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.
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.
…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…
..la vigne vierge with its leaves turning red in autumn and a artistic spiderweb blinking in the morning light..
..foliage of vigne vierge, the attractive seedheads of Cleramtis vitalba, and stinging nettle in their natural environment..
..the stunning reds of hydrangea leaves in November..
..Ivy hugging a fallen vigne vierge red leaf..
à al prochaine fois
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?
- Wash 2 large quinces and cut in quarters. Peel(optional) and remove the seeds. Cut each quarter again in half.
- 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.
- 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.
- Serve as accompaniment with venison or duck breast or pan fried foie gras.
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.
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..
..Monsieur is out with his little sailboat..
*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
..the garden is still dressed in summer attire with géraniums in the pots and will soon be replaced by the habitual chrysanthémes..
..le jardin colours later in autumn with the gay Chrysanthémes..(images from November 2009)
..Luxembourg pigeons basking in the November light..
..le palais in November with its security guard an elegant backdrop to they sunny yellow chrysanthémes..
..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 garden..love them, don’t you?
..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
..la buvette des Marinonnettes..
..le Pavillon de la Fontaine..
..Don’t forget to look upwards every now and then..
..and for thirst and directions, always some help..
..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..
*Read more about le jardin du Luxembourg: (they can all be translated)
..à la prochaine..
Et voilà! Le plat principal ( the main dish)! Beef tournedos with bone marrow and steamed vegetable parcels. The beef is local, from our Limousin department and couldn’t be more tender..it is cut from the filet and enjoyed with the marrow served on top, sprinkled withmy favorite fleur de sel..wonderful…I am a hypocrite, I can’t be a vegetarian! The sauce is made from a shallot, red wine, a few drops of balsamic vinegar and a few cubes of ice cold butter, whisked into the reduced wine sauce. If you have never made a simple red wine sauce like this, you are missing out on a succulent slice of life!
Une pincée de fleur de sel:
- Tournedos cut from beef filet is the most tender pieces and need quick cooking.
- Order of preparation to serve your tournedos/ 1. Prepare the vegetable parcels. 2. Bard the tournedos. 3.Cut the shallots for the sauce. 4.Cook the marrow. 5.Cook the meat. 6.Cook the vegetables. 7.Reduce the sauce. 8.Serve.
- The cooking foil can withstand temperatures of up to 220degr. C.
- The marrow can be removed from the whole bone beforehand and poached in stock for 3-5 minutes, instead of frying in a pan.
- Replace 1 cup of wine with 1 cup veal stock for a lighter sauce.
- Instead of cooking the vegetable parcels in the microwave, it can be baked in the oven at 180 degr. C for about 15 minutes.
- Choose other vegetables, but keep to a maximum of three.
- You can find professional cooking foil here and a demo on one way to use it.
- Have fun!
Our Christmas this year is once again in the barn with dry mossed branches from the woods, stuck in a pot, assisted with rocks and stones from the “building site” ( the house area)..pampilles from Marinell’s wedding, rusted keys, and last but not least..our little owls. I am also somewhat off faerie lights and went for tiny lanterns instead, burning with a tealight every evening till late night. It sort of replaced our candle we usually burn for December in memory of everybody we love.
Isn’t it great to just for once in a year let the child in us loose, whichever way you choose it…? I hope by now your tree is up, how simple or elaborate..I hope you have a tiny something with a bow under your tree for someone else…I hope you have a candle burning…I hope you have love for someone around you, and I hope your heart is filled with hope..
- Tomorrow we will end our menu with an apple turret for dessert with a touch of amaretto..I just love dessert! One should enjoy dessert, small quantity, but it resounds off a meal beautifully..I can’t wait for tomorrow..why? Because I get to eat the dessert after I photographed it, of course!
- I have to pass on another good French film; if you think you would like the previous ones I advised, you would like this too _ I am a sucker for vintage French films...La tranchée des espoirs.
à demain mes chers amis
The entrée (starter) for this menu is A topinambour (Jerusalem artichokes) and chestnut velouté with wild mushroom croûtons. It has a wonderful woodsy flavor and finished off with a shaving of black truffle on the chanterelles mushrooms, it transports you into a winter forest.
- Clean 1 onion and cut in slices. Fry the onion in a little olive oil until translucent.
- Clean 5 large Jerusalem artichokes, cut into small, even chunks and add to the the onion.
- Add a tin of peeled chestnuts (210g) to the mixture.
- Add a bouguet garni and 350 ml water or stock (vegetable) to the vegetables and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
- Remove the bouquet garni and remove the soup from the heat. Add a handful of washed parsley and mix with an electrical hand mixer until the soup is creamy. If you want the soupy perfectly creamy, you can push it through a sieve.
- Add some cream, or stock, or milk to bring it to the right consistency (like thick cream). Season with salt and freshly milled pepper and a few drops of lemon juice.
- Serve warm with some freshly grated nutmeg and a mushroom croûton.
- Mushroom croûton: Toast three thick slices of bread. cut into fingers and brush with truffle oil on all sides. Clean some some mushrooms of your choice with a brush and fry quickly in olive oil. Add some chopped parsley , season and place on top of the toast fingers. Finish off by placing two shavings of black truffle on the mushrooms and serve immediately with the soup.
- This soup can also be served as an amuse bouche, served in small glasses, with small fingers of toast.
Serves 4 people as a starter.
Une pincée de fleur de sel:
- Don’t add too much liquid in the beginning..you can always thin with some milk, or stock or water towards the end to the thickness you prefer.
- Replace the mushrooms with plain button mushrooms or with crispy Spanish ham.
- Replace the Jerusalem artichokes with pumpkin.
- Toast the croutons in a toaster or dry toast in a pan to keep it light.
- Finish the soup with a twirl of truffle oil.
- Never wash mushrooms with water, clean them with a brush.
- Fry mushrooms in a hot pan ..I prefer to fry mushrooms in duckfat(a little) which can be heated to very high heat without becoming toxic. Afterwards I drizzle a little Olive oil. In a hot pan, you don’t need much fat, because the mushrooms fry very quickly.
- I don’t push the soup through a sieve, because I like the tiny pieces of parsley which gives a nice 3speckly” effect to the soup.
The Christmas market in Meyssac was very quaint and I especially loved the lovely church with its display of nativity scenes in all the alcoves. Each nativity scene depicted a country…Brazil was there, France of course, Italy, Africa. Even Peru was there, each little figurine dressed in typical clothing. I adored it and planned on going back to Meyssac to take pictures of all the scenes. When I finally went back, it was gone! Of course, it made sense..it was on display only for the weekend of the market..all those precious figurines couldn’t be left unattended for the whole season. I can kick myself! So I lost out on the lovely nativity scenes..you will have to wait until next year.
But the little église of Meyssac is still adorable and here are some photos…
…The exterior of l’église de Meyssac…
..the interior towards the altar with Chrismas lights hanging above the aisle…
..the altar from close up..
..and the only nativity scene left for the season..
..un lustre lighting up one of the many figurines the Catholics so love..
- Tomorrow will see the plat principal (main meal): Beef tournedos with bone marrow in a wine sauce and steamed vegetables.
- A nice DVD to get you in a French vintage mood…La plus belle histoire des femmes.
.. alors, à demain!..