Monthly Archives: August 2012

Chocolate mousse

Can you guess what we’re making?

It’s time to use up those egg whites!

Chocolate mousse is something I remember my mum making when I was very little, whenever my parents had dinner parties (80s-tastic!). I was allowed to lick the bowl :)

I made up my own recipe after reading a few from my favourite people (David/Julia, Raymond, Molly, Deb), so feel free to modify as you like.

I recommend using a good quality chocolate (70% plus) as it will make a difference to the overall taste.

Chocolate mousse
- serves 2 greedy people


100g  dark chocolate
glug of double cream
tablespoon vanilla extract (mine still tastes of rum, which was a good thing here)
a shot of strong coffee (I used what was left in our cafetière that morning)
2 eggs whites
6 teaspoons caster sugar


Combine the chocolate, double cream, vanilla and coffee in a heatproof bowl.

Melting for the mousse – mmmm chocolate soup

Melt the chocolate and above ingredients over a pan of simmering water. The water shouldn’t touch the bottom of the bowl – you don’t want the chocolate to overheat.

Meanwhile, start whisking the egg whites in a large clean bowl. This won’t take too long if you have an electric whisk, but it took me about 7 minutes to get them just right by hand.

The whisking begins…

When your whites have formed stiff peaks start to incorporate the sugar, one teaspoon at a time, whisking between each addition.

Whisking continued

When the chocolate has cooled slightly and the egg whites are ready, it’s time to start combining the mousse.

Using a metal spoon (so you don’t loose all those lovely bubbles) place 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate bowl and stir through in a figure of eight.

Mixing mousse

Once this third has been combined, stir through a tablespoon at a time until all the egg whites have been used. Try not to over-mix.

Pour into serving dishes and refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.

Use your finger to tidy (and eat) your mess…

Optional: serve at 10pm after your husband has rocked your teething baby to sleep.

Chocolate mousse helps (parents) with teething – FACT.

How do you use your egg whites? Feel free to leave a comment below :)







Bake’s mayonnaise

Bake’s mayonnaise

Sorry for my absence. It has been a busy week and there has been little time for blogging.

But, I’m back and have plenty to share with you!

I call this my mayonnaise because my darling mother tells me that I make it “wrong” – because I don’t always use her recipe ;)

It isn’t wrong, of course, as you only need to search “mayonnaise recipes” to find 1,000 different ways to make it. It is so simple to make that you just won’t need any from a jar again.

As usual, I don’t use a mixer or electric whisk but my muscles and some patience!

Bake’s mayonnaise


2 egg yolks
pinch of salt
olive oil
sunflower oil (or any oil that doesn’t have a strong flavour)
1 garlic clove, crushed
juice from a lemon
pepper to taste


I’m sorry, but I didn’t measure anything before or after I used it (even though Shake told me to!). I tend to add a bit of this or that until I’m happy with how it looks and tastes…

Whisk the egg yolks in a large bowl for 30 seconds or so. Add a pinch of salt.

VERY slowly start adding olive oil

Slowly adding olive oil…

Keep whisking the whole time.

Once the mixture starts to thicken, switch from olive oil to sunflower oil (or keep with the olive oil, but ours is expensive!).

If after whisking a while the mix doesn’t thicken at all, you may need to start again. Don’t throw away your hard work! Add it very slowly to your new egg yolks and then continue. 

A lot of whisking, but slowly thickening.

Continue to add sunflower oil until the mayonnaise is nice and thick. Stir in the crushed garlic.

Mayonnaise ingredients

Squeeze some lemon juice in, this will thin the mayonnaise a little but give it a good flavour kick. Add more sunflower oil and whisk again if you want it thicker.

Adding lemon juice

Add pepper as desired. We like a lot.

Store in the fridge for up to a week. Don’t serve to pregnant ladies (raw egg).

Enjoy some on toast, dip some veggies in it, make some potato salad…

I’ll share with you soon what I do with my egg whites – don’t throw them away!






Tartine bread, cast-iron combo cooker alternative

Photo credit to an endless banquet

If like me you’ve read Tartine Bread, but can’t find any shops nearby that sell the lovely cast iron double dutch oven combo cookers recommended, there is an alternative.

Or at least I thought there was…

Then before I’d finished writing this post I ran into a problem.

