Posts tagged “ronell van wyk

Summer peach soup with red berries..and Provence

In midsummer, when the sun is blazing hot and the cigales are singing away, we don’t have much desire for eating, except for indulging in ice cream. A cold simmer peach soup is perfect for those days and brings a bit of welcome change to the ice cream menu.

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La recette:

  1. Bring to the boil 1 liter of water with 1 vanilla pod, 200 g sugar and the rind of 1 lemon. Remove from the heat, add a handful of fresh mint leaves and set aside to cool.
  2. Peel and cut 6 peaches of your choice into slices.
  3. Add to the warm syrup and leave to cool down completely before storing in the fridge for about 4 hours to infuse.
  4. Serve cold in glasses or bowls and add a handful of fresh red berries of your choice to the soup(optional).
  5. Decorate with fresh mint leaves and serve with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

Serves 6 people.

Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • I used a mixture of white and yellow peaches.
  • Macerate the berries with some sugar before adding to the soup, since they may be too sour for the soup.
  • Add the berries on a little kebab/cocktail stick and stick into the soup, to eat separately.
  • Leave the berries if so desired.
  • Replace the mint with lemon verbena for something different.
  • Serve in frozen glasses for an icy effect.

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The signature of Provence is its white limestone..in the countryside, the hills,  in the built walls, the drywalls, the houses, the pavings ,  the flowerbeds, the villages… Some of them new and some weathered handsomely by the mistral  and rains of centuries.

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I love an atmospheric window..

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Clearly seen in this image below, is the different types of stone used, maybe at different times by different craftsmen.

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Just look at that stone…beautiful non?..

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A  stone staircase between these beautiful stone walls, going up and up and up…

Provence 2013 27-06-2013 18-27-23 3139x4349A typical Provencal door..

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A flowerbed by a front door, typical in the small villages with no gardens..

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Lovely shutters and vigne vierge creeper..

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Sedum growing on the rooftiles..totally content in the heat, like me…

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Holly hocks…an old world flower and one of my favorites..

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Gay colour in an ochre coloured flower container..

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Bonnieux is known for its brocantes..

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..which overlooks the valley..

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A window peeking from above a fig tree..Provence 2013 29-06-2013 11-30-09 3212x4619

Lavenders on the windowsill..

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A cloche against a perfect Provencal sky…Provence 2013 29-06-2013 11-46-17 3238x3877And lastly,  a sunset goodbye …

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So, with these images it is back to reality here at Coin Perdu, where summer is in full swing..and I don’t want it to end!

à la prochaine

Ronelle


Roasted red pepper tart..and lavenders of Provence I..

Red peppers are synonym with the Mediterranean and it is one of my favorite vegetables, raw or otherwise. We grow them in our potager(vegetable garden) rows of them..and they find their way to our table in every way possible. Une petite tarte, using ready made puff pastry or home made if you are so handy or ordered from your boulanger, which is how I prefer to  do it, is one way of serving these delicious vegetables.

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La recette:

  1. Wash  4 red peppers.
  2. Remove the seeds and cut them into thin strips. Place in an ovenproof dish and drizzle liberally with olive oil. Season with salt and milled black pepper. Add three twigs of fresh rosemary and two lemon wedges.
  3. Roast in a preheated oven for about 30 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
  5. Roll out 4 rectangles of puff pastry to about 1mm thick and 8x16cm long. Roll the sides to the inside to form a little rolled side. Prick the inside with a fork, cover with some baking paper and weigh down with baking beans. Bake in a preheated oven at 200° C for 10 minutes, remove the beans and bake for another 5 minutes.
  6. Arrange the roasted peppers on the prepared pastry shells. Add some cubed or crumbed feta cheese and dry roasted pine nuts. Sprinkle with red pepper corns and drizzle the pan juices from the roasted red peppers over the filling. Add some rosemary twigs and place under the grill for about 7 -10 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and serve warm with a dollop of créme fraîche and a  large green salad.

Serves 4 people

Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • Use courgettes instead of red peppers, or a mixture of both.
  • Add some halved spring onions to the red peppers before roasting.
  • Use goats cheese instead of feta cheese.
  • Serve with homemade balsamic sorbet.
  • Spoon some pesto on the base of the pastry shell before adding the red peppers.
  • Turn into a dessert by spooning some sweetened mascarpone cheese on the bottom of the pastry shell, cover with red peppers and drizzle with honey and chopped mint.

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..the lavenders of Provence..

Mon chéri treated me to a couple of days in Provence. I don’t have to say anything, except that it was pure joy. It was so short, but my senses were alive to its maximum every minute.

Apart from the wonderful Provencal sun, the delicious meals on sunny terraces, the Provencal rosé wines, I did indeed manage to complete 7 sketches, while mon chéri patiently waited and used the time to play chess. Since our time was so short, I didn’t want to spend too much time on sketching though, so all I wanted was to capture a bit of the ambiance of our short stay. I think I  achieved that and I  am so chuffed. So chuffed indeed. If you’d like to see the sketches, you can pop over to Africantapestry.

I love lavender. Just simply love it. Not in foods. Not in soaps. Not in perfumes. not in my closets. But in pots and in the fields and gardens. That is the only place I can appreciate its fragrance, which is too strong and overpowering anywhere else. But the joy of lavender and its fragrance in a field or in a garden…nothing else comes close.

If only I could pass along the fragrance with these images…but it is all up to you and your imagination. Stretch out your hand and touch the blooms, hear the bees, see the butterflies, sniff the air, feel the sun and dwell in the heady fragrance…

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The soil varies between the different fields, but they all have three things in common…altitude, sun and poor soil.

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A lavender field snaking over the hill into a row of Provence cypress.

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At the abbaye de Senanque, the lavenders aren’t fully open yet, it being a different variety. But I love the faded blue which harmonizes with the gentle quietude of the abbaye and the greys of its old stone building.Provence 2013 28-06-2013 14-22-24 4928x3264

Some homes with their “designer entrances”.Provence 2013 29-06-2013 10-27-12 4928x3264

A beautiful salmon coloured mas with its field of lavender and adjacent vineyard.Provence 2013 29-06-2013 10-50-08 4928x3264

Small fields, larger, tiny, among wheat, beside the roads…everywhere.

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Where there is lavender, there you’ll find bees and butterflies!

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Green vines, purple lavenders and red soil…the colours of Provence.

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One of my favorite photos with a scene of all my favorite things..nature with its rocky area, the olive grove, the lavender, the hills, the colors, the smells..

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A quilt of color in the valley just below Bonnieux; lavender fields, wheat fields and vineyards.

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*Keep an ear to the ground for the next post on Provence..until then..

à bientôt!

Ronelle


Café Douceur in Beaulieu sur Dordogne et sa tarte aux pommes

If ever you are in the area of Beaulieu sur Dordogne, be sure to drop in at Café Douceur  for either a coffee or tea accompanied by homemade treats, or for a light lunch.

Si vous vous trouvez dans la région de Beaulieu, ne continuez pas tout droit sur votre chemin sans faire un stop au Café Douceur pour prendre un lunch, un cafe ou un thé avec un goûter fait maison,

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You can judge from the photos that it has a warm atmosphere, welcoming and intimate. Everybody feels instantly at home which is no wonder, because Sophie, the owner and the chef of her café has a big heart and wide smile.

Ces photos montrent clairement l’ambiance chaleureuse, intime et conviviale. C’est normal, car Sophie, la petite propriétaire et la cuisiniére, dirige son café avec en grand coeur et un sourire pétillant.

 

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As a young girl, Sophie was enchanted by l’heure du goûter..(late afternoon tea in France). From then on, her dream was a little café where she could bake, serve and sell madeleines, canelés, sablés and other delicacies she grew up with around l’heure du gouter. At the young age of 24 she took the plunge and opened up Café Douceur, not regretting  one minute of her decision since.

Depuis son enfance, Sophie a été enchantée par l’heure du gouter. Son rêve était d’ avoir son propre petit coin pour partager cette passion. Les madeleines, les sablés, les cannelées..ce sont tous ces gourmandises qu’elle a savourée pendant son enfance et  qu’elle fait aujourd’hui elle-même. Dèja il y a quelques années, à 24 ans, elle a décidée de réaliser ce rêve en ouvrant  son propre café.

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La terrasse has a view on centre ville, where everything happens in Beaulieu and everybody knows everybody.

Sur la terrasse, on peut s’amuser en voyant tout ce que et ceux qui arrivent en centre ville de Beaulieu.

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In the image below is how she is frequently seen in la salle ..peeking around the corner from the kitchen to say hi and throw a smile at everybody.

Une image très typique…la chef cuisinière souriante  jette un coup d’oeil sur la salle pour dire un petit  bonjour à ses clients..Café Douceur de Sophie 17-06-2013 13-23-07 2522x3186

With tables and chairs as well as comfy canapés, wooden games and toys for kids, gentle colours, you are invited to take a seat, linger with a magazine and have a second coffee or tea.

