Quqtre epices is a spice mix used often in French cuisine. It is considered a French all spice. The name means “four spices”, but there are often five or six spices used in this blend. It is an unusual combination of savoury and sweet, but worth trying with beans and carrots, which sometimes need a little extra to make them appealing.
In France, one of the main Easter traditions are bells. Legend has it that the Thursday before Easter, church bells across France are silenced to mourn the death of Christ and they remain silent until Easter Sunday. The bells would fly to Rome to be blessed by the Pope. They would then begin their journey back to the French churches, but would pick up eggs along the way before scattering them into the gardens. The bells would then ring on Easter Sunday to announce the Resurrection of Christ and therefore ‘return’. So in France it is the bells rather than the Easter bunny who delivers the Easter eggs.
The French use a lot of fresh herbs for their Easter cooking, so often, Easter eggs are laid out onto a bed of freshly picked herbs from the garden.
This combination of simple vegetables, was originally prepared by the poorer French farmers near Nice, with fresh summer vegetables tossed in vinegar and oil.
Although there is no precise recipe, eggplant and zucchini are always used in this dish.
There are many different versions of Ratatouille, but here we have a basic and simple one for you to try. I found it really satisfying and rewarding to go out and pick everything from my garden, except the red onion which came from a neighbour’s garden.
Pickled vegetables are traditionally served on appetizer platters in France, so zucchini and cucumber are very popular on those platters.
Portobello mushrooms are versatile because of their size. They have a "meaty" texture and can be substituted for other proteins.
In France they are grown in huge galleries in underground mushroom farms, stacked in specially designed rooms with controlled temperature and humidity.
Here we have shop-brought waffle baskets filled with a French style mousse and topped with fruit which is season.