Autumn with chestnuts, walnuts and prunes.

Autumn is the most melancholic time of year for me. It is also the most beautiful. Every time, when I drive off the road in my efforts to admire the colours, I think this year is the most beautiful I have seen. Then comes the next autumn and the same thoughts go through my mind. As well as driving off the road.

chestnuts, walnuts and prunes for autumn.

All over the villages in France, les fêtes d’automne are celebrating with enthusiasm ..well…autumn. With stalls of food and bric and bracs, dancing in the streets and musicians sounding with loud self confidence their sometimes false chords into the air. But who cares! Everybody is having fun.

Fete de la chataigne3One such a fete was la fête de chataigne at Beynat, close to home. An atmosphere of vivacity reigned..for me in any case.  Everything was there; Trophies for the best chestnut harvest. Traditional artisans who made their sabots and combed their wool, embroidered their linens and wove their baskets the old fashioned way. By hand, of course.You could buy roasted chestnuts, apples by the crate, walnuts, nutcrackers(of which I bought one, simply because I am too lame to say no!) the meal of the day was home made boudin(blood sausage) with…frites. The French love their frites at markets. The usual crepe a la nutella was ever popular.

Fete de la chataigne1 Fete de la chataigne

I have to admit that I love to go to all these markets, and fairs and fêtes and foires and brocantes. I love browsing and tasting, having coffee(but of course!) I love the atmosphere of exuberance and fun, touching stuff, turning it upside down. I love the smells of food finding its way to my nose. I love the excitement of finding a tiny something for a tiny price; a pot of home made confiture, a piece of sauccisson with walnuts(my favorite), or an old coffee cup or two…simply just for remembering a great morning.

chestnuts, walnuts and prunes for autumn.-005

So, did I buy a tiny something for a tiny price. Oh yes I did! Chestnuts.  For this delicious accompaniment. I ‘m not a big fan of chestnuts, but this dish is divine. I can eat it by the spoonful. It only consists of chestnuts, walnuts and prunes. Some butter(salted) and some chicken stock, or if you prefer, vegetable stock, in which case, it is completely vegetarian. The most fascinating aspect of this dish is that it is autumn at its best. It smells and looks and tastes like forest. OK, you might  need a little imagination and heaps of enthusiasm, but autumn is short. Enjoy it.

La recette:

  1. A handful of cleaned, cooked chestnuts. (It is much easier to buy the vacuum packed cleaned and cooked ones, just ready for use. It is quite an ordeal to clean and cook them. I will show how in a next post for this one is already starting to resemble a marathon.)
  2. A handful of prunes, seeds removed.
  3. A handful of walnuts, removed from the shells with the help of your fancy nutcracker.
  4. A big knob of butter
  5. A drizzle of  olive oil.
  6. A TBSP honey.
  7. Fresh thyme, milled black pepper and mixed spices.
  8. About 1 full cup of chicken stock(or vegetable stock for vegetarians)

Heat the olive oil and salted butter in a frying pan. Add the chestnuts, prunes, mixed spices, milled pepper and fresh thyme (stripped from the stems). Sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the walnuts, honey and the chicken stock to the mixture. Leave to gently simmer on low heat just until the juices turned to a thick sauce. Remove from the heat. Serve with roasted chicken, rabbit or venison.

Serves 4 people as accompaniment.

cooking 2014

à bientot


Sorrel, kiwi and cucumber gazpacho…and April greens in Corréze.

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.

Sorrel, cucumber and kiwi gazpachoLa recette:

  1. Peel and cut 3/4 cucumber and 5 kiwis in cubes.  Place in mixer/blender.
  2. Wash 1 large handful of green sorrel leaves(or mix of green and red sorrel) and remove the hard stems.  Add to the blender.
  3. Blend together until a puree.
  4. Remove to a bowl.
  5. Season with salt, pepper, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar and chopped tarragon.
  6. Cut 1 apple and the other 1/4 cucmber (with peel) into small dice(brunoise). Drizzle with apple cider vinegar.
  7. 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.
  8. Serve the gazpacho in individual glass bowls, top with the cubes of apple, cucumber, croutons and tarragon.
  9. 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.

ingredients gazpacho

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.

