Collection of easy gluten free recipes – both French and inspired on my travels

Macaron Berry Sherry Trifle

A good sherry trifle is a must dessert as part of a Best of British party table. If you’re watching the Royal Wedding this weekend, or have Wimbledon strawberry parties this summer, then I have you covered with this easy no-bake Macaron Berry Sherry Trifle.

It celebrates the freshest of sweet berries in season with ready-made macaron shells soaked in berries and sherry then topped with the lightest elderflower Chantilly cream.  And if you want to make a Union Jack decoration with berries, then this is a perfect quick dessert to fly the flag!

Macaron Berry Sherry Trifle

As the Royal family love a touch of French in their cuisine, I’m giving the traditional trifle a Parisian macaron touch: bake a batch of macaron shells in advance (and even store them in the freezer) and this trifle is an easy dessert to assemble on the day.

Traditional sherry trifle is something I remember Mum making when I was a teenager growing up in Scotland. If we needed to impress friends with a typically British dessert, then a boozy trifle ticked all the boxes. Well, perhaps not all the boxes: I did wish on a couple of occasions that one of our guests went back for so many more helpings, that he’d get tipsy and give me a kiss but I was a pathetic romantic dreamer.  Of course, he was far more interested in the trifle!

Macaron Berry Sherry Trifle

If you know my recipes in ‘Teatime in Paris‘, then you’ll know I adore the combination of sweet, fresh strawberries with elderflower – I have a most delicious strawberry éclair with an elderflower pastry cream that will make you forget to watch the wedding or the best shots in Wimbledon – but that’s another story.  Here, I’ve just added a hint of elderflower to the trifle’s Chantilly Cream to add some intrigue.

If you can’t find elderflower cordial or syrup, then you could always use Saint Germain elderflower liqueur – added with the sherry already in there, and your party will swing!

Macaron Berry Sherry Trifle

Macaron Berry Sherry Trifle – an easy dessert to assemble

Macaron Berry Sherry Trifle Recipe

Although the photos for this recipe are made as a romantic dessert for 2 large portions, the recipe below is for 8-10 people. Let’s be honest: I don’t have a lovely party-sized glass bowl!

5 from 2 votes
Macaron Berry Sherry Trifle
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Macaron Berry Sherry Trifle
Prep Time
40 mins
Total Time
40 mins
 

Macaron Berry Sherry Trifle - a traditional British party dessert, replacing classic trifle sponges or lady fingers with gluten free Parisian macaron shells. 

Course: Dessert, teatime
Cuisine: British
Servings: 10 people
Calories: 300 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 40 macaron shells
  • 250 g / 9oz fresh raspberries
  • 250 g / 9oz fresh blueberries
  • 250 g / 9oz fresh strawberries
  • 200 g / 7oz dry Sherry
  • 3 tbsp raspberry jam
Elderflower Chantilly Cream:
  • 300 g / 11oz whipping cream chilled
  • 3 tbsp elderflower cordial or syrup (or caster sugar + vanilla essence)
Instructions
  1. First, chill a large bowl in the fridge or freezer for the Chantilly cream.  
    In a large glass bowl (if making one large trifle) or individual glass serving dishes, place half of the macaron shells at the bottom.  Top with half of the blueberries.

  2. Liquidise half of the raspberries and strawberries with the sherry in a food processor (or just mash the berries with a fork to keep things easy) and pour the boozy pulp juice over the macarons.

  3. With the remaining macarons, sandwich them together with the raspberry jam, so that there is the equivalent of one macaron per person.  Plop the macarons on the top.

  4. To make the cream: whisk the chilled cream in the chilled bowl until soft peaks form.  Add the elderflower cordial/syrup (or sugar with a few drops of vanilla extract) and continue whisking until firm peaks form.

  5. Top with the cream by either spooning or piping it out. Refrigerate until ready to serve and decorate with the remaining fresh berries.

Recipe Notes

For the elderflower Chantilly cream, I use Ikea's cordial or Monin's syrup (their elderflower/sureau is particulary good).

