Firstly, I got to meet up with the lovely Krista from Poppyprint and her family in Aix-en-Provence. It was great to meet face to face over a café crème while my 2 year old ate raisins off the ground. Sigh.
Then we ran into Delana from du Jour, right in front of the flower market. Quelle chance!
And finally, after much planning and date-changing and replanning, Aidan from Conjugating Irregular Verbs and Sara Louise from Le Petit Village (and their hangers-on) came over for a Sunday BBQ lunch.
As you know, Sunday happened to be April 1st and Aidan was kind enough to bring along a sweet frangipane*-filled pastry from her boulangerie. It was one delish fish.
Aidan's eldest is well versed in the French April 1st tradition of sticking paper fish to the backs of April Fools.
All the adults got the treatment; this one was my poisson d'Avril:
I am bizarre (strange). How can one so young know me so well?
I got to pull out my latest Provençal find - an aperitif liqueur called Noix de la St Jean. This translates to St John's Nuts. Yes. I...well...hmm.
It's a walnut infused fortified wine and is very tasty. Sara Louise's hubby was kind enough to point out that you can use it in your coffee too - excellent!
I made more cardamom panna cotta from a blend of Blandina and Susan's son's recipes (and added a few extras of my own). Here's la recette - it's pretty easy and a good prepare-ahead dessert.
Cardamom Panna Cotta (for 8 servings)
1 cup milk (I used low fat 2% as it's what we have in fridge)
2 cups full fat cream
5 sheets of gelatine
half teaspoon real vanilla
10 cardamom pods, squashed under a breadknife 'til their guts pop out.
6 black pepper corns
1 small whole dried birds-eye chilli
Mango and Ginger Coulis
1 large ripe (or over-ripe) mango - cannot be green/hard
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
2 tablespoons castor sugar
one third teaspoon minced fresh ginger
Pop the milk in a saucepan and heat (do not let it boil), adding the cardamom pods, sugar, vanilla, pepper corns and chilli. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Once the milk is hot remove the saucepan from the heat source, put the lid on and let the spices infuse for 20 mins.
Prep your gelatine sheets by putting them in a bowl of cold water. Let them soak at least 10 mins, no more than 20 mins. Drain the water off.
Put the milk mixture back on the stove and reheat (again, no boiling) then add the now gooey gelatine sheets and stir 'til they dissolve.
Put your 2 cups of cream in a large jug and then strain the milk mixture through a fine sieve into this jug. Mix the milk and cream gently, then pour 8 individual serves into the bowls/teacups of your choice. I individually cover them with cling wrap before putting them in the fridge to set to ensure they don't absorb any other odours. They'll need about 3-4 hrs to set.
To make the coulis, peel and chop the mango and use your weapon of choice to puree the pulp (I used a stick blender). Add the juices and sugar and blend again. If you have a stringy ole mango you might like to strain the coulis; just taste and see how the texture feels to you. I didn't strain mine.
Pop the coulis in the fridge until the panna cotta is set. Once set (I did this just before serving) you can spoon about 3 tablespoons of the coulis onto each panna cotta. Et voila! There you have it.
Hope you all had a fun April Fool's Day and all the best for the week to come!
*frangipane = almond crème = divine.