Sunday, October 28, 2012

Does it ever snow in Provence?

Does it ever snow in Provence? I am often asked this by my lovely guests who come to cook with me at  Cuisine de Provence . Well, here is the answer - this is the view that greeted me this morning when I opened the window. After having had lunch outside until just two days ago now we are experiencing a real bad cold spell - icy Mistral winds and probably the earliest snow in Provençal history!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

All those pretty Bottles and Boxes

No matter where I travel to there is always one point on the agenda that I never miss - a visit to a local store, supermarket, souk, bazaar - you name it, I go there. I can spend hours there sniffing out the local produce and sometimes buy something not even knowing what it is, just because the vintage style packaging appeals. This little box started the trend. I found it at my local greengrocers and still have no idea what to use this spice mix for (it smells a bit like allspice) but isn't the box pretty?
Spice mix

This was brought to us from Germany - a tin box containing 12 little bottles of after dinner digestive herbal liquor. Now used to store vanilla sugar.
I will have to use this pretty soon - great excuse to whip up a Tiramisu...
Found in Spain: Paella Spice Mix
Tuna Fish Spread from the Côte d'Azur
My all time favorite: Bovril beef extract as found in Spain, don't you just love the bottle?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Marianne doing her bit for the French Wine Industry

I found this at a winery. It says:
Marianne (the French national symbol) is born in 1792, but of all that Blue, White and Red (the French national colours) she has kept only the red....

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Aigo Boulido - How to treat a Hangover or prevent a Cold

Now what did I need all that garlic for that I showed you how to speed peel in my last post? To cook some "Boiled Water". That is what Aigo Boulido translates into, a very traditional Provençal peasant soup which serves as a famous hangover cure and an at least even contender to chicken soup when fighting the beginnings of a cold. Here below you see what you need: 2 leeks, a head of garlic, 2 or 3 tomatoes, some sprigs of flat leaf parsley and a generous sprig of sage, plus 1 big or 2 to 3 small potatoes and some chicken or vegetable stock.
Ingredients for Aigo Boulido
Break up the head of garlic and peel the cloves, clean and chop up the leeks, pick the parsley and sage leaves off the stalks, peel and halve the potatoes. With not too much water and some chicken or vegetable stock (I use powdered) bring everything to the boil and let simmer until the garlic cloves are real soft. Fish out the potatoes and set aside. Strain all the rest through a fine sieve, pushing with a spatula so you get all the garlic puree into the broth. Let cool a bit then in a mixer blitz the potatoes into the broth. Drink.
All chopped up and ready to cook
It might not look like much and the consistency is indeed more or less like boiled water but the taste is fabulous and your hangover will be history within minutes. Plus all microbes hate garlic just as much as vampires!  And have no fear: since the garlic is cooked you won't even smell. Santé!
Aigo Boulido

Monday, October 8, 2012

How to peel a lot of Garlic real quick

Reading recipes online I stumbled upon a more than useful method of how to peel a lot of garlic real quick. So simple, so useful!
Separate a head of garlic into individual cloves

Pour boiling water over the cloves, let sit for one minute, rinse with cold water
You will have those cloves peeled in no time at all - great!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Autumn in Provence

We did our best to pretend it didn't happen, but when this sight greeted me this morning when opening the windows I knew there is no denying anymore: autumn has arrived in Provence. Our Mulberry tree dropping its leaves is always the first sign that summer is officially over. We can still have lunch outside, but the mornings are real cold crisp and actually I should have been warned when I found this at last weeks market - one of the perks of autumn is that it is mushroom season, right? 
Girolles and Ceps at Vaison's Tuesday Market