snack

Anchoïade ( anchovy cream)..and hopes of spring.

*It seems my previous post of January  has been re-emailed to my subscribers last night..It is a mystery….I promise it is not of my doing and I have no idea how it could have happened. I have never emailed a post twice, but  I apologize and I trust all my regular readers know me by now and would have realized that it was a glitch.

An anchoïade(anchovy cream) is a big favorite of mine…that and aïoli (garlic cream). In summer it is frequently on our tables, served as an apéro with a cold glass of rosé wine.

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Anchoïade (anchovy cream)

  1. Everything is made to taste…
  2. Use 100g of anchovy fillets in olive oil, or marinated in wine.
  3. Place it in a mortar and pestle, or in a mixer/handmixer.
  4. Add about 10 capers, 1 large garlic clove with the inner core removed, 1/2 TBSP white wine vinegar, 1 tsp Provencal herbs and milled pepper.
  5. Mix together while slowly adding olive oil until it turns to a nice, firm paste.
  6. Taste and add a little more white wine or capers or herbs.
  7. Serve with crusty bread or vegetables as starter or an amuse bouche.

Suggestions:

  • Add a small tsp of sundried tomato paste to the anchoïade.
  • Add a few black seeded olives when grinding or mixing the anchoïade.
  • Add the olive slowly, like you would do for mayonnaise to prevent the oil from seeping out later and the paste becoming runny and oily.
  • Keeps in the fridge for 5 days.
  • Make it the previous day to allow the flavours to develop.
  • Using fresh anchovies can be done, but I find it a hassle to remove all the very fine bones.

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I have been occupied by other things this first part of the year, one of which was moving home and finding place for everything that needs storage until our house is finished here at Coin Perdu. Every nook in the barn is filled with something which needed to be “stored”. I have never been so challenged in finding a spot for everything. I can proudly announce that I have indeed found a resting place for everything, from a chair to a pillow case. Just in case you are wondering if we can still move about, I give you a shot of our kitchen corner in the barn where we were busy preparing a dinner for 10 people a while ago. So yes, we even still have room for a table and 10 guests in the barn.

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In the meantime, spring has crept up on us. the days are longer, the sun is bright and warm, nature is exploding in colour and I am glowing with contentment. winter is behind me. even if we still have colder days, I revel in the fact that I am in spring and summer for the wonderful months to come!

 ..my borage never stopped flowering this winter, a sign of our unusual, mild winter…

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..Working in March with many teabreaks in the sun..

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..and a tea break always leads to a nap..

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..the first paperwhites, perfect in beauty..

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..the cyanothes, waiting to explode in blue flowers..

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..happy chickens as company…

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..Jack Frost with its clouds of blue forget me not- flowers..

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..Viburnum..

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..Iberis..

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..Plum blossoms..

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..Lilas..

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à la prochaine fois

Ronelle

 


Paris coffee-sandcookies( petits sablés de Paris au café)

Since childhood I have loved my mother’s coffee cookies. We always baked them for Christmas. These little sablés are good too and much less work than the real old coffee cookie Maman used to make. And..they come with a Parisian flavour! What could be better? Come Noël, we will revert back to Maman’s old fashioned Christmas coffee cookie.

sablés au café 09-11-2013 15-46-038

La recette:

petits sablés de Paris recette-001Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • Keep some sablés single, without being sandwiched together. They will be crispier and perfect for dipping into some coffee or tea.
  • Replace the ground almonds with plain flour if you so prefer.
  • Instead of the TBSP of strong coffee, add a TBSP of instant coffee powder if you have it available.
  • Replace the coffee in the icing sugar with some milk and flavour with vanilla essence for a contrast in flavours, or add cacao to taste for a mocca cookie.
  • The icing sugar can be added to a cookie simply with a knife but a piping bag makes for a neat filling.

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The dough on the pastry mat. Be sure to always work with flour under your pastry to prevent sticking.

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Using a piping bag makes for neat cookies, but still with a home made feel..and of course taste!

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Une Parisienne

la parisienne  29-10-2010 12-23-55 1502x2148My Parisian umbrella always goes with me to Paris. A little bit of a cliché it is, but I love it. It depicts a typical Parisian street scene in winter(of course). a year or so back, I had my beautiful friend pose for me with the umbrella. She is the epitome of Parisian elegance, even though she doesn’t live there anymore.

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So, with these petits sablés and une ravissante Parisienne, peeking from behind her umbrella, I hope I could give you just  a little taste of Paris for today.

..à la prochaine fois..

Ronelle


Scottish shortbread.(Sablés ecossais)

I love sablés. with coffee or tea or on their own. You can’t go wrong with having sablés in your pantry/cookie tin. These round Scottish shortbread bring back happy memories, especially baked in these rounds and broken into triangles. Hope you like them too..

sablés écossais &

sablés écossais recette

Pincée de sel:

  • It can also be baked as squares, by rolling/pressing into a rectangular pan and cut into squares.
  • Piercing with a fork is tradition.
  • Try adding fresh thyme leaves or the tiny flowers(no hard stems) to the dough before rolling.
  • Try adding lavender flowers to the dough. (Be careful, as lavender can be very powerful.

..pinching a scolloped edge with the fingers, piercing with a fork and scoring into segments..

sablés écossais 2

..sprinkle with castor sugar..

sablés écossais 3

Recipe adapted from Cuisiner! 280 recettes: Larousse

A great film for other movie lovers like me…even though it isn’t weekend yet. Keep this film in mind. I am not sure whether it is available in English or with  subtitles, but it is truly a great film with great acting, great script, great directing.

..La source des femmes..

2013-10-23

..à la prochaine fois..

Ronelle


Mendiants à la fleur de sel..et l’ atelier chocolat.

Mendiants are so quick to make and over the festive times coming soon, are a handy snack to serve with coffee. IN France the habit in a bar, mostly, not everywhere, is to serve a petit biscuit or chocolat along with the coffee. Towards the end of the year it changes to something special, like a petit meringue, or une truffe au chocolat. Why not a mendiant, topped with dried fruit and nuts of your choice?

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Wikipedia says:  “A mendiant is a traditional French confection composed of a chocolate disk studded with nuts and dried fruits representing the four mendicant or monastic orders of the Dominicans, Augustinians, Franciscans and Carmelites. Each of the nuts and dried fruits used refer to the color of monastic robes with tradition dictating raisins for the Dominicans, hazelnuts for the Augustins, dried figs for Franciscans and almonds for Carmelites. Usually found during Christmas, recipes for this confection have veered away from the traditional combination of nuts and fruits to other combinations incorporating seeds, fruit peels and other items.”

Larousse says: The mendiant order imposed poverty on the the mendiants(beggars) and they were dependent on donations for their upkeep. They were allowed to get some kind of income as long as they abstained from any benefits from the church.

..mendiants à la fleur de sel..

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La recette:

  1. Break 400 g dark chocolate in pieces. Add to a bowl(or top part of double boiler) on a pot of hot water.
  2. Temper the chocolate ( see below under Tempering chocolate).
  3. Keeping the chocolate at 32° C, drop spoonfuls of chocolate onto a baking sheet covered with bakewell paper. Sprinkle very sparsely with some fleur de sel and leave aside for about 10 minutes for the chocolate to settle.
  4. Use dried fruit and nuts of your choice and top by gently pressing it onto the mendiants. (I used dried strawberries, almonds, pistachio nuts, dried papaya strips and hazelnuts).

