Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Healthy Snack from Spain

Galettes croquantes et craquantes

Long time ago I saw an article in a French Magazine Elle or Marie Claire I do not remember about some " Galettes a l'huile d'olive" and the article was raving about these tryly delicious snack, at this time it was available in a single shop in Paris, but I was living in NYC.
Last week while strolling at Henry's Market in Temecula, completly by chance I saw packs of "Tortas de aceite" from Spain made with Olive Oil. It reminds me the "galettes" I rad about years ago. I bought one pack and brought it back home. I had the first Galetta with some tea. It was light, crispy, delicious. I am keeping the parchment paper they use to wrap up each galetta, I can use use for my baking or to keep some homemade cookies fresh.
Now everytime I go to Henry's Market I get more galettas, I can't help it!
The ingredients are really natural, this is a no processed food perfect for a morning coffee, afternoon tea, late snack...
I am sure that Laurie from
Dalla Mia Cucina will love that!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My Birthday's Cake.

Yesterday was my birthday. And I felt great about it. Actually instead of feeling down at the end because I was one year older I felt relaxed and 5 years younger?
I am going to share my secret. My day evolved in different layers. First J. made my breakfast, then he was completly in charge of the kids for the day. I went to the famous Glen Ivy SPA . On the day of your birthday the entrance is free.
And I was so lucky that the weather was warm enough to just relax on long chairs nearby the floating pools while reading my Body and Soul Magazine.
I used the sauna, the steam room, the pools, the Club Mud...For lunch I sat under the palm trees with a delicious Citrus and Shrimp Salad for only $ 14.
At the end of the day ( I stayed from 10.30 am to 3 pm), you take a shower with a complimentary exofoliant and you shower with products from the SPA.
I felt completly relaxed, and quiet.
When I came home J. was working with the kids on some wrapping paper decoration for my gift ( a Cookbook) and then later they bake my birthday cake. A yogurt Cake.
He got the recipe from the famous
Chocolate & Zuchini

Gâteau au Yaourt

- 2 eggs
- 250ml (1 cup) whole milk plain unsweetened yogurt (if you use two 125ml or 4oz tubs, you can use them to measure out the rest of the ingredients)
- 200g (1 cup) sugar (you can use an empty tub of yogurt and measure the equivalent of 2 yogurt tubs if you used the 125ml or 4oz kind)
- 80ml (1/3 cup) vegetable oil (or a bit less than 1 yogurt tub)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (or 4 yogurt tubs)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla paste/extract
- 1 tablespoon light rum

Preheat the oven to 180° C (350° F), line the bottom of a round 25-cm (10-inch) cake pan with parchment paper and grease the sides. In a large mixing-bowl, gently combine the yogurt, eggs, sugar, vanilla, oil, and rum. In another bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Add the flour mixture into the yogurt mixture, and blend together -- don't overwork the dough. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean. Let stand for ten minutes, and transfer onto a rack to cool.

I had some frosting left from my Yug Log they used it and decorate with whatever was available in the fridge and the pantry for a festive Birthday' Cake.
I open other presents from my friends: Japanese lovely blue spoons, thank you Kumi. A lovely blue satin purse for my bag, thank you Joanie and a cute necklage/ earings duo from Stephanie. Thank you all.
It was a wonderfull birthday, may be the best thanks to my husband and my wonderful and my friends. I feel lucky.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Californian Christmas with a French Twist

I love Christmas holidays: All the anticipation, the expectation, the cookies, the chocolate, the Christmas tree trimming, the lights decoration, the chestnut Stuffed Turkey, the Yug Log ( Buche de Noel), the gifts and my kids’ smile in front of all their presents..
This year we had some cold-cool days before Christmas, so it was nice having some real wooden logs burning in the fireplace, hot cocoa and waqtching some old French Movies.
For Christmas' Eve we had a small dinner over our home. Nathalie and Jean Marie and their daughter Lili joined us. It was a nice, quiet, and very fun evening as usual when we are spend time with them since we are from the same hometown in France we have so many things and memories in common.
I wanted to cook a Traditional French Christmas Dinner for 4. The kids ate before us a simple but delicious Cheese omelet with French beans.

For the Aperitif, we drank some French Champagne I had some Kir Royal (Champagne with blueberries liquor). With this I served some Goat cheese crostinis ( goat cheese spread on fresh bread, with sea salt, thyme and olive oil, broiled in the oven for 6 minutes. Then we had some Mini Quiches from TJ's.

Christmas ' 08 menu

- Watercress soup served with Crème Fraiche
- Free Range Turkey stuffed with Chestnuts, sausage, liver, herbs and cognac.
- French beans with toasted almonds
- Gratin Dauphinois ( actually it stayed in the oven I forgot to serve it)
- Chestnut cooked in the Turkey gravy
- Belgian Endive salad with Roquefort and walnuts
- French cheeses assortments
- 2 Yog Lugs or Buches de Noel. One with berries and Litchis and the other one with Chestnut and crème de marron a la Vanille .
- Coffee served with homemade Mignardises ( Mendiants, Orangettes and Chocolate Croquants)

Verdict: It was a good meal. Not too heavy. We drank also some delicious Californian and French WinesIt was a wonderful prelude for a long Christmas Day with kids at home in our pajamas!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tarte aux oignons, herbes, tapenade et Roquefort

Finaly we have been seeing some "Winter" symptoms lately in Southern California. I can't stand having 85 F during the Holidays Season. It does not make sense to me. So when this is gray, chilly, windy outside I enjoy it!

We will trim our Christmas tree later today, my husband put some of the outside lightnings yesterday afternoon. The houses are pretty big and huge here so it takes some time to put everything together. We may go also for a ride to see all the beautiful Christmas decoration of everyone's house too tonight.

