When I think of spring and Easter, I think of Easter eggs(of course!), roasted lamb, asparagus and petits pois, daffodils, blossoms, new born animals playing on green prairies with yellow dandelions. A beautiful time of year. For this Easter, we will enjoy some oeufs cocotte, salads, some oven roasted rosemary lamb and we will probably finish our day with a mini Nantais cake. Made to stand for 2 days, its flavour just gets better and better. It can also be baked as one big cake, but a change is always good, so I made it into individual mini cakes.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (gas 6, 356°F).
- Grease a cake tin(20cm diameter), or mini cake molds of your choice.
- Beat together 125g soft butter, 125 g castor sugar and 100g ground almonds until creamy.
- Add 3 eggs, one at a time. Beat until well mixed.
- Add 40g flour, 2 TBSP of apricot jam and 50ml of rum. Mix until the mixture is light and fluffy
- Pour the mixture into the greased cake tin of the mini tin. Bake in oven for 40 -50 minutes for the large cake tin, or 30-40 minutes for the mini cakes. If the surface gets too dark, cover with a sheet of tin foil or brown paper. Test with a skewer which need to be dry when pulled out.
- Prepare the icing: Mix together 50ml rum with 100g icing sugar. Pour over the cakes and serve.
Serve 6 people
Pincée de fleur de sel:
- Bake the cake about 2 days for a more flavourful cake.
- Replace the rum with lemon juice of 1 lemon if you don’t want alcohol.
- Replace the rum in the icing sugar with a few drops of lemon juice.
The garden is far from finished – I walk around with a knee brace after hurting it with a fall, the days are filled with rain the ground is soaked…so working is not very apparent. At least the bulbs planted in fall have no problems showing off their splendour. So.. to accompany this Easter posting, here are some images from the garden beginning April.
..Bienvenue dans mon jardin à Pacques..
..A bed of daffodils, tulips and muscaris..
..No need to encourage the chickens to go play outside!..
..Two chicks, only 3 days old..
..daffodils waiting to flower..
..Have a lovely Easter time..
This is my daughters’ recipe which they were so kind to give me. I adapted it a little to serve it as a side rather than an amuse bouche, which is how they serve it. In the suggestions, I will give their recipe. I love this, it is a vegetable and can serve as a meal on its own for vegetarians.
- Clean a handful of button mustooms by peeling off the top layuer of the mushrooms
- Pull out the stems/feet.
- Sauté one shallot along the the chopped up feet/stems of the mushrooms. Add a handful of chopped tarragon.
- fill the mushroom cups with the shallot mix.
- top with a tsp of mixed creme fraiche, mayonnaise and St. Môret cheese(or Philadelphia).
- Add a piece of semi oven dried tomato slice to the top and place in ovenproof dish, drizzled with olive oil.
- Bake in a hot oven(200 °C) for about 10 minutes.
- Serve as a side dish or main dish for a vegetarian meal.
Pincée de fleur de sel:
- To serve as an amuse bouche, leave out the creme fraîche and mayonnaise and top only with some Philadelphia St. Môret cheese. It makes for a drier mushroom to take by hand.
The doors of my house..
As most of my readers will know, we are still living in the barn next to our house which is in the process of restoration. It is taking much longer than anticipated, but that is no news to anybody who has undertaken a similar project before. But we’ll get there. In the meantime we are very comfortable in our barn, so much so that I am almost afraid to leave it!
As I walked around the garden this morning in the lovely winter sun, with the chickens and the geese and the cats following me, I noticed the glorious reflections of the sun and surroundings on my newly fitted glass doors. They have just been installed in the last few weeks by mon cheri, all of them made to measure by him and still far from finished, but already it gives me such a kick to see!
Let’s start with the front door:
I wanted a Provencal doors which is exactly what mon chéri gave me. He salvaged all the oak planks and found the bolts I wanted, burnt them in the fire to rust them and built my front door. If ever there was a solid door, this is it.Cn I be more chuffed with my front door?
..From the outside..
..Front door from the inside..
..Gallery door from outside..
A view on our private bathroom door from the outside, which was the ONLY door in the original house, into its little kitchen. Not the prettiest of doors, but I want to keep it as it is, as it is part of the history of the house and I can dream up all these stories it has lived through. It still has to be adapted to the lifted floor of the whole house.
Once inside the house, I will have this view facing south. I wanted the whole south facing view in glass to let in sun and light and excitement, excitement!! A dark house turns me equally dark. My lifeline is sunlight. To the left is the balcony off our bedroom with doors opening up completely on hinges. I already “live” there with my coffee and just “my being”.
..view on the balcony from the outside – only a low wrougth iron railing will vbe added on the balcony? I want nothing to disturb my view. We have already sletp there on the balcony under the stars and I fell asleep with this “openness” around me…
..view on the southern face with all its glass windows and doors..
..the door opening onto our outside terrasse – when standing in the front door, one can see straight through the top window above this terrasse door, looking onto the distant hills. The view is magnificent.
The kitchen door opens onto the terrasse as well. It wat was originally the basement below the orignal farmhouse where animals were kept. We changed that whole basement into a large kitchen livingroom/atelier. the original little door in photo below, will be kept as shutters and adapted and mon chéri is busy building my stable door for the kitchen.
..My quaint little kitchen door onto the terrasse..
Last but not least…the doors of our barn which we call home for the moment..mon chéri also installed all the glass doors so I can open up the huge barn doors to get some light as the barn is of course quite dark with only one little window facing south.
..Looking out from inside my grange…
..and looking in…
I hope to show you all the doors again this year, all finished, trimmings and all. You can see how Coin Perdu looked in the beginning, some changes it went through on my blog Coin Perdu. I am not keeping it up any more though. From now on all my Coin Perdu postings will continue here on Myfrenchkitchen. I hope you ‘ll join me.
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!
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