When I visited Le Touquet this past April, we ate at a lovely restaurant called À Table. It was our second visit to the restaurant. The first time was two years ago, also during the month of April. We had such a positive experience that first time, that we decided to book a table for lunch on our last day there. Luckily, it did not disappoint, as did a few other restaurants we returned to (here’s a hint: stay away from Le Matisse and Le Restaurant du Marché).
Though À Table is small (my chair was literally touching that of the person behind me), it serves gorgeous food and is friendly and welcoming.
My main course that last day was certainly memorable. I was served a tender pork loin with a velvety lavender sauce. Who would’ve thought this would be such an exceptionally beautiful combination! After that wonderful meal, I was reminded about how much I love lavender. In my garden, bath and pillow, but also in my food. In fact, there are three lavender recipes on this blog that can attest to that! Ever tried lavender in jam or in baked treats? Well here’s your chance! The one thing you have to remember is that you must use edible lavender. For those in the Netherlands, I got a bag at Dille & Kamille (not sponsored), but you can also try health food shops or organic supermarkets.
I recreated the pork loin recipe one Saturday evening and it was quite a success. However, I did not write down the recipe. Stay tuned!
In the meantme, here is a lavender creation all ready for you to try your hand at. This strawberry and lavender mousse is an elegant, summery dessert that can be made in advance. In other words, it’s the perfect way to end any dinner party in the months ahead! Enjoy!
Strawberry & Lavender Mousse
Serves 4-6 (depending on the size cups you use)
- 300g strawberries, plus some extra as garnish
- 1 1/2 tsps dried edible lavender
- 4 tbsps sugar
- 5 sheets of gelatin
- 250g mascarpone
- 200ml single cream
Place the strawberries, lavender and sugar in a blender and blitz into a smooth sauce. Pour into a small saucepan and heat while stirring for approximately 5 minutes. In the meantime, soak the gelatin sheets in cold water for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, squeeze out the gelatin sheets and add them into the hot sauce one by one stirring well after each. Allow the mixture to cool. Whip the mascarpone and cream until the mixture holds its shape. Carefully fold in the strawberry sauce in three batches. Do not stir too hard or whisk! Divide the mousse over 4 or 6 cups and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours. When ready to serve, garnish with fresh strawberries and perhaps a sprig of mint.
My oven is no more. Last week as I was recipe testing, I noticed that the thermostat light did not go off to indicate the oven had reached the right temperature. I also noticed that my food was either coloring too quickly or not cooking well at all. We looked into getting it repaired, but ultimately decided on buying a new one, which is exciting because it’s really pretty! It’ll be installed on Thursday and I can hardly wait!
But what to do when it’s Friday and you want to make a nice dessert for the family?! My solution came to me in the form of French (OK, English too!) inspiration: a beautiful trifle made with French madeleines, cherries, sweetened cream and dark chocolate!
Enjoy and have a delicious weekend!
PS: Oh, and I think this will make a great Valentine’s Day dessert, too! Should you want to make your own madeleines, check out my recipe here.
French Madeleine & Cherry Trifle
- 100ml crème fraîche d’Isigny
- 2 sachet vanilla sugar (8g)
- 125ml cream
- 1 small jar cherries in syrup, drained (you will need 4 tbsps of the syrup and 6 tbsps of the cherries)
- 6 Bonne Maman madeleines, chopped (I chopped each one into 8 pieces)
- dark chocolate
Put the crème fraîche in a bowl and loosen it with a fork. Whip the cream with the vanilla sugar until stiff. Fold the whipped cream through the crème fraîche. Place the chopped madeleines in a shallow dish and drizzle with the 4 tbsps of cherry syrup. To assemble the dessert, place a layer of madeleine bits in each glass. Top with 1 tbsp of cherries and half of the cream. Grate in some dark chocolate and repeat with one more layer, ending with the grated chocolate.
In France, the gâteau au yaourt is a true classic and part of the repertoire of all home cooks. There’s a wonderful simplicity about this cake. Even children and the most novice of cooks can make it with excellent results. All of the main ingredients are weighed with a pot of yogurt, hence the name. But the charm of this beautiful yogurt cake is in its tender crumb and versatility. You can flavor it with citrus zest, stir in some fruit or serve it with Nutella or jam. A Twitter friend, Jeremie, suggested stirring in blackberries, assuring me it would be a “taste of heaven”.
Though the cake is suitable for almost all occasions, I like to serve it with tea, on pretty plates with a dollop of crème fraîche, fresh strawberries and perhaps a few shavings of dark chocolate.
By the way, you can replace the yogurt with sour cream, Greek yogurt or even crème fraîche. All would work beautifully in this cake.
Happy weekend and enjoy!
Note: Check the 20 minutes into the baking time to make sure the cake is not getting to brown. Should that be the case, cover with aluminum foil.
Gâteau au Yaourt
- 1 pot of yogurt (125 g)
- 2 pots of all-purpose flour
- 2 pots of sugar
- 2 tsps baking powder
- 3 eggs
- ¾ pot sunflower oil
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
- zest of 1 organic lemon
Preheat oven to 190° C. Lightly grease a 20 cm springform tin, and dust the sides with flour. In a large bowl whisk all of the ingredients until thoroughly mixed and the batter is smooth and satiny. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool on a rack before unmolding.
Though they’re available year-round, there’s nothing as delightful as seasonal strawberries. The kind that have had plenty of sunlight and time to grow, and certainly not the imported, golf ball-sized, pale ones you see in plastic boxes at the supermarket in the dead of winter! From the middle of May until approximately the end of July, the beautifully sweet aroma of seasonal Dutch strawberries perfumes many farmers’ markets in the country, enticing all those who walk by to purchase at least a few baskets – one to eat while walking around the stalls, and the rest to take home. It’s best to use them as soon as possible after purchase though; strawberries do not like to sit around for long, especially in a cold refrigerator which will completely ruin their delicate taste and scent.