Madelaines …

We’ve just returned from a wonderful holiday in France, to make that holiday feeling last just a little bit longer I made some madelaines – any excuse !
The recipe was from Rachel Khoo’s ‘Little Paris Kitchen’ and included the addition of a raspberry into each madelaine plus some home made lemon curd once the cakes had been removed from the oven:


It took several attempts to get the quantity of batter right – I kept putting way too much in and the cakes overflowed their moulds – I got it just about right in the end though.

These tasted lovely and light, still warm from the oven.
I wonder what I can cook tomorrow to extend that holiday feeling !


Place des Vosges, Paris …

This square is one of my favourite places in Paris. When I was a student, spending a year living in Paris, I used to come here to read on a bench or to simply watch the world go by. It is a real oasis of calm within this beautiful capital city. The fine art shops that line this square make window shopping a real joy.

So far as my painting today is concerned, I was not totally convinced that I liked it. I’m not great at perspective and I think I tried too hard to make it look like my photograph (see below) whilst trying to make it abstract at the same time. I thought there was a definite confusion here. I decided therefore to have a quick go over the right hand side of my painting, with pastels. I’m now happier with the result. There may be some further pastel additions tomorrow but for now I’m quite content:


Here’s my original photo:


Springtime in Paris …

There really is no where like it.

I’ve been wanting to paint something incorporating the shape of the Eiffel Tower but wasn’t at all sure how to go about it. Yesterday I drew what can only be described as a squiggle and from that literally grew the painting that I did this afternoon.

Here it is:

I’ve been reliably informed by my critics here at home, that I should not add a colour wash as a background. I think they are probably right, any additional colour may take away from the very delicate pink of the cherry blossom.

I’m really pleased with my efforts today – I never knew that I could ‘do’ delicate!!


Here is the ‘squiggle’ that I drew yesterday:


Fantastic French Food …

Book reviews are not something I normally do, however, the book I bought this morning warrants me making an exception!

I have been avidly watching ‘The Little Paris Kitchen‘ recently and it is a series of programmes that really do make you salivate. The food that Rachel Khoo creates in her tiny kitchen is so amazing that when I saw her book to accompany the series I couldn’t resist.

The book itself is a joy to look at, the photos are stunning and there are also lots of little foodie watercolours! The recipes are as she presented them on the Tv and she doesn’t use a vast range of ingredients that us mere mortals wouldn’t have in our cupboards. I was therefore able to use 2 of her recipes for our dinner this evening.

For our main course, we had ‘Nids de tartiflette‘ or Cheese and Potato Nests. These were baked in a muffin tray and tasted amazing:

I had a couple of fairly strong cheeses in the fridge (brie and gruyère), which were chopped and grated before being stirred in to a hot onion, garlic, potato, bacon and white wine mixture. This was then portioned in to the buttered muffin tray before being cooked for about 15 minutes in the oven. I then steamed some broccoli to accompany them:


For dessert, we had ‘Quatre-quarts aux agrumes‘ or Citrus Fruit Cake. Whilst this was a little more complicated to make than your run of the mill lemon sponge or lemon drizzle cake, it was so incredibly light and ‘melt-in-the-mouth‘ that I think it has become our family’s new favourite lemon cake.

This photo really doesn’t do it justice:

The complexity in the preparation comes from having to prepare the ingredients separately – the butter must be melted then cooled, the egg yolks must be mixed with half the sugar whilst the egg whites are mixed with the other half – nothing really tricky, just a bit more of an effort, definitely well worth it though.

If you want to see some of Rachel’s recipes, they can be found here:


Notre Dame de Paris …

I was fortunate enough to have a whole day off today, not only was I not working but the sun was shining and the garden was beckoning. I decided to attempt a detailed painting as I had plenty of time – I was also waiting for a parcel to be delivered and ended up being home for most of the day.

The subject of my painting today was Notre Dame, Paris. I wanted to include some of the stonework detail as well as lots of lovely tones and colours. I worked from I photo that I took about 15 months ago, at night:

As usual, I planned my painting using watercolour pencils, this helped me to choose the colours that I wanted to use:


Two and a half hours later, this is the result:

I like the way the colours have mixed but wish I hadn’t painted such a definite line to indicate the left side of the building, I much prefer the effect on the right!

Having tried to dilute the line on the left and having minimal impact, I added some lovely paper to my painting:


A very special place …

I’ve had a morning off today, quite a rare occurrence at the moment and I was really excited about painting over my Arc de Triomphe sketch/colourwash that I used and added to on my computer yesterday. I wanted to make some subtle and some not so subtle use of  colour but I knew I would have to be careful. I lived for a year in Paris when I was a student, it is a truly amazing place and the Arc de Triomphe has particular significance for me as it was on the rooftop that my husband proposed to me 13.5 years ago.


This is the result:




I am really thrilled with how this has turned out, the use of technology yesterday helped me to decide how I was going to paint this today.   Am now off to work, pleased with how my morning off turned out.

Mixing media …

Following on from the relative success of the pictures in my previous post, I decided to have a go at mixing my media. First of all I painted the background, once this had dried I drew a very simplified version of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on top. I used a photo I had taken during our last visit, just over a year ago. I then took a photo of this and downloaded it on to live brush, on my computer. After much ‘playing’, this is the end result:

Not only do I have this copy on my computer, but I also have a canvas with the background and the Arc de Triomphe drawn onto it, maybe, if I have time tomorrow, I’ll see if I can create another picture, just using paint this time.