The Kale Effect

Guys, don’t judge from the title of this blog post that I’m way behind the times and that I only heard about kale two days ago. This little guy, for the longest time it seems, has infiltrated our social media, smoothies, everyday conversations, wardrobes and even our dreams at night! (I’m guilty of the latter..now you can judge me).

Anyway, you’re thinking ‘So, kale..great..and what?’ The what is that France has F I N A L L Y started to catch on to the most friendly vegetable currently known to mankind. Having followed a variety of social media accounts for over a year and witnessing the insane craze that has been created over kale, you would think it would be available everywhere. Clearly not, but I’m willing to forgive and forget just as long as chou-frisé is here to stay!

My friend Margot messaged me last week with a titillating picture – she’d just bought a bunch for €2.50 at our local Monoprix. You can imagine I was green with envy. The first thing I literally did the next day was go straight to the supermarket and grab myself a bunch. Once it was in my reach, I realised I wasn’t sure what to do with it, such as the possibilities are endless. I was happy just to know it was sitting in my fridge where no-one could take it away from me.

I finally decided I was going to add a few kale leaves to my winter warming soup I made over the weekend. I had every intention of sticking to just leek and potatoes, but then went in the kale, a carrot, some mushrooms…the end result was yummier than I was expecting with a rich green colour (check out my Instagram for a look!) Next week I’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving with a bunch of friends and I’ve decided to make a kale and Brussels sprout salad which I’ll be posting about so don’t go anywhere!


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Today, I found this great recipe online for a warm kale and bacon salad, with mejdool dates, almonds and a creative dressing (I didn’t follow the recipe to a T – I used lardons instead of bacon, regular dates as they were all I had to hand, added half an avocado and omitted the almonds because I had none left!) The end result was still sooo delicious, though next time I would add less dates as it became a bit too sweet for me.

I’ll keep you guys updated on Thanksgiving – until then, gros bisous!

Parc de Bagatelle

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Yesterday The Boy and I finally decided to visit something that has been on our list for a few months, Parc de Bagatelle. Simple and charming with its Anglo-Chinese influence of the 18th century, it’s hard to believe that the château and park were created in only 64 days! The name of the park is interesting, as bagatelle means something lacking in value, a trifle of a thing  (if anyone has read Sophie’s World they might recognise the word from her philosopher teacher’s frequent saying, “It’s a mere bagatelle.”) I find this ironic because it is a beautiful park with just enough to see to keep you entertained!

 

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The park is situated in the 16th arrondissement of Paris in Bois de Boulogne (Boulogne Woods) near Neuilly-sur-Seine, what we would call the ‘posh area.’ It is an award-winning botanical garden, famous for its roses and free-roaming peacocks. As we are in the middle of winter, you can imagine the rose garden was rather thread-bare and I hope to go again in better weather and show you all the pretty summer colours!

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As I mentioned, the construction took just 2 months to complete – this goes back to a bet between Marie-Antoinette and the Count of Artois where the former apparently argued it would be impossible to start and finish building the park, with a palace, in under 3 months. Well, she was certainly proved wrong!

I just want to share a few photos with you all and hopefully some of you will get the chance to visit it yourselves 🙂

 

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Bisous!

Oat Cakes aux Pomme-Poire

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Morning everyone!

I’m so happy it’s Friday, I’m looking forward to spending the weekend with friends and especially tomorrow night where we’ll be having raclette at home *drool* I’ll be posting about that separately, just know that this dish is the single best thing in the entire world.

Apart from my Apple and Pear Oat Cakes (translation of the title!) of course. This is a very simple recipe consisting of three essential ingredients – oats, 1 egg and a home-made compote of apples and pears – but you can add other ingredients too such as chocolate chips, shredded coconut, chopped dried fruit etc. Initially I used to mash up a ripe banana and add that to the mix as it is thick enough to bind as well as providing natural sugar; however after using the compote I much prefer the consistency and taste of the apples and pears!

What is compote? >> This is a French name for a mix of blended fruit. It can come in a variety of flavours, such as banana and apple, chestnut and rhubarb, and is a staple in most French homes as an afternoon snack for little kiddies. The classic variety is simply apple, so just think of it as eating apple sauce!

Method

>> Peel and chop your apples and pears, place in a pan with water (not too much, you don’t want more water than fruit), and cook on a medium heat for about 25m until the fruit starts to soften. I used one of each because that’s what I had lying around in the kitchen and the pear especially was very ripe which helped with the sweetness factor.

>> In a bowl, mix one mug of oats with one egg. Add your optional ingredients at this point.

