• 2 blogs into 1!

    I hope you enjoy the recipes on this blog.

    I have now merged my French and my English blogs into one. You can find more recipes using seasonal ingredients, ideas of what to make with leftovers and loads of easy yummy recipes here:


    a bientot!


  • Back from a LONG break, it's all about pumpkins and chocolate!

    Over 3 months without a post... But I couldn't miss the chocolate week! On Friday we paid a visit to Sarah from Cocoaloco in her new premises. She has moved out of her shed at the back fo the garden, into...the Chocolate Barn, of course. Located off the A24 northbound, just before the the junction with the A272, which is a TERRIBLE thing for me: It's now directly on my way to work!

    Because of chocolate week, there was an open week and free tasting at the barn. We tried some yummy milk and orange chocolate and brought back serious amounts of choccies with us. You never know, if one day chocolate runs out, one has got to be prepared.

    With the milk chocolate buttons and all the apples that fall in our garden from our neighbour's tree, I made some:

    Chocolate apple slices   ingredients the list is short: Apples and chocolate (plus a slug of your favourite spirit if you want- rhum, calvados, amaretto all work a treat)

    Clean and slice the apples as thin as possible  lay them down on greaseproof paper dry them in the oven, set on the lowest temperature for several hours remove from the oven and leave to cool Melt your chocolate in a bain marie (in a bowl over a pan of hot water) Whilst the chocolate is warm and melted, dip the slices of apples halfway in it lay them down again on the greaseproof paper and leave to set in the fridge

    Perfect with coffee or to make little hand made presents!

    PS: the afternoon of that same day, we set out on out annual visit to the Pumpkin Man in Slindon, more on that soon.....

  • Bread, bread and more bread


    The bread bin is overflowing...
    again. We buy loads of bread (the yummy "low GI" one from Truffles, baps for burgers, brioches for the kids for breakfast, ...) and every now and then, the lid doesn't fit on the bread bin no more.
    I still can't call sliced bread "normal bread" but have got really used to have it around rather than crusty loaves or baguettes.  Before moving "out of France" , the only times we'd use sliced bread was around Christmas time or ahead of big aperetifs, when we'd buy some - not very good- "pain de mie"  to make little toast style nibbles.

    Now, except if hubby is here for the whole week, we rarely need or eat a whole loaf. And there are only so many ducks in the pond in Storrington we can feed the leftovers to (let alone the fact that last time we went to feed them, a frail old lady told me off for feeding them white bread. Gives them terrible "gas" apparently, hence why she only buy wholemeal baps for them. I know...)

    I have found that preventing half of the bread bin contents to end up ...in the real bin is a question of habits, or rather 1 habit: lift the lid up every other day and check what's inside.

    Did it yesterday, found 1/2 a multi grain loaf that wouldn't make it to the week end and a whole pack of little brioches awaiting a sad end too...the kids having gone off them suddenly.


    1. Arranged the slices of bread flat on a tray pack them willy nilly on top of the scale in a corner or our doolhouse size kitchen so they could dry before getting mouldy
    2. Made a quick bread and butter pudding with the leftover brioches, a big handful of raisins and a quick custard.
    I ADORE bread and butter pud, it's up there in the top 5 of ultimate comford food. It's a lot like the French pain perdu, only baked in the oven rather than cooked in a pan..and a bit richer too. My cousin, Seb, who runs a couple of patisseries in London, makes a MEAN one....except I haven't seen him since our wedding :( 

    Hence I have to make it myself....

    brioche leftovers and butter pudding:

    6 to 8 small brioches or slices of a brioche loaf
    300ml milk
    100ml double cream
    125 g caster sugar
    2 eggs
    1 generous teaspoon of vanilla extract
    a handful of raisins
    about 30 g of butter


    pre heat your oven at 180 degres
    Cut the brioches open and butter the inside (or butter the slices)
    Close the brioches again and cut in 3 or 4 pieces
    place 1/2 in a deep ovenproof dish
    sprinkle most the raisins on top
    put the rest of the brioche pieces in the dish
    sprinkle the rest of the raisins

    Make your custard:
    Beat the eggs in a bowl
    heat cream, milk, vanilla and sugar in a pan until nearly boiling.
    Remove from the heat and pour over the beaten eggs whisking fast (otherwise you'll get scrambled eggs)
    pour the whole mixture back in the pan and heat gently, stirring all the time, until the cream coat the back of a spoon.
    Pour on top of the brioche leaving about 1/2 inch of bread not soaked in custard.
    Sprinkle with a little more sugar and bake in the oven (I place it in a tray filled with 1 inch of water but...not too sure why actually?)

