Posts Tagged ‘Lautrec’

from Minnesotta, North Carolina (via Rome), Rhode Island, California, Virginia, North Yorkshire, Tipperary (Ireland), New Zealand, Brixton (S London)–for the two cooking workshops.

Not quite back-to-back! We’ll be trying that out in September and October. This time we took a few days to fly to Florence to celebrate Brother Jack’s 60th birthday (he’s performing in a show there at Teatro del Sale).

Here’s a short photo diary of the good times we had.


late May Bravehearts with host Dominique on the right.


Mid- June Braveheatrs–looking enthused


Eager aprons waiting to be claimed


Minnesotans–togged up and ready to break eggs


Tossing the salad the Italian way–36 times!


What do we think? A touch more vinegar?


Friday morning coffee break and “food” chat


Friday morning starter–the unexpected curried apple soup


Friday supper (work-free delight)–Chez Valérie


Simone–the essential ingredient, without whom…


“Showtime” Sunday lunch–with Cecile and Polly–first time around


“Showtime” Sunday lunch–second go-around (where’s the hat?!)

Read Full Post »

I wasn’t thinking of trout when I went to the market early Friday morning in Lautrec–I’ve got out of the habit of cooking it.

Rather, dorade (sea bream) perhaps or mackerel. When I approached the stall, which is usually packed with a good selection of fish,


it was covered in a white sea of ice but virtually no fish–except a small shoal of lonely-looking trout and an organic salmon–an unusual sight.

I’d noticed as I turned into the village that the road to Graulhet (fifteen minutes northwest of Lautrec) was blocked by two police vehicles and three determined looking gendarmes. I quickly decided my usual trick of not going fully round the roundabout but taking a sharp left into the village–strictly illegal but handy–was not a good idea!

Puzzled and dismayed by the absence of seafood I asked the unusually subdued fishmonger what was happening.

Qu’est ce que se passe, Monsieur?

Il y avait un accident avec le camion, il est en retard. [The fish wagon’s been delayed by an accident.]

Road blocked–gendarmes present–diversion signs–no fishmystery solved–trout for lunch!

La Depeche du Midi (regional daily newspaper) carried the story the next day, with a graphic photo of the scene.


Mangled car in the ditch.

The young man in the car survived and is recovering in hospital. According to the report it took the rescue team two hours to free him. The lorry driver escaped with minor injuries.

It’s a safe bet that trout and salmon, obviously sourced elsewhere, remained the only fish on sale in Lautrec that morning!

This is what I did with the trout.


2 trout–gutted and cleaned


a handful of fresh thyme sprigs

olive oil

salt and pepper

Wash the trout and pat dry.

With a sharp knife, carefully make two shallow diagonal slits in the fish’s flesh each side.

Brush the fish top to tail with olive oil–(this helps to prevent them sticking to the griddle pad).

Rub salt and pepper into the slits.

Stuff the thyme into the cavities and season with salt and pepper.

Heat a griddle pad to hot–or use a sauté pan large enough to hold the fish.

Oil the surface.

Lay the fish on the pad and cook each side for about five minutes–testing for doneness by lifting the cavity and checking near the backbone. The cooking time depends on the size of the fish. (If pink/red, needs a little more time.)


Serve with green beans or a simple green salad.

Read Full Post »

Few spring vegetables on the stalls yet.

Asparagus and spring onions, yes–but where are the broad beans?

The rain continues to pour and it’s still cold–making it near impossible for local vegetable growers.

(Our neighbour, Serge’s younger brother told me in Lautrec market this morning that there was a year in the Fifties–he’s too young to remember which–when it rained until September!)


I buy a couple of fat courgettes (Spanish, no doubt) and think to grill them in thick slices on the griddle and top them with scallions/spring onions done the same way.

Could make a pretty picture…


… and go well with the salmon fillets I just bought.

