The recipe book has arrived!

DSCF1316It  has been a while since my last post. Such a busy time here, doing five markets a week and also putting the finishing touches to my new book. I am pleased to announce that it is now available to buy online. A bible of 31 pages, for walnut and hazelnut lovers, as all the recipes are based on the said nuts and their cold-pressed oils. It’s in French, but would make a good present for French-speaking foodies! It’s also peppered with stunning photos of the Jura, illustrations and a bit of philosophy.


The title, “La vie nous fait décortiquer bien des choses” is a play on words with the word “décortiquer”, which literally means “to shell”, but can also be used figuratively, in the sense of “to analyse”. You can “shell” a text in French, for example.  The title is thus very difficult to translate into English. I suppose, roughly, it would be “Life in a “nut shell” or something similar! It works well in French anyway!

A glimpse of the contents…




Price: 15,50€

Delivery is configured for the UK and Europe. For other countries, do send me an email for further information on delivery costs.

Click here to order online.


















Marvellous “Morilles”!



Spring has sprung and it’s “morille” mushroom season. I searched for hours in the countryside and ended up finding a huge one at the bottom of the garden on some rough ground. You can’t miss the honeycomb-formed , meaty flesh. It had already dried enormously in the warm spring sun, so I soaked in warm water for a few hours and then blanched it to remove any impurities and thoroughly rinsed it again. All that remained was to cut it into four and throw it into a runny, well seasoned omelette.

The mushroom I found appears to be a “morella esculenta”, which can be found in the UK. I discovered a great blog called Absolutely Fungulus, where the blogger recounts finding morels in a car park in Leeds! Although I am a cep lover, there is something strangely seductive about these elusive, meaty morels. They don’t look for luxurious forest undergrowth, they like a bit of rough and can often be found around old piles of chopped wood, wood chips and gravelly roadsides.

Remember to be careful when looking for wild mushrooms. there are many toxic varieties so its best to be guided by an expert.

Other spring sites…


Dandelions in the walnut grove


Walnut catkins



Easter yoghurt and lemon cake


Our local shepherdess and organic, cheese-maker extraordinaire also makes delicious, creamy, ewe’s milk yoghurt.I have literally been eating the the rich, dairy delight until the cows come home, or sheep as it may be in this case. It’s delicious on its own, with a drop of honey or fruit. However, much inspired by a fellow blogger’s recipe,  Little Loaf’s “Flourless Lemon, Almond and Ricotta cake”, which contains ground almonds, I decided to adapt it to include ground walnuts and the said yoghurt. The results are an extremely moist, light Easter treat, a welcome change from chocolate. Of course, we don’t all have fresh from the farm, ewe’s milk yoghurts. You could replace it with a quality, creamy, farm-style fromage frais or maybe even a good greek yoghurt.



100g of butter, softened

220g of golden caster sugar

Finely grated zest of 2 organic lemons

Half a teaspoon of vanilla extract

3 eggs

250g of walnut powder (I use grated “pain” de noix”, from the remains of an oil press. The advantage is it’s lighter than ground walnuts as 90% of the oil has been extracted. It’s great for cakes, biscuits and also savoury recipes such as pesto. Available online, from us. Do send us an email if you are interested)

or 150g of ground walnuts and 100g of ground almonds

25cl of ewe’s milk yoghurt

Icing sugar for decoration

1. Preheat your oven to 180°

2. Lightly grease a baking tin and place some greaseproof paper in the bottom. Little Loaf recommends a 20cm round one, but I used an oblong (30cm x 20cm x 5cm)

3. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the lemon and the vanilla.

4. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

5. Fold-in the walnut powder, folllowed by the yoghurt.

6. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form peaks. Add to the other mixture and fold in gently.

7. Pour the mixture into the tin and cook for 30 minutes, until slightly golden.

8. Leave in the tin to cool and then transfer to a plate to decorate.

Serve on its own with a dollop of double cream or a raspberry coulis.

Below are some of the shepherdess’ marvellous ewe’s cheeses.


Tomme de brebis & brebis frais affiné

First sign of Spring: wild garlic and walnut pesto

DSCF1077I always know that Spring is here when i’m walking the dog in the forest and we stumble upon a carpet of luscious, green leaves. All of a sudden our nostrils are filled with the perfume of fragrant, musky garlic.I prefer to eat it fresh, but as it arrives in such abundance, I tend to freeze bunches of it. For best results, the leaves should be picked young , before they flower. It’s very easy to identify – mainly due to the garlicky fragrance which is released when when the ground gets warm in the sun, or when you rub the leaves between your fingers.It is found in dappled shade, woodland areas, often near water. In Yorkshire, I used to find a lot along the banks of the river Wharfe. Do be careful though. It could be mistaken for toxic plants such as Lily of The Valley if you are not familiar with it. Its flowers are small, white and star-like. I always blanch it as you never know if a passing fox has relieved himself on a leaf! Wild garlic is wonderful, simply tossed into pasta, in an omelette, a tart etc…DSCF1081

Ail des ours

“Ail des ours”, or wild garlic (one of my illustrations from my camera-less period!)


