Caldo Verde with Kale

First soup this fall ! I love this❤ Merci to my friend Cécile who let me into her veggie garden to fill a big basket full of Kale !

GOOD food from the good life . . .

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SOUP !!  Before the Kale in our garden is gone for another year, I will certainly be making as much of this soup as I can… We just can’t get enough…

I had this recipe in my “to try” file for years and a trip to Portugal last year got me motivated to finally make it.  Every restaurant in Porto that we ate in had a version of this soup (with huge variations).

I used a locally produced chorizo sausage.  If your chorizo is very fatty you might want to fry it off for a few minutes before draining the fat and adding the sausage to the soup.

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I usually have two types of Kale growing in the garden (thanks to my garden guru Carol Reid Gaillard).  This year I have the Lacinta (Tuscan Kale or Cavolo Nero) and a Russian Kale.  They are like little palm trees and…

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Garlic Confit

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I suffer when garlic season gets to the point where the cloves become soft, dry and past their prime.  The green shoot in the middle changes the taste. . .   I love young garlic, or even “young-ish” garlic.  Since coming to live in France, I have never eaten so much garlic.  Our family of four easily get through 2 heads per week.

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In the spring I wait impatiently for the first fresh new garlic on market stalls.  Then the garlic party starts and we eat masses of it until its gone until the following year.  This is my favourite way to preserve garlic. This couldn’t be easier ! I may be addicted to this stuff.

I also freeze a bag of peeled cloves to use during the “down time”.  They can be grated (using my handy microplane) straight from frozen.  The fresh skins and stalks of new garlic can be kept in the freezer as well to pop into meat stocks.

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Peel one or two heads of garlic and place the cloves in a heavy bottomed pan.  Cover them with olive oil and slowly heat the oil.  Cook on a very very low heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour until they are knife tender.  Leave to cool, pour into a clean glass jar and store for several weeks in the fridge.  Make sure that the garlic is always covered with oil.  Don’t forget to use the oil for cooking when the cloves are all used up 🙂

A few ways to use your garlic confit (though you will easily find ways to use it !) :

  • spread the cloves on toasted bread and sprinkle with salt flakes and/or chili flakes
  • toss the cloves and some of their oil through pasta
  • mixed in with roasted vegetables
  • blended into a home made mayonnaise (very delicious)
  • spread over a piece of fish or meat
  • flavour soups, sauces, dressings and dips

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Solar oven notes: We do this in our solar oven whenever the sun is out and we have nothing else to cook.  Almost fill a jam jar with garlic and pour over enough olive oil to cover the cloves.  Place, uncovered in your solar oven just until some of the cloves start to rise to the top or they are knife tender.  This could take anywhere from 1 to 2 hours.  When I do this in the solar oven their is a thin film of yummy stickiness that forms on the surface and sticks to the sides of the jar.  My husband calls this “caramel d’ail” or garlic caramel😉

 

Preserving Chili peppers – 3 ways

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Its the long awaited chili season so out come my three (or four) ways to preserve them.

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 After over-wintering a few of my chili plants in the greenhouse, the Jalapenos are ready first. So the Caribbean Sauce is first in line.  Its pretty tasty this year.  I never use the same amount of each herb, so its never quite the same.

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Next up is chili jam but my “sunburst” chili’s are still green.

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GOOD food from the good life . . .

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Actually “4 ways” !  One of my favourite things to do with my garden Chili peppers is to make Chili Butter.  My Chili Butter is a sound favourite in this house, especially when spread on toast and topped with a boiled egg for breakfast.

Rural France = no fresh chili peppers for sale !  This has led me to grow them myself and to be creative and find ways to preserve that addictive heat to get me through until the next Chili season . . .   This years harvest includes Jalapeños and Calabrese peppers.

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In chili season I pick a few and finely chop them (followed by thorough washing of my hands) to have them freshly chopped, ready to use in the fridge.  Next step is to preserve the bounty !

ChilisaucesI have added 3 new additions to my “preserved chili pepper” larder this year.  Chili Jam which is…

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Shakshuka !

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Besides really enjoying saying the name of this dish (note the exclamation mark), I’m in love with this. . .   Couldn’t be easier to prepare and has endless versions waiting to be created !

A summer favourite for a healthy lunch or dinner.  In France it it more common to have your eggs for those meals than for breakfast but I think this dish is sweeping the western world as THE brunch dish of the moment.

Shakshuka has its origins in Tunisia, but has been adopted by many other countries for so long now that they call it their own as well (Israel for example).  Basically it is a dish of eggs poached in a sauce made with peppers and tomatoes (sometimes onions) and usually cumin.  It is so forgiving, as you will see in my the photo of the finished dish here, I overcooked the eggs AGAIN and its still fabulous.  The above shot is from the book JERUSALEM by Yotam Ottolenghi and is how its supposed to look😉

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This is the perfect time of year, with tomatoes and peppers nice and ripe.  I have tried a few versions of this recipe but come back this one (good old Ottolenghi) often. Harissa is nice, I’ve made my own but this is the best shop bought brand.

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Tip:  If you take some regular plain yoghurt and plop it into a cheese cloth or tea towel over a bowl and leave it to drain for a few hours (even an hour or so is enough), you get thick Greek style yoghurt which is great to top Shakshuka.