On est invité à s’installer dans la salle pour l’ambiance conviviale. On oublie le temps sur un canapé soit avec un livre, soit on découvre les jouets anciens tout en attendant un deuxième café..ou thé.

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.. a little bouquet de fleurs at the lunch table..

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The meals coming from the kitchen are homemade by Sophie herself, using seasonal fresh herbs, fruit and vegetables, many coming from her own potager(vegetable garden).

Les plats arrivent de la cuisine  faits maison avec des produits saisonnièrs et les herbes fraîche, les légumes et fruits, quand possible, cueillis dans son propre potager.

..fraisier..

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..crépe complete et salade de jardin..

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..Tarte citron au sorbet exotique..

Café Douceur de Sophie 17-06-2013 13-47-40 3020x2751……………………………………………………………..

..Tarte pomme..

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La pate a brioche:

For a very large tart:  6 eggs, 350g melted butter, 750g flour, 30g yeast diluted in some lukewarm water, pinch of salt. The recipe can be divided by three or even 4 for a large family size tart.
  1. Add 117g yeast to 1 glass of warm water. Mix it into 250g  flour, a pinch of salt and  2 eggs.
  2. Cover an oven pan with baking paper.
  3. Spread the dough to an equal thickness on the paper. Leave aside in a warm corner to rise for about 30 minutes, while you prepare the apples.
  4. Peel and core 3 apples, cut into pieces and place into a casserole with some sugar, a few drops lemon juice , a few juniper berries, a pinch of salt. Simmer to reduce to a compote.
  5. Peel 2 to 3 more apples and slice. Drizzle with lemon juice.
  6. Spread the compote on the prepared brioche dough and arrange the apples slices on top.
  7. Top with sprinkled cassonade/vergeoise/brown sugar and dollops of butter.
  8. Bake for about 30 minutes at 180 degr. C or until the apples are caramelized and the dough is cooked through.

………………………………………………….

La suggestion du moment changes every day, depending on season and availability of produce. This day had Papillote de saumon aux petits légumes (salmon parcels with vegetables)on the menu.

La suggestion du moment change quotidiennement selon la saison et les produits disponibles. Ce jour là…une papillote de saumon aux petits légumes.

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At the counter/bar, is always a lot of laughter and chatter going on..around a cup of coffee of course.

Autour du bar, toujours de la rigolade!

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Café Douceur de Sophie 17-06-2013 09-43-20 3821x3076  Café Douceur de Sophie 17-06-2013 09-39-42 4071x3264

So, next time you are in the vallée de la Dordogne, do make the effort to turn off to Beaulieu sur Dordogne and drop in to meet Sophie and Pascale and Michel and have a seat by the counter with a coffee, or on a couch with a magazine, or enjoy a light lunch at a table.

Alors. La prochaine fois que vous passez par la vallée de la Dordogne, faites demi tour et arretez-vous devant le Café Douceur en centre ville  pour fair la connaisance de Sophie, Pascale et Michel. Surtout, n’soyez pas pressés et restez un bon moment sur un canapé tout confortable!

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..à bientôt..

Ronelle


Nettle velouté with petit pois pesto.

Unimaginable that nettle soup can be delicious and yet, it is! Once cooked, the stinging effect disappears completely and all that is left, is a dark green, flavorful soup. Stinging nettle grows everywhere, the sign of fertile soil, and costs nothing. So why not make use of it? It reminds me somewhat of watercress, of which I often make soup too.  Along with the spring petit pois pesto, it makers for a typical spring lunch or dinner or even a starter. See the Pincée de fleur de sel below for more ideas. I do hope you’ll try it.

Nettle soup with petit pois pesto

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Recette:

Soup:

  1. Pick nettle leaves, wearing a pair of  leather or other thick gloves. Separate the leaves from the stems, keeping only the tender leaves and stems. Harvest about 3 large colanders full of leaves  for 4 people.
  2. Rinse the leaves in cold water to get rid of sand and grit. Don’t forget using the gloves, or switch to tongs.
  3. Clean and chop two spring onions and sauté in coconut oil(not to be confused with palm oil)or olive oil. Add 5 stems of  garlic along and its flowers.(optional)
  4. Mix the nettle leaves with  the onion and add enough vegetable stock to JUST cover the nettle/onion mixture. Adding too much liquid will result in a watery soup.
  5. Simmer on medium heat for about 20 to 25 minutes.
  6. Remove from the heat and mix with a hand mixer to a creamy soup.
  7. Add 3/4 can of coconut milk and 1 large TBSP of mascarpone cheese to the soup. Stir  and leave to simmer very gently over low heat for another 10 minutes.
  8. Season with salt and pepper, lemon juice and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
  9. Leave aside until needed.

Petit pois pesto:

  1. Boil 1 large cup of freshly shelled petit pois for 2-3 minutes and rinsed under cold water. Leave to dry.
  2. Mix together in a mortar and pestle with 5 sprigs chives,  2-3 TBSP olive oil and 1 TBSP pine nuts.
  3. Season with salt and pepper, lemon juice and a drizzle of white balsamic vinegar.
  4. Don’t overwork to a puree.

To serve: Serve the soup warm OR cold with a quenelle of petit pois . Finish off with sprinkling of milled pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

Bon appétit!

Pick nettles with a pair of leather or other thick gloves!

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I picked the leaves(with gloves of course) early morning, separated the leaves from the harder stems, kept the softer ones, rinsed it very  well and kept it in the fridge until I started the preparation.

 Rinse very well!

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Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • Remember to pick the leaves with gloves, rinsing and adding to the casserole, working with gloves or tongs all the time.
  • Like spinach, nettle must be rinsed well, preferably under running water. Catch the water in a bowl and add to you plants.
  • It resembles spinach when cooked.
  • Use watercress, or spinach leaves instead of nettle.
  • If you fear the nettle to be too “wild” to your liking, add 1 large peeled,  boiled and mashed potato, OR add some spinach leaves along with the nettle.
  • Don’t add too much stock or else the soup will be watery. It is always possible to add some stock afterwards.
  • Serve the soup cold in glasses or cups, topped with a room temperature pesto, or serve warm in bowls with room temperature pesto.
  • If using frozen petit pois, boil longer than fresh peas..about 4 minutes. Stop the cooking process by placing in ice cold water.
  • For a nice apéro, make a cuppacino – Place a layer of petit pois a the bottom of a small glass,pour over some soup and finsih off with whipped cream. sprinkle with grean matcha tea powder.

Freshly shelled petit pois.

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Last, but not least..the pea shells are off to the compost heap!

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*Note: I have finally gotten the chance to redo my photos for the Washing day post and if you would like to see and read my thoughts on a washing day..just follow this link to Coin Perdu -Laundry day!

Laundry day at Coin Perdu!

* Thank you to everybody who shared their laundry stories either on Facebook, in an email or on the blog..I loved reading them..if there are more of you who want to share..please do so, I would love to hear your washing day stories and I know others would like to read them too!

Bon appétit et à la prochaine!

Ronelle


Basil stuffed strawberries..and bubbles at la fête de la fraise.

In the spirit of the fraise season and it being the fruit of our region, I trumped up these little strawberry helpings. Very versatile, they can be served as part of a buffet, or an ending to a meal as dessert, or with a cheese platter, or even an apéritif  for an al fresco dinner. Won’t hurt to try them, non?

Basil stuffed strawberries

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Recette:

  1. Rinse and dry a handful of large strawberries.
  2. Cut the stem side off each strawberry to form a lid and keep aside. Cut the tip off to make the strawberry stand up straight.
  3. Use a small melon scoop and hollow out the inside to form a little cup.
  4. Cut the remove strawberry flesh into small pieces.
  5. Add to the chopped strawberry flesh: Some chopped  berries of your choice(blueberries, blackberries, mulberries…), a few drops of balsamic vinegar, a few drops of a fruit coulis of your choice, a few shredded fresh basil leaves. Mix together gently and spoon into the empty strawberry cups.
  6. Sprinkle some chopped pistachio nuts over the tops and replace the strawberry lids.
  7. Serve individually on a plate or on a large platter for a buffet and accompany with fruit coulis(which you have used in the strawberry cups)
  8. Decorate with berries and sifted icing sugar, basil leaves..

Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • I used blueberries and raspberries with a raspberry coulis.
  • If the berries aren’t in season yet, combine with another fruit like kiwi, which will also see to a nice filling.
  • Remember that the bigger the strawberries, the less flavor and sweetness they have, So choose youraccompanying fruit accordingly.
  • Pomegranate can make for a nice crunchy filling.
  • For an sweet/salty apéro(amuse bouche), try a filling of quinoa, chopped spring onion and chervil with a drizzling of lemon juice, olive oi, and serve on some salad leaves..mmm, superb! Serve with a cold rosé wine by the barbeque fire..
  • Don’t serve directly from the fridge..too cold temperatures kill the strawberry taste..in facet, I never serve anything, except ice cream and the likes, directly from the fridge. The fridge kills all flavours.
  • Serve as part of a cheese platter..fill with a small cube of feta cheese, a shredding of dill and add a little piment d’espelette jelly(or another piquant jelly) and a drop of olive oil.
  • Play around with your own preferences.

