March 18, 2014
2/3 CUP SUGAR
2 TABLESPOONS SESAME SEEDS
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a non-stick pan liner. Set aside.
Slice cold bacon crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces. In a cast iron or heavy skillet, cook bacon until almost done. Remove from pan, draining all but 2 tablespoons of the fat. Add sugar, sesame seeds and drained bacon. With a heat proof spatula, stir continuously. Sugar will melt. Continue stirring until it is a rich chocolate color and you see a small wisp of smoke. Immediately and quickly pour onto prepared pan. Spread around as thin as possible. Let cool. Blot to remove any extra bacon fat. Break and store in a tin.
NOTE: Have everything ready before beginning the recipe....it goes fast and there is a very limited window of opportunity for spreading the hot brittle.
January 3, 2014
Or 'boutargue' in the ancient Provençal language. La poutargue is the caviar of Provence and is the roe, or eggs, of the gray mullet (mulet cabon). The egg sacs are removed, being careful not to pierce the thin membrane covering them.
They will now keep for at least a year refrigerated.......BUT, they never last that long with me around.
So what to do with it?!
Spaghetti and Poutargue
A spoonful of grated poutargue on a slice of baguette with a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.
November 19, 2013
1 1/4 CUPS FRESH LEMON JUICE
2 TBS. DIJON MUSTARD
1/4 CUP RAW BLANCHED ALMOND BUTTER*(see note)
|The base stores in the freezer. I vary the size of the jars.|
1 TBS. SALT
FRESHLY GROUND WHITE PEPPER
Combine these ingredients and whisk to make an emulsion.
*The fact that the almonds are blanched i.e. no skin, makes a difference. The almond butter should be almost white. In fact, they call it Naked Almond Butter. I order it online here. Xavier also uses this same almond butter, instead of cream, for thickening savory dishes.
*For the oil, we use a combo usually.....sunflower seed oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil....Lately I have not used the grapeseed here in the USA as it is expensive and seems to have an almost rancid taste.
2 CUPS ONION, SMALL DICE
Place diced onions in a jar (yes, another jar). Pour base on just to cover and let stand for several hours before using to make vinaigrette. Stores for 2 weeks refrigerated
To make the finished vinaigrette, it depends on what he wants (his words, not mine....this is like hitting a moving target). SO...ideally, you don't make up a batch ahead of time but rather mix it up in the bottom of the salad bowl that you are using. For salad greens for 8-10 people, begin with about 1/4 cup base, add 3-4 TBS marinated onions, a splash of good red wine vinegar (see note below) and minced parsley. Taste for acidity and seasoning and add more salt and pepper, or vinegar, or olive oil if needed.
Other things you could add: minced garlic or chives or basil or pecans.....I have seen him add a diced hard boiled egg. Possibilities are endless. And you can also use the base just as it is. Once you start using it, you'll get the hang of it.
Other uses for the marinated onions:
- Shred purple cabbage into a flat casserole. Spoon marinated onions over the top...just here and there...don't cover completed...add some chopped parsley and gently stir around to evenly distribute onions. Bake in a 325 oven until cabbage is just tender....long and slow ...45 minutes or so.
- Shred 1 raw apple and 2 raw beets.....add marinated onions, a chopped hard-boiled egg, stir. Serve room temp
- Xavier and MJ's stand-up 'no supper'.....a slice of baguette, a bit of your favorite cheese topped with marinated onions, maybe even a little piece of butter for overkill.......a glass of red wine.
A note about RED WINE VINEGAR:
I purchased my 5 liter barrel and 'mother' online here. I love using it. I love sharing it. If you want to try it, give me a call or email me.
Don't want to go to this extent? Then buy the best organic vinegar you can find, preferably one that you can see a bit of mother floating around.
FINALLY....this has to be more than you ever wanted to know about Xavier's Vinaigrette.....let us hear how you are using it.
This was a big hit with our Provence groups this 2013 season. Go to the blog here for a better view.
