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Fig "Gateau de Riz", Miso Salmon & A Refreshing Apricot Cherry Cocktail

Gateau De Riz Aux Figues Copyright © Helene Dujardin 2011

The excitement of coming home is often trumped by the reality of an empty fridge. Rarely in my family actually. Back home, we have this tradition to invite the weary travelers for dinner so that they don’t have to worry about getting groceries, cooking while unpacking and sorting laundry. They also know that they can start recounting their trip and everyone will listen and partake.

The meal is nothing fancy, nine times out of ten it will be a quiche and a salad, a fruit and some yogurt. There may or may not be a cocktail or aperitif before the meal and a few many pictures looked at after dinner. The whole idea is to get together and pay attention to the ones around us, listen and smile along with them. It’s good for the soul.


Bill’s family is not like that. Nothing negative in my saying this, it’s just what it is. It’s not something they do. I am ok with that. When my in-laws were still traveling, I would do it for them. I think they thought it was "another cultural difference". I heard that comment a lot at first, always in a jovial way. And yes…there are lots of things that we do differently. But we like getting together around a good meal just the same, also.

When we travel, I try to have something easy waiting for us in the freezer. That way, I can just put them in the oven or on the stove and start unloading, sorting laundry, and all the fun stuff associated with "home atmosphere re-entry". I am not this organized for everything but I do notice that I am when there is food involved. On se refait pas…one doesn’t change!

Salmon Dish Ingredients Copyright © Helene Dujardin 2011

I know that even if we have great meals while traveling, we will have a hunkering for seafood, plenty of clean and light flavors, a big plate of vegetables, and something sweet to end. It’s nothing fancy but it comes together easily while we find our bearings at home again.

Miso Salmon Copyright © Helene Dujardin 2011

I like to fix us something that packs a punch in the healthy department such as salmon. After days on the road, it makes me feel like I am bringing all our levels back up in a flash. By the time we are done unpacking and everything is sorted out, my fish is ready to cook, which takes virtually no time, and the vegetables are just crisp and al dente.

For dessert, while I am completely fine with a piece of fruit and a yogurt, I like something that brings me closer to home, even if only in my thoughts. Something that I know my mother or grandmother would have made for the travelers coming home that day. One of the things my grandmother was an ace with baking was her fruit tarts and her riz au lait (rice pudding). These are comfort food for me.

Gateau De Riz Aux Figues Copyright © Helene Dujardin 2011

One day my aunt and uncle were coming back from their vacation, she started preparing a meal for them and plopped me on the stool next to her so I could watch her waltz with pots and pans and work her magic with ingredients. She decided to turn her rice pudding into a rice pudding cake. Gateau de riz is truly a home cook’s dessert in France. Almost an institution. She found the recipe and we made it our own. With figs. Lots of figs from the market. And lots of whipped cream. She loved whipped cream. I do too.

To this day, everytime we go away on travel, I either prepare a galette loaded with fruits (so they won’t go bad while we are gone) or a "Gateau de Riz Au Lait" and park them in the freezer. Once back home, I just sprinkle either or with some sugar, heat it up in the oven and by the time we are done with dinner, dessert is warm and ready for us. And we are ready for bed!

Rainier Cherries

In about 48 hours, and in between two photo gigs, we are taking another road trip (shorter this time) to Orlando, Florida. On Disney ground. And it’s not even a vacation and I’ve never been to Disney. I am teaching t at the USCPA Annual Conference. They revamped lots of their sessions and asked that I teach a couple of workshops of Food Photography & Styling. I am really honored to be among chefs who are small business owners and entrepreneurs and who get together to share knowledge and information. I am taking an extra day to do "the Disney thing" and get it out of my system though!

Apricot and Cherry Cocktail Copyright © Helene Dujardin 2011

This past Sunday, as I poured over both our packed schedules for August and September, trying to secure itineraries, airfares and hotels, my brain just about exploded and I exclaimed "Oh boy, I need a drink!". I like an aperitif once in a while but I was really thirsty was something light on the alcohol content(I did not want to book a flight to Seattle while I was supposed to head out to New Hampshire!) and refreshing against the heat and humidity around.

Apricot and Cherry Cocktail Copyright © Helene Dujardin 2011

Luckily, friends were coming over for dinner to celebrate my friend Holly Herrick’s Tart Love almost-book release (she had a review copy to show me my photographs "in action")and I had the perfect excuse to try this Apricot and Cherry Breezer cocktail from Bakers Royale. I marinated the apricot juice with dark cherries the first time (depicted above) which made it a really cool shade of red-purple. It hit the spot perfectly! Refreshing, light and not completely boozy that you can’t function. I saved the extra in an ice cube tray to thaw and use up as needed, mandated, prescribed or required…! This cocktail will be the perfect thing to have next week when we get home and unpack. To repack almost instantly.

