Karen Burns-Booth, food writer and founder of the delicious blog Lavender and Lovage, shows us what's been cooking in her rustic French kitchen
We talk to the foodie mastermind behind the blog Lavender and Lovage as she shares what a week in her gastronomic life is like in sunny south-west France. Basically, it's the life you're always talking about living.
Food-lover Karen Burns-Booth started blogging in 2011. If she isn't picking home-grown rhubarb from her vegetable garden and whipping it into delicious afternoon treats, she's got a rich, meaty lasagne on the go that will be smothered in the kinds of French cheese our dreams are made of. We can just imagine tucking into that meal with a chilled glass of rosé on the terrace at dusk. Not that we're daydreaming or anything …
For something delicious …
"I find this dish really tasty and easy-to-make. It's the perfect weekend lunch on a warm day with free-range eggs from my own hens. It's smoked plaice, leek and cheese gratin with chervil and lemon."
Takes 35-40 minutes
You will need:
25g butter (plus extra for greasing)
4 fillets of smoked plaice (or any other smoked fish of your choice), skinned and boned
2 small leeks, washed, trimmed and thinly sliced
4 free-range eggs
50g grated parmesan cheese
zest and juice of 1 lemon (plus lemon wedges for serving)
1 tbsp fresh chervil, washed and chopped (plus extra for garnish)
50g grated cheddar cheese
Step 1 Pre-heat the oven to 200˚C, fan 180˚C, gas 6. Grease a gratin dish with a little butter.
Step 2 Poach the fish in the milk in a saucepan for 5-8 minutes, until it is opaque and flaky. Drain, reserving the milk and allow to cool before flaking the fish into small pieces.
Step 3 Meanwhile, pan-fry the leeks in the butter until soft. Add the flaked fish to the leeks and gently mix through. Place the leek and fish mixture into the buttered gratin dish.
Step 4 Beat the eggs in a bowl and add them to the poaching milk. Add the parmesan cheese, lemon zest and juice, chervil and season to taste, being careful not to over salt as the smoked fish is already salty.
Step 5 Pour the egg mixture over the leeks and fish and then sprinkle the grated cheddar cheese over the top. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the savoury custard mixture is set, the cheese has melted and it's golden brown.
Step 6 Scatter some chopped fresh chervil over the top and serve with lemon wedges and assorted salads.
For something home-grown …
"Rhubarb! One of my rhubarb crowns in the back garden, ready to harvest for lots of rosy red rhubarb recipes."
"To make the most of the stuff in my garden, I'm making rhubarb and custard muffins with hazelnut crunch-crumble topping. These little muffins hide a delicious secret: in the middle of each rhubarb muffin is some custard.
"Inspired by the sweet-shop favourites back home, these treats have a crumble-style topping too, so you can have rhubarb, custard and crumble all in one or two bites. The great news is that it's also rhubarb season in the UK, so now is the time to get baking. You can get the full recipe here."
For something lighter …
"When I've been gorging myself on French bread sometimes it's nice to take a break from the carbs. Lettuce leaves make fantastic boats for meat and veggie fillings.
"Gently pan-fry some mixed seafood with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon then serve in baby gem lettuce wraps for a carb-free light lunch."
"I'm on the 5:2 plan and my favourite vegetable for diet days is cauliflower. Behold my cauliflower 'steaks'."
For 'out and about' …
"A mid-week treat. This was my huge meal in the E.Leclerc supermarket cafe in south-west France, which was only €8 with wine. Pretty good value, eh?"
For a hearty dinner …
"Here's my rich, meaty sauce for my dead posh lasagne. You can find the full recipe for it here."
"Feast your eyes on the beauty of this melted cheese topped feast … nom nom nom. It's best served with red wine, lots of salad and fresh crusty bread."
For snacks with friends …
"At the moment I really can't get enough of cauliflower. These spicy beer-battered pieces make a delicious snack and are fantastic for beefing up a salad dish or sharing with guests. Serve with aioli or a creamy dip of your choice. Get the recipe here."
For when the sun sets …
"What life in France would be complete without a huge cheese board? I put this one together for my husband's birthday. Now for that glass of wine …"