In this section of the French News Online "Lifeslyle"
Section, craft and food writer Vivienne Bolton shares favourite
seasonal recipes based on what's out there now in local markets.
Buy it fresh on France's country wide
open air markets,
and often straight from the local farmer
I regularly thank the good Lord that to survive I must eat - little
gives me as much pleasure as food, and Christmas being the time
of giving I have spent time in my kitchen preparing special treats.
I have made boxes of Violet Creams, bags of Parmesan Crisps,
Candied Orange Peel and various curds, jellies and marmalades.
..... here are recipes for just a few tasty treats.
Violet Creams are one of the many homemade feminine
extravagences that make life worth living.
Melt-in-the-mouth, delicately fragranced and deliciously sweet
and incredibly simple to make, if you haven't tried one you need
to! This year I have made Violet Creams galore - I have made little
boxes from guilded watercololur paper for all my girlfriends and
To make the Violet Creams sift 225g icing sugar into a bowl, add
an egg white and 4 drops of essence of Violets. Mix to a good
paste and set aside to rest (about 10 minutes). Dust the work
surface with icing sugar and roll out the paste to about a centimetre
in thickness. Cut out shapes with small biscuit cutters, I prefer
simple disc-shapes. Place the cut sweets on baking parchment or
greaseproof paper to dry.
Sometimes I add a little violet colouring to the mixture but
this year I have roughly gilded the dried Violet Creams with edible
gold - if you can't get hold of any at this late stage you could
consider dipping the sweets in chocolate or leaving them plain,
there is nothing wrong with simplicity. To present, place in cellophane
bags tied with ribbon or little chocolate boxes.
Chocolate and orange, if you want to indulge me, feed me orange
peel dipped in the darkest chocolate and I will purr!
To make, melt 250g good dark chocolate in a bowl over simmering
water. Add 1/2 teaspoon runny honey and stir. Remove from the
heat and dip narrow fingers of candied orange peel into the chocolate.
Set to harden on a cake rack and serve with a cup of good coffee
- or place in a box or bag tied with ribbon!
My Christmas Whisky Marmalade has something of a following!
Marmalade is incredibly easy to make and all I do is add a couple
of tablespoons of whisky to each homemade jar, stir well and seal.
Once cool I label and wrap for favoured gentlemen friends!
Peel and chop 8 oranges. Slice the rind thinly (or thickly according
to your want) and add the juice of two lemons. Place in a saucepan
and add water to cover the fruit. Bring to the boild and simmer
for a few minutes to soften the rind. Now you need to measure
the contents of the saucepan and add sugar, cup for cup. Bring
to the boil and keep boiling until set is achieved. To achieve
this you will need a chilled saucer and a spoon. After aobut 10
minutes of boiling place a spoonful of the mixture on the chilled
saucer, leave for a couple of minutes to cool and if 'set' has
been achieve it will wrinkle when your attempt to move it. If
not, boil for a further few minutes. When set has been achieved
pour the jam into clean jars and stir 2 tablespoons whisky into
each jar, then seal. Label and wrap.
So there we have it ........ Christmas is upon us - and I wish
you a very merry Christmas ...... I've had a call from my youngest
daughter asking me to check supplies of Grenadine and raspberries
as this year we will be drinking Mimosas - I can hardly wait!
(one part Champagne, one part freshly squeezed orange juice, a
dash of grenadine and a spoonful of homemade raspberry syrup).
Simplicity itself .... simply place half-teaspoonfuls of finely
grated parmesan on baking parchment and bake for about 6 or 7
minutes at about 160C (or just a little hotter). You will need
to experiement to get the temperature and timing right for your
oven. Too hot or cold and the crisps taste bitter. Too hot and
the crisps burn and are bitter, too cool and the cheese becomes
bitter from extended cooking..... but once perfected they are
deliciously different!! Pack into cellophane bags for gifts or
serve with homemade soup.
Vivienne is a prolific writer, designer and creator
of all manner of things. Her latest book From Mother to Daughter,
Traditional Housekeeping for the Modern Home is published by Kyle
Cathie and available on Amazon. This book is a useful mix of recipes,
household hints, memoir and tradition, warm and homely, packed
with information taken from a life’s experience of mothering
and country living.
Mother to Daughter: Traditional housekeeping for the modern home
published by Kyle Cathie and available from Amazon
by clicking the link.
Spirit of Christmas: Traditional Recipes, Crafts and Carols
published by New Holland and available from Amazon by clicking