Sunday, February 17, 2019

Blueberries and Almond Bundt Cake made by our daugther for my husband's birthday

We celebrated my husband's belated birthday yesterday evening. Following our family tradition, he got to pick his "Menu" and he opted for Empanadas. De Carne. Obviously.
We had not made empanadas for a while and since our daughter does not eat meat these days, I improvised a vegetarian version replacing the meat in the original recipe with spinach and ricotta and omitting the olives. That way, everybody was really happy about the main dish. However, the best part was our daughter's Bundt Cake with blueberries and almonds. She got the recipe from one her friends' and adapted the icing because she had never made a cream cheese-based icing before and did not want to try it on this cake.

For a few weeks now, she has been taking baking classes as an afterschool activity offered at their school on Fridays. She has been enjoying learning new tricks and recipes but, much to my husband's dismay, there is never enough leftovers from him to taste when he gets home. As a present for his birthday, she therefore offered him 4 weekends of baking whereby she would bake at least once during the weekend for him for 4 weeks. Useless to say that he was really excited but made sure that the Bundt Cake was not Week 1!
We'll update the blog with her recipes - and, if I have time and make something really fun and special, I'll post the recipes as well. It's not that I have not been cooking from scratch most nights these days, it's just that I have not made anything really different. That said, as I am looking for new ideas for the daily cooking, I'll find new recipes in the different cookbooks we have around the apartment. Bon Appétit.

Link to the original recipe is here:

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Our daughter's Lemon and Chocolate Chips Cake - Made in France

We are back! The year went by very fast... and yes, we did cook a lot, mostly vegerarian every night as our children decided to give up meat. But, as my husband would say, nothing really interesting, worth putting on this blog!! No comment!
Now that our children are in France for most of the Summer, our daugher is using her stay as an opportunity to bake, watch baking competition shows and eat pastries from top pastry chefs whenever she can! Below is her message and the recipe she used for her new lemon cake.

Hello eveyone! Today my mom is not making this cake, I juste arrived in France for the summer (yes, jetlaged), and have decided to put my hands in baking again. During the school year I don't really have the time, but as soon as go to France, I take my opportunities. Today, there was a soccer game, I am not a fan of soccer, but I do watch the World Cup and mostly when France plays. Today my grandfather asked me to bake, and I was up to do my first baking in France. I decided to make a lemon cake. This is one does not use butter and milk, because the oil replaces it. This is a very easy and simple cake to make everywhere with anyone. My mom had made a lemon poppyseed cake, very good too (but mine is better, still love you momūüėė) but my grandmother didn't have  poppy seeds , so I decided just to make it with lemon. Juste before putting the dough in the pan, I thought that the cake needed something else. I thought why not put small chocolat pieces, just enough that that there are some in each piece of cake. I then after the cake was baked I added a lemon icing to give it even more taste!! Bon appetit

Ingredients (for 8 people)

  • 94 g flour
  • 170 g sugar
  • 10 g baking powder 
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 7.5 cl neutral oil (canola)
  • 1 lemon (zest + juice)
  • Shredded chocolate - to taste

  • Preheat oven to 360 F (180C)
  • Mix in the dry ingredients and add the beaten eggs and oil. Mix well.
  • Add the lemon zest
  • Add 1/2 of the lemon juice, including pulp and mix well until smooth. Add the chocolate shreds.
  • Butter your mold and pour the batter
  • Bake for about 25 minutes
  • For the icing, please see the Lavender Cake recipe here.