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This year’s fête de la fraise happened in the rain. Although the number of visitors were lower than previous years, there were still many brave ones..like mon chéri and me. The fraises were as usually in abundance, but I missed the taste of sunshine..it is clear that our fruit and vegetables aren’t what they usually are. All the rains and grey and rainy days are taking its toll. But nonetheless, going to la fête de la fraise is what we just do and we  strolled the streets and nibbled on strawberries all day long.

..a cool fête de la fraise

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..This was my attraction all day long..

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..Strawberries, smoothies, meringues, crèpes..it was all there..

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..just a few names under so many varieties..

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..and the traditional giant tarte aux fraises, a combined effort by the patissiers of Beaulieu..

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..I was as as fascinated by the bubbles as the kiddies were..

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..How I wish we could hang on to that uninhibited spontaneity..

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..just like the strawberries, bubbles of all sizes and shapes..

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..and this is where the bubbles originated from..a complicated vintage machine..

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..As usual, mon chéri had to discuss  the engineering principles behind the bubbles with Monsieur bubble machine..

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..And..forgive me..more bubbles!..

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..such a pity I have no more daughters; musicians and bands galore throughout the day…

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..and with this last image I want to say:

“Gros bisous à toutes les mamans et à ceux et celles qui les entourent..

bonne fête des mamans!!”

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**Note: the washing day post is postponed to later date due to loss of images(total computer clumsiness on my part!!)..I have to await a sunny day to redo it all…my apologies!

à la prochaine fois,

Ronelle


Friday Ambiance

Je vous souhaite un trés bon weekend..

Have a great weekend with, or without friends, but definitely  with good food and a good book and some exercise, like gardening!

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Next week’s post is all about the washing day. A chore we either hate..or love. If you want to be inspired to do laundry, then remember to stop by. If you want to affirm your dislike for washing..then stop by too! If you want to know what I think about washing..then be sure to stop by!

I will also be making a spring petit pois and stinging nettle soup, picked right here in our meadows at Coin Perdu (with gloves of course!) Will it be good I wonder?

..a laundry day..

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à la semaine prochaine!

Ronelle


Walnut tart …and a marché aux plantes(plant market) at Curemonte.

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I decided to make a walnut tart, even though it is actually an autumn dish which we make when our walnuts are harvested after summer. But here, we eat it throughout the year, because we love it. Tout simple. That’s it.

Coming home from the marché aux plantes in Curemonte last week, with my confiture de noix and my chutneys and oils and vinegars and dandelion syrup under my arm, I thought it would be appropriate to make a walnut tart to accompany this reportage on the plant day at Curemonte. I’ve never made a walnut tart myself and it is only recently that I started eating it. I never thought it could be something special, until that one day that I took a slice at a friend’s house. It was delicious and it still is. It tastes like autumn. It is a rather heavy tart (which makes sense for fall and winter comfort), so I make it in a small tart tin, to have small slices…a good idea in any case for all tarts and cakes and goodies!

Our walnut trees are always late off the mark. They start off late in spring with these nice “flowers”, which are then rapidly followed by the leaves. With 4 huge trees, we always have a large supply of walnuts, perfect for Noël.

..tarte aux noix (walnut tart)..

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La recette:

*Pastry base: Recipe here.   Bake the pastry shell blind( without filling, but filled with dry baking beans to weigh down the pastry). Bake at 200 ° C for about 10 minutes. Remove the beans.

*Walnut filling:

  1. Crush 200 g walnuts, but not completely into powder. Keep some whole for decoration.
  2. Whisk 2 eggs and 70 g brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add 1 tsp vanilla essence, 50 ml TBSP strong black coffee, 2 TBSP flour and 150 créme fraîche ( or thick cream). Mix gently together.
  4. Pour into the baked pastry shell and bake for 20-25 minutes. Test with skewer and the tart is done when the skewer is removed clean when piercing the tart.
  5. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with 1 TBSP of walnut liqueur.
  6. Leave to cool, decorate with dusted icing sugar and some whole walnuts and serve with some créme fraîche or whipped cream.

Serves 6 people

Une pincée de sel:

  • The brown sugar and coffee gives a nice dark colour to the filling; but the coffee can be omitted if desired.
  • For a winter tart, try adding some spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, or cacao instead of coffee.
  • Pecan nuts can be used instead.
  • Keep the portions small as it is a rich and heavy tart.
  • Make extra pasty for the base and keep in the freezer for another tart.

…defrosting the pastry for the base..

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...spring walnut branches..

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Marché aux plantes à Curemonte

Curemonte is a quaint little village, 10 minutes drive from us. This past week saw the annual marché aux plantes (plant market) at Curemonte, an occasion I look forward to every year. Not only do they have plants, but also food, artwork  and some bric a brac..a vide grenier. Everything sold and presented, is local. The bread is made locally, the beer is from the local brasserie, the plants and vegetables are local, the bees and honey, the walnut delicacies and walnut tarts are made locally , the wine is local and the vide grenier and brocante are from les Curemontais themselves.

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I love the country side, whether it is a French one or an American one or and English one. I prefer the ambiance and laid back ambiance of les campagnards, country folk..of which I am one of course. Strolling the small streets, peeking around each corner, stroking the dilapidated doors and windows, enjoying the laisser faire gardens( gardens just seem to happen by themselves, relaxed..). the world just comes to a standstill in the countryside where chatting to your neighbour is still a pleasure, almost an obligation and something that can even happen on the road, simply expecting traffic behind to wait..everybody waits. Beauty is all around you, simple, nothing is ostentatious. Glamor has no place in the countryside. Nature isn’t glamorous. It is simple. Honest. sometimes hard and challenging. Always beautiful. I thus hope I pass a bit of the beauty of Curemonte and its marché aux plantes on to you by these images.

curemonte collage 4 5120x4096..and plenty of food for hungry visitors; 8 euros for a plateau repas, which consisted of a glass of rosé wine, rillettes with bread for a starter, steak frites and cheese to finish..so simple, but so delicious in the atmosphere of camaraderie with people joining in at the long tables..

curemonte collage 2 5120x3544…a plate or a table, a bowl or a tea towel..just browse..

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..I found my bonheur(happiness)..

bol 1 4419x3076..and a lot of strolling

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..fascination comes in the form of dilapidated doors and shutters, railings, gates-my fettish..

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..à l’année prochaine..salut!(until next year, cheerio!)

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I hope you enjoyed this day with me in the French country side! I of course loved every minute of it and I relived it all by sharing it here with you.

until very soon( à trés bientôt!)

Ronelle

Ron


Biscuit de Savoie (cake)..and a handful of spring lilacs.

..biscuit de Savoie..

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My hens, tiny as they are, provide us with a plenitude of eggs. As if that is not enough, the two geese, Sidonie et Aglaé, add their daily quota as well. I donate eggs left and right and we still end up with a surplus! I don’t complain..an old Paysanne told me that laying hens are happy hens. So how can I deprive a happy poule from laying a happy egg?

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The goose eggs are perfect for baking. They are far too rich for eating on their own, too rich  even for an omelette or mixed with chicken eggs. Seeing that I have these basket fulls of goose eggs, I found this delicious Biscuit de Savoie that asks for 14 eggs. Yes, you read right – FOURTEEN eggs. It may seem expensive to you, but the cake is worth it. To me of course, it is a bargain, because I only dig into my basket for 7 goose eggs and I have a perfect cake. Mon chéri, who is not a cake lover, now asks for the 14- eggs-cake, as he calls it. I hope you try it…you will like it!

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La recette:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170 °C.
  2. Separate the yolks and whites of 14 eggs into 2 bowls.
  3. Add 500g castor sugar and the seeds of 1 scraped vanilla pod to the egg yolks. Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  4. Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and whisk/beat until stiff peak stage.
  5. Sift together 185 g Flour and 185 G Maizena(cornflour/cornstarch).
  6. Add 1/3 of the stiff egg whites to the creamed yolk and sugar mixture and mix well. Gently fold in the rest of the egg whites into the mixture, alternating with the sifted dry ingredients. Don’t over mix! Always stir/fold in by going in the same direction.
  7. Pour the batter into 2 buttered and flour dusted  cake tins of 26cm in diam. each. Fill the cake tins only 2/3 with batter, as the cake rises high while baking.
  8. Bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer is removed clean when piercing the cake.
  9. Leave to cool and dust with sifted icing sugar or top with a vanilla  butter icing.
  10. Serves about 8 people or more.

Une pincée de sel:

  • Remember that 2 large chicken eggs = 1 goose egg.
  • The lightness of the cake is due to the 14 beaten egg whites.
  • Fill the cake tins only 2/3 with the cake mixture..the cake rises high in the oven.
  • The cake is baked when a knife blade is retracted clean when piercing the cake.
  • From this recipe I get 2 cakes (26cm diam. and 24 diam.). Half the recipe to get only 1 cake of about 26 diam.
  • Use eggs at room temperature.
  • Flavour with almond essence instead of vanilla.
  • Dust only with sifted icing sugar, or top with a butter icing, or drizzle with a runny milk icing.
  • Replace the vanilla pod with a packet of vanilla sugar (7.5g) or a tsp of vanilla essence.
  • Serve (without the topping of butter icing) as dessert with strawberries, whipped cream and a strawberry coulis.

