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Madeleines apple, honey and lemon

Although as a rule, I am not a baker (too fussy, too precise, too fiddly), I couldn’t resist the allure of a €3 madeleine tray in Auchan, one afternoon – oh yes, we know how to have a good time around here, an afternoon spent in a hypermarket!

It’s funny how one afternoon breeds another. That afternoon, we were on a mission to buy a saddle for my bike. Saddle fitted, we’ve spent many a pleasant afternoon peddling through the Dordogne’s meandering country lanes. That is completely untrue. Sorry, what I mean is, I have puffed myself and bike up the ridiculously steep Perigordine hills before capitulating half way up, muttering several swear words under my breath and kicking said bike before walking it to the top, only to discover yet another hill. Anyway, on one such torture session idyllic adventure, we came across an apple tree. It didn’t seem to belong to anyone, it was just growing on the side of the public footpath, nature’s equivalent of the vending machine. I figured no one would miss a couple of the many, many apples weighing down its bows.

And hey presto, a full cycle of afternoons as those apples made their way into my first ever batch of madeleines. A pleasant afternoon, multiplied as the family piled round to tuck into them the following day.

This recipe is adapted from Rachel Khoo’s recipe

3 medium eggs

130g granulated sugar

200g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

zest of 1 lemon

1 tbsp and 1 tsp honey

4 tbsp milk

200g butter, melted and cooled

2 small apples, peeled, cored and diced very finely

Beat the eggs and sugar together until pale and frothy. Mix the milk and honey into the cooled butter, and add to the eggs.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and lemon zest. Gradually add the flour to the batter. Stir in the chopped apple. Refrigerate for a few hours. Rachel says overnight, but I am impatient.

Preheat the oven to 190C, butter and flour your madeleine tin, and spoon in a tbsp of the batter into each shell. If you are using a silicone tray, it’s a good idea to put it on a baking tray before you spoon in your mixture, so the batter doesn’t spill as you put it into the oven (yep, you guessed it, I found that out the hard way!).

Bake the madeleines for 6 minutes (Rachel says 5, but I found them too pale after just 5), then turn off the oven for one minute. Turn the oven to 160C and bake for another 6 minutes. Turn your madeleines out onto a wire tray to cool and repeat until you’ve used up all you batter. I made four and a half batches from the above in a 9-shell tray.

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Peaches on a market stall in Thiviers, France

Well bonjour mes amis! It’s been a long time. But I am delighted to report that this little blogger reached her target in May – £6,000 banked.

And a blogger with a penchant for markets is certainly not staying at home with £6K burning a hole in her pocket. There have been huge changes in the LoveRichCashPoor household in the last few months; we put the flat on the market, we took sabbaticals from work and we’ve temporarily set up home in France while we hunt for the dream house. Last week – oh joy – the sale finally completed and we’re all set to go wee, wee, wee, wee, wee and find our new home, wherever it may be.

Now we’re this side of the Channel (and the only money coming in is a small freelance wage I earn by typing my little socks off), the budget has become more important than ever. So stay tuned for cheap eats and free fun…

daube

The clocks have gone back, last night’s wind has blown the last of the leaves off the trees and sent them skidding and skating across the pavements, so I make it officially casserole time. There’s nothing quite like the soft comfort of a stew to banish the winter blues. My big sister hates them – it’s her worst nightmare. But for me, a stew is food heaven: add some mash and broccoli and I’m on cloud nine.

This baby is a recipe I associate with Belgium, but it’s just as popular in north-east France. This is a dish designed to bubble away all day in a marmite over the fire while madame tends to her chores (and that’s exactly what I did). A bowl of this will warm the cockles all right.

1 twirl of dried orange peel – simply dry on a baking tray in the oven at a low heat until hard and completely dry

500g stewing steak

2 carrots, sliced

A handful chopped celery

2 onions, chopped

A pack of lardons

1 large bottled of dark ale (Belgian of course)

500ml beef stock

A sprig of thyme

Oil for frying

Season the beef and brown on all sides in a large casserole, then set aside. In the same pan, fry the onions and lardons, then pop the beef back in, pour over the stock and the wine and throw in the carrots, celery, dried orange peel and thyme.

Leave to simmer for two-three hours or pop in the oven at 160C for the same amount of time. That sounds like a lot of expensive electricity (or gas) but I usually double or even triple up on oven time, cooking several dishes at once, then re-heat during the week on the hob or in the microwave.

Serve with mash and a lousy beer as you watch the rain batter against the windows.

Top tip: if you have any orange peel left, pop it in a bottle of olive oil and hey presto, you have orange oil! Great for gifting if you have a nice enough bottle to hand.

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Seven things I loved about France

1) Everywhere LoveRichCashPoor looked, there were roses, climbing, tumbling, rambling roses.

2) Coffee, French style: a simple but immaculately presented café crème at La Table, St Jean de Cole

3) St Jean de Cole aka paradise

4) Garden inspiration at Bordeilles: these are the borders LoveRichCashPoor aspires to

5) A room with a view: Bordeilles

6) Reduce, reuse, recycle: digging for treasure at the recyclerie, Le Tricycle Enchante, Bordeilles

7) The silver-plated servers I bought for five euros (even better, mum polished them up for me)

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