggy.
- Sprinkle with brown sugar.
- Bake in the oven for about 10 to 12 minutes until the pastry is puffed up and golden brown.
- Remove and cool.
- Drizzle with some honey, sprinkle with sifted icing sugar and decorate with small mint leaves.
- Serve with crème fraîche/joghurt/ice cream on the side
A quick dessert for those times you desire something sweet after dinner, but without the effort. Of course you can make it as light or as rich, as simple or as elegant as you want. I don’t give any quantities as it is all up to taste and playing around creatively with colours and textures and experimenting with flavours.
See also Tartelette for her quince tartlets…beautiful and delicious.
- Cream, whisked until fluffy
- Greek joghurt, sweetened with a littel castor sugar
- A vanilla pod, seeded
- Quince, peeled and cut into pieces
- juice and zest of a lime
- a pomegranate, seeded
- butter and brown sugar and some apple juice, for caramelizing the quince
- Whisk the cream until thick and fuffy.
- Mix the sugar and vanilla seeds into the joghurt and swirl in the cream
- Peel the quince, cut into pieces and coat with the juice from the lime
- Caramelize the quince with the butter, brown sugar and zest until soft.
- Add some apple juice to the quince and bring to the boil just until the fruit mixture is syrupy. Leave aside to cool down a bit, but serve while still softly warm.
- To serve: Serve a helping of joghurt/cream in a glass, top with the caramelized quince and finish off with some pomegranate seeds.
- Use apple, or pear or a mix of caramelized fruit
- Cook the fruit to a thick compote and swirl into the joghurt/cream
- Start with a layer of ginger biscuit crumbs in the bottom of the glass
- Finish off with a drizzle of balsamic/honey of your choice
- Sprinkle with some grated chocolate/nuts
There is no greater satisfaction than coming home from the market with a basket packed full of seasonal delights….like peaches of all sorts and nectarines, all at their peak right now. I hardly get time to do something with them, they disappear fresh into a mouth as soon as they hit the fruit bowl on the dresser. Yesterday I kept four aside with the intention of making this light and fresh dessert. I ended up eating them fresh myself. But I managed to get hold of four ones.
A recipe from Cape Town food by Phillippa Cheifitz which I adapted a bit.
Nectarines with a rosé wine syrup
- 4 ripe nectarines: washed, unpeeled, halved and seeded
- 1 cup of water
- 2 cups of dry rosé wine
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 vanilla pod, cut in half and seeds scraped
- 1 cinnamon stick
- a handful of summer berries of your choice
- mint leaves
- Bring the water, wine, sugar, vanilla pod and seeds and cinnamon stick to the boil in a large saucepan and simmer until the sugar has dissolved.
- Add the nectarines and immerse completely in the syrup, cut side down. Simmer gently for about 6 minutes, depending on the size of the nectarines. They should still have some firmness. Remove from the syrup.
- Reduce the wine syrup over high heat until slightly thickened.
- Pour over the nectarines and keep in cool place to infuse. If desired, it kan be refrigerated, until served. I prefer it room temperature.
- Serve 2 halves in a pretty bowl, drizzle some syrup over and decorate with some summerberries of your choice and a mint leaf.
–>OH MY GRACIOUS!!!! I AM SALIVATING ON MY KEYBOARD!!! GLORIOUS! SIMPLY ELEGANT!
–>Oh there are few things I love more than nectarines! They are so versatile and yet so fabulous eaten just as they are. I am trying to eat them as often as possibel while the season lasts. In fact, inspired by something I saw on your blog last week, I made nectarine quarters wrapped in Spanish ham and grilled as a starter this weekend – will let you know when I post about it :)
–>Thanks Lin..oh dear, hope your keyboard’s OK, hie hie..
Jeanne, oh I will keep an eye out, it sounds great…glorious combination.
Melon carpaccio with goats cheese and olives
When having guests over, I enjoy having something ready on their plates when arriving at the table. It makes the table look festive and inviting. I always choose something that can be made and plated ahead, doesn’t need heating up and can stand a while.It also adds to atmosphere, giving people immediately something to do, and everybody is usually quite eager to taste what is in front of them. I found this recipe in Coté Sud (Express editions).
- about 200g of fresh goats cheese
- about 100g of black olives
- 2 small melons
- about 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 250 ml elderflower vinegar or verjus
- 25g sugar
- Some toothpicks
- Chop the olives and mix with the chopped rosemary. Slice a few olives in “rings” for decoration.
- Shape teaspoonfulls of cheese into balls and roll in the olive/rosemary mixture. Place in fridge until needed.
- Peel the melon like an apple. Start at one end and slice thin rings until you get to the seeds. Turn the melon 90 degrees and start again at the end, slicing thin rings. Keep turning until you have only the middle section with seeds left.