From my grand-father: you need to add a tablespoon of rhum in the batter
My comment: you don't have to put too much chocolate

Friday, July 14, 2017

Our Daughter's Cake à la lavande - Lavender Pound Cake

Hello and happy summer! For once, this recipe is not my mom's!  Since I am really into baking these days,  I figured out that, since I am in France (yes vacation! for 2 1/2 months - too much right?),  I should use this time to bake. The weather in Normandy (one of the places I'm staying over the summer) has been sunny and really hot ;  and then rain, rain, rain!
With my grand-parents, my brother and some of my cousins,  we went to a Gospel concert organized in the village's church. After the concert, we had a "collation" for the artists. We helped out to make something for them, and it had to be a dessert. Good for me, I was up for it! My grandmother told me I should make a chocolate cake, but I thought it was too ordinary. I thought that maybe I could make a lavender cake. Since there is fresh lavender (and no chemicals on them!) in my grandmother's garden (yes lavender in Normandy!), I did not have to purchase any. 
It was a success - they all loved it! So I even made it again for a "go√Ľter" (afternoon snack) and it got  eaten quickly! Hope you love it too! Bon App√©tit!
For one pound cake
  • 200g flour plus some of the mold
  • 8g baking powder
  • 2 ts organic lavender buds and some for decorating
  • 100g butter + some of the mold
  • 200g sugar
  • 3 egs
  • 125ml whole milk
For the lemon icing:
  • 150 g powder sugar
  • 10 g water (more or less depending on consistency). .
  • 1 organic lemon

  • Infuse lavender in milk (I generally do it while we eat or a few hours before baking the cake; the milk should really taste like lavender)
  • Preheat oven to 360 F
  • Soften butter in microwave oven - it has to be soft but not melted
  • Mix sugar and butter together until white and double in volume.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time
  • Mix the flour and baking powder and add them to the sugar mixture
  • Pour the milk (with lavender buds) and mix well with a spatula (my mom calls it the indispensable tool (outil indispensable) in a kitchens)ūüėė
  • Butter + flour the mold
  • Pour the mixture in it and bake 40 -45 min
  • Unmold the cake and let it cook on a rack 
  • While it cools down, prepare the icing

  • The icing has to be liquid enough to drip on the sides of the cake but solid enough to create an opaque layer.
  • In a pot, mix water and powdered sugar
  • Add a few drops of lemon and half of the lemon zest
  • Pour on the cake when the cake is cool and decorate with lavender sprigs

Personal Comments
  • You could use smaller individual molds - just adjust cooking time to 15 -20 min
  • Make sure to use organic lavender as you don't want to eat pesticides!
  • I use butter + flour even on a silicon mold
  • The cake tastes better cold but you could eat it warm as well

Tuesday, June 6, 2017


It's Summer again! Well, technically,  we are still a few weeks away from Summer but as I have come to realize "Summer time" is a very cultural theme.  For French people, l'√©t√© really means July and August - the time of year when everyone gets some time off. June is when everyone starts to think about their Summer vacations ; this is why I really like going to France in June. Days are really long, Parisians are starting to slow down, eating outside ,and easing into their Summer days....
In the U.S., Summer officially starts at the end of May with Memorial Day weekend and finishes early September with Labor Day. This is when plane tickets prices soar; this is when everyone starts barbecuing or, if in Philadelphia, talking about their weekend at the Jersey Shore....

So, it's Summer again in the U.S. and time to entertain outside. Since we only live in a two-bedroom apartment in Philadelphia, we can not entertain a lot during the cold months of Fall/Winter/early Spring.We are fortunate, though, to have a large roof top in our apartment building, which we use as an extra room everytime it's hot enough to sit outside.  This varies a lot -  we experienced a very hot Winter, which made it possible to eat outside in February! Most generally, we really start opening up the terrasse at the end of April. This spare open space with full view of the Benjamin Bridge enables us to host a few parties during the warm days of Summer in Philadelphia...

Since apéritif is one of my favorite meals, we tend to organize large "apéros" on our roof top. This makes it easy to organize and host: no back-and-forth with the kitchen downstairs : the food is already out. Everybody can help themselves with what they like (or want to try).... It's just a nice way to chill out and enjoy the company of friends.

