>Lemons, courgettes and morcilla / Citrons, courgettes et morcilla

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Our own lemon tree has produced only three fruits, but lemons are cheap at the moment – 4 for 1 € in the market on Wednesday – so I bought eight to preserve, using two recipes from Catalan gardener’s blog. So it’s not my recipe, but I couldn’t resist putting the pictures on this blog – such a lovely colour!

Notre citronier n’a produit que trois fruits, mais les citrons sont moins chers en ce moment – 4 pour 1 € sur le marché mercredi – donc, j’en ai acheté huit pour faire les citrons confits selon les deux recettes de Catalan gardener.

I sliced five of the lemons, salted them and left them to drain overnight in a colander (left, below) / j’ai coupé en tranches cinq citrons, j’ai ajouté du sel et les ai laissé pour la nuit dans une passoire (à gauche).

citrons confits 1_1_1 citrons confits 2_1_1

I quartered the other three lemons and rubbed salt into the cut surfaces, put them in jars and used Tomás Graves’s trick with the olives, a couple of bay leaves and a bay twig to keep them under the boiling water which I added to the jars. / J’ai coupé en tranches les trois autres citrons, j’ai mis du sel sur les surfaces coupées et des feuilles et brins de laurier sauce pour les garder au dessous de l’eau bouillante que j’ai ajouté aux bocaux.

citrons confits 3_1_2_1

This morning I put the slices of lemon in jars and topped them up with olive oil – the two recipes produced four colourful jars for the preserves shelf. In a month’s time we’ll be able to start adding them to tagines. / Ce matin j’ai mis les tranches de citron dans les bocaux et j’ai ajouté de l’huile d’olive – et voilà, quatre bocaux aux couleurs vives. Dans un mois on pourra les ajouter aux tajines.

Sowing courgettes / Semer les courgettes

courgettes in cloches_1_1

Lo Jardinièr came up with another great recycling idea for the courgette seeds. The seeds are in compost in card centres from toilet rolls, held upright by plastic pots and then the pots are put inside 5 litre water bottles which have been cut in half to make a mini cloche for each pot, which can be put outside on the balcony when the seeds germinate.

Un autre truc de recyclage de Lo Jardinièr pour les semences de courgette. Les semence sont dans le terreau dans des centres des rouleaux de papièr hygiénique, et puis dans des pots que nous avons mis dans des bouteilles d’eau 5 litre, coupé en moitiés pour faire une petite serre individuelle.

And morcilla for lunch … / Et la morcilla pour déjeuner

morcilla   potato salad_1_1_1

It was a nice surprise to find Spanish morcilla with pine nuts in the village shop this morning, so I made a warm salad of potatoes, sweet onions, spring onions, pickled garlic and sun dried tomatoes, with slices of fried morcilla, for a very good lunch with a glass of rosé from Domaine des Pascales in Gabian.

Une bonne surprise à l’épicier du village ce matin – la morcilla espagnole aux pignons. Donc j’ai fait une salade tiède de pommes de terre, oignons doux, oignons verts, ail confit aux tomates séchées, avec des tranches de morcilla poelées – un très bon déjeuner, avec un verre de rosé du Domaine des Pascales à Gabian.

Garden panorama / panorama du jardin

garden panorama 05-03-09

>Some recipes

>Wednesday is market day in Gabian, as it has been since 1171. At the charcuterie van, which comes from Lacaune in the mountains north-west of here, we bought Spanish morcilla for lunch. These spicey blood sausages are tastier than the local boudin noir, I think, although both are good. They tasted as though they were flavoured with cinnamon, and we found pine nuts in them. I dressed chunks of still-warm boiled potatoes with a dressing made from olive oil, salt, pepper and wine vinegar in which Ive steeped bay, rosemary and thyme from the garden since last July. I added some chopped garlic, parsley and sweet fresh onion, sautéed slices of the morcilla and arranged them around the potatoes. With a glass of red wine from Le Moulin de Lène, just the other side of the hill from here, it made a delicious quickly prepared meal.

The fish stall arrives each Wednesday from Valras-plage, the stallholder selling the fish caught the night before on the family boat. She only sells fish which they have caught, and when its too rough to fish she just doesnt come, so its all as fresh as possible. Today the muge – grey mullet – were still alive. I bought a large one, weighing over 1.5 kg to make a fish stew based on a recipe which Nigel Slater gave in his column in the Observer a few weeks ago. You can see his recipe here

I made some changes, as I usually do since I rarely follow a recipe exactly.

Fish stew – marmite de poisson – for 4 people

1 onion

1 red pepper

3 large cloves of garlic

6 anchovy fillets

3 bay leaves

3 sprigs of thyme

3 twists of lemon peel

olive oil

a large glass of white wine

1 large grey mullet (the stallholder descaled it and cut it into portions for me)

1 jar of preserved tomato passata with green peppers (bottled last July)

1/2 litre fish stock, made with the head and other bits of the fish

2 dozen mussels

I sautéed the sliced onion and red pepper in olive oil until soft and just beginning to brown, then removed them from the pan. As Nigel Slater suggests I sliced the garlic and fried them gently in olive oil with the anchovy fillets and the herbs. When the anchovies disintegrated I added a large glass of white wine, the fish stock and the jar of tomato and green pepper and let it all simmer for about 20 minutes. Then I added the pieces of fish until they were cooked – about 10 minutes. I then leave it until Thursday, when the van from Bouzigues arrives with mussels and oysters. On Thursday evening I cooked about 1/2 kilo of large mussels in a mixture of half white wine and half water with a bay leaf, for about five minutes until they were all open. I shelled these mussels and added them to the stew. When our friends arrived for dinner I heated the stew and when it was simmering added the other half-kilo of mussels in their shells and cooked it all until these mussels were all open. I served it with Camargue rice.

Nigel Slater suggests garnishing it with toasted slices of bread spread with a mix of coriander leaves and chopped fresh red chillies. I didn’t have any chillies so I used a clove of garlic and some smoked paprika and some olive oil with the coriander leaves.

I think it all worked well – the colours looked good and the fish stayed firm – something to remember if you’re using other kinds of fish, as it has to be something that won’t disintegrate while cooking.