Preserved Tomatoes.

A couple of weeks ago we were given tomatoes by two of our friends who grow their own fruit and vegetables. Tomatoes straight from the vine smell and taste so good. So for a Winter treat I thought that I would try preserve tomatoes. Having never preserved tomatoes before I was a little apprehensive, but I can honestly say that it was quick, easy, no problem at all. So if you grow you own tomatoes or get then fresh from a farmers market buy 2kg and try it out. The taste is fabulous, much better than tinned tomatoes.

Makes 6 Jars

Time: 45 minutes, plus sterilising and cooling.

You will need:- 6 clean glass jars with lids and about 2kg of ripe tomatoes. Plus a little drizzle of olive oil.

1. Wash the tomatoes, then remove the stalks. Depending on the size of the jars, either halve or quarter the tomatoes.

2. Then start to fill the jars, intermittently adding a leaf of fresh basil. Pressing the tomatoes down with the back of a wooden spoon so that they are tightly packed.

The bulk of the preserved tomatoes were made using the above method but I also made a few the jars with slices of fresh chilli for Paul.

3. Now, make extra sure that the jars are full and packed tightly so that there are no air gaps, add a drizzle of olive oil on top. Then seal each jar tightly.

4. Submerge each jar in a large pan of gently boiling water. Then boil for about thirty minutes. To slightly cook the tomatoes and sterilise the jars.

5. Turn the heat off and leave to cool overnight in the pan of water.

These should keep for about three or four months in a cool, dark place. Once opened, keep them in the fridge and use within a week.

Trust me once you have tasted the tomatoes, they will not last for very long.

The taste of Summer for the Winter months, if you can store them that long.

They can be used in sauces, stew, casserole, chilli, pasta dishes etc.
 
 

Events:-

Organ Concert in Sarlat on the 1st September at 11am.

Flea Market in Vitrac 16th September.

15th and 16th September at Castlenaud, Tournament of Medieval Fencing.
 
 

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Lavender and Blackberry Ice Cream.

This is a gorgeous creamy ice cream full of the lavender aroma and taste. With the crunch of the blackberries. We were told that lavender ice cream is delicious from Hayley and Paul who came to visit us a few weeks ago. So I gave it a try and yes I totally agree with them. Thank you this ice cream is a winner and I shall make it more than once over the Summer period.

No-churn creamy, lavender and fresh blackberry ice cream.

Ingredients

1 cup whole milk
1 tbsp dried lavender buds
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
400g sweetened condensed milk
half a cup of mashed fresh blackberries

Instructions

1 Begin by creating the lavender infusion. Warm the milk over a moderate-low heat in a small saucepan until the milk is just beginning to simmer. Lower the heat to low, add the dried lavender buds and let the buds rest in the milk for about five minutes. Pour this mixture into a small bowel and cover with cling film and refrigerate for about an hour.

2 In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the heavy whipping cream on high speed until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla extract, then continue to whisk until stiffer peaks form. Only a second or two.

3 Gently fold the condensed milk into the cream using a plastic spatula.

4 Strain the lavender using a sieve, tossing away the lavender buds, leaving the infused milk to be used. Add this to the whipped cream/condensed milk. Then add the mashed blackberries. Gently combine.

5 Pour the mixture into a plastic container and/or small ramekins, cover with a lid or cling film and freezer for about four hours.

Should last for about three months.

 
 

Forgotten Vegetables

Shorter days and chilly nights call for soups made from root vegetables. While there has been a growing move towards seasonal vegetables in England, the French markets and supermarkets have been much better at presenting their customers with seasonal foods.

As the leaves begin to fall from the trees we have noticed some strangely shaped and oddly coloured vegetables appear on our local market stalls.

To me, some of these root vegetables look like a new variety but no, they have been cultivated for centuries when seasonality was imposed onto people rather than offered as a choice. Then they were forgotten when the move for more exotic vegetables and all year round availability became the norm. As always the French have a wonderful name for these vegetables, légumes oubliés (forgotten vegetables).

At first sight Paul and I were unsure if the purple, sometimes black carrot and the yellow carrots were actually carrots. So we bought some to try from a organic produce seller in St Cyprian market and decided they were delicious.

The purple and yellow carrots taste more peppery, than their classic counterparts, peel them roast them, place them into casseroles or soups the flavour is outstanding.

All ready to make a hearty soup so here is the recipe.
 

Lentil and Vegetable Soup

Serves about four people

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 medium size carrots, cut and diced
4 sticks celery, sliced
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 potato, diced
small turnip cut into small chunks
50g mushrooms
125g dried green lentils
1 litre of vegetable stock

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the onions and cook gently for about five minutes.
Then add all of the other vegetables, stir for about five minutes. Add the lentils, stock and bring to the boil and then simmer for about one and a half hours until the lentils are tender.

Serve as it is with chunks of fresh bread or you could grate a strong cheese over the top, either way delicious.

It freezes well too.

A hearty soup for a Autumn or Winters day.
 
 

Local News- Maison Carré Patisserie at Castlenaud will be closed from the 23rd October to the 5th November.