2 plump courgettes–carefully sliced lengthwise, not too finely, lightly salted and left to drain for an hour

1 or 2 plump scallions/spring onions–sliced similarly

2 long chilis–sliced lengthwise

olive oil

salt and pepper

  • Heat the griddle to hot.
  • Mix the the courgettes slices with a tablespoon of olive oil.
  • Mix the onions and chili with a little less olive oil.
  • Place the courgettes slices on the griddle and leave for five minutes to char and soften.
  • Turn over and repeat the process.
  • When you judge they are done sufficiently remove to a serving plate and grind over some pepper.


  • Distribute the onion and chili mix over the griddle.


  • Grill for about five minutes to soften and char these too.
  • Remove them to the serving plate, season and serve.


  • This lunchtime they made a nice contrast with the salmon fillet cooked slow (see recipe in Delicious Dishes for Diabetics!).

Read Full Post »


Our workshop pioneers left here last night after a final celebratory supper of aubergines slices with walnut & garlic spread*, followed by penne and farfalle with rosemary and balsamic vinegar*.

Meredith’s surprise dessert (surprising in that it surprised her how good it was)–a crumble of peach, pear and apple.

“Bravehearts”  I called them in the dedication I wrote in each copy of Delicious Dishes for Diabetics they took away with them.

And Bravehearts they were–everyone.

Chopping and slicing for four days on the trot with a willingness, enthusiasm and good humour that amazed me.

At the work face…

Clare and Jean–sisters from Ireland.

Meg and Emilie--friends from Philadelphia.

Chris–an Englishman from Lyons.

Hedvika from Tallahassee, Florida.

Mary from Maryland.

This was our international team at the work-top!

I asked them which they preferred to be: hands-off observers or hands-on workers?

The response was immediate, loud and overwhelmingly CLEAR: WORKERS!

Our friend Simone was essential back-up, keeping the work-top free of clutter, recycling the cooking tools as soon as their function finished, soon making them ready to use again.

We were blessed by early autumn sunshine and a location of heart-stopping beauty.

Dominique–hostess and creator of the La Terrasse, the B&B/small hotel in the centre of Lautrec–made our lives easier with the warmth of her welcome and her care.

This lunchtime we found ourselves talking about a possible early May repeat!

Well–good heavens we only finished last night–maybe it’s a bit premature!

The enduring memory of this my first cooking workshop will be the joyful enthusiasm of the pioneers–

seven BRAVEHEARTS who took a risk and turned up….

Here’s to them!

(*recipes to be found in Delicious Dishes for Diabetics.)


Read Full Post »

Lamb chops, borlotti beans and broccoli.

We eat relatively little red meat.

Meredith bought these lamb chops on Tuesday from Monsieur Fraisse, the butcher in Lautrec. “They looked particularly nice….

The beans are from Italy, bought in jars. They grow in beautiful red spotted pods–the beans turn brown when cooked.

The broccoli I bought from the organic market in Castres, yesterday afternoon.

For 2

4 lean lamb chops

3/4 sprigs of rosemary–needles removed

2 garlic cloves

3 tablespoons olive oil–a little more if you need it



1 tin/jar of beans–drained but the liquid retained (of course these can be white or borlotti)

sprig of sage

a clove of garlic–chopped

1/2 an organic vegetable stock cube

the other 1/2 an organic vegetable stock cube dissolved in 250 ml/1/2 pint of hot water–(use this instead of or in addition to the liquid from the beans)


1/2 lb/ 250 gms  broccoli–washed, stems shortened and cut into eatable florets

salt and pepper

olive oil

  • An hour or two before you eat  “pestle” the rosemary needles up  (i.e. smash up!) with the garlic and a pinch of salt in a mortar and add the oil–this is the marinade for the chops.
  • Pour this fragrant mix over the chops in a bowl and turn everything to coat the chops with the marinade.
  • leave initially in the fridge–covered; then take them out an hour before cooking them.
  • Heat a grill to medium.
  • Season the chops and put them on the grill.
  • Timing depends on your taste and their thickness–3 to 4 minutes a side and they’ll retain some pinkness.
  • While they cook gently sauté the garlic and sage in the olive oil in a small pan until the garlic begins to colour.
  • Add the half stock cube (give it a stir to dissolve in the oil).
  • Add the beans.
  • Stir the mix and add a little of the bean liquid or the stock.
  • Cover and cook on for 5 minutes or so.
  •  In another pan, steam the broccoli covered until tender but not overcooked.
  • Serve with olive oil and salt on the table.

