Posts tagged “my french kitchen

Boeuf bourguignon

I thought eating would be over now after the indulgence of the holidays. But hunger still shows up.  And the colder the days, the more we turn to  soups and stews. Boeuf bourguignon is just one of those old classics that never disappoint.


…man and his beast…


To a sparkling 2009!


Have a peaceful Christmas!


Citrus and carrot salad with currants and toasted sunflower seeds

A burst of flavour in simplicity. Texture and colour. Easy, swift to make, a lingering sweetness on the palate…like life should be.



…cutting an orange into segments…

December ambiance 2008 with cinnamon dumplings

…a message…


Like last year, it is time for a little December ambiance. On the 1st December, we dress up our tree and charm up some corners, put on music, light candles, drink wine and end the day with a special meal. It puts us in the mood for winter, brightens the grey days, stalks the blues, lifts the spirits, welcomes the rain and the frost and if we’re lucky, brings on some snow. Just as they do in the Northern countries, we burn tea lights every evening, light lanterns outside and finish the evenings with a hot chocolate by the fireplace. This year saw some cheating in decorating the tree, which had been a few days earlier…but that’s OK; it’s always good to break tradition a bit!

A traditional dessert of cinnamon dumplings, finishes off this 1st of December. May your December 2008 be as spirited and bright and gay as you want it to be.

…cinnamon dumplings…



*Recipe adapted from “Huisgenoot wenresepte 2 “, written by Annette human and  originally entered by Mrs. C. Ligthelm of Pretoria, SA.





…shimmering crystals…


…joyeux noël…




…a frosty visit…


…looking out…


…let’s read..


…les poêmes et le sapin…


…where’s the snow?…


…corners and candles…


No-fuss Saturday lunch salad

I am always starving on a Saturday afternoon. But I don’t have the desire to take on cooking a meal. And I don’t want bread and jam. And I don’t want MacDonald’s or the likes. And I don’t want loads of dishes and cleaning up to do. I want no-fuss. I want something that is quick and easy and light, because we play tennis afterwards, but it still needs to be filling.

A protein salad like this one works for me. With a banana in the tennis bag.

Make a salad from the following ingredients:

  • Mixed salad leaves, a huge bowl.
  • mixed herbs of your choice
  • Bocconcini cheese
  • a can of “Catalan tuna” (tuna in a tomato sauce)
  • a small can of sweetcorn(or frozen)
  • sun dried tomatoes
  • cucumber sticks
  • dry roasted almonds
  • dried cranberries
  • A vinaigrette made of: sun dried tomato paste, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sherry vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper, small finely chopped shallot.

serves 2

…moulin rouge…

Picnic by the Loire

Time for informal, relaxed picnics is here. Our summer weekends consist mostly of some working on the house and in the garden, some tennis, and then some extended dinners that linger along with our dusk…late and lazy. I love simple meals where colour and texture play a major role and each ingredient stands on its own. A long time ago, I once thought I made an innovative potato salad, just to have my youngest 10 year old daughter tell me: “I can’t eat this salad! It’s too complicated.”

That was a lesson never to be forgotten.

For a Sunday afternoon by the Loire river across our house, this is a typical salad we would pique nique on. Very ordinary, but spiced up with an interesting vinaigrette of your choice and accompanied by an array of cheese and grainy baguettes, not forgetting an ice cold Rosé, it becomes a meal I’m sure that is served frequently in paradise, which makes it one of the reasons why I intend on going there one day…


As usual, I don’t give a formal recipe , but will mention what I’ve used in my salad.

  • Cut some vegetables in different shapes…carrots in spaghetti, roasted red peppers (of which I don’t bother to remove the peel), some mango slices, a few slices of smoked duck and cooked quinoa with sauteed onion. (Read more about quinoa. )
  • A handful of fresh herbs; rocket, sage, large Italian parsley, chives, wild celeri and tarragon.
  • Vinaigrette: make a puree of the small pieces of mango that you cut off the seed. Add some white balsamic vinegar, some poppy vinegar, salt and pepper, a small finely chopped shallot and add olive oil to your taste and whisk until creamy. I prefer a pungent vinaigrette.
  • Add some cheese triangles, a handful of olives and a fresh baguette.
  • Pack some ice cream in a cool bag along with the wine, or fresh fruit for dessert.
  • And don’t forget a flask of good coffee for that wake-up call after the nap…
  1. Pack interesting layers of individual portions in picnic hampers.
  2. Take the vinaigrette separately in a little container and add to your salad just before serving.
  3. Finish off with cheese and fruit.

Bon appetit!

This is an entry for Weekend herb blogging, hosted this week by Laurie at Medcookingalaska

Coffee cookies – for apples and thyme

Coffee cookies. My ultimate favourite cookie ever. And a reminder of my mother and my childhood in the kitchen. And probably the strongest reminder of my mother’s constant quest for excellence. Which brings me to this writing.


