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Monatsarchive: November 2012

Greens & Avocado Soup With Grilled Shrimp

Swiss Chard, Kale, Avocado & Grilled Shrimp Soup

I hope and trust everyone to have enjoyed their Thanksgiving holidays and little time off here in the States. We sure have. Bill and the pups came to Birmingham for Thanksgiving and the older pup, Tippy is staying with me while Bill and Bailey (The Inseparables) have gone back to Charleston.

While we were busy bees around the house, hanging paintings, fixing odds and ends around the place and getting the last bit of furniture we needed, we also enjoyed being together and doing things for the two of us, as a team. We had not spent any quality time together for a long long time (September or so) and these four days felt like the ultimate luxury.



We do have a blast together. One would hope so after fifteen years together, right?! We are quick to recognize our "adjusting" period and give the other some breathing room. After operating apart for most of the summer and Fall, it is imperative that we do not waste any seconds of those precious moments. And I enjoy pampering him with good home cooked meal whenever I can and these past four days were no exceptions. 

We had a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner with friends eating turkey, yes, drinking Champagne cocktails and making S’Mores huddled around an outdoor fireplace. We also hosted our first dinner in the house we are renting this year. I am pretty happy with how the decor/furniture situation is shaping up. Nothing like having a blank canvas to take your time to find the appropriate pieces.


Russian Kale

It was in that cozy spot that I came up with this new soup. A complete "open the fridge and throw a few things together" kind of moment when I find myself with way more vegetables than days available to eat them. A mix of Swiss chard, kale, zucchini, turnips and avocado. I topped each bowl of soup with a few grilled shrimp, well seasoned with smoked paprika to make it a bit heartier since the days got wintry cold almost over night here.

I am liking the feeling of a comfy sweater, warm high socks and a big bowl of soup by the fire these days.


Swiss Chard, Kale, Avocado & Grilled Shrimp Soup 4

One more thing before I go: Congratulations to Jacqui of Good Things Grow for winning Julie Le Clerc’s cookbook Made By Hand. Please send your mailing address to mytartelette AT gmail DOT com so I can send the book your way!

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Parsnip Cake & A Cookbook Giveaway

Parsnip Cake _ Slices

In the 156 updates about the new house, here is the latest. A new dining room and chairs were delivered last Saturday turning the new pad into a real home. At least, that’s how it feels to me. Seeing this new space where new and visiting friends would now gather and break bread with us truly made me feel peaceful.

Having been brought up among amazing cooks who took every opportunity to gather friends and feed and wine them, and where no Sunday was without a dozen people gathered at the dining room table, I knew the moment of feeling home would truly come when that corner of the house would no longer be empty.


Frosting Ingredient

Now, I am deep into looking at new recipes to cook and plan dinner menus for possible dinner parties. I am finally feeling a sense of being settled and started unraveling the cookbooks, the food stories, the imagery I had to set aside this whole summer and early Fall because of all the cacophony happening in my life.

It felt a bit strange to spend Sunday doing things just for me. Well, for the house really. I built some shelves, took care of the giant pile of leaves on the back deck, and did all the mundane things plenty of people do on a Sunday. Coffee and the newspaper in the morning. A walk in the park in the afternoon. Laundry, vacuum. Sundays were never completely mine as a freelancer. There was always a file to edit, a folder to send, a lot of backing up to do. And I admit, I am digging a good Sunday now…

Parsnip Cake _ Whole

Especially one that starts and ends with cake. A Parsnip cake to be exact. Think Carrot Cake but with parsnips instead. Not something this Frenchie would have ran to make had I not met the cookbook author behind the recipe, just very recently.

 Meeting famed New Zealand cookbook author Julie Le Clerc was one of the highlights of the workshop I taught in Charleston last week where she was an attendee. Getting to know her personally, her food philosophy and realizing how much of a hard worker she is (writing, styling and shooting each of her books – all 14 of them), kind of made me fall even more with her recipes. Beside the fact that she is lovely, generous and humble in person…I did own a couple of her books prior to meeting her but had not spent enough time cooking from them.


Sunday Baking

After a great weekend of photo workshop alongside Julie and a dozen other talented women, I could not wait to get back home and take out her books from that big box staring at me since I had arrived in Birmingham.

She definitely created a good cake when she included that recipe in her book, Julie’s Favorite Cakes. The thing is, it does not taste "parsnip-ish" at all. Instead the mild flavor lets you enjoy the pineapple and frosting a lot more than if it had been carrot. I am definitely sold on the concept!

 I realize that some of you may not know Julie and her recipes very well. To remedy that, I am giving away a copy of her latest book, Made By Hand. She brought a copy with her to the workshop and it is stunning. The design is lovely, the photography is superb and the recipes tempting. There are also icons with each one guiding you in your choice if you are vegetarian, celiac or grain free, without being necessarily geared toward one food choice over the other.

It makes cooking for friends that much easier…!

Parsnip Cake _ Slices

To enter the giveaway and throw your name in the hat to win a copy of Julie’s book, just leave a comment at the bottom of this post between today, Monday November 19th and Friday November 23rd at midnight, central US time. One entry per person, no anonymous comment will be eligible. The lucky winner will be announced in a follow up post next week.

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Shrimp and Grits & Good Time Working With Friends

Shrimp & Grits

Version with a parsley garnish.

The workshops are over and I find myself immersed into work mode as I unpack my stuff here in Birmingham. I drove home today with ample time to reminisce and reflect along the stretches of forestry and marsh land before me. It was really the first time that I had some alone time with my own thoughts. It was energizing and restful at the same time.


Shrimp & Grits Demo

Tami styling.

It’s good to be back in the city and get back to work this morning. I am calling it home. It’s where we are building something now. Where I am continuing to set a standard and gratifying work for myself and where our family of two + furballs will establish a new path.



Tami’s Brushes.

It’s good to also take time off to recharge one’s creative batteries with collaborations and associations. I was so glad we were able to bring Tami, a pro food stylist in Atlanta to this past weekend workshop in Charleston. I have worked with Tami on personal and professional projects before and I knew that the attendees would get so much from a couple of styling sessions with her.



Working with stand-ins before the final dish is ready. Photo Courtesy of Laura Vein.

I had the privilege to do a demo with Tami, as one of our photo shoots of the weekend and after thinking about doing pasta, or drinks, or pie, I finally suggested Shrimp and Grits. She approved. And we had a blast. Working with people who know their craft and are here to share and have a good time while doing it is a blessing.

Here are some images from our demo together on shooting Shrimp and Grits. The recipe is right after the jump.


Shrimp & Grits

Version without garnish.

Thank you Tami for making the time to join us and workshop with us!

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A Moment In Time

Beach _ 6

Currently. This is where I have been for the past week and where I am for the rest of this week. The beach. Not bad a location to teach a couple of food photography workshops…


Beach _ 7

Beach _ 4

We have been guiding and instructing in a gorgeous set up with two completely different and wonderful groups of students. Women from all walks of life, all levels of photography and styling.


Beach _ 1

Beach _ 11

I feel in a really good place when I teach. I love seeing how the attendees shape their own style. No cookie cutter workshop. Everyone here is working to find their own visual voice. No day is the same.


Beach _ 8

Beach _ 9

We are tired. But happy. Working hard and sharing a lot of ourselves. We are also all taking the time to discover one another and to learn something about ourselves.

I know I am. Every weekend of the sort lets me unravel another thread I did not know about myself. Another boundary pushed.


Beach _ 12

I leave you with some pictures of the beach. A dreamy spot. One I miss and I know I can always come back to…

Thin Apple Vanilla Tarte & A New Blog Design

Apple Tarte _ Slice/Pan

Early morning and not a creature in the house is stirring. The wind is making itself known, a really pretty dappled light is dancing against the wall. I am sitting at the kitchen table, looking at the ripples on the water in our creek below. "I had almost forgotten how calming this view was at dawn" I think to myself. This familiar dance of the tide brushing the edge of the yard. Nothing else around the house is as palpable though. Boxes, piles, more boxes and bubble wrap.


Apples _ Whole

Bill has been busy boxing the house up while I have been busy unpacking and getting settled. It’s like we are on opposite side of a mirror, a very E.A. Poe-esque mirror.


Apples Tarte _ Whole/Pan

After a few days in Birmingham, I still felt like I was teetering around the kitchen. Months spent between a hotel room and a suitcase can really make you feel that the space you are in is still temporary. I had to do very basic things to ease myself into the new house. Walk barefoot in the yard. Cook dinner. Meet the neighbors.


Apples Tarte _ Slice _ Plated

I am back in Charleston for the next couple of weeks and I find myself looking for other anchors. Landmarks, familiar paths and sounds. I listen to the oysters down below and their clap-clapping choir. I observe the fiddler crabs crossing over the edge of the yard with their funky sidestep motion. But again, I find my balance back in the kitchen.


Apples _ Cut

Clare and Laura are here. Tami will be joining us next week. We are teaching a couple of 4 day workshops on the Isle of Palms, here in Charleston. It’s good to have them around. In a world where you are constantly on the go, without an on/off switch, it’s pure pleasure to take those 4 days to teach, share, communicate and talk about the subject that fuels and nourish us, photography. Food, people, light, composition.


Apples Tarte  _ Plated/Messy

Almost as soon as I got home, I pulled out big bowl, made tart dough, peeled a few apples and started making my grandmother’s Apple Tart. Thin, filled with vanilla infused applesauce and topped with as many apple slices as could fit in the pan. Mamie Paulette was quite famous for her apple tarte. I am convinced now that it had special powers whether you were the one making it or eating it. If you shared it, it was twice as good. 

Sometimes, it only takes an apple tarte to help you find your sense of place again. 

P.S: Thank you Ana of Blog Milk for the blog redesign! It was such a pleasure to work with her and such an easy process. Once I had chosen my favorite templates among the ones she creates, we worked together to customize it with my own vibes. I hope you like it too…!

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