Cooking pots on the street


Spotted outside a shop in Pézenas today: a traditional Provençal daubière and some Moroccan-inspired tagines, a couple of bowls and some jam funnels.  The daubière is used for making the slow-cooked dish of beef, vegetables, red wine, garlic and herbs known as la daube.

In literature, this dish is associated for me with Mrs Ramsay and her dinner party in Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, although of course Mrs Ramsay didn’t prepare it herself. “The cook had spent three days over that dish”, we’re told, while Mrs Ramsay takes the credit for the fact that it is “a triumph”. “It is a French recipe of my grandmother’s”, she says. And sure enough, when I googled boeuf en daube others too had published la recette de ma grandmère.

Elizabeth David gives a good, if rather complicated recipe in Mediterranean Food for those of us whose grandmothers didn’t make it (my maternal grandmother was a vegetarian so she certainly didn’t).  She cooks the marinade first before adding it to the meat the day before cooking.  I would just add red wine, bay leaves, sprigs of thyme, peppercorns and garlic to the meat and leave it overnight. Next day add sliced carrots and onions and some more wine and cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. As Elizabeth David says, “This dish has a really beautiful southern smell and appearance.”

There are as many recipes for tagine as there are pots to cook them in, but my version of lamb and olive tagine is on the Food from the Mediterranean blog – here.

An easy chicken tagine

Perhaps not authentic, but yesterday I wanted to make something that would cook while I was working, so I slow-cooked chicken pieces in an earthenware dish in the oven with a tagine spice mix of cinnamon, turmeric, paprika and cumin.  It took about 5 minutes to prepare and a couple of hours later it was ready to eat.

chicken tagine 1

I put the chicken pieces with olive oil in an earthenware dish, added three quartered echalottes, three large chopped cloves of garlic, two sliced carrots, half a lemon cut in quarters, some sprigs of rosemary, a little salt and a large spoonful of the tagine spices.  I poured over the juice of the other half of the lemon and a cup of water, covered the dish with aluminium foil (a proper tagine pot would be ideal, but I haven’t got one) and put it in the oven at 150 C for a couple of hours.  Half way through the cooking I added some pruneaux.  We ate the tagine with basmati rice, although bulgur, couscous or flatbread would be more traditional.

chicken tagine 2

Perfect for a winter evening!

It looks as though the weather is going to turn cold again, with freezing nights, grey cloud and snow forecast for the mountains.  Snow here in the village is very rare – we had some a couple of years ago and it was the first time for fifty years – but we feel it in the wind when it falls on the mountains to the north.  The signs of spring continue to appear, though, and today I noticed this almond tree starting to flower, a lot more buds about to open, and from high up in the tree came the sound of many bees already out and attracted by the blossom.

almond blossom 1

almond blossom

>Autumn clearing / nettoyage d’automne


After nearly two weeks of cloud and rain, today we finally had a day in the garden in sunshine doing all the jobs which we’ve been wanting to do. We cleared the tomato plants which were looking very sad, still with some red tomatoes and a lot of green ones, but it was time to get rid of them. We’ll ripen the remaining tomatoes in the house.

tomato plants lifted_1_1_1

Après presque deux semaines de nuages et de pluie, aujourd’hui enfin nous avons passé une journée de travail au jardin au soleil. Nous avons déraciné les tomates qui avaient un regard très triste. Il y avait encore quelques tomates rouges et plusiers de tomates vertes, mais c’est le temps de nous débarasser des plantes d’été. Les tomates qui restent va mûrir à la maison.

While the rain stopped us from keeping an eye on the garden, the snails and caterpillars were enjoying our cabbages. The caterpillars are the worst – chomping their way through the leaves. I disposed of several and a lot of snails too.

cabbages eaten by caterpillars_1_1_1
Cabbages eaten by cater-pillars and snails / les choux mangées par les chenilles et les escargots
caterpillar's last meal_1_1
This caterpillar has had its last meal! / Cette chenille a mangé son dernier repas!

rose 2_1

The climbing rose is still flowering / La rose grimpante est toujours en fleur. And while we were in the garden today the mangetout peas germinated and small seedlings appeared in the sunshine!

Olive week recipe: Lamb and olive tagine

tagine ingredients_1_1

I sautéed an onion with some pieces of breast of lamb, added a quartered lemon, some chopped mint leaves, chopped garlic, bay leaves, roughly chopped garlic, a spoonful of harissa paste, some halved peeled potatoes, salt, water to cover, and covered the pan and simmered for an hour.

tagine cooking_1_1

Then I added some picholine olives and simmered uncovered for a further 20 minutes. Meanwhile I sautéed a sliced green pepper in olive oil. I served the tagine, garnished with the sliced pepper and with a bowl of yogurt with crushed garlic, salt and chopped mint leaves.

tagine   yogourt_1_1_1

Click here to see the recipe on Mediterranean food / cliquez ici pour voir la recette sur le blog la cuisine mediterrannéenne