Pasta bowl recipe

Pasta-bowl-recipe


Bowls are cool! It seems that nowadays more and more dishes are served in bowls: salad, soup, risotto, pasta, breakfast porridge and muesli and so on.

The following pasta bowl recipe makes a quick, tasty and carefree lunch. Don’t worry about the amount of olive oil in the recipe; as ricotta has only 11 % fat you can be a bit more liberal with heart healthy olive oil. The recipe is just as good with smoked salmon instead of Parma ham.

2 servings

2 handfuls of baby salad leaves; baby spinach, rocket, mache or mesclun
4 full tbsp. ricotta
100 g Parma ham or smoked salmon, cut into fine strips
4 tbsp. olive oil
4 tbsp. parmesan
2 tbsp. pine nuts
Freshly ground black pepper
Whole wheat pasta for 2 servings

Cook the pasta al dente.

Meanwhile grate the parmesan and cut the Parma ham or smoke salmon into strips.

In a large bowl carelessly mix the ricotta, Parma ham or smoked salmon strips, 2 tbsp. olive oil and some black pepper. Place the baby salad leaves in 2 individual bowls.

When the pasta is cooked, drain the water and add the pasta into the large bowl. Add the grated parmesan into the bowl and mix carelessly. Divide the mixture on top of the baby salad leaves in bowls. Sprinkle each bowl with 1 tbsp. pine nuts and 1 tbsp. olive oil.



0 comments:

European Heritage Day in Antibes

Fort Carré seen from Port Vauban

European Heritage Days, Journées Européennes du Patrimoine, offer guided tours to historical buildings, visits to buildings that are not normally accessible to the public, and free entry to museums. The event began in France in 1984 sponsored by the ministry of culture and has become hugely popular.

This year we opted to visit Fort Carré and Musée Picasso in Antibes.

We parked at the Fort Carré parking by the D6098 road which is both convenient and free. There’s a free shuttle bus to the city centre but walking to the old town takes just about 20 min.






We first had a very pleasant guided tour of Fort Carré. It was a beautiful September morning, and we could really appreciate the great panorama from the roof of the fortress.
The French King Henri II ordered its construction in the 16th century. At that time, the border with the Duchy of Savoy was very near. Nice belonged to Savoy and Antibes to France. It was also important to protect Antibes and its harbour against pirates. At that time, some 50 soldiers were on guard at the fortress with their own kitchen and chapel. In the 1680s’ the fortress was strengthened by Vauban. After 1860, Fort Carré had no military purpose. Finally, in 1997 it was bought by the city of Antibes and opened to the public.

We then walked to the Vieille Antibes, the old town, passing Port Vauban now the largest marina in the Mediterranean Sea. The yachts in the harbour seem to get bigger every year.

We had lunch in the old town, in the pleasant patio of Le Jardin restaurant as Musée Picasso was closed during the lunch hour. Before it even reopened, a huge crowd had already gathered outside. So we decided to take a short walk in the old town, and popped in the English bookshop. After half an hour or so the queue to the museum had disappeared.

In 1946, Picasso lived with Françoise Gilot in an apartment in Juan-les-Pins and had very little space to work there. Musée Picasso was at that time known as Musée Grimaldi, and was owned by the city of Antibes. Picasso met the director of the museum who suggested that he could use the chateau as a studio. This resulted in several very prolific months before Picasso moved to Vallauris leaving all his Antibes output in the chateau. The bulk of the Picasso collection belongs to this period. Also other modern works of Nicolas de Staël, Germaine Richier and others are shown.
Sculpture of Germaine Richier at Musée Picasso Antibes








Place Mariejol in front of Musée Picasso Antibes









Antibes old town and harbor image
Image of Old Antibes courtesy of Google Maps










0 comments:

Provencal Christmas soup

Provencal Christmas soup


In many parts of Provençe, fish or mussels with spinach used to be a traditional dish on Christmas Eve. In our days the end of the year festivities often lead to nutritional excesses.

The French Elle magazine suggested that the week before Christmas one should do a pretox to prepare the metabolism for the marathon of the end of the year. The plan is to avoid alcohol, caffeine (if you can!), sugar and industrial products, and to reduce dairy products. Vegetables, chicken, fish, brown rice and herbal teas are perfect ingredients for a pretox menu.

