Spring Follies


My grandmother always said that it takes time to adjust to a new season, so it’s important to gradually welcome the warmer days. She said ‘En Avril, ne te découvre pas d’un fil, et en Mai, fais ce qu’il te plaît‘. (In April, don’t undress to a thread, but in May, dress as you wish).  I was over-enthusiastic with the warm temperatures and caught a nasty cold last week.  April days can be so unreliable.  That’s why I was inspired to make the Tourin à l’ail, a delicious and nutritious garlic soup from the South of France, to fend away my debilitating state.  I made the Bordelais version which was the soup the vendangeurs (vineyard workers) would come home to.  This traditional soup, made with onions and garlic, is as earthy as it gets.  May I also add that garlic is an aphrodisiac? It was traditionally given to newlyweds on their wedding night, as a pick-me-up soup after all the drinking and dancing till the wee hours…  I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.  Could this be the miracle soup?  Mais oui!



From miracle soup we move to the world’s best cake.  To make our lunch more eclectic, my Icelandic mother-in-law baked her famous Icelandic ‘heimsins besta’, which translates ‘Best cake in the world’.  Johanna has been baking this cake for 30 years now.  It has become a must-make at birthday parties, confirmation parties, dinner parties, or just any occasion.  It’s so good and irresistible.  The kids were ecstatic that their grandmother baked such a treat for them.  I just find this cake so original, filled with surprising textures (caramelized rice crispies in the meringue) and taste.  After the last bite, I couldn’t wait to make it again.




Moving from amazing to peculiar things, I saw a white aubergine at the market.  I thought I had seen it all – but this white aubergine was a first.  As colours influence your mood, I felt very creative and wanted to make something pretty and floral as a dish.  I remembered Alain Passard’s beautiful rose apple tart, and got inspired to make a vegetable flower tart, filled with yellow zucchini, garlic and aubergine.  A whimsical thought can lead to wonderful things at the dinner table.  With the leftovers, I made a bright springy ratatouille, using the classing method without the peppers, rosé instead of red wine.  To jazz it up, a 5 & 1/2 minute boiled egg, which I gently fried in golden buttery breadcrumbs.  Soft inside with a slight crunchy outside, that’s what I call a little moment of culinary delight.





To end the day, Oddur, Louise and I went for a drive  to Saint Christoly de Médoc,  a charming village by the Gironde estuary.  Quaint and quiet, elegant and demure, I love this place.  There’s even a street called rue de Glycines, in other words Wisteria Lane, filled with purple and violet wisteria flowers everywhere.  Am I in a dream?  This is how I feel in Saint-Christoly.  I would love to share one of my best kept secret address, the antique store owned by Mme Anne Bouteiller called Côté Gironde.  It’s a gem in the heart of Médoc, and I think the photos speak for themselves.  Mme Bouteiller and I chatted, mostly about the beautiful old kitchen utensils, but also her love for food, her old cookbooks and what she was cooking for her friends that night.  As we know, in France, all conversations lead to the table.


Tourin à l’ail/ Garlic soup
1 whole head of garlic + 2 garlic cloves to fry/sprinkle, finely sliced
1 onion, finely diced
2 tbsp duck fat (alternatively olive oil)
1 tbsp plain flour
2 eggs (separated)
A few sprigs of thyme
1 tbsp xérès vinegar (or classic wine vinegar)
1.2 liters/ 5 cups chicken stock
Sea-salt & black pepper for seasoning

In a large pot, melt duck fat (or olive oil) and fry the onion for 2 minutes.  Add the peeled/ sliced head of garlic and continue frying for 2 more minutes.  The onion & garlic must not brown.  Add flour, stir and pour the chicken stock in the pot.  Bring to a soft boil, season with salt and pepper, add sprigs of thyme.  Cover and leave to simmer for 20 minutes.
In a small frying pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil and fry sliced garlic until golden and slightly crispy.  Drain on paper towel and set aside.
Purée soup using a hand blender, or in batches in a regular blender.  Return soup to pot and switch on medium heat.
Separate eggs.  Beat the egg whites in a small bowl and whisk continuously into the soup.  You should see thin strands in the soup.  Take immediately off the heat.  Whisk egg yolks with vinegar and dilute mixture into the soup, stir constantly to avoid any curdling.  Sprinkle with fried garlic and drizzle with a few drops of olive oil (optional).  Serve immediately with thinly toasted bread (I drizzle olive oil on baguette/ toast and grill for a few seconds or until golden.