    20 minutes later, it looks like...that:


    it's just YUMMMMM!

    Nearly forgot! the bread slices I have put to dry, I wizz them in a food processor to make breadcrumbs, sometimes plain, sometimes adding a tablespoon of dried herbs with it. Into a jam jar, lid on, they keep for ages and are great for coating fish fillets, chicken goujons, smal flattened slices of pork tenderloin or pork chops spread with mustard.

  • Wiston Tea Rooms, fresh eggs and a new take on omelettes

    Friday comes...
    and the same question return. What are we going to do today?

    On Friday, I don't work . Well not in the office that is. I spend it looking after "petit pingouin" (Tom) and  "petit lapin" (Millie) for the whole day. And just for the record, I am NOT complaining! It's a great day (most weeks) since I ONLY look after the kids instead of trying to half work and half look after them (that's  "horrible Tuesdays" to me).

    Anyway, we often spend days doing fairly simple stuff. Looking at it, I am not very creative really, I mostly repeat what happened in my childhood. When I was a kid, we lived just outside the village, so we'd spend wednesday afternoons (no school!) and summer holidays going on great adventures on our horses bikes, hiding from 1001 dangers in between the rows of vines behind the house, or sometimes going to feed the "baby goats" (sure there's a better word for them but..) down the road at the nearby farm.

    So what do I do with my crew when the weather is good enough? I often take them to Wiston Tea Rooms,DSC00700
    a great little place between Washington and Steyning, just 15 minutes down the road from us.

    The kids can play around all they like, feed the ducks,
    watch pony, geese and chickens walking around....

    roll and roll and roll down on the lawn at the back...I can have a nice coffee and more often that not a NICE BIG slice of homemade cake too.

    You can buy all sorts of things at Wiston Tea Rooms from supplies to create hand made cards to plant plugs...DSC00709
    small toys and great FRESH EGGS.
    I always try to have eggs at home. They are cheap, very versatile and taste yummm (especially proper farm eggs, by the way less expensive than supermarket eggs in most instances, I have discovered).
    You can always make so many different meal with eggs:
    obviously you can scrambled them, hard boil them, poach them, soft boil them and dip soliders in them...


    Add just a little milk and flour to make great sweet or savoury pancakes,
    A little more flour and butter as well for a brilliant quatre quart cake,
    whisk the egg whites and add cheese for a simple but delicious soufflé,

    try what I did today...
    Not wanting to throw away food as usual, I found a bowl full of cooked new potatoes and a few steamed broccolis from Sunday's roast, just about still OK. And a slice of Tomme de Chevre (a soft goats cheese with a hard crust) we brought back from our day trip to France on Saturday.
    A couple of eggs later and in less time than you can say "a chasseur sachant chasser" I got myself a delicious "omelette bordering on tortilla" for lunch:

    new potatoes and cheese omelette

    per person
    2 eggs
    1 to 2 small new potatoes, cooked
    50g of hard cheese - cheddar, goats, parmesan...
    a handful of cooked vegetables (onion, broccoli, asparagus, peas, ...) or a handful of chopped fresh tomatoes
    salt, pepper and olive oil

    Beat the eggs with a fork in a bowl
    cut the potatoes and mix with the eggs
    chop the cheese in small cubes
    Heat the oil in a pan,
    season the eggs with salt and pepper,
    throw your eggs and potatoes in and turn the heat half way down,
    add the vegetables,
    leave to cook for a minute or so before giving it a gentle stir

    You want to take it off the heat when the eggs are still slightly uncook. They'll carry on cooking in the pan and by the time you plate them ,they'll be just perfect.

    Ta-dah...a perfect lunch for...less than a couple of pounds?
    If you are real hungry, you can add buttered toast to go with it.
    I reckon it works with roast potatoes as well, just don't try with mash!

  • Almonds and abricots "clafoutis style" cake with ginger syrup or how to make the most of my local supermarket "reduced" shelf!

