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
- Rinse and dry a handful of large strawberries.
- 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.
- Use a small melon scoop and hollow out the inside to form a little cup.
- Cut the remove strawberry flesh into small pieces.
- 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.
- Sprinkle some chopped pistachio nuts over the tops and replace the strawberry lids.
- 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)
- 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.
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
..This was my attraction all day long..
..Strawberries, smoothies, meringues, crèpes..it was all there..
..just a few names under so many varieties..
..and the traditional giant tarte aux fraises, a combined effort by the patissiers of Beaulieu..
..I was as as fascinated by the bubbles as the kiddies were..
..How I wish we could hang on to that uninhibited spontaneity..
..just like the strawberries, bubbles of all sizes and shapes..
..and this is where the bubbles originated from..a complicated vintage machine..
..As usual, mon chéri had to discuss the engineering principles behind the bubbles with Monsieur bubble machine..
..And..forgive me..more bubbles!..
..such a pity I have no more daughters; musicians and bands galore throughout the day…
..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!!”
**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,
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.
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.
- Heat some leftover salmon(flaked) and potatoes(cut into chunks). Add some chopped spring onions and a handful of currants.
- Arrange a mix of fresh salad leaves and herbs on a large platter.
- Sprinkle with nuts and marinated mussels and sliced marinated tomatoes and artichoke hearts.
- 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.
- Top with the warm(not hot) salmon mix. Sprinkle with chopped dill.
- 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.
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!
30 things you don’t know about me:
- My worst characteristic is impatience.
- My best one is enthusiasm.
- I can lift my one eyebrow and drop the other at the same time.
- My ankles are rather thick
- My feet are quite cute.
- I used to trust people easily.
- I now put my trust rather in animals.
- I am impulsive and it gets me into trouble.
- I don’t fit into my wedding dress any more, but it doesn’t bother me.
- I don’t fit into my bathing suit and that bothers me.
- I still want to do parachute jumping, but I hate flying.
- I don’t like sharing the licking bowl when baking.
- I hate washing dishes. I also hate stacking the dishwasher. I see no light.
- My mom used to say my bladder is situated just under my eyes. It takes very little to make me cry.
- I laugh easily and loudly.
- I have perfected the puppy eye flutter. Mon chéri is completely defenseless against it.
- I hate conflict of any kind.
- I don’t believe the truth has to be told at any cost. Sometimes the truth serves no purpose..
- I have a great sense of humour. It is my life line.
- I love to learn, but I hate to be taught.
- I don’t mind making a fool of myself, but I don’t like to be made a fool of by others.
- It only takes one glass of wine to have me make a fool of myself.
- I don’t answer a telephone.
- I am a coffee snob.
- I have two experiences in my past which I can’t forgive and forget. They still influence my self image to this day.
- I am a nomad, I have to move on every few years.
- Autumn makes me sad.
- When I am upset I get into bed and cover my head.
- I am a Leo.
- 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!)
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.
- 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!
Easter weekend is around our tables.. Families are preparing for visitors, or are preparing to hit the road to family.. We’re doing neither, but we prepare for an Easter brunch le Lundi de Pacques, just the two of us, mon chéri et moi. I have sent a sweet message Upstairs asking for a sunny day, so we can enjoy our lunch outside . But if I don’t get my wish, we will still have our brunch, albeit in the barn. Just as perfect.
Instead of showing Easter chocolate and with our two little hens being so prolific in their egg producing, I decided to do some deviled eggs, or as we call them here in France, Les oeufs Mimosa, reminding of the mimosa flowers which are of the first signs of spring here and it happens all around Easter. I had to do a search about why it is called deviled eggs…
According to Wikipedia it originated in ancient Rome…go figure. Apparently “deviled” referred to the spicy nature of the food. The deviled egg gourmet has a description of the origin of the term deviled which you can read for some more info. I prefer to call them eggs Mimosa, like we do here in France. We push the hard boiled egg yolk through a fine sieve, having it look like the Mimosa flowers of early spring, which we sprinkle over the filled egg halves, so it looks like we have sprinkled some Mimosa petals over our egg halves. It is a little bit of old French cooking but still sort of romantic, don’t you think? I revisited the “egg halve” -presentation, serving it with a salad of green vegetable brunoise.
So, without any further ado, I present some Easter Oeufs Mimosa revisités to you!
- If you have a rectangle inox shape, it works easy to shape it in the rectangle, I don’t have rectangle ones, but I do plan on getting, they work fantastic!
- The Mimosa eggs can also be served in “petites verrines“, small glasses. Start off with toasted croutons at the bottom, follow with egg white, then the egg yolk cream en finish by decorating with the “mimosa”( the fine grated egg yolk).
- OR make an egg sandwich , adding some of the salad to the filling too.
- OR serve the egg whites and egg yolk cream and salad in small bowls, with toasted bread rounds separately for an aperitif i summer outside by the pool and each one serves himself/herself a small piece of toast with a scoop of whatever he/she feels like topping up with.
Serves 4 people for starter
..large geese eggs, ordinary chicken eggs and small eggs from my little bantam hens…
A spring brunch and geese and chicken chronicles.
I’d like you to meet our two new feathered children…Sidonie et Aglaé. They are named after a 70′s French television show, called Sidonie et Aglaé.
They showed up last Sunday and after a week of discovering the farm, they already have their favorite spots and they continue roaming about, following me or the chickens or the cats. They love company and I , of course, love their company too!!
Sidonie et Aglaé
Since I am still in the process of constructing our little lake for the geese and the ducks and the peacocks and….and…, they have to make do with two large bowls for some swimming. Do they complain? On the contrary, looking at the photos below, they are having a ball! Wouldn’t life be wonderful if we all could be happy with so little…?
Camembert, Mimolette et Ciboulette are not disturbed by the newcomers. They do their thing tranquilement, happy as always – the amount of tiny eggs I have at the end of a week, is proof enough! I used their eggs to make some oeufs Mimosas for Easter, to be seen at Myfrenchkitchen, Les oeufs Mimosa, for an Easter brunch.
..and a very simple spring brunch last week with two good friends..
I am showing off my very simple but very wonderful day here…far too many photos of the same thing! But, it was such a glorious midday in early spring and we lingered lazily under the still-leafless walnut and tilleul trees. I can’t stop reveling in the colors of the spring sky and the sun and the greens of the fields, the color of the air…everything…spring gives me such a kick!
Today is Vendredi saint, which means for the roman Catholics that it is the Friday of fasting just before Pacques, of spiritual day of rest, peace, restrain from eating and alcohol and just quiet reflection. Many places were closed today, depending on the prefecture of the region. the death of Christ on the cross is celebrated and even Christians are invited to join in this “chemin du croix“. Because we have many friends in the Catholic religion, we too will respect this tradition and we will spend a quiet evening, with salmon, some salad and water and reflection.
