August has arrived and I'm still waiting for summer! One day it's warm and sunny, the next it's chilly and pouring with rain! Yes, that's what it's like with the good old British weather.
We've had a few lovely days here in Wales when I think it's time to put all my winter woollies away and get out the sun cream. Then I wake up to another miserable day with lots of rain and have to go and delve in the cupboards looking for warmer clothes again.
Well, I'm living in hope that we get some summer here soon. My son lives in the south of England and says it's been wonderful down there and a lot warmer than in Wales so the weather does vary according to the region.
It's the time of year when I love to spend time in the garden, especially growing herbs for my cooking. They are not too bad this year but of course they need lots of sunshine and it's not quite like being in France.
Our garden is not immaculate by any means, it's more of a comfortable area with a tired looking lawn; one that is dog friendly! We have pots of geraniums, lavender and of course my little patch with herbs! The herbs are used daily during the summer for cooking and are sprinkled on just about everything for their flavour and goodness.
We have a small summer house bought very cheaply in a sale from Argos a few years ago and I call it my ‘Petite Maison’. This is where I like to sit and read when the weather’s warm.
I have just made (and eaten!) a lovely herb omelette for my lunch which is very easy and so tasty. It's just the thing when you want something quick. My friend asked me to show her how to make one last week so she can make them for the kids during the holidays. They have just driven off to the Dordogne – and I am so envious. You'll find the recipe at www.french-recipes-to-love.com
If you are still wondering where to go for your holidays, there are plenty to choose from at www.frenchconnections.co.uk including a good selection in the Dordogne either bed and breakfast or self catering.
I gave my friends Michael's tip from the June Blog - "A good tip if travelling on your holidays and dread the long queues on the French auto routes is to buy the same tag as the French people do" - see the blog given by Michael of June 23. They thought this a great idea!
August is usually a very busy month in France as it also their school holidays too or L'ete holidays. Another thing to bear in mind is that Aug 15 is The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary or L'Assomption De Marie. France of course is predominately a Roman Catholic country and this Feast is celebrated all over France in towns and villages as one of France's Public Holidays.
One important town is Lourdes in Southwest France where in 1858, a young girl, Marie-Bernarde Soubirous aged 14 is said to have seen the Virgin Mary. People travel from all over the world to this small town on a Pilgrimage.
As you can imagine it will be very busy at this time in France particularly as L’Assomption de Marie also falls within l'ete holidays (the school summer vacation). So you need to be aware of this if travelling through France as the train stations and roads will be extremely busy and many shops will be closed in some towns and villages.
On the other hand, the Feast is a wonderful time for family gatherings and there will be celebrations with lots of food, parades and even sports. In fact France is very much a family orientated country and the fact that they celebrate their Feast days in this way is what we all love so much.
As it's the school holidays this month I'm sure you will want to enjoy as much time as you can together whether you are on holiday in France or at home. Eating together is such good fun and a time for all the family to relax and enjoy each other’s company.
You need some easy recipes for quick meals as you don't want to be spending hours in the kitchen when you could be enjoying your time together. This month I have chosen a tasty but quick recipe that you can have on its own or with a lovely green salad and make into a light meal. The kids can also join in to prepare this one!
This is an easy version of Croque Monsieur or a tasty hot sandwich. This recipe uses French croissants with a filling of soft cheese and prosciutto ham. If you are in France the cheeses you find locally will be fabulous and this is one way to enjoy them.
The amount of fresh fruit and vegetables in France is also fantastic so you will have plenty to choose from. Melons are in season for most of the summer and will make a great appetizer or dessert if you prefer. The most popular is the cantaloupe but any you can find will be just perfect. I have used honeydew for the recipe here.
So wherever you are for your summer holidays have a great time, and Bon Appétit!
Croissants au Fromage et Jambon
(Cheese and Ham Croissants)
- 1 large croissant per person
- 1 slice of prosciutto ham per person
- Dijon mustard
- 2oz Brie cheese or Camembert, sliced
- Salad leaves, chives and tomatoes to garnish
Pre-set your oven to 400F
Slice the croissants lengthwise and spread one side with Dijon mustard.
Place the sliced cheese on this half and then the ham.
Place the other half on top and place the croissants on a baking tray.
Cover with tin foil and place in the pre-heated oven for about 5 minutes just until the cheese melts.
Serve at once with the salad.
If you would like a quick and easy recipe for a summer appetizer or dessert this is one the kids can help you make!
Melon and Orange Appetizer
- 1 large honeydew melon
- 4 small oranges
- 2 teaspoons of dry sherry (optional)
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
For the sauce:
- Juice of 4 oranges
- 1 tablespoon of Demerara sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Cut the melon in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds.
Cut each half in half again lengthways.
Take a sharp knife and starting at one end, slice the flesh of the melon out in one strip.
Cut the melon flesh into small cubes.
Keep the base of the melon for your serving dish and cut zig zag patterns along edge with a scissors or sharp knife.
Peel and remove the pith from the 4 small oranges.
Place the orange segments in a bowl with the melon cubes. If the orange segments are too big, cut these into small pieces as I have done in the picture.
If you are using the dry sherry, mix this in with the ground ginger and leave to marinate for about half an hour.
To make the sauce:
Put the orange juice and the sugar into a pan and heat gently until it is dissolved.
Gradually increase the heat and boil rapidly for 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to cool.
When you are ready to serve your appetizer, place the marinated fruit in the melon shells.
Pour the sauce into a sauce dish or jug and let your family and friends help themselves spoon it over their appetizers if they wish.