Life in a kitchen is an everyday audition and how well we do depends on laughter, attitude and a good cup of coffee. Welcome to Myfrenchkitchen, I hope you'll stay a while and join me in enjoying all that is good in life.

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Tomato and orange soup with scallops….and a visit from Jack Frost.

Tomato velouté is my most favorite soup. Since childhood I loved my mother’s creamed tomato soup. In summer it is gazpacho and in winter a velvety soup.

veloute tomate-001

The recipe is so easy…I can only say what I used and then it is up to your own taste. Taste and taste and taste again. Unlike for a summer gazpacho, I don’t use fresh tomatoes for the soup. They are bland and tasteless. I use good quality Italian canned tomatoes which make a rich flavorful soup. It would be perfect if you have bottled your own tomatoes in summer.

La recette:

  1. A large can of tomatoes make about 2 to 3 large helping(2 of those helpings are mine…). Add to a saucepan with a bouquet garni, the juice and grated zest of 1 orange, 1 TBSP of sherry(Jerez) vinegar  and 2 cubes of sugar. Rinse the can with 1 cup of vegetable stock and add to the soup.
  2. Simmer over medium heat for about 30 minutes.
  3. Leave to cool a little and mix with a hand blender to a creamy soup.
  4. Remove the bouquet garni and adjust the seasoning…orange juice, vinegar, salt and pepper.
  5. Fry some scallops only on one side and season with salt and pepper.  Remove and keep aside. Deglaze the pan with some freshly squeezed orange juice .
  6. Serve the soup in warmed soup plates. Place a scallop, cut in half in the soup and drizzle the juice from the pan over the scallops.
  7. Decorate with a slice of orange and serve immediately.

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A visit from Jack Frost.

Mr Jack Frost showed up this morning. Totally unexpected. He just showed up without any call beforehand, without any warning. I actually find that a bit rude, just showing up like that at someone’s door and at a very indecent hour in the morning at that! But there he was in all his glory when I opened the door this morning. I couldn’t control the shiver that ran instantly through my body. We expected him, but I so hoped he would skip his visit to us this year. Alas…

Jack Frost Decembre

A very interesting character he is, this Jack Frost. Definitely not someone to take on without gloves. But speak of handsome! He has a disarming charm that cannot be missed, even if he’s rather cold and sometimes somewhat foggy and distant. Definitely not a boring character. But as handsome and charming as he is, he has a slippery side that I just don’t trust. I always feel unsure of my step around him. I have lost my balance around him before which resulted in me seeing my own butt and bright stars all at the same time. I’ve learnt my lesson since…don’t be fooled by the charisma of Mr Jack Frost!

Jack Frost Decembre-001

I sighed heavily on the sight of Jack Frost in front of me, just outside my barn door. Bof OK, he’s here, what else could I do but accept his arrival…after all, we are known for our hospitality here at Coin Perdu! So I decided to make the best of it. I dug into my linen closet for extra warm linens and blankets and duvets, all the time thanking the good Lord that this guest only shows up once a year and immensely grateful that he doesn’t stay the whole year. Now that would be unbearable!

Jack Frost Decembre-002

I wondered how long Mr Frost would stay this time? I didn’t dare ask for fear I wouldn’t like the answer. In any case, the sun came out and he took the road. I had no idea where he had gone off to or when we would see him again. He is like that, this Mr Frost…always takes off somewhere when the sun shines and returns in the early hours the next morning. Oh well, he’s here now for some time. I might as well accept it and make the most of it. I think I’ll go make a tomato soup for tonight. Mr Jack Frost will be cold when he gets in. Tomato soup will make him happy

Jack Frost Decembre-003 Jack Frost Decembre-004 Jack Frost Decembre-005 Jack Frost Decembre-006

December ambiance 2014…and Apple, date and pear compote.

Apples and spices…only two words necessary to express winter. And the festive season. The markets groan under the weight of all the apples available and we are used to eating varieties picked recently here in our own region. We don’t even consider buying imported apples and pears when we can pick and choose between many varieties home grown. Which is exactly what I did to make this festive apple, pear and date compote. You can’t get it any easier than this..quick, simple, but so flavorful. It goes to show just once again that you don’t need complicated ingredients to get flavour into your dishes. The golden phrase in cooking is always…keep it simple and use quality ingredients.