Seeing a coffee cookie, reminds me of her favourite extraction from a song;

♪♪  “Do what you do do well, boy, do what you do do we-ell, give your love and all of your heart and do what you do do well…” ♪

Not to be mistaken with doing something better than someone else, or doing it according to the standards of someone else, but to set your own standards and strive to give and do your own best. To put love into whatever you take on. To go to bed at night, knowing that you gave your best. Whether you’re ironing  a shirt, or writing a book, or playing a tennismatch, or preparing a sandwich, or baking a coffee cookie; the best is, you not comprimising for second best.

I can’t put a coffee cookie in my mouth, be it my own or baked by another hand, without thinking of this philosophy stemming from my childhood and following me to where I am today.  Her coffee cookies had to be perfect in colour and length, the tops had to have perfect little “spikes” and never were they to be flat and fat and run-out in the pan, which of course goes all the way back to the preparation of your dough. Those  cookies, not reaching all of these criteria, would be put aside never to see the cakestand. And that would mean another batch to be prepared to reach the desired quota. To stack the cake stand with pride.

I have not only inherited her recipe, but also her strive for excellence. I have passed it on to my daughters. And from the heart they put into their ordinary and sometimes mundane tasks, I know they’ll pass it on too. Maybe that is why I still enjoy baking these coffee cookies… a reminder, a question to myself: Do I still give all of my heart and all of my love to do what I do well?

Coffee cookies

  • 8 cups flour
  • 1½ t salt
  • 2 cups yellow/brown sugar
  • 2 cups golden syrup
  • 1.1 lbs butter
  • 3½ tablespoons cooking fat
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 1 cup strong black coffee at room tempreature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  1. Mix the flour, salt and sugar in a big mixing bowl.
  2. Add the butter and fat and work into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. Mix the baking soda with a little coffee and add to the flour mixture with the rest of the coffee, the golden syrup and the vanilla extract. Mix together well, cover and leave overnight.
  4. The next day: Set the oven to 200ºC.
  5. Grease cookie pans and set aside.
  6. Using a sausage maker/meat grinder/electrical food grinder/cookie maker with a cookie fitting, push clumps of dough through the cookiemaker, cut to the desired lenghts, about 4-5 cm.
  7. The dough can also be rolled, cut into strips of about 4-5 cm, with the tops lightly scrathed with a fork to give it some texture.
  8. Place the cookies on a baking sheet and bake for about 12 minutes until golden brown.
  9. Leave the cookies on a wire rack to cool.
  10. Filling: Mix together 2 heaped tablespoons of butter. Add icing sugar, strong black coffee and vanilla extract and mix until a spreadable, but not runny consistency.
  11. Spread one side of a cookie with the icing mixture and cover with a second cookie.
  12. The longer the cookies are kept, the more flavourful they become.

Makes about 180 filled cookies

*I post all my recipes for that matter, hoping to inspire people to experiment themselves and play around with their imagination when it comes to detail. I’m never too specific, because I would like to encourage people to cook with their tastebuds and instinct and imagination, tasting along the way, changing direction, altering the recipe, really discovering your own methods rather than just following a recipe to the letter. That way, you develop an instinct for cooking and you really make a recipe your own, otherwise it will always stay someone else’s.

Coming back to the length and shape of these cookies:  When working with a cookie maker of some sort, it comes out a certain thickness and you just have to decide on your desired length, which I suggested be 4-5 cm(1.6-2″), but it can surely be longer or shorter. By pushing the dough thicker out the end, will result in a thicker cookie.

A tip: I also always find it wise to put only a few cookies in the oven as the first batch, whichever cookie I’m baking, so as to decide whether I like the thickness or the length or the shape, or test the temperature of my own oven, the time of baking etc, and then I will go over to the final process of cutting and baking in normal big batches. It prevents huge batches of burnt or uneven baked or failed cookies and lost effort and disappointment.

Suggestion 1: If you are rolling out the dough, I would suggest a thickness of about 4-5 mm.(about 0.2″) Cut them into rectangles of about 50mm x20mm (2″ x 0.8″). Scratch the tops with a fork to give little ruffled edge, like you would get with a sausage maker or cookie maker.

Suggestion 2: On 2 tablespoons of butter, add 1/2 cup icing sugar and mix. Add about 30 ml of black coffee to the icing mixture and mix. Finally add another 1/2 cup icing sugar or until you have a spreadable filling that isn’t runny. Add a teaspoon of vanilla essence and spread between two cookies. Milk can be substituted for the coffee.

A good book on cooking/baking techniques and info on whatever you need to know about cooking and baking is Larousse Gastronomique – a complete encyclopedia.

This is an entry for Apples and Thyme, of which Inge at Vanielje kitchen and Jeni at the Passionate palate are the hosts.


Hertzoggies cookies

An “old” cookie that will always be fashionable. Named after General J.B.M. Hertzog, the prime minister of the Union of South Africa, from 1924 to 1939. It was apparently his favorite cookie.

This recipe comes from Huisgenoot wenresepte 2 by Annette Human, which is perfect as is, gives perfect results every time, year after year. It is probably the only time I’ve exchanged one of my mother’s recipes for a “better” one!