My ‘spring’ Ratatouille with a breadcrumbed egg
(for a classic ratatouille click here)

Ingredients: (serves 4)

2 medium-sized white onions, sliced
2 yellow courgettes/zucchini, sliced
1 large aubergine/eggplant, cut into cubes
12 small ‘cherry’ yellow tomatoes, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
25 ml rosé wine (or white – optional)
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

Slice all the vegetables accordingly.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and cook the onions until they are transparent. Add aubergine, courgettes, garlic, thyme and bay leaf, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 3 minutes. Finally, add the chopped tomatoes and the wine (optional), stir gently, cover and cook for 20 minutes on a low heat.

For the breadcrumbed eggs:
4 eggs
40 g unsalted butter
4 handfuls of fresh breadcrumbs
Salt & pepper, for seasoning

Place eggs in cold water.  Bring to a boil for 5 and 1/2 minutes, drain and place in ice-cold water.  Peel eggs.  In a small pan, melt the butter on a low heat, roll the eggs.  Increase the heat to medium,  gently sprinkle breadcrumbs on eggs using a spoon to roll egg until golden brown.  If you can’t get all the breadcrumbs to stick, no worries, just spoon the remaining breadcrumbs and sprinkle on the eggs when you serve.


Zucchini & aubergine tart

2 zucchini
1 large aubergine
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
Olive oil
Sea-salt & black pepper

For the pastry:
250 g/ 2 cups plain flour
125 g/ 1/2 cup unsalted butter (cubed & at room temperature)
1 egg
1-2 tbsp cold water
1/2 tsp salt

Mix all the ingredients together, start kneading until you get a good soft dough. Make into a ball, cover with cling film and store in the refrigerator for 2 hours. On a clean surface covered with parchment paper, add a dash of flour and roll out a disc to line your tart dish.

For the filling:
Slice zucchini, aubergine and garlic finely.  Line slices alternating zucchini/aubergine to create a rose-like patter until you reach the center.  Slide in garlic slices. Drizzle olive oil all over, sprinkle salt, pepper, fresh thyme and 2 bay leaves (see photo).

Bake in a pre-heated oven 180°C/ 350F for approx 30 minutes. Drizzle with little bit of olive oil before serving. (optional)


Meringue cake ‘Heimsins Besta Kaka’
(serves 10)

Meringue base and cover:
3 egg whites
200 g granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
350 g/ 2 cups rice crispies

Cream (to be spread on ‘cover’ meringue):
100 g chocolate
2 egg yolk
1 tbsp liquid cream

For the cream filling:
425 ml full cream (for whipping)
50 g dark raisins
50 g dark chocolate
(alternatively you can buy ready-made chocolate raisins!)

Over simmering water, melt the chocolate and dip raisins.  Place on parchment paper and leave to set and cool for 20 minutes.


Making the meringues:
Preheat oven to 160°C/ 320 F

Prepare 2 equal-sized cake moulds and line base with parchment paper.  Whisk egg whites and sugar and until it reaches stiff peaks.  Sprinkle baking powder on rice crispies and gently fold into stiff egg whites .  Spoon equal amounts of egg white mixture into both moulds, flatten surface with spatula and bake approx 35 minutes.  Gently unmould after 10 minutes and leave to cool completely on a baking rack.  Set aside.

