Words on Love and an "au pif" recipe

Smokey peppercorn tree
Our golden retriever, Smokey, enjoying shade under the peppercorn tree. Today's entry begins with the French version of Love Is Patient, Love is Kind and ends with a recipe (the two sections have nothing to do with each other but are, like today's recipe, au pif (spontaneous). 

L'amour est patient, il est plein de bonté;
l'amour n'est pas envieux; l'amour ne se vante pas,
il ne s'enfle pas d'orgueil, il ne fait rien de malhonnête,
il ne cherche pas son intérêt, il ne s'irrite pas, il ne soupçonne pas le mal,
il ne se réjouit pas de l'injustice, mais il se réjouit de la vérité;
il pardonne tout, il croit tout, il espère tout, il supporte tout.
L'amour ne meurt jamais. 
   (1 Corinthiens 13:4-5)

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc read Love is Patient in French

Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast,
it is not proud. It does not dishonor others,
it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.

(If you find a better English version--a better match with the French--thanks for sharing it in the comments box)

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Paring tomatoes at the kitchen sink, I thought to google "recette salade lentilles." But with my hands dripping le jus de tomate, I didn't want to reach for my smartphone and begin typing.That's when an inspiration came to mind:

The recipe is whatever you desire….

Voyons... Just what did I desire? And, equally as important, what ingredients were on hand? I suddenly remembered some boiled eggs in the fridge….and pickles (which go well with des œufs durs…).

"It would be nice to have some salmon," I said to Mom.

"I've got some left over...from the salad you brought over yesterday," Jules offered. Parfait

Too bad we were out of onions… Attends une minute! There’s one, hiding under a branch of drying peppercorns on the buffet….

Eggs, salmon, onion, and how about those concombres I bought last night, while visiting Cynthia at her corner épicerie

Any crumbs and seeds on my planche à pain are automatically added to whatever salad I'm making--lentil salad is no exception! Allez hop! In they go! (Mom wrinkles her nose at this crummy ingredient. But I have no problem with days old miettes - and will add them to a recipe here...if only to give you a good vocabulary word. Miette--un mot chouette!)

Some olive oil, mustard, and the white truffle vinegar (we're lucky to have a supply of this élixir. Jean-Marc stocks it at his shop!)....

Salt, pepper, and voilà!  The only other ingredient is time. But hunger knows not patience. Alors souvenez-vous

The recipe is whatever you desire
Using ingredients you have “sous la main”
Hunger knows not patience
Mange quand tu as faim!


FRENCH VOCABULARY

la recette = recipe
la salade = salad
la lentille = lentil
le jus de tomate = tomato juice
voyons = let’s see
parfait = perfect
attends une minute! = wait a minute!
une épicerie = grocer, grocery
le concombre = cucumber
la planche à pain = breadboard
allez hop! = off you go!
une miette = crumb
choutte = nice, neat, good
le frigo = fridge 
sous la main = on hand
Mange (manger) = eat
tu as faim = you are hungry
alors = so then
souvenez-vous = remember

Kristin espinasse garden bouquet
In our garden. Photo by Jules. Thank you very much for reading today's au pif--spontaneous--post. I have been working on a story about some dolphins, and will hopefully share the rencontre chanceuse in the next post. Have a lovely weekend. 

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


Pâte Brisée : Jêrôme's 4-ingredient wine-based shortcrust pastry is easy, versatile, delicious for savory quiche or sweet, delectable pie!

lemon pie tart shortcrust pastry recipe geraniums pepper tree bistro chair
I can tell you--after seeing them in the bathroom mirror this morning--this shortcrust pastry recipe will give you les poignées d'amour. That's French for "love handles." Même pas peur? Not even scared? Good! Read on and discover a truly delicious and versatile pâte brisée. I should know...I've tested 10 of them in the past week--ever since you asked for the recipe!  

Today's Word: la pâte brisée

    : shortcrust pastry, a rich dough for making pie crust

Audio: Listen to the words pâte brisée in this soundfile
En cuisine, la pâte brisée est une pâte servant de base aux tartes salées ou sucrées.  La pâte brisée désigne généralement une pâte composée principalement de farine et de matière grasse sans sucre.
In cooking, shortcrust pastry is a dough used as a base for savory or sweet pies. Shortcrust pastry generally refers to a dough composed mainly of flour and fat, without sugar.

Jérôme's Pâte Brisée: 4-ingredient Shortcrust Pastry
(makes one large or two small tarts!)

Ingredients...
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup sunflower oil

Note: ordinary white wine is all you need. Leftover wine will work as long as it hasn't turned to vinegar. For oil, we used sunflower, but olive oil or other oils could work.
 
Optional additions to the dough: pinches of salt, poppy or sesame or flax seeds, cumin, herbes de Provence or other spices.... The sky's the limit!


Method:

Pour 1/2 cup wine and 1/2 cup oil into a cup. Heat 1.5 minutes (until very warm) in a microwave. In a bowl combine flour and baking powder. Slowly pour in wine/oil mixture, stirring as you go with a fork or your hands.

Do not over mix. The shortcrust pastry dough is ready when it is no longer sticky.

Note: Having gradually added it to the mix until a good consistency was achieved, I had about 1/8 cup of wine/oil liquid mix leftover. 

Roll out the shortcrust pastry dough on a floured surface. Or roll it out onto some cooking paper, for easy transfer to the pie pan.  (No rolling pin? You could use a bottle of wine or similar.)