I am giving you the recipe pretty much as it is inYotam Ottolenghi's book "Plenty", but, of course, I have added some of my usual tips, hints, and observations.
About the garlic:
- the caramelized garlic keeps at least 10 days or so when sealed in a small jar (love my jars)
- or caramelized garlic can be done ahead and frozen, great to have on hand
- caramelized garlic is just sweet and unctuous, don't be afraid of the amount
About bought puff pastry:
- Pepperidge Farm works. It is less expensive than Dufour and double the amount. Dufour is great but not necessary for this
- In France , the Hyper U Bio feuilleté is perfect....Xavier has a stroke when I don't make my own. #justnotnecessaryforthis.
- Works best when thawed slowly overnight in refrigerator
- Pastry can be blind baked ahead, covered and refrigerated until filled
You will see my changes in parentheses.....More balsamic because I love the flavor....savory instead of thyme because I think thyme overwhelms and savory is a close, milder cousin.....I buy the 2-pack of Montrachet at Costco (for my French friends, I buy fresh goat cheese at Hyper U)......I find hard goat cheese at EarthFare but, if not, just use Comte (yes, I know that is cow milk). In France, I use a goat tomme
This looks like alot of explanation.....once you have made it the first time, you will get the picture and find it soooooo easy....otherwise I would not have been making this every week for the past 6 months!
Bake in preheated 325 oven for 35-40 minutes or until set and golden.
Serves 8 as first course.
P.S. Did you notice the squash blossom in the center of this tart.....Didn't really add any flavor but love the look....If you want to make Squash Blossom Beignets next summer, go here.
November 11, 2013
Some step by step photos....
July 24, 2013
Xavier and I stopped in Yssingeaux briefly...had to see it again
then on to
Not only is Le Puy known for being a stopover on the The Way of Saint James to Compostele (Chemin de Saint-Jacques de Compostelle), it is also well known for handmade lace and lentils.
I thought I was there.....
Le Puy Lentils
June 8, 2013
Why ENGLISH MUFFINS in the South of France??
And since I am here in Provence, I decided to use the flour of grand épeautre, a grain grown in Provence since the 5th century BC. And, yes, the flavor paid off big time. Epeautre is spelt in English and there is alot of misinformation about it. So, from about.com, we get this explanation "While not appropriate for individuals suffering from celiac disease, it is much lower in gluten than wheat and thus can be tolerated by many with minor wheat allergies. Its' taste is often described as nutty and sweet."
November 29, 2012
Day 1: Make the cake.
Day 2: Finish the cake.
2 OUNCES UNSWEETENED CHOCOLATE
1 OUNCE SEMI-SWEET CHOCOLATE
1/3 CUP SUGAR
1/4 CUP WATER
3 EGG YOLKS
1 CUP UNSALTED BUTTER, ROOM TEMPERATURE
Melt the chocolate. Set aside to cool. In a small saucepan, combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes over medium heat.
Using an electric mixer, beat egg yolks briefly and then with machine running at medium speed, slowly add the hot sugar syrup. Increase speed to high and continue beating for 5 minutes or so until mixture is thick and pale yellow. Decrease speed to medium/low and add the softened butter, one small piece at a time, until buttercream is smooth. Add room temperature melted chocolate and beat until smooth.
Chantilly Cream for filling:
1 CUP HEAVY WHIPPING CREAM, very cold
2 TBS. SUGAR
1 PACKET Dr. Oetker's WHIP IT (baking section of grocery store)
1-2 TBS. GRAND MARNIER or KAHLUA or 1 1/2 TSP. VANILLA (You choose your flavor!)
Whip the cream with the sugar, Whip It, and your choice of flavoring until firm.
Trimming the cake: Trim each end about one inch to make even. Then, cut one end on the diagonal about 4" in from the end of the cake. This will be your 'branch' to place on top of the log. Cut the other end straight. Place branch (the diagonal cut will be against the log) on top of rolled cake.
Spread with chocolate buttercream covering the branch joint. Spread buttercream over remaining cake. If desired, you can ice the ends or leave them showing as the 'rings of the log'. Pull the tines of a fork along the log to emulate bark. Refrigerate uncovered until icing is set, then cover gently with plastic wrap.
Presentation: Place on serving platter and garnish with Meringue Mushrooms (see the following post) and fresh greenery.
Photography credits: Completed buche: Sam Froelich, Froelich Photography. 'How To' photos by Mary James.
2 TSP. OLIVE OIL
1 TSP. SUGAR
3/4 TEASPOON SALT
1 TBS. OLIVE OIL
8 OZ. WHITE MUSHROOMS, QUARTERED
8 OZ. CREMINI or BABY BELLA MUSHROOMS, QUARTERED
3-4 TBS. RED WINE
SALT & GROUND BLACK PEPPER
In a small wide-bottomed saucepan, cover onions completely with water. Add olive oil, sugar and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until onions are tender and water has evaporated. If water evaporates before onions are tender, add a bit more water. Once water has evaporated, continue cooking until onions are well browned and glazed.
In a separate skillet, heat olive oil and add mushrooms. Saute until golden. Deglaze with red wine and cook until wine is evaporated. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add onions, toss, and serve.
Foolproof and Versatile
Who doesn't like a big ole fluffy, crispy sugary meringue? You can do whatever you want with these. Drop with a spoon into blobs on a cookie sheet......pipe into elegant swans....or make mushrooms for a Buche de Noel cake....a Christmas Yule Log.
The French secret for this recipe is the powdered sugar and the method for making them. No graininess or stickiness ... they are resistant to humidity ... they store beautifully in tightly closed tins. You can even make them on a rainy day.
4 EGG WHITES, room temperature
PINCH OF SALT
2 TABLESPOONS plus 1/2 CUP GRANULATED SUGAR
3/4 CUP POWDERED SUGAR
Preheat the oven to 200F degrees. Place the egg whites in a large mixing bowl with a pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar. With an electric mixer, start at medium speed and beat for 2-3 minutes or until meringues are stiff. Increase the speed to high and add 1 tablespoon more sugar. When the egg whites are very stiff, add the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar and beat for 30 seconds longer. By hand, gently fold the powdered sugar into the egg whites.
Using a pastry bag fitted with the #6 closed plain tip, pipe the meringues onto parchment-lined (or grease and heavily floured) baking sheets. Or if shape does not matter, drop with a spoon. Place in preheated oven and bake for 2-2 1/2 hours, being careful not to let them brown. Remove from oven and let cool. Store in airtight tins.
To make mushrooms: Pipe 2" rounds onto prepared sheet. Wet your fingertip and gently tap tops to make smooth. Pipe an equal number of stems (do extras for insurance) by pulling straight up on the bag. Don't smooth these. Once baked and cooled, assemble mushrooms by taking the tip of a paring knife and carving a small hole in the base of the rounds. Dot with melted chocolate chips and place stem. Set aside for chocolate to harden. Dust lightly with cocoa if desired.
OR for truly perfect mushrooms (and no stress!)
order these from
Lori's French Connection Bakery....
August 26, 2012
We choose La Gentilhommiere because menu is not too big, plus our favorite dishes are offered. For him, it is Tete de Veau, and for me, it is Ris de Veau.
Our local aperitif arrives...Grés Rosé..with puff pastry twists & olives. Simple, but a perfect start
Bottom line....I loved and thoroughly enjoyed this restaurant and was dying to go back. I tried all during the 2 weeks we were there...to no avail.
But, I have to snicker about it.....for once, he was the chef who ordered wrong.....but who knew.
July 29, 2012
From time to time, I want to feature some of my favorite villages of France. First up is TOURNUS, a village in Southern Burgundy just north of Lyon not far from Macon. Why this one, you say? Well, on our treks north to Lorraine and on to Belgium, this is always our first stop. It is one of the few locations off the auto route where there are gas stations at the exit. Plus fuel is 10-11 centimes cheaper per liter than at the auto route service areas. And as you will see, it is a beautiful place to take a break. Let's go.
Below: the cloister