For last night dinner I had some Pastry Puff in the fridge resting ( Artisan from TJ's). I looked in my fridge: I had 1 onion, heavy cream, Ricotta cheese, Green and Black Tapenade and some Roquefor cheese rest and Thym herbs.

So I decided to serve this tart for dinner with a Oganic green slad, walnuts, fresh pears with Huile de Noix .

The result: A-M-A-Z- I-N-G... creamy, tasty so delicious. The marriage with the salad/ fruit/ nuts was all perfect... too bad we did not have any wine left... but it was a wonderful satisfiying meal.

Tarte aux oignons, herbes, tapenade and Roquefort - Onion tart with herbs, tapenade spread and Roquefort cheese.

- 1 Puff Pastry ( Artisan TJ's)

- 1 cup heavy Cream

- 1/2 cup Ricotta cheese

-1/2 cup green/ black olive tapenade

- Salt


- 1 teaspoon flour

- Roquefort cheese crumble

- Butter

1 onion finaly sliced

Preheat an oven 360 F

Press your puff pastry into a a pan quiche or tart.

In a large pan add butter to brown a little add the onion slices. Cook until translucide. When it is ligthly brown add the flour and mix all together. Then add the heavy cream, salt and pepper.

Transfer this mixture into the puff pastty pan, on the top add tapenade, Ricotta, and Roquefort cheese.

Bake the tart until brown.

On the side:

- Organic green salad

- Walnuts oil

- Walnuts

- Fresh pear sliced

- Salt


One salad/ bowl per person. Spread the salad, top ith walnuts, pears slices, sprinkle pepper and salt then finish with your Walnut oil.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


For the first time the DB's Challenge was a perfect timing because I offered to the adults who were attending my kids B'day party.
Usually when I bake a cake through the DB' challenge the quantity is usually so big that after 1 or 2 bites we are done. This time since I bought ( Yes I bought Vanilla Cupcakes for the 17 kids who attended the party... all of them are twins) for the mothers I offered the Caramel Cake . It was a quiet a success. I was very happy with all the process. The caramel was delicious, the frosting out of this world. The cake itself was a little dry I think. May be I should have left the cake chilled out before cutting it.
I may do again this cake... one day!

10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature

1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)

2 each eggs, at room temperature

splash vanilla extract

2 Cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder1 cup milk, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350FButter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.Sift flour and baking powder.Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it. Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)
In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.


12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound confectioner’s sugar,sifted4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrupKosher or sea salt to tasteCook butter until brown.
Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month.To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light(recipes above courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon)(Optional)
GOLDEN VANILLA BEAN CARAMELS- makes eighty-one 1-inch caramels
1 cup golden syrup
2 cups sugar
8 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons pure ground vanilla beans, purchased or ground in a coffee or spice grinders, or 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks, softened
EquipmentA 9-inch square baking pan Candy thermometer ProcedureLine the bottom and sides of the baking pan with aluminum foil and grease the foil. Combine the golden syrup, sugar, and salt in a heavy 3-quart saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, until the mixture begins to simmer around the edges. Wash the sugar and syrup from the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes. (Meanwhile, rinse the spatula or spoon before using it again later.) Uncover the pan and wash down the sides once more. Attach the candy thermometer to the pan, without letting it touch the bottom of the pan, and cook, uncovered (without stirring) until the mixture reaches 305°F. Meanwhile, combine the cream and ground vanilla beans (not the extract) in a small saucepan and heat until tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Turn off the heat and cover the pan to keep the cream hot. When the sugar mixture reaches 305°F, turn off the heat and stir in the butter chunks. Gradually stir in the hot cream; it will bubble up and steam dramatically, so be careful. Turn the burner back on and adjust it so that the mixture boils energetically but not violently. Stir until any thickened syrup at the bottom of the pan is dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, to about 245°F. Then cook, stirring constantly, to 260°f for soft, chewy caramels or 265°F; for firmer chewy caramels. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract, if using it. Pour the caramel into the lined pan. Let set for 4 to 5 hours, or overnight until firm. Lift the pan liner from the pan and invert the sheet of caramel onto a sheet of parchment paper. Peel off the liner. Cut the caramels with an oiled knife. Wrap each caramel individually in wax paper or cellophane. VariationsFleur de Sel Caramels: Extra salt, in the form of fleur de sel or another coarse flaked salt, brings out the flavor of the caramel and offers a little ying to the yang. Add an extra scant 1/4 teaspoon of coarse sea salt to the recipe. Or, to keep the salt crunchy, let the caramel cool and firm. Then sprinkle with two pinches of flaky salt and press it in. Invert, remove the pan liner, sprinkle with more salt. Then cut and wrap the caramels in wax paper or cellophane. Nutmeg and Vanilla Bean Caramels: Add 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg to the cream before you heat it. Cardamom Caramels: Omit the vanilla. Add 1/2 teaspoon slightly crushed cardamom seeds (from about 15 cardamom pods) to the cream before heating it. Strain the cream when you add it to the caramel; discard the seeds. Caramel Sauce: Stop cooking any caramel recipe or variation when it reaches 225°F or, for a sauce that thickens like hot fudge over ice cream, 228°F. Pour it into a sauceboat to serve or into a heatproof jar for storage. The sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for ages and reheated gently in the microwave or a saucepan just until hot and flowing before use. You can stir in rum or brandy to taste. If the sauce is too thick or stiff to serve over ice cream, it can always be thinned with a little water or cream. Or, if you like a sauce that thickens more over ice cream, simmer it for a few minutes longer.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My name is Martha

When we moved to the States in 1993, my eyes caught a Martha Stewart's magazine at my favorite NYC newstand.
Of course I had NO idea who she was. And that the elegant blond woman on the cover page was Martha Stewart. It was love at first sight.
I liked her ideas, her elegance, her European way of displaying things, why to organize a room.
Then months after months, years after years I devored her magazines, bought her books.
My mother ( who does not speak one work of English) has one in her home : Special issue for the Holidays and I know she is using it for some ideas, every year.
So many books, magazines are out there but Martha Stewart are the best. She is a fine lady.

