Top quality dark chocolate with fleur du sel.
Hot plate of my Esse cooker – a thing of functional beauty.
Toasted sandwich heaven for “petit dej”.
There was an unusual happening in the Street household on Saturday night.
The insatiable adolescent appetites took themselves and their “petite gourmande” sister off to watch the local football derby.
Nigel and I were left alone for dinner- gastronomic serendipity.
Earlier that day Nigel appeared at the kitchen door in a pair of waders and handed me a bucket full of crayfish.
Great starter for six. Fantastic feast for two.
Cooking and peeling passed enjoyably with a couple of glasses of chilled riesling and the good company of some very nice people – who left before dinner.
After softening some garlic and onion the empty shells were thrown into the pan and flambéed in cognac.
Cream, white wine, tomato and some wonderful espelette pepper ( thank you Lory Leshin) for a hint of sweet, rounded chili, a scattering of parsley and two slices of lightly toasted “pain de campagne”.
I love football.
As a welcome home for the holiday for my strapping boys I boned, stuffed and rolled a breast of hogget. Like many high school students in rural france they board at school and thoroughly enjoy good home cooking when they can get it.
The very mild autumn weather has encouraged a new burst of growth in the hedgerows and the herb garden – my inspiration. Dandelions are in flower again, the chickweed seems to think that spring is back and my husband has been eyeing the new growth of nettles with a last brew in mind. Last week we found a bottle of nettle beer from the batch made this spring. It had been put in the bread oven (unlit) to protect us from the possible explosion. Naturally we opened it and drank it. It was a “vrai delice”. Clear, refreshing , very nettly, and verging on the hallucinogenic – Nigel is eager to make and drink more.
Picking the herbs to compliment the hogget was easy. I wanted something to add a bit of zip between the sweet layers of meat and crispy fat.
Chopping fresh mint, sorrel and rosemary reminded me of my favorite part of handcrafting natural cosmetics for Love Life Botanicals. There is a moment of aromatic heaven when essential oils are blended into warm, creamy emulsions. Cutting the herbs released a wonderful wave of herby scent, a hint of the intense tastes to come.
The boys cleared their plates and cleaned up the cooking dish with baguette.
The dogs were rewarded for their drooling patience with the bones.
We have several very fruitful plum trees on our property.
This year we have dried, jellied and conserved them in brandy for a sumptious, spicy treat at christmas.
My children are an inventive and creative lot, they also revel in the pleasure of good food.
My son Sam invented a special instant cheesecake recipe using my plum jelly (sometimes know as plum ‘runny’).
He spreads a good layer of mascarpone cheese on a digestive biscuit and them tops it with plum jelly.
I challenge anyone trying out this recipe to eat only one…..
Cooking on our smallholding is a very pleasurable homage to the quality of the ingredients you have, uncomplicated combination can produce outstanding eating.
Last night we had quail basted with plum runny, red wine and a dash of this years elderberry liqueur. I threw in some chopped dried plums and cooked red cabbage and apple with balsamic vinegar to go with it.
There was a mild tussle between Nigel and Isabelle for the last moppings of plummy sauce
Yesterday evening my husband sat down at the kitchen table, poured himself a large glass of merlot and declared ” Well ……I’ve had a bit of a day . “
Smallholding in any season is not for the faint hearted but autumn has a bountiful momentum best suited to the hyperactive ( I definitely count my husband as one).
Harvesting, preserving, processing, butchering, cooking, squeezing in a quick hour mushroom picking, its best just to roll with the program and try not to sit down for too long during the day because you might not get up again.
It only stops when you go to bed and even then niggling thoughts about checking the fermentation of our recently pressed cider float through my dreams.
The rewards are great. A store cupboard and freezer full of fabulous food to enjoy during the long, dark months soon to come- I’m almost looking forward to winter!
We keep our sheep for at least a year, usually two. They get time to run around and enjoy life eating lush Limousin grass.
Then having waited patiently, we get to savour the fabulous flavour of hogget.
Lamb is a pale comparison to this rich, tasty and tender meat. Having eaten both I don’t understand the status given to lamb. If given the choice between the two in a supermarket (places I do try to avoid) I would certainly pick hogget.
My husbands favourite cut is neck.
When slow cooked for over two hours with plenty of red wine, garlic, onion, fresh tomatoes and rosemary it has a creamy rich, flavour that pulls together the other ingredients. We love it.
The dogs wait patiently for the bones -c’est bon appetit pour toute la famille.