..my all favorite eating chocolate is dark Lindt chocolate à fleur de sel(left) and in the kitchen I use Lindt dark cooking chocolate 70% cacao and mix it with a cheaper Lindt cooking chocolate(ratio 3/4 – 1/4)..

mendiants

1. Tempering chocolate:

Tempering chocolate gives you chocolate which is beautifully smooth with a gloss and is used when you are “decorating” with chocolate or florentines, or mendiants or making filled cups. When making truffles, it isn’t necessary, because truffles mostly get rolled in cacao afterwards.

  • Using a thermometer, melt the chocolate until  50 – 55°C, while stirring all the while with a spatula.
  • Remove from the heat and cool the chocolate to 28 – 29°C, stirring all the while.
  • Reheat again to 30-32°C and remove from the heat, taking care, because it heats very quick. If it heats above this temperature, it will make white streaks and you will have to start from the beginning.
  • Keep the temperature at 30 -32°C while working.
  • The left over chocolate can be stored and at a later time tempered again and reused.
  • The chocolate chips don’t give such a good result.

..tempered chocolate..

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In the top photograph,  the chocolate is tempered which shows the rich gloss and smoothness. The bottom photograph clearly shows the white, dull and milky appearance of untempered chocolate.

..untempered chocolate, simply melted..

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Whip some cream and serve it in the little cup along with a strawberry or raspberry or a fruit mousse or light chocolate mousse. Place it with your main dessert  on a dessert plate for some added interest. Or why not serve it with a late afternoon coffee as a “goutêr“? If it has a quaint rose pattern like in the photo, it can be turned over and your guests break through the chocolate to get to the surprise filling.

2. Chocolate decoration.

  • Use a home made cone – Place a piece of bakewell paper on a tray and draw your design on the paper. Fold a rectangle of bakewell paper into a cone, fill with melted chocolate and draw onto your design. Leave aside to cool completely of place in the fridge in warm weather. When the chocolate designs have settled, remove gently and store in an airtight container with bakewell paper between the chocolate decorations. Use of ice cream or whipped cream or serve on a hot chocolate topped with a thick layer of froth.
  • Making chocolate moulds/cups – use the brush shown below  and paint one layer of chocolate inside the moulds. Refrigerate and paint another. Continue until you have painted 3 coats. Remove gently and store in an airtight container.

..to make chocolate decorations, I use the home made paper cone(left,  line 1),  the little brown container is useless, for it sucks air and make spurts of chocolate as you can see (line 2), the spoons are very handy and make nice linework(3 & 4),  the only drawback is that they don’t take too much chocolate at a time so your designs have to be small, but they are excellent in making swoops of chocolate on the dessert plate.

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..This is a perfect brush to paint the cup moulds inside with chocolate…

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..To end this short atelier chocolat(to know more you’ll have to come to my cooking classes), voici la Tour Eiffel, all in tempered chocolate…will I eat it? Definitely not today!..

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I bought this cute little book in Paris called, Retour à Paris: les mêmes lieux photographiés d’un siècle à l’autre, by Daniél Quesney. So until next time I’m leaving you with this view of the Eiffel over the Seine, a 100 years apart. Isn’t it wonderful…how I would love to be able travel back to “La belle époque!

..”voies George Pompidou, 16eme arrondissement. On quai du Pont du Jour, the Eiffel tower still carves out its slice of the sky, but the riverboat concertzs of old have have now given way to expressway automobile traffic”..

2013-10-161..à la prochaine..

Ronelle


Quick fleur de sel grissinis..and Past Decembers, chronicles 2: tables.

I like to nibble on a grissini with a glass of wine. It prevents the wine making me do stupid things.. Or dunk it in a cup of tomato soup, a gazpacho.. But frankly, the store bought grissini are awful. No matter how expensive or grand they are. They taste like compacted paper. Maybe you agree. Then you might enjoy this recipe which is so easy and so quick and so delicious and has absolutely nothing to do with compacted paper!

The recipe is so easy, I can do it in only two sentences…

  1. Unroll a sheet of puff pastry and cut into strips of about 15mm and divide each strip into two short strips. Brush the flat strips with one beaten egg.
  2. Take each strip at the ends and twist while you stretch a little at the same time . Place on a baking sheet, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with fleur de sel, freshly ground pepper and crushed red pepper berries.
  3. Place under grill for 8 minutes until golden, remove from the oven, turn them over, return and grill for another 8 minutes until golden.
  4. Remove and leave to cool.
  5. Can be stored in an airtight container for a week.

Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • Sprinkle some grated Parmesan cheese on the flat strips, before twisting them. In which case you have to check your addition of salt, because the Parmesan is already very salty.
  • Use other interesting salts..vanilla salt, sea salt, saffron salt(see photo of ingredients), maldon salt…
  • Use some seeds of your choice. I’m not too fond of seeds like poppy seeds, which has no taste whatsoever and only embarrassingly sticks in between your teeth..
  • Take care not to over bake your strips so they too indeed become compacted paper.
  • Serve with a glass of wine or champagne or soup,  in summer with a cold gazpacho.
  • Sprinkle with sugar for something to serve with dessert or a champagne in summer.
  • Bake only with brushed olive oil and when out of the oven, still warm, sprinkle liberally with icing sugar.
  • Brush with melted butter for more flavor instead of olive oil.

..ingredients..

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As is the case all over the globe, December is family time. A time to snuggle in front of fires or laze on beaches and close to Christmas, we get together with families to open tins of cookies and traditional foods and drinks. Of course. It is Christmas. A time to remember. A time to forgive and forget. A time for peace..there is a song that says it all…

Its a time for giving, a time for getting,
A time for forgiving and for forgetting.
Christmas is love, Christmas is peace,
A time for hating and fighting to cease..”

Mistletoe and wine -Cliff Richard

Getting together with families, whether only one or ten, we do it around tables and food than matter to us. After all, food is more than just nourishment for our bodies. It also feeds our senses.  Our  sensitive souls. Yes, a soul is a sensitive thing, we fight and cry and love with our souls.When we sit around a table and taste our apple pie, we remember our parents, our childhood, our children. Sometimes we laugh. Sometimes we cry. It is all good. We are feeding our souls.

Like the Chronicles 1 I have decided to also show our family tables, because it has now changed too…our Christmas table for the last 7 years at home  has seated only  our small family of 4. We have now grown to a wonderful 6 around the table! An exciting new chapter!

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I’ll leave you in peace to browse if you like or skip top the bottom if you don’t.

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  • More photos of Decembers past can be seen in my gallery on the sidebar..Joyeux Noël.
  • Music to add to your December playlist..Une Nuit à Versailles – Vanessa Paradis. I am quite the fan. Sure, there are some songs I skip, but mostly I enjoy them all. this is her  4th live album..hope you enjoy. Here is one of the songs..Il Y A
  • Tomorrow I will see you with the last walk through memory lane… Easy caramel squares..and Chronicles III, backstage.

à plus!

Ronelle


Quince crumble with orange and ginger..and bistrot flavor.

Quinces are bistro food…either in the form of jams and jellies or simmering on the stove for a compote or in the oven as a side dish. In season, freshly picked from the garden, on the market, they are on all the bistro menus for as long as the season lasts. And a crumble says it all. Comfort, warmth, flavor, senses, laughter, friends, cosiness, delicious.. a few words to capture a quince…and  a bistrot.

Une pincée de fleur de sel:

  • Boil the seeds and inner core along with the dice of quince – it flavors the mixture ant thickens the syrup.
  • Replace the ginger with cinnamon if you don’t like ginger.
  • Make smaller ramequins of crumble and serve as part of a plate of three dessert.
  • Use apple with quince.

..whipped cream, slice of orange and a ramequin of crumble..

..ingredients..

..Bistro flavor..