Today I had some old bananas and I wanted my new White Kitchenaid Hand stand mixer to work a little ( I got it for my Birthday 2 months in advance).
It changed my life. This is so easy to make Creme Chantilly, Brioche, pate a choux...
But I wanted something more American.... I made Martha Stewart Banana Chocolate chunk cookies. They are delicious, perfect with different flavors and texture.. and the coarse sea salt gives a nice quick!

Martha Stewart Banana Chocolate chunk cookies

Makes about 3 dozen
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 large)
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped into 1/4-inch chunks
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (about 2 ounces), toasted
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together flours, salt, and baking soda in a small bowl; set aside. Put butter and sugars into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low. Add egg and vanilla; mix until combined. Mix in banana. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Stir in oats, chocolate chunks, and walnuts.
Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until golden brown and just set, 12 to 13 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool completely. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers up to 2 days.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Petit Dejeuner Compris - Le Jeu - Breakfast included / Game from Bretzel et Cafe Creme Blog

Petit Dejeuner Compris / The Game

Last September the charming Flo from
invited me and other Bloggers to participate to " Your favorite Breakfast", Petit Dejeuner Compris, Le jeu - Game.

Those who know me very well, know that I never, never have the same breakfast everyday. When I travel I love discovering new breakfast types and goodies.

One day I go for toasted baguette butter and coffee, another morning eggs, bacon, hash-potatoes and fresh squeezed orange juice, another one homemade brioche, another one Blueberries/strrawberries/orange and banana smoothies.... the list is long.

For this game I wanted to share a simple one, but delicious

Ricotta cheese with nuts, fresh fruits and dried fruits and Mapple Sirup. The recipe is in the title!

Depending what you have in your pantry and fridge you can be very adventurous and creative.

I love the soft texture of the fresh Ricotta Cheese, the sweetness of the Mapple Sirup and the crunchness of the grappes and nuts! Very yummy and healthy.


Monday, November 3, 2008

The October DBChallenge - Bake Your Pizzas Like A Real Pizzaiolo

We love Pizzas! The first time I had mine when in Nice South of France, my family was traveling from France to Italy for our summer and the first stop at night was in Nice. We had dinner in a small restaurant on a terrasse. I ordered pizza I was pretty young. 12. When the pizza arrived ( Margarita one) it was huge! My parents were laughing and teasing me that I would never eat the entire pizza on my own. I loved every bite. I ate all the pizza...
Since I have been in love with pizza. When we lived in NYC we had at least one pizza a week. And they were excellent. I remembered ordering one day a Pizza Blanca so delicious with ricotta rich cheese, garlic and olive oil the perfect combination.
But for the DB Challange I wanted all my family to eat. My kids are not into garlic yet. So we made 2 pizzas Tomato/ cheese. And 2 tomato/ cheese/ chicken/olives and on one I added Goat cheese.
I did not toss the dought but my kids help me with the rolling pan. They love doing pizza.
Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter).Ingredients: 4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled - Tsp Salt1 Tsp Instant yeast

1/4 Cup (2 ounces/60g) Olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but it’s better with)1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)1 Tb sugar

Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting
1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.
NOTE: If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time.The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour, so that it clears the sides. If, on the contrary, it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water.The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F/10°-13° C.
. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).
NOTE: To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip the scraper into water between cuts.5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.
NOTE: If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again.6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.
8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.
9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C).
NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.10. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.
NOTE: Make only one pizza at a time.During the tossing process, if the dough tends to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue the tossing and shaping. In case you would be having trouble tossing the dough or if the dough never wants to expand and always springs back, let it rest for approximately 5-20 minutes in order for the gluten to relax fully,then try again.You can also resort to using a rolling pin, although it isn’t as effective as the toss method.11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.
12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.
C'etait delicieux!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Mes Chouquettes comme a Paris

When we used to live in Paris, as everybodyelse we were living near a great Boulangerie/ Patisserie. For traditional 4 heures on week ends ( Afternoon Snack) I usually stopped to buy a bag of Chouquette. Usually before I reached our apartment located on the 4rd floor without elevator, there was none chouquette left in the bag . So when I felt guilty because I knew that my boyfriend ( now Husband) could not taste them ( and God knows how he loves them he has a big Sweet tooth), I had to run down again to the Boulangerie/ Patisserie and buy another bag of Chouquettes. And for the second round I was good, when I arrived in front of our apartment the bag was still full. Joel would ask if I want some and I would say OK just one or two.....

Now leaving in Southern California where only Trader Joe's display nice desserts and time to time Vallee d'Brumes Pastry Shop, the only way to enjoy delicious desserts is to bake them!
This is why joining Daring Bakers was a great move!
Now I can make my own Chouquettes, it takes no time and everybody love them!
And when I make batches.... up to 30 puffs is pretty good...

Those little cloud puff are light, very versatile. You can use then savory or sweet. Just plain with Coarse Suagr on them or you can stuff them with Creme Chantilly, and top with chocolate sauce, you can make Profiteroles ( stuffed with Vanilla Ice cream) and topped with warm chocolate sauce, or you can stuff them with Blue cheese/ walnut for a great appetizers or Buffet Froid.

Here is the recipe of the cutest, round, light and beautiful name C-H-O-U-Q-U-E-T-T-E-S!

