French Country Cooking, Mimi Thorisson Style. And a Walnut Cake

I’ve been following Mimi Thorisson’s gorgeous blog ‘Manger’ for a long time now. It is complete indulgence. Have a peek if you don’t believe me, and you will be whisked away to romantic French country deliciousness, in every sense of the word. I was lucky enough to attend one of Mimi’s cooking workshops earlier in the year, and came away with much more than some fresh skills. Dotted throughout the weekend were little reminders of living life more slowly, and celebrating the connection with food and seasons. I’ve listed some of my favourites below.

[headline]Make the little things beautiful.[/headline]

Whether it’s some herbs and a swirl on top of the gazpacho, setting the table with ‘the good’ tableware, or putting cut flowers anywhere and everywhere, it brings a little ceremony and specialness to even the most average of Tuesday afternoons.

[headline]Celebrate the beauty of your produce.[/headline]

One of the first things I noticed at Mimi’s incredible home was the way she had all the produce out on display. When I talked to her about it, she said that she just loves looking at it. It is such a simple thing, but a beautiful way to constantly connect yourself with your food and season.

Instead of keeping all your fruit and veggies in the fridge, keep some out on the dining table, in the kitchen or in other areas of your home in bowls or in lovely bundles. It looks gorgeous, and each time you walk past you might even imagine something you’ll make with them.

Sure, you can’t do it with everything, but there’s plenty of fresh produce that fares beautifully out of the fridge in a ventilated area and out of direct sunlight. Avocados, cucumber, tomatoes, eggplant, capsicum (peppers), pumpkins, sweet potatoes, potatoes, onions, ginger, garlic, bananas, citrus, mangoes, melons, papaya, pineapple, pomegranate, kiwi, stone fruit and apples all cope excellently and in most cases ripen more effectively and develop better flavour when left at room temperature.

[headline]Eat with others, whenever possible[/headline]

This is something that I talk about a lot, but it is always worth mentioning. Eating with others in a relaxed manner gives your digestion the best chance of digesting that gorgeous food. In turn you will absorb more nutrients, and have the opportunity to properly appreciate your meal. Research also shows it reduces stress levels, which again also aids the digestive process. And perhaps one of the greatest benefits is the social connection. It’s a chance to sit and look another person in the eye. To talk about your day, to hear about others experiences, and to just be in the company of others.

[headline]Keep it simple[/headline]

Use good quality produce and you really don’t need to add too much at all to get a delicious result. Use seasonal produce, lots of fresh herbs, and cook with love – you can taste it!!

Thank you Mimi for your reminders, for your gorgeous hospitality, and for sharing your knowledge and recipes with us. I’ll leave you with my favourite image of the weekend, making walnut cake with a goddess {recipe below}.

[headline]WALNUT CAKE[/headline]

Recipe from French Country Cooking by Mimi Thorisson, Hardie Grant Books

80g unsalted butter

150g walnuts, plus 5 extra reserved for decoration

130g raw sugar

3 large free range eggs

3 tbsp dark rum

1 tbsp honey

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Pinch of fine sea salt

40g plain flour (I used spelt flour)

30g cornflour

1 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Grease an 18cm/7 inch tin – Mimi uses a Bundt tin which looks beautiful.

Finely chop the walnuts or pulse in a food processor until you have course crumbs. In a large bowl, combine the walnuts and sugar and mix well. Mix in the butter, eggs, rum, honey, vanilla and salt.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, cornflour and baking powder. Fold the dry ingredients into the walnut mixture.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Bake until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Turn out and let cool for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle a dash of icing sugar into a small pan and add the 5 reserved walnuts. Cook over a medium-low heat for a few seconds, until the nuts are lightly golden. Arrange the walnuts on top of the warm cake and drizzle with a little honey before serving.

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