Below is a recipe I am very fond of which works well with walnuts or hazelnuts.I tend to throw everything into the pasta, but if you have the luxury of a blender, you could always mix the pesto in your appliance and add to the pasta afterwards. I do like the simple approach though!

Blanch a good handful of leaves for 3 minutes.

Drain and finely chop them.

Add to hot pasta and throw-in a handful of ground walnuts (or walnut powder if you have it).

Generously drizzle the pasta with some virgin walnut oil. Of course, i’m biased, having lots of oil to hand(we do ship to the UK and Europe, do contact us if you’re interested). You could, of course, substitute the walnut oil for a good virgin (cold-pressed) olive or sunflower oil.

Mix-in a handful of grated comté (or your favourite hard cheese).

Add a touch of cider vinegar and season well.

Serve immediately.

Scallops before Spring

Pan fried scallops with a walnut-oil and lemon dressing

st jacquesThis is one of the simplest starters to impress your guests, or even yourself with! It makes the most of scallops before they go out of season. I enjoyed some freshly caught scallops in Brittany in December, in a beachfront bistrot, during some unusually mild weather. This was a particularly precious moment, as we live in continental, Eastern France, we couldn’t be farther from the sea. The nearest fishmonger to us is about an hour away, so a holiday on the coast was perfect for enjoying an inexpensive feast of fish for a week. Scallops are in season from October to May, yet sustainable fishing advice recommends not consuming them from April till September, during breeding time.March is time to savour the last of the scallops and a sign that Winter will soon be behind us.

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I am always surprised, as with most seafood, that we don’t enjoy more of it in the UK, being an island. Most of our shellfish is exported, bizarrely. and local fishmongers seem to be a rarety. I feel strongly that we should support fishmongers who are always keen to advise on how to prepare and choose your seafood. Such information has not always been passed on from generation to generation as it has in French coastal regions.Fish and chips are great but there is so much more to seafood! Sustainability is obviously much discussed nowadays and for scallops there is a “good practice guide” to help consumers make an informed decision, when buying.There is also an online guide to fish labelling which makes for an interesting read.

Simply pan fry 2 scallops per person(ready-shelled), in a knob of butter for 2 minutes on each side. When serving generously drizzle with walnut oil and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Add a touch of black pepper. A pinch of salt may be necessary but unlikely as you will have an obvious taste of the sea.

You will be surpised by the subtleties hidden in these little blobs of white flesh! The tougher, more bitter, orange part of the scallop( the “coral” or “roe”),  can be an acquired taste. Some people also believe it can contain harmful toxins, although all parts of the scallop flesh are classed as “edible”. I feel the coral cuts through the richness of the white flesh, so adds a positive element to the recipe.

Frugal furnishings for a frustrated seamstress


It may be March, but it is still rather chilly here. We don’t have double glazing but are, in fact, quite glad, as when you’ve got a roaring fire in the stove, it can actually get too hot and I do like a house that breathes – rather than a stuffy, over-insulated airless space.However, as we have a length of wall which is made up of only windows in the living room, when the North wind starts to blow, you really need curtains to take the edge off.Thick material is a great insulator. At the amazing “Musée des Maisons Comtoises“(Franche-Comté Houses Museum), which I have visited many times, I will always remember  the bedrooms in certain houses, literally alcoves containing a raised bed, cordoned off by a very thick curtain, or sometimes a cupboard door. Logical really, energy saving and avoids wasting heat.

Inspired by those bedrooms and tired of the North wind, I set out to make some curtains. However, my sewing machine, annoyingly is in England, so I wanted something quick and easy without a lot of sewing by hand. I am a real fan of “friperies” & “ressourceries”, French junk shops, often great initiatives which provide jobs for the local community and also recycle old objects, furniture, clothes etc.I found a huge piece of old, thick,grainy, cream-coloured linen. 6m for 5€, bargain!

I also stumbled upon some unusual square, wooden, curtain rings, which seem to have been made in the Jura in the 80s.


