Sunday, March 29, 2009

Fish in a Creamy Sauce

The other day I did a bit of shopping at my local supermarket...   Here in France it is called a "Hypermarché" so I guess maybe it's a Hypermarket these days.

As I paid the checkout girl she handed me a booklet reviewing many of the wines they had on offer.  I threw it into one of the bags and didn't pay it much attention.

The following day I was tidying up and glanced through and discovered that as well as reviews of the various wines there were several interesting recipes.  This recipe caught my eye and I made it on Friday.  It was delicious, and extremely simple.

The very delicate sauce goes amazingly well with the white fish and calls for a vegetable that isn't too strong....  I used Haricot Vert but think, now, I would have preferred broccoli or haricot beurré

Sadly, it was only after I had eaten it, and discovered how good it was, that I thought about sharing it here. so I'm afraid there are no photos but I'm sure you can imagine a bit of fish in a white creamy sauce.


White Fish in a Creamy Sauce 
(Cabillaud sauce crémeuse au Vin Rosé)

This is a delicious sauce to use with any white fish or maybe even gammon using 1/3 bottle of Rosé wine.   Great with a vegetable such as haricot vert or haricot beurré
The original French recipe, as the name implies, calls for cod…. But any white fish would be excellent.

Serves 4


4 good sized pieces of white fish
2 Onions
3 garlic cloves
250ml Vin Rosé
250ml single cream
Salt and pepper
Salt and ground black pepper to taste


Cut the fish into large pieces (2”)
Coarsely chop the onions and thinly slice the garlic and then fry in a large frying pan with a knob of butter until the onion is translucent
Lay the fish (upside down) in the frying pan( in amongst the onion and garlic) and cook for a minute or two on a low heat.
Carefully turn the fish over and add the wine.
Reduce the mixture.
Add the cream salt and pepper and mix gently.
Thicken over a low heat (takes about 4 - 5 minutes)

Serve with broccoli, haricot vert or haricot beurre

Monday, March 23, 2009

Yacón, Lettuce, Rhubarb and lots of Tomatoes

After my trip, I spent the first day back home, in the garden.   It was a beautiful day and I spent the most part of it catching up on watering and just enjoying the great progress that had happened over the few days I was away.


Earlier this month, Patrick, of Bifurcated Carrots, let me have two Yacón tubers and this is the first one to appear.    It has also been on a short holiday, residing in a neighbours greenhouse...... well, actually their swimming pool house, which is like one huge greenhouse!  The other tuber is now safely back in the dark of my boiler room, where it will enjoy a constant temperature of between 17C and 20C until it, too, decides to come out into the world.

Joy's cos We had also sown some Joy's Cos Lettuce seeds before we went away and left a rather spindly collection of tiny seedlings to find their way in the big world.   I'm not sure someone isn't playing a joke on me as these cannot be the same seedlings that Kate and I left just over a week ago.
lollo rosso Whilst thinking about lettuce, this is a firm favourite of mine,  Lollo Rosso.  It's deliciously tasty and crunchy and is certainly enjoying this year's spring weather.

We also left a tray of Oak Leaf Lettuce seedlings.   Well, to be honest I thought we were leaving a tray of pots of soil with a few stalks in it. 
lettuce Look how they have grown.  I have a covered terrace area on the south side of my house.    It is open but enjoys full sun for a good part of the day and the roof keeps out the frost at night.   Whilst I was away, these seedlings were just left on on a table with a neighbour popping in occasionally and giving them a drink
pumpkin I saved some pumpkin seeds from the pumpkins which another neighbour has grown for many years.  I figure that if he is successfully growing them right next door to me then, even a newbie like me, should stand a chance.

They are obviously going to be quite tasty, because you will see that one of them has already been eaten. The others seem to be doing ok though.
Rhubarb Back in November 2008, one of our friends gave me three pots which she assured me had rhubarb seeds sown in them.  I carefully nurtured them over the winter and, to be honest was beginning to think they had failed me.  However, about a month ago, one of the pots showed the tiniest sign of life so I persevered.
Now all three are up and growing and getting ready to enjoy their new home.
tomatoes And then there were some tomatoes....  Last autumn I saved seeds from my cherry tomatoes.   I got advice from friends and bloggers in Europe, the United States and as far away as Australia.    They all gave me great advice about how to collect the seeds.... pick a tomato!!! and how to save them.... dry the seeds!!!  I followed this advice and saved my first seeds.
Sadly, all these people did not give me any advice about keeping the seeds, once saved, and when I came to sow them, I found my packet had got damp and there was just a collection of mouldy seeds all stuck to the paper.

