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.

kitchen-chaos

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.

food-styling

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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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..

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..cucumber and dandelion seed head..

concombre et jonquille

..peas and forget-me-nots..

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

Ronelle