Chouquettes Parisiennes

(About 25 Puffs)

Shaping the mounds of dough is easiest to do with a pastry bag, although you can use a teaspoon.
1 cup (250 ml) water1/2 teaspoon salt 2 teaspoons sugar 6 tablespoons (90 gr) unsalted butter, cut into small chunks1 cup (135 gr) flour4 large eggs, at room temperature
Glaze: 1 egg yolk, mixed with 1 teaspoon Coarse sugar is available in the US from Ikea.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees (220 C.) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Heat the water, salt, sugar, and butter in a small saucepan, stirring, until the butter is melted. Remove from heat and dump all the flour in at once. Stir rapidly until the mixture is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the pan.
Allow dough to cool for two minutes, then briskly beat in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth and shiny.
Using a spoon, pastry bag make a mound of dough with one spoon roughly the size of a walnut and scrape it off with the other spoon onto the baking sheet.
Place the mounds evenly-spaced apart on the baking sheet. Brush the top of each mound with some of the egg glaze then press coarse sugar crystals over the top and sides of each mound. Use a lot. Once the puffs expand rise, you'll appreciate the extra effort (and sugar.)
Bake the cream puffs for 35 minutes, or until puffed and well-browned.
(If you want to make them crispier, you can poke a hole in the side with a wooden spoon after you take them out of the oven to let the steam escape.)
The cream puffs are best eaten the same day they're made.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A room of my own- Part 1

Welcome to my favorite room in the house. This is the room where I read my e-mails, work on my blog, read books, prepare my Cooking Classes menus, listen to my favorite music, drink morning black with sugar coffee, drink my afternnoon Organic tea, snack on some food, call my parents, and friends in France, organize all my paper work...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Retour de Marche ( Back from Farmer's Market)

It was a such beautiful Saturday morning in Temecula Valley to go to the Temecula Farmer's Market. All fruits and veggetables were beautiful and the wonderful scent of Goyava fruits and persimon were every where!
Since I decided to try a " One-day energy fast" based on fresh vegetables and fruits juices tomorrow October 19, paying a visit to my favorite place was again a wonderful experience. I ususally share myvisit with my daughter, she was helping me on counting each apple, plum, tomatoe.. she was holding my wallet for the entire visit. Together we were talking about our future menus: Stuffed large tomatoes, Ratatouille, Plums Clafoutis...Yes, yes I will show you all of that...soon!
What you see on the picture above is what I bought for $ 28. What you do not see is a 10lbs of Valencia oranges.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Almost empty fridge

The weather is still warm in Southern California, but yesterday night I was craving for a Autumn/ Fall meal. I made some Organic carrots with herbs. Because I always have Smoked Salmon in my fridge, I thought it will be nice to have some "pink " fish ( I like this name given by my 4 years old daughter... at this age everything has to be pink) served with Organic Blue Cheese dressing, and Tandoori Nanns. I add some rice leftover.

I liked the carrots a lot. You do not think about eating carrots nowadays. And this is a mistake. When you cut them small thy cook very fast. Mine were perfectly cuts in small slices and cooked, with fresh thyme, salt and pepper.

It was a light but delicious meal: vegetables, fish, rice, sauce and bread. A very healthy meal.. que demande le peuple!

NB: Sorry about quality of my pictures taken late yesterday after the political debate.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Simply Rasberries jam

Last week end we went to Oak Glen, CA located in Yucaipa/ Beaumont area. From Temecula you need about 45 minutes to reach this lovely , bucolic place. In the hills, Applesgrowners associated together to make a " Touristic" place. Of course you find the most of American fair stuffs but also you can pick up your own fruits.
Last week we were lucky to grap the last Rasberries. Our kids loved it. You buy litte square basquets and you fill them with Rasberries you find in the cultivated bushes.
You have tons of differents apples and pears trees. All different sorts and names, colors.... All families, children visiting this place were smiling everybody had a good time. Quality time for everybody. You breath fresh air. You drink fresh Apple cider, grap one apple from a tree... We had great time!
Some rasberries left from last week so I decided to make some little jam.

Add some water and a lot of sugar to your rasberries. Cook for 15 minutes. ready.
It was yummy on my bread this morning.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Daring Bakers September Challenge - Lavash Crackers & Toppings

September Challenge - Lavash Crackers & Toppings

Thank you Natalie from Gluten A Go Go, and co-host Shel, of Musings From the Fishbowl for chosing the recipe for Lavash Crackers from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice (pp 178 - 180).
This is a great challenge!

The Challenge: Make Lavash Crackers and create a dip/spread/salsa/relish to accompany it. This challenge allows for large helpings of creativity and personality, with the crackers, your flavor choices for the crackers, and with your dip/spread choice. You can create your own dip/spread recipe, use one of your favorites, or use one of the recipes we’ve provided at the bottom of this post. Get crazy ! Just be sure to post the recipe along with your challenge crackers so we can see what you made and how you made it (so we can try it, too!).

Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers

* 1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) gluten free flour blend (If you use a blend without xanthan gum, add 1 tsp xanthan or guar gum to the recipe) or 1/2 cup brown rice flour, 1/2 cup millet flour, 1/2 cup arrowroot starch, 1 tsp chia seed meal
* 1/2 tsp (.13 oz) salt
* 1/2 tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast
* 1 Tb (.75 oz) agave syrup or sugar
* 1 Tb (.5 oz) vegetable oil
* 1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature

My option: 2 teaspoons chopped orange zest
¼ cup chopped walnuts
were mixed with the dough

1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, agave, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed. Mix the orange zest and walnuts.

2. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), and slightly tacky. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).

4. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Lay out two sheets of parchment paper. Divide the cracker dough in half and then sandwich the dough between the two sheets of parchment. Roll out the dough until it is a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. Slowly peel away the top layer of parchment paper. Then set the bottom layer of parchment paper with the cracker dough on it onto a baking sheet.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering with Espelette Pepper, dried basil, sea salt, walnuts finely chopped.

5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).