Cheers to you and to August! It is definitely a busy month to us all as we try to wrap up the summer…but nothing that can’t be helped with good food, good cheers and good people!

Gateau De Riz Aux Figues Copyright © Helene Dujardin 2011

Gateau De Riz Aux Figues, adapted from this one from Elle A Table:

Serves 6 to 8

1 cup short grain rice
1 cup water
1 can coconut milk (14oz)
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
6 large eggs
20 small figs (more if necessary to cover surface of cake, mine were really tiny)

Preheat the oven to 350F and position a rack in the middle. Line a 9×13-inch baking dish with parchment paper.
In a large saucepan, bring the rice, one cup water and half the coconut milk to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer, cover and let cook until all the liquid has been absorbed (about 20 minutes). Set aside to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, mix together the remaining coconut milk, brown sugar and the eggs until well blended. Add the rice and mix until everything is well incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish.
Cut the figs in half and arrange them on the cake. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes until the top is golden brown. Eat warm…it’s nicer.

Miso Salmon With Ginger Vegetables:

Serves two

2 teaspoons brown miso paste
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
Two 4-oz salmon fillets
sesame oil
1/2 red bell pepper (I used a couple of mini ones)
1 cup snow peas
2 garlic cloves, minced

In a small bowl, combine the miso, sesame seeds and half the grated ginger. Rub the salmon fillets with that mixture. Heat a large saute pan and sear the salmon for about 4 minutes on each side in a little sesame oil.
In the meantime, prepare the vegetables: in a large saute pan or wok, heat a little sesame oil again and cook the red bell pepper and snow peas along with the garlic and remaining grated ginger until al dente.
Serve with the salmon.

Apricot Cherry Breezer:
Click to get the recipe on Bakers Royale.

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Sue/the view from great island August 2, 2011 um 5:02 pm

What a great tradition to invite the travel weary over for a welcome home meal. I love the image of your mother 'waltzing' her way through preparing a meal. The smart idea of stashing a dish or two in the freezer before you leave is a pretty good alternative if you aren't lucky enough to be invited anywhere. Have fun in Orlando!

Maia August 2, 2011 um 5:26 pm

The fig pudding looks to die for. Thank you for your terrifically appetizing photography!

Eva August 2, 2011 um 6:06 pm

Beautiful story! (and outstanding photos, as usual 🙂 ). Is that about welcoming travellers "a french" thing, or "your family's"? I absolutely love it! I am really homey and at the end of holidays, most often than not, I'm looking forward to getting back…but like you say, it get's a bit spoiled by all the "duties" and not much to welcome back. I'll definitely take your idea…of having something frozen to put together in no time, for the welcoming comforting feeling! Thanks!! I also loved the story behind the gateau de riz..I didn't even know it was typical french! And I MUST try your version with coconut milk and figs…sounds incredible!

Kayla Frances August 2, 2011 um 6:23 pm

do you have a recipe for the cherry drink you made?
it looks fantastic!

elann August 2, 2011 um 6:29 pm

LOVE your tradition. I wish we lived closer… although, I know I would be a little intimidated to cook for you and share my blurry photos…
(PS This blog of yours is one of my favourites).

Helene August 2, 2011 um 6:53 pm

Kacie @ collection of passions: it's not a tart but a cake. No crust.

Frances: it is posted twice in the post:
– if you click on the hot link in the text you will be directed to the recipe.
– in the recipes posted after the text, I re-posted the link to the cocktail recipe (see "click here to get the recipe). The hot link will get you there.

jacqui August 2, 2011 um 7:23 pm

I always manage to clean out my fridge of perishables before leaving for a trip but I never think to plan ahead for my return. What a great idea to have something ready and waiting in the freezer for you when you return home!

la domestique August 2, 2011 um 8:41 pm

The cherry drink looks so cheerful and summery and I'm a huge fan of figs. I totally agree with you that it's nice to keep something in the freezer for a quick meal to welcome you home from a trip. I always feel so smart and put together when I do that! 🙂

Le Heirloom Tomato August 2, 2011 um 10:37 pm

That tart looks so good that I can't wait to buy figs and make it! Your pictures are beautiful and inviting as usual.

Sarah August 2, 2011 um 11:07 pm

That fig photo is stunning. I so wish I could grab one off the stand and take a bit. Your tradition of greeting people after their vacation sounds lovely.

Safe travels!

Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga August 2, 2011 um 11:22 pm

I love the personal stories and reflections, Helene!

And also the fig dessert and the cherry drink…both look divine!

Have fun at Disney. Everyone needs to do it at least once 🙂

And what a great speaking gig…wish I could be there.

I am currently in Boulder at Food & Light with Todd, Diane, Jen, and Matt. I know you were here last year as an instructor. Missed you by one year…darn!!

