Scenes from a French Country Kitchen

I haven't had time to tell you much (or anything) 
about our time in the Loire Valley
but while we were there,
we had the absolute luck to find ourselves
in one of the most charming manoirs, Le Manoir Champfreau.

We felt like royalty of our own special land
getting to have this 800 year old home all to ourselves...

Come on, admit it- you would, too, right?

After a day of castle-hunting & market browsing,
we decided to forgo a heavy, multi-course meal
and eat simple with the treasures we had found at the market.

As it often goes with understated moments,
this night ended up being one of our favorites of the trip.

Uncovering the quirks of a new kitchen together,
having good music cheering us on as we cooked,
laughing through disastrous attempts to caramelize sugar...
sending the boys out to pick herbs for us in the garden...

well, the whole night was just perfect.

And actually eating the food was nice, too. :)

My friend, Kellee, found a recipe in one of the cookbooks
that the owners of the Manoir left for the guests.

It was a risky choice, but we figured it just might be the combination
 of two things that should had been keep away from each other for long enough...

French mustard + Italian pasta.

Could the marriage of these two beloved foods be a disaster?
Or could it be the joining of two houses once divided?

We decided there was only one way to know for sure.

Our instincts served us correctly...
it was delicious!

The recipe perfectly blends the tanginess of dijon mustard with cream...
and the addition of the fresh herbs brings in a fresh finish.

It would be amazing with roasted chicken.

This recipe is the best souvenir I took home from our trip to the Loire Valley...

From my (temporary) kitchen to yours,
Dijon Penne With Fresh Herbs


3 tablespoons of course sea salt
8 ounces penne pasta
1 cup heavy cream
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons French Dijon mustard
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground white pepper (or black, if you don't have white)
3 tablespoons of finely minced chives, for garnish
Freshly grated parmesan reggiano cheese, for garnish.


Cook the pasta in a large pot. Add a bit of salt to the water to add flavor, and a drop of olive to prevent the pasta from sticking together. Cook until it reaches al dente- soft, but with a bit of firmness. 
Set aside for a few minutes until sauce is done

Meanwhile, in a sauce pan large enough to hold the pasta, combine the cream, egg yolk, and mustard.
Whisk to blend. Season to taste with sea salt & white pepper. Bring to a simmer over low heat. Remove from the heat & keep warm.

Remove the colander and drain the pasta. Shaking to remove excess water. Immediately transfer the drained pasta to the saucepan. Toss to evenly coat the pasta. Cover, and let rest for 1 to 2 minutes to allow pasta to thoroughly absorb the sauce. Taste for seasoning. Garnish with minced chives and freshly grated cheese. Serve immediately.

*Images original to Aspiring Kennedy
**Le Manoir Champfreau is amazing. If you are looking for a private home rental in the Loire Valley,  I can't recommend a better place to stay in the Loire. You feel like royalty- but you'll only have to pay like a normal person! :) 


  1. You are not only aspiring for royalty but you live like you are and that is what keeps me inspired. I love living vicariously via you. You are royal, yet so darn normal. I love that about you Lauren- you make us all feel welcome.

  2. oh swoon, I love how big and... french it is! is hat apple pie??

  3. Ah - GORGEOUS!!!! I am sooo jealous this looks perfect! When my mom was here her only request for next time she visits is that we save the Loire Valley for her! We will most definitely be staying here :)

  4. Lauren this looks like an absolute dream! Your photos capture it so well + now I need to go here right now. So so lovely!

  5. Lauren this is absolutely fantastic!!! This is like what my visions of country France look like, wow it's gorgeous! What an amazing memory, that's just awesome!

  6. Oh my goodness- it's all just too perfect for words- I'm making that now.

  7. Looks absolutely stunning! And I'm making that pasta ASAP!

  8. Lauren! You are just killing me with these amazing posts and your amazing life. Seriously- every time I come here it's such a treat and I feel both anxious to travel and floored by your beautiful photos. You are making me dream... big time!

  9. What a wonderful evening! The pasta looks delicious and the place looks so charming! Glad you are so very happy.

    Sorry to hear about your grandma. I know she will be missed!!

  10. I want to cook in that kitchen! It is so charming. Trying this recipe this weekend!

  11. oh my, that pasta looks mouth-watering!

    i think i could be inspired to cook up delicacies each & every day if i were to do it in that charming kitchen. looks like a lovely, memorable time.

    - l

  12. How wonderful! Looks like a great place to stay and bravo on the food. Looks yummy. :)

  13. I would've just moved right in. How charming is that kitchen?? I love it, and I love evenings like that.

  14. Looks AMAZING. Wow, what a treat!

  15. Don't you just wish every night was like that? It's like out of a fairy tale. Or at least out of my dreams :) How did you ever leave?

  16. I love the idea of staying at a place like this! I got to stay at an amazing house in the Champagne region with my mom and some relatives a few years back, and I loved it. The same type of place with my husband and friends would be awesome!!

  17. Fun! And that recipe looks delish! :) Hope you are having a great weekend. :)


  18. Oh, that house, that kitchen, those little utensil jars... pretty sure I'd never leave! Gorgeous!

  19. That is the cutest kitchen I've ever seen!!!

  20. I love those dark tiles. I feel like anything you cook there would be a masterpiece!

  21. I'm making the pasta tonight! Can we please go back? Now?

  22. Hi !

    I found you from my friend Liz's blog (explore, dream, discover). I'm a fellow expat living in Amsterdam and just loved this post. My boyfriend's family lives in the Loire Valley (just outside of Orleans in a small town called Meung) and I absolutely love visiting there. Trying this recipe asap! Would love to bring a small part of France to the Netherlands :)



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