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Monatsarchive: July 2012

A Little (!) Travel Post – Scotland & Ireland

Be ready for a massive picture post. Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, workshop, people, food. It’s all here…

I thought about breaking it into several installments but I can’t. I am afraid my heart will sink everytime I look at the pictures of our trip. I had such an amazing time, seen so many beautiful sights and met so many incredible folks. I miss it all and yet, I am completely and utterly happy thrilled to be back, full on work and ready for the next chapter, whatever it may be.

On the road to Stonefield Castle - Scotland

We started the trip by landing at 7am in Glasgow. In our rental car by 8am, we proceeded toward the Mull Of Kintyre via Loch Lomond National Park. Let’s just say that with no sleep and driving on the other side for the first time in over 20 years, the first 10 minutes of the trip felt right out of a video game. A video game gone wrong that is. With cars zooming towards you, on roads barely narrow enough for two, a stone wall or a cliff on your side, depending.

I have to tell you that none of it actually mattered. Every "oh shoot!" moment was followed by a "We are in Scotland! Dude! Nothing matters! We are in Scotland"…Yep, we could have totaled the car and gotten off the road, we still would have jumped screaming at the top of our lungs "Look at this! Wow!!".

That’s pretty much the feeling and phrase that accompanied us throughout the trip. The opportunity to teach at Belle Isle and take a few days off before hand to trace back Bill’s ancestors was something I will always be grateful for.

Oban - Scotland

We took the road to the Mull of Kintyre and stopped at Oban for lunch, Scotch and to stretch our legs, keep awake and energized. Still going strong, we headed for our evening lodging, Stonefield Castle. We were trying to be as close as possible to Castle Sween, an ancestral family stronghold for Bill and while looking at hotels in the area, Stonefield, overlooking the sea, was equal to a hotel in town. You can guess what I picked. Yes. Our first night of the trip was at this incredibly beautiful and serene castle.

Stonefield Castle - Scotland

We crashed on the fluffy pillows as soon as we got to our room for a restorative power nap. Rested, we were ready to head out and explore our surroundings, the woods and forest around us. Beauty everywhere. We will be back and for a longer stay for sure. Everyone at the hotel was wonderful and the food was outstanding. I ate it. I did not photograph it.

Stonefield Castle - Scotland

Seems like a food photographer on vacation shoots just about everything. Except food. I shot flowers. And meadows. And flowers. All the little wild flowers that never get the chance to grow in hot and hotter South Carolina. you bet I had my fill in Scotland and Ireland.

Stonefield Castle - Scotland

The shores at Stonefield Castle.

Stonefield Castle - Scotland

Walking around Stonefield.

Stonefield Castle - Scotland

Stonefield Castle - Scotland

Flowers everywhere. Lush and gorgeous flora.

Tree of Bouees - Stonefield Castle, Scotland

Bouees on a tree. Straight out of a Tim Burton’s movie.

Stonefield Castle - Scotland

On the road to Castle Sween - Scotland

The next morning, we starting making our way to Castle Sween and a quite a few photo opportunities unraveled before our eyes. We spent half an hour with these horses. Every time we motioned away, they would come closer and wait for us to scratch their heads a little more.

Near Castle Sween - Scotland


Castle Sween - Scotland

Unexpected on an almost deserted road.

Near Castle Sween - Scotland

The area around Castle Sween is tranquil and lush. Green grass and low forestry.

Castle Sween - Scotland

Castle Sween. Bill got quiet and reverend. I could tell that a part of him was unsettled and curious. Sad too. So much he only knew from records and old letters. I also could feel that the bigger part of him felt home. It was truly magical to experience that moment of finding one roots with him.

View from Castle Sween - Scotland

The view commanding Castle Sween. Yes. Nothing to squint about…

Near Giant's Causeway

Later that day we hopped on a plane to Belfast, got another rental car and started our way up the Northern coast as soon as we landed. We spent the night in the little village of Cushendall and after a local pub owner shortened our route by sending us on ferry roads and adding bridges to an otherwise silent map, we made way toward the Giant’s Causeway. A good walk later, we headed out to Fanad’s Head…another ancestral ground for Bill.

