Garden salad…and a wild summer garden

We are off to Coin Perdu in Correze for the rest of the summer. Packing the chickens in their “traveling castle”, the cats in their “coaches”, overloading our little blue Peugeot and we’ll be off with frequent stops to let the farm out the car for fresh air and let fresh air into the car!

Suggestions:

  • There is no recipe for this salad. Anything from the garden and the vegetable basket and the fridge and pantry will make a salad as delicious.
  • I took a handful of  leaves from my herb garden ; rocket, basil, red and green sorrel, chives, and a mixture of salad leaves.Mix with  some cleaned and steamed green string beans, butter beans, petit pois, and shelled fava beans. Add quickly fried calamari or shrimp or any other white meat of your choice, make a vinaigrette and serve with a country bread.
  • Enjoy!

..a summer garden…


I’m saying goodbye to the wild of our Loire summer garden and when I see it again, it will have grown beyond wild…!

I can hear everything whisper the minute we leave: “Hey, they’re gone! We are free! We can grow and proliferate, have wild parties and sow our seeds freely! So come on! Let’s not waste any time!”

And the lavender will fall over from laughter, the weeds will do obscene pole dancing, the rocket will keep the whole herb garden hostage, the fennel will try and reach for the skies and when they realize that they are too old for such adventures, they will just  lie down in peaceful rest. The Virginia creeper will be unstoppable in their usual mischief escaping and going where they’re not allowed and the bay leaf will now make use of their freedom to block everyone who wants to pass them and of course the ivy are just so rebellious in their freedom! I think the only ones who will try and behave, might be the hydrangeas. They will try and set an example, show their true color and just bloom in being “keeper of order”. Unfortunately they will come up against strong armies, like the snails and slugs who will join forces  once they realize the enemy is unprotected! I can just hope that Captain Hedgehog will bring in his friends to come to the rescue. My only regret is that I have neglected the young boxwood hedges the past few weeks.  They didn’t receive my full span of attention like they’re used to and I just fear they might be a bit spiteful and teach me a lesson in some way or other. But I promised them they will be the first ones I pay attention to when I get back…I can only hope the promise will keep them happy?

Well, I am leaving in good faith that they will all live and play together in harmony. I want no fights and no complaints from the neighbors. Other than that, they deserve their time of freedom and fun and I wish my garden a wild and happy summer!

…tartelette and omelette in the wild rocket…

…untrimmed boxwood hedges and stalky fennel…

…a forest of green…

…lavender nodding and hydrangeas in charge…

…trespassing virginia creeper and dropping petals…

…ciao until soon!!…


Salmon with a creamy herb sauce and a trip to Oslo.

I thought I was in love with Helsinki, but Oslo swept me off my feet! Norway is breathtaking and Oslo is as stunning. I still feel in harmony with the Norwegian culture and living and can’t stop enjoying salmon. An easy and quick way to serve it…with créme fraîche, chopped dill and mint, lemon juice and a touch of honey.

sitron-og urtebakt laks …

Adapted from a recipe found in Mat & Vin – Norges største matmagasin.

Suggestions:

  • Don’t bake salmon too long, or it will be dry. When the flesh is white when coked, it is overcooked. It still needs to be pink.
  • Use individual baking dishes and bake each person’s portion in its own dish…serve directly from oven to table.
  • Serve the salmon with some steamed or oven baked courgettes.
  • I love dill with salmon, but try coriander(cilantro) or chervil, instead of dill.
  • Use sour cream, or cream or thick cream if you can’t find créme fraîche.

This first encounter with Norway made me realize once again how beautiful our world is and how different the continents and cultures are and just how exciting those differences are. I found Oslo beautiful, different and exciting.

The ocean forms a big part of everyday life with ferries coming and going, fresh fish and seafood sold from the boats, shopping centers overlooking the ocean and eateries to pick and choose from on the quai. Lovely architectures hide among the now bare trees, parks with benches and people eating lunch and abundant bird life.. Walking, skiing, cross country skiing… the ski slopes are just on the edge of town, people are equipped with skis in the metro and buses – part of everyday life. So much I can say and express, but sometimes it is better to enjoy without words and discover for oneself…

My next stop…Grønland!!

…the titles can be read by scrolling over the image…

Sweet pepper and scallop amuse bouche and cloches(bells).

Sometimes things can be so beautiful, they become without purpose.  Their beauty makes them too fragile, too precious. Think of a Fabergé egg. Beautiful, obscenely expensive and without any purpose. Empty…. Oïe..I’m busy shooting myself in the foot here…being an aritist and optimistically hoping my art would be “beautiful” enough to offer nothing else but the sole purpose of bringing pleasure to the world…!

Suggestions:

  • Use a green sweet pepper instead of the green chili for a milder taste, or use strondger chilis for more bite.
  • Peeled tomato can be added.
  • Replace the scallops with mussels or shrimp for variety.
  • To eat as a starter, use the bigger bay scallops.
  • Dry the scallops thoroughly and sauté very quick over high heat to prevent them from becoming rubbery.
  • the preparations can be done earlier and kept covered and cool until just before serving.
  • Assemble just before serving and serve  at room temperature or slightly warmer if preferred.
  • Finish off with dry raosted nuts or seeds like sunflower or pine nuts or pistachios.