Pre-cook the dough
Cook the pâte brisée at 180c (350F) for 15 minutes or until golden and firm. (No need to add weights, such as beans, to the shortcrust pastry dough).

Your pie crust is ready! Just add your favorite filling: for savory tarts try grilled vegetables, one or two eggs whisked with sour cream, salt, pepper, herbs = a good basic (cook in a 180C/350F oven for approximately 30 minutes. For sweet: fry some bananas in butter, add a little sugar (and rum if you like), and arrange in pastry (photo below). I recommend Mimi Thorisson's simple and delicious lemon tart (pictured in the opening photo, above), using Jérôme's Pâte Brisée. A winning combination!

Give this oil and wine-based pâte brisée a try and let Cécile and me know here in the comments how it worked out for you. Bonne chance et bon appétit!

Cecile rolling out shortcrust pastry dough
Cécile, rolling out the shortcrust pastry, a recipe she learned from her friend Jérôme. Little does he know what a big part of our lives his 4-ingredient recipe has become. Mille mercis, Jérôme! And a thousand thanks, Cécile, for all you gave when you were with us these past two weeks. Thank you for cleaning up our porch, for all the cooking, for repairing those broken tiles on the outdoor stairs, and for the mega project of creating a tool room in our unruly cafoutche (before and after photos coming!). You are truly my rock star sister-in-law, and you will never know what an example you are to all of us. 

Mushroom pepper cumin mustard quiche
The last quiche  Cécile made for us using leftovers in the fridge--including leftover pastry dough. There are sauteed yellow peppers, mushrooms, and she added Dijon mustard + cumin to the egg/sour cream base. Our son Max loved this one!

Tomato tart tarte tomate recipe recette
Thanks to the additional pâte brisée in my frigo (as mentioned, today's recipe will make one large or 2 small-medium tarts) it will be easy to throw together another meal. I'm off to make an All-time Favorite Tomato Tart for lunch (recipe here). Will worry about those love handles--those poignées d'amour--later. On second thought, même pas peur!  

FRENCH VOCABULARY
la pâte brisée = shortcrust pastry
les poignées d'amour = love handles
même pas peur! = not scared! (word of the day on Jan 7 2013)
bonne chance = good luck
bon appétit = enjoy your meal
le frigo = fridge
Banana tart for shortcrust pastry
Banana tart with caramel filling.

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


Un coup de bol + ras le bol and recipe for "le pain en cocotte" (dutch oven bread)

Kristin and Jean-Marc Espinasse by Cynthia Gillespie-Smith
photo by Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

A SPECIAL WELCOME to students who have just signed on to this journal. It is an honor to have you with us! This blog began in the South of France in 2002 when our children were 5 and 7, and I worked at a  Swedish-owned winery while my husband sold Italian wine bottling machines. (I am American and he is French.) We left our jobs, focused on writing and wine and eventually bought a vineyard of our own. Currently, we are sharing a more personal story and you may follow along as we write it: The Lost Gardens goes behind the scenes of this lighthearted, cheerful (in the style of today's column, below) blog to the dark and hopeless moments that punctuated our private life. Feedback on our memoir:

"A raw, honest, and heart-wrenching telling of a trying period. So vividly told." -Janet
"Your combined story is powerful..." --Chris
"This book will be a great help to others, and a testament to the strengths you have each discovered in yourselves." -Ellen 

Anyone who has ever chased a dream while trying to hold on to their loved ones will be moved by our book's dual narrative: my husband writes about his ambitious pursuit of winemaking, and my chapters focus on our relationship as our vineyard rises.... and ultimately falls. But that is not the end of the story.... Purchase the memoir here and begin reading right away.  

Today's phrase: un coup de bol

    : a stroke of luck, a fluke, lucky break

Sound File: click here to listen to the French phrase below

Un coup de bol... à ne pas confondre avec le ras le bol (ce qui veut dire " fed up").
A stroke of luck... not to be confused with le ras le bol (which means "fed up").

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

by Kristi Espinasse

"Wonder Bread"

Quelle Trouvaille! I was hunting through the second-hand shop, with Mom, when I stumbled upon a dutch oven. Le Creuset no less. The torn white sticker read 5 euros. But it weighed a ton! Did I really want to buy this empty canon ball?

Oh, but it was canon! A real knock-out as go dutch ovens. Cherry red. A slate-black handle (so handsome you'd forgive it the first time it blistered your fingers). The retro typography L E  C R E U S E T. The creamy enamel interior. Tu vas regretter, a little voice said as I began walking away. And so I turned back...et on connâit la suite....

I am typing this with burnt fingers which reminds me to include the following disclaimer: pay attention when baking today's wonder bread and porter des gants!

Now that you've been warned, and you promise to be mindful while making this fastoche bread recipe--don't hold back! This is every bit as good as a French baguette and simple comme bonjour...to make.

IMG_20190824_140329_905

NO KNEAD BREAD -- EASY!
Two ways to make this easy, delicious bread. 1) Follow the simple video instructions at the end of this post or...

2) Suzanne Dunaway's recipe from her Instagram:

- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 cups water
-2 teaspoons salt
- 1 envelope dry yeast

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients and leave overnight (cover bowl with a dishcloth). The next morning, with the help of a rubber spatula or spoon, pour into a greased (or paper-lined) baking pan and bake at 230c (450 F) for 30 minutes.

Any old baking pan will work. Lately, I use a glass rectangular pan (no lid), lined with cooking paper.

