Spring Salads

Spring salads in France celebrate the fresh, crisp leaves that appearat the  start of the growing season. The bright green lettuce leaves ofthe ever-popular salade verte still hold a hallowed place in many Frenchmeals, either at home or in a restaurant. Yet, a few changes may beafoot. A fortnight ago, when lunching with French friends…

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Shortbread Biscuits

A reader has asked for my recipe for Shortbread Biscuits. These are the slim buttery discs that are perfect for serving with espresso coffee or afternoon tea. And although I always enjoy them in their classic version the recipe is capable of endless variation depending on the time of year. When I baked for my…

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Meat-Free February

In January, when Sir David Attenborough urged us to recognise that “The moment of crisis has come” in our efforts to tackle climate change, the achievements of two of my heroines came to mind. Five decades ahead of Greta Thunberg’s admirable campaign, two women gave an early warning of the serious environmental damage to our…

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Fish Soups

After the excesses of festive eating, I long for simple food – plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables plus the delicate flavours of fish with its gentle, soothing texture. Fish soups come high on my list of desirable dishes at this time of year when the cold seas surrounding the British Isles produce some of…

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Sweet Chestnuts

While Perigord is recognised for its superior walnuts the Ardeche is world-renowned for sweet chestnuts. Towering chestnut trees, ​Castanea sativa,​ grow wild in the Haute Ardèche, where the hillsides are clothed with these majestic trees bearing handsome deckle-edged leaves. Growing wheat or other grains is not feasible in much of this mountainous region so for…

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The Timeless Appeal of Ardèchois Crique and Swiss Rösti

Why do we shred potatoes, I ask myself. After all there are so many other excellent ways of preparing, cooking and serving this popular tuber. Yet, throughout Europe, potatoes are grated, either raw when making an Ardèchois-style crique or half-cooked for a Swiss rösti. Both these types of potato pancake are fried, so perhaps it’s…

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Vine Leaves

Last year my 25 year-old grape vine decided to leave home. After forming a close relationship with a telephone wire it soon reached half-way across the road and even produced a few bunches of black grapes dangling provocatively above the traffic. In March, it was time to curb its enthusiasm and major surgery was called…

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The Origin of Recipes

Two questions are often addressed to food and cookery writers by readers: ‘Where do your recipes come from? And do you cook them all?’ For almost a decade Felicity Cloake has been answering both these enquiries in impressive style in the Guardian newspaper. She tests, cooks and tastes, then adopts the best workable ideas from…

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Summer Holiday Dishes

The 14th July, Bastille Day, until the final day of August is the official summer holiday in France. Many enterprises, large and small, close their doors or operate with a skeleton staff for this six week period. Try tracking down a builder, plumber or electrician, and you’re likely to hear a recorded message confirming this…

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Apéro Hour

Bowls of olives, plates of thinly sliced saucisson sec, and lots of opened bottles greeted us when the local white wines of 2018 were recently launched at the old cave co-operative in Saint Montan. The farmers who grew the grapes were keen to talk as they offered glasses of sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, and a superb…

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