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Helene Dujardin
Senior Editor

Helene Dujardin

A Favorite Spot: Lana Restaurant, Charleston, South Carolina.

Lana Restaurant, Charleston South Carolina

After quite many people emailed asking about the restaurant we seemed to always take our workshop attendees to when in Charleston, I figured I’d do a little special post about it and its wonderful crew.

Lana Restaurant, Charleston South Carolina

Lana Restaurant, Charleston South Carolina

Lana Restaurant, Charleston South Carolina

The restaurant is Lana. Located a tad off the tourist path at the corner of Cannon and Rutledge in Charleston, SC. It is by far my favorite spot in town. Granted, Executive Chef John Ondo is not only a close friend but he is one of those "good people" with a heavy dosage of natural talent for his craft. It is easy to just walk in, sit at the bar and order blindly from the menu. And have a heck of a tremendous meal.


Lana Restaurant, Charleston South Carolina

Lana Restaurant, Charleston, South Carolina

Lana Restaurant, Charleston South Carolina

John and his staff focus their culinary talent on Mediterranean cuisine while infusing a touch of Southern flair by interpreting classic regional dishes through local ingredients. I love their respect for sustainable and local seafood, local business and the care they put into each dish. Classical inspirations with an adventurous spirit.


Lana Restaurant, Charleston South Carolina

Lana Restaurant, Charleston South Carolina

Lana Restaurant, Charleston South Carolina

I love nothing more than taking a night off and grabbing my camera to hang out with those guys. They are a dream for a photographer’s eye. You can tell from the flow of the kitchen, the fast yet precise pace of their motion, all the intensity of their dedication to the meal being prepared. The whole restaurant crew make it very easy for you to fall in love with the food, the place, the moment.


Lana Restaurant, Charleston South Carolina

Lana Restaurant, Charleston, South Carolina

Lana Restaurant, Charleston, South Carolina

My dream is to have John sit down long enough to compile his favorite dishes into one book. That I would campaign to photograph…of course! Not only I would cook from it every day, but I would still visit the restaurant for more.


Lana Restaurant, Charleston South Carolina

Lana Restaurant, Charleston, South Carolina

Lana Restaurant, Charleston South Carolina

Lana Restaurant, Charleston South Carolina

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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A couple of Favorite Salads. Fennel, Pomegranate Arugula Salad and A Duck Breast and Fig Salad

Fennel Pomegranate Salad

Little by little, I am settling in my new digs. Every evening after work has been taken by something to get, something to set up, nail, paint, something to be delivered, something to be returned. Moving ain’t easy…! But it’s terribly fun and I am enjoying the process. I finally have a bed. Still seating on the floor until Wednesday that a sofa gets delivered. Little by little. The house takes shape.

 I have lovely neighbors all around me and the neighborhood is very dog friendly. This motivates even more my decision to bring old pup Tippy back with me after I teach a couple of workshops with Clare in a week. He’ll love the yeard and huge reduction of stairs to climb. At almost 16 years old, he’s ready for some comfort…The labrador next door might need a buddy too.

 Work has been intense and absolutely wonderful. I am having a blast. As a true Dujardin, I tend to keep my expressing of emotions in check but inside? Oh inside, I am doing a happy dance. A very happy one. I had lots of hopes and dreams about this position and where I would envision possibilities, I now truly see full realizations.


I am working on really fun cookbook covers shoots for publications such as Cooking Light and Weight Watchers as well as tons of interior shots. Never a moment to get bored. Some of my shoots this week will be out on location while others will be in the natural light studio. I love the challenges and opportunities comin my way. I love how each shoot pushes me to give 200% of myself, whether in the difficulty of execution or in the complete different styles and photo requirements.

This complete change of scenery, pace and time spent without Bill and our immediate circle is made easier by the kindness and thoughtfulness of the people in Birmingham. The town is buzzing and I am happy to check as many places as I can. Restaurants, antiques, music venues, etc… Birmingham definitely has a lot to offer if you let it.


Cooking in my new digs has been fun too. I am still re-arranging cupboards and items and how to make it efficient for the way I prep and cook. I love the kitchen set up and the concrete countertops so making is a real pleasure there and I christened the space by making a couple of my new favorite salads the other week. Nothing tremendously difficult but good, nutritious food I was craving after so many months on the road.

 My first official dish in the new house was a fennel and arugula salad loaded with pomegranate seeds, radishes and red onion. I make this salad at least once a week, sometimes adding some crumbled cheese (feta, goat, blue work really well) or some chickpeas. The dressing is a simple lemon vinaigrette with a little mustard for a but of tang and creaminess.


Fig And Duck Salad

A couple days later, a phone conversation with my brother about food and potatoes roasted in duck fat (instead of olive oil which we do often) prompted a sudden craving for duck breast. There is a certain amount of fat being released from the cooking of the breast itself (to be kept for potatoes!) but the breast itself is a sweet combination of juicy and tender lean meat. Paired with a few fresh figs, some roasted golden beets and a drizzle of vinaigrette and you have one tasty dinner salad. 

 Before I go…the winner of the "Marmalades" cookbook are: Lindsay E. and Elin Woods. Please email me at mytartelette @ gmail . com with your add so we can get the books off to you!

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Marmalades…A Cookbook Giveaway

Marmalades Cookbook

Radio silence once again. If you know me, you also know that this is not my usual thing to be this quiet. Lots and lots happening again. Generally, I would never come up with reasons why I did let something get a bit more silent (this page) but this time, tonight, there are plentiful and I am letting them all be.

