Autumn with chestnuts, walnuts and prunes.

Autumn is the most melancholic time of year for me. It is also the most beautiful. Every time, when I drive off the road in my efforts to admire the colours, I think this year is the most beautiful I have seen. Then comes the next autumn and the same thoughts go through my mind. As well as driving off the road.

chestnuts, walnuts and prunes for autumn.

All over the villages in France, les fêtes d’automne are celebrating with enthusiasm ..well…autumn. With stalls of food and bric and bracs, dancing in the streets and musicians sounding with loud self confidence their sometimes false chords into the air. But who cares! Everybody is having fun.

Fete de la chataigne3One such a fete was la fête de chataigne at Beynat, close to home. An atmosphere of vivacity reigned..for me in any case.  Everything was there; Trophies for the best chestnut harvest. Traditional artisans who made their sabots and combed their wool, embroidered their linens and wove their baskets the old fashioned way. By hand, of course.You could buy roasted chestnuts, apples by the crate, walnuts, nutcrackers(of which I bought one, simply because I am too lame to say no!) the meal of the day was home made boudin(blood sausage) with…frites. The French love their frites at markets. The usual crepe a la nutella was ever popular.

Fete de la chataigne1 Fete de la chataigne

I have to admit that I love to go to all these markets, and fairs and fêtes and foires and brocantes. I love browsing and tasting, having coffee(but of course!) I love the atmosphere of exuberance and fun, touching stuff, turning it upside down. I love the smells of food finding its way to my nose. I love the excitement of finding a tiny something for a tiny price; a pot of home made confiture, a piece of sauccisson with walnuts(my favorite), or an old coffee cup or two…simply just for remembering a great morning.

chestnuts, walnuts and prunes for autumn.-005

So, did I buy a tiny something for a tiny price. Oh yes I did! Chestnuts.  For this delicious accompaniment. I ‘m not a big fan of chestnuts, but this dish is divine. I can eat it by the spoonful. It only consists of chestnuts, walnuts and prunes. Some butter(salted) and some chicken stock, or if you prefer, vegetable stock, in which case, it is completely vegetarian. The most fascinating aspect of this dish is that it is autumn at its best. It smells and looks and tastes like forest. OK, you might  need a little imagination and heaps of enthusiasm, but autumn is short. Enjoy it.

La recette:

  1. A handful of cleaned, cooked chestnuts. (It is much easier to buy the vacuum packed cleaned and cooked ones, just ready for use. It is quite an ordeal to clean and cook them. I will show how in a next post for this one is already starting to resemble a marathon.)
  2. A handful of prunes, seeds removed.
  3. A handful of walnuts, removed from the shells with the help of your fancy nutcracker.
  4. A big knob of butter
  5. A drizzle of  olive oil.
  6. A TBSP honey.
  7. Fresh thyme, milled black pepper and mixed spices.
  8. About 1 full cup of chicken stock(or vegetable stock for vegetarians)

Heat the olive oil and salted butter in a frying pan. Add the chestnuts, prunes, mixed spices, milled pepper and fresh thyme (stripped from the stems). Sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the walnuts, honey and the chicken stock to the mixture. Leave to gently simmer on low heat just until the juices turned to a thick sauce. Remove from the heat. Serve with roasted chicken, rabbit or venison.

Serves 4 people as accompaniment.

cooking 2014

à bientot


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.


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

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 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 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




Panfried quince(coings sautés) le jardin du Luxembourg.

It is now time for quince, pears, apples..all the lovely fruits of autumn with their heady fragrances when baked or panfried or poached. With added spices or without, they are wonderful as desserts and even better as accompaniment to venison and the heavier winter red meats. Serving it with a duck breast is something I love to do: Sauté the quince in a pan with butter and sugar, remove, add the juices of the panfried duck and reduce with some red wine, serve with the cooked duck slices and the quince on the side and a pain de campagne to sweep up the juices on the plate.. eh oui, we do love that! Doesn’t it sound delicious?

panfried quince 12-10-2013 12-30-28 3075x2625

La recette:

  1. Wash 2 large quinces and cut in quarters. Peel(optional) and remove the seeds. Cut each quarter again in half.
  2. In a large pan, melt a large knob of butter and about 3/4 cup sugar and some lemon juice to taste. Add the quince and pan fry for about 10 minutes or until the quinces are tender and caramelized. Remove the quinces from the pan heat before they fall apart and keep aside.
  3. Add 1/4-1/2 cup of red wine to the caramelized quince juice and reduce for about 5-10 minutes. Add the quince slices back to the wine sauce and keep warm until needed.
  4. Serve as accompaniment with venison or duck breast or pan fried foie gras.

