The regulars here on Myfrenchkitchen will by now know how much I love an apéro(apéritif), or amuse bouche, or the spanish tapas.. On weekends it is standard practice in our home to have a glass of wine before dinner with an apéro. I hope one day in heaven there will be some apéros awaiting me on weekends- that and good coffee-or else I will take my business elsewhere…
As all the regulars will alos know, is that everything on Myfrenchkitchen is simple, as these salmon amuses bouches clearly show. The only requisite is “l’envie”, the desire to make it and enjoy it.
- Cut 140 g smoked salmon into thin strips, about 2cm wide. If possible, use wild salmon, which is much stronger in flavour. If you have your own gravlax that you made, all the better. Wash and cut green 1 large Granny Smith apple(unpeeled) into matchtsticks. Drizzle liberally with freshly squeezed lemon juice.
- Wash a few branches of fresh dill.
- Roll about 5 matchsticks of apple and a tiny branch of dill in a strip of salmon.
- Arrange on a platter, sprinkle with freshly milled pepper and decorate with lemon slices, dill flowers and serve with cold white wine, rosé, sparkling wine or champagne.
- One large Granny Smith apple and 140g smoked salmon (4 slices) make about 14 amuse bouche.Provide for 3 – 4 helpings per person if it is the only apéritif served.
Serves 3-4 people.
Pincée de fleur de sel:
- Use fresh fennel or fresh chertvil instead of dill.
- Add a dollop of sour cream or crème fraìche when rolling the salmon.
- Serve with a bowl of mayonniase or crème fraîche as an accompanying dip.
- Use other fruits in season and use smoked ham instead of salmon.
Since we are in the greens today…the hydrangeas are beautiful at the moment with nuances of green and salmon. Two Granny smith apples complete the picture in the barn.
..Green is one of the colours I love for setting tables outside. And blue. And red. And of course white. And ochre. Well, for that matter, all colours! I have a few things here at Coin Perdu which we often use for dining on the terrace in summer: rustic green rimmed glasses, old bottles, green fun plates, green banana lreaf bowls, green pottery bowls..
..Some small wild apples live in harmony with berries and egglantine rosehips..
..the birds don’t shy away from digging into the small wild apples..
..and neither do the horses..
..when going through my artwork in search of painted apples, I realized I have almost nothing. I had to rectify that immediately with a sketch. Green is a difficult colour. So many shades of it in nature. The challenge lies in creating your own green from yellows and blues with touches of reds and purples. That way you get much richer and interesting greens than the greens directly from the tube.
I make only easy, simple and quick food. I have done the difficult, intricate thing, but now I enjoy doing relaxed cooking. This is another very simple, very versatile recipe, which I’m sure many a home has in its possession. Only the presentation differs from the one occasion to the next and the one family to the next.
- Use any other white fish.
- Instead of folding the pastry in rolls, fold them in triangles.
- serve as a cold apéritif before dinner with a cold dry white wine.
- The same recipe can be used in different ways: as a crumble with a breadcrumb, butter and oats topping and baked in the oven. OR topped with mashed potatoes and baked in the oven, OR with flour and butter and eggs added for some fish cakes…
- Can be served small as a starter or larger as a light lunch with a big mixed salad.
Some Koi images. I’m not truly a fish person, but Koi can fascinate me with their movements, their colors and their behaviour. they really have personalities, which I didn’t believe until I saw it for myself. I have done some paintings and some studies of them, but find it very difficult…it is much easier to capture the personality of a person than a fish!
Have a great weekend!
I’ve been struggling with this koulibiac for two full days. The first one was far too dry, so I took on a second one. Terrifying colors! The third tasted complicated..and by that time, I couldn’t trust my judgement any more either! Tasting the same thing for two days…the same salmon, the same spinach, the same onion mix etc, truly numbs the taste buds. Finally I came back to the first effort with a few changes here and there. It is how it works with my painting as well. The first effort is always the most spontaneous, most honest rendering. Writing too. Those first thoughts should never be changed…only polished maybe, but never changed.
Just for interesting sake, here is the last effort..remember…the one with the complicated flavors?
Salmon and spinach koulibiac(pie)recipe
- Clean about 700g of fresh salmon fillet and poach for about 10 minutes or until flaky, but not dry and colorless. Leave to cool. Flake, remove all skin and the bones. Add lemon juice and zest of 1 lemon, season to taste and mix lightly. Add alittle poaching liquid to the flaked salmon to prevent it from being dry.
- Sautée 2 small onions in olive oil. Add about 1 cup(250 ml) white arborio risotto rice, add salt, and 500 ml water. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until the rice is creamy. Stir in 1 TBSP of butter. Remove from the heat and leave aside(covered) to cool.
- Rinse and dry 2 large handfuls of fresh young spinach leaves. Chop roughly.
- Finely chop 2 large bunches fresh dill. Preheat the oven to 210 degrees C.
- Grease a bread tin with butter, (12cx24cm).
- Roll out 500g puff pastry, (pre ordered from your baker).Cut a rectangle large enough to line the bottom and sides of your bread tin(about 1/3 of the 500g). Keep in the fridge until needed along with the rest of the pastry.
- Fill the puff pastry base with some rice, cover with spinach leaves, the chopped dill, the flaked salmon, chopped dill again, some spinach leaves, and end with a layer of rice.
