Blue, white and red salad for Bastille Day

It’s Bastille Day, and what’s more fitting than a salad in the colours of the French flag, blue, white and red. I was going to make one of the typical French dishes in sauce which didn’t seem to fit a summer’s day in the end, hence a salad of blueberries, chicory and tomatoes, in a raspberry vinaigrette. Perfect for a lazy picnic, like Katia and KylieMac’s on the esplanade of Les Invalides each year. Or the white picnic out at the Château de Versaillles, where the idea is that 10,000 people picnic wearing white. Not a good idea with raspberry vinaigrette!

It’s something to wake up on 14 juillet in Paris, to hear military planes droning overhead, seeing as planes cannot fly over Paris on other days of the year. Sometimes I wonder if it’s what it was like in wartime; the only time Bastille Day was not celebrated was for six years during the Second World War. Although it was a hundred years after the storming of the Bastille in 1789 that it started being celebrated annually, from 1880. (Funny, on a school trip to Paris when I was 13 I swear we visited the “Bastille prison”, but I know now that’s impossible as the place de la Bastille was created where it stood.Still no idea what we visited, but I remember Hollywood chewing gum, in Chlorophylle!)

If you’re waking up hearing the planes that means it’s after 10 and the Bastille Day military parade is underway. Climb out of bed and turn on the TV and you get the images that go with the noise. and see the soldiers from various international forces marching up the Champs Elysées in front of the President. This year the pompiers (firefighters) are honoured. Firefighters in a military parade? Yes, in France they’re military, and their training is as military as in any army. Tough. The pompiers are also the first on the scene in any accident, not the paramedics, as they’re also trained as paramedics.

Much more fun is a Bal des Pompiers, when the pompiers turn some fire stations into nightclubs for the evening of July 13 and sometimes the 14th. The bals serve as fundraisers, and the opportunity to admire a lot of fit pompiers. Like the pompiers dancing to Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’ as a promo for their bal. (Be patient, you need to get past the intro.)

And after the lazing around, and maybe a walk along the Seine you end up near the Eiffel Tour to watch the annual 14 juillet fireworks, a half-an-hour of ear-pounding and an eye-dazzling explosion of colours over the Paris night sky. Tonight it’s happening from the Trocadero, opposite the Eiffel Tower at midnight French time (GMT+2), and you can watch it live from the special 14 juillet site. Or if you missed it, you should be able to watch it on replay. Alternatively you need to find someone lucky enough to have a balcony or terrace with a view of the Eiffel Tower, or head up to Montmartre and watch all the smaller fireworks displays that are set off in the suburbs of Paris.

So as it’s a day for lazing around, a simple salad seemed good. But how to make one in the colours of the French tricolor? (or the Stars and Stripes of Union Jack for that matter, although I wouldn’t attempt recreating it!) Changing my mind about what to make meant resorting to rummaging in the fridge, which turned up blueberries, chicory and tomatoes, plus raspberries for zing (they toned better with the blueberries but tomatoes are true red). The blueberries and raspberries take the edge of the slight bitterness of the chicory. I thought of using the white of a courgette too, but was tinged a bit too green.

Bonne fête nationale, as only we call it Bastille Day!

Blue, white, and red tricolour salad

Serves 2

For the salad:
– A handful of blueberries (small punnet)
– Two chicories
– 2 tomatoes
– A small punnet of raspberries

For the raspberry viniagrette:
– 2 tablespoons of raspberry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
– 4 tablespoons of good extra virgin oil
– Pinch of salt

Wash and slice the chicories crosswise.
Remove the pips from the tomatoes and finely dice them.
Mix together in a large bowl.
Sprinkle the blueberries over the top.
Crush the raspberries a little bit and mix with the salad.

Prepare the viniagrette buy mixing the ingredients together in a small jar, and shake.
Pour over the salad.


Vanilla black and blue smoothie

Smoothie epic part four.

Why? Because, if you’ve come straight to this post, Cuisinart are giving away two weekend tickets to Food Blogger Connect in August.

FBC was started pretty informally in 2009 and is growing each year. Well established bloggers, food writers and broadcasters are invited to speak about and their experience and know-how to newer food bloggers. This year there’s a photography workshop with Béatrice Peltre of La Tartine Gourmande, and a video cookery demonstration with Anjum Anand, who’s become a successful Indian TV chef. And who’s providing her equipment? Cuisinart! Who are also being incredibly generous in giving two people the chance to go, even if they’re going already. And an opportunity to take part in the video demonstration.

To qualify for the draw you have to come up with a smoothie, make one of Cuisinart‘s or one from Anjum Anand‘s books. Hence my marathon.
And then post it on your blog, plus tweet it and put it up on the FBC Facebook page, and go to the post that announced it and leave a comment.

