Vegetables

Tartine aux Courgettes …and “les jardins de Colette”.

When your potager starts exploding with courgettes, it is time to come up with all sorts of ways to eat those courgettes without getting bored. But even so, by the end of summer, I feel like a courgette and can’t even look at one, let alone eat it. Courgettes are more flavorful when they are young and nothing needs to be added to give them moire flavor. These tartines can be served s a starter, a lunch with a salad, or as an apéro before dinner..and come to think of it, why not pack it for a pique-nique?

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La recette:

tartines aux courgettes 4857x4415 4857x4415Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • Add some goat’s cheese or feta cheese to the tartines.
  • Leave the toasts and serve as a tagliatelle pasta, topped with a fillet of fish of your choice and a salad.
  • Make croutons instead of toasts and add along with the grilled courgettes to a salad. Top with dry roasted pine nuts, grated Parmesan cheese and a mustard vinaigrette.

 

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Les jardins de Colette is a large botanical garden at the foot of the chateau Castel-novel, where the French writer Colette lived with her 2nd husband Henry de Jouvenel and her daughter Bel-Gazou. The gardens were created in 2008 and depict her tumultuous life which centered around her insatiable desire for creating. You will surely know her for her novels Chéri in 1920 and of course Gigi from 1944, upon which the musical film was based and in which Leslie Caron played Gigi. Colette’s real name was actually Sidonie-Gabrielle , her last name/surname being Colette. But I’m her to show you the garden dedicated to her…so, to read about Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, you can pick and choose a site on Google.

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Some trinkets in the store…and I found their little truck quite cute…and a rose named after Colette in 1995…

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…Veronique flowers in abundance in the garden of her childhood in Bourgogne…and bees in abundance….

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..le jardin de Rozven in Bretagne was bought by her friend, Missy, in 1910  and for 10 years afterwards Colette and her family still spent their summers at Rozven.

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…a potager, part of remembering her childhood..

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..a labyrinth in the shape of a papillon,  where kiddies are told stories while finding their way to the end..

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..some annuals planted in the jardin de Saint- Sauveur-en -Puisaye  in Bourgogne...

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..an english garden..”aussi libre qu’elle”..as free in spirit as she was…

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…a little refuge for insects..

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Colette with her brother in childhood…

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…her love for animals clearly comes across in her books..

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..la coccinelle and le papillon..les amis du jardin!

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In the Correze gardin at Castel-Novel a little cabane/gloriettes was constructed from willow branches..

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..The olive trees and lavenders from the Provence garden..

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..a bit of freshness with a canal of water and fountain..

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In the rose garden her favorite rose can be found…Cuisse de Nymphe

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..as well as one of my favorites...Honore de Balzac…

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And lastly, a lane of tilleuls trees to remind of her last years spent in Paris, where her windows opened onto the gardens of the palais Royal…

 

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With something cool to drink, we finished this tour through the gardens of Colette and it was time to return to reality. I felt a vibrant kinship with her and her creativity, her desire to live to the full, her love for nature and animals and maybe one day I can retrace  her steps to really experience what her life was like…

à la prochaine fois!

Ronelle


Grilled tomato and goats cheese squares..and Bretagne(Brittany) in June

We are outside. Non stop. The weather couldn’t be more perfect. The days are wonderfully warm, sunny. The cigales are crazily announcing summer in the meadows. I am crazily happy.

Taking our meals outside in summer is a given. Preparing it outside is a given too. These tomato and goats cheese apéros ( appetizers)do it both ways. It is prepared by the barbeque fire. It is grilled on the fire. It is eaten by the fire. An ice cold dry rosé wine and life is crazily wonderful.

croustillant de tomate et chevre 2861x2353La recette:

tomato and goats cheese squares

Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • Use feta cheese instead of goat’s cheese.
  • Use feuille de brick, if available, which is not as thin and delicate as phyllo pastry.
  • Add some flaked fish of your choice or add a sardine, in which case you can use dill or coriander instead of basil.
  • Use other herbs of your choice..
  • Leave out the tomato and add fresh spinach leaves and dry roasted pine nuts for a more Greek flavour.
  • To serve as something sweet with coffee after  barbeque…roll chocolates, chopped nuts of your choice and a mint leaf  in the pastry sheets, treat the same way on the coals and enjoy with coffee around the fire.

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Place at an appropriate distance above the coals on a grill.

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Brush with a home made rosemary brush and olive oil.

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We visited friends in Bretagne and were treated in typical Breton fashion to a wealth of cuisine Bretonne. Seafoods galore, vegetables, notably carrottes Nantaises( of which I have planted in my potager), crépes and galettes, sablés, far breton, quatre quart, kouign amann, cidre, beignets, butter, butter, butter… It is truly a good thing we don’t live in  Bretagne for I would have rolled instead of walked. Fortunately, we did a lot of walking to fight the calories. I invite you now on some of our promenades around Rennes and the seaside villages of Tharon and Pornic.

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Promenades en mer…boat trips.

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The port of Pornic is quaint and with the perfect summer weather we had, the whole world crept out of their shells comme les escargots de leurs coquilles(like snails from their shells).