I wish you a wonderful Easter weekend !
I’m not a very big potato fan, but with our extremely cold temperatures here in Europe and especially here at Coin Perdu in the barn, I take comfort in a hearty true mountain tartiflette. It does wonders for my cold body…and spirit! It is a favorite in my family and we make it different every time. It is a recipe that can be played around with, except for the cheese..that can NOT be replaced. It won’t be a tartiflette without that strong flavoured creamy cheese.
There aren’t any specific quantities for making a tartiflette…I can only tell you more or less what I do:
- Wash 4 -6 large potatoes and boil until almost tender.
- Rinse, leave to cool aside.
- Fry 2 large onions in a pan, add a handful of sliced champignons de Paris and a packet of bacon pieces. Season to you taste.
- When the potatoes have cooled down, remove the skin and cut into thin slices.
- Heat the oven to 200 degr. C.
- Layer the potatoes in an oven proof dish, alternating the potatoes and the onions.
- Cut a Reblochon cheese(or another soft cheese of your choice) through the middle so you have two thin rounds. I used a Montagnard des Vosges. Place cut side down on the potatoes.
- If your dish looks too dry, add a drizzling of créme fraiche before placing the cheese on top.
- Bake for about 30 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the crust has become dry and brittle. Remove from the oven and remove the crust from the dish. Sprinkle with some paprika or “piment d’Espelette” and bake for another 10 minutes or until the top is nicely caramelized.
- Serve warm with some slices of smoked ham and a large fresh green salad on the side with a pungent vinaigrette.
Serves 4 as a meal.
Europe had been covered in a Siberian snow blanket for the past week or so…freezing cold, hyper dangerous, but spectacular! It is exceptionally cold here at Coin Perdu and I have a rough time keeping warm, seeing to fresh water for the horses with all the plumbing frozen rock solid. Warming up the barn to a comfortable temperature has also been a challenging task as of late and the only solution is to dress Inuit style, shuffling around in multiple layers and moving with less agility than a polar bear. don’;t even mention femininity.. We were snowed in without snow chains for the car and couldn’t get up the hill. the small French country roads are not made for snow and tiny cars and evidence of this is seen all around the countryside with cars in ditches off the roads.
..our/my home for now…
..bringing the horses in for the night, feeding them, carrying hay from the e other barn and water from the swimming pool..
…an unfinished home – what would I give to be all snug in my home..
…VERY c..c..c..c0ld visits..!!
…the boxwoods are still standing and showing off their beauty against a white background…
..first time snow for Mimolette…
…discovering this all-white-business…
..a white potager(vegetable garden) with the eiffel tower empty, a garden cloche looking quite pretty and last year’s cherry tomatoes…
Mésanges bleues(blue tits and a mésange charbonniére(Great tits) are all too playful in this cold. Between them and the red robins and the pies and the horses and the chickens and the cats and the rabbits and whoever else…; I just can’t keep up with feeding everybody!…
…just some prettiness…
Last, but not least: THANK YOU to everybody who has sent me emails and messages expressing concern for our staying here in the barn at Coin Perdu during this cold, wondering how we/I’m holding up and whether we/I’m surviving. It is very much appreciated.!! I’m still here, even though I have to admit it is a bit tough lately. Thank you for caring!
the polar bear(ess)!
Very few people enjoy white beans. I’m actually not one of those few. But a salad…that’s something I always enjoy, and with bean salad, it is no different. Not a cold salad though. Slightly warm. And not a mushy one either. Fresh and crispy. That’s how I like all my salads. Try it, you might like it too.
There can be so much playing around with this recipe:
- Use a mixture of white and red beans.
- Do yourself a favor and use either the fresh pods or dry beans from the organic store, but not the canned beans…there is just no comparison between beans freshly cooked…just, just tender with still some bite…and those overcooked, bleak, mushy, floury canned stuff.
- Keep the colors and flavors in your recipe simple.
- Add other grapes of your preference, or try figs, which are also in season now.
- Use chervil along with the parsley, which will compliment the anchovies.
- The anchovies can be left out or replaced by another fish like sardines.
- Use red onion for its sweetness.
- Add some freshly grated ginger for extra piquancy and flavor, in which case one would leave out the chervil.
- This little salad can be used as an aperitif, which is very “tendance” at the moment – serve a helping on pretty spoons with a cold wine, or serve on a small toast triangle, or in a verrine(small glass), or serve in a bowl with slices of baguette so each person can serve him/herself.
- Add the grapes cold and just before serving, so as to have nice crisp and cool contrast with room temperature.
Here at the end of summer, I am remembering a garden by the Loire. One I haven’t seen in almost 6 months. A garden I miss for its beauty. Its tranquility. Its animal life. For the many memories it gave birth to.
I remember the hard work, shaping something from nothing. I remember the many mistakes made. But mostly I remember the small but significant successes. The bounty in flower and foliage, the madness of rambunctious herbs, the unforgiving heat of summer sun, the many surprises and no less , the stubborn, but amusing persistence of the weeds. This all shaped my garden, gave it a rich and full life… gave me a rich and full life… season after season.
I remember being too ambitious. Having too little space and planting far too much. I My little garden turned into a forest by the end of summer…the roquette sweeping through the pebbles, the fennels reaching for the skies, the lavenders dancing wild sambas in the beds, the Pierre de Ronsard climbing rose playing out a Sleeping Beauty fairytale. The boxwoods’ constant demand for pruning, the long shoots everywhere, the new shoots everywhere, the dead heads waiting paitiently…
I remember how the garden could change as often as I can change my mind. Each seasons’ corners were plentiful and changed from one year to the next. Or even more. There was a corner for reflection, for morning coffee, one for sipping a coolness in midday. There was room to bask in the sun and of course a spot chosen somewhere for the meal of the evening. And how romantic were these summer evenings in this garden by the Loire, accompanied by the heady fragrances of jasmines and roses, lavenders and lilies! These lazy dinners lasted long into the night, lit up by candles and lanterns, handmade especially for me by a lover.
I remember how different this love affair with my little garden was to what I have now here at Coin Perdu, where our eyes follow the fall of the sun every evening to far beyond the horizon. It flames up the skies and we are woken up much later by the brightness of a moon and a starlit sky. In the garden by the Loire, sunsets were rare, cut off early evenings by the shadows of the cliffs and the welcome coolness of the caves. The small garden enfolded our evenings in a soft dusk pashmina, a warm embrace of familiarity and comfort. We lit up our candles and made fires in the summer kitchen. With herbs from the garden we stuffed meats and marinated vegetables. Our summer days began and ended in this little garden.
We lived and worked close together in this tiny “jardin de curé”...the cats, the chickens, the people…we all crowded in the summer cave, or in the working “cave” or in my “ atelier“…purring on cushions, lounging on daybeds, playing guitar, listening to music, reading, talking deep talks, speaking deep thoughts, painting, eating, sleeping…
It was nice.
