These skirts who makes the world go round…

April 11th, 2010 § 2 comments § permalink

I’ve always loved that song from the French singer Alain Souchon “Sous les jupes des filles” (Under girls’ skirts… nothing naughty I swear!). It’s fresh like an early spring day with its -maybe cheesy but so poetically refreshing- message that as long as there are girls and women walking around the world with skirts there is a sparkle of light in the eyes of men when the breeze lift them up, hope for a better world!

Since I live in the Netherlands, Souchon is back whispering in my head every spring, when on the first warm sunny day, skirts blossom on all the terraces. The Dutch even have a name for that day. It’s “rokjesdag”, skirt day! It’s quite a big thing back here: They talk about it at work, on TV and in the newspapers. The true beginning of the Dutch Spring! And of course, the start for the girly magazine competition for the publication of the best miracle/no hassle/ecofriendly diet that will get you back in no time in those short little skirts without the fluffy protective winter layer accumulated through the Christmas period (and Easter)….

Luckily, no need to rush: I had to laugh when I discovered that some of the Dutch weather forecast websites even provide a skirt weather indicator, just as they have a UV or allergy indicator! Handy though, I must admit! My skirts and dresses are back in my wardrobe waiting impatiently for the next index 7 or 8 on the skirt weather index. In the mean time, I do my Pilates with dedication and I’ve got the perfect little salad to keep me waiting without guilt for the perfect skirt day while browsing through the new spring fashion in the magazines: It’s crunchy, it’s fresh and it smells and tastes like Spring! Perfect for your lunch basket, you can prepare it in advance and it will be a perfect match with steamed fish, smoked salmon or a chicken sandwich.

Fennel, celery and apple salad

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A scent of ‘anisette’

February 22nd, 2010 § 1 comment § permalink

Last sunday it was snowing again and my dutchie and I didn’t find the courage to get out of our house. It’s still pretty cold outside and although the sun is shining from time to time, I am finding myself craving for the gentle warmth of the Mediterranean winters. Luckily I had Julia child and her culinary adventures in France* to keep me warm and jolly. She transported me right to the Cannebiere amidst the feverish air from Marseille in august. While she was experimenting the Provence cuisine, my stomach started aching for some of the fragrant and colorful dishes of the Provence, the peppery herbs, the fresh fish, the juicy oranges and lemons… She left me starving!

Winter Cake with candied fennel and orange zest

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Summer on the table

July 20th, 2008 § 2 comments § permalink

It’s raining again… Instead of biking in the dunes as I had planned, I’m squatting the couch under a thick plaid, enjoying my 4th cup of fuming mint tea while dreaming of the sun of my provence. 

No way I’m going to let this rotten weather get on my mood today! So here’s a simple fish dish full of sun and fragrant like a summer night in provence. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, there you are! Do you hear the song of the cigales, the friends playing jeu de boule while you’re sipping a pastis or a chilled rose, enjoying the sunset… That’s the spirit. Now hurry and serve everybody before it gets cold

 

Daurades royales en croute de sel
Summer on the table: Dorades royales en croute de sel anisee…

 

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Warm and spicy, very comfy…

February 23rd, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink

Today, I’d like to give a little praise to the foodies around the net who make me drool regularly in front of my computer.  To start with, I’ve chosen two seasonal treats I have tested and adopted because they are all I like on lazy winter days like today… simple, warm, spicy, very comfy. Sounds good to you too?

Velouté anisé (2)
A spoon of provence… The warm and fragrant ‘velouté anisé’ from Miss Epices’

The first one is a long time favourite I picked from my online french recipe bible Marmiton*. I’ve been using and abusing from Marmiton for ages before I even had set my eyes on the foodies blogging network. I mostly use it to look for cooking techniques and inspiration on how to cook a specific ingredient. However, there are a couple of recipes that I follow almost to the letter, like this fragrant and velvety fennel and zucchini soup from Miss Epices, exhaled with a gulp of pastis and a dash of lemon juice. The zucchini gives it an amazing smooth and velvety texture. It’s warm and refreshing at the same time, a trip to provence at every spoon. I love it during the cold winter nights when I feel nostalgic of my Provence but it also makes an original soup dish for a fancy dinner.

Pear and ginger crumble (2)
Warm, spicy, crunchy… soothing! The pear and ginger crumble from Holler

The second one was a ‘love-at-first-sight’ encounter, a couple of weeks ago while I was drooling in front of the round-up of the Januari in the bag challenge on Julia’s A slice of cherry pie. I was in pretty bad shape that day: feverish, with a flu and a red clown like nose, longing for something sweet, warm and spicy to pep me up. The pear and ginger crumble from Holler on her vegeterian blog Tinned Tomatoes was my salvation. The juicy pears, the spicy ginger and the crunchy almonds. It looked perfect. It was perfect:  warm, spicy, fudgy and crunchy… Soothing. Like Holler advises, it will do miracles with a scoop of vanilla ice cream… or a spoon of crème fraiche. I had to slightly adapt the recipe because I was missing a few ingredients and because I was craving for candied chinese ginger (while Holler used powdered ginger). Thank you so much Holler, I think this crumble will become a regular in my kitchen!

That’s it for today, but I’m working on a new section in the sidebar so that I can share my  ‘drooling’ and ‘to-do’ list with you in the near future. In the mean time, I’ve posted my versions of Miss Epice’s and Holler’s recipes below… Take a look at the original recipes on Marmiton (in french) and Holler’s blog.

Velouté anisé (1)
Velvety fennel and zucchini soup with a dash of Pastis
Velouté anisé
 
source: Miss Epice on Marmiton (in French)
serves 4 to 6 pers.
prep: 10 min. cook: 15 min

Ingredients:
1 large zucchini roughly chopped,
1 fennel bulb, roughly chopped (keep some of the green leaves to decorate)
1 Tsp olive oil,
750 ml chicken or vegetable stock,

salt and pepper to taste,
1 Tsp cream cheese (optionnal)
A gulp of pastis,
A dash of lemon juice.

In a deep cooking pan, sauteed the zucchini and fennel in the olive oil for a couple of minutes until fragrant. Pour the stock and season to taste with salt and pepper. When it comes to a boil, lower the heat and leave to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the fennel is tender. Leave to cool a bit before blending the soup with the cream cheese. Heat up on low heat, and season with a gulp of Pastis and a dash of lemon juice just before serving.

Bon appétit!

Pear and ginger crumble (1)
Pear and ginger crumble
Crumble aux poires et au gingembre

source: Holler on Tinned Tomatoes
serves 6 to 8 pers.
prep: x min. cook: y min

Ingredients:
4 firm and juicy pears (I used Doyenne the Comice which are quite large, count ~1kg fruit), peeled and chopped in chunks,
50g candied chinese ginger (I thought it was perfect, my dutchie thought it was a tad too much… maybe I’ll try 25g next time!), chopped thinly,

Juice of half a lemon, (I usually pou the juice directly on the pears when I peel them to avoid oxydation)
3 Tsp raw cane sugar,
a pinch of cinnamon,
a pinch of cardamom,
freshly ground pepper,
a knob of butter,

For the crumble topping:
80g butter, cold, and cut in small pieces,
50g finely ground almonds,
50 g all purpose flour,
3 Tsp raw cane sugar,
a pinch of salt,
zest of a lemon,

2 handful of blanched almonds halves,

Usually, I first prepare the crumble dough: In a bowl, mix the butter with all the other dough ingredients (except the almond halves) with a wooden spoon until it crumbles (you can also use your fingers, but the warmth of your body might have the butter melt faster that you would like). Refrigerate until further use.

Preheat the oven at 180 deg. In a frying pan, melt the knob of butter and throw in the pears and lemon juice, the ginger, sugar and spices. Toss a couple of minutes on high heat until the flavours and juices get together.
Pour in a large oven dish greased with butter and sprinkle withe the crumble dough and the almond halves. Bake for 20 minutes or until the crumble crust turns golden. Serve slightly warm.
Bon appétit!

