The Lou Messugo Blog - life in the south of France from a British/Australian TCK's perspective, bringing you French culture, travel on the Côte d'Azur and beyond, expat issues and a little bit of je ne sais quoi all mixed up with a hefty dose of photography.

Food & Drink

This recipe for yogurt cake is an absolute standard classic French home-made cake that can be conjured up at a minute's notice for any occasion.  It's perfect for goûter, school bake sales, birthdays and even breakfast!  It's so easy anyone can make it.  

easy yogurt cake classic French recipe

The beauty of it lies in its simplicity - there's no complicated order of ingredients or difficult folding-in/whipping/creaming; heck there's not even any weighing!  Contrary to what all those reputable bakers out there say about baking being a precise science, this recipe is basic, fairly imprecise and yet never fails.

      yogurt cake 1

The trick with a yogurt cake lies in the word "yogurt".  Instead of scales or cups you use a yogurt pot to measure everything out, making it very simple for young children to follow or easy to make while on holiday without scales for example.  Of course this will only work if yogurt is sold in individual pots of 125 g where you are.

                     yogurt

Recipe for yogurt cake

Preparation 10 minutes - Cooking 30 mins - Oven temp 200-220°c, gas mark 6-7

1 natural (unsweetened) yogurt (125g)  (use the pot as a measure)

2 pots of ordinary flour (SR flour for UK)

2 pots of sugar

0.5 pot of vegetable oil

3 eggs

0.5 sachet of "levure chimique" (French substitute for baking powder, no need to use if using SR flour)

1 sachet of vanilla sugar (or a dash of vanilla essence)

* chocolate chips (optional)

You will need one loaf tin

      yogurt cake 2

All ovens are different, pre-heat to the temperature required depending whether your oven is fan-assisted or runs hotter/colder than others.

      yogurt cake-3

Scoop the yogurt into a mixing bowl then use the pot as a measure for the other ingredients, pouring them all into the bowl.  Add the eggs and stir the whole lot until smooth and thick.

      yogurt cake 4

*Add chocolate chips if using them and stir into the mix.  Sometimes I add them for a change but a classic yogurt cake doesn't have any.

      yogurt cake 5

Grease a loaf tin, pour the mixture into it and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

      yogurt cake 6

Light and a little moist, this cake is usually eaten plain, with perhaps a sprinkling of icing sugar but it is never iced, hence why I said it could be eaten for breakfast.  (French breakfasts are sweet, often including cake, which if you're a sweet tooth like me is heaven!)  I've made this cake too many times to count .... it's simplicity itself (both in the making and in the taste) and it's always a success. 

      yogurt cake 7

Bon appétit!

 

 

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Roquefort - cheese, pines, goats and sheep

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One of the most well-known French cheeses internationally is sure to be Roquefort, a salty blue cheese made from sheep's milk.  I live in Roquefort.  But not that one.  I live in Roquefort les Pins - Roquefort the Pines, named after the abundance of majestic pine trees in the forest around us - situated in the Alpes-Maritimes on the Côte d'Azur near Nice.  The Roquefort town, of the cheese fame, is in the Aveyron département near Millau and is actually called Roquefort sur Soulzon.  Only cheese produced there, aged in the Combalou caves can be called Roquefort.  It has what's called AOC status (more on that later) and is nothing to do with my little Roquefort.   So just as I get called "Lou" a lot I also get plenty of comments on my Facebook page about how much people love "my" cheese!  Now you know the difference, I'm glad I've cleared that up!

     Roquefort cheese

My area of France is actually one of the least cheesey areas in the country.  We have no dairy around here, just goats and some sheep higher up in the mountains.  So it's these animals who provide the milk for the nearest local cheeses.  There are a couple of farms in the vacinity that produce delicious fresh creamy chèvre, (goat's cheese) which comes in a variety of ways, such as covered in pepper, herbs or even petals. They are all generically called "chèvre", no distinguishing names here. 

      chèvre fromage

Perhaps the most well-known cheese in the area comes from the mountains North-West of Roquefort les Pins in the Alpes of Haute Provence, though its fame is relative and I doubt many people outside France have heard of it.  It's called Banon, and is, not surprisingly, a goat's cheese. Its particularity is that it is wrapped in chestnut leaves tied with a piece of natural raffia.  It also has AOC status, just like Roquefort cheese.