For the filling:
Whisk whipping cream until fluffy/ stiff, fold in chocolate raisins.

For the ‘icing’ cream: (make this just after spreading the filling between the two meringue layers)

Over boiling water, melt the chocolate.  Off the heat, whisk in 2 egg yolks, followed by 1 tbsp full cream and mix well.

To assemble cake:
Using a spatula, gently spread cream on the base meringue.  Add the top meringue.    Spread icing all over on top /cover meringue, creating soft waves. Place cake in refrigerator and leave to cool for 2 hours before serving.


94 thoughts on “Spring Follies

  1. Wow- the soup looks amazing and the meringue will for sure be on a future menu.
    I love the pictures with the Wisteria and in the antiques store. For a moment I am in FRANCE !
    Thank you so much

    1. Merci Sarah! The soup made me feel good! I hope you will get a chance totry it sometimes. As for the cake, it’s the treat I look forward most when I visit Iceland, so you can imagine how happy I was to have a full demonstration at home. Wishing you a lovely day! Mimix

  2. This looks like a gorgeous lunch and day! Beautiful pictures as always, will certainly be making that soup as the warm weather here in Australia is turning cooler. Thank you.

  3. I don’t know where to start. An absolute visual feast Mimi. I can’t wait to try your garlic soup with all it’s miracle qualities and I’m not going to wait till I get a cold!!! Very kind of your mother-in-law to share her recipe. It really is a celebration cake. Well, Printemp is certainly unfolding with the blossoming of the wisteria….as we slip into Autumn with hues of gold and brown. Hope you’re feeling a lot better now Mimi. xxanita

    1. Bonjour Anita! Merci poor vos belles pensées. The garlic soup reminds me of my grandmother – her name was Séraphine. She always said that garlic was good for everything! Would love to know your feedback on the cake – it’s one of those Icelandic wonders filled with cream. I love a cake that brings you to a special place! My mother-in-law is spoiling us with her goodies! Bonne journée, Mimix

      1. Bonjour Mimi!!!
        Seraphine…what a beautiful name. Grandmothers always hold a special place in our hearts. Mimi, just a little question about an ingredient, rice crispies. Are they the same as Australian Rice Bubbles..the breakfast cereal? Sounds interesting and must give the cake a nice crunch. Your thoughts. So wonderful to have your Mother-in-law to spoil you. xx anita

        1. I just googled Australian rice bubbles – and yes, it’s just like rice crispies. They only started selling them in major supermarkets recently in France, I bought them in American speciality grocery stores before. Enjoy Anita! Mimixxx

  4. Can I just tell you that I love the reflection of the flowers on the knife blade in the photo of the egg? I have a peculiar fascination for looking for reflections in photos. Strange, no? But I love the secrets they share! I hope you’re feeling better! I’ve had a severe cold here, too. Perhaps I need that garlic soup immediately. It all looks so lovely!

    1. Bonjour Rebecca! Merci! I also love reflections in photos, it adds a slight touch of mystery, a bit like a painting, filled with clues unfolding into a beautiful story. As for the cold, I make the same mistake every year, deliberately forgetting to wear a scarf or sweater… The soup made me feel much better 🙂 Bonne journée, Mimix

  5. Hi Mimi.
    Grandmother’s know best, don’t they? My Czech grandmother always made garlic soup and, to make sure the cold would go, she made a slice of fried rye bread rubbed with a fresh raw garlic. Oh heaven. I’ve made it for my children when they were little and still make it. It really is a miracle soup. Take care, now that May is here I have high hopes for nice weather. 🙂

    1. Bonjour Veronica! Yes, I agree, grandmothers do know best! Part of their duty is to teach us what’s best for us and our families… the words stay in our minds forever. Just like a good old garlic soup! Bonne journée, Mimix

  6. You bring joy to my heart every time I read your blog. Your writing is beautiful. Makes me feel like I am right there. And the recipes are a bonus. Yum!!