    We went shopping yesterday morning...

    not for glad rags on Sloane Street, only food shopping round our local supermarket in Pulborough! I had got my list with me- only way not to get too distracted and piling up too much in the trolley!!- but when we passed the "reduced" shelf, 3 punnets of apricots were crying for mercy. I saved 2 of them and a bunch of (English?) asparagus too (for less than £1, so that's allowed).

    You see, I spotted the apricots and it took me back YEARS. We used to have apricot tree in the back garden,

    => Read more!

  • Happeeee birthday to meeee, Happeeee birthday to meeee!

     Today I turned 6 (again. For the third time.)
    Bon Anniversaire Lorette.
    One of my best birthday was a few years back when my family and my now hubby put together a SURPRISE short break in Brittany for me. We had a wonderful time. The house was awesome, a proper family mansion in the middle of nowhere, yards from the beach. A massive dinning table, a cosy living room, a sunny garden for lazy aperetifs and a large courtyard perfect for playing PETANQUE until late at night early in the morning...mmm.

    => Read more!

  • tarte tatin v pear and frangipanne tart: Did I choose the weaker contestant?

    I love tarts, especially sweet ones! :)

    1. Whatever your mood or your craving, you can find one that will give you the "fix" you need
    2. you don't need to go hunting around for exotic, rare or expensive ingredients (well, most of the time)
    3. they are great for finishing any leftover fruits or chocolate even (yeah, right, leftover chocolate!!!)

    I have mentioned it before, our family trademark was "le chariot de dessert", where tarts featured regularly, whether a tarte au citron, tarte aux pommes or tarte au chocolat

    More recently, I have rediscovered long forgotten "classics" including the lovely pinky red tart aux pralines, fit for a princess dinner,

    or the tarte florentine, which apparently is one of my dad's favourite (live and learn hey), below...


    However, one of my favourite recipe is a simple but really yummy TARTE TATIN. An upside down apple tart with "caramelised near toffee consistency" apples:


    1 home made or ready made shortcrust pastry
    4 apples, peeled, cored and quartered
    50g of butter
    150g of casters sugar

    Make the caramel:  Pour the sugar in a pan with a few tablespoons of water, mix until dissolved then leave to boil and turn golden WITHOUT STIRRING (or you won't get caramel but sticky cristallised sugar)
    Pour your caramel at the bottom of a tarte tin or the lid of a glass pie dish that can go  in the oven (PIREX type)
    Place the apple pieces on top of the caramel then place a few little knob of butters in between
    cover the apples with the shortcrust pastry, tucking the end of the pastry against the sides of the dish
    make a hole in the middle of the pastry to allow steam to escape
    Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes at 180 degres.
    REmove from the oven, leave to cool for a few minutes then carefully turn the tart back on a plate before the caramel cools down completley and sets.

    Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche, c'est TOUT!...or if you really must and have time, a scoop of home made salidou ice cream for total indulgence...

    A couple of months back, I baked one of those and a poached pears and almonds tart. After much debating I decided to take the tarte tatin  along to my audition for Masterchef...but didn't make it any further (boooh). Not that I will ever know but i still wonder if I made the wrong tactical choice? 

  • what do you need after a long day's work coming back to an empty house? A hug in a bowl

    In these days of credit crunch ...

    (seriously, all day long, that's all we hear about on the radio...we KNOW about it...What we need is some stuff that will CHEER US UP please mister radio DJs), I  pay a little bit more attention to what I buy, cook and how to finish leftovers. Not JUST because of the credit crunch. I don't like wasting food. It's a habit from my childhood. See here and here for more on that story....

    Anyway, week meals.

    Especially when hubby is away (abandonning us to go and play golf work hard training sales people to do a better job), we live on fairly simple and cheap meals really. Soups and pies in winter, big salads, quiches and tarts in summer.
    Funny puddings

    made at Rachel's great Friday morning kids session of Mucky Pups in West Chiltington...

    CAKE here...
    and there...

    for the kids (GREAT EXCUSE!). Hey, I only make MONKEY CAKE to use bananas that are too ripe, honest.

    A-ny-way... the plan for today was to finish all my leftover vegetables since my next VEGETABLE BOX is due tomorrow. A carrot, cumin and cardamon soup followed by a spring greens and parmesan quiche was on the cards. OR the quiche and a...carrot cake! Guess which one would have won the fight in my household!!!

    Except when I got home, I received A HUG IN A BOWL.