Among all the things we make are the usual suspects : Guacamole, Hummus, white beans and fennel dip, salsa and chips, nuts, cake aux olives et au jambon, charcuterie and cheese, etc.  This year, I made a few variations of pissaladi√®res. Pissaladi√®res are from the South of France and traditionally involve caramelized onions, black olives, anchovies on bread dough. Since I know few people  who like anchovies, I tend not to make them with anchovies, especially when a lot of children are coming over. This year, I had extra feta cheese so I added feta instead of anchovies since we were having more than 12 kids over with their parents. I don't bother making my own dough anymore (my sourdough starter died a while ago) so I just purchase pizza dough at the local supermarket.
Really easy to make - and as usual, something you can improvise around to adapt to the palate of your guests. It's also very easy to bring Pissaladi√®res to a Summer pique-nique or your next BBQ since it's officially in season!
Bon Appétit!


  • A ball of pizza dough
  • Onions (more than you think you need - I use 3 large ones for one Pissaladi√®re)
  • Herbes de Provence
  • Anchovies, black olives, feta cheese

  • Pre-heat oven to 400F
  • Lay out the dogue in a square pan
  • Cook the onions in olive oil until translucide but not caramelized (although you could caramelize them)
  • Add herbes de Provence, salt, pepper to taste
  • Lay the onions on the dough
  • Add Anchovies/black olives, etc.
  • Bake in the oven for 25 minutes

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Crottins de Chavignol Chauds en Salade - Hot Baked Goat Cheese with Greens

One of our daughter's favorite dishes is hot baked Crottins de Chavignol served on a piece of toast along a plain salade verte. Crottins are small round-shape goat hard cheese. The most famous ones come from Chavignol - a small village near Sancerre in the Loire Valley. 
France (and Europe) being very strict as to protecting regional products and savoir-faire,  the crottins can only be called Crottins de Chavignol is they are actually coming from the Chavignol area.  They are protected by what we call an Appellation d'origine contr√īl√©e (AOC) which is a French certification granted to certain French geographical indications for winescheesesbutters, and other agricultural products that come from certain terroirsOther areas in France produce crottins  de ch√®vre - they are just not labeled "de  Chavignol". 
We grew up eating crottins de ch√®vre chauds either as an appetizer or a lunch/dinner entree  They are an easy-to-choose-easy-to-make affordable dish that pleases most cheese lovers. For those of you who have traveled to France, they are generally on many casual restaurants, served on a slice of toasted Pain Poil√Ęne (or any other pain de campagne if pain Poil√Ęne is not available.)
Unfortunately, this is one of the dishes I hardly make in the US. Much to my family's regret. Reason? Price of the crottins. In France, you could purchase crottins de ch√®vre for less than 1 euro each (2 euros if you want them organic or de Chavignol), while in the US, I find them at at least $5/piece for locally-made cheese. What is an affordable entree in France become luxury across the Atlantic! 
We therefore serve them on special occasions only (or when they go on sale, which is to say... rarely.) 
As a result, whenever we go to France, our daughter makes sure to eat a lot of them, always volunteering to help prepare them whenever she can! I think that if we were not living in an apartment building in the center of Philadelphia, she would try to get a goat to make her own crottins! If you have access to crottins where you live, please try to make this salad. You would not be disappointed! Bon App√©tit!

- 1 (or half) a crottin per person
- 1 (or half) of wholewheat bread
- Olive oil
- Salt & pepper
- Thyme/Rosemary (optional)

  • Put the crottin on a slice of bread with rosemary/thyme on top
  • Pour some olive oil on the crottin and the bread
  • Bake in the oven under the High Grill for 5 minutes (or more depending on the power of your oven; you want the crottins to start melting but the bread should not be burnt)

Friday, August 5, 2016

Tarte au thon de l'été

Don't ask me what I did these past few months.... I did cook a lot but never managed to bring it to this blog. My apologies! Fortunately, Summer being in full swing, we all have a little bit more time to cook and experiment.
My nephew from Marseille came to spend the month of July with us in Philadephia to attend a ballet camp. Since our children were in France for their Summer-long vacances and that my husband joined them, C. and I ended up spending most of July together. Apparently, he was worried that spending time with his gluten-free vegan aunt, he was going to eat "des graines" everyday! My worry was that because of him spending time in the US, he would fall victim to the double-frappuccinos, supersized French fries and other double-cheeseburgers!!! At the end, it was a balance of easy-to-eat French and US food. We had vegan and beef hamburgers, blue corn tortilla chips (a lot!) and haricots verts (beaucoup), salade verte and Sweet Potatoes Fries....
One evening, C. suggested to make this Tarte au thon that my sister-in-law and many of my friends cook in France this time of year. We used the Marmiton recipe (for those of you who want the French version) and C. found it very tasty. I will definitively make it again for our family when they are all back from France. Until then, I would encourage you to try it! Served with a salade verte, it makes the easiest Summer dinner.
Bon Appétit!

 - 1 pie dough (in France, people tend to use the puff pastry one; since I don't always have some handy, I generally make a p√Ęte bris√©e)
- 2 cans of tuna (in water, no salt added)
- 2 small tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 eggs
- 20 cl light cream
- 3 tablespoons milk
- Add salt and pepper to taste
- Swiss cheese (optional)

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400F
  • Lay the dough in a deep pie dish.
  • Spread the mustard
  • Spread the tuna
  • Slice the tomatoes and lay on top of the tuna
  • In a bowl, beat the eggs and add the creme fraiche and milk
  • Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Pour the batter onto the tomatoes and tuna
  • Add the cheese if using some
  • Cook in the oven for 40 minutes

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Tarte aux Mendiants & New Year Resolutions

Bonne Ann√©e! (I know, I know,  I am late.... but you see, in France, it is acceptable to wish people une Bonne Ann√©e!  until the end of January.... so I still within a reasonable timeframe!)

New Year is synonymous with resolutions... but there is nothing more difficult that trying to stick with them! Working for Wharton, I have come to reallly enjoy the research behind how people make  decisions (fascinating or depressing depending on how you want to look at it!). I particularly like Katherine Milkman's advice for making decision around new resolutions (published last year in the New York Times but still relevant) which she calls "bundling": i.e. allowing yourself to watch trash TV (if that's what you like to do but feel that you are wasting your time when you watch it) only if you are on the treadmill (which is what your resolution is all about.) (I know that January is the month when gym have the highest enrollment; I now wonder whether this is when Netflix has the hightest demand for "chick movies"...)

So no - I generally don't make resolutions... except that this year, I decided that I was going to get back to this blog more often than (argh!) once every six months! (I also have other things I would like to work on, but I'll write about them in other posts!)
What I decided is to cook a new dish every week-end.  Partly because I need to increase the pool of recipes I cook and partly because I like the challenge of learning new recipes...
Two weeks ago, I made Butter Chicken, which was a success among our family, which also means that I have to do it again to get a good picture to put on this blog... Last week, I made black-eye peas fritters - they were such a success that they disappeared before I could take a picture! While the Butter Chicken is a little time consuming and not that healthy (think cream and, well, yes, butter in no small quantity), the fritters are a piece-of-cake once you have soaked the peas....
As I try new dishes, I will try to engage our two children more as they have indicated that they wanted to cook with me more often. Perfect bundle: cook for our family while spending more time with them and learning new recipes! I might ask them to choose the recipe so that they end up cooking something they find (more) appealing!

As we were discussing this (and in a way, William was complaining noticing that menus don't change that much (read:I don't cook enough meat or dishes that simmer on the stove for hours)), our daugther asked him what he would cook if he had to cook everyday for a week (assuming that I had not prepared dishes in advance (as I always do when I travel); and he could not rely on frozen food nor take-out). His menu was something like: couscous, lasagnes, cassoulet, salade landaise, hachis Parmentier, choucroute, duck confit! Well, if it weren't for the lack of balance of this diet (our daughter did mention to him that the quantity of greens was really minimal!!), I would take him on the offer of cooking for a week or more just to be "off duty". That would be a great resolution on his part, n'est-ce-pas? I just don't know with what he could bundle it with because he is not the type of person who can do two things at the same time... Except that if he asks our children for help, he would end up spending time with them and that, as we all know, has no price!

