Amanda on January 2nd, 2011
Game Pie

Game Pie

Serves eight hungry hunters

Boxing Day, and despite your massive efforts in the kitchen during the previous twenty-four hours, more food is required to feed your healthy-walking, out-hunting, let’s-all-get-fit outdoor types.  Game pie is the answer.  It is filling, beautiful, utterly delicious and makes a jaw-dropping centrepiece for the cold table.  You can – indeed you should – make it two or three days in advance.  Fill in the spaces with salad, chutneys and some baked potatoes and you’re all set.

Of course all game pies are made with that mysteriously tricky-sounding pastry, a hot water crust.  Well I’ll let you into a secret, it’s a doddle.  Follow the rules and you can’t go wrong.  Just one pointer – there is no substitute for lard.  It’s not common here in southern France, so I have to trot along to the butcher and winkle some out of him.  What a sweetie, he spent a good five minutes digging some out, putting it in a tub, sealing it, wrapping it and then asked if I wanted anything else… I didn’t of course.  He charged me sixty cents and I felt an absolute heel! Read More »

Easy Peasy Pheasant Game Pie from French Life

Amanda on May 12th, 2009
Quercy Spring Salad

Quercy Spring Salad

Salade Printemps

The days are getting longer and the woods are full of catkins and lime-green hellebores. The breezes are softer and the sun warms your soul. Spring is in the air. The soups and casseroles of winter are banished for another eight months. Or are they? How can you construct a decent salad with the sort of half-ripe, totally flavourless tomatoes available at this time of year? And anyway, it may be warming up, but it’s not that warm… the answer is in the oven, beat the last of the winter blues, roast those tomatoes until the flavour oozes out in a sticky unctuous sauce. You will have created one of the terribly in foods of the moment – the warm salad. In the Quercy this is no new concept, the Quercynois have been making warm salads with duck and lettuce, warm fois gras, crispy toasts and warm goat’s cheese ever since anyone can remember. But classical local salads don’t usually include tomatoes and this one does. In many ways it’s something of a moveable feast. You could give it an Italian slant with Gorgonzola, Fontina and Mozzarella, sprinkled with toasted pine nuts, or slide it down to Provence with Banon, Fontagne and a handful of green olives, liberally doused in olive oil. My recipe however is anchored firmly in the Quercy and was originally developed to use up cheesy leftovers in the fridge. It’s a firm favourite now and it’s utterly delicious, I promise. Read More »

Quercy Spring Salad Recipe from French Life

Amanda on December 7th, 2007

Serves 8 – 10
This is a delicious accompaniment to roast goose, duck or turkey. Every ingredient can be sourced locally in the Quercy, and the famous Agen prunes can be found worldwide if you happen to be elsewhere.
Read More »

Spiced Red Cabbage Recipe from French Life

Amanda on June 4th, 2007
Stir Fried Beef

Stir Fried Beef

Boeuf avec haricot verts et blettes

With a faint sigh of relief the festive season is over for another year. We can put away the baubles, the glitter and the pile of cards. The children are back at school and life returns to a semblance of normality. Except… As you glance down you’re forced to take in the extraordinary fact that sometime between the Christmas pudding and the New Year Champagne your toes completely disappeared from view!
Help is at hand. This is a recipe I devised years ago for just such occasions. It’s delicious, filling, full of nutritious vegetables and gratifyingly low in calories. It’s also a Fusion recipe – the Orient meets the Occident – with Asian roots and flavours mingling deliciously with fresh Quercy produce.
Just the thing for your jaded palate and straining jeans! Read More »

Stir Fried Beef with French Beans from French Life

Amanda on May 15th, 2007
Artichoke Salad

Artichoke Salad

Salade Albasienne

When I first came to live in this glorious part of France I had a good long meeting with the local Maire. We talked about schools and children and local services – all the usual things – then got on to fêtes and food. Finally, as twelve o’ clock approached and his tummy began to signal its need for immediate sustenance, he stood up, shook my hand and announced.
Et voila, Madame! Vous êtes une Albasienne.’
And so I have christened my favourite salad Albasienne. The ingredients are all local, available in every market, grown in the garden or picked from the hedgerows. It’s just the thing for a summer lunch. Read More »

Artichoke and Rocamadour Salad from French Life

Amanda on January 23rd, 2007
Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Soup

Soupe de Potiron

This recipe makes excellent use of that most under utilised of all vegetables in England, the good old pumpkin. Every year they’re grown in their thousands and used as Halloween lanterns, their delicious tender flesh discarded. It’s a criminal waste. This is partly the fault of the supermarkets of course. They’ll sell you a whole pumpkin – usually only at the end of October though – but not a slice, and a slice is generally all you need for any one dish.