I then discovered these great curtain clips, which simply attach to the material, no need to sew on curtain hook loops etc. I also discovered that my thick linen did not fray when cut. I simply folded over and ironed the top hem, which wasn’t really a hem, but thought 2 layers would make it stronger. A hazelwood rail chopped off one of our hazelnut trees, a mixture of wooden and wrought iron brackets, to fix the rails to the wall and my curtains were born.They may look like something from The Flintsones, but I like to think they have a rustic charm. In any case, we have certainly conserved a lot of heat this winter, which would have otherwise escaped through the meagre windows.

An absent camera and the yellow wine festival

Snowy Salins Les Bains

Snowy Salins Les Bains

Documenting things, food, drink, events, non-events has been very difficult lately. Preferring to live in the moment, rather than step back and view events as a blogger has been an eye opener.I have been very busy making and selling walnut oil, of course, but have also written a cookbook full of recipes using walnuts, hazelnuts and their cold-pressed oils; have been working on the blog for our local veg-basket group; oh and we have developed a walnut jam with a local artisan jam maker.


Our new jam, created in partership with a local jam maker.It’s more like a spread, but fearing association with a certain quality of nutty spreads, we thought jam was a more elegant name! I also discovered I can take pictures with my laptop, which I won’t be doing very often. Although, somehow like the grainy effect…

I have been somewhat forced to live without a lens, as a blogger’s worst nightmare has occurred…my camera is broken, beyond repair. Yes, I know. What to do?  Anyway, to cut a long story short, after several hours of sitting with my head in my hands, lamenting the sparkly snowy, sunny scenes outside, fearing they will be lost forever as not documented, I started to question my reliance on my camera and insistance on describing things. My absent camera has actually forced me to start drawing food! Illustrated recipes to follow soon!

st jacques - Copie

Scallops with a walnut oil and lemon dressing

st jacques

Coquilles Saint-Jacques






Below are my last photos, before being struck by camera deficiency, and thoughts on the wonderful yellow wine festival.



La Percée du Vin Jaune“, literally the “piercing” of the barrel containing yellow wine, is an annual event in the Jura.The wine is aged for 6 years and 3 months, so on the first weekend in February, breaking open the barrel is celebrated in a different wine producing village each year. This year it was in Montigny Les Arsures, near Arbois.


The village square in Montigny

This enigmatic wine is sold in 62cl bottles, the amount remaining from a litre of wine after the evaporation process. The alcohol which  evaporates is poetically called “La Part des anges” (the angels’ share). Made from the savagnin grape variety, for me, as with all great wines, you drink vin jaune with your eyes and your nose before you taste it! It has a glossy, golden yellow colour and fills your nostrils with walnut, dried fruit and spicy saffron aromas. This is particularly relevant for us, as walnut and walnut oil producers, it makes for a perfect apéritif: a handful of walnut kernels and a glass of “vin jaune”. It was a cold, snowy day, but our cheeks were soon glowing as we wandered from cellar to cellar, walnuts and cubes of comté in our hands and a special tasting glass in a little pouch around our necks!


Devastated that one of my last photos was a terrible selfie…

Some of my favourite Jura wines:

The wine festival is not just about yellow wine. It allows you to taste the various wines made from different grape varieties.

“Trousseau” (a red grape variety unique to the Jura) .Domaine Daniel Dugois‘ trousseau is excellent with subtly intense red-fruit flavours.

“Pinot Noir”, Château de Quintigny, blackberry and chocolate flavours, with a hint of woodiness from the oak barrels.

“Ploussard”, again a grape variety only found in the Jura. Not to be mistaken as a rosé, this grape variety is made into wine using the same techniques as a red, but the finished product has a natural, pale red colour. A light fruity wine, with hints of raspberry contrasted with peppery, earthy undertones. The organic Domaine Hugues Béguet is one of my favourites.

“Vin jaune”, Domaine de La Pinte.Next time I go to the wine festival, I shall take a note book. So many wines to savour, 70 winemakers were there this year. This one really struck me, however, due to its rich walnut flavours. This is an organic vineyard in Arbois, a picturesque winemaking town.

This list is by no means exhaustive. There are so many fantastic wine producers here, different “terroirs” from village to village and of course different vintages, of which my list does not take account. The best thing to do is to come and visit the Jura and meander around “La Route des Vins“! If you are unable to do so you can find details of stockists on this blog about Jura wine:

Apologies for my wine vocabulary.I probably watched too much Gilly Goolden during the 80s(wine critic on BBC’s Good Food program). That was a great programme by the way. Loved her perm and sparkly jumpers. I am definitely not a wine professional, but have got to know quite a few bottles since i’ve been here!

Incidentally the Jura is the department with the largest proportion of organic vineyards in France(15%). I shall definitely be going to the organic wine show next month, Le Nez dans Le Vert .

Hopefully I will have a camera by then!

Au revoir Autumn fairs, bonjour Christmas markets….

As I adorn my thermals and woollies, the extremely mild Autumn we experienced seems very far away. The golden light has been replaced by white skies.2 degrees today and snow forecast for later.A last look at some Autumn scenes…


The Autumn market in Pouilley Français. 170 stalls and lots of seasonal produce


Squashes galore in Pouilley Français


Ready to sell fresh wlanuts and walnut collectors in Pouilley Français


Golden , Autumn, evening light, as seen from my living room. The Fort Belin and “La Roche Pourrie”, literally the “rotten rock”, famously painted by Gustave Courbet.


Gatsby makes the most of the walnuts drying in the sun

Michelin starred chef, Jocelyne Lotz-Choquart, cooking live on the radio with Jean-Pierre!

On friday morning, Jean-Pierre was delighted to be invited, as the guest producer, on Jocelyne Choquart’s radio show. She concocted a surprising dish: organic mussels with garden vegetables and walnut oil.


Jocelyne Lotz-Choquart, was the proprietor and Michelin-starred chef of the famous “Mungo Park” restaurant in Besançon, from 1990 to 2006. She now has a radio show on France Bleu Besançon, where each week she puts local food in the spotlight, as she creates a recipe using a product she has chosen when visiting farmers’ markets in the region.It takes place live in the bustling, covered market in Besançon, in the presence of the said producer.

The result was spectacular: the salty, tender mussels worked perfectly with the sweet crunchiness of the vegetables. The delicate walnut flavour added a soft, almost creamy contrast to the dish. Topped off with the walnut powder (grated pressed walnuts, which remain after pressing), this added an earthy kick to the dish.I was familiar with scallops and walnut oil but had never thought of associating these ingredients. What a discovery! Perfect for the season and the imminent arrival of Christmas feasts!

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The outing also enabled us to rediscover the covered market (Marché des Beaux Arts), which has been somewhat revived by the arrival of a restaurant and bar in the centre of the building, where you can enjoy a great “plat du jour”, inspired by the fresh, seasonal ingredients sourced from the surrounding stalls.


I had no idea that organic mussels even existed, but apparently it is a very recent phenomenon, first recognised officially in 2011. The organic label is mainly based on the quality of the water, the mussels are grown on shellfish beds in special conservation areas that our free from pollutants, with regular tests being carried out.The term “bouchot”, the sort of mussels Jocelyne uses in her recipe, designates a traditional method in aquaculture, whereby the shellfish are grown on ropes, attached to wooden poles in the sea.The term also has an AOP (“appelation d’origine protégée”), meaning that to be called  “Bouchot” mussels, they must originate from La Baie de Mont St Michel, on the coast of Brittany and Normandy. Organic mussels are also produced in Scotland and Ireland.

Organic “Bouchot” Mussels With Garden Vegetables and Walnut Oil

Serves 4

1kg of “Bouchot” mussels

2 baby leeks

2 small white turnips

1 carrot

2 celery sticks

2 shallots

1 heaped dessert spoon of double cream

10cl of chardonnay

4 dessert spoonfuls of walnut oil

50g of walnut powder (or ground walnuts if you can’t get this. Do contact us if you would like to order some!)

2 dessert spoons of neutral flavoured oil(rice-bran or organic sunflower oil)

1. Rub the mussels with a knife to remove any dirt stuck to the shell.

2. Rinse them in cold water, rubbing them together. Leave to one side in a colander.

3.Wash, peel and finely chop the vegetables.

4. In a large pan, sweat the vegetables in the rice-bran oil until tender but maintaining a crunch.

5. Add the wine, cream and some ground pepper. Leave to reduce for a few minutes.

6. Add the mussels to the pan. Cover and leave to cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly until they open.

7. When open, check the flesh which should be tender and not rubbery.

8. Shell the mussels by using another shell to pull out the flesh. To prevent them from continuing to cook, you will need to remove some of them with a slotted spoon and leave to one side in some foil.

9. While you are shelling, place the remaining sauce in a frying pan and cook on a low-heat for 5 more minutes.

10. Put the shelled mussels back into the sauce and heat for a minute or two.

11. Serve using a ladle. Add a generous drizzle of walnut oil and the walnut powder or ground walnuts.

12. DO NOT ADD SALT. Mussels are naturally salty. Bon appétit!


The recently inaugurated tram in Besançon

The recently inaugurated tram in Besançon