Life is a ratatouille, a blanquette, a bourguignon. It is a tartelette, a crumble, a millefeuille… life is a bistrot. No Michelin star restaurant, or any well known chef or trendy novelty or brocante can capture French life like le bistro. It is the place  we  go for our lunch or dinner because it feels like home. It is the place we go for our café, because that is where our friends are.

..bistrot at Coin Perdu..

We depend on the chef of le bistro to entice us with le plat du jour, or better yet, le menu du jour, where we sit back with a carafe of house wine and wait for our entrée et plat, or plat et dessert. The menu for the day mostly consists of either a starter and main course OR main course and dessert. Of course written on the blackboard, since the menu of the day follows the season! So never trust a bistrot without a blackboard!

.. plat du jour at Coin Perdu…

Bistrot life is just in my blood I guess. I love my coffee and croissant. Freshly squeezed orange juice. Pierrot gourmand. I love the simple French home kitchen where life is about family, friends and food. Around a bistrot table, discussion is always about the food. Of course other subjects are touched, but the food is always an obvious point of discussion…”is it delicious, or not so good today? Too much salt on the salmon? Too little butter in the sauce? Is the housewine good with the bourguignon? Is this year’s November Beaujolais better than last year..?”

..also called café des artistes..

I love the typically bistrot serviette, which speaks of the simplicity, but warmth of the French home kitchen. Simplicity doesn’t mean uninteresting or plain or boring, on the contrary. The French kitchen is filled with the exiting freshness of each season, whether it is in setting the table or making a soup or serving a Paris-brest. Frou-frou is left to the stage at Moulin rouge..in the bistro kitchen the soul is naked and simple..honest and true.

..des serviettes de mon bistrot..

I love La place, where a bistrot is always nestled between tables and chairs, people and fountains, pigeons and dogs of all colors. It is a place where the placid passing by of the morning makes way for the clutter of knives and forks, the clinking of glasses and loud chatter of happy eaters at midday.

..and outside we’ll find la place du café..

Some of my most favorite Bistrot books, which I know almost by heart from reading them again and again. They can be found on amazon.fr.

..Esprit bistrot..

..”Lotte de Bretagne piquée au chorizo, risotto façon paella”-Bruno Doucet à La Regalade

et bistro L’Ami Jean..

..Bistrots de chefs à Paris..

..Cyril Bourlois – bistrot  Aux vieux comptoir..

..Simplement bistrot- Yves Camdeborde..

..La tarte fine aux pommes – Yves Camdeborde

..Bistrot; autour et avec les recettes du Paul Bert – Bertrand Auboyneau et François Siumon..

..l’cailler du bistrot et une serveuse..

..Un café à la campagne – Christophe Lefébure..

..to the left: Chez Baudy à Giverny, where American artists gathered at the turn of the XIX and XXth centuriesto be in the presence of Monet..and ancient cafés to the right..


French Pierrot Gourmand bonbons et sucettes(lollipops)

Et voila…M Pierrot Gourmand, as promised!

We love our apéro (apéritif) before dinner. It can be many things and always quick and easy. Only with visitors do I try to do something more “travaillé” more elaborate. But most of the time it will be fresh tomatoes with some mozzarella, or a bowl of home marinated olives, or melted Camembert and baguette slices, or carrot sticks with vinaigrette dip, or brushcetta… These little tomato cocktails are very popular. Fresh from our tomato vines, they are dipped in caramel and in poppy seed and stuck into Pierrot and served with cold Provencal Rosé wine on the patio while Mon Chéri prepares his fire for our dinner… this is of course in summer where one can’t be anywhere else but outside!

Suggestions:

  • Dip the caramelized tips into any finish of your choice: dessicated coconut for a tropical touch; toasted seame seeds, finely chopped basil, or mixed fresh herbs; gremola; chopped dried tomatoes flakes, milled peppercorns, chopped nuts of your choice…
  • Don’t make the caramel too dark or else it will taste burnt.
  • Use wooden lollipop sticks for an authentic feel or use toothpicks and serve on wooden beard.
  • Serve with cold white or Rosé wines along with a bowl of torn and seasoned buffalo mozzarella pieces.

The birth of Pierrot Gourmand:

At the end of the XIXth century, the famous actor Debourreau created and played his own pantomime on the melody of  “Au clair de  la lune“. The personage Pierrot inspired Adolphe Willette, an artist to create a poetic Pierrot. He was referred to as “le Pierrot de Montmartre“. In 1892 Monsieur Everard of Everard and Herbert industries gave birth to a marquette of Pierrot sitting on the moon, offering bonbons to children.  And so Pierrot Gourmand was born.

The first lollipop was invented by Everard in 1924, made of barley sugar, fruit flavors, cola and caramel and shaped in the form of a spear head. The milky caramel was the first flavor on the market. Up until today Pierrot Gourmand lollipops still exist in both the round and original spear head shape.  With a production of over 2000 tons of candy per year, the fifties was regarded as the golden years for Pierrot Gourmand. Today it is part of the Agro-industriel-andros group, well known for its Andros jams and juices.

More reading on Pierrot gourmand:

* Adolphe Willett, the Pierrot of Montmartre.

*   “Souvenirs d’une p’tite Parisienne“.

Pierrot Gourmand, un siècle de création sucrée », Cherche Midi Editeur

..à bientôt mes amis!..

Ronelle


Tropical fruit salad… and Hawai’i chronicles 1 – the hula.

When I was in Hawa’i I searched everywhere for a nice tropical dessert with local fruits, but all in vain. Probably because of a lack of fruits in season? Back here at home, I still want a fruit salad, so I made this salad Not completely a tropical one, but with some well known fruits. Next time I’ll make a real tropical salad with lesser know fruits and give my verdict.

  1. Cut some tropical fruits of your choice into brunoise(small cubes). I used mango, papaya, pineapple, kiwi, kumquat, pomegranate, green Granny smith apple.
  2. Use fruits that  are ripe, but still firm, so that you don’t end up with a soggy fruit salad…awful!
  3. Cover the apple with lemon juice to prevent coloring.
  4. Don’t use banana, it is too strong and overpowering for a fruit salad.
  5. Use a tiny melon ball scoop for the papaya to add some difference in shapes. I also cut the pineapple in little triangles.
  6. Keep the fruits separate and mix lightly just before serving, OR set in layers in a pretty glass.
  7. Make a syrup of 4 passion fruit pulp, 1 TSP of sugar and 1/2 cup of water. Let it boil down to a syrupy consistency and pour over the salad just before serving.
  8. Serve with a small scoop of lemon sorbet. (recipe following in a next issue)
  9. Decorate with some fresh flowers or a little umbrella for fun, lime strips, or add mint leaves or small basil leaves.
  10. Serve cold, but NOT so cold that you can’t taste the fruit!

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Hawai’i is always a good place to unwind, even if you just do nothing, which is exactly what I did this time around. Reading by the pool, watching people(one of my favorite pastimes) while  imagining their stories. On one such a day, this lovely Hawaiian woman gave some Hula lessons and of course I don’t have the same pretty hips for swaying along, but I could at least capture some nice hips!

The Hula is not just pretty hip swaying, but tells a story. With the hands and arms and face, a tale is mimicked with sensuality and sensitivity.  One does get involved and captured  and can’t help but wish more stories were told this romantic way.

I was too far away to hear this story, but I imagine it could be something like this:

“The goddess Pele, who owns the sea and oceans and the mountains, saw that Hiania who lost a child, was absorbed by sadness. Hiania hid from the world and her tears filled the rivers. Pele cares passionately for her children of the islands and she heaved the winds and stirred the waves with a message to Haina.

“Cry no more“, she said.

Look up to the sun and see your child in the skies. He is smiling upon you and asking you to set free your sadness and prepare your womb to receive the child the winds will bring you.

