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Archive for the ‘French’ Category

My love for tartiflette knows no bounds: tender slices of potato, smoky bacon and browned onions melded together by hot melted cheese sets my heart a-flutter (and, if I consumed it as frequently as I wished, would probably also stop my heart). Designed to revive hard-working mountain dwellers in the Haute Savoie, nowadays it’s also the perfect calorie-fest after a hard day’s skiing. It’s hearty, rich, warming and utterly, utterly delicious. The cheese of choice is Reblochon a mildly pungent, nutty cheese from the French Alps which has a melty, soft texture and turns bubbly, golden and crisp around the edges when baked. During three lovely months spent in the Haute Savoie, living in the lake-side town of Annecy, I worked my way through a good number of tartiflettes made with all sorts of cheeses. Whilst they were all great (especially the goat’s cheese ones) the classic recipe is definitely the best. If you should find yourself in the area you can’t go far wrong at Le Freti, cheese shop by day and restaurant by night. Just be sure to book a table in advance. (more…)

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It’s another Avignon-inspired recipe for you today! Going back to Les Halles market – the one to give you foodie dreams for years to come – I mentioned the boulanger who sold apple pie by the slice. His pie/tart was not the usually fancy affair with neatly sliced apples delicately arranged in concentric circles but a handheld, picnic-friendly pud.  A sweet apple compote was sandwiched between two layers of flakey, buttery puff pastry while the top was covered in a crackly layer of golden sugar. Thin squares of pie were sliced up and wrapped in a napkin for eating on the spot. The perfect end to a simple lunch of cheese, bread and tomatoes eaten on a sunny park bench overlooking the Rhone river. (more…)

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Last week my mum and I went on a last-minute city break to Avignon where we indulged in sunshine, shopping and lots and lots of beautiful food. Since coming back I’ve been on a Provençal cooking kick having been overloaded with inspiration on our mini holiday. Just wandering around the wonderful indoor market is enough to make you want to sell up and move to France: the stalls were overflowing with all manner of heirloom tomatoes; tiny, round green and yellow courgettes; plump purple- and white-flecked aubergines; strings of garlic; fat bundles of fresh herbs and about 20 types of onion. The delis had big bowls of ratatouille to take home and reheat alongside stuffed tomatoes, rabbit stew, individual egg and vegetable flans and roasted meats. Hams and whole salamis hung above mountains of olives and the boulanger oppostie sold crunchy, fresh sourdough bread, fougasse studded with nuts and apple tart by the slice. Other displays contained jewel-like candied fruits, macarons and iced, almond-shaped Calissons from nearby Aix. (more…)

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For several years before I got married, my mum and I took summer holidays together, sometimes inviting my brother or my now husband to join us for a week or two. Our holidays always went along the same lines, observing our family traditions. We would rent a gite somewhere in rural France – Lac d’Annecy, Brittany, Normandy, Corsica – and spend our time visiting nearby markets, walking, having long relaxed breakfasts in the morning sun and cooking the sort of dishes that she and I love. Stuffed tomatoes is one such dish and would appear at least once or twice per holiday in various guises.

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Gratin dauphinoise is a sinfully good, classic French dish that I wish I could eat everyday. Unfortunately my hips would never forgive such indulgence so this dish is reserved for high days and holidays only. Oh, and those days when you realise you ‘accidentally’ bought too much cream and need a way to use it up. I can’t only be me who does that, right?

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I don’t often have prunes in the store cupboard (I’m not sure why, they’re really very nice) but at Christmas they always make a welcome return to my kitchen ready to be wrapped in bacon and offered up as canapés or soaked in booze for sticky, fruity puddings. They’re one of the few fruits that get my approval to be paired with chocolate because their rich flavour brings out the fruitiness of a good dark chocolate. Prunes and chocolate are best friends with armagnac (probably because they come from the same area of France and spend long nights in the cupboard chatting in French and shrugging their shoulders at the state of my kitchen) and combine to make an indulgent, gooey truffle that you’ll have a hard time sharing.

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Lots of the food blogs I like to read use wonderfully evocative titles that sum up the atmosphere or inspiration for a post. Unfortunately I’m not so much of the creative ilk so for consistency’s sake I stick to the recipe name. Otherwise this post would have been called something along the lines of “Memories of summers passed”. With that said, you can probably tell that this recipe is the result me pining for childhood summers spent camping in France and one particular holiday in beautiful Jersey.

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