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How To Cook (And Tablescape) Like A French Person

Héloïse Brion of Miss Maggie’s Kitchen's on merging French cooking and creativity

After 15 years in the fashion industry, Frenchwoman Héloïse Brion decided to leave it behind to pursue her real passion: cooking.

The result was Miss Maggie’s Kitchen, a lifestyle website that gives classic French style a modern twist. Her cookbook of the same name, launched at the end of 2020, is an essential for anyone seeking easy, delicious recipes with a generous side of interiors inspiration. 

We caught up with Brion to find out about her love of cooking, see what she always has in her kitchen and discover how she creates those beautiful tables.


When did you start cooking?
At a very young age. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always loved spending time in the kitchen and in markets – tasting spices, observing and learning. 

What do you love the most about it?
What I love the most is the fact that we create something with our heart and hands for the people we love. It is a gift of love that we share. Food and music are, to me, the two things that are universal and gather people together in peace.

What are your top five ingredients?
Lemon, fresh thyme, olive oil, fleur de sel (a fine sea salt) and peppercorn blend.

What three essentials should every kitchen have?
A big bowl, an oven and an open mind.

Do you have a favourite cooking ‘hack’?
Fresh herbs, spices and lemon zest will give any dish extra zing.

What are your favourite go-to recipes?
It really depends on the season. but I love courgette tart, veggie lasagna, roasted chicken, pavlova and a strawberry meringue salad with hazelnuts and mint.

Do you have any advice for creating the perfect table?
Play with different glasses and candleholders to create varying heights along the tablescape. Mix up different plates and use seasonal plants and flowers to decorate the table. I love the fact that my tables are unique each time – nature is a great source of inspiration and creativity. Most importantly, have fun! 

White truffle flavoured courgette tart

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 sheet puff pastry (rectangle or square), preferably all butter
  •  3 tbsps (80g) basil pesto
  •  3–4 courgettes and/or yellow squash
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • 1 handful
  • pine nuts
  • 1 ball burrata cheese (about 250g)
  • 1 handful of rocket
  • A few leaves of fresh basil
  • Finely grated zest of 1 organic lemon
  • 100g shaved Parmesan
  • 1 white truffle or a drizzle of white truffle oil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  2. Place the puff pastry on the baking sheet and spread with a thin layer of pesto, leaving a narrow border around the edges.
  3. Using a vegetable peeler, peel long, thin ribbons of zucchini and/or yellow squash and arrange over the pesto. 
  4. Brush the edges of the pastry with the egg yolk and sprinkle the tart with kosher salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes, until the crust is golden.
  5. Meanwhile, place a dry skillet over medium heat, add the pine nuts and toast lightly. Remove from the pan. 
  6. Remove the tart from the oven, cut the burrata into pieces, and scatter over the top. 
  7. Distribute the pine nuts, rocket, basil leaves, lemon zest, and Parmesan evenly over the tart.
  8. Finish with a few shavings of white truffle, or a drizzle of white truffle oil, and serve.

Photography © Christophe Roué 2020

Recipe extracted from Miss Maggie’s Kitchen: Relaxed French Entertaining by Héloïse Brion (Flammarion, 2020).

This article first appeared in Irish Tatler magazine.