6. When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.

Artichoke dip• 2 cups of frozen artichokes
• 2 cups of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• 1 cup of Greek Yogurt
• Salt and pepper
1 Drain the artichokes from the can. Coarsely chop them.
2 Combine chopped chokes, Parmesan, and Yogurt into a microwave or oven-proof serving dish.
3 Microwave on high heat for 5 minutes, pausing occassionally to stir, to ensure that the dip gets heated evenly. Add fresh ground pepper and salt to taste.

Une Quiche tout simplement!

Pie crust- Pate a tarte
1 cup Organic flour
¼ tsp salt
3 tbsp hard butter, cut in chunks
3 tbsp cold water (approx)

1. In bowl, combine flour & salt. With fingers or
pastry blender, cup or cut in butter until
mixture is crumbly.
2. Sprinkle with cold water, tossing with fork to
mix. Gather dough together and from into ball,
wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
3. Roll out on lightly floured surface and fit into
9-inch (23 cm) pie plate.


8" pie crust (homemade- see above the recipe)
4 fresh organic eggs
1/2 cup shredded 3 cheeses
1 Cup Organic heavy cream
1 cup pancetta cut and diced ( bough at TJ’s)
½ cup red/ yellow/green bell pepper diced
1 small onion diced and cut in very small pieces
olive oil
fresh pepper

1. Brown the pie crust by piercing with a fork
several times and bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 min.
2. Saute the pancetta first, then add the onions, then the peppers until cooked
3. Beat eggs, add the heavy cream
4. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of shredded
5. Add pancetta/onion/ pepper.
6. Mix together eggs, cream, pepper, onion, pancetta
6. Pour in the lightly cooked pie crust
Bake in pre-heated oven at 350 for 30-45 minutes
or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out
clean. Serve with a side salad

*While cooking, eggs will rise like a soufflé and
settle again when taken out of the oven.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Leftover Savory Bread

I hate throwing away leftovers. Usually I use all leftovers in frittata, omelet, to stuffed crepes.... I had some brocoli, Tuna, Tomatoes left in the fridge from the kids lunch.
After talking to Sophie my Yoga Teacher and friend, she said she will make some " savory cake" for super served with salad. I thought it will be a great idea to do the same with my leftovers....

Leftover Savory Bread... called " Cake" in France...yes we call this a "cake" used as a French word

4 Tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup whole milk
1 cup freshly grated Gruyère
1 cup cooked brocolis
1/2 cup Tuna ( Tuna can with olive oil)
1/2 cup of fresh tomatoes
Fresh herbs : chives, parsley, basil from my garden

Dip- 2 avocados soft
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- salt
- pepper
- 1 cup Greek Yogurt

Mix all ingredients in a blender.

Butter a loaf pan and set aside.
Combine the flour baking powder and salt and stir to blend.
Using a whisk, slowly whisk in the eggs.
Whisk in the milk, cheese, brocolis, tomatoes and tuna and oil.
Set aside for 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Stir the batter to blend and pour into the prepared loaf pan.
Place in the center of the oven and bake 30 minutes or until firm and golden.
Allow to cool to room temperature.

To serve:
Slice the cake. Arrange on a serving tray and serve with a Avocado , mustard and Greek Yogurt Dip.

Verdict: The beautiful corlorful Savory cake looks so beautiful with a light green velvety dip! It was yummy my husband and myself ate averything for diner with a salad.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Stuffed Organic Zucchinis

I love zucchinis. I love most of Summer vegetables, but Zuchinis are light and delicious. We use a lot of zuchinis in my family's recipes. From sauteed in Olive oil, then topping with creme fraiche and swiss cheese! or stuffed with crumbled eggs with tomatoes and peppers... recipes are from my mom.
In my fridge I always have Ricotta cheese, I use it for savory or sweet recipes. It gives a moist, sweet and delicious texture. Last evening I had only 15 minutes to prepare them before heading to the local library.

Stuffed Zuchinis

- 5 small Organic zucchinis
- 2 thin slice of cooked ham or prosciutto ( I tried with Salmon and it was delicious too!)
- 3 cups Ricotta cheese ( I got mine at TJ's)
- salt
- Pepper
- 3 cheese shedded
- Mint
1 small onion, cut in small pieces
- 1 garlic clove pressed
- 1 Egg Yolk

Clean your zuchinis. Cut them in half and empty the inside with a small spoon, put aside ( the inside you just took off) and sauted with olive oil, onion, garlic.
When cooked, put in a blender add the ham and blend together until you obtain a smooth constitancy. Add salt and pepper.
Mix together the mixture with riccotta and egg yolk. Adjust seasonning.
Stuff the zucchinis with it. Top with shrinded cheese and mint.

Preheat your oven at 375 F. Cook the zuchinis until tender between 25 - 35 minutes.

Delicous with a Frisee salad, bacon bits , homemade croutons and a warm-vinaigrette.

Bon Appetit!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Pink Ice cream for Autumn Day

On my Calendar there is a note saying : Fall Begins! Oh No already! Summer 08' went so fast. Time is flying.Right. Kids are back to school. I have done some Catering in Torrance. My Cooking Classes will start with Murrieta Park and recreation on October 2 at the Murrieta Seniors Center. I have a Cooking Party with Living Valley Editors coming up and my last ad with my new logo will be displayed in the October Living Valley magazine...
I am looking 10 times at my Calendar.. so many things to do and to organize.
But hey I had some time to make a delicious Ice Cream with all fruits I could find: pineaples, grapes, strawberries. I blent the Strawberries with sugar and Yogurt. Then pour the other fruits cut in small pieces. On the top I add some white tiny small meringues find at Trader Joe's.
The Ice cream/ Frozen yogurt was delicious veru fruity and velvety!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Pierre Herme's Chocolate Eclairs Daring Bakers August Challenge

