Posts tagged “Ambiance

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…

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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!

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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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December ambiance 2014…and Apple, date and pear compote.

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.

Apple, pear and date compote -002 La recette:  Apple, pear and date compote:

  1. Peel and cut 3 firm pears and 3 firm apples into cubes.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Replace the juice on the heat and reduce to syrup.
  5. 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.

Apple, pear and date compote……………………………………………………………………………………………….

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Noël 2014-002 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. Noël 2014-003 Birds are omnipresent on/in our trees. and there they are again this year, perched high on the branches Noël 2014-004 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. Noël 2014-005 Noël 2014-015 Noël 2014-006 Noël 2014-007 Noël 2014-008 Noël 2014-009 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!

Ronelle

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October scenes in the garden.

A big hello to all! I took a break, longer than intended, but summer kept me busy in several ways. As is the habit with summer, it is over before you know it and October sets in with all kinds of challenges: digging for warmer clothes….rain, bulb planting, cleaning garden tools to store away, facing weeds that have grown undisturbed, working vegetables from the “potager“, picking up walnuts and rushing to get to the chestnuts before the squirrels do.

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I love the fall colours of the hydrangeas…the blues turn to greens and the pinks and whites turn to an old, faded pink. The Maroccan mint is still a deep green which peeps through the pinks of the hydrangeas.

Octobercollage 1I never clean up too much…have always loved the difference in seasons…the rain and fallen leaves and twigs, the weeds, fried flowers and seeds…they all add to the atmosphere of autumn.

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After the rain.

A bottle of wine forgotten outside….

October scenes 2981x3673Raindrops on some roses still blooming…

October scenes 3415x2735Rosehips living happily alongside Nepeta…

October scenes 3540x2865Rain crystals on rose petals…

October scenes 3585x2770Fresh water for all the animals..

October scenes 4928x3264Droplets hanging on cafe chairs..

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The “potager” delivered a bounty of vegetables this year and is still going strong even though the weeds are flourishing right there along with the vegetables.

October collage 2Beautiful light shimmering through changing vine leaves..

October scenes 2962x4015Stinging nettle needing no encouragement in flowering..

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A yellow rose in the yellow garden..

October scenes 2821x3049Cleaning up is not a favorite passtime of mine. I love to make a mess..and I love to have someone else doing the cleaning up. Unfortunately, I am that “someone else”… Evidences of unfinished spring work still staring me incriminatingly in the face.

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The mornings stay darker longer and the evenings turn darker earlier..lighting candles and chandeliers and lanterns make for atmospheric evenings, which is what autumn and winter should be about, after all.

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Our windows are in and I revel in the reflections!

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Reading asks for blankets…

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Bright yellow nasturtiums in the yellow and orange garden add a blast of sunshine to cloudy days.

October scenes 4089x3079Apart form the beautiful colours of autumn which is so obvious, many other scenes of October beauty can also be found in: the disarray of garden chairs, a chicken hiding in a flowerbed, walnuts bursting, a dilapidated rattan chair for the chickens, an enamel jug, a garden tap, a garden cloche…

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Work in a garden is never ending, no matter which season. And beauty in a garden is never ending, no matter which season.

October scenes 2942x4218And when the day is done, but the work is not, the beauty of it all is to kick out the boots, put up those feet and relax…!

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…à la prochaine!..

Ronelle


A laundry day in June.

I am busy doing a lot of laundry the last few days. It is sunny and hot. Like last year, the same time, all the winter linens are washed and dried in the sun and stored away with cedar pieces of wood, lavender sachets and old pieces of savon de Marseilles. The summer linge lavé (washed natrual linen)  is taken out, rinsed and dried and folded for a fresh summer smell, summer feel and summer ambiance. I love sleeping on linge lavé in summer…it is light and cool.

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I wrote about my laundry day last year on my Coin Perdu blog. I am re posting it here and I hope you enjoy reading it, while I escape the heat and sun a bit  with a cold and refreshing glass of diabolo grenadine ( 1 part grenadine syrup with 3 parts limonade)

“Whether we love it or hate it, it needs to be done. Laundry. Washing. Some of us are lucky enough to just fill the laundry basket and someone else does the washing. And the ironing. Some of us do it all ourselves. I am one of those. Partly by choice and partly by force.

Laundry isn’t one of my favorite chores..but isn’t that why they are called chores? Anyway, a chore needs doing and in our house, it comes down to me. Whenever I think back on the washing days in my Maman’s house, I remember them as fun days.  But I have come far enough in life to know that memories are tainted. Maybe Maman also did the washing simply because she had no choice either. There is little bit of a romance to doing washing in summer. Who doesn’t reach for the camera when driving through the country side and seeing washing on long lines drying in the breeze. Or laundry hanging over fences. Or even on chairs or poles. Where there is a ray of sunlight, there you’ll find washing.

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*Join me now for a  typical summer’s washing day here at Coin Perdu.

 

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I don’t have a laundry room..yet…and it will be quite a while before I do have ma petite buanderie. In the image below is the barn which will be converted into a laundry room. I am already dreaming of that day…a huge farm table on which I can do my folding… a deep porcelain sink for washing and rinsing and soaking… an old armoire(cupboard) for equipment and products…a window to let in light and a large sill to set out crumbs for the birds and always have an enamel jug with flowers…drying lines across the ceiling, working with pulleys, like the olden days(for winter time), large old baskets, enamel bowls and jugs for soaking, poaring…some old bric and brac for ambiance, just because it is pretty…oh..to dream…

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We all know that feeling of getting into bed at night, sliding your body inbetween crisp linen sheets, smelling of sun and  wild herbs. Exactly the reason why I don’t iron my sheets in summer. I might iron the foldback at the top which has a monogram or lace. And the way to do it? Turn the sheet wrong side up and place a double folded towel under the monogram. Place a damp cotton fabric on the top of the monogram and iron so that the right side of the monogram sinks into the towel, seeing to a nice embossed monogram. It also prevents the iron from damaging the yarn/thread in the long run. Fold your linens ans store in a cupboard or shelf along with some cedar balls and some dried lavender if you wish. I also place pieces of soap in the corners of all our closets/armoires/ cupboards…you know, those last pieces of the soap we don’t use. I don’t like perfumed sachets.

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Blue skies and warm weather, bright sun…perfect washing days…!

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I love the smell of fresh, natural non perfumed soaps. The Marseilles soaps are wonderful, as is the “Pierre des Landes”, an artisan soap which works for just about everything. To soak my mother’s old doilies and all white cloths which has stains, I grate some savon de Marseille into a bowl of water, leave the pieces to soak and rise. Or I spread thickly soaped pieces out in the sun to remove the stains. It is the perfect way to remove stains without using any chemical stuff, since the sun is a natural whitener. when it has dried, I rinse the pieces in clean water and spread out to dry.

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Beware..not just any soap marked Savon de Marseille is the real thing! Le véritable Savon de Marseille needs to consist of a  minimum of  72% pure olive oil and 28% sodium carbonate.  Many other savons de marseille also have other oils as well as some animal fats added.

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Whenever I have a stain on a sheet or tablecloth,  I rub the stain with savon de Marseille(or whichever natural soap you use) and hang it over two lines so the sun gets to bleach out the stain..see no need for stain removers! It works, really  it does. Of course, if you use coloured linens and clothing, you have to fall back on the stain remover, for the sun will bleach spots on your fabric. Dark fabrics are hung in the shade to prevent fading. They don’t need sun, only a bit of heat..and fresh air!

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In winter, when I don’t have the beautiful blue skies as in the image below, I have my linens washed and ironed at the blanchisserie, where they are washed and ironed on large rollers.. some day I hope to visit our local blanchisserie with my camera and do a post on how they treat the old linens..it is so interesting. After all, they have been doing it for centuries; taking care of the different textile; linen, or cotton or mixtures, hemp, flax.. They also take good care of the monograms and lace and hand embroideries that go along with antique linens and tablecloths, serviettes. But that is all for next winter..I am now basking in summer linens!

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Well..come to think of it…it might be that I actually enjoy doing washing. In summer. For I am doing it exactly the way Maman did! My washing needs to be neatly hung. All the socks together, pinned on the toe. The T-shirts hangs over the line at the chest and are pinned under the sleeves..no stretching from hanging from the pins. The shirts opened up and pinned at the side seams at the bottom. Dresses are hung on hangers, lingerie are pinned on the top at the side seams. Everything has to be grouped together and hung straight..I hate loops and droops. Dish towels and pillow cases..straight, no drooping! That is how my Maman did it.

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Now tell me you don’t have the desire to go hang out some washing?

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à bientôt

Ronelle


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