If you prefer trifle with jelly, use the homemade raspberry & rose jelly used in my recipe for raspberry, rose & lychee mini macaron trifles.

 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

For those of you who want to decorate your desserts with a Union Jack flag using berries, now’s your chance to get creative! You’ll make a much better job than I have, I’m sure.

British Union Jack decoration with berries

Trifle for two, and two for tea…

Serve with Darjeeling tea, the Champagne of teas – or a glass of fizz!

A Trifle More …

If you love trifle, try my other easy versions:

Eton Mess

Don’t have macarons, gingerbread or trifle sponges? Use meringues instead, omit the sherry and use rose syrup instead of the elderflower – and you have an ETON MESS!

Have you made any of the recipes from le blog or fancy making this trifle?
Please do leave a comment below or take a picture and hashtag it #MadAboutMacarons.  I love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook. Thanks so much for popping in!

Macaron Berry Sherry Trifle

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French Crème Caramel

I was scared to make this classic French Crème Caramel for many years after my arrival in France. Instead, I sat back and let my French mother-in-law make her delectable family-sized version each time we visited them in their pretty Provençal village of Saignon.  Back in Paris, I’d order it hands down each time it was on the dessert menu in brasseries,  bistros or cafés.

Somehow that pristine dark caramel reflecting our wide, greedy eyes looked so perfect yet was so light that I thought it was a no-go to make. French Crème Caramel was totally out of my comfort zone.

French Crème Caramel

French Crème Caramel – a classic favourite!

Growing up in Scotland, we made ours using a green-boxed packet mix: my job was to squeeze out each sachet of caramel into each dish and somehow the whole thing worked just beautifully. Many years on, I cringe at packet mixes but then it’s an entirely different era; now we prefer to make dishes from scratch – as we know exactly what’s in it, can lower sugar levels and add our own creative twists.

This classic French dessert can easily take on many twists – as the likes of teas, herbs, and floral infusions work well while infusing in the milk.  I’ve made this with jasmine tea, Earl Grey tea and fresh or dried lemon verbena (incidentally, have you tried this lemon verbena ice cream?).  They’re all fantastic – but I keep referring back to the good old classic vanilla.  There’s something so nostalgic about it, isn’t there? Fresh berries or exotic fruits on the side are enough for me. Simple yet effective.

Over the years, I prefer this version, as I’ve experimented making Crème Caramel with cream, milk and cream, milk and eggs but in the end, this is by far my favourite: just with milk but the addition of 3 egg yolks gives it that creamy melt-in-the-mouth feel, keeping it light.

French crème caramel recipe

Not long after launching this blog, I was fortunate to have my Japanese friend, Nami, from Just One Cookbook guest post before she hit super stardom.  Here is her recipe for Japanese Purin, a no-bake version using gelatine.

This French Crème Caramel recipe below does look long and complicated but I’ve given detailed recipe steps to explain how easy it is.  Et voilà !

5 from 1 vote
French Crème Caramel
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French Crème Caramel
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
1 hr 10 mins
 

An easy, step by step recipe for the classic French Crème Caramel. No cream but made with egg yolks for a light, melt-in-the-mouth perfect end to any meal.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 306 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
Caramel:
  • 100 g / 3.5oz sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
Custard Cream:
  • 500 ml / 17 fl oz milk (whole milk)
  • pinch vanilla powder (or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 2 medium eggs (organic)
  • 3 egg yolks (organic)
  • 70 g / 2.5oz sugar
Instructions
Make the caramel:
  1. Put the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Over a low heat, stir using a wooden spoon until the sugar has completely disappeared or dissolved. Turn up to a low-medium heat and leave the caramel to form without stirring. This should take about 10 minutes (PLEASE don't multitask and leave the pan - keep your eye on it). Wait until the caramel is medium to dark brown - not light otherwise it will just be too sweet. (Don't leave it to go too dark, either, otherwise it will be bitter!)

  2. Pour the caramel into 4 ramekin dishes, ensuring that it coats completely the base.  Set aside to cool so that the caramel sets and immediately put the saucepan in the sink and soak in water, making it easier to clean later.

Make the custard cream:
  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/340°F/150°C fan/Gas 3.  Pour the milk into a medium saucepan, adding the vanilla and just allow the milk to heat to simmering point (not boiling). Take off the heat.

  2. Whisk the eggs, yolks and sugar in a large bowl. Pour in the hot milk and whisk constantly. Put the ramekins into a roasting tin and pour in the custard mix over the caramel. Place in the oven and pour in warm water into the roasting tin so that it comes to about 2/3 of the way up the ramekins.

  3. Bake for about 40 minutes or until set (they're not cooked properly if there's a dip in the middle). Remove from the oven carefully, and gradually remove the ramekins onto a cooling rack. When cool, transfer to the fridge and chill for at least 2 hours - or overnight.

  4. To serve, slice through a cross in the middle of each ramekin with a thin sharp knife and loosen the creams by running the knife also around the sides.  Turn upside down directly on to the serving plates.  Or just serve them directly in their ramekins, as many Parisian brasseries do! Best served at room temperature.

Recipe Notes

Serve with fresh berries or slices of exotic fruits, depending on the season.

Tip: To release the crème caramels from their ramekins, my Dad explained "as an engineer" that it was easier to slice a cross through the middle.  Since then, I've always used this method, and find there's no need to grease the ramekins. However, if you prefer to grease them with butter, do so just before pouring in the custard.

 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

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Have you made any of the recipes from le blog (from my books, too) or fancy making this classic French Crème Caramel?  Please do leave a comment below or take a picture and hashtag it #MadAboutMacarons.  I love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook. Thanks so much for popping in!

 

Pure Vegetable Soup

Why have I hesitated to share this Pure Vegetable Soup? Well, for a start, it’s just vegetable soup, right?

Moreover, this isn’t a recipe I’ve developed myself.  Apart from a few different vegetables, there’s no need to change anything from Raymond Blanc’s original recipe in my favourite cookbook, “Mange“. When I first received a signed copy of it as an Engagement present in 1996, I was terrified: the recipes for guests all looked complicated.  Years later, I happily discovered they were so much easier than I thought.

So why am I sharing this recipe – apart from that I’m needing soup today on a surprisingly cold and miserably wet last day of April, following the most incredible heatwave in Paris?

Pure Vegetable Soup

Chunky Pure Vegetable Soup

The answer is simple. This soup is pure fresh vegetable genius.

These days, I normally blend soups to a smooth velouté or chowder consistency (see pumpkin & leek, mushroom cappuccino, smoked garlic and arugula (rocket)curried cauliflower with scallops, or sweetcorn and red pepper soups, for example), so that serving this chunky almost seems daring. Is this life in the fast lane, darlings?

I served this to my French (Corsican) parents-in-law last week, as they’re total soup addicts like myself. Madeleine  gave it a classic nod of approval, but she seemed surprised: they had soup with chunks in it growing up in Corsica. You know what? Me too!  I remember the chunky Scotch Broth (Janice has a good recipe at Farmersgirl Kitchen) with lamb and good old Lentil Soup (Christina has another good recipe with barley at Christina’s Cucina) with a large ham shank, when I was growing up in Scotland.

Somehow, going back to the “bits in it” is somehow satisfying and, while not a thick, hearty soup, the freshness of the herbs makes this a welcome starter at only 55 calories a bowl.  That’s before we add ripped off hunks of crispy French baguettes and lightly salted Normandy butter.

Pure Vegetable Soup

Fresh Vegetable Soup without the Stock

The secret to this recipe is the freshest of vegetables and respecting the short cooking time.  I know it’s tempting to use up these veggies at the bottom of the fridge that may be starting to wilt but please don’t! Honestly, if you use extra fresh, there’s no need for any vegetable or chicken stock – just the butter gives that added French touch and brings out the taste of the herbs, just thrown in at the end of cooking.  Chervil is best if you can find it, otherwise flat-leafed parsley is good.

5 from 2 votes
pure vegetable soup
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Pure Vegetable Soup
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

A quick, chunky and healthy soup recipe that's perfect for any time of year, using the freshest seasonal vegetables and herbs

Course: Soup
Cuisine: British, French
Servings: 6
Calories: 55 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 20 g / 0.75oz Butter unsalted
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots finely sliced
  • 2 medium leeks outer leaves discarded, finely sliced
  • 1 small turnip (French navet) finely chopped into cubes
  • 2 ripe tomatoes chopped
  • 1 litre / 1.75 pints water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper according to taste
  • bunch fresh parsley or chervil roughly chopped (stalks removed)
Instructions
  1. In a large pan, gently melt the butter over a medium heat (don't allow it to brown). Sweat the peeled onion, carrots, and leeks gently for about 5 minutes.

  2. Add the water, the turnip, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, skimming off any impurities (foam) then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for up to 15 minutes until the vegetables are softened.  Add the tomatoes and chopped fresh herbs, cooking for another minute. 

Recipe Notes
Inspired by Raymond Blanc's Fresh Vegetable Soup with Chervil recipe in his book, Mange. If you prefer your soups smooth, then liquidise with a hand blender or food processor.As I personally don't like celery, I have replaced one stalk of it with an extra leek - and adapt the vegetables according to season.  You could also use vegetable or chicken stock in place of the water but I find it's not necessary when using the fresh herbs.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 
Pure Vegetable Soup

Pure Vegetable Soup with chunks and the freshest of vegetables

Almond Lemon Easter Cake

Who loves lemon? We’ve been seeing such gorgeous lemons at the market recently, bringing their springy southern sunshine to Paris, that this Almond Lemon Easter Cake is giving us a bit of much needed zest at this time of year. It’s also ideal for pairing with chocolates in all shapes and sizes.

What fun it has been to put this simple, sticky cake together and dress it up with sugared edible flowers, macarons and Easter chocolates – just to be festive and celebrate Spring, following Macaron Day. It goes without saying – take the decorations away and it’s still a luscious lemon cake in its own right at any time of year.

Almond Lemon Easter Cake

Why is there a chocolate hen nesting on the cake?

French traditions of chocolate are surprising at first: as we’re used to mainly chocolate eggs and Easter Bunny sculptures and more in the UK, there are also some added traditional popular forms that appear – from supermarkets to the high-end expert Chocolatiers all around France. These are notably hens, bells and fish.  For a more detailed explanation and a tour of many Parisian chocolate Easter displays, see my post here.

French Easter Chocolate Traditions

HENS: As hens continue to lay their eggs even during the 40-day Christian tradition of Lent when meat or eggs are not allowed to be eaten, Easter’s arrival signalling the end of Lent means that there are a lot of eggs to be used.

BELLS: Tradition has it that church bells fly to the Vatican in Rome on Good Friday (bells therefore don’t ring for 2 days) and return with chocolate to distribute on Easter Sunday after joyfully ringing in the Mass to celebrate Christ’s resurrection.

FISH: There are even more chocolate fish than usual this year, as Easter weekend falls on 1st April.  In France, April Fool’s Day is known as Poisson d’avril (April Fish) and any decently duped April Fool in France will probably be sporting a school of colourful paper fish taped to their back.

Chocolate Easter Mendiants

Chocolate Easter Mendiant Decorations

You’ll see all sorts of bags of dark, milk or white chocolate fritures, a mixture of fish, seafood and shell shapes. As I previously made Mendiants of Easter macaron bonnets, I couldn’t resist melting some white chocolate and sticking on some fritures with candied orange peel and toasted almonds.

What’s more, I used my silicone macaron mat (have you seen my review here?) to make them. Gently melt white chocolate in a bowl over simmering water (bain marie) until 3/4 melted, quickly take it off the heat and stir to melt the rest of the chocolate, and leave for 5 minutes to cool. Spoon into the macaron circles (or simply onto baking parchment) and as soon as the chocolate appears to set (about 10 minutes later), quickly press in candied fruit, nuts and miniature chocolate eggs or friture. Leave in a cool place for about 20 minutes then peel off the mendiants.

almond lemon easter cake

Almond Lemon Easter Cake with macarons, mendiants and sugared edible flowers

Edible Sugared Flowers

Pick some untreated, clean edible flowers such as primoses, primula, winter pansies or violas, lightly brush with egg white from back to the fronts of the flowers, then sprinkle lightly with caster sugar. Leave to dry in a cool, dry place and use within a month.

For the macarons, use the recipes that are in either of my books, Mad About Macarons or Teatime in Paris!

Almond Lemon Easter Cake Method

Almond Lemon Easter Cake Recipe Method

This recipe uses cornflour instead of flour, making the cake extra light. I used a cake mould of 23cm diameter but any similar-sized cake tin will work well.  Ensure that your lemon is unwaxed before grating the zest.  If not, pour over boiling water and brush off the wax with a clean kitchen brush and pat dry on kitchen paper.

Almond Lemon Easter Cake Slice

Almond Lemon Easter Cake – just another slice …

Almond Lemon Easter Cake – Recipe

5 from 3 votes
Print
Almond Lemon Easter Cake
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
1 hr
 

A simple, light lemon cake made with ground almonds and soaked in a tart lemon syrup to make this Easter cake extra moist

Course: Breakfast, Dessert, teatime
Cuisine: British, French
Servings: 12
Calories: 350 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 175 g (6oz) butter, unsalted (softened)
  • 150 g (5.25oz) sugar
  • 5 eggs (medium) (or 4 large eggs)
  • 250 g (9oz) ground almonds (almond flour)
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • grated rind of an unwaxed lemon
Syrup
  • 50 g (1.75oz) lemon juice (about one lemon)
  • 40 g (1.5oz) sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/360°F/160°C fan/Gas 4.
    Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl, either using a balloon whisk or mix together in a mixer until pale, smooth and creamy.

  2. Continue to mix together, gradually adding the eggs, ground almonds, cornflour, baking powder and lemon zest until the batter is smooth.

  3. Transfer to a cake mould (I used a shaped mould, 23cm diameter, although a normal cake tin is good) and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, until golden.

  4. Meanwhile, make the syrup: squeeze out the juice in a bowl via a strainer to sift out the pips then weigh the juice and sugar together in a saucepan. Stir over a medium heat until it thickens slightly for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

  5. Cool the cake in the mould for about 10 minutes then take out of the tin and cool on a wire rack.  Pour over the syrup all over the cake and decorate as you wish.

Recipe Notes

Can keep for up to 5 days if kept in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.  Good for freezing.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

350 Calories per serving; 7g protein; 26g lipids; Gluten Free.

 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

Almond Lemon Easter Cake

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Curried Cauliflower Soup with Seared Scallops – and a Flooded Seine

This weekend, as we’re waiting for the flooded Seine to rise to its peak in Paris and upstream today or tomorrow, we’re also keeping spirits high – both here and in Burgundy.  First with the Fête de Coquille de Saint Jacques (Scallop Festival) high on the hill in Montmartre and the 74th Fête de Saint-Vincent Tournante wine festival in Burgundy. As I’m not able to go to either of them, I’ve instead made a comprise of the two in a dish: Curried Cauliflower Soup with Seared Scallops.

Paris January 2018 Seine Floods

The Seine Floods January 2018

France’s meteorological service has confirmed that this is now the third-wettest last couple of months on record since data collection began in 1900.  Luckily, it looks very unlikely that we’ll reach the record flooding of 1910, when the river Seine rose to a whopping 8.62 metres.  Even although we live near the Seine next to Saint-Germain-en-Laye, west of Paris, in 1910 the flooding came as far as the bottom of our garden!

The tourist river cruises and all other boat traffic on the Seine in Paris and upstream has been stopped. It’s not difficult to see why by these photos I took on Thursday afternoon.  Already it was approaching close to 6 metres, more than four metres above its normal height. But apart from some RER and metro lines closed, the City of Light is in good hands and the skies are holding off on the forecasted rain – for the moment!

curried cauliflower soup seared scallops

Annual Burgundy Wine Festival Inspiration

This year’s Burgundy wine festival, la fête de Saint Vincent Tournante, is taking place in Prissé, Macon.  I’ve been thrilled to take part in previous festivals – and even interviewed on French radio! Join me in the typical ambience by reading these posts on Clos Vougeot, 2015 and Saint Aubin in 2014: the chosen village gears up to the event by decorating trees, houses, wine casks and the likes with coloured crèpe paper flowers (representing the wine qualities – white flowers or fleurs blanches) and interesting sculptures. As we’re given the list of local wine producers taking part with their special festival blends, we flit between tastings trying to keep warm with stands offering simple dishes that compliment the wines.

In 2014, I distinctly remember a welcoming bowl of curried cauliflower soup with seared scallops.  The French are not known as being soup lovers but this chef was popular that day, as he served out this comforting, healthy soup – with the crème de la crème of seared, almost sweet, scallops fried in front of us and left to sink into the soup as we were holding our glasses of Saint Aubin white wine balanced on a string around our necks.

curried cauliflower soup with seared scallops

Ever since that delicious moment, I have been making this at home as it’s so easy to reproduce.  When it comes to curry, the French never serve it hot and spicy: instead it’s usually only lightly fragranced with curry powder – perfect so as not to overpower the scallops, as we’re left to appreciate their nutty flavours in browned butter and hint of turmeric. I’ve recently discovered a Scottish Hebridean smoked salt from the Isle of Lewis which, topped to finish, is a most subtle compliment to finish it all off – and, if you have my book, Mad About Macarons, it’s brilliant served with a mini curry Tikka Macsala macaron!  The spicy curry’s fire is put out by the balancing sweetness of the macaron shells.

Curried Cauliflower Soup with Seared Scallops

 

curried cauliflower soup with seared scallops

seared scallops in turmeric and smoked salt

 

curried cauliflower soup with seared scallops
Print
Curried Cauliflower Soup with Seared Scallops
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 

A lightly curried cauliflower soup given the French touch with sweet, seared fresh scallops in turmeric and Scottish smoked salt.

Course: Main, Soup, Starter
Cuisine: French, Scottish
Servings: 6
Calories: 139 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 1 large cauliflower weighing about 1kg/2lb, leaves & core removed, cut into florets
  • 1 tbsp curry powder (or ground cumin)
  • ground pepper
  • 2 tsp salt fleur de sel
  • 900 ml /30fl oz chicken/veg stock
  • 6 fresh scallops
  • 20 g /0.75oz butter unsalted
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp smoked salt optional
  • fresh coriander leaves & dried onions for garnish and curry macarons!
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy based pan and add the onion. Cook gently for 5 minutes without browning. Add the cauliflower florets and curry powder and sauté in the oil for another 5 minutes until the curry coats the florets. Add the pepper, salt and stock (the stock should be at the same level as the cauliflower, just enough to cover).
  2. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
  3. Blend until smooth.
  4. Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat and once foaming, add the turmeric and scallops. Sear them for about one minute on each side (depending on their thickness – please don’t overcook as they’ll turn rubbery). Top with a pinch of smoked salt, if using. You may want to cut the scallops in half.
  5. Pour the soup into bowls, add a scallop each to sink into the soup and serve with crispy onions, fresh coriander and a mini curry macaron (optional! Recipe in my 1st book, Mad About Macarons)

Recipe Notes

Food & Wine Pairing:

What wine to accompany this curried cauliflower soup with seared scallops? A chilled glass of white Burgundy or a Chenin Blanc.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

Cheers! Santé !

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Warm Creamy Kipper Pots

A delicious Scottish starter that’s great with all smoked fish. Serve with a crunchy French baguette or oatcakes