Veal roast with apples and cider

I am lucky to have a good, well-provided and reasonably priced butcher’s. Sometimes, however, I run into something even better when I have the possibility to buy directly from the producer.

In France you can go and visit a farm, you can order online or you can find them on producers’ markets and that is how I got to know the people of the Ferme du Grémonval – François and Fabienne Demarais – who rear boar, dear and cows on their large farm grounds near Neufchatel in Normandy, best know for its cheese.

We’ve met them at several markets and we have been twice to their farm. The last time they were in our neighbourhood I had bought some veal.

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John Dory with lime

“I do not know that cocktail” was the reaction of a contact in New York after he heard of my plan to have a “cool John Dory with lime” after a late afternoon (for me) conversation. It is a fish. There are many competing explanations on why the fish is called that way in English – either from Golden Yellow (Jaune Dorée in French, but the fish available in France is not yellow) or after the name of an adventurer in a ballad, while Jules Verne says the names come from (Janitore) for doorkeeper.

The French call its Saint Pierre and another name in English is Saint Peter, because the saint – when he was still in his mortal coil – provided Jesus which such a fish. The black mark on the sides of the fish is, according to legend, the sign of Saint Peter’s thumb.

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Fresh garlic in olive oil (Ail nouveau confit)  

This weekend I made several jars of fresh new garlic preserved in olive oil. It is a very tasty condiment that allows you to use healthy garlic all year long.

Garlic is an ingredient that has its fans and fiends. It is a healthy bomb of vitamin, some find it tasty and others hate the smell, in particular afterwards on the breath of others.

I like garlic and use it a lot. The harvest is in June and July and I found a mountain of fresh garlic at a market in Dieppe – not really known for the garlic culture.

In France there are four kinds of garlic, basically either spring or autumn garlic, white, rose or violet, and almost 30 varieties.

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Green asparagus risotto

When the vegetable stand on our market had French green asparagus, I could not resist buying them and decided to make a spring risotto.

White asparagus are available in the south of the Netherlands; solid and straight stems that make a wonderful meal with eggs, potatoes and cream.

In France, the white variety, sometimes with violet heads, comes from the Loire valley and the sandy grounds of Les Landes.

Asparagus are low in calories and rich in antioxidants and help clear your digestive system and bladder.

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Veal kidneys with broad beans

The French eat more offal than many other nationalities. In the Netherlands, I sometimes ate liver or blood sausage but that was about it. In France, I discovered sweetbread, kidney and spleen but I have not yet dared to eat heart or lungs.

A French editor once tested my willingness to adapt to France and the French way of life by ordering me a plate of slightly cooked kidneys with lasagne. The dish looked gross but I did acquire a taste for it. Continue reading Veal kidneys with broad beans

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