The summer has been long and hot and it doesn´t seem to cool down any time soon. We have been enjoying long white nights but also the almost unbearable heat that covers Paris every year around this time. Last year we escaped the heatwave and spent the summer in Estonia with seabreeze and summer rain. This year, however, we are staying in France as we have finally said farewell to our apartment in Paris that we have called home for the last years and moved to the loveliest Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Change and moving can be challenging and settling in takes a while but it´s also so exciting and fulfilling to create a home for all the years to come. This is the first home my children will remember, the home we will spend coming Christmases, birthdays, early weekday mornings and late weekend nights. It makes me think of my childhood and the early memories I have from my previous homes. We moved several times when I was little, which I loved by the way, the process of packing and unpacking, settling in my new room, it was something exciting and fun. Now, I have to say, not so fun to pack and unpack. But there is still the element of excitement and it makes me think of all the details that I remember from my childhood homes. The wooden beams in our apartment, the old bedroom furniture set in my room that used to belong to my grandparents, wide windowseats, blue stripes on the sofa and the scent of our summer house. It´s funny how rooms always seemed bigger, is it because we were smaller?
Being a mother has made me, amongst other things, more nostalgic and to reminisce more then usual. As does moving. Something ends, something begins. The bittersweet bits of life. We were discovering the park of Saint Germain the other day which in full summer bloom has heaps of lavender, one of my favourites. Bertrand was smelling and trying to eat it and I was thinking if lavender will be part of his childhood memories, the sweet scent that would tranform him later in life back to those early years. I have always been very attached to scents. I can tell you where I first smelled something, what day it was and which song was playing at the moment. Scents have the power to influence our mood, wellbeing and can take us on a walk down memory lane. So as an ode to some of my favourite scents (and flavours) I will share 3 recipes for summer desserts.
This decadent dessert gives the impression of something demanding, when in fact, I have yet to come across a dessert less challenging then my lavender posset. This is a summery, fragnant posset but the flavour options for a posset in general are endless. Lavender and citrus are a great pairing and as lavender season is in full bloom, I thought I'd give it a go. It quickly became a summer favourite of mine.
Ingredients (for 2 servings):
33 cl crème entièr e
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp lime juice
80g lavender confit
A palmful on fresh blueberries
Some fresh lavender for decoration
Method: Heat the cream with lavender confit in a smaller pot, stir continuously until the mixture is even. Let the cream mixture come to a boil and let it boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and mix in lemon and lime juice. Split the mixture between the serving cups / glasses and sprinkle on some fresh lavender. Leave them to cool overnight in the refrigerator. The result is a silky cream, quite rich, so fresh blueberries add a nice fresh bite. Serve cold.
Raspberry thyme cake In its essence, this is a simple home made cake but it is festive enough to be served at the end of a dinner party. I love the combination of raspberries and thyme here and, so far, no slices have ever been left. Ingredients (6-8 people): Cake: 3 eggs 100 ml of olive oil 1 tbsp of honey 140g of flour A pinch of baking soda 200g of fresh raspberries Thyme syrup: 3 tbps honey 0.5 l of water A bunch of fresh thyme Method: Thyme syrup: On medium heat stir together water and honey until boiling. Add a bunch of thyme (leave some for decorating) and allow to boil for 1-2 minutes. Then remove the pot from the stove, cover it with a lid and let it cool down. Cake: Heat the oven to 175 degrees. In a bowl whisk together eggs, honey and olive oil. Add flour ( a tablespoon at a time) and baking soda. The dough should be quite liquid, but not too runny. Pour the dough in a cake tin and add half of the raspberries, evenly to cover everything. Push the raspberries gently in the dough, so they would be right between the top and bottom Bake in the oven for 45-55 minutes, depending on the oven, until the cake is golden brown and passes the toothpick test. If the cake seems to be too dry, not to worry, this is where the thyme syrup comes in. Let the cake cool a bit, so you could handle it comfortably with your hands. Carefully turn the cake upside down and, using a toothpick, poke tiny holes evenly all over. With a tablespoon pour the thyme syrup over the cake, depending on the taste preferences, how sweet of a cake is desired. Leave the cake for a couple of hours to cool completely and for the syrup to absorb. Before serving, gently turn the cake right side up again, add the rest of the raspberries and some thyme leaves.
Poached peaches with vanilla and chamomile
Summery, fragrant, with delicate chamomile flavour and blushing flesh. Practical recipe for peaches that are not as soft and sweet as desired and need some help. Ideal companion for mascarpone cream, whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Ingredients (for 4 persons): 4 large peaches 425 ml of boiling water 2 tbsp honey 1 vanilla pod
1 tbsp chamomile Large bowl of ice cold water Method: Fill one bowl with ice water, place peaches (cut in half) in another bowl and pour on boiling water (so the peaches are covered). Wait 30 seconds, then remove the peaches with a spoon from the hot water and into the cold water. Skins should now easily peel off. Over medium heat pour boiling water into a pot, add honey, vanilla (seeds and pod), chamomile and let the mixture come to a boil for 4-5 minutes. Then carefully add peaches and leave them for 8-10 minutes over medium heat. Serve with whipped cream, mascarpone or vanilla ice cream.