Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Exploring the Limousin - Mont Bessou

We are continuing to enjoy the Autumn days here in the Limousin - the sun still shining and this weekend we experienced temperatures of over 30C. Not bad for the end of October. Hopefully this will make the winter months feel shorter - however I'm not so sure! The thermals have been bought and the wood has been chopped in readiness for the fire. 

Looking for new places to explore we set off towards Meymac in the Correze department of the Limousin - about 45 minutes drive from us here in the Creuse.

With Eric le chien in tow (as always) we arrived at Mont Bessou - one of the highest mountain peaks in the region at an altitude of approximately 1000 metres - topped with a 26 metre viewing platform and tower.

After a mere 188 steps to the top on a clear day you can see the chain of Puys and Cantal mountains in the Auvergne -  including the awesome snow topped Puy de Dome.  

The Mont Bessou tower opened in 2005 and was built with a combination of Douglas fir and stainless steel to fit in with the natural surroundings of the Mirambel forest and Plateau de Millevaches

For those of you still feeling energetic after bounding up and down the 188 steps there is a 15km circular walking trail around the surrounding forest and countryside. We saved that for next time and instead enjoyed a relaxing stroll with Eric le chien & a little picnic. 
A lovely place to walk and explore the stunning natural beauty of the Limousin.  

We're always keen to hear about new places to explore in the Limousin, or if you've been to Mont Bessou too. Do get in touch and say hello in the comments below. 

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Thai curry pork noodle soup with wild sorrel

Embedded image permalink
Thai curry pork noodle soup - cooking at De Tout Coeur Limousin
Embedded image permalink
Thai curry pork noodle soup - cooking at De Tout Coeur Limousin
Mmmm noodle soup - one of my favourite comfort foods. From my Polish grandmothers traditional chicken noodle soup to fiery Asian inspired broths spiked with chilli and garlic - i'm happy as long as noodles and a full flavoured restorative broth are involved.

If you have a cold or just want to ward one off this is the perfect simple slow cooked recipe - just add it all to the pot and let it simmer away.  A real Autumn warmer full of spice in honour of Curry Week.  It's not just chicken soup that's good for the body & soul! This is food as healing & comfort. There is a reason there are variations of this in cultures throughout the world. I could write a book on noodle soups alone - from searing hot Vietnamese pho, Italian minestrone to my Babcia's ultimate Polish chicken soup - the list goes on...

In the mean time I hope you give this recipe a try and let me know how it goes. Let me know your favourite noodle soup recipe too - I may even include it in the book!  

recipe author:  Ema at De Tout Coeur Limousin 
preparation time:  15 minutes
cooking time:  2-3 hours 
serves 4-6 (with leftovers of pork) 


  • The leftover pork is a great starting point for further meals over the coming few days - from stir-fries, pasta dishes or adding to Mexican tortillas - just a few suggestions.  So as well as being a healthy and tasty meal it also provides great value.  
  • You can substitute the veg I use to finish the soup for whatever you have in the fridge/need to use up too.  It would be equally good with peppers, mushrooms, leeks etc...I just used what I had around.  
  • I used wild sorrel that I foraged from my local area as it's in season here in the Limousin at the moment - but this can easily be substituted with spinach/chinese greens.  As with all foraging ALWAYS seek expert advice and don't take any risks with what you pick/eat.  There are courses and training available to help you learn more about foraging and wild food.  You can read more about my experience of foraging in the Limousin area here.


For the stock:  
1-1.5 kg pork (I used a bone-in pork shoulder - fat trimmed/removed)
2 carrots chopped
1 large onion chopped
1-2 tbs Thai curry paste (I used red thai curry)
Thumb sized piece of ginger grated/finely chopped
1 tbs fish sauce (nam pla) 
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs sugar
10-15 Kaffir lime leaves
1 head garlic (cut in half) 
1-2 fresh chillies
1 tsp turmeric powder 
2 star anise 
Salt & pepper
2 litres water 

To finish the soup: 
250-300g noodles (I used vermicelli - but egg/rice noodles would be good too)
2-3 chopped carrots
1 cup peas/green veg of choice 
Small bunch wild sorrel (or spinach/Chinese greens as an alternative)
Sesame oil
Small bunch chopped mint/coriander 
1-2 fresh chopped chilli
salt and pepper

  1. Put the pork into a large saucepan with the stock ingredients, bring to the boil then turn down to a very low heat & simmer for 2-3 hours. Skim off any 'scum' that rises to the surface every now & then. 
  2. Drain your stock through a sieve and remove the pork to one side and discard the rest of the stock ingredients. All the flavour from them will now be in the stock  liquid.
  3. Put the stock back on the heat & add the noodles, carrots and peas to cook through for a few minutes  
  4. Slice enough pork for 4-6 servings and add this to the soup to heat through.  When the rest of the pork is cooled store covered in the fridge (see tip above).  
  5. Finish by adding the wild sorrel (or greens), chopped fresh herbs, chopped chillies and a dash of sesame oil and check for seasoning.  
  6. serve immediately.  I always add a spoonful of my ultimate hot & sweet chilli & garlic jam too.  Enjoy and bon appetit! 

