Posts Tagged ‘wine’

New Video: Gougères!

gougeresHave you seen my latest YouTube video where I show you how to make Gougères? This easy French appetizer is delicious and perfect for dinner parties or wine tastings. You can use many different ingredients to flavor the savory French cheese puffs, but my favorite combination is blue cheese (especially the bleu d’Auvergne from President) and finely chopped spring onions. So tasty!
PS: the basic recipe is called pâte à choux. Without pepper and a little less salt, you can use it to make cream puffs, chouquettes and éclairs! A good recipe to master! Just remember to fully incorporate each egg into the mixture before adding the next! Enjoy!

Souvenirs de France

Returning home after vacation is never a joyous occasion. Not only because I have to leave my beautiful France behind, or because the two-day trip is exhausting (for some reason, the trip to France less so), but because unpacking, cleaning and piles of laundry await. I am always very intent on making sure everything gets going the moment we walk through the door — never in a million years, no matter how tired I am, could I leave the mess until the next day. That would just make it harder, in my opinion.
There is a best part about coming home, however — unpacking all my French souvenirs! Each item is carefully given a new spot in my kitchen and as I put everything away, I am already dreaming about what I will make, because yes, most of my souvenirs are the edible kind — or the drinkable. Have a look below and see what I took home with me this year!
PS: Not shown: a Caudalie face mask (love that brand!), Les Carnets de Julie: Un voyage gourmand en 140 recettes, and a beautiful bag which was a present from my hubby!

creme anglaise

Yes, yes. I can make this myself, but I have a soft spot for Alsa. The pretty packaging gets me every time!


Same comment as above. I haven’t tried this mix, but the photo sure looks appetizing!


The first time I purchased these cookies! I suddenly remembered them at our last stop at a French supermarket in Le Mans and immediately put them in my basket. Why are they so special? Well, these St Michel cookies were served at the local café in Duras this year, Café de la Paix, aka Chez Régine. Edible memories!


Bouquet garni, pink peppercorns, a mix of Guerande salt and piment d’Espelette (this should be heavenly on a steak!), and a few jars of Amora mustard, which my husband adores.


Vanilla flan mix. Yep, the retro packaging did it again for me.


This French baking powder has been a staple at my house for years. You guessed right — the packaging wooed me to begin with. I couldn’t imagine baking without that little Alsatian lady!


Duck sausage from René Pujol! Beacuse the southwest of France is duck country, and because I LOVE duck. 🙂 PS: I used to bring back tins of confit de canard, but now they’re imported by my local supermarket. Yeah!


My daughter loves this as a special treat on her Sunday croissant — and I can’t say I disagree with her. This stuff is nothing but creamy, sweet goodness! It’s also wonderful on crêpes! I am a big fan of the Reflets de France brand, too.


Call me crazy, but I think the French version of the everday Maggi chicken stock cube is richer than the one I sometimes buy here. Or maybe it’s that special memory of making a chicken casserole on a cold night in Bourgogne years ago. We had arrived late in the afternoon at our lovely farmhouse, and I wanted to make a comforting chicken dinner. While Hans lit the fireplace, I cooked chicken in mustard cream sauce with these cubes. Of course, homemade is better, but don’t knock it till you’ve tried it! Oh, and the herb and olive oil cubes are a new for me. I bought them because they’re made with my favorite olive oil.


French violet garlic from the Tarn. Because the garlic is tied so beautifully and because those fat cloves are major morsels of flavor!


Every once in a while, I love to end a Saturday dinner with my husband (or a dinner party) with a small cup of coffee and an Armagnac. I sometimes order this perfect combo after a dinner out in France. I am not a fan of strong drinks, so this is one tasty exception for me!


Puget olive oil has been another staple at my house for years. I always stock up when I go to France. This one brings memories of cooking summer meals way up high in the mountains of the Ardeche. It was the first time I tried this oil, and I’ve loved it ever since.


I came across these little pots of pâté from Lucien Georgelin at the local Duras supermarket. They had a huge crate not far from the entrance filled with a wide variety of flavors. I’ve never tried any of them, but check out the ones I got: Mediterranean pâté with chicken and lemon, Parisian pâté with ham and mushrooms, and Charentais pâté with champagne de Cognac!


French magazine, for inspiration and to improve my French language skills!


LOTS of wine (I still have a few boxes put away because there was no space on my rack). Most of them are from Duras, a few from Bergerac and some from Cahors. We like to make two wine trips per year: the summer wine haul comes from the southwest and the winter one comes from Bourgogne. Each bottle is saved for Saturday dinner. It’s like taking my taste buds back to the places I love!

