Balcony Produce and Beautiful Blueberries

In addition to enjoying cooking and eating food, since I moved out to France (and finally had a bit of an outdoor space) I’ve also been enjoying attempting to grow some food.  Not everything has been successful (so far this year my pumpkin and my spinach have been utter failures) but it’s great fun to try things out and see what will work.  I think there’s something really special about eating food you’ve nurtured and watched grow.

This year I’ve had a go at growing some nice purple aubergines.  It’s been a bit hit and miss (several of the flowers and one small aubergine went mouldy for no apparent reason and fell off) but the plant did finally produce two smallish but edible aubergines.  They had stopped growing a little while ago and so this past weekend I decided it was finally time to pick and eat them!

I decided to make baked aubergine, butter beans and tomatoes as this meant I could also use some of my home grown tomatoes and thyme – a real celebration of my balcony produce.  I have to say that as nice as this dish is with shop bought ingredients it was particularly special for having spent so long waiting for both the aubergines and tomatoes to be ready.

Produce from my garden for my baked aubergine, butter beans and tomato dish

Produce from my garden for my baked aubergine, butter beans and tomato dish

Blueberries are in season right now and there are plenty of them grown around this region so I thought I’d have a go at making something with them.  Rather than a traditional blueberry tart, the form in which I normally consume blueberries, I thought I’d try something a bit different and decided to have a go at making a blueberry pavlova.

I had never tried to incorporate some fruit into the meringue itself before but I thought it could be interesting so the plan I settled on was blueberry meringue, topped with blueberry crème and fresh blueberries.   A bit of a blueberry overload!

This was a bit of an experiment for me and I was really pleased with how it all turned out!  The meringues browned quite a lot in the outside but were a gorgeous purple hue once you cut into them.  The only problem I had was that my whipped cream melted in the heat so they looked a little flatter than I would have liked, but they tasted divine.  If you fancy having a go the recipe is posted here.

The remains of a blueberry pavlova

The remains of a blueberry pavlova

The final dish I wanted to share this week was for chicken and pepper quesadillas.   Quesadillas always make a tasty light lunch and are a favourite way of mine to use up spare bits of things that are in my fridge.  Traditional quesadillas just have cheese on the inside but you can use pretty much anything you like for a filling provided it can be chopped up small, isn’t too liquid and it goes with cheese!  For these one’s I kept it simple, just chicken, red pepper, cheese and spices – delicious!

Finally, despite the fact that there are three new recipes above, since I last posted I’ve actually not been cooking much.  Instead I have been lucky enough to go out for two meals, one in Geneva and one in Lausanne, as well as having a lovely Holy Cow take away and being treated to a delicious BBQ.  My meal in Geneva was in the charming Café Zinette and I’ve posted a review here.

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