Afternoon in the garden : blackberry whole wheat scones

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The end of summer is always the paradise of blackberries. I remember during my childhood, this time of year was always linked to afternoons spent picking blackberries. In Biscarrosse, there are plenty, even in the town, on the side of the streets, overflowing from wild gardens. Back then, we picked them by the bowl full and tried to sell them in front of our house to the passers-by.

These are wild blackberries, with various sizes and various levels of ripeness. Quite different from the ones you can find sometimes at your local store, always plump and juicy.
They are of course delicious as is, just warm form the afternoon sun, but I also love them in tarts and cakes. Incidentally, I have another recipe for you with blackberries, involving a galette no less, that I will share quickly before we move towards more autumn-y recipes.
The season is almost over, so you better hurry to pick them all :)

Today it’s a scone recipe that I’m sharing, with a nutty flavor thanks to the whole wheat flour that goes well with the acidity of the blackberries. It’s perfect for the afternoon tea or warm for breakfast the next day.

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Blackberry Scones
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes 10 scones/em>

125 grams or 1 cup of all-purpose flour
120 grams or 1cup of whole wheat flour
Zest of 1 lemon, grates
3 tbsp of brown sugar
2 tsp of baking powder
1 pinch of salt
70g of butter, cold and diced
150g or 1 cup of blackberries
150 ml or 2/3 cup of milk
1 large egg, beaten
1 tbsp of brown sugar for finishing

1. Preheat your oven at 200°C. Mix the flours, baking powder, salt, lemon zest, and sugar. Add the cold butter and work with your hands until you get a crumbly texture.
2. Add the blackberries and the milk. Knead the dough quickly to obtain one mass. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and form a 2 cm disk.
3. Cut 10 triangles in the disk and place them on a baking tray covered with a baking sheet. Brush the scones with the beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

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Lisboa : a plum torte

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It’a about time that I share the second part of our Portuguese trip : Lisbon. It’s a very popular destination right now (at least in France) and I easily understand why as the city is very charming !

We booked an airbnb in the Alfama neighbourhood, the historic district of Lisbon with winding paved streets, Becos, that climb up to the top of the hill to the Castelo San Jorge. Our little studio, on the first floor, had a view on one side on a narrow street with an adorable grandma who was sewing all day outside while listening to Fado; and on the other side opened up towards the Tage. So quaint and picturesque. We couldn’t have dreamt of a better spot to unwind after a long day exploring the city.

Lisbon is one of those cities that charms you right away : the beautiful facades covered with azulejos, the laundry drying while hanging at the windows, narrow paved streets going straight up, bars and restaurants hidden in small pathways that overflow in the streets, the miradouros that offer a spectacular view on the city after a hike in dark streets, the bougainvillea taking over the buildings, the tramway weaving through the old streets at top speed.

The light there is golden, filled with summer heat and barely touching the colorful buildings . Often, we look for the shades, to hide; and for an escape to the maze of streets. Cafes with a daily menu written on a wrinkled paper napkin are always a good idea. We eat fresh grilled fish for the price of glass of wine in Paris. In the evening, we take shelter in rooftops to contemplate the declining light on the city.

Also, we stop at old-fashioned shops, a little dark, with wooden counters, that sell wonders from a different era. We wander through the streets, along the Tage, in quiet garden, everywhere in the city. The view on the river is always a refreshing one, to breathe a little and take a break from the buildings that stand on the hill’s side.

In this wonderful city, we eat simple things, a little rustic but always fresh and delicious. To illustrate this trip with a recipe, I wanted to share this mythic Plum Torte that is a perfect outlet for ripe and juicy fruits. The best option is to choose small, purple plum, very juicy !

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Plum Torte
Recipe by Marian Burros for The NYT

Ingredients

125g (1 cup) of flour
1 tbsp of baking powder
1 pinch of salt
150g (3/4 cup) of sugar + 1 tbsp
120g of butter
2 eggs
1 tbsp of lemon juice
12 purple prunes, cut in half

1. Preheat your oven at 180°. Mix the flour, salt and baking powder. In a large bowl, beat the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at the time.
2. Then, mix in the flour mix. Pour into a 9 inch springform pan.
3. Place the halved prunes, face down. Sprinkle with sugar and lemon juice.
4. Bake for 45-50 minutes.

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Late Summer Bell Pepper Gazpacho with Mint

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Today, a late summer gazpacho, inspired by Mexican flavors, ideal for those last hot summer days of August. Those days are harder to endure when you’re already back to work, with the burning cobblestones and offices without air conditioning. In Biscarrosse, near the beach, this end-of summer feel was definitely in the air with the last batch of vacationers leaving on Saturday, with a heavy heart and a truck full. Keys are given back to the owners, the kids are seated in the back of the car and it’s the big departure ! Weekends in September are still full with tourists but the atmosphere is totally different, more like Indian summer.

Back to school days are just ahead of us with this slight nostalgia for long lazy days and this hint of sadness when you already think of your next holiday. I’ve always felt a little depressed knowing that I will have to wait 9 more month until the beginning of summer and its sunny perspective. But soon, I will be taken way by the whirlwind of back to school days and the newness there is to it. In a few days, kids will be passing by my windows for their first day, with their new outfit and worried look before crossing the school gates. All in all, the routine will soon get its way and summer days won’t feel as painful as they feel now.

To make it last a little longer and ease the pain of it, make this gaspacho this week, preferably the day before so you can enjoy it directly when you come home from work. If you’re lucky enough to be on holidays, you’re also allowed to make it to enjoy for a long evening by the pool or in the garden :)

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Bell Pepper Gazpacho with Mint

Serves 4

Ingrédients

1 yellow onion, minced
4 red bell peppers, seeded and diced
3 tbsp of olive oil
1 tsp of sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp of Espelette pepper or other mild pepper powder
500ml of vegetable stock
Mint leaves
Salt and pepper

Instructions

1. In a saucepan, sauteed the onion with 1 tbsp of olive oil. Add the garlic and 2/3 of the bell peppers. Cook for 5 minutes then add the pepper powder, sugar, salt and pepper to taste.
2. Add the vegetable stock and bring to boil. Then reduce the heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. Mix the soup until smooth and let it cool first on the counter then in the fridge.
3. When the soup is cold, add the lemon zest and the rest of the bell peppers. Drizzle with the rest of the olive oil and serve !

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