My recipe is also featured on:

Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary No Waste Food Challenge hosted by Vohns Vittle's

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

walking, talking & wanderlust...

exploring the Limousin - on Broussas beach at the Lac de Vassiviere
walking with Eric le chien at Lac de Vassiviere
Sunny October evenings at Lac de Vassiviere

“Walking and talking are two very great pleasures, but it is a mistake to combine them. Our own noise blots out the sounds and silences of the outdoor world"

“Suddenly I came out of my thoughts to notice everything around me again - the catkins on the willows, the lapping of the water, the leafy patterns of the shadows across the path. And then myself, walking with the alignment that only comes after miles, the loose diagonal rhythm of arms swinging in synchronization with legs in a body that felt long and stretched out, almost as sinuous as a snake…when you give yourself to places, they give you yourself back; the more one comes to know them, the more one seeds them with the invisible crop of memories and associations that will be waiting for when you come back, while new places offer up new thoughts, new possibilities. Exploring the world is one the best ways of exploring the mind, and walking travels both terrains.” 

walking with Eric le chien at Lac de Vassiviere

What are your thoughts...

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Monday, 13 October 2014

slow cooked harissa spiced beef stew

Autumn slow cooking at De Tout Coeur Limousin
slow cooked harissa spiced beef - cooking at De Tout Coeur Limousin

With Autumn here the slow cooker is well and truly out and soups and stews are on the daily menu here at De Tout Coeur Limousin.  The Limousin region is internationally renowned for its beef. Cattle are raised in large pastures on national parkland and are known for their quality and flavour. Our friend Charlotte at Maison Bussiere wrote more about Limousin beef here on Travel France Online.

Harissa is a common spice paste here in France - linked to the Moroccan and North African influence on the country.  Commonly used as a spicy accompaniment to couscous and tagines - it's also great added to marinades for meat or vegetables.  Harissa is usually flavoured with chilli, bell peppers, garlic and caraway however there are numerous variations depending on region and personal taste. One of my favourite recipe variations is this one from my old food blog for rose harissa chilli sauce

Although I often make my own harissa paste you can of course use a good shop-bought harissa in this recipe. 

serves 6 

preparation time: 10-15 minutes
cooking time:  4-6 hours 

Cooking tip:  Regarding cooking time the longer the better - you can keep it on a very low/slow heat for up to 8 hours just keep checking to make sure it doesn't dry out.  You can add a bit of stock/water if this is happening.  It's done when the beef is tender and you can cut it with a spoon. 

recipe author:  De Tout Coeur Limousin 


1kg stewing beef cut into large chunks (I of course used the local Limousin beef)
2 onions - roughly chopped
3 carrots - roughly chopped 
3-4 cloves of garlic crushed.  
250ml red wine
1 whole fresh chilli
2 tbs harissa paste
1 tbs black treacle (or use a dark brown sugar/honey if you can't get black treacle) 
3-4 bay leaves
2 star anise
splash of red wine vinegar
2 tbs oil
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 tbs chopped fresh parsley, coriander or mint to garnish


  1. heat a large frying pan, add a few tbs oil and seal the beef for a few minutes until browned then transfer to the slow cooker or a large lidded casserole dish.
  2. deglaze the pan with the red wine and vinegar and make sure you get all the 'sticky bits' from the bottom of the pan then add to the slow cooker/casserole dish.
  3. add all the other ingredients, cover and cook on a low heat for 4-6 hours/until tender (see cooking tip above).  
  4. garnish with chopped fresh coriander, mint, or parsley (or a mixture).  
  5. I like to serve this with some wilted spinach and couscous and a bit of extra harissa on the side - but it's just as good with mash, rice or some good bread. Bon appetit!
What are your favourite Autumn and slow cooked recipes?  Do get in touch and leave a comment below.  

