French Potager - egg & dart blog
Life, outside

The Edge of a New Season -Yvonne’s Garden

French Potager - egg & dart blog

The seasons are turning. But I guess I should start with Hello! How have you been? It always feels overwhelming how much there is to catch up on but let’s say that here we have been busy loving a bright baby boy turned toddler, spending time with loved ones and friends, and just generally working at the great balancing act of life. Ya know?

French Potager - egg & dart blog

But the seasons are turning now, outside and at home. My little love has started his first year of preschool. He is a bit past 2 1/2 years old and that feels oh so very young to me but now, in the third (fourth? I’m forgetting already!) week I am finally picking up a smiling boy at lunchtime instead of a devastated one. It feels both amazing (chunks of free time to get things done!) and heart-wrenching (my baby-who-will-always-be-my-baby, isn’t a baby anymore).

French Potager - egg & dart blog

But these new free mornings! Oh do I have big plans.  I am nothing if not overambitious with my to-do lists. And I can’t wait to share more on those plans very soon. First, though, I wanted to share my dusk walk through my mother-in-law’s garden, one of the first of many more moments to come I hope of re-tending that creative spark.

French Potager - egg & dart blog

Motherhood brings so many things into sharp focus (and others are thrown out of field), perhaps none of these being more evident to me now than my absolute need for the natural world. To see it, to study it, to be near it, to be inspired by it. I need nothing more than 5 minutes and my camera in the garden to let my mind go and my creative instinct out. So here’s to more inspiration, and passions, and adventures coming up! Enjoy a little peek into the potager.

French Potager - egg & dart blog

French Potager - egg & dart blog

French Potager - egg & dart blog


French Potager - egg & dart blog

French Potager - egg & dart blog

French Potager - egg & dart blog

French Potager - egg & dart blog

French Potager - egg & dart blog

French Potager - egg & dart blog



Food & Recipes

The Rain and Light, the In Between Season

I come from a place where the autumn season is full of vivid colors against a bright blue sky and crisp sea air. But Paris has a very different style when it comes to this season. The summer ends and the gray and rain begin. It sounds all doom and gloom but there are days of beautiful sun, days when we blink because our eyes had gotten used to the gray, we just have to survive days upon days of drizzle to enjoy them. It isn’t an easy change for me and sometimes I catch myself starting to dread what has always been my favorite season.

But there are graces. Vivid potimarron squashes and fresh hazelnuts and walnuts start to appear on marché tables. Figs and Muscat grapes and wild mushrooms. While I was making my shopping list for the week, I found myself finally getting excited about these flavors, the evidence that the season was changing, and I wanted some wild mushrooms. The days of rain sprinkled with beautiful clear days are surely good for their numbers. Something to get excited about.

The rain and our poor feet that were tired of getting soaked kept us from the market Sunday. Anyway, you know I have to work on emptying my fridge! But I was anxious to grab some mushrooms at the market on Wednesday because I knew just what I wanted to do with them. A galette with earthy chard and creamy goat’s cheese to accent the mushrooms. And a crust with hazelnut flour? It could only be good to have all these seasonal flavors together.

As I waited my turn at the marché, looking at every kind of mushroom on the table and trying to decide on the best ones, I spotted some heirloom tomatoes on the back table. Not many of them, but beautiful black ones and green zebras. They are the very last I thought. For this season in transition, mushrooms and heirloom tomatoes side-by-side. Just for a little while. So I couldn’t resist them. Who knows exactly how long until they are ready again next summer. So here is our dinner for a season fading into another. For getting excited for Autumn. Wild Mushroom, Swiss Chard, and Chevre Galette. Rather nice with a simple heirloom salad for a friend.

