MFCH Magazine is thrilled to welcome the celebrated food writer and cookbook author, Trish Deseine, as our first-ever weekly contributor to our digital magazine site!
Born in Belfast, Ireland, Trish grew up in Co. Antrim and went on to study Modern Languages at The University of Edinburgh. An avid lover of both cooking and eating (especially chocolate!), after graduating, she moved to her self-proclaimed “food paradise” – France. There she has stayed, living in and around Paris, for over three decades – working in fashion, marketing and Public Relations and raising her four children.
In 2000, Trish was contacted by the French publishing house Hachette to pen her first cookbook, Petits Plats entre Amis, which was an immediate hit and skyrocketed her into her next career as a sought-after food writer and author.
In 2009, she was named one of French GQ and French VOGUE’s “40 Women of the Decade.” In 2013, she published The Paris Gourmet – a guide to Parisian restaurants, markets and shops – in both English and French for Flammarion.
Trish now has 35 books published in both English and French, which have been widely translated, with hundreds of thousands of copies sold all around the world. She has won 5 World Gourmand Awards, was shortlisted for an Irish Book Award and most recently, in 2020, won the coveted Grand Prix Eugénie Brazier for food writing. She has contributed to ELLE, ELLE à Table France, BBC Lifestyle Worldwide, The Guardian, The Gloss, The Financial Times and many, many more. You can learn more about and purchase her books here!
Every week, Trish will treat our digital readers to all things French food, be it a recipe, an interview with a chef, a restaurant review… we are so excited to welcome her to the MFCH universe! Check out her first post and recipe below and scroll down to the end to see a short video.
It’s such a joy to start the new year writing for MFCH readers. I feel that our shared love of France, and French food, automatically makes us friends, and, after thirty years spent living, cooking, eating and raising a family here, I am more than delighted to dive wholeheartedly into that love with you.
My recipes, you’ll see, require very little technique. There will be no cheffy masterclasses, but rather stories of how and where the food fits into and reflects the French way of life. The many French women who taught me to cook over the years saw little merit in cooking “like a chef,” preferring a pretty table, relaxed ambiance and guaranteed deliciousness to any professional-level rules and requirements. French home cooking does not, and has no need to, reassemble intricate restaurant food. More important is the smooth flow and balance of a meal, giving maximum pleasure (including the cook’s !) for minimum fuss.
My first recipe for you, ‘Le Fondant de Nathalie’ rich chocolate cake, is perfectly symbolic of this approach, needing only good ingredients, one bowl, a wooden spoon, a cake tin and 30 minutes (or so) to make. It is an extremely well behaved recipe, happy to be baked the day before and sit patiently before its big reveal, letting its flavours improve beautifully as it rests. It is the recipe for which I’m most known amongst my French readers, published 20 years ago this year in my second book, Je Veux Du Chocolat, and every day I receive messages from cooks still making it. I like to call it my “Little Black Dress,” for it is a timeless classic, can easily be dressed up or down, is appropriate on so many occasions and never fails to make me look and feel good!
A good chocolate cake recipe is a typical part of any French home cook’s repertoire and pour la petite histoire, Nathalie was one of my super chic Parisian girlfriends from another life. She would always serve the cake for dessert at her perfectly choreographed dinner parties, in the high-ceilinged, shiny-parqueted apartment she called home. She was, quite frankly, rather loathe to part with the recipe, but luckily for me, for you, and for the many cooks who have made the cake over the years, she did. So, thank you, Nathalie. I hope you are proud to see how that small moment of generosity and openness has led to so many others over the years, as the recipe, and the pleasure it gives, is passed on and on.
Mes meilleurs voeux ! Here’s to a year of living deliciously.
And here is a short video shot with Trish in her home in the Perche.
200g good dark chocolate (look for a cooks’ chocolate of around 65/70% cocoa solids, or use a good quality “ordinary” eating bar; avoid the big brands, as their cocoa butter content will be lower and the taste is often too astringent)
200g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
5 medium eggs
1 level tbsp plain flour, sieved (optional or ground almonds for a gluten-free version)
Heat the oven to 180°C (350°F)/gas mark 4.
Melt the chocolate with the butter. It’s fine to do this in a microwave, but using a bain marie (a bowl over a pan of simmering water) is good, too. Just don’t do it on direct heat; let the mixture cool a little, then add the sugar and stir thoroughly.
Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition but without beating too much air into the mix. Fold in the sieved flour. Turn into a sandwich tin or a silicone baking mould (22 cm), and cook for around 22 minutes. It should be a little wobbly in the middle when you take it out – don’t worry, the gooey centre is fabulous, and it will set further as it cools!
Remove from the oven, and leave it to cool completely before turning out the cake. Let it rest in a cool place covered with foil. Slice and serve with crème fraîche and some raspberries, or, for fun, a few drops of good olive oil and a pinch of sea salt flakes!
Tip: try to make this cake the day before you intend to serve it, to let it rest and the flavours develop.