Cloches(bells) don’t fall in this aesthetically pleasing but useless category. They are gorgeous in their appearance as well as in their use. They can bring an enchantment to a simple corner, and they add the same magic to a dinner table. Food under a cloche draws you in, makes you bend down and peek closer, stare around and beyond the reflections, wondering about the smell and taste, wanting to touch what is inside the glass cage.

Showing up in trendy styles ands shapes , we can have our cloches throughout the year. In spring, while taking a break from planting herbs, we can unveil an array of cheese and charcuterie(cold meats) olives, tomatoes, whatever you feel like, and sit out, seeking out the shy sun.

Or maybe on a summers day, stretch out in the shade of the old oak tree, hiding from the mischievous sun and indulge in what hides under a  rattan cloche; fruit, juices, a sorbet… And winters find our cloches surrounded by romantic candlelight..

In the garden, cloches have been around forever. They bestow the garden with interest and old worlde  charm while at the same time fulfilling its obligation in protecting young seedlings from the elements.

Small cloches for small still lives in small corners, not forgetting a wire cloche, which can travel from the kitchen to the sitting room to the garden.

A cake cloche, awaiting a platter of  sweetness accompanying teatime, a gouter, as we so aptly call it in french, but in the meantime it is showing off its company of old plates on an old dresser. Hopefully, the gouter might find its place on the weekend…

Use small cloches to serve an amuse bouche at the dinner table, all ready and greeting your guests as they arrive at the table. It is something I always do. A small amuse bouche on each plate. When the guests seat themselves, their eyes are fixed on the little “gift” in front of them. It heightens the expectation and  starts off the dinner on an exciting note.

You don’t need expensive or antique silver cloches to bring a note of style and festivity to your table. Just by looking around your house, you will find many things which can serve as a little cloche.

Little glass bowls, fish bowls, empty yoghurt glass container, wide rimmed glasses turned upside down, flower pots, vases, candle holders… turn them upside down and place a fake “knob” on the top, using a cherry tomato, nuts, fave bean, broccoli flower, radish, crab apple, strawberry, flowers, empty snail shells, sea shells, decorative sugars, sugar cubes, pebbles(with each guest’s name on), steal your son’s marbles for the day… Play around with some self made cloches and bring a bit of fun and tongue-in-cheek elegance to your table!

To clean your inside plant leaves, especially the smooth and shiny ones which accumulate dust and grime  easily, use a cloth soaked in beer  to give them shine.

Oysters with a pomegranate vinaigrette and Vatel.

Oysters lead to digging up old favourite films. Like Vatel, by Roland Joffé. A wonderful gastronomically seductive film.

But before taking up your place under the blanket… clean some oysters and make a vinaigrette and chill a bottle of white wine in the fridge. Or better yet, in the spirit of Vatel, let’s make it a sparkling one.

Suggestions:

  • Open the oysters about an hour before eating, because they form some liquid whilst standing. Throw off the first quantity of liquid jsut after opening and leave the secoind forming of water if you like it. Or throw it off as well.
  • Use the liquids for cooking in the case of cooked oysters.
  • Serve on a bed of rough salt orcruched ice to keep them in place and the cruched icve will keep them cold too.
  • Always serve with extra lemon slices.
  • When eating raw oysters, choose the smaller size and the big sizes for cooked/baked oysters. the smaller the number, the bigger the oyster. The favourites size for eating raw, are 5, 4 and 3. Use 2, 1 and 0 for cooked oysters.
  • don’t forget to serve a warmed wet napkin when serving any kind of seafood. I usually fold a wet, warm napkin into a small square, insert a lemon slice and cover it in foil to keep the warmth insied a little longer – place on the side in a small glassbowl.

In spring and summer, time doesn’t allow watching movies. Life is to be lived ouitside, drinking up the sun during the day and the moon and stars by night. On the rainy days you can do  a little vacuming…

Winter, and especially January after the festive season,  is  time for nesting. Reading in front of the fire. Catching up on a new movie and then on those old ones you so love.

Vatel. Or Babette’s feast. Or how about Like water for chocolate, Or Woman on top … Mostly Martha(Bella Martha), or the recent c0py of it,  No reservations

For those living in the hemisphere where summer is at its peak now, well…keep on enjoying the sun and summer evenings the way you do and remember this for when the cold starts chasing you inside…

Vatel is one of those movies where the beauty  lies in the scenes behind the scene…the kitchen and the grounds of the chateau de Chantilly de prince de Condé , where Gerard Depardieu is the Maitre d’hôtel, FrancoisVatel, responsible for the entertaining and gastronomic pleasures of the le roi Louis XIV and his entire shallow entourage.The preparation of the exquisite foods is a feast on its own. The creations for  entertainment. The movie itself is total splendour at the chateau with all its indulgence and frivolity that would disgust, were it not a movie. Although, truth it is, or was…thankfully, now we can only find it entertaining and amusing and a pleasure for the eye…

ENJOY!

…chocolat chaud…

…une poire cristallisée…

…canard roti…

…fruits cristallisées…

…fleurs cristallisées…

…paté…

…Louis XIV lui mème…

…plat de fruits de mer…

Trucs et astuces de nos grand-méres:

Don’t throw out the water you have boiled your eggs in. It is rich in mineral saltsd. Use it to water your green leaf plants.