- Roll out the rest of the puff pastry and cut a rectangle a little bigger than the bread mould. Place over the rice topping and wet the fingers to glue the sides of the top neatly together with the pastry base.
- Roll out the rest of the pastry into shapes of your desire and decorate the top as you wish. Replace in the fridge for an hour to get cold.
- Brush the top with 1 egg and make a hole in the top of the pastry with some baking paper to serve as a “chimney” and let heat and steam escape.
- Bake for abut 40 minutes. Cover with a sheet of baking paper or brown paper if the top browns too dark.
- Bake a sauce of Bulgarian yogurt and crème fraiche, season with salt and pepper, a spoonful of mustard and lemon juice.
- Serve sliced with a fresh green salad and pungent vinaigrette.
Serves 8 people
- When poaching the salmon, add a carrot, an onion, lemon slices, dill and parsley stems to the poaching water to flavor the salmon. Strain afterwards and save the water for a soup.
- The rice should be slightly sticky which will keep the rice layer together for better cutting of your koulibiac.
- The success of puff pastry depends on as little handling as possible, working with cool hands, and being put very cold into a hot oven. The temperature can be lowered afterwards.
- Don’t layer too much rice so you end up having a whole lot of rice and a lot of too little salmon! I tend to add too much rice to my layers..
- Try whole wheat rice, wild rice or quinoa instead of white rice for a more healthy option.
- Add a sprinkling of dried yellow/orange flower petals between the rice and spinach layer for a colorful version…zinnia petals, nasturtium, begonia, geraniums, marguerites, sunflowers, nasturtiums…
- Have fun creating your own versions!
…doesn’t look too bad when goinginto the oven(remember that I’m at coin Perdu, baking in the wood burning stove…I’m sooo good!!)…
…and the sortie out of the oven after 40 minutes doens’t look too bad either(except for some bad photography!)…
Why do I prefer the first effort?
*The flavors are clean and simple and along with the sauce it combines into perfect harmony. The biggest challenge of this effort is to make sure your koulibiac isn’t dry. So my tips would be to: add some poaching liquid to the salmon, make sure the rice is moist and sticky, but still white and plump(chicken stock tends to color your rice).
In the next two efforts?
*I added roasted fennel, combined it with the dill and added as an extra layer. The result was that the flavors were just too complicated and overpowering for the whole ensemble. Much like an electrical guitar playing in a symphonic orchestra…
*I also added chopped red onion to the salmon, which ended up with some ugly purply spots between the delicate pink of the salmon.
*Oh, and don’t forget that wobbly silicone bread pan-business-thing which I’ve tried for the first time…cost me an arm and a leg! It “stretched” in the middle so the bread shape plonked out…you can see it in the first image. I was a very unhappy woman… In the second image I used my ole trusted normal bread tin and just look at the difference…a lovely square shape.
The lesson: Simple ALWAYS works! You may have to adapt a little here and change a little there, but staying on the simple road is to be on the success road.
No sketch with the recipe today…too tired, too fed up with salmon, too heavy from all the tasting…a good chef alwasy tastes his food, they say. I did that and look where I am now…?
No story from my side either…aren’t you happy!? I have no first thoughts left after these two days.
And now please..
“Please don’t feed me no more salmon…
I could do with a little bit of famine…
My kitchen makes me ill…
for lack of clean… plates and place to chill..
and I am now ready for that thing they call in French…”régime”?
Oh man…how to lose these salubrious omega 3’…sss
So I can again be the lanky woman of my man’s dream…sss!”
a bientôt … from the gleaming omega omnivore!!
We were in Singapore for a few days and with a food repertoire stretching from East to West, you could enjoy anything you desired. My prime choice of course was sushi! It was wonderful. I couldn’t get enough , but did put several other foods to the test, especially at the “hawkers stalls”, where you could choose to your heart’s delight between Malay and Indian, vietnamese and Indosian and Cambodian, thai and chinese…the list goes on…
…scattered sushi( chirashi sushi)..
- There are many different types of sushi, of which the most known would be the rolled sushi. But if you shy away from making rolled sushi at home, becasue of the effort and time consuming aspect, (or you are too tired, like I am since being back!), try making the scattered sushi, which is quick and easy and just as tasty.
- Use fillings and accompaniments that you have in the house…fresh vegetables, fruit…
- Make that extra little effort to cut the vegetables into attractive shapes…it is what Japanese cooking is all about.
- Keep the portions small and serve several small helpings of servings, like a broth, a fresh simple salad, and fresh fruit.
- Keep attractive bowls and small dipping bowls in the kitchen, square plates, oblong plates and mix and match for an interesting table setting.
- Serve extra soya sauce(shoyu) in an attractive small teapot.
…Jamae mosque in chinatown…
…colonial civic district – firestation…
…the indian cricket club, the city hall and old supreme court…
..more of the civic district…
..chinese chamber of commerce,
…modern singapore …
…Kampong glam(malay district)…
…behind the scenes…
…Architecture in Kampong glam…
…Street scene in little India…
**My Singapore sketches are on Africantapestry.
**All uncollaged photos of Singapore can be seen on Travels
After buying some local saffron…from here in Touraine, I had to make something fishy with a saffron sauce. I love saffron and with fish it is really special…in taste as well as in appearance. Sometimes a white fish can look fairly …bland, but a sauce can lift it to a different level. I used skate wing in this recipe, a fish that I love for its delicate taste and ease with which you can enjoy it without fishing out bones in your mouth.