*The "pouring" part is my own. I got tired of touching the sticky dough and wasting dough (and doughy countertops). I find that pouring or emptying the dough straight from the mixing bowl and into the pan works just fine!


FRENCH VOCABULARY

le pain en cocotte = dutch oven bread
quelle trouvaille! = what a find!
canon = gorgeous
on connaît la suite = the rest is history
porter des gants = wear gloves
fastoche = easy
simple comme bonjour = easy as hello
MVIMG_20190829_120611
The antique hachoir berceuse (rocking chopper) was another find at the second-hand store! You can find these new here

MVIMG_20190829_115352
Even the underside is beautiful, reminiscent of the marbled French yogurt cake!

MVIMG_20190829_120718
I've finally run out of farine, or flour, after making so many loaves :-) Latest obsession: to add Everything but the Bagel seasoning mix to the top. So good! I leave you with the video that simplifies the steps:

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


Ragout: Simple recipe for Provencal stew + kitesurfing in Giens peninsula, near Hyérès

Ragout provencal stew fava beans feve

For those reading our autobiography, The Lost Gardens, see the update at the end of this post. If you have purchased our book-in-progress and lost your passwords to access the chapters, leave a message in the box at the end of this post. 

The beauty of an online book-in-progress is all that can be included in it! I've just added the first photo album to our memoir, and will continue to enhance the story with images. To purchase The Lost Gardens, click here and scroll to the end of the page to purchase.

Today's Word: le ragoût

    : stew

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE, by Kristi Espinasse

Yesterday I was making a delicious ragoût with the fresh fèves from our garden...when my son invited me to the beach to watch him kite-surf. 

After a busy week, I wanted nothing more than to eat this delicious Provencal stew and then take a nice long Sunday siesta. But I know that stealing away with my son won't be as easy as the years march on, and so, You're on! I said, and we headed back to the Giens peninsula, near Hyérès.

After renting gear, we found the popular kite-surfer beach and hurried to the shore to unravel some important strings. The sandy beach was dotted with colorful cerf-volants and all the kite-surfers wore wetsuits. 

Max kitesurf giens beach plage
 

Even if the sand was being whipped up into my eyes and the sun was burning down (igniting my fears after a frightful experience) I felt so alive beneath the colorful, kited sky, listening to the joyful voices of those wind-harvesters: Mec! Tu peux m'aider? Man, can you help me? Max said, asking a stranger to help send off his orange and white kite. 

I watched my 23-year-old inch back into the sea, slip his feet onto his kite board, and disappear into the sparkling horizon, his kite flying high with the others. I might have dreamed such a beautiful scene, had I stayed home and rested. But this--this salty scent in my nose, this wind in my hair, these vibrant colors above and the gentle tones below of sand, grass, and charming picket fences--this was real.   

A creature of habit, a creature of comfort--these are tags I need to send off, like a kite. I am first and foremost a creature: I was created to go with the flow of life. And oh, the places Life takes us, when we let go and grow.

*   *   *        

Grass picket fence giens beach kitesurf hyeres
FRENCH VOCABULARY

le ragoût = stew
la fève = broad bean, fava bean
le cerf-volant = kite
le mec = guy
tu peux m'aider? = can you help me?

PROVENCAL RAGOUT RECIPE
A warm stew to pack for the beach on a windy day!

-Fry some lardons (sliced, fatty bacon), 2 onions, 5 diced potatoes, and garlic
- add the fava beans and cover with water (I like to add a can of tomato sauce).
Add some bay leaves, salt, pepper and thyme. Simmer an hour.

Serve with a side of plain couscous (cooks in one minute!) or bulgur and some hard-boiled eggs. We had a nice Compté cheese. Max deemed the meal 'the perfect thing to eat before surfing!' :-)

BOOK EXCERPT
One day as I rushed to fill platters with charcuterie, hard-boiled eggs and cheese, one of the harvesters meekly asked could she have that can of kidney beans in the cupboard? That is when I learned that part of the harvest crew we had hired were vegan. What did vegan even mean in 2007?

Fast forward, now, to 2012. Sunk down into my driver's seat, I clutched the paper pharmacy sack and wondered, would it all unfold like the last time, when a gigantic surge of energy was both the gift and curse behind my husband's vision? Gazing at our new (old) house (another home in need of renovation) I took a deep breath, stepped out of the car, and headed over to the front porch....

(For those who have purchased our book, read all of chapter two, here.)

To purchase The Lost Gardens, a book-in-progress, click here and scroll to the end of the post.

Reader feedback from Chapter Two:

Dynamite!!!! I more impressed than usual. Your writing seems to have one upped your sharing and it's a good balance back and forth. I'm eager to "follow along" but encourage you to take your time. After all you are living it! --John Hawke


Field of phacelia
A field of phacelia flowers, a soil amendment planted by Jean-Marc the year before he planted his dream vineyard. Thank you so much for buying our book-in-progress. Your support has helped us to begin our book and to keep going, chapter by chapter. Mille mercis!

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


Fastoche Loaf--you must make this savory bread (via this cool hack for the favorite French yogurt cake!)

Cake o gateau sale
You must make a cake salé! It is everything from a casual main course to a late-night snack in bed (extra good warmed--just like the sheets this time of year)....

Today's word: le cake salé

    : loaf, savory cake

Audio File & Example Sentence: click here
Le mot « cake » s'est étendu à un gâteau salé... fait avec des légumes, des olives, du jambon, etc. On parle alors de « cake salé ». The word "cake" has been extended to a salty cake ... made with vegetables, olives, ham, etc. This is called "salty cake".

