Monday, May 16, 2011

Week 51: Mostly Food

Do you ever decide that you simply must get out of your boring routine of the same meals week after week, and resolve to cook new recipes? That's where I found myself at the beginning of the week. With my new cookbook A Year in My Kitchen, which I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I found it quite easy to quickly identify some simple and delightful alternatives to roast chicken or lamb chops which we make almost weekly for our own personal meals.

Without a doubt, our favorite new recipe involved the making of tomato jam. Goodness! It began simply enough by slowly roasting plum tomatoes with a light sprinkle of fine sugar, pepper and salt for several hours at very low heat.

The thing I like about Skye Gyngell's book is the concept of the tool box. These are recipes, techniques and spice blends which can be made ahead of time and used in many simple recipes to really dress up an otherwise ordinary meal. Her roasted tomatoes, which have many uses and applications are one of these.  They are also the main ingredient in another one, tomato jam. This concoction is simply out of this world, with an unusual and divine flavor. I won't give the recipe here, as I think that would infringe on her copyright. Besides, you really should just buy the cookbook. You won't regret it. Suffice it to say that besides the smokey tomatoes for your jam, you have chilies. garlic and ginger in this delicious thick sauce. I don't know if you can imagine this combination, but it is truly scrumptious on just about anything, with the possible exceptions of desserts.

The recipe we followed involved a warm lamb salad on greens, fresh shredded fennel and green beans, topped with the tomato jam. Yum!


We were extremely busy this weekend. I'm married to a man who doesn't like the word no. At Le Mans there was the motorcycle equivalent of the twenty-four hour car race on Saturday and Sunday. Our rooms were already all taken when another family called for reservations. These were people who had stayed with us before. Rick told them we'd find a way to accommodate them as absolutely every place in our area was entirely booked since months before. The Le Mans event attracts thousands of motorcyclists from all over Europe.

It may have been that Rick didn't entirely understand the French conversation, or perhaps when he said "sure," he didn't fully calculate the impact, but it turned out the reservation included not only the couple that we knew, but their children and grandchildren as well. This was fully six extra people for whom we had no rooms available. We were required to get very creative. We do have a fold-out bed in our study, so that was turned into a room for one couple. Our double inflatable mattress was put on the floor of one of the bigger rooms to accommodate the children and grandchildren. The couple who were displaced from their original room reservation were upgraded to our own apartment. That worked to take care of all the clients, leaving us, unfortunately without a place to sleep ourselves! Rick and I happen to have an extra mattress in our garage, which we put on the roof of the car and hauled down. We set that up in the studio for us. In the end it seemed to work.


With the coming of warm weather, the variety of fruit available at the market has blossomed, so when it came time to serve dinner to clients, I decided to make Marie-Claire's tarte. It is a standard here all summer long. 

It is so easy to put together,

and the results are always beautiful.

We served gazpacho to start. Rick got creative with the yogurt on top.

The weather these days allows for breakfast and apéritifs served out of doors. Dinner service on the terrace will follow soon.


  1. Waouh ! une vraie "colonie de vacances"! Ou une ruche ! Votre vitalité à Rick et toi Nancy, m'impressionne mais j'espère que les milieux de semaine vous permettent de vous reposer un peu ...
    Pour la cuisine, en ce moment c'est salade, salade, salade mais elle change tous les jours et j'essaie de nouveaux mélanges. Je crois que je vais moi aussi tenter la tarte de Marie-Claire, elle est si appétissante !

  2. Got to get that recipe book! Crazy about so many people in the house. Glad it worked out!

  3. Hello Nancy,
    LOVE anything with tomatoes! I served gazpacho often when we lived in hot Houston, Tx. Very refreshing.

    Looking forward to some seasonal fruits and your desert looks wonderful.

    That's too funny about the abundance of house guests. You seem to have made it work. Have Rick brush up on his French ;->

    Thank you for your lovely comments and well wishes for my Mom. It is so good to be back in Blogland.

    Janet xox

    PS...gorgeous flowers!!!!