Welcome to French Food
Focus. The name describes the intent of this blog. I'll focus on food
and because I live in rural
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This is our village. Our house is the white one at the top right.
Other Posts Recent.
An Update & a
Virtually every cook who makes Gazpacho has their own recipe. This is mine. Feel free to copy, alter or change my version in any way you like.
Here are a few tips before you actually start preparing your Gazpacho.
· Buy the best quality vegetables that you can find. The tomatoes are particularly important. They must be nicely ripe & large.
· I like to serve additional vegetables, chopped finely, in small bowls. That way your guests can ‘personalise’ their bowl of Gazpacho.
Make sure your bowls
both for serving and for individual portions are nice & cold. Put them in
the fridge at least an hour before you plan to serve.
· If possible make the Gazpacho the day before & keep it in the fridge so the flavours blend & the soup is cold.
Here’s the list of ingredients. (This will make enough Gazpacho for 6 hungry people)
1. 6 each large ripe tomatoes, peeled & chopped.
2. 1 each red (purple) onion, chopped.
3. 1 each cucumber, peeled, seeded & chopped.
4. 1 each Red bell pepper (green if you prefer), seeded & chopped.
5. 2 stalks celery, chopped.
6. A small handful of parsley, chopped.
7. 1/3 cup of fresh chives, chopped.
8. 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced.
Throw all of the above ingredients into a large deep pot or bowl. Then add the following:
9. ¼ cup red wine vinegar.
10. ¼ cup olive oil.
11. 2-3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
12. 2 teaspoons sugar.
13. Salt & pepper to taste.
6 drops (more if you
like more bite)
15. 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce.
16. 4 cups tomato juice. (Note: I like to use a tube of double concentrated tomato puree mixed with 4 cups of vegetable stock instead of tomato juice. This typically has less salt than commercial tomato juice.)
Using a stick blender (or a food processor) process all of the ingredients
until you have a thick, chunky consistency.
For serving put your entire array of extra chopped vegetables into small bowls with serving spoon for each one.
Pour the Gazpacho into a large chilled serving bowl.
Give each guest a chilled soup bowl (I like to use deep ones as they retain the cold better than shallow ones)
Ladle out the Gazpacho & let you guests choose which additional vegetables they would like.
A well chilled Chardonnay & some fresh crusty French bread go well with the Gazpacho.
We thoroughly enjoyed our Gazpacho & I'll be making it fairly
regularly throught the summer. You really need to try this. Its delicious
and disgustingly healthy.
We thoroughly enjoyed our Gazpacho & I'll be making it fairly regularly throught the summer. You really need to try this. Its delicious and disgustingly healthy.
A convoluted tale
This is a convoluted tale about wine. I don't normally write about wine as so many of my readers live outside of France and can't buy most of the wines we drink. This wine, however, is available in the states as well as the Uk.
First though an update on Linda's health. In a word - scary. The surgeon called on Friday to say that they wanted her to have another scan. His English isn't that good, but we deduced that its most likely an MRI. He was supposed to call the next day to tell us when & where the scan would take place. No Call ,so we're in limbo on that which is worrying . Then Linda had a severe angina attack, her first in a long time. Her medication worked quickly, but these attacks leave her very weak. Thus yesterday we went to see her cardiologist. He couldn't find anything wrong, but he's put her on a 24 hour heart monitor & has given her some medications. She had another attack this morning, but it was much less severe. I think its all the stress, but we'll see
The wine. Nearly ten years ago we started going to a Gaillac winery called
Domaine de la Chanade. They made some very nice red wines. For
whatever reasons that I can't remember we stopped going there. I think it
was because we started buying our wines closer to home. The quality wasn't
quite so good, but the price was right.
For our last wine tasting group meeting I had assigned everyone the task of buying a white wine from Gaillac. This is difficult as they mostly make reds or they make sweet dessert type whites or they make a champagne like sparkling white. (these aren't bad actually & are a whole lot cheaper than the stuff from up North.) In any case due to illness we missed the meeting, but the feedback was that nobody found anything much good.