Hiania looked up and saw the smile of her son. She gave her sadness to the mountain who took it deep into the earth to feed its fire and she was set free to wait with anticipation upon her keiki (little one).

Until next time and with swaying hips(in private!),

 Mahalo !

Ronelle


Crêpe à la semoule for Mardi Gras 2012.

Welcome to today, Mardi gras 2012!!

A little Mediterranean flavour to celebrate this feasty day…the last day on which we “fatten up” before we start our 40 day fast up to Pâcques. What else do we eat than crêpes…again?! Only, this time a bit different…made with semolina flour and yeast, it is left for an hour to rise before baking in a pan. The yeast may scare you off, but it is not at all difficult…no kneading involved, and while you wait on the raising of the yeast, you can clean up the kitchen. It is traditionally served with soft butter and warm honey in the Middle East….delicious I tell you!

…served with warm panfried clementines and honey and butter…

…served with soft butter and drizzled with warm honey…

  1. Add 4 tsp dry yeast to 125 ml lukewarm water. Add 3 TBS flour and leave aside in a warm place for about 15 minutes until the mixture begins to foam.
  2. Sift 250g flour, 250 fine semolina and a pinch of salt in a bowl and shape a hole in the middle of the flour.
  3. Beat 2 eggs with 125 ml lukewarm milk and add into the hole made in the flour. Add the foamed yeast mixture and another 350 ml lukewarm water. Work the flour gently from the outside towards the centre, mixing it with the yeast/milk mixture in the middle. Whisk briskly until the mixtrue is smooth with the consistency of thick cream. cover with a kitchen towel and leave in a warm place for and hour unil the mixture becomes foamy and doubles in volume.
  4. Wipe a pan with a little buttered or oiled paper and heat it up on the stove until hot. Drop a small ladle full of mixture into the center of the pan(about 3 TBSP).  Bake until the top is dry and makes small holes/bubbles. don’t turn over. Remove from the pan and keep warm on a plate  over hot water. Cover with a damp towel.
  5. Repeat until all the mixture is used up.
  6. Serve warm on a plate with warmed honey and soft butter OR some clementine slices, slightly caramelized in butter and honey.
  7. Serve warm.

Makes about 16 crêpes.

Suggestions:

  • Add  a drop of orange flower water to the crêpe mixture OR add it to the clementines.
  • Arrange the crêpes after baking each one in overlapping fashion rather that on top of each other.
  • Butter the pan between baking if you don’t use a non stick pan.

…eggs, semolina, flour, yeast and a scale..

..acacia honey, fresh seasonal clementines and many books..

* Recipe adapted from “crêpe à la semoule” de  Le Meilleur du MAroc, by Tess Maloss, Larousse.

I hope you have a festive Mardi Gras and that your fasting from tomorrow on stays motivated and on the right track… ahem ahem…!

à bientôt!

Ronelle


Cherry and bacon rolls..and happy Valentine!

I suppose everyone thinks “chocolate” when in February and especially around the 14th. I’m breaking the rules a bit here…these small cherry and bacon rolls are much more popular in our home under my loved ones than chocolate. In fact, I’m the only chocolate fan around here! So, when I make my people these little rolls, they know it says something about my love for them.

Very easy, so much so that it doesn’t require any recipe. I’ve had this “recipe” for as long as I can remember. It is sort of my “signature” snack and I have not yet come across a single person who sticks to only one or even two.

  1. Simply roll some sweet “cake cherries” as we used to call them in strips thin bacon. Secure with a toothpick
  2. Bake in a 200 degrees C (356 degr F) oven until the bacon is caramelized. In a preheated oven, this won’t take longer than 12-15 minutes.

Suggestions:

  • Use some prunes or apricots instead of cherries.
  • Use a leaner ham, like prosciutto or Serrano ham, cut in think slices and roll around the cherries. I’ve tried them all, but our favourite stays bacon strips.
  • The bacon rolls can be fried in a pan(without oil), but they are crispier and tastier(and healthier) baked in the oven.
  • Use simple toothpicks.. fancy ones will burn in the oven.
  • Eat warm from the oven.

…cherries in syrup, strips of bacon, toothpicks…

…May you all have  a cherry sweet Valentine’s day!..

…à bientôt

 from Chérie here in Corréze!


Sophie’s crêpes for la Chandeleur…and all kinds of french chateaux.

Today, 2 February is la Chandeleur( a  commemoration of the presentation  of the baby Jesus in the temple of Jerusalem and the purification process: (Luke 2:22 – When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”[a]), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”) . But mostly this day in France is devoted to eating crêpes.  I’m sharing a traditional Breton recipe, a favorite of our daughter’s  friend, who is Bretonne.

…crêpes de Sophie…

I feel a little like Paula Deen advocating this butter and sugar, so maybe I should warn...DANGER! One can’t have too many of these and in any case, we French only eat one or at the most, two crêpes(if they are small) at a time! Hope you enjoy your one crêpe.

…exploding sugar crystals”..(pumping candies)…

The basic recipe for the crêpes can be found here: A classice crêpe recipe and feasting the Mardi Gras way.

Suggestions for Sophie’s Bretonne crêpes.

  • When serving your crêpes, heat a pan with a small knob of butter.
  • Add one crêpe at a time, turn and warm/fry the other side.
  • Add a little sugar to the crêpe in the pan, allow it to melt, fold the crêpe in half and fold again so you end up with a small envelope.
  • Slide onto a plate and serve hot.
  • For fun I added some “exploding sugar crystals” just before serving. They will “explode” in your mouth, adding a surprise to each bite. I see they are called “pumping candies”…?Her is one address in France where they can be ordered from: Meilleur du chef.com

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When we hear the word château, we immediately dream up an image of Le Roi Louis XIV, the sun king of France. And yes, it is spot on. It is those beautiful country residences of royalties like le château de Versailles, or Fontainebleau, or those found in La vallee de la Loire, like the majestic Chambord and Chenenonceau, or Villandry and Uzé and others, more or less known.

…Fontainebleau…

…Chambord…

…Bourdaisiére…

…Chinon…

…Chaumont sur Loire…

 But then we also have the smaller French country house, also called  un château which might be inhabited by a noble Frenchman or not. Lately many châteaux here in France are bought up and restored by foreigners and run as bed and breakfasts or luxury hotels. And yes, stories rich in deception, love and intrigue still abound in all these châteaux, even the luxury château hotels…how can you silence the voice of a place?

…a locked up country château…

.. you want to hear the mysterious story of this small château…no, not now? OK next time…

…no entry, only mystery…

There is a third kind of château…my chickens are of noble heritage…owing not only one, but two châteaux of which I am the butler and the maid and housekeeper. Their fancy heated one in Tours is at the moment up for sale, and they are living in an old dilapidated château here at Coin Perdu which we inherited when we bought the property. But, as royalty runs deep in the veins and isn’t determined by  surroundings, my chickens reign with dignity and class from their ruins.

…the entrance to the chateau de Plumes…

…a dilapidated château de Plumes..

As soon as my vegetable patch is finished, the château de Plumes will move to the potager. I have the plans all set up for a cute and regal château de Plumes with turrets and all, still rustic, but worthy to be home to Their Royal Hignesses. As it is very cold here at night, I bring them into the barn at night,  in their baskets, where they sleep next to my bed and we all snore in sync and cozy warmth. At 5:30, when Camembert announces the day(how does he know it is day, when all is still spitting dark??), I turn on my other side and cover my ears.

…dignified royalty…

Enjoy your ONE crêpe!!! 

and until next time..

from your devoted servant, Ronelle


Ginger and lime tartlet…and crosses and crossroads.

