All things French

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France, France, France. It seems to have slipped into my subconscious, inception style. French food, French movies, French brands, French blogs. It may have started with Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. It’s just one of those movies…I love it so much, I had to watch it again recently. Perhaps it started when I read about a Mother and daughter’s six week trip to explore Paris in Lucy Knisley’s book, French Milk. Or it could simply be the case that while I have been fortunate to find myself in France recently enough, I didn’t really spend much time there. Driving from Cherbourg to Northwestern Spain meant two days of driving, with an overnight in Saintes as a recharging pitstop. Maybe I feel deprived!

I’ve certainly made up for it though, in the form of baked camembert (Président, of course), flakey croissants and a trip to Ladurée in Dublin’s Brown Thomas over Christmas for a rainbow of macaroons. Ladurée, oddly enough don’t have any stores in Madrid or Barcelona, so I bought a pastry bag and nozzle to attempt to make these salted caramel macaroons. I am that dedicated.

I think I need more than what’s here to satiate my appetite. A little off route Paris visit should sort me out. A l’étroit mais entre amis! (The more, the merrier)

20130305_221713Tuesday’s French skincare purchases

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Warehouse striped dress

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YSL

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Moët

etdEiffel Tower Print Dress

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Chloé

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I love everything about Garance, the way she describes French and New York life. I also adore her art prints, they are so beautiful. I will own one, one day!

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♥ ♥ ♥

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Carrot Cake

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Salamanca has been experiencing some really odd weather today. This morning it was dull and cloudy, followed by bright sunshine and clear skies, followed by rain and dull skies, followed by bright sunshine and clear skies…you get the idea. Lately I’ve been on this fridge invaders mindset, where when I see something I can make into something else, I start baking/cooking immediately. I feel so proud that I haven’t thrown away or wasted anything in a pretty long time. Whatever it is, I’m finding a use for it.

As the weather is so changeable, I decided fairly promptly that I wasn’t going to set foot outside the apartment today. I took a look in the fridge and found three very lonely carrots, the only vegetable remaining after the great chop/sautée/roasting/sandwich attack. Not only were these carrots lonely, but chances are, they’re insulted. I don’t like carrots very much and I voice my distaste for them (the devil’s vegetable) quite openly in the kitchen. Yes, I am mean.

But I need to eat more vegetables, that aren’t always in the form of a salad. Even if that means the devil’s vegetable. They say to keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. What is it about carrots? Babies eat carrots, children eat carrots…tiny rabbits eat carrots, for God’s sake. All these are more than enough reasons for me to join the club…and I’m convinced I’m losing my sight. I squint a lot these days. I hear carrots help with those kinds of ailments.

So these days, carrots find their way into my diet in three ways – in juice, like this with dinner, or in the form of a cake. Carrot cake. A timeless classic, in my opinion.

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For the cake:

2 eggs

100ml olive or vegetable oil

3 medium carrots, peeled and grated

150g brown sugar

175g plain flour

1.5 teaspoons of baking powder

If you want to add chopped walnuts, add 75g to the cake, or if for decoration, 50g. I like it plain.

For the cream cheese icing (double the amounts below if you are using a larger tin/dish):

100g cream cheese

50g icing sugar

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Preheat your oven to 150C, and line a loaf tin with baking parchment, or use butter to grease.

Start with peeling and grating your carrots. I peeled mine, chopped them and put them in a small food processor. It takes a while to grate carrots. If you have the time and patience, go ahead. If you don’t, follow my lead.

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Whisk two eggs in a large mixing bowl.

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Add the sugar, grated carrot and oil and whisk together.

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Add the flower, baking powder and ground cinnamon and whisk until everything has binded.

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It will look totally unappetising – thick brown goo with orange flecks is what you’re going for. It will be appetising, really.

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Pour into your loaf tin using a spatula. Mine looks pretty messy, I was never too good with parchment paper! Leaving long bits of paper at the side makes it easier to remove after cooking. Bake for 1 hour, using a knife at this time to ensure it comes out dry when you insert into the cake. Let the cake cool for a further 5-10 minutes in the tray before removing.

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It should look a little something like this. Allow to cool for 30 minutes, so it’s ready for the icing.

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For the icing, use a fork to mix the cream cheese and icing sugar together. It won’t take more than 30 seconds stirring until you have a smooth consistency. Use a spatula to spread evenly along the top of the cooled carrot cake…and you’re done! I have adapted this recipe from trial and error and various different methods over the years. I hope you like it.

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♥ ♥ ♥

The Weekend, in Pictures

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This weekend in Salamanca was freezing, so I spent most of my time indoors. What a pity! On Friday we bundled up and faced the weather, heading down for a drink in Corrillo – a jazz cafe, bar and restaurant that we pass regularly, but never tried. The atmosphere was great – there was no live band on Friday night though, just a jazz playlist but it was nice all the same. Although we didn’t check out the restaurant, a flatscreen in the bar showed the different types of dishes they serve in the restaurant, and it all looked very interesting and innovative. Food presentation always wins me over! Drinks in Corrillo weren’t cheap, so it’s probably not the most student-friendly place. Vodka and coke and a small beer (caña) cost 7.90, A pint of beer (pictured) was 3.40.

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Our stroll back to the apartment.

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On Saturday morning, I made my usual American pancakes and read through some of my favourite blogs. I really enjoyed Joanna Goddard’s (A Cup of Jo) post this week on having houseguests. I always make sure the guest room is spotless, the sheets and towels are fresh, and leave out plenty of toiletries guests might need or wouldn’t think to pack in the extra bathroom. This post and the comments gave me lots of new and helpful tips.

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I also got around to finishing this amazing book. Things were stacked on top of it since I unpacked after visiting home for Christmas and I just simply forgot about it. I picked up where I left off earlier in the week, and I laughed my way through chapter after chapter. It’s very quirky, original, funny and very creative.

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On Saturday evening, I made roast chicken for friends…

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…and after plenty of drinks and dessert, we headed to a house party till the early hours.

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On Sunday, I marinated fillets of panga fish with cilantro, garlic, lime and olive oil…

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(Look how full this bottle of wine is!)

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…then poached the fish using the marinade and it turned out to be amazing!

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I found my perfect druzy ring. I love these rings, and I’ve wanted a particular type for a while, after Of a Kind featured a gorgeous one which sadly, has been sold. I love the stardust and shimmer effect of druzy jewellery.

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We watched The Master, with Joaquin Phoenix…

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…and La Vie en Rose with Marion Cotillard.

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I completed Jillian Michael’s seriously tough workout twice. It’s really difficult…I felt like I was going to DIE. Jillian is tough, and doesn’t appreciate wimpy rests (I took some anyway). I’m used to this from the 30 Day Shred, Jillian never disappoints. Although it felt like hell, afterward I felt great and I was bursting with energy. Today, it’s time for round 3!

How was your weekend? Relaxing or eventful?

♥ ♥ ♥