Carrot, apple and cumin soup.

I saw a post on Instagram a while back. It was a recipe and I can’t remember what it was. What I do remember, is that it had an enormous list of ingredients, which probably explains why I can’t remember the dish. Sometimes I think my food is totally boring and déja vu, but when I see friends and family dig into my meals with gusto, I realize that they enjoy the simplicity of my meals. Or they must be starving.

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There is a certain flair to preparing a meal or a dish and it has nothing to do with the amount of ingredients. You really don’t need much to serve a delicious meal. The main ingredient of course is always the love with which you prepare ita very kitsch and Facebook- favorite ingredient, but it holds true nonetheless.  

I have my own flair in the kitchen. First and foremost, is chaos. No matter how well I prepare beforehand, it finally turns into chaos. I start off very well, very organized and I can even keep it up for a while. My working surface stays clean, I keep an eye on the food brewing on my stove, I watch my oven, I rinse used utensils to keep my sink clean and empty, I have hot water at hand to add to hot foods. Suddenly it all goes wrong. Bowls are everywhere, I have no room to put hot oventrays, I have no clean wooden spoons left, the sink is filled to the beams, the fridge door is open, I can’t find the band aid, the stove is rattling with lids bouncing up and down. The tempo in the kitchen is now on full speed. Somehow though, I am still in control. And I am enjoying all this havoc around me. Chaos is not always a bad thing.

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Another character of my “personal kitchen flair” is my attention to serving a meal, a dish, or even just a simple sandwich. I believe a dish can’t leave the kitchen without that last personal touch. I always serve a meal with colour.  A dull and colorless dish in front of me, robs me of all envie.. desire. There are gazillions of ways to add colour to a dish. The easiest and most available to everybody, is a sprig of herb, usually one that you have used in your dish. What? You don’t use herbs in your food? You should start right away! It is one of the most sensual flairs in food…chopping and chipping herbs, smelling and tasting it.

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Having all the ingredients for a dish exhibited on the counter, gives me such a kick and it incites one of my biggest flairs in my cooking. When deciding on a dish, I gather all my ingredients and place them on my working surface. I remember my mother doing it very differently, which is why her kitchen was neat and there was always enough space, even though she had a small kitchen.  She fetched every ingredient as she needed it. For a carrot soup, she fetched an onion, cut it and added it to  her casserole. While the onion fried, she fetched 6 carrots, cut it and added it to her soup. Step by step, she continued and by the end, the table was set, the kitchen clean and we sat down for a delicious meal of soup and bread. I,  on the other hand, fetch my whole potager (vegetable garden), all the herbs I might possibly want to add and everything else in between.I am like an orchestra conductor. I want to see my whole ensemble in front of me and then I lift my hands and the music begins. I love seeing all those fresh produce before me, deciding on the go what I would like to do to my soup, ( I think the Americans call it “cooking from the hip”?), Always keep the tune in mind though and, just like an orchestra, never allow a dish to become cacophonous.

January is a month of diets and soups. Since I am utterly hopeless at diets, I opt for soup. In our home, carrot, apple and cumin soup is a favorite with all ingredients healthy enough to not feel bad about indulging.

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Carrot, apple and cumin soup.

  1. Fry 1 chopped shallot and 1 tsp cumin seeds for few minutes until the shallot is transparent. Don’t burn the mixture.
  2. Add about 8 big carrots, peeled and cut.
  3. Add 3 cups of home made chicken stock, or 3 cups of  water with one cube of chicken stock.
  4. Bring to the boil.
  5. Peel 1 large Granny smith apple and remove the core. Cut into chunks and add to the soup.
  6. Leave to simmer over medium heat until the carrots are very tender.
  7. Remove from the heat. Leave to cool a bit.
  8. Mix the soup to a creamy consistency. Pour the soup through a sieve to get a smooth velvet soup.
  9. Pour into a clean pot and reheat gently.
  10. Season with salt and pepper and add créme fraîche to taste. The soup must have the consistency of cream…it is soup, not a puree. If it is too thick, add some full cream milk or cream.
  11. Serve the soup warm in bowls with a small quenelle (dollop)of créme fraîche and a spoonful of apple salsa.  Sprinkle with pepper and drizzle some olive oil.