Coast of Ireland

At Giant's Causeway

At Giant's Causeway

At Giant's Causeway

On the road to Fanad's Head - N.Ireland

I seem to have an afinity for telephone booths….On our way to Fanad’s Head. Still making our way through ancestral grounds and towns. After a night at Downing’s Bay, we made our way down to Donegal. We were on a mission to find Castle Doe. Another family castle. Puts my French falconer ancestral roots to shame…!

Castle Doe - Donegal, Ireland

At Castle Doe. Old stone. New life. Color.

Castle Doe - Donegal, Ireland

Castle Doe. There was silence around us. Except for the winds and the legends.

Castle Doe - Donegal, Ireland

Castle Doe - Donegal, Ireland.

After our stop at Castle Doe. It was time to head out to Belle Isle Estate for my workshop. We quickly got settled into our cottage and grabbed our gear for a little walk. The estate is gorgeous and the surrounding grounds lush and bountiful. The cottages were super cozy with all the amenities one can think of. We vowed to come back with my parents and rent a couple of them for an extended stay. So much to see and do in the area. Fermanagh is really a beautiful county.

Belle Isle Castle - N.Ireland

Belle Isle Castle - N.Ireland

Belle Isle Castle - N.Ireland

A little peek at the Castle at Belle Isle.

Belle Isle Castle - N.Ireland

Reminded me of The Princess Bride. I know…

Belle Isle Garden & Orchard - N.Ireland

Beautiful fruits and veggies are grown at Belle Isle and used at the cookery school where the workshop was help. Apples, redcurrants, blueberries, salads, herbs, peas, etc… Cows, sheep and hens can be seen and heard as well.

Belle Isle Castle - N.Ireland

View looking out from the castle at Belle Isle. Not too bad…

Belle Isle Castle - N.Ireland

Belle Isle Garden - N.Ireland

The walled garden at Belle Isle. Push the door opened and be mesmerized.

Belle Isle Orchard - N.Ireland

Belle Isle Gardens - N.Ireland

Belle Isle Garden - N.Ireland

Belle Isle Food Photo Workshop

Finally, it was time to meet up with everyone and start the second part of our trip. The workshop. The group of attendees gathered was absolutely delightful and hard working. I say that of every workshop I teach. I know. But it’s true everytime. I am also very appreciative of the non negotiating trust they bestow on me to guide them right from the get go. I know exactly what’s going on in their mind and I have no doubt that each day will be better and more fun than the one before.

Belle Isle Castle Food Photo Workshop - Northern Ireland

Leona and Victoria. Fearless and talented.

Among the group we had a wide array of cultures and places represented. Ireland, Tel-Aviv, Dubai, Australia, San Francisco, Denmark, The Netherlands, Japan, Vienna. I was honored for the miles and hours everyone put in to come learn and play. Huge props to Corrie and her staff at Belle Isle Cookery School for feeding us and providing us with all the necessary foods and ingredients for the shoots we were practicing throughout the weekends. Thank you also to Charles and Fiona, the caretakers of the castle for their generosity and great disposition throughout the weekend.


Idan. Intense. And cute as a button…

Belle Isle Food Photo Workshop

Berries from the garden.

Belle Isle Cookery School - N.Ireland

Lettuces and chives in the garden.

Belle Isle Castle - N.Ireland

Dana & Elizabeth

Dana and Elizabeth. Focused. Determined.


After knowing them for the past five years online, I finally got to meet Simone of Jungle Frog Cooking and Pernille. Simone, a professional food photographer herself, it was a treat to have her attend and soak in the atmosphere as we all did that weekend. Pernille works as an art director at her company and I had to smile at how much I could anticipate her reactions. It was nice to show other aspects of food photography to the attendees and why the eyes of an art director pushes a photographer that extra step further toward hard work well done.

Belle Isle Food Photo Workshop

It was an amazing trip. The scenery. The adventures. The people. The food. The time off spent with my husband. He’s my compass. I’m the navigator. We keep each other good.

I am off to Washington D.C in the morning for a few days and the recipe posts will resume as soon as get back.

Heirloom Tomato Tarts & Panzanella Salad

Tomato Tarts & Panzanella Salad

All packed and ready to go! I think. First stop Scotland for a couple of short days. Then we will head over to Ireland and backroad our way to Belle Isle Cookery School for the 4-day workshop I am teaching there. To say that I am excited would be the understatement of the year. I have not been to that part of the world yet.