Apple, pear and date compote -002 La recette:  Apple, pear and date compote:

  1. Peel and cut 3 firm pears and 3 firm apples into cubes.
  2. Place in a saucepan and drizzle liberally with the juice of 1 lemon.Add to the fruit mixture: 6 dates halved and seed removed, 1 vanilla pod with its seed scraped into the mixture, the grated peel of 1 lemon, 1 star anise, 1 bark of cinnamon, 1/2 tsp of Szechuan pepper(crushed in mortar and pestle, a tiny pinch of salt, 1 TBSP of maple syrup and 1tsp of cane sugar.
  3. Simmer on gentle heat for about 30 minutes or until the fruit is tender, but NOT PUREED. The fruit must still have a slight bite. Strain the compote and remove the cinnamon and star anise. Keep aside.
  4. Replace the juice on the heat and reduce to syrup.
  5. Serve the compote in bowls and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds for a fresh crunch. Drizzle with the syrup and serve with a dollop of crème fraîche.

 Serves 6 people (dessert)

Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • Instead of serving the compote as a dessert, it can be served as an accompaniment to meat like porc or veal.
  • As an accompaniment, omit the pomegranate seeds and chop a red onion into small dice. Add some of the meat juices to the onion and compote to make it more suitable for an accompaniment.
  • the compote can be served at room temperature or warm.
  • Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream instead of créme fraîche.
  • It can be prepared a day ahead and reheated at a gentle temperature.

Apple, pear and date compote……………………………………………………………………………………………….

This year has passed by so quickly, totally without my permission. I have the feeling I wasn’t even present at times. I am definitely present today, the 1st of December 2014…a day I usually enjoy, because it is the day day we put up our Christmas tree, decorate it, drink vin chaud and listen to our first Christmas carols.

Noël 2014-010

Every year, since Myfrenchkitchen’s first December in 2007, I have posted on 1 December showing our Christmas tree for that year. It has just been a delight  being able to share it with you these 7 years. Little has changed in these 7 years. From the beginning I had a recipe and then rambled on about some subject with words and images and bored you with my art. the only change is probably that I don’t write from Montlouis any more, but from a barn on a farm in the south west of France.

Noël 2014-001

Some years I wrote a lot and some years my presence was few and far between. there were times I even thought of quitting. But My little blog(s) has become such a part of me, I don’t think I could let it go. I have many friends who gave it up for Facebook and Instagram, but finishing a post on my blog, still gives me such a big kick, every time.

Noël 2014-014

I hope I can be more present in the near future, but if not, then that will be OK too. I am not going anywhere and I won’t desert this baby of 7 years. This is my own little “corner”, where I write for myself and for those readers and friends who have walked alongside me all this time. It is still fun.

Noël 2014-002 And so, our Christmas this year is all in white and silver, my favorite colours for the festive season. the dry branch with moss from the garden, a pot filled with sand, candles and tea lights we burn every night for those gone, far away or just simply those we love. Noël 2014-003 Birds are omnipresent on/in our trees. and there they are again this year, perched high on the branches Noël 2014-004 I chose to hang a large brightly coloured painting behind the tree. I love the contrast of the simple tree in white and silver against the abundant colour of the painting. The painting depicts a scene in a church, which is quite fitting too. Noël 2014-005 Noël 2014-015 Noël 2014-006 Noël 2014-007 Noël 2014-008 Noël 2014-009 I wish you all a wonderful month of December. This is not the last you’ll see of me for the month, so I greet you as usual:

à la prochaine fois!

Ronelle

Noël 2014-013

Beetroot cappuccino…and November in reds.

A beetroot velouté, or creamy beetroot soup, is apart from delicious, also beautiful. Served as a starter in the way of a cappuccino, is a beautiful way to kick off an autumn or winter dinner. It is actually a good idea to always eta  small starter of soup with any home dinner..it is healthy and helps fill one and so prevents over eating.

Ronelle's food-beetroot cappuccino

beetroot cappuccino recipe

Pincée de sel:

  • Younger beetroots give a deeper colour, are sweeter and softer. If possible, use small beets.
  • Raw beets cab be replaced by ready cooked vacuum packed beets.
  • add different spices for a more wintery touch…cardamom seeds, star anis, cinnamon, croriander – add together in a small muslin bag so it can be removed afterwards.
  • To make froth with a machine: whisk a small amount(about 150 ml) milk in a high microwave proof) container. whisk vigorously until it starts foaming. Place in the microwave immediately. Heat the milk while keeping your eye on the milk all the time. The froth will start to rise high. Remove from the microwave and scoop the froth from the milk.
  • Use vegetable stock to make it a vegetarian soup.
  • A scoop of créme fraìche, or a scoop of whipped cream can be used, which will make the soup creamier and heavier.
  • Ideal for a starter.