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Let me count the reasons to love a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe, but one is that he often gives you the weight of an ingredient, such as eggs.  I find this so important for some preparations and here you will find the weights for the peppers and tomatoes.  If you could have seen one of my beefsteak tomatoes this summer, it was 800g on its own.  So what does “5 large tomatoes mean”?  Very helpful.

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After you have fallen in love with Shakshuka, as I have, here are some ingredients you may want to play around with:  onions, feta, chopped courgettes, potatoes, different coloured peppers, a touch of sugar, a touch of lemon juice, crumbled chorizo or merguez sausages, fresh chopped chili, parsley, paprika (smoked or not).

To be served simply with your favourite dipping vehicle such as crusty bread or flatbreads.

Shakshuka Servings=2 as a main meal

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons harissa paste (optional and use less if not big on spicy !)
2 teaspoons tomato paste
2 large red peppers, cut into dice (2 cups / 300 g in total)
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon toasted ground cumin
5 large, very ripe tomatoes, chopped (5 cups / 800 g in total); canned are also fine
4 large free-range eggs
1/2 cup / 120 g labneh or thick yogurt
Salt and a handful of chopped coriander (aka cilantro) to serve

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and add the  harissa, tomato paste, peppers, garlic, cumin, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Stir and cook over medium heat for about 8 minutes to allow the peppers to soften. Add the tomatoes, bring to a gentle simmer, and cook for a further 10 minutes until you have quite a thick sauce. Taste for seasoning.

Make 4 little dips in the sauce. Gently break the eggs and carefully pour each into its own dip. Use a fork to swirl the egg whites a little bit with the sauce, taking care not to break the yolks. Simmer gently for 8 to 10 minutes, until the egg whites are set but the yolks are still runny (you can cover the pan with a lid if you wish to hasten the process). Remove from the heat, leave for a couple of minutes to settle, then spoon into individual plates and serve with the labneh or yogurt.

***Directly adapted from a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe in his book Jerusalem

Solar oven notes: If your solar oven is nice and hot (at least 120°C) you can follow the directions as above.  Good idea to use a transparent lid or none at all so you can monitor the cooking process with out opening the oven all the time.

A Canadian in France — Our French Oasis

Thank you to Susan for including me in her beautiful blog🙂

 

Remember a few weeks ago I chatted about introducing you to some expats who have set up their own businesses here and have made France their home? Well today I am really excited to get this started and to introduce you to Leanne, who is Canadian. She has lived in France for many years […]

via A Canadian in France — Our French Oasis

Green beans with hazelnuts and crème fraiche

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The moment when summer meets autumn and the fruit and veg available start to change.  Before “the change” goes too far I like to pair the taste of summer and autumn together.

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This is a delicious recipe to eat as a side dish or mixed with pasta.  Just cooked green beans, a bit of pig for the salty richness, toasted hazelnuts for a bit of crunch and some very good quality “raw” crème fraiche from gorgeous local Jersey cows to blend it all together.

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Although it has been, in general, a pretty bad  year for veggie gardens in southwest France this year, the green were as prolific as usual.  This year I grew your basic French green bean, gorgeous purple ones and very long Chinese red beans (just for fun).

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Green beans with hazelnuts and bacon servings = 4 as a side dish

  • 500g green or runner beans, trimmed and sliced
  • 4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, chopped into pieces
  • handful of hazelnuts, toasted (peeled if you like) and roughly crushed *
  • 2T cider vinegar
  • 5 T crème fraiche (or thick cream), more if serving with pasta
  • handful of tarragon or parsley, chopped

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the beans for 4-5 mins until cooked, but still vibrant. Drain the beans and tip straight into a bowl of ice-cold water. Drain again and set aside.

Heat a frying pan, tip in the bacon and sizzle for 4-5 mins until it starts to crisp.  Use a slotted spoon to scoop out the bacon, but leave behind any juices and residue. Place the pan back on a low heat, slosh in the vinegar and sizzle for a moment, then stir in the cream. Return the beans, bacon and hazelnuts to the pan to warm through and toss them in the dressing. Tip into a bowl and mix in the tarragon just before serving.

** To easily peel hazelnuts:  Dry toast them in a frying pan, being careful not to burn !  Tip them onto a clean tea towel and wrap them up.  Once cool rub them around in the tea towel which will help remove most of the papery skins.

***Adapted from the BBC Good Food Magazine

Bon appetit !

Piedmont beans

With the late August heat, this has re-emerged as a “test” in the solar oven. Great results with a beautiful crispy top . . .

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GOOD food from the good life . . .

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Its late August and the garden is in overdrive !  We are now on our 8th continuous week of eating green (or purple😉 ) beans numerous times per week…  I usually make this recipe at least once in the season when I want to “get rid” of loads of beans in one meal.

Its an interesting recipe as it seems a bit odd, on the verge of “will this work?”.  The ratio of beans to the other ingredients just doesn’t seem right.  Trust me as I trusted the original recipe, it does work.

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I’ve adapted this Italian inspired recipe to suit my tastes and the ingredients I can get here in France so play around with it, its a forgiving recipe.  I used a beautiful ground red pepper produced in the Basque Country called “Espelette Pepper”, that I’m quite addicted to which adds a bit more depth and a…

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