No. It was magical.
It was mine.
This tiny garden by the Loire.
My courgette is taking over my potager here at Coin Perdu…beautiful and healthy with enormous bright green leaves and underneath those cheeky yellow flowers peeking through. The male flowers are starting to fall of and I’m picking them up and drying them to use as dried flowers for sprinkling over my salads…my latest craze; if you keep still long enough, I sprinkle you with dried flowers
The female courgettes are the only ones carrying fruit and I’ve picked some of both to stuff with a crab filling. Both male and female flowers are edible. If ever you can get hold of some courgette flowers…they are absolutely divine, from another world and savored slowly and deliberately…well, I’m a lady, I can’t say what I really think, but you’ll know what I mean when once you’ve enjoyed one!
- Serve the flowers stuffed, without steaming.
- OR make a batter of some flour and add some fizzy water, mix until a thick cream . Dip the courgette flowers wth filling into the batter until coated and deep fry quickly, one by one, turning each once once. Remove, drain and serve sprinkled with fleur de sel and a few drops of lemon juice, or a light yoghurt/mint sauce (natural yoghurt, chopped mint, seasoning, lemon juice..)Make your own filling by choosing ingredients you like and by mixing flavor which compliment each other. Keep it light.
- Serve on a bed of mixed salad leaves with a vinaigrette.
Myfenchkitchen is off to Provence for a week of painting with 3 artist buddies. We’ll be staying in the Vaucluse home of well known painter of Postcards from Provence, Julian Merrow Smith and his wife Ruth Philips, while they will be in England where Ruth will be playing cello at the Garsington festival. We even have our own blog, Four go painting in Provence and you’re invited to follow us every step of the way on this trip if you’re interested in seeing all our adventures…which of course will be mostly painting…and eating…and painting again…and then visiting the markets and painting them …and eating…and having some wine perhaps and eating again… or is it painting…in any case, a lot of everything! you can read a little more on my art blog too: Africantapestry is off to Provence for a crazy painting experience!
I’m leaving on Sunday for a week..the other three artist buddies, Katherine, Sarah and Robyn will be there for 3 weeks. unfortunately I have some exciting obligations to tend to here at Coin Perdu, which I’ll share with you once I’m back! So don’t go away…keep well and in the meantime…keep those pots sizzling!
Can we ever get enough of strawberries? Of course not! Right off the vine, directly out of the basket, sliced with cream, sorbet, panacotta, tarts, salads…every which way. And as a lunch with fresh country bread, goats cheese and basil? Simply delicious.
- The strawberries can be used fresh instead of sautéed, o cut and marinated in some white balsamic vinegar and lemon juice. Add a bit of olive oil to the marinade and use as a vinaigrette.
- Use some soft cottage cheese instead of the goats cheese with freshly chopped chives and basil the and salt and pepper mixed into the cottage cheese.
- Omit the cheese completely and make a sandwich of fresh strawberries, basil, chopped chives and add a drizzle of maple syrup.
- Another version could be to top the bread with strawberries and lastly add some goats cheese, put under the gril for two to three minutes and add the basil and a drizzle of honey just before serving.
- Use other sliced fruit in season instead of the strawberries.
We stopped our restoration here at Coin Perdu for a day of fun. With aprons. And three delightful, playful models. They chopped and chirped, giggled and grated, peeled and pestered, mocked and mixed, all the while performing with an apron chosen from the heap. So.. can an apron be fun? Judge for yourself…
I grew up seeing my mother in her apron every day. While she was doing her morning’s work; the washing, ironing, cleaning, kitchen work, she faithfully wore her apron. And after lunch, it would be removed until dinner time, when preparing dinner and cleaning up would demand an apron again.
Unlike those days, when aprons at home were more of a necessity to protect the small wardrobe of clothes, we have a multitude of aprons today for adding to that special ambiance of an occasion or activity. It partially serves to also show our domain of expertise as well as our our fun loving side. But some habits haven’t changes over the years…the butcher still wears his butcher’s apron/outfit, the boulanger(baker) is still clearly recognized by his apron, the fishmonger wears his proudly, the blacksmith is never without his leather aprons, the “garcon” serving your “panache” at the bar wears his with French flair… an apron is there for our barbecues and for our kitchens , our gardens, for playgrounds, yes, it is fun equally for men, women and children.
So, do you have a fun loving side…?
We are off to Coin Perdu in Correze for the rest of the summer. Packing the chickens in their “traveling castle”, the cats in their “coaches”, overloading our little blue Peugeot and we’ll be off with frequent stops to let the farm out the car for fresh air and let fresh air into the car!
- There is no recipe for this salad. Anything from the garden and the vegetable basket and the fridge and pantry will make a salad as delicious.
- I took a handful of leaves from my herb garden ; rocket, basil, red and green sorrel, chives, and a mixture of salad leaves.Mix with some cleaned and steamed green string beans, butter beans, petit pois, and shelled fava beans. Add quickly fried calamari or shrimp or any other white meat of your choice, make a vinaigrette and serve with a country bread.
..a summer garden…
I’m saying goodbye to the wild of our Loire summer garden and when I see it again, it will have grown beyond wild…!
I can hear everything whisper the minute we leave: “Hey, they’re gone! We are free! We can grow and proliferate, have wild parties and sow our seeds freely! So come on! Let’s not waste any time!”
And the lavender will fall over from laughter, the weeds will do obscene pole dancing, the rocket will keep the whole herb garden hostage, the fennel will try and reach for the skies and when they realize that they are too old for such adventures, they will just lie down in peaceful rest. The Virginia creeper will be unstoppable in their usual mischief escaping and going where they’re not allowed and the bay leaf will now make use of their freedom to block everyone who wants to pass them and of course the ivy are just so rebellious in their freedom! I think the only ones who will try and behave, might be the hydrangeas. They will try and set an example, show their true color and just bloom in being “keeper of order”. Unfortunately they will come up against strong armies, like the snails and slugs who will join forces once they realize the enemy is unprotected! I can just hope that Captain Hedgehog will bring in his friends to come to the rescue. My only regret is that I have neglected the young boxwood hedges the past few weeks. They didn’t receive my full span of attention like they’re used to and I just fear they might be a bit spiteful and teach me a lesson in some way or other. But I promised them they will be the first ones I pay attention to when I get back…I can only hope the promise will keep them happy?
Well, I am leaving in good faith that they will all live and play together in harmony. I want no fights and no complaints from the neighbors. Other than that, they deserve their time of freedom and fun and I wish my garden a wild and happy summer!