After some discussion I decided to just sprinkle all the seeds onto a tray of seed compost and see what happened.   These seedlings are a tiny fraction of the result.   I have been giving away tomato seedlings to friends and neighbours now for about a month and still have far more than I can use.

I'm hoping that seeds from my cherry tomatoes will be the first seeds I am able to offer on the Blogger's Seed Network, from next year.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The White House Vegetable Garden

I've been away for a few days visiting family and friends but look what sensational news reached me as soon as I got back.

obama veg garden Back in February of last year, Roger Doiron of Kitchen Gardeners International started a campaign to persuade the new incumbent at The White House to turn over some of the high profile lawns to grow vegetables.

Well, on Friday last, First Lady Michelle Obama was joined by school children and broke ground to create an 1100 square foot Vegetable Garden on the South Lawn.

You can read all about it in Roger's report in the KGI Newsletter..

Let me join people all around the world in congratulating Roger on this wonderful achievement and in hoping that the example being set by the Obama's will be taken up by other leaders.

The news is particularly good as I believe that gardening is new to First Lady Michelle Obama and that she intends to involve all her family in the creation of an organic vegetable and herb garden.

Picture from

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Now, at last, the vegetable seedlings can spend the days out in the sunshine, covering tables and window sills in every vantage point on the south side of the house, as well as in the cold frame. Here are just some of them.image image
Ian's cherry tomatoes are very strong and are being given away to neighbours as they prove  that even mouldy seeds should be given a chance to grow.100% germination means there are hundreds of them!
The lawns are a profusion of colour as tiny violets, polyanthus, daffodils and other bulbs and several wildflowers burst into life. I feel like a buddhist as I tiptoe across the grass, trying not to step on anything in flower! Every day something new appears.

The trees, such as this willow, below, have buds bursting forth as the days warm.

The raspberries and hazelnuts so recently planted all have their first leaves and the cuttings we took when we pruned them are making more plants for planting later.
image image
image At left is the first shrub to colour here. It is a forsythia and you see it everywhere, forming vibrant yellow hedges while other shrubs are still dormant.

I can see how spring is such a time of joy in the garden, in these colder climates, as so much is deciduous and colourless over winter.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Clam Dip

We have had a couple of days off from our garden whilst we have entertained some family.

A few friends came for dinner last night and I made a nice clam dip which we served with a second, avocado, dip and raw vegetables as part of the aperitifs.

Here is the recipe for the Clam Dip:


2 x 61/2 oz cans chopped clams
5 small cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
750 grams Fromage Blanc
125ml single cream
Juice of half a lemon
Good dash Worcestershire Sauce
A few drops of Tabasco (to your own taste)
Salt and ground black pepper to taste


Drain clams.
Mix garlic, Fromage Blanc, single cream, lemon, sauces and salt and pepper and adjust to a thin dip consistency by adding cream or fromage blanc.  The mixture will thicken in the Fridge!.
Add Chopped Clams and blend with a stick blender
Blend until the clams are small enough.
Put into fridge for at least two hours before

Monday, March 2, 2009


We spent the weekend preparing our next bed in the new vegetable garden.  This time the prepared bed was planted with three hazelnut bushes which we bought on Friday.

We visited a small nursery, not far from here and were delighted that they had bare rooted hazelnut bushes at a reasonable price.   We decided to buy three as we were advised to plant them about 2m (6'6") apart.

We also bought a dozen lettuce seedlings which looked superb and were so much further advanced than our own ones, grown from seed.  The lettuce seedlings were being sold in packs of 6 growing in the squares from the 1" size soil blocker.  In another part of the nursery there were hundreds and hundreds of these blocks with all manner of seedlings growing in them, with not a plastic pot in sight!!!

The new vegetable garden is on a slight slope and this bed is the farthest down the slope that we will be working this year and it was interesting to note how much better the soil was as we moved down the hill.  I say better, but please don't think that I mean good!!!  It was still a heavy clay in need of a lot of amendment....   just not quite as heavy as the top beds we had made already.

On Sunday we opened up three large holes and planted the three bushes in good compost.

Hazelnuts are the first nut trees we have planted here, but a neighbour tells me that he has a hedge of hazelnuts which is growing quite happily.   Of course, we do have three large walnut trees.