Picknick with Claude Monet

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51PSE02HX7LAfter an exhusted non-stop touring in the beautiful French capital I had a rest at my Parisian godmother’s. After the dinner our conversation was somehow diverted to Monet’s house in, Giverny. -By the way where is Giverny?-I asked Sylvie.- She responded it shortly: -Beside Vernon.-

All right, and where is Vernon?-

– In Normandy, more precisely circa 80 kilometres from Paris.-Why? Do you want to go there? His garden is breathtaking! The waterlilies in his pond look exactly like in his paintings.

So it gave the idea to visit Giverny but I didn’t know that then I will return with “his” cook book!

The house of Monet in Giverny

Monet, who was one of the most influential painters of modern times, lived for half his life in a famous house at Giverny. He had already discovered that little town whilst he was looking out of the train window in 1883. He became very enthusiastic about the spot. At the end of the 19th century the village was very placid, consisted of two streets on the hillside lined with low houses in a pink or green roughcast with slate roofs, their walls covered with wisteria and Virginia creeper. The streets were crossed by narrow lanes running down the hill. There were about 300 inhabitants only, most of  them farmers, and a few middle-class families, so he thought it would be perfect to live there with his large family. But he could only afford to buy a house there in 1890. He had moved in with his second wife Alice Hoschedé, with his two sons and her six children as he became the owner of the so called Cider-Press house and gardens. He lived there more than forty years. During this very long time, he layed out the house to his own tastes, adapting it to the needs of his family and professional life. When he bought the Cider-Press house (an apple-press located on the little square nearby gave its name to the quarter) it was much smaller but Monet enlarged it on both sides (the house is now 40 meter long per 5 meter deep only). The barn next to the house became his first studio, thanks to the addition of a wooden floor and of stairs leading to the main house. Monet, who mostly painted in the open air, needed a place where to store and finish his canvases. Above the studio, Monet had his own apartment, a large bedroom and a bathroom. The left side of the house was his side, where he could work and sleep. Monet, who didn’t care for fashion, which was very dark and heavy in Victorian times, had it painted the walls of the house in two tones of yellow. The walls were packed with Japanese engravings that Monet chose with an expert eye. For fifty years, he collected the prints by the best Japanese artists, especially Hokusai, Hiroshige and Utamaro. The dining room was connected to the kitchen to make service easier. Monet wanted a blue kitchen so that the guests would see the right color in harmony with the yellow dining room when the door to the kitchen was open. The walls of the kitchen were covered with tiles of Rouen. The coolness of the blue contrasted with the warm glow of the extended collection of coppers. An enormous coal and wood stove kept the kitchen very warm year round.

Monet was very happy in Giverny not only because his work finally achieved recognition but his growing success meant that that he was able to indulge his passion for comfort and good living. Family meals, special celebrations, luncheons with friends, picnics: all reflected the Monets’ love of good food. Just as the inspiration for many of Monet’s paintings was drawn from his beloved gardens and the surrounding Normandy landscape, so the meals served at Giverny were based upon superb ingredients from the kitchen-garden (a work of art in itself), the farmyard, and the French countryside. A moody, reserved, and very private man whose daily routine revolved totally around his painting, Monet nevertheless enjoyed entertaining his friends, many of whom were leading figures of the time. As well as his fellow Impressionists — in particular Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley, Degas and Cezanne — other regular guests included Rodin, Whistler, Maupassant, Valery, and one of Monet’s closest friends, the statesman Clemenceau. They came to dine in almost ritual form, first visiting Monet’s studio and the greenhouses, then having lunch at 11:30 (the time the family always dined, to enable Monet to make the most of the afternoon light). Tea would later be served under the lime trees or near the pond. Guests were never invited to dinner; because Monet went to bed very early in order to rise at dawn. All the guests were familiar with Monet’s rigid timetable. Monet was not only a very good cook himself but also he collected recipes and wrote a cooking journals. He had encountered in his travels or had come across in restaurants he frequented in Paris as well as recipes from friends, such as Cezanne’s “bouillabaisse” and Millet’s “petits pains.”

In 1997 Claire Joyes, the wife of Madame Monet’s great-grandson, decided it was worth to create a cook book from his recipe collection. She has spent years selecting the Monet’s favorites and writing a wonderfully evocative introductory text. All of the recipes have been artfully prepared and brought back to life in Monet’s own kitchen by master chef Joel Robuchon. Illustrated with some sumptuous reproduction of Monet’s paintings, spectacular original four-colour photographs of Giverny selected shots of finished dishes, and facsimile pages from the notebooks themselves. The book provides fascinating and unique insight the turn-of-the century lifestyle of one of the world’s most celebrated Impressionist painters.
Here are some recipes from the book:

2012. július 22 039Claude Monet’s Sorrel soup

Ingredients: 200 gr sorrel, chervil, 1 iceberg salad, 1 tbs of butter salt, pepper, 5 tbs of rice, 1-2 spoons of extra butter, 1 egg white

Wash and rinse everything (sorel, chervil, salad) cut, chop them into small pieces. Melt butter in a pan, soaté vegetables, salad, salt and pepper to taste. Pour over 1 litre of hot water, and cook for 15 minutes.

Add rice to soup, and cook until rice is well cooked. Whisk egg white adding a pinch of salt to it, then spoon on the top of the soup. To finish add 1 spoon of butter sprinkle with some fresh spring onion or crouton.

Pork chops Normandy

1/2 cup all-purpose flour, salt and pepper, to taste, 1/4 cup butter, 4 (8 ounce) bone-in pork chops (1/2 inch thick)

1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced,1 tablespoon butter, 1/2 cup Calvados brandy, 1/2 cup apple cider, 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1 Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325  degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. Place flour in a shallow dish and season to taste with salt and pepper. Dredge pork chops in flour to evenly coat both sides. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a skillet over medium heat; add pork chops, and cook until golden brown on both sides, turning once. Add mushrooms to the same skillet, and stir in 1 tablespoon butter. Cook mushrooms until tender. Remove skillet from heat.
  3. Pour the brandy over the pork chops, and carefully light with a match. Let the flames burn off,  then remove the pork chops to a serving plate, and keep warm in preheated oven.
  4. Using the same skillet, pour in the apple cider. Cook over medium heat until liquid is reduced by half. Add the cream to the skillet, and cook until reduced by half. Stir in the apple slices and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
  5. Arrange the pork chops on 4 serving plates. Spoon the apple-mushroom sauce over the pork chops, and serve immediately.

Chicken a la Normande

Ingredients: 1 tbs olive oil, 2 tbs butter, 1.5kg chicken thigh fillets, halved, Ground nutmeg, 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, thinly sliced, 1 large brown onion, finely chopped, 125ml (1/2 cup) dry apple cider, 125ml (1/2 cup) chicken stock, 80ml      (1/3 cup) apple cider vinegar, 1/4 tsp dried thyme, 1 tbs plain flour, 2-3 tbs water, 2 Granny Smith apples, extra, peeled, cored, thinly sliced, 125g  (1/2 cup) sour cream

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Heat the oil and half the butter in a large heavy-based frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook one-third of the chicken for 2-3 minutes each side or until golden. Transfer to a large casserole dish. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Repeat, in 2 more batches, with the remaining chicken.
  2. Reduce heat to medium. Add the apple to the frying pan and cook for 2 minutes each side or until light golden. Place over the chicken in the dish. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook onion in pan, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes or until soft. Add to the dish. Cover and bake for 40 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, place the cider, stock, vinegar and thyme in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to the boil. Combine the flour and a little water in a small bowl. Gradually add the flour mixture to the cider mixture, whisking constantly, until well combined. Stir until thick.  Simmer for 3 minutes.
  4.  Heat remaining butter in the frying pan over medium heat. Add the extra apple and cook for 3-4 minutes  each side or until golden.
  5. Add the sour cream to the cider mixture and stir over medium heat for 1 minute or until the sauce is just heated through.
  6. Transfer the chicken and apple mixture to a serving platter. Pour over the sauce and top with the apple rings. Serve this dish with mashed potato or steamed rice.

28_+PruimenclafoutisGreengage cake a la Normande

3/4 cup (110g) flour, 3/4 teaspoon baking powder, pinch of salt, 1 kg greengages (a mix of varieties), 2 large eggs, at room temperature, 3/4 cup (150g) sugar, 3 tablespoons dark rum, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 8 tablespoons (115g) butter, salted or unsalted, melted and cooled to room temperature

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC) and adjust the oven rack to the center of the oven.

2. Heavily butter an 8- or 9-inch (20-23cm) springform pan and place it on a baking sheet.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

4. Core the greengages, then dice them into 1-inch (3cm) pieces.

5. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until foamy then whisk in the sugar, then rum and vanilla. Whisk in half of the flour mixture, then gently stir in half of the melted butter

6. Stir in the remaining flour mixture, then the rest of the butter.

7. Fold in the greengages cubes until they’re well-coated with the batter and scrape them into the prepared cake pan and smooth the top a little with a spatula.

8. Bake the cake for 50 minute to 1 hour, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edge to loosen the cake from the pan and carefully remove the sides of the cake pan, making sure no greengages are stuck to it. Serve with vanilla ice cream or crème fraîche.

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