So the following old Provençal Christmas recipe of spinach soup with mussels, moules aux épinards, is in fact a super pretox recipe. The recipe is modified from the cookbook of Leslie Forbes: A table in Provençe.

2 servings

About 150 g fresh baby spinach
About 30 cleaned mussels (more if you use the small Mont Saint Michel mussels)
1 shallot, minced
300 ml vegetable stock
4 tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
50 ml white wine
Freshly ground black pepper

In a large casserole, warm 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the minced shallot about 5- 10 minutes until soft. Then add the baby spinach and continue sautéing a few minutes until the spinach has wilted. Add a little vegetable stock and mix with handheld mixer, it does not have to be completely smooth. Add the rest of the stock, stir and cover. Keep warm.

In a heavy casserole, warm 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat and sauté the minced garlic for a few minutes. Add the white wine and black pepper and bring to the boil. Add the mussels and cover. Continue cooking about 4 minutes after the mussels have started to steam in the casserole. Shake the casserole and check that all the mussels have opened. Shell the mussels.

Divide the spinach soup in bowls and place the mussels on top. Sprinkle with olive oil and serve with good whole wheat bread.

0 comments:

Fish fillet on vegetable bed

Fish fillet on vegetable bed


The following recipe is a carefree way to prepare tasty fish fillets on a vegetable bed. The recipe is also a brilliant example of Mediterranean diet: fish combined with vegetable protein from white beans. Fennel with is mild licorice taste has always been a favourite in the south of France.

Everything is cooked in the same heavy casserole, such as Le Creuset. The recipe is with cod, but any firm, white fish will do; halibut, sea bass, John Dory fish. There is no need to add salt in this recipe because the capers are already quite salty and tinned beans are salted as well. Fresh lemon will also reduce the need for salt.

2 servings

About 300g cod fillet
1 fennel
1 carrot
1 shallot
1 clove garlic
A handful of baby spinach
2 tbsp. olive oil
A tin (400g) white beans
2 tsp capers
50 ml white wine
2 tbsp. crème fraîche, 15% fat
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh dill
Lemon wedges

Wash and slice the fennel. Microwave until al dente, almost soft. Set aside.

Wash and slice the carrot. Microwave until al dente and set aside.

Warm the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy casserole. Peel and chop the shallot, peel and mince the garlic clove. Sauté them in the casserole for about 5 minutes stirring now and again.

Add the white wine, fennel and carrot to the casserole and stir. Add the crème fraîche, black pepper and some of the dill. Stir and cover.

Meanwhile rinse and thoroughly dry the tinned white beans. Add to the casserole and stir. Cover and let cook for about 3 minutes so that the beans are heated.

Add the capers and spinach and stir. Nestle the fish fillets among the vegetables and cover. Let cook for 10 minutes until the fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork. NB! You may need to reduce the heat somewhat so that the fish is gently simmering among the vegetables.

Divide the vegetables on the plates and place the cod on top. Decorate with fresh dill and serve with lemon wedges.
Cod and vegetables in casserole











0 comments:

Vegetable crumble recipe

Vegetable crumble recipe

The following vegetable side dish goes very well with meat or chicken. It is a twist of the famous French ratatouille. Make it when the tomatoes are at their best.

For the crumble you will need grated Parmesan and almond powder, poudre d’amande, which is easily found in all French supermarkets. If you don’t have it in your shops just grind the almonds in a food processor until you get a fine, grainy consistence.

This recipe is gluten free.

2- 3 servings

1 aubergine
1 courgette / zucchini
2 large and ripe tomatoes
1 shallot
1 clove garlic
1 tsp Provençal herbs
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp. pine nuts
2 tbsp. black olives
1 tbsp. rapeseed oil
2 tbsp. olive oil
About 1 tbsp. butter for the oven dish
For the crumble:
4 tbsp. grated parmesan
4 tbsp. almond powder, poudre d’amande
Fresh basil leaves to decorate

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Wash and slice the aubergine and courgette into about 0,5 cm rather thin slices. Place the slices on a large oven tray lined with baking paper and bake for 20- 30 minutes until softened.

