My French Heaven

FOOD, PHOTOGRAPHY & JOIE DE VIVRE IN BORDEAUX, FRANCE

The light after the storm

The light after the storm

It’s the golden light that penetrates my soul. It isn’t warm, it isn’t cold.

I face it, eyes closed, feet apart, chin slightly up.

It enters my body and makes it way to the core.

Mixed with the essence of me it whispers: the battle is over.

Everything is as it should be.  The storm has passed.

Perfect lives here. Enough is here.

The light after the stormThe light after the storm

Quick, easy, healthy, delicious and rough seafood vinaigrette

Tuna and green vinaigrette

Even though there isn’t any vinegar in this preparation, I will call this a vinaigrette. In French food, when it’s cold, it’s either a coulis (mostly made of fruits or vegetables) or a vinaigrette. Since I am not a food snob though (hate food snobs), I suggest we just make it, enjoy it and call it whatever the hell we want. And today, vinaigrette it is :0)

I was quite uninspired yesterday. I had no idea what I’d make for lunch. All I knew for sure is that I didn’t want to spend more than 15 minutes preparing my meal and that I had to lose the two pounds I put on after my Sunday lunch with Conor and Sharon (thanks you guys!) :0)

Green onions

So I stopped by the market to get some seafood, got a piece of tuna and headed back home. I just seared the tuna in olive oil on high heat for 20 seconds on each side. This was just meant to give it a nice color and a little bit of extra flavor. I didn’t feel like eating just another plain tartare.

Tuna and green vinaigrette

For the “sauce”, I mixed olive oil (extra virgin from Provence) and lemon juice in the proportions of a standard vinaigrette: 1 juice to 3 oil. To me the only thing that can really mess up a vinaigrette is a poor dosage of those two core elements. I then added whatever herbs and condiments I had laying around in the kitchen or growing in the garden. The only thing I knew: I wanted it to look green. So here is what I included:

  • Capers (1 tablespoon)
  • Garlic (1 big clove)
  • Ginger (4 tablespoons)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Flat Parsley (3 tablespoons)
  • Green onions (1 small)
  • Dijon mustard (1 teaspoon)
  • Chives (5 tablespoons)
  • Lemon verbena (4 leaves)

Use your own personal taste and common sense for proportions.

Tuna and green vinaigrette

Sometimes I replace the onions with shallots and add some basil or dill, nuts (any nuts) and balsamic vinegar. I warm that up quickly and serve it on fish. ANY fish, cold or hot. I served this with sea bass in salt crust when Mimi was here. Heaven!

So here is a low calorie, high vitamin, great tasting “sauce” you can make on the fly. It will definitely compliment just about any fish course you decide to have that day!

Why the chopsticks you say? I’m probably on Japanese mode already! 3 months to go!!!!!

Tuna and green vinaigrette

Of friendship and things that are colorful and bright and free

Bastille day

I started this post thinking I’d just share a few pictures of my friend’s Jurina’s 40th birthday that we celebrated this past July 14th weekend. I then thought of what Jurina means to me as a friend and as a positive influence in my life and ended up associating her beautiful free spirit to the revolution and its symbols. Have you ever heard of Marianne for instance?

Révolution-Française

While Uncle Sam represents the American government, Marianne is the symbol of france as our homeland or mother land. It is the symbol of France itself and its motto since the revolution: Liberté, égalité, fraternité which means Freedom, equality, fraternity. The name Marianne was used for a number of reasons:

  1. Marie and Anne were the two most common names for girls in the French countryside of the 18th century. The common peasants were at the origin of the revolutionary movement and the largest cast in France.
  2. A song was published just days after the Bastille was taken. It was very popular and was called The Healing of Marianne
  3. In the play “l’Avare” written by Molière (the French version of Shakespeare) more than a century before the revolution, one of the main characters was called Marianne. She represented freedom of choice against tradition and oppression

So Marianne became the symbol of freedom and of the new France the people had fought for. Until the Euro became our currency, we used “Francs”. Marianne was on every coin. She still is on very stamp we use. Take that Elizabeth Windsor :0) Just kidding, you know how much I love the queen. I wish we had one to be honest. Any half blood aristocrat would be better than this buffoon we call our president… (When I say our President, I mean THEIR president. Heaven knows I didn’t vote for that fill in the blank)

 

So here is to freedom and life and people who keep fighting for them. Here is to the glorious Jurina and the light she shines upon us all. Here is to loud fireworks and food and wine and joie de vivre…

Bastille day at Jurina & Jame'syjetyjejetjBastille day at Jurina & Jame'sH92A4382H92A4200_SnapseedteyjetjyrkryukH92A4689Bastille day at Jurina & Jame'sH92A4113

Note:The toreador is Jame, Jurina’s boyfriend. You guys already know Ségolene and the fat guy holding her in his arms ;0)

Of July in Cap Ferret and lick your fingers delicious flambées prawns

Shrimp - Cap Ferret

Each year in July, every individual cell of our large clan rents a house in Cap Ferret. Except me of course because I’m so busy (and so damn poor). So you can imagine how special I feel when my friends or my nephews invite me over for a day at the beach. I am not too excited about the beach part (never could stand it); rather, I am out of my mind excited about seeing the kids… My nephews and grand-nephews are the children I will never have. I have 19 of them and I can honestly say that they are the only good reason I have to keep on keeping on as they say…

Shrimp - Cap FerretShrimp - Cap FerretShrimp - Cap FerretShrimp - Cap Ferret

Of course they all know how important good food (and seafood in particular) is to me. So we make it a point to always cook something special when I’m with them. Something light and tasty and lick your fingers delicious… One dish everybody loves to eat on a hot summer day by the pool is grilled or seared prawns flambées with Ricard or Pastis or even Jack Daniels. So I will be driving around Cap Ferret with several bottles of brandy in my car this month :0)

Shrimp - Cap FerretRicardShrimp - Cap Ferret

Every Mediterranean country has its own anise based alcoholic beverage. In Greece it’s Uzo, in France it’s Ricard. We call this type of drink “anisette”… It is very popular everywhere in France, but it is an absolute star in Provence! It is also perfect to flambé seafood. You can find it almost anywhere in the world. You can also look for “Pastis”. I modified my recipe for the marinade recently. Here is the new version:

  1. Marinate prawns in olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zests, salt and black pepper for at least 2 hours.
  2. Grill on a cast iron plate or plancha (2 to 3 minutes on each side) or on the BBQ.
  3. Flambé with Ricard and serve with the left over marinade on the side. You can spread it on toast or put it in your rice or your pasta…

Note: if you BBQ the shrimp, you will obviously need to transfer them into a pan in order to flamber them. Just make sure the pan is hot enough for the alcohol to catch on fire.

Note: Obviously, we don’t have huge prawns like these in France. They come from Madagascar (the best ones do). I will have to post again soon on my next Cap Ferret trips and the local specialties we’ll cook. Oysters and turbot anyone?! :0)

Shrimp - Cap FerretShrimp - Cap FerretShrimp - Cap Ferret

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