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Most of my plates and cutlery come from French antique markets and vide-greniers. They have so much more charm than anything you can buy at a shop. In fact, I’m having my morning coffee from a French bowl right now! I bought these lovely plates from the yearly brocante market in Gensac a few weeks ago. All were purchased from kind, stylish French ladies who were very happy to pass them on to me.



There’s beauty in even the simplest of things. Little corners or moments of unexpected joy that sometimes capture our attention and warm our hearts. I try to keep my eyes open to that beauty everywhere around me. Noticing a delicate flower that is really a weed, or how a bird flies in and out of its nest with a continuous supply of worms for the life that lies within. These little things — or, I should say, big things — are meaningful gifts that are always there. Begging to be acknowledged.
I find a lot of that beauty in my garden. A space where we spend time drinking good wine and making even better plans. When we bought our house some eight years ago, I immediately fell in love with the garden. Hydrangeas, lavender, roses and little corners I couldn’t wait to decorate and fill with new life. Soon, we planted our cherry tree and apple tree. Then came the thyme and rosemary, and even more lavender. It wasn’t long before I was planting vegetables, too.
But as the years passed, what was once a neat little garden became a little too lush for our liking, despite all the time we put into keeping up with its explosive growth. So instead of buying more gardening equipment, we agreed to enlist the help of a professional gardener — who will be giving us a clean slate this Friday. Everything will be drastically trimmed, buffed, and if need be, pulled out. At first I found the thought depressing. All those beautiful plants we so lovingly put it would soon be gone. But they had done their job, and it was time for new beauty to sing its song once again.
I spent the afternoon outdoors under a blue sky, doing some trimming of my own.


I usually harvest my lavender somewhere at the end of August/beginning of September. Our five lavender bushes, which once produced enough lavender to spread around the whole house and would abundantly be growing around this time, are now nearing their end. I picked the prettiest flowers I could find.


This would be a scene from September. It’s early June.


The only plants that will stay are the hydrangeas and all the trees, including our apple tree. Last year we hardly had a harvest, but this year already looks promising.


A few wild flowers to add beauty to my mantlepiece… and keep the angel company.


I prefer that Pastis watches me from here. Otherwise, he commands all my attention. Trying to chew on twigs or check out insects (which he knows he’s not supposed to).


I harvested a good handful of rosemary, one of my favorite herbs. I see rosemary chocolate mousse in the near future.

wild flowers

Weeds can be so pretty…


Wine in my favorite spot. A perfect way to round off a perfect afternoon.


Sunny Break!

Wow! I’m back after a restful, sunny and very delicious four-day break which started with lunch out with my daughter, continued with an Italian wine tasting with our new friends from Milan and went on to include lots of delicious food (have you ever barbecued magret de canard? HOLY!), bottles of French wine and lazy afternoons reading from a shady spot in my garden. I seriously cannot remember the last time I really took time off like that. Pure bliss! Here are a few snapshots from our weekend!

Crémant de Bourgogne

The Netherlands had the highest temps in Europe on Saturday. Good reason to pop open a chilled rosé Crémant de Bourgogne.


I had forgotten I had broken a champagne glass, so I used these beautiful vintage glasses instead. I think I may stick with them when serving sparkling drinks from now on.


One of the easiest sides on a warm day is a marinated tomato salad. Thinly slice ripe tomatoes and drizzle with a dressing of French olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, fleur de sel, freshly cracked pepper and lots of crushed garlic. Scatter with thinly sliced onions and either basil or parsley.


I made the salad well in advance so that all the flavors of the dressing really seep into the tomatoes. Hubby grilled us beautiful duck magrets (one of my favorite foods).

chèvre chaud

Another wonderful summer dish is a simple chèvre chaud. When we picnic on Sundays in Soumensac, we usually start our meal with this. The cheese is produced by a local farmer and is absolutely divine. You can easily make the salad. Wrap small goat’s cheeses with thin strips of bacon and fry in an ungreased pan for a minute or so a side. Place on a bed of fresh greens and drizzle with your own homemade honey-mustard dressing. The honey is very important!


My daughter is growing up way too fast. Where did the time go? Where is it going? All the more reason to really enjoy every moment. Like watching her drink a cold green tea at the harbor!


Mother’s Day on Sunday, and I really felt the love! Beautiful red roses, a strawberry sponge, chocolate, a magazine and a coconut oil & rose body scrub I have now become addicted to!

Kasteel Groeneveld

Groeneveld Castle in Baarn hosts a ‘TrotsMarkt’ every second Sunday of the month. Such a varied choice of beautiful food and a perfect spot to spend a sunny afternoon!


I could not resist buying a few French sausages. We will be enjoying them this week before dinner with a glass of red wine. A perfect souvenir for a perfect four days of food, family and love!


Reading Ruth Reichl ‘Comfort Me with Apples’, in Dutch. Finally… time to read a good (no, make that FANTASTIC) book!



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