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.

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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…

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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.

 

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Marvellous “Morilles”!

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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…

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Dandelions in the walnut grove

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Walnut catkins

 

 

An absent camera and the yellow wine festival

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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.

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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!

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Scallops with a walnut oil and lemon dressing

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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.

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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!

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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:

http://jurawine.co.uk/uk-stockists/

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!

The cows are tidying-up

DSCF0589These big-eyed, brown and white beauties are helping us prepare the terrain around the walnut trees. The first walnuts are starting to fall so we will soon be in full harvest mode. New boots and a woolly hat will be essential with the fresh Autumn mornings. Picnics and wine, equally essential to motivate the troops. For those of you who do not recognise these cows, they are Montbeliardes, the ones who make the milk for the famous Comté cheese. When you buy milk, cheese or yoghurts in your local dairy or “fruitière”, you can be sure they are made from the milk supplied by farmers in the vicinity(8 mile radius, to be exact!). In fact you have probably driven by the said cows munching on the nutritious grass and flowers. Farmers group together to supply the dairy and employ a cheesemaker  to create those wonderful, dairy delights. One of the best things about Comté is that it goes very well with walnuts and walnut oil. Recipes: click here, for example. A typical apéritif in Franche-Comté consists of  pieces of Comté with a handful of walnut kernels and a glass of local white wine(often the Savagnin grape variety).

François Hollande, the merits of dry toast and pumpkin pancakes

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“About as much charisma as un-buttered toast” was the description of François Hollande, by the ABC news correspondent, who expressed his surprise at the alleged French president’s love affair , which seems to involve two very beautiful ladies. I found this highly amusing, whilst feeling sorry for Valérie, or “Valou”, who is obviously going through a terrible time.However, I would actually like to defend the case of dry toast!  I believe it can actually be very charismatic. I often toast up stale bread and use it as a cobbler-like topping on a casserole. It’s also great as croutons on onion soup, or bulks up a salad, fluffing-up as it absorbs the vinaigrette. It’s traditionally used here as a base for “croûte aux  champignons”, posh mushrooms on toast, made with wild mushrooms, cream and local Savagnin wine. Hollande’s public image has really gone downhill recently. Although the French media doesn’t seem to be talking about it much, the “moped-riding philanderer” is not a good look.Let’s hope he can overcome these events and become more of a crouton, or a rustic bread salad, the more charismatic kind of dry toast.

Pain de Noix

Pain de noix, on an old plate made in Salins Les Bains, once a thriving crockery-making town.

DSCF0134The frugal tip of the day was given to me by a lovely couple who brought their walnuts to be pressed yesterday morning. If you need to heat the room next door, make a hole in the wall. Although this may not be very aesthetic, it’s actually not a bad idea. I have some friends who heated their house only using a wood-burner, as we do. Their bedroom upstairs had no heating at all. They consequently cut a hole in the floor of the bedroom of around 15cm in diameter, which enabled the heat to float up into the bedroom. If ever it was drafty, they had a disc to cover it, just in case. Saves you installing heating in the other room.

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What to eat today after days of leftover couscous came to an end. In the fridge I had one onion and a bit of pumpkin hanging around. From the latest walnut press, I have some “pain de noix“, which I grate to make a sort of walnut flour. I always have buckwheat flour in the cupboard so decided to make some crepes. This mixture would also work well in pasta with some Parmesan or as a ravioli filling, maybe jazzed-up with Mascarpone.

Pumpkin, Sage and Walnut Crêpes                            

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Ingredients (makes 4 crêpes)

¼ of a small pumpkin or butternut squash

1 medium onion

Sunflower oil

3 tablespoons of ground nuts or “pain de noix”

A knob of butter

A drop or two of milk

1 egg

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·         Put 250g of buckwheat flour in a mixing bowl

·         Place an egg, a dessert spoon of sunflower oil, and a pinch of salt, in a well in the centre.

·         Beat the egg and flour together, gradually, working from the centre outwards.

·         Gradually beat in 50cl of water. The mixture will turn from a rough paste to a silky fluid.

·         Leave to rest for at least an hour.

·         Fry a sliced onion in a drop of sunflower oil.

·         Add the slices of pumpkin and a touch of dried sage or a few chopped leaves of the fresh stuff.

·         Leave to sweat until soft.

·         Mix in 2 tablespoons of grated “pain de noix” or ground walnuts.

·         Add a knob of butter and stir for a minute or so.

·         Gradually add about 4 tablespoons of milk. You can add cream at this stage, but I didn’t want it to be too rich.

·         It should have a pesto like texture. Turn off the heat, season, cover and leave to stand.

·         Place a ladle of the crêpe mixture in a slightly buttered frying pan.

·         Swirl around to cover the whole pan and cook on a high heat.

·         When it starts to detach around the edges and moves when you shake the pan, flip it over.

·         Spread the pumpkin mixture on whilst the crêpe is still in the pan. After a few minutes, flip over one half of it, so it’s like a half-moon.

·         Flip over the whole thing and leave for a further few minutes.

Serve. Bon appétit!