I am still old school. I love my metal cake tins. I have succumbed to the silicone stuff, but now I’m handing them all out as gifts and I am reverting back to my old tins, some of which still come from my mother. Maybe it is what happens when one gets older..you revert back to the things that once gave you joy, in spite of new trends and “fashionability”. By oiling my tins with butter and giving it a dusting of flour, sticking to the pan is not a problem. But of course..freedom of choice is what makes the world go round, so by all means use whatever you fancy!

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The biscuit de Savoie was adapted from the book Pâtissier, Petit Larousse.

…a handful of spring lilacs..

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Spring is awakening very slowly this year, causing the garden to be in a slow rising too. but nonetheless, colour is everywhere. The glycine (wisteria) is absolutely gorgeous in the gardens and of course, we all have lilas..of all colours. I only have the light lilac, of which the colour fades beautifully as it ages. And they fit into all pots and vases and tittles and cups. For tables and bathrooms and shelves and corners to enjoy to the full. They don’t last too long once picked, but for the day or two they provide me with such satisfaction and my barn house smells like spring, even on a cool rainy day! It is true. The biggest happiness comes in small doses.

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*Our little poulain (faul) is a week old today and getting just more cute by the day. If you would like to see some pics of her and her equally adorable maman, make a stop at  A spring poulain! on my blog Coin Perdu, to read and see how things went last Friday night with the birth! Very exciting, it was!

*Have a great Sunday tomorrow..I will be off to a brocante, make a stop at the jardinerie for some tomato plants and  do some weeding at home…

So, as always..

à la prochaine!..

Ronelle


Joyeuses Pâques!

To all my friends and readers and visitors, those who stop for a moment and those who pass right by…whatever you do during this Easter period, whichever way you celebrate it, or even ignore it…I wish you fun and joy,  many chocolate Easter eggs, (may you win the Easter egg hunt), and the most important of all…stay safe and pass on that wide smile!!

Joyeuses Pâques a tout le monde!

Ronelle

happy easter


Lemon cake… and an Easter spring is in the air.

Easter  is spring time. Or spring is Eastertime.Whichever way, that is of course for us here in the Northern Hemisphere. Down south everybody is preparing for winter with their days beautiful and lazy with fall colors entering the scene.

Because I am so busy in the garden(every minute the skies give me a chance!) I don’t get to the stove much, and when I pass the stove per chance, I am too tired to the bone to cook and bake….so….. I am re-posting this delicious little cake from a past post; Lemon cake and writing our stories. I might just make a stop with my tired bones next to the oven and put it together for us too on Sunday afternoon to enjoy with English tea! I have never come across someone who didn’t fall in love with it right after that first bite..and just look at the recipe down below.. really….this is as easy(yet delicious) as it gets!

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Lemon cake recipe

Pincée de sel:

  • Use freshly squeezed orange juice instead of lemon juice.
  • Add some grated lemon/orange rind to the mixture.
  • Top with some icing sugar of your choice, or serve without. I prefer without, since icing sugar makes it too sweet for me.
  • Decorate with fresh edible flowers.
  • The cake is even more flavorful the next day.
  • Use for dessert: break into pieces and serve, topped with strawberries, whipped cream and a berry coulis, OR serve with warm caramelized peaches and crème frâiche.

Here at Coin Perdu, I am fervently planting and digging and dividing,  as much as my arm allows, that is. It is just wonderful to be back in the garden. The rains are still coming down very regularly, but the moment it stops, I charge outside to do a little something. A new garden is such hard work, especially in the preparation thereof, because planting in bad soil makes for even harder work the next season! It might look like nothing at the moment, BUT in a few weeks…!

..passion fruit juice for our break…

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..mon cheri preparing the potager for me..along with his very willing assistants..

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..early morning by the potager and the mist slowly lifting..while I slowly sip my coffee…oh, that first morning coffee..sooo good..mince!

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..when taking a pause the chickens are there to “pause” along – this day I had un fraisier(strawberry cake) which I shared with them(of course!) and they loved every morsel! for the rest of the time, they scuffle around my feet in the soil, just coming up for some air every now and then..!

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..still a lot to be done: the dalles(paving stones) must be laid on the terrace and partly into the lawn at the bottom, the wrought iron pergola must be constructed for the white glycine(wisteria), a stone bench under the small window. To the right I have planted kitchen herbs which I hope will grow under the walnut tree, since not many things grow under a walnut…

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..eh bah voila..there you are, mon café..!

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..my tulips are slow in the rising, but they are coming on steady..pretty soon they will be spectacular in their show off! I am so chuffed, because all my  bulbs I brought back from Amsterdam, (see post here) is pushing through, except for 3 Allium bulbs I lost to mischievous rabbits.. 

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..a lot of planting still awaits me – 60 lavenders, (lavande angustifolia, lavande intermedia, white lavenders) 20 santolinas, agapanthus, cistes,  4 olive trees, 6 Cypres de Provence,  buddleias, kniphofias, ceaonothe de Versailles,  100 Siberian irises, then a lot of Iberis, Eryngiums, ficoides…

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..In between all the pathways and staircases and dry hot corners, I stick in some thym serpolet and  succulents like the ever popular sedums, sempervivums and jovibarbas, which grow beautifully in all those sunny spots…

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* I am working on a series on tartes, tourtes, quiches et cakes, which I will combine with some table setting in white with silver, yellow with pottery, red with vintage and blue with rustic.

*So stick around..if I can just get my act togehter and organise my organising better..i will be back soon with the series on tartes, tourtes, quiches et cakes,

Joyeux Paques

et à bientôt!

Ronelle


Salmon, potato and mussel salad..and a contribution to pie-ography

Nothing makes a better salad than leftovers.During spring, when all attention is focused on the garden and restoration work on the house, all sorts of salads with leftover meats and fish and vegetables make life so much easier. It is also a time when I stock my pantry heavier than usual with some interesting condiments to add zest to the salads without spending hours in the kitchen in the evenings. It is typically additions like sundried tomatoes, ready made pestos and tapenades, marinated mussels and oysters, canned sardines and anchovies, mackerels, beans and split peas.

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For this easy peezy, light and delicious salad, I used the left over salmon and steamed potatoes from the previous evening’s dinner and turned it into a salad with all sorts of other goodies coming from the pantry and the fridge. I served it with toasted pita bread and  a cream and dill sauce. What can I say…“cetait un régal tout simple”!

Salmon, potato and mussel salad.

  1. Heat some leftover salmon(flaked) and potatoes(cut into chunks). Add some chopped spring onions and a handful of currants.
  2. Arrange a mix of fresh salad leaves and herbs on a large platter.
  3. Sprinkle with nuts and marinated mussels and sliced marinated tomatoes and artichoke hearts.
  4. Make a cream sauce of a finely chopped small shallot, handful of chopped dill, a cup of cream or créme fraîche and a TBS of mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper and a squirt of lemon juice.
  5. Top with the warm(not hot) salmon mix. Sprinkle with chopped dill.
  6. Serve immediately with pita breads or a country bread and some extra sauce on the side.

Une pincée de sel:

  • Use a good mixture of herb salad leaves.
  • Use mushrooms instead of the fish, if you don’t like fish.
  • When using chicken, replace the dill int eh sauce with basil pesto or freshly sliced basil.

A contribution to Pie•ography..

Last year I’ve been asked by the creative Jo Packham, creator of Where women cook, to contribute, along with 38 other women, a recipe to her book, Pie•ography. The project was to create a pie which best described each author and write a short biography along with it. I found it quite a challenge, because talking about myself isn’t something I am comfortable with. Nothing wrong with revealing a little bite here and a little pinch there, but sitting down and directly saying: “..and so, his is who I am…”  – THAT is tough. BUT…I finally got something on paper and created my pie..so I can tap myslef on the shoulder and say ;..“not too bad, Ronelle, not too bad at all..!”

For fun, I listed 30 tongue in cheek- things you don’t know about me. Read at the bottom if you’re interested.

pieography

Thank you to Jo for inviting me to join in..it is a great book and I am honoured to be in the company of highly talented and educated and ambitious women in this book, of whom Jo is of course one. Her creativity is never ending. for me it was a fun and exciting  project to be part of!