Meanwhile warm 1 tbsp. rapeseed oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Peel and chop the shallot, add to the pan. Mince the garlic and add to the pan. Chop the tomatoes and add to the pan. Add the Provençal herbs and black pepper and cook for about 10- 15 minutes. Add the pine nuts and olives and stir.

Generously butter a medium- size ovenproof dish.

Make the crumble by mixing the Parmesan and almond powder.

Place the aubergine and courgette slices in the bottom of the ovenproof dish. Divide the vegetable mixture from the frying pan over the aubergine and courgette. Top with the crumble and drizzle with 2 tbsp. olive oil. Bake in the oven for 20- 25 minutes.

Divide the vegetable crumble on the plates and decorate with fresh basil.

0 comments:

French toast recipe with a twist

French toast recipe with a twist


This unusual French toast, pain perdu, was inspired by a recipe shown on the French morning TV, Tele Matin. I have modified it by replacing the brioche, sweet bun, with whole wheat muffin which is much more usual in our household. You can make this recipe with almost any fruit in season; peaches, apricots, apples

2- 3 servings

1 whole wheat muffin
150 ml milk
1 vanilla pod
1 egg
1 tbsp sugar
2 fresh and ripe peaches

Preheat the oven to 180° C.

Pour the milk into a bowl and gently warm it in a microwave oven. Half the vanilla pod lengthwise and place in the milk. Whisk until it has released the vanilla grains into the milk, then discard the pod. Cut the muffin into cubes and place them into the milk to get soaked.

In a larger bowl, whisk the egg and sugar. Pour the muffin- milk mixture into the egg- sugar mixture.

Wash and dry the peaches and cut into cubes. Add them into the muffin- egg- milk and mix well.

Oil a small non- stick ovenproof dish and pour the fruit- muffin- egg- milk mixture into it. Bake for 40 minutes.

Remove from the oven and gently ease the edges from the dish with a wooden spatula. Place a plate upside down on top of the dish and quickly turn over the dish and plate releasing the “French toast” on to the plate. Lift off the ovenproof dish and serve.

Come to think of it, this dessert could also be called Tarte Tatin with a twist by the way the bake is released from the dish. Serve it with a good vanilla ice cream if you wish to intensify the vanilla flavour.



0 comments:

Walking in Old Carros

The Var Valley seen from Carros Village

The commune of Carros is situated 17 km northwest of Nice. New Carros is nowadays a busy industrial town with its business park extending several km towards Le Broc along the River Var.

Carros Village, Old Carros (387m alt.) on the other hand is totally different. We visited it on a beautiful and warm September morning. It was pleasant to stroll along its tranquil medieval alleys. From various spots, we had great views over the high mountaintops in the north and the Var Valley and the coast in the south.



Carros chateau is beautifully restored some years ago.  Contemporary art exhibitions are arranged in the chateau, and entrance is free. For example, last year we went to see their exhibition named variations LeCorbusier. Alas, on the day of this visit, the chateau and exhibition were closed because of change of exhibitions. It is therefore best to consult their web site https://www.ciac-carros.fr/ (in French) to see what’s going on before making a trip there, something we failed to do today.

Several hiking trails start or pass through the village. These would be nice to explore later, as on a crisp and sunny Riviera winter day.

Carros village has few restaurants. There’s an old auberge transformed into a restaurant, and a good pizzeria with a sunny terrace offering views down to the Var Valley, and a crêperie on a shaded alley.

A visit to the perched village of Carros makes a nice change from the more famous and crowded attractions on the French Riviera.
Tranquil alley in Carros Village

Image of Carros Village courtesy of
Google Maps





Google image of Carros Village








0 comments:

Cherry tomato and cheese tart

Cherry tomato and cheese tart








This delicious tart is easy to prepare with ready- made puff pastry, pâte feuilletée. The French puff pastries are thin and easy to roll out into a tart tin. They are generous in size; if you use a small tart tin about 25 cm in diameter, simply cut away with scissors the extra pastry. I always choose the traditional puff pastry made with butter.

