Thursday, August 27, 2015

Ginger Cantaloupe Lassi with Raspberry Cream...and we got an electric car!

A French variety of cantaloupe, Delice de la Table, is being harvested presently in our potager. Its sweetness, flavour, shape, and colour are exceptional, but not its texture which is a bit fibrous so into the lassi glass it goes!

Raspberries are from our potager also

With judicious sieving, this makes a creamy, energising, late-summer breakfast or lunch.

Delice de la Table is deeply ribbed and when halved... presents a most pretty scalloped, verdant edge.

makes one tall glass

  • Cantaloupe, chilled, scrubbed well, seeded, peeled, and cubed
  • Ginger, minced, 1 T
  • Yogurt, chilled, 250 ml/8 fluid oz, reserving 1 heaping T for the raspberry topping
  • Raspberries, a large handful
  • Cream, 1 T
  • Confectioner's/icing/powdered sugar for sweetening to taste the raspberry cream
  • Garnishes: melon slivers and raspberries
Put the raspberries in a fine sieve over a bowl. First crush with a fork and then squash around with a rubber spatula, making sure you use a clean spatula to scrape the outside bottom of the sieve.  Blend a heaping tablespoon of yogurt and one of cream with the raspberry coulis. Sweeten with powdered sugar to taste. Put in the freezer.

Put the cubed melon along with the ginger into a food processor and mix until mostly crushed. Make a melon coulis the same way you did with the raspberries omitting mashing first with a fork. Whisk the melon coulis and yogurt till smooth.

Pour into a tall glass, spoon on the raspberry cream, and top with fresh melon/berries. Velvety and with an exquisite taste, this lassi made me glad that there are melon seeds for planting next season.

The days are still hot enough that I stay indoors except for early morning and evening so I often peek out through the shutters/awning.

Golden acorn squash is close to harvest

Ivy growing up one of the pergola's pillar and a sprawling rose of Sharon

The last car The Calm One and I owned was when we lived in America about a quarter of a century ago! That's because combustion-engine cars are hot, noisy, stinky, drip oil at the latest provocation, eat up gasoline more quickly than I a meal, and depreciate faster than paper currency. Not to mention their deleterious impact on the environment. Since then we made do with company/rental cars, public transportation, our feet, and in the case of grocery shopping, The Calm One's back.  However, at present, there is a suitable option. Though our sweet dreams are made of Tesla, we settled for a Renault Zoe.

Basically a computer on wheels, here it is charging merrily away

We both love how it accelerates, briskly that is, like all electric vehicles, and quietly, so much so, we are constantly surprising pedestrians who first are startled and then break into contagious smiling. Expect a lot of tootling about from us. Beaujolais Nouveau season is around the corner...then there is Toulouse...and we can't forget Aubeterre sur Dronne or Bouteville or Charmant...

À la prochaine!


Spiced Blackberry Lassi


A combustion-engine car tested by a Swedish owner of an electric car...a hilarious read!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Pan-Grilled Tomato Basil Cheddar Sourdough Rye Sandwich

Plenty of tomatoes along with basil are still making their way from the potager into our kitchen. Cheddar, since it has to compete for the Gallic palate with so many venerable French cheeses, is usually sold in small, pale-golden bricks, that is, when you can find one. One such beauty was gracefully residing in the fridge thanks to the shopping skills of The Calm One.

Meaty and with few seeds, 'Liguria' variety is wonderful for grilled sandwiches. These gorgeous, lobed, pear-shaped, pink toms slice cleanly.

Since they are more fleshy than juicy, a substantial amount can go into the filling without defeating the purpose of grilling a sandwich, that is, to flaunt its resplendent, permeated-with-butter crunchiness.

General instructions for making grilled cheese is found here. Main points are to grate the cheese, butter the sides of the bread slices touching the pan, and press down with a potato masher while grilling.

The basil leaves are an excellent addition and made this sandwich taste super fresh.

In the potager, beds are being prepared for late fall/early winter crops like broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, and spinach.

Cantaloupes are nearly ripe

Ivy covering a wall received vigourous attention from my secateurs. Arriving at fencing unadorned with ivy, I was coaxing some long branches to weave themselves into that new substrate when I noticed...

...a lizard shielding its body from the sun by chilling-out in a hollow fence post.  Its tiny head resembled an ancient stone carving which ignored my rustling the ivy around it.

