Sunday, May 20, 2018

Lazy Sunday in France, Victoria Sandwich cake

French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance
Welcome to another #LazySundayinFrance and what a lovely Sunday it has been here today.

As Adrian has been away quite a bit recently, the garden jobs have suffered, so as well as a bit of lazy sitting in the garden, channelling my pink, blue and green flowery vibe, we’ve done a bit of pottering around too. Some weeding and bramble clearance, putting up the framework for the gazebo (to give the terrace some shade) and tinkering with the pool pipes and strimmer engine have meant our aperos in the sun this evening were well earned.
French Village Diaries Vide Greniers Victoria Sandwich #LazySundayinFrance
Truck convoy
Before we got out into the garden we had to collect Ed from (another) overnight party, this one only a two hour round trip into Poitiers and back. The traffic was slow on the way home, thanks to a convoy of big trucks out for a Sunday blast, think lots of smiles, waving and horn tooting. It was worth the wait.
French Village Diaries Vide Greniers Victoria Sandwich #LazySundayinFrance
Vide Greniers tat
We’ve also had a wander around a local village holding a vide greniers, plant and farmers market, which was sadly rather disappointing compared to last year. It just confirmed our beliefs that vide greniers are full of tat and not really for us. We did however meet a sweet donkey watching with interest as his village was taken over by strangers and we will enjoy the goat cheese we bought from a local farmer.

I did mean to bake a cake, but I was too lazy for that, and there is always tomorrow as it’s Pentecost Monday and no work or school for us. Yippee!

French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance
Victoria Sandwich
Here is my Victoria Sandwich recipe, one I’ve had for many years, but has only recently become a favourite.

175g (6oz) softened butter
175g (6oz) self raising flour
175g (6oz) caster sugar
A few drops of vanilla essence
3 large eggs – kept at room temperature, not in the fridge
Jam for the filling
Icing sugar for the top

Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat the eggs, then add them a little at a time to the butter and sugar. Add in the vanilla essence. With a metal spoon, fold in the flour, a little at a time.

Divide the mixture between two 18cm, lined cake tins. Bake in the centre of the oven for 20 to 25 mins, Gas 5.

Leave to cool before sandwiching together with jam (I like strawberry) and dusting with icing sugar. Perfect served with a cup of tea on a lazy Sunday afternoon in France.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Book review of Miss Moonshine's Emporium of Happy Endings

French Village Diaries book review Miss Moonshine's Emporium of Happy Endings
Miss Moonshine's Emporium of Happy Endings

My review today is for new release Miss Moonshine’s Emporium of Happy Endings, an anthology of stories written by some of my favourite authors. I will admit now that being set in a small, fictional Yorkshire town, the link to France is rather tenuous; although France gets a few mentions, a Frenchman is featured once and one of the authors is French.

However, having previously read, enjoyed and reviewed books from four out of the nine writers, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to read this, and I’m so glad I did as it ticked all my boxes, and there was nothing I didn’t enjoy.

Through the stories we meet different characters and visit Haven Bridge in different seasons and eras. People and businesses come and go, and fashions and trends change, all with the exception of the mysterious Miss Moonshine, her dog Napoleon and her Emporium of Happy Endings. Those who have lost their way in life are assured of a warm welcome and some sage advice. In a funny way she seems to know what your problems are, even before you do.

Despite being written by different people and focusing on different issues, there was a seamless transition from one story to the next and it was remarkable how well each story complimented the others. I’m not sure whose idea this project was, but it was genius and it would be a real shame if this was their only collaboration.

It was a moment of perfect escapism, that took me into a cozy world where a little bit of Miss Moonshine’s magic never ceased to give me a warm feeling inside and make me smile. In my opinion it is worth a lot more than the current 99p kindle UK price.

Miss Moonshine’s Emporium of Happy Endings would be a great travel companion this summer and is available in ebook and paperback formats, links to Amazon can be found below.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Laura Bradbury's Lemon Tarte recipe

French Village Diaries Laura Bradbury Lemon Tarts recipe Minis
An invasion of Minis

As promised yesterday, here is Laura Bradbury's Lemon Tarte recipe that went down well here last night when we were invaded by a small convoy of Minis, driven by friends of over 20 years, despite my best efforts at cocking up Laura's simple recipe.

Lemon Tarte

This is one of those stalwart, life-saving recipes. It really isn’t that difficult, but it gets absolutely rave reviews every time. The first time I tried it was at my friend Marie’s house. She made it for dessert one day when just she, Franck, and I were having lunch together. Between the three of us we ate almost the ENTIRE tarte

Shortbread Pastry

1 cup (125 grams) butter (salted or unsalted)
1 cup (125 grams) white sugar
2 cups (250 grams) flour
1 egg

1.    Preheat oven to 360° F (180° C).
2.    Mix all the ingredients with an “S” blade in your food processor until they form a ball.
3.    Wrap with Saran Wrap (clingfilm) and flatten into a disc. Let it sit in the fridge for an hour or more.
4.    When you are ready to make the tarte, roll out the pastry and press it into a buttered and floured quiche pan. It is normal for the pastry to be a bit crumbly. You’ll want to press it together likes pieces of a puzzle. Once pressed into the pan, poke all over with a fork.
5.    Bake the pastry shell for 10 minutes. You can use those bean thingies to keep your pastry from puffing up, but I never have them on hand, and it turns out fine. Keep the oven at 360° F (180° C).

Lemon Filling

¾ cup (150 grams) cream or crème fraiche
2 eggs
1 cup (100 grams) sugar
1 soupspoon flour
2 lemons

1.    Boil the cream in a saucepan. Set aside to cool.
2.    Zest and juice the lemons.
3.    In a bowl, mix together eggs, sugar, cooled cream, lemon zest, and 50 ml lemon juice.
4.    Pour mixture into pastry crust. It’s normal that the mixture just barely covers the shell.
5.    Bake for 15 minutes or until it doesn’t jiggle in the middle anymore.

6.    Cool in the fridge, then serve. 

It was at the 'cool in the fridge' point that I realised I had forgotten to add in the flour to the lemon filling, hence the slightly odd looking texture to my tarte, sorry Laura, I promise to try better next time! However, my polite friends did confirm it is very tasty and as Ed tucked into the leftovers for his breakfast this morning, I guess it can't have been too bad and I will certainly be trying it again soon, with the flour.

French Village Diaries Laura Bradbury Lemon Tarts recipe
My lemon tarte, not quite perfect, but tasted great.

Thank you Laura. If you missed my review of her latest memoir My Grape Paris, click here and to read all about her Lazy Sunday in Burgundy, click here. Sign up for her newsletter here which contains recipes, insider information, and lots of treats. She can also be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram