“On days like these when skies are blue and fields are green” it’s hard to imagine that we were ever in winter or in early Spring. That there were ever days when the trees were bare, the vineyards grey and empty. The cherries in our garden have come and gone, the strawberries are retreating, the peonies struggling with the heat. White asparagus is becoming a distant memory and the broad beans are starting to wilt. Right now I’m drinking an iced, herbal tea – a real summer drink. Our tomatoes are just around the corner, as are the plums and peaches. Does life really go this fast? Did spring really happen?
I guess it did because I have photographic evidence. Many weeks ago, just when we were getting very tired of winter, I planned a little spring blogpost. To celebrate early spring and all it brings. The cherry blossoms were at their best and I was playing with a few little recipes I wanted to share. A lot of our energy has been devoted to other things lately, workshop season, developing our new website, travelling. But here it is finally, a little souvenir of spring, of cherry blossoms before they were fruits, of branches before they were green. And two recipes that don’t really rely on seasonal ingredients so they can be made any time of the year. Two crumbles of very different origins.
The opening lines of this blog post are borrowed from the song “On days like these” which features during the opening credits of the film “The Italian job”(written by none other than Quincy Jones). It’s played a big part in our lives recently as my husband loves it (too much). Recently he drove to Holland to pick up our brand new Bracco Italiano puppy and according to him he listened to the song on repeat the whole way up and down Europe. Which probably means close to a thousand times. From an Ipod without headphones or speakers (which probably mean he didn’t really hear it very well – that Land Rover is loud). I’m very glad I wasn’t on that trip but how glad am I that we got that dog. So beautiful and heartwarming. We let him sleep in our bed the other night which is the first time that has ever happened. You’ll see a lot of Monte Cristo in the future.
I have been talking a lot about our new online magazine over the past year, made a few announcements that haven’t really come true. But now we’re ready. Within very few weeks we’ll be up and running. First a soft opening over the summer and then in full force from September onwards. This is not a hoax 🙂 You can find us at www.rueloudenne.com The title is borrowed from our address, a simplified version.
We think of our house as a home and haven for our family but it’s also very much a house of food. A place where food, good produce & cooking is of the highest importance. I have been thinking about it for a while now, because people sometimes ask me, what is my message, what am I trying to do, to achieve? Of course I’m very fond of France, proud of it’s culinary traditions and happy to live here. I’m thrilled if people come to our beautiful region because they’ve found out about it through me. I love it when people like my recipes, find my books useful or entertaining. But none of that is really my message.
The one point I would most like to get across is this. Cook real food, then sit down with your family and eat it. Simple as that. Of course it’s fun to get a little elaborate or go to lenghts sourcing the finest produce, even growing it yourself. But cooking doesn’t need to fancy or expensive to serve its purpose. A thoughtful, simple meal, enjoyed with your kids at the end of the day has never been more necessary or more in danger. The family meal needs a home. Rue Loudenne will do its best. But ours is not a preaching site, there are no taboos, no food snobbery, no exclusivity. It’s a “house” of food which is open to everyone who likes to eat and cook.
Rue Loudenne will have entries 2-3 times a week, not just from me but from my friends, from my husband and from all sorts of people I admire and like. We will broaden our horizons, travel a bit. Recipes will be more accessible and better filed (so you can find all recipes for artichokes when they are in season etc). We’ll have current information about our events and activities, such as workshops, our future farmers market, pop-ups and special events we are planning. We’ll have an online shop, we’ll produce more things to sell ourselves. There will be a wine corner, a dog corner. Maybe even a cocktails corner.
Mostly we’ll be there regularly and it will all be delicious.
As for my beloved Manger it will not cease to exist but it will take on a less prominent role. We won’t change a thing but posts will be less frequent (ehrm if that’s possible). My idea is to do 4 posts a year, to celebrate each season. I have always adored writing and cooking for Manger but while our format has proven popular and successful it also comes with restraints. There are times when I simply want to share a lunch I just made, a story I heard.
Manger has brought us together and given me so many opportunities. Without her (of course she’s a girl) I wouldn’t have done any of the things I’ve done, no cookbooks, no rue Loudenne, no tv show.
She will forever be honorary chair lady of the food board – queen of my kitchen.
Merci my friend …
ps Very soon we’ll be announcing the workshop dates for 2018. As always we’ll shake things up a little bit, try new things. I hope you will like what we’re offering.
The girls dresses are from Marie Puce Paris.
Leeks with hazelnuts and goat’s cheese crumble
25 g/ 5 ounces hazelnuts, ground coarsely
6 medium-sized leeks, washed and trimmed
2 garlic cloves, sliced finely
1 tablespoon salted-butter
1/2 glass glass of white wine
1/2 glass chicken or vegetable stock
230 g/ 8 ounces goat cheese (choose a firmer one, in the style of a brie)
Two shallots, sliced fried until golden and crispy
A handful of salad (I used shiso salad)
Coarse sea-salt and freshly ground black pepper
Trim the dark green tops of the leeks and the roots and remove the outer layer from each one. Rinse under cold water. In a large pot, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two. Add the leeks, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes. Pour in the stock, then the wine and simmer to reduce, about 2-3 minutes. Lower the heat, cover and cook until the leeks are tender, about 10 minutes.
In another pan, sauté the shallots in olive oil until golden and crispy. Set aside.
Make the crumble:
In a food processor, combine the hazelnuts and goat’s cheese, add a tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper. Pulse a few seconds until you get a crumble.
In a small bowl,make the vinaigrette. Whisk together the olive oil, mustard and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.
Place the leeks in an oven-proof dish, and place the crumble on top. Place under the grill for a few minutes until golden. Pour the leek stock into a deep plate or bowl, transfer the golden leeks with the crumble, into the bowl, and scatter the salad (optional) and shallots all over. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and serve immediately.
Cod with gratinée chorizo
(for 6 people)
6 cod fillets
230 g/ 8 ounces chorizo
45 g/ 1/2 cup tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
45 g/ 3/4 cup tablespoons of breadcrumbs
15 g/ unsalted butter
Coarse sea-salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400F/200°C
Fry the chorizo in a pan and cook on a medium heat until it becomes golden, about 3 to 4 minutes. Set aside.
In a food processor, combine chorizo with parmesan and breadcrumbs. Add softened butter and pulse until you get a crumbled mixture.
Place the cod filets on a baking dish, generously smooth the crumbled chorizo mixture on the cod and place the dish in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Transfer the fish in the preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until the cod is cooked through and the chorizo is golden and sizzling. Sprinkle a dash of piment d’Espelette and a drizzle of olive oil.