April greens April greens-001 April greens-002 April greens-003 April greens-004In the garden, the tulipes dentelle “Snow valley” are in full bloom, my favorite tulip. The bees are back, the Jack Frost is happy with its little blue flowers and the strawberries are plentiful.

Garden April 2015I couldn’t resit playing around with all the greens from the market and the greens from the fields…the greens in April, wild or cultivated, beautiful in their own right.

..asparagus and dandelion seedhead..

asparagus & dandelion seedhead

..avocado and forest fern..

avocado and fern-001

..cucumber and dandelion seed head..

concombre et jonquille

..peas and forget-me-nots..

peapod and forget-me-nots-001

..Until next time, enjoy your last week of April..


Mushrooms filled with St. Moret cheese. (Champignons au St.Moret)..and doors with a view.

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.

Mushrooms filled with St. Moret cheese.-002La recette:

  1. Clean a handful of button mustooms by peeling off the top layuer of the mushrooms
  2. Pull out the stems/feet.
  3. Sauté one shallot along the the chopped up feet/stems of the mushrooms. Add a handful of chopped tarragon.
  4. fill the mushroom cups with the shallot mix.
  5. top with a tsp of mixed creme fraiche, mayonnaise and St. Môret cheese(or Philadelphia).
  6. Add a piece of semi oven dried tomato slice to the top and place in ovenproof dish, drizzled with olive oil.
  7. Bake in a hot oven(200 °C) for about 10 minutes.
  8. 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.

Mushrooms filled with St. Moret cheese. Mushrooms filled with St. Moret cheese.-001 Mushrooms filled with cream cheese.NEF

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..

doors of my house.NEF-006

doors of my house.NEF-007

..Front door from the inside..

doors of my house.NEF-002

Front door inside on the book gallery walking towards a glass door facing east(gallery door), which receives the most beautiful morning light.. (ignore the staircase, only for work purposes) doors of my house.NEF-003

..Gallery door from outside..

doors of my house.NEF-008

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.

doors of my house.NEF-005

..the little bathroom door on the inside looking out.. doors of my house.NEF-004

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”.

doors of my house.NEF

..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…

doors of my house.NEF-011

..view on the southern face with all its glass windows and doors..

doors of my house.NEF-012

..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.

doors of my house.NEF-013

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..

doors of my house.NEF-010

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

doors of my house.NEF-015

..and looking in…

doors of my house.NEF-014

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.

à plus


Wild asparagus risotto with lemon and sage..and pulling off the road.

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.

risotto aux asperges sauvages et sauge. 4471x3239-001


asperges sauvages 2522x1817

La recette:

  1. Asparagus, lemon and sage:
  2. 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.
  3. Heat enough olive oil in a small frying pan to cover the base.
  4. Add some sage leaves and fry until crisp. Remove and drain on kitchen towel.
  5. Risotto:
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Chop a few leaves of fresh sage in thin ribbons and add to the risotto.
  9. Taste the risotto…the rice should still have some bite and not be mushed to a porridge.
  10. 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.
  11. Taste for seasoning.
  12. Serve immediately – spoon the risotto onto individual plates. top with the asparagus en finish off with the crisp oil fried sage leaves.
  13. 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.

asperges sauvages 2659x2553

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.

  1. I adore that first coffee of the morning.It turns me inside out with happiness.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. I love the smell of horses…their sweat, their manes, the oil on their skin..
  6.  I love playing tennis; running for every ball, sweating, groaning like a pro,  stretching, running, sliding…all of it..
  7. I love my chickens’ eager trot-run when they see cheese in my hand, it makes me burst out in spontaneous laughter.
  8. I love watching the geese’s rhythmic swaying from behind.
  9. I adore our apéros at sunset. If heaven doesn’t have that, I don’t want to go there…
  10. 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.
  11. I love waking up early morning to blue skies and sunshine..I can  just burst with happiness.
  12. I love the smell of oil paints on my palette.
  13. I love a scalp massage when I go to the hairdresser.
  14. I love walking barefoot.
  15. I love walking in the rain.
  16. I love walking in my garden endlessly throughout the day, hoping I’ll see something new every time.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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…
  20. 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)

perfume 4

à a prochaine fois