Lovely {Lemon} Curd

Following a series of posts on my other blog I wrote on the idea of 'when life gives you lemons'.... and upon discovering an weekly organic market in the nearby town of Honfleur--I suddenly had about 20 small and sweet lemons that were crying out to be made into .....

Lemon-curd of course!  I fell in love with this sweet/sour/creamy 'confiture' when traveling in Great Britain after college .... on toast, on a slice of warm pound-cake...

And now I am completely addicted to having it sandwiched between two puffy meringues... a match made in heaven of course--one recipe requires 10 egg yolks and the other--the whites!

Here is the very simple method to make lemon-curd, and then I will post shortly after the recipe to make the lemon-meringue's!

Lemon Curd 

{Recipe inspired by Linda Ferrari's book 'Canning and Preserving'}

Zest of 4 lemons
1 1/2 cups lemon juice
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
10 egg yolks

 Put all ingredients in a stainless steel mixing bowl and whisk over a pot of simmering water.  This recipe took about 40 minutes of constant whisking while it thickened--which was fine--I surfed the web for the meringue recipe and did a lot of tasting while it cooked!

Once it is thick and starts to 'gel'  you remove it from the heat and stir a few more times to test the thickness as it cools.  Fill a clean, warmed jar with the curd and let it cool completely.

I have heard it can last for 2 weeks to a month in the fridge--but I would have no idea about that!  Ours seems to disappear in a matter of days!

The tangy sweet flavor is 100% sunshine.... which apparently was much needed on that day as my sweet KC Spaniel found the one and only sun-spot in the entire house while I was making it!

Stay tuned for the recipe for the meringues! I will be back with that ASAP!

A bientot!

Back to school means .....

It's official!  We have begun 'la rentrée'.... which means back-to-school, and it is only a matter of time before I gain many more hours to do the things I love.  All 3564 of them... more or less.  

Summer is ending, Fall is sneaking in, the air is already changing.

After finding an absolutely fantastic 'bio' market last week in Honfleur and buying 4 kilos of plums ('Mirabelle' and 'Blanche')  I spent the afternoon making two batches of 'confiture'.

I won't post a recipe.  There are 100's, make that 1000's of jam and jelly recipes on the web and I go by instinct; 2 kilos of fruit, 3 cups of sugar and keeping the pits and skins on during the boiling period for the natural pectin.

 To the 'Mrabelle' batch I also added orange zest and a touch of cinnamon.

The 'prune blanche' were actually very green!  Such a gorgeous color before cooking.  Nothing extra added to that batch--they are wonderfully sweet and a tiny bit tart!

Tomorrow I head out to that same market in search of figs!  I hope I am not too late!

Looking forward to the new cooking season--the change of climate--and many, many more uninterupted hours in the kitchen and/or behind the camera!

Oh well!  A girl can dream!  A bientot!

{Had to Have} Double Chocolate Brownies

For I don't know how long ... I have had this crazy persistent craving for warm melt-y decadent chocolate brownies with pistachio ice cream!  I finally gave into it last night and made big batch of really indulgent goodness!  I convinced myself that I did this for two reasons--one, it was the first day of September and nothing feels more like the official ending of summer than September arriving! --and second, 'les garcons' are returning to school next week and I thought they deserved a little comfort food on their last official weekend of summer 'vacances'.

Truthfully, yes.  We all know that it was more about me and what I wanted... and I had to have these!  They turned out amazing and I have to tell you that nothing fills a kitchen in a better way on a cool first-of-September Saturday evening than the smell on melting chocolate!

A few things make these brownies a little more 'to-die-for'....  I used almond flour which give a wonderful gooey and rich texture, I add orange-dark-chocolate chunks and for moisture and even more richness, I use creamy coco-nut milk.  So yes, these are both wheat/gluten free and dairy free.

Double Chocolate {Chunk} Brownies

2 cups almond meal/flour
1 cup whole grain rice flour
1 1/2 cups 'blonde' sugar (unrefined or light brown)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup pure unsweetened coco-powder
3 eggs
3/4 cup butter or dairy free margarine, melted
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 cup ( or 1 large bar broken into pieces) chopped dark chocolate, I used dark chocolate with orange!

I find with brownies, they are made to be unfussy.  I literally do every thing in one bowl, blending with an electric hand mixer as I go along.  I added most of the chopped chocolate chunks to the batter and then sprinkled the rest to melt on top and I used both a round cake form and a few small cup-cake cups made of silicon to cook the brownies.  

Bake at 350 F degrees or around 180 C degrees for just under 30 minutes or until they are firm but still slightly gooey! 

These days I am a big fan of pistachio ice-cream...but French Guy is allergic to pistachios so he had his brownie with creme-caramel.

Delish!  Satisfied the craving perfectly!  Try it and see!

Summer Peach Cake with Dried Strawberry {Raisins}

My mother-in-law brought two 'barquettes' of tiny wild strawberries to me when they came to lunch last Sunday.  Tiny and sweet they had to be eaten instantly--- or dried to use later.

Almost any fruit can be dried one way or another--but strawberries, especially little ones, once dehydrated make lovely little raisin-like gems that can be saved for cooking in cakes or even cookies!

If you have a dehydrating machine than you probably have made these already--but they are just as easy to make in your oven.  Simply wash and dry the berries, slice them if you are using large or normal strawberries, the little wild ones don't need to be cut up, and once they are dry lay them on parchment paper in a very low temp. oven, even the warm setting works, for 4- 6 hours.

(You can store them in an airtight jar -- just be sure they are totally dry, otherwise they can still mold.)  I kept mine in the fridge because I knew I would use them right away!

The cake I made with them was a gluten and dairy free fresh peach cake.  The result is a sweet and tender cake studded with the tiny strawberry raisins!

Fresh Peach and Strawberry {Raisin} Cake

3 cups almond flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup raw un-refined sugar

Blend the dry ingredients and set aside.

1 cup chopped fresh peaches
Zest of one orange
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 - 3/4 cup dried strawberries
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 light vegetable oil

Combine the wet ingredients and add to dry.  Mix until well blended and pour into a silicon cake form.  Bake at 350F degrees for 50 minutes or until the center feels solid and the top is golden.  Cool before slicing.

Fabulous as a breakfast cake --- or topped with vanilla ice cream as desert! Enjoy!

Le Pique Nique!

My niece recently pointed out this gorgeous and very inspirational image from a French magazine, Campagne Décoration -- it is the quintessential French 'pique-nique' don't you think?  It makes me want to dream up a delicious fresh summer menu--and pack it into a basket -- to tote off to a table under a tree -- or the beach!

Mid-August, gardens right now in France are exploding and the markets are brimming....

And even my vintage purchases for Sunday Brocantes of late seem to all be influenced by food!  

I love the idea of packing up fresh fruit, seasonal 'composed' salads, olives and dips....

 ... into antique French confiture jars!

The thick-sided jars, chilled in the fridge, so everything stays fresh and cool!

As the summer winds-down, I hope you can still sneak in some time for one last French-picnic ... or two!  I know I will!

Bon Appétit!

Credit: Images 1 and 3 from Campagne Décoration,  all others by me: ©Sunday Brocantes

Unexpected Summer Salads ....

While you might expect summer salads to be comprised of garden fresh plump, ready to burst red tomatoes or bright orange hot peppers and roasted corn--our summer here in Normandy has been a complete mix of sun and showers, a few warm rays, but mostly windy, chilly and half-way summery.

So the 'summer' that we have has so far has inspired fresh summer ingredients with a few cooler weather ones, topped with warm melted goodness--(and a hefty side of 'tartine' with 'chevre'!---for comfort!)

Here is a salad that marries the warm with the cold--and fits our summer perfectly!  Maybe yours too!

Warm Chard & Beet Salad with Red Onion and Goat Cheese

A huge bundle of colorful chard
Red onion
Steamed beats, chopped and chilled
Thin slices of steamed and chilled zuchinni
Feta or French goat cheese 'chevre'
Red wine vinegar
Fresh garden herbs; thyme, basil, savory and parsley
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Clean the chard and remove the ribs, chop and prepare to saute first in 2 tbs olive oil while you set the leaves aside.  Add 1/4 chopped red onion and once tender, add the remaining leaves of chard until wilted.

In a large 'saladier'  mix cubbed beets with zuchinni, 4 tbs red wine vinegar and salt and pepper.  Add chopped herbs and combine with warm chard mixture.  Lastly top with crumbled goat cheese.  

A baguette 'tartine' with cheese and fresh basil makes a perfect summer lunch--on a warm or chilly summer day!

Bon appetit!


This past weekend was an eating extravaganza!  A foodie-weekend ... a food-a-palooza!  What else is there to do when it is pouring rain for the 65th consecutive day--windy, dismal .... not summer.

After creating the carrot-soup (c-o-l-d carrot soup), comfort food was needed to start out the weekend--and although Friday night is usually 'Pizza-Night' in our home, it was trumped by the fact that there was a canard-magret in the fridge begging to be cooked and so it became duck-breast on thyme-mushroom risotto....

Next up ...something more 'fun' for Saturday--it was Bastille Day and the traditional BBQ was nixed again due to the on-going showers.  But inside the house it was festive and spicy with Buffalo-Wings made with HOT harissa sauce and fries....(so very French--non?)  Oh- well French Guy did make a sauce of roguefort and feta for it!  (A little French?)

 Sunday was all about seafood---the big plan being that we would sit outside and fire-up the 'plancha' and grill our lunch.  Yet again, no.  Rain. (Are you getting the theme here?) But, we managed to cook a few delicious 'ecrevisses'...the fancy French way to say Crayfish--and once again French Guy stepped up and this time braved the rain to quickly cook up sardines--which were spicy and crispy--all of this topped simply on brown rice with tangy pickled zucchini and yellow squash.

And finally to end the weekend.... first a 'cake' made with almond flour, vanilla bean and apricots..... which we ate with vanilla ice cream....

 ... but before that, in honor of my Japan-o-phile Oldest Garcon (temporarily? obsessed with all things Japanese--he even convinced French Guy to take him to the Japan-Expo is Paris last week!)  and also because Middle Garcon could eat anyone---(including the biggest sumo-wrestler) under the table with the amount of sushi he can consume .... there you have it--- homemade sushi for dinner that we ate standing in the kitchen as it was made..... très casual!

So here it is Monday morning -- and culinarily--I think I can speak for everyone in the family to say that our tummy's are satisfied!  (and so is my styling eye and my shooting finger!)  Afterall-- a well rounded weekend includes family, food, and  ...  photography!

And this morning .... a more simple start.  Gluten-free toast with 'buche blanche de chevre' and a big dab of strawberry jam--made by Bonne Maman---not moi.

Happy Monday mes amis!  Hope your weekend was full of food---and SUN.

Summer Carrot Ginger Soup with Fresh Herbs

It has so far, been a very dismal summer in Normandy.  I have to say that summer cooking really has not been inspired by balmy-breezy-beach days or sand between the toes BBQ's.....and the last 'summer vegetable' that you would think I would gravitate to would be a carrot   ....

But truth be told, even though it is a root vegetable and available year-round, in a cold soup it shines with vivid flavor and talk about amazing color!

It's natural pairing with another root vegetable, ginger brings a snappy almost citrus flavor to the soup and topped with fresh herbs and plain yogurt, it has a snappy and fresh taste!

 Chilled Carrot Ginger Soup

3 cups grated carrots
4 cups fresh carrot juice
3 small shallots
1 tbs. grated ginger
1/2 cup creme fraiche and/or plain yogurt
fresh herbs

In a saucepan, saute shallots in 1 tbs olive oil.  Add grated carrots and sweat for 5 minutes. Add carrot juice and grated ginger, salt to taste and continue to cook for about 30 minutes on medium heat. (Do not let the soup boil, you want to completely cook the carrots until they are tender, but you do not want a cooked or over-cooked carrot taste.)  Allow soup to come to room temperature and use an immersion blender to puree the soup until completely smooth.  Blend in creme fraiche and refrigerate the soup until chilled.  Garnish with plain yogurt and herbs.

Serving ideas:  If not eaten as a soup-course, the soup is a great appetizer 'shooter' in a small glass, or served in recessed cucumber cups.

It may be the only kind of sunshine I see for a while longer!  But I hope not!

Come on summer!  We are waiting for you!

PB&J Muffins

 Confession time.  I have been known to replace meals with peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches.  You know those evenings when the kids and you have already had a 'real' meal and you just can't imagine cooking up another one....or one of the children is particularly picky about what's for dinner so you say "Fine. You can have a PBJ sandwich!"  It must have happened to me as a child--why else would PB&J inspire such memories of comfort and goodness?  

Nutritionally, it's not such a bad option, right?  Whole grain organic bread, protein from the PB and vitamin C from the strawberries in the jam?  I'm convinced.

So last Sunday when we all woke early, thanks to the youngest member of the family-- (a-hem....Monkey)  I decided to make muffins for breakfast for all of us, but wanted something a little different--and the littlest early riser was already making her way through her toast with PB so the jar was out.... et voilà -- Inspiration!

Peanut-butter is not altogether common here in France.  We found one store that carries a brand from the UK--and I think we just might be the one single-family keeping them in business for French sales!

PB&J Muffins

2 cups almond flour
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
1 cup apple juice
strawberry jam

Thoroughly mix the dry ingredients.  In a separate smaller bowl blend peanut-butter and eggs until frothy for about 1 minute.  Then add this to the dry ingredients and blend on low-speed for another minute while slowly adding apple juice.

Fill muffin tray and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until brown and 'cracked' on top.  After they have cooled, split the muffins in half and spread with jelly or jam.  Top with jam and fresh strawberries.


A cup of coffee and a few strips of bacon and you have a proper breakfast! 
These are even better the next day.... or evening.  For dinner.

Rhubarb Chutney

I can't say enough good things about Rhubarb.  When it comes into season, I know I must be smiling when I see the gorgeous pink and green stalks at the market.  Obviously associated with spring--it also seems to herald the arrival of summer plantings that are soon to come in the 'potager'... if the Rhubarb is here--then it is all getting better from now on.

And from my 'petit potager' ... two strawberries this week.... two.  Slightly prematurely picked by the 'petite jardiniere'  but a few days on the windowsill and they were ready to eat--and as precious as they were, each split in half to make four servings....none for Petite Fille yet, but for the two garcons and the French Guy.

Rhubarb also reminds me of my Grandma--as many kitchen creations do.  She made a fierce Rhubarb pie.... and then after that Rhubarb reminds me of a post-college trip to Scotland with my best friend and staying in a 'hostel' where we had Rhubarb compote on our oatmeal every morning..... I think that is what hooked me on the smell.  That luscious aroma that comes from the rising steam of the bubbling Rhubarb --- heaven.

I am sure that I will be making compote, a cake or a tarte.... but to start with... Chutney.  I had never made chutney with Rhubarb before... and after tasting this batch, I surely will again!

~ Rhubarb Chutney ~

8 cups of chopped Rhubarb
1 shallot, diced
2 apples, cubed in small pieces
3/4 cup apple juice
Juice and zest from 2 limes
3 tbs. grated fresh ginger root
1 cup chopped dried apricots
2 tbs. whole mustard seed
2 cups raw sugar
2 tsp. salt

In a small amount of oil, lightly saute the shallot until tender.  Add the remaining ingredients and cook down until the mixture reaches a compote-like consistency.  I save a bit of the zest to add at the end for a little extra zing.

We had the chutney that evening with duck-confit and later in the week with pork chops....  it is most definitely a fabulous alternative to traditional chutney!

A bientot!

Soupe de Oseille ~ Sorrel Soup ~

 Last spring, my father-in-law gave me a few sacks of washed greens .... looking a bit like spinach.  The greens were actually 'oseille' or in English, sorrel.  The only recipe I came up with last year to use the plentiful bright green tender leaves was to make a creamed-sorrel side dish for a pork roast and although it was good -- it didn't win me over to seek out these vitamin laden, slightly bitter greens again.

Until now.  Our spring here in Normandy has been intermittently chilly, rainy and absolutely unpredictable with sudden bursts of gorgeous sunshine that lasts for mere minutes on a bad day and  about and hour or two on a good one!  So yes, soup is still very much on the menu.  But my cravings for hearty thick, stewy-soups, have given way to a desire for garden-fresh and very green vividly flavored ones.

Because oseille, has a tart and snappy bite, it is parfait!  I also have a gorgeous organic basil plant that is sitting on my kitchen table and is pinched several times a day.  Eventually, (read 'could not be soon enough!') I will be pinching these things from the 'potager' that is bravely sprouting up in the raised beds we put in a few months ago.

~ Soupe de Oseille ~

2 large leeks, rinsed well and chopped
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 tsp salt
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup green peas
3-4 generous handfuls of sorrel, rinsed with stems pinched-off
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Sweat the leeks and garlic in 3 tbs. of olive oil until tender. Add salt and cubed potatoes and cover with stock.  Cook until potatoes are tender, reduce heat and add peas and about a minute later add sorrel.  Process with a stick blender until smooth, and basil and process until basil is fully combined.  Serve warm.

