Watermelon and recipe thoughts.

After speaking to a very good friend this morning, who is on holiday in the bush, I felt the need to concoct something for Mariaan.  I miss her. She is funny and makes me laugh. I wish I was there in the bush with them; listening to the roar of the lion at night and watching the elephant’s play by the waterhole.

…watermelon, bresaola and cheese salad…

watermelon cheese salad2

Cut some watermelon into slices, or chunks, add to a bowl along with some baby spinach leaves, or arugula, add some feta cheese, or blue cheese, or parmesan broken in chunks and lastly tear some bresaola over the salad. Finish off with a drizzling of live oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of white balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with toasted almonds. Serve with a seed bread and a cold white or rosé wine.

As with many of the dishes I do here, there is no formal recipe. And there are hundreds of versions of salads with watermelon.

I started off this blog simply to have fun. I’m not obsessed about/with cooking. Or coming up with the perfect recipe. I am much more interested in a combination of things which evolve around food. Food is the last thing I think about when thinking about “meals”. I almost always first design my table for entertaining, before I decide on the food. I will first decide on colour, before I start thinking about a food to post. I will see sunset on the ocean and then I will want to make a dish that will fall in with my sunset on the ocean. An idea for a photo will pop into my head and I will start thinking of some food to go along with the idea. I will invite friends over and take hours to decide if we are eating inside or under the stars and then I’ll decide on the food. I will miss a friend and then decide to make something that represents her.

elephantIt is the same as painting a canvas. It is a whole process. It is the doing it, that gives the pleasure. The original thought, the preparations, wiping of plates, the shining of silver, the billowing throw of the linen on the wooden table, the cutting up of vegetables, the whiffs of onion in the pan, the delight of colours on the tables, the smells of flowers in a vase, the tasting of a sauce with your tasting spoon(NOT a finger) the stirring of a soup, the pinching of salt, the clinging of pots, the sipping of wine, feeling the coolness of rolled dough under your palms, licking out the bowl with your fingers, touching the  crispness of a linen napkin, hearing the ping of crystal…it is a complete creative experience. A sensory ecperience. A sensual experience.

So. The recipes found here on Myfrenchkitchen are only for inspiration. They may not be perfect. They sure aren’t perfect. I don’t care for them to be perfect. I don’t measure and I don’t count. I am not inspired by recipes. I am only inspired by the idea of a recipe. A gazpacho will inspire me to do something with colour. A soup may inspire me to go for a new way of serving. A salad might evoke the desire to take a healthy course. I don’t follow recipes, it is too much effort and I’ll need my reading glasses. It wastes my time. Except for rare occasions when I might bake and even then, as long as I have some basic knowledge about what makes a cake rise and why do you need eggs and what is the relationship between ingredients and how and why to beat air into an egg white, I can make it work. It is knowing a little bit of the science behing cooking. That and a little common sense. And if all fails, I have my cooking encyclopedias, my kitchen bibles to run to. Which I do. Often. If you don’t have one, you won’t be able to make a recipe your own. There are many on the market. My well used bible is Larousse Gastronomique.

The recipes posted here, the photo’s, the silly stories…are all simply for enjoyment. My own enjoyment, as well as your own recipethose who pass by here. They serve only as inspiration. If it can only be fun to look at or light an idea in your head to have you take off to your kitchen, it has served its purpose.Take the recipes and ideas for serving and settings and compositions and go to your kitchen and make it your own, or else it will always be someone else’s recipe. Play around with it, forget about the precision of the measuring spoon and start using your tastebuds and judgements…and common sense. Make mistakes, adjust, change and then delight in your own creation.

There is a magnitude of cookbooks out there, even more blogs, so many cooks, so many chefs. The internet specifically is a rushing waterfall of recipes of all kinds and all cultures and tastes. The world of food and cooking is on such a fast track, everybody can do anything, trends change every month, nothing is new, everything has been done, everybody is trying to push the envelope in doing more, trying to do something that hasn’t been done before. Just  google french onion soup or any other recipe and see the response, screen after screen.  New tomatoes show up on the market each year, snazzy coloured carrots, tongue twister berries, everything is dried and refrigerated and shipped. Exotic fruit recipes from Russia and sushi recipes from France, fresh croissant deliveries in Japan and saki in Sweden. It is a runaway train.

So what can I offer anyone here on Myfrenchkitchen? Absolutely nothing, except maybe enjoyment, even if only for fleeting, a second or two. Or maybe a raised eyebrow. Or a snort. Whatever the case. If you like it, linger and enjoy. If you don’t like it, forget about it and move on. Tastes differ. Likes and dislikes  are very personal. But you knew that.

I know my friend in the bush  will like this salad. She doesn’t follow recipes either.  And she only makes quick meals. And she laughs at my jokes, which are never funny. And  she enjoys my recipes, which aren’t perfect. She is a good friend.

…in the bush…


Cold cucumber and kiwi soup

I’ve never been a big fan of cucumber. I find them rather tasteless and watery. But it is those exact reasons that make them a perfect base for a cold summer soup. I use cucumber with different herbs, or combined with other fruits or vegetables to make a light soup, especially on a warm summers afternoon or dinner. In this case I used kiwi, an excellent source of vitamin C.

…cold cucumber and kiwi soup…

cold Cucumber and kiwi salad.bmp

It may seem very “light” for a meal on its own, but we are eating way too much and our portions are way too big. This is an ample meal, if seved with some grilled seafood, like shrimps or langoustine tails, then followed by a cheese platter and a crusty grain bread and finished off with a seasonal dessert, or even only fruit.

It is custom in our house to eat “3 courses”. Now doesn’t that sound pretentious! But in fact, it is actually only “one course” that we serve seperately in 3 stages, or even more! A salad would serve as a starter, in it’s own bowl or plate, then followed up with maybe a fish/meat and a small vegetable, like a cherry tomato or two, or a bundle of french string beans tied with some tasty ham,  and afterwards maybe a slice of 2 cheeses  with baguette and finish off lastly with some dessert like a fruit, or joghurt.  A small espresso. Maybe a chocolate. That’s it.

Another rule of thumb is: When you start light, you can go heavier OR start heavy and go lighter. And try to keep the portions small, served on small plates!  That way, each serving gets centre stage, each flavour is appreciated on its own – no fighting flavours and colours all on one plate. With all the money you save on buying smaller quantities of food, you can invest in some interesting plates, making meals attractive and appealing. The stomach(and brain) is also cheated into thinking he has been given a five course meal, so the feeling of satiety and satisfaction is still rich! Serve the food on plates each individually as well, so you don’t get seduced into second helpings when the bowls stare longingly at you on the table,  right in front of you! Men are usually resistant to get up to serve themselves and women are embaressed to have everybody see them get up for MORE FOOD!

So. Let’s eat less. Smaller portions. Around a table. Attractive table ware. Colourful. Light. Lets’ talk about our food. About its colours. The tastes and smells and flavours, textures. Let’s enjoy it and rise from the table, still having room and energy left for a brisk walk.

…the sunflower; Micheln 3 star restaurant…

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