Apple and cumin salsa:

  1. Cut 1 granny smith apple in brunoise,(small dice), add lemon juice, 1/2 tsp cumin and 1 chopped spring onion . Season with salt and pepper and mix.

Serves 4 people

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PS: You can follow me on Instagram for more regular short posts at ronellesatelier

à bientôt

Ronell

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Galette des rois aux pommes…and January ambiance at Coin Perdu.

And so we have come to the end of 2016. May we all have a year of good health and a good dose of adventure.

Last year had seen very little of me here on my blog. Even though blogging is mostly  n “ancient” practice and replaced by Instagram, I still love my little blog very much, going on 10 years this year. I have set one important goal for myself and it is to get back to my foodblog. I hope you will walk along side me. It is always more fun to have company!

Just as we think we have had enough of eating after Christmas and new year, les galettes de rois land on our plates. We love our galette des rois. Made of a fluffy puff pastry and filled with a variety of fillings, the most popular being almond cream, it is served around a table  with coffee and tea…and friends. If you find the trinket in your helping, you have the honours of presenting the next galette des rois…wearing the crown of course, in this case, a twined olive branch.

And so I invite you to my table. Let s serve the coffee and slice our galette. Bon appetit!

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You can find the recipe for my galette des rois aux pommes(with apples) at this link…galette des rois. It is the basic recipe of puff pastry, filled with an almond cream. This time round, I added some apples for some change.

This is what I did:

  1. Peel and cut 3 Granny smith apples in chunks and caramelize in a TBSP of butter, a pinch of cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg and about 2 TBSP of sugar. Add 2 tsp lemon juice and the rind of 1/2 lemon. Add 2 TBSP of currants. Caramelize until the apples aare soft and caramelized. Leave to cool.
  2. Follow the basic basic recipe for galette des rois up to step 8. (Spread the almond cream in the center and place a trinket in the filling.)
  3. Spoon the cool apple filling on top of the almond cream.
  4. Cover with the second circle of pastry and squeeze the ends together.
  5. Baste the top with egg yolk and draw a pattern of your choice with a knife on the top.
  6. Leave for 30 minutes in the fridge.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes at 200 degr C. Lower the heat to 180 degr C and bake for another 10 minutes until golden brown.

Serves 6 people

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Last year we had a gentle winter and even though it made life easier, it wasn’t what nature needed, or what we needed for that matter.Our winters need to be cold for new life in spring. And so we have our cold again this year with white, frosty mornings which are so magical, I feel like I have been transported to a different world.

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A few images from my garden from this sudden very cold January.  It reminds me how fortunate I am to live in a country which have four spectacular seasons.

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à bientôt

Ronell

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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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Rustic apples in puff pastry(bourdelots aux pommes)..and l’hotel de ville.

Autumn is the time of year we eat rustic food. Finish are the dainty salads and light desserts..we now go for rustic, unadorned meals. Apples are in abundance and it will be a shame to allow the time to pass and not use them to their full. I saw these apples in pastry somewhere in a magazine and I only remember they were called by the melodious name of Bourdelots and it looked much prettier than mine. I made them just on feeling, and I can’t imagine the magazine version being tastier, because they are so delicious with the puff pastry and brown sugar and apricot jam…and don’t they look pretty rustic too..(good excuse, n’est pas)?

..Rustic apples in puff pastry..

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La Recette:

  1. Clean and peel 4 apples, remove the inner core and drizzle with lemon juice.
  2. Unroll a sheet of puff pastry, cut into quarters. Place 4 quarters on a baking paper on a baking sheet.
  3. Place an apple on each quarter. Fill the apples with a teaspoon of apricot jam, a knob of butter and sproinkle with brown sugar.
  4. Wrap the pastry around the apples and brush with beaten egg.
  5. If you have puff pastry left, cut strips and stick it around the apples from top to bottom.
  6. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
  7. Reheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
  8. Remove the apples from the fridge, brush again with beaten egg. Sprinkle again with brown sugar.
  9. Place on sprigs of rosemary  and bake in the hot oven at 200°C for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 180°C and bake for another 25 minutes.
  10. If the apples get too dark on top, cover with brown paper.
  11. Serve warm, or at room temperature with a big dollop of whooped cream or a scoop of créme fraîche or vanilla ice cream.

