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10 Reasons to Visit Honfleur, Normandy

It doesn’t take long to discover why Honfleur is in France’s top 5 of tourist destinations. With only 2 hours’ drive from Paris, I have enjoyed much testing – and tasting – my way around Normandy’s most charming French coastal town to present at least 10 reasons to visit Honfleur.  

Ten reasons to visit Honfleur

Our most recent stay in Honfleur was for 6 days to sample as many restaurants for you, visit the local museums, walk and discover interesting landmarks, the organic market and soak up the wonderful general ambience of France’s historical and pretty port nestled on the Seine’s Estuary before it opens up to the English Channel.

10 Reasons to Visit Honfleur

So, what is there to do in Honfleur? What is Honfleur famous for? Find out in my 10 reasons to visit Honfleur and what makes it such a special, popular getaway in Normandy.

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

Honfleur’s Old Harbour (Vieux Bassin)

This is the first spectacle that hits you in Honfleur. The Vieux Bassin, or inner harbour, is the heart of the medieval town that has attracted writers, musicians, and painters over the centuries. Listen to the hypnotic bells vying with the tinkling yachts from the nearby churches and at the end of the harbour, is the 17th-century watch-tower, the Lieutenance.  It was here that Samuel de Champlain set sail from Honfleur in 1608 to colonise Canada and led to Quebec’s foundation.

Dotted with bright, colourful clinking boats and lined with bustling restaurants, seafood bars, cafés and art galleries, it’s an ever-changing mix of quietly humming weekly fishing haven to a weekend and holiday cacophany of happy tourists meandering along the port, watching the world go by while artists seated quietly behind easels squiggle their brushes to capture the varying scenes and ambience.

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

Honfleur’s Fresh Fish and Seafood

A giant pot of steaming moules (mussels) sums up the fresh seafood and fish that’s caught daily in Honfleur. We often see bikers whizz up the autoroute from Paris just for their Sunday lunch plate of oysters or mussels sold on the harbour.

10 reasons to visit Honfleur, Normandy

Old Town

The old town is what makes Honfleur so particularly charmant and so French. Its quaint narrow streets and pretty cobbled squares are crammed with half-timbered houses, juxtaposed with wooden and slate houses, many on 7 floors. Don’t forget to look up, as you may see plaques indicating famous birthplaces (Eugène Boudin, Erik Satie, Alphonse Allais…).

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

10 reasons to visit Honfleur, Normandy

Honfleur’s Beautiful Churches

St Catherine’s Church dates back to the 15th century. Constructed by local ship-builders, it’s primarily made of wood and resembles an upturned ship’s hull. St Catherine’s tower is separate across the square and houses the bells.

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

St. Leonard’s Church – With its 15th century portal, just a step inside reveals two spectacular fonts made out of natural seashells, with gigantic oyster shells crowning them (my photo wasn’t good enough here).

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

Notre Dame de Grace (Our Lady of Grace) – this chapel is in the heights of Honfleur and is accessible by a short, steep climb (really recommend the walk) or easily reached by car to Le Mont-Joli. I can’t recommend this highly enough – especially out of peak season to appreciate its special tranquility. Inside, boats and relics high on the ceiling and thanksgiving plaques by the Honfleurais and pilgrims can make this a rather personal experience. Every 15 minutes, the impressive external bells ring and on the hour, don’t miss the bells playing Bizet’s Carmen from l’Arlésienne.

It’s also here that the last king of the French, Louis-Philippe and his wife, Marie-Amélie, spent their last days in France before leaving for England.

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

Pont de Normandie

From the Mont-Joli next to the Chapel of Notre Dame de Grace, is a fabulous view of the River Seine’s Estuary and the Pont de Normandie – 2.14 kilometres across the Seine from Honfleur to Le Havre. Opened in 1995, the Normandy Bridge is the largest  cable-stayed bridge in the world. It’s a motorway toll bridge but for walkers and cyclists it’s free, with a footpath. Check out the monument just at this panoramic viewpoint: it glorifies Notre Dame de Grace for sparing Honfleur during the 1944 Battle of Normandy.

