Today is Grandmothers’ day here in France. everywhere “les Mamies” were taken out to lunches, flower shops were open(normally closed on Sundays) and husbands and children walked around with small bouquets for their sweet “Mamie” I wish I had a “Mamie” who I could spoil today, but the best I could do, was join in the fun at out Cecile’s bar, “le café du Centre” in Beaulieu sur Dordogne, where everybody gathered in happy spirit for coffee and croissants!
Of course that is something just up my alley, for I adore my coffee and I adore my croissant. I’m not a very routine and organized focused person, but not a day goes by that I don’t routinely start my day with my black “café allongé, un verre d’eau, un croissant and the day’s journal, La Montagne.
..my habitual café et croissant..
And so…right there, this morning, next to mon Chéri, among our cafés and croissant crumbs, camera, lenses and writing carnets and laughter of Cecile’s clients, the idea was born for a new blog. I am up for change!
..le café du centre..
So maybe I will move over from Myfrenchkitchen to Café & croissant, which will just be about everything I encounter in my everyday life…I suppose not much different from what I’ve done on Myfrenchkitchen. and of course food is included….man can’t live on croissants alone! I am considering having only the one blog…for my art, for our coin Perdu and its country life and restoration and all things that I find brings sense to this challenging life we live. But maybe I won’t move…I will of course lose many of my readers and will have to start all over and my URL will change which is always a complicated story for all involved. But where is a will, is a way. I need to move on to something new…some new juice! The future will lead me.
I’m also leaving this week for a week or two in Hawaii with mon Chéri. All tech stuff will stay behind, except for my camera. I’m taking only my bathing suit, sketching tools and little black number…for all those dinners awaiting me! I want to switch off and indulge in nature the sun and surroundings, let my senses treat me every day. Can you tell I’m excited?
And to round off this post…I made a curry chicken tagine for dinner..
- Chicken cut into portions, browned in olive oil and madras curry. Added potatoes cut in cubes, onions cut roughly, a handful of organic dried apricots, chopped preserved lemon, a tablspoon of wild flower honey and some homemade chicken stock from the freezer. Bring to the boil and slowly simmer until you have a thick sauce and tender vegetable and chicken.
- Add some spices of your taste…I used cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg, salt and pepper and crushed juniper berries.
- Serve with couscous.
- Bon appétit!!
Topinambours counts under “the old vegetables/foods” which have been making a come back the last few years. Previously I made a Velouté de topinambour which is great. This time it is is cut into chunks, sprinkled with powdered espelette pepper and baked in the oven on a bed of fresh thyme.
- Sauté some apple chunks in butter, add a bit of cassonade(brown sugar) and fry until nicely caramelized. Mix gently with the baked topinambours and serve warm.
- The piment d’espelette can be replaced by any other chili of your choice, either dry and in powder form, or finly chopped.
- Cook the topinambours in water on the stovetop until almost tender and then add to an oven pan with the seasonings to caramelize. It shortens the baking time.
- Serve the topinambours on a bed of salad greens or as an accompaniment to any meat.
- By adding créme frâiche after baked in the oven, you can serve it with a pasta or add it to a saffron risotto.
- Be sure to have it nicely tender or else it has a “burning” taste, much like raw potato.
- It is a healthy alternative to potatoes, seeing that it has a lower glycemic index than potatoes.
Piment d’espelette is a variety of pepper, with a light “bite” that is produced in the Basque region of France. Because of its fragrant flavour and taste, it is frequently used instead of pepper. We also find a beautiful fleur de sel d’espelette, which is powdered espelette mixed with a good quality fleur de sel, which is what I used on my baked topinambours)
For Liandri’s birthday in beginning of Octobre, we had dinner le chateau de Beaulieu here in Tours. A nice quaint hotel with a menu gastronomique; we could choose between foie gras, turbot, pigeon, filet de boeuf, magret de canard, carré d’agneau… A small dinng room, a local wine list as well as some distant cousins, nice dessert, coffee and olde worlde ambiance. A charming place to stay and dine when you visit our area.
…chateau de beaulieu…
…Olde world memories for olde world foods…
…add secret spices, cherry tomatoes, serve with cooked wheat…
- Any other meat can be used
- Use these spices with oven baked winter root vegetables
- Crush the mixture together in a mortar and pastle to a paste.
- Serve with white/wholewheat rice, or cooked wheat or fluffy steamed potatoes.
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.”
On Thursday evenings I have life figure drawing class and I get home late. A vegetable tagine is always a good choice on these evenings. I make it earlier in the day and reheat it for a late dinner. I’m ravenous when I get home! Serve with a simple fluffy white rice(ok, go more heathy with full grain or wild or some other grains, but I prefer the stark whiteness of white rice ).
Vegetable tagine a la Thursday.
- Three courgettes
- Four large spring onions with the greens
- One large red bell pepper
- Four carrots
- four tomatoes
- Two potatoes
- A handful of green beans
- can of chickpeas
- A handful of petit pois(fresh or frozen)
- A cinnamon stick
- olive oil
- Cardamom pod
- Juniper berries
- Two teaspoons of curry masala
- Flatleaf parsley
- A tablespoon or two of dry roasted almonds
- About two cups of vegetable stock
- Wash and chop the vegetables into chunks.
- Mix together the spices in a mortar and pestle (except the cinnamon stick), along with some olive oil.
- Sautee the chopped onion with the spices.
- Add the carrots and potatoes and sautee for a few minutes.
- Add the vegetable stock and cinnamon stick and bring to a simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and bell and simmer until the vegetables are tender.
- Add the chickpeas, green beans and and turn off the heat.
- Taste for seasoning and adjust.
- Serve in a tagine, sprinkle with the fresh petit pois, the roasted almonds and finish off with flatleaf parslay.
- Serve with white rice or couscous.
Serves 4 people
…I’ll draw, you pose…
Time for a little indulgence. Although January is a month of light eating, the desire for something more substantial and velvety arises on cold, rainy evenings. Then we take comfort in slow cooking meat meals with a voluptuous sauce, where we sit back and lick our fingers and sweep the sauce from our plates with fresh chunky bread. This is a recipe from Mariëtte Crafford’s book, Sonskynkafee(Sunshine café), a delicious book filled with stories and great recipes.
Lamb-shanks with a curry sultana sauce
- 6 small lamb-shanks with the bone cleaned and a nice helping of meat
- olive oil
- 500 ml organic chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 3 bay leaves
- a chopped onion
- a few open cardamom pods
- 3 tablespoons masala
- 5 t cumin seeds
- 5 t white mustard seeds
- 5 t black mustard seeds
- 2 garlic cloves, leaned and crushed
- a piece of ginger root, grated
- 4 tablespoons of water
- 150 ml yogurt
- 250 ml sultana raisins
- salt and pepper
- 150ml cream
- 125 ml flaked almonds
- fresh coriander/parsley leaves
Sauté the lamb-shanks in oil in a heavy based casserole until nicely browned, cover with the stock, add the lemon juice, cinnamon and bay leaves and cook uncovered until the lams begins to soften.
Sauté the onion and add to the lamb.
Mix all the spices with the 4 tablespoons of water and add to the lamb.
Season to taste.
Stir in the yogurt and add the sultana raisins. Simmer gently until the lamb is very tender and the sauce has reduced and thickened.
Stir in the cream and leave for 10 minutes to heat through.
Serve with rice in bowls, pour over some sauce and finish off with a sprinkling of flaked almonds and fresh coriander/parsley leaves.