Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fruit Road Kill Cake

My driving lessons continue. Could I have actually taken the Peugeot out for a spin and only stalled her once???? Wow.
This. calls for a celebration.
Lets drink some Rose and eat lots of cheese.
Oh, wait. That is what I did yesterday when I celebrated….um...yeah.
Today I also managed to get in my first bicycle ride. Since I wanted to find my way around these parts without the aid of a motor vehicle my dad and I decided we would venture off and find our way to Cognac City Central. Apparently the main road is a bit sketch so we were advised to take some bicycle routes to get there. After pulling out our map for the five hundreth time we decided to throw caution to the wind and just head in the general direction of…north. Low and behold we got there an hour or so later. Three cheers for the road less traveled!
My father has a few obsessions in life.
Fresh fruit happens to be in the top 5. (Ask me about the other 4). So you can imagine his reaction as we are biking along and come across a wild plum tree that has disposed much of its bounty all over the road.
My dad came to a screeching halt as coming across free fruit of any kind is like finding a winning lottery ticket.
I wasn’t quite sure if these were plums, cherries or grapes. They have the texture and look of a small yellow plum, the pit of a cherry and the taste of a grapey plum.

They were delicious but as my father so eloquently said in French that they were no doubt going to give us active bowel movements. Ok, so he said diarrhea in French but I am trying to make you want to eat this following recipe so don't be deterred. The raw fruit is the problem. Cooked, you are totally fine.

We managed to score a good bowl full and I have decided they would be best in a spicy plum upside down cake. Also know known as fruit road kill cake.

Spicy Plum Upside-Down Cake

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

1 1/2 to 2 cups of pitted plums
Arrange plums at the bottom of a a round pie plate lined with parchment paper. They should generously cover the bottom. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of sugar.

3 tablespoons melted butter
3/4 cup of sugar plus 3 tablespoon
1 egg and 1 egg white, beat
Combine the above ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat well, adding eggs after sugar and butter has creamed.
In a seperate bowl add:
1 1/2 cups of flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups of sour cream or fromage frais
Add flour mixture to sugar mixture in two parts alternating with sour cream.
Pour on top of cherries and bake for 30-40 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit until cool. Then reverse onto a serving plate and serve.

And, I bid adieu on this post with a view of the sunset from my side of the world. Once I figure out all the settings and inner-workings of this (new) camera, these picture(s) will hopefully represent to you the ridiculous oh-my-god-is-this-really-my-backyard- beauty of where I am. Bonne nuit.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Chez Tabois

Last time I had a blog entry was over 2 years ago. I got lazy but also will use the cop out that I started the Birds Nest so that occupied my time. I feel inspired to start up again (in a slightly different format) as I have been given the opportunity to work for the Marsh’s at Chez Tabois.

I am a very lucky lady who gets to cook for them this summer at their lovely French home. It is beyond dreamy. I am going to try my best to document my time here along with some recipes.

Where I am situated it is somewhere near Cognac. I would like to know exactly where but every time I get in a car without a local I/we manage to get lost for a couple of hours. Finally purchased a map with landmarks and roads that don’t resemble a treasure hunt scribbled by a 9 year old. I am also in the process of learning how to drive standard. On French roads. By my father.
Have you ever witnessed a grass hopping Peugeot? Er, not pretty at all. Since my parents are visiting this week my Dad has kindly offered to teach me on the RENTAL car. To truly appreciate this you really need to view it person or on video. However, since I end up looking like a rude, ungrateful stressed out, bratty 5 year old, I have opted out.

So far the highlights are:

1. E. Leclerc. Basically the Superstore version for France. I can’t stand Superstore but I am fascinated with E. Leclerc. Mainly because they have an entire aisle devoted to butter! How can there be so many brands? I get it with the cheese but butter (pun, kinda intended). I was in a state of confusion and wonder. I ended up settling on one that was 1.27 euros. I was only in Leclerc for half an hour but I will be going back soon and devoting a good portion of the day to the inner-workings of this food emporium so I can figure out how to find eggs, milk and wine without GPS.

2. Cheap wine! My liver is giving me the middle finger.

3. Sunshine. It exists and is quite prevalent. Be gone SADS!

4. Old buildings and other old things. I am constantly taking clich├ęd photos of doors and stonewall and fountains. I cannot get enough. France is so damn good looking and it’s all in the details.

5. The markets. I love the produce but the vendor’s rule. Last time I was here I cannot remember them being so theatrical, entertaining and charming but anytime someone calls me good looking in order to buy their zucchini I fall hook, line and sinker. Even if it is an 81 year old grandma with a lazy eye.


Smoked salmon, thyme and lemon quiche


Pate Brisee or premade pie crust of your choice (puff pastry or filo)
4 eggs
½ cup of milk
½ teaspoon of thyme
½ teaspoon of lemon rind
½ teaspoon of minced garlic
1 tablespoon of capers
½ cup goat cheese or feta
1 package or 6-8 slices of lox, smoked salmon
shredded Basil (optional)

Preheat oven to 375
Beat eggs and milk. Add remaining ingredients of thyme through goat cheese. Pour into quiche/pie dish. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until quiche is no longer liquid.
Let cool for 10 minutes.
Serve with a salad and a glass of Pouilly Fume. Or any other white you can get your lips on.

A little homemade bread for le petit dejeuner...