Grilled tomato and goats cheese squares..and Bretagne(Brittany) in June

We are outside. Non stop. The weather couldn’t be more perfect. The days are wonderfully warm, sunny. The cigales are crazily announcing summer in the meadows. I am crazily happy.

Taking our meals outside in summer is a given. Preparing it outside is a given too. These tomato and goats cheese apéros ( appetizers)do it both ways. It is prepared by the barbeque fire. It is grilled on the fire. It is eaten by the fire. An ice cold dry rosé wine and life is crazily wonderful.

croustillant de tomate et chevre 2861x2353La recette:

tomato and goats cheese squares

Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • Use feta cheese instead of goat’s cheese.
  • Use feuille de brick, if available, which is not as thin and delicate as phyllo pastry.
  • Add some flaked fish of your choice or add a sardine, in which case you can use dill or coriander instead of basil.
  • Use other herbs of your choice..
  • Leave out the tomato and add fresh spinach leaves and dry roasted pine nuts for a more Greek flavour.
  • To serve as something sweet with coffee after  barbeque…roll chocolates, chopped nuts of your choice and a mint leaf  in the pastry sheets, treat the same way on the coals and enjoy with coffee around the fire.

croustillant de tomate et chevre 3065x2880

Place at an appropriate distance above the coals on a grill.

croustillant de tomate et chevre 4304x3264

Brush with a home made rosemary brush and olive oil.

croustillant de tomate et chevre 3710x2947

We visited friends in Bretagne and were treated in typical Breton fashion to a wealth of cuisine Bretonne. Seafoods galore, vegetables, notably carrottes Nantaises( of which I have planted in my potager), crépes and galettes, sablés, far breton, quatre quart, kouign amann, cidre, beignets, butter, butter, butter… It is truly a good thing we don’t live in  Bretagne for I would have rolled instead of walked. Fortunately, we did a lot of walking to fight the calories. I invite you now on some of our promenades around Rennes and the seaside villages of Tharon and Pornic.

Bretagne in June  4928x3264-005

Promenades en mer…boat trips.

Bretagne in June  4928x3264-003

The port of Pornic is quaint and with the perfect summer weather we had, the whole world crept out of their shells comme les escargots de leurs coquilles(like snails from their shells).

Bretagne in June  4928x3264-004

Le blanc du nil is a well known chain store in the French seaside villages. They sell only white cotton and linen clothes and I love it for the prices and the loose summer dresses, shirts and slacks and skirts. And of course the all white look makes you feel cool and light. And a little chic too…

Bretagne in June  2899x3614

The walkway was filled with people, basking in summer sun, seeking out some dappled shade and licking dripping ice creams. We did too.

Bretagne in June  4227x2942

A lonesome Canna lily adding some charm to an ordinary signpost indicating the way to the hotel de Ville of Pornic.

Bretagne in June  3264x4928

Back in Tharon, it was time for eating again, something we did too much of , but  enjoyed so much! The boulangerie Tharonnaise is comfortably just a walk down the road where one doesn’t mind queuing for all the bakes delicacies I mentioned above.

Bretagne in June  3588x2891

One of those wonderful delicious sinful and dangerous cakes, is the kouign amann, for which Bretagne is known for. I DO plan on baking it, sharing it with you, I REALLY DO! But only after I lost the 3 kg I picked up after eating it in Bretagne! Typical Ronelle style, one slice was not enough…It is literally a butter cake and a little challenging on the making-side: made  with bread dough and folded like puff pastry with loads of butter and sugar which, during the baking process, gives you a devilishly, deliciously, flaked caramelized cake.

Bretagne in June  4288x3208

One of our outings was also just down the road…a regular vide grenier in Tharon. As you can see below..one man’s junk becomes another man’s fortune. We found some fortunes there too…

Bretagne in June  4928x3264-002

Of course we visited the beach with its colourful cabanes which mostly belong to the inhabitants of Tharon and gets unlocked every season to let out the sunscreens and chairs and umbrellas and beachballs…

Bretagne in June  4263x3018

As  is shown below…the beach umbrella and bags and towels and  kiddies were let out of the colourful cabanes.. well, maybe not the kiddies…

Bretagne in June  3638x2630I fell in love with these original fishing platforms, les pêcheries et leurs cabanes

Bretagne in June  4053x3059

A close up..

Bretagne in June 2588x2165

A lunch  of langoustines, and lemon mayonnaise with  baguettes from la boulangerie and accompanied by a crisp white wine.

Bretagne in June  3971x2977

In Rennes the géraniums on the windowsills paraded shamelessly  in their beauty and gaiety.

Bretagne in June  3264x4225

We had a schedule to follow in Rennes, a to-do list that kept us on a quick run. Nonetheless we found the time for a pit stop in the centre ville to have un café créme et un allongé, while we drooled at seeing the bar à crépe which was just opening its doors early morning. Next time.

