Chicken legs with pineapple

Chicken legs with pineapple


After Christmas tropical fruits appear in our supermarket in Nice. Pineapple, lychee and other exotic fruits are imported from the sunshine to add a warm twist to our midwinter.

The following sunny recipe is modified from a recent recipe in Nice-Matin. Fresh ginger and quatre épices add a nice exotic touch to the recipe. If you cannot find quatre épices in your shops simply substitute it with ground cinnamon and nutmeg.

2 servings

2 free range chicken legs
2 tbsp. olive oil
½ pineapple, sliced
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. quatre épices
2 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
200 ml chicken stock
2 tbsp. peeled whole almonds
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh parsley to decorate

In a heavy casserole warm the olive oil over medium heat and fry the chicken legs on both sides until golden brown.

Preheat the oven to 200° C.

Add the minced shallot and garlic to the casserole and sauté about 5 minutes until softened. Add the spices, ginger, and chicken stock and stir. Place the pineapple slices on top of the chicken legs.

Transfer the casserole into the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Then sprinkle the almonds on top and continue baking 20 minutes longer. The almonds and pineapple will get a nice golden colour while the chicken underneath stays succulent.

Decorate with parsley and serve with brown rice and green beans.


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Carros Village to Chapelle de St-Sébastien

Carros-Village


By change we discovered a delightful midwinter walk from Carros Village . The walk offers great views down to the Var Valley, to small villages on the other side of the River Var, and to the snow-capped Mercantour mountain tops.

Being this near the Riviera, the trail is surprisingly sauvage, in a natural state. The path is nevertheless good and well-marked with yellow signs and fresh sign posts showing the direction to Pont de la Lune and Chapelle de St-Sébastien.






The trail first descends from the village parking, then turns left following a paved street for about 150 m before turning left and further descending steeply in the woods towards Pont de la Lune. When forking left from the street, we saw a warning not to use the bridge because of the risk of landslides. However, the trail was not officially closed by the mairie so we continued and wanted to see the condition of the bridge. The bridge looked renewed, there were other footprints on the bridge, so we crossed the bridge without any problems. Maybe the note had been placed after torrential rains earlier this autumn? On the other hand, in a description from 2012, there were already warnings and the bridge looked better now! It is possible to take another trail from Carros Village parking via Chemin de Font Bonne that runs along the hillside a bit higher. Next to the bridge there are ruins of an old mill in a bad shape, and going there is not recommended.

From the bridge, the trail ascends fairly steeply, then crosses the D2209 road. The trail ascends further along a ridge with unobstructed views and finally joins the D1 road. After about 200 m, the trail forks left passing a residential area before reaching the chapel. On a sunny midwinter day, it is a natural spot for picnic while admiring the great views. At 465 m, the chapel is the highest point of our short hike. We opted to walk back to Carros Village along a little and quiet road called Chemin du Claret, and reached our starting point in just about 30 min.



Total walking time: 2 h


Total ascent:            285 m   






















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Creamy potato gratin without cream

Creamy-potato-gratin-without-cream


Gratin dauphinois, the traditional French potato gratin, was first mentioned in 1788 when it was served at a dinner for the officials of the town of Gap. As with all French local dishes, there are several slightly different recipes. But one thing is common to them all: the gratin is always made with raw, peeled and thinly sliced potatoes. Most recipes are made with considerable amounts of cream, crème fraîche, and some add cheese and eggs so the total calorie content is not negligible.

The following recipe is from a little auberge in Vercors, near Grenoble. It was shown in a French TV programme, Les Carnets de Julie, in which Julie Andrieu and Thierry Marx were trying out different gratin dauphinois recipes.

The potato gratin Vercors style was simply made from raw, peeled and thinly sliced potatoes, whole milk, and salt, no cream at all. They said that you could grate a little nutmeg in the gratin if you wanted, but that was it.

So of course I had to try this simple and calorie-reduced variant. I added some black pepper and crushed garlic in my gratin and dotted the gratin with a small amount of butter. The best French gratin potatoes are said to be Agata, Monalisa, and Nicole, so I chose Agata for my gratin.

The result was creamy and succulent, just as good as gratins made with cream! It is a perfect accompaniment to a good steak, roast beef or duck breast.

4 servings

4 large gratin potatoes
About 600 ml whole milk, to cover the potatoes
About ½-1 tsp. salt
A pinch of nutmeg
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Black pepper
Butter

Choose a slightly larger gratin dish and don’t fill it to the brim; the gratin bubbles and “puffs up” in the oven. Butter generously the gratin dish.

Preheat the oven to 180° C.

Peel the potatoes and slice them thinly. Arrange a layer of potatoes in the bottom of the gratin dish. Sprinkle with salt, black pepper, nutmeg and crushed garlic and pour enough milk to cover the potatoes. Follow with a layer of potato slices and again pour over milk to cover the potatoes.

Dot with a small amount of butter and bake in the oven 1 hour.







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Villa Eilenroc and its gardens

Villa Eilenroc Cap d'Antibes



It was free to visit Villa Eilenroc and its gardens in Cap d’Antibes the first Wednesday afternoon in January. Villa Eilenroc’s opening hours tend to be a bit erratic; best to check on their web site, or even better to phone in advance (04 93 67 74 33). Built in the 1860s in neoclassic style by a rich Dutchman, the villa is now owned by the city of Antibes. The name of the villa is an anagram of Cornelie, the first owner’s wife.

There’s a very limited parking in front of the entrance so we opted to use the parking of the Garoupe Beach and walk the short distance (less than 20 min) along small and quiet streets.








Naturally January is not the season to visit Villa Eilenroc’s informative rose garden, early May is the best time for that. But the olive tree garden located just behind the rose garden is as great in winter as in summer. In 2000, the commune of Antibes chose to plant 54 Spanish olive trees in a meadow on the premises of Villa Eilenroc. However, don’t expect a perfectly groomed garden as around Villa Ephrussi-Rothschild in Cap Ferrat.

We strolled in the gardens around the villa admiring the beautiful bay of l’Argent Faux before paying a visit to the villa itself. The villa is also used for events such as weddings, fashion shows, and also as a filming location.

The sky was cloudless and the sea calm that afternoon. We decided to walk back along the popular coastal trail around Cap d’Antibes, this time anticlockwise.

Viewing the southernmost tip of Cap d'Antibes

Walking time: 2 h, including the visit






La Garoupe Bay










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