Labneh with Zaatar & Olives

Labne olives zaatar

Beautiful silky strained thick yogurt … That’s all it is ! Total revelation the first time you try it. Like a homemade cream cheese.

It all starts with these beauties… 🙂 Jessica the super farmer and her Jersey cows. Don’t panic, keep reading ! This is how I do it, but Labneh can be made much more simply using shop bought whole milk yogurt. If you live in the south west of France, don’t miss Jessica’s mom Véronique at the local markets. The butter will change your life 🙂

Jessica & the Girls

In the spring the milk is extra rich with all the new green grass they are eating. The amount of creamy milk fat floating on the top of the is crazy.

Raw Milk

Then my lovely husband makes delicious yogurt.

Next step is to stir a bit of good salt into your yogurt. The fun begins finding the best way to strain it using a cheese cloth. If your fridge shelves are racks you can tie the cheese cloth onto the rack over a bowl. I place my cheese cloth over a large canning jar and shut the lid to hold the yogurt suspended in the jar. Empty out the whey after a few hours (my chickens get that 😉 ) so the ball of soon to be labneh is not sitting in liquid. The idea here is to get most of the liquid out of the yogurt leaving you with a thick spreadable yogurt “cheese”.



  • 600g whole milk yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Cheese cloth or étamine

Stir the yogurt with salt and place it into the center of your cloth. Leave to strain over a bowl or large jar in the fridge for at least 24 hours and up to 36 hours. Check from time to time to make sure it is not dipping in its own liquid. Once well strained you are done ! The labneh can be stored for almost a week in the fridge.

Then what ?

  • Sprinkle with olive oil, Zaatar and olives to make a dip or spread
  • Top with roasted veg such as leeks or asparagus
  • Play around with replacing cheesecake in a recipe
  • On toast with smashed peas or broad beans
  • Top with good olive oil and eat with a spoon 😉

Bon Appetît !

For the love of green sauces

Wild Garlic Pesto

Originally inspired by perking up the “January detox” brown rice bowls I have been making an unprecedented amount of green sauces these past few years. When spring and summer finally arrives, there are even more nice green leafy herbs to play with. I have a running stock of some of the below recipes that keep well in the fridge and some are best to be used immediately.

A great way to use up bunches of herbs you may have on hand for other recipes but don’t use them up fast enough. These lovely homemade condiments are starting to take over my fridge space. Beware… they are addictive 🙂

A great great way to add zing to, well…. anything !

  • dress up eggs on toast
  • or avocado’s on toast
  • the always delicious grain bowl
  • plopped into a bowl of soup (hot or cold)
  • on a tomato salad
  • on a sesame noodle salad (Scallion ginger sauce)
  • on a lovely piece of meat (Gremolata for example)
  • add flavour to a stir-fry
  • next to any curry recipe (green chutney for example)

Here are a few of my favourites:

Bushy Basil

Pesto Obviously !  You’ll find loads of recipes online…  I like mostly basil, but some parsley.  I use a really hard sheeps cheese, because that’s my regional cheese 😉  I never use pine nuts as they cost a fortune and usually come from China (a bit far), but walnuts, pumpkin seeds etc…  work great.  I like to make mine in a mini chopper or food processor, not a blender (and too lazy for the pestle and mortar).  I freeze portions during peak basil season.  Here’s my version using local wild garlic…

Salsa Verde is so versatile. Delicious on meat or fish. A great boost in flavour. Use the best tinned anchovies you can find.

Trinidadian chili sauce (quite hot)  This keeps well in the fridge for months.

Indian green chutney  So fresh with heaps of fresh mint and coriander (aka cilantro)

Caribbean seasoning sauce

Caribbean seasoning sauce (a bit on the hot side)  This keeps well in the fridge for about a year ! scent of it makes me think of Jerk Chicken Mmmmmm.

Gremolata  Parsley, garlic & lemon.  I find this best when chopped by hand.

Shatta (Middle Eastern Hot Sauce)   I made this with walnuts.  My latest favourite 🙂

Scallion ginger sauce One of my perfect simple meals…  Hot bowl of rice, some Kimchi or sautéed greens, a fried egg with a good spoonful of this on top. A bit of Echo’s Chili sauce (see recipe below) would be good too.

Echo's Chinese Preserved Chili's in Vodka

Love this one inspired by a recipe from my friend Echo. This keeps forever in the fridge. Absolutely delicious and just spicy enough. Great in noodle or rice dishes. I learned from Echo that Vodka is a pretty good substitute for Chinese rice wine.