The cherry tomatoes, or other tasty tomatoes in different colours, are simply assembled fresh on top of the baked tart. But it is the pistou, basil and olive oil sauce, which really heightens the taste in this tart and makes it very South of France style.

Serve this tart with baby salad leaves and vinaigrette for a simple but tasty lunch.

4 servings

About 25 cm diameter tart tin
Butter for the tart tin
1 ready- made puff pastry, pâte feuilletée
4 eggs
120 ml crème fraîche, 15 % fat
100 g Parmesan, freshly grated
1 ball of mozzarella
1 tbsp. Maizena, corn starch

For the decoration:
About 18- 20 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Fresh basil leaves

For the pistou:

1/3 clove garlic, crushed
A small handful of basil leaves
¼ tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper
About 3 tbsp. olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Butter the tart tin and roll out the puff pastry into the tin. Cut away the extra pasty and pick the bottom with a fork.

Grate 100 g Parmesan and cut the mozzarella ball into small pieces.

In a bowl whisk the eggs, crème fraîche and freshly ground black pepper. Add the grated Parmesan and 1 tbsp. Maizena and whisk again. Add the mozzarella pieces and mix. Pour the mixture into the tart tin and bake for 30- 35 minutes.

Meanwhile make the pistou. Wash and dry the basil leaves. Crush 1/3 clove garlic in a mortar with a pestle. Add the basil leaves, some freshly ground black pepper and the salt and continue pounding into a paste. Add the olive oil to make a sauce. Wash the cherry tomatoes and cut them into halves.

When the tart is baked, let it cool for a few minutes. Then place the halved cherry tomatoes on top of the tart. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar and the pistou.

0 comments:

Hike from Col d'Allos

Rochegrand seen from Allos Village


The D908 road that goes over Col d’Allos (2250 m) connects the Ubaye and Verdon Valleys. Just below the mountain pass, there’s a refuge which is open during the summer months. The GR56 hiking trail goes over the col, making it an excellent starting point for some good hikes. There’s a potholed parking at the col proper. The parking at the refuge is reserved for the clients. The mountain pass is extremely popular during the summer peak period as many stop there just to admire the stunning views, and to experience the alpine atmosphere. The winding road up to the pass is very narrow, so be careful. Compared to this, the road over Col de la Bonette feels like a highway!

The drive from Nice to Col d’Allos is long, about 2h 50 but there are some villages along the road where you can stop for a coffee and snack. We can recommend Entrevaux and Allos Village which both made nice stops.

Because of the distance, it made sense to make a shorter walk from the col as we did not plan to stay overnight. To explore the region better, we’d recommend to book an accommodation for a few nights.









Here we describe a panoramic and easy walk from Col d’Allos to Rochegrand (2409 m) and back which takes only about three hours.

We headed south along the GR56 trail, ascending to Baisse de Prenier (2402 m). Just below this point, we left the GR56 trail and forked right. The trail continued in a very nice alpine meadow further south, rolling along a gentle mountain ridge, croupe de la Montagne de Cheiroueche. The summit of Rochegrand could be seen in front of us most of the time. We reached the summit after about 1h 30. The southern face of Rochegrand was steep and rocky. We had the village of Allos right under us. Some of the nearby summits worth mentioning include Mont Pelat (3050 m), Le Cimet (3020 m) and the peculiar Grande Séolane (2909 m).

We returned to Col d’Allos along the same trail.
Grande Seolane 2909 m

Duration: 3 hours
Rochegrand trail image

Vertical ascent: 340 m

Map: IGN 3540 OT Barcelonnette

Image of trail courtesy of Google
Maps

0 comments:

Lamb shoulder and vegetable stew recipe

Lamb shoulder and vegetable stew

Lamb shoulder, épaule d’agneau, is a typical autumnal dish in the South of France. Lamb shoulder usually weighs around 1kg and makes four generous servings. If you cook the lamb shoulder for just two persons you will have left-overs for the next day and you could make for instance lamb couscous or lamb parmentier.

The choice of vegetables in this recipe reflects autumn. Butternut squash, new potatoes, red bell pepper, shallot and garlic stew goes nicely with lamb shoulder.