J’ai acheté un peu de safran de Touraine au marché bio à Tours.j’adore le safran au départ j’ai eu envie de préparer un poisson au safran. Parfois un poisson blanc semble très triste sur notre assiette et le gout n’est rien que fade. Une sauce au safran relève ce poisson banal à une expérience gastronomique, facile à manger, sans péniblement pêcher les arrêts dans sa bouche!
NB: It is a fish that is being overfished and quickly disappearing from certain waters. Measurements have now been put in place to control the fishing and protect the skate. Please make sure that you buy your skate from a reputable fishmonger. Definitely don’t buy it at the supermarket!
NB: Faites attention a ce poisson qui est en train de disparaître très vite, a cause de la pêche négligente. Ne l’achetez surtout pas au supermarché, mais plutôt dans une poissonnerie réputable.
I served the skate wing with a spaghetti of courgette on the side, quickly plunged in boiling water and rinsed under cold water, dried and lightly seasoned.
- This recipe can work well with any white fish. I used skate wing.
- Serve on a big platter and serve individual portions from the wings by lifting small filets off the bone onto each plate.
- The courgettes can be peeled into long ribbons, using a potato peeler if you don’t have the special spaghetti tool. Cut the ribbons into thin paghetti or leave as ribbons(tagliatelle).
- Don’t boil the courgette spaghettie or else they will lose their color, break up and become mushy, without any crunch.
- Dry the courgettes well after rinsing to prevent them from being soggy in the plate.
The organic market day in Tours took off early in the morning, with everybody setting up their stalls and readying themselves for a day of sunshine and hungry, eager visitors. Indeed a successful day for Touraine on the banks of the Loire.
Le bio marché à Tours était une grande réussite. Chacun installé ses stands et se préparé pour une journée estivale, remplie de visiteurs affamés. Encore un succès pour la Touraine aux bords de la Loire.
…je veille sur le parc…
…journée de la patrimoine et pont wilson…
…safran de touraine…
..au marché bio…
…on achète, on goute, on mange, on s’amuse…
…les poissons de la loire…
…on mange pas sans du vin de la région…
…à l’année prochaine…
Summer is a wonderful time to try new recipes. Not to cook. But simply to put together. Myabe a bit of cooking. But only a little. It is too hot and time is too precious to spend in front of a stove. These little rolls are something new to try and it involves no cooking. Delicious and refreshing cold. Serve either on its own with a drizzle of thick balsamic reduction, or enjoy as a summer lunch with a salad and some wholesome bread.
VF: L’été est parfaite pour s’amuser avec des nouvelles recettes vite et facile à assembler. On cuisine pas. Il fait trop chaud à la cuisinière et il y a trop de choses à faire… Bon d’accord. Peut-être un tout petit peu. Mais c’est tout. Ces rouleaux de saumon fumé sont intéressants, faciles et vite à faire. Ils sont délicieux froid et servis comme ils sont, avec un filet de réduction de balsamique sur l’assiette òu en salade accompagnée avec un bon pain rustique.
- The rolls can be made small like in the recipe, or bigger by leaving the salmon slices uncut. In this case rolling would be a bit easier and the rolls can be cut carefully afterwards ibnto two slices. If you want neat rolls, cut off the ends with a very sharp knife. I prefer a more rustic look.
- Spread the ricotta cheese on the red pepper for easier spreading and top then with the spinach leaves.
- The red pepper can be chopped finely and mixed in with the ricotta cheese for a different version.
- Prioscutt, basill leaves and roasted oven tomatoes could be an interesting substitute for the red pepper and spinach leaves, giving a more Italian ambiance.
- Serve two rolls of salmon rolls per person on a plate with a drizzling of thick reduced balsamic syrup, as in the photo.
Our street kicked off the holidays with our yearly bbq across our homes, on the banks of the Loire. A sunny Saturday. A Smoke from the bbq. Set tables. Fresh flowers. Pique-nique baskets. And happy neighbors. Perfect.
Notre rue à commencée cette été dans un esprit de festival. Un barbecue aux bords de la Loire. Un Samedi bien ensoleillé avec une trainée de fumée qui conduit vers le ciel. Des fleurs gaies. Des paniers éparpillées partout, l’évidence de pique-nique. Et les gents bienheureux. Un midi parfait.
As always, we enjoy our three course. Starting off with some aperitif and a petillante and icy cold rosé wines. We had different kind of cakes, abig favorite in France for an apritif with a sparkling wine. Cake with sauteed leeks and artichokes, cake with goats cheese and tomato.
Et bien entendu, nous nous régalons toujours en commencer avec une petite apéritif et une pétillante de la région. Très froid bien sur.Sur la table était un bon choix de différentes cakes salés; un cake aux poireaux et artichauts…un cake a la tomate et au fromage de chèvre.
..around the aperitif table(autour l’aperitif)…
…the pique nique baskets speak of heavy loads(les paniers de pique-nique)…
…what could possibly hide under that wrapping?(que cache au dessous)…
…someimtes keeping an eye on the pique-nique baskets(garder un œil sur les paniers)…
…baguettes and wine – couldn’t do without!(pas sans baguettes et du vin)..
…choosing seating(òu s’installer à table)...