Smoothies are somewhat addictive, and when you start looking there are so many combinations. I wanted to do one around vanilla, and then thought, why not blackcurrants. I can nibble away on summerfruits right off the stalk.

They remind me of summer on the farm I lived on up to the age of 10 when moved to a Big House. My mother lived quite The Good Life, raising chickens and ducks, and had a goat called Daisy that only she could milk. Anyone else who tried would find out that Daisy was a pretty good boxer! Mum also had a vegetable patch where peas and beans climbed up sticks, and we would sit among the leaves and eat the sweet juicy peas, right out of the pod. In another corner of the patch she grew raspberries and red- and blackcurrants (groseilles and cassis).

One of the things me and my  sister loved as kids was a blackcurrant ice cream mum made. A dense flavour that coated your mouth with lusciousness. So imagine our surprise when we asked her for the recipe as adults and she admitted it was some packet mix!

So how surprised and pleased was I that this smoothie turned out to be the closest in taste to that pud I think I’ve come across since then.

I also tossed in some blueberries (myrtilles), and even some blackberries (mûres) I’d found at the market. I wasn’t sure about the seasonality of them, but they are from France and they brought back another childhood memory from the same era of us stuffing ourselves with blackberries picked down on the old railway track of our little South Somerset village. Now not so little.

Vanilla black and blue smoothie

– 1 pot of vanilla yoghurt
– 125g punnet of blackberries
– 125g punnet of blackcurrants
– 50g blueberries
– 1 tbspn vanilla extract

Blitz the berries in a blender.
Add the yoghurt and blitz a bit more.
Mix in the vanilla extract.

Watermelon, blueberry and raspberry smoothie

A bit more than a year ago, I went to my first food blogger conference. Without a blog. That was Food Blogger Connect #2 in London full of interesting tips and like-minded people. All with blogs. Sarah from Maison Cupcake captioned a photo afterwards “…and Zoë the Bloggless, but not for long”. Err…

Shortly after everyone said their goodbyes and I lugged luggage across London to the Eurostar – including a bike that Pierre wanted from England – and got on it (the Eurostar, not the bike) about 11 minutes before it left (the London tube, help! The Paris metro is like…riding a bike!), an email came through from Beth from Dirty Kitchen Secrets, who is also she who we give thanks to for Food Blogger Connect.

Competition! Win a 1-day pass to next year’s FBC! You had to request and use a cocoa, berries and flaxseed mix in a recipe, which I did. Two in fact. At, I think, 2 o’clock (don’t ask why, it’s like that) in the morning I was mixing, baking, and snapping photos, got something written a emailed it all off.

“That’s great, Do you think you could have a recipe posted on your blog by Monday?…”. Mmm….no.

Fast forward almost exactly one year…to last week.

Competition! Well, not actually. Giveaway!

Cuisinart are sponsoring Anjum Anand‘s video cooking demonstration slot at FBC 2011 from August 12 to 14 and are giving away two tickets for the full weekend conference. I’ve already got mine, but even we have a chance to go courtesy of Cuisinart, and maybe get to take part in the cooking demonstration with Anjum Anand. All you have to do is make a smoothie from your own recipe, one of Cuisinart‘s, or one from one of Anjum Anand‘s books. And make as many as you want, each one counts as an entry. Then post them on your blog (check), notify on FBC’s Facebook page (check, Facebook now set up), and tweet too… (check, and first tweet to manage), and write blurb about FBC:

Apart from Anjum Anand‘s presence, this year’s FBC will feature speakers on many aspects of blogging. like Steamy Kitchen’s Jaden Hair (who skyped her slot last year), Béatrice Peltre from La Tartine Gourmande, broadcasters or food writers Alex Mead, Fiona Beckett and Tim Hayward, and numerous others.

So smoothies. What could be more simple, whiz a choice of fruit, ice cubes and optionally yogurt, milk, protein…together, in any combination you want.

And hey presto, Pierre brings home half a watermelon from the market, I’ve got frozen blueberries in the freezer, and a punnet of raspberries in the fridge. I first made it last year, possibly minus the raspberries, and it was so good that I downed the almost whole litre in an afternoon. Plus it’s packed with antioxidants, blueberries having hit the headlines as a superfruit.

So, smoothie number one…

Purple smoothie
Purple antioxidant smoothie

200g blueberries (frozen at least 4 hours in advance, or bought frozen)
1/2 watermelon (chopped into cubes without the skin)
125g raspberries (a small punnet)

Makes about a litre.

Put the frozen blueberries in a blender and blitz a bit.
Add the watermelon and raspberries and blitz some more.
Serve, decorated with fresh blueberries.