24 November 2013

Notre cuisine à nous

What's going on in the kitchen? Well, I wanted a meatloaf and Walt wanted some split pea soup. We made both. Not on the same day. First the meatloaf. We'd gone shopping over in Selles-sur-Cher, 10 miles east from Saint-Aignan, last week. There's a relatively new supermarket over there that we wanted to check out.

It turns out that it's a Belgian chain, or the French subsidiary of a Belgian chain. The name of the chain of supermarkets is Colruyt. (Maybe somebody from Belgium can tell me how to pronounce that.) We were impressed with the cleanliness and organization of the store. And the produce prices were amazingly low. A big stalk of celery, for example, for 99 cents. The same thing at the SuperU in Selles was 2.69 euros. That's just one example.

We bought beef at Colruyt too — the butcher counter was well stocked and the meats beautifully displayed. We will return.

I don't really have a recipe for the meatloaf. C'est une sorte de terrine ou pâté qu'on peut manger chaud ou froid. I finely diced up some carrot, onion, roasted red pepper, celery, and mushrooms. I mixed all that with a couple of pounds of ground beef, with just a little pork added in. I put in three eggs and some herbs and spices, and I made two meatloaves, one to eat and one to freeze for later. Today we're having meatloaf sandwiches for lunch, on homemade buns.

The soupe de pois cassés was even easier and more free-form. First of all, we had a liter of well-flavored broth left over from that potée I cooked last week. And we had the split peas. All we had to do was boil the peas in the broth until they were done, and then season it all with salt and pepper. I added three peeled garlic cloves to the pot.

We also bought a piece of smoked pork, at SuperU. The cut is called the palette, which is a shoulder-blade roast, which you might cook as part of a potée or a choucroute garnie. To prepare it, you soak it in cold water for 24 hours in the refrigerator, and then you throw out that water, cover the palette with fresh cold water, bring it to a simmer, and cook it for an hour or more. A couple of bay leaves, some black peppercorns, and two or three cloves (clous de girofle) are good in the cooking liquid.

Once the palette is cooked and cooled, dice up some of the meat and add it to the pea soup at the last minute. Serve with a spoonful of crème fraîche.

At SuperU in Selles, we came across a good-looking countertop oven. We'd been thinking of getting one, to replace a decrepit toaster oven that we were tired of looking at. On an impulse, we bought the SuperU oven, a Brandt model. The price was right. I know it's early, but Merry Christmas to us.


  1. It's not too early for Hanukkah. Enjoy your new machine!

  2. That oven looks like a jolly good piece of kit! What a good idea to save heating up a whole oven when you just want to warm something up.
    Your soup and meatloaf look delicious.

  3. Hi Ken, I suppose that that someone from Belgium would be me :)! Phonetic writing is not one of my strongest points, but I'll give it a try anyway. The official pronounciation is:
    Kol-[œy]t, with the accent on the first syllable. You also pronounce the end-t. In Flanders, it's mostly pronounced as Kol-[rojt] (as in the English word 'void'), but I wouldn't try that in France (lol)!
    Colruyt is also the name of the group's founder. We have a Colruyt at about 2 km since the late seventies. The low prices are a result of the group's policy to invest very little in store decoration (very minimalistic, almost like a warehouse were bulk goods are stored). Colruyt was also the first to use a computer to handle stock, re-assortment and paying facilities. In the early days, there was a small stack of perforated computer cards sitting in a tray near each product. For each product you put in your caddy you were invited to pick a card and present it at the check-out counter, where a shop assistant ran your little bundle of cards through the computer, which automatically generated your bill! Very futuristic in those days!

    Have a nice weekend and enjoy that meatloaf and peasoup! Martine

  4. The oven is a Thanksgivukkah present! Here, the stores are very crowded because of next week's celebrations. It is always nice to try a new store and the Belgian one seems like a really good one.

  5. I use my delonghi countertop oven exclusively; the large stove oven is used perhaps 1-2 times a year. my countertop oven even makes a tasty bundt cake! and saves electricity too!

    the colruyt store sounds like an aldi to me; low low prices! if not for aldi my food budget would not stretch as far as it does.

    have a great week!

  6. I was just reading on Chowhound France that Lidl and Aldi are good places to buy small appliances at reasonable prices in France. Somebody else recommended amazon.de, which they said can be cheaper than buying in France, even paying for shipping from Germany.

    This information does me no good, but it might be useful to you or some of your readers. There are days when you wake up and realize you want a new kitchen tool and don't care what it is. Or maybe that's just me.

  7. Feliz Navidad, then. :)

    Meatloaf, to me, is something that can really be delicious if you do it up right. Yours looks that way :)

  8. I love meatloaf sandwiches! Ketchup was always nice on a cold sandwich during warmer temperatures. Yours must have been good, too, with your additives.
    There are no Aldi's here in Oregon, but I did take advantage of one that was in northern Milwaukee, WI when I lived there - especially for their $1.50/loaf prices for Christmas Stollen (which I miss this time of the year).

  9. Trader Joe's is owned by Aldi.

  10. Thanks Martine. I'll have to ask some people over in Selles-sur-Cher how they pronounce Colruyt. It might be something like [kol-rhuit], I'd guess.

    The Colruyt market is much more complete than discount stores like Aldi (I don't like the local Aldis, in Contres and Bléré), Dia (we have a pretty good Dia in Saint-Aignan), Netto (nice store in Montrichard), and LIDL (Blois, Amboise). Colruyt, for example, has a real butcher counter, and a wider range of non-food items.

    Carolyn, I get the impression the the British expats go automatically to Amazon UK for their purchases. I prefer Amazon France because the shipping is normally free and the deliveries arrive very quickly. I've never ordered anything from Amazon Deutschland. Anyway, it's always fun to get a new toy.


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