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE...by Kristi Espinasse

A Cake Hack?

Ever since I learned to make my brother-in-law Jacques yogurt cake--and after watching the French bring delicious savory loaves to various fêtes--I have wondered about the possibility of combining the two: that is, using the easy-to-remember cake recipe... for a savory loaf. Savory loaves are practical, economical, and among the best comfort foods! If you need further motivation to make one then listen to my Mom who, on tasting the slice you see above, exclaimed: Why make bread when you can make this?! 

And what could be better than knowing recipes by heart? This is what the handy-dandy yogurt cake recette allows us to do (it brilliantly uses the yogurt's container as the measure. No need for measuring spoons or cups or balances, and in no time you are able to toss together a delicious entrée or dessert! Having mastered the super fastoche yogurt cake, I've been on the lookout for another easy offering for my family or something to bring to a social gathering--like my friend Cynthia and Ian's crémaillère in Bandol (I brought the gâteau de yaourt...but now I wished I'd taken along this cake salé--because it is my family's new favorite it'll soon be yours!).

Cooking with smokey yogurt cake savory loaf
        This recipe tastes better when you make it with a family member or friend.  

Tésté et approuvé
So the cake hack worked. Génial! All I did was follow the traditional yogurt cake recipe while ignoring the sugar part. Here's a reminder for the yogurt cake recipe....

Ingredients:

- one small (individual size) container of plain yogurt (reserve for measuring the remaining ingredients)
- flour
- sugar
- vegetable oil
- three eggs
- one package levure chimique (that is 2 teaspoons of baking powder)

Instructions (Easy as 3-2-1...):

Fill/empty the yogurt container...
...3 times with flour
...2 times with sugar
...1 time with vegetable oil (if I'm out of vegetable oil, I'll use olive oil or butter...)

Crack 3 eggs into a mixing bowl, and beat until mixed. Add one container (around 150 grams) of plain yogurt. Add 1 measure of oil (half the amount, if you prefer), three measures of flour, and mix in the  savory ingredients... here are the savory ingredients I added for our cake salé or savory loaf:

- 1 can of tuna fish
- large handful of black olives
- sauteed red onions
- fresh tomato
- salt, pepper, herbs of Provence
-a generous sprinkling of chia seeds on top make an agreeably croquant topping for this savory loaf!

Pour mixture into a cake pan (I like this kind with removable bottom ) and put into the oven at 180C (350F) for 25 minutes. (temperature and time vary--keep your eye on the cake and use a knife to test the center. When le couteau comes out dry it's ready.

Enjoy with a simple green salad. Hide a few slices for your late-night snack!

Update: The second time I made this recipe, I used leftover mussels which I shelled, added grated gruyère, black olives, and sunflower seeds--not to forget the crunchy chia seeds on top! It was nice and moist, but a little bland (I'll stick to tuna next time! And think about feta cheese for a nice kick). The olives really make it and are a part of the most traditional version--and for a reason! Some like to chop up the olives for a better distribution throughout the cake. Next time I might try anchovies and capers. What do you think? What would you add to this versatile cake salé? Add your suggestions in the comments below.

Cake sale savory cake wheat grass germe de ble
Those sprouted greens in the back are Les blés de la Sainte-Barbe--a Provencale tradition I learned from Jean-Marc's family. My husband sprinkles the wheat grains on paper towels, in three different coupelles and (my Mom) waters them until the new year. It is said:

Blé bien germé, c'est la prospérité pour toute l'année. (Wheat well-sprouted is prosperity all year.)

FRENCH VOCABULARY

la fête = party, gathering
la recette = recipe
la balance = scale (for weighing)
une entrée = starter, first course
fastoche (from facile) = easy-peasy, a walk in the park
la crémaillère = housewarming
le gâteau de yaourt = yogurt cake
lé cake salé = loaf
génial! = brilliant!
tésté et approuvé = tested and approved
la levure chimique = baking powder 
croquant = crunchy
le couteau = knife
la coupelle = small dish

Golden retriever make yogurt cake
Don't miss the video Smokey and I made for the yogurt cake. Click here

Golden retriever kiss yogurt cake

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


Caviar d'Aubergine: An easy, delicious family recipe for you

Eggplant aubergine raindrops gouttes pluie potager garden france
Merci beaucoup for the sweet messages, encouragements, and support you left following the anniversary post. I am fired up for another 16 years of writing and will read your bonne continuations whenever I need a motivational pick-up!

Fun fact: this post will take you 2 minutes and 38 seconds to read to the end. If you were to read it out loud, that would take 4 minutes and one second (stats from wordcounter.net, which I use to check my article drafts).

Today's word: la chair


    : flesh, meat, body

avoir la chair de poule = to have goosebumps


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

With so much wind under my wings (thank you again for your notes regarding the 17th year of this journal!), I thought I would simply share (funny, I typed *chair* first time around--the word of the day was on my mind and that is how the French pronounce it!), yes I thought I'd chair or flesh-out the story of a simple meal.

This impromptu dinner happened last night, after Mom and I sat down to déguster a few of the vegetables I'd prepared during the day: some patates douces that needed attention, as well as aubergines that were getting so big and ripe in the potager they would soon go to seed! Fearing sabotage--that weird emotional trance that has us ignoring our opportunities--I grabbed my shears and went to collect the two giant eggplants. A very dear golden retriever, our Smokey, followed along to help....

