November 20, 2011

from Normandy to la dolce vita

saturday evening means:

not too much work in the kitchen, a good book or an interesting program on tv, and something quick and easy but very very tasty to munch on in the meantime... relaxation.

we recently discovered something that ticks all the boxes, altho purists might cringe a bit since we use herbs and flavorings more at home around the Mediterranean combined with a little cheese that comes from the north of France, closer to the Atlantic...

we still think it s a marriage made in heaven.



1 small whole camembert
2 sprigs of rosemary
a few sprigs of thyme
1 clove of garlic, sliced into thin slivers
a glug of olive oil


1. preheat the oven to 180°C
2. remove all the covering and check there s no sticker on the bottom of the cheese
4. make a few incisions in the cheese to put in the garlic slivers and herbs
5. put the cheese back into the wood case it came in
6. pour on a little glug of olive oil
7. roast on a hot baking tray for about 10-15 minutes until very soft to the touch
8. pour out a glass of white (or red) wine
9. tuck in with some crusty bread and perhaps some grilled paprikas

la dolce vita.

happy days.

November 12, 2011

four winds

Vier Winden (or Four Winds) is the house (now museum) in Jabbeke, Belgium that was lived in by Constant Permeke and his family...

we went for a visit last week.

the house is covered in five-finger ivy or wild woodbine.

and the artist s atelier is left almost entirely as it was when he died in 1952.

the view from his desk out towards the garden

the old stove to keep warm

out into the garden

fleeting images of life... but even stones have their weaknesses

looking back towards the house

it was beautiful. Permeke s work also stands out among his peers, with a kind of vigor and strength that is quite indescribable.

we needed something simple for dinner, something earthy, to reflect on the day.



4 soft chorizo sausages (these are the non-dried ones, mostly used for cooking), cut into bite-sized pieces
2 cups +/- 360 gr) dried Puy lentils, rinsed (these do not have to be pre-soaked)
2 small onions, not too finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 young green celery sticks, chopped
1 liter of chicken stock (i used leftover liquid from cooking mussels the day before)
a teaspoon of pimentón picante or dolce, to taste
2 dried bay leaves, a sprig of thyme, a sprig of rosemary
salt and pepper, to taste
some crème fraîche, to serve, optional


1. fry off the chorizo in some light olive oil until the oil colors red from the spices in the sausage
2. add the chopped onion, garlic and celery. sauté until reasonably soft
3. add the Puy lentils and the chicken stock until just covered (if not add some water)
4. also add the teaspoon of pimentón, if using, and the dried herbs (you could tie these up to make a 'bouquet garni', but it s not about fine dining here)
5. cover and leave to simmer on a low to medium heat for about an hour until the lentils are soft but just holding their shape
6. adjust seasoning
7. serve with a little crème fraîche, if using, and crusty bread to mop up the broth

in memory of my mother, Sam s dad, and all others that paved the way before us.