Tag Archives: picnic

Fougasse d’Aîgues Mortes

For the Bank holiday, I had set myself a couple of goals: To try and get the whole family out (including darkness-loving teenagers) for the first picnic of the year and to bring to this picnic some copious delights. Here was the menu. It consisted in our beloved “fougasse d’Aigues Mortes”, the iconic Coquetas from my grand-mother’s recipe trove and my favourite ever sandwich, namely the Pan Bagna… All of those recipes will follow soon on this blog – aren’t we spoilt!!!

Indeed the picnic menu was a tall order but after all I had three days to achieve it. And fret over the weather…

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The “fougasse” is a type of flat brioche served in the south of France as a savoury version or -more rarely- as a sweet one. A fougasse with bacon bits or olives is a lovely thing to share before dinner but this sweetmeat one is unique to the small walled town of Aigues Mortes in the south of France. It is light and moist, sweet and fragranced, drenched in orange blossom fragrance and soft butter. It would make a lovely breakfast for a bank holiday.

I made the dough yesterday evening and it is pillowy and plump, ready for the oven this morning.

Ingredients list:

  • Fine flour, 250 g
  • Sugar, 100g
  • Butter 150g
  • 3 eggs
  • Quick yeast, 1 tsp
  • Milk, 2 Tbsp
  • Orange blossom water, 100ml
  • zest of one lemon and one orange

Warm a little milk to blood temperature and mix the quick yeast in that liquid.

Cream 100g of butter with the sugar.

Add the flour to this mix, then the yeast, then the egg. Work to a smooth and elastic dough. Beat with a wooden spoon to get it plump and aerated. Add 2 big spoonfuls of orange blossom.

Leave to rest for a night in the bowl or at least 1 and 1/2 hour.

You want a glossy and sticky dough with lots of tiny bubbles inside it. It will about double its size.

Knead it back with a wooden spoon again and lay into a lined baking tray. The amount above will be enough for a medium size tray.

Shave bits off the remaining 50g of butter and intersperse  on the dough. Shake some sugar on top. Pour a good amount of orange blossom (2 Tbsp) and put the tray into the oven.

Bake 25 min at 180° on the middle rack of the oven- this detail is important because the delicate brioche will take too much colour if left on the bottom rack.

It will raise  a little but must not take too much colour on the top either.

When ready, mix some more sugar with the rest of the orange blossom to make a thick syrup and spread on the hot dough. Leave to cool and serve when the syrup has dried up into a thin crust.

Aigues Mortes is a small walled town where A. and I celebrated our wedding some years back… We love going back time and time again  for those memories of course but also for the gorgeous ice creams you eat in massive waffle cornets near medieval gates and for a certain Patisserie outside the walls that bakes the very best “Fougasse d’Aigues Mortes”,  steeped in crushed sugar and orange blossom syrup.

Aigues Mortes roman church is were we got married: A beautiful simple church that saw Saint Louis, king of France, set off for the seventh crusade. THe town takes its name from the marsh lands that surrounds it towards the sea, but at the time it was close enough to the water to launch a flotilla towards Egypt!

We shared this for breakfast, before heading off the Richmond Park with a picnic rug and a filled hamper! Thank God for sunshine…

Ready to share!

Ready to share!

PS:My favourite fougasse comes from the Olmeda patisserie, in rue Emile Jamais, juste outside the walled town.  My version was close …

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Tarte fine à l’ Abricot corse et Au Miel du maquis

 

Palombaggia beach in Corsica

A crispy, crusty tart, scented with honey infused in the Corsican “maquis”: colorful above all else. I love anything orange; the colour of the sun, the stones and the heat itself. An earthy and grounded colour: “la terre est bleue comme une orange”, says the poet.
Ingredients list:
  • All butter puff pastry
  • 6 to 8 apricots
  • Semolina 2tbsp
  • Honey 4 tbsp
  • Pine nuts, a handful
Preheat the oven to 180.
Roll the pastry to a thin crust. Lay the pastry onto a flat oven tray and make a square shape, taking time to just roll the edge and seal them with a fork.
Shake the semolina all over the surface. This will absorb the excess juices – sometime you won’t need any, sometime more; depending on the fruit!
Cut up the apricots in quarters and place them skin down onto the pastry.
Drizzle your honey on top of the fruit and decorate with pine nuts.
Put in the oven for a good 45 minutes until crispy and make sure the heat is stronger at the bottom of the oven so the pastry dries and gives a dry puff crunch under the bite.
This very simple tart, like all very simple dishes,  deserves the very best ingredients : tasty, supple apricots and the best honey.  Something a bit wild and resinous like a mountain honey… A bit of holiday magic then gets conjured up in your plate.
A beach fringed with water so clear you could keep your eyes open to observe the fish was the setting of a delicious cousins picnic. No photo of the tart as it was eaten too fast but here are more pine scented and sea sprayed photos…

A precious sand-lily still in bloom after the bake-off…

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Sausage rolls and picnic eggs for a Royal week-end up river

This gallery contains 11 photos.

I had never attempted puff pastry or picnic eggs but I did both last week-end for a picnic we were taking to the river.  Being the royal wedding bank holiday, I wanted to put together a very British luncheon and … Continue reading

>Make a wish with your first strawberry of the year!

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I love the British spirit! Today we had our first picnic in the rain… Admittedly, it was spitting rather than bucketing but England is the only country in the world where the elements never deter anybody from laying out the perfect picnic. We French do food better than most but the one food related event where the English not only excel but surpass us, is the picnic. Never mind that they are using a French word in the first place, they still have taken this word to the level of an art form! Nobody does picnicking like the Brits – rain or no rain. I still remember with a shiver a picnic in Sandhurst with my in-laws and a carriage-full of children that took place under pouring rain; and another one on a Jersey beach where the sausages got soaked on the barbecue. 
Indeed, the British excel in the Art of the picnic and will never let the elements spoil the fun…
In fact, they almost relish the hardship and I suspect rather enjoy their strawberries and cream better if they have to shelter them from a swift shower.
So here is a strawberry recipe than would warm any sinking heart:
Chocolate strawberries
500g of strawberries
Dark chocolate 180g
1 big spoonful of rapeseed oil
Melt the chocolate on low heat until it coats the wooden spoon. Then mix in the oil and let it cool slightly. One by one, dip the strawberries into the mix and let them dry onto a sheet of baking paper.
Eat outdoors with a chilled bottle of rosé such as Chateau de la Tuilerie, rosé de Syrah, under a warm spring sun! Please order all of the above for next week-end and in the meantime I wish a very happy birthday to Maman who is travelling to Paris today with a crowd of very merry friends, having just toured Champagne and Alsace in search of fine wine and good food – of the non-picnic variety.