Stuffed sardine fillets à la Nicoise

 

Stuffed sardine fillets à la Nicoise


This recipe is inspired by a lunch that we recently had in St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. The sardine fillets were stuffed with a typical Niçoise vegetable mix: mangold or spinach, shallots, garlic, black olives, tomatoes, and basil. All vegetables were chopped into small pieces and sautéed in olive oil before stuffing. The sardine fillets were then roasted in the oven.

They were served with panisses, chickpea flour cakes, and some extra vegetable mix as a side.

The dish was so tasty and healthy that I decided to try it at home. The following recipe is my twist of that terrace lunch.

2 servings

6- 8 sardine fillets

1 tbsp. dried bread crumbs

Olive oil

2 handfuls of baby spinach, chopped

1 shallot, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 large or 2 small tomatoes, chopped

8 black olives, pitted and chopped

About 8 basil leaves, chopped

2 large store- bought panisses

2 tbsp. almond flakes


Wash the spinach and tomato and chop them into small pieces. Peel and chop the shallot and clove of garlic. Warm 2 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat and sauté the vegetables about 5- 10 minutes turning occasionally. Add the chopped olives. 


Preheat the oven to 210° C roast. Place the panisses in a large oven- proof dish and sprinkle with the almond flakes and some olive oil. Start roasting the chick-pea cakes; they need about 5-10 minutes longer than the sardine fillets.


Clean and dry the sardine fillets. Fill them wit the vegetable mixture and place them in the same oven- proof dish with the panisses. Sprinkle the sardine fillets with the breadcrumbs and some olive oil, place the dish back to the oven and roast for about 10- 12 minutes. Cover the remaining vegetable mixture and keep warm.


When the sardines are cooked and the almond flakes on the panisses are golden, remove the dish from the oven and divide on the plates. Divide the extra vegetable mixture on the plates and decorate with basil.


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Short loop from Gréolières

Gréolières and higher village ruins



 

Gréolières (elev. ≈840 m) offers several great hiking routes, both long and short. The southern flank of the Cheiron Massif, above the Loup River Valley is mostly steep and rocky brushland but the mid-section of the mountain face comprises flatter terrain which has been used as pasture.


GR4 above Gréolières
GR4 above Gréolières
Heading east from signpost#193
Heading east from signpost#193
Cheiron Massif
Cheiron Massif
Cheiron Massif southern flank
Cheiron Massif southern flank




From Gréolières, we ascended along the GR4 trail (starting from signpost #30), passing ruins of the ancient High Gréolières village, including its castle. We reached a crossroads at signpost #193 (Les Miroirs, St. Pons etc) where we forked right (east), leaving the GR4 trail. We continued along the yellow-marked PR trail in somewhat undulating open terrain (the highest point en route was about 1170 m). 



Autumn colours and Cheiron Massif
Autumn colours under Cheiron Massif
Loup River Valley
Loup River Valley
Return trail to Gréolières
Return trail to Gréolières
Gréolières and upper Loup Valley
Gréolières and upper Loup Valley



We reached signpost #192 where we forked right as planned. The trail back was narrower and steeper in the beginning, then levelled off and merged with a dirt track.


It turned out to be an agreeable loop with great views all the way. In Gréolières, you don’t have to climb far and high to experience the beauty of the Côte d’Azur Prealps!


Distance: About 6 km


Climb: 360 m


Duration: about 2h 30 active


Map: Vallée de l’Estéron  Vallée du Loup 3642 ET



Loop above Gréolières



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Carrot purée and pork

 

Carrot purée and pork


For this dish, choose organic carrots that do not need to be peeled. This is a great spring recipe when new carrots arrive and oranges are still in season.

2 servings

6- 8 organic carrots

2 cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced

Olive oil

½ onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

Juice of 1 orange

About 250 g pork fillet, chopped into chunks

100 ml white wine

1/3 chicken stock cube, crumbled

2 tbsp. crème fraîche 15% fat or cream

Freshly ground black pepper

Chopped parsley


Wash the carrots, cut into large chunks and cook in boiling water 15 minutes. Drain the water, add the orange juice and ginger, cover and cook about 20 minutes until the carrots are soft. Add 1 tbsp. olive oil, 2 tbsp. crème fraîche, and some black pepper. Mix and press into a purée.


Meanwhile warm 2 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat in a frying pan. Sauté the pork chunks until golden on all sides. Add the onion and garlic and continue sautéing for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the crumbled chicken stock and pour in the wine. Grind over some black pepper, mix well and let simmer until the pork is cooked.


Divide the carrot purée into bowls and place the pork on top.  Decorate with chopped parsley.


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Loop hike: Bar-sur-Loup to Gourdon


Gourdon and Pic de Courmettes
Gourdon and Pic de Courmettes


We decided to ascend from Bar-sur-Loup to Gourdon via Bois de Gourdon and descend along Chemin du Paradis.

Bar-sur-Loup Mairie
Bar-sur-Loup mairie
Chemin de St-Michel
Chemin de St-Michel
GR51 west of Bar-sur-Loup
GR51 west of Bar-sur-Loup
Towards Bois de Gourdon
Towards Bois de Gourdon



We parked by the D2210 road below Bar-sur-Loup (≈300 m) and climbed to the village square. From there, we headed southwest along Avenue General de Gaulle then Chemin de Saint-Michel. At signpost #21 in front of a small chapel, we forked right and started to climb along Chemin de Bouscarle, passing the last residences. We temporarily merged with the GR51 and followed it to signpost #23. There we forked right, climbed along a forest path to the D3 road and crossed it. We walked past a small parking and signpost #17, and continued along a dirt track 250 m, where signpost #16 guided us to a forest path. We were in Bois de Gourdon which mostly consisted of oak trees.



Bois de Gourdon
Bois de Gourdon
Haut Montet seen from trail
Haut Montet seen from trail
GR51 under Gourdon
GR51 under Gourdon
Chemin du Paradis below Gourdon
Chemin du Paradis below Gourdon
Chemin du Paradis GR51
Chemin du Paradis GR51
GR51 above signpost#5
GR51 above signpost#5
Missing bridge over Riou de Gourdon
Missing bridge over Riou de Gourdon


We ascended a bit more, now straight north to signpost #15, and merged with the same dirt track. At about 790 m, this marked the highest point of the hike. From here, the itinerary followed the dirt track; we descended along it to signpost #14 where we forked right (east) to a paved road (Chemin du Naouq), and walked to Gourdon (740 m), already visible in front of us.


It was a sunny and warm autumn day, and restaurants and shops in the village seemed busy. After a brief stop, we headed back to Bar-sur-Loup. We descended steeply along the familiar Chemin du Paradis trail, also GR51. At signpost #4, we forked right, still following the GR51 trail. The old narrow iron footbridge over Riou du Gourdon had disappeared, and a new one was under construction. Fortunately, the stream bed was dry and could be crossed.


At signpost #18 we left the GR51, forked left and descended back to Bar-sur-Loup.

It turned out to be a great loop mostly along good trails, dirt tracks and paved roads. The rocky trail down from Gourdon always requires surefootedness and some gymnastics was needed to cross the bridgeless stream bed. 


Distance: 11,8 km


Climb: 540 m (about 30 m less if you start from the main square)


Duration: 4h 15 active


Map: 3643 ET Cannes Grasse Côte d’Azur



Bar-sur-Loup Gourdon loop
Bar-sur-Loup Gourdon loop



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Small spelt, asparagus, and egg salad

 

Small spelt asparagus and egg salad


Small spelt or einkorn wheat, le petit épeautre, is an ancient grain which was popular in Northern Provençe. It has less gluten and more protein than modern red wheats. Its nutty taste makes it a good base for salads. In France, small spelt can be found in organic shops. It cooks in 45 minutes and can be frozen in batches. This is a tasty spring salad when green asparagus is in season.


2 servings

100 ml small spelt

6 organic green asparagus

A handful of baby salad leaves, mesclun

8- 10 radishes, sliced

2 soft-cooked eggs

A handful of organic parsley

A few basil leaves

Olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

Vinaigrette of olive oil and red wine vinegar


Cook the small spelt in boiling water for 45 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.


Peel the asparagus stems, discard the tough ends and chop into about 4 cm long pieces. Microwave about 3 minutes until soft. Set aside to cool. 


Cook the eggs for 6 minutes, let cool in cold water and peel.


Wash and slice the radishes.


Wash and dry the parsley. Chop it finely and mix with a little olive oil and black pepper into a purée.


Divide the small spelt on the plates. Top with salad leaves and asparagus. Sprinkle with some vinaigrette and parsley purée. Decorate with radish slices and place a soft- cooked egg in the middle. Sprinkle with some chopped basil.


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Col de Cuore from Old Castillon

 

Viewing Mont Razet from Col de Cuore


The following hike runs along familiar trails between Menton and Sospel.  It basically features the loop around Mont Razet (posted earlier), but with an extension to Col de Cuore on the Italian border.

The proximity of the coast, relatively easy access, and all-year round hiking options make Col de Castillon (706 m) a popular starting point.

Col de Castillon parking
Col de Castillon parking
Biatonéa path
Biatonéa path
Trail under Mont Roulabre
Trail under Mont Roulabre


From the vast parking next to the ruined church, we descended a bit to Col de Castillon (signpost #135), then headed straight north towards the Biatonéa neighbourhood, first along a narrow street then a trail, reaching signpost #137 at a crossroads. We took the middle trail, and climbed to Baisse de Scuvion (1154 m; signpost #92) with good views to the west (Mont Ours etc), and to east.



View from trail before Baisse de Scuvion
View from trail before Baisse de Scuvion
Mont Ours seen from Baisse de Scuvion
Mont Ours seen from Baisse de Scuvion
Baisse de Scuvion
Baisse de Scuvion
Col de Cuore
Col de Cuore
Near Col du Razet
Near Col du Razet

Border post from 1927
Border post from 1927
La Pierre Pointue
La Pierre Pointue




We descended in the woods along the Northern flank of Mont Razet to Col de Roulabre and Col du Razet (1033 m; signpost #90). Crossing the GR52 trail, we followed the trail northeast then north on the French side of the border. Apart from a few rockslide areas, the trail was good. After a short climb, we reached Col de Cuore with a border post from 1927. We had views down to the Sospel Valley, and Mont Razet while the view to Italy was limited due to the woods and vegetation.

As Col de Cuore marked our turning point today, we returned to Col du Razet, then headed to Pierre Pointue (1168 m; signpost #93a) on the southern side of Mont Razet. We passed remains of several bunkers, then forked left at signpost #93, and descended steeply back to the village via Biatonéa.


Climb: 750 m

Distance: 13 km

Duration: about 5 h active

Map: 3742 OT Nice Menton Côte d’Azur



Col de Cuore from Col de Castillon



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Creamy lemon tagliatelle with shrimp

 

Creamy lemon tagliatelle with shrimp



You can cook this pasta dish in no time if you use peeled and cooked giant shrimp, gambas, which are quickly reheated in the pasta sauce. 

For your pasta choose organic wholewheat Italian tagliatelle, such as Delverde, which is cooked in only 5 ¼ minutes according to the information on the package. It is the best tagliatelle that I have ever tasted.

2 servings

Wholewheat organic tagliatelle for two servings

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 shallot, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

Freshly ground black pepper

Grated lemon zest from ½ organic lemon

Lemon juice from ½ organic lemon

2 tbsp. crème fraîche 15% fat or cream

1 package, about 200 g, cooked and peeled giant shrimp, gambas

A small handful of freshly grated parmesan

Chopped fresh basil


Warm the olive oil over medium- low heat in a frying pan. Add the shallot and garlic and sauté for about 10 minutes until soft but not browned.


Add the lemon zest and juice, crème fraîche and black pepper and stir. Cook for a few minutes. Add the gambas and continue cooking for a couple of minutes until the gambas are reheated.


Meanwhile cook the tagliatelle and drain. Divide the pasta on the plates. Fold in the grated parmesan with a fork, then top the pasta with gambas sauce and decorate with basil.


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Col Ferrière above Millefonts

 

View northeast from Col Ferrière




We had not driven up to Millefonts (2040 m) for a long time. The parking is at the end of a narrow, potholed albeit paved road starting above St-Dalmas Valdeblore, manageable with a normal car.

Our primary goal was Col de Ferrière (2484 m), bordering the Mercantour National Park. We had hiked there some years ago, then looped to Col du Barn and back to the parking.


View southeast from Millefonts
View southeast from Millefonts
Millefonts parking
Millefonts parking



The morning was glorious, with blue skies and little wind. From the parking, we took a shortcut to the GR52 trail and ascended along it to Col de Veillos (2194 m; signpost #83). At the col, we quit the GR trail and headed to Lacs des Millefonts and Col Ferrière along a yellow-marked PR trail in the eastern part of the Millefonts Valley.


We came to Lac Petit (2225 m), in fact the biggest of the Millefonts Lakes. We followed the main trail, heading northwest along a grassy slope. A secondary path circled the lake and continued to one of the upper lakes. 





Near Col de Veillos
Near Col de Veillos
Vallon des Millefonts
Vallon des Millefonts
Lac Petit
Lac Petit

The good morning weather was gone, summits were partly covered with clouds and the wind picked up. Some high cumulonimbus cloud formations were visible. We reached Col Ferrière easily, but decided not to continue to the nearby Cime des Lauses (2651 m). The imposing chain of mountain massifs bordering Italy was still visible under the cloud layers. 


We descended a bit to a warmer spot for our picnic then returned back to Millefonts parking.


The hiking area above Millefonts offers several possibilities in a high mountain environment. The summits are reachable in good weather, and it is easy to modify your itinerary when needed.


Cime des Lauses and Col Ferrière
Cime des Lauses and Col Ferrière
Pépoiri and Lac Petit
Pépoiri and Lac Petit
Trail near Col Ferrière
Trail near Col Ferrière
Col Ferrière
Col Ferrière
Clouds gathering above Millefonts
Clouds gathering above Millefonts


Climb: 500 m

Distance: ~7 km

Duration:  about 3 h active

Map: Moyenne Tinée 3641 ET     



Col Ferrière hike track



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