Updated: Nov 2, 2021
Thought it was time to resurrect the chateau blog. Instagram and Facebook are great for sharing news and stories but I know some of you like the longer version and sometimes the posts seem to get lost in the feed.
I've now been in France for over a year and unsure when I will get back to Australia - getting in and out of Australia seems to get more and more difficult and if I am going to get stuck somewhere I would prefer it to be at the chateau.
I will be honest there have been some tough days when I wonder when I will see my husband and daughter again and when this covid circus will end. Most of our clients tend to be Aussies so we lost the majority of our bookings for 2020 and 2021 but I am optimistic borders will open in the coming months and we can look forward to welcoming some fellow Aussies.
With that in mind we push ahead with the chateau renovations. We are now working our way through the bedroom and bathroom renovations. I worked out the other day that by the time we are finished we will have renovated 16 bathrooms in total...that's a lot of tile and tapware decisions...no wonder I feel so tired at times....but who doesn't love a nice bathroom when they are travelling.
The pool house also had a rejuvenation with the installation of an outdoor kitchen, revamp of the shower/toilet room and some fancy new pool furniture. We are in the final stages of renovating the space above the kitchen into a fab workroom/studio with a kitchenette, adjoining bedroom and bathroom. I've got a secret plan to turn it into a little brocante shop for guests which also means lots more weekend market shopping will be required.
There is always the ongoing roof repairs, water leaks but our biggest challenge at present is getting some urgent stonework repairs completed. The mason who agreed to undertake the work last year was unable to get the necessary truffeau stone due to most of the stone in France going into the rebuilding of Notre Dame. He cancelled the job and it is now virtually impossible to find either a stonemason or the stone.
As you have probably seen from the instalives... which you can watch on IGTV if you missed it...the garden has gone crazy and loving the wet summer we have had. It's a tussle now between the kitchen and the garden as to which I love most. The garden is beyond my wildest imagination and it is my DREAM kitchen. Tough problem to have!!
In addition to the renovations there has been plenty to keep us entertained. We had a photo shoot for an Australian fashion label... stay tuned for some pics in the coming weeks...and you might see the chateau appear up in a few publications...we've also been fortunate to have the lovely Cecile Vadas, Lifestyle writer and photographer, here for the past few weeks taking photos and videos and helping me get some of my scatty recipes into shape so I can share them with you.
The first recipe I am so excited to share is the Rhubarb and Raspberry pie that I know lots of you asked the recipe for. It's pretty simple and you can use pre-made pastry if you really can't be bothered with making it from scratch. You can also use a jar of jam if you don't want to make the filling. Don't ever stress about taking short cuts when you are cooking...it's about the end result and having something yummy to enjoy with friends and family.
I am calling it lock down tarte as many of you are in lockdown at present and can probably do with some distractions. So give it a go and don't forget to post the results on instagram or facebook.
Rhubarb and Raspberry Tarte (aka Lockdown Tarte)
For the sweet pastry
350 grams flour
125 grams butter, cold and cubed
125 grams caster sugar
2 eggs + 1 yolk
1 pinch salt
For the filling
400 grams rhubarb, cut into 1cm pieces
200 grams raspberry jam
3 tsp cornflour
2 tsp water
Alternatively if you don't want to mess about with making the filling you can just skip that step and use a jar of ready made jam...you need enough jam to ensure that you have about 1cm of filling in the pastry base.
1 egg, whisked
2 tbsp raw sugar
For the pastry
Put the flour and salt into the bowl of the food mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix until just broken up. You will need to scrape down the edges of the bowl and paddle a few times to ensure there is no left over flour or butter that has not been incorporated.
Add the sugar and mix. Once evenly combined add the eggs and mix until just incorporated (until a dough forms). Fold onto a lightly floured work surface and use your dough scraper to lift off any loose pieces.
Form the dough into a rough rectangle. Fold in half, press down with your finger tips until a rough rectangle forms and repeat four times.
Shape it into a flat, circular disc and then wrap in parchment paper. Refrigerate for minimum 3-4 hours but preferably overnight.
For the filling
Place the raspberry jam and the rhubarb in a medium saucepan on medium heat. Cook until just bubbling without stirring to avoid breaking the rhubarb up.
Mix the cornflour and water in a small ramekin until the cornflour is dissolved. Add this to the rhubarb mixture and stir with a spatular until thick and paste like.
Place into a bowl and leave to cool - do not leave in the saucepan as the rhubarb will over cook. This is best to prepare the night before, leaving the rhubarb mixture to cool in the fridge over night.
The following day remove the pastry and leave to rest for 10-15 minutes (skip this step if the fridge is not very cold and the pastry is rather soft). Roll the pastry out to about 3mm thickness (roughly 50cm circle).
Roll the pastry around the rolling pin and carefully drape the pastry over the flan dish. Let the pastry fall into the tin* and carefully ease the pastry into the corners without pulling or stretching. Leave the pastry overhanging and press into the edges to cut off the excess. Place the pastry tin in the fridge to keep cool.
Using the left over pastry, cut out the toppings with your favourite cookie cutter. Re-roll and repeat until all the pastry has been used. For a medium star shape, you need at least 45 to cover the surface. You can also lattice with thin strips or use any other shapes you have on hand.
Remove the pastry and filling from the fridge. Add the cooled filling and evenly spread it across the base. Place the stars in a circular motion to cover the surface. Make sure you touch the stars to the edge of the base pastry to form a seal.