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Le blanc du nil is a well known chain store in the French seaside villages. They sell only white cotton and linen clothes and I love it for the prices and the loose summer dresses, shirts and slacks and skirts. And of course the all white look makes you feel cool and light. And a little chic too…

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The walkway was filled with people, basking in summer sun, seeking out some dappled shade and licking dripping ice creams. We did too.

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A lonesome Canna lily adding some charm to an ordinary signpost indicating the way to the hotel de Ville of Pornic.

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Back in Tharon, it was time for eating again, something we did too much of , but  enjoyed so much! The boulangerie Tharonnaise is comfortably just a walk down the road where one doesn’t mind queuing for all the bakes delicacies I mentioned above.

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One of those wonderful delicious sinful and dangerous cakes, is the kouign amann, for which Bretagne is known for. I DO plan on baking it, sharing it with you, I REALLY DO! But only after I lost the 3 kg I picked up after eating it in Bretagne! Typical Ronelle style, one slice was not enough…It is literally a butter cake and a little challenging on the making-side: made  with bread dough and folded like puff pastry with loads of butter and sugar which, during the baking process, gives you a devilishly, deliciously, flaked caramelized cake.

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One of our outings was also just down the road…a regular vide grenier in Tharon. As you can see below..one man’s junk becomes another man’s fortune. We found some fortunes there too…

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Of course we visited the beach with its colourful cabanes which mostly belong to the inhabitants of Tharon and gets unlocked every season to let out the sunscreens and chairs and umbrellas and beachballs…

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As  is shown below…the beach umbrella and bags and towels and  kiddies were let out of the colourful cabanes.. well, maybe not the kiddies…

Bretagne in June  3638x2630I fell in love with these original fishing platforms, les pêcheries et leurs cabanes

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A close up..

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A lunch  of langoustines, and lemon mayonnaise with  baguettes from la boulangerie and accompanied by a crisp white wine.

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In Rennes the géraniums on the windowsills paraded shamelessly  in their beauty and gaiety.

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We had a schedule to follow in Rennes, a to-do list that kept us on a quick run. Nonetheless we found the time for a pit stop in the centre ville to have un café créme et un allongé, while we drooled at seeing the bar à crépe which was just opening its doors early morning. Next time.

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Centre ville  in Rennes.

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Hope you had fun on this promenade. And I hope you on your turn drooled at the tomato and goat’s cheese apéro’s. Maybe enough to make them. I should probably have given you an exciting recipe from Bretagne, as the post asks for….but what are rules made for, if not to be broken? I greet you as always….

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…à la prochaine fois…

Ronelle


Wild asparagus risotto with lemon and sage..and pulling off the road.

I have a few risotto recipes that I adore. One is made with sweet potato, another with saffron, yet another with wild mushrooms and then…asparagus. In this case I used wild asparagus with a  very short season, but delicious while they last.

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La recette:

  1. Asparagus, lemon and sage:
  2. Sauté the asparagus for only 3 – 4 minutes,  in a large pan with olive oil, lemon wedges,  a sprinkling of white balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Remove and keep aside. they should still be crunchy. Saute the lemon wedges a bit longer to caramelize.
  3. Heat enough olive oil in a small frying pan to cover the base.
  4. Add some sage leaves and fry until crisp. Remove and drain on kitchen towel.
  5. Risotto:
  6. Sauté 1 chopped shallot in a little olive oil. Add about 1 cup of arborio or carnarolli rice and sauté for another 3 minutes top release the nutty flavors of risotto rice.
  7. Add 1/2 cup white wine and 1TBSP of white balsamic vinegar. Stir. Add about 500ml of hot vegetable stock, ladle by ladle to the risotto, stirring all the while over medium high heat.
  8. Chop a few leaves of fresh sage in thin ribbons and add to the risotto.
  9. Taste the risotto…the rice should still have some bite and not be mushed to a porridge.
  10. Add 1 TBSP of créme fraiche, 1 knob of butter and 2 TBSP of grated parmesan cheese and the grated rind of 1 lemon. Turn off the heat and stir through.
  11. Taste for seasoning.
  12. Serve immediately – spoon the risotto onto individual plates. top with the asparagus en finish off with the crisp oil fried sage leaves.
  13. Sere with extra Parmesan on the side.

Serves about 4 people.

Suggestions:

  • Use garden asparagus or string beans instead of wild asparagus.
  • Combine with tarragon instead of sage.
  • Leave out the creme fraiche and use a soft goats cheese instead.
  • Leave out the creme fraiche and sprinkle with  crumbled feta cheese just before serving.
  • The risotto should be creamy and not dry at all.

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When the bumps on the road get too disconcerting, I always pull off the road, switch off the engine, empty my mind and drift off to that world where I know giggles and laughter are plentiful.  And smiles. That place where we run off to when life is too blue and we want it more colourful. They are our private corners where we deal with these road bumps in our own unique ways so we can be able to turn the ignition key and continue on the bumpy roads. I thought I would share some of the things I run to for a smile or a hearty laugh or a tickling giggle.