Ronelle's photography-beetroot-001    Ronelle's photography-beetroot-005

…and November in reds.

The artist in my appreciates November as the most beautiful month in the year. It is the most challenging and gratifing time of the year for painting, photographing, hunting for mushrooms in the woods, watching the leaves turn form green to yellow to red to purple to brown and finally float to the ground. No other season gives us this fast forward motion action of change in nature and it passes before your eyes from one minute to another.

…The stinky mushroom, Anthurus d’archer in bright autumn/winter red…

Ronelle's photography -mushroom anthurus d'archer

..la vigne vierge with its leaves turning red in autumn and a artistic spiderweb blinking in the morning light..

 

ronelle's photography- autumn light

..foliage of vigne vierge, the attractive seedheads of Cleramtis vitalba, and stinging nettle in their natural environment..

 

Ronelle's photography - fall colours red

 

..the stunning reds of hydrangea leaves in November..

 

 

ronelle's photography - autumn reds

 

..Ivy hugging a fallen vigne vierge red leaf..

Ronelle's photography - autumn color red

à al prochaine fois

Ronelle

 

 

October scenes in the garden.

A big hello to all! I took a break, longer than intended, but summer kept me busy in several ways. As is the habit with summer, it is over before you know it and October sets in with all kinds of challenges: digging for warmer clothes….rain, bulb planting, cleaning garden tools to store away, facing weeds that have grown undisturbed, working vegetables from the “potager“, picking up walnuts and rushing to get to the chestnuts before the squirrels do.

October scenes 2448x3648

I love the fall colours of the hydrangeas…the blues turn to greens and the pinks and whites turn to an old, faded pink. The Maroccan mint is still a deep green which peeps through the pinks of the hydrangeas.

Octobercollage 1I never clean up too much…have always loved the difference in seasons…the rain and fallen leaves and twigs, the weeds, fried flowers and seeds…they all add to the atmosphere of autumn.

October scenes 4381x3248October scenes 2660x3686  October scenes 3026x4008 October scenes 3091x4137 October scenes 3870x3199 October scenes 4583x3234 October scenes 4928x3264-002

After the rain.

A bottle of wine forgotten outside….

October scenes 2981x3673Raindrops on some roses still blooming…

October scenes 3415x2735Rosehips living happily alongside Nepeta…

October scenes 3540x2865Rain crystals on rose petals…

October scenes 3585x2770Fresh water for all the animals..

October scenes 4928x3264Droplets hanging on cafe chairs..

October scenes 2167x3285

The “potager” delivered a bounty of vegetables this year and is still going strong even though the weeds are flourishing right there along with the vegetables.

October collage 2Beautiful light shimmering through changing vine leaves..

October scenes 2962x4015Stinging nettle needing no encouragement in flowering..

October scenes 2916x2017

A yellow rose in the yellow garden..

October scenes 2821x3049Cleaning up is not a favorite passtime of mine. I love to make a mess..and I love to have someone else doing the cleaning up. Unfortunately, I am that “someone else”… Evidences of unfinished spring work still staring me incriminatingly in the face.

October collage 3

The mornings stay darker longer and the evenings turn darker earlier..lighting candles and chandeliers and lanterns make for atmospheric evenings, which is what autumn and winter should be about, after all.

October scenes 2876x4310 October scenes 3200x4407 October scenes 3264x4928

Our windows are in and I revel in the reflections!

October scenes 4928x3264-001

Reading asks for blankets…

October scenes 3219x4645

Bright yellow nasturtiums in the yellow and orange garden add a blast of sunshine to cloudy days.

October scenes 4089x3079Apart form the beautiful colours of autumn which is so obvious, many other scenes of October beauty can also be found in: the disarray of garden chairs, a chicken hiding in a flowerbed, walnuts bursting, a dilapidated rattan chair for the chickens, an enamel jug, a garden tap, a garden cloche…

October collage 5

Work in a garden is never ending, no matter which season. And beauty in a garden is never ending, no matter which season.

October scenes 2942x4218And when the day is done, but the work is not, the beauty of it all is to kick out the boots, put up those feet and relax…!

October scenes 4120x2925

…à la prochaine!..

Ronelle

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