My recipe for slow cooked harissa spiced beef is also featured this month on: 

Cooking with Herbs for October: Scarborough Fair Herbs

Cooking with Herbs Lavender and Lovage

cooking with herbs hosted by Lavcnder and Lovage

credit crunch munch with  a new addition blogfuss free flavours and fabfood4all.co.uk


Shop local hosted by Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary 

Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary

Slow Cooked Challenge hosted by Farmersgirl Kitchen

Sunday, 12 October 2014

thoughts on Autumn...

Autumn at De Tout Coeur Limousin
Orange sky sunsets at Lac de Vassiviere
Autumn walks in the Limousin
wild flower meadow on the Ile de Vassiviere
“I am so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” 

L.M Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables)

“At no other time (than Autumn) does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honeysweet where you feel it touching the first sounds. Containing depth within itself, darkness, something of the grave almost.” 

Rainer Maria Rilke (Letters on Cezanne)

Autumn forest walks in the Limousin
October beach days at the Lac de Vassiviere

How are you enjoying the Autumn where you are?  

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Instructions for Life - by the Dalai Lama

de tout coeur limousin
de tout coeur limousin
de tout coeur limousin
Instructions for Life - by the Dalai Lama
  1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
  2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
  3. Follow the three Rs: Respect for self, Respect for others & Responsibility for all your actions.
  4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
  5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
  6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
  7. When you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
  8. Spend some time alone every day.
  9. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
  10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
  11. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.
  12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
  13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation.
    Don’t bring up the past.
  14. Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.
  15. Be gentle with the earth.
  16. Once a year, go some place where you've never been before.
  17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
  18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
  19. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.
Beautiful and inspiring words whatever your spiritual or religious beliefs.  Get in touch and let us know your thoughts...

say bonjour at De Tout Coeur Limousin

Friday, 10 October 2014

roast pumpkin soup with sage, garlic & chilli

Here is my recipe for roast pumpkin soup with sage, garlic and chilli - perfect for colder Autumn nights in front of the fire.  I had been given a large amount of pumpkin by our lovely friends from their vegetable garden and large pumpkin harvest and was looking forward to using it up.  I love the changing of seasons and colours in the Limousin countryside with leaves slowly dropping and turning orange.  It's a time to keep warm and look after ourselves. Colds and flu are around so keeping the vitamin and healthy food intake up is a must.  This pumpkin soup is packed with flavour and the chilli and garlic will help keep the colds away too. Roasting the pumpkin first adds a nice smoky/sweet flavour which adds a bit more oomph than just boiling the pumpkin in stock.  This is a really flexible recipe - you can use the same method but add lots of different variations of spices.  It's good with a few tsps of ras el hanout or curry powder added instead at step 2.  Or add some red peppers or carrots too if you have some of them needing to be used up. This recipe is just a simple starting point and one of my favourite ways of cooking with pumpkin. Let me know how you cook yours...

preparation time:  5-10 minutes
cooking time:  35-40 minutes
serves 4-6 
recipe by:  De Tout Coeur Limousin 


1 small pumpkin (seeds removed in thick slices - unpeeled)
1 onion (roughly chopped) 
1.5 litres stock (veg or chicken)
1 fresh/dried chilli (roughly chopped) 
small bunch fresh sage (1 tbs dried sage)
3-4 cloves garlic
splash olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

  1. preheat oven to 200c
  2. add the pumpkin, onion, garlic, chilli and sage to a large roasting tin - season and add a splash of olive oil
  3. roast for about 20-25 minutes until the pumpkin is softened
  4. remove from the oven and leave to cool enough to handle to scoop out the pumpkin flesh from the skin.
  5. transfer the pumpkin flesh and everything else from the roasting pan into a large saucepan with 1.5 litres hot stock (add more/less depending on how thick you like your soup.  
  6. bring to the boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes before blending.
  7. serve immediately with crusty bread.  Bon Appetit! 
Do say bonjour and leave a comment below and let me know your favourite pumpkin recipes too.  We look forward to welcoming you soon to beautiful rural France at De Tout Coeur Limousin 

Click here to check out our other recipes.  

This recipe is featured on:  

Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary No Waste Food Challenge hosted by Vohns Vittle's

No Croutons Required hosted by Tinned Tomatoes and Lisa's Kitchen

Cooking with Herbs for October: Scarborough Fair Herbs

Cooking with Herbs Lavender and Lovage

cooking with herbs hosted by Lavcnder and Lovage

credit crunch munch with  a new addition blogfuss free flavours and fabfood4all.co.uk


November's Simple and in Season hosted by Ren Behan and Feeding Boys and a Firefighter

Simple and in Season

Family Foodies Goes Vegetarian hosted by Eat Your Veg and Bangers & Mash,