House sitter all set up. Dog sitter already thrown in the middle of a creek chase by Bailey. Raincoats. Rain boots. Layers. Maps and big giddy smiles. Yep. I think we are about ready. Oh and Elliott, our 6 year old beta fish (so not joking) also found a temporary pad with friends, becoming their kids' first official visiting pet. Everyone is pretty much set.

Panzanella In The Making

It’s been such a long time we went abroad together. And the first real time off we have in a completely uncommon, unknown and foreign (to us) location. Pretty cool. We have been pouring over Google Earth for so many months checking the scenery and trying to figure out where his ancestors had lived that I am about as ready as can be to check things out.

I have no idea of what we will actually find, see and who we will end up meeting along the way. And we are completely open to that. I have learned to just learn and get familiar with things as much as possible and let thing unfold the way they do. There will always be something to come out of it, an improvement to be made, a lesson to be learned, another place to discover.

Panzanella Salad

That’s pretty much the motus operandi I have had these last few days as I was trying to empty out the fridge before our departure. Grab a few ingredients and spices agreeing with our taste buds, toss them up together and see where that gets us. Adjust attitude seasoning and keep going until dinner comes together.

And well…With an small peleton of heirloom tomates leading the race (yes, I may have the Tour De France playing in the background of my studio), we ended up with Heirloom Tomato and Rosemary Tarts one evening, accompanied by a few big spoonfuls of panzanella salad. And yes, tarts again. One of the easiest thing to do to clean out a fridge before a trip.


There are as many ways to make a tomato tart as there are cooks out there. And wait until you taste the quintessential Southern tomato pie. Oh dear. And well, there are as many versions of the panzanella salad as there are people having an opinion about it. That diversity is one of the many reasons why I love reading stories and anecdotes behind recipes. It’s also one of the reasons that make me grab my camera to make an imprint of the moment and tell another story. Or the same one, with a different look.

Traveling is very much the same. You see the same things as the many people around you. With a different look. For all of us.

Have a fantastic weekend! I will try to post some pics and updates as the trip unfolds but if you want first hand thoughts and pictures, best is to read my Twitter feed, @helenedujardin or check my Instagram shots at helenedujardin.

Tomato Tarts

All pictures © Helene Dujardin Photography.
Heirloom Tomatoes Tartlets:

Makes eight 4-inch tartlets or one regular tart

For the crust:

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour or Jeanne’s all purpose gluten free mix
1 stick (115g) unsalted butter, kept very cold
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2-3 tablespoons ice cold water

For the filling:
6 to 8 heirloom tomatoes
2 eggs
1 cup milk
2 teaspoon freshly chopped rosemary
pinch of salt and pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Prepare the crust: In the bowl of a food processor, (or follow the same instructions if doing by hand), pulse together the flour until incorporated. Add the butter and pulse until the butter resembles small peas and is evenly incorporated. Add the salt and pulse on more time. Gradually, stream in the cold water until the flour just comes together. Turn the mixture out onto your work surface and form into a 2-inch thick, round disk. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes (or overnight) before rolling out.

Flour your working surface with tapioca flour (if gluten free) or regular flour and start rolling out the dough to about 1/4-inch thick adding more flour as you feel the dough starts to stick. You can also roll it out in between two sheets of plastic wrap of parchment paper, especially with working with the gluten free version. Cut eight 5-inch rounds of dough and place them inside eight 3 to 4-inch tartlet pans. Place a small piece of parchment paper inside each of them, fill with dried beans and refrigerate for another 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F (both convection and not) and position a rack in the middle.
Place the tart shells on a baking sheet and bake the tartlets for about 15 minutes (with the dried beans inside). Remove from the oven, let cool for 5 to 10 minutes and remove the beans and parchment paper.

Prepare filling:
Slice the tomatoes and lay them flat on a couple of sheets of paper towels to soak up some of their juices.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the milk until well incorporated. Add the rosemary, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Whisk again.
Divide the mixture in between all the cooled tart shells and arrange the tomato slices over the top.
Bake at 350F for about 20 to 30 minutes or until the center is barely set.

Panzanella Salad:
Not so much a recipe but more a big toss up according to your own appetite.
( for recipes, here is a good start)
Mine goes something like this:
some leftover bread
plenty of tomatoes
some anchovies
some olives
lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper
freshly chopped basil
fresh arugula
fresh minced garlic

Toss all the ingredients together and let sit for about an hour so the bread gets a good soaking…

An Anniversary: The Other Half Of The Team…


No recipes today. No profound thoughts about life and/or culinaria. Tonight’s dinner consists of a big antipasti platter and a few glasses of Prosecco.

I just wanted to take a moment and formerly introduce, on our 14th anniversary, the other half of the team, my husband William, a.k.a Bill, a.k.a Junior, a.k.a Billy…

Happy Anniversary Babe!

We are both working tonight but that did not prevent us from exchanging a propos cheesy cards.
Mine read I was fearless. His read he was extraordinary. I can’t wait to live the new adventures of the next 14 years.


Thank you to my dear friend Tanya of Tanya Boggs Photography for taking a few portrait shots with us last month. The firsts since we got married! She is one super talented photographer.

Stone Fruit Galette

Stone Fruit Galette

I sort of took last week off from blogging, writing, commenting, etc… It does not mean I took the week off from cooking or shooting but I had to focus on prepping the coming months. We celebrated a friend’s birthday, enjoyed the fireworks for the 4th of July while I already started shooting Fall and Thanksgiving features for a couple of magazines.

I thought shooting pumpkin pies and plump turkeys would make me crave the cooler weather of Fall but nope…did not happen. At the hand of a day spent in the heat of a covered porch or a well lit studio, all I wanted was to dive in some ice cream, grill a little and just put my feet up while sipping a gin & tonic.

Stone Fruit Love

I also made a commitment to be gentle of myself last week. A way to protect my time with friends and family before the chaos of the next few months. When I going over my schedule with my mother-in-law, she exclaimed in the sweetest Southern drawl "Da’lin…you made my head spin. Let me fix you some iced tea". Iced tea fixes everything. I am about 95% convinced of this by now.

Starting this week, it will be a few months of "crayzeeeee" until the Christmas holidays. Kicking things off when I head out to Alabama today for a real tasty two day shoot. Then it’s Scotland and Ireland, Washington D.C, Seattle, Canada, New Hampshire, more Canada and home for more shoots. There is time enough in between two planes for an anniversary, his birthday, a load of laundry and a few good meals with friends.

Stone Fruit Galette

A good mix of workshops and photo shoots. I was asked to submit a couple of bids for photography on cookbooks (which got accepted) and while I must wait a little longer to give you all the deeds on them, I am very grateful for the opportunities they provide. One takes me out of the country while the other lets me create a team with stylist and assistants I am friends with but also trust with my eyes closed. And the fun part? I won’t have to pay them in lollipops! All legit!! Ahahah!! Feels stupendous to be able to spread the love and create a team that inspires you and has the same need to create.

If only I did not have to have to crunch numbers, prepare bids and tally invoices. Always feel like it’s taking me away from creating, heading in the kitchen on a whim and just unplug and bake and write and blog. It’s a balancing act I am still trying to figure out. Everything I have done so far was to lead me to what I am doing now so it’s my responsibility to find the balance, the happy medium.


And thank goodness for pies! Galettes, tarts, tartelettes… you name it. Where there is a crust and a filling, there is me, generally baking one or trailing not too far behind a piping hot generously filled pie.

They bring balance into my life. Or more precisely, the act of making a galette or tart forces me to stop. The action of rubbing flour and butter together gives me those five crucial minutes I needed to just take a moment. Rolling pie crust is incredibly good for stress relief. The moment you take a pie out of the oven. That wonderful "ahhhh…" that follows a sigh. Happy sigh.


Then comes the wait. The ever so long twenty minutes to let that wonderful pie cool so you can go right ahead, grab a fork and dig in. If it’s for dinner with friends, it’s even harder to wait. But the rewards are well worth it. The smiles on other people’s face as you hand out a slice of pie. As long as I have served pies, I haven’t seen any furrowed brows yet…

Right in the middle of Summer, it would be criminal not to fill such a galette with all the stone fruits well abundant around at the market. Apricot, velvet apricots, peaches, cherries, nectarines, etc… Stupendously delicious. My new favorite word combination.