Joyce August 3, 2011 um 1:16 am

This blog is full of brilliant ideas and beautiful traditions. Thank you for sharing them. 🙂

Hans August 3, 2011 um 2:15 am

*passes out*

I canNOT wait to make that fig gateau! It's wonderfully simple and….ohh man. I'm going shopping for figs tomorrow because this has got to be in my belly asap.

Thanks a lot.

Unknown August 3, 2011 um 2:59 am

Everything looks great.

Nadia August 3, 2011 um 4:40 am

The welcome home meal is one of the warmest things I love the most. Thankfully my family is doing that all the time and it really feels like you are back home with your loved ones.

The interesting part about the rice pudding is that it's kind of traditional for very different cultures. It is traditional for my country (Bulgaria), it is traditional for Bali (we just got back and they serve it all the time, but theirs is black and sticky) and I had no idea it is traditional for France too! A small world we live in after all 🙂

Rebecca August 3, 2011 um 6:34 am

that gateau looks fantastic! I can imagine trying it with plums because I don't like figs that much.

Irene August 3, 2011 um 7:27 am

this cake looks so good!

Muriel August 3, 2011 um 9:47 am

Je préfère votre version du gâteau de riz a celle du Elle a table,beaucoup plus appétissante.

Jessica Aten August 3, 2011 um 12:11 pm

Your Miso Salmon recipe will be on the menu sometime this week – it looks delicious and simple!

[email protected] August 3, 2011 um 3:39 pm

Voilà un menu et des images qui me font saliver, j'adore.
Je te souhaite une belle soirée

Anonymous August 3, 2011 um 4:53 pm

Have fun at Disney -it's one of my favorite places. The fig gateau is SO beautiful. We love figs, I'll have to make this!

anneliesz August 3, 2011 um 5:33 pm

Helene- the fig photos are gorgeous. I'm a bit of a fiend for figs and recently posted about a goat's milk yogurt and fig parfait. Your recipe looks and sounds delicious!

Gen August 3, 2011 um 7:29 pm

Je ne connaissais pas du tout le gâteau de riz, mais ce menu a tout pour me plaire et c'est un régal pour les yeux!

decocinasytacones August 3, 2011 um 8:13 pm

Pictures beautiful, as we´d say in the north of Spain, "increibles". Thanks for sharing, I love gateaux riz, it´s something we eat a lot together with the gateaux basque, well I´m in the basque country.
Love from Spain

Unknown August 3, 2011 um 10:22 pm

Sigh. I just sigh when I look at your photos. Your style of photography really resonates with me. We had a french student live with us and we got to know her and her family really well. The love of good food was evident and I loved hearing her stories about her mother's cooking and going to the market with her in France. I think observing them is part of what pushed me to begin cooking and blogging on my own. I hope you someday have a workshop IN FRANCE and remember to sign me up first!

Ilke August 3, 2011 um 10:55 pm

August is the last rush to finish the summer to do list in my world 🙂
Good luck with your travels.

I am about to get some fresh figs from a farmer and I will try this since I like all milk based desserts better than pastry types in summer.

Nic@diningwithastud August 3, 2011 um 11:29 pm

I adore salmon! What a perfect dessert to follow. I want to come over haha

Shelby August 4, 2011 um 1:09 am

I love the recipes included with this post…they look light, refreshing and perfectly reminiscent of the past times that bring you such comfort and joy, all of which we may relate to in our own way..Enjoy your August, and once again, Merci Beaucoup!

kyleen August 4, 2011 um 2:43 am

Gorgeous, gorgeous photos. Yes, I have to say "gorgeous" twice. Everything looks delicious (:

marla {family fresh cooking} August 4, 2011 um 3:28 am

I know the feeling about having your hunger satisfied in the midst of "re-entry." That is always a difficult time for me too. I travel with food that makes me feel good & I also make sure to come home to it. Salmon is a go to for us as well. Those cherry cocktails are breathtaking!! Never have had rice pudding cake but would love to try it sometime. Congrats on the Disney gig. Say "hi" to Mickey for me, K?!

Anonymous August 4, 2011 um 3:32 am

Oh, I am definitely feeling the need to make some rice pudding now. We are into fresh peach season in Colorado now so a tart will be coming soon, as well! So anxious to see Holly's book and your photography!

Mandy@Withmilkandflour August 4, 2011 um 6:58 pm

Beautiful recipes and photos. The Gateau de riz looks incredible.

Life Images by Jill August 5, 2011 um 2:32 pm

I wonder if the pie can be made with another fruit beside figs – I don't really like figs….looks yummy though. And easy!
The drink looks cool and refreshing – might have to try this when summer comes.
Thanks again for your inspirational cooking and photography.

Dmarie August 5, 2011 um 3:14 pm

*chuckle* love this post. "re-entry" is the perfect way to describe the transition from vacation to home.