The way of lizard sunning:  body, no, head, yes.

Late summer is perfect for harvesting and processing herbs for the winter by chopping them, adding a bit of water or oil, and then freezing in ice cube trays. They also can be dried by spreading them on wire racks or a flat plate. Then crumble and store in containers.


À la prochaine!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Tomato Marjoram Granita, Greek Yogurt, Sliced Avocado & Crushed Corn Chip Verrine

A verrine is a French style of presenting an appetiser which is served layered in a small glass. For l'apéritif dinatoire, the filled glasses are placed on a tray and served to guests. Since I supersized mine, it made do as a luscious, refreshing, and nourishing lunch/light supper.

The tomato granita's icy, intense flavour along with a pronounced corn chip crunch contrasted beautifully with the mellow, avocado/yogurt creaminess.

A canning jar filled about 2/3rds


  • Tomato granita, recipe below
  • Avocado, seed & peel removed and sliced thinly
  • Yogurt, Greek-style or regular drained overnight
  • Corn chips, put in a dish towel/plastic bag and crushed with a rolling pin
  • Garnishes: tomato chunks, avocado/lemon slices, marjoram sprigs, yogurt

For about a liter/quart of granita, chop coarsely four large tomatoes of the very best quality, mix in a small processor or crush with a potato masher, and push through a fine sieve. Add a teaspoon olive oil and salt, lemon juice, and dried marjoram to taste. Pour into a shallow dish that will fit in your freezer, like a cake pan. Every hour break up the ice crystals with a rubber spatula until frozen which can take up to around five hours. When ready to serve, scrape it with the tines of a fork. For the verrine, start with yogurt, followed by the chips, then the avocado (place the green side against the glass), and finally the granita. Repeat. Top with yogurt dollops, lemon slice, piece of tomato, and fresh marjoram sprig.

In the garden, the wild area consisting mostly of brambles, weed trees, and nettles is flourishing. Sheltering lizards, birds, mice, and hedgehogs, it contributes greatly to biodiversity.

The wild blackberries have good taste but too many tough bits so I use them for making coulis

The peppers are turning red, dressing up their spot to the hilt.

Piments des Landes are mildly hot when green but sweet when red 

The broccoli and Brussels sprouts sowed in pots about six weeks ago are ready to be transplanted...

...into their beds.

All twenty-four crucifers will go into the ground within the week

Most of our dahlias are dwarf or sturdy, upright taller ones because if I can avoid staking a plant, I do so. They will continue to nourish insects all the way into autumn.

Dirac the Young Cat has several favourite spots: the asparagus patch, the bit of room between the raspberry bushes and the sauvage space, and assorted window sills overlooking the front garden and the potager.

He sometimes shuns the towel on the sill for the Calm One's decrepit jacket spread on the potting table

If he hears an intriguing sound, he just lifts his head to check if a sprint into the potager is merited.

Not now, maybe next time?

À la prochaine!


Cantaloupe granita caramel cream parfait
Roasted sweet red pepper and garlic spread/dip

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Tomato is a Tomato is a Tomato...

Our tomato harvest continues unabated.

This lovely specimen of the tomato kingdom is stuffed with shrimp & encircled with couscous

A simple way to appreciate their freshness and superb flavour is to scoop out carefully and then chop the flesh. Drain (freeze the juice for soups) and mix it with some shrimp/chicken/tuna, mayonnaise, and seasonings. Fill the hollowed-out toms with the mixture, packing down firmly each spoonful as you go. Finish off with a mounding flourish.

Another go-to grain of mine is barley.

Barley & tomatoes tossed with an olive oil/apple cider vinegar/marjoram/garlic dressing and grated Emmental

'Liguria' is just gorgeous and also versatile as it can be used as a slicer and for sauces. Despite being a late-season variety, some are beginning to ripen.

Though I love all tomatoes, well except tasteless ones, at present this brawny variety is my latest 'squeeze'.

Cradling these hefty tomatoes in my hand before putting them in the harvest basket is a pleasure.

"Liguria" on its side

Our fig tree is loaded with immature fruit. The autumnal yield should be an abundant one unless the starlings decide they don't want me to make jam and cake.

Our neighbour's dwarf sunflowers are peeking over the fence.

One recent dusk found The Calm One and me standing in front of a window just in time to glimpse many hot air balloons floating above the potager. The occasional flashing of their propane burners resembled twinkling stars.

A silent flotilla

À la prochaine!