Interested customers watching M. Fraisse working on lamb chops

Read Full Post »

This guy weighed in at 750gms/1lb 10oz!

I’m making a simple fresh tomato sauce with garlic and basil

First we go to La Fête du Pain, [the Bread Festival] in Lautrec. I find a convenient parking place–not easy.

Kids welcome you with an entrance sticker and a little sack of Lautrec flour (the village has one of the oldest working windmills in the South West!)…

and wish you “Bonne Journée ” with eager faces.


A percussion group climb up to the village in front of us.

Baritone and crisp side drums keep a good rhythm, making it sound like Sienna on Palio day.

We reach the square and “BANG”–du monde–too many people–too much noise!

I’m not grumpy–just not geared up for the crowd.

I leave Meredith there with her camera and drive home (losing the parking place).

Starting the sauce

I start the sauce* and feel better.

Meredith rings and says there’s a stall grilling lamb and sausages.

I rally and make my way back to Lautrec (retrieving the parking place).

After waiting in line for an age, we sit down with two plates of meat in the upper village square.

I buy two small glasses of red–1 euro each–and break the pledge a day early. We feel no guilt.

It’s definitely a “Jour de Fête“–happy crowds “milling” [jour du pain!] and “teeming” .

Plenty for the kids to do too–like learning to make pizza….

Eager students...

and “Guessing the Grain”…

"Older children"--guessing which grain is which!

and I’ve cheered up too!

Felicitations, LAUTREC!!

Simple fresh Tomato sauce

1 1/2lb/700gms–ripe tomatoes

4 tablespoons olive oil

3/4 fat cloves of garlic–sliced finely

a few basil leaves–chopped


Heat the oil in a pan.

Sauté the garlic gently in the oil until it starts to colour.

Chop the tomatoes–scooping out and leaving aside much of the seedy liquid.

Add them to the pan.

Cook them over a medium heat, stirring from time to time, for about 20 minutes.

When you can divide the red sea with a spoon and little pock marks appear in the sauce is done.

Season and serve as you like.

Read Full Post »

Last week it was La Fête d’Ail (the Garlic festival) in Lautrec; Tomorrow–La Fête du Pain (the Bread festival).

The French fill their summers with fêtes.

In 1954 Dad took me to the Everyman Cinema in Hampstead to see Jacques Tati’s Jour de Fete (viewable here free).

In pre-Monsieur Hulot mode, Tati plays the good-hearted but accident-prone village postman.

Two bits stayed with me: the flag pole sequence (which starts about 12 mins in) and the bicycle race–when he gets tangled up in a mini Tour de France and ends up in a river (about 1hr 10min in).

Now maybe not quite so hilarious but at the time I nearly choked, I laughed so much–(and bonded with Dad)!

Still seeing the funny side–years later!

Last week (it’s always held on the first Friday in August) ten thousand people teemed–albeit slowly–through the narrow streets of Lautrec, buying local produce and aiming for the central square where la soupe à l’ail (garlic soup) is dispensed free at noon–with a glass of warm rosé.

This is after the much anticipated announcement of the winners of the best tress

Tress Parade!

and the most imaginative object made of garlic.

“Snail” on its journey to…

…the Viaduct of Millau

The pink garlic–l’ail rose de Lautrec–is specially good and long lasting.

It has protected status and a lovely pinkish hue on the outside skin.

Not long after buying our house here, we took some to California where Meredith’s brother–in-law planted some cloves and ended up winning first prize in the Marin County Fair!

We told the story to the farmer in the next hamlet, thinking he might be amused.

After a long pause and looking like thunder, he growled—“c’est interdit!” (that’s forbidden!).

He needn’t have worried–the different soil composition in California–turned the garlic white!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »