Saturday, July 18, 2009



14 July 1660
- Up early and advised with my wife for the putting of all of our things in readiness to be sent to our new house. To Westminster Hall, where I paid all my debts in order to my going away from thence…. And so home, where I find my wife hath packed up all her goods in the house, fit for a removal. So to bed.

15 July 1660
- … To my Lord’s and dined all alone at the table with him. My wife at home all this day, she having no clothes out, all being packed up yesterday… My wife and I mightily pleased with our new house that we hope to have.

17 July 1660
- This morning (as endeed all the mornings nowadays) much business at my Lord’s…. That done and the day proving fair, I went home and got all my goods packed up and sent away. And my wife and Mrs. Hunt went by coach overtaking the carts a-drinking in the Stand – being come to my house and set in the goods; and at night sent my wife and Mrs. Hunt to buy something for supper, they bought a Quarter of lamb; and so we eat it but it was not half roasted. To bed, the first night that I ever lay here with my wife.

- Samuel Pepys from The Shorter Pepys

Moving day hath come and gone and merrily we now set up house once again. Ah, it seems but yesterday that we were settling in our former lodgings, joyous in the pleasure of a new life, starting over in a city as yet unknown. Yet these 5 years hath flown quickly by, and with great mirth do we once again begin anew.

Well, if it was only so easy. Weeks it did take me to “pack up all of her goods” and I know that weeks more will be needed to “set in the goods.” All “dining with my Lord” aside, this was much harder and less mirthful than I had expected. But here we are one more time and I am not disillusioned in the least that this will be the last. But at least we have lightened the load a bit with all that I finally parted with and we have decided to treat ourselves to a bit of Old World luxury in choosing a beautiful, large, old apartment in a wonderfully quiet part of town, a mere 5 minute walk from the old, yet worlds apart.

The old apartments of Nantes.

It’s a crazy, lop-sided old building from the 1830’s, typical of the old apartment houses built on a city that was once a series of rivers and canals. Lucky enough to have been saved from destruction by either German or American bombs during the Second World War, we feel the results of the constant shifting and settling of the structure over the long course of time, how the kitchen table, uncertain on uneven floors, rocks and shimmies as I knead dough, how the drawers in our nightstands slide open on their own each time they are pushed closed like some secret prank of little ghostly imp hands, how precarious each piece of heavy furniture is balanced, hesitating, heaving each time I tug open a door.

The view from our livingroom.

Beautiful and Bourgeois, each room graced by large gilt-framed mirrors posing atop marble fireplaces, the gossipy whisperings of fine ladies past echoing through the rooms as the curtains flutter in the warm breeze of the open French windows. Shadows of hung portraits no longer there haunt us, gleaming white against the yellowed walls each time the sun hits just right, wooden floors moaning underfoot, creaking as we tiptoe towards the bathroom at night, feeling our way carefully in the dark.

Giorgio and Edwige will one day find their place.

Our bedroom is large and quiet and the boys now each have their own. Two bathrooms instead of one so no more sharing with little piggies. Marty has his own space near a window and he can, for the first time ever, stand on any of the small balconies and watch the world go by. I love the area we now live in, a short walk to the shops without living on top of the unpalatable riff raff that populate center city and hang out in front of the Monoprix just under our former living room windows. And for the first time since Italy, we have a beautiful mini herb garden hanging just outside the kitchen.

Marty's view.

But trouble can come in the most surprising forms and in the most unexpected of places and all can’t be halcyon and smooth sailing, and for us trouble has sadly come in… our new kitchen, which was so obviously conceived by people who never cook. What’s a girl (and guy) to do? It has already become a balancing act working with more than 3 ingredients and foodstuffs, mixing bowls and whatnots are spread among the dining room and our 2 sideboards and 1 large armoire, the kitchen cabinets, shelving and surfaces and the various hidden closets and cubbyholes lined up and down the hallway.

Well, where there’s a will there’s a way and cooking is our sustenance, our pleasure, our hobby, our life. So here goes. What is a move to a new apartment without a kitchen christening? I thought I would start off with a bang and make Turkish Pizzas! This is simply the perfect meal, eaten sitting on the living room floor around the coffee table, watching a DVD (on Clem’s computer as the tv is not yet working), the fun and exoticism of these scrumptious pizzas helping us over the hump, helping us focus on all that is good in our new home. And I will be sending this off to Susan of Wild Yeast for her weekly Yeastspotting event, finally I am back in the swing of things.

And for all of my friends and readers, I thank you all for being patient during these trying times when I have been sucked into the black hole of internet-less-dom (thank you Orange and France! for instead of transferring our phone/internet/tv service they Oops! So sorry! cancelled it!) and not abandoning me and my little blog. Stay tuned and close to your screens and I will soon announce the date of my Housewarming Party and Very First Celebratory Giveaway!


We discovered these wonderful spiced lamb pizzas at a tiny take-out in the middle of Paris. We would buy a stack of them, 10 or 12, along with the plastic container full of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, sliced onions and lemon wedges and a small bottle of tangy yogurt and rush back home where we would heat up the pizzas which would then be topped by a handful of onions and parsley, a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of yogurt and savor the fabulous blend of flavors, spicy, salty, tangy with just a hint of sweet and it was like a dream of kingdoms sultry and bejeweled.

Your favorite pizza dough recipe – I use this one (click here)

Blend the salt in with the flour in a large mixing bowl while the yeast bubbles and froths (10 to 15 minutes) with sugar and warm water.

After blending and kneading for 6 to 8 minutes.

Let rise on an oiled baking sheet covered with plastic wrap for at least an hour.

This time I made the dough early in the afternoon and found that letting it sit much longer gave me a dough that rolled out much easier and thinner.


550 – 600 g ground lean lamb
2 medium-sized onions, finely chopped
2 Tbs vegetable oil or margarine
2 tsps honey (reduce to 1 tsp if you want a less sweet topping)
1/3 cup tomato paste
2 Tbs finely chopped flat leafed parsley or coriander
½ to ¾ tsp Cayenne pepper or dried red pepper flakes, to taste
¾ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
Salt to taste, don’t be to light-handed

(for 1 ½ lbs/ 750 g ground lamb increase tomato paste to ½ cup, the honey to 3 tsps if you like the sweet touch and increase the ground spices as you see fit)

Serve with :
Thinly sliced or chopped onion
Chopped flat-leafed parsley or coriander (or a mix)
Lemon wedges
Tangy Greek yogurt or tzatziki

Prepare your pizza dough and set aside to rise and rest.

If you must grind the lamb yourself as I do (unless I think to order it specially ground a few days ahead of time), trim off all excess fat and yucky stuff and grind.

Heat the 2 tablespoons oil or margarine in a heavy skillet over medium heat until melted then add the chopped onions, stirring them up to coat evenly with the oil. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until soft and just starting to color. Drizzle on 1 teaspoon of the honey and stir to blend and allow the onions to caramelize. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool a bit.

Place the ground lamb in a large mixing bowl. Add the tomato paste, the chopped parsley or coriander, the remaining teaspoon of honey, the Cayenne, cumin, ground coriander and salt. Blend thoroughly (I find using my hands works the best).

Add the fried onions and mix until well blended and evenly distributed.

Preheat oven to (220°C) for conventional heat (1 pizza) or 400°F (200°C) for convection. Roll out rounds of dough for individual pizzas large or small, as you like, rolling out as thin as possible. If you can’t get your dough thin enough, roll it out as best as you can then let it rest 10 minutes or so and re-roll and you should be able to get it thinner. Lift and carefully place your rounds of dough on baking or pizza sheets.

Drop pieces of the meat filling all over the surface of the rolled out dough, breaking the clumps of meat with your fingers as best you can. Then carefully but firmly press and spread the meat around across the surface of the dough (or you could leave the dough in clumps just sitting atop the pizza). The meat layer should be rather thin.

Pop the pizzas into the oven and cook for about 10 minutes or until the dough is baked and the edges are golden brown and the meat is cooked.

Serve and eat the pizzas hot topped generously with the thinly-sliced onions and parsley leaves, pass the lemon wedges to be squeezed over the meat topping and drizzle on some tangy yogurt.

I didn't get the chance to take a photo of the pizza with the yogurt drizzled on. They were eaten too quickly.

This time around, as I have never written down exact quantities when I have made these pizzas before, JP found the lamb a tad too sweet with 2 teaspoons of honey added, and we all found them a bit bland, not as spicy as usual, so in the recipe above I hiked up the pepper and cumin. Traditionally, the lamb should be quite spicy hot and the yogurt is added to cool it down. Try it both ways.

I usually make dinner plate-sized individual pizzas, but these would make fabulous tiny appetizer or hors-d’oeuvres pizzas, maybe 3-inches across. You can also make them on thicker, chewier bases.


Sirenoftitan said...

So pleased to see you're back ! What a wonderful apartment - the fireplace and mirror are very 'swish'.

I'm sure you'll get the kitchen sorted in no time at all.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A great place! I love the view!

Aaahhh, I am addicted to Lahmacuns! Those look fantastic!



Debbie said...

So nice to see you're back and take a glimpse into your new home...wishing you much happiness, joy and good times ahead...Turkish pizzas sounded yummy...XOXO <3

My Carolina Kitchen said...

Your new home is lovely - so gracious with beautiful views and large rooms. J'adore the French fireplaces and the big mirrors that the French homes are famous for.

Two bathrooms - well that's the best news ever. I grew up with one in a house of four and I said "never again." For years after that my husband and I had our own bathroom. Then we moved to the Bahamas into a small cottage and shared a bath for many years before we added on, so I learned "never say never." But our views of the Sea of Abaco more than made up for only having one bathroom. Give a little; get a little.

Your pizzas look like a great way to christen your kitchen. I know the kids loved them and so would I. Glad you're getting settled.
A bientot.

girlichef said...

Let me start by saying that I actually was thinking about you last night before I went to bed. I had full intentions of writing to you and asking how everything was going since it'd been a while since you'd posted and then I wake up and here you are!!! So, hooray for that.

Second, your apartment is simply a a someplace I'd love to walk through and marvel at its beauty!

Third, YUM!! That sounds like one delicious pizza. I love the lamb and though I think I'd like it both ways...the spicy w/ drizzle of the yogurt...mmmmm!

Welcome back Jamie!!! Glad you're getting settled :D

Jamie said...

Thanks, girlfriends, for the welcome back and the lovely warm wishes. I missed you all!

Chow and Chatter said...

your old place looked amazing oh to live in Paris ust be amazing have been a few times adore it, and the pizza is awesome, love your story telling
all the bets in your new home


doggybloggy said...

the pizza looks fantastic...and your crust - so thin - so perfect! You live in fantasy france - I cant wait to live though you.

Barbara Bakes said...

It has been a pleasure to read about your move and now your new home. All that natural light should be great for pictures. Pizza and a DVD sound like a great evening.

Elra said...

What a wonderful place to live in, the beautiful will make everyone jealous. Glad that you also happy going to have a mini herb garden outside your kitchen.
Unpacking will be tiring, at least you've settled a bit now. Good luck with everything.

Mary said...

Jamie, your new home is close to perfect. I did gasp a bit when I saw the kitchen, but then I thought, "What's life without a challenge and a sloping floor floor or two." The pizza looks delicious. For as much as I love lamb, I've never used it in a pizza. I'll have to remedy that.
Enjoy all that old world splendor.

The Cooking Photographer said...

You're back! Jamie I love your new place. It's more than amazing, even with your little kitchen.

I missed you, and am ecstatic you started off with a pizza I have yet to make!


nicole said...

That pizza looks awesome! My husband would love it if I surprised him with that :)

Chef E said...

I too was think of how lovely that thin crust is, my favorite! I hope all is going well, and had noticed you missing off of facebook! I found that you follow the blog I posted in my gazpacho post, so felt he is worth following as you are there!

Now I want pizza, and guacamole from another post...a new pizza, lol!

Donna-FFW said...

Your new home views and shots look lovely. Beautiful! I love your kitchen it is so very charming!!

Your tukish pizzas sound absolutely delciious. Glad to have you back around:)

Reeni♥ said...

I'm glad your back and getting settled into your beautiful new place. These pizzas look heavenly delicious!

Muneeba said...

Pizza came to the rescue a couple of times during our move too. Btw, the new apartment, with THAT view ... I thought for a second u might be kidding, because it's SO COOL!!!! What fun to start afresh in a place like that (yes, there will be growing pains of course). Congrats! Love it!

haleysuzanne said...

What a lovely, simple recipe! I keep meaning to make my own pizza dough, and this would be a great topping for it!

Junglefrog said...

Wow, it looks like you have an amazing new place! Too bad about the kitchen part though... But I am sure that will sort itself out eventually! Love the recipe!

asiangrrl said...

What a beautiful new place, Jamie. Glad that you've settled in. I have an Afghan restaurant near me that makes great pizzas. Your recipe reminded me of them. Yum. And, they gave me a free baklava!

Susan/Wild Yeast said...

Your new apartment sounds great, and despite the kitchen drawbacks I know you will continue to turn out fantastic things like this, effortlessly.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Jamie - I'm always loving your writing!
Grand your finally in the new place and sitting in.
The lamb pizza, well that really must be baked. Seems unusual but looks fabulous and we're keen on all those ingredients.

Nanette said...

Your apartment is glorious! I so need to come visit you in Nantes!

Jamie said...

@Nanette - yes, you do! How about after FBC in London? Pass through Nantes for a few days on your way home!

shayma said...

a beautiful home, Jamie. may you find happiness in unlikely corners there. best wishes, shayma


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...