…tartelette and omelette in the wild rocket…
…untrimmed boxwood hedges and stalky fennel…
…a forest of green…
…lavender nodding and hydrangeas in charge…
…trespassing virginia creeper and dropping petals…
…ciao until soon!!…
Summer is a wonderful time to try new recipes. Not to cook. But simply to put together. Myabe a bit of cooking. But only a little. It is too hot and time is too precious to spend in front of a stove. These little rolls are something new to try and it involves no cooking. Delicious and refreshing cold. Serve either on its own with a drizzle of thick balsamic reduction, or enjoy as a summer lunch with a salad and some wholesome bread.
VF: L’été est parfaite pour s’amuser avec des nouvelles recettes vite et facile à assembler. On cuisine pas. Il fait trop chaud à la cuisinière et il y a trop de choses à faire… Bon d’accord. Peut-être un tout petit peu. Mais c’est tout. Ces rouleaux de saumon fumé sont intéressants, faciles et vite à faire. Ils sont délicieux froid et servis comme ils sont, avec un filet de réduction de balsamique sur l’assiette òu en salade accompagnée avec un bon pain rustique.
- The rolls can be made small like in the recipe, or bigger by leaving the salmon slices uncut. In this case rolling would be a bit easier and the rolls can be cut carefully afterwards ibnto two slices. If you want neat rolls, cut off the ends with a very sharp knife. I prefer a more rustic look.
- Spread the ricotta cheese on the red pepper for easier spreading and top then with the spinach leaves.
- The red pepper can be chopped finely and mixed in with the ricotta cheese for a different version.
- Prioscutt, basill leaves and roasted oven tomatoes could be an interesting substitute for the red pepper and spinach leaves, giving a more Italian ambiance.
- Serve two rolls of salmon rolls per person on a plate with a drizzling of thick reduced balsamic syrup, as in the photo.
Our street kicked off the holidays with our yearly bbq across our homes, on the banks of the Loire. A sunny Saturday. A Smoke from the bbq. Set tables. Fresh flowers. Pique-nique baskets. And happy neighbors. Perfect.
Notre rue à commencée cette été dans un esprit de festival. Un barbecue aux bords de la Loire. Un Samedi bien ensoleillé avec une trainée de fumée qui conduit vers le ciel. Des fleurs gaies. Des paniers éparpillées partout, l’évidence de pique-nique. Et les gents bienheureux. Un midi parfait.
As always, we enjoy our three course. Starting off with some aperitif and a petillante and icy cold rosé wines. We had different kind of cakes, abig favorite in France for an apritif with a sparkling wine. Cake with sauteed leeks and artichokes, cake with goats cheese and tomato.
Et bien entendu, nous nous régalons toujours en commencer avec une petite apéritif et une pétillante de la région. Très froid bien sur.Sur la table était un bon choix de différentes cakes salés; un cake aux poireaux et artichauts…un cake a la tomate et au fromage de chèvre.
..around the aperitif table(autour l’aperitif)…
…the pique nique baskets speak of heavy loads(les paniers de pique-nique)…
…what could possibly hide under that wrapping?(que cache au dessous)…
…someimtes keeping an eye on the pique-nique baskets(garder un œil sur les paniers)…
…baguettes and wine – couldn’t do without!(pas sans baguettes et du vin)..
…choosing seating(òu s’installer à table)...
…but first – time for some conversation among pretty ladies and heavy discussions(des jolies femmes et sérieuses discussions)
…and a far off call while the fire is stretching high(un appel et le feu)…
…and the smoke is a sign of good things to come(la fumée des promesses)…
…like this( de ca)…
…and this(et ca)…
…and while we wait for those good things from the smoke, we start with our starters…salads and baguette!(salades et baguettes pour entrées en attendant de la viande)…
…everybody is happy(le monde est content)…
…and silence sets over the long table(et la silence arrive à la table)…
…while we taste and share, discuss and delight(lorsqu’on goute et partage, discute et se régale)…
…far from done, we get to our cheeses(loin d’être terminé, on attack les fromages)...
…and clafoutis…of apricots and cherries, and peaches(et ensuite, un clafoutis de pêche.. et d’abricot.. et de cerise)…
…and after our coffee and chocolates, the Loire reclaims its silence once again, the only proof of an afternoon of laughter and good food and happy relionships are some summer blooms picked from a garden in the street by the Loire…
…Et quand on a terminé nos cafés et chocolats et la Loire règne à nouveau en silence, il ne reste comme preuve d’un après-midi de bons repas, de bonnes relations, et de joie, que quelques fleurs d’un jardin de notre rue.
Sprouting seeds is so easy. Healthy. Available to everybody. If you have a kitchen, you can have some sprouted seeds. Wonderful to use in salads and on sandwiches and it can serve as edible decoration on summer soups.
VF: Les graines germinées sont très faciles à faire. Tout le monde peut y arriver. Si on a une cuisine, si petite soit- elle, on peut toujours trouver un coin pour un germoir. C’est sain, délicieux en salade ainsi que sur une tartine et même comme une décoration comestible sur une soupe froide.
- Shave your cucumber in thin strips with a potato peeler.
- Use also other vegetables, like carrot strips, courgette strips or fennel and combine with thin apple slices or pear slices.
- When using pear or apple, consider using a soft blue cheese.
- Use a real country style bread, with a hard crust and soft interior, giving you that nutty taste. Please don’t eat those “plastic bread loaves” which just have no taste or flavor or texture!
- Use some nuts and accompanying oil to finish off your sandwich.
- the vegetables can first be made into a little salad, sprinkled lightly with your favorite vinaigrette and spooned on to some sliced country bread.
- Serve with an ice cold dry rosé wine.
…moutarde blanche et roquette(white mustard seeds and rocket)…
Tips for sprouting seeds:
- Rinse the seeds/grains under cold water and leave to stand for an hour or three, depending on the size and type of seeds.
- Rinse again and spread in a sprouter or in a glass jar, covered with muslin.
- Rinse the seeds/grains twice a day and even more on hot days.
- Leave in a dark corner, or in direct light if you want your seeds to turn green. Seeds left in the dark will be crunchier than those exposed to light.
- Use a special sprouter for seeds/grains which has a gel when it gets wet…mustard seeds, rocket, lambs lettuce…
- Spread your grains which form a gel onto some wet cottonwool if you don’t have a special sprouter.
- It takes from about 3 days to 10 days to have grains ready for your use.
- When the grains are ready, remove them from the tray, dry on a piece of toweling and store in the fridge.
- My favorites – trefle rouge, radis noir, cressonnette, oignon, chou rouge, moutarde, broccoli, adzuki
- Some sites to read for sprouting your own grains: Natur santé, Handy pantry sprouting, Primal seeds.
…the containers also vary from affordable to glamorous and expensive. But even plain can fruit bottles turned on their side will do the trick…fill them with about 2 TBSP of seeds, rinse, cover with muslin and turn onto its side...
…some are just plain difficult and I don’t even bother with them any more…like beetroot seeds. I’ve tried every which way, but can only succeed in sprouting 5 seeds out of a whole handful…and I DO have a pretty green finger…!