Bretagne in June  4458x3244

Centre ville  in Rennes.

Bretagne in June  4928x3264

 

Bretagne in June  4928x3264-001

Hope you had fun on this promenade. And I hope you on your turn drooled at the tomato and goat’s cheese apéro’s. Maybe enough to make them. I should probably have given you an exciting recipe from Bretagne, as the post asks for….but what are rules made for, if not to be broken? I greet you as always….

Bretagne in June  4131x2939

…à la prochaine fois…

Ronelle

Yoghurt cake …and a scientific baker.

A yoghurt cake…infallible and so easy even your young children can bake it! Everything gets measured with the one yoghurt pot, perfect for someone like me who hates dishes!

joghurt cake 3138x2639

La recette:

 

yogurt cake recipe 4802x6090-001

Pincée de sel:

  • Choose either the syrup OR the icing
  • One cup of joghurt = 125 g.
  • Use as a dessert when you’ve added a syrup to your cake and serve with whipped cream and caramelized or fresh  orange slices. (Caramelize orange slices in pan on stove with some sugar and a little butter/orange juice)
  • Use lemon juice in place of orange juice.
  • Separate the egg whites , beat until stiff and fold in last for a lighter cake.
  • A thin slice of cake goes a long way…

joghurt cake 3814x2816

I have mentioned before that I always baked a cake or a tart for the weekend, way back when the girls were small. I was quite good at it too…made interesting treats for the weekends…tried new recipes, concocted my own all the while having tiny hands mixing and whisking Since then, life has changed completely, like it does with years passing by. Now it is only mon chéri and me and I have become quite useless at baking..much to the distress of mon chéri! The last few weeks I tried some new recipes, tried concocting my own like old times, but being good at baking back then doesn’t apply any more…. three times I failed miserably lately.

I couldn’t get the first cake to bake through completely..however long I let it bake! After a while I gave up and removed the cake, just to cut it and find that it tasted horribly  of egg. With egg whites and beaten egg yolks with sugar and a filling of créme patissiére which is basically eggs and sugar..it turned into a  “a sweet eggish cake” and I had difficulty swallowing it. Apart from it not being a great recipe (in my humble non-expert opinion), I was also clumsy, so between all the other possibilities, I naturally messed up somewhere. But then, the recipe guided me with all those eggs…so naturally I crossed out this recipe with a “Don”t try again” -note.

The second cake was totally my own incompetence….but I will only admit that in front of a firing squad.  Just maybe I took too many shortcuts, which every decent baker knows, results in catastrophic outcomes. There is a reason why you need so much raising agent for X amount of flour. There is a reason for beating the egg whites, or creaming yolks and sugar, or adding soft butter and not melted butter. It is a science and I, who ironically enough have a science background, took shortcuts. so logically the results were exactly the same as you would find by shortcutting in a lab…nothing works and you come close to blowing up the lab…in this case, the cake. But since there was no firing squad, I blamed the recipe and crossed it off as “Terrible recipe”‘...sounds familiar right?

My third cake burnt into oblivion. Crossed off…“Horrible recipe”!

And so I arrived at the yoghurt cake for this weekend. Taken from the book Le Petit Larousse -Pattissier(it even has a pretty picture of the cake), I decided I would follow the recipe step by step, leaving no window for error.  Armed with my reading glasses, I wiped my working surface clean. I took out all my ingredients, placed them orderly in front of me.Deliberately slowing down my usual hasty pace. I placed my bowls in ranging order on the counter. I cracked my eggs in a different little bowl before adding to a bigger one, to prevent cunning egg shell pieces surprising me later.  I rubbed my hands in excitement and started off with step one of the recipe. Done. Step two. Done. Step three. Done. This is  so easy! Done. But then it started going wrong. Stupidly I added mirin instead of sunflower oil to my preparation. The bottles look very similar as do the colours! And I added the orange juice, meant for the syrup much later, to my preparation as well.  Zut! Zut! It was supposed to be easy! Only one solution.  Throw out and restart? Yes. I can’t suck at baking forever and blame the recipe! This time I attacked this recipe like I attack my tennis games. My own way.At my own natural pace, with my own shots, doing what and how I do it best. Yet, still withing the rules of the game. The science of baking. And voilà, so it came that we have a cake for this weekend, however a bit rustic and unrefined it may be and not at all like the pretty decorated and styled picture in the book…

Finally? Yes, it is truly an easy and delicious little cake and quick enough, if you get it right first time round…

Mon chéri is a happy man. And I am a proud baker. And there is still cake left, because a thin slice goes a long way.

Joghurt cake 4062x2987

…à bientôt…

Ronelle

 

Anchoïade ( anchovy cream)..and hopes of spring.

*It seems my previous post of January  has been re-emailed to my subscribers last night..It is a mystery….I promise it is not of my doing and I have no idea how it could have happened. I have never emailed a post twice, but  I apologize and I trust all my regular readers know me by now and would have realized that it was a glitch.

