Category Archives: Recipes

An Autumn Lunch

White Heart Deer


At this time of year the trees that blanket the hills around The Ville are a patchwork of auburn, russets and golden greens. Gradually as the afternoons shorten and the air chills, the leaves float down and rest upon the surface of the river before merrily floating away towards the larger towns south west.

Amelie Beauchene runs the Bistro Beauchene well known for its fabulous seasonal menus. Nobody is ever sure from one day to the next what the ‘Plat du Jour’ will be.

One morning as usual, Amelie pulled on her sensible brown foraging boots, strapped her satchel to her strong mousey back and set off up the forested hill to source the ingredients for that days feast. It wasn’t long before she had gathered enough mushrooms, nuts and apples to satisfy her menu idea and so she made her way back down to the bistro kitchen.


She spent the rest of the morning chopping, mixing, stuffing and fussing over several bubbling pots on her stove, and soon enough the clock struck twelve and the first of her customers sat down at the tables outside by the river.

By 12.30 the place was packed with mice from all over The Ville enjoying their feast and drinking a little too much wine.

“These stuffed mushrooms are the best this side of Bordeaux!” trilled Monsieur Delacroix in an uncharacteristically loud fashion as he climbed up on the table.

“A toast” he squeaked, “A toast to Amelie and all you lobsters, too.”

Amelie looked around at the crowded little restaurant and one by one all the mice began clawing their mousey paws together in a lobster fashion. Some of the mice began trying to catch invisible prey with their ‘claws’ and some were lying flat on their tummies and wriggling along an invisible sea floor. Amelie realized very quickly that she had picked the wrong sort of mushrooms for her ‘Plat du Jour’ but not being a mouse that wanted to miss out on any fun, she rammed as much stuffed mushroom as she could fit into her little mouth.

Nobody quite remembers what happened after that, but Amelie’s famous stuffed mushroom recipe was never served again.


Apple, Walnut and Quinoa stuffed Mushrooms

(I suggest you buy your mushrooms from the market and avoid the ones in the forest!)

Serves one mouse/person

1 eating apple chopped into 1cm chunks

1 big handful walnuts chopped

1 cup white quinoa, rinsed

1 clove garlic minced

A little goat’s cheese to top

Flat leaf parsley

Fresh thyme

1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar

Salt & Pepper

Bring a small pot of salted water to the boil and pop in your quinoa and cook on a medium bubble for 10-12 minutes or until the quinoa’s little tails have come out and it is soft but not soggy.

Put the apple and garlic in a little olive oil in a pan a cook until softened, add the herbs and walnuts and remove from heat.

When the quinoa is ready, drain and add to the apple, walnut mix. Season with salt and pepper, add the cider vinegar and mix together well.

Remove the stalks from your mushrooms and stuff with the mixture and top with the goat’s cheese.

Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and cook in the oven for about 10 minutes or until golden on top.

Serve with rocket and an apple cider dressing.


Madame Prunella and a Plumpty Cake

White Heart DeertitleAt last the afternoons are becoming longer and we can start exploring the village again. Now I don’t mind the long, dark winter evenings especially since the introduction of a wood burner to our lounge but there’s something very exciting about the start of a new season. This year in particular promises to be exciting in lots of different ways but more on that in a future post!
So, after a quick outfit change after school we dashed out the door into the late afternoon sunlight armed with a plum and some chocolate Bourbons.Sienna with biscuits and a bowl of plumsWe hadn’t ventured far before we discovered the newest residents of the village who were happily enjoying the sunshine. Now my daughter is fearless, at her age the sight of a flight of stone steps with a door ajar would send my imagination into overdrive – witches, monsters, vampires’ lairs etc – but not Sienna. She marched straight up only to shout down to me, “Mummy, it’s just full of chairs”. I must admit I was a little disappointed.Cows and Sienna climbing stairsWhen the sun dipped lower, we returned home for tea and a “sweet plum treat” which leads me on to Madame Prunella and the Plumpty Cake.You may know of the Ville and its mousey inhabitants or you may not, allow me…Somewhere deep in the forest and valleys of southwest France there lies a little town that I refer to as the Ville. It is an actual place where I have spent many happy times. It is the place in which I discovered I was expecting Sienna and is very dear to my heart. But for now, let us just call it the Ville.What most people don’t know is that although the Ville is much the same as any little French town, it has some extra special residents…the Ville Mice. Let me tell you a story about three of those mice and that story begins with an arrival.Madame Prunella is the Ville ballet teacher and seventeenth in a long line of her ancestors who were also ballet teachers. As you can imagine with such providence that Madame Prunella has she, how can I put it…has a lack of tolerance, patience and utter contempt for any kind of whining or complaint. But there is a way to soften Prunella’s fierce heart…plums. Anything plummy, even better if it’s 40% proof.

Madame Prunella and a slice of cake

Imagine if you will the commotion when Madeleine, Prunella’s great neice from Paris, came to study the art of dance with her prestigious aunt. A quiet, sheltered little mouse well accustomed to soft armchairs, warm fires and cheese soufflés. It came as rather a shock, therefore to discover Madame Prunella’s dance studio was inside a dimly lit, damp and freezing cold cave.

Madeline Mouse and a cake

Luckily for Madeleine she quickly befriended Plum, a local mouse with hollow legs and a love for expensive cheeses that had landed her in hot water many a time. Plum soon showed Madeleine how to dress for class, (lots of wool, lots and lots) and the two became thick as thieves. During morning break, Plum would show Madeleine how to spike Madame Prunella’s coffee with plum brandy ensuring there would be no more cave ballet for a good few hours as Madame snored amongst the tutus in the back room.

Coffee and cake

Plumpty Cake
(Makes 2 Plumpty Cakes)

340g mixed fruit
230g Demerara sugar
½ pint cold tea
450g self-raising flour
60g butter
1 egg beaten
4 plums
Soak the mixed fruit in the tea overnight

Pre heat your over to 150 (fan assisted)

In a mixing bowl paste the sugar and butter together.
Add the flour, (the fruit and some of the tea it was soaking in using a slotted spoon), and the egg.
Chop up 2 plums and add to the mixture.
Stir all together.
The mixture should be quite gloopy, if not, add more tea.
* You could add a dash of brandy here, if it tickled your fancy.

I use one shallow cake tin and one loaf tin to make both a Plumpty Cake and a Plumpty Loaf.

Decorate the top of the Plumpty Cake with sliced plums but leave the Plumpty Loaf bare.

Plumpty Cake takes 1hr 15 minutes whereas the Plumpty Loaf takes a little longer. They are ready when an inserted butter knife comes out dry.

Sienna in a tutu