Then, last week we went to some newly met friends house for drinks. They live her part time & their house isn't that far, a few miles, from us. Nice people from England. They served us a delicious white wine. I couldn't see the bottle, but this stuff was really good. We moved into the kitchen to have some homemade pizza & in so doing I noticed a bottle of my favored red, Galien from Domaine de la Chanade on the counter. I commented that this was a wine & winery I really likes. Our host turned the bottle of white he was serving so I could see the label. It was Galien from Domaine de la Chanade, BUT was a white. I was very impressed. as well as surprised because the Domaine didn't make any whites when I was going there.
Michael & I played golf last Friday we stopped at the Domaine on our way
home. To my surprise the owner remembered me. We went into his new (to me)
tasting room to try a few things. Although I like pretty much all of their
wines the two Galiens, Red & White are definitely my favorites. We
had a nice chat with the owner about the wines, California, the recent
elections in France & so forth.
I'm taking a bottle of the white to lunch today because at least 4 other members of our wine group will be there. I guess I just want to show off a bit.
Now then, according to the owner he's exporting over 50,000 case of wine every year to the states. Mainly the East coast, primarily New York & some to Chicago. Thus you just might be able to find & buy the wines from Domaine de la Chanade Wouldn't that be a hoot?
If you do please please let me know. I'd love to tell the owner that somebody bought his wine because of me.
Why the lack of posts & a heads up for the near term future!
While our friends were her we got some very bad news. Linda has a small 'nodule, on one of her lungs. Its small, but very worrying. This has really turned our life upside down for now. Thus, if I'm not blogging you'll know why.
So far we've seen an onocologist (It was actually our cardiologist who spotted the nodule & sent us to the onocologist. He spotted it during a routine heart scan) He got a PET scan done. This was clear except for the nodule. Next is a biopsy.
Yesterday we saw the surgeon & anesthesiologist at the Hospital Larrey
in Toulouse. We were very impressed by both the hospital & the doctors.
They'll do the biopsy in the next ten days. If the nodule is malgnent
they'll carry on & do a removal of one lobe of her lung. All very scary
stuff even though they say the success rate is over 90%.
I must say that as always in our experience the French medical system is wonderful. No hassle, no cost, great staff & great facilities. Couldn't ask for more.
I'll be staying in Toulouse at a hotel run by the hospital should it become necessary. Friends have agreed to take care of Rupert, our dog.
So, please wish us the best & undersatand if the blog gets neglected.
Rest of the Visit
I'm skipping ahead for a number of reasons which I will make clear later.
In any case we did some more eating out over the weekend then I did some cooking at home (slow roasted belly pork) and had a good time in general despite lousy weather.
On the Saturday our friends treated us to lunch a Le Vieux Pont in
Belcastel. This was a double celebration for my birthday & our wedding
anniversary. As usual this Michelin one star restaurant was superb. We
ate our way through all the courses & amuses while managing to
drink some very nice wine. Quite a contrast to La Glebe!
I took our visitors to Toulouse on Tuesday where we had lunch at a favorite bistro in Place Wilson. Before lunch we'd checked them into a hotel near the airport. They were staying there over night as they had a very early morning flight the next day. I got them maps & information from the tourist office then left them to enjoy an afternoon in Toulouse.
We thoroughly enjoy this visit from our wonderful friends & we'll hope to see them back plus visiting them in North Carolina.
Of course the weather reverted to its normal sunny self the day after they left!
Visit - Friday, April 20th
Friday started with breakfast then a short walk for Rupert as we had to be out & about.
Linda & Jody were off to the monthly FiFi lunch. This was over near Puylaroc which is a pleasant drive. THere were somewhere between 20 & 30 ladies. You can imagine the noise level with them all talking at once. THe lunch I'm told was goof and apparantly there was a very handsome young waiter who all the ladies coveted. They have a good time & got back home just after we did at about 4 PM.
