Pasta with clams, Saint Jacob scallops and squid

Pasta with clams, scallops and squid

This weekend was the “Foire aux harengs et à la coquille de St Jacques” in the coastal town of Dieppe but we could not go to the Normandy port.

To mark this weekend of herring and scallops and encourage the hard-working small-boat fishermen there, I made a dish with scallops from my local fishmonger.

Spaghetti with spinach, garlic and vacherin cheese

I like spinach. I do not believe it makes me strong like Popey the Sailor Man (and he ate them from cans…) but it is healthy. On the farmer’s market in the town here they sell “cold-ground” spinach, big rough leaves with a snail here and there. It will not last when it starts freezing.

Start of winter is also the beginning of the season for cheeses that melt easily to be put on bread or in fondues after walks in the mountains or winter sports. One of my favourites is Mont d’Or, a soft cheese with a nutty flavour from the Jura area. It is a kind of Vacherin, a soft cow cheese, from a specific area.

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A simple veal cutlet

I am spending more and more time at my new house in the Ariège region. The kitchen is not ready yet so I keep things rather simple. In this rural region, there are many producers that bring their ware directly to the market and raise their livestock with care. There is a lady with a … Read more

Veal kidney with ceps and pasta

There was an offer on veal kidney on the market and I bought some. Two went straight into the freezer and one was for a weekend meal.

I had been reading several recipes, and discussed it with my hairdresser as one does in France. What had caught my eye is that in several Italian recipes (for rognoni) the kidneys are first put in a bowl of water with some vinegar, then dried and sprinkled with flour.

The French just put the rognons in a skillet and then remove them to discard the first juices, before resuming cooking.

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Pasta with snails

Here in France we eat snails. Not alive, but pre-cooked. You can buy them in jars and on a recent journey in the Creuse I had bought one from a local producer.

The jar sat in the fridge for several weeks and I needed to come up with a plan to use them.

The classic way to eat snails is to cook them and put them back in their shells with a garlic-and-parsley butter. I did not want to use butter, as it is fat, and did not have shells.

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Veal kidneys with pasta and cauliflower

I must confess that this dish came together because what I had left in the refrigerator when we wanted to have veal kidney. There was still half a cooked cauliflower waiting for use.

The rognons are popular in France. In the Netherlands, most people would not think about eating it. In England, the kidneys of the adult cows enter in the steak and kidney pie.

The first time I ate kidney it was as a kind of test by my then new boss in France in a restaurant. There I was served a whole kidney with some mustard sauce and I not only passed the test but also started to like it.

Cut-up kidney is easier for frying, what I did with the following dish.

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Spaghetti, clams, coriander and soy paste

I usually stick to one style or one cuisine when I make or change dishes but here the Italian and Japanese traditions where so close that I could not resist to mix and match. So instead of using white wine, olive oil and parsley for spaghetti alle vongole, I used a soybean paste, coriander and some seaweed powder. The result was excellent.

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Autumn spaghetti dish with scallops and ceps

Sometimes a dish creates itself when you walk around the market. The fishing season for scallops had opened and I wanted to do a simple spaghetti dish with it. The greengrocer’s had some of the last ceps – small brown button mushrooms from the Millevaches plateau in Corrèze, between Limoges and Ussel. I cooked the … Read more