Friday, April 17, 2015

Olive Bread Twists~















I loved every marché in France that had olives to "sell"..and every landscape in Italy that had olive trees or groves..
Plus particulièment..I love olives..and bread..
So when I saw this post..I knew I had to make them..
I am so glad I did..

the only thing I will do differently next time?
Add  more olives..and salt~

The bread is lovely with Jacques' latest molasses dry cured pork thinly sliced♥

That bread whisk? Works so well for mixing the no knead bread recipes.

Soft cheese goes particularly well with these small baguettes..

I made 8 instead of 10.

One evening I made Ricardo's shrimp w/ garlic and sesame seeds served on a lovely rice..

There were a lot of appointments..here and there..so quick fish was on the menu..one night rotisserie chicken and vegetables..Rapini penne pasta..   



When I see that tree..in the last photo..I see a day trip that was nothing short of spiritual..and overwhelmingly beautiful.


While there.. (too short our time there..too short..)..I told Jacques I could live there..
It was sooo quiet..sooo serene..I knew even back then..that is what I love.


Bon Weekend~










Monday, April 13, 2015

Choux~ Choux Pastry~










Minis..I have a folder on Pinterest of Minis.. so nice to see small once in a while especially for desserts..
I have made these in the past..some with success..some without.
We were watching Curieux Bégin one night,,and Lesley Chesterman was a guest.
I knew who she was..  and knew what she did..but I had never seen her nor ever heard her speak.
I instantly liked her.
Down to earth,natural,smart,genuine.
She is a also a pastry chef apart form being a writer,food critic.. columnist..etc..
She made choux pastry on the show..just a small segment of the show..and I just loved how she explained everything.
So I set out to do it her way.
I had never seen anyone explain it so well:)
So I made some..and they rose and puffed and became golden and light.
This was definitely a make again for me...and I did.
You can fill them with all kinds of things..from whipped cream that you have flavored..or not..  a pastry cream.. a coffee cream..the last ones I made..Saturday..had espresso whipped cream in them.
What prompted me to have a real coup de coeur..was her sifting of icing sugar on top.
Fill them with ice cream and add a glaze..
or make a mountain out of them and make a croquembouche.
If you have never made any..this is fun to try..to make and to serve~

The finished little choux are way  too pretty not to make.

Again..both times I made 1/ 2 of the recipe..you can find the recipe in it's entirety here.

I'll jot down the half that I did..and a brief explanation of how I made them..


La Recette


1/4 C milk
1/4 C water
1/4 tsp salt..(I used salted butter so nosalt for me)
1/2 tsp granulated sugar
50 grams of butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 eggs beaten together 1 egg beaten apart   (full recipe is 5 together 1 apart)

Place first 5 ingredients in a pot on stove..bring to a boil,remove from heat and dump in the flour all at once..stir with wooden spoon until it forms a mass.. and does not stick to the sides or bottom of the pot,,put the mixture back on the stove and stir w/ wooden spoon about 2 minutes.

I then removed the pot from the stove..added 2 beaten eggs and beat w/ a hand mixer..1 egg at a time and make sure they are perfectly incorporated..it will be a smooth smooth mixture..lump free.. add more egg until the mixture kind of has a sheen..gloss to it..
I needed to add half of the extra beaten egg..and it was perfect.

I used my Silpat and piped the choux..  they like to be close together but not touching..they will expand and puff up so leave room.
You can flatten slightly w/ a fork..but I use the pastry brush as I am brushing all the tops with some of the leftover beaten egg.
Bake in a preheated 375 F oven for ap 35 minutes..don't peek by opening the stove..but keep and eye out..
The first time I did them like this..the second time..for fun..I took them out slit a steam vent and put them back in 5 minutes..

Place on cooling rack..and let cool before handling..they are as light as air:)

It made  about 18 choux for me.

Meanwhile 10 minutes before I was ready to pipe the cream filling I froze the beaters and the bowl for the cream..

Once cooled..slice in half and fill with cream..

I used this recipe..and again halved it

1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 tbsp of instant coffee (I used instant espresso)
1/4 tbsp boiling water
1/2 C icing sugar
vanilla to taste.

