I love sorrel, especially with salmon. This time round, I thought a sorrel gazpacho could be nice too with its slightly sour characteristic. Topped with some apple brunoise and croûtons, it could only be gorgeous. So, why not try it and see if you love it as much as I did and still do. I tried it out on mon chéri and he devoured two bowls, practically licking them out. A sure winner for this spring and summer.
- Peel and cut 3/4 cucumber and 5 kiwis in cubes. Place in mixer/blender.
- Wash 1 large handful of green sorrel leaves(or mix of green and red sorrel) and remove the hard stems. Add to the blender.
- Blend together until a puree.
- Remove to a bowl.
- Season with salt, pepper, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar and chopped tarragon.
- Cut 1 apple and the other 1/4 cucmber (with peel) into small dice(brunoise). Drizzle with apple cider vinegar.
- Cut 3 slices of stale country bread in small cubes, drizzle with olive oil, season with fleur de sel and chopped tarragon and roast in the oven until crisp.
- Serve the gazpacho in individual glass bowls, top with the cubes of apple, cucumber, croutons and tarragon.
- Drizzle with olive oil and a drop of french mustard and serve at room temperature with extra toppings on the side.
Serves 3-4 people
Pincée de fleur de sel:
- Use a mix of sorrel and a green with a more peppery taste, like watercress, or even young spinach leaves, some salad leaves with a pronounced taste, lamb’s ears salad leaves(which are sweet and mild), even radish leaves could be delicious.
- Add some green tomato(peeled) and for those with strong digestive systems, greenpepper.
- Stick to crispy toppings which contrast beautifully with the gazpacho.
- Don’t serve directly from the fridge…too cold a temperature kills the taste , room temperature or just below is the best.
The greens in April are quite special with all its new shoots, young leaves and colourful buds, while some trees and branches are still bare. Below some photos of the area with its greens, from dark to yellow to almost white.
..asparagus and dandelion seedhead..
..avocado and forest fern..
..cucumber and dandelion seed head..
..peas and forget-me-nots..
..Until next time, enjoy your last week of April..
Easter is coming up pretty fast and everybody is munching on Easter chocolate. So are we. But one can’t live on chocolate alone. An egg every now and then will help. An “oeuf cocotte”. It is easy to make with many variations to suit each taste an ddesire.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C. (39°F, gas 6)
- Butter 4 ramekins(with volume of 125 ml or 1/2 cup) liberally with butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place some shredded spinach on the bottom.
- Spoon 1 heaped TBS of créme fraîche onto the spinach and spread it evenly over the spinach.
- Break open 1 egg into a little bowl and and slide onto the créme fraîche in each ramekin without breaking the egg yolk.
- Drizzle a little cream over the egg yolk to protect it during cooking.
- Place in a deep ovenproof dish, fill with boiling water up to half the height of the ramekins and bake at 200°C for 9 minutes for a runny yolk. The egg white should just be coagulated and don’t worry if there is still a little transparent egg white left…while standing the eggs will still continue cooking a bit.
- Remove from the oven and sprinkle with salt and pepper, some fried bacon pieces and chopped chives. Serve immediately with toasted bread fingers to dip into the eggs.
Pincée de fleur de sel:
- Use any nice containers for the eggs as long as they are ovenproof. Glass looks especially nice with the layers of egg and cream showing through the sides.
- Place bacon pieces or asparagus tips, frozen creamed spinach, mushrooms, strips of ham… and place at the bottom before filled with créme fraîche. the list is endless.
- Use small brioche buns instead of ramekins and steady them in muffin pans, fill with eggs and bake…especially popular with children.
- Infuse cream with saffron, or other spices/herbs of your choice, bring cream to a boil and simmer a few minutes to reduce and use instead of créme fraîche.
I am not one for a lot of Easter decoration. But I love having spring flowers in my house and the chickns provide me with a moutain of eggs, which I use simply in bowls to add an Easter flavor.
..Eggs from the poulaillier, rosemary and terracotta in which the eggs end up when stolen from the poullaillier…a winning combination for me..
..For a little playfulness – an empty egg carton filled with shredded wooden strips colour green, the egg shells used for the recipe filled with water and holding spring flowers and herbs, some eggs and tiny quail eggs..
..tulips in hotelsilver, my ink drawing book, a feather pen, feathers from the poullaillier and …some eggs!..
Baguette aux fruits rouges et jambon de Parme(baguette with red berries and Pama ham)..and a sign for every shop.
It happens to all of us: that day when the house is empty but the people hungry. If you have a baguette at hand(like all French homes do), some kind of fruit, like red berries(which you should have, because they are packed with health benefits!) and some ham somewhere( if you dig deep enough, I’m sure you’ll find a substitute!)…well, then you have a meal and a great one at that. Good enough for a snack or a lunch or a brunch or a light dinner.
I am not giving any formal recipe for this baguette aux fruits rouges, it is all up to you own imagination. see the pincée de fleur des sel for some guidelines..
Pincée de fleur de sel:
- Use baguettes and cut in half so you have a solid “base” which helps prevent the bread from going soggy.
- I used a cheese with walnuts as a spread , added the red berries of my choice, drizzled with olive oil maple syrup and a little lemon juice, topped with thin slices of parma ham and grilled quickly in the oven for a minute or two. Serve warm with extra chopped walnuts and maple syrup.