Marmalades Cookbook

The last five months have turned into a blurr. Many destinations. Workshops. Two cookbooks shoots. Fifty recipes for other clients. A job proposal. An acceptance. A house hunt. A bare bone move (seriously moved with three boxes labeled kitchen, clothes, toiletries and office. Oh and some props, linens, reflectors and strobes…)** And my first day working with amazing talent propping and styling the recipes I will be shooting.

Marmalades Cookbook

A wave of emotions is taking hold of me as I reflect on the years gone by. I am sitting in an empty living room. It’s an unsually chilly day for Birmingham, I am told. I have a fire going. Some hot soup on the stove. A glass of wine. This is it. What comes to my mind, very clearly, though is how I would have never imagined the winding roads of this career would take me to this moment.

Marmalades Cookbook

Yet, how everything I did in my work was never by chance but always from a place of hard work and desire of a job well done. How goodness comes to one’s own heart by just trusting yourself onto others. How just opening up your guts and heart to the universe gives you ten times the hopes you sent out there. How leading lights of desires, friendships, mentors and aspirations, inspirations lead one to just pack up and go seek a better life for the ones you love.

I am not alone. Bill has been the best team mate of all. He fully let me take hold of the direction of this team of two we created 14 years ago. That’s big. And then there is the team at work. Mindblowingly creative. I feel completely supported to bring myself into team project. A place where individual growth will happen as I work on many different collaborative projects.

Marmalades Cookbook

Good people working on fun projects always make for a fun day at work. That is one if the reasons I wanted to share this book I photographed a few months ago, Marmalades by Elizabeth Fields (Running Press). It just came out and while I take a little time getting situated in my new life, I wanted to share with you some good old fashioned and modern marmalades recipes by giving away a couple of copies of the book, courtesy of Running Press.

All you have to do to participate is to leave a comment on this post. Two winners will be picked at random this Sunday October 14th, midnight central time. The giveaway is open to all, one comment per person, (no anonymous comments please).

Good luck!

** some of you seem to think I permanently moved with three boxes. No! That’s all I could bring to Birmingham before flying out of the country for a shoot and coming back directly to Birmingham. I have not been home to Charleston to get my stuff since mid September. If I had the luxury of time and space, you bet I would have taken a couple more….!

Raspberry Sort Of A Syllalub & Catching Up …

Raspberries & Lavender Mousse

I really wanted to update the blog last week but if I had, it would have sounded vaguely familiar. In a way… It would have started just as it did several times over the summer: "I just got back from here and I am re-packing to fly over there". And I did. Except I drove. I have been on 27 planes since June. I am so not kidding. Driving was a nice change. Except I don’t drive long distance. After 20 minutes, my eyelids get heavy and I just want to pull over and take a nap. Impossible this time.

Right after I got back from teaching in New Hampshire, we loaded both our vans with "stuff". A futon, a dresser, a bedside table. A first box of clothes, cookbooks, kitchen cookware, anything and everything to get me started in Birmingham. We had four days to find a house, an apartment, anything we could rent for a year while I start at Oxmoor House in October and he wraps up his contract at CofC until May.

Raspberries & Lavender Mousse

We were on a mission. Some people thought we were crazy. Or seriously and overly optimistic. I just refuse to believe there is never a solution to an issue. And when I say "I refuse" you can trust me that I woke up saying just that when we headed to Birmingham this past Wednesday. Why? Because I came with an added little problem, the one called "I have boxes, where should I put them?"…I am heading back to wrap up a cookbook shoot on Thursday for about 10 days and flying right back to Birmingham to start my new job about 36 hours later. I had to keep the optimism factor way up.

Again. Call me crazy. Or driven. Or severely crazy happy about this next phase of my life. We found the house.(check my Instagram feed for some pics) We love it. It’s the right thing for the next few months that I will be in Alabama and Bill still in South Carolina. And it will be ours for a few months before we buy something more suited for a couple with two dogs and things. It’s perfect to host dinner with friends and drink some wine on the back deck. It has a peach tree and a pecan tree. A space to grow veggies. I have been Pinteresting decor ideas like crazy.

Raspberries & Lavender Mousse

It’s all falling into place. And if I don’t stop and think too long, I can actually talk to dear friends without hugging them until they can’t breathe or hold them tight until I feel the void burning inside. I am torn. I feel guilty to say how excited I am to friends here and I feel slack not showing how excited I really am to the peeps there. A balancing act once again.

Driving those eight hours to Birmingham was actually one great balancing act in itself. I had to balance reflective moments with dancing in my seat (literally) so I would not get drowsy. I made "Eye Of The Tiger" my "driving to Birmingham" official song. Smile all you want, it worked. That and bopping around on the edge of my seat singing "blablabla" to songs I had never heard before.

Raspberry Water 1

I also made a lot of recipes in my head. Without having found a home yet, I was already thinking about my first dinner party in Birmingham. Would I make a special cocktail or stick to wine? Would I make something comforting and Fall inspired or something lighter and weather appropriate? We are still in the South after all. How about dessert? What would I want to bring to my guests as we linger on the back deck at the new house?

I wanted to remember Summer. The summer I felt ran through my fingers faster than a handful of sand. I enjoyed every moment of it but I did not really feel like I captured enough of its essence to last me through Winter. So, right there, in the car, I drew a couple of easy going, easy to make and savor recipes chock full of Summer. Lemon, raspberries, lemon verbena. Something light and refreshing. A raspberry lemon verbena water and a modified raspberry syllalub. Raspberries, a little Port and plenty of lavender whipped cream.

Lemon In Water

Something that I hope will let Summer know that I am now ready for Fall. Now that I had my little taste of sunshine, complete with friends here on the back deck. And now I am ready for all the adventures ahead…

Raspberries & Lavender Mousse

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