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

Ronelle

June/July at Coin Perdu.

June and July went by so quickly, I am still wondering where I was..I fell and broke my leg 2 weeks ago, so my moving about is somewhat restricted, especially here in the barn and on the rugged terrain of Coin Perdu. The crutches drive me nuts, but they are my best friends at the moment. At least my biceps are now something to look at. I’m not doing a lot of cooking, if any and it is only the most easiest of cooking – a handful of tomatoes from the potager on the plate with the salt and pepper pots beside it. A bowl of peaches. Half a chicken done by mon chéri on the barbecue. A tub of ice cream. A slab of Lindt fleur de sel chocolate.Lots of water to prevent the leg from swelling. More chocolate and ice cream. Macarons. Don’t you think I am a good girl for eating so healthy?

broken leg

WARNING: This is a fairly long post! I am also adding my Facebook page if you would like to follow and my instagram account as well as Lindiwe, our german shepherddog’s account.

In the meantime, the garden is running out from under my hands. Our summer has been very hot up to now and very dry and the garden is showing signs of fatigue without water and my loving care. It is big holiday time and France has come to its summer standstill. No one is available for helping in the garden. But it was nonetheless so beautiful before the drought took over and I thought I’d share it with you, since I can’t really show you my plate of tomatoes with salt and pepper or half a chicken on my plate…even though it was as goo..ood!

June/July 2015 it started off lush and green in May, everything was flowering beautifully, newly planted lavenders santolinas…

Garden in May-001

..even when the pool was being built, it looked…OK

building pool

summer 2015 new pool

iceberg roses, feverfew,, salvia nemerosas to name but a few

Garden JUNE 2015-003 Iceberg roses lavandes grosso rosier suneva Salvia nemorosa

On the terrace with Partia, purple oxalys, herbs..

Pratia angulata(blue star creeper) purple oxalis sage

..My beloved olde world flower, the hollyhocks, a lost sunflower that sprouted from the birds’ winterseeds and even dried roses..

hollyhocks

dried white rose one sunflower

 

..new additions to the family are the two babygees, who mon chéri calls Hansie & Grietjie, some cute chicks and Lindiwe, our german sheperd dog, who has her own instagram account, should you be interested in following!

hansie & grietjie

Lindiwe-020

Lindiwe in pool

And of course hours spent around the table..our favorite pastime, you could say.

summer 2015-003 summer 2015-004 summer 2015-006 Summer July weekend Summer July weekend-001 Summer July weekend-002 Summer July weekend-008 summer lunch

à bientôt

Ronelle

 

Carrot and and poppyseed cupcakes.

I am participating in an art project for the month – Everyday in May. And today’s theme is cupcakes. I decided to post it here on Myfenchkitchen as well, seeing that cupcakes are food as well(of course!). I can eat anything carrot…raw, cooked, soup, juice, salad… and cake. Combine it with poppyseeds, lemon juice, and yoghurt and it turns out quite satisfactory, very satisfactory in fact.   carrot and poppyseed cupcake-001carrot cupcake recipe

  • EDITED: I forgot to add the carrots to the recipe!  Add 1 large, or 2 medium carrots, peeled and grated to the mixture and mix lightly. Don’t overmix.

carrot and poppyseed cupcake eaten Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • Add chopped olives to the mixture and top with goats cheese.
  • Use a vanilla yoghurt instead of natural yoghurt for a slightly sweet taste.
  • Top with whipped cream cheese with chives or top with a creamy goat’s cheese.

carrot and poppyseed cupcake ingredients

..bon appétit..

Ronelle

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..

Ronelle