Lots of treats in store today! This week I’m doing a blog swap with French author Marie Laval, and together we’ll be giving away two pairs of these cute pair of summer earrings you see here, which were handmade by Canadian author Denysé Bridger. (Details of how to win below.)
Denysé and Marie are both contributors to Letterbox Love Stories, our summer anthology due for release very soon, and Marie is with me today to talk about Sons of the Wind, her romantic and atmospheric historical short story for the anthology, set in the Camargue.
As an extra treat, Marie also has a recipe for Cherry Clafoutis – one of her favourite French desserts (and mine!), and I’m over on Marie’s blog with a recipe for a delicious French snack I always order in cafés when I’m in Paris.
Sons of the Wind, by Marie Laval
The Camargue is a beautiful, wild and very special region of Provence. It has marshes where white horses and black bulls roam free, long unspoiltbeaches, and beautiful historic towns
such as Arles or Aigues Mortes. It is also the location for the gypsy festival at Les Saintes Maries de La Mer every year at the end of May. I visited it several years ago on holiday and I fell in love with it, that’s why I chose to set my short story Sons of the Wind there.
The region’s main culinary specialities are Black Bull Stew, Camargue Rice Salad and Orange Flower Cake.
I chose a recipe for Cherry Clafoutis, which may not be typically from there but is definitely from Provence, because it is not only quick andeasy – the most fiddly part is to take the stones out of the cherries – but also unlike black bull steak or black Camargue rice, the ingredients are easy to find. If, like me, you have a taste for sweet juicy cherries, you will love Clafoutis!
Ingredients for 8 people (it makes either 2 clafoutis using 2 cake tins of 15 cm diametre each, or 1 large one)
500 gr of cherries
250 ml of milk
250 ml of single cream
30 g of unsalted butter
1 vanilla pod
75 g caster sugar or soft brown sugar (it is called ‘cassonade’ in France)
50 g of flour
Icing sugar to sprinkle on the clafoutis for decoration
It takes 15 minutes to prepare and needs 35 minutes in the oven (temp 180̊ C)
1. Pre-heat the oven at 180°C. Grease the cake tin (or cake tins if you are making 2 smaller Clafoutis) well with butter. Wash, dry and take the stones out of the cherries. Place most of the cherries at the bottom of the cake tin, but keep some for later.
2. Heat up the milk and the single cream with the butter and the vanilla pod in a pan. Whilst this is heating, take a bowl and whisk the eggs with the soft brown sugar (or caster sugar), then add the flour. Whisk well in order to obtain a smooth mixture.
When the milk comes to the boil, take the vanilla pod out and pour on the egg mixture. Carry on whisking well.
3. Pour the mixture into the cake tin (or the 2 cake tins) and place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes at 180°C.
4. After about 15 minutes, put the rest of the cherries on top of the cake and put the cake back in the oven (if you put them on earlier, they will sink and it won’t look nice.)
5. Finish baking for 20 minutes.
When ready take the clafoutis out of the oven and place it on a cake cooling tray. Wait until it has cooled down completely to remove from the tin and sprinkle with icing sugar (it becomes harder as it cools down).
Et voilà! It is delicious on its own, or with some whipping cream or vanilla ice-cream.
* * *
Here is the blurb to Sons of the Wind:
Ten years after her brother disappeared in the marshes of the Camargue, Venetia Rigby receives a letter suggesting he is still alive. Will Philippe Dantès, half-gipsy master of Terres Mortes, help her find him when he has his own demons to fight?
Originally from Lyon in France, Marie moved to Lancashire, England, after finishing university. She has worked in a variety of jobs, from PA in a busy university department to teacher of French. Writing, however, was always her passion, and she spends her free time dreaming up irresistible heroes and romantic stories. Her historical romances ANGEL HEART, THE LION’S EMBRACE, and DANCING FOR THE DEVIL are published by Áccent Press, and so is her contemporary romantic suspense A SPELL IN PROVENCE.
Thanks so much for dropping in and sharing blogs today, Marie. I love clafoutis and can’t wait to have a go at baking your recipe!
If you enjoyed Marie’s French recipe, don’t forget you can drop in on Marie’s blog today and take a look at my recipe for my own favourite French snack.
Marie and I are offering a couple of pairs of the cute summer earrings – one pair to a lucky commenter on my blog, and one pair to a commenter on Marie’s blog. The giveaway is open until midnight Sunday 26th June.