- Mix the vinegar and sugar in a small casserole and let it reduce to a syrup.
- Cover a pretty plate with the thin slices of melon, overlapping slightly. Pick some goats cheese balls with a toothpick and place on the melon.
- Drizzle with the reduced vinegar syrup and decorate with some olive rings and fresh rosemary.
Marinated stuffed courgettes
Another find in Elle à table magazine, no 51 this time. It is great on a bed of mesclun or even served warmed. I serve it at room temperature and with a nice crusty bread to mop up the wonderful sauce.
- 4 small round courgettes
- 2 long courgettes
- 2 spring onions with their greens
- 1/2 lemon juice and zest
- 2 tablespoons Tamari sauce
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil
- some mixed pepper
- some chives
- a few thin shavings of parmesan cheese
- Cut the tops off the round courgettes and scoop the flesh out with a spoon. Steam until just tender.
- Wash the long courgettes and with a potato peeler, slice into thin roundsstarting at one end.
- Peel and wash the onions and slice into thin rings. Slice the greens on the the dagonal for interest.
- blanch in boiled water for 1 minute to get rid of the “bite” of the onions(optional). Mix with the sliced rounds in a small bowl.
- Mix the lemon juice and zest, olive oil, sesame oil, Tamari sauce and chives and the mixed milled pepper and pour over the courgette mixture. Leave to marinade for about 15 minutes.
- Fill the round courgettes with the marinated filling and pour some of the marine over the filling.
- Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, some milled pepper and a shaving of parmesan cheese. Decorate with some chives.
- Optional: For a more substantial meal, serve on a bed of fresh mesclun with a crusty bread.
Apricots with thyme
And finally, summer sees apricots at their peak. An adaptation from Ma cuisine aux herbes et aromates, Françoise di Vanni (Larousse).
- about 800g apricots
- 250g of gingerbread
- a bunch of thyme
- teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch of cardamom
- pinch of sichuan pepper(subsitute black pepper)
- 2 eggs
- 125 ml thick cream
- brown sugar 60 g grilled almonds
- some sugar
- butter to grease the ramekins
- Heat the oven to 200 degrees C.
- Butter 6 ramekins and sprinkle with sugar.
- Wash the apricots, half and take out the seeds.
- Mix the gingerbread into fine crumbs.
- Grind the cinnamon, cardamom and sichuan pepper together in a mortar and pestle, add the thyme and mix together with the gingerbread crumbs.
- Cover the base of the ramekins with a layer of gingerbread crumbs. Cover with the apricots, round side facing up.
- Whisk together the eggs and cream. Pour over the apricots.
- Sprinkle with the brown sugar and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes until set and nicely browned.
- Grill the almonds in a dry pan until golden and sprinkle over the apricots after baking.
- Serve while still warm with a dollop of ice cream or créme fraiche and a branch of thyme for decoration.
These look delicious! The melon appetizer and apricots with thyme are particulary appealing. I will definitely try them once I figure out how to convert your measures into ones I’m familiar with… The photos are so lovely. Sharon
–>Looks like you and Mum had fun cooking up a storm. I’ve told her I want this apricot dish on the menu for Christmas when she and Chris are here. I didn’t realise what a good photographer you were Ronell – I could use you with my Whiteport product & catalogue shots if you weren’t so far away !! Love Jennifer.
–>Quite lucky of you to already have des courgettes rondes. I am waiting for these to come on farmer’s market stands this year. And I will buy them all! ;-) Great menu!
–>Oh my… I am SO going to make that apricot and gingerbread dessert! I often used to make apricot clafoutis and this does not seem a million miles off that… only spicier. Great pics too. At least you seem to be getting SOME summer, unlike the soggy UK :(
Sunday was a glorious day and one of only a few since April. We were outside the whole day, absorbing the beauty of this summers day, the warmth, the clear skies. The trail of smoke from our neighbor, preparing lunch on the barbeque, prompted us to change our plans and to have lunch instead of dinner over the open fire.
Butterflied chicken with an orange/honey glaze.
- One organic chicken, butterflied
- The juice of about 3 oranges
- The zest of one orange
- A good teaspoonful of honey
- Some thyme
- Salt and fresh milled pepper
- A Gracious knob of butter
- A few branches of rosemary tied into a glazing brush
- A spoonful of Cointreau for the flambé
- Light a fire, first for good ambiance and then for good heat.
- In a mug that can take the heat, mix the juice of the oranges, zest, honey, thyme and butter. Melt on the side of the grill over gentle heat.
- While the chicken is slowly grilling over the coals, you glaze frequently with your rosemary brush and orange butter. Salt and pepper the chicken right after that first glaze.
- When the chicken looks good, smells good, and the juices run clear when pierced into the thickest part, it is reoved from the heat and placed on a platter.
- Heat the Cointreau in a big spoon, light and pour over the chicken.
- Cut into portions at the table and serve with slices of orange, lightly caramelized for a minute or two on the grill.
- Serves about 4.
Onions in the skin
- About 4 big onions, unpeeled
- Chopped chives, sage and marjoram
- Knob of butter
- Juice of half a lemon
- Salt and pepper
- Cut a cross in each onion at the top without cutting right through. Fill with piece of butter, the chopped herbs, salt and pepper and sprinkel with the lemon juice.
- Place inside a dish which goes inside a big pot/casserole that can go onto the fire. Place the lid on and “bake” inside the pot for until soft. Some new potatoes can be added along with the onions. Another alternative would be to wrap in foil and place in the coals, but we prefer doing it this way.
- Serve, sprinkled with some fresh herbs and a sprinkling of black pepper.
- Serves 4
Grilled melon with caramel sauce
- Two small lemons
- Caramel sauce
- Vanilla ice cream
- Cut each melon in half, remove the seeds
- Place each half upside down on the grill over meduim heat. When the flesh is nicely caramelized, turn over.
- Drizzle some caramel sauce into the cavity. Leave for a minute or two on the heat.
- Remove from the heat and serve immediately with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
- Alternative: the caramel sauce can be replaced by a lavender honey, and a lavender ice cream, sprinkled with some lavender flowers.
–>hello there, i like to stuff onions (also in their skins) with polenta and parmesan – a lovely side for a steak for example. the melon and caramel sounds divine… i must try this when i am back from holidays and have my weber at my disposal again!
–>Oh, yea. Your idea to use the rosemary as a brush to baste is brilliant. Please, tell the story behind the idea? I love it.
Ice cream versus salad
How I love painting. And tennis. And I do love my garden, my house. Shopping. What else. Oh yes, and I love eating! Good food, healthy food, bad food, ordinary food, new food, traditional food, adventurous food…all food.
I am sitting here right now, licking a huge Magnum ice cream. A double caramel! Sweet and nerve rackingly rich, deliciously creamy, luscious, sticky, voluptuous and sensual…and far too small. While I am indulging in my ice cream I have a healthy menu for you, a great one for a long, lingering lunch on a hot summers afternoon around a huge table with great friends!
To start off: make a tomato mozzarella salad, using nice small vine tomatoes, some buffalo mozzarella torn into bite size pieces… stuff some in your mouth while you’re at it. Tear some basil leaves and lastly, sprinkle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and mill some fresh pepper and then add a sprinkling of finely chopped sun dried tomatoes.To finish off, mix gently with your hands and then lick off those fingers, serve on a pretty plate and enjoy with crusty bread.
For the main meal you dig your beautiful platter out of the back of the cupboard, give it a rinse and then fill it with…crispy green leaves of your choice, mesclun, spinach, rocket and other herbs and don’t forget somecrunchy red cabbage sliced finely for great color and crunch….
In the middle you stack some cooked quinoa, first sauteed in coconut oil with some red onions and then cooked until just done.
On top of that, beet cut into chunks, hand fulls of organic grated carrot and around the rim, little bundles of steamed asparagus wrapped in prosciutto or parma ham. And finish off with a little sweetness; a handful of golden raisins and pumpkin seeds and a Calamata olive or two. I like some green peppercorns sprinkled too. Finish off with a vinaigrette of your choice, some more crusty bread, a bottle of good Rose and you’re off to hear all the Oohs and Aahs from your hungry, anticipating guests waiting at the table! And do enter with flare…why else have you gone to so much trouble!
Dessert. No can’t do without dessert. To keep to the theme of health, you take lots and lots of strawberries…do the usual, and cut them roughly into chunks. Using a large fork, you crush them until pulpy but not to a puree. Then you add a large handful of chopped mint, which you ventured into your garden for early morning, with your hat and herbs scissors and gloves…and of course you pulled out some weeds while you were there. OK, the mint..you add this generous handful of mint to your strawberries and follow up with some balsamic vinegar and if you like your strawberries a bit sweeter, add some honey. Just before you put this beautiful dessert in the fridge, take a big spoonful to taste…you should be able to just sigh with pleasure, if not, then start over. Serve it in some beautiful glasses where its beauty can be seen. Top with a dollop of Greek yogurt, drizzle with some honey, a swirl of syrupy reduced balsamic vinegar, a dash of milled black pepper and of course, a small mint leaf…and please, don’t plant a tree!
So, off I go to fetch another Magnum…enjoy your lunch!