Wild Mushroom, Swiss Chard & Chevre Galette

for the pastry:

3/4 c. all purpose flour

1/2 c. hazelnut flour (or replace with same of all-purpose)

8 tbsp / 115g cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks

1 tsp. sea salt

4 – 5 tbsp. ice water

for the galette:

1/2 pound swiss chard or spinach, well washed and stems removed

2 shallots, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 pound mixed wild mushrooms, brushed clean with a dry brush and large ones cut into thick slices

3 oz. / 90 g chevre (semi-aged, not the fresh creamy kind)

olive oil


parsley to serve

1. To make the pastry, gather the butter, flours, and salt in a bowl or a food processor. Cut the butter into the flour until combined and the mixture resembles wet sand. Add the ice water, one tablespoon at a time, mixing just enough for the dough to come together and form a ball. Gently form the dough into a disk on a floured plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

2. In a sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and add the shallots. Sauté until they are softened and becoming translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds until it is fragrant. Add the chard and cover the pan until the chard has wilted. Remove the cover and continue to sauté until the extra liquid in the pan has evaporated.  Transfer the chard mixture to a colander, press with the back of a spoon to squeeze out any excessive moisture and then leave to cool.

3. Wipe out the pan and heat again over medium-high heat. Add enough butter to just coat the bottom of the pan and add some of the mushrooms in a single layer. Don’t overcrowd the pan, you can cook the mushrooms in several batches. Resist the urge to move the mushrooms around and let them cook until golden, 3 – 4 minutes, then flip them to do the same to the other side. Remove the mushrooms to a dish and continue in this manner until all the mushrooms are sautéed and golden, adding a bit more butter as needed. Once they are finished, toss with a little salt and pepper to taste.

4. Remove the pastry dough from the fridge and, on a piece of baking parchment, roll into a roughly 12 inch circle. Spread the chard evenly around the center of the circle, leaving enough of a border to fold up. Crumble 2 oz. / 60 g of the chevre over the chard. Add the mushrooms on top, slightly heaped in the center. Crumble the last 1 oz. / 30 g of chevre around the top. Gently bring up the sides of the pastry, gently pinching to close where it overlaps itself.
Slide the galette onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180° C / 350° F.

5. Bake the galette until the crust and filling are starting to turn golden on the edges, 30 – 45 minutes.  Serve warm or room temperature, sprinkled with chopped parsley.



Food & Recipes

Spiced Apple and Quinoa Muffins for the First Weekend Mornings of Fall

When the air starts to cool down, I start to imagine being able to use the oven again. Our little counter top model throws out a lot of heat and I usually avoid it if I can in the summer. But now, now I want muffins. The perfect weekend breakfast. At least one of them. And I had the perfect excuse when, as often lately, I found myself with just a little bit of cooked quinoa left over after a meal that needed to be used up. (I am starting to think R. may be addicted to quinoa but I’m not going to complain about that!) I thought of those first crisp apples we had sitting on the counter and the idea of the nutty quinoa with cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg spiced apple sounded like quintessential autumn.

First I tried a recipe I found online for plain quinoa muffins. I had high hopes and the batter was yummy, but once they were out of the oven and I had patiently let them cool, they were too dense and chewy, even dry. I guess I’m spoiled for muffins, they must be moist and delicate and light. So I scrapped that recipe but I didn’t have to wait too long to have more leftover quinoa from a weekend lunch to try again. This time, I knew there was no need to search far afield and I went right back to our family’s favorite muffins. I played a little here and there and adjusted a bit to add the quinoa and the fragrant spiced apples but the base of a good baking recipe is something you hold onto and don’t mess around with too much.

And they were just what I wanted. They could have come right out of my childhood mornings at the kitchen table eating blueberry muffins and looking out the window at the bright colors of the maple tree that always turned early and the Atlantic beyond that. Except they have a new flavor, maybe one for the fall mornings of our young married life. Mornings where people are rolling their grocery caddies down below, on the way to the market, and Albert is curled up in a crate by the kitchen window, never far from us, and Romain says, “Un peu de classique?” (some classical music?). Maybe these muffins will be part of the flavor of those memories. In any case, they will certainly be a part of the flavor of the coming cooler months.