A rose is a rose is a rose

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Looking For Me? I'll Be Under the Tomatoes...

Not much of a post this week. Blame the tomatoes!  Tons of them. All very lovely and tasty of course, but processing them when they are at the height of ripeness means that is all I am doing at the moment.

Clockwise from the top left: Burpee Delicious, Joie de la Table, Altaisky, "Liguria" & Petite Coeur de Boeuf

During the morning, daily harvesting usually starts with just a few toms collected on the way back from filling the bird baths.

Onions and garlic are curing under the pergola, behind them are asparagus & roses

Returning to the tomato beds, I do the real haul.

Processing involves making tomato sausage sauce, soup concentrate, and stewed tomatoes which are then frozen. Raw tomatoes, among other uses, are good for stuffing and topping macaroni and cheese which is then briefly broiled.

The golden acorn squash is, well, golden.

Delice de la Table, a variety of cantaloupe, probably will start turning yellow in a few weeks.

Dirac the Young Cat loves gazing through the potting room's window...

...almost as much as he loves snuggling within the folds of the ancient, faded, quilted jacket of The Calm One.

Yes, that is a scratch on his adorable nose. He gets a fresh one practically every week

À la prochaine!


Creamy tomato soup with Edam and rice

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Socca Croustillant with Tomatoes, Yogurt & Walnut Basil Pesto

The first flush of tomatoes was harvested from our potager.  The potting room's window sill is covered with them, as is the kitchen table: a delicious deluge of shiny, mostly red, some pink, large, medium, small, and all juicy.

Garnished with a puddle of tomato coulis

As there was pesto recently made from our potager's basil and some thick, creamy yogurt left over from making Spiced Blackberry Lassi Sherbet, a crisp stack of mini chickpea pancakes layered with sliced, garden-fresh tomatoes, pesto, and yogurt just was asking to be created.

Olive oil gives a nice sheen to the pancakes

Tomatoes! We bow down before you.

Joie de la Table, an early-season variety

makes 12 pancakes about 7.6 cm/3 inches in diameter, enough for 4 servings
  • Chickpea flour, 4 T
  • Cornstarch, 1 tsp
  • Salt, 1/2 tsp
  • Water, 6 T
  • Tomatoes, the best you can get, 2 medium & 1 small
  • Yogurt, Greek-style (that is, drained overnight), about 4 T
  • Walnut Basil Pesto, about 4 T (recipe here)
  • Olive oil for shallow frying
  • Garnishes: fresh basil, fleur de sel
Stir the cornstarch in the water until blended. Whisk in the salt and chickpea flour until the thin batter is smooth. Heat over medium-high flame a heavy bottomed skillet, preferably cast-iron, for several minutes until a few drops of water dance on the hot surface. Put about a tablespoon of oil in the pan. Using a measuring tablespoon, pour in the batter carefully. Repeat till the pan is full; mine took three. Cook for a couple of minutes until the edges are browned and the center is mostly dry. Using a narrow, metal spatula, loosen the edges and then flip over. Add a little more oil. Cook for a couple of minutes. If the pancakes are not crisping, more oil can be swirled around.

The lacy edges will have the most crunch

Blot each well with paper towelling and let cool on a wire rack (I use one from the oven). Wash and core the tomatoes. Coarsely chop the small one and process in a mixer till mostly liquid. Push through a sieve placed over a bowl. Voilà! You have yourself some coulis. Cut the remaining tomatoes into even slices about .64 cm/1/4 inch thick. For each stack, start with a pancake, then place a tomato slice. Spread first a teaspoon of yogurt and then one of pesto. Place another pancake and repeat, ending with a pancake. Do three more stacks. Top with some yogurt and make a depression. Fill with coulis and garnish with a basil leaf. Serve with any extra coulis.

Any burnt or very irregular bits can be broken off

Both croustillant (crunchy) and moelleux (soft), these little piles of goodness are scrumptious.

In the potager, so many tomatoes are ripening which is wonderful.

Altaisky, a pink and very 'meaty' variety

But it is satisfying to see just as many green ones as they will grace our table at summer's end.

Tomato 'Liguria', a fabulous, ribbed, pink, pear-shaped variety, good both for sauces and slicing

Volunteer seedlings are encouraged in our garden. A rose of Sharon is growing happily in hardly any soil, at the base of the pergola's ivy-covered pillar!

À la prochaine!