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30 things you don’t know about me:

  1. My worst characteristic is impatience.
  2. My best one is enthusiasm.
  3. I can lift my one eyebrow and drop the other at the same time.
  4. My ankles are rather thick
  5. My feet are quite cute.
  6. I used to trust people easily.
  7. I now put my trust rather in animals.
  8. I am impulsive and it gets me into trouble.
  9. I don’t fit into my wedding dress any more, but it doesn’t bother me.
  10. I  don’t fit into my bathing suit and that bothers me.
  11. I still want to do parachute jumping, but I hate flying.
  12. I don’t like sharing the licking bowl when baking.
  13. I hate washing dishes. I also hate stacking the dishwasher. I see no light.
  14. My mom used to say my bladder is situated just under my eyes. It takes very little to make me cry.
  15. I laugh easily and loudly.
  16. I have perfected the puppy eye flutter. Mon chéri is completely defenseless against it.
  17. I hate conflict of any kind.
  18. I don’t believe the truth has to be told at any cost. Sometimes the truth serves no purpose..
  19. I have a great sense of humour. It is my life line.
  20. I love to learn, but I hate to be taught.
  21. I don’t mind making a fool of myself, but I don’t like to be made a fool of by others.
  22. It only takes one glass of wine to have me make a fool of myself.
  23. I  don’t answer a telephone.
  24. I am a coffee snob.
  25. I have two experiences in my past which I can’t forgive and forget. They still influence my self image to this day.
  26. I am a nomad, I have to move on every few years.
  27. Autumn makes me  sad.
  28. When I am upset I get into bed and cover my head.
  29. I am a Leo.
  30. The sun is my oxygen.

You can find the recipe and how I worked my way to it here.

Pi•ography  can be ordered from Amazon.com.

If you want more information, don’t hesitate to contact me(details in my sidebar)

So, until next time…

Amusez vous bien et soyez sage sage!

(Have fun and stay out of trouble!)

Ronelle


“Un bon séjour” in Paris and a tennis elbow..

I spent a wonderful few days in Paris, staying with our children, dining with mon cheri at Atelier Maitre Albert for Valentines day and meeting up with a friend for a day’s browsing and lunching.

Paris Fevrier

Unfortunately I am presently struck down with an excruciating painful tennis elbow..can’t lift a glass, can’t brush my teeth, can’t sketch, can’t cook, can’t paint,  changing the gears when driving is a huge challenge, working on the computer is impossible.. the slightest twist of my wrist shoots up an incredible pain into my arm… I have to depend on my other clumsy arm to help with my daily tasks, which loads quite a bit of stress on that arm too. I do get this tennis elbow from time to time and the only real solution is..REST. So I am taking a few weeks break, especially from the computer, to rest my arm.

Keep an eye out though, because when I get back, it will be in full spring swing..with some posts on my growing garden with my new olive trees, my masses of lavenders and santolines, the planting of the potager, the plans for my “serre” (greenhouse), the new staircases built from stone in the garden, the olive terrace and barbeque terrace, the kitchen terrace and the walnut terrace. I will also show the beauty of our region exploding with spring fever. I will take up my plein air painting again, work on some shows hopefully and I will share some new recipes, where I focus more on recipes from the south of France, which is after all, my favorite foods.

Even though I enjoy a trip to Paris, I have to admit that the campagne and especially the campagne du sud  stays my ultimate favorite place, which is why I adore our little forgotten corner here in the south west, Coin Perdu. For that reason, mon cheri is taking me to Provence in  June and to Toscane for August, so I can touch up on my Mediterranean garden and cooking skills.  Any suggestions for these two upcoming trips????

So you see..a busy, busy spring is awaiting me..tune in in a few weeks to roller coaster along!

But first..PARIS..

To quote Edith Piaf in her song, Les amants de Paris

….A Paris, les amants s’aiment à leur façon.
Donnez-moi des chansons
Pour qu’on s’aime à Paris…

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 …la musee Jacquemart-Andre..

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..l’interieur: Le jardin d’hiver, la chambre de Madame, le salon..

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…la femme q’u a l’sac..

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I also went to see the 9 new cloches awaiting to be hung, each named after a saint. It made me a little sad to see thse new onesI couldn’t help but think of victor Hugo’s Quasimodo; what would he think of the new bells? Emmanuel was the big bourdon, which was originally Jacqueline, but renamed  Emmanuel by Louis XIV..I suppose it was quasimodo’s favorite bell..and now the big bourdon is called Marie(bottom right). the other bells are named Marcel, Etienne, Gabriel, Jean-Marie, Maurice, Denis,Anne-Geneviéve

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I always play a game when I go to Paris…I don’t feel truly at home before having said salut to the Eiffel and I can’t leave without saying à la prochaine fois!

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and so to all my virtual friends here, I also say for the time being

..a la prochaine fois, très bientôt!

Ronelle


Velouté de butternut..and footprints in the snow.

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“Un rideau de flocons blancs ininterrompu miroitait sans cesse en descendant vers la terre; il effaçait les formes, poudrait les choses d’une mousse de glace; et l’on n’entendait plus, dans le grand silence de la ville calme et ensevelie sous l’hiver, que ce froissement vague, innommable et flottant de la neige qui tombe, plutôt sensation que bruit , entremêlement d’atomes légers qui semblaient emplir l’espace, couvrir le monde.” Guy de Maupassant, boule de suif.

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“It was early autumn, then, before the snow began to fly. –(There’s an expression for you, born in the country, born from the imaginations of men and their feeling for the right word, the only word, to mirror clearly what they see! Those with few words must know how to use them.) Men who have seen it, who have watched it day by day outside their cabin window coming down from the sky, like the visible remorse of an aging year; who have watched it bead upon the ears of the horses they rode, muffle the sound of hoofs on the trail, lie upon spruce boughs and over grass – cover, as if forever, the landscape in which they moved, round off the mountains, blanket the ice in the rivers – for them the snow flies. The snow doesn’t fall. It may ride the wind. It may descend slowly, in utter quiet, from the grey and laden clouds, so that you can hear the flakes touching lightly on the wide white waste, as they come to rest at the end of their flight. Flight – that’s the word. They beat in the air like wings, as if reluctant ever to touch the ground. I have observed them coming down, on a very cold day, near its end when the sky above me was still blue, in flakes great and wide as the palm of my hand. They were like immense moths winging down in the twilight, making the silence about me visible.” – Howard O’Hagan Tay John

…Voilà coin Perdu in January! Quiet and silent behind its curtain of white…

neige 2013-023..Our barn, where we are living until the house is finished..

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..A view on the bench, where I dream and plan, except in winter. Then I dream and plan by the fire..

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..Forgotten socks …

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..and terracotta pots waiting to be cleaned..

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..Two adorable faces, waiting for fresh hay..

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..The Eiffle tower, a bit askew in the potager..

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..Old barrel rims, waiting to become arches in the potager..

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..The wine bottle rack, serving some different purpose every so often..

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..The road to la toilette requires snow boots..

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..”La toilette” in snow attire..

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..Velouté de butternut..

velouté de butternut 1Recipe:

  1. Clean and chop and onion and fry in some olive oil.
  2. Add some cleaned Butternut, cut into chunks.
  3. Cover with vegetable or chicken stock until vegetables are completely covered. simmer until very tender.
  4. Mix to a puree and put back on gentle heat.
  5. Add coconut milk to the soup according to your preference.. Season and leave to simmer gently on low heat for about 10 minutes.
  6. Add the juice of 1 orange, season with salt and pepper.
  7. Serve warm with freshly grated nutmeg and crusty bread.

So, on this quiet, hushed snow note, I leave you..

à bientôt!

Ronelle


Goodbye to an old friend..

This morning I said goodbye to a trusted old friend. We lived through the worst of times and through the best of times. She was a pillar and only now do I realize just how much she meant to me. When everybody else left , she stayed, ever willing to listen, giving without ever wanting something in return. Oh true, sometimes she drove me nuts! But when I needed her, she was there.

We spent a lifetime together. She was there when we raised our children in Tours, driving them to school every morning, picking them late afternoons on the dark winterdays. she knew the way to the trainstation where I dropped mon chéri off every morning and picked him up every evening. She kept me company while waiting at the deserted station in early morning hours when he had to stay late in Paris for meetings.  She knows every chateau in the Loire valley by heart.  We went to Venice for a quick 2 days holiday with the family. To Milan, to Verona. We drove to the north of France, to the South, to the ocean in the west,  to the mountains for the snow. We did plein air painting together and still have the oil paint stains to show for it. She is witness to many of my art failures, but also to my successes, carrying paintings to galleries and exhibits. She drove us to the emergency with cut open heads and arms and migraine attacks.

When we bought our Loire house, she was the one who helped us faithfully restore it. Without complaining, she patiently helped loading and transporting bags of plaster and cement and planks and ceilings and tiles and gravel without ever complaining.

One of our favorite pastimes was brocante browsing and she loved it as much as I. She kept me on the right track, making me rethink unnecessary purchases. Isn’t it too heavy, or too big…is it worth paying extra for delivery..?

There were many occasions where she got me safely to the vet with my beloved little chicken, Omelette, who was almost devoured by the dogs, my  lamb Marie-Meringue, who ate poisonous weeds.. our cats, who were poisoned..she never laughed or mocked me for going hysterical about a half eaten chicken which I want ed to save. She understood my fears, my tears, my anger. she witnessed them all, silently, without judgement. She was happy when I was happy and she was strong when I was weak.