Emile Henry tagineOur Emile Henry tagine is meant to be invincible to heat. The manufacturers claim you can move this straight from a freezer into a 500 degree oven without causing any damage.

But after a few weeks of (very successfully) baking bread every day ours has cracked.

Maybe this isn’t the cause of the problem, but I can’t think what else would do this after 5 years of use.

Cracked Tagine

So moving on, I had a look at dutch oven combo cookers for sale online, but ended up ordering a La Cloche Baking Dome instead. It looks made for the job.

Fingers crossed.

Vegetable seeds for the winter garden

Vegetable seeds for winter garden

I’ve never grown winter veg, so this is going to be an experiment.

I’ve gone for the scatter-gun approach and bought a pack of anything that can be sown in September or October.  Including some vegetables I’m famous for hating – though I’m trying to work through my food issues as best I can.

It was also a good way to learn the French names for some of the less common vegetables.

And I must start work on that field soon, or I’ll have no-where to sow these.

Bread proofing box – improvised alternative

Improvised bread proofing boxOne of the challenges of baking sourdough here is that it proves very quickly in the heat. If I’m out working in the morning, it can be over-proven by the time I get back at lunch.

So I’m using our cool box (for our shopping) as an improvised proofing box. Currently four ice-packs seems to retard the dough just enough for my purposes.

It’ll be a very different story in the winter though, so I’ve been checking out some designs for home-made proofing boxes.

I feel another carpentry project may be on the horizon.


A few things I have learnt since moving to France

A neighbour…

:: The first things people ask when they meet baby and I:

  • Are you breastfeeding? (yes)
  • Does he sleep through the night? (not yet…)

:: Having visitors is lovely. Make the most of it.

:: There are some things you will miss (family & friends, baby groups, baking powder) and some things you won’t (tv, traffic, miserable weather)

:: The accent down here makes you feel like you are learning two languages. What little French you thought you knew sounds completely bizarre!

:: Babies make people smile.

:: WalkieTalkies in French is TalkieWalkies ;)

:: If you don’t close your shutters properly before you go to bed they will probably bang during the night, wake up your baby and you’ll need to get up to close them…

:: People think you are strange if you try and get your baby to sleep before 9pm.

:: You can always talk about the weather

:: French websites are ugly.

Farm-tool Safari

This made me laugh, so I really hope it’s an elaborate joke by someone with a sense of humour. I don’t think it’s meant to be a real tourist attraction. I’m pretty sure it’s an elaborate joke. Yes, I’m going with joke.

Favourite posts this week

The village

Two moving posts about motherhood that touched my heart this week. It has been a tough one.

This is something I really should be doing. These 5 months have gone by so quickly!

Hooray for les vacances! When you live in such a beautiful country why go anywhere else?

I miss our chickens. When we (eventually) get some more, I’ll be sure to make some curd too.

We have cherry tomatoes all over the garden – we shall make this soon.

I’m sorry, but I love Joy. I want these cookies.

Foods to make rather than buy – we already do some of these but there are many more we could try.

Shake sent me this. He is an awesome husband (and father).

Wishing you all a very happy weekend!



Sorting out our tools

Tools for the job, including ‘Golf-club-like hacking device’

The other morning, I got out early to try and clear the aquaponics patch before the heat of the day sent me back indoors. I sharpened up my ‘Golf-club-like hacking device’ (official name is a mystery to me) and stepped outside to thunder and lightning. Now my years of playing golf as a child are very useful for using the ‘Golf-club-like hacking device’, but they also taught me not to swing a metal stick about in a thunderstorm.

So I did the slightly less exciting job of sorting out the tools we dumped here on our last holiday. We have an odd bunch, some are extremely cheap and others much more expensive with nothing much in the mid range. The cheap tools were from the very time we first had a garden and didn’t know what we were doing, and the expensive tools came a year later once we had come to care about working in the garden. The only reason the cheap tools are still in once piece is that they are so horrible to work with they rarely get used. But I can’t bring myself to throw them out, as they might be a useful backup sometime.

I also found a toolbox that always puts a smile on my face. While some of our tools are cheap, and others are expensive, these ones are priceless…

My first toolbox

It’ll be another few years before our boy can start playing with these, but I hope he gets as much pleasure from them as I did. Please note the metal hammer, and the real blade in that plane. I don’t know if toys still come with sharp edges these days so I’ll be looking after these carefully just in case they don’t.