Mackerel fillet with cedrat, lemon juice and rocket

Lately I have been trying to change the rhythm of meals during the day towards a more southern regime – a full lunch and a light dinner. When both my wife and I had full-time office jobs, we would take a quick lunch – sometimes prepared at home and kept in a plastic container – and enjoy a good dinner at the table with the television news in the background.

In the south of France, and in Italy and Spain, there is more attention for an important lunch while the evening can be light – in Spain down to some tapas.

That is not easy to combine with office hours – but then in some countries the midday break is longer than what Dutch or English office workers would be permitted to take or be inclined to use.

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Quiche with dandelions, Camembert and salami

When I was young there was a best-selling book called ‘Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche” about macho prejudice. Well, I am not a real man then.
Quiche, the name, comes from the local dialect in Lorraine that has German influences and sounds a bit like “Kuche” for pie.
The Quiche Lorraine is the most famous version, first recorded in the accounts of the Nancy hospital in 1605. The Quiche Loraine is a crust pie filled with bacon and cream.
I made a spring version with dandelions, leek and onion and topped it with some leftover Camembert cheese.

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Sesame chicken, peas with turnips

I often buy a small chicken called poussin on the market because it is sufficient for two people. Here I first braised the chicken in butter and oil and then completed the cooking in the oven with tomatoes and sesame seed. I served it with peas and turnips cooked in a chicken stock and some green salad in a reference to the classic French pea recipe which I skipped because of the butter.

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Burrata with escarole salad

There are plenty of culinary things that I do not know about. We recently had a dinner with a good friend from Argentina in a restaurant with my name (Marcel, 15 rue de Babylone) with which I have absolutely no relation. She opted for a dish because it had “Burrata” in it and I must confess I expected some TexMex ingredient that she, as from south America, would have a particular craving for.

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Mad about Maatjes – a herring salad

In France you can buy and eat many things, but for foreigners there is always some speciality that is difficult to find.
Like Maatjes herring (or Matjes herring); fresh young herring that has only been treated with a light saline solution shortly after it has been taken out of the nets.
There are pots of herring in brine, sweet and sour, but that is not the same. ‘Maatjes’ herring is derived from ‘Maagden’ herring, or virgin herring as the new herring is caught before the females have eggs or the male have roe.

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Tartiflette Maligny

A tariflette is a potato, onion and cheese dish usually made in the mountains of the Savoie, during winter.
We were at Maligny in a holiday home for a short stay in the Chablis area to taste and buy wines and eat some local delicacies such as snails, chitterling with Chablis wine and cheeses such as époises, Brillat Savarin and Chaource.

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Guinea fowl with carrots and cumin

When I was young, carrots were orange. Standardised orange. I  did not even imagine it could be different. But the wild carrots that grew in the area of Afghanistan, some five thousand years ago, had various colours. According to the carrot museum (yes, there is one, be it virtual only) it is due to Dutch growers … Read more