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

Honfleur’s Museums

With Honfleur being the birth-town of major artists such as Eugène Boudin (who inspired Claude Monet) and Erik Satie, it’s great to delve deeper and discover more about them and other artists and writers (Alphonse Allais) that worked here. Feel the history of the Honfleurais of its fishing, maritime world and way of life over the centuries. We purchased a reduced-priced collective ticket for the following 4 museums (except the separate salt lofts):

  • The Eugène-Boudin museum is above all devoted to art about Honfleur, daily Norman life in the 18-19th Centuries,  the estuary and showcases nearly a hundred works by Eugène Boudin – known as the painter of the sky and sea, who influenced Claude Monet – among others. I particularly loved discovering artists such as Adrien Voisard-Margerie with his painting of Toulouse-Lautrec and his model. Also featured are 20th Century artists (Dufy, Villon) who worked in the region and more recent works from Denis River, who was also born in Honfleur in 1945.
  • On entry to The Satie Houses – Erik Satie’s birthplace in 1866 – we’re told that it’s not a museum as such; instead a whimsical discovery through sound, light, images and objects to appreciate the musician and composer’s eccentric character. Via movement-sensitive audiophones (tour is also in English), listen to his life and anecdotes to the sound of the Gymnopédies, Gnossiènes or the Morceaux en forme de poire. The final theatrical show is, alas, only in French but you can appreciate the character of Satie, including one-page works that were written, for example, when he hadn’t had breakfast yet and was about to venture out from his home in Montmartre (rue Cortot).
  • Musée de la Marine is about the history of the port, housing a collection of model ships and marine artefacts on just one floor in St Stephen’s Church (the oldest church in Honfleur), on the old harbour. It is paired with the Ethnographical and Popular Arts Museum around the corner – presenting the inside of ten 16th-century Normandy dwellings.
  • Greniers de Sel (Salt Lofts) salt lofts, 17C buildings made of stone and covered with tiles. These lofts were built under the salt tax agreement to store 10,000 tons of salt needed by the cod fishing boats to preserve the fish.

10 reasons to visit Honfleur Normandy

Honfleur’s Markets

In St Catherine’s quarter, under the shadow of St Catherine’s Bell Tower, is the local farmers’ organic market on Wednesday mornings. Here you’ll regularly find an abundance of locally harvested watercress (to see how it’s grown, see my post from Veules-les-Roses, including a recipe for French watercress soup.)

The main market is on Saturday mornings, with fruits and vegetables, other Normandy local specialities such as Cider,  Calvados and cheeses (such as Pont l’Evèque, just down the road), plus plenty of fish and seafood. Head to Place Arthur Boudin for the flower market and for clothes, accessories and souvenirs, you’ll find them at the Cours des Fossés et Rue de la Ville.

Arriving in Honfleur on non-market days is not a problem, as shopping is also great for local produce to quaint antique shops. Try the Crottes de Mouettes (seagull droppings!), morsels of chocolate and caramel.

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

Honfleur’s Restaurants

Whether it’s fine dining in any of the numerous Michelin-listed addresses, enjoying a plate of oysters or mussels by the harbour, or a good quality traditional Normandy crêpe, there’s something for all budgets and tastes in Honfleur. Here is my personal list of favourites. Note that during January and February, many restaurants close for their annual holidays (I loved the humour in one window – although closed it finished off saying “sending salty iodine kisses”).