Meanwhile Bruce & I took Rupert to Villefranche for his grooming (toilettage
in French, thus the shop is Funky Toilettage.) He loves the owner, but
hates the grooming. We left him then took a walk around this old 'bastide'
town. Stopped at a cash machine & got some money. (By the way a tip for
those visiting from the states. Don't bring cash (dollars that is) just
make sure you have cast machine card from your bank. There are cash
machines all over France & they all seem to work with American cash
cards. Folding money on the other hand is increasingly awkward to
By now it was lunch time & we headed for Le Glebe. I wanted Bruce to
experience a typical French truck stop, a relais. That's exactly what Le
Glebe is. Every lunch time the huge parking lot fills up with large
trucks & workmen's vans. The standard 4 course lunch is 12€ including
1/4 liter of wine.
We went & pick up Rupert from the toilettage then headed home.
In the evening we had a light supper, cheese & charcouterie then decide to play some poker. By scooping the last hand Linda ended up the big winner.
And so to bed; Michelin starred restaurant for lunch tomorrow. It will be quite a contrast to Le Glebe!
Visit - First Day.
As our visitors were understandably somewhat jet lagged we took it easy this first day. Some nice croissants, pain au raisin & pain au chocolate for breakfast Then we sat around & chatted.
Linda & I had to go to Montauban for a doctors' appointment so our guests stayed home, but took Rupert for a walk. They have a friend for life now. We got back in good time & we all got ready to go out.
Dinner was at some friends house, well
its a chateau really. Very different chateau from the one the night
before. THis one is perched high above the Aveyron valley across from
Najac. The oldest part was built in the eleventh century. Its resored,
but more much modernized. Unfortunately, it was cold. Our hosts had just
returned for the summer (They're from Northern California.) and during
our cold snap in February their heating pipes had frozen so no central
heating. They had roaring fires going in three fireplaces so things
Off home to bed. We got back just after midnight.
Down to Toulouse airport yesterday to pick up our visitors. Their plane was on time, their bags didn't get lost & they went through passport control OK. It was great to see them. Their journey started badly, but ended up OK. British Airways had managed to lose their seat assignments. (They'd flown from Charlotte to Chicago first. Then Chicago to London & then down to Toulouse.) They managed to get on the plane, but had two separate middle rown seats at the back of the plane. Bummer! The lady next to Jody was enormous & over flowed her seat. This was looking grim for an 8 hours flight. Salvation came when a stewardess told them to grab their stuff. They were moved up to business class. Heaven! THus the trans- Atlantic portion of their trip was fine. Heathrow was OK & the short flight to Toulouse was Ok.
I drove them home through our showery weather taking the scenic route. They got a good view of the gorges of the Averyon plus some of our other nice scenery. Its a pleasant drive even when you're jet lagged.
At home we fed them some of Linda's famous home made vegetable soup, cheese & our nice local bread. This went down well then we whipped them off to the wine tasting.
There were 16 of us at the tasting. The
chosen wine this month was Bordeaux. Finding a good Brordeaux for under
10€ is a challenge. We tried nine different chateaux. Most were fine, but
there was nothing outstanding. I'd found two to take (You take one bottle
couple ), but I can't say either was anything to write home about.
We headed home & everybody hit the sack & slept- very soundly.
A good start to the visit. More tomorrow.
First, apologies to my loyal readers who keep checking in to see if I'v said anything. I've been quiet for far too long. I do, however, have excuses.
First I had the mother of all flus, twice! I thought I had just recovered only to be hit again. Not nice. Eventually Linda instisted that I go to the Doctor. He prescrible some anti-biotic that helped. He also reminded me that it had been a year since my last stroke & that I should go see the cardiologist for a check up.
