Florence style chicken thighs


Florence style chicken thigs

Why Florence? Because one of the main ingredients in this care-free one-pot dish is white beans and people in Florence and Tuscany have been famous bean eaters. Beans are heart-healthy carbohydrates which also contain vegetable protein, help to keep an even blood sugar and are basic ingredients in the Mediterranean Diet.

Dried white beans need to be soaked overnight in a generous amount of water. Next morning, drain the beans and discard the soaking water. Cook them in fresh water without salt for about 1 hour, maybe even longer, adding more water if needed. Cooking time depends on the size and age of the beans so after 45 minutes start testing the beans. They need to be very tender but not falling apart. When the beans are done, drain them and discard the cooking water.

This is a time-consuming process but cooked beans can be frozen in batches. Of course, you can use tinned high-quality cooked beans. Just rinse them under running water before using.

2 servings

4 organic chicken thighs with skin

Olive oil

½ medium onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp. Provençal herbs

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp. from a chicken stock cube

150 ml white wine

2 tbsp. concentrated Italian tomato paste

2 tbsp. black olives, pitted and halved

2 handfuls of sliced mushrooms

About 250 ml cooked white beans

Chopped parsley or rocket to decorate

Warm 2 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat in a heavy casserole, such as Le Creuset, and sauté the chicken thighs on both sides until golden brown. Add the onion and garlic and continue sautéing for a few minutes. 

Warm 2 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat in a large frying an and cook the mushrooms until nicely coloured.

Preheat the oven to 200° C roast.

Pour the white wine in Le Creuset. Add the piece of chicken stock cube, tomato paste, herbs, and black pepper and stir into a sauce.  Bring to a boil.

Add the beans and mushrooms to Le Creuset. Then transfer the casserole to the oven and roast for 30- 45 minutes checking occasionally that there is enough liquid. Add a little water if needed.

Add the olives to Le Creuset after removing from the oven. Divide on the plates and decorate with fresh herbs.


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Tomato Courgette gratin

Tomato courgette gratin

Many years ago, they still often served vegetable gratins in small individual dishes in beach restaurants on the French Riviera. Nowadays you are more likely to find hamburgers on the menus.

These traditional Provençal vegetable gratins are easy to make, look beautiful in see-through Pyrex dishes and go very well with simple chicken, meat or fish dishes. In the image, they are served with sautéed chicken cuts and potatoes. Simple summer cooking!

2 servings

1 small courgette
Olive oil
1 medium firm tomato
2 eggs
1 tbsp. crème fraîche, 15% fat
1 tsp. organic tomato sauce
2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
Freshly ground black pepper
A pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 180° C, convection mode.

Wash a few basil leaves under running water and let dry on kitchen paper before chopping.

Warm a little olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Wash and thinly slice the courgette. Sauté the slices for 5- 10 minutes.

Wash and slice the tomato. Place the slices in a colander to remove the extra liquid.

In a bowl, whip together the eggs, tomato sauce, crème fraîche, black pepper, chopped basil, and a pinch of salt.

Oil 2 small see-through Pyrex gratin dishes and pace the courgette and tomato slices in layers. Pour over the egg mixture and bake for about 25 minutes until the eggs are set. Serve in their individual dishes.


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Smoked salmon with leeks and green beans

Smoked salmon with leeks and green beans


This simple sauté makes a nice warm lunch during colder days when we are still dreaming about summer. Serve with some good whole wheat or rye bread and a green side salad for a balanced meal.

2 servings

2 leeks

2 handfuls of frozen green beans

1 bouquet garni or a sprig of thyme

2 tbsp. olive oil

100 ml vegetable stock

1 tbsp. grainy mustard, moutarde à l’ancienne

Freshly ground black pepper

120 g smoked Alaska salmon

Wash the leeks and discard the tough upper parts. Cut them into about 15 cm long parts, then halve lengthwise.

Warm olive oil over medium heat in a large frying pan. Sauté the leeks for about 5 minutes. Add the green beans and bouquet garni. Stir the mustard in the vegetable stock and add to the pan. Continue cooking for about 8 minutes until the stock has almost evaporated.

Cut the salmon into pieces and divide on top. Grind over some black pepper and serve warm.


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Beuil: Hike around Pin Pourri

Beuil and Mont Mounier

You will find many grassy and soft hiking trails around Beuil, in the upper Cians River Valley. We wanted to explore the trails east of the village, in particular Mount Pin Pourri (1826 m) which is located half way between Beuil and Roubion, another small ski resort.

We were inspired by the route described in another blog and first followed this itinerary.

We drove to Beuil (75 km from Nice) along the D28 road and parked just below the village where a narrow and paved road forked right to the hamlet and chapel of St-Ginié on the other side of River Cians. The original description advised to park there, near the chapel but there is very little space if any.

We located signpost #59 and followed instructions to a place called Liberture. After a short ascent to signpost #60 (la Moute, farmhouse, cows) we turned east, and climbed along a dirt track for just about 200 m. Our trail then forked sharply left along another dirt track as far as to a barn. We then continued the ascent along a path on a grassy slope. There were fading yellow markings here and there. In places, it was a bit hard to see the trail. Apparently, it was not one of the main hiking arteries! We reached signposts #63 and 64 next to Liberture (ruined houses, a chapel a bit lower).

Just after Liberture, the grassy southwestern slope of Pin Pourri became visible. We started to ascend along it to the summit. However, after a while we observed a big flock of lambs plus dogs guarding them. Not wanting to disturb them, we turned right and decided to circle the mountain instead.

We descended back to the marked trail and followed it to signpost#65, a place named les Compès. It was a crossroads of some trails and dirt tracks. We took the dirt track that ran along the eastern flank of Pin Pourri in the woods, then ascended to Col de la Couillole by the D30 road.

From here, we took the GR 52A trail which descended rapidly, first following the road. The trail went right through a cattle pasture area. This part of the trail was wet, trodden by cows. Having negotiated the pasture, the trail became nice and we descended back to signpost #59.

Climb: 450 m

Distance: 10,5 km      

Duration: 3h 50 active

IGN Map: Haut Cians Valberg 3640 OT

The map below shows our actual route in green, the planned shortcut in red. We have used the iPhiGénie mobile app.

Pin Pourri trail track


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