  • La Fleur de Sel – Chef Vincent Guyon sets the bar high with gastronomic dishes at great value. Ensure to book, as this small gem has already been discovered. Perhaps my favourite.
  • SaQuaNa – Chef Alexandre Bourdas shows just why he received 2 Michelin Stars. Just watch opening times, as when we were there previously, they were shut for their annual holiday. Ensure to book.
  • Le Bréard – I mention this, as it serves great food but, from our experience, the service needs work: not in speed but in politesse.  It’s up to you if you don’t mind and just concentrate on the dishes, although it’s the first time I’ve been served bread and told not to eat it yet.
  • Entre Terre et Mer – although also a super restaurant, just across the road we love their oyster bar where a simple, fresh plate of oysters or mussels are great value.
  • La Chaumière – slightly out of town, this characteristic thatched hotel-restaurant has a homely feel.  Outside eating in summer with views over to Le Havre, and cosy nooks by the roaring fire, friendly service and super menus. Great for celebrating a birthday, too.
  • Le Manoir des Impressionnistes – Also slightly out of town, this is an ideal quiet haven away from it all with good, simple yet beautifully presented food. We just found the wine list a bit pricey but the list is excellent. If you’re looking to speak English, the British owner, Brigitte, usually comes around the tables to say hello.
  • La Crêperie des Arts –  We’ve tried many crêperies in Honfleur and this one gets our top vote each time as the buckwheat galettes (savoury crêpes) are beautifully lacy thin and all fillings use fresh ingredients (alas, more establishments serve the likes of tinned fruit with the local cheesy galettes or on sweet crêpes). Great friendly service.
10 reasons to visit Honfleur

10 reasons to visit Honfleur, Normandy

2 Hours Drive from Paris

With only 2 hours drive north of Paris, Honfleur is particularly accessible. It’s pretty much a straight drive up the Autoroute (A13), passing Giverny. So, if you have time en route, visit Monet’s house and garden. However, if you’re looking to spend time between Paris and Honfleur, it’s a “straight” sail on the buckling River Seine all the way up to the Estuary. If you don’t have time to spare but want a customized trip of Normandy in a day, then Context Paris have an 8-hour tour, including Honfleur – see the Context site here for details.

Good Base for Visiting Normandy

If you’re staying in Honfleur for a few days, it’s a great base for visiting the nearby towns of Étretat, Deauville, Cabourg, Veules-les-Roses (check out the summer sea festival), and Le Mont Saint-Michel. It’s also great for discovering the nearby Cidre and Calvados farms, as well as cheese in nearby Pont l’Evèque.

10 reasons to visit Honfleur

Top Tips for Visiting Honfleur

  • If you can, do try and speak as much French as you can.  The locals appreciate visitors but, as we are in France, it’s only polite to try and speak the language. No matter how little you speak, if you show willingness to try, it helps keep the lovely Honfleurais smiling.
  • If arriving by car, try to park on the outskirts of the town using the various car parks as much as possible.  Busy periods mean busy traffic and, as many streets are one-way and pedestrian only, this will make everyone’s lives easier. Please note that the harbour is closed to traffic after 1 May.
  • For boat trips, information on timings for museums and other visits including Calvados tastings, see Honfleur’s tourist information office
  • Personally speaking, our best time to visit Honfleur is out of tourist peak season (particularly avoiding the French summer holidays in July to August), as it is less crowded. If you do make it during a tourist wave, ensure to book your restaurants and do some advance planning using the links on this post.
Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored. This was a personal trip and as we live in the Paris region, this is to share the best things to do if you’re visiting Paris and want a weekend or short getaway not too far from the Normandy coast. The only link to Context Travel above, is an affliate link at no cost to you.

10 reasons to Visit Honfleur

Cranachan Parfait – An Iced Scottish Dessert

Cranachan is the name of a classic Scottish dessert. It’s so easy to put together and is made with simple ingredients: cream, honey, oatmeal and Whisky and layered with fresh Scottish raspberries. Here I’ve revisited the Scottish dessert with a French twist by turning it into a Cranachan Parfait.

Cranachan parfait

The Cranachan parfaits are soft honeycomb ice creams (no-churn) with a touch of Malt Whisky, topped with an oat praline crumble and served on a disk of Scottish shortbread then topped with raspberries.

The Scottish Cranachan dessert was originally served to celebrate the summer harvest festival. No matter how much people say their raspberries are better, there’s nothing to beat fresh Scottish berries! Even the best French ones don’t match up to them, in my humble opinion.

Cranachan parfait

However, when it comes to the major Scottish celebration dinners such as Burn’s Night on 25th January and Saint Andrew’s Night on 30th November, we’re always short for fresh, seasonal raspberries.

