La Chatte Gitane (or The Gypsy Cat) was the name we chose for our cottage in France. We chose it while on the road, moving home, from Ireland to France with 2 dogs and 7 cats in the car.
This blog began its insignificant life as a recipe book for friends and family who would ask me repeatedly for a recipe of this, that and the other.
Since then it has taken many different directions, like gypsies tend to do. Sometimes making a U-turn and revisiting familiar roads and taking a break when necessary.
You'll find recipes here, but also musings about the places we've called home, the gardens that we've established, not always successfully, the homes we've improved and the environments we've lived in. Currently, that is back in Ireland.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Something for the Pot.

As cruel and sad as it may seem to some, these two birds will not fight each other anymore later today.  They won't be driving Arthur II and the five hens up the wall, under the chicken coop, up the trees, in the woodland .... anymore.

They will make a lovely stock, though, a fantastic ragout or even coq au vin.

Such is life...

Patricia xxx...x

Had to come back to update with a couple more pictures.

Family gathering : brother, mother and nephew

Someone had to take the photos and make tea.... yes, me.... and I'll be cooking them ;)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Kitchen Makeover

It all started in the summer, that we did a ground floor overhaul.
I already showed you the sitting room makeover here, now it's about time I let you take a peek at the changes we made to our (my) kitchen.

When we moved into this house, the kitchen was okay-ish. I mean, I could cook in it, sit in it, had a great view onto the garden and woodland behind, but it had seen better days. The layout wasn't very practical and I hated the floor and worktops.
We chose an IKEA kitchen - √Ądel series, that suited the house and us perfectly and hopefully the next occupants of this house (yes, that's another story).





I am not particularly proud of this. It wasn't even part of the kitchen, but a small hallway/coridor between entrance hall and kitchen. A proper dumping ground. Dark and dingy. The door on the right we had closed off and instead had a door fitted between entrance hall and sitting room, which made more sense to us.
We also knocked the wall out (for most part) between the dump and kitchen.
Next photo will show you the exact same wall.


Very happy that this fake slate floor was replaced by ....
Real natural Beijing bluestone and French limestone.

Now, wherever we might end up, our old Welsh dresser will always get pride of place and any future kitchen units will need to complement this piece of furniture we both love so much.

Hope you enjoy the end result. I know I do ;-)
Patricia xxx...x


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Carrots in a Bechamel Sauce with Parsley

This will never win any culinary prizes, but it is one of these dishes that reminds me of my childhood. 
Why ? Well, my mumma used to make this for us whenever we felt poorly, it was served with rice and it was light enough to digest easily.

So last night I felt really awful and sick. What better way to get my appetite back than this simple dish.

  • 50 grs butter (I am sure my mum used sunflower oil instead of butter)
  • 50 grs flour
  • 300 ml liquid - milk, cream, cooking liquid of the carrots
  • parsey - the more the better or as much as you like, chopped
  • 6 carrots, peeled and sliced in discs (approx 3 mm tick)
  • Seasoning - salt, black pepper and nutmeg
  • Cook the carrots in boiling salted water for 3 minutes, till al dente. Drain and keep some of the liquid for the sauce if you so wish.
  • Please tell me I don't have to write down how to make a white sauce - make a white sauce with the butter, flour and liquid.
  • Add parsey, seasoning and the carrots.
  • Heat through, et voil√†, it's ready.

What did your mother cook for you, when you felt poorly ? That's what I'd like to know.

Patricia xxx...x

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Cheese Croquettes

Scuse the photo quality :-/

Would you believe I have never made these before and Belgium is undoubtedly the land of croquettes. Potato, cheese, brown shrimp, ham.
Only once did I make potato croquettes and that was eons ago, but last summer I got very excited about beetroot croquettes that I saw here , I had a go and they were the bees knees. YumYum.
But now I was stuck with loads of cheese - camembert style and goats cheese - from christmas.  Couldn't stand the smell anymore and I didn't feel like eating cheese morning, noon and night, so what better way to use all the cheese than in croquetes.  I made 60 of the little blighters, they freeze well and are gorgeous.

Ingredients (for 15 to 20 croquettes)
  • 100 grs butter
  • 150 grs flour
  • 500 ml milk
  • 1 tsp English mustard
  • 250 gr cheese (if using Camembert, remove the white skin as it doesn't melt)
  • 4 eggs
  • extra flour for coating
  • breadcrumbs
  • Salt, black pepper, nutmeg
  • Make a thick bechamel sauce with the butter, flour and milk. Stirring all the while.
  • Add the mustard
  • Separate the eggs, add the yolks to the sauce and let it come to the boil again, stirring. Keep the whites for coating the croquettes afterwards.
  • Add the cheese but don't let it come to boiling point anymore. If using hard cheeses, they need to be grated before you add them.  Stir until the cheese has melted into the sauce.
  • Season with salt, freshly ground black pepper and freshly grated nutmeg.
  • Tip the sauce onto a floured tray and spread out eavenly.
  • Store away in the fridge for a couple of hours
  • Cut the paste into 4x4 cm squares.
  • First coat them in flour, then into the beaten egg whites, and lastly cover with breadcrumbs.
  • Put them on a clean tray next to each other.
  • Another cooling off period will benefit the end result. I did put them straight into the freezer.
  • Heat up about a cm of sunflower oil into a deep-ish pan. Or you can use a deep fat fryer - 170°C
  • Fry the croquettes in batches (depending on how many you have)until they are golden brown on both sides (you might have to turn them over halfway through the cooking proces, obviously)
  • When they are done, scoop them out of the oil and drain on kitchen paper. 
  • Ready to be served with salad, dipping sauce of your choosing.

It is not my favourite dish to make, but let me tell you they were worth the effort.

Patricia xxx...x


Thursday, January 05, 2012

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas.....

...every decoration has been taken down, all wrapped up for next year... more than likely in another house... in another country... if all goes to plan.

But first a flashback in pictures from 2011

This leaves me with wishing everyone a prosperous and healthy, happy 2012. Make it a good one.

Patricia xxx...x
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