She moved house for us and our daughters..to universities in Toulouse and then to Caen, and then to Paris and again to Toulouse and then to Corréze. Hooked up with remorques and loaded to the roof and beyond.

She came with us to Coin Perdu and continued being the friend she had always been. Here she became my best friend. We did everything together, sliding through the winter snowed-in roads, driving endlessly up and down for tools and material for the restoring the house. She was there for the marriage of our daughter. She drove to pick up guests at the airport, drop them off, take them sigh-seeing, transported chairs and food and clothes and people and  flowers.

Then one day she didn’t perform as usual. Her movements were heavy, lethargic, tired. But she still gave it her all. We pampered her with a day at the spa, but it was clear that she felt worn. Tired. We took shorter trips to have her rest more, to make it easier on her tired limbs.

And finally this morning I said goodbye to her. A better friend I could not have asked for. Our Peugeot 307, 12 years,  350 000 km.

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à bientôt

Ronelle


Old French story plates.

I call them story plates. Those who follow this site will know how much I love stories and storytelling. We all do, I’m sure. Why else would we read book after book, watch movies, read biographies, buy art..they all tell stories and we each interpret them in our own way. We see our own lives twisted in the words and images. Some of us are just more of a sucker for sentiment than others. I am one of those.

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These little plates that I find at the brocantes make me laugh, sometimes they are very simple, a poem, a line, a title, sometimes  razor sharp in irony, but they are always true to depicting the experiences and life of the moment, which is what makes a story, which is what history is made of, and which explains why a later generation is so taken with “old” and “antique” and “vintage”,  history and the ever popular French brocante.

I would like to share some of these story plates with you. Each time I use a plate, I laugh again at the story, even though I know them all by heart! They are every day plates and I am amazed at how I can sometimes be lifted up on a dreary day by just using one of these story plates.

N° 6, Mme Angot’s daughter: A later, more “modern” story plate:

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N° 12, En voyage: My first plate, bought many years ago,tells the joke/funny story of an old, distinguished gentleman taking the train and pulling the alarm, which had the train stop and all the police swarming to the train. Ever so innocent, he asked them why they stopped the train? He was sleeping and then took a bath and rang the alarm(bell) for some towels..!

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N° 5, Mauvaise farce (bad jokes): The story plates are usually in series and numbered in the series. This is the series about bad jokes… placing a bucket of water on a half opened door …

storyplates 2N° 11, Les déjeuners comiques(funny meals): This is my favorite little plate. it is so cunning! This one is titled Le déjeuner economique (cheap lunch).

storyplates 7-001N° 9, Rigolades(laughs): Then there are those plates which have the most beautiful borders, like this one and the following green plates. The little story is very simple. This series is called .

storyplates 9-001N° 4,  Les sports: I adore the border of this plate,it is so elegant. This series depict sports and of course ice skating on the frozen European lakes was a big pastime for men and women..I loved the clothes of the women of times gone by.. I just wonder how they got around on those skates…the way I fall definitely demands some trousers!

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Amusez vous bien en lisant ces petites histores et à bientôt!

Ronelle


Un Noël à la campagne 5: Apple turrets with amaretto sauce…and joyeux Noël!

This is the last post of our menu and it is with a touch of sadness that I say goodbye for now… I enjoyed sharing this menu with all of you and I enjoyed all the comments and visits and stories, kindness and care. Thank you!

apple turret with amaretto sauce large

With this festive dessert  I wish you all a very joyeux Noël. May you all be just as festive in spirit!

Recette:

  1. Cut 4 apples in 4 slices.
  2. Melt butter and dip the slices in the melted butter.
  3. Marinate some dried raisins, nuts and cranberries in amaretto liqueur.
  4. Rollther apple slices in a mixture of sugar and cinnamon and restack the slices to form a turret of apple with fruit in between the layers.
  5. Place in an oven proof oven pan, top with a knob of butter and bake for 30 minutes.
  6. Sauce: Heat 150ml milk and 150 ml cream. Whisk together 3 egg yolks and 40g sugar until light and thick. Add to the warm milk while whisking and continue whisking the mixture until it thickens. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine sieve.
  7. Add a tsp of amaretto liqueur. Sprinkle with sugar to prevent a skin from forming and leave to cool.
  8. Serve an apple on a plate, decorate with star anise, cinnamon stick and a spooning of sauce. Sprinkle some gold leaf and serve.

serves 4 people

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Joyeux noël…Merry Christmas…Geseënde Kersfees!!!

à bientôt

Ronelle


Un Noël à la campagne 3: Topinambours and chestnut velouté with wild mushroom croutons.

The entrée (starter) for this menu is A topinambour (Jerusalem artichokes) and chestnut velouté with  wild mushroom croûtons. It has a wonderful woodsy flavor and finished off with a shaving of black truffle on the chanterelles mushrooms, it transports you into a winter forest.

topinambour et marron velouté 2

Recipe:

  1. Clean 1 onion and cut in slices. Fry the onion in a little olive oil until translucent.
  2. Clean 5 large Jerusalem artichokes, cut into small, even chunks  and add to the the onion.
  3. Add a tin of peeled chestnuts (210g)  to the mixture.
  4. Add a bouguet garni  and 350 ml water or stock (vegetable) to the vegetables and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
  5. Remove the bouquet garni and remove the soup from the heat. Add a handful of washed parsley and mix with an electrical hand mixer until the soup is creamy. If you want the soupy perfectly creamy, you can push it through a sieve.
  6. Add some cream, or stock, or milk to bring it to the right consistency (like thick cream). Season with salt and freshly milled pepper and a few drops of lemon juice.
  7. Serve warm with some freshly  grated nutmeg and a mushroom croûton.
  8. Mushroom croûton: Toast three thick slices of bread. cut into fingers and brush with truffle oil on all sides. Clean some some mushrooms of your choice with a brush and fry quickly in olive oil. Add some chopped parsley , season and place on top of the toast fingers. Finish off by placing two shavings of black truffle on the mushrooms and serve immediately with the soup.
  9. This soup can also be served as an amuse bouche, served in small glasses, with small fingers of toast.

Serves 4 people as a starter.

Une pincée de fleur de sel:

  • Don’t add too much liquid in the beginning..you can always thin with some milk, or stock or water towards the end to the thickness you prefer.
  • Replace the mushrooms with plain button mushrooms or with crispy Spanish ham.
  • Replace the Jerusalem artichokes with pumpkin.
  • Toast the croutons in a toaster or dry toast in a pan to keep it light.
  • Finish the soup with a twirl of truffle oil.
  • Never wash mushrooms with water, clean them with a brush.
  • Fry mushrooms in a hot pan ..I prefer to fry mushrooms in duckfat(a little) which can be heated to very high heat without becoming toxic. Afterwards I drizzle a little Olive oil. In a hot pan, you don’t need much fat, because the mushrooms fry very quickly.
  • I don’t push the soup through a sieve, because I like the tiny pieces of parsley which gives a nice 3speckly” effect to the soup.
  • Enjoy.

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The Christmas market in Meyssac was very quaint and I especially loved the lovely church with its display of nativity scenes in all the alcoves. Each nativity scene depicted a country…Brazil was there, France of course, Italy, Africa. Even Peru was there, each little figurine dressed in typical clothing. I adored it and planned on going back to Meyssac to take pictures of all the scenes. When I finally went back, it was gone! Of course, it made sense..it was on display only for the weekend of the market..all those precious figurines couldn’t be left unattended for the whole season. I can kick myself! So I lost out on the lovely nativity scenes..you will have to wait until next year.

But the little église of Meyssac is still adorable and here are some photos…

…The exterior of l’église de Meyssac…

eglmise de Meyssac 1

..the interior towards the altar with Chrismas lights hanging above the aisle…

eglise de meyssac 2

..the altar from close up..

eglise de myessac 3

..and the only nativity scene left for the season..

eglise de meyssac 4

..un lustre lighting up one of the many figurines the Catholics so love..

eglise de meyssac 5

  • Tomorrow will see the plat principal (main meal): Beef tournedos with bone marrow in a wine sauce and steamed vegetables.
  • A nice DVD to get you in a French vintage mood…La plus belle histoire des femmes.

.. alors, à demain!..

Ronelle


Un noël à la campagne 2: Two-salmon and avocado terrine.

We are at the amuse bouche of our Noël à la campagne menu…a two salmon and avocado terrine with a cream herb sauce. When hosting a dinner for guests or on special occasions like our Christmas dinner, I like to have an amuse bouche, a  little surprise awaiting at the table when my guests seat themselves. We usually enjoy our aperitif somewhere else..outside or in another room, or even around the kitchen table. Then we move to the dining room for the rest of the dinner. It looks very welcoming when guests enter the dining room with candles burning at the table and an amuse bouche  waiting on each plate.. When we are all seated and I leave the table to quickly get my entrée(starter) ready, the guests can enjoy the amuse bouche at their leasure and by the time they are finished, I am ready and there with my starter, without them noticing my absence, since the amuse bouche kept them quite busy! To present such an amuse bouche ready at the table, you will have to keep to something that can be prepared beforehand and can stand a few minutes without melting, drying out, falling over etc.

