Posts Tagged ‘thyme’

Our neighbor Richard, at the market this morning, enthused about the sound of swifts round the barn and the big blue sky.

On the drive home a hare peeked out to sniff the air–checking on Spring and whether it was safe to cross the road.

The bees are buzzing and beginning to busy themselves around the Judas tree.

The donkey up at the farm just eee-awed.

The walnut trees are leafing out at last.

Something is happening here (and you don’t know what  it is–do you Mr Jones!*)–and it’s about time!

A good day–perhaps–to tempt fate with an early summer lunch dish–roast red pepper halves.

I see they featured just over a year ago with chèvre(goat’s cheese); todays’ will be with the thinnest slivers (easier to do than say fast!) of garlic and anchovies, melting into the tomato juices.

for 2

2/3 red peppers–carefully halved so they sit level on the baking tray

6 tinned (canned) tomatoes–halved

2 garlic cloves–sliced as thin as can be

4 anchovy fillets

olive oil

salt and pepper

a few thyme stems

set oven to 200C/400F

  • Cover a baking tray with foil–(saves time scraping after the tray has been in a hot oven).
  • Brush with olive oil to avoid the peppers sticking.
  • Place the peppers side by side on the tray.
  • Fill each half with tomato pieces, three or four slithers of garlic and an anchovy fillet on each.
  • Season well with salt and pepper.
  • Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil over each half.
  • Bake in the hot oven for 3/4 hour–checking after half an hour–but they need to be thoroughly tender to be delicious.
And a simple green salad to serve.

from Ballad of a Thin Man by Bob Dylan-lyrics

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I promised a recipe for pork chops when I posted the red cabbage.

It is bitingly cold here and I found myself heading for the butcher not the fishmonger in Lautrec this morning.

“Bonjour, Monsieur–deux cotes d’échine, s’il vous plait.”

Spare rib chops are tastier and less prone to dry out than loin chops and they are the cheaper cut.

That’s what I settled for after waiting an age for Monsieur Fraisse to finish chatting to his previous customer–the cold was getting to me!

I learned this simple way by watching the irascible but effective chef Gordon Ramsay’s demonstration.

The rosemary needles take on a nice crunchiness and are worth eating with a mouthful of meat. As is the garlic.

Meredith finished off the red cabbage, which she’d missed out on the other day.

for 2

2 spare rib pork chops

rosemary and thyme

3/4 cloves of garlic–squashed, peeled and halved

olive oil


heat the oven to 200C/400F

  • Dribble some olive oil and sprinkle some salt on a shallow oven tray.
  • Scatter over a couple of the cloves of garlic.
  • Place the chops on top.
  • Sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
  • Strip the rosemary needles from the stem over the chops.
  • Do the same with the thyme (not so easily done).
  • Dribble more olive oil over the tray.
  • Put it in the higher part of the oven for about twenty minutes.
  • The cooking time depends on the thickness of the chops.
  • Best to cut into them to check–the juices should run clear.

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It is simple to make.

The results are so tasty some people find it hard to believe there’s so little to it.

“It’s just raw  ginger and boiling water?”

Put a thumbnail piece of raw ginger root, peeled and chopped, in your favorite mug, top it up with boiling water and leave it for a couple of minutes to infuse–the magic word–and  sip it and see!

It works equally well with a sprig of thyme from the pot outside the kitchen door or a single mint leaf from the patch in the garden.

Sage and rosemary too work well though the taste is stronger and may not be to everyone’s liking.

If you have easy access to the herbs it’s fun to ring the changes–seasonally especially.

Our mint patch at the back shows signs of the new growth as early as March and I pounce on the first little bud that peaks out–impatient for a hint of Spring.

As the mint begins to fade in October I start looking for ginger on the stalls eager for a change of season and taste.

Enthusing about infusing is easy once you’ve tried it!

It’s good for you too!*–

(Meredith tells me our doctor Michel recommended she drink thyme tea for her sore throat.)

And in my view it’s so much nicer than a bag!

*more on the possible benefits from drinking– thyme tea

and ginger tea.

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1st Bttrnt Sq. "What'll we be today?"--2nd Bttrnt Sq. "Gratin I think--scary!".

This is delicious–I’ll stick my neck out.

