Sundays everywhere tend to be quiet but here in Médoc, especially in winter, they are extra quiet. All the stores are closed, there are no markets after lunch, there is nothing. Of course we always have good food around the house so I know we won’t starve, that would take weeks, but while we usually plan our Friday and Saturday meals, Sunday is a wild card – I like to see what happens, challenge myself to cook with what we have. And I must admit we probably always have more food than most people, even on Sundays. It’s an exercise in flavors rather than survival. Sometime after breakfast this morning (which was avocado and smoked salmon with flax-seed and a good cup of tea) I ventured into the “boucherie” (named after the old butcher’s table) that serves as our pantry. The boucherie is always cool but in February it’s very cold and perfect for vegetables who want to stay young. It’s also a bit of an Aladdin’s cave for me, I don’t go in there everyday and some of the stuff has been brought in by my husband without my knowledge. This morning I was delighted to find a fresh bundle of watercress, a little bit of chervil and some Jerusalem artichokes amongst all the regulars, such as celery, carrots and onions.
The first weeks of the year have been calm and replenishing, a little too wet perhaps for my taste and my roof but a good if uneventful start to the year. It’s always healthy to take a step back once in a while, spend time with your loved ones, catch up on sleep. And to think.
I’ve also been thinking more about being and eating healthy than usual and while I think we generally eat very well it’s always good to step up your game. We all know the rules, a little less baguette, a little more vegetables, take it easy on the meat and pasta, again a little more vegetables. A little less wine a little more water.
Little tweaks to get ready for summer, small steps to look and feel better. I don’t believe in extremes, but I do believe in extremely good food.
We are still planning to launch our new website this Spring but I do miss you all so I’ve decided to post random recipes that feel appropriate or inspiring – I’ll try to do one a week until the new site is up and running. So that we can all keep in touch.
In other news we had so many bookings and so many requests for the Summer Abundance workshop in June that we decided to add a second Summer abundance workshop the following week – June 27th to June 29th. We are just starting to take bookings but it’s already filling up so if you’re interested please don’t hesitate to write.
Did you that watercress has more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach and boosts your complexion? This is a must to make this cold season, so simple and delicious. I loved slicing vegetables with a mandoline, it makes everything easier and cook faster. Adding the Jerusalem artichokes chips mixed with the crispy chervil makes this soup so luxurious, and I love the peppery taste the watercress gives. I’ve added extra spices like turmeric, cloves and ginger to give that boost which we all need this winter.
Watercress soup with Jerusalem artichokes and chervil chips
2 bunches of watercress (chopped, including stems)
1 onion, sliced finely
2 small russet potatoes, sliced finely with a mandoline
475 ml/ 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock,
150 ml cream/ crème entière (optional)
3 cloves, crushed
A small cube-sized piece of fresh ginger, grated
A teaspoon of turmeric
Salt & a dash of black pepper
For the chips:
300 ml vegetable oil for frying
2 Jerusalem artichokes, sliced as finely as possible with a mandoline
A small bunch of fresh chervil
A sprinkle of fleur de sel
Pour the stock into a large saucepan and bring to a boil.
Slice (with a mandoline) the potatoes and onion, and drop them into the stock. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, lower the heat then add the watercress, ginger, turmeric, cloves, salt and pepper. Cover again and cook for another 6 to 8 minutes, or until all the ingredients are tender.
Purée the soup in the blender and add the cream.
Heat the oil in a heavy medium-size pot until hot and ready, make a test by throwing in a slice of Jerusalem artichoke and if it sizzles, the temperature is ready for frying. Add Jerusalem artichoke slices to the oil in small handfuls, turning gently with a wire skimmer, until pale gold and crisp, about 45 seconds to a good minute. Transfer chips to paper towels to drain, and sprinkle with salt. Repeat the same with the chervil, for less than 15 seconds or so. Add them to the plate of chips so they get to mix, this will create a great flavour.
Reheat the soup on a low heat and ladle the soup into bowls. Scatter the chips and chervil on top and serve immediately.