…but first – time for some conversation among pretty ladies and heavy discussions(des jolies femmes et sérieuses discussions)
…and a far off call while the fire is stretching high(un appel et le feu)…
…and the smoke is a sign of good things to come(la fumée des promesses)…
…like this( de ca)…
…and this(et ca)…
…and while we wait for those good things from the smoke, we start with our starters…salads and baguette!(salades et baguettes pour entrées en attendant de la viande)…
…everybody is happy(le monde est content)…
…and silence sets over the long table(et la silence arrive à la table)…
…while we taste and share, discuss and delight(lorsqu’on goute et partage, discute et se régale)…
…far from done, we get to our cheeses(loin d’être terminé, on attack les fromages)...
…and clafoutis…of apricots and cherries, and peaches(et ensuite, un clafoutis de pêche.. et d’abricot.. et de cerise)…
…and after our coffee and chocolates, the Loire reclaims its silence once again, the only proof of an afternoon of laughter and good food and happy relionships are some summer blooms picked from a garden in the street by the Loire…
…Et quand on a terminé nos cafés et chocolats et la Loire règne à nouveau en silence, il ne reste comme preuve d’un après-midi de bons repas, de bonnes relations, et de joie, que quelques fleurs d’un jardin de notre rue.
When a cup breaks, or we empty the orange juice bottle, or scrape out the last sardine, the first thing we do, is decide in which recycling bin it has to go into; paper, glass, cartons or the normal trash. There is a fifth option . The “creative recycling basket.
A mackerel pate, made from either fresh or smoked or canned mackerel and served in a recycled sardine can, makes for fun summer entertaining.
- Use any other fish of your choice; salmon, tuna, sardines…
- Add the creme fraiche/sour cream/thick cream little by little until you are happy with the consistency. You don’t want too much cream and no fish.
- For a slight tang, you can add some chopped green chili or some piment d’espelette.
- Capers can be chopped and added.
- Take care not to mix to an unrecognizable horrible pulp without any texture. Always mix lightly with a fork.
- Lime zest can be used instead of lemon zest.
Don’t we tend to be a bit more frivolous and playful in summer? Using empty food cans can be different and interesting outside on the patio, for teenagers parties, or simply just to lose the seriousness and have fun. Use them for serving food in as starters or appetizers, for serving olives with your white wine or tapenade with bread, or fill them colourful sands and tealights, prop a small container(recycled) into the sand and add a cute flower or two – perfect for some interest on the table or in corners of the garden or even the kitchen. It is nothing but fun.
The most magical recycling comes from glass containers and here in France, we get the cutest yoghurt and petit dessert glass bottles, not to mention the confiture bottles, and whatever else bottles. I recycle them all, meaning I reuse a lot of them. They serve in my atelier for my paints, for flower vases all over the garden, for holders of all sort. Use some wire and string them together to make “fairy lights”, using tealights. Or use some wire and make a hanging little vase for your windows and door knobs.
Fill them with small pebbles and hang like small lanterns in the garden on hooks stuck in the ground. Use them en masse to achieve the best effect. Fill them with moss and stick flowers in, fill with sea shells, coloured sand. Use them for starters or appetizers. And when they get too “used up”, dump them into the glass recycle bin and start recycling into your creative recycle basket again. No guilt about breakage or expensive losses.
Unless you have a huge garden, few of us can afford masses of beautiful fresh flowers throughout the house. And even a tiny vase costs more than it is worth. Why spend money when you can find something quirky and differ3nt in your creative recycling basket? A chipped cup or teapot or glass is perfect to brighten corners right throughout the house, from the bedroom to the guest bathroom to the kitchen to the laundry. It can carry a flower or a leaf or a fern or the dead endings you do on your shrubs, or the daffodil you “pick” on your daily walks… Nothing gives so much pleasure and lifts a room like something fresh from nature, however small it may be.
Instead of throwing away the broken cup, save the pieces of porcelain and use them to mosaic a small table that has lost some life, or a vase or a pot or simply display in a bowl outside in the garden. Use a cup, or teapot, or bowl that isn’t completely broken and plant a small flower or sow a seed or two for colour in a corner somewhere – on the windowsill, on a small table, on your bed table, next to the bath by the toothbrush, on a weathered chair in the corner, on a big stone, by the fish pond, on an old tree stump…
Don’t forget about sturdy small boxes which can be covered in colourful fabric or paper and used as gift boxes or storage boxes, especially shoe boxes. Fill with shredded paper and add chocolates, or homebakes cookies, or an assortment of jams, or seedlings for the summer garden, or a pretty old chipped cup planted with a pansy… Recycle the balsa wooden holders from your cheeses,the baskets from the strawberries, fruit; line them with a napkin, use as a bread and biscuit basket, or to serve your silverware for a barbeque. I use my camembert holders in my atelier for all my art things…pen nibs, sharpeners, erasers, one serves as a little table bin, another holds a lemon scented candle, another holds stamps…
In the kitchen, I use a recycled maple syrup bottle for my washing liquid by the sink. I added an oil spout and it works beautifully. I recyle other nice bottles for oils and use some for candles…fill with sand and stick a long “dripping” candle in. The wax that melts down the bottle makes for lovely “sculptures”.
If you don’t have a creative recyling basket or cupbard yet, consider it. It is cheap and creative, interesting and different, not to mention environmentally friendly.
I thought I was in love with Helsinki, but Oslo swept me off my feet! Norway is breathtaking and Oslo is as stunning. I still feel in harmony with the Norwegian culture and living and can’t stop enjoying salmon. An easy and quick way to serve it…with créme fraîche, chopped dill and mint, lemon juice and a touch of honey.
