Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Strawberries in Winter

They are back! Yes, yes Californian strawberries are everywhere. Last Saturday at Temecula Farmers Market my son could not stopping asking for some fresh strawberries.
I remember when I was little in France strawberries I had to wait mid-of June to eat strawberries and never, never my mother would have buy fruits or vegetables off season. But now as an adult living in Southern California I do not need to wait until June to make a wish* when devoring my first strawberry . They will be available from Januray to July...Yes I will bake delicious strawberries tarts topped with whipping cream/ chantilly, yes I will make delicious jams.
Yesterday night, my strawberries were still looking good, I washed them,I cut them in small pieces I sparkled some sugar, a pinch of Organic Whipping cream et Voila!
A delicious reddish dessert!
* A tradition in my family whenever you eat a fruit or vegetables for the first time in the new year you make a wish!

Thursday, January 24, 2008


I love seafood. I love the texture, the original taste. In France, at Fish markets you find Sea Scallops in their shells,closed or oppened. You can ask the fish seller to open it up for you.Inside this shell called Coquille Saint Jacques, you can find two beautiful things: first the white scallop it should be plumped and shiny, then on the side is nested the beautiful orange coral, croissant shaped. You can eat it this is good.
My mother used to cook sea scallops with mushroom, shrimps, bechamel sauce and then she put it back in one shell, add some cheese and breadcumbs and bake it in the oven, as a seafood gratin. The presentation was always astonishing and people could not help saying Oh! and Ah when these delicatecies where presented in front of them.
Here in the States I never seen the sea scallops in their shells, most of the time you find them by the weight at your food market.
A friend of mine bought me those delicious fresh sea scallops, but since I did not have the shells and no time I decided to make something quick and tasty.
In a large pan I poured some olive oil. When the oil was hot I added the fresh scallops seasoned ( salt and pepper), then I glazed them with white Balsamic vinegar, and I added sliced almonds. The smell was delicious. At the very end I added some whipping heavy cream!
I licked all the plate, all the flavors combined so well together.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Galette des Rois

This year I invited all my French friends for the famous galette des Rois.
Again made from scratch I baked the " Frangipane" or " la Parisienne" or" Pithiviers cake" made with Californian Almonds. And I made the one " briochee".
Both were delicious, even if the one briochee a little dry.
The " crown/ couronne" was made my my niece Chloe. The " feve" hidden inside was an almond!

California Almonds for French Sweet Desserts
Do you know that almonds are California's largest tree nut crop in total dollar value and acreage? They are one of the largest U.S. horticultural export. About 6,000 almond growers produce nearly 100 percent of the commercial domestic and supply more than 80 percent of worldwide production. More than 80 countries import California almonds : Spain is the largest market for almonds. Other major importers include Germany, The Netherlands, Japan, France, the United Kingdom, Canada, India, China.
Yes, in France we use a lot of Almonds in desserts and one of the most delightful and magical dessert is the Galette des Rois or Kings’ cake served on the celebration on January 6th or Epiphany, or twelfth night, the celebration of the arrival of the magi, Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar, before the newborn Jesus .
Friends, family and coworkers are gathering together every year for this strong tradition served with white wine or hard apple cider.

Pithiviers Cake
Serve 6


100 g/4 oz/1 cup ground California
100 g/4 oz superfine sugar
40 g/3 tbsp real sweet ( unsalted) butter, softened
2 egg yolks
225 g/8 oz puff pastry (paste), thawed if frozen
1 egg, beaten
Icing (confectioners') sugar, for dusting

Beat together the ground almonds, the sugar, butter, egg yolks. Cut off a third of the puff pastry. Roll out to a round about 18 cm/7 in and place on baking cookie sheet. Roll out the larger piece of pastry to a round the same size, but twice as thick. Spread the almond paste in the centre of the thinner pastry round on the baking sheet. Brush all round the edge with water. Place the second piece of pastry on top. Brush with beaten egg to glaze and score the top with the back of a knife in a cross pattern. Bake in a preheated oven at 400°F for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and dust the top with icing sugar. Return to the oven for a further 5 minutes or until caramelized. This can be served warm or cold.

Note: Kids love this cake first for the fun tradition of finding the “ feve” inside the cake and becoming the King or Queen for the day, and then they love the sweet taste of it.

It is never too Late!

This my 2007 Buche de Noel.
Everybody helped me decorate this Buche: Chloe my niece, Joel my Husband, my parents (Pyrenneens chocolates), my kids ( little deer).