An anchoïade(anchovy cream) is a big favorite of mine…that and aïoli (garlic cream). In summer it is frequently on our tables, served as an apéro with a cold glass of rosé wine.

anchoiade 2823x2257

 

Anchoïade (anchovy cream)

  1. Everything is made to taste…
  2. Use 100g of anchovy fillets in olive oil, or marinated in wine.
  3. Place it in a mortar and pestle, or in a mixer/handmixer.
  4. Add about 10 capers, 1 large garlic clove with the inner core removed, 1/2 TBSP white wine vinegar, 1 tsp Provencal herbs and milled pepper.
  5. Mix together while slowly adding olive oil until it turns to a nice, firm paste.
  6. Taste and add a little more white wine or capers or herbs.
  7. Serve with crusty bread or vegetables as starter or an amuse bouche.

Suggestions:

  • Add a small tsp of sundried tomato paste to the anchoïade.
  • Add a few black seeded olives when grinding or mixing the anchoïade.
  • Add the olive slowly, like you would do for mayonnaise to prevent the oil from seeping out later and the paste becoming runny and oily.
  • Keeps in the fridge for 5 days.
  • Make it the previous day to allow the flavours to develop.
  • Using fresh anchovies can be done, but I find it a hassle to remove all the very fine bones.

anchoiade 1 3066x2858

I have been occupied by other things this first part of the year, one of which was moving home and finding place for everything that needs storage until our house is finished here at Coin Perdu. Every nook in the barn is filled with something which needed to be “stored”. I have never been so challenged in finding a spot for everything. I can proudly announce that I have indeed found a resting place for everything, from a chair to a pillow case. Just in case you are wondering if we can still move about, I give you a shot of our kitchen corner in the barn where we were busy preparing a dinner for 10 people a while ago. So yes, we even still have room for a table and 10 guests in the barn.

barn kirchen 4928x3264

 

In the meantime, spring has crept up on us. the days are longer, the sun is bright and warm, nature is exploding in colour and I am glowing with contentment. winter is behind me. even if we still have colder days, I revel in the fact that I am in spring and summer for the wonderful months to come!

 ..my borage never stopped flowering this winter, a sign of our unusual, mild winter…

Printemps 2014 3850x2572

 

..Working in March with many teabreaks in the sun..

Printemps  work  014 3755x3178 3755x3178

..and a tea break always leads to a nap..

Printemps work 2014 3471x2868

..the first paperwhites, perfect in beauty..

Printemps 2014 2883x2878

..the cyanothes, waiting to explode in blue flowers..

Printemps 2014 2919x2466

..happy chickens as company…

Printemps 2014 3301x2720

..Jack Frost with its clouds of blue forget me not- flowers..

Printemps 2014 3341x2832

..Viburnum..

Printemps 2014 3494x2862

..Iberis..

Printemps 2014 3560x3086

..Plum blossoms..

Printemps 2014 4084x3193

..Lilas..

Printemps 2014 2268x2348

à la prochaine fois

Ronelle

 

Paris coffee-sandcookies( petits sablés de Paris au café)

Since childhood I have loved my mother’s coffee cookies. We always baked them for Christmas. These little sablés are good too and much less work than the real old coffee cookie Maman used to make. And..they come with a Parisian flavour! What could be better? Come Noël, we will revert back to Maman’s old fashioned Christmas coffee cookie.

sablés au café 09-11-2013 15-46-038

La recette:

petits sablés de Paris recette-001Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • Keep some sablés single, without being sandwiched together. They will be crispier and perfect for dipping into some coffee or tea.
  • Replace the ground almonds with plain flour if you so prefer.
  • Instead of the TBSP of strong coffee, add a TBSP of instant coffee powder if you have it available.
  • Replace the coffee in the icing sugar with some milk and flavour with vanilla essence for a contrast in flavours, or add cacao to taste for a mocca cookie.
  • The icing sugar can be added to a cookie simply with a knife but a piping bag makes for a neat filling.

sablés au café 4 09-11-2013 13-32-056

The dough on the pastry mat. Be sure to always work with flour under your pastry to prevent sticking.

sablés au café 3 09-11-2013 13-46-059

Using a piping bag makes for neat cookies, but still with a home made feel..and of course taste!

sablés au café 2 09-11-2013 15-22-051

Une Parisienne

la parisienne  29-10-2010 12-23-55 1502x2148My Parisian umbrella always goes with me to Paris. A little bit of a cliché it is, but I love it. It depicts a typical Parisian street scene in winter(of course). a year or so back, I had my beautiful friend pose for me with the umbrella. She is the epitome of Parisian elegance, even though she doesn’t live there anymore.

la parisienne 2 29-10-2010 12-24-08 1621x2173

So, with these petits sablés and une ravissante Parisienne, peeking from behind her umbrella, I hope I could give you just  a little taste of Paris for today.

..à la prochaine fois..

Ronelle