  7. Great! I have so many egg whites in my refrigerator and was thinking what to do with them… And now… As my smallest boy Jonathan will have a Big Birthday Party on Sunday: The Best Kaka would be the Solution! Many greetings from Germany! Yours Yushka

    1. Bonjour Yushka! So happy to hear you are planning to make this cake for Jonathan! I hope he will like it – I am sure you will make a beautiful version! Please send him my birthday wishes! Happy birthday Jonathan! Mimix

  8. Garlic soup, breadcrumbed egg you had me hooked with just those. Then the tart and the cake–I can’t wait to hit the farmers market with all these wonderful recipes in mind! Merci.

    1. Thank you! The breadcrumbed egg is the little cherry on top – so delicious and quite easy to make. It always brings a smile to the table 🙂 I hope you will find a white aubergine! I loved them. Bonne journée, Mimix

  9. Quelle belle idée de reprendre la tarte sucrée aux pommes de Monsieur Passard pour cette tarte aubergine.
    Bravo Mimi.
    Je pense tester votre dessert pendant les vacances j’ai ici des petits palais qui seront gâtés si je réussi votre recette. Merci et encore pour votre si joli billet.

  10. These photographs today are some of the most beautiful… I think I might say that often, Mimi… but they are…
    And best I make that garlic soup… 🙂
    Have a wonderful day… and thank you as always… your blog is a delight… xv

    1. Merci chère Vicki. Oddur is un photographe passionné and is very touched by your kind words, always! Have you ever visited Saint Christoly? It’s a little gem of a place, so old-fashioned and charming. Always a nice excuse to visit the ‘Coté Gironde’ antique store 🙂 J’adore! Bonne fin de semaine! Mimix

  11. Hi Mimi, today’s menu is amazing. I would love to serve this menu in one of my vegetarian dinners, you inspire me always. Reading your blog makes me happy, I cook with Love and I can feel and see it in your cooking. The photos are amazingly beautiful.
    Thank you so much.
    PS Kindly Mimi publish a book,
    Best wishes xoxo

    1. Oh merci ma chère Rowaida! The menu here is inspired by spring in everyway, and the little gift of a cake from my lovely mother-in-law! Who would have known that rice crispies could make such an amazing cake! I hope you will enjoy the menu as much as I did! Have a lovely week, Mimix ps: Book, soon, soon 🙂

  12. Inspiring photos- we have hibiscus flowering at the moment, in Autumn!! Love the look of the cake, I have made a dried apricot, cream and meringue layered cake which is also delicious !

      1. Hi here is the Apricot Daquoise cake recipe! I would like to share it…

        Make an eight egg white basic meringue mix

        Add 5 tbsp of almond or hazelnut meal or sprinkle slivered, blanched almonds over each layer before putting in oven.

        Spread meringue onto 3 x 8 inch circles of bake paper, sitting on oven trays .

        Bake at lowest heat for 1- 11/2 hours until meringue is crisp on the outside. Cool in the oven.

        Use 300gms of dried apricots and enough Water to make a purée . When cool , add 2 tbsp of white sugar and 2 tbsp of Cointreau.

        Whip 600 mls of thick cream.

        Spread top of one meringue layer with half of the purée, on serving plate. Sread whipped cream over.

        Add the next meringue circle, repeat apricot and cream layers.

        Top with final meringue layer. Dust with sieved icing sugar .


  13. Your grandmother was right, Mimi! I was in Andalucia for a few days last week, and it snowed, not just a few flakes, but a full snowstorm, lol! The soup looks delicious – do you think it could be thickened with some white beans if I omit the flour?

    1. That sounds like a brilliant idea – the egg whites thickens the soup, and I think white beans would add a perfect texture. Sounds delicious! Andalucia? Lucky you it must have been so beautiful! Mimix

      1. Oh, thanks for that, Mimi. I’ll let you know how it turns out. Yes, Andalucia is a beautiful part of the world, but quite chilly at this time of year!

  14. One recipe better than the next, Mimi! I’m so excited to try the ratatouille with egg on top.

    Your photos are so incredible- I’m amazed at each and every post!

  15. You transport me to Europe with your recipes……you so inspire me!So, simple yet so beautiful!That eggplant and zucchini rose tart!Oh, my gosh……..off to the market to get ingredients!MERCI!

  16. Thanks Mimi for these great recipes! I grow MANY white aubergines (eggplants), and I am always looking for a new recipe. Thanks. You always make me think of great new ideas for my garden, my home, and my life…..so thanks sweetie!

    1. Oh my, you grow white eggplants? They are so beautiful and special, you are so lucky! Wish I could drop by and say hi (or be your neighbour?)! Have a great week-end! Mimix

  17. Mission accomplished Mimi, this looks so good! I’m going to write down this recipe and try it out with my eggplant crop this summer. You’ve inspired me to grow yellow zucchini as well. Thank you so much for taking the time to produce such a beautiful recipe 🙂

  18. Mimi, I hope you feel better soon! Being sick = no fun at all.

    Thank you for sharing the antique store! I think I need that mirror.


  19. en Sevilla hemos pasado del verano al invierno en las dos ultimas semanaspor eso andamos resfriados la mayoria.como siempre me han encantado sus recetas las hare brevey sobre las glicinias que decir me parecen maravillosas

  20. Hi Mimi, how are you?
    When winter knocks the door I love having a hot and spicy garlic soup for dinner…. almost instantly it makes you feel so well!. But, we, in the Basque Country, cook it in a different way (at list where I come from) We use “Sopako” which is a hard and dark bread that we use it specially for this soup. (we also put a little bit of this bread on the fish soup).
    Loads of garlic, onion, jamon serrano cubes, chilies, olive oil, sopako and slow cook for 20 minutes more or less and then at the end we add an egg per head ..( the egg should be served whole and the yolk should be soft)….We make it liquidish (with loads of liquid) or dried, depending on what we feel like….personally, I like it with loads of broth. It´s nutritious, healthy, and “gozo gozoa” (very nice).
    Thanks for reminding me of this delicious dish, I will make it tonight for dinner.
    And thanks for your Blog, I love it!!

    1. All well here in Médoc – the sun came back so no complaints! Thank you so much for sharing your lovely Basque recipe – sounds heavenly and exactly the kind of recipes I love – rustic and old-fashioned, I will try next week. Bon week-end! Mimix

  21. What a beautiful tart! can’t wait to make it. Thanks for sharing these lovely recipes.
    Wishing you a sunny weekend xo

  22. Oh so lovely! This post makes me miss France even more. Love the photo of wisteria and candle-like chestnut tree blossoming. I made dates and almonds cake today. Love it! Thank you for sharing your wonderful recipes, Mimi. Hope your weekend is nice 🙂

  23. Dear Mimi,
    I will write just to say thank you….
    I moved to another country recently, so for now I don’t have my friends to cook for….I really miss that… But today I discovered your blog. I had to read it all, I had to…just to extend, for as long as possible, the feeling that you woke up in me…to enjoy an amazing lunch or dinner, cooked for friends, for family… and your husband is amazing in transposing all those feelings in images…
    It is beyond words…so thank you and I am sending you the warmest whishes from Sweden 🙂

    1. Bonsoir Natalia, How touching to read your comment – I am so touched to have reached out through my blog! Thank you so much for visiting. I hope you will make new friends, and take some quality time to settle in your new home – with a few inspired ideas you will feel cozy again! In my opinion, cooking a lovely meal with good wine and music is the key to a good start! All the best from Médoc! Mimix

  24. oh my, your blog is refreshingly delicious in both food and art – thank you for the pleasures to the mind & eye.

  25. I am too lazy for cooking, but having found your blog has been the best thing to me lately!. You are stunning beautiful and your life seems to be romantic and different. I love your blog so much!.

  26. I love reading your posts and dreaming over all the lovely pictures of food, the countryside, your family and friends. Sigh.

    I’m hoping to make the zucchini and aubergine tart (with green zucchini) and noticed that you didn’t say how many cloves of garlic to use. I’m sure I could wing it, but I like to make a recipe once the way it’s written before I start to improvise.

    Thank you for sending me on a wonderful trip when I read your blog.

    1. Bonjour Sara!

      Thanks so much for visiting Manger! Regarding your question, I would suggest one to one and a half cloves, sliced finely, scattered around the tart (I slide them in between aubergine/zucchini slices). Thanks for pointing this out – I will update the ingredients list 🙂 Make to sure to slice the zucchini finely, sprinkle with salt and give the tart a generous drizzle of olive oil. I would advise to put the tart a little higher than usual (cover edges with foil to prevent the pastry from burning). Enjoy! Mimix

  27. I simply love your blog! So inspirational and, yet, quaint. Can’t wait to try your recipes. Can’t get enough of your fun dogs either! Kids and dogs — so very, very cute.

    1. Merci Robin! It’s such a pleasure to share a glimpse of our lives and discoveries in Médoc. We sure have a lot of fun with our kids and dogs! All theelements for a happy life 🙂 Thanks for dropping by! Mimix

  28. Beautiful pictures, delicious food! What more could a woman ask for?

    (Found you via FB post by Home Grown Edible Landscapes)

  29. I was directed to your blog by Tasting Table – what a find! Your words, recipes, and photos are all beautiful (as are you and your daughter). Made me feel as if I were in France, thank you!

  30. Hi there.
    Your blog is just beautiful. Love your recipes, home and family.
    I want to make your meringue cake. I notice in the picture of the sliced cake it looks like there is only chocolate icing on top. On the picture of the whole cake it seems there is more cream filling on top. Have you ever increased the cream filling and added more to top? I cannot wait to make it. Thank you!

    1. Bonjour Liz! Thanks for dropping by! So glad you enjoy the blog 🙂 I only used chocolate icing on top of the cake. Perhaps the meringue in th ephoto looked like cream? Have a lovely week-end, Mimix

  31. Hi Mimi,
    I am enamored with your blog, your stories and simply delightful recipes. I find myself being captivated for hours reading, something that never has happened to me before with a blog. We have a similar garlic soup in Spain, which my grandmother also used to make for us when we were little. It’s so beautiful to relive wonderful memories of our loved ones through a connection with food. I will definitely try your version. Thank you. Debra xx

  32. I made your garlic soup yesterday, as my son is getting over a cold. The soup is delicious! I will definitely make it a cold season staple.
    Thank you!

  33. The garlic soup was AMAZING! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe. Random question – what breed are your doggies?

    Thank you!

    1. So glad you liked the soup! We have smooth fox terriers (their faces are more pointy) and jack russell terriers (they’re a tad smaller), and one big German Pointer! Best, Mimix

  34. The soup was so damned good! I did replace the duck fat for coconut oil so I can only imagine how much better it can be. I won’t be getting any colds.

  35. I just recently discovered your blog and as an American expat in Lyon, I’m so happy to have found it! Your floral tart really inspired me so I made one of my own and featured it on my blog (hope you don’t mind). It was delicious and beautiful at once! Thank you for all your lovely photos and recipes!

  36. Bonjour Mimi, j’ai fait le Iceland meringue cake – la quantité des rice crispies est bien 2 cups (au lieu de 350g ?). Pourriez-vous donner également la taille des moules ? J’ai utilisé ceux de 20cm de diamètre. Mon glaçage était trop épais car j’ai mélangé les jaunes alors que le chocolat était encore chaud… Vos conseils sur le glaçage m’aideraient. C’était délicieux même si je crois l’avoir râté ! Merci d’avance

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