Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Freezer Soup - Sunshine in the Kitchen

Somehow I always buy too many vegetables. So there is the odd zucchini left, two carrots, half a red or yellow pepper, a celery stalk - you know how it is. But since I think it is kind of sinful to just discard these leftovers, I am forever chopping and freezing them. And then one day the freezer is so stuffed with little bags I don't find anything else in there anymore.
That is the day of what has become known as the "Freezer Soup" in our house, to which, I am happy to report, my OH is always very much looking forward to.
I just empty all those little bags into a big pot, add water and vegetable stock and bring everything to the boil, then let simmer for about 10 or 15 minutes. If there is a sausage lying around (think Saucisse de Morteau or Kielbasa) I cut it into chunks and add it to the soup. Even better,  if there is still some Pistou left over in the freezer from last summer, it is added just before serving the soup. Pistou is the Provençal version of Pesto, but without the pine nuts and even the addition of cheese is optional here.
But the smell! Pistou is the quintessential perfume of summer in Provence, so no matter when I serve this soup there is sunshine in the kitchen!

Friday, April 10, 2015

The first Sign of Summer in Provence

It has been real sunny for last last two weeks here in our corner of Provence but since the Mistral has been very busy too, we still have the central heating on and cannot plant all those beautiful little tomato, eggplant or zucchini plants you find in the markets now.
But today I spotted the very first sign of summer to come! What from afar looks like just another tree still dreaming the last dreams of its wintery sleep -

sprouts, if you look closely, the tiniest, very first baby figs!

It is the sign that summer lurks around the corner. I can't wait for these little beauties to grown into juicy, fat and fragrant fruits that we eat fresh from the tree, cook jam from or transform into sweet or savoury tarts. Maybe I will be courageous and plant my tomatoes this weekend....

Friday, April 3, 2015

Rachel Khoo's Little Paris Kitchen

When in Paris we always make it a point to visit all the English language bookshops. Until recently this used to be WH Smith on Rue Rivoli and the wonderful and rightly famous "Shakespeare & Company" on the Left Bank. But during our last visit while strolling along Rue Rivoli we discovered Galignani, which is not only the oldest English language bookshop in Paris but also on the continent. And the most beautiful and elegant bookstore you can imagine with maybe not the most comprehensive choice of books but certainly the most select - any bibliophile's dream.
 Lentil Salad with red beets, Goat Cheese and Dill Vinaigrette

Which is not where I bought Rachel Khoo's "The Little Paris Kitchen" a book that has been sitting on my kitchen bookshelf for a while until I now finally started "cooking it". My nephew and his wife along with my darling OH aka guinea pig No.1 tried "Puy lentils with goat cheese and red beets with dill vinaigrette" and guess what? They liked it! And so did I. All of it, but totally and especially the dill vinaigrette. Dill is hard to come by in Provence so now we planted it in our kitchen garden as this is a vinaigrette you will want to serve with steamed fish, chicken breast or just lick off a spoon, so good it is. So look up the recipe which I am not supposed to give you here because of copyright reasons. And if you only make the vinaigrette (which involves a bunch of dill, some sunflower oil, white wine vinegar, some sugar and salt)  you will be one happy bunny. Talking of bunnies:

Happy Easter!