This month's Daring Bakers' Challenge is hosted by Meeta K of What's for Lunch, Honey? and Tony Tahhan. They have chosen Chocolate Éclairs by Pierre Hermé our Famous Parisien Star Patissier. He is the best. I remember discovering Pierre Herme in a "Special" French " Apostrophes" TV show about books and literrature, hosted with another star Bernard Pivot. One episode was about Good French Living in France. He invited some wine makers, some bakers, Chefs and Pierre Herme was there. He was young and Bernard Pivot could not say enough about how talented he was. I rememberred he was shy. At this time we were living in NYC ( we had a Cable with French TV) and I was wondering if one day I could taste Pierre Herme delicious pastries and creations. Actually I never done, because when we go back to France we do not stop for one day or 2 in Paris as we used to do. With the kids now we want to be in our home in the South of France the quickest way we can. So no stop over in Paris.
I was so happy when I discovered this challenge. I skipped the last one for many reasons explained in the post related to it. But I was reasy for this one


I love everything with chocolate in it. But Eclairs au chocolat are one of my favorites. Infortunately every Patries shop I have visited in SO-cal even the best do not have real eclairs au chocolat. The filling is done with wipp cream, with chocolate glaze but the filling with Chocolate the way we eat in France.
So yes, yes I am so happy.
I have done them pretty quickly Sunday morning, while my kids were playing.
verdict.... DELICIOUS. I am a Chocolate Girl my husband is a Coffee Boy.
So I split chocolate and Coffee Eclairs.
I had hard time fiding Coffee extract so it was a challenge to make the the Coffee cream filling and the Coffee glaze. Actually the coffee glaze was done with caramel melange.. in order to be sticky.
Here is only the Chocolate eclairs recipe, I will provide the Coffee one in the next days.

NB: did I mention that since I joined the DB I gained 6 pounds?

Pierre Hermé’s Chocolate Éclairs
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

• Cream Puff Dough (see below for recipe), fresh and still warm

1) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Divide the oven into thirds by
positioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets with waxed or parchment paper.

2) Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a 2/3 (2cm) plain tip nozzle with the warm cream puff dough. Pipe the dough onto the baking sheets in long, 4 to 41/2 inches (about 11 cm) chubby fingers. Leave about 2 inches (5 cm) space in between each dough strip to allow them room to puff. The dough should give you enough to pipe 20-24 éclairs.

3) Slide both the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 7 minutes. After the 7 minutes, slip the handle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep in ajar. When the éclairs have been in the oven for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Continue baking for a further 8 minutes or until the éclairs are puffed, golden and firm. The total baking time should be approximately 20 minutes.

1) The éclairs can be kept in a cool, dry place for several hours before filling.

Assembling the éclairs:

• Chocolate glaze (see below for recipe)
• Chocolate pastry cream (see below for recipe)

1) Slice the éclairs horizontally, using a serrated knife and a gently sawing motion. Set aside the bottoms and place the tops on a rack over a piece of parchment paper.

2) The glaze should be barely warm to the touch (between 95 – 104 degrees F or 35 – 40 degrees C, as measured on an instant read thermometer). Spread the glaze over the tops of the éclairs using a metal icing spatula. Allow the tops to set and in the meantime fill the bottoms with the pastry cream.

3) Pipe or spoon the pastry cream into the bottoms of the éclairs. Make sure you fill the bottoms with enough cream to mound above the pastry. Place the glazed tops onto the pastry cream and wriggle gently to settle them.

1) If you have chilled your chocolate glaze, reheat by placing it in a bowl over simmering water, stirring it gently with a wooden spoon. Do not stir too vigorously as you do not want to create bubbles.

2) The éclairs should be served as soon as they have been filled.

Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff Dough
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

• ½ cup (125g) whole milk
• ½ cup (125g) water
• 1 stick (4 ounces; 115g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
• ¼ teaspoon sugar
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
• 5 large eggs, at room temperature

1) In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the boil.

2) Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together very quickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it’s supposed to. You need to carry on stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the dough will be very soft and smooth.

3) Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using your handmixer or if you still have the energy, continue by hand. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough. You will notice that after you have added the first egg, the dough will separate, once again do not worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again by the time you have added the third egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted it should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.

4) The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs as directed above.

1) Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.

2) You can pipe the dough and the freeze it. Simply pipe the dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets and slide the sheets into the freezer. Once the dough is completely frozen, transfer the piped shapes into freezer bags. They can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.

Chocolate Pastry Cream
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by PierreHermé
• 2 cups (500g) whole milk
• 4 large egg yolks
• 6 tbsp (75g) sugar
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
• 7 oz (200g) bittersweet chocolate, preferably Velrhona Guanaja, melted
• 2½ tbsp (1¼ oz: 40g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1) In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. In the meantime, combine the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together and whisk in a heavy‐bottomed saucepan.

2) Once the milk has reached a boil, temper the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot milk into the yolk mixture.Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.

3) Strain the mixture back into the saucepan to remove any egg that may have scrambled. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously (without stop) until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat).Stir in the melted chocolate and then remove the pan from the heat.

4) Scrape the pastry cream into a small bowl and set it in an ice‐water bath to stop the cooking process. Make sure to continue stirring the mixture at this point so that it remains smooth.

5) Once the cream has reached a temperature of 140 F remove from the ice‐water bath and stir in the butter in three or four installments. Return the cream to the ice‐water bath to continue cooling, stirring occasionally, until it has completely cooled. The cream is now ready to use or store in the fridge.

1) The pastry cream can be made 2‐3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

2) In order to avoid a skin forming on the pastry cream, cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the cream.

3) Tempering the eggs raises the temperature of the eggs slowly so that they do not scramble.

Chocolate Glaze
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1 cup or 300g)

• 1/3 cup (80g) heavy cream
• 3½ oz (100g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 4 tsp (20 g) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
• 7 tbsp (110 g) Chocolate Sauce (recipe below), warm or at room temperature

1)In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly begin to add the chocolate, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula.