      cheese 2

      Banon

So what is AOC? AOC (Appellation d'origine côntrolée - controlled designation of origin) is the certification of a geographical denomination used to refer to a product which comes from a particular place and whose qualities and nature are exclusively due to this place.  It is most commonly used for wines and cheese though it also applies to some meat, butter and honey, and even lavender and lentils! It ensures a strict quality control and that copies can't be made.  Roquefort was the first cheese to receive the AOC label in 1925.  

       chèvre fromage goats cheese

Getting back to my part of France, another cheese found in Provence is Brousse, a soft, grainy cheese a little like ricotta. Originally from Marseille and originally made from goat's milk, it is now produced in various parts of Provence and Corsica and can be made from ewe, cow or goat's milk. It is in the process of applying for AOC status but doesn't have it yet.  Brousse is relatively uncommon and I think I could go as far as to say that most French haven't even heard of it. If you do come across it, try it stuffed in courgette flowers or drizzled with honey.  It is delicious served sweet or savoury. 

         Brousse cheese

Have you heard of or eaten any of these cheeses?  Do you have a favourite cheese or does your area produce a special one?  Do tell!

 

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How to eat French food and not get fat

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Today I'm sharing a post writen by Sophie of Franglaise Cooking revealing the secret of eating like the French.  She shows us how it's possible to eat well and not put on weight.  I write reasonably often about local dishes, cakes and wines so thought it time to show that it is possible to enjoy all these marvellous things without turning into an elephant.  However, Sophie explains it so well I thought I'd let her do the talking.

How to eat French Food and not get fat

by Sophie from Franglaise Cooking, an English girl married to a French man living in London after 12 years in the South of France.  Together Sophie and Ben blog about their interest in everyday English and French family food, sharing recipes and helpful tips for better eating.

             French cheese in moderation

 

Since starting this blog many people have asked how the French can eat as they do and not have big problems with obesity. If you scroll through the recipes on our blog you will notice that the French ones aren't exactly calorie-counting, diet dishes. So, how do the French not get fat?

First of all, French eating habits are very different to British habits:

- The French eat 3 meals a day and don't snack between meals. French children eat 4 meals a day as they have goûter at around 4pm before having dinner at around 8pm.
- There is one key word that sums up French eating: Moderation. The French tend to eat whatever they want, but in moderation. So they will let themselves have cheese and cakes, but in moderation: a couple of small pieces of cheese, a thin slice of cake.  Click here to read more

I urge to click through to Sophie's full post, it's fascinating and I couldn't have explained it better. What do you think?

 

This post is linked to #FoodieTuesday

Tagged in: Food gastronomy
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Roquefort and Beyond: A Local Wine Guide

Posted by on in Food & Drink

I'm excited to present my very first guest blogger today, wine connoisseur Chrissie McClatchie.  I've been thinking about a post dedicated to local wines for a while but while I know when I like a wine that about as far as my knowledge goes.  I'm no expert, so who better to ask to write a post for me than a local specialist!  I hope you enjoy her tour of some of the best nearby vineyards whether you're on the Côte d'Azur or reading from afar.

Guest Post from Chrissie at The Riviera Grapevine

      Saint Jeannet seen from Bellet

If you're lucky enough to have experienced first hand the wonderful hospitality and charm of Lou Messugo, you'll already know that Phoebe's beautiful holiday rental is perfectly situated to take advantage of the sun, the sea and all the natural beauty the Côte d'Azur offers.

Yet, of all the reasons why you may be considering booking in here for your summer break, I'm guessing that wine tasting may not be one of them. After all, the French Riviera doesn't exactly have the same lofty reputation as Bordeaux, Burgundy or even nearby Avignon and Aix-en-Provence when it comes to the grape.

That's why I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at the quality of wine to be discovered along this glittering coastline, all within easy reach of Roquefort-les-Pins. This is the land of the pink drink after all, and there's no better match to a Mediterranean summer's day than a chilled glass of Provence rosé. But there is a whole array of other local wines to be discovered as well.

So here is a selection of vineyards to explore, each within easy reach of your home-away-from-home, Lou Messugo. It's a chance to embark on a tasting adventure which combines top quality wines in some rather spectacular locations.

     St-Jeannet-Label

Saint-Jeannet

All roads may not lead to Saint-Jeannet from Roquefort-les-Pins, but Phoebe will help you find the right one to this pretty hilltop village, named after the dominating baou (cliff face) which bears the same name.

There's one remaining vineyard here, the Vignoble des Hautes Collines de la Côte d'Azur. It's a family affair. Brothers George and Dennis Rasse craft the wines, whilst Rémy designs bright and whimsical labels which reflect the nature of the vintage. Warmer vintages equal brighter colours, cooler colours mean a cooler year.