Meanwhile in the colourful markets of France the October stalls are awash with vast orange globes. Old ladies brandish fearful looking knives as they slice off precisely the amount you require – and woe betide your fingers if you don’t stand back. It’s a phenomenally popular vegetable here and rightly so. Perhaps it’s time somebody waved a magic wand and turned the poor old English pumpkin into Cinderella’s coach, and then it too could go to the ball. Read More »

French Pumpkin Soup Recipe from French Life

Amanda on September 15th, 2006
Wild Cep

Wild Cep

Automne Porc aux Cèpes Sauvage

Autumn is the perfect time for this delicious recipe, cèpes abound in the countryside and there are always plenty of enterprising locals in the markets who’ve taken the back break out of the endeavour for you! Autumn is also the time for inexpensive pork. You can find huge trays of it prepared by the excellent butchers in the supermarkets and in the markets you’ll find the smaller farmers have dropped their prices accordingly. In France loin is the definitive roasting joint and there are always plenty of long, luscious rolled and tied rotis available.

A friend of mine uses them to make an excellent pork confit at this time of year, in the traditional way, in glass preserving jars. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m going to have a crack as soon as I find time. Once I’ve perfected the recipe I’ll pass it on. Meanwhile try this one. It’s quick, easy, utterly delectable and just the thing for a special supper. Read More »

Pork Loin with Wild Ceps Recipe from French Life

Amanda on September 6th, 2006
Fig Compote

Fig Compote

Figs can be used in a variety of ways; they are quite delicious served fresh for breakfast with a thick yoghurt or crème fraiche. They are equally delicious poached with sugar and lemon juice and served in the same way. But I like them best when they’re combined with various spices and fat cloves of garlic and made into a glorious compote to eat with Duck, Goose and Pork in the first chill of winter. In fact in November when the hunting season is in full cry, this is just the thing. However if you can’t wait that long it also make a delicious accompaniment to a good strong cheese, a Cantal Vieux perhaps with a warm baguette and a good glass of Cahors. Read More »

French Fig Compote Recipe from French Life

Amanda on June 23rd, 2006
Boeuf Quercynois

Boeuf Quercynois

Boeuf Quercynois

Every region of France has it’s own classic stew or casserole. The most famous, and certainly the most abused beef stew must be Boeuf Bourguignon, closely followed now by the increasingly popular Provencal Daube. In the Languedoc, just south of the Quercy, the king of casseroles reigns supreme, it’s the land of the Cassoulet. However we are splendidly situated for an outstanding casserole of own. To the south we have access to the finest haricots in the world. Just to the north, in the Limousin, some of the finest beef in France. In the west of the province the great Marmande tomatoes beg to be included and right on our doorstep the deepest, darkest, richest wines known to man. This is my own version of a time-honoured recipe that I first ate in the ancient stone kitchen of a nearby farmhouse. I present for your delectation, Boeuf Quercynois. Read More »

French Beef and Bean Casserole from French Life

Amanda on May 7th, 2006
French Strawberry Tarts

French Strawberry Tarts

Barquettes de Fraises
April in southern France is a gastronomic feast.
The markets overflow with the luscious new vegetables and fruits of spring. Foremost amongst these are asparagus and strawberries, the perfect beginning and end to any spring dinner party.
Since the only way to eat new asparagus is plainly cooked with melted butter or hollandaise, I thought I would show you this pretty way of serving the deliciously sweet fraises des bois, which are in season right now.

Makes 10 to 12. Read More »

French Strawberry Tart Recipe from French Life

Amanda on February 2nd, 2006
Truffle Omelette

Truffle Omelette

Omelette Aux Truffes

This is a classic recipe, extremely simple and perfect for supper on the day you manage to buy – or find – your first fresh truffle. Truffles have a pungent aroma that permeates the eggs beautifully, even through the shells. Therefore if you plan to make an omelette, store your truffle with your eggs, even a few hours of this treatment will make a difference to the flavour of the finished dish. Make sure your eggs are fresh and treat them lightly, don’t beat them into submission, just a gentle whisk with a fork will do. Read More »

French Truffle Omelette Recipe from French Life

Amanda on December 16th, 2005
Walnut Tart

Walnut Tart

Quercynoise Tarte aux Noix

If you happen to be in the Quercy in late autumn, after the vendage but before the cold weather sets in, this is the recipe you will need. There are many, many versions of Tarte aux Noix, and this is my tried and regularly tested favourite!

The countryside abounds with walnut groves. Wherever you can’t put a vineyard, you can be sure you’ll find walnuts. In late October and November the markets are groaning with them in every conceivable state of preparation.

Of course there are quite a few trees in the wild now and you can always do as the locals do, take a bag and gather a kilo or two yourself. Either way this is a gorgeous way to use them.