A very popular tart/cake/sweetness in our home is this little lime tart…sometimes made with lemon. It has a tartness without being overwhelming sweet or soury, like lemon tarts can sometimes be. It reminds a little of a cheesecake…just perfect for those particular tastebuds.

Suggestions:

  • Use lemons instead of limes.
  • Use other biscuits of your choice for the base.
  • Serve cream on the side or decorate each tartlet with a whipped cram dollop.

*A recipe adapted from Atelier tartes, salé +sucré by Catherine Kluger.

Doesn’t fascination come in so many forms? One of them is the beautiful old crosses(las crotz) standing at the carrefours (crossroads) in France and especially here in the Limousin. I have to admire them every time I pass them, because somehow they grab my sentiments and transport me back to a time when life was so different from how we live it now. Standing in the heart of the countryside all over the Limousin, I can still feel their eternity, hear their stories, their silence, even despite the fact that I now break that calm of the past with the cruel blare of modern transport.

These beacons served once upon a time as road signs. Sometimes elaborate, but most of the time very simple and very often as plain as one huge exceptional stone. After Christianity la croix de chemin took on the shape of a real cross…in wood or carved from the best stone of the region, elaborate, in wrought iron, on pedestals, or freestanding.

Today these crosses are only reminders  of what was once a landmark for the peasants, roadsigns and parish, places of pilgrimage. They  were also objects of religion and devotion and sometimes commemoration of events, like La croix des femmes, which was created in commemoration on a corner where a blind horse caused the death of two women.

The photos were all taken just around the area, 30 minutes’ drive around our home, Coin Perdu in Correze.

These two crosses stand at the entrance of the village Beaulieu sur Dordogne and the other at the entrance to Puy d’Arnac. It was custom that a cross indicates the beginning and ending of a village.

At the crossroads the crosses also serve during snow periods in winter where the four roads came together. People gathered at these crossroads, mostly for religious ceremonies and blessing of the crop and the land And prayers. They were important landmarks, not only of the land, but also of the lives of the peasants.  It is not a strange thing then when we speak of standing at a crossroad in our lives. We should stop frequently and check if we still see our beacon/landmark. Can we still recognize it? Has our direction changed? Maybe it is necessary to change the course of our pilgrimage from time to time. A next landmark will always be there to guide us. Crossroads will always be there. They are timeless. Create your own las crotz. Let it guide you.  Let it tell your story.

…à bientôt…

Ronelle

All photos: Ronell van Wyk

Bibliography: Mémoires de la Corrèze,  Jean- Pierre Lacombe.


Ambiance 6/1/12

It is epiphany weekend and here in France we have  “les galettes des rois” tempting us around every corner! I almost gave in, but I held my ground firmly and walked past.

Safely here at home, I can now proudly boast about my steadfast self discipline! After a season of nibbling on all the festive foods, I want to get back on track with healthy eating. Doesn’t that sound quite boring? NOTE TO SELF: Keep the healthy eating exciting! Tall order, since I have become a bit lazy in the cooking department. Proof…I haven’t even baked a galette this this year! But that is no problem. I have links up this lazy sleeve!

First: My own galette des rois from last year…oops…not last year, but 2010!

How did a year pass without me knowing about it?

Ronelle’s (that’s me..)galette des rois

And here is Monique’s galette des rois:

and Chriesi’s galette des rois:

So this is what dictionary.com has to say about epiphany:

“epiphany

   [ih-pif-uh-nee]

noun, plural -nies.

  • 1. ( initial capital letter ) a Christian festival, observed on January 6, commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles in the persons of the Magi; Twelfth-day.
  • 2. an appearance or manifestation, especially of a deity.
  • 3. a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.
  • 4. a literary work or section of a work presenting, usually symbolically, such a moment of revelation and insight.”

I hope your weekend will be filled with all the meanings of the word epiphany; eat a galette on 6 January, experience a pleasant appearance, receive that sudden insight we all need so desperately, and present your epiphany by means of a piece of work…maybe by baking a galette, even if only this once in your life?

Enjoy the weekend, stay warm in the north, stay out of the sun in the south,  eat “healthy”, and enjoy your epiphany.

“Epiphany”. I have to say it again.

“Epiphany“.

Such a nice word.

ciao ciao!

Epiphanic epiphanist.


A sweet mustard sauce…and the end of 2011.

This is a very popular recipe from “Winning recipes from Huisgenoot wenresepte” a great south African recipe book. I can’t imagine a south African household without this recipe. I make it only at end of the year as a dip with some warm cocktail sausages or some shaved green beans, since it is a bit too sweet for me to use with a meal. It is very quick and easy and ideal for that last minute “bring something to eat along”. Even the French, who guard their mustard with sacré dignité, stumble over their principles for more than one dip into the sweet mustard bowl! Hope you enjoy it.

Suggestions:

  • Be sure to use white vinegar, or else the mustard sauce will be coloured an unappetizing dark colour.
  • Serve as a dip with warm cocktail sausages, or cold slices of meat or add to sliced green beans as an accompaniment.

…and some last days of 2011

Before I get into the stream of the new year’s living…I greet you with a last view on the end of the 2011. (Don’t worry, this will be the last post about ME!!)

I promise the next posts will not be about me but be more exciting for you all…some book researches, some give-aways, some restaurant reviews, some courses, some kitchen stories, some tips and tools, some new foods on the market, some how-to’s, some travel stories around food, some visits to French homes, some visits to boulangeries and bucheries and chocolateries…and more!

But for now…saying goodbye to 2011 with images of time spent STILL at coin Perdu..

..gathering moss for our Christmas eve dinner with my daughter’s mate, Sponge Bob tagging along…

..some tête de moine cheese..?

…and enjoying some champagne and oysters on our walks in the forest..

..oysters with a mango vinaigrette..

..a set table for Christmas eve- resembling our forest with its owls and birds and wild heather, moss..

..a courgette and smoked espuma as amuse bouche for Christmas eve..

..christmas day table resmebled the stream running through our forest, with pebbles, the ever present owls, some winter snow, ice crystals hanging from branches, birds and the silver stream with the moonlight reflecting by means of tiny tealights and candles..

…grey moss and stars surrounding the moon and stream and pebbles…can you hear the water trickling..?

…and Sponge Bob brought along some sparkles for our starter of scallops with a parsley sauce and chanterelles mushrooms…!

..reveling in the colours and moons of Jupiter..

..a winter ascending moon and evening star at twilight(Venus)..

..and of course sun sleeping…!

..lots of riding..

..some whispering..

..and trotting..

..early morning training..

..isn’t this beautiful…man and his horse..?

..moving as one..

May we all ride into this new year as one with our dreams and ideals, our goals, our principles, beliefs and hopes..

à bientôt!

Ronelle


Lemon verbena ice cream..and those ugly clothes hangers.

I love Lemon verbena…it dries beautifully, it makes a refreshing infusion, it adds zest to a cabinet, a room…and makes an elegant  ice cream. And whichever season you’re in, an ice cream is always a good ending to a meal.

Suggestions:

  • Use lavender flowers or other dried herbs that you like instead of the lemon verbena.
  • If you want a lighter ice cream, use only milk instead of the cream. \For an even creamier version, substitute 1 cup of cream for one cup of crème fraiche.
  • If you’re afraid of curdling the cream when heating, heat up only the milk and add the cream later.

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One thing I am finicky about in my home, is clothes hangers.  I normally use wooden hangers, which are quite expensive for all our clothes.  And I don’t really like thickly covered hangers. And I don’t like plastic hangers. And here at Coin Perdu, while we are still living in the barn, wooden hangers feel too extravagant. Since Hartman’s shirts are being ironed professionally, I have loads of wire clothes hangers, which I return, but there are always a few lying around. and while we were around the barbeque fire one evening, an idea was born to cover these wire hangers with some strips of torn fabric.  I’m highly excited about my clothes hangers and have decided that they will just move into my clothes closet once our house is finished! not to mention my excitement about recycling, saving on money and being a wise consumer!

I used:

  • Wire coat hangers.
  • Old pieces of cotton fabric, cut/torn into strips of  roughly 4 cm wide and about 150 cm long, although the length is not such an issue, since one can just start off with a new strip if you run out of fabric on a hanger. I used off cuts of toile de jouy fabric in shades of beiges and whites. I used cotton which is easy to use and to manipulate around the hanger. the thicker your fabric the more difficult it becomes. If you want a thicker covering, make your strips a bit wider, or wind closer together.
  • I also tore my pieces of fabric so the edges are quite rough, giving nice texture to the hangers. I like the frayed edges and pieces of thread escaping wildly here and there. (See photo above)

Start at the top of the hook of the hanger and let a longish piece of your strip hang down to the middle(where you will tie the two strips together at the end.)

  • With your long strip, start winding down the hook to the middle, making sure you capture well around the sharp point of the handle.
  • If you run out of fabric halfway through a hanger, simply finish off tightly and start with a new strip of the same fabric, working forward and then a bit backward(like backstitching) and then continue. Both the end of the old strip and start of the new strip are now “buried” under the new strip.
  • Make sure to make your windings tight. (See image above)
  • When you have gone right around the hanger, you will end back at the middle, where your short piece of fabric strip is hanging.
  • Tie the two strips together into a tight knot and let the strips hang down like a ribbon/bow.
  • You can finish off the two strips by simply leaving them tied in a knot (like I did), OR work some ribbons or buttons or and other decoration of your choice.

…et voilà..a facelift for some ugly ole wire hangers!…


Countrybread with panfried strawberries and basil…and apron fun!

Can we ever get enough of strawberries? Of course not! Right off the vine, directly out of the basket, sliced with cream, sorbet, panacotta, tarts, salads…every which way. And as a lunch with fresh country bread, goats cheese  and basil? Simply delicious.

Suggestions:

  • The strawberries can be used fresh instead of sautéed, o cut and marinated in some white balsamic vinegar and lemon juice. Add a bit of olive oil to the marinade and use as a vinaigrette.
  • Use some soft cottage cheese instead of the goats cheese with freshly chopped chives and basil the and salt and pepper mixed into the cottage cheese.
  • Omit the cheese completely and make a sandwich of fresh strawberries, basil, chopped chives and add a drizzle of maple syrup.
  • Another version could be to top the bread with strawberries and lastly add some goats cheese, put under the gril for two to three minutes and add the basil and a drizzle of honey just before serving.
  • Use other sliced fruit in season instead of the strawberries.

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We stopped our restoration here at Coin Perdu for a day of fun. With aprons. And three delightful, playful models. They chopped and chirped, giggled and grated, peeled and pestered,  mocked and mixed, all the while performing with an apron chosen from the heap. So.. can an apron be fun? Judge for yourself…

 

I grew up seeing my mother in her apron every day. While she was doing her morning’s work; the washing, ironing, cleaning, kitchen work, she faithfully wore her apron. And after lunch, it would be removed until dinner time, when preparing dinner and cleaning up would demand an apron again.

Unlike those days, when aprons at home were more of a necessity to protect the small wardrobe of clothes, we have a multitude of aprons today for adding to that special ambiance of an occasion or activity. It partially serves to also  show our domain of expertise as well as our our fun loving side. But some habits haven’t changes over the years…the butcher still wears his butcher’s apron/outfit, the boulanger(baker) is still clearly recognized by his apron, the fishmonger wears his proudly, the blacksmith is never without his leather aprons, the “garcon” serving your “panache” at the bar wears his with French  flair… an apron is there for our barbecues and for our kitchens , our gardens,  for playgrounds, yes, it is fun equally for men, women and children.

So, do you have a fun loving side…?


à bientôt

Ronelle



Sushi..and Singapore.

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)..

Suggstions:

  • 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.


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..chinatown..

…Street scenes from chinatown…

…buddha temple in chinatown…

…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)

…Masjid sultan…

…colorful surfaces…

…behind the scenes…

…Architecture in Kampong glam…

…Little India…

…Street scene in little India…

…Architecture in little India…

…Shopping…

**My Singapore sketches are on Africantapestry.

**All uncollaged photos of Singapore can be seen on Travels

à bientôt!

Ronelle


“Sablés” aux graines..et la Touraine pittoresque

A while ago, my daughter bought a packet of  sablés des près from Bonne Maman and it was so good. So I looked at the ingredients and decided to create my own. Et voilà mes sablés aux graines!… if ever I can be allowed to blow my own horn, this would be it! These sablés turned out delicious and I’ve decided it will be my Christmas gift to friends this season. I’ve done half of the quantity with the addition of poppy- white sesamé- and sunflower seeds and the other half with only fennel seeds, which have a more “herb” taste and are as delicious. With a cup of tea or tisane…late night…before bed…pure comfort! The only problem? How to stop at two  sablés..!

Suggestions:

  • Whole wheat flour can be used instead of white flour.
  • When using whole wheat flour, use light brown sugar instead of white sugar for more rustic coloured cookies.
  • Replace 1/2 c flour with 1/2 c rice flour.
  • Replace the three seeds with 3 TBSP of fennel seeds.
  • If you use unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt to the dried ingredients.
  • Use a stencil to flatten the cookies…with a letter of the alphabet, or another design that you like.
…sablés aux graines..la farine de blé, tipe 55…sablés des près de Bonne Maman..

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…la touraine pittoresque…

I’m saying goodbye to a breathtaking autumn…! Our rains have arrive this weekend…pouring down non stop! And so the warm splendor of autumn has now been forced to make way for  the abstract art of stark winter impressions.

With silly excitement, I will now trot along November deeper into winter, all the while  planning our Christmas tree, which will be put up on 1 December, like tradition dictates. (Keep an eye on the watch it you’d like to see..) And to keep the winter blues at bay, I will be planning our outings and visits to chateaux and places of interest for this season….the chateaux have such different ambiance in December…in Chenonceau for example, a huge fire crackles in the massive fireplace…and after such a visit, it will be off to warm ouselves around a chocolat chaud in a cozy brasserie. It is also the time to go to shows and chorals and music concerts in the catedrales. But more about all of this later. For now, a last tribute to la Touraine pittoresque!

...houses on the loire...

..je vous souhaite une bonne semaine!..

Ronelle


Chili peppers stuffed with rabbit..and a home library.

I had left over rabbit. And small chili peppers. Some goats cheese. Herbs. And guests for dinner. As un apéro, these would do perfectly.

But BEWARE: They are very hot. While I was preparing them, I took a tiny bite from one and it was fairly piquant, but not as I expected and I continued happily.  BUT THEN… later the afternoon, I propped a smallish whole one in my mouth….well,  I flounced desperately around the kitchen table, like a horse being backed for the first time. I fled  outside in the rain for oxygen and help.  Not finding it there, I scrambled back to the fridge and gulped down 6 joghurts… I think next time I will use the mild spanish red pepper instead…but oh, these look SO pretty on a platter…!


Suggestions:

  • Use left over chicken or duck or turkey instead of rabbit.
  • When using duck, leave out the cheese and replace with balsamic vinegar and grated apple, sprinkled with lemon juice.
  • Ricotta cheese or créme fraîche can be used in place of the goats cheese.
  • Serve as a sterter with a small green salad, or serve as an apéritif with a cold white wine.
  • If the chili peppers are too hot to your liking, use the long Spanish red peppers instead and cut them shorter from the thin point upward.

Apart from smelling freshly brewed coffee when entering a home, few other things can  give a home that feeling of lived in comfort, cosiness , than seeing books…stacks of books, or shelves overflowing with a chaos of books. It doesn’t matter if it is a formal library or the living room where books are strewn on the table and couches.  I’m not talking about the pretentious shelves and  more shelves of beautiful books, only admired for their leather covers…No,  I love entering a home and seeing books everywhere, inviting me to take on from a shelf or pick it up from a table or chair or even the floor….open it up and page through… read the end…the sinopsis and discover a little bit about the owner’s taste and likes and discover new titles…

We don’t have a libraryat home, only “corners” of books which  I try in vain to keep  neat. Now I look past it and only try to balance out the stacking in order to prevent a shelf from breaking. And I LOVE it when people come here and pick up a book…!

..books at home..

..books in corners..

..books on the coffeetable, by the bed, decorating corners(which I HAVE read and still reread, yes)..

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I bought this beautiful and inspiring book on libraries a while ago: BIBLIOTHEQUES – l’art de vivre avec des livres by Roland Beaufre and Dominique Dupuich..

..BIBLIOTHEQUES - l'art de vivre avec des livres by Roland Beaufre and Dominique Dupuich..

*All the following images are borrowed from the book:

These next two libraries, are my most favorites in this book…if you leave me in either of these two, I’ll just happily disappear and you’ll never see me again!

..from the family Tazi, at Rabat..

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Another wonderful treasure of books!

..library of the Parisian decorator, Laure Welfing in Tanger..

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This library below is beautiful…too beautiful actually. I feel like someone’s is whispering…:”Don’t touch”!

..a bourgeoise library in Tanger..

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Don’t you just love a space like this, with so much to see and look at and loaded with personality…except for that spider on the lamp shade of course…

..working space/library of Gilles Neret in St-Germain-de-Prés, journalist and editor..

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This inviting couch and the lamp won me over!

..library/working space of art writer, Francois Jonquet with a bohemian flavor..

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A bit less chaotic, but still inviting with its couch and music station, the warmth of family photos, botanical prints…and of course…MANY books!!

..library of decoration journalist, Pamela de Monbrison..

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I hope this kicked you into a mood of reading, like it did me…and instead of watching a good DVD this weekend, let’s make it one of reading those oldies we haven’t touched in a while!

..bon week-end!..

Ronelle


Bruschetta with tomato…and a day at Montsoreau brocante.

We will always have to eat. Even if it is just something quick and simple. A bruschetta is just that. Quick and simple.

I cut a baguette into slices, spooned some tomato paste on top with a slice of cemembert cheese,  and lastly added a slice of semi dried tomato in olive oil and freshy shredded basil. Place onto a grill for a few seconds and serve with freshly milled pepper and a sprinkling of fleur de sel.

Last year, when we arrived back home, I wrote about my little village Montlouis sur Loire in this post:  Scorpion fish with citrus salad.  We are now back again from our time in correze and this morning I took my camera and sketching stuff and headed for our bigger town Tours, a place I really love for its architecture and green parks, tree lanes, fresh markets and yes,  its shops and people. I wanted to show what I see. But it  started raining. I ran for cover and enjoyed a coffee and croissant while waiting for the skies to clear. When that didn’t happen, I bought a cake and on impulse decided to drive to Montsoreau where there is a “puce”(fleamarket) on today. It is a quaint little village on the Loire and it just feels like holiday being there. The spirit today was one of holiday indeed. The clouds made room for the sun, which had me take out my purse way more than initially planned.

…a large platter…

…old prints…

…my weak spot – story plates, and tasses de cafés

…les puces de montsoreau…

…à la prochaine!..

Ronelle


Red berries sorbet and Rue Scellerie in Tours.

In the extreme heat we are experiencing, a sorbet is more refreshing than ice cream… and my favourite…red berries. Combined with some poached summer peaches and a scoop of vanilla/peach ice cream and topped with some chantilly… a peche melba to die for. But for now, only a scoop of sorbet with a min leaf. This is a popular sorbet found at La patisserie de Madame Cheftel in rue Scellerie in Tours. Delicious.

VF: Dans l’extrême chaleur qu’on subi maintenant en France, il n’y a pas mieux qu’un sorbet…fait maison en plus. Un sorbet aux fruits rouges. Pour un dessert somptueux, on fait des pêches pochées, ajoute une glace vanille ou même de la pêche, une boule de sorbet et on sert avec un nuage de chantilly. Et voilà, un délicieux pêche melba! Mais pour l’instant, restons à une boule de sorbet aux fruits rouges, décorée avec un feuille de la menthe. Délicieux!


Recipe from Ice cream and iced desserts(Le grand livre des glaces) – Joanna Farrow & Sara Lewis.

Suggestions:

  • Use other fruit…strawberries, peaches(remove skin), apricots(remove skin)…winter fruits like pear(peeled) combined with a little white  sauterne wine. (Don’t add too much alcohol or else your sorbet won’t freeze.)
  • Add some peaches to the red berries for a more intense flavor.
  • Add some finely chopped mint leaves for a fresh flavor.
  • Stirring the sorbet every now and then when making it by hand, helps break up the ice crystals to give a smoother, creamier sorbet.
  • during the warm summer days, keep the ice cream maker out of heat or warm air when making the sorbet, it will help  your ice cream/sorbet reaching the iced staged quicker.

Rue Scellerie is one of my favorite streets in Tours. It walks up to the cathedral where I always make a stop and it passes by my favourite patisserie de Madame Cheftel. It has antique stores, book stores, our Grand Theatre, exclusive boutiques, a toy shop with GORGEOUS toys – a far cry from toys are us! Of course a chocolaterie, one or two salons de thé, an art galery, a park with a fountain and it ends at the cathedral.

VF: Rue Scellerie est une de mes préférées a Tours. Je prends si  fréquemment la route, fais un arrêt à la pâtisserie de la charmante Madame Cheftel pour un thé et un petit gâteau et continue ma vadrouille, passe les boutiques exclusives, un mignon magasin de jeux d’enfants, un chocolaterie, une galerie des arts, prend une repose auprès de la fontaine dans le parc, et finis à la Cathédrale de Tours.


…our Grand Theatre, dates from about 1794, was destroyed by a fire in 1883. Everything was burnt down to the ground except for four walls. In 1889 the doors were opened again, just to be closed by the world war I in 1914 and then again for world war II and reopened again in 1939, after the war(le grand Theatre d,epoque de 1700, ferme pour les deux guerres du monde et réouvert dans 1939)...

…a street filled with  old book stores(pleine de librairies)

…and antique stores… and brocantes(antiquités et brocantes)…

…and a scary old lady in her VERY old ancienne book store, not taking nonsense from anyone and I always first peep through the window to see if she is out, before I enter(une vieille dame d’une nature un peu effrayante dans  une librairie ancienne, et avant d’entrer dans sa librairie, je jète un œil pour vérifier qu’elle n’est pas présente!))…

…a little store with an adorable proprietesse who has lovely old curtains made from old fabric and who doesn’t want to sell her bicycle(un magasin avec  des rideaux faits de vieille tissu et un vélo pas à vendre, dommage)

…shops with old medals and coins for the men and old jewellery for the ladies(des magasin au goût des homme et ceux-là avec des bijoux pour plaire aux  femmes.

…tea and cake at Madame Cheftel’s Patisserie – having her shop for already 29 years and always greeting one with her chic short hair, wearing her black apron, her wide smile and a little joke at the ready…how can we not stop by and indulge in her delicacies(un goûter chez Madame Cheftel qui a son pâtisserie déjà 29 ans et elle est toujours charmante, chaleureuse, souriante avec un air chic aux cheveux courtes et elle court partout en tablier noir, folle d’énergie)


…which already wink at you in her window display(les gourmandises nous séduisent en vitrine)


…and then off to browse again the  every-4th- sunday-brocante in rue scellerie; small and intimate, but with an interesting find every time among all the(et voilà la brocante de chaque quatrième Dimanche, très agréeable malgré le petit nombre des exposants) …

…stuff – displayed on the ground, or sometimes not so stable tops(on fouille par terre, sur les tables bancale)…

…but always inviting one to lean in for that closer peak(on regarde de prés) …

…or to simply just walk and say hi to the brocanteurs, who endure bitter cold, hoping optimistically they will make a sale(on discute avec les brocanteurs, qui endurent parfois des températures sévères avec l’optimisme d’en faire au moins une vente ou deux)  …

Bon weekend et à la prochaine!


Cucumber and kiwi tartine and sprouting some seeds.

Sprouting seeds is so easy. Healthy. Available to everybody. If you have a kitchen, you can have some sprouted seeds. Wonderful to use in salads and on sandwiches and it can serve as edible decoration on summer soups.

VF: Les graines germinées sont très faciles à faire. Tout le monde peut y arriver. Si on a une cuisine, si petite soit- elle, on peut toujours trouver un coin pour un germoir. C’est sain, délicieux en salade ainsi que sur une tartine et même comme une décoration comestible sur une soupe froide.

Suggestions:

  • Shave your cucumber in thin strips with a potato peeler.
  • Use also other vegetables, like carrot strips, courgette strips or fennel  and combine with thin apple slices or pear slices.
  • When using pear or apple, consider using a soft blue cheese.
  • Use a real country style bread, with a hard crust and soft interior, giving you that nutty taste. Please don’t eat those “plastic bread loaves” which just have no taste or flavor or texture!
  • Use some nuts and accompanying oil to finish off your sandwich.
  • the vegetables can first be made into a little salad, sprinkled lightly with your favorite vinaigrette and spooned on to some sliced country bread.
  • Serve with an ice cold dry rosé wine.

…moutarde blanche et roquette(white mustard seeds and rocket)…

Tips for sprouting seeds:

  1. Rinse the seeds/grains under cold water and leave to stand for an hour or three, depending on the size and type of seeds.
  2. Rinse again and  spread in a sprouter or in a glass jar, covered with muslin.
  3. Rinse  the seeds/grains twice a day and even more on hot days.
  4. Leave in a dark corner, or in direct light if you want your seeds to turn green. Seeds left in the dark will be crunchier than those exposed to light.
  5. Use a special sprouter for seeds/grains which has a gel when it gets wet…mustard seeds, rocket, lambs lettuce…
  6. Spread your grains which form a gel onto some wet cottonwool if you don’t have a special sprouter.
  7. It takes from about 3 days to 10 days to have grains ready for your use.
  8. When the grains are ready, remove them from the tray, dry on a piece of toweling and store in the fridge.
  9. My favorites – trefle rouge, radis noir, cressonnette, oignon, chou rouge, moutarde, broccoli, adzuki
  10. Some sites to read for sprouting your own  grains:  Natur santé,  Handy pantry sproutingPrimal seeds.

…the containers also vary from affordable to glamorous and expensive. But even plain can fruit bottles turned on their side will do the trick…fill them with about 2 TBSP of seeds, rinse, cover with muslin and turn onto its side...

…tréfle rouge..

…some are just plain difficult and I don’t even bother with them any more…like beetroot seeds. I’ve tried every which way, but can only succeed in sprouting 5 seeds out of a whole handful…and I DO have a pretty green finger…!

…some seeds sprout faster than others. Transfer those quick sprouting one to a container in the fridge and start fresh with new seeds. That way there will always be a variety of seeds for your salads in the fridge…

..une boîte a graines pour donner l’inspiration..

Amusez vous bien avec votre germoir, quelques graines, un peu d’inspiration et beaucoup d’enthousiasme!

…à la prochaine…


Petit pois dip with mint and goats cheese and garden stories.

It is time for nature. For long walks. For the garden. Double digging and planting. For pruning and sowing. And for observing. After a hard winter, nature is on the verge of exploding into its exuberant spring plumage. To harmonize with the new growth and hope springing up all around, I wanted something green. Petits pois came to mind with its vibrant green .   I call it a dip, but it is a spread, a paté, a guacamole, a tapenade too… I added Maroccan mint, some freshly sprouted seeds, soft goats cheese; it is early spring on a bruschetta. Nothing more can be said.

  • In a next post, we’ll talk a little about sprouting seeds, which is something we all should be doing at our homes!

Suggestions:

  • Instead of serving the dip on bread, it can be served in individual small glasses or bowls and eaten with a spoon as a starter and some bread on the side.
  • Or serve as a little salad on a bed of young spinach leaves.
  • Add some dried currants for a little sweetness.
  • Use other vegetables like fava beans or a mixture of the two.
  • Consider also crushed steamed broccoli or steamed courgettes.
  • Don’t skimp on the mint.
  • Some mayonnaise or cream can be added to the mixture to give it more of a dip texture. Serve with carrot and celery sticks.
  • Serve with toasted bread slices or fresh crusty baguette slices.


Let’s put winter with its deep conversation and full bodied Cabernets and hypnotic fireplaces behind for a while. Let’s move outside to the stories of nature. To the optimistic nesting of the gulls on the Loire islands. To the plunging flights of the swallows. The fearless circling of the eagles. Let’s focus on the delicate entrance of the apple blossom.  The almond blossom. Let’s admire the elegance of the magnolia and not shy away from the shameless flirtation of the sweeping wildflowers.

From the beginning of time, man had been entranced by nature. Living by it, dying by it. Cursing by it, loving by it. We live by it force every day. 

…it is only when you start to garden, probably after 50 – that you realize something important happens every day – Geoffrey B Charlesworth…


I can’t pass by a book on garden stories.  Some day I’ll share one of my own stories from my garden journal. But for now, I’d like to share four of my favorite garden story books. (The lovely bookmarks you see in the following images, was a gift from  la belle Monique)

…A growing gardener by Abbie Zabar. Delightful sketches about her garden on the rooftop, with delightful  accompanying drawings, a feast for the eye and an enrichment for the soul!…

Les affranchis jardiniers by Annick Bertrand-Gillen…..a couple living the simple  way, providing for themselves from nature, doing it all the biological way. I adore this book.We experience a bit of their life with them, their garden and home and it gives us envy to follow in their footsteps. A beautiful life. A beautiful garden, open to the public in summer….

Simple pleasures of the garden by Susannah Seton…...a collection of stories and recipes, quotes and tips for every season. This is a book to be read outside in the shade of the walnut, or curled up by the fireplace, or in the splendor of autumn by the riverside, it makes you love every season.

True nature by Barbara Bash…..a writer/illustrator taking solitary retreats, living close to nature with only her thoughts and art and her journal. I received this as a gift from a good friend an fellow artist, the very creative Lindsay who sent it to me when I was not in the best of places. It was wonderful food for my thoughts then and still is!

… welcoming spring…

And last but not least…have a spring inspired look at Jain’s day inthe country!

Don’t throw outt the water you’ve used to boil your eggs in. They are rich in mineral salts…use it to water your plants with.


Mackerel paté and creative recycling.

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.

Suggestions:

  • 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.


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