Frost, defrost, no-frost… brunch?

October 22nd, 2007 § 0 comments § permalink


While my dutchie is a cycling freak and could spend hours looking and shopping for fancy expensive cycling gear, I, as a lazy gourmande, have something for fancy kitchen equipment… six pit stoves, professional gas-ovens, or just the kitchen aid department  at my favourite cook shop make my eyes shine with envy. Fridges are no exception though they are a little bit lower on my excitement scale. I dreamt for the cool and airy space of a fridge and freezer large enough to handle my saturday morning market escapades and our returns from France and our unevitable stops at the king of the supermarkets, … Carrouf*.

We’ve had it with our small-ugly-old fridge. It helped us getting started, and we’re glad. But it had its time: all door handles are broken and the freezer compartment has turned in an ice generating machine. So, there we went and buy a new fridge. Given the size of our kitchen, the limitations were high… but we found it: a high aluminium one door fridge/freezer combination with temperature management and a no-frost system of course! 

Like a kid, my dutchie wanted to take it right away, but (luckily) they didn’t have it in stock so we had to wait a few more days for the delivery. The next friday, there it was at last. The small-ugly-old fridge was emptied and set to wait on the terrasse in no time. First cleaning up, power on… one hour waiting. We could see the led temperature quickly dropping to arctic temperatures. There we were. After the required indicated time we transfered our new food cargo recently acquired on our last trip to France back into the freezing cold. Happy like hippoes we feasted and celebrated our new fridge before falling into the arms of Morpheus with happy food dreams.


The next morning, my dutchie was up early to prepare a nice breakfast with croissants that he had prepared and frozen the week before. Berezina… For whatever reason our new acquisition revealed to be a defrost instead of a no-frost! It just didn’t work… After a whole night, everything was defrosted: the farm chicken, the charolais T-bone steak, the duck breasts, the croissants dough, the morrocan pancakes, the rolls of flaky pastry… We could have cried, (I would have if I was not under the schock)… we put the small-ugly-old fridge back on, right there on the terrasse and we decided to party! I spent the whole day in the kitchen, making stews of what could be stewed, tarts, quiches and terrines while my dutchie called around our closest friends to put a large improvised sunday brunch together….


That was a fun cooking frenzy weekend topped with a great sunday brunch shared with good friends… and I now have a whole set of new recipes to share with you: From home made croissants to salmon terrine passing by apple tarts, moroccan pancakes, chicory quiche, tarte au fromage blanc and a chicken and raisins tajine!

*  Carrefour or Carrouf for the nostalgic expatriated french. The holy grail of the french supermarkets.

Hungry? here’s to begin with:

Salmon terrine with fresh herbs from the garden
Terrine de saumon aux herbes du jardin 


serves 6 to 8
prep: 10 min cook: 30 min

250g salmon fillet, roughly diced,
1 shallot, chopped,
3 eggs,
15cl liquid cream,
juice of 1/2 lemon,
2 Tsp olive oil,
1 handful chopped parsley,
1 handful chopped chives,
2 sprigs of basil, chopped,
a few mint leaves, chopped,

sea salt, pepper and chili pepper to taste

Preheat the oven at 180 deg C.
Put the diced salmon, chopped shallot and the 3 eggs in the bowl of a blender or food processor. Add the liquid cream, lemon juice, olive oil and season to taste with salt, pepper and chili pepper. Blend until liquid and smooth. Stir the herbs into the mixture.
Pour in a greased medium size terrine (~15cm) and cover with baking foil. Bake ‘au bain marie’ * in the oven for 30min.
Leave to cool completely at room temperature. Then, forget in the fridge for at least an hour. Serve cold as an aperitif with toasts or as a starter with mixed young leaves. You can serve it with lemon,  a homemade  mayonnaise, or a fresh tomato sauce made of thinly chopped fresh tomatoes, 1 small grated clove, fruity olive oil, a dash of lemon and basil.

