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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Tomato and orange soup with scallops….and a visit from Jack Frost.

Tomato velouté is my most favorite soup. Since childhood I loved my mother’s creamed tomato soup. In summer it is gazpacho and in winter a velvety soup.

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The recipe is so easy…I can only say what I used and then it is up to your own taste. Taste and taste and taste again. Unlike for a summer gazpacho, I don’t use fresh tomatoes for the soup. They are bland and tasteless. I use good quality Italian canned tomatoes which make a rich flavorful soup. It would be perfect if you have bottled your own tomatoes in summer.

La recette:

  1. A large can of tomatoes make about 2 to 3 large helping(2 of those helpings are mine…). Add to a saucepan with a bouquet garni, the juice and grated zest of 1 orange, 1 TBSP of sherry(Jerez) vinegar  and 2 cubes of sugar. Rinse the can with 1 cup of vegetable stock and add to the soup.
  2. Simmer over medium heat for about 30 minutes.
  3. Leave to cool a little and mix with a hand blender to a creamy soup.
  4. Remove the bouquet garni and adjust the seasoning…orange juice, vinegar, salt and pepper.
  5. Fry some scallops only on one side and season with salt and pepper.  Remove and keep aside. Deglaze the pan with some freshly squeezed orange juice .
  6. Serve the soup in warmed soup plates. Place a scallop, cut in half in the soup and drizzle the juice from the pan over the scallops.
  7. Decorate with a slice of orange and serve immediately.

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A visit from Jack Frost.

Mr Jack Frost showed up this morning. Totally unexpected. He just showed up without any call beforehand, without any warning. I actually find that a bit rude, just showing up like that at someone’s door and at a very indecent hour in the morning at that! But there he was in all his glory when I opened the door this morning. I couldn’t control the shiver that ran instantly through my body. We expected him, but I so hoped he would skip his visit to us this year. Alas…

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A very interesting character he is, this Jack Frost. Definitely not someone to take on without gloves. But speak of handsome! He has a disarming charm that cannot be missed, even if he’s rather cold and sometimes somewhat foggy and distant. Definitely not a boring character. But as handsome and charming as he is, he has a slippery side that I just don’t trust. I always feel unsure of my step around him. I have lost my balance around him before which resulted in me seeing my own butt and bright stars all at the same time. I’ve learnt my lesson since…don’t be fooled by the charisma of Mr Jack Frost!

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I sighed heavily on the sight of Jack Frost in front of me, just outside my barn door. Bof OK, he’s here, what else could I do but accept his arrival…after all, we are known for our hospitality here at Coin Perdu! So I decided to make the best of it. I dug into my linen closet for extra warm linens and blankets and duvets, all the time thanking the good Lord that this guest only shows up once a year and immensely grateful that he doesn’t stay the whole year. Now that would be unbearable!

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I wondered how long Mr Frost would stay this time? I didn’t dare ask for fear I wouldn’t like the answer. In any case, the sun came out and he took the road. I had no idea where he had gone off to or when we would see him again. He is like that, this Mr Frost…always takes off somewhere when the sun shines and returns in the early hours the next morning. Oh well, he’s here now for some time. I might as well accept it and make the most of it. I think I’ll go make a tomato soup for tonight. Mr Jack Frost will be cold when he gets in. Tomato soup will make him happy

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Beetroot cappuccino…and November in reds.

A beetroot velouté, or creamy beetroot soup, is apart from delicious, also beautiful. Served as a starter in the way of a cappuccino, is a beautiful way to kick off an autumn or winter dinner. It is actually a good idea to always eta  small starter of soup with any home dinner..it is healthy and helps fill one and so prevents over eating.

Ronelle's food-beetroot cappuccino

beetroot cappuccino recipe

Pincée de sel:

  • Younger beetroots give a deeper colour, are sweeter and softer. If possible, use small beets.
  • Raw beets cab be replaced by ready cooked vacuum packed beets.
  • add different spices for a more wintery touch…cardamom seeds, star anis, cinnamon, croriander – add together in a small muslin bag so it can be removed afterwards.
  • To make froth with a machine: whisk a small amount(about 150 ml) milk in a high microwave proof) container. whisk vigorously until it starts foaming. Place in the microwave immediately. Heat the milk while keeping your eye on the milk all the time. The froth will start to rise high. Remove from the microwave and scoop the froth from the milk.
  • Use vegetable stock to make it a vegetarian soup.
  • A scoop of créme fraìche, or a scoop of whipped cream can be used, which will make the soup creamier and heavier.
  • Ideal for a starter.

Ronelle's photography-beetroot-001    Ronelle's photography-beetroot-005

…and November in reds.

The artist in my appreciates November as the most beautiful month in the year. It is the most challenging and gratifing time of the year for painting, photographing, hunting for mushrooms in the woods, watching the leaves turn form green to yellow to red to purple to brown and finally float to the ground. No other season gives us this fast forward motion action of change in nature and it passes before your eyes from one minute to another.

…The stinky mushroom, Anthurus d’archer in bright autumn/winter red…

Ronelle's photography -mushroom anthurus d'archer

..la vigne vierge with its leaves turning red in autumn and a artistic spiderweb blinking in the morning light..

 

ronelle's photography- autumn light

..foliage of vigne vierge, the attractive seedheads of Cleramtis vitalba, and stinging nettle in their natural environment..

 

Ronelle's photography - fall colours red

 

..the stunning reds of hydrangea leaves in November..

 

 

ronelle's photography - autumn reds

 

..Ivy hugging a fallen vigne vierge red leaf..

Ronelle's photography - autumn color red

à al prochaine fois

Ronelle

 

 

Country onion soup(Soupe à l’oignon champêtre)

Winter has suddenly hit us with a bang and out came the soups of which onion soup is a favorite. The secret of a good onion soup rests on a good stock (preferably homemade) and of course the slow, deep caramelizing of the onions. If you want a quick soup for dinner, this is not it. But no doubt, for a cold day, an onion soup, topped with a melted cheese crouton, is pure heaven.

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Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • The longer you can caramelize your onions, the more flavorful they will be. It is a myth that onions can be caramelized within 10 minutes.
  • I cut my onions in quarters and then slice the quarters finely, because I don’t like long strips dripping soup  from my spoon.
  • To serve country style, serve the soup in a tureen with the croutons on top and serve each portion from the tureen.
  • It can also be served individually by placing a slice of bread on the soup, top with cheese and grill for a few minutes to melt the cheese.
  • Don’t be skimpy with the thyme as it adds to the flavor.
  • To really serve a soup and not soaked bread, don’t serve too much bread in the soup, for it soaks up a lot of the liquid and you will be left with only onions and soaked bread.
  • Serve the soup hot in warmed  bowls.

..a variety of onions..

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..onions cut into quarters and sliced thinly, cooked until translucent and caramelized until dark and soft…

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countrybread, called a tourte here inCorréze, sliced and torn into smaller portions..

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..Vieux Cantal( aged Cantal cheese) broken into small chunks and sprinkled on the bread and soup for a country dinner..

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To all my American friends and readers…have a Happy Thanksgiving!

..à la prochaine fois..

Ronelle