June and July went by so quickly, I am still wondering where I was..I fell and broke my leg 2 weeks ago, so my moving about is somewhat restricted, especially here in the barn and on the rugged terrain of Coin Perdu. The crutches drive me nuts, but they are my best friends at the moment. At least my biceps are now something to look at. I’m not doing a lot of cooking, if any and it is only the most easiest of cooking – a handful of tomatoes from the potager on the plate with the salt and pepper pots beside it. A bowl of peaches. Half a chicken done by mon chéri on the barbecue. A tub of ice cream. A slab of Lindt fleur de sel chocolate.Lots of water to prevent the leg from swelling. More chocolate and ice cream. Macarons. Don’t you think I am a good girl for eating so healthy?
WARNING: This is a fairly long post! I am also adding my Facebook page if you would like to follow and my instagram account as well as Lindiwe, our german shepherddog’s account.
- Facebook page: Café des artistes
- Instagram: Ronellesatelier
- Lindiwe’s instagram: shepherddog_lindiwe
In the meantime, the garden is running out from under my hands. Our summer has been very hot up to now and very dry and the garden is showing signs of fatigue without water and my loving care. It is big holiday time and France has come to its summer standstill. No one is available for helping in the garden. But it was nonetheless so beautiful before the drought took over and I thought I’d share it with you, since I can’t really show you my plate of tomatoes with salt and pepper or half a chicken on my plate…even though it was as goo..ood!
June/July 2015 it started off lush and green in May, everything was flowering beautifully, newly planted lavenders santolinas…
..even when the pool was being built, it looked…OK
iceberg roses, feverfew,, salvia nemerosas to name but a few
On the terrace with Partia, purple oxalys, herbs..
..My beloved olde world flower, the hollyhocks, a lost sunflower that sprouted from the birds’ winterseeds and even dried roses..
..new additions to the family are the two babygees, who mon chéri calls Hansie & Grietjie, some cute chicks and Lindiwe, our german sheperd dog, who has her own instagram account, should you be interested in following!
And of course hours spent around the table..our favorite pastime, you could say.
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!..
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.
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.
- 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.
- Simmer over medium heat for about 30 minutes.
- Leave to cool a little and mix with a hand blender to a creamy soup.
- Remove the bouquet garni and adjust the seasoning…orange juice, vinegar, salt and pepper.
- 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 .
- 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.
- 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…
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!
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!
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
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.
- Peel and cut 3 firm pears and 3 firm apples into cubes.
- 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.
- 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.
- Replace the juice on the heat and reduce to syrup.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Birds are omnipresent on/in our trees. and there they are again this year, perched high on the branches 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. 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!