Being a good boy I made my appointment. Being French the cardiologist was very through. I had not one, but two kinds of EKG, then a had to weat a 24 hour monitor. Then with some delay due to the flu I had a stress test. (I thought I was in the Tour de France as it seemed like hours of stationary bicycle pumping.) At that point I thought I was through; I'd passed all the tests. The next day the cardiologist called to say that there was one more test he wanted to have run. This one involved more exercise (on a treadmill this time) then nuking my blood stream. Once I was properly radioactive I had a PET scan. Then after a 3 hour delay a second PET scan. After I'd signed my very own nuclear non-proliferation pledge they pronounced me fit & let me go.
So, those are my excuses. Please dry your tears while I promise to be better in the future.
This week we have much anticipated visitors arriving from the states. Bruce & Jody are dear friends who we love to spend time with. I'm picking them up at the airport in Toulouse this afternoon. We'll give them a light supper them whisk them off to attend a meeting of our local wine tasting group. Should be fun. We're tasting Bordeaux wines this evening. It a real challenge to find one that's drinkable for under 10€. We'll see how everybody does.
There will be a lot going on during the next week, but I thought you might find it interesting to read about how we entertain our visitors. Thus, I'm going to do my best to keep you up to date. I'll even try to take some pictures even though the weather isn't going to be very good.
So, watch this space!
Casual Lunch for the workers
My wife's FiFi group held a grand used clothing sale and coffee morning the other day in out local village hall. As perr usual with them the set it up beautifully and advertised it well. They attracted a good crowd and sold well. I think they made around $2,000. They'll use it for local charities and other worthy causes.
At any rate I';d agreed to bring them lunch afterwards as they were working hard cleaning up & putting the village hall back to rights. Here's what I made:
This is one of my favorite recipes. Maily because its simple, quick, inexpensive and delicious. I've put the recipe in this blog before, but this time I remembered to take pictures. Here goes!
Here are all the ingredients:
1 Lb mushrooms
Put the dried mushrooms in a bowl with some warm water so that thery soften.
Chop up the onion into a fairly fine dice.
Sautee the onions in the butter in the soup pan.
About ten minutes with gentle heat until the onions are soft, but not browned.
Slice up all of the fresh mushrooms.
As you can see I'm using an egg cutter. This is only because; I have one & its the quickest & easiest way I know of to do it.
Just slicing them with a chef's knife does the trick as well.
Once the mushrooms are sliced make the stock.
As you can see I'm using a Knorr vegetable stock powder.
Chicken is good & a proper homemade stock is best.
No beef though, its too strong for the mushrooms.
Now dump in all of the sliced fresh mushrooms at once.
Stir to coat with butter & onion.
You may need to add some extra butter to coat the mushrooms.
Keep stirring until the mushrooms soften & just start to give off their water.
Dump in the dried mushrooms & their water.
Add all of the stock.
Bring the soup mixture up a boil & simmer for a few minutes. It doesn't take long.
Now you need to puree the soup. I use an immersion blender because its easy & does a good job.
A food processor or blender will do just as well even though a bit messier.
Blend the soup until all the larger bits of mushroom are gone.
Add the Thyme & mix in.
Taste for both Thyme & Saltiness. Add more if necessary.
Remember that adding the cream will dilute the saltiness.
Add the cream & check the seasonings for the last time.
Serve up & enjoy.
That was the soup for the ladies, but it wasn't enough so I made them some little open faced sandwiches.
To do these I mixed 3 tins of oil packed tuna with one finely chopped onion and chopped up cornichons (if you can't get cornichons then chop up some dills or sweet pickles). To this I added a good spoonful of Dijon mustard & then mixed in plenty of mayonaise until I'd made a rough paste.
I sliced up a baguette into about 1/4 inch thick slices and then toasted one side of them in the oven.
I spread these with my tuna mix & served them with the soup.
The ladies seemed to appreciate their lunch & there were several requests for the recipes. I enjoyed making the lunch & it took much lees than an hour to do.
Roll on FiFi! Keep having a good time & doing good deeds!