2) Stirring gently, stir in the butter, piece by piece followed by the chocolate sauce.

1) If the chocolate glaze is too cool (i.e. not liquid enough) you may heat it briefly
 in the microwave or over a double boiler. A double boiler is basically a bowl sitting over (not touching) simmering water.

2) It is best to glaze the eclairs after the glaze is made, but if you are pressed for time, you can make the glaze a couple days ahead of time, store it in the fridge and bring it up to the proper temperature (95 to 104 F) when ready to glaze.

Chocolate Sauce
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1½ cups or 525 g)

• 4½ oz (130 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 1 cup (250 g) water
• ½ cup (125 g) crème fraîche, or heavy cream
• 1/3 cup (70 g) sugar

1) Place all the ingredients into a heavy‐bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil, making sure to stir constantly. Then reduce the heat to low and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens.

2) It may take 10‐15 minutes for the sauce to thicken, but you will know when it is done when it coats the back of your spoon.

1) You can make this sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for two weeks. Reheat the sauce in a microwave oven or a double boiler before using.
2) This sauce is also great for cakes, ice-cream and tarts.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Chez Larsson

Recently I have been addected to a terrific Blog: Chez Larsson. No, this is not a French Blog... even if the writter is using " Chez " in the Blog's name, no this is not a Blog about parenting or kids, no this is not a blog about Food and Cooking, no this is not about Healthy living, Yoga or other Natural way of life, this Blog is about: How to organize your house but in a beautiful Scandinavian Way: a la Ikea/ Martha Stewart way.
And you know what? This Blog made me change. Yes I have to admit a am more a messy/ than organized person. And being a mother full time with my kids at home does not help.
I have bought or read plenty of books or articles about how to be organized in your daily life, 1 day you clean this , the other you do that, I bought the little note book they suggest to use.. it worked for 1 or 2 days. That was it!
For the last week, reading and seeing this beautiful small house so well organized, I had the urge of cleaning up and organizing my home.
This blog is also about doing things by yourself: curtains, cushions...I almost bought a Sewing Machine yesterday on for $ 20 but I was too late.
Anyway I LOOOOOve Chez Larsson, it helps me keep on track. May be one day I will own a beautiful house in Swedeen, Norway, Denmark.. where you have snow, where you live greener that anywhereelse, where you respect nature....

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Pain de Mie

What is pain de mie. This is the perfect bread for buttered toasts and sandwiches. When you see what the industrial food companies use to make Pain de mie you want to stay out of them.

So in my daily quest for a better world, greener, natural and organic I decided to make my own Pain de mie.

It was not that complicated. The texture was very soft and velvety. The smell in my kitchen was umbelievable for hours it was like to enter in a French Bakery.

Every morning I anticipate my breakfast served with Organic Columbian coffee from Trader Joes, Organic butter, my homemade Peache jam spread on a delicious natural Pain de mie.
Here is the recipe!

1 2/3 cups Organic whole
6 tablespoons organic butter ( at room temperature)
2 teaspoons
salt (sea salt if available)
1 tablespoon
2 teaspoons instant yeast
4 3/4 cups Organic
unbleached white flour

I used rectangle bread/cake pan and for the lid I used Cookie sheet
Combine milk, yeast and 1 1/2 cups flour.
Beat and let proof 1 hour.
De gas and add butter, salt, sugar, 2 cups flour.
Work in bowl until dough forms a ball.
Knead adding white flour as necessary until dough is smooth and a bit moist.
Let dough rise in buttered bowl 1-1 1/2 hours .
De gas.
Let rest 10 min.
Shape dough to fit a Pain de Mie pan with lid, or use a large bread pan.
Cover and let rise to 1/2 inch from top of pan, approx 30-45 min.
Cover with lid, or cover a bread pan with waxed paper and put a weighted cookie sheet on the pan.
Let stand 10 min.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Preserving food: My Pantry will look so lovely

I used to watch my mother doing all her jars of fruits and vegetables. Everything was from our own Organic Garden or from the nearest forest ( blackberries).
This year since my neighbor's Peach Tree is pouring over our fence, and we harverst all kind of tomatoes, onions, basil, green beans... I decided to try it!

So far I made Cherry Tomatoes preserved in olive oil with fresh Thyme, basil, garlic.
Tomatoe sauce with onions, basil and thyme. Chery tomatoes preserved. Peaches in syrop. Peaches jam. Strawberries jam and Red Currant-rasberries jam.
More to come! I got some Fresh Figs: Fresh fig tart or Figs jam? or nothing at all if I decide to eat them right from their boxes!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Strawberry Sherbet comme Chez Panisse

Here in So-Cal ( Southern California) we are experiencing a very humid summer. The best remedy? Sherbets and ice-creams. After trying at Chez Panisse Delicious Strawberry Sherbet I decided to give it a try!
What a delicious, light, refreshing dessert... I swear this is the natural color no-Artificial color 100% pure and made with love!