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Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • Bring the dough right up to the edge of the apples which will ensure that the apples are covered more fully with pastry.
  • In order for puff pastry to rise high and crispy, the dough must be cold and baked in a hot oven for the first 10- 15 minutes.
  • Serve the apples as a side dish with a meat roast, like pork or venison.
  • Fill the apples with spices of your choice or with dried fruit like raisins and nuts.

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The mairie or hotel de ville is an important part of every city, town and village in France. It can be as tiny as a hamlet, but it will have a mairie and an eglise. The hotel de ville is usually bigger and houses the  mairie and houses several administration departments. But they both hop-use the office of the mayor of a town and the administration offices as well as an école of the commune. So it is no strange sight to see kiddies run around at lunchtime in part of the grounds of the mairie.

The mairies of the campagne has nothing to do with the elaborate and grand hotels de ville of the cities, like Paris or Tours, Lyon. Some are so small, you even pass by it without knowing.

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..the mairie in Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne..

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..with its administration offices around the corner..

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..the little hotel de ville in Bétaille, just alongside he main road through the village..

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..the very typical stone hotel de ville of Biars-sur-Cere, with its lovely surroundings,dressed each season in different vegetation..

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..le mairie of Biars sur Cere.

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..the mairie is still wearing its summer ballgown and pretty soon, with Toussaint at 1 November, it will change to Fall Chrysanthemes..

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..In Bretenoux, the hotel de ville is obscured by lovely trees..

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..and right opposite it, is the traditional memorial of the soldiers who fought in the war..

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..the quaint, typically Corrézien mairie of Le Pescher where our eldest got married..

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..and next to it, the mémorial of Le Pescher..

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..the mairie of Marcillac la Croze is one of those you pass by without knowing..it sits up on a hill, all alone. The day I looked for this mairie I drove up to its pretty eglise, full of history and asked a gentleman who was raking the  leaves, where I could find the mairie. We got caught up in a 30 minute conversation. I had to cut the motor of the car after a while, because he just couldn’t stop talking..

les hotels de villes - Marcillac la Croze

..Of course I can’t leave our own sweet village of Puy d’Arnac behind. Our mairie has recently had a makeover and is now a chic gathering point in the village where the mayor has her offices and I often have to drop in for keys for  the garbage points or documents or this or that..

  les hotels de villes - Puy d'Arnac

..and right next to the mairie, its école

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..in Vayrac, the hotel de ville is huge with a big spacious place in front of it..

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..and to the side, village life continues..

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..Altillac has a beautiful building and I pass it almost every day to buy baguette and cheese..The pride of India trees  in front complement the building so beautiful in high summer…I always slow down and admire this mairie.. les hotels de villes -Altillac 1

..the mairie of la Chapelle aux Saints, is really out in la campagne and stands all alone among green fields..

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This is a prehistoric area, a very important sightseeing site in our area and the mairie forms part of the site..the ecole is at the back of the mairie..

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There is still so much to show and so much to be said about the hotel de ville in France and every town’s mairie is special.. Once you have found a town’s hotel de ville, you have also found its centre ville. I will certainly explore and show more at a later stage. These ones are all in a radius of 20 minutes from home. And like the hotels de villes, there are also the fascinating eglises, which I’ll save for another time.

So, with the theme of hotel de ville and French admin , I want to share the Marseillaise, sung by my favorite artist…Edith of course! We celebrated her life in PAris, as she died 50 years ago this October. I just LOVE her..and the song – I sing along with her just as loud as she does! Enjoy!

..à la prochaine fois..

Ronelle