As soup goes this is an easy one.  It can be made 'vegetarian' and is also gluten and dairy free (bien sur!)  

It's a perfect fresh-green and comforting for those chilly spring days--or moments.....soup!

Happy chilly, rainy, sunny, windy, hail-y, sunny, warm, chilly.....rainy..... SPRING!

A bientot!

~ Zesty ~ Potato Salad

Strangely enough -- les enfants were 'off' school again today.  Strange because they were just back last week after having the two week 'Spring-Break'.... then off for the weekend of course, and then because today, Tuesday is a holiday--they were also off yesterday.... and my middle-guy is off again tomorrow--he never has school on Wednesdays........

Phew! Did I mention that French school children have FORTY vacation days per school year?!  The French value their 'vacances'.... and today, well... so did I!  

Even with all of the 'extra' days -- today felt like a holiday.  Maybe it was the sun shining and the almost 70 degree temps... we did very little work, aside from gardening (and that is pure j-o-y!)  and we BBQ'd sausages and I made potato salad.

Potato salad?  I know. Not very French.  But still-- it really helped us feel spring, holiday, BBQ picnic..... fabulous--vacation-day-OFF!  I made a very easy--yummy (and of course gluten free!) version... a la Francais!

~ Zesty Potato Salad ~

6-10 medium to large potatoes, boiled until tender with skin removed
1 red pepper, diced
2-3 tbs. capers
1/2 cup mayonnaise (be careful of the hidden gluten in mayo--if it is made with grain/white vinegar--make your own, or find a brand that uses wine vinegar or cider vinegar.)
1 tbs rice or cider vinegar
salt and pepper
1 tbs. fresh dill
1tbs dried chives, parsley or any herb blend you have handy.

Combine all and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.  Serve with chopped fresh herbs.

We had this for lunch today and then spent the rest of the day outside, pulling weeds, planting seeds, taking a walk on the beach .... a perfect plan for a bonus--day off!  Tonight I will fall into bed deliciously-exhausted!

A bientot!  See you again soon!

Recipe Cards - Sunday Lunch

Recipe cards for our Sunday lunch!  A yummy lemon-tarragon chicken with a side of 'tobinembour'!

Bon Dimanche!

~ Easter ~ Pea Salad

This is our second Easter in France and my second Easter cooking for family as well.  Last Easter Petite-Fille was less than 3 months old.... and it was a lunch for us four (moi, les garcons, French Guy) plus French Guy's parents and his sister; a simple affair -- ham, gratin-pomme de terre..... macarons from a local patisserie.  So I thought we should have everyone here for lunch again, especially since this Easter my parents are here for the Spring Break vacation.  

So that's how it began.  

"Let's invite your parents to come over for Easter...." I said to French Guy....and then we thought let's also invite 'Belle-Niece' and her husband, and then French guy's sister, and then her youngest daughter, and then her middle daughter, and her middle daughter's boy-friend, and then we found out that French Guy's oldest sister and her husband we going to be up here from Macon ( Southern Burgundy, Northern Beaujolais area) and their youngest daughter would be with them ..... 

... well I think you get the idea.  Easter lunch for six plus three became lunch for SEVENTEEN.... plus.  

So naturally the menu grew as well.  Five courses; starting with Spring pea salad and smoked salmon, followed by lamb, pork roast, puree de pomme de terre with herbs, flagolet,  a cheese platter and salad, almond coconut cakes, strawberries and mousse au chocolat, and coffee....... and of course a large quantity of Easter candy before, during and after.

~ Spring Pea Salad ~

1 large bag frozen peas
10 strips of bacon
Red wine vingar
Red onion
Fresh dill
Salt & Pepper

In a large pot, blanch the peas for one minute, drain and rinse with cold water.  Cook bacon until 
crispy and chop into small bits.  In a salad bowl, combine 1/2 cup mayo with 1 tbs. fresh dill and 2 tbs. chives and about 1/3 cup finely diced red onion. Add a dash (about 2 tsp. maximum) red wine vinegar and whisk until blended.  Toss peas in dressing and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.  

I served the pea salad in endive leaves.  You can also fill small lettuce cups or even just toss with mixed greens.  It's a super-easy salad that has fresh green spring flavor!

Perfect for Easter! 

Hope you had a lovely one, too!