Strawberry Sherbet

4 cups Fresh Strawberries
¾ cup water
¾ sugar
few drops of lemon juice

Rinse, dry and hull the strawberries. Puree them with water and sugar. Taste and adjust the flavor with a few drops of lemon. Freeze according to the instructions for your ice maker

Saturday, August 9, 2008


A few months ago I bought from my local bookstore « Alice Waters and Chez Panisse » the romantic, impractical, often, ultimately brilliant making of food revolution. By Thomas Mcnamee.
Being a French, I was not aware of who she is and what she has accomplished for more than three decades. I was intrigued by the name of this restaurant ( So French), related in some articles or other Food bloggs. But that was it.
This book was a revelation about Alice’s story and the food revolution she made in the USA.
I myself, is trying to educate people how to eat well and healthy through Cooking Classes, and as a Personal Chef. So her words were wonderful to me because, living in Southern California where people are spending a lot of time in their car, working long hours, taking care of their family and children is tough on everyone. No time for cooking. Mothers around me do not like to cook and buy whatever their kids ask when going to the Grocery shop, they end up with a cart full of junk food, sodas, cookies, frozen food, ready-food or they stop by at any fast food or worst the fake “ home cooked” meal from Super Supper, Dream diners and other impostures.
This book is wonderful and every family should have it in its private library.
Anywhere it was with great expectation that I had Lunch at Chez Panisse Café last Saturday. Our dear friend was running the San Francisco Marathon, and I wanted to offer him, his daughter and his wife something special. They have been wonderful friends and helped us a million of times. My husband and my kids were there also.
I called Chez Panisse Café on July 2 around 10 am to make the reservation ( you need to make your reservation 1 month in advance)
Last Saturday was a perfect day to drive over Bridge toward Berkeley. The weather was sunny and fantastic, around 80’s which is wonderful for San Francisco area.
I wore a lovely French Beige” robe chemisier” bought in Paris and my Basque espadrille shoes from Saint Jean de Luz. It was like having a date! Even my husband was teasing me :“ You are not going to sleep the entire week before your lunch at Chez Panisse”.
Anywhere, we were driving in Berkeley and I was surprised to see such a lovely community, cute little cafes and bistros, restaurants, people having picnic in the alley located in the middle of the street. People looked radiant and happy. I was wondering if it was from Alice’s magic. She is a wizard.
We were running a little late, the reservation was made for noon for seven people, so I decided to jump out of the car and go straight to Chez Panisse while my husband was looking for a car spot. And there I was in front of Chez Panisse, my heart beating a little faster than usual. I was almost running up to the stairs to join the Café upstairs. Few people were awaiting to be seated. I was waiting for my turn patiently already spotted our long table ready by the entrance. On the right far from the entrance there was a little terrace covered with wines and in front of the entrance the bar, and on the left more tables and the open Kitchen! The floor was wooden, the tone was brown, a little dark but soft. Then my turn arrived and a friendly lady showed me the table and handed me the menu du jour! I was reading fast.. so many options and choices… I was glad I was the only one of my party… alone in this almost sacred place. Then everybody joined me. As I mentioned on the phone when I reserved the table we were having two young kids with us. Two leather boosters were ready for them. The table was simple with white tablecloth. Because of the wooden floor the restaurant was never noisy and people were not talking loudly as you can see in other restaurants. You have the feeling that customers appreciate to be there, and respect the place. A bunch of people tried to get a table for lunch without reservations but of course this is not possible.
They cancellation policy is tough but fair, if you do not show up they charge $ 25 per person.
Then everybody started to look at the menu. I could not see really anything for my kids so when our server showed up I ask for a suggestion. He proposed a simple tomato-mozzarella pizza, when I ask if they could add some Goat cheese on it because my daughter loves it he said: “ you can order the Goat cheese salad”, I was thinking yes but this is an extra $ 10 my daughter love only goat cheese not garden lettuces.. yet.
Anyway, I ordered a large pizza for the 3 kids and a Goat Cheese salad for my daughter.
The pizza was served with an extra thin crust, it was a beautiful pizza I could taste some of it and yes it as delicious.
Back on my menu, it was hard to make up my mind I wanted to try everything.
For my lunch I chose first : Roasted pepper and romano bean salad with almonds an ricotta salata for $ 9.50.When the salad arrived it was colorful, with green, white, red. I looked a moment at my plate trying to see all the ingredients and the perfect presentation. Then I taste it. It was so pure, so simple so delicious. The pepper was perfectly roasted with full of flavor and sweet, the whole almonds gave a nice crunchy, the beans were perfectly cooked and the Ricotta salata was very thin and salty. The dressing was light with olive oil, salt and pepper and herbs. D-E-L-C-I-O-US and refreshing.

Then I opted for the California white sea bass with green beans, eggplants, yogurt and mint at $ 22.The plate arrived, simple with every ingredients placed in one specific order. The fish was very light, white, pure and soft in your mouth, the eggplant, the yogurt with mint was a such surprise and it was so good with the fish. This is something I will serve for sure with my next fish. The quantity was perfect, but I was almost full. I was eating very slowly every spoon. I was in heaven. It was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

Then the dessert. I could not decide between the farm peach and berry cobbler with king pluot ice cream, or the bittersweet chocolate pave with caramel cream, or the farms strawberry sherbet, ella bella Farm strawberries and langues de chat, Crème fraich ice cream with blackberries, raspberries and ossi dei morti…Everyone opted for the Strawberry sherbet, even the kids, but my husband and myself went for the Crème Fraiche Ice Cream at $ 8.75The texture was creamy not too sweet. The ice creams balls were surrounded by Blackberries. Raspberries marmalade and an “S” shape almond cookie was along the plate. I liked the taste of it but it was too dry. I tasted the strawberry Sherbet it was very refreshing almost like eating fresh fruit, it was really delicious the color was gorgeous.
It was a F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S way to end up our feast.

For the wine I had a Bandol Rose Domaine Tempier 2007 a little pricey but really worth it, full of flavor and light at the same time $ 16.23 the glass.

We had some espresso to end up the meal.

During the entire meal I could not stop looking at the lovely water carafe engraved “ chez Panisse” it was too lovely. I regret I did not ask if I could buy one I should have.

The only thing I did not like is that our Server was a little snob and not very nice, I was expecting a more warming service. I guess it was just professional, and everyone working at Chez Panisse looked the same.

I was not the only one to prize my lunch my friends and also my husband loved everything and every moment of it …

Overall it was an amazing lunch, with amazing friends, in a amazing place. A moment I will cherish for long time.