- Serve with a green salad if preferred.
blueberries, black currants, red gooseberreis, raspberries, blackberries
..a sign for every shop..
I am sure you marvel at all the interesting sign shops wherever you go. Well, me too! The most exciting ones to the most boring ones. sometimes a boring one will actually push me to enter, just to have me praise my perception of the shop being as uninteresting as its sign. Or maybe to prove myself wrong and that I might just find some treasure…
Whichever way, a sign outside a shop lures us inside. And yes, there has surely also been the disappointment in a store’s interior with a charming sign flirting outside. Still, we enter a store with expectation after looking up and seeing its sign…
Some are brightly colored, tongue in cheek, funny… will they invite you in?
Some are not very indicative of what its store is all about, but that could be good tactics…
Some are regional and they have to really be original to stand out..
Some plays on our desire to remember the past…
Some very elegant …
And those with a personal name has you want to discover more…
then there are those you have no clue what might await inside but you love what the name represents…
And there are those for special customers…
And some are so often hidden in lovely greenery, it comes with the profession…
Proof goes to show…hidden in the foliage…
Sometimes though, high and clearly marked in old script..!
And then there are the handmade ones to suit every occasion…(so by the way, this was mine many years ago with an exhibition in my gallery at home)
Mine again…in the atelier…just to distinguish between the art studio and the “pretty”art exhibition!
In the wine area a multitude of signs direct you to the multiple domains and cellars and wine shops. This is the grande grappe de raisin just opposite from where we lived and was always a beacon.
These following ones were all in close proximity when we lived in Montlouis sur Loire.
Cave of course meaning in this case wine cellar….the bunch of grapes is there to make sure you don’t arrive with your climbing gear.
An oringal way of luting passers by to a wine cellar and regional products.
With this sign I had a personal affair….right behind it is a parking where I always went through to get into the main road. this sighn always blocked my view to check for oncoming traffic, so I had to get out and move it back as you see it standing now, got back into my car, checked my left and rights and into the traffic I went. Not quietly and patiently, but rather doorslamming and sighing and armslinging and a lot of ZUT, ZUT, ZUT! It happened every day for the whole time we lived there. It is just one of those things. Instead of going over to the cellar and fixing it, I just moved the thing each time with a French attitude. I miss it.
These cute board signs are just simply fun.
“I Invite you in to dine and wine, don’t mind my strict appearance!”
At the boucherie in Beaulieu you can even buy salads…
With all these signs, I always sign a salut to you
When your potager starts exploding with courgettes, it is time to come up with all sorts of ways to eat those courgettes without getting bored. But even so, by the end of summer, I feel like a courgette and can’t even look at one, let alone eat it. Courgettes are more flavorful when they are young and nothing needs to be added to give them moire flavor. These tartines can be served s a starter, a lunch with a salad, or as an apéro before dinner..and come to think of it, why not pack it for a pique-nique?
- Add some goat’s cheese or feta cheese to the tartines.
- Leave the toasts and serve as a tagliatelle pasta, topped with a fillet of fish of your choice and a salad.
- Make croutons instead of toasts and add along with the grilled courgettes to a salad. Top with dry roasted pine nuts, grated Parmesan cheese and a mustard vinaigrette.
Les jardins de Colette is a large botanical garden at the foot of the chateau Castel-novel, where the French writer Colette lived with her 2nd husband Henry de Jouvenel and her daughter Bel-Gazou. The gardens were created in 2008 and depict her tumultuous life which centered around her insatiable desire for creating. You will surely know her for her novels Chéri in 1920 and of course Gigi from 1944, upon which the musical film was based and in which Leslie Caron played Gigi. Colette’s real name was actually Sidonie-Gabrielle , her last name/surname being Colette. But I’m her to show you the garden dedicated to her…so, to read about Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, you can pick and choose a site on Google.
Some trinkets in the store…and I found their little truck quite cute…and a rose named after Colette in 1995…
…Veronique flowers in abundance in the garden of her childhood in Bourgogne…and bees in abundance….
..le jardin de Rozven in Bretagne was bought by her friend, Missy, in 1910 and for 10 years afterwards Colette and her family still spent their summers at Rozven.
…a potager, part of remembering her childhood..
..a labyrinth in the shape of a papillon, where kiddies are told stories while finding their way to the end..
..some annuals planted in the jardin de Saint- Sauveur-en -Puisaye in Bourgogne...
..an english garden..”aussi libre qu’elle”..as free in spirit as she was…
…a little refuge for insects..
Colette with her brother in childhood…
…her love for animals clearly comes across in her books..
..la coccinelle and le papillon..les amis du jardin!
In the Correze gardin at Castel-Novel a little cabane/gloriettes was constructed from willow branches..
..The olive trees and lavenders from the Provence garden..
..a bit of freshness with a canal of water and fountain..
In the rose garden her favorite rose can be found…Cuisse de Nymphe
..as well as one of my favorites...Honore de Balzac…
And lastly, a lane of tilleuls trees to remind of her last years spent in Paris, where her windows opened onto the gardens of the palais Royal…
With something cool to drink, we finished this tour through the gardens of Colette and it was time to return to reality. I felt a vibrant kinship with her and her creativity, her desire to live to the full, her love for nature and animals and maybe one day I can retrace her steps to really experience what her life was like…
à la prochaine fois!