Trish Deseine meets French women with serious style …
As Parisians ease in to their new flexible working lifestyles between the city and the Perche countryside, there is a renewed creative energy in the air – and on Instagram! Everyone is going the extra mile this year, it seems, to make their homes and tables beautiful, to bring the outside in, and create a little extra magic during les fêtes. I asked three of my most stylish girlfriends how they spend those special days between Christmas and New Year, when time stands still.
Mona, journalist, author and stylist, is a legend of the French arts de la table and interior design worlds. After spending many years travelling back and forth from Paris to the imposing old schoolhouse she shares with her partner, artist José Estèves in le Perche, they have now moved here permanently. They are consummate hosts. And yes, I can confirm – as a lucky guest often at their table – everything always tastes just as good as it looks.
“It doesn’t really change much, being between Christmas and New Year” laughs Mona, “we’re always entertaining, often two or three times a week with guests or my children and their families who come to stay. I suppose I might have a few more festive ingredients – the truffles have just arrived, for example – but otherwise, it’s the same routine.”
“I open my dressing room of china just off the kitchen, see what flowers and foliage I have from florists, the garden, or from José’s walks in the forest, and cannot help but be inspired. Sometimes the colour of the food leads the way. As a backdrop to my earthy coloured potato truffle tourte and poularde (chicken) in cream, I wanted neutral, pale, natural colours for the table, hellebores, and lots of Frédérique Ferniot candles. I think it works.”
POTATO AND TRUFFLE PIE
Easy and luxurious! Use good truffle oil drizzled between layers if you can’t get your hands on a truffle.
For 6/8 guests
25 minutes preparation
45 minutes cooking
400g puff pastry
2 kg of Mona Lisa or Charlotte potatoes
80g cream fraiche
100g melted salted butter
1 black truffle
Heat the oven to 200°C. Line a tart dish with the puff pastry. Keep in the refrigerator.
Peel the potatoes and slice them into thin slices. Wipe them with absorbent paper.
Distribute the cream on the bottom of the tart, season with salt and pepper. Cover with a layer of potato slices, drizzle with melted butter.
Slice half of the truffle, season again. Cover again with a layer of potato and sprinkle everything with the melted butter, season.
Put in the oven and lower immediately to 160°C. Leave to cook for about 45 minutes. Check the potatoes with a knife tip around 40 minutes in.
Take the pie out of the oven, grate the rest of the truffle on top and enjoy hot.
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