winter

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.

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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!

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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

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“In the shade of the walnut tree” featured in a magazine.

I wrote an article for LEEF, an Afrikaans magazine in SA, about our life here in France. Their February summer issue was devoted to all things French and I was asked to do a contribution. I called it “In the shade of the walnut tree”. This is our favorite spot in summer time where we enjoy our apéros and amuses bouches, long lazy lunches and philosophical discussions.

leef 10001-001So…for the Afrikaans readers out there; the February issue of LEEF magazine is still available on the shelves. For my English and other readers I will soon translate the article into English and post it here.

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In the meantime, here in the French countryside we are enveloped in the blankets of winter with misty days, rain, and cloudy skies.  It makes for an ambiance filled season and we all enjoy gathering in the bistros around cups of coffee or chocolat chauds. Those more daring go for a glass of Ricard. We talk about the cold and the rain congested soil and what we’re having for dinner. Nestled in the misty hills, the chimneys have trails of smoke. The kitchens smell of les potages, soupes et veloutés and long sauce bourguignons.  Our animals are safely sheltered in the stables while the fields are left bare  for regrowth. We are cocooning.

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Correze country side

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à la prochaine fois!

Ronelle


Country onion soup(Soupe à l’oignon champêtre)

Winter has suddenly hit us with a bang and out came the soups of which onion soup is a favorite. The secret of a good onion soup rests on a good stock (preferably homemade) and of course the slow, deep caramelizing of the onions. If you want a quick soup for dinner, this is not it. But no doubt, for a cold day, an onion soup, topped with a melted cheese crouton, is pure heaven.

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Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • The longer you can caramelize your onions, the more flavorful they will be. It is a myth that onions can be caramelized within 10 minutes.
  • I cut my onions in quarters and then slice the quarters finely, because I don’t like long strips dripping soup  from my spoon.
  • To serve country style, serve the soup in a tureen with the croutons on top and serve each portion from the tureen.
  • It can also be served individually by placing a slice of bread on the soup, top with cheese and grill for a few minutes to melt the cheese.
  • Don’t be skimpy with the thyme as it adds to the flavor.
  • To really serve a soup and not soaked bread, don’t serve too much bread in the soup, for it soaks up a lot of the liquid and you will be left with only onions and soaked bread.
  • Serve the soup hot in warmed  bowls.

..a variety of onions..

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..onions cut into quarters and sliced thinly, cooked until translucent and caramelized until dark and soft…

soupe a l'oignon

countrybread, called a tourte here inCorréze, sliced and torn into smaller portions..

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..Vieux Cantal( aged Cantal cheese) broken into small chunks and sprinkled on the bread and soup for a country dinner..

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To all my American friends and readers…have a Happy Thanksgiving!

..à la prochaine fois..

Ronelle


Velouté de butternut..and footprints in the snow.

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“Un rideau de flocons blancs ininterrompu miroitait sans cesse en descendant vers la terre; il effaçait les formes, poudrait les choses d’une mousse de glace; et l’on n’entendait plus, dans le grand silence de la ville calme et ensevelie sous l’hiver, que ce froissement vague, innommable et flottant de la neige qui tombe, plutôt sensation que bruit , entremêlement d’atomes légers qui semblaient emplir l’espace, couvrir le monde.” Guy de Maupassant, boule de suif.

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“It was early autumn, then, before the snow began to fly. –(There’s an expression for you, born in the country, born from the imaginations of men and their feeling for the right word, the only word, to mirror clearly what they see! Those with few words must know how to use them.) Men who have seen it, who have watched it day by day outside their cabin window coming down from the sky, like the visible remorse of an aging year; who have watched it bead upon the ears of the horses they rode, muffle the sound of hoofs on the trail, lie upon spruce boughs and over grass – cover, as if forever, the landscape in which they moved, round off the mountains, blanket the ice in the rivers – for them the snow flies. The snow doesn’t fall. It may ride the wind. It may descend slowly, in utter quiet, from the grey and laden clouds, so that you can hear the flakes touching lightly on the wide white waste, as they come to rest at the end of their flight. Flight – that’s the word. They beat in the air like wings, as if reluctant ever to touch the ground. I have observed them coming down, on a very cold day, near its end when the sky above me was still blue, in flakes great and wide as the palm of my hand. They were like immense moths winging down in the twilight, making the silence about me visible.” – Howard O’Hagan Tay John

…Voilà coin Perdu in January! Quiet and silent behind its curtain of white…

neige 2013-023..Our barn, where we are living until the house is finished..

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..A view on the bench, where I dream and plan, except in winter. Then I dream and plan by the fire..

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..Forgotten socks …

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..and terracotta pots waiting to be cleaned..

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..Two adorable faces, waiting for fresh hay..

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..The Eiffle tower, a bit askew in the potager..

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..Old barrel rims, waiting to become arches in the potager..

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..The wine bottle rack, serving some different purpose every so often..

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..The road to la toilette requires snow boots..

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..”La toilette” in snow attire..

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..Velouté de butternut..

velouté de butternut 1Recipe:

  1. Clean and chop and onion and fry in some olive oil.
  2. Add some cleaned Butternut, cut into chunks.
  3. Cover with vegetable or chicken stock until vegetables are completely covered. simmer until very tender.
  4. Mix to a puree and put back on gentle heat.
  5. Add coconut milk to the soup according to your preference.. Season and leave to simmer gently on low heat for about 10 minutes.
  6. Add the juice of 1 orange, season with salt and pepper.
  7. Serve warm with freshly grated nutmeg and crusty bread.

So, on this quiet, hushed snow note, I leave you..

à bientôt!

Ronelle


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