    My neighbour and GREAT cook John, who used to work at the Café Royal in London many years ago, made a minestrone soup and far too much of it. And so he gave me half.

    Reminded me when I stopped at my grand parents on Sunday afternoon before my mum or my dad drove me back to Lyon. They'd always give me something to take with me, either a jar of home made jam, a LARGE slice (like a quarter!) of a cake,   a saucisson or soem cheese. I didn't get it at the time, thinking "it's not like I am going to starve you know" but now, thinking back about it, I do...get it :)

    And today, it was just a bowl of soup, but on a week day, when I wasn't particularly motivated to cook, it was just perfect. And SO tasty too.

    I will go and check his exact recipe, but in the meantime, here's the one I use, taken from a lovely book hubby bought me for Christmas "Hearty soups", published by Ryland Peters &Small:

    200g cannelleni beans
    250g smoked bacon or pancetta, diced
    2 garlic cloves, crushed
    2 large stalks of parsley, lightly crushed
    1 tbsp olive oil
    1 large onion, chopped
    2 potatoes, cubed and rinsed
    3 carrots, cubed
    2 celery stalks, diced
    3 tomatoes, halved, seeded and chopped
    200g of italian risotto rice or vermicelli pasta
    1 small round cabbage, quartered, cored and sliced
    250g peas
    3 small courgettes, halved lenghtway and thickly sliced
    sea salt, freshly ground pepper

    Put the pancetta and the parsley in a stockpot, heat gently and fry until the fat runs
    add the olive oil, heat briefly, then add the onion and ocok gently until softened but not browned
    Add the potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, celery and season with salt and pepper. 
    Add 3 litres of water and heat until simmering. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes
    Add the rice and cook for a further 10 minutes
    Add the cabbage and cannelleni beans, cook for another 5 minutes
    Add the courgettes and the peas, cook for 3 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender
    Remove the parsley stalk and serve with crusty or garlic bread.



  • My favourite summer salads...

    Not sure if it's safe to shout about it yet....
    But maybe, just maybe, summer has finally arrived.
    Fingers crossed.

    Summer. mmmm. Eating outside, BBQ, cold food, and salads. Loads of salads. But not just leaves, course not.

    Which got me thinking (always a bit dangerous I know): What are my favourite summer salads? really?

    So here's a quick Top 5...or rather 2:

    TOP 5 traditional summer salads from when I was little
    All fairly basic, using stuff growing in the garden...but yummy and kind of "summer comfort food" if that makes any sense

    1. Potatoes, tomatoes and boiled egg salad with mayo dressing

    2. Tomato salad with a shallot vinaigrette (1 part vinegar to 3 part olive oil, salt, pepper) and chopped fresh chives
    3. Celeriac remoulade: shredded raw celeriac with a runny mayo
    4. Carrot salad: Grated carrots with chopped fresh parsley and a lemon vinaigrette
    5. Salad nicoise: Green beans, tomatoes, black olives, hard boiled eggs, red onions and canned tuna with a mustard dressing (basic vinaigrette with a heaped teaspoon of French mustard all combined and shaken in en empty jam jar!!)

    TOP 5 summer salads 2008
    Inspired from loads of places and my habit of combining leftovers in any ways

    1. Noodle salad: Chinese noodles with sesame oil, lime juice, fresh grated ginger, spring onions, garlic
    2. Hamouli cheese, grilled peppers, coz lettuce and grilled chicken (poached from my husband!)DSC00903
    3. Potatoes and mint salad: peeled and cubes potatoes cooked until just tender, mixed with mayo and fresh mint
    4. Avocado, tomatoes, spring onions, crispy bacon salad
    5.  Green salad leaves with crumbled roquefort cheese

    Obvisously this is my Top 5 tonight, knowing me might well be completely different tomorrow.

    In the meantime, what's your favourite summer salad? Tell me HERE

  • Fancy a pudding with a difference? Try a tarte aux pralines!


    Feeling  a lot of sympathy for my family back in France Grinning from ear to ear after our second barbecue of the day whilst the Frenchies from Lyon and around watch the endless rain (No offence, but it's only just that we sometimes get the better weather..I HAD told my mum and dad to pick up a flight ticket and come over for the week end after all), we have spent most of the day cleaning and clearing our jungle garden after 2 weeks away. Getting there slowly and surely.

    Stopped for a quick lunch

    => Read more!


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