>Last days of the year

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The weather has become much milder than it was a couple of weeks ago and the days are getting longer. This evening it was just about light until about 5.30 p.m. There’s a chance that the plants in the garden, which have been in a kind of suspended animation for the past few weeks, will begin to grow again. We still have work to do – clearing the last remaining pepper plants and getting the ground ready for the goat manure we hope to collect during January.

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Even in the very cold weather we’ve been picking leeks and salad leaves, and this cauliflower.




The sea

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On Saturday at Le Grau d’Agde the sea was grey and cold. The statue of a woman represents the women who wait and watch for the fishermen to come back to port. She had no need to worry this time because all the boats were in the harbour. Going through Roujan we were amused to see this large olive tree on the back of a lorry ahead of us. A nice late Christmas present for someone?

Sunday sunset

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From near Roujan we could see as far as the Pyrenees and Mont Canigou (above), which is 2,784 metres high, and the sunlit trees looked golden against the dark sky.






And our Christmas day lunch …

We’ve had to postpone our family mid-winter festivities because of travel problems last week, but even though we were on our own on the 25th, Lo Jardinièr and I had a good lunch!

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Apéritifs in the garden, with some of the olives from our own tree.

DSC00746 DSC00745 Lo Jardinièr opening oysters (left) and beating the chocolate fondant mix (above)

DSC00750 Foie gras with salt, red and black peppercorns and a glass of Cartagène. DSC00752 Oysters gratinées
DSC00755 Leg of lamb slow roasted in wine with garlic and rosemary, with leeks from the garden. DSC00754
Potatoes dauphinoises
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Chocolate fondant.
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And, finally, cherries in Armagnac with our coffee.

We didn’t eat anything else until the next day!

>J’invite la Grèce dans ma cuisine / I’m inviting Greece into my kitchen

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A tempting challenge – to invite Greece into my kitchen – and one which isn’t too difficult for me. Greek and Turkish cuisine have many similarities, so many of the dishes on the blog En-direct-dathenes resemble the food I ate while I was growing up in Istanbul and have been cooking ever since.

Pour participer au jeu de MaryAthenes j’invite la Grèce dans ma cuisine avec ces keftedes au cumin et ouzo:

As my entry in the game suggested by MaryAthenes I’ve made keftedes with cumin and ouzo:

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(pour 30 de keftedes / to make 30 keftedes)

600 g de viande hachée / minced meat**

1/2 pain blanc rassis / stale white bread

1 gros oignon haché / minced onion

2 oeufs / eggs

1 càc de cumin / coffee spoon cumin

1 1/2 càc d’origan / coffee spoon origano

1 verre à liqueur d’ouzo / liqueur glass of ouzo*

sel, poivre / salt, pepper

farine / flour

huile à friture

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Faire tremper le pain rassis dans de l’eau. Essorer. Mettre en miettes.

Soak the bread in water. Drain. Make into crumbs in a mixer.

Melanger le pain et la viande hachée à la main. / Mix the bread and the meat by hand.

Ajouter l’oignon, les oeufs, le cumin, l’origan, l’ouzo, le sel et le poivre et bien malaxer. / Add the onion, eggs, cumin, oregano, ouzo, salt and pepper and mix well.

Laisser reposer 1 heure au frigo. / Leave in the fridge for 1 hour.

Former des petites boules, les rouler dans la farine et les faire frire. / Form the mixture into small rissoles, roll them in the flour and fry them.

Vous pouvez les manger chaudes arrosées de just de citron ou froides. / Serve hot with a squeeze of lemon or cold.

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*Parce que je ne suis pas en Grèce, au lieu de l’ouzo.
j’ai ajouté du pastis.

* Because I’m not in Greece, instead of ouzo I added pastis (the Midi equivalent of this aniseed spirit).

** You can use beef, veal or lamb (lamb would be most likely in Turkey) for this or pork, which is what I used because it is easily available here.

And from our lunch today, a couple more meze ideas …

quelques autres idées pour un repas de mezes …

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Crushed haricot beans with sweet onion, black olives and toasted sesame bread. Cauliflower fritters. Recipes for these will be on the mediterranean cuisine blog.

>More mussels and a precocious cauliflower / Encore de moules et un chou-fleur précoce

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I’ve been thinking about the mussels we ate last Thursday evening, bought from one of the two vans a week which bring shellfish to Gabian.  Mussels and oysters from the Bassin de Thau, a salt-water lagoon between Sète and Agde, seem to me to be one of the most sustainable foods available. 

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Mussel and oyster beds near Bouzigues
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Bassin de Thau

 

Je pense que les huitres et les moules du Bassin de Thau, une lagune entre Sète et Agde, sont très durable.

The shellfish are farmed and so do not deplete any of the sea’s natural stocks. The industry is a major employer in the area and is good for the environment because keeping the water clean and unpolluted is in the interests of the producers, who have to add an extra cleaning process to their production on the rare occasions when the water is found to be polluted.  As far as I can tell, the carbon footprint from the mussels lies mainly in the fuel used to bring them the 30 kilometres or so to Gabian.

J’écrirai plus sur la production de coquillages dans le Bassin de Thau bientôt, mais pour le moment je vous donne la recette du plat que j’ai fait jeudi soir:

I’ll write more about the shellfish production in the Bassin de Thau soon, but in the meantime here’s the recipe for the dish I made on Thursday:

Stuffed mussels with muscat / moules farcies au muscat

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Clean a kilo of mussels and cook in boiling water for a few minutes until the shells have opened.  Remove the half of each shell without a mussel and put the shell-halves with mussels in an oven-proof dish.  Cover the mussels with a mixture of 100 gm breadcrumbs, 3 finely chopped garlic cloves, a bunch of parsley and thyme chopped, salt and pepper.  Add a teaspoonful of muscat or other sweet wine to each shell and drizzle olive oil over them all.  Put under a hot grill for about 5-10 minutes until the breadcrumbs are crispy.  Serve with a slice of lemon. 

La recette sera sur le blog mediterranean-cuisine.

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This was the first time I’d made this dish and it was delicious – I’ll be making it again soon!

An early cauliflower

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We didn’t expect to have cauliflowers for another couple of months, but this small one suddenly appeared last week.  Yesterday it had begun to look slightly yellow and we thought it wouldn’t grow any bigger so we brought it home to cook.  As you can see in the picture, it was only about 10 cm across the head.

Lo Jardinièr quartered it and steamed it, then served it with cumin seeds and chopped garlic which had been very lightly sautéd in olive oil.  It was very good – but we hope the others will be bigger!

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