Despite all this, I will have to credit him with making Spaghetti a la Carbonara last weekend (bacon, cream, grated cheese -  William's tastes, just there) but also with this impressing dessert he made for his cousins and uncle during our Christmas break in Canada. Note that this is one of the richest and sweetest desserts I have ever seen (William's tastes just there again!)  The type that makes most people sign up for a gym membership the very same night - and if they are bundling, would catch up with at least one full season of a TV serie on their first session!

As for my cooking resolution, a friend of mine just gave me a new cooking book with Asian recipes - so I now have plenty of recipes to try, hopefully with the children as sous-chefs! Be prepared!

The recipe for the Tarte aux Mendiants is from Cuisine et Vins de France and can be found here (in French).

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Petites merveilles de la nature

Following on my first post of the year around food waste (should be easy to find since I have not been able to post much in the first part of this year - work and family kept me really busy), I wanted to write about a campaign that a French supermarket chain, Intermarch√©,  launched to convince French consumers that ugly fruits and vegetables are not necessary bad to eat. To the contrary! The campaign was called "Les fruits et l√©gumes moches" - an English version can be found here. 

What first stroke me the first time I came to the US in 1994 was the fact that apples were so perfect and so shiny in US supermarkets. "Standardization" has been the key driver of the food industry over the last decades. It's easier to ship; it's easier to store and display... and consumers tend to associate "good-looking" with "good taste" - hereby contributing to increased waste either at the production site or at the distribution.

Thanks to the positive results of this campaign Intermarché started offering ugly veggies and fruits in all its supermarkets ;other chains have jumped on the bandwagon, including in the UK and Canada.
While I don't know any US supermarket chain implementing such a campaign these days, I know that for us who are lucky to have access to farmers' markets for a few weeks every year, this is a place where ugly fruits & veggies are king! At the Reading Terminal in Philadelphia, one of the local cooperative was selling not only not-so-great looking produces but also had a box for older, slighly bruised apples at 50% off. These apples were just as tasty and wonderful for apple sauce! With an open mind and little bit of imagination, we should be able to use all these ugly fruits and vegetables....

Above is an example of a potato I received in our CSA box a few weeks ago and a carrott my brother-in-law purchased near Paris this past Winter. Petites merveilles de la nature... Délicieuses petites merveilles de la nature!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Poulet a l'estragon - Tarragon Chicken

It's Summer again and with it come all the herbs to spice up dishes! We grow a few on our rooftop - we gave up on cilantro and parsley because we eat so much of them that it's not "space-efficient". To much of my regret, we don't grow chervil either because it's too fragile. We therefore tend to have thyme, oregano, sage, basil, rosemary, chives, tarragon as well as mint. This year our tarragon is really enjoying the warm and damp weather - trying to move in with the oregano in the next pot!

My paternal grand-parents had a huge (OK, maybe not HUGE but it did look very big to me at the time) tarragon bush in  their garden in Burgundy. There was more tarragon in this garden that we could all eat and somehow, despite long cold Winters, it always came back for us in the Summer.
We would use tarragon to flavor the sauce vinaigrette (made with Dijon mustard, √©videmment!) in our salades but as well as with cooked dishes. 
At home these days, I use it in pretty much every salad I make or in some hummus or other dips that we eat for ap√©ritif or just with the rest of the meal. I recently made this Poulet a l'estragon and would encourage you to make it if you don't know how to use the tarragon you bought the other day or that your neighbor gave you! 
There are different versions of this dish - you could omit the cr√®me fraiche is you wanted to keep it on the lighter side or if you are serving it with green beans or other vegetables that do not call for a sauce (as opposed to rice or potatoes which is what most French people would eat it with.) Some people add tomato paste in the sauce - nothing that I remember from cooking it with my grand-mother but why not...  I will leave it it up to you do improvise... Bon App√©tit!