We had it with some seasoned quinoa (sautéed onion, garlic, a small chili and a little steamed broccoli) last night for dinner and nearly finished the lot.

The recipe is adapted from one in the New York Times*, which in turn was adapted  from a recipe in a cookbook by a legendary American food writer*, who most likely adapted it from something he ate in a restaurant in Provence*, which was probably invented by the grandmother of the restaurant owner*–who had passed it on to her daughter*.

In other words it’s a version of a traditional seasonal gratin dish.

It can be eaten as a vegetarian main course as we did last night or as an accompaniment to a roast chicken or some lamb chops–for instance.

for 4

1kilo/2 lbs of butternut squash–peeled, deseeded and cut into small chunks

4 cloves of garlic–peeled and chopped small

1 generous tablespoon of wholewheat/rye breadcrumbs

1 generous tablespoon of parsley--chopped

1 tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves

salt and pepper

3 tablespoons of olive oil

set the oven to 190C/375F

Combine all the ingredients in a large  bowl and turn them over and over mixing them thoroughly together.

Tip into a roasting tray or better still an earthenware ovenproof dish.

Roast in the middle of the oven, for about an hour and a half–so it comes out nicely charred on top.

1*–Martha Rose Shulman

2*–Richard Olney–auther of Simple French Food

3*–All three names lost in the mist of time!

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This is quickly done and delicious–but the mackerel really does need to be fresh.

The incomparable Nigel Slater does a thyme dressing for the tomato salad (see below) and it is the clincher for this combination.

Back in May I bought a couple of  “green” tomato plants at the market in Lautrec.

The young woman assured me they would produce beautiful sweet green tomatoes.

Really?– seems a contradiction in terms.”

“You’ll see!”.

She was right. I’ve been eating my words and the green tomatoes for a couple of weeks now!

I thanked her today at the market after buying the mackerel from the fishmonger.

She said she was pleased I liked them.

“People are reluctant to buy them–obviously not ready–not ripe, they say”.

Worth a try I say–with the zeal of the newly converted!

for 2

2 very fresh mackerel–in fillets

salt and pepper

olive oil

tomatoes for the salad–cut up or sliced as you like (of course you can use RED!)

for the dressing:

1 garlic clove–peeled and pulped with a good pinch of salt

1 tablespoon thyme leaves–chopped


4 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

making the dressing:

Pound the thyme leaves with the garlic clove and salt.

Add some pepper.

Mix in the lemon juice,

then the olive oil.

Cooking the mackerel

  • Heat the grill to hot.
  • Brush the fillets with olive oil and season them well.
  • Lay some foil over the grill pan–brush with oil.
  • Place the fillets, skin side up, on the foil.
  • Place under the grill.
  • The skin will start to scorch and bubble–which adds to the flavour.

(Careful not to overdo it though.)

Dress the tomato salad, add the cooked fillets and drizzle the fish with a little more of the dressing.

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Sonia, our green-fingered friend, brought us leeks from her vegetable garden yesterday. Welcome gifts arrive from time to time all the year round. Much appreciated.

She was here to do the Wednesday Chi Gong class, which has temporarily moved to our converted hayloft during the cold weather, as the room–where it’s usually held–is difficult to heat. Life is never dull in our bit of rural France!

The recipe is adapted from the River Café Pocket Books Salads and Vegetables Pocket Cookbook.

Griddled Leeks with thyme and parsley

for 4 as a starter or side vegetable

6 leeks–damaged leaves removed, sliced in half lengthwise and washed thoroughly
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper

1.Tie the leeks together with a piece of string, and blanch them in salted boiling water for 3 minutes.
2. Remove from the pan, carefully squeeze out the excess water and leave them, cut side down, to dry on kitchen paper.
3. Heat a griddle to hot.
4. When the leeks are dry, season them and place them, cut side down, on the griddle.
5. When they are nicely griddled (should take about three minutes), as below, turn them over and grill for a similar amount of time.








6. Transfer to a serving plate and with a pair of kitchen scissors cut them into threes, which makes them easier to eat.

7. Sprinkle over the thyme; then drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil and season to taste with salt & pepper.

I served them with other grilled vegetables and an egg on top. They were delicious.


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