Baking With Stone Fruits

I love the simplicity of free formed galettes once in a while. It’s relaxing not to have walls and edges, trims and pie shells. Make dough, roll a rectangle, a square or a circle and fill. Pull the edges together and bake. Then dig in.

I am leaving some of that stone fruit galette in the fridge as I head out of town but you can be sure I am fixing myself a little slice for the plane ride. Or breakfast. It’s all about finding balance.

I hope the months ahead provide you with the same feelings of exhilaration, accomplishment, necessary adrenaline rush and relaxation. Hopefully with pie…

Stone Fruit Galette

All pictures © Helene Dujardin Photography.

Stone Fruit Galette:

Serves 6 to 8

2 peaches, skinned, pitted and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 apricots, skinned, pitted and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 velvet apricots (or 2 large plums), skinned, pitted and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 Saturn peaches, skinned, pitted and cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4 cup cherries, pitted and halved
juice and zest of one lemon
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Your favorite pie crust. Or this one which I love.

Preheat the oven to 350F.
In a large bowl, toss all the prepared fruits with the lemon zest, juice and the honey. Mix well with a wooden spoon.
On a silpat or piece of parchment paper, roll the dough into a 10×15 rectangle (approximate). spoon the fruits right in the center, leaving about a 2-inch border on all edges. Fold the edges of the two short edges over the fruit, do the same for the long edges as if you were closing up a package but not quite closed all the way in the middle.
Brush the milk over the crust with a pastry brush. Sprinkle with the sugar and bake for about 30 to 40 minutes until golden brown.

Tried and True Summer Favorites!

Late last night, as I was waiting for a galette to come out of the oven to take to friends for dinner tonight – Happy 4th of July!! – I started thinking about our favorite summer recipes. To celebrate special occasions or just enjoy al fresco whenever possible.

Happy to share this space with a small round up of some of our favorite recipes during the hot Summer months.

Grilled Shrimp W/ Feta Dill Sauce

Grilled Shrimp Skewers With Feta Dill Sauce from Food & Wine Magazine.

BBQ Chicken

Mama’s BBQ Chicken and Watercress, Walnut, Roquefort Salad (bottom left corner) from Virginia Willis' Basic To Brlliant Y’all (Ten Speed Press).


An ultra simple but nonetheless belly-good classic burger

Fennel, Zucchini, Dill & Arugula Salad

Shaved Fennel Salad, From Heidi Swanson’s Supernatural Everyday.

Quinoa and Fig Tabouleh

Quinoa and Fig Tabouleh.

Thai Burger

Thai Turkey Burgers, from Food & Wine Magazine.

It Was A Very Good Cake

Blueberries and Cream Layer Cake…or what’s left of it if you make it…!

Mixed Berries Sorbet

Mixed Berries Sorbet….So so refreshing!

Happy Independence Day!

All pictures © Helene Dujardin Photography.

To Barbara…


In memory of Barbara Harris.

I considered her my "godmother in blogland".
We met during my first "Blogging By Mail" back in 2006 when I sent her a care package to New Zealand.
Always there with advice, love and frienship.
She was truly special.

Always a nice thought.
Always a word of comfort.
My brother passed away from cancer. On every anniversary, there was a note full of love awaiting me.
When my mother got sick with cancer. She helped me navigate medical terms and ongoing journeys. She made the distance and the worries slowly diminish.
When my grandfather, uncle and cousin passed away this year. She found the strength to come with words of comfort. When I knew too well she was herself fighting her own cancer pains.


A class act.
The most generous woman I have met.
Humanity lost one of its bravest soul.

To her husband, sons, daughter-in-laws and family, I can only assure you that she was loved by thousands of people around the world.
We are strangers to you. To your pain and your day to day minutes and life. But we loved her.
And we have no words to tell you how sad we are for your loss.


Barbara said one day that this photo was one of her favorites of my "non food" pictures. It’s entitled "Reaching". I hope it brought her a bit of joy. Even a fragment of happiness.

To Barbara. A true lady.