Two salmon and avocado terrine

two salmon terrine recette

Une pincée de fleur de sel:

  • Keep the amuse bouche small and decorated attractively.
  • This salmon terrine can also be served as a starter or as a summer lunch with a salad on the side.
  • Replace half of the poached salmon with shrimp meat.
  • Add some crushed red pepper berries for a different taste.

salmon terrine 2

Brocante à Bordeaux:

Bordeaux has 2 huge brocantes on the place Quinconce every year…end of autumn and beginning of spring. I missed the spring brocante, but one doesn’t make the same mistake twice! On Saterday morning very early we jumped into our four wheels and took the road to Bordeaux, about two hours drive from us. We arrived in the cold, in the mist, just as les exposants were opening up their stalls. It was still quiet and calm and after our coffee and croissant(of course!!), I shifted my bag properly over my blades, pulled back my shoulders, rubbed my hands together, took a deep breath and advanced with  that first step into this other world where I lose touch with reality and modern life and lose myself completely in the beauty of dust and rust..

Le coq de la France greets the visitor at Place Quinconce. I have a coq like that here at Coin Perdu..he thinks the whole of France belongs to him..attitude, attitude..!

bordeaux 9

Greeted by mist, but not at all disturbed by it!

bordeaux brocante - coillage 1

Wouldn’t I love to have these drawers for my atelier! I hinted and hinted with puppy eyes lifted to mon chéri, but it is true what they say..no one as deaf as those who don’t want to hear… ah well…

bordeaux 5

Old postcards make my knees jello too, especially the ones with old towns and streets  life from years back: I imagine seeing myself roaming about, or maybe cycling about…everybody cycled those days..

bordeaux 7

And of course, chairs – we do need to sit, don’t we. Sitting on chair that tell a story…isn’t that special? I think I might come back for these chairs in spring…will mon chéri fall for these I wonder..?

bordeaux 11

And a cutie..no, don’t ask me what outomobile this is. I knew, but  forgot again..and mon chéri is in Paris, I can’t ask him…

bordeaux 10

It just keeps going on…and on…and on…, with something for everyone and every budget..

brodeaux 4

I also found mon bonheur…..a real trouvaille(bargain)! Mon chéri was happy too…I came home with only 11 small books and I have already finished reading  one!

livres anciens

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  • So, while the amuse bouche was enjoyed, the entrée has been siummering away..yes… topinambours and chestnut velouté with wild musqhroom croutôns.
  • Another holiday French movie: l’orange de Noël

Alors mes amis…

à demain

Ronelle


Un noël à la campagne 1: Marinated herring and litchi cups, and foie gras with mango toasts.

It is a crazy time, the end of the year. Whether winter or summer, it is Christmas, gifts, parties, holidays, celebrations…and food. thank goodness it only happens once a year. I have decided to propose a menu over the following 5 days. A series of posts covering “Un Noël à la campagne“. (And non, it is NOT our Christmas menu.) I’ve chosen light food, a little bit more creamy, warm, cold, great French cheese and a showstopper dessert. But don’t fret. Most of the dishes can be made ahead of time and others without fuss or long processes. I hope it inspires you to play around with ideas of your own. The secret to a Christmas dinner is always… keep it simple and small and DON’T WASTE!

menu-un noël à la campagne
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..Apéritif :
..marinated herring and litchi cups and foie gras and mango bites..
litchi cups and foie gras bites
..recette..
apéritif recette
Pincée de fleur de sel:
  • Use any other fish you prefer, even tartare de poisson(raw fish).
  • Cut the litchis on the opposite sides of the stem to make for pretty “lids”.
  • Use small kiwis instead of litchis and crab meat instead of fish.
  • Eat with small demitasse spoons.
  • Keep in fridge until served.
  • Use ham or other preferred cold meat instead of foie gras.
  • When using cold beef, add some mustard between the layers.
  • Use other firm slices of fruit in season instead of mango.
  • Work on five helpings of each per person to leave room for the rest of the dinner to follow.
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Noël window displays in Paris:
On a cold evening last week in Paris, I grabbed mon chéri and my camera at 23:00 to go snap some images of Lafayette and Printemps, famous for their Noël window displays. Here are somze images and just for that child in you, click on the following images to see the displays in action.. These displays always make me giggle with pleasure!
..vitrine Luis Vuiton..
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..ball..Dior- Printemps..
lights 2
..Dior – Printemps..
lights 4
..my favorite vitrine!..ice skating – Printemps..it reminds me of myself..on the ice, wrong way up and wondering how to camouflage my embarrassment in the most elegant way!
lights 7
..at the ball – Printemps..
lights 16
..la Fayette house..
lights 3
..table exhibits;.
lights 12
..Lafayette house vitrine
lights 9
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  • The menu will continue tomorrow with the amuse bouche: Two salmon and avocado terrine.
  • A nice French film for December – Tous les matins du monde with Gèrard Dépardieu ane Anne Brochet. It won the Louis Delluc prize for best film and the César for best music in 1992.
  • Some links of the window displays:

à demain

Ronelle


Easy and quick caramel squares..and December chronicles 3: Backstage.

Don’t you just love it when a recipe says in its first line..easy and quick? I definitely do! With these last three daily  posts, I had to think of very quick and easy but still delicious recipes and it being a time of nostalgia, this little recipe came to mind…It is not a stunner, but still a delicious little snack. It is even easy enough for young children to make….keeping them busy during the upcoming holidays.

My sister made this treat regularly so many years ago when she was living in her tiny apartement during university years. I loved visiting her on weekends with my parents, sure in the knowledge that this delicacy would be waiting in her fridge.  It is sort of one of those treats that was part of a certain era and then disappeared. It was great for students to make on their desks in their rooms, without the need for cooking facilities.

You need only 2 ingredients: 2 packets of butter biscuits and a can of caramelized condensed milk. If you live in SA or a country which has “tennis biscuits”, then that is exactly what you will use. It has a slight coconut taste and it absorbs the caramel nicely to go all tasty soft and flavorful. Here I used le grand petit beurre from St. Michel, which is a nice square shaped biscuit. I also used  confiture de lait by Bonne Maman (what will we do here in France without Bonne Maman?).

  1. Place two biscuits next to each other on a sheet of baking paper.
  2. Spread the caramelized condensed milk thickly over both biscuits.
  3. Place two more biscuits on top of the caramel layer.
  4. Continue until you have about 9 to 10 layers of biscuits.
  5. Close up tightly with the baking paper and wrap tightly(without crushing the biscuits!) in  tin foil.
  6. Leave overnight.
  7. Will keep about a week or even longer in an airtight container in the fridge.
  8. Cut in slices and serve with a coffee or tea.

Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • Try using nutella instead of caramelized condensed milk.
  • The longer it stand, the better the flavor and softer the biscuits become.

caramel squares_ collage

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Backstage. If there is one thing we all have in common, it is that “fun” behind the scenes. But, I am unfortunately not Jacky Chan, so my behind the scenes will probably only have significance for me and no one else. It is a bit like the friend who comes back with  photos from Russia, taken with his expensive Canon and ten lenses, and entertains you with great enthusiasm to his hundreds of touristy cathedrals and fountains and bridges and museums, while your jaw aches from biting back your yawning. But just maybe seeing a bit of my backstage scenes, will have you run to your photos to remember your own backstage times with loved ones.

We are always in our total number represented in the kitchen, stretching over one another, reaching over heads for a tool, tasting, licking, nibbling, fighting. It is amazing the busyness only 4 people can cause in a kitchen..

These are truly precious memories..

Not everything that came out of the kitchen was that big a success, but that didn’t matter in the least..we made our flops together, that is what counts.

Even guests had to pitch in, and they did it with enthusiasm… for that reason I have plenty of tabliers(aprons).

One thing to be found in practically all our scenes, is the opening of oysters. It is the task of mon chéri. I will probably lose all my fingers, because I have never opened an oyster! and mon chéri and our youngest daughter always have to get into a dish cloth fight..in the kitchen!

We normally start off our evening of Réveillon with some vin chaud et apéritifs in the living room. then we start warming up and finish off our menu and seat ourselves at the table where an amuse bouche is awaiting us. I always have something ready at the table when guests seat themselves..it adds to the expectation and while everybody start eating their amuse bouche and have their wine poured and just simply settle at the table, it gives me the time to finish off the starter. Our entrée(starter) is plated in the kitchen.

After the starter, we bring the plat principal(main course) arranged on a large platter to the table, where we keep it warm over a flame. It is normally fish and a vegetable accompaniment, all arranged on one platter. We follow that up with a cheese board..