Smokey golden retriever and eggplant aubergine raindrops france

Cutting open the giant berries (unbelievably eggplant are classified this way!), I was amazed to see how beautiful they were: la chair was firm and bright--only some small seeds that were easily removed with a handy jagged-edged grapefruit spoon. I had in mind to make my mother-in-law's caviar d'aubergine dish, only, skimming her handwritten cahier, I could not find la recette (I did bump into Michèle-France's delicious bananes flambées, and her instructions very much as in the au pif recipe I gave you last week!).

So I did a google search, combining the gist of a few French websites to get exact ingredients for the most basic recipe of eggplant caviar. Here's my simple version, and it was simply delicious over toast--and as an accompaniment to les cuisses de canard (canned, talk about an easy dinner!), and the roasted sweet potatoes (simply halve the patates and sprinkle on olive oil, herbes de provence and salt and pepper on top, then into the four at 350F for 30 minutes).

CAVIAR D'AUBERGINES
 Eggplant Caviar

- 2 large eggplants, halved and scored
-2 garlic cloves
- sprigs of rosemary (optional)
- swirls of olive oil, sprinkles of salt, pepper, herbs
- half a lemon
- olive oil to taste (a few tablespoons to a half cup!)

After topping the eggplant halves with olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs, tuck a few sprigs of rosemary and some quartered garlic cloves into the cuts of the scored eggplant. Now turn the eggplant halves face down on a cooking sheet and bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until the eggplant is soft enough to crush inside.

Once cooked, remove only the rosemary, then scoop out the flesh and add to a mixing bowl. I do not have a food processor, but a simple fork was enough to crush and blend the eggplant flesh. Add the juice from half a lemon and olive oil (and more salt and pepper) to taste.

Oh, and what taste! My Mom absolutely loved it, and she is not a fan of eggplant! She actually had seconds and thirds--so you must tenter la recette--give this recipe a shot--and share it with your friends and loved ones. It is wonderful comfort food, too.

It's lunchtime here in France, and so I'm off to reheat and repeat last night's meal. I will try to take a picture and add it to this post. So please check back, and thanks, as always, for reading. I'm so glad you are here. 

Amicalement,

Kristi

P.S. Vocab section coming soon. I'm reheating lunch now for Mom and me..... Update: here's the photo. That's the caviar d'aubergine, on a piece of toast smothered in pan juices (fat) from the duck!:
Eggplant caviar sweet potatoes duck
FRENCH VOCABULARY
la chair = flesh
déguster = to taste, savor, eat
la patate douce = sweet potato
une aubergine = eggplant
le cahier = notebook
la recette = recipe
au pif = by guesswork (or by eye-balling it)
tenter = to attempt something

Kristi and jules christmas lights
Photo and caption from my Instagram: I know it is early, and I don't want to stress anybody out...but it was Mom's idea to get a Christmas tree today. Then again, Mom keeps a Christmas tree all year round--dazzling with lights, because, she says, Light is everything! Amen!

Aubergines poivrons pommes slate ardoise
I fell in love with mousse before caviar. In the first case "mousse" was a charming street in Marseilles... and "caviar" was what was waiting for me at the end of that winding road, just a French football field from the sea. (Read the rest of this tender story, from the archives here).

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


Grrr! Grumpy and grouchy and broody in French! (Plus a fiery recipe...)

Hen house poulailler chickens 
"Broody" is less useful to you than the French word for grumpy (unless you're a hen), so we'll feature the second term--in verb form--today. Two mini columns follow: the first is a response to Audrey, who lives near the Spanish border, and the second is an update on our moody poule.

Today's Word: ronchonner

     : to grumble, growl, grouse

Voici des verbs similaires à ronchonner : rouspéter, râler, grogner
Here are some similar verbs to grumpy: to complain, to moan, to grumble. 

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE  by Kristi Espinasse

Following the Recipe for Disaster post, Audrey wrote in asking for the bananes flambées recette (everyone else wanted the banana tart instructions, which I'll get to eventually). Meantime, Audrey wrote:

"Yes please, the recipe, as I have to follow a gluten-free diet it would be perfect for me & one I could do for guests...."

Voici, Audrey, here's the au pif recipe for an easy, and apparently gluten-free dessert--one Jean-Marc made recently for our friends Kathleen and Dean. Just look at that blue flame! Dean, watch your hand!

Jean-Marc making bananas foster

BANANES FLAMBEES RECIPE

-One ripe banana per person
-Sugar to taste
-Butter
-Rum
-Ice cream (we use vanilla or salt caramel!)

Melt the butter and begin turning the whole bananas in the pan, until slightly golden or seared. Sprinkle sugar over the bananas and add a half cup of rum (just enough to cover the bottom of the pan by roughly an inch) to the poêle. When heated, very carefully--at arm's length and away from curtains or dishcloths or billowy shirts!--ignite the pan liquids (the rum) with a match or un briquet. When fire subsides, transfer the bananas and a little of the butter rum sauce to a plate or bowl, beside a scoop of vanilla or salted caramel ice cream.
 
The deliciousness of this simple dessert will give you an amazed look similar to this one...  

Broody hen
Now, changing subjects, a little story from my Instagram about her (our hen, Edie). After sitting on her colocataire's unfertilized eggs, and brooding for one month (she would not leave her nest, quit laying eggs, and had to be plucked out--via the roof!--of her nest box each day for fresh air and exercise), now she spends all her time out of the henhouse. Each night I find her roosting on the rooftop (of said hen house). So, after dark, I have to grab the broom by our front door and head over to her. I place the end of the broom beneath her feet until she steps up onto the broom handle...at which point I deliver her like a pizza back into the hen house for the night). It is quite a scene! And it's entirely lost on the two of us.

FRENCH VOCABULARY
la poule = hen
ronchonner = to grumble
la recette = recipe
voici = here you are
au pif = by guesswork, by eyeballing it (recipe)
une poêle = frying pan
la poule = hen, chicken, chick
colocataire = joint tenant, roommate

IN BOOKS: PARIS POSTCARDS by Guy Thomas Hibbert
The unique sights, smells and sounds of the famous city are the luminous backdrop to these eleven tales whose colorful characters are lured to the City of Light and Love. Order a copy here.

Paris postcards Guy Hibbert

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


Even Cheese Puffs sound elegant in French: Gougères recipe and post by Ann Mah, author of The Lost Vintage

Ann mah the lost vintage novel in beaulieu-sur-mer France
Our family lived on two French vineyards during the last 10 years, beginning in this 2007 post. Ann Mah's book brought it all back--the sights, the sounds, and the scents--especially the beauty, the history, and the passion behind it all. I learned more about wine reading Ann's book, in addition to details of WWII (like the humiliating punishment for collaboration horizontale--or sleeping with the enemy!). The novel's modern-day narrator, Kate, is curious, funloving, and determined to pass her Master of Wine exam, a feat that brings her back to her family's vineyard in Burgundy where she discovers a hidden side of war and wine. Excellent summer reading! Order a copy here. 

Today's Word: Une Gougère

    : cheese puff

How to pronounce gougères? Click here to listen to the following example sentence
Une gougère est une brioche salée au gruyère. Il s'agit d'un mélange de pâte à chou et de fromage (du gruyère le plus souvent) que l'on cuit au four. A gougère is a savory brioche with Gruyère cheese. It is a mixture of puff pastry dough and cheese (usually gruyere) that is baked. --L'Internaute.fr


Gougères and The Lost Vintage

by Ann Mah

I fully admit that one of the reasons I wrote a novel set in a French vineyard was so I could linger there in my imagination. I've been enchanted by Burgundy's ever since I first visited the region in 2010 to research an article about Thomas Jefferson's favorite wines. And if I also sensed the presence of hovering ghosts, they only added to my fascination.

Burgundy is, obviously, famous for its wine - but the food is pretty fantastic, too. I have fond memories of eating Epoisse cheese so ripe it flooded the plate. There was beef bourguignon that melted under my fork, and snails drenched in garlic-parsley butter. But my favorite treat was the gougère - a cheese puff that is at once savory, crisp, and tender. As it turns out, hail from Burgundy where they traditionally accompanied cellar wine tastings.

Food and wine are a huge part of French culture and they play an important role in my new novel, The Lost Vintage, where they become a metaphor for all the issues that the characters are grappling with - questions of tradition, change, and how ( if) we should confront the past.

I hope you will enjoy The Lost Vintage - and if, like me, you're coming across the kitchen, I'm making a recipe for my favorite cheesy cheese puffs. Made of pastry cabbages, they seem mercurial to cook. In fact, they are ridiculously simple - so easy, I often bake them with my four-year-old daughter. Although some choose to blow the dough into mounds, I prefer to shape it with spoons, which creates a rough surface that turns golden and crunchy in the oven. Gougères pair beautifully with almost every kind of wine - and they also make a great cocktail snack for hungry book clubs. If you do these, however, beware: a batch does not last long!

I'm so excited to share The Lost Vintage with you! Happy reading - and health!

--
Many thanks to Ann Mah for the previous story and for the following recipe! 

Gougères French cheese puff recipe

Gougères / Cheese puffs
Makes about 35 puffs

2/3 cup (160 ml) water
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
5 tablespoons (65 grams) butter
3/4 cup (90 grams) all-purpose flour
3 large eggs 2/3 cup (75 grams)
grated Gruyère or Comté cheese

1) Preheat the oven to 425ºF (220ºC). Line with baking sheet with parchment paper.

2) In a medium saucepan, combines the water, salt, butter, and cayenne pepper. Heat the mixture until the butter melts and it begins to boil.

3) Immediately dump in the flour and stir briskly to combine. Continue to stir over medium heat until the mixture forms a ball and begins to film the bottom of the pan, about 2 minutes.

4) Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to slightly cool. Add the eggs one by one, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon to fully Add the cheese and stir to combine.

5) Using two spoons, serving the dough into small mounds on the prepared baking sheet. Each mound should be about the size of a cherry tomato; Space them evenly to allow for puffing.

6) Bake for 5 minutes, then lower the oven to 375ºF (190ºC) and continue baking for 18-20 minutes until puffed and golden brown.

Note: Gougères are best hot from the oven, but still appealing at room temperature. To reheat, place them in the oven at 350ºF (175ºC) for 4 to 6 minutes.

Lost vintage 2
“Mah’s detailed descriptions of life on a family vineyard, how wine is produced, and how subtle differences in taste are discerned are so robust that a novice wine drinker may progress to aficionado status by the end. Engaging… will delight Francophiles and readers who enjoy historical fiction with a twist by such authors as Lauren Willig or Christina Baker Kline.” –Library Journal (starred)

Jackie in cap ferrat  ann mah the lost vintage
Our Jackie grew up on the vineyards in Provence and was once crowned Harvest Queen (at age 9) for diligently picking grapes each September. It is all a memory now. Reading The Lost Vintage one can still hear the flutter of leaves and the creaking of buckets brushing by the old vines. Click here to order a copy.

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


Broyer, Pilon + Mousse au Chocolat aux Epices - a spicy dessert to celebrate this word journal's birthday

IMG_20171021_182123

Thank you for the wonderful profiles you are sending in, in celebration of this word journal's 15th birthday. It is a pleasure and a gift to read about you for a change, and your "bonne continuation" messages have given me an invigorating second wind! If you did not see your comment posted, scroll down to the end of the comments in the previous post and find the tiny "show more comments" link.

I told you I was celebrating this milestone and today's chocolate mousse is a festive way to do so! This is an easy recipe my superhero belle-soeur made for our family lunch in Avignon, chez Jacques (mon beau-frère, who gave us all that popular French yogurt cake recipe). The hardest part about chocolate mousse is the patience you'll need to slowly incorporate the whipped egg whites into the melted chocolate. We've included a video clip to help you to understand la vitesse involved. And you'll hear a slice of Nick Cave's album "Skeleton Trees", which was playing in the background as Cécile (who just saw him in concert in Paris!) made this spicy dessert. (A note about the photo: that's a bottle of beer in the background. In another photo, you will see a wine bottle opener--two objects which have nothing to do with a recipe tuturial for chocolate mousse. Don't worry, neither object belongs to me--and neither belongs in the photo. But it's kind of funny, isn't it? Which reminds me to tell you to just have fun making these recettes, and enjoy collection of our French family and friends recipes in these delicious archives

 
Today's words are BROYER and le PILON

    => the first means "to crush" or "to grind" and the second is a pestle, in French


AUDIO FILE & Example sentence
Hear Jean-Marc read today's words and the following sentence:

Soundfile for broyer and pilon

Ouvrir les graines de cardamom, les broyer au pilon.
Open the cardamon seeds, grind them with a pestle.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

by Kristi Espinasse

My sister-in-law, Cécile, spent the night Saturday so she could help us with a few projects here at our new home in La Ciotat. For one, we needed her welding skills to take out an iron banister along our front porch. Next, we needed her to remove the base of some giant slide-out drawers that belonged to an old bed frame we dismounted (and transformed into a potager or kitchen garden! In this way we avoided having to buy wood to construct a new frame!). 

A bed frame repurposed into vegetable bed

Finally, Cécile helped with our family lunch, by making dessert.  This chocolate mousse was a spicy suite to the most delicious meal (Jacques' longtime love, Mariem, is Moroccan. And Mariem's dear and funny maman made us the best couscous in the whole wide world...marinated lamb, chicken, large slices of long-simmered pumpkin, carrots, zucchini, onion, raisins, and piment all on a bed of grains. After eating the gently-spiced plat principal, the gingerbread-safron aromas lingered in my mouth as I drifted off the the land of Tout Va Bien. (Isn't that where comfort food takes us? To a place called All is Well?) Surrounded by my adopted French and Moroccan family, and the history we've knitted together, was the next best thing to a 1970s Thanksgiving with family in the Arizona desert--only a selection of cheeses didn't follow the main meal, and, afterwards, my sister and I didn't shoot at leftover beer cans with Grandpa's BB gun. (In reality we probably only did this once, and we were in the wide open desert--almost as far off track as this missive has gone....).

I leave you with a recipe as thick and rich as good family memories. Enjoy, and many thanks to my sister-in-law, Cécile, who created this Spicy Chocolate Mousse and who appears in the photo tutorial below (she apologizes for her stained hands, but she welds and hammers in a workshop or atelier every day!). Cécile has a new Facebook page featuring her furniture and other creations. See you over there!


LA MOUSSE AU CHOCOLAT AUX EPICES
Pour 8 personnes

200 grammes de chocolat noir
200 grams of dark chocolate

6 oeufs
6 eggs

5 sachets de sucre vanillé
5 packets of vanilla sugar (you can use 5 tablespoons of sugar, just add vanilla flavoring)

1 morceau de gingembre
1 piece of ginger

du zeste de citron
some lemon zest

10 graines du cardamom
10 cardamom seeds

un demi verre d'eau
half a glass of water


INSTRUCTIONS


Melting chocolate in a bain-marie or double boiler

Faire fondre le chocolat au bain-marie
Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie (this is simply a small pan set inside a larger pan filled about halfway with water, which will gently heat the pan of chocolate above it)

Ouvrir les graines de cardamom, les broyer au  pilon
Open the cardamom seeds, grind them with a pestle
Breaking open the cardamom
Pestle to grind the  seeds

Emincer le gingembre et le zeste de citron
Mince the ginger and the lemon peel

Slicing and mincing the ginger and lemon peel


Réserver le tout dans un peu d'eau pour faire ressortir les arômes
Reserve everything in a little water to bring out the aromas

ginger lemon peel cardamom in water

Séparer les oeufs
Separate the eggs (yolks from the egg whites)
IMG_20171021_182253

Mettre le sucre vanillé avec les jaunes d'oeufs, avec une fourchette battre le tout et incorporer le gingembre citron, cardamom
Put the vanilla sugar with the egg yolks, with a fork beat everything together and incorporate the ginger lemon, cardamom

Monter les blancs en neige (astuce: ajouter un pincée de sel)
Whip up the egg whites (tip: add a bit of salt)

Lorsque le chocolat est fondu, incorporer la préparation avec les jaunes d'oeufs, et rajouter un peu d'eau au besoin pour que cela soit fluide.
When the chocolate is melted, incorporate the preparation with the egg yolks, and add a little water as needed to make it fluid.