  • 2 cups chopped hot chili peppers (a mix of colours is fine, but try to chop fairly evenly.
  • 1/4 cup vodka (or chinese rice wine)
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar (add a bit more if you prefer it sweeter)
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
  • Chunk of ginger about the size of your thumb
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Spoon into sterilized jars and seal. Let sit at room temp for 2 days and then its ready to eat. Store in the fridge for AGES !

The key to keeping sauces a long time in the fridge (this goes for store bought ones too, is to not “contaminate”. Meaning always use a clean and totally dry spoon to scoop out your sauce or paste to avoid mold.

Do you have any favourites to add to this list ! I’m always looking for more ideas. Share in the comments 🙂


It becomes quite evident when looking at the list below, how I like to eat when I’m out and about !  Living in an area that has only a few good restaurants and very little variety in the style of cooking, I do eat a lot of “non French” food when away from home as I miss that from growing up in Vancouver.  The presence of natural wine pulls me back to a more modern style of fresh, seasonal food or sharing plates as well.  Therefore my list is a bit eclectic !  For the more “exotic” restaurants (Asian, North American, Middle Eastern, Indian etc…), my criteria is home made and TASTE, for the others I expect more from the quality of the ingredients, seasonality and a good natural wine list.


Hakata choten   1ère:  Very good ramen using homemade broth !  If its too hot out for soup other things are good too especially their Gyoza (try the one covered in chili sauce !

Raviolis  Nord Est   1ère:   Home made dumplings.  Tiny place but cheap, cheerful and very good.

Frenchie to go   2ème:  I’ve tried breakfast and coffee here.  Great quality and North American inspired menu.  Think breakfast sandwich, eggs benny and reuben or pulled pork sandwiches.  Located on the funky Rue du Nil with a restaurant and wine bar with the same name.

Hokkaido   2ème:  An old favourite (found as they are open sunday night !) in the Japanese area of Paris.  Reasonably priced menus.  Great Gyoza and noodles (big portions).

California canteen   3ème:  Takes me right back to North America !

Krishna bhavan  10ème:  Vegetarian Indian food a simple friendly setting.  VERY good value for the quality and all homemade.

La cave a Michel   10ème:  Standing room only in this natural wine bar with lovely things to nibble.

El nopal   10ème:   Mexican Taqueria that is so small you can’t actually go in.  So take away and find a nice spot along the Canal St Martin.  Absolutely delicious tacos, home made corn tortillas.  They have a new spot in Pigalle (9ème).

Thaï Street food   10ème:  I don’t really like the dark cramped interior of this place but the food is good and served in big portions (often one curry is enough for two).  So good for take away and a night “in”.

Siseng   10ème:  They call themselves an Asian Food Bar….  Great Bo Bun.  Right on the Canal St Martin.

Jones   11ème:  I go here almost every time I’m in Paris.  Original, yet simple small plates using seasonal ingredients (only a small list that changes often) with a great natural wine list.  RESERVE !

Fulgurances  11ème:  I do wiggle with anticipation every time I lunch here…  I specify lunch as the menu at lunchtime is about half the price of the dinner menu.  AMAZING value.  Wonderful concept where the an up and coming cook that has much experience in fine restaurants around the world is given the chance to be the CHEF for a few months.  Kind of like an “incubator”.  Menu of the day with probably 2 choices and a great natural wine list.  RESERVE

La buvette   11ème:  Wine bar serving natural wines and nice things to nibble.

Clamato   11ème:  Fishcentric small plates created by the neighbouring Septime Restaurant and wonderful natural wines.  Great atmosphere but sometimes hard to get a table as reservations are not accepted.  They will take your name and number and call when your table is ready.

La cave de Daron   11ème:  Nice tiny place for pre or post-dinner drinks or to buy a bottle or two of natural wine.  Interesting selection including some Georgian and Hungarian wines.  The owner is from Georgia.

Café Luxe   11ème:  Pretty hard to tell from the outside of this bar that one of the best Bo Buns is to be found inside !  The owner makes a yummy version of her grandmothers Bo Bun, perfectly seasoned just before being served by her husband…  They even have a bottle or two of natural wine.  While you wait you can squeeze in a bit of old fashioned pin-ball.

Bahn me tender   11ème:  This little place specializes in Bahn Mi sandwiches.  Fresh and well made.  Mostly take away, but they have a couple of tables.

Le Grand Breguet   11ème:  This is an odd place, mostly as its just enormous (for Paris).  They have a simple lunch formula which is choose your grain (rice or….), your protein (meat, fish, egg or vegan) and they will finish off the dish with fresh cooked and raw veg and sauce.  All for about 11€.  Organic to boot !  Finish off with a yummy coffee (and or dessert) at Ten Belles Bread right next door.

Restaurant Raviolis Chinois   13ème:   Delicious food from the North Eastern Chinese province of Liaoning.  Dumplings offered fried, boiled or steamed.  The “small shrimp and chive” boiled dumplings were delish !

Le Pacifique   19ème:   Dim sum !

Guo Xin   19ème:  Good Chinese food.  Yummy dumplings.


Montreal Plaza  St Hubert Street:  I become sad when I think about how long it may be before I can go back to this place.  Creative, amaaaaazing service, delicious, reasonable and beautiful space.  Be still my heart !

Super Taco   Rue Bélanger:  This is my type of Taco place.  Just get down to it and eat.  Super cheap for the quality…

Coming Soon…..  San Sebastian !










I’m a bit of a coffee kook.  Far from a connoisseur, I just enjoy a great cappuccino, café au lait, café con leche etc…..  I don’t drink coffee at home as I enjoy the art of “going out for coffee” almost as much as the coffee itself.  I know when its good (in my opinion) or not, that’s it.  I am quite obsessed  as I recently realised when counting how many café’s (coffee shop in French 😉 ) that I had tested and approved in Paris (21 to this day !).  Considering I only go to Paris a couple of times of year….  For that reason, if you should see any café’s here that are closed, please let me know !

CLOSE TO HOME (Northern Spain, Basque Country, Béarn)

Sakona    San Sebastian, SPAIN :  I try to get to San Sebastian every couple of months and if its been that long since I’ve had a decent coffee, this place (and the next on the list) gives me much joy !  The coffee is served with flair (on wooden boards with a glass of water) and the atmosphere is great.  The owner Javier Garcia Funez won Spanish Barista championship in 2009 and they roast their own coffee in the nearby city of IRUN on the French border.

Old Town Coffee  San Sebastian, SPAIN

Beanz   Pau, FRANCE

La Torref’   Anglet, FRANCE :  Also a roaster and just a lovely couple that own this place!


PARIS (by arrondissement)

Frenchie to go  2ème :  Located on the delicious Rue du Nil, there is also a Frenchie Restaurant and Wine Bar nearby.  I recommend the pricey but worth it version of an egg McMuffin !

Fragments   3éme

Loustic   3ème :  Nice comfy room in the back.

Caféotheque   4ème :  Beautiful space with lots of room in many rooms.  BUT a bit over-priced and the service can vary but great coffee so if you are in the neighbourhood….

Le peleton   4ème

Yellow Tucan   4ème :  One of my new fave’s on the edge of the Marais district.

Dose   5ème

Coutume   7ème :   On of the first of its kind in Paris and still one of the best.

Printemps du gout   9ème

On the 7th (and  8th) floor of the Department store “Printemps Homme” is this recently opened fancy pancy food halls, a bit like at the Bon Marché.  Great for roaming around and drooling over the expensive fine grocery items.  Café Lomi18 is present in what may be the great coffee with the BEST VIEW in Paris….  Check it out 🙂


Ten Belle’s  10ème :  Very small, try Ten Belles Bread for the same coffee but in an easier space to enjoy it !

Café craft   10ème :  Nice place for breakfast.

Hollybelly  10ème :  Great atmosphere but victim of their success and hard to get a table sometimes.  I don’t like lining up for a coffee.  Great for breakfast.

Blackburn café   10ème

Radio days   10ème :  One of my husbands faves.

Ten Belle’s bread  11ème :  Add pretty amazing bread and baked goods to the delicious coffee.

Spoune   11ème :  Other than the cocoa powder panda sprinkled on the top of my coffee (not a fan of cocoa on cappuccino) very nice coffee.

Mokonuts   11ème :  BIG time on my list to also have lunch here one day !

Cafe oberkampf   11ème

Cafe mericourt   11eme :  Little sister of Café Oberkampf.  Try the breakfast sandwich !

Kopi cream  11ème :  Say hi to Mimi the little dog whilst sipping your delicious café.

Café lomi  18ème

Sylon   18ème :  They get my vote for the lovely decor.

Soul kitchen  18ème




Mayo Revolution !


Up until today, I generally have fought with homemade mayonnaise.  By hand (too lazy), beaters (works most of the time), blender (too much washing up) etc…

This recipe from Serious Eats has changed my “Mayo Game” !


AND this is a whole egg mayo !  No more forgotten egg whites in the back of the fridge.


Due to the egg white being included its lighter in colour and, to me, tastes more like shop bought mayo (in a good way 😉 ).


Below is the basic recipe, but add stuff to your hearts content !  I added a clove of my sun roasted garlic and a chunk of the white part of a spring onion. You could add raw garlic to make Aioli or herbs, roasted red pepper, a touch of fresh horseradish, pesto, wasabi, hot sauce, smoked paprika, blue cheese, chipotle, ginger etc. . .