Serve your lamb with a great red from Côtes du Rhône Villages.
Local experts say that some Syrah in the wine goes especially well with lamb, and we agree.

For 4 servings lamb shoulder

About 1 kg lamb shoulder
150 ml white wine
250 ml chicken stock
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. butter
1 bouquet garni, a bunch of dried herbs
4 cloves garlic, sliced
Freshly ground black pepper

For 2 servings vegetable stew

3- 5 new potatoes, sliced
2 shallots
1 clove garlic
1 red bell pepper
About 200 g butternut squash cubes
2 tbsp. olive oil
100 ml white wine
100 ml chicken stock
A pinch of salt (optional)
Parsley to decorate

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Warm 1 tbsp. butter and 1 tbsp. olive oil over high heat in a heavy frying pan. Fry the lamb shoulder on both sides until nicely browned. Place it in an ovenproof dish fatty side up. Pour the white wine and chicken stock in the dish, add the garlic slices, bouquet garni and black pepper. Bake in the oven for 2 hours.

Meanwhile prepare the vegetable stew. Wash and slice the potatoes. Wash and chop the red bell pepper.  In a heavy casserole, such as Le Creuset, warm the olive oil over medium heat and start sautéing the potatoes and bell pepper. Stir frequently.

Peel and chop the shallots, peel and mince the garlic clove. Add to the casserole and reduce the heat somewhat. Add the butternut squash, white wine and chicken stock. Cover and let simmer until the vegetables are soft.

When the lamb shoulder is done, place it on a cutting board. Remove the fat crust on top of it and slice.

Place the sliced lamb on the plates and sprinkle with the juices from the baking dish.  Divide the vegetable stew on the plates and decorate with parsley.

0 comments:

Above Millefonts Lakes

Above Lac Petit Mont Pépoiri 2676 m in background




We have previously described our hike to Mont Pépoiri (2674 m) from the Millefonts parking (2040 m). The road up here from St-Dalmas Valdeblore is narrow with some potholes, but nevertheless drivable with a normal car.

This time we wanted to explore another trail in this popular region. Starting from over 2000 m altitude, you are already in an Alpine environment above the tree line.












We first climbed to Col de Veillos (2194 m; 30 min). At the crossroads here, we took the trail that forked left heading north to Lac Petit (2229 m), which in spite of its diminutive name is in fact the largest of the Millefont Lakes. Above the lake, we left the yellow-marked trail and forked left following a trail in a gentle grassy terrain. There were some cairns here and there. Navigation was easy as most of the time we had Col Ferrière (2484 m) in sight. The terrain was easy; you could walk almost anywhere. We reached the mountain pass after 1h 50. It was also the border of Mercantour National Park. We had great views to north, towards the peaks surrounding the Isola 2000 resort as well as the Mercantour summits, many of them marking the Franco-Italian border.

We continued heading east along the mountain ridge, and climbed to our first summit called Brec du Col Ferrière (2518 m) 10 min later. After a brief descent, we ascended next to Tête des Marges (2550 m) 2h 30 after the start, soon followed by Tête du Barn (2529 m) nearby.

We continued along the ridge, descending to Col du Barn (2453 m/ 3h 10). This mountain pass is at the crossroads to Mont Pépoiri and the GR 52 trail.
Having done three nice peaks already, we forked right, and followed the GR 52 back to the starting point. Ascending to Pépoiri and taking the “off-piste” route via Lac d’en Veillos back to the parking would mean about 250 m more climbing and roughly one hour more hiking time.

Ascent:  about 550 m

Duration: 4h 30

Map: 3641 ET Moyenne Tinée
Image of trail above Millefonts Lakes

Trail image courtesy of Google Maps








0 comments:

Trout fillets Riviera style

Trout fillets Riviera style










In the following recipe trout fillets are simply cooked in the oven and served with panisses, fried courgette (squash) flowers and oven-roasted tomatoes.

Panisses, chickpea flour “fries” are strongly associated with the traditional cuisine in Nice. Chickpea flour is of course the essential ingredient of the famous socca. Chickpea flour, farine de pois chiches, is easy to find in our supermarket in Nice, but for convenience I prefer to buy Chez Bernard panisses. I just roast them in the oven with hazelnut powder and olive oil. If you can’t buy panisses you can of course replace them with new potatoes in this recipe.