* With more than 40000 recipes to this day, Marmiton is a very complete and well organised recipe database in french where anyone can post, search, comment on recipes. Attractive with seasonal themes, cooking and decoration tips and workshops animated by famous french bloggers. Ok, it’s all in french but if you’re not a french speaker, you might want to have a look at it’s little english brother Let’s cook french

Fish! I like it RAW! (3)

August 18th, 2006 § 0 comments § permalink

Last week, I was almost finished with the 3rd opus of my raw fish special… I was talking about raw fish of course, but I also allowed myself in alyric prose about my addiction to the covered market “Les Halles” in my home town and all its marvels. I was about to press the “post and publish” key when I saw a typo. And then, everything just disappeared: I pressed backspace  instead of delete and my post was gone… pfffuit! Impossible to get my post back. I was so upset that I didn’t find the courage to post again until now. I don’t feel the mind of a poet today, so you’ll have to wait for another time to hear abouty my love for “Les Halles”. However, we never know, there might still be a few hot summer nights to come (maybe not in Holland this year but we never know), and this last recipe might tempt you.

I improvised this 3rd recipe during a trip in my hometown Nimes in the hottest month of the summer 2005… It makes a fresh apetizer or starter for the hot summer nights in betwen two games of petanque. Take a glass of pastis or a chilled rose and enjoy!

last_summer_cod

Cod fish and fennel carppacio

4 to 8 pers. prep: 10 min

Ingredients:
600g fresh cod fish filet
1 small fennel bulb

1/2  lemon

1 lime
4 Tsp. olive oil (fruity but not too strong)
2 Tsp. of pastis

a small handfull of dill
sea salt, pepper

Clean your cod fish and put it in the freezer for at least half an hour. Wash and slice the fennel: get rid of the damaged first leaves cut in two and remove the hard part of the hart with a small knife. slice very thinly (a few mm) with a mandoline. Slice the lime in very thin slices too (with a mandoline). Finally cut the fish in thin slices with a sharp knife (1/2 cm or thiner if you like). In a deep and large serving dish, lay down the fish, if possible in one layer and put the fennel and lime over it. Add the dill and Season with sea salt (preferably “fleur de sel”) and fresh grounded peper. Prepare your marinade: mix the juice of half of a lemon with the olive oil and pastis. Pour over the fish, and forget it in the fridge while you enjoy the summer sun or the shade of an old tree, a glass of pastis, a siesta… Serve as an apetizer or starter. 

Bon appétit!
 

Moroccan greens

April 19th, 2006 § 0 comments § permalink

It is about two years since I last went to Morocco. I didn’t realise how much I missed it until I stepped out of the plane in casablanca airport. I had never been there in spring before. I was very happily surprised Morrocco in spring is more beautiful than ever: It is warm and sunny, and calm. The flowers are more colourful and fragrant than ever, it’s already warm enough for the still empty beaches and the old medina is not packed with red tourists in shorts and sandals. Several times during these five short days, I felt I could stay there for ever… until I woke up during landing to finally discover Amsterdam after crossing 3 layers of dark grey clouds. Brrrrrr!   

From my trip to paradise, I brought you back a little something… A fragrant and tender green salad to eat while dreaming of heaven. Enjoy!

morrocan_greens

Tender green salad
Salade vert tendre

2 pers. prep: 10 min, cooking: 10min

Ingredients:

1 small cucumber (they are called turkish cucumber in Holland)
1 small fennel bulb
a small handful of fresh mint
half of a lemon 1 spring onion
1 Ts goat cheese dip (or fresh goat cheese)
sea salt, pepper
Clean the fennel, peel the cucumber and remove its seeds. Cut the cucumber, fennel, spring onion into small cubes. For the dressing, mix the goat cheese, the juice of the lemon, the chopped mint. Add to the vegetables and season with seasalt (“fleur de sel” is a plus) and peper. Leave to marinate in a cool place while preparing the rest of the meal.
If you happen to have the traditional morrocan lemons around (citron beeldi), it will definitely take you to heaven!
Bon appetit!

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