It was the June bank holiday weekend and time to unwind in the countryside of Ireland, in the little village of St Mullin's in County Carlow.
Time to relax properly.
Time to disconnect from phones and social media (with the help of a total lack of network in that area).
Time to make and eat good food.
Time to grab a book and read it until it is finished.
Time to catch up with friends, go for walks along the river and share laughs over a meal, a glass of wine (or two) and board games.
Time to breathe.
Scroll down for more images of the long weekend in St Mullin's.
Ten days ago, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, I met with my lovely friend Ketty and her fiancé by the Grand Canal in Dublin. Since their big day is fast approaching (le mariage - Ketty has a couple of foodie wedding inspiration posts to prepare for it, check them out on her blog!), we agreed on a day that would suit for a mini photo session so they would get used to me taking their photos.
The day turned out to be warm and sunny which brought out a very cheerful mood and allowed for really happy moments.
Do you know what is in season this month? Strawberries! I have already had plenty of strawberry tartines but to me, this also means there are plenty of fabulous fresh desserts to be had. The ultimate delicious dessert to have with those wonderful berries for me is a simple strawberry tartlet with a thin buttery crust and pastry cream made with really good vanilla.
Another thing I love in desserts is chocolate and more recently, tonka bean (I am resisting the urge to sprinkle it on every sweet thing I eat). So, why not mix those flavours with a lovely strawberry tartlet?
There is something really enjoyable about walking into a boulangerie (bakery) in France and leaving with a bag of freshly baked chouquettes in your hands. Reaching for one, biting into its sugary goodness, grabbing a another and another and... just like that, those wonderful puffy clouds of deliciousness are gone, leaving behind a few pearls of sugar in the bag and a very satisfied gourmand(e).
I recently told you on the blog about my trials and errors with making choux pastry and shared with you a delicious recipe for gruyère and rosemary mini gougères.
Today, it's all about the sweetness with delicious chouquettes.
I had my first taste of strawberry tartines as a child. At the time, I would spend a lot of my Summer holidays at my grandparents’. Their big house in the country is sitting right by a main road but the back of it has a huge garden and beautiful fields beyond it. This garden is and has always been my Papy’s pride (Papy is what we call my granddad). At the time, a big part of it was filled with all types of fruit, vegetable, herbs and nuts: pear, cherry, kiwi, walnut and hazelnut trees, lettuce, endives, asparagus, tomatoes, different types of potatoes, artichokes, Jerusalem artichokes, onion, garlic, leek, carrots, parsley, dill, thyme and many many other things. If there is a garden that properly represents fruit and vegetable seasons to me, it is this one. Nowadays, the garden looks a bit empty because it is a lot of work for my Papy at his old age. He now mostly takes care of flowers, plants and whatever nut or fruit tree needs attention.
The first fruit he had to stop growing were strawberries. Oh, those strawberries! There were three huge rows of them and they were the most delicious I have ever tasted: sweet, juicy and very fragrant.
Let's talk about choux pastry and put it to good use.
I love choux pastry, from the process of making it to eating the choux buns and other delights it is used for: profiteroles, eclairs, Paris-Brest, chouquettes, croquembouches, gougères and many other recipes.
Once you master the basic recipe, the choux world is your oyster. But first, let me tell you I had my fair share of trials and errors so if it does not work for you the first time, keep trying! One of my mistakes once was to add the extra egg yolk (meant for brushing the choux buns before baking) in the dough making process. It resulted in flat round puddles of cooked choux buns on my baking tray, they just looked ridiculous. So I laughed it off and sandwiched them two by two with pastry cream and drizzled the chocolate sauce on top, maybe I should have called them macaroneroles!
Eventually, it became easy and I started making choux pastry for many occasions or just because I felt like it (midweek chouquettes for afternoon tea are such a lovely thing).
One of the recipes I like making with it is a savoury version: gougères.
A big bowl of spinach and goats cheese soup. Just what I had been craving after the many Easter indulgences (let's say I was given a whole lot of chocolate from France among many other delicious food gifts) and a month of April that does not seem to warm up much.