Today it's all about my amazing food blogger weekend in France, but if you just want the delicious vegan Spring Salad with Warm Potatoes recipe, please don't be shy and make your way to the end of this blog post where you'll find it.
A few months ago I got a lovely invitation to spend a long weekend in a rustic farm house in the French countryside. The initial idea was to hang out and have some fun, but seeing that it was super talented Aimee T. from Twigg Studios asking, the lazy weekend concept was quickly ditched for a full blown food photography emersion workshop. See neither one of us could afford one of the luscious food photography retreats run by star bloggers, so we set out creating our very own little version of that on a shoestring :).
Furthermore we thought: What if we got a handful of other gifted women to join us who were all willing to share their specific knowledge and skill base, not for financial gain but instead for sheer pleasure! Wouldn't it be super empowering and a great opportunity to support one another at becoming the best that we can be creatively? So with that idea in mind we approached Aimee R. from Wallflower Kitchen a talented vegan baker and cookbook author, my sister Sumera an artist and singer who is developing her film making skills and Aoife, a wedding photographer with an eye for portrait photography and photo editing. Needless to say they all agreed to take part.
From that point onwards we went into planning overdrive, with weeks if not months of e-mails back and forth setting out learning objectives, travel routes, sleeping arrangements, hashtags (#InFranceWeCook in case you're wondering), you name it we thought of it. We also decided to each approach 3 brands we wanted to work with for our particular shoot. Mine was the picnic scene for which I approached Meri and Carey from Thread & Whisk, who kindly gave us two of their most stunning handmade Grace aprons, The Linen Works, who generously gifted us their beautiful throw and Farmdrop, who sweetly provided most of the food items we used for many of our shoots, mainly the breakfast shoots. Without them what you see here would not have been possible! So many, many thanks to you all, I am forever grateful for your generousity and enthusiasm for our vision.
Two nights before we were due to set off I had a terrible nightmare; I dreamed that I'd left my passport at home and only realised this when I got to St Pancras Station to catch the Eurostar to France by which point it was too late to go and fetch it. This was a clear indication to me that I was feeling majorly stressed; you see tons of energy had gone into into making the workshop/skillshare happen and I was so ready at that point to just let the weekend be.
Though my nightmare didn't come true, another nightmare did – Aimee R. and Aoife couldn't make it to St Pancras on time due to a fire on the track on their way into London. I tried everything I could to salvage the situation but in the end it just wasn't meant to be and we had to go ahead without them. (BTW I'm STILL not over that).
Though sad to be missing 2 key members, once in France we quickly settled into our home and if I may say so myself, the French country life suited me down to a T. What followed were 3.5 days of good food, lots of laughter, more good food, lots of mutual encourgement and hard work! Oh and a mini temper tantrum as the lighting conditions were mega tricky to manage and my camera was refusing to do what I told it to!!! But despite that I loved it all so, so much! (BTW I'm hoping to do a whole separate post about what we learned and what the specific objectives of the weekend were in the hope you might find it helpful. Sound good? I'm not including it in this post as I'm mindful that my blog posts have been waaayyyy too long recently ;))
Apart from the picnic shoot which was aimed at working on our outdoor food photography skills (so hard!) and during which this week's recipe was created, we also did a dark and moody shoot for Aimee T.'s vegan blueberry and rhubarb bun recipe, looked at location photography whilst out and about in Morlaix town and practiced working with different backdrops including marble (WOW!), concrete and linen. You can see the fruits of our labour here, on instagram and well right here ;).
Want to do something like this too? Then connect with creatives around you, pull your skills together and allow magic to happen :). Or specifically want to work with me ;)? Come to a vegan potlock I'm planning on hosting in September or just want to stay informed, then follow along on instagram. I'd love to hear from you.
Thanks for reading everyone. See you in two weeks :).
VEGAN SPRING SALAD WITH WARM POTATOES (V+, ChF, GF, GrF, NF, P)
This salad just shouts Spring! It's got lots of different textures and flavours and is one of my all time favourite Spring dishes.
Unlike other salads I make there is a lot going on here, so the preparation time is longer than normal. But so worth it ;). Measurements are approximate and please play it a bit by ear :).
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 2 as a main about 4 as a starter or side dish
Ingredients for the salad:
500g small salad potatoes
a pinch of salt
1-2 handfuls/1 cup of frozen peas
1 handful/1/2 cup radishes
1/4 courgette (see instructions below)
2 handfuls/1 1/2 cups of greens of your choice - we used lamb's lettuce
1/2 red onion OR 1 long onion
some olive oil for pan frying
edible flowers to garnish (optional)
Ingredients for the dressing:
2 tablespoons/30ml fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons maple syrup
4 tablespoons/60ml olive oil
salt/pepper to taste
Wash the potatoes, cut away any bits that are unsightly, then cut the potatoes in half and place in a pot with cold water and a pinch of salt. Boil for 15 minutes or until you can just about poke your fork through. Don't cook through completely though!
As the potatoes are boiling, place the peas in a separate small pot with cold water and boil until just ready (5 minutes or so). Drain away the water and set aside.
Wash, top and tail the radishes, cut in half and set aside. Next give the cucumber and courgette a quick wash. Cut the cucumber in half, remove the centre and then slice in long thin stripes using a potato peeler or mandolin. Please do the same with the courgette. (Please note we used 3 different coloured courgettes for food photography purposes and had LOTS of courgette left over! It looks pretty but it's not necessary and you can just settle for the colour you like). Give the greens you are using a quick wash and set aside. Finally, get the onion and cut in thin rings. Give the rings a thorough wash in cold water, taking away some of the pungent flavour of the raw onion.
Place all the ingredients in a serving bowl, back in the fridge until ready to serve.
By this stage the potatoes should be read. Drain away the water. Then heat a frying pan, pour in 1 tablespoon or so of oil, and pan fry the potatoes over a medium heat until brown and crispy, I'd say about 10 minutes or so. Keep a close eye on things so the potatoes don't burn!
As the potatoes cool, make the dressing by combining all the ingredients as noted above.
When all the elements are ready, combine and serve immediately.