Combining the eggyolk preparation with the melted chocolate
Mettre cette preparation dans un plat . Incorporer tout doucement les blancs d'oeufs montés en neige, cuillière par cuillière , l'idée est de faire rentrer de l'air dans la préparation.
Put this preparation in a dish. Slowly stir in the whipped egg whites, spoonful by spoon, the idea is to bring air into the preparation.

Mettre la mousse au frigo plusieurs heures. Si vous êtes pressé, c'est possible de la mettre au congélateur, une heure.
Put the mousse in the fridge for several hours. If you are in a hurry, you can put it in the freezer for an hour.

Spicy chocolate mousse with ginger cardamom lemon peel and verveine or verbena leaves on top

Manger très frais.
Eat it chilled.

Bon appétit - and for more recipes visit the recipe archives...

Cecile tabouret bench
Cécile's benches, tables, mirrors and shelves can be seen in Aix-en-Provence!

Aix'Potentiels is a shop at 9 Rue Fermée in Aix en Provence (check the address, as the boutique may move in the new year).
There are lamps, jewelery with stones and leather, bags, cushions and carpets, candles and ambiance perfumes, sweets for the taste buds, plants, furniture for the interior--mirrors, seating ... and much more!
An expo every month, and especially passionate people!
Open Monday to Saturday from 10h to 19h

Aix'Potentiels, c´est une boutique au 9 rue fermée à Aix en Provence
Ce sont des lampes, des bijoux en pierres et en cuir, des sacs,des coussins et des tapis,des bougies et des parfums d´ambiance, de la reliure des douceurs pour les papilles, des plantes, du mobilier de la décoration d´intérieur des miroirs, des assises... et bien plus encore!
Une expo chaque mois, et surtout des gens passionnés !
Ouvert du lundi au samedi de 10h à 19h

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


La Crève and Chili Basta! Fast and Easy Chili recipe with a Provençal twist

Corsica where the mountains meet the sea

Along with most of the rest of France, j'ai chopé la crève. I wonder how? Did I catch a cold while crammed into a stairwell with other ferry passengers on our way home from The Island of Beauty? Or, as my dentist suggested during a three-part "crowning" series (ma première couronne! I've got one more appointment to go...), did I catch a draft during mi-saison--when even the French don't know how to dress?

As I lie under a pile of blankets, with a sore tooth and a headache, my daughter appeared, having just returned from her job waiting tables (this time at a local campsite canteen). Speaking softly she asked if there was anything I needed. "Je peux t'ammener du thé? Quelque chose à manger?" Can I bring you tea? Or something to eat? Next Jackie informed me, "Tout le monde a la crève. Everybody's got a cold. (And, by the next day she had it too :-(

Then Jean-Marc began complaining of a maux de gorge.... Uh-oh spaghettio! 

Speaking of food, I have not lost my appetite so it must be, as Jackie guessed, la crève and not the dredded grippe, or flu. At the first signs of a sore throat, I wondered whether a hot or spicy soup would help? N'importe! Best to hurry and make something before symptoms got worse and there was nothing to eat in the house! A nourishing bean stew--coupled with fading vegetables from the farmers market--would get our family through the next couple of days.... I only needed to shop for one ingredient (the ground beef), but you may have another substitute (chicken, turkey, cubed porc...) available? Hopefully you have some onions and carrots lying around and a can of kidney beans? You are almost there....

CHILI BASTA (or chili "bye-bye"...as in bye-bye La Crève!)

350 grams of ground beef

Herbes de Provence (the "Provençal part!)

salt and pepper

2 carrots

2 peppers (I had one yellow, 1 red)

1 red onion

4 cloves of garlic

2 large cans (800 grams each) of tomatoes (mine were whole, in juice)

1 can of kidney beans (800 grams)

1 or 2 Tbsp of SRIRACHA SAUCE

1 tablespoon honey (I used Jean-Marc's vineyard honey)

=> Brown the meat, adding the salt, pepper, and herbes de Provence. Transfer to larger soup pot. Continue frying the rest of the vegetables in oil, either together at once, or, as I did, peppers, the onion and garlic, then carrots....adding them to the soup pot.

=> Add two cans of whole tomatoes and their juice (I broke up the whole tomatoes with my hands). Then add the kidney beans, the honey, and the hot sriracha sauce. Let simmer for an hour (the longer the better). Bon appétit and don't forget to wear a nice écharpe to keep the drafts out and prevent  la crève!

What do you enjoy in your chili? I love to cut up cubes of cheese (I had emmental and delicious comté on hand) to add as a topping--this helps cool down a scalding hot chili.

AUDIO FILE
listen to today's French phrase choper la crève:

Choper la creve

Spicy Chili basta on a bed of Corsican chestnuts or chataignes

Chili Basta on a bed of chataignes harvested in Corsica. Hey, chestnuts would be good in in this chili, too! Next time....

For more recipes, scroll to the end of this post, and look for the "recette/recipe" tag. Many thanks for reading and for those who would like to support this free word journal, it is easy to do so:

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Beaux Arts school in Toulon
Jackie, our 20-year-old daughter, begins her second year at art school. After living in Aix-en-Provence, where she studied design, she will now attend class in Toulon at the historic L'École supérieure d'art et de design Toulon Provence Méditerranée. Wish her bonne chance! (And wish the rest of us bon rétablissement...or "get well soon!")

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens