Tag Archives: french

Apricots- A Taste of France

I just love apricots, they bring a taste of French summer into our home.  And although I didn’t purchase mine from a market stall at the side of the road (Lidl’s best), they are still beautifully coloured and soft skinned.

Apricots in all their glory

Apricots in all their glory

Apricot Cakes


125g plain flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

75g butter, room temperature

70g Caster sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

75ml full fat milk

apricots, halved, pitted, cut into 1/4-inch wedges

2 tablespoons brown sugar


Preheat oven to 160oC. Put the paper cases in the tin. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined.

With mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in 3 additions alternately with milk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Divide this batter among muffin cups (cups will be only 1/3 full) and smooth tops. Top with the apricot slices and sprinkle liberally with brown sugar.


Bake until cakes are golden and a tester inserted into the centres comes out clean, 20–25 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack; let pan cool 5 minutes. Transfer cakes to rack and let cool completely.



A French Supermarket marathon

I love to shop in a French Supermarket.  The bigger the better. The one we visited in Strasbourg was just mahoosive. We were of course on a mission. To purchase as much as we could, for as reasonable a price as we could, for the team in Switzerland for the next two weeks.  So this meant LOTS of pasta etc.  With enough fresh produce to see himself and myself over the weekend until everyone arrives.

E. Leclerc is one of the main supermarkets in France, along with Carrefour (another firm favourite.  And my kids were probably counting their luck stars that they weren’t being dragged along.  As it was I’d say I looked a little like a Chinese tourist in Trinity College- click, click, click.

Of Course the first thing you see in a french supermarket is all the wine.

French Supermarkets


And all the cheese

French Supermarket Shopping

Every type of cheese including my all tine favourite Tete a moine

And all the fish

French Supermarkets


And all the veg and salads.

French Supermarkets

I have a serious tomato fetish. Seriously.

Basically it’s like an Irish Supermarket on steroids.  And not only does the french supermarket stock only in season vegetables, it also stocks cheese that’s in season.  Oh yeah baby.  I was in HEAVEN.

French Supermarkets

A little more choice than just “superquinn” sausages here!

The patisserie caught my eye (OBVS) and after drooling carelessly over just about everything I persuaded himself to sit down for a coffee to *try* a little something out.  You know, cause we were on holidays??  It’s very convenient to have a cafe in the middle of the Supermarket. As we were actually starting to wane at that stage!

French Supermarkets

“Come to Mama”


I could have taken a thousand pictures, and will take more when we are back in France in two weeks time.  It’ll be interesting to compare it to the Swiss Supermarket.  We will see if the rumours about price are true.  I really hope not, as we’ve a lot of mouths to feed!





It’s good to be French – Bertinet Kitchen Day 2

Who doesn’t love a baguette, and I’m not talking about the type you buy in a petrol station in every county in Ireland.  I’m talking about the crust, that saliva inducing smell, and that recognisable shapely length of carbohydrate heaven.  Mind you I’m still struggling with the kneading and shaping. Anyway, I got my French on today.


Monday 14 Mar BATH 099

Richard imparting more nuggets of bread info

For me, the Baguette is the epitome of French bread, a little like the soda bread in Ireland.  And it evokes memories of smell, taste, flavour and most importantly a taste that is unique and not replicated in any other bread.  This is due to it’s crust, and more importantly, the “ear” or cut along the top of the bread that is made just prior to baking.

So not only do you have to contend with making the perfect dough, rising for the perfect time, shaping in the perfect way- there’s a very important slice to be applied to the top of the loaf.


Students shaping French Bread


The French Lame

The baguettes ready to be judged

This blade, makes a far superior cut to the top of the dough than the sharpest of knives.  And after the obligatory- don’t touch these or you will surely die- talk from Richard, he showed us how to use one. And showed us again, and again.  And the group got more and more nervous.  It was like a group of brain surgeons operating for the first time.  The sweat was pouring off us, and not just due to the heat. The lame used to cut the long baguette is curved- the blade is held with the concave surface facing up, and used in one continuous and confident slice. A flap of dough is created then in the oven that will lift up to create an “ear” as the loaf expands and, by lifting gradually, slows the expansion of the loaf. This prolongs the time during which new areas of dough are exposed to the direct heat of the oven and results in greater overall expansion – a larger “bloom.”
A better crust, and tastier, and more importantly easily digested bread.  Its the chewing of the crust that makes our saliva activate, this in turn gets our stomach juices flowing, making this beauty the most easily digested bread you’ll ever eat. The shallow cut, interestingly, creates a better flap than a deep cut, which would result in the flap being too heavy to support it’s own weight. Also if the cut is vertical, the bread opens too quickly exposing too much of the crust at once, and this bread is also more evenly coloured indicting the incorrect cut. Sounds complicated? Well it is.  And a little like a child learning to write there name, I think I’ll be practicing my bakers signature for a while to come.


Bread in the basket- very satisfying