…sitron-og urtebakt laks …
Adapted from a recipe found in Mat & Vin – Norges største matmagasin.
- Don’t bake salmon too long, or it will be dry. When the flesh is white when coked, it is overcooked. It still needs to be pink.
- Use individual baking dishes and bake each person’s portion in its own dish…serve directly from oven to table.
- Serve the salmon with some steamed or oven baked courgettes.
- I love dill with salmon, but try coriander(cilantro) or chervil, instead of dill.
- Use sour cream, or cream or thick cream if you can’t find créme fraîche.
This first encounter with Norway made me realize once again how beautiful our world is and how different the continents and cultures are and just how exciting those differences are. I found Oslo beautiful, different and exciting.
The ocean forms a big part of everyday life with ferries coming and going, fresh fish and seafood sold from the boats, shopping centers overlooking the ocean and eateries to pick and choose from on the quai. Lovely architectures hide among the now bare trees, parks with benches and people eating lunch and abundant bird life.. Walking, skiing, cross country skiing… the ski slopes are just on the edge of town, people are equipped with skis in the metro and buses – part of everyday life. So much I can say and express, but sometimes it is better to enjoy without words and discover for oneself…
My next stop…Grønland!!
…the titles can be read by scrolling over the image…
Oysters lead to digging up old favourite films. Like Vatel, by Roland Joffé. A wonderful gastronomically seductive film.
But before taking up your place under the blanket… clean some oysters and make a vinaigrette and chill a bottle of white wine in the fridge. Or better yet, in the spirit of Vatel, let’s make it a sparkling one.
- Open the oysters about an hour before eating, because they form some liquid whilst standing. Throw off the first quantity of liquid jsut after opening and leave the secoind forming of water if you like it. Or throw it off as well.
- Use the liquids for cooking in the case of cooked oysters.
- Serve on a bed of rough salt orcruched ice to keep them in place and the cruched icve will keep them cold too.
- Always serve with extra lemon slices.
- When eating raw oysters, choose the smaller size and the big sizes for cooked/baked oysters. the smaller the number, the bigger the oyster. The favourites size for eating raw, are 5, 4 and 3. Use 2, 1 and 0 for cooked oysters.
- don’t forget to serve a warmed wet napkin when serving any kind of seafood. I usually fold a wet, warm napkin into a small square, insert a lemon slice and cover it in foil to keep the warmth insied a little longer – place on the side in a small glassbowl.
In spring and summer, time doesn’t allow watching movies. Life is to be lived ouitside, drinking up the sun during the day and the moon and stars by night. On the rainy days you can do a little vacuming…
Winter, and especially January after the festive season, is time for nesting. Reading in front of the fire. Catching up on a new movie and then on those old ones you so love.
For those living in the hemisphere where summer is at its peak now, well…keep on enjoying the sun and summer evenings the way you do and remember this for when the cold starts chasing you inside…
Vatel is one of those movies where the beauty lies in the scenes behind the scene…the kitchen and the grounds of the chateau de Chantilly de prince de Condé , where Gerard Depardieu is the Maitre d’hôtel, FrancoisVatel, responsible for the entertaining and gastronomic pleasures of the le roi Louis XIV and his entire shallow entourage.The preparation of the exquisite foods is a feast on its own. The creations for entertainment. The movie itself is total splendour at the chateau with all its indulgence and frivolity that would disgust, were it not a movie. Although, truth it is, or was…thankfully, now we can only find it entertaining and amusing and a pleasure for the eye…
…une poire cristallisée…
…Louis XIV lui mème…
…plat de fruits de mer…
Trucs et astuces de nos grand-méres:
Don’t throw out the water you have boiled your eggs in. It is rich in mineral saltsd. Use it to water your green leaf plants.
Salmon and avocado aperitif and an old brown suitcase(aperitif de saumon aux avocats et la vieille valise)
It is time to start baking cookies for Christmas. Time to think about the menu and order your meats. time to think about some aperitif to toast with your champagne. And time to dig up the old memories.
Salmon and créme frâiche with blinis and topped with some caviar is an old favourite for high occasions. And loved by all. By changing and adapting it a little, we can still enjoy tradition ; bringing in some new without throwing out the old. Spark it up a bit, freshen it up.
- Serve the aperitif with some blinis on the side.
- It can be made in bigger portions and served as a starter.
- Créme frâiche can be added to the mayonnaise to make it creamier…add to your taste.
- Before topping the glasses with the mayonnaise/créme frâiche mixture, leave for about an hour in the fridge to become a bit more firm, or else it will be too runny.
- Instead of the smoked salmon a tartare of good raw salmon can be used.
- Use tomatoes instead of salmon if you are a vegetarian.
- Don’t use an expensive caviar for the topping..a lumpfish caviar works fine.
- To make a quenelle of lumpfish caviar: use two spoons and slide a dollop of lumpfish caviar alternatively between the two spoons until you have an olive shaped quenelle. Slide the one spoon from front to back on the second spoon under the quenelle. Repeat once or twice until you are happy with the shape. See photos above.
…shaping a quenelle…
During Decembers I have a habit of digging up all old things and remembering. That is what I think winter is for after all. Reflection. Reminiscence. I reorganize drawers and closets, throw out old magazines, go pick them back up an hour later…Browse until early morning hours through old photo albums, discover old letters….like my own and those of my parents. The ones we dug up in our cave in the garden. Photos and letters are stories. They make us cry. They take us back on distant roads and make us laugh. They make us glance in the mirror to see the traces time had left.
…good wishes and happy writings…
…an old brown suitcase for embracing old memories…
How will we be remembered and looked upon one day? Will someone have an old filled suitcase somewhere where our picture dwells? Or will our picture appear in a virtual realm in a hyper contemporary room…or not at all. Will someone also look at us and cry and laugh at once upon a time…
…once upon a time…
Somewhere old becomes mingled with the new and we wonder…when is old really old. Memories have no sense of time. Yesterday can be long ago and tomorrow can still be far away.
…a mix of old and not so old…
May I never forget. May my brown suitcases never be empty.
Do you have an old brown suitcase?
*Truc et astuces de grand-mére:
I have received a parcel from Zlamushka at Zlamushka’s spicy kitchen QUITE a while back. I unfortunately broke the chain, due to circumstances. I have kept her parcel and at the time, had them all vacume packed and stored in a cool, dark place. At first I thought to completely let it go because this is SUCH a late response, but it rests on my conscience and then I finally decided to do a post anyway, even though it is way beyond too late!
So! I’m showing you the secret ingredients in these spices of Zlamushka and have you guess some or all of the ingredients , or even what they are called for those who have a good knowledge of their spices. I will have it run for a week and the comment who comes the closest to guessing some of the ingredients, will receive a parcel with herbs/spices/salts/goodies from me, as will Zlamushka! You don’t have to be a blogger and you don’t have to live in France. (I hope it won’t be a problem, custom- wise to have it sent outside of Europe?) When leaving a comment and you don’t want to leave an email adress in the comment box, you can just email me privately with your email address.
…secret spices 1…
…secret spices 2…
…secret spices 3…
…secret spices 4…
I will announce (along with Zlamushka’s help) all the spices next Friday 23 October 09, as well as the recipient of my parcel with herbs/spices/salts/goodies.
Some tips on the four secret spices that arrived in her letter:
- Cubrikovska(the Slovak name) – a traditional mild Slavic spice mix; great seasoning for any kind of meat, stews or sauces. Zlamushka’s favourite way of serving it, is sprinkled on omelettes.
- A very strong spice seasoning for meat and game. Rub on a steak prior to grilling or make a marinade by mixing with a cup of gin, some chopped shallots and a sprig of rosemary. Marinate your red meat for a day.
- According to Zlamushka – a no-brainer! To be fried in a tablespoon of oil and served on lentils and it looks great.
- “Indian chewing gum”; Once done with eating, just chew on this spice and spit out the rest!
- The most important tip: Zlamushkla’s spicy kitchen blog is filled with spices she uses every day, so you might just run across these there!
- A recipe or two with these spices will follow in the next post!
The following info was received from Zmalushka and I quote exactly as I received it from her:
“1) Cubricovka is a Bulgarian spice mix – super traditional, it goes everywhere. The main ingredient is Summer Savory “cubrica” which is ground together with some garlic and salt.
2) Supari – mainly contains sugar coated fennel or anise seeds, coconut, melon seeds, betel nut androse petals. It aids digestion and freshens the breath after curries. Makes also lovely room decoration
4) Juniper Grill Spice:
2 tbsp juniper seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp soft muscavado dark brown sugar
Ground together. To make a good marinade for duck breasts or game, add this mixture to 1 cup gin, chopped onion and 2 rosemary sprigs. Mix well and rub into the meat prior to grilling.”
Sun and summer are still plentiful here in Montlouis. On arriving home, we opened the gates to a jungle of green. . Mosquitoes in the switched off fountain. Boxwood in pots dried and sad. Rosebushes hanging heavy with hips, spiderwebs in every corner, dust swirling around in the streams of sun light. Mail overflowing. Advertisements strewn over the entrance…does it sound familiar?
…bienvenue chez nous!…
Back bending and hopeful we dug in. Into the garden. Into the house. Scraping, digging, pruning shoveling. We drank water by the liters and turned to icy cold colas. We washed and rinsed, dusted and coughed, groaned and polished. Not to mention attacking the washing machine with vigour and gratitude! I forgot how to set the time on my microwave oven and wondered if I still needed it? I listened to the murmur of my dishwasher and wondered how on ever I got by for 5 months without! I now once agin appreciate my comfy and (for me), simple but luxurious kitchen and delighted in putting together a meal of fish and citrus fruit. Then we indulged in our dinner under the parasol, hearing the fountain, smelling the September bloom of jasmin, dreaming and planning for this second half of 2009.
- Scorpion fish is really delicious and reminds somewhat of lobster flesh. But of course any fish can be used for this recipe and the method of cooking can be adapted as well. If on a diet and you want to stay away from sauteing, then go for poaching, or even roasting in the oven. Just make sure NOT to overcook the fish filets. In any case, fish should ALWAYS be done quickly, because a little standing time cooks the fish even further. Nothing is more off- putting than rubbered fish!! Another note on fish…do your guests the honour and favour, by removing ALL the fish bones…the reason why many people shy away from fish!
- Don’t raise the eyebrows for the amount of lemon segments…it really flavours the dish and it isn’t noticeable as..”eeuww…lemon!”
- For a suggestion on how a citrus fruit is segmented you can seethe slide show in a previous post here: Citrus and carrot salad – how to segment an orange.
- the orange flower water enhances the salad and it is a good idea to have it in your pantry as a few drops enhances many a dish. To harmonize with the citrus and orange flower flavour, the addition of a citrus honey would be perfect, but a flower honey is nice too, which is what I used. Try not to use acacia, since it competes with the orange flower water.
- And lastly…DO have fun when cooking! Remember, cooking is all about Try, Test and Taste!!
…letting it marinate…
Montlouis is situated on the banks of the wild, untamed Loire river in Touraine, 10 minutes from Tours, and on the route touristique…wines, chateaux, promenades, photograph tours and the special troglodytes of Touraines, where many people adore living in the caves. We also have 3 caves at the back in our property, going into the cliff. But more on that and les troglodytes and its lifestyles next time. For now, a taste of la vie quotidienne d’une Montlouisienne(moi!)!
…je vous prèsente Montlouis…
…then you turn right, then go up the hill, then.. then…
In the photo at the top left can be seen…an enormous bunch of grapes! Which at some stage was lit at night and it was a fountain, but now it only serves as the land mark of our little town. It forms part of every direction giving to deliveries and strangers and visitors: “…et puis on va tout droit, et puis on tombe sur une horrible grappe de raisin, et puis on tourne à droite et puis….(then you go straight, then you will see a huge ugly bunch of grapes right next to the Loire, then you turn right up the hill, then…”)
Turning at this bunch of grapes takes you up a steep hill to la centre ville, where cars play second fiddle to walking and cycling, shopping and chatting.
…walking and shopping…
It is a busy little town with festivals going on throughout the year..brocantes et vide greniers, jazz festivals in September, tomato festival at the chateau bourdaisiere in September, garden festival in april, bread festvals, wine festivals, food festvals, fresh market every Thursday. We have the jour de Loire, with all activities and actions circling around the river Loire. And just as we think by the end of the year that the festivals are over, along comes the Christmas market, and we eat again, chat again, drink and buy wine again, shop for that star for le sapin noël…
…religion, homes and war..
Life is a hustle and bustle at Montlouis, while the Loire just nonchalantly continues snaking forward – silently in summer and filling up with winterrains to a passionate and powerful flood..
Voilà a short introduction to the place we call home. There is more to come in follow ups- the festivals, the people of Montlouis, interviews with les vignerons(winemakers) and their pleasures, artists of the area, the caves and their history and all kinds of food, fun and flair! A bientôt!
…la Loire en septembre…
…sunset in September…
A starter I love. Even good for a full meal. Or start off with the tartare and finish off with a light fish soup. The fresh salmon can be replaced by any other white fish. For those that don’t eat raw salmon, smoked salmon can be an option.
*Order some fresh salmon from you fishmonger, telling him it is for tartare…having pride in his knowledge and job, he’ll see to you getting the best quality fish; cleaned, bones and skin removed. Wrap in clingfilm and leave in the freezer to get to a softly frozen stage. Remove, cut into small dice and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add a drop or two lemon juice(not too much or else the fish will”cook” and lose its bright colour), olive oil and freshly milled pepper to the salmon, mix ightly with a fork, cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
*In the meantime, chop some red onion finely and a handful of fresh dill. Cut a lemon into small wedges. Toast some dark ry bread, and cut into small triangles.
*Serving: Serve the salmon along with the chopped onion, dill, lemon wedges, a dollop of créme frâiche and the rye toasts in small bowls on individual plates. Serve extra fleur de sel or maldon salt and freshly crushed black pepper on the side.
A very old salad. Now with maybe a face lift in the shape of a tomato vinaigrette. This was a favourite little salad in our home right after my marriage. And at that stage and age it was delicious with a liberal drizzling of tomato sauce, better known as ketchup, bought straight from the supermarket shelf, instead of a fancy vinaigrette. I don’t like tomato in a green salad, the two don’t marry well for me. But this is an exception. Maybe because it isn’t really a green salad. Or maybe it is the way it is served. Or maybe I’m only fooled by the play on words. That is what we do nowadays. A salad in the seventies would mean chopped tomatoes and green leaves with onion rings and a dressing of vinegar and sugar. Now we are still not french and call our dressings vinaigrettes. Now we eat an “avocado salad with bacon topping”, Or “tomato salad with a drizzling of lemon juice”. A “green salad with roasted almonds”, “mesclun with truffle shavings”. So, do we still eat ketchup on our avocado salad…of course we do…in the secrecy of our kitchen!
A tip to try: Never put tomatoes in the fridge, even in summer. Keep them in a cool place. The cold kills all flavour. To revive some of its flavour, leave for a few minutes in water…like salad, like carrots, like all vegetables in fact.
…old things become new…
I was in Helsinki for the past week. Arrived there while it was still snowing and I couldn’t have had a bigger gift! It was beautiful!
I can talk about Helsinki for a week and still more…suffice to say that I love the city and the people, their way of living, their love for their culture and traditions, including their food. They are creative, elegant, individual, all the while being gay in their welcoming. It was an enriching experience and one I hope to repeat.
I have enjoyed the most delicious meals, all fish and I felt great, even though they love their creams and butters and potatoes, but their portions are small, their food is extremely healthy and flavourful and a feast for the eye.
