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Honey Apricots With Pineapple Sage Financiers & Some Farmers Market Fare…Plus, An Awesome Macarons & Photo Workshop!

Honey Apricots & Financiers

When we dropped our friend J. at the airport yesterday, it felt a little like dropping off your kid to camp. Mind you the kid has just turned forty years-old but that sparkle in his eye about finally getting some vacation time was precious. I almost ran to an airline counter and bought a ticket home!

We said goodbye, got his keys, promised to water the plants and joked "hey man! who is going to come to the house to help eat the shoot or market food?". But really, I was quite serious. I also need to explain "shoot" and "market" foods…


One wonderful aspect of my job as a food photographer is that whether I have a magazine or a cookbook shoot, 100% of the food I work with is edible and unless a shoot is taking too long and the food is not kept refrigerated properly, we eat what we now call "shoot food" for dinner.

Also, as a food lover who tends to overload at the farmers market, it’s a blessing to have single friends like J. who are just a phone call away and hungry to come share our victuals and a glass of wine when I spend an entire day cooking and baking. We often joke that our table is more often set for four or six than for two.


Over the few years, J. has been the recipient of quite many a phone calls to come and eat my "shoot food". From eight tarts in one single night to three stews and beaucoup caramel cake in a weekend.

What can I say… I like fresh and seasonal food, and I like to feed my friends. J. loves vegetables. He has an adventurous palate. He likes to buy cookbooks and brings them over to the house so we can brainstorm our next "market dinner". While Bill and him go play some music (they are both musicians), I cook and bake to the sound of old time jazz tunes.

Farmers Market

Since I always post on Twitter the contents of my basket after the Charleston farmers market on Saturdays, I thought I’d blog about some of the dishes I make from all those goodies and often share with friends. Like J. As we did last week before his long trip overseas.

Market Breakfast

One thing I love doing when we get home from the market is to fix us breakfast since we usually get up and go to make it there right at opening time. I am not a huge breakfast person except on Saturdays. A bed of arugula, some sauteed bacon and an egg. Over easy, sunny side up, poached…any way works for me. I have taken to sauteed some halved grapes with the bacon lately and the combination of savory and sweet it just outstanding.

Heirloom Tomatoes

We are in full blown tomato and heirloom tomato season and that makes me very very happy. We can’t get enough of them. I literally go nuts with the tomatoes at the market. We like to eat them simply in a salad with some chopped avocado, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Sometimes a sprinkle of basil. Sometimes oregano. Sometimes I just make a simple pie crust and fill it with cut up tomatoes, fresh goat cheese, a drizzle of olive oil. It’s messy. It’s fresh. It’s delicious.

Roasted Turnips & Beets

I would never have thought I would get Bill to actually ask for turnips or beets for dinner. But he does. Specifically the ones from the market. They are super fresh and sweet and when I roast them with some salt and pepper, he just can’t get enough. I roast a batch in late afternoon and we snack on those while I prepare dinner. Nature’s candy. Seriously.

Round Eggplant

Eggplant & Onion Gratin

Our market is a food lover, food photographer’s dream come true. Not only are the vegetables flavorful, fresh and delicious, they also look good. I can’t stop myself from picking up tiny baby squash or amazingly purple round eggplants. And purple onions. And purple basil. It makes for a beautiful gratin just by layering them all together. A good drizzle of cream and thanks to Nigel Slater’s book Tender we had the silkiest of side dish the other night for dinner.

Dinner at our house would not be complete without dessert of course and lately, we have been drowning (my fault) under cases of apricots. One of my favorites. I am picky about my apricots and this year they are amazingly fragrant and tasty. We have enjoyed them sauteed in a bit of raw honey and served along side cookies or tea cakes like the hazelnut financiers pictured here.

Pineapple Sage Financiers

I recently discovered pineapple sage and been adding it to plenty of dishes, sweet and savory. It’s mild, smells like pineapple and adds a lovely fragrance to tea cakes. Lemon thyme, lemon verbana lemon balm, pineapple sage…all these mild herbs lend themselves perfectly to sweet treats.

I was particularly happy to curl on the couch Saturday night with a couple of financiers and some of those honey apricots. We had just driven home from my book signing in Charlotte and I was just craving something sweet and tangy.

Book Signing

The trip was a lot of fun and it was awesome to finally hang out with Taylor in his hometown and meet some of the Charlotte food bloggers. Thank you to everyone who came to have a book signed or just say "hello", it was an honor meeting you. Of course, it was nothing like one of The Pioneer Woman's book signing where people line up for hours just to talk to Ree!

Speaking of which…It’s been hard keeping the secret of a little weekend that Ree and I have been organizing but it’s finally here! I am extremely honored that Ree has invited me to come to her ranch to teach a couple of workshops July 23rd-24th. Yes! One will be on how to make macarons and the other on food styling and photography.

She is giving the chance to 3 readers of her blog (and their guest) to come and spend the weekend learning, baking, photographing…and of course laughing and eating! You can enter the giveaway on her blog here! I can’t wait!

The best part? The minute I told Bill about what we were doing he said "I’m coming!" Then he added "let’s do a road trip there!" It’s been ages since we took a road trip together and we just love doing those. Granted I catch up on sleep but we love to discover new towns and new storied. Once I have the itinerary mapped out, I might ask some of you for recommendations of all kinds.

Honey Apricots & Financiers

In the meantime, I might just sneak away the last of the Hazelnut Financiers and Honey Apricots. And wait impatiently for dinner and a serving of that Eggplant Gratin…!

Honey Apricots and Pineapple Sage Hazelnut Financiers

Serves 6

For the Honey Apricots:
1 tablespoon butter
6 apricots, halved and pit removed
1/3 cup honey

In a large sautee pan placed over medium high heat, melt the butter until it starts to sizzle, add the apricots, cut side down and sautee for 2 minutes. Flip them over and sautee another 2 minutes. Remove from the pan and place them on a serving plate. Add the honey to the hot pan and swirl it around until hot. Pour over the apricots and serve right away

For the financiers:

1 stick (115g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (100gr) unsifted powdered sugar
1/2 cup (60gr) ground hazelnuts
1 tablespoon finely chopped pineapple sage
1/4 cup (30gr) rice flour (or same amount in cake flour)
pinch of salt
4 large egg whites

Preheat your oven to 375F and position a rack in the center. Lightly butter the inside of 12 financiers molds or muffin tins and place them on a baking sheet. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan set over medium high heat, melt the butter until it turns to a rich hazelnut brown color. Remove from the heat and let it cool for 5 minutes. Strain and reserve.
Mix together the powdered sugar, flour, ground hazelnuts, pineapple sage and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the egg whites and mix on low speed until all the ingredients are coming together. Add the brown butter, increase the speed to medium and beat until smooth.
Divide the batter among your molds and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Fresh Market Eggplant Gratin, inspired by Nigel Slater’s Root Vegetable Gratin in Tender:

2 teaspoons olive oil
3 baby round eggplant or one large regular eggplant, sliced
2 small red onions, sliced
1 cup shitake mushrooms, diced (I use a combo of shitake and oyster)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup basil loosely packed basil leaves and chopped
Salt and pepper
1 cup light cream (or 1/2 milk and heavy cream)

Preheat the oven to 350F and position a rack in the middle. In a 9×9 inch gratin dish lightly coated with a bit of olive oil, place some eggplant slices in a single layer. Top with a single layer each of onion slices, diced mushrooms. Sprinkle with some garlic, chopped basil and salt and pepper. Repeat the layering until all the vegetables are used. Pour the cream over the top and bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown.

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Caroline @ Pink Basil June 21, 2011 um 4:19 pm

These photos are to die for! I hope I win the contest to come see you at the ranch!

Jillian Cupcake June 21, 2011 um 4:25 pm

You are so talented! I hope I win, learning from you would be a dream come true!

Vimitha Durai June 21, 2011 um 4:31 pm

Beautiful clicks and flavorful apricots.. Love anything dripping with honey…

Jaclyn June 21, 2011 um 4:40 pm

how exciting, Helene! i would love to attend another one of your workshops! your farmer's market bounties look absolutely to die for. i simply love strolling through the farmer's market on saturday morning; there's nothing more inspiring or relaxing to me.

Brianne June 21, 2011 um 4:44 pm

I'm a newcomer to your site. I spent last week perusing your macaron recipes, and I totally fell for your writing, your photography, and of course your baking! I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of your book and continue to learn from you. The photos in this post are especially gorgeous. Thank you!

Kristina June 21, 2011 um 4:52 pm

How do you do that? All your photos are amazing! Aren't you a fairy?

jacqui June 21, 2011 um 4:57 pm

I loved reading how you use up all your market produce. When eating local and really fresh foods, preparing them so simply always seems to be the best and you've done that beautifully!

Ruth June 21, 2011 um 5:21 pm

Those financiers look amazing! I love the use of rice flour and hazelnut – I'll have to try it!

Maïlys June 21, 2011 um 5:55 pm

je vous découvre justement via The PW's blog et suis enchantée. J'espère avoir la joie et l'honneur de passer ce week end en votre compagnie, mais déjà, je suis enchantée de découvrir votre blog et mets votre livre sur la liste des prochains achats!

la domestique June 21, 2011 um 6:03 pm

That little round eggplant is fantastic! I would rather buy produce from the farmers market than shop at a mall any day!

Amy June 21, 2011 um 6:16 pm

Am I missing where the Pineapple Sage is incorporated into the recipe? It sounds so lovely!

Axelle the french reader June 21, 2011 um 6:35 pm

Je lis très régulièrement votre site ainsi que celui de PW et je suis très fière de voir une de mes compatriotes, certes expatriée, invitée au Ranch, le Fameux Ranch !! 😉
Je vous souhaite beaucoup de bons moments.

Anonymous June 21, 2011 um 6:46 pm

I would love the chance to attend any workshop of yours. Your photography is my favorite and inspires me to improve in my own skills.

Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga June 21, 2011 um 7:31 pm

Oh a workshop with you and Ree…what an amazing opportunity for the lucky winners! I can pray to the gods of luck, right? 🙂

I adore apricots and so this recipe is just speaking to me!

And lately have been so in love with the farmers market. In San Diego, I am spoiled year round but right now, it's just especially glorious.

Glad you have had such wonderful luck, too!

Nature's Candy…I Agree!

Musings by Di June 21, 2011 um 7:46 pm

wow…everything looks so fresh & delicious. You've convinced me that I should go to farmer's market more often! Now if only my kitchen wasn't such an abomination…;p
lovely photos! And all those veggie dishes look yummy and wonderful~ and yummmmmm financiers 😀
xoxo Di

Mély du Chaudron Pastel June 21, 2011 um 7:48 pm

Que ce soit les petits financiers, ou le gratin d'aubergines… Les 2 me tentent, et j'aimerai bien y goûter !

Tu as de la chance que tes primeurs soient bien déservis, et d'avoir le choix de la variété des tomates.
Sur Paris, le choix est assez limité dans les magasins bio !
Il y a peu de variétés anciennes.
Si on veut dénicher des petites perles originales, il faut se rendre au marché bio le dimanche matin (boulevard Raspail)…

Mais c'est vrai qu'une bonne tomate… il en faut peu pour la sublimer !

Et… comme toujours, tes photos sont sublimes 🙂

Au plaisir de te lire, et de continuer à regarder tes belles photos 🙂

Gen June 21, 2011 um 7:54 pm

Je suis ébahie devant ces abricots! C'est tout simple mais tellement bon! Je viens de recevoir votre livre, acheté sur le net parce qu'on ne le trouve pas en France et je le trouve très bien fait et vraiment en accord avec les questions que l'on peut se poser. De plus il est super rien que pour les illustrations qui sont nombreuses et qui viennent nourrir les explications!

Seizing My Day June 21, 2011 um 7:58 pm

Visiting via PW… your photography of Food is Stunning and I have only seen one post!! Can't wait to browse your blog a bit more… Sweets, photography and well… Food… oh my!! =) Congrats & Thank you re: the wonderful book!!

Brian Samuels Photography June 21, 2011 um 8:26 pm

Of all the dishes you have here, the one that caught my eye is the eggplant gratin. How marvelous that looks!

Maris(In Good Taste) June 21, 2011 um 9:15 pm

What fun time on 'the ranch' will be!

Hilary June 21, 2011 um 9:24 pm

This is some of THE MOST amazing food styling and and photography I have ever seen. I'm literally drooling all over my keyboard. You are inspiring and I will def get that book of yours.

MikeVFMK June 21, 2011 um 9:48 pm

Simply beautiful. We also have enough food on our table for many guests even though it's often just the two of us! Maybe we're secretly hoping for friends to drop by.

It's amazing how I can find inspiration whenever I visit here.. Thak

xxgurlyxx June 22, 2011 um 12:43 am

Oh my gosh, those apricots and tomatoes look absolutely amazing. I adore your photographs. 🙂

Unknown June 22, 2011 um 12:48 am

What a gorgeous blog…with amazing photos…just bought your book form my iPad…lovely!!! so hoping to learn from your photography genius!!!

Run Fast Travel Slow June 22, 2011 um 3:12 am

I love the story about the "shoot food" — we all need friends and family who will help eat what we just cooked/baked/photographed!! I know I needed help when I went overboard baking one week and made rugelach, cheesecake bars, & madeleines.

Morgann June 22, 2011 um 5:02 am

dying to try an authentic macaron, well any for that matter, but yours look too beautiful to eat so I can only imagine how wonderful they taste. thanks for the visual delights each day….

smiles, Sharon June 22, 2011 um 11:35 am

Your book with a little more time will sell as well as Ree's. I think it is splendid and when I receive an email update it is like a surprise package waiting to be opened. Have a fantastic road trip…you will see beautiful country.

Finla June 22, 2011 um 11:43 am

Wish i was your firend so i could tase all teh delicous food you make and also have the pivlage of you taking photos.

digitalgarden June 22, 2011 um 12:17 pm

Your photography is my favorite! I love your blog

Parisbreakfasts June 22, 2011 um 12:51 pm

What gorgeous photos.
I entered the contest and posted about it. Maybe a PBer will win! I would kill to win almost..
What an opp!
And what a fun idea Helene.
Bravo to the lucky winner 🙂

Anonymous June 22, 2011 um 1:12 pm

Amazing post! As I'm sure you've heard before – your pictures are incredible! I'm making a tomato tart tonight (and blogging about it for next week). I'm going to try something different with mine…wish me luck!

Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic June 22, 2011 um 2:34 pm

I love all the photos in this blog post. Those purple turnips! They look like jewels. "Shoot food" is a funny term but something I can relate to as well 🙂

ChichaJo June 22, 2011 um 3:36 pm

Everything here looks wonderful and delicious! Food markets are such an inspiration, especially when you see how much the purveyors love their craft, whether it be organic veggies or grass-feed beef!

I know what you mean about "shoot food". When I have a shoot for my column we usually have a few meals lined up already!

Anonymous June 22, 2011 um 3:58 pm

Your photos are always mouth-watering!

May – So Very Domestic June 22, 2011 um 4:09 pm

Wow. Apricots + honey have me totally sold. I am also smitten with the eggplant – so bright!

DolceDreams June 22, 2011 um 4:26 pm

Your photos and food combinations are absolutely exquisite, I am so happy to have found you!

sandra June 22, 2011 um 4:45 pm

Felicitation pour le livre. Je viens de le commander sur Amazon. Vos photos sont toujours tres inspirantes!


nandu June 22, 2011 um 4:56 pm

Awesome pics and yummy recipes…I just love everything…

Anonymous June 22, 2011 um 6:39 pm

Lovely pictures…as alwasy. You can call me anytime while your friend J. is away! will be honored… Thanks for sharing your stories and recipes. Pilar

Deebi27 June 22, 2011 um 10:50 pm

The camera never lies (or does it?) which is why I could sit at your table and be in heaven. I am sure if I think I don't like something, you would prepare "it" in a way that would make my mouth water and reaching for more! And I am NEW to your blog! How insightful I can be…yummy!

Anne Marie June 22, 2011 um 11:53 pm

I love your creativity with herbs and spices. Especially loved the honeysuckle and jasmine syrup from the birthday cupcakes a few weeks ago. I was inspired to make a lemon verbena infusion that I used in green tea, lemon verbena cream for meringues, and a cake, like your cupcakes most of which I posted about. Beautiful post, like always Helene.

Unknown June 23, 2011 um 1:18 am

I do hear you about always cooking too much. It seems I have the same affliction. I must say that I covet those 3 pronged forks. So cute. I enjoyed your article tonight as I am procrastinating through you blog from what I should be doing…

Bonbon Oiseau June 23, 2011 um 11:06 am

Beautiful Helen, just beAutiful. You know I have these same plates from Asya, a gift from our 8th wedding anniversary a few years ago.(we got married on 8/12 so we got 12 plates for our 8th anniversary! Seeing them here in your gorgeous photos with your beautiful food makes me feel…ummm…so happy for so many reasons!
I wish I could come take your workshop…

Serenity June 23, 2011 um 2:17 pm

GORGEOUS photos, thoughtful writing. Thanks for sharing and inspiring nourishing food ideas for body and soul.

Pots and Pins June 24, 2011 um 1:54 pm

I just discovered your blog through Pioneer Woman! I entered her contest, alas, I didn't win, but I did DREAM about it!! Are you going to do a workshop of any kind in Seattle? I sure hope so, I'm a lousy photographer and would love to learn ANYTHING from you! I'm off to buy peaches to make some Tartelettes – thanks!

Lucia June 25, 2011 um 10:14 am

Oh, apricots! Sweet and firm and colourful. To be eaten on a beach, hearing the sound of the sea, with the juice dripping down and sticking on the little sand grains. My Paradise.

Minna June 25, 2011 um 6:51 pm

Hey! Could you recommend good dish netshops which sends worldwide? Sorry for my bad english. Have a nice weekend!

Maureen June 26, 2011 um 5:10 am

I swoon when I read your blog. What wonderful photos and the food just jumps off the screen. If I wasn't hungry before I clicked I am now!

Brownie June 26, 2011 um 6:10 am

Reading your posts always makes me so hungry even if I've just had a full dinner. Your photos really do those gorgeous veggies from the farmer's market justice – wow and I have to try out your bacon and grape combo – looks just mouth watering.

Claire M. June 27, 2011 um 4:46 am

I really love Apricots! thanks for sharing this 😉

Geisslein June 28, 2011 um 6:44 am

oh my godness, your blog makes me SO HUNGRY!!! ;o)
sunny greetings from germany, geisslein

féenoménale June 28, 2011 um 7:18 am

moi je mets des cerises dans mes financiers, (des amarena)

Nonoy June 28, 2011 um 1:15 pm

This blog is just so wonderful. I wanna join the 2-day photo workshop. I hope it would be available through Webinar or Online live seminar. I really wanna know what constitutes a good food photography. I'be been owning a Sony Cybershot digital cam; I don't know if this can capture high quality pictures of food like those you have here on this blog.

Guess I'll just have to follow this blog for future posts. Thanks a lot for creating this blog. Kudos! 🙂

michele June 28, 2011 um 7:24 pm

Glad to see that the food from the "food shoot" did not go to waste.

Unknown June 29, 2011 um 4:37 am

I love the recipe.

Pickles June 30, 2011 um 1:12 am

I'm envious of the bounty at your market. Our season just got underway. Fresh tomatoes & peppers should be appearing soon!

kyleen July 3, 2011 um 2:23 am

I can't get over how gorgeous your pictures are. I just bought a DSLR camera and I hope one day my photos will look as good as yours.

Marla July 3, 2011 um 12:22 pm

Shoot food rules. Only tricky thing is when the kids are starving and wanting to "help." Makes me happy that they are so excited about my work though. Love all this summer food you bring to us 🙂

Jeane – tienda de ciclismo July 5, 2011 um 7:16 am

Hello, I love your blog is giving me hunger to see these pictures, have a delicious pint. goodbye

iadorefood July 12, 2011 um 2:37 am

great pictures! 🙂

Madeleine July 15, 2011 um 1:32 am

I found this recipe so inspiring … peaches were on sale at my grocery store so I adapted the recipe for those and they turned out great. I also added a bit of honey mascarpone to the centers of the peaches, an idea I got from the Joy the Baker blog. I posted some photos as well.

Also, Helene, I'm reading your book currently and learning so much!

Venta de agapornis September 15, 2011 um 4:45 pm

Wooow, simply amazing. It is incredible how good you do this recipe. The photos are great and also the food. Really amazed about your blog. Thank you. Regards

foodie @ October 8, 2011 um 7:27 am

i am in love with your photography… i just got into food photography myself… been through your book and going to practice and maybe someday i will be as good as you 🙂

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