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.

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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.

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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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Galette des rois aux pommes…and January ambiance at Coin Perdu.

And so we have come to the end of 2016. May we all have a year of good health and a good dose of adventure.

Last year had seen very little of me here on my blog. Even though blogging is mostly  n “ancient” practice and replaced by Instagram, I still love my little blog very much, going on 10 years this year. I have set one important goal for myself and it is to get back to my foodblog. I hope you will walk along side me. It is always more fun to have company!

Just as we think we have had enough of eating after Christmas and new year, les galettes de rois land on our plates. We love our galette des rois. Made of a fluffy puff pastry and filled with a variety of fillings, the most popular being almond cream, it is served around a table  with coffee and tea…and friends. If you find the trinket in your helping, you have the honours of presenting the next galette des rois…wearing the crown of course, in this case, a twined olive branch.

And so I invite you to my table. Let s serve the coffee and slice our galette. Bon appetit!

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You can find the recipe for my galette des rois aux pommes(with apples) at this link…galette des rois. It is the basic recipe of puff pastry, filled with an almond cream. This time round, I added some apples for some change.

This is what I did:

  1. Peel and cut 3 Granny smith apples in chunks and caramelize in a TBSP of butter, a pinch of cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg and about 2 TBSP of sugar. Add 2 tsp lemon juice and the rind of 1/2 lemon. Add 2 TBSP of currants. Caramelize until the apples aare soft and caramelized. Leave to cool.
  2. Follow the basic basic recipe for galette des rois up to step 8. (Spread the almond cream in the center and place a trinket in the filling.)
  3. Spoon the cool apple filling on top of the almond cream.
  4. Cover with the second circle of pastry and squeeze the ends together.
  5. Baste the top with egg yolk and draw a pattern of your choice with a knife on the top.
  6. Leave for 30 minutes in the fridge.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes at 200 degr C. Lower the heat to 180 degr C and bake for another 10 minutes until golden brown.

Serves 6 people

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Last year we had a gentle winter and even though it made life easier, it wasn’t what nature needed, or what we needed for that matter.Our winters need to be cold for new life in spring. And so we have our cold again this year with white, frosty mornings which are so magical, I feel like I have been transported to a different world.

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A few images from my garden from this sudden very cold January.  It reminds me how fortunate I am to live in a country which have four spectacular seasons.

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à bientôt

Ronell

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Noël at Coin Perdu.

This December was busy. It was filled with sadness of saying goodbye to loved ones. But happiness made its appearance too, as life always tosses a coin with two sides.

As always, I love Christmas. This was out first year alone without the children, but it was just as much fun. I love Christmas and this year was no different, in spite of us being without out children. We prepared as if we were about to receive the whole world at out house. Of course our door stayed open to whomever wanted to enter.We made it warm and welcoming with our yearly Christmas tree, many candles to light for those we love and those we  share the world with. And we gave special attention to our Christmas meals, preparing what we love and sat at our candle lit tables with so much gratitude in our hearts for all we receive in such abundance, especially the love.

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We drove around to all the marchés de Noël and the fêtes de chataigne, the apple festival, the  brocantes de Noël. We had coffee and croissants at our special places, we had a fantastic meal for our 33rd anniversary. We went for an apéro on horseback and stayed so late that we rode back in the dark, trusting the horses to find the road. We started a new tradition: handing a little cadeau de noël to our neighbours down the road. We cried crocodile tears listening to sad music while we remember, just because that’s what we do on Noël…in short, we had so much fun and laughter..I felt like a  teenage girl with jumping emotions! Life was good to us this December.

Noël at coin Perdu

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December 2015

Christmas eve in white.

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Scallops with parsnips and parsley sauce.

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Lobster with beurre blanc and black truffle risotto.

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Pavlova with mint cream and caramelized clementines.

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Christmas evening was our winter forest.

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My faves at the borcante de Noël.

Gramat et brocante (1)Gramat et brocante (2)

GramatChristmas lights in the alleys of Gramat.

Gramat et brocante (3)

Marché de Noël at Meyssac

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Leftover dessert is always a good thing.

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Enjoy the arrival of 2016.

à bientôt

Ronell

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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..

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..Front door from the inside..

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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..

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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.

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..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”.

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..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…

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..view on the southern face with all its glass windows and doors..

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..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.

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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..

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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

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..and looking in…

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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

Ronelle