Luckily at our local Farmers’ market yesterday, I found some delicious raspberries – from Morocco! Surprisingly, they were full of flavour but as I prefer to buy local and seasonal, the berries are just for show here. Without fresh berries, thinly spread some good quality raspberry jam on the shortbread rounds before placing the Cranachan parfaits on top.

Cranachan parfait recipe method

Cranachan Parfait: Developing the Recipe

For the parfaits, I took inspiration from chef, Anne-Sophie Pic, who makes a vanilla parfait by making a hot syrup and pouring it directly onto egg yolks and whisks until frothy. She then adds whipped cream and turns it into spherical moulds. Here, I replaced the syrup with runny floral honey (ideally in Scotland, use heather honey) and since I was adding Whisky to the cream, doubled the portion of egg yolks in order for it to solidify more in the freezer, even although they will still be beautifully soft.

If you prefer a stronger-in-alcohol Scottish dessert, then try this non-churn Drambuie ice cream, delicious with chocolate ginger fondant cake!

Although made the night before, the parfaits can keep in the freezer for up to 10 days, so it’s parfait to prepare this dessert in advance.

cranachan-parfait-recipe

Making oat praline and shortbread rounds

I’ll post a separate recipe for Shortbread later – as my Granny’s Black Book of recipes contains several! Here I’ve used one of my favourites which uses more butter and, once the Shortbread is still warm and soft out of the oven, just cut out disks the same size of moulds.

No moulds? No worries. This Cranachan Parfait recipe doesn’t have to be made using moulds. Make it easier by placing the cream into a cake tin lined with parchment paper and freeze as a whole block, cutting off slices when ready to serve.

oat praline cranachan parfait

Oat Praline Crunchy Topping

Instead of oatmeal for the traditional dessert, soaked in Whisky overnight, I’ve made a simple praline with porridge oats to add some crunch for the texture. If you love crunchy praline on desserts, try this nutty nougatine recipe.

Want to go the Full Monty? Serve with Cranachan Macarons, the recipe of which is in my first book, Mad About Macarons.

Cranachan parfait Scottish dessert

Cranachan Parfait

Cranachan Parfait
Prep Time
40 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Freezing time
2 hrs
Total Time
1 hr 10 mins
 

Cranachan Parfait, a French twist to the traditional Scottish dessert of cream, honey, Whisky, oats, served with raspberries, buttery shortbread and topped with a crunchy oat praline.

Course: Dessert, teatime
Cuisine: French, Scottish
Keyword: cranachan, honeycomb ice cream, parfait recipe, raspberry dessert, scottish desserts, Whisky desserts
Calories: 455 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
Cranachan Parfaits
  • 4 egg yolks (organic)
  • 4 tbsp runny honey (Heather honey, if possible)
  • 1 tbsp Malt Whisky
  • 350 gr (12oz) Whipping Cream (30%) Crème fleurette
Oat Praline Crumble
  • 75 g (3oz) porridge oats
  • 75 g (3oz) granulated sugar
  • 10 g (0.5oz) unsalted butter
Shortbread
  • 200 g (7oz) unsalted butter (softened)
  • 75 g (3oz) caster sugar
  • 200 g (7oz) flour (all-purpose)
  • 75 g (3oz) rice flour (or cornflour)
  • pinch salt
  • fresh raspberries to serve
Instructions
Cranachan Parfaits
  1. Chill a large bowl in the fridge for the cream. Place the egg yolks in a large bowl, heat the honey without boiling it and pour it over the yolks and beat with electric beaters (or a stand mixer) for about 10 minutes until thick and moussy. Add the Whisky and beat again until well mixed.

  2. In the chilled bowl, whisk the cream like a Crème Chantilly until soft peaks and the same consistency as the yolk-honey mixture. Gently fold the 2 mixtures together and spoon either into spherical silicone moulds (this used 10 spheres), greased muffin tins, or in a lined cake tin. Transfer to the freezer and leave overnight to set.