Serves 10- 12

Ingredients Read More »

Quercy Walnut Tart Recipe from French Life

Amanda on December 14th, 2005
Carrot and Walnut Cake

Carrot and Walnut Cake

Gâteau Eleanor

This isn’t really a regional recipe, it’s my own.
However there’s a good reason for the name.
The black walnut is ubiquitous in this area and was supposedly introduced to England – and widely planted in the Quercy – by that most adventurous of Queens, Eleanor of Aquitaine.
She was born in this area in 1122 and must rank as one of the most forward thinking ladies of her time, a suffragette eight hundred years before the Pankhursts.

I named this cake in her honour.

Ingredients Read More »

Carrot and Walnut Cake Recipe from French Life

Amanda on December 5th, 2005
Mincemeat Tart

Mincemeat Tart

Ideal for Christmas Mince Pies
Crumbly Orange Pastry for Mince PiesIf you’ve gone to the trouble of making your own mincemeat, you don’t want to let the side down by buying the pastry do you?
The secret of a good short, pastry is to use a little more butter than you normally would – not too much or your mince pies will disintegrate. For Christmas I use orange juice to bind the dough, making the perfect partner for Quercy Mincemeat. I’ve been making this recipe for years and I commend it to you. Read More »

Crumbly Orange Pastry Recipe from French Life

Amanda on November 15th, 2005
Roast Goose

Roast Goose

Oie avec pruneaux d’Agen

This is a classic winter dish in southwestern France. Try to buy your goose from a farm or a boucherie that advertises local birds. In the run up to Christmas you will find one easily in the markets.

Be prepared! A French goose will usually come with head and feet still attached and you will generally be asked if you would like them removed for you. With the giblets, they make a splendid stock. The neck can be stuffed to make a classic hors d’oeuvre.

I like to serve this dish with little roast potatoes and winter greens, whatever is fresh in the markets at the time. Read More »

French Roast Goose with Prunes from French Life

Amanda on November 5th, 2005
Mincemeat

Mincemeat

This is unashamedly an Anglo-French recipe.
Taking all that’s wonderful, and quite impossible to give up, from an English Christmas whilst using classic Quercy ingredients.
You may already have made your precious jars of mincemeat of course, it’s getting a little late now, but if you haven’t do try this.

Makes about one and a half kilos or 30 – 36 mince pies.

Ingredients Read More »

Quercy Christmas Mincemeat Recipe from French Life

Amanda on September 7th, 2005
Pork and Walnut Pate

Pork and Walnut Pate

Pâté Maison Quercynois

There are as many deliciously different Pâtés in France as there are households to make them. Pâté Maison is a traditional family staple. The recipe varies enormously from region to region according to the seasons, the ingredients available and local tastes and every farmhouse, auberge, charcuterie and chateau has its own version.
This is one of mine. Studded with local walnuts and flavoured with the famous wine of the region it’s another lovely way to celebrate the bounty of the Quercy.

Ingredients Read More »

Pork and Walnut Pate Recipe from French Life

Amanda on August 23rd, 2005
Roasted Pigeons

Roasted Pigeons

Pigeons Farcis

There are many versions of this Quercy staple.
One can stuff the birds merely with the chopped liver, breadcrumbs and perhaps a little leftover Toulouse sausage, the way a frugal countrywoman would. However you can also make it into an altogether more sophisticated dish with equally local ingredients.

This is my version of the deliciously sophisticated option.
To serve: 6.

Ingredients Read More »

Stuffed Quercy Pigeons from French Life

Amanda on August 5th, 2005
Roasted Tomatoes

Roasted Tomatoes

Tomates Marmandaise

This is a recipe that you’ll find in many guises all over the south of France. However it does rely on the excellence of the ingredients so the world famous, succulent tomatoes of Marmande are absolutely perfect for the purpose.
If you are camping you can achieve these on a covered barbecue and like so many of the vegetable dishes of the Mediterranean, they’re good hot or cold and particularly good barely warm.

Serve one half per person for a first course, or two as a lunch dish, accompanied by a crisp, green salad and a baguette fresh from the bakery. They are also excellent as an accompaniment to roast chicken or just about any barbecued meat. Read More »

Oven Roasted Tomatoes Recipe from French Life

Amanda on July 16th, 2005
Roast Pork

Roast Pork

Roti de Porc avec Pommes et Noix

This is my own autumn version of a French classic. After the children of the Quercy have returned from their weekend walnuting expeditions this is a delicious way to use them. Apples come from the bottom of the garden, or the cheap little ones sold in the markets for just a few centimes, are an excellent alternative. At this time of year the Reinettes are in season. Reine des Reinettes are pretty easily available in France. In England try Orleans Reinette if you can find them. If you can’t, use another variety this year and invest in a little bare-rooted tree! You’ll never regret it. Read More »

Roast Pork with Apples and Walnuts from French Life