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..
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.
I have a few risotto recipes that I adore. One is made with sweet potato, another with saffron, yet another with wild mushrooms and then…asparagus. In this case I used wild asparagus with a very short season, but delicious while they last.
- Asparagus, lemon and sage:
- Sauté the asparagus for only 3 – 4 minutes, in a large pan with olive oil, lemon wedges, a sprinkling of white balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Remove and keep aside. they should still be crunchy. Saute the lemon wedges a bit longer to caramelize.
- Heat enough olive oil in a small frying pan to cover the base.
- Add some sage leaves and fry until crisp. Remove and drain on kitchen towel.
- Sauté 1 chopped shallot in a little olive oil. Add about 1 cup of arborio or carnarolli rice and sauté for another 3 minutes top release the nutty flavors of risotto rice.
- Add 1/2 cup white wine and 1TBSP of white balsamic vinegar. Stir. Add about 500ml of hot vegetable stock, ladle by ladle to the risotto, stirring all the while over medium high heat.
- Chop a few leaves of fresh sage in thin ribbons and add to the risotto.
- Taste the risotto…the rice should still have some bite and not be mushed to a porridge.
- Add 1 TBSP of créme fraiche, 1 knob of butter and 2 TBSP of grated parmesan cheese and the grated rind of 1 lemon. Turn off the heat and stir through.
- Taste for seasoning.
- Serve immediately – spoon the risotto onto individual plates. top with the asparagus en finish off with the crisp oil fried sage leaves.
- Sere with extra Parmesan on the side.
Serves about 4 people.
- Use garden asparagus or string beans instead of wild asparagus.
- Combine with tarragon instead of sage.
- Leave out the creme fraiche and use a soft goats cheese instead.
- Leave out the creme fraiche and sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese just before serving.
- The risotto should be creamy and not dry at all.
When the bumps on the road get too disconcerting, I always pull off the road, switch off the engine, empty my mind and drift off to that world where I know giggles and laughter are plentiful. And smiles. That place where we run off to when life is too blue and we want it more colourful. They are our private corners where we deal with these road bumps in our own unique ways so we can be able to turn the ignition key and continue on the bumpy roads. I thought I would share some of the things I run to for a smile or a hearty laugh or a tickling giggle.
- I adore that first coffee of the morning.It turns me inside out with happiness.
- I love watching someone enjoying a meal with gusto and joy(and good manners of course), someone who has a visible appreciation for the goodness of good quality products and for the preparation that goes into a meal.
- I love people who can fold double with laughter, enjoying laughing so much you can hear it right in the pit of their stomach! It is contagious and I might not know what the laughter is about, but I have to join in, just for the sake of the joy it brings.
- I love that good sharp which some people have. Not jokes. Jokes are flat and boring. Wit is something completely different. It is an art. That ability to be able to catch a moment and react to it with just the perfect touch of irony and humor.
- I love the smell of horses…their sweat, their manes, the oil on their skin..
- I love playing tennis; running for every ball, sweating, groaning like a pro, stretching, running, sliding…all of it..
- I love my chickens’ eager trot-run when they see cheese in my hand, it makes me burst out in spontaneous laughter.
- I love watching the geese’s rhythmic swaying from behind.
- I adore our apéros at sunset. If heaven doesn’t have that, I don’t want to go there…
- I love swimming..not lengths or any fashionable style, but splashing and diving and twirling and drowning… like a dolphin. I just love being in the water.
- I love waking up early morning to blue skies and sunshine..I can just burst with happiness.
- I love the smell of oil paints on my palette.
- I love a scalp massage when I go to the hairdresser.
- I love walking barefoot.
- I love walking in the rain.
- I love walking in my garden endlessly throughout the day, hoping I’ll see something new every time.
- I love having coffee and croissant with mon chéri in town and we talk about everything and anything, especially since he is a man of few words.
- I love my perfumes..I splash it on when I go to dinner, when I go to town, when I go to bed or when I go work in the garden. M favorite, you ask? But Coco , eau de perfum, Chanel of course.
- I love burying my face and kissing the soft belly of my cat Ayiani…she grabs my head gently with her paws and it makes me giggle with pleasure…although I have had the occasional scratch of her fury when she’s not in the mood…
- I adore my bed and I adore slipping into crisp linen smelling of sunshine. I fall asleep with a content smile.
I hoe I have touched some of your soft spots or at least made you pull off the road to find your private world where laughter and giggles abound!
…my favorite perfume; Coco, from Chanel…
(for more sketches of perfumes, see my art blog Africantapestry)
à a prochaine fois
Spring is a month of greens. From sprouting to adult leaf and branch. From bud to flower. From seed to fruit. It bursts with health and it begs for salads. Green asparagus is at its peak at the moment and will only last one more month before it comes to rest for whole year. Assemble your salads. Feast on your asparagus. There are no limits to pure goodness.
- Boil some pasta of your choice to al dente and keep aside.
- Clean and cut an onion into slices. Sauté in a pan with some olive oil. Add 3 or 4 small potatoes cut into rings, cover and cook over low heat until soft.
- Rinse some asparagus. Rinse some pois gourmande. Steam together until just tender. Add to the onions and mix lightly. Add freshly chopped herbs of your choice…basil is nice.
- Grate 2 or 3 carrots and mix lightly with some olive oil, lemon juice and a drizzle of flowered honey.
- Assemble the salad by adding the warm onion mixture to the pasta; Season with salt and pepper, leom juice and olive oil.
- Top with the cool, fresh carrot salad, sprinkle dry roasted pine nuts and drizzle with the carrot juices.
- Serve a good mayonnaise and baguette on the side.
Pincée de sel:
- Sauté the asparagus beforehand in olive oil, herbs and lemon butter and then add to the pasta…tastier.
- Use other vegetables like spring peas, or beans.
- Keep the variety of vegetables to a minimum to avoid a confusion of flavours.
- Omit the potatoes and add a meat of your choice, like chicken. add more sauce in that case to avoid a dry salad.
- Omit the carrot salad and use grated beetroot instead with a pungent vinaigrette which goes well with the potaoes and pasta.
Spring greens come in many shades (and tastes as well). For now, we will stick to the shades and tones. for this excercise I stuck to pure greens straight from the tube., painting some ribbons of greens on paper and walking around in the garden, trying to match the colour on the paper to the greens I can find in the garden.
Another fun project would be to do it with food…matching greens to what one can find in the fridge. Or doing it with summer yellows, reds, aubergines. Colour makes the world go round…at least for me.
Maybe in the next post I’ll set a spring green table..;paint some greens on paper ribbons and try to find matching greens for the table.
..grass green chives…
..young tilleul leaves with golden greens, brown greens and ochres..
..a young olive branch in olive greens and earth green..
..and my favorite green in the garden is Sennelier grey – the santolinas, some lavendins, curry plants, stachys, armoises, ballotas, convolvulus(image below), cérastiums…
..and lastly the lovely dark rich greens of ceanothes with its overflowing purple flowers..
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