Oat Praline Crumble
  1. In a saucepan, heat the sugar with a few drops of water.  Just as it starts to change colour after about 5 minutes, stir using a wooden spoon until the sugar is completely dissolved and the caramel is medium golden. Add the butter and stir to mix well then pour in the oats. Stir until the oats are well covered then immediately transfer to a baking tray.

  2. Once cool, break the praline into small pieces and reserve in a jam jar.  (This can keep for about 10 days)

Shortbread
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/360°F/Gas 4.
    Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until pale and creamy (either by hand or in a stand mixer).  Gradually add the flour, rice flour and salt until the mixture comes together into a dough that's easy to work with. 

  2. Spread the mixture into a greased non-stick baking tin and thinly even it out using a palette knife. Alternatively roll the dough out with a rolling-pin until about 1cm thick and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until golden brown. 

  3. When the mixture is still soft and warm, cut out disks with a cookie cutter (the same size as the moulds). Leave to cool on a wire tray.

To Serve
  1. When ready to serve, place the shortbread disk on each plate (spread each with raspberry jam if no fresh raspberries), turn out the frozen parfaits at the last minute and place on top.  Sprinkle with the oat praline and, if using, serve with fresh raspberries.

Recipe Notes

This recipe can be made even easier without the moulds or shortbread. Simply freeze the honey and Whisky cream in a lined cake tin overnight and slice before serving. Serve with the oat praline and a glass of single Malt Whisky.

Store the egg whites in the fridge for 3-4 days and make macarons or financiers with them (recipes in my books). Otherwise freeze the whites until later!

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

If you would like to try the classic, more traditional recipes for Cranachan, see my Scottish friends’ recipes, from both Christina’s Cucina and Janice’s Farmhouse Kitchen version, based on a Whisky Mac.

Cranachan parfait

Cranachan Parfait, a French twist to the Classic Scottish dessert

If you prefer to make this a gluten-free dessert then replace the shortbread with a giant pink macaron. There’s a whole chapter about giant macaron desserts, also in my book, Mad About Macarons!

Enjoy this for any Scottish occasion, or at any time of the year and ideally serve with a good single Malt Whisky.
Incidentally, the Gaelic word for cheers translates as Health, just like the French.

Cheers, Santé, Sláinte !

 

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P.S. This is part of the egg yolk recipe database, as it uses 4 yolks.  Keep the egg whites for 3-4 days in a clean jam jar in the fridge (or freeze until ready to bake) to make macarons, financiers, tuiles or meringues from my books and le blog!

Smoked Tea Beurre Blanc Salmon

As Burn’s night on 25 January approaches, my Scottish roots kick in with a sudden urge to play the bagpipes and the hunt is on to find good Scottish fare at our local market. This time I’m going savoury for ‘teatime’ with an easy yet sophisticated Smoked Tea Beurre Blanc Salmon.

Smoked tea beurre blanc salmon

It’s an Auld Alliance marriage made in heaven; it’s where saucy France hugs Scottish salmon on a plate.  Good fresh organic salmon fillets are gently pan fried and served with a rich French sauce.

However, instead of the classic beurre blanc lemon sauce, I’ve replaced it with a glossy, subtle smoky sauce that doesn’t overpower the salmon but adds that je ne sais quoi with a simple Lapsang Souchong teabag.

smoked tea beurre blanc salmon

A version of this was originally posted in July 2011 for this herb-hugging John Dory recipe.
Since I published the recipe, I’ve altered the sauce so that there’s now less liquid with the wine and cream but more butter to make the sauce glossier, creamier and richer – rather like how I wish to be this year!

healthy roast potatoes thyme

Healthy Roast Potatoes Side-dish

Serve this with lightly sautéd leeks in olive oil and healthy roast potatoes in olive oil and thyme. Simply chop up  washed, unpeeled potatoes (e.g. Charlotte) into cubes and place in a non-stick roasting tin dribbled with a little olive oil, freshly chopped thyme and season with fleur de sel salt and freshly ground pepper.  Roast at 210°C/190°C fan/410°F/Gas 6 for 30 minutes, turning them twice during cooking.

