From Touraine to Corréze…and a spring salad with asparagus and quail eggs..

We have finally reached a stage in the renovation of our farmhouse that we could move in.  We have temporarily lived in the barn for almost 7 years. So it is understandable that this was, and still is, a big occasion. The work is still plentiful, but it is absolutely wonderful being in our house! It floods with natural  light and I fall asleep at night with the stars in my eyes.

tulips at dusk

A sunny spring salad is just the thing to initiate this story of ours from the move from Tours, to our life in the barn to finally our chapter which begins now in our house.

Spring salad 2016

la recette:

A spring salad of which I don’t have to give a recipe for. Just choose from the magnitude of spring vegetables available and assemble in individual plates with a nice vinaigrette.In my salad:

  1. Place a handful of young salad leaves in individual plates.
  2. Blanche some asparagus until JUST tender but still with bite.(drop in boiling water for about 3 minutes, remove and stop the cooking by placing the asparagus in cold water).
  3. Wash and clean  baby carrots, chop the spring onions, boil 5 quail eggs per person for 2 minutes, remove from heat and leave in boiling water for another minute. Place immediately in cold water. Remove the shells and add to the salad.
  4. Cut stale bread in small cubes, sprinkle with olive oil and chopped herbs and oven roast until golden.
  5. Make an anchoide (recipe here) and add spoonfuls to the salad.
  6. Assemble the salad and drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil, sprinkle with fleur de sel and milled pepper.
  7. Serve with chunks of rustic country bread.

la loire from the top of the hill

In Tours we lived right on the banks of the Loire with lovely views from our house onto the river. I loved the river and I loved our house.

The house was old and in constant need of attention and repair. If it wasn’t a leaking roof, it was a leaking pipe. We repaired the fireplaces; just to start working on the wooden floors. We tore off meters of wallpaper an then discovered moisture in the walls. It continued non-stop. But nonetheless, the memories are only good ones.

memoris of the loire house

I remember: Our cats, my first chickens, the swallows that came back to the caves every year, the history of the house that we dug up in the caves.Germinating seeds

I remember: The many cooking workshops that finally led to starting Myfrenchkitchen.

cooking workshop

La Loire was the first thing we saw when we opened up our shutters every morning and the last thing we saw when closing up our shutters for the night.The river followed the cycle of the moons and we followed the cycles of the river.

I remember: We walked along the river with a morning coffee in hand, cycled the small footpaths and pique-niqued with champagne..We threw skipping stones on the surface and canoed downstream. We watched the birds leave for winter and come back in spring to nest on the islands. I sketched and painted by the river more than I can count.

Memories of la Loir

Sometimes our plans and goals change completely and sometimes those changes turn out to be far better than our original plans. One day we decided to get a tiny cabin in the mountains. We ended up in the green hills of Correze, la vallée de la Dordogne, on the border of Quercy.  We ended up with land and animals and woods. We ended up with an 1860’s stone house which needed impressive renovation. A dramatic change from our original little cabin in the mountains.

coin perdu week

But once again… I love our hills. I love our house. And so the story began, from Touraine to Corréze.

To be continued…


à la prochaine



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..


“Un oeuf cocotte” for Easter.

Easter is coming up pretty fast and everybody is munching on Easter chocolate. So are we. But one can’t live on chocolate alone. An egg every now and then will help. An “oeuf cocotte”. It is easy to make with many variations to suit each taste an ddesire.

Pacques Avril 2015-004 La recette:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. (39°F, gas 6)
  2. Butter 4 ramekins(with volume of 125 ml or 1/2 cup) liberally with butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place some shredded spinach on the bottom.
  3. Spoon 1 heaped TBS of créme fraîche onto the spinach and spread it evenly over the spinach.
  4. Break open 1 egg into a little bowl and and slide onto the créme fraîche in each ramekin without breaking the egg yolk.
  5. Drizzle a little cream over the egg yolk to protect it during cooking.
  6. Place in a deep ovenproof dish, fill with boiling water up to half the height of the ramekins and bake at 200°C for 9 minutes for a runny yolk. The egg white should just be coagulated and don’t worry if there is still a little transparent egg white left…while standing the eggs will still continue cooking a bit.
  7. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with salt and pepper, some  fried bacon pieces and chopped chives. Serve immediately with toasted  bread fingers to dip into the eggs.

Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • Use any nice containers for the eggs as long as they are ovenproof. Glass looks especially nice with the layers of egg and cream showing through the sides.
  • Place bacon pieces or asparagus tips, frozen creamed spinach, mushrooms, strips of ham… and place at the bottom before filled with créme fraîche. the list is endless.
  • Use small brioche buns instead of ramekins and steady them in muffin pans, fill with eggs and bake…especially popular with children.
  • Infuse cream with saffron, or other spices/herbs of your choice, bring cream to a boil and simmer a few minutes to reduce and use instead of créme fraîche.

Pacques 2015

Pacques Avril 2015-003


I am not one for a lot of  Easter decoration. But I love having spring flowers in my house and the chickns provide me with a moutain of eggs, which I use simply in bowls to add an Easter flavor.

..Eggs from the poulaillier, rosemary and terracotta in which the eggs end up when stolen from the poullaillier…a winning combination for me..

Pacques Avril 2015

..For a little playfulness – an empty egg carton filled with shredded wooden strips colour green, the egg shells used for the recipe filled with water and holding spring flowers and herbs, some eggs and tiny quail eggs..

Pacques Avril 2015-001

..tulips in hotelsilver, my ink drawing book, a feather pen, feathers from the poullaillier and …some eggs!..

Pacques Avril 2015-002   ..last, but not least..Lindt Easter chocolates, Raffaello and Ferrerro Rocher..Pacques Avril 2015-005

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