coing sauté

Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • Use apples or pear instead of quince.
  • Add spices like star aniseed, or a cinnamon stick or juniper berries..
  • Use honey of your preference instead of sugar.
  • These quince can also  be baked in the oven  at 180 degrees C until the quince are tender.
  • Serve as a dessert with a dollop of thick cream or créme fraîche.
  • Use the pan fried quince for tarte tatin or use and make a topping for a crumble.

quince 1 12-10-2013 11-50-024

Well, back from Paris; t’was a quick there and back, but that is how I have to do Paris now with all the animals waiting back here at Coin Perdu. Not that I complain because that is exactly the way I like it. Paris is wonderful, but after a week my head hurts. All is well when you don’t have parcels and bags and cameras and bottles of water and it isn’t raining and you have enough money to be taxied around. But a week of city life is more than enough – enough shoving and pushing on buses and le métro, slipping on wet métro stairs, struggling through narrow métro gateways with parcels and umbrellas, enough garlic odours on the métro from the stranger breathing in your neck and spitting his chatting into his portable above your head.

BUT…thankfully Paris is also filled with stories and a rich history and incredible beauty and there is always a good seat and (albeit expensive) coffee at the next corner. Great lunch meals at bistros, which is cheaper and sometimes better than dinners. Great places(squares) where you can eat your sandwich jambon and read your book(given it doesn’t rain). And of course, there is always le jardin du Luxembourg.

..le jardin du Luxembourg with the Eiffel tower in the background..

Paris jardin du Luxembourg 09-10-2013 11-33-31 1766x1289

..Monsieur is out with his little sailboat..

Paris jardin du Luxembourg 09-10-2013 11-16-52 1905x1268

*Did you know…?

total surface of le jardin du Luxembourg:      about 23 hectares

  • ornamental lakes:    2 800 m²
  • lawns:                         5 400 m²
  • Shrub beds               17 700 m²
  • flower beds                6 000 m²
  • interior perimeter:       2km
  • Trees forming lanes:  2 200
  • trees forming shade:     740
  • shrubs:                         35 000

(source: Sé

..the garden is still dressed in summer attire with géraniums in the pots and will soon be replaced by the habitual chrysanthémes..

Paris jardin du Luxembourg 09-10-2013 10-25-56 1677x1325

Paris jardin du Luxembourg 09-10-2013 10-21-37 1936x1462

..le jardin colours later in  autumn with the gay Chrysanthémes..(images from November 2009)

luxembourg 2009 19-11-2009 16-29-07 2587x1895

..Luxembourg pigeons basking in the November light..

luxembourg 2009 19-11-2009 16-28-25 1881x2417

..le palais in November with its security guard an elegant backdrop to they sunny yellow chrysanthémes..

luxembourg 2009 19-11-2009 16-21-01 1631x2252

..les chaises ..- I have always been fascinated by the chairs in le jardin and I am keeping my eyes wide open to find some for my own them, don’t you?

Paris jardin du Luxembourg 09-10-2013 10-50-13 1795x1345

..sketchbook exchange: my theme for the sketchbook exchange in 2008 was the chairs of le jardin du Luxembourg..see more here of our exchange Flying pictures

Luxembourg 7-29-2008 11-17-00 AM buvette des Marinonnettes..

Paris jardin du Luxembourg 09-10-2013 10-56-28 1825x1309

..le Pavillon de la Fontaine..

Paris jardin du Luxembourg 09-10-2013 10-24-12 2048x1536

..Don’t forget to look upwards every now and then..

Paris jardin du Luxembourg 09-10-2013 10-36-20 1385x1616


..and for thirst and directions, always some help..

Parys Oktober 2013

..after a morning spent walking, reading, watching people, watching school kiddies run relay around the fountain, witnessing a great game of tennis, drinking coffee at le Pavillon de la fontaine, doing some tai chi with other Parisiens, I said goodbye to le jardin and left by the gate of Medici..

Paris jardin du Luxembourg 09-10-2013 10-26-55 1744x1256

*Read more about le jardin du Luxembourg: (they can all be translated)

..à la prochaine..