Carol August 5, 2011 um 9:36 pm

Loved your blog. I too love traveling and can relate to this completely.

I also love the versatility of the fig and this recipe is definitely on my must try list.

Thanks for share it!


Carol August 6, 2011 um 1:50 am

What great recipes and fabulous pictures! Figs are such a versatile food, can't wait to add this recipe to my must try list.

rahel August 7, 2011 um 8:55 am

I love "milk-rice" but never though to make a cake from it- I will try for sure!

angela@spinachtiger August 7, 2011 um 9:43 pm

I always prepare a meal for my friends when they return from a trip. I want to reconnect and hear everything and I feel like this is the best way to welcome folks back. This fig dish inspires me to try a fig focaccia.

Ha Nguyen @ August 8, 2011 um 2:37 am

This post is packed with all of my fav and the way I cook as well. Anything I have in hands and cook the way I like it. We have 2 fig trees in our garden and I can't wait to have a handful of fruit from them.

Ha @ August 8, 2011 um 3:00 am

This post is packed with all the things I love and the photos are beautiful. We have 2 figs tree and I can't wait to have a handful of fruits in the years to come.

megcjones August 8, 2011 um 3:17 pm

love this, all of it. gorgeous photos, beautiful recipes, great story. welcome home 🙂

Helene August 8, 2011 um 5:00 pm

Le Heirloom Tomato: it's not a tart but a cake. Hope there is no surprise if you make it.

Life Images by Jill: it's not a pie but a cake – and yes, you can sub any fruit you want. Thanks!

Helene August 8, 2011 um 5:01 pm

megcjones: we are not home yet but I'll remember that for when we are!

Lisa @celebrate CREATIVITY August 8, 2011 um 9:38 pm

Just picked up your new book. Congrats on the good reviews.

It's also a pleasure to browse your delicious blog.

test it comm August 10, 2011 um 12:52 am

Miso salmon is so easy and yet so good. That fig cake looks amazing!

Daniel August 10, 2011 um 1:43 am

Is there a way to make the cake without eggs? I not only stay away from gluten but TRY to stay away from eggs as well. Sadly most desserts are not so kind.

Anonymous August 10, 2011 um 2:30 am

WOW!!! That looks like it was a great time! I love figs. They are so yummy. the lighting looks so inviting on the food. Love it.

Thank you for sharing.

Kate August 10, 2011 um 4:58 am

Hey Tartelette! I have a quick question for you. I have had success with making macarons from your recipes and workshop, but I am wondering whether the recipe doubles (well actually x5!) well. My friends want me to make some for a party but I don't want to make a single batch 5 times, so I wondered if it was possible to just multiply the ingredients by 5 and continue from there. If possible, could you get back to me soon? The party is coming up quickly and I don't want to disappoint!

Helene August 10, 2011 um 5:50 am

Kae: emailing is usually better to reach me in a timely manner when I travel and can't check comments often.
You can double it with good results but I would not make x5 the batch at once.

Helene August 10, 2011 um 5:51 am

Daniel: Check with the commonly used egg replacer product or replacing the eggs with flax seeds. You would have to google the answers here because I never use these.

Tammy August 10, 2011 um 6:28 pm

We've traded places! I just moved from the South (U.S.) to the South of France. 🙂 I only hope that I'll one day learn to cook the fabulous food here. I'm afraid I'm a little lost, at present but having a wonderful time trying–while using Google translate.

Your photographs are amazing!

Patryce August 10, 2011 um 11:14 pm

Oh,hooray! I love rice pudding, and I am always excited to see recipes for fresh figs. I make preserves with mine, and eat them fresh, and stuff them with blue cheese, wrap with prosciutto and grill them, but this rice cake look fabulous!

Betty Pham August 12, 2011 um 9:08 am

the fig tart looks AMAZING!!

Lucia August 13, 2011 um 10:47 am

Ok, this is A D-R-E-A-M. I looove sweet and ruby figs. I looove creamy velvety rice pudding, warming soul and making tears disappear. I'll looove this gateau de riz aux figues 🙂

MrsNumbles September 4, 2011 um 7:48 pm

My sister brought home some figs this week (her supervisor has a tree at home), and while looking at recipes last night I came across yours! I haven't had time to look at your blog lately, but I'm glad I came across it again. I made this today–had to halve it since I didn't have as many figs–and it is FABULOUS!

Allie November 23, 2011 um 6:20 pm

This looks amazing, & I would really love to make it tomorrow, but (please don't cringe) have you ever made it or something similar without the eggs? Leaving out six eggs seems like it would drastically change the texture. Do you have any suggestions?

Julianne Louise August 27, 2014 um 11:30 pm

The cake is wonderful! Not too sweet and lovely with honeyed marscapone (or cream cheese, I imagine, would be delicious, too). It was a great way to use up a bunch of figs before they went to the chickens!

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