      Bonbons  Saint Jeannet

The vineyard is also known for their iconic bonbonnieres: big, bulbous glass bottles in which the wine is left to have maximum contact with the sunlight.

A visit is highly recommended to discover their impressive array of red, white and rosé wines, including a sweet and sparkling wine!

Bellet

      Bellet Sign

It's a little known fact (even locally) that there is such a thing as Nice wine! The vineyards of Bellet, in the hills of the city, are unique for many reasons.

It is the only place in the world where you'll find wine made from the grape varieties Braquet and Folle Noir, which are the main ingredients in a Bellet rosé and red wine respectively. Rolle (or Vermentino) is also grown and is often blended with Chardonnay to make a Bellet white.

There are 11 vineyards in Bellet, most of which still family owned and operated. Whilst Château de Bellet and Domaine de Toasc are two of the finest exponents of this local drop, all vineyards welcome visitors. It is, however, advisable to phone ahead to organise your tasting.

Rosé territory in St Tropez

      Chateau Margui

Chances are a day-trip to the famed fishing port of St Tropez is already on your itinerary, since it's close to being the quintessential French Riviera experience.

Whilst the land around the gulf of St Tropez may be prime real estate, the soils are also perfect for crafting some of the finest examples of Provence rosé you will find.

One of my favourite producers nearby is Château Minuty, not just because they make three different types of perfectly fresh and fruity rosé! The estate, one of the big names in Provence, is situated on an impressive 70 hectares and offers a beautiful vista overlooking the gulf of St Tropez.

Further inland, near Le Muy, Château Margüi produce some of the most delightful rosés, whites and reds in a truly beautiful Provençal setting. Their bright tasting room welcomes visitors Monday-Friday and you're encouraged to pop by to say hi!

Wherever you decide to go, you're in for some wonderful and classically French Riviera discoveries.

Santé!

 

Chrissie Riviera Grapevine

 

Chrissie McClatchie is a Sydneysider living in Nice working for a local wine company.  She writes her blog The Riviera Grapevine as a legitimate reason to keep tasting, writing and learning about all things wine related on the Côte d'Azur and beyond.

 

 

                                  

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If ever there's a cake that evokes summer holidays, the beach, the sun and the Med, it's the Tarte Tropézienne.  A fluffly light buttery brioche, with a hint of orangeflower water, filled in the middle with a mix of two creams and sprinkled on top with crunchy sugar.  Oh heaven!  Until I moved to "summer-holiday-land" this cake would take me there if ever I needed a fix of southern warmth.  Now, I don't need that fix as I live here but that doesn't stop me from indulging every so often in this wickedly delicious cream pie.  And a couple of days ago I tested the very original "trademark" tarte.

       tarte tropézienne

Like so many great classics, the exact ingredients of the Tarte Tropézienne are a closely guarded secret and only known to the "official" creators in a handful of pâtisseries.  The legend of its origins however are not a secret and live up to the glamour of its home town, St Tropez.

       tarte tropézienne 2

In 1955 a Polish baker, Alexandre Micka, opened a pâtisserie on the Place de la Mairie in the sleepy fishing village St Tropez.  In it he proposed a brioche with cream based on his grandmother's recipe. Now it just so happened that the mythic film And God created Woman was being shot nearby and Micka provided the catering.  A certain young rising star fell in love with his cake and suggested its name.  This star was none other than Brigitte Bardot and it was the success of this film that launched her career and established St Tropez as the place to be for the rich and famous.  

                    tarte-trpz

In 1973 Micka registered the trademark for the name and in 1985 Albert Dufrêne took over and continues to this day as the head of the brand.  The recipe remains the same and traditional methods are still used to create the cake, for example the sugar spinkles are made on site in copper cauldrons.

       tarte-tropézienne-café-gourmand

I recently had the pleasure of eating lunch at the Tarte Tropézienne boulangerie now on the Place des Lices in St Tropez.  It serves light lunches as well as a fine selection of breads, cakes and of course la tarte which comes in several shapes, sizes and options such as the addition of raspberries or strawberries. After a delicious salad of warm goat's cheese in filo I chose my favourite dessert - café gourmand - which came with a mini tropézienne of course.  As Tarte Tropézienne is my kids' favourite I had to take a big one home too.  I decided to try a raspberry version and oh....my, it was gooood!  It didn't last long that evening I can tell you! 

       tarte tropézienne 5

What's your favourite dessert/pâtisserie?  Do you have a famous dish from your local town/area? As ever I love to hear from you and I always reply to comments.

       tarte tropézienne 3

 

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