Normally I’d throw in a few garlic cloves still in their skins (en chemise), but for this dish it’s best to leave it out so not to overpower the salmon.

smoked tea beurre blanc salmon step by step recipe

Smoked Tea Beurre Blanc Salmon

Smoked Tea Beurre Blanc Salmon
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Infusing time
10 mins
Total Time
40 mins
 

Smoked tea beurre blanc sauce with Scottish Salmon. Simple ingredients yet a sophisticated alliance of France and Scotland on a plate using a simple Lapsang Souchong teabag.

Course: Main
Cuisine: French
Keyword: Lapsang Souchong, Salmon sauce, Scottish Salmon recipes, Smoked Tea Beurre Blanc
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 500 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 50 g (2oz) shallots finely chopped
  • 200 ml (7fl oz) dry white wine
  • 100 ml (4fl oz) cream (30% fat) crème fleurette
  • 1 sachet Lapsang Souchong tea
  • 150 g (5.5oz) unsalted butter chilled, diced
  • pinch salt (fleur de sel) & freshly ground pepper (to taste)
  • 6 fresh salmon fillets (@ 150 g each)
Instructions
  1. Gently fry the shallots in some of the butter for 5 minutes until translucent but not browned.

  2. Add the white wine and boil for 10 minutes until reduced by over half so that it looks a bit syrupy. Lower the heat and add the cream, stirring until well combined. Take off the heat and add the Lapsang Souchong teabag. Leave to infuse, covered, for 10-15 minutes.

  3. Remove the teabag (and shallots using a sieve if you like the sauce smooth, otherwise this step is not necessary). Return to a gentle heat and whisk in the cold diced butter gradually until the sauce is combined and glossy.

  4. Season the sauce to taste and keep on a very low heat until ready to serve. Alternatively, set aside to cool covered until ready to serve later and reheat very gently.

  5. Meanwhile, in a non-stick frying pan, sear the salmon fillets in a little olive oil for about 2-3 minutes on each side (depending on thickness), and keep warm in the preheated oven (190°C Fan/Gas 6) for a further 5 minutes.

Recipe Notes

The sauce freezes well: cool before transferring to a zip-lock bag or jam jar and defrost thoroughly before using.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

smoked tea beurre blanc salmon recipe

 

Have you made any of the recipes from le blog, my books, or fancy playing the bagpipes or making this smoked tea beurre blanc salmon?  Please leave a comment below, take a picture and hashtag it #MadAboutMacarons on Instagram or Facebook – or, even better, just tell your friends about le blog!

Thanks so much for sharing or commenting – it means the world to hear you’ve made/enjoyed the recipes or just super motivation to hear you pop in and say bonjour.

healthy salmon smoked tea beurre blanc sauce

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Chocolate Banana Marble Cake

Lucie squealed when she saw this chocolate banana marble cake peeking out from the aluminium foil in the kitchen. I squealed since that bottom layer wasn’t very marbled and the top was a bit too browned – but hey, nobody’s perfect.

Chocolate Banana Marble Cake

To see the marble effect, of course, someone had already cut a few slices before the ‘official opening’. By the opening, you’ll understand what I mean if you want to photograph a whole cake for a blog or book before it’s attacked.

Really, the girls think I’m some kind of expert French police detective but it doesn’t take much to notice when a squirrel has sneaked off with the hidden edibles in the kitchen, does it?

Chocolate Banana Marble Cake

Marble Cake

To create a marble or swirl effect like a tiger (hence its other names) divide up the batter towards the end, layer each ten make zig-zags with a fork from one end to the other – or swirl a couple of times in a figure 8 with a skewer.

Although, in this case, you could say it’s a chocolate banana cake that’s lost its marble!

Chocolate Banana Marble Cake

Normally we enjoy this for breakfast with a typical large French bowl of coffee to accompany it and take our time. However, this chocolate banana marble cake is also delicious coated in a fudgy dark chocolate glaze for teatime.

Chocolate Cake Glaze Festive Decor

If you have any chocolate macaron shells handy, then stick them on top for a soft yet almond crunch. To create an instant holiday decor, sprinkle on some edible glitter (I use edible metallic lustre powder to brush on macarons from DecoRelief in Paris – see stockists on the FAQ page) for a quick golden effect.

Chocolate Banana Marble Cake

Chocolate Banana Marble Cake

Chocolate Banana Marble Cake
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
50 mins
Total Time
1 hr 5 mins
 

A reduced sugar chocolate banana marble cake (or banana bread) perfect for breakfast or brunch, either topped with roasted banana or served at teatime with a fudgy dark chocolate ganache.

Course: Breakfast, Brunch, teatime
Cuisine: British, French
Keyword: bananabread, chocolate banana swirl, Chocolate Banana,, Chocolate Marble,, Marble Cake,
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 330 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 100 g (3.5oz) butter (unsalted) softened
  • 75 g (2.75oz) cane sugar
  • 3 eggs (organic) at room temperature
  • 170 g (6oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 (approx.225g/8oz) very ripe bananas + 1 for decor (optional)
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 100 g (3.5oz) dark chocolate chips good quality (bittersweet)
Teatime Chocolate Glaze (optional):
  • 50 g (2oz) dark (bittersweet) cooking chocolate good quality (64-74% cacao)
  • 50 g (2oz) icing (confectioner's) sugar sifted
  • 50 g (2oz) butter (unsalted)
  • 50 g (2oz) single or whipping cream at least 30% fat
Instructions
  1. Grease and flour a loaf tin, otherwise if you’re using a silicone mould there’s no need. Preheat the oven to 180°C/360°F/Mark 4/160°C fan.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until soft, light and creamy (this is even easier if you beat together in a stand mixer). Gradually add the eggs, one by one until well mixed. Incorporate the flour and baking powder until the batter is smooth.

  3. In another bowl, mash the banana with a fork and transfer half of it to the other bowl. In one of them, add the chocolate powder and chocolate chips and mix well.

  4. Pour the chocolate mix into the bottom of the tin, then pour in the banana batter, then the chocolate again then banana.
  5. Marble the cake by making zig-zags with a fork from one end to the other - or swirl a couple of times in a figure 8 with a skewer. If making this without the teatime glaze, cut the extra banana horizontally (if using) and place on top of the batter. Transfer to the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes. 

    The cake is ready when a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. If not, bake for another 5 minutes. Leave the cake to cool then remove from the mould to a wire rack to cool.

For the Teatime Glaze (optional):
  1. Melt the chocolate, icing sugar and butter in a bowl placed over a pan of simmering water (bain-marie). When melted, stir in the cream until the glaze is well blended.  Leave to cool for about 5 minutes then pour over the cake, evening the glaze with a knife and decorate whatever takes your fancy. I added some mini macaron shells and finally dusted it with gold food powder, just tapping it over with a couple of fingers.

Recipe Notes

Please resist temptation to eat this straight away, as the marble cake tastes even better the next day.  Can keep for 3 days in a cool place stored in an airtight tin or in aluminium foil (although not in the fridge) - if you're lucky not to have tigers around!

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

Chocolate Banana Marble Cake

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Have you made any of the recipes from le blog or fancy making this Chocolate Banana Marble Cake?  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 and for making and sharing the recipes!

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chocolate banana swirl loaf

Goat Cheese & Walnut Pasta Sauce

This Goat Cheese & Walnut Pasta Sauce has just evolved over the last few years.

I never even thought to write up the recipe, it’s so simple. In 2011, I originally posted our favourite French summer classic, Warm Goat Cheese Salad (Salade de Chèvre Chaud). It’s more of an assembly job of good ingredients than a recipe but there are a few tips I picked up when I first moved to France in 1992 that I talk about here. So, how did it turn into a deliciously clingy pasta sauce?

Goat Cheese & Walnut Pasta Sauce

Goat Cheese & Walnut Pasta Sauce

A French Salad without the Salad!

We love the salad version, but we often find salads difficult to digest in the evening (I also have IBS, so huge salads are not ideal). Outside the summer months, we also don’t feel like salad. Enough said.

It’s a Salade de Chèvre Chaud without the salad – although place some small spinach leaves on the bottom of each plate if you still want your greens. The heat of the pasta slightly wilts them.

French goat cheese - crottin de Chavignol

From the fromagerie at our local market in Saint-Germain-en-Laye

Best Goat Cheese to Use

Like the salad version, don’t skimp on using good quality goat cheese. The best kind of goat cheese to use is Crottin de Chavignol (from the charming little Loire village that also boasts some remarkable Sancerre wines from the famous town up the road) made with raw goat’s milk (lait cru).

In some of the touristy brasseries in Paris, watch out for the cheap’n’nasty stuff; the other day I was served a sickly sweet version with a thick layer of fig jam spread on Poilâne bread, then topped with the cheapest supermarket goat cheese that was bitter and didn’t like being melted (incidentally, fig jam is best served separately with a cheese board – just saying. So if you see fig jam included – AVOID IT!). Sitting on top of a ridiculous amount of green salad without much dressing, this seriously gives our visitors to France the wrong idea of the classic dish.

Needless to say, it gets my goat. Stick to garlic, olive oil, good cheese, herbs and walnuts.

Goat Cheese & walnut pasta sauce

The best, fresh quality ingredients is all that’s needed

As with the salad version, I gently fry garlic in olive oil, add chopped fresh rosemary from the garden,  melt in the cheese, toast some walnuts either in another frying pan (dry fry) or quickly under the grill to toss on top and by the time I cook the fresh pasta for a couple of minutes and toss it in the sauce with a bit of cream, dinner is ready as soon as we’ve opened the wine!

If you love goat cheese and are not keen on salads, then make this sauce with pasta next time. It’s the taste of French summer on a plate that can be enjoyed at any time of year.

Goat Cheese & Walnut Pasta Sauce

Goat Cheese & Walnut Pasta Sauce

Goat Cheese & Walnut Pasta Sauce
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

My saucy take on the French classic, Salade de Chèvre Chaud, with toasted walnuts and rosemary to create a delicious creamy goat cheese pasta sauce. Serve with fresh tagliatelle, spaghetti or fusilli - and add some fried bacon bits if you're feeling extra decadent.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: French
Servings: 2 people
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp walnuts
  • 3 cloves garlic peeled, core removed & chopped finely
  • 4 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 2 (60g small cheeses) Crottins de Chavignol or good quality matured goat cheese
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary (or thyme) finely chopped (or herbes de Provence)
  • 115 g (4oz) half fat cream (crème fleurette)
  • 100 g (3.5oz) lardons/bacon bits optional
  • 250 g (9oz) fresh pasta
  • handful fresh spinach leaves optional
Instructions
  1. Toast the walnuts under the grill for a couple of minutes (keep an eye on them, as you don't want them to burn) or dry-fry in a non-stick frying pan. Set aside.

  2. Gently fry the chopped garlic in the olive oil for a minute but don't brown (it will otherwise turn bitter).  Add the fresh herbs then chopped goat cheese and leave it to melt then add the cream, plus salt and ground pepper to taste.

  3. Meanwhile, prepare the pasta according to packet instructions. I prefer using fresh pasta which only takes a couple of minutes but if you use dried pasta, prepare the pasta more in advance or take the sauce off the heat so as not to overcook.

  4. Drain the pasta and toss into the pan with the sauce, sprinkling over the toasted walnuts.

Recipe Notes

Good matching wines: Sauvignon Blanc or fruitier Chenin Blanc, ideally from the Loire (the goat cheese is from the same region). The result is a creamy, almost honey-like taste that marries to well together.

 

 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

Have you made any of the recipes from le blog or fancy making this French Goat Cheese & Walnut pasta sauce? Please don’t be shy; leave a comment below or take a picture and hashtag it #MadAboutMacarons on Instagram and Facebook – I love to see you making the recipes!

French Goat Cheese Walnut Herb Pasta

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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
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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