>> Once the fruit has softened, place in a blender and mix until smooth (or lumpy, however you like it!) Add to the oats.

>> The mixture should be quite wet but resist the temptation to add more oats because this could result in making the cakes stodgier than you would want. Heat some coconut oil in a pan and with your hands, make flat round discs and place in the pan. Cook for about 5m on each side until golden in colour. Serve with honey, yoghurt or au naturel.

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Remember Remember, the 5th of November…

Any true Brit should be able to reel off the next few lines that follow the subject of this post… If not, I’m very disappointed! For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, November 5th, also called Guy Fawkes Night, is a day we learn about at school, where in 1605 a man named Guy Fawkes and a few of his stooges decided to blow up the UK’s Houses of Parliament, in an attempt to assassinate King James I and restore the throne with a Catholic monarch. Commonly known as ‘The Gunpowder Plot,’ as tons of the explosive were to be used in the event, the men failed in their conspiracy, were subsequently found, tried, then hung and quartered (we lived in a lovely time eh…)

Back then, effigies of Guy Fawkes were burnt as a way to celebrate the King’s escape from murder. Nowadays on Guy Fawkes Night we remember this occasion by holding firework shows, lighting sparklers or by having a bonfire in your own back garden, all 3 of which we have been doing in my family for many, many years. In popular and political culture, Fawkes has become a symbol of standing against the government – think of the Occupy movements and V for Vendetta!

I haven’t been able to celebrate November 5th in the UK for the past two years which is a real shame because obviously no-one really gives a damn about it in France, PLUS the French have super strict laws about who can buy and use fireworks, the availability of which requires authorization from the town hall and prior notification of the fire brigade…They just really don’t want me to have fun do they?

Tonight I will have to make do with burning a few candles while The Boy rustles up some hot-dogs at home with a cup of chocolat chaud. And maybe we’ll watch V for Vendetta, just to keep the spirit alive.

Are any UK readers celebrating tonight? If any ex-pats in Paris or elsewhere were able to make a night of it, let me know how it went!

Bisous! And remember…

Remember, remember!
    The fifth of November,
    The Gunpowder treason and plot;
    I know of no reason
    Why the Gunpowder treason
    Should ever be forgot!
    Guy Fawkes and his companions
    Did the scheme contrive,
    To blow the King and Parliament
    All up alive.
    Threescore barrels, laid below,
    To prove old England’s overthrow.

Sweet Sugar Skull and Spicy Pumpkin Cake (Post-Halloween post!)

Hi everyone! So I wanted to share with you what I got up to the night of Halloween, I know this is a bit late but I’ve just been busy these past few days so forgive me!

I decided to ‘go’ as a sugar skull because I’ve always loved the creepy beauty of them, plus they’re a symbol of how other cultures, Mexican in this case, celebrate Halloween or ‘Day of the Dead’. (Plus I wouldn’t need an actual outfit as the make-up speaks for itself!) I’d been looking at a ton of tutorials on Youtube and found this one that really pleased me, so I bought the necessary make-up and off I went!

As I started applying the white base, I was feeling really unsure that I’d made the right decision. As someone who never wears make-up and then chooses to full on paint their face, I was starting to think I’d over-estimated my abilities. However as I continued to follow the steps and applied some colour and detail, it all finally came together and I could not have been happier with the result.

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I was honestly feeling like Superwoman at this point because my day had been so jam-packed but I still managed to go to La Defense in the morning to buy a floral headband, have lunch with The Boy, came home and cleaned the apartment, made a pumpkin cake!!! and still did all my sugar skull make-up.

Yes, pumpkin cake. My God it was delicious. I used one of the pumpkins I wrote about in my previous October Appreciation post, the tiny Jack-be-Little. I found that the flesh had a coconut-y taste so it was definitely going into the cake mixture.

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Here’s what I used:

-175g plain flour
-175g sugar
-175g butter (melted on a low heat)
-175g pumpkin flesh
-3 eggs
-10 dates (optional; de-seeded, chopped and soaked for 10m in hot water)
-2tspn of baking powder
-2tspn of cinnamon and mixed spice

Mix all your ingredients together, grease a baking tin and put in the oven for 30-40m on 200C. I also melted 50g of  dark chocolate with 25g of butter, put in a piping bag and piped a basic spider web design on the cake for that festive feel. The cake was warm and spicy, and the sweet dates give some texture.

Did you guys get up to any baking for Halloween? If anyone went trick or treating I would love to see your costumes!

Bisous!