Spiced Apple & Quinoa Muffins

makes 10 muffins

1 1/2 cups peeled, cored, and diced apple

6 tbsp. unsalted butter

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1/8 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking powder

1 cup cooked and cooled quinoa

1/4 cup milk

1 1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup chopped walnuts or hazelnuts (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C. Heat 2 tbsp. of the butter over medium low heat in a sauté pan. Add the apples, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg and stir to coat the apple pieces. Cook until the apple is softened, about 5 minutes, resisting the urge to stir too often so the pieces don’t break down. Once they are soft but not mushy, remove from the pan and let cool completely.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar using an electric mixer until light and creamy. Add the egg, and beat until very pale and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, salt, and baking powder to combine.
  3. Fold the apples and quinoa into the butter mixture. Add half the flour and fold until just combined. Do the same with half the milk. Repeat until all the milk and flour has been just worked into the batter. Do not over-mix!
  4. Grease a muffin tin or line it with muffin papers. Divide the batter into the tin filling to just below the rim. Top each muffin with chopped walnuts and bake in the oven until golden and a tester comes out dry when inserted in the center of a muffin, about 25 minutes.
  5. When they are done, let cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then remove the muffins to a cooling rack (or devour them all instantly).



Food & Recipes, Loving

Roasted Tomatoes & Loving

I love roasting tomatoes and freezing them to save for winter. For one thing, it’s so quick and once they are frozen it’s easy to just pull out however many you need without defrosting too much. Sometimes, with canned tomatoes, I worry about not using an opened jar up fast enough and then losing it. But when I freeze these, I can just reach and and grab three for a tart or a whole bunch for chili. It’s the best of summer stretched through to the cold months! And it’s starting. This morning it was quiet and a hint of the coming coolness was coming in the windows so I roasted this year’s first pan of sweet heirloom tomatoes. Now, we just have to see if any of them actually make it into the freezer! There’s pizza on the menu tonight. (Edit 9/10/12 – check out some tips on how I roast and freeze these tomatoes at the bottom of the post.)

Here are some of things I’ve been loving this week:

  •  I really love the shape of this sweater and I bet it would be easy to come up with a similar handknit.
  • I’m starting to get that end-of-the-summer-season obsession with stocking up for the winter. Maybe it has something to do with both Romain and I agreeing that the time just went by so fast this year thanks to early cool weather and lack of vacation time. In any case, I just keep adding recipes to my must-preserve list.
  • True loving: My good friend (and bridesmaid!) Lindsey is trying to come up with enough funds to rescue sweet Meena, a street dog with a prior leg injury, from the dangerous life she’s been living around Lindsey’s fiancé’s neighborhood in India. These poor animals are unwanted and impossible to get locals to adopt and, unfortunately, often abused. She’s scrabbling to find some solutions before she has to leave, hopefully, with Meena. As an animal lover my heart goes out to both Meena and Linds. If you think you can, you can donate to Meena’s cause here.
  • Summer may be coming to an end but I’ve got ice cream on the brain and am dying to experiment with some flavors. When we were in San Francisco we made it to The Ice Cream Bar (amazing) and I have dreams of starting my own ice cream shop in Paris. This city needs a shake-up on the ice cream scene!
  • The new Sweet Paul Magazine issue is live! If you don’t know it, check it out. This issue is packed with inspiring Fall ideas and my list of things to try just got quite a bit longer.

I know this week was kind of quiet on the blog but it’s because I’ve been busy behind the scenes working on some fun posts for the coming weeks. So keep you’re eyes peeled for next week!

happy friday!

Any great weekend plans?



Edit 9/10/12 – I had a request on the Facebook page about my tips for roasting and freezing and wanted to share them here too. First, use tomatoes that are ripe and sweet and not massive in size. Wash them and halve them the long way. Place them on a parchment lined roasting sheet but not so close that they are all touching, this is important later. Sprinkle with sea salt and fresh pepper and drizzle them with olive oil. Roast in a 425°F/220°C oven for 25 to 30 minutes (for small to medium tomatoes) or until they start to get a little color on the edge and they are puffed and juicy. When done, take them out of the oven and leave on the roasting pan to cool completely. If they have released a lot of liquid, spoon this off the pan. Once cool, place the pan with the tomatoes in the freezer and when the tomatoes are completely frozen you can pluck them off the pan and store in a freezer bag. By keeping them from touching and spooning off any liquid, you’ve made it a lot easier to get off the pan once they are frozen. If they are persistent in sticking to the pan, try running a little hot water on the bottom of the pan and the tomatoes will pop right off. Now you have roasted tomatoes that are easy to pull individually from the freezer bag. When I typed all this out on Facebook, I shortened ‘tomato’ to ‘tom’ and in the words of Julia: “It will be such a treat to have them in the winter like you say (when you are PINING for fresh toms!)”