Monday, June 25, 2012

The Cooktionary

I admit: I am a cookbook junkie. This is the bookcase in my kitchen. And what you see is only half the truth, because this bookcase is very deep, it holds two rows of books, one behind the other. At last count there were more cookbooks than I care to admit, and that last count was quite a while ago. So go figure....

There is one book that I use more than any other, the one that I find the most useful book anybody has ever given me (it was a gift from my favorite guinea pig, my ever patient husband who is always the first who has to taste new recipes).

This is it:

The author Gee Greville moved from Hereford (UK) to Picardy in Northern France in 1993 and wrote this "French Dictionary for Cooks" and I am sure I am not the only one who is massively grateful to her. Or would you know what a "Puant de Lille" ( a stinky cheese from Lille), what "Diablotin" (thin rounds of toast with grated cheese, but also Christmas Crackers), a "Cajasse" (cold dessert of rum flavored batter with fruit, a speciality of the Périgord) or a "Vin de coucher" (newlyweds toast to their guests) are? I even finally learned the word for plonk - "Vinasse" - to be said with a dissmissive Gallic shrug of course. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Fête des Voisins - Fête Gourmande

This year the "La Fête des Voisins" the traditional neighborhood party was celebrated in France on the 1st of June, but our neighborhood (thank you Claude and Chrystèle for always organizing this!) decided that this weekend suited us much better. And right we were - brillant sunshine and the bluest of all Provençal skies made for a record number of attendance.
Everyone is asked to bring a few bottles, a savory dish and a dessert plus picknick tables, chairs, parasols and after first having a little apéro everyone gives a helping hand to set up the tables, chairs and - most importantly the buffet. After all, we are in France and fêtes like these always turn into gourmet feasts. Here are the highlights of this year's buffet: 

Very Provençal: Ratatouille
Slow roasted Pork shoulder with Garlic Confit

Not to be missed: Multi colored Pasta Salad

A delicious homemade Terrine 
Neighbors bonding over Picknick al fresco

Sunhats were a real necessity 

Somehow I never got around to taking pictures of all the fun and games of that afternoon: we played Boule, got to visit our newest neighbor's house, emptied lots of bottles (yes, water too...) celebrated a birthday at midnight (by then we had relocated to a neighbor's house and the birthday girl got thrown into a pool) - in short - a great time was had by all!

Still having fun late at night

Sunday, June 10, 2012

How to keep a Veggie happy

Les Petits Farcis are a typical Southern French summer dish - small vegetables such a peppers, zucchini, aubergines or onions stuffed with a meat farce (if in a hurry, even sausage meat will do) and then oven baked in a tomatoey sauce. I recently found a recipe giving a vegetarian twist to this summer staple and have finally found time to try it out. To sum it up: as far as my favorite guinea pig and I are concerned it is a keeper!
And since my brother last week called me to find him some vegetarian recipes to keep his significant other happy: Roland, here you go!

To feed 4 you need:
5 small red peppers and 4 small round zucchini
4 spring onions
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
400g fresh goat cheese
50 g freshly grated parmesan
olive oil
a generous bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper

Wash and dry all vegetables then cut a little "hat" off each. Clean the peppers and, with a melon baller scoop out the flesh of the zucchini which you then chop to medium consistency. Finely dice one of the red peppers, chop the spring onions. Mix the chopped up zucchini flesh and the red pepper cubes with the crushed garlic cloves and the chopped up spring onions.
Bring a big pot of water to the boil and simmer the vegetable shells for 3 to 4 minutes. Take out with a slotted spoon and drain on a double layer of paper towels.
With a fork mix the chopped parsley into the fresh goat cheese.
Heat a tbsp of olive oil in a pan and gently fry the zucchini flesh, pepper, garlic and spring onion mix until all moisture has evaporated, taking care not to brown the mix. Season to taste with pepper and salt, then take off the heat and let the mixture cool down.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F
Mix the goat cheese into the vegetable farce then fill the vegetable shells. Evenly devide the parmesan on top of the filling veg, put the "hats" on and bake for 35 minutes. Bon apétit!