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An Impromptu Picnic: Salmon & Quinoa Salad and Meringues With Creme Fraiche & Berries

Salmon Quinoa Salad

It’s been a game of hide and seek in our household for the past month or so. My better half has been playing music jobs left and right, on top of his day job. I, on the other hand, have been buried in the studio either shooting and editing until early evening, hoping for an evening when we can just chill. There have been a lot of "just changing clothes and heading out! I love you!" and "I won’t be home for dinner" exchanged.

Salmon Quinoa Salad

It’s ok. After so many years, we are used to the fact that some months his schedule makes him a passing ghost and some other months, well, it’s my turn to hop from plane to plane for work or workshops. On a side note, for an updated workshop schedule, click here. It’s a rythm we understand and adapt to happily. His passion for playing music brings him so much that I would be the last one to complain. Same goes the other way. He knows how much I love to travel and share my passion about photography with others and help them as much as I can, and lets me be where I need to be. A happy mate is a happy house…


Well, even with our motto of "doing things independently together", there are those moments when the in passing "love you" needs to turn into a long hug, a conversation. A sit down and a cup of coffee. A date night. Whatever it is that makes it worth it. There are so many nights with a single plate on the table, so many girls night out or in, so many chick flick marathons that one can take before the string starts wearing thin. My best way to fix that is to pack some food, a blanket, our kite and our fishing rods and head to the beach. A picnic. A moment that we create.

Meringue, Creme Fraiche & Berries

I started planning some of our favorites to take along. A Salmon & Quinoa Salad, a big bottle of lemonade, and to finish a cross between a Pavlova and Eton Mess. A Meringue with Creme Fraiche and Berries. Something healthy and light and something completely decadent but just as light to the palate.


I was about to put all our victuals in the car when the sky became black and thunder rolled up its big drums. Within minutes, it started pouring. So much for a picnic at the beach. Well…c’est dommage (too bad) but I was not going to let this one day off together slip away. I pushed the furniture in the living room, spread our picnic blanket on the rug and laid out our meal.

Meringue, Creme Fraiche & Berries

We sat there, with the pups sleeping soundly, listening to the sound of the rain and feeling grateful for this one little moment alone. And…grateful to be only steps away from the kitchen to go for seconds…!

And on a final side note: if you are in Charleston or plan to visit soon, the opening reception of my gallery show at Heirloom Book Company will take place Friday March 2nd from 5.30-m til 8pm. The exhibit will run from now through the end of the Spoleto Festival.

Salmon Quinoa Salad

Salmon and Quinoa Salad:

Serves 2

1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups water
1 sprig oregano
1 garlic clove, smashed
One 6 oz salmon fillet
1 to 2 cups arugula leaves
1/2 cup edamame
6 to 8 medium radishes
olive oil and vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, combine the quinoa, water and oregano. Ad a pinch of salt and some cracked pepper. Bring to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the quinoa is translucid and soft. Remove the oregano and garlic. Let cool.
In a sautee pan heated over medium high heat, add a teaspoon of olive oil and cook the salmon for about 3 minutes on each side (longer if the fillet is thick). Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the pan and let cool.
Assemble the salad by dividing the quinoa arugula, edamame, radishes, and salmon among plates (or cups that you can place a lid on if traveling). Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar to taste.

Meringue With Creme Fraiche and Berries:

Serves 6

Note: Start this dessert the day before you serve it. The meringue needs to sit in the oven overnight (off) and the homemade creme fraiche requires you start it the day before you assemble the dessert. It is so easy, I wonder why I don’t make it more often..oh yeah… not as calorie free as it tastes! You can purchase your own creme fraiche if you wish.

Creme fraiche:
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoon buttermilk

Place the heavy cream in a non reactive bowl. Stir in the buttermilk. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit on the countertop overnight. The next day, refrigerate until ready to use.

2 egg whites
2/3 cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F and position a rack in the middle.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the egg whites to a thick foam at medium speed for about 3-4 minutes. Slowly drizzle in the sugar, a few tablespoons at a time until the meringue is stiff and glossy.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silpat and form circles of meringue with about 1/4 cup of the batter for each. You can make them as thin or fluffly as you wish, smaller or larger. Mine were about 3 inches round.
Place in the oven, turn the oven off and leave them overnight.

For the berries:
1 cup raspberries
1 cup blueberries
1 cup blackberries
1 tablespoon honey
juice of one lemon

Mix carefully all the berries together with the honey and lemon juice. Reserve until ready to use.

To assemble:
Place a meringue round on a plate. Whip the cream fraiche for a minute to fluff it up and spoon some on the meringue. Top with the berries and drizzle with some of the juice they gave out while sitting.
You can also, layer the meringue, creme fraiche and berries in glasses and pack them up in your picnic basket.

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Kyla February 28, 2012 um 4:15 pm

Oh my, this whole post is making me drool! That berry meringue especially looks delicious 🙂

Sophisticated Stationery February 28, 2012 um 5:26 pm

this all looks so delicious!

Debugcooking February 28, 2012 um 5:36 pm

Gorgeous props Helen…and that eton mess looks delicious and healthy!!

Seanna Lea February 28, 2012 um 5:49 pm

I so want to make those meringues and creme fraiche. They look wonderfully decadent!

Daisy@Nevertoosweet February 28, 2012 um 6:19 pm

You're photos are always so amazing 🙂 This looks like a great healthy recipe ~ Thanks for sharing!

Kiran @ February 28, 2012 um 6:28 pm

Amazing photos! I love simple, clean and delicious recipes 🙂

Off to make salmon. Me and the Hubby has the same arrangement. We try to make time for each other, either on a picnic, unplanned date nights (the best!) and even go on a walk. Every small efforts makes a huge difference 🙂

Kelly-Jane February 28, 2012 um 8:12 pm

You are right a picnic is a moment we can create, I'd never thought of it that way before. Lovely shots.

Is your cookbook still on schedule for this year Helene? I do hope so 🙂

Michele | Cooking At Home February 28, 2012 um 8:25 pm

What a beautiful and delicious date night,

Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga February 28, 2012 um 11:39 pm

It's all about doing what works in the moment and what's possible and a reality…good for you.

And a new header I think? That, or I missed it before today. It's great!

Karen @ Sugartown Sweets February 29, 2012 um 1:36 am

Absolutely stunning photographs! The food of course looks wonderful as well! 🙂

kerin@girlmeetssugar February 29, 2012 um 8:13 am

I've just picked up my first dslr and have begun to dabble a bit in food photography and blogging, and I have to say your site is such an inspiration.

Thanks for sharing Helene, and I hope the date went well 🙂

Florence A. February 29, 2012 um 1:14 pm

Oh oui, il faut parfois faire s'arrêter le monde extérieur et sa danse très entrainante, pour être juste avec l'Aimé, en lien avec l'essentiel, où chacun est en besoin réel de l'autre, loin du virtuel, pied de nez au temps qui passe si vite ailleurs…
Dans un autre registre, bravo aux personnes qui ont gagné les cartes MOO. Après avoir lu ton billet à leur sujet et les avoir trouvées si belles, je me suis connectée sur leur site en français et j'ai commandé 10 cartes, choisi mes photos parmi toutes les miennes, et je les recevrai bientôt, 100% gratuitement, chez moi. Je ferai ensuite le choix et j'en commanderai plus. Merci Hélène 🙂

Valérie ( Franche-Comté ) February 29, 2012 um 3:31 pm

Je te souhaite une belle fin d'après midi


Willa February 29, 2012 um 8:31 pm

I find your blog so inspiring! Your food is always inventive and just so beautiful. Thanks for another delicious post.

Allison Mannella March 1, 2012 um 2:49 am

Such a thoughful look into your days Helene! A great reminder to make the most of the moments we have together, especially when life is busy (which it almost always is!).

Allison Mannella March 1, 2012 um 2:49 am

Such a thoughful look into your days Helene! A great reminder to make the most of the moments we have together, especially when life is busy (which it almost always is!).

WokandSpoon March 1, 2012 um 6:22 am

Indoor picnic is a great idea – good food and you're dry!

tania@mykitchenstories March 1, 2012 um 6:41 am

It all looks delicious as usual. I love the berry meringues

Stephanie Hadrath March 1, 2012 um 8:56 pm

This a picnic for gourmets!!!
Excellent receipts!!!Will try them soon !!!

Jen Laceda | Milk Guides March 1, 2012 um 10:06 pm

I don't know how I missed the MOO cards giveaway!!! Sob, sob, sob…

Anyway, Helene, I sooooo understand what you say about how some times, we are like passing ghosts at home. "Hi, hello, see you later, i love you…" and I realize that it's truly important to really turn to each other often and do impromptu, romantic things to keep a marriage alive! And for us, food is always the easiest and most practical way to say "i love you; I appreciate you." Le pique nique during the summer is my favourite! 🙂 And these recipes are awesome!

Nieves March 1, 2012 um 11:24 pm

Meringue et double creme de gruyere avec coulis des framboises. It is quite aimilir no? By far one of my favorite desserts!

Rhonda March 2, 2012 um 12:35 am

What a lovely picnic, it is so good to take time for each other. I see you've been nominated for a "Homey" award on The Kitchn, no surprise there!

Jillian@TheHumbleGourmet March 2, 2012 um 2:28 am

What a lovely way to spend some quality time. It reminds me of camping in the backyard as a kid… a nice escape but still close to home. And the refrigerator 😉

Rikki March 2, 2012 um 4:35 pm

Those berries in the bowl look so beautiful and delicious (and so does everything else!) I'm hungry now [:

Emilie March 2, 2012 um 4:47 pm

I'm loving this dessert. Thanks for sharing!

The Prudent Homemaker March 3, 2012 um 6:08 pm

I was speaking last Saturday and completely missed your giveaway.

Friday night we had a dinner for the speakers. I had a couple of the other speakers ask me about what my family eats (I was speaking on eating for .40 per person per day). I realized that I am used to interacting online with that question, or having large posters and my website up for my presentation. I usually let the pictures do the talking!

I gave them my business card, as I still have some left that I created with my old header image from a few years back, but I was wishing at that moment for new cards with wonderful photographs of what we eat. I wondered which image I would choose to portray on a new card. Your pictures on the MOO cards show, to me, how hard it will be to choose! They also give me several ideas for a new card layout (perhaps vertically this time!)

Your indoor picnic looks lovely–and delicious.

Kitchenette Finds March 3, 2012 um 8:38 pm

I love livingroom picnics on rainy days! I try to open as many windows as possible to catch the breeze and let in the fresh air to whet our appetites. It's so important to capture those moments together, especially admist hectic schedules.

Malwina Marchwicka March 5, 2012 um 8:38 pm

delisous! beutifull pictures:)

Jenna Rose March 7, 2013 um 3:05 pm

I just found your blog and am loving the beautiful images and recipes. I started eating gluten free this year and have found so many good ideas from your blog.
As I was scrolling through I spotted my berry tea towel the photos of this post! Beautiful styling.
Thanks for the great recipes and inspiration.

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