Keeps for about 2 weeks in the fridge.

One Egg Mayonnaise

  • Servings: about 1 cup
  • Difficulty: very easy
  • Print

  • 1 whole egg (room temperature)
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice or white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard (room temperature)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • salt & pepper to taste

All ingredients go into a recipient that is just wide enough for the head of the stick blender (very important). Most stick blenders come with their own jug, which is perfect.

Slowly lower the stick blender into the jug until it touches the bottom.  Start blending (high speed is fine).  Very quickly the mixture will start to emulsify, you can then start to slowly lift the stick blender up whilst blending.  You may need to move it from side to side near the top to get all the oil down.

Et voila !  In less than 2 minutes, you have mayonnaise 🙂

*original recipe on the Serious Eats website

Bon appétit !


Spring veggies

aspergesHEAVEN !  I love this time of year…  One by one, the spring veg show up in the market and in the garden 🙂

asperges1Lunch becomes more fresh and simple…  Quick to prepare.  Less cooking, more green, more crunch, feels healthy…  The chickens LOVE radish greens, so everyones happy 🙂


To celebrate the arrival of the first broad beans and peas in our garden, I made a simple lunch adding fresh purple asparagus, bright red radishes and fresh herbs piled high on a beautiful slice of toasted sourdough bread after smearing a thick layer of the first fresh goats cheese from Anita’s farm.  A good shake of Espelette pepper and some local fleur de sel and we felt like we where the richest people in the world.  Quite sure that any great chef would be delighted to have access to this quality….



Feeling fortunate and pretty pleased with myself !

Bon appetit !

Garlic Confit


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.


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.


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


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 😉


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

Sardines on Toast


I know what you are thinking….  “Do I really need to read a blog post on putting tinned fish on bread?”.  Well this is just a friendly reminder of how sometimes the simplest of things can be the most healthy, inexpensive and delicious.

Tinned sardines contain LARGE amounts of Vitamin B12 as well as selenium, phosphorous, OMEGA 3 fats, protein, calcium, vitamin D . . . and the list goes on.  Thanks to the Vitamin B12 (over 150% of the daily recommended amount) sardines are incredibly good for your heart’s health.


While sardines are wonderful when eaten fresh, they are most commonly found canned, since they are so perishable. With growing concern over the health of the seas, people are turning to sardines since they are at the bottom of the aquatic food chain, feeding solely on plankton, and therefore do not concentrate heavy metals, such as mercury, and contaminants as do some other fish. They don’t live long enough to accumulate too much mercury.

Not all tinned sardines are created equal though !!  Choose your brand carefully, reading the label.  Choose olive oil packed as many are packed in Soybean oil or may contain other additives.  We live close to the Spanish border, therefore blessed with access to some amazing sardines.


Sardines smashed with some nice butter, salt and freshly ground pepper spread on a nourishing slice of sourdough bread served with a fresh green salad is one of the most satisfying QUICK lunches you could eat !


Nice things to add to your Sardines on Toast

  • Espelette pepper or any chili pepper flakes
  • Lovely with flavoured butters
  • Freshly grated lemon zest and a squeeze of juice
  • Finely chopped preserved lemon
  • Fresh parsley
  • Tomatoes and/or avocado
  • Thinly sliced onions or caramelized onions

Be creative and bon appetit !










30°C  in the shade. . . mid-November !  Nice, worrying maybe and great for this years chili harvest 🙂

I thought I had come to the end of transforming my gardens Calabrese (below) and Jalapeños with 3 different chili sauces when my friend Carol Reid strikes again by giving me a mountain of chili peppers and “vague” instructions on making HARISSA.  Harissa is a common spicy condiment used in North Africa.


We had conducted a very intense Harissa tasting at Carol’s house (yellow, red and green versions) and Sylvain (though head about to explode) was convinced that we needed this in our own fridge ….

So armed with wine (naturel si vous plaît) induced discussions around the table, I had enough information to make my own version which turned out fantastic and just beautiful to look at.


To keeping with the vagueness of Carol’s recipe, I just sort of winged my version as well 😉  Here it is:

Filled up my blender jug about half way with partially seeded Calabrese Chili Peppers.  Added a very good glug of lovely Olive Oil, about 2 teaspoons of sea salt, a rounded teaspoon of both toasted and ground coriander and cumin seeds and a handful of fresh coriander leaves and stems.

Blend away and pour into a clean jar and store in the fridge.  Apparently keeps for months ! (not quite months, see update below)



We should be able to keep warm through winter now 😉

UPDATE:  Well maybe not through the “entire” winter as this sauce kept for only about a month in my fridge….  So make in small batches and eat it on everything 😉

Bon appetît !