Fried courgette flowers, fleurs de courgettes, are a Niçois staple and you will often find them on menus in small restaurants of the Vieux Nice.

The tomato halves are simply sprinkled with a little minced garlic and black pepper, covered with dry breadcrumbs and some olive oil and roasted in the oven together with the trout fillets and panisses.

2 servings

2 trout fillets with skin, about 150 g each
4 courgette flowers with small courgettes still attached to them
1 small shallot
1 tbsp. rapeseed oil
150 ml light chicken stock
8 black olives, pitted and halved
1 tomato, halved
½ clove garlic, minced
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. dry breadcrumbs
2 tsp. olive oil
3 panisses from Chez Bernard
6 tsp. hazelnut powder, noisettes en poudre
3 tsp. olive oil
Basil leaves to decorate
½ lemon in wedges

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Wash the courgette flowers and place them on kitchen paper to dry. Peel and mince the shallot. Warm 1 tbsp. rapeseed oil in a frying pan over low heat and start gently sautéing the shallot. Make 150 ml light chicken stock.

Line a large roasting tray with baking paper. Place the panisses on the tray and sprinkle each first with 2 tsp. hazelnut powder and then with 1 tsp. olive oil. Place the tomato halves on the tray and sprinkle first with some minced garlic and black pepper, then with dry breadcrumbs and olive oil. Place the trout fillets on the tray skin side down. Roast the tray in 200 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile place the courgette flowers in the frying pan and increase the heat to medium- high. Fry the courgettes and flowers for a few minutes turning a few times, then add the chicken stock. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes. Small young courgettes can remain al dente.

Divide the trout, panisses, courgette flowers and tomatoes on the plates. Pour the cooking juices from the frying pan on the trout and courgette flowers. Decorate with basil leaves and olive halves and serve with a lemon wedge.

0 comments:

Hike above the Sanctuary of Sainte-Anne

The Sanctuary of Ste-Anne in Vinadio


The Sanctuary of Sainte-Anne is situated at 2035 m altitude in the commune of Vinadio in Piemont. It is said to be the highest sanctuary in Europe. The legend goes that Sainte-Anne suddenly appeared to a young shepherd and asked her to build a chapel at the site.

In summer, the sanctuary is very popular, especially on the 26th of July, fête de la Sainte-Anne, and on the 15th of August when the pilgrimage takes place. A hotel, restaurant, refuge and bar-café are built near the church. Parking is good and spacious in front of the hotel and the refuge.

The sanctuary is a good starting point for several hikes. The hike we describe here is called Tour du Laufser in the French Guides Randoxygène. The hike goes partly on the Italian and partly on the French side. On a clear summer day, it is very popular and offers beautiful views.

We first drove to Isola 2000 and crossed the border at Col de la Lombarde (2350 m). The road on the Italian side is very narrow but paved. From the col, the road winded downhill about 8 km to the intersection of the Sanctuary, then ascended the last 2,5 km.







From the Sanctuary (signpost # 341), we first walked along a narrow paved road straight south a few hundred meters to signpost #342, then forked right following the trail to the Lake of Ste-Anne (signpost #343), and continued ascending to Pas de Tesina (2400 m; signpost # 344). The trail ascended gently and there were several shortcut trails for those who want to climb more steeply.

From Pas de Tesina we continued along a good but a bit precipitous trail to Col du Saboulé (2460 m) where we also crossed the border to France. From here, we descended passing the Lausfer Lakes, then climbed to Col du Lausfer (2430 m) and crossed the border again. The following part of the trail was again a bit precipitous and rocky but nevertheless wide enough. We reached the last mountain pass, Pas de Sainte-Anne (2308 m) rapidly. From here, we followed a wide ex-military trail back to the sanctuary. It was possible to make several shortcuts here as well.

Climb: 520 m
Sheep flock just under Col du Saboulé

Duration: 4 h

Map: IGN 3640 ET Haute Tinée 2 Isola 2000
Image of trail courtesy of Google Maps

Mont Mounier seen after Col du Saboulé














0 comments: