Bienvenue Knitting Daily readers! I'm Kristeen Griffin-Grimes, proprieter of French Girl Knits, and I hope you will join me as I add my thoughts to the blogosphere, as well as document the creation of my next book, French Girl Knits: Accessories (Interweave, 2011), with this online journal. There's no roadmap for this little exploration save the weaving of my dual passions of knitting with all things French (fashion, gardens, perfume, cuisine…ah, the endless list). Emphasis will be on a visual exploration of inspiring images sourced from hither and yon, notes from my sketchbooks, and the creativity-inducing bits and pieces that pop up on my radar – a hodgepodge of sorts – of anything and everything that entertains the eye and mind.
Though I dwell in a fairly monochrome world of neutral wardrobe and white rooms (quite refreshing, actually), the winter months cry out for a bit of brightness against the gloom. Pink (which has been exiled from my life except for cheek enhancement) suddenly seems so right!
But there is pink, and then there is pink. Consider the range that covers cherry to shell to Moroccan clay, and the choices became more appealing… the palest whisper of color looks perfect to me in our winter light. To whit, a small teaser of my hand-dyed Doucette yarn… embrace the pink!
Marion Cotillard… we know her from "La Vie en Rose", although a movie of hers I find so very charming is A Good Year… the perfect winter escape to the South of France… all golden light-bathed vineyards and beautiful people drinking the palest rosé wine….y ou can almost feel the warm, herb-scented breeze. Ah, I have been fortunate enough to taste wine just that color while sitting at just such a linen-draped table on our French Girl Tours – minus Russell Crowe of course! The critics generally panned it and called it "innocuous" – personally I could use a little innocuous right now.
Crumble Aux Pommes
Continuing with the rosy theme, I present a new love, Crumble Aux Pommes.
The cross-pollination between the British Isles and France is centuries old – from royal families to sun-seeking authors. Cuisine is another matter – a homey British staple appearing on a French menu? I did a double take at first glance. We originally ate this dessert on a chilly spring evening in the South of France; our hosts, having just survived punishing floods in the region around Nîmes, somehow managed to feed us in style. The crumble was made with gnarled heirloom apples whose flavor was so potent there was no need for spices or sweetening; topped with a coarsely cut, butter-drenched flour/nut crust, it was heaven!
Use the tastiest apples to be found (no Red Delicious allowed here) and you'll be surprised how rich a simple fruit dish can be – of course, notwithstanding the butter's contribution! In my version of the French recipe, I've chosen warm spices and citrus to bump up the flavor for winter and substituted nutritious oats and agave for the more common white flour and sugar. It's so fast to make. Pop this in the oven and curl up and knit! Do you have a favorite recipe for comfort food? Please share!
Recette du Jour (Today’s Recipe!)
Baking and knitting are the ultimate comfort combination – kitchen steamy with oven heat, sun pouring in (or for me, rain dripping down), old jazz tunes, a squishy chair and an inspiring new technique to set your needles to. Put this sweet apple treat together in a flash when you feel the urge for something that drives the winter blues away.
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Crumble Aux Pommes (Apple Crumble à la French Girl)
2 cups whole organic rolled oats
1/2 tsp. whole cardamom pods or 1/4 t ground cardamom powder
6 T organic unsalted butter – cut into chunks
1/4 tsp. sea salt (if using salted butter use 1/8 t salt)
2 T agave (or use honey as a substitute)
2 lbs. (about 8 small) Organic Pink Lady or Gala Apples (or heirloom apple such as Macintosh or Winesap)
2 T agave (if apples are on the tart side, more may be added to taste).
Juice (and grated rind if you are feeling adventurous) of one organic Blood Orange or Valencia Orange (any sweet citrus will work here, eg Tangerines).
1/2 tsp. whole cardamom pods or 1/4 t ground cardamom powder
2 T organic unsalted butter
Pinch of sea salt
With chopping blade in place, put topping ingredients into a food processor: the oats, butter (cut into chunks), salt, agave, and cardamom powder or crushed and cleaned pods (remove the chaff from the pods by crushing in a mortar and pestle – I love my French olivewood one – then separate out the chaff and pulverize the seeds – it’s easier than you think and so flavorful!). Pulse food processor for about a minute or less, until a coarse texture is achieved; it should be crumbly (of course!) and rough looking.
Empty onto a plate for later, then slice the apples using the slicing blade on the food processor (no need to wash it out) or slice by hand into very thin, 1/8 – 1/4” pieces. Lightly butter a 2” deep 8” wide circular baking dish (a 6 x 10 inch rectangular baking dish will work as well).
Place apples in buttered baking dish. Drizzle with agave, sprinkle with cardamom and a pinch of salt; mix gently, then squeeze juice of citrus (and citrus rind, if desired) over all. Dot with 2 T butter. Lightly crumble and mound topping over apple mixture, being careful not to pack down.
Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 min or until top is deep golden brown and apples are bubbling. If topping is browning too quickly, cover with tent of aluminum foil for last 10 min. Let rest for about 10 minutes (if you can), then splash on a bit of crème fraîche or whipped crème and Bon Appétit!
Recipe copyright 2010, French Girl Knits
Note: Since I wrote this, the tragedy in Haiti has been unfolding over the last few days. Many of the designers on Ravelry have joined together to offer all or part of the profits of our pattern sales to Haiti relief efforts. I will be donating the profits of my Violette hat to Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) from sales through Valentine's Day. Please purchase some lovely patterns and do good works as well!
Mes Amis, Create something beautiful today… à Bientôt & Bon Tricot!