…some seeds sprout faster than others. Transfer those quick sprouting one to a container in the fridge and start fresh with new seeds. That way there will always be a variety of seeds for your salads in the fridge…
..une boîte a graines pour donner l’inspiration..
Amusez vous bien avec votre germoir, quelques graines, un peu d’inspiration et beaucoup d’enthousiasme!
…à la prochaine…
It is time for nature. For long walks. For the garden. Double digging and planting. For pruning and sowing. And for observing. After a hard winter, nature is on the verge of exploding into its exuberant spring plumage. To harmonize with the new growth and hope springing up all around, I wanted something green. Petits pois came to mind with its vibrant green . I call it a dip, but it is a spread, a paté, a guacamole, a tapenade too… I added Maroccan mint, some freshly sprouted seeds, soft goats cheese; it is early spring on a bruschetta. Nothing more can be said.
- In a next post, we’ll talk a little about sprouting seeds, which is something we all should be doing at our homes!
- Instead of serving the dip on bread, it can be served in individual small glasses or bowls and eaten with a spoon as a starter and some bread on the side.
- Or serve as a little salad on a bed of young spinach leaves.
- Add some dried currants for a little sweetness.
- Use other vegetables like fava beans or a mixture of the two.
- Consider also crushed steamed broccoli or steamed courgettes.
- Don’t skimp on the mint.
- Some mayonnaise or cream can be added to the mixture to give it more of a dip texture. Serve with carrot and celery sticks.
- Serve with toasted bread slices or fresh crusty baguette slices.
Let’s put winter with its deep conversation and full bodied Cabernets and hypnotic fireplaces behind for a while. Let’s move outside to the stories of nature. To the optimistic nesting of the gulls on the Loire islands. To the plunging flights of the swallows. The fearless circling of the eagles. Let’s focus on the delicate entrance of the apple blossom. The almond blossom. Let’s admire the elegance of the magnolia and not shy away from the shameless flirtation of the sweeping wildflowers.
From the beginning of time, man had been entranced by nature. Living by it, dying by it. Cursing by it, loving by it. We live by it force every day.
…it is only when you start to garden, probably after 50 – that you realize something important happens every day – Geoffrey B Charlesworth…
I can’t pass by a book on garden stories. Some day I’ll share one of my own stories from my garden journal. But for now, I’d like to share four of my favorite garden story books. (The lovely bookmarks you see in the following images, was a gift from la belle Monique)
…A growing gardener by Abbie Zabar. Delightful sketches about her garden on the rooftop, with delightful accompanying drawings, a feast for the eye and an enrichment for the soul!…
…Les affranchis jardiniers by Annick Bertrand-Gillen…..a couple living the simple way, providing for themselves from nature, doing it all the biological way. I adore this book.We experience a bit of their life with them, their garden and home and it gives us envy to follow in their footsteps. A beautiful life. A beautiful garden, open to the public in summer….
…Simple pleasures of the garden by Susannah Seton…...a collection of stories and recipes, quotes and tips for every season. This is a book to be read outside in the shade of the walnut, or curled up by the fireplace, or in the splendor of autumn by the riverside, it makes you love every season.
…True nature by Barbara Bash…..a writer/illustrator taking solitary retreats, living close to nature with only her thoughts and art and her journal. I received this as a gift from a good friend an fellow artist, the very creative Lindsay who sent it to me when I was not in the best of places. It was wonderful food for my thoughts then and still is!
… welcoming spring…
And last but not least…have a spring inspired look at Jain’s day inthe country!
Don’t throw outt the water you’ve used to boil your eggs in. They are rich in mineral salts…use it to water your plants with.
A refreshing salad..full of crunch and texture…a delight on the taste buds with the soft sweetness of the pears and the tart exploding sweetness of the pomegranate seeds. Fitting for a special parcel…
- Red cabbage ribbons can be added for more colour.
- Add the pomegranate seeds last if you want you salad to be “unstained”.
- A yoghurt dressing with lemon and honey is great too.
- If you want a more “sustainable ” salad, add some coarsely grated hard cheese of your choice.
- Good with fish.
- Can be served on its own as a starter or accompaniment as a side.
- A good salad for losing weight and/or detox.
Some days are sometimes unexpectedly special. Like a Tuesday when the post lady knocks on your door and with a broad smile hands you a parcel: “Voilá! Toujours Noël!” (still christmas for you!)
A lovely surprise from the extraordinary Monique at A la table de Nana. After opening up the very well wrapped outer box and fixing my eyes upon the beautiful first layer, I found myself working softer and more delicate with each unwrapping; lingering, feathering and stroking my fingers deliberately over each wrapping, wonder what hides underneath, trying to prolong the seconds to minutes, enjoying the feeling of excitement and yielding to the pleasure of feeling special.
…opening up onto creative bookmarks and cards...
…then a next surprise…
…even more delicate and beautifully wrapped…
…so many unfolding surprises in such a small box…
…a notebook, beautiful chcolate transfers, even more beautiful cookie transfers…
Few things in life give us that warmth around the heart than caring, attention, a spontaneous compliment…a little act of some kind making you feel special. This little parcel did exactly that. It had something of everything…
…a little bit of romance, a touch of personal creativity, a hint of refinement, a sprinkling of originality, a taste of beauty…finished off with drizzlings of warmth and presented with care and delicate attention…
Have you sent a small parcel to someone? Wrapped with care and attention to small détail, adding a little note here and a chocolate there, a smile, a giggle, a wish…not a Christmas gift. Not a birthday gift. Just something to say someone else is special. No? So…let’s just do it!
Trucs et astuces de nos grands-mères:
We all know our list of vitamins and minerals, but it is especially in this stretch of witer here in the North, that we need to dig it out again and check our daily nutrient intake. Like so many people in the North, I am also overcome by a bad fatigue. So I am turning to nutrients even more to boost my energy and morale. Anti-fatigue foods. Like lentils and apples and kiwis, loaded with vitamin C. And many short walks during the day. It is the getting out, getting the metabolism going and feeling the cold, which revives the mind and the body.
- Make enough lentils for a salad the next day to take to work for lunch.
- cook lentils until tender, but still with a bite.
- See how to make a bouquet garni at Velouté de topinambours.(Jerusalem artichokes)
- Add walnuts for some protein.
- Use kiwis for vitamin C and add pumpkin seeds for crunch.
- Use the lentils warm in winter for a feeling of comfort and cold in summer for coolness.
- soak the red onion in luke warm water for 5 minutes to remove some of the pungency.
- Use whole grain rice if you don’t like lentils.
Tips to fight fatigue
Choose food containing vitamin C, which is the main energy stimulating vitamin. It is active in the production of energy in the cells, it protects the cells agains free radicals and it assists in the absorption of iron and calcium.
Vitamin E diminishes the feeling of fatigue. Along with vitamin C and A, it acts against free radicals and protects agains the effect of pollution.
Vit B group facilitates the transformation of proteins into energy, they regulate mood and intellectual energy and they improve the absorption of iron, assists with carrying oxygen in the blood.
Foods high in vitamin C: kiwi, parsley, cassis, raw red pepper, chercil, watercress, citrus fruits…
Vitmain B1(thiamine): liver, whole grains, seafood…
Vitamin B2(Riboflavin): REd meat, poultry(dark meats)dark green lefy vegetables…
Vit B3(Niacin): Liver, poultry, seafood, seed and nuts…
Vitamin B6(Piridoxine): Meat, fish poultry,legumes, spinach, sweet potatoes, avocados, bananas…
Vitamin B12(cyanocobalamin): oysters, sardines, tuna, turkey chicken, eggs…
Some of the most important minerals to fight fatigue, would be selenium, iron, potassium, magnesium and calcium.
Calcium: Dairy products, dark green vegetables, sardines with bones…
Magnesium: dark chocolate, almonds, dried beans, walnuts, wholegrain rice, lentils, dark green vegetables, meat, fish poultry, nuts…
Potassium: Meat, fruits, legumes…
Selenium: fish, organ meats, grains…
Good foods to fight fatigue: lentils, brown rice, fennel, sweet potatoes, endives, fish, chicken, petit pois, cauliflower, apples, dates, papaja, citrus fruit, berries…
This is by no means a complete list or complete information on nutrients. There are many complete health books on the subject…this is only an inspiration to get reaquainted with our daily nutrients to give us a boost during the dark and cold days of winter.
Drink eight glasses of water per day. Cut out milk products and wheat to avoid all sorts of allergies. Cut out cafeine and all sodas. Take regular walks during the day and do some exercize. Turn the heating inside your house a little lower during the day, which forces to body to work harder at energizeing itself. Move more during the day, get up often from behind the desk and take a walk, instead of keeping water by your desk, get up and go fetch a glass of water, do some stretching, open the window and breathe in the cold fresh air…
Bibliography: Live longer cookbook – Reader’s digest; New optimum nutrition bible – Patrick holford; La Methode Montignac – Michel Montignac; Ma cuisine anti-fatigue – Marie Borrel; Total health program – Dr. Mercola; Eating well for optimum health – Andrew Weil, MD.
Be sure to drop in at Kalyn’s kitchen, where you will always find a healthy recipe with fresh ingredients, great ideas loaded with nutrients but light on the hips and with appetizing photos.
Trucs et astuce de grands-meres:
These cornes de boeuf peppers from Spain lend themselves ideally to stuffing and they are fascinating with their long and twisted shapes.
…cornettes de boeuf…
- Any filling can be used…mushrooms, onions, peppers, courgettes, cheese, berries, broccoli florets, tomatoes, dried fruits, breadcrumbs, left over chicken, ground beef, quinoa, rice, lentils…
- Ordinary sweet peppers or courgettes can be used instead of the peppers. Or more piquant peppers.
- Can be served as a starter or a vegetable accompaniment, or even a whole meal served on a green salad with a mustard vinaigerette.
- When stuffed tightly with a crumbs filling, it can be sliced and served as an aperitif on canapés, with a moelleux wine, (a sweet, fruity white wine).
In Octobre I had an art friend visiting France and she stopped through here in Touraine, where we met for the first time after being blogging friends for a long time. See both her sites, Making a mark(in which she covers much more information than just art – her latest post is about Technorati and blogosphere…have a look) Travels with a sketchbook is all about her sketching and travelling.
Katherine and her sister and niece had dinner with us at home on their last night here and they brought me a beautiful book – Boire et manger that I wish to share with everybody. It is such an inspiration, seeing how food and art have walked hand in hand through all ages, depicting the habits and cultures and changes of the times and the different symbolisms of different foods, some of which we still hang onto today; cherries being a symbol of love and volptuousness, bread being the symbol of the body of christ, the apple seen as the origin of sin. I wish I could share the whole book with you, but here are a few excerpts. I hope they delight you as much as they did me and inspire you to be creative with food, not that I mean to paint it, but to “paint with it”! And above all, to respect it!
You can see more examples on Africantapestry at Food sketches and a book on dining a painting.
…jeunes garcons mangeant des fruits: Bartolomé Esteban Murillo(1645-46)
Le melon-meaning: Sweetness, earrthly pleasure, friendship.
- Maybe look between the two boys could be interpreted as a silent dialogue between them to decide which fruit they prefer; the grapes or the melon, both having existentially different symbols.
- In the mythical sense the melon symbolically represents the earthly sweetness and pleasures of the flesh.
- the melon is always not only the cosen sweet ness of both adults and children, but a symbol of friendship, because the quality of the kin of the melon can determine the quality on its flesh.
- Grapes, givng birth to wine, could be reference to the spiritual path and the need to follow it.
…la table d’office: Siméon chardin(1756)…
Olive and oil – meaning: Grace of the Holy Ghost, conscience, clemency and charity.
- The European porcelain soupterine accentuates the refinement of the table.
- Two coilcans are presnt- one for oil and one for vingar, the usage of both these condiments togheter would be reaffirmed during the ages.
- The rustic terrine had a specific culinary function, which was the making of paté and was typically French cuisine.
- This still life present a contrast between elegance and rustic in the display of the kitchen tools and refined tableware. Chardin was fascinated by the culinary arts and gastronomy and used both at the same time to create his art.
- The silver warmer with silver seen as a noble metal, was part of the refined table and added to the elgance of the piece.
…nature morte avec des fruits et un homard: Jan Davidsz de Heem(1648-49)
- The fruit represent the earthly pleasures and in deeper context they represent the joy of the spirit/mood.
- The ornate decoration on this pure precious metal container represents its excellence and gives it a symol of saintly spirituality.
- The lobster is a symbol of resurrection.
- The peeled lemon represents life; which gradually “peels” off the outer earthly layers to finally arrive at the soul.
…le mangeur de haricots:Annibale Carrache(1583-84)…
Dried beans- meaning: humility, poverty, continence
- the borken windeow represent the negligence of this humble environnement.
- The man eating the beans was a subject reintroduced to painting at beginning of the XVI century. Up until then this theme was only kept to the indignant.
- The dried bean was condidered the most humle of the starch food and and represents the everyday food of the common peasant.
…l’enfant gaté: Jean Batiste Greuse(1865)
Cutlery- menaing: Elegance, finesse, treason, word of God.
- The presence of the cauldron emphasizes the popular character of the represented scene.
- The little boy holds a silve spoon, which contrasts with the humble and diorganized environnement. During this era, a silver spoon was given to children, because silver was believed to have antibiotic properties.