..and end of course our dinner with la piéce de résistance….le dessert! Byt that time, we are close to midnight,; which is the time we pass around our gifts. But before that, we go for a late pre-midnight walk..or rahter that is what we used top do in the Loire house – we went for a walk by the Loire, just to walk down some calories. On arriving back home, we warm ourselves by the fireplace,  make coffee and start opening up gifts..slowly, deliberately, lingering on each moment.

Christmas day followed about the same pattern, except that we ate earlier and afterwards we walked up to the DVD store and rented a DVD while we had coffee and chocolates a and fell asleep before halfway through the movie..

Thank you for sharing this trip down memory lane with me. If nothing else, I hope it took you on your own roads back, remember with tenderness all the good and I hope it inspires you to make many new memories this December and note them down, either in words or in pictures.

Merci et à bientôt!

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


Vin chaud..and Decembers past, chronicles I: trees

Vin chaud definitely has its place in our home during the winter months..which haven’t shown up yet..but I will be ready! It infuses the home with wonderful December flavors and cupping your hand around the glass, sipping slowly, truly brings it home. even in the Southern hemisphere it can be enjoyed for a summer December evening, especially outside; or taken to the beach on a moonlit evening, or by the barbie fire..it can only be good..or better than good..?

Pincée de sel:

  • Serve the mulled wine warm to hot.
  • Peel the orange very thin, so only get the outer skin and not the white which tends to add bitterness.
  • Add or remove spices as your taste dictates.
  • Start with less sugar , you can always add more later if needed.
  • The flavors develop with standing..leave to stand at least 30 minutes for the flavors to infuse.
  • Always pour the hot liquid onto a spoon into glass to prevent cracking.
  • Cut the orange slices into quarters and remove the skin when adding to each glass..it is easier to drink without having an enormous slice of orange suddenly spilling the wine all over your chin! And the small quarters can be eaten after the glass is emptied, wonderfully gorged with the spiced wine.

When I packed up our Loire home in Montlouis a little while back, I came across our photo albums which stretch over years and years. I saw all Christmases past and was excited to realize that I captured them ALL on film or digital. My Christmas photos date back 26 years, to that very first year we became a family. Except for 2003, every Christmas the last 26 years  is on film or digital…the preparations, the decor, our tree and our dinners. Unfortunately my photo albums are in storage, so I can’t show those Christmases.  Maybe next year.

Our tradition had always been to decorate our tree on 1 December… we have a nice dinner by a candle we light every evening with dinner for the whole of December; in gratitude, remembering friends and family and for the love we have for one another. This has never changed, even now that our nest is empty. Our tradition also demands a different tree each year. Some years it was a live tree, some years a fake one, others were handmade, some were dry branches, it depended on the year’s flavor.

I have collected quite a few pieces over the years and I always kept in mind that we have 2 daughters who will one day have to share these decorations, so I saw to it that each of them will have the same of everything..a memory of Christmases in their childhood home. I hope it will give them and their children big pleasure one day to hang these little  decorations on their own trees.

So, here we are; last week of November, but because I love Noël…and because I paged through albums…and because I am a sucker for sentiment and memories…and because we are starting a new chapter in our book of life stories… I want to share snippets of our Christmases-past until Saturday night, when we will see our  2012 tree up and candle lit for December 2012.  ***************************************************

Noël 2004:

This year was the first year we had a dry branch, which had become a favorite in our home. We used only white decorations: a white rose in small vases(which were still unavailable and I had to bribe a florist to sell me some of hers). Large bells and fabric angels completed our tree and a group of snowmen around the base of the tree…oh yes  of course, faerie lights!

To continue the white theme, I added white coloured chocolates and cookies on the table..not a good idea!

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Noël 2005:

This year’s tree was supposed to be an “angel” tree. I added some quotes I wrote on handmade paper, which we still use today..

Some détail on the angels and their quotes..

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Noël 2006:

A traditional tree was our choice for this year. I added some old postcards and voilà a very full tree.

..and some détail..small balck and white photographs of our family in small silver frames..still used today. and the cutest little pink angel cards I found in an antique store in Paris.

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Noël 2007:

Dry branches in une vieille jarre, decorated in silver, grey and white. I added rusted wired hearts and crosses. This year’s tree was a bitloaded and  chaotic, but even that is OK, a good memory, because there were always a lot of hands helping, decorating, adding!

..a little détail corner I loved..

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Noël 2008:

Once again, an all white tree, but more modern with large balls of white cotton wool depicting snow and the cutest poilar bears, white baubles and small mirrors catching reflections. Even though it is a fake tree and the whole tree had a modern look, I was very happy with our tree..

..a favorite corner with old books..“La chatte, by Colette”. I somehow always have to add books to the tree..it goes hand in hand, doesn’t it..books and Christmas trees..

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Noël 2009:

This tree is my all time favorite tree..I loved this year’s tree! Fresh moss from my garden in Montlouis, the tree from the Loire, the dry hydrangeas were directly from the garden too..and books, books, books!

..my two favorite crosses that I found in Helsinki..

.a détail corner with silver baubles and grey felt reindeer, also a favorite decoration..

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Noël 2010:

This was one of only two years that we bought a tree..It was also the second time that I felt very very sad at the en of Christmas, when the tree was so dry and triste and it matched my tristesse. I really didn’t like the feeling of taking down decorations from a sad tree.. But while it was there…it was trasitional and pretty.

..with more traditional red and green and gold decorations..

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Noël 2011:

And finally, our first tree from last year at Coin Perdu. We have moved on. Montlouis is in the past. This tree came from our forest and I had our eldest daughter who helped me in searching for it and dragging it back home. The Noël agains the wall was quickly put together by things I found lying around and I added a few stars and mushrooms. I wanted to tell a story with this tree, because it is a tree depicting life here at Coin Perdu..the deer, the forest, the owls..

…these two owl represent the family of owls who loved in the barn and are now in the woods, because we now live in the barn..temporarily!

..and a favorite corner from last year’s tree..

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  •  And to add some new music to your December repertoire...Bach, fifteen classical holiday favorites. Beautiful to listen to, even though it isn’t December and Christmas yet. They can all be found on Deezer if you prefer to listen there..
  • Continuing tomorrow: Quick fleur de sel grissini…and Decembers past, chronicles 11: table decor.

More photos can be seen in my gallery on the sidebar, Joyeux Noël.

à demain alors!

Ronelle


Red cabbage with plums and beetroot..and Beaujolais wines amidst hues of red.

I initially thought I would post a recipe for “du vin chaud” (mulkled wine), to celebrate the last of my fall colour posts. But then I “fell” upon this recipe..red cabbage..beetroot…apples…pork fillet..and it won me over. So here I give you the  voluptuous, dark reds of beetroot and purple cooked cabbage, lazy late-fall plums instead of apples and a juicy, tender pork fillet.

Une pincée de fleur de sel:

  • I used late season red plums, but use apples if you prefer.
  • Use cider vinegar instead of red wine vinegar if you use apples.
  • Add a handful of dry  Gobi berries.
  • Avoid cooking the cabbage to death… remove from the heat when it still has a bite, because it continues cooking, reaching the perfect stage while standing a bit.
  • Also good with veal.
  • If you are vegetarian,  the pork can be replaced by large roasted or stuffed mushrooms, or fish fillets.
  • Can also accompany a frittata or boiled eggs.

Recipe adapted from “Filet mignon de porc, chou poêlé; des recettes pour reçevoir; le grand livre Hachette.”

Yesterday was  Beaujolais Thursday, the day when new Beaujolais and le vin primeur of the season are sold worldwide.  It is tradition in our house to have a meal somewhere with a glass of Beaujolais. It is a day I always look forward to and this year was no different. It is also the last post of my autumn color inspiration and I can’t think of a better way to end it than to toast the wine reds of nature with a young Beaujolais 2012..

..Tchin tchin..!

And so, with a touch of sadness  I say good bye to the splendour of fall. It is time to move on.

à trés bientôt!

Ronelle


Goat’s cheese and caramelized apple salad.. and ochre abundance.

Once again, I had to scratch my head to think of a recipe that would accompany the stunning ochre colours of fall. Of course not only in colour, but also in taste, spirit, ambiance..Of course..cheese. I can’t believe I haven’t shared this simple salad yet. It can be  manipulated and changed according to the seasons and is always a winner with its warm toast, cheese and apple and fresh green salad.

Une pincée de fleur de sel:

  • Place the apple rounds and goat’s cheese on toasted bread before putting under the grill.
  • Take care to slice your apples, bread for toast and cheese more or less the same size.
  • Use slices of Camembert instead of goat’s cheese.
  • Use pears or quince instead of apples.
  • Use brown sugar to caramelize the pears or quince instead of honey and serve with a helping of quince jam/jelly.
  • Play around and make your own combinations to serve a melted cheese and apple/pear/quince salad.

..stillife  nicked by a chicken..

..stillife with Royal Gala apples..

..walnut oil, walnut vinegar, raspberry vinegar, truffle vinegar..

Our fall colors have only now really reached their peak and the ochres are in abundance. I don’t have much to say, except that nature is at the moment an explosion of magnificence..

à la prochaine!

Ronelle


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