- Chicken (here again, you can decide if you want to use a whole chicken cut in 1/8 or if you'd rather use only chicken breasts)
- White wine (1/2 cup or 125ml)
- Chicken stock or water (1 cup/250ml)
- Shallots (minced) - I like them a lot so I use at least 4 or 5 depending on size
- Tarragon (at least 3 sprigs and 2 Tbs chopped tarragon as well)
- Creme fraiche (optional)
- Olive oil, salt and pepper 
- Salt & Pepper

  • In a pan, warm olive oil and brown the chicken to your liking. Set aside and r√©serve
  • In the same pan, saute the shallots in olive oil until they are golden.
  • Add the white wine and deglace the pan. Simmer until white wine redues
  • Add chicken stock (or water)
  • Add tarragon sprigs
  • Add the chicken back and simmer until the chicken is fully cooked (you can use a lid to ensure the sauce does not all evaporate)
  • Take the chicken out and place it in the oven to keep it warm
  • Add the cr√®me fraiche in the pan over high heat and fresh chopped taragon - stir and bring to a boil. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  • Pour over chicken and serve.

  • Sunday, March 8, 2015

    Cake Amandine aux Framboises - Almond and Rasberries Cake

    For the first time today, Spring seems to be coming to Philadelphia! All the more surprising that we got about 5 inches of snow last  Thursday! Patches of snow still remain in the city... but hopefully not for too long...  I get tired of snow in the city! It's nice for about 2 hours after the snow storm and then it starts to get dirty, mushy and sometimes really icy! Worst for all of us who walk in the city, the snow is pushed to the corners of streets so you can not cross the street on foot without getting your shoes wet!!
    My husband always makes fun of me because I put on my snow boots (or sneakers when it's dry enough) to get to work in the morning, something hardly anyone would do in Paris. I carry my dress shoes and  jacket in my backpack (another no-no in Paris) but I figured that if I am going to walk close to 10km (6 miles) every day, I'd rather be comfortable than stylish - at least for the communiting part of my day. It's also cheaper (my dress shoes last longer; I don't have to worry about orthopedic surgery!) and healthier (I used to log in close to 15,000 - 17,000 steps per day before I lost my Fitbit).
    I have been trying to have him walk more with limited success  - he likes the bus better except when there is about 5 feet of snow in the city and then he enjoys the peacefulness that comes with it and then he walks home! He might be the only one wishing for another snow storm in Philly in the coming days!!

    To celebrate Spring, I was thinking of making that Cake aux Framboises. I have made a few times in the past and it's always something our family enjoys.
    I know, I know, raspeberries are not in season in Pennsylvania yet... but it's a nice treat to celebrate the start of what I hope is going to be a season of wonderful fruits & veggies!
    Bon Appetit!

    - 3 eggs
    - 150g of brown cane suggéra
    - 150g corn flour
    - 80 g corn starch
    - 5g baking powder
    - 80g almond meal
    - 1 tbs vanilla extrait
    - 2 tbs milk
    - 150 g soft butter
    - 200g frozen raspberries
    - Fresh raspberries for decoration

    • Preheat oven to 360F (180C)
    • Butter a rectangular mold
    • In a bowl, cream the sugar and the eggs 
    • Add the corn meal, corn starch, baking powder and almond meal.
    • Add the Vanilla extrait, milk and butter and mix until you get a smooth batter.
    • Pour half of the batter in the mold. 
    • Make one layer with the raspberries
    • Pour the rest of the batter
    • Bake in the oven for 50 mins
    • Unmold - Eat cold with fresh raspberries.