Sun and summer are still plentiful here in Montlouis. On arriving home, we opened the gates to a jungle of green. . Mosquitoes in the switched off fountain. Boxwood in pots dried and sad. Rosebushes hanging heavy with hips, spiderwebs in every corner, dust swirling around in the streams of sun light. Mail overflowing. Advertisements strewn over the entrance…does it sound familiar?
…bienvenue chez nous!…
Back bending and hopeful we dug in. Into the garden. Into the house. Scraping, digging, pruning shoveling. We drank water by the liters and turned to icy cold colas. We washed and rinsed, dusted and coughed, groaned and polished. Not to mention attacking the washing machine with vigour and gratitude! I forgot how to set the time on my microwave oven and wondered if I still needed it? I listened to the murmur of my dishwasher and wondered how on ever I got by for 5 months without! I now once agin appreciate my comfy and (for me), simple but luxurious kitchen and delighted in putting together a meal of fish and citrus fruit. Then we indulged in our dinner under the parasol, hearing the fountain, smelling the September bloom of jasmin, dreaming and planning for this second half of 2009.
- Scorpion fish is really delicious and reminds somewhat of lobster flesh. But of course any fish can be used for this recipe and the method of cooking can be adapted as well. If on a diet and you want to stay away from sauteing, then go for poaching, or even roasting in the oven. Just make sure NOT to overcook the fish filets. In any case, fish should ALWAYS be done quickly, because a little standing time cooks the fish even further. Nothing is more off- putting than rubbered fish!! Another note on fish…do your guests the honour and favour, by removing ALL the fish bones…the reason why many people shy away from fish!
- Don’t raise the eyebrows for the amount of lemon segments…it really flavours the dish and it isn’t noticeable as..”eeuww…lemon!”
- For a suggestion on how a citrus fruit is segmented you can seethe slide show in a previous post here: Citrus and carrot salad – how to segment an orange.
- the orange flower water enhances the salad and it is a good idea to have it in your pantry as a few drops enhances many a dish. To harmonize with the citrus and orange flower flavour, the addition of a citrus honey would be perfect, but a flower honey is nice too, which is what I used. Try not to use acacia, since it competes with the orange flower water.
- And lastly…DO have fun when cooking! Remember, cooking is all about Try, Test and Taste!!
…letting it marinate…
Montlouis is situated on the banks of the wild, untamed Loire river in Touraine, 10 minutes from Tours, and on the route touristique…wines, chateaux, promenades, photograph tours and the special troglodytes of Touraines, where many people adore living in the caves. We also have 3 caves at the back in our property, going into the cliff. But more on that and les troglodytes and its lifestyles next time. For now, a taste of la vie quotidienne d’une Montlouisienne(moi!)!
…je vous prèsente Montlouis…
…then you turn right, then go up the hill, then.. then…
In the photo at the top left can be seen…an enormous bunch of grapes! Which at some stage was lit at night and it was a fountain, but now it only serves as the land mark of our little town. It forms part of every direction giving to deliveries and strangers and visitors: “…et puis on va tout droit, et puis on tombe sur une horrible grappe de raisin, et puis on tourne à droite et puis….(then you go straight, then you will see a huge ugly bunch of grapes right next to the Loire, then you turn right up the hill, then…”)
Turning at this bunch of grapes takes you up a steep hill to la centre ville, where cars play second fiddle to walking and cycling, shopping and chatting.
…walking and shopping…
It is a busy little town with festivals going on throughout the year..brocantes et vide greniers, jazz festivals in September, tomato festival at the chateau bourdaisiere in September, garden festival in april, bread festvals, wine festivals, food festvals, fresh market every Thursday. We have the jour de Loire, with all activities and actions circling around the river Loire. And just as we think by the end of the year that the festivals are over, along comes the Christmas market, and we eat again, chat again, drink and buy wine again, shop for that star for le sapin noël…
…religion, homes and war..
Life is a hustle and bustle at Montlouis, while the Loire just nonchalantly continues snaking forward – silently in summer and filling up with winterrains to a passionate and powerful flood..
Voilà a short introduction to the place we call home. There is more to come in follow ups- the festivals, the people of Montlouis, interviews with les vignerons(winemakers) and their pleasures, artists of the area, the caves and their history and all kinds of food, fun and flair! A bientôt!
…la Loire en septembre…
…sunset in September…
A while ago Nina posted some delicous rolls and I’ve been threatening to make them ever since… I adapted her recipe a bit acoording to the ingredients we have available here in the country side in Corréze. I also wanted to give them a little bit of Greek touch. They are delicious – whichever way they come! Quick, easy, colourful and fingerlicking good. Thanks Nina!
I added some feta cheese to these rolls and made the sauce with greek joghurt, having someone special in mind when I made them this afternoon.
For Adela and John, two friends currently in Skiathos, Greece for 3 months. Adela is a regular reader here and I think this might be something she would enjoy. They love good food! So. May this be goo..ood..!
Thanks to Adela and all the other faithful readers who visit regularly and enjoy Myfrenchkitchen…I appreciate your support!
…sucrine, basil, string beans, feta, nectarine – voilà!…
After speaking to a very good friend this morning, who is on holiday in the bush, I felt the need to concoct something for Mariaan. I miss her. She is funny and makes me laugh. I wish I was there in the bush with them; listening to the roar of the lion at night and watching the elephant’s play by the waterhole.
…watermelon, bresaola and cheese salad…
Cut some watermelon into slices, or chunks, add to a bowl along with some baby spinach leaves, or arugula, add some feta cheese, or blue cheese, or parmesan broken in chunks and lastly tear some bresaola over the salad. Finish off with a drizzling of live oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of white balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with toasted almonds. Serve with a seed bread and a cold white or rosé wine.
As with many of the dishes I do here, there is no formal recipe. And there are hundreds of versions of salads with watermelon.
I started off this blog simply to have fun. I’m not obsessed about/with cooking. Or coming up with the perfect recipe. I am much more interested in a combination of things which evolve around food. Food is the last thing I think about when thinking about “meals”. I almost always first design my table for entertaining, before I decide on the food. I will first decide on colour, before I start thinking about a food to post. I will see sunset on the ocean and then I will want to make a dish that will fall in with my sunset on the ocean. An idea for a photo will pop into my head and I will start thinking of some food to go along with the idea. I will invite friends over and take hours to decide if we are eating inside or under the stars and then I’ll decide on the food. I will miss a friend and then decide to make something that represents her.
It is the same as painting a canvas. It is a whole process. It is the doing it, that gives the pleasure. The original thought, the preparations, wiping of plates, the shining of silver, the billowing throw of the linen on the wooden table, the cutting up of vegetables, the whiffs of onion in the pan, the delight of colours on the tables, the smells of flowers in a vase, the tasting of a sauce with your tasting spoon(NOT a finger) the stirring of a soup, the pinching of salt, the clinging of pots, the sipping of wine, feeling the coolness of rolled dough under your palms, licking out the bowl with your fingers, touching the crispness of a linen napkin, hearing the ping of crystal…it is a complete creative experience. A sensory ecperience. A sensual experience.