  • 250g flour
  • 25g castor sugar
  • 10ml baking powder
  • 1 ml salt
  • 125g butter, at room temperature
  • 3 extra large egg yolks
  • 15 ml cold water


  • 75ml apricot jam
  • 3 extra large egg whites
  • 250g sugar
  • 160 g coconut
  1. Sift the flour, castor sugar, baking powder and salt together.
  2. Crumble in the butter and mix with finger tips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. Mix the egg yolks and cold water and add to the butter mixture. Mix to a dough. add a little extra water if it is too dry.
  4. Work the dough into a ball, cover and leave aside to rest.
  5. Heat the oven to 180 deg. C(350 F)
  6. Grease the inside of muffin pans.
  7. Roll out the dough, about 1 mm thick. Cut round circles with a cookie cutter, big enough to cover the inside of the muffin pan. Press into muffin pans.
  8. Put a teaspoon of jam into each dough crust.
  9. Whisk the egg-whites until stiff and gradually add the sugar to whisk to a meringue.
  10. Stir in the coconut.
  11. Put a tablespoonful of coconut meringue onto each jam-filled dough crust.
  12. Bake for 20-25 minutes in the middle of the oven.
  13. Leave to cool before removing. store in a cool place.

An entry for “Christmas cookies from around the world” for which Susan at Foodblogga is the host.



Trudie’s lemon squares

Whenever I make these lemon squares, I think of my sister, who is quite a few years older than me. The day she got married and took off with her husband, leaving me as the last one behind at home, felt like the end of the world to me at 15 years old. Then I got to visit them and it all changed when she served up a plate filled with these delicacies. From then on, I couldn’t wait to go visit. She always had something new and interesting and exciting going on in her house and life and her tins were filled with lemon squares and cookies of all sorts and the most delicious dried peaches straight from the farm….sounds like perhaps the main attraction for visiting! At some stage I inherited her recipe and it has become a favourite in our family too and of everybody else that “inherits ” it along the way.

It is a non – baking cookie/biscuit and can be kept in the fridge for a long time, if you’re so lucky to have any left to last that long.


Trudie’s lemon squares

  • 2 packets of  butter biscuits (Petit beurre)
  • 250 g butter
  • 1 can of sweet condensed milk
  • 250 ml desiccated coconut
  • lemon juice and zest

Lemon icing:

  • About 20g butter
  • 450ml icing sugar
  • lemon zest and juice to taste
  1. Melt the butter over low heat and add the condensed milk.
  2. Stir in some lemon zest and juice to taste and mix well.
  3. Add the coconut.
  4. Break in the biscuits and mix well until the biscuits are finely broken up en well coated.
  5. Press into a greased lamington tin, 24 x 34 x 2cm.
  6. Leave to cool down completely or place in fridge.
  7. Combine the ingredients for the lemon icing and mix to a smooth icing.
  8. Cut in squares and decorate with some candied lemon and lime zest.

Serves about 48 squares

This is an entry for Christmas cookies from around the world 2007, here at Susan from Foodblogga.


First day of December

The first of December is officially the day we “start” the festive season here in our home. Our tree gets decorated today, we switch on our fairy lights, hang a garland and listen to the first Christmas music. Then we end the day with a nice dinner by candle light.

To kickstart December 2007, a little ambiance…


A full moon in Andorra…


“I saw the angel in the marble and carved and set him free”, said Michelangelo…


Shimmering crystals…




A portion of dessert…




Montlouis moelleux…


Lanterns in the snow…


A White Christmas…

After all the decorating and cleaning up afterwards on this first day of the season, an easy meal is the only option. This vegetable dish is quick, there are no measurements and the hardest work is just peeling some onions and poaching an egg or two, which can be left out of course! Open a bottle of wine, finish off with a scoop of ice cream and a sauce of your choice – I love a berry coulis, but when push comes to shove, I can enjoy a vanilla ice cream just on its own. Sit back with an espresso and enjoy the lights and music and spirit of Noël.

May your December be filled with gratitude and joy.


Vegetable gratin

  • vegetables of your choice, cleaned or peeled and cut into chunks – in the photo: sweet potatoes, red onions, brussels sprouts, parsnips and mushrooms.
  • a pickled lemon, diced
  • 2 branches of fresh rosemary
  • 2 bayleaves
  • a  few slices of a creamy camambert cheese
  • a poached egg for each person
  • créme fraîche (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C.
  2. Place the chunks of vegetables in an oven pan and drizzle libereally with oil. Season.
  3. Tuck the bayleaves and rosemary inbetween the vegetables.
  4. Bake the vegetables until tender.
  5. Remove from the oven and serve a portion into an ovenproof bowl.
  6. Add a dollop of créme fraîche (optional)
  7. Cover with a slice or two of Camambert cheese and put under the grill until the cheese has melted and the vegetables have a nice caramelized appearance.
  8. Slide a poached egg onto the cheese and drizzle some olive oil and finish off with some ground fresh pepper.
  9. Serve warm with brown rice, quinoa or a whole wheat bread.



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