Easy Recipe: Provençal Vegetable Casserole

This easy recipe can be served simply with a crusty baguette.  It can also be enjoyed by vegetarians and vegans!

You will need 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 large onions sliced thinly, 3 red bell peppers seeded and thinly sliced, 2 medium eggplants peeled and diagonally sliced, 3 medium zucchinis peeled and thinly sliced diagonally, 3 thinly sliced medium tomatoes, 6 minced garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons chopped basil and Eggplant. Photo courtesy of www.vegan-magazine.com1/2 teaspoon sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet on moderate heat and cook onions until soft. Add the peppers, and reduce the heat to low, cooking until vegetables are soft ~  about 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 400°F.

Layer a 9×13-inch ovenproof baking dish with 3/4 of the onion mixture.  Follow with a layer of the eggplant slices, then layer on half the zucchini and the remaining onion mixture.  The next layer is the remaining eggplant, then the remaining zucchini and finally the tomato slices.  In a small bowl, mix together the rest of the olive oil, garlic, basil, salt and pepper and sprinkle over the top.

Bake for an hour and let it rest for 5 minutes.  Pour off any excess olive oil.  Cut into serving pieces and serve hot.  Serves six.

Bon appétit!

[Photo credit:  http://www.vegan-magazine.com]

SOURCE:  Au Chateau News

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French eating habits: An introduction for your kids

French eating habits are traditionally very healthy, and food is first and foremost a pleasure. Most French children will devour food that children in other countries may never even encounter: Roquefort cheese, mussels, vinaigrette on green salad and vegetable soup. So what’s the secret?

In her book ‘French Kids Eat Everything’ Karen Le Billon describes a scene she experienced in a French restaurant, of a toddler dining with his parents: “He sat patiently as the meal progressed, eyes glazing over until he slumped over and fell asleep while his parents continued their meal undisturbed. When it was time to go, their child was woken up without ceremony. Popping his thumb in his mouth, he placidly allowed himself to be carried out of the restaurant without making a sound.”

French eating habits see French children not only eat what is put in front of them, but they are also taught to treat food and meal times with respect. Food, they learn, is an art form: an object of fulfilment to be shared with others. They will eat wholesome, natural food, try new flavours and participate in discussion at the dinner table. So how do we teach our children to do the same? Here are some tips for introducing your children to French eating habits.

Begin treating meal times as an event

Eat at least one meal a day as a family and treat it as an event to look forward to. Use pretty plates, glasses instead of childish cups and a tablecloth. Karen Le Billon suggests putting in place a meal time ritual where each member of the family recounts their favourite part of the day. Do not allow electronics or toys at the table. Mealtime should be for sharing and discussion and you and your children should have each other’s full attention. Allow your children the fulfilment of participating independently in the meal by letting them set the table and serve their food themselves.

Introduce new foods gradually

Many French people believe in the phase d’opposition, a phase that begins at age two in which children begin to reject new foods. For this reason, they gradually introduce a large amount of new foods throughout the first two years of life. They begin by offering soft, mild food to babies before progressing to stronger flavours and different textures. So, you will more likely find a French baby eating soft Roquefort than cheddar, and beginning with leek purée before moving on to whole vegetables.

If your children dislike vegetables, start them off with a smooth soup of carrots or courgette. You can have fun with the colours, pureeing beets for a pink purée or red pepper for a bright red soup. You may have to serve the soup a few times before they begin to enjoy it. Serve new foods alongside food that your children already like. Pasta can be tossed with spinach, for example.

Let your children see you tasting new foods, too. Take yourself out of your comfort zone and discover new flavours with them! Once your child is enjoying a certain food in one form, you should try serving it in a different way. After they have discovered carrot soup, serve thin slices of steamed carrots as part of the next meal. Do not put pressure on you children to eat new things. French eating habits dictate that everyone must taste, but they aren’t obliged to finish if they dislike something. Forcing a child to eat a particular food will cause a long term aversion to it.

Everybody must eat the same

My French Life™_French eating habits_Child eatingThe menu for meal times should be the same for everyone: this means no alternatives for picky eaters. Do not fuss if your children do not eat at first—this will create anxiety and make the problem worse. You want your children to see eating as normal and a source of pleasure they don’t want to miss out on, not something they do as a favour to you.

Most importantly, you must abide by your own rules: your children cannot be expected to change their eating habits if you are not leading by example, so try to adapt French eating habits yourself.

Reduce unnecessary snacking

Numerous western cultures are prone to offering their children snacks every few hours, but French children eat one big snack a day. This is usually a bowl of fruit, a sandwich or apple compote. The French teach their children that it’s okay to feel a little hungry between meals, and believe that reducing snacking means their children will eat more at meal times, including the vegetables served.

My French Life™_French eating habits_Cherries

It may be hard to get children out of the habit of snacking, and into French eating habits—especially if they are used to eating between every meal. Instead of abolishing snacking completely, you could offer just fruit when your child asks for food. Plan snack-time for mid afternoon; French children have the gouté at around 4pm. Get your children involved in choosing their daily snack: fruit salad one day, banana bread the next. As a treat, they could even have Karen Le Billon’s chocolate stuffed baguette! Everything in moderation is the key.

Include your children in meal prep

You are in charge of the menu in your house, but this does not mean that your children should be denied a choice. Instead of disguising healthy food, encourage children to help you put family meals together. Allow them to choose a type of vegetable for each meal, or a healthy dish from a selection you have given them.

Children can participate in the cooking too. Preparing a meal will give them more of an incentive to eat it, and will teach them where their food comes from and how the different flavours come together. Have your child stir the pot on the stove or chop soft vegetables with a butter knife. Children love to feel included and if you trust them with these jobs, they will begin to see your new ‘food rules’ as a family choice. In this way, French eating habits will become second nature.

Treat food as a pleasure

Healthy food choices are a part of French eating habits, providing a path to enjoyment and health and definitely not as a way to lose weight. Explain this to your children in a way they will understand: “wholesome food will help us grow, strengthen our bones, give us more energy and feel more satisfying.”  Treat food as something to delight in. Eat slowly and discuss the taste and texture of the food you are eating. Suggest that the children take small bites and ask them what they can taste in their cheese, or what the mousse au chocolat feels like on their tongue.

My French Life™_French eating habits_Chocolate mousse and pumpkin sponge cake

French eating habits are such that parents never use food as a punishment, reward or bribe. There are no cookies as an incentive to keep children quiet in the car, and dessert is rarely taken away for bad behaviour. This would undermine the positive aspect that the French teach their children to associate with food.

Credit/Source: Written by Stephanie Williamson for My French Life, May 2016


Restaurant des Rois – A Royal Evening!

In researching places to celebrate a special anniversary, I discovered the Restaurant des Rois at La Reserve Hotel – a gastronomic restaurant at a 5-star hotel in Beaulieu-sur-Mer.  From the moment of arrival, I felt like I had entered a palace, due to its exquisite & lush decor of silks, velours, and passementerie, as we were Into Bar areaescorted, addressed by name, into the bar area.

Courtyard entrance

Bar

Champagne and amuses-bouche

Champagne was the apero of choice (bien sur!), served with a tiered plate of nibbles.

dining room

We were again escorted and welcomed by name to our table in the beautiful dining room, as I took in the decor and chandeliers.

table and view

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following 5-star etiquette, I was given the menu without prices listed and was immediately provided with a table hook from which to hang my purse. Every attention to detail was made by the staff, from A to Z; the sommelier approached to discuss our three-course (fixed-price) menu choices with regards to the extensive wine list (more like a book) which included a bottle of red wine listed for 13,600 Euros!  On the other end of the price spectrum, we ordered a half-bottle of Montrachet, a light-bodied red wine that was delightful.

As the dining area began to fill with couples and tables of four, I noticed one couple with a little girl of about 5 years of age and wondered how she would cope during the formal dining experience. I was surprised that other than hearing her sweet voice a few times, she was well-behaved throughout the (long-for-a-child) evening.

Again, we were served a few savory appetizers to whet our appetite:

amuses-bouche 2

I ordered a three-course menu, but before that began, we were served the chef special: a small pot of mousse aux petits pois with bacon underneath.

pea & bacon chef special

aparagus and foie gras soup

The menu then began with asparagus and foie gras soup

duck and beets

followed by the main course of duck with beets

I passed on the cheese course, which was served from a special cart

I passed on the cheese course, which was served from a special cart

before dessert

& before the dessert, an entremets of lime, chocolate, and coconut delights

 

la piece de resistance was a lemon souffle and granny smith sorbet

la piece de resistance was a lemon souffle served with granny smith sorbet

candelier and ceiling

After 3 1/2 hrs of excellent food & service, we left the dining room & were escorted through the bar towards the reception area, I felt regally satiated & festively full. Certes – a royal evening to remember!

Piano Bar in Nice

I recently had tapas and a cocktail at a piano bar in Nice, as I enjoy trying out new places.  menu

Being a Friday evening, the jazz band began tuning up and started their first (early) set to add music to the lovely ambiance of the place.  My only complaint is the champagne was served in a tulip glass that seemed small (or maybe I just wanted more!) but the cocktails were generous servings, as well as the food.

All in all, Le Kosma is a very nice, cozy place to relax, enjoy a cocktail and tapas while listening to some great music.  La vie est belle!

cocktails tapas wall mural bar band bnad2

 

Polygone Riviera – A Lifestyle Mall

Summary:

  • Cagnes-sur-Mer is the site for the first lifestyle shopping mall in France
  • 8 minutes from Nice, 20 mns. from Cannes, 10 mns. from Antibes, 5 mns. from Vence – easily accessible from A8
  • French Riviera is the #1 tourist destination for the French and #2 tourist destination for foreigners
  • The center is the first four-star shopping mall in the south of France

The mall comprises 75,000m2 to include:

  • Gastronomical dining plaza
  • Panoramic view terrace
  • Free wifi & interactive directories
  • Reception area & car parking valet
  • Luxury brand stores
  • Casino, 10-movie theater, bowling center & more….

Website HERE

PRINTEMPS & much more….

Le Frog – A Typically French Restaurant in Old Nice

Of course, along with snails, tete de veau, and foie gras, frog legs are right up there when one thinks of French food particularities – or should I say, specialities.

Backlit in green (bien sur!)

menu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have to admit that I had never tasted frog legs and so, was somewhat apprehensive, yet excited, when this restaurant was chosen for a friends dinner get together.  I also figured that there would be other items on the menu.

frog menu

From our table, we had a lovely view of the local church.

view from table street side tables

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Provençale Rosé wine called “Nuit Blanche” (white night)

Rose wine label
OK, so I didn’t order the frog legs – just in case – but I did sample a taste (how could I not?).  No- it didn’t taste like chicken!  The taste was not strong and game-y as I expected, but was surprisingly a little sweet and quite tasty.

3 course menu

Nicoise plate

Pissaladiere & Salade Nicoise

Beef & gnocchi

Beef & gnocchi

Swiss chard pie dessert

Swiss chard pie dessert

& Voila!

frog entree

Menu Frog entree/appetizer mon

The Menu Frog main course consisted of asian noodles topped with frog legs (like these) and other wok type veggies with frog menu dessert of crème brulée (no photos taken).

It was a leaping-good time and fun evening with new discoveries in food, friends, and comraderie!

 

Sun, Sea, & Green

SUN:

“In an open-topped tour bus, a collector’s car, by Segway, by tram, on foot by boat or by bicycle, there are so many ways to discover Nice and its attractions! Are you having trouble choosing between a classical tour or a chance to get off the beaten tracks, an instructive treasure hunt to discover the history of Nice, a photographic trail accompanied by a professional photographer, a guided tour through some of the city’s most attractive districts with the Heritage Centre, a culinary tour featuring the theme of Niçois cuisine or a custom tour designed especially for you, supervised by a guide?

SEA:

Just imagine… 7 km of beaches bordering the famous Promenade des Anglais! 15 private beaches and 20 public ones in the very heart of the town! Beach restaurants where you can enjoy fish-based dishes, salads or other summertime cuisine with the sound of the waves in the background. Disabled access beaches, children’s games, organised features and entertainment and nautical activities, crystal clear water at just the right temperature …and an amazing view out to sea!   A number of private beaches organize music evenings where you can dance through the night under the stars, with your feet in the water!

GREEN:

As the “green city” of the Mediterranean, Nice is home to more than 100 gardens and some 20 parks with a surface area exceeding 10,000 m2 including the 7-hectare Parc Phoenix, a holder of the “Jardin remarquable” (Remarkable Garden) label. Genuine oases of greenery in the heart of the city, these parks and gardens have been designed to bring man into contact with nature, which can be discovered and admired at any time of year. Already ahead of target in terms of the national ECOPHYTO 2018 Plan, Nice is continuing its efforts to promote sustainable development and has opted for “zero pesticides” to protect biodiversity and the health of its citizens and visitors. Waterfalls, water fun areas and varied tree and shrub varieties await… Enjoy a lungful of fresh air… You’re in Nice!”

See major SUMMER EVENTS HEREKD paperback cover

Source: Nice Convention and Visitors Bureau

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