 
 

Gâteau au Chocolate.

I made this as our New Year treat. However, I did point out to Paul that this was my first attempt at making this gâteau so it may not turn out right, in fact he may not see it at all. I’m glad to say the gâteau did cook perfectly it looked and tasted good and tasted a lot lighter than I expected for a dense chocolate gâteau.

Gâteau au Chocolate

Ingredients:

150g (5oz) caster sugar, plus some for sprinkling.
275g (10oz) plain chocolate, chopped, try and use the most expensive chocolate at about 70%.
175g (6oz) unsalted butter cut into pieces.
10ml (2tsp) vanilla essence or 3tsp walnut liqueur.
5 eggs – separated.
40g (2oz) plain flour, sifted with a pinch of salt.

Optional, I also used 50g chopped walnuts.

Icing sugar for dusting.

Sweetened whipped cream for serving.

Preparation:

1 Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3. Generously butter a 24cm/9 or 10in spring base tin, then sprinkle the tin with a little sugar and tap out the excess.

2 Set aside 45ml/3 tbsp of sugar. Place the chocolate, butter and remaining sugar in a heavy saucepan and cook over a low heat until the chocolate and butter have melted and the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the vanilla essence or walnut liqueur and leave the mixture to cool slightly.

3 Beat the egg yolks into the chocolate mixture, then add the flour (and walnuts if you are using them).

4 In a mixer beat the egg whites slowly until frothy. Increase the speed, add the salt and continue beating until soft peaks form. Sprinkle the reserved sugar and beat until stiff and glossy. Beat one third of the whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remaining whites.

5 Carefully pour the mixture into the tin and tap the tin gently to release any air bubbles.

6 Bake the gâteau for about thirty five to forty five minutes until well risen and the top springs back when touched lightly with a fingertip. If the gâteau appears to rise unevenly, rotate after about the first twenty minutes of cooking. Transfer the cake to a wire rack, remove the sides of the tin and leave to cool. Remove the tin base, dust the cake with icing sugar and transfer to a serving plate.

Serve with whipped cream.

Bon Appetit.

Walnut Bread.

One of the culinary joys this time of year is the new season of walnuts, which Paul and I have been foraging along the lanes leading from the village of Daglan. The walnut trees produce nuts that have been awarded ‘Noix du Perigord Appellation d’Origine (AOP)’ and are grown in over 7,000 hectares, primarily in the Perigord Noir. Our area is known as ‘Route de la Noix’ because of the abundance of walnuts.

The walnuts are used in many delicacies and recipes such as walnut lacquer, which is delicious, walnut wine, walnut gateau, walnut biscuits, walnut flour, walnut bread, walnut oil, in fact the nuts can be cooked with almost anything and everything from the starter of the meal to the dessert.

Not only are they rich in fibres, an excellent source of manganese, vitamin B1, B6, B9 and E, high in arginine which contributes to a good blood circulation, low in sodium (ideal for a salt free diet), rich in in omega 6 and 3 lipids, but they are also ‘une pepite energetique’, a little nugget of energy, with a 20-25g portion providing 8% of the daily pep required for an adult.

This year I thought that I would try walnut bread which is gorgeous eaten with cheese.

Walnut Bread

Makes one small loaf and bakes in around thirty minutes.

250g (9oz) granary flour
1tsp salt, 1tsp sugar
75g (3oz) shelled walnuts, brake the walnuts in half or quarters.
2g (one sachet) dried active yeast
180ml (6) warm water
Baking tray lined with baking parchment
Roasting pan

1 In a medium sized mixing bowl, mix the flour, salt and sugar, add the walnuts, yeast and water and combine with a wooden spoon and then with your hands until it forms a dough. Cover and leave in the bowl for ten minutes.

2 Leaving the dough in the bowl, knead by stretching a portion of it up from the side and press into the middle. Turn the bowl slightly and repeat with another portion of dough. Repeat another eight times. The whole process should take about one minute and the dough should start to resist. Cover and leave to rest for ten minutes.

3 Repeat step 2 another three times. After the final knead, cover and leave to prove for about one hour.

4 Punch down the dough with your fist to release the air, then place it onto a floured work surface. Shape into a ball with your hands. Flatten the dough slightly into a neat round disc, then push your finger through the middle to make a hole. Enlarge a little, then place the bread onto a prepared baking sheet.

5 Cover the bread with the empty bowl and let it rise until just less than double its size, about 45 mins.

6 About twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 260C/fan 240C/gas 9 and place a roasting pan at the bottom of the oven to preheat. Fill a cup of water and set aside.

7 When the dough has finished rising, uncover it and dust with flour.

8 Slash a large square into the top of the dough, about 5mm deep, using a sharp knife.

9 Place the bread dough into the oven, pour the cupful of water into the hot roasting pan and lower the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas6. Bake for about 30 mins, or until it has turned brown.

10 To check if the bread is cooked all the way through, tip it upside down and tap the bottom. It should sound hollow. If not ready return to the oven for a few minutes. Place onto a wire rack to cool.

The walnuts add a wonderful flavour to the bread.

Bon Appetit.