Bon appétit!

“Au bain marie” is a french cooking term. It means putting the baking dish in a larger one partly filled with warm water right in the oven. It’s often used to bake terrine, mousses or cremes brulees.

Italy in the garden

October 3rd, 2007 § 0 comments § permalink

I’ve never been known for my “green fingers”. Every time someone offers me a plant that need a slight bit of attention, I can’t help but thinking “Oh no, how long is it going to last under my care”.
Yet, after three years in our house, me and my dutchie finally managed to made a garden out of our garden, with green grass, healthy looking and flowering plants and all kinds of herbs… a miracle.


For the veggies, we’ll have to give it another try next year though: out of my three plants of tomatoes and my plants of strawberries, I hardly managed to get a dozen of half eaten strawberries (damn snails!), a dozen of cherry tomatoes (at the rate of ~2 per month) and a dozen of roma tomatoes (out of 30 that just ended up rotting before even turning red… damn weather!).

Nonetheless, proud of my tomato harvest… my little head started boiling with ideas of beautiful tomato salads to present my very own tomatoes to the world (or let’s say the maximum I could feed with my dozen of tomatoes: my dutchie and a close group of friends… ). Before settling on a final recipe, I thought I should at least try one tomato… What a disappointment: with the lack of sun this summer, it must really have been a struggle to get to maturity. The flavour was there, but the structure was terrible (what we would call “farineuse” in french, literraly ‘”floury”). Bye bye salads! my tomatoes were only good for a tomato sauce. A great tomato sauce though, with herbs from the garden as well of course….


Canneloni with fresh tomato saus
Canneloni aux tomates du jardin

serves 4. prep: 15 min cook: 15 min + 35 min

16 cannelonis
8 Roma tomatoes (that’s all I had)
400g minced beef
100g minced pork
small oignons
1 small clove of garlic
a small handful parsley
a few twigs of thyme
1 twig of rosemary
1 laurier leave
4 Tsp olive oil
5cl red wine
3 Tsp freshly grated parmeggiano
a pinch of cayenne chilipepper
sea salt, pepper

Preheat your oven to 180 deg C. Wash and peel the oignons. Chop 1 1/2 thinly. Press the remaining half with a garlic press. Chop half of the thyme and rosemary thinly. Put the minced meat in a bowl, add a third of the chopped oignons, the pressed oignon, the parsley, and the chopped rosemary and thyme, season with sea salt and pepper and mix alltogether with your hands. Reserve.

Set some water to boil in a large pan and in a smaller one. In the larger pan cook the cannelonis for three minutes in the boiling water. Then rince in cold water to stop the cooking. Add a few drops of olive oil to prevent them sticking to each other. Reserve for later.

Wash the tomatoes and plunge them for 1 min in the boiling water in the remaining pan. Peel the tomatoes, remove the seeds and chop them. Blend the tomatoes for 30s with 1Tsp olive oil. Sauteed the oignons and pressed garlic clove briefley with 1Tsp of olive oil in a cooking pan. Add the blended tomatoes, and remaining herbs. Season with sea salt, pepper and cayenne chilipepper. When it gets to boil, add the wine and lower the fire. Leave to reduce for 15min.

In the meantime, fill the cannelonis with the minced meat and lay them in a large oiled oven dish. When it’s done pour the tomato sauce over the cannelonis. Cover with aluminium foil and bake in the oven for 35 min. Remove the foil 10min befor the end.  Sprinkle the grated parmeggiano over the dish and serve immediately.

Bon appétit!

nb. I prefer to use minced veal but it’s hard to find at the supermarket in holland and my butcher was closed.
nb2. You might wonder why I only add the cheese at the end… Well, for the simple reason that my dutchie cannot stand cheese (damn it!). I am condemned to add the cheese in my own plate or to make sure his part remains absolutely cheese-free. I was however very happily surprised by the result. I loved the taste of the freshly grated cheese on the cannelonis.

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