The first night I had cod with roasted sweet peppers on pureéd potatoes at The Fishmarket which was beyond wonderful. So back here at home, with my spirit still high up in the north with it’s snow and lights, I created the following: some cod again, with mushrooms and cranberries(wanted lingonberries, but I couldn’t find any). The clean flavour of fresh cod, with the aroma of dill, the bite of finely chopped red onions and the tartness of the berries turned a simple meal into a a gastronomic experience. Typically Finnish.
…lutheran cathedral on senate square…
I am always starving on a Saturday afternoon. But I don’t have the desire to take on cooking a meal. And I don’t want bread and jam. And I don’t want MacDonald’s or the likes. And I don’t want loads of dishes and cleaning up to do. I want no-fuss. I want something that is quick and easy and light, because we play tennis afterwards, but it still needs to be filling.
A protein salad like this one works for me. With a banana in the tennis bag.
Make a salad from the following ingredients:
- Mixed salad leaves, a huge bowl.
- mixed herbs of your choice
- Bocconcini cheese
- a can of “Catalan tuna” (tuna in a tomato sauce)
- a small can of sweetcorn(or frozen)
- sun dried tomatoes
- cucumber sticks
- dry roasted almonds
- dried cranberries
- A vinaigrette made of: sun dried tomato paste, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sherry vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper, small finely chopped shallot.
This salad looks probably more like a meal for summer than midwinter, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that it is healthy and delicious. Some of the ingredients can be served warm on the salad, a poached egg can be added, some crispy warm croûtons. You can serve it on a warm “pain perdu“, or on a bed of warm pasta, or a bed of warm lentils of your choice. Serve it with a warm vinaigrette or a creamier vinaigrette for more substance. I served it here as is with a pungent vinaigrette and a homebaked wholewheat bread, of which I’ll share the recipe later.
Smoked salmon salad.
A variety of salad leaves of your choice, sliced celery, available herbs(parsley, chervil, fennel), grated carrot, green beans(steamed until just tender), capers, strips of smoked salmon.
Mix the salad leaves in a big platter and top with the carrots and celery. Tear the salmon into strips and arrange on the salad. Finish off with the warm steamed beans, herbs and capers. Serve with the vinaigrette on the side and a dark, hearty wholewheat bread.
Vinaigrette: Mix together a chopped shallot with olive oil, a dash of pumpkin oil, sherry wine vinegar and some lemon juice to you taste. I don’t believe in the basic rule of 1 part acid :3 parts oil…I find it too oily for me. I prefer to taste it as I go along, starting with a pinch of salt and my chosen acids and then adding the oil, whisking all the time and tasting. Adding a spoonful of dijon mustard, will quickly turn it into a delicious creamy emulsion. Season with salt and pepper.
I am back home from 2 months in SC, USA and I’m still slowing back into routine. It has been very quiet here on Myfrenckitchen front, but I hope that will change from now on…
It is rugby world cup time here in France. We watched the France/Ireland match last weekend with friends after sharing a simple dinner. Nothing gets you more in the mood than sharing a meal before moving on to some sports where, hopefully everybody won’t be cheering the same team!
I have to begin a meal with a starter, it enhances my appetite for the rest of the meal, it heightens the expectation around the table and it elates my tastebuds. Not forgetting that it stretches out a meal, gets everybody relaxed…it simply just sets the mood! It can be extravagant with truffels or simple with bread, I love it all ways and I enjoy making it. For this meal I made a simple polenta with wonderful wild mushrooms that fill our markets right now. I will do that in a next post.
And dessert I have to have too. It gives an exciting ending to any meal, much like an exclamation mark does to a sentence. I chose to end our meal with a simple, easy dessert as well. I don’t really know what to call it…maybe something like ” Caramelized apples with vanilla cream and pomegranate”….which will be presented in a next post too. Until then, here goes with the..
Salmon with brown rice and oven baked tomatoes.
- 4 salmon steaks
- salt and pepper to taste
- lemon juice
- coconut oil
- knob of butter
- 6 tomatoes, handful of cherry tomatoes, handful of grape tomatoes..or any kind of your choice, mix and match.
- balsamic vinegar, sjerry vinegar, spoonful of Dijon mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper
- 2 cup brown rice cooked in 4 cups of water
- handful of rocket leaves(arugula)
- Sautée the salmon steaks in the coconut oil: Place the salmon skin side down in the hot oil and sautee for 3 to5 minutes, or until the skin is crisp and the flesh has turned light pink from the bottom upwards, halfway through. Don’t cook on the other side. (Saumon à l’unilatéral) Turn off the heat and season with salt and pepper and some lemon juice. Top with the knob of butter. If you want your salmon more cooked, you can place it in the oven for a few minutes after sauteeing.
- Cook the brown rice until just tender.
- Cut the tomatoes in half and arrange in an oven dish, cut sides up. Season with salt and pepper.
- Make a vinaigrette of the balsamic and sjerry vinegar, mustard, and olive oil. Pour over the tomatoes and bake for about 20 minutes at 180 degrees C.
- Add all the smaller tomatoes whole and bake for 15 minutes longer at 200 degrees C, or until all the tomatoes are nice and caramelized and the small tomatoes have broken open.
- To serve: Place a helping of brown rice in 4 bowls. Place a salmon steak on the rice. Top with a generous helping of tomatoes and drizzle the juice from the tomatoes over. Finish off with some rocket(arugula) and a twirl of fresh pepper.