So. The recipes found here on Myfrenchkitchen are only for inspiration. They may not be perfect. They sure aren’t perfect. I don’t care for them to be perfect. I don’t measure and I don’t count. I am not inspired by recipes. I am only inspired by the idea of a recipe. A gazpacho will inspire me to do something with colour. A soup may inspire me to go for a new way of serving. A salad might evoke the desire to take a healthy course. I don’t follow recipes, it is too much effort and I’ll need my reading glasses. It wastes my time. Except for rare occasions when I might bake and even then, as long as I have some basic knowledge about what makes a cake rise and why do you need eggs and what is the relationship between ingredients and how and why to beat air into an egg white, I can make it work. It is knowing a little bit of the science behing cooking. That and a little common sense. And if all fails, I have my cooking encyclopedias, my kitchen bibles to run to. Which I do. Often. If you don’t have one, you won’t be able to make a recipe your own. There are many on the market. My well used bible is Larousse Gastronomique.
The recipes posted here, the photo’s, the silly stories…are all simply for enjoyment. My own enjoyment, as well as those who pass by here. They serve only as inspiration. If it can only be fun to look at or light an idea in your head to have you take off to your kitchen, it has served its purpose.Take the recipes and ideas for serving and settings and compositions and go to your kitchen and make it your own, or else it will always be someone else’s recipe. Play around with it, forget about the precision of the measuring spoon and start using your tastebuds and judgements…and common sense. Make mistakes, adjust, change and then delight in your own creation.
There is a magnitude of cookbooks out there, even more blogs, so many cooks, so many chefs. The internet specifically is a rushing waterfall of recipes of all kinds and all cultures and tastes. The world of food and cooking is on such a fast track, everybody can do anything, trends change every month, nothing is new, everything has been done, everybody is trying to push the envelope in doing more, trying to do something that hasn’t been done before. Just google french onion soup or any other recipe and see the response, screen after screen. New tomatoes show up on the market each year, snazzy coloured carrots, tongue twister berries, everything is dried and refrigerated and shipped. Exotic fruit recipes from Russia and sushi recipes from France, fresh croissant deliveries in Japan and saki in Sweden. It is a runaway train.
So what can I offer anyone here on Myfrenchkitchen? Absolutely nothing, except maybe enjoyment, even if only for fleeting, a second or two. Or maybe a raised eyebrow. Or a snort. Whatever the case. If you like it, linger and enjoy. If you don’t like it, forget about it and move on. Tastes differ. Likes and dislikes are very personal. But you knew that.
I know my friend in the bush will like this salad. She doesn’t follow recipes either. And she only makes quick meals. And she laughs at my jokes, which are never funny. And she enjoys my recipes, which aren’t perfect. She is a good friend.
…in the bush…
June in France in special. Beautiful. Evenings are soothing and invitingly lingering.
Start off a dinner (or a lunch) with a cool fresh papaya pineapple salad, drizzled with a mirrin and rice vinegar vinaigrette.
…pineapple and papaya salad…
…dinner on a june evening…
A very old salad. Now with maybe a face lift in the shape of a tomato vinaigrette. This was a favourite little salad in our home right after my marriage. And at that stage and age it was delicious with a liberal drizzling of tomato sauce, better known as ketchup, bought straight from the supermarket shelf, instead of a fancy vinaigrette. I don’t like tomato in a green salad, the two don’t marry well for me. But this is an exception. Maybe because it isn’t really a green salad. Or maybe it is the way it is served. Or maybe I’m only fooled by the play on words. That is what we do nowadays. A salad in the seventies would mean chopped tomatoes and green leaves with onion rings and a dressing of vinegar and sugar. Now we are still not french and call our dressings vinaigrettes. Now we eat an “avocado salad with bacon topping”, Or “tomato salad with a drizzling of lemon juice”. A “green salad with roasted almonds”, “mesclun with truffle shavings”. So, do we still eat ketchup on our avocado salad…of course we do…in the secrecy of our kitchen!
A tip to try: Never put tomatoes in the fridge, even in summer. Keep them in a cool place. The cold kills all flavour. To revive some of its flavour, leave for a few minutes in water…like salad, like carrots, like all vegetables in fact.
…old things become new…
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…
I feel very nostalgic lately. Thinking of people I knew long ago, missing friends and family. I long for smells of my past…Christmas time in my mother’s kitchen, the early mornings on the farm of our friends, the African animals, the African bush, pancakes with cinnamon sugar wrapped in greased paper at church fairs, tomato and onion salad with a sugar vinegar sauce.
The salads I grew up with, were simple and straightforward. A salad was a cold dish, eaten with warm meats. Today we have small salads, large salads, cold salads, warm salads, even soupy ones. Fancy or simple, with sauces or with “vinaigrettes” and “croutons” and toppings. They are served in salad bowls and on spoons, towered on plates or layered in glasses. they are served at the beginning of a meal or at the end with cheese… or without cheese. I think my mom would’ve appreciated this little salad. She was an adventurous woman.
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.
It may seem that all we eat in this house, is salad. Well, in spring and summer, that is pretty much the case! The vegetables and fruit are so beautiful and abundant that we can’t do it any differently. And because of the freshness it would be a shame to dress them up. We leave “creative cooking” for the colder months and eat fresh and simple in spring and summer.
Here is another salad, straightforward and unadorned.
Fava and peitit pois salad.
Decide whether you’d like to serve this on the side or as a starter or even as a light meal and measure your quantities according to that.
Fresh fava beans, blanched in boiling water and shelled. OR use frozen fava beans, treated the same way. I find the frozen beans in excellent condition and much easier when pressed for time. The same goes for the peas. Go fresh and hull them if you have lazy weekend days on hand, otherwise go frozen. I’m not such a purist that I would bend backwards just for the sake of announcing: “I’ve hulled my own, garden picked peas!” Some frozen products are really great substitutes and I have no qualm in using them…petit pois, fava and spinach, comes to mind.
Fresh/frozen fava beans blanched and shelled.
Fresh/frozen petit pois, blanched
A spring onion, finely chopped
A handful of dry roasted sunflower seeds
a spoonful or two of caraway seeds (or cumin seeds)
A vinaigrette made of olive oil, feshly squeezed lemon juice, white balsamic vinegar(optional), salt and pepper
- Mix all the ingredients toghether gently and serve at room temperature, decorated with some herbs of your choice.
- Serve as a starter with a cold dry white wine of your choice or a cold rose, seeing that we’re in spring/summer. Maybe something like your trusted Sauvignon Blanc, from our region here in the France Loire valley or why not a crisp Tariquet Ugni Blanc/Colombard from the south west of France.
…five, six, seven, eight….