  1. I adore that first coffee of the morning.It turns me inside out with happiness.
  2. I love watching someone enjoying a meal with gusto and joy(and good manners of course), someone who has a visible appreciation for the goodness of good quality products and for the preparation that goes  into a meal.
  3. I love people who can fold double with laughter,  enjoying laughing so much you can hear it right in the pit of their stomach! It is contagious and I might not know what the laughter is about, but I have to join in, just for the sake of the joy it brings.
  4. I love that good sharp which some people have. Not jokes. Jokes are flat and boring. Wit is something completely different. It is an art. That ability to be able to catch a moment and react to it with just the perfect touch of irony and humor.
  5. I love the smell of horses…their sweat, their manes, the oil on their skin..
  6.  I love playing tennis; running for every ball, sweating, groaning like a pro,  stretching, running, sliding…all of it..
  7. I love my chickens’ eager trot-run when they see cheese in my hand, it makes me burst out in spontaneous laughter.
  8. I love watching the geese’s rhythmic swaying from behind.
  9. I adore our apéros at sunset. If heaven doesn’t have that, I don’t want to go there…
  10. I love swimming..not lengths or any fashionable style, but splashing and diving and twirling and drowning… like a dolphin. I just love being in the water.
  11. I love waking up early morning to blue skies and sunshine..I can  just burst with happiness.
  12. I love the smell of oil paints on my palette.
  13. I love a scalp massage when I go to the hairdresser.
  14. I love walking barefoot.
  15. I love walking in the rain.
  16. I love walking in my garden endlessly throughout the day, hoping I’ll see something new every time.
  17. I love having coffee and croissant with mon chéri in town and we talk about everything and anything, especially since he is a man of few words.
  18. I love my perfumes..I splash it on when I go to dinner, when I go to town, when I go to bed or when I go work in the garden. M favorite, you ask? But Coco , eau de perfum, Chanel of course.
  19. I love burying my face and kissing the soft belly of my cat Ayiani…she grabs my head gently with her paws and it makes me giggle with pleasure…although I have had the occasional scratch of her fury when she’s not in the mood…
  20. I adore my bed and I adore slipping into crisp linen smelling of sunshine. I fall asleep with a content smile.

I hoe I have touched some of your soft spots or at least made you pull off the road to find your private world where laughter and giggles abound!

…my favorite perfume; Coco, from Chanel…

(for more sketches of perfumes, see my art blog Africantapestry)

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à a prochaine fois

Ronelle


Spring salad with asparagus, and spring “greens”.

Spring is a month of greens. From sprouting to adult leaf and branch. From bud to flower. From seed to fruit. It bursts with health and it begs for salads. Green asparagus is at its peak at the moment and will only last one more month before it comes to rest for  whole year. Assemble your salads. Feast on your asparagus. There are no limits to pure goodness.

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La recette:

  1. Boil some pasta of your choice to al dente and keep aside.
  2. Clean and cut an onion into slices. Sauté in a pan with some olive oil.  Add 3 or 4 small potatoes cut into rings, cover and cook over low heat until soft.
  3. Rinse some asparagus. Rinse some pois gourmande. Steam together until just tender. Add to the onions  and mix lightly. Add freshly chopped herbs of  your choice…basil is nice.
  4. Grate 2 or 3 carrots and mix lightly with some olive oil, lemon juice and a drizzle of flowered honey.
  5. Assemble the salad by adding the warm onion mixture to the pasta; Season with salt and pepper, leom juice and olive oil.
  6. Top with the cool, fresh carrot salad, sprinkle dry roasted pine nuts and drizzle with the carrot juices.
  7. Serve a good mayonnaise and baguette on the side.

Pincée de sel:

  • Sauté the asparagus beforehand in olive oil, herbs and lemon butter and then add to the pasta…tastier.
  • Use other vegetables like spring peas, or beans.
  • Keep the variety of vegetables to a minimum to avoid a confusion of flavours.
  • Omit the potatoes and add a meat of your choice, like chicken. add more sauce in that case to avoid a dry salad.
  • Omit the carrot salad and use grated beetroot instead with a pungent vinaigrette which goes well with the potaoes and pasta.

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Spring greens come in many shades (and tastes as well). For now, we will stick to the shades and tones. for this excercise I stuck to pure greens straight from the tube., painting some ribbons of greens on paper and walking around in the garden, trying to match the colour on the paper to the greens I can find in the garden.

Another fun project would be to do it with food…matching greens to what one can find in the fridge. Or doing it with summer yellows, reds, aubergines.  Colour makes the world go round…at least for me.

Maybe in the next post I’ll set a spring green table..;paint some greens on paper ribbons and try to find matching greens for the table.

..grass green chives…

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..young plums..

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..young tilleul leaves with golden greens, brown greens and ochres..

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..a young olive branch in olive greens and earth green..

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..and my favorite green in the garden is Sennelier grey – the santolinas, some lavendins, curry plants, stachys, armoises, ballotas, convolvulus(image below), cérastiums…

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..and lastly the lovely dark rich greens of ceanothes with its overflowing purple flowers..

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à plus!

Ronelle


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