Place all the ingredients in your chilled bowl and beat until you get the consistency you want.
I like it firm enough to pipe prettily.

Sift w/ icing sugar

I fill mine shortly before serving..These I made in the afternoon around 2  ,filled and then refrigerated them ..
They were fine at 6.30 still.
I don't have whipped cream stabilizer but I read that you can even make them the night before if you have used stabilizer.
I read KAF has some.


The first time..I used plain whipped cream...the second time..the café one.
These are adorable..mini desserts..


I made Ricardo's bread again ..and forgot it!
I baked it maybe 20 hrs later..and it was just as good.

Perfect bread recipe..Crunchy crust..holey interior.♥

We had D. Lebovitz's Chicken Marsala  again..w/ modifications..and it was just as good again.
We watched the finale of Bloodline..

Saturday I went for a walk with 2 boys on bikes and one walking.. my daughter, and Ray their Chihuahua..
How those small dogs can walk so fast walking  against the cold wind of Saturday w/out a Kleenex in hand ..paw..is beyond me..
We met big dogs that should be ferocious..they were so sweet..while Ray tried to show them who was boss;)
They walked on indifferently.

Sunday Lucas rode over on his bigger bike..and I stepped out into the gardens..and hauled out the cushions for he porches.
The warm sun on my face..felt like a great gift.

My Easter tulips waned on Friday..they had lasted quite long though..
my daughters hyacinths..are still gorgeous here.



Soon we will be admiring our garden tulips..Not a second too soon I might add:)



Look at Pachysandra..I know I know..takes over..It's where I don't mind it to..but what resilience might I add!
The snow recedes.."like a hairline" ,my friend Nancy wrote..
and all this Pachysandra  survives ..year after year after year~

Friday, April 10, 2015

Comforting Pea Soup~






I love this soup..~
no better time to make it than Easter..when a hambone and ham is available.
I even used the spiraled ham and it is delicious.
There are so many recipes..
mine is now   a bit of this..a bit of that gleaned here and there.
It is still quite cold here..the weekend promises to be warmer..hopefully more snow will melt~
I was craving this Tuesday..after Easter..

Ma Recette~

1 1/2 cups of whole yellow peas..I place them in a large microwavable glass bowl.. More than cover with water.. to the top almost..Microwave on high for about 15 -20 minutes..let rest about 1/2 hr..and rinse. They should give a little..not be rock hard..and not mushy...because the cooking is done stovetop..so still with a bite.

2 carrots,2 stalks of celery,1 large onion,1 garlic clove.
I put all that in my food processor for a fine chop.

In a heavy pot..I use my large red Staub..
Sauté the finely chopped vegetables in a bit of Evoo and a tbsp of butter..
Add your ham bone that has  a generous amount of meat on it still..add 4 cups of chicken broth..2 cups of water..2 bay leaves.. salt and pepper..not too much salt..adjust that at the end..because your broth may be salty..and ham is salty.

Bring to a boil.. reduce heat..cover and simmer ap. 2 hrs.. check though..you don't want mush.. remove the bay leaves and hambone.. remove  ham that is left and chop and return to pot.. add ap 1 tsp of savory. .. or more to taste..I need savory in my pea soup..adjust seasonings..
What I do..is use a potato masher..and just give a couple of mashes..pea soup seems to go from fine to a block if it is too thick..I like to still have a pea soup consitency not a cream of soup..
You could also use your hand blender.. and give a buzz or two.
Serve..garnish with chopped parsley.
Love this..hope you will too.

I see my garlic tips poking through the ground that is still so cold..and I think..:"what a miracle!"..
so everything must be possible.

I planted them in fall..snow fell..we FROZE all winter..and as soon as the snow receded..these brave bright green stems forged  through♥

We are still so far from gardening..I have been playing  garden indoors.

It is easier for me to paint flat and not 3 dimensional.
I think I can only play flat and not loose.



I have 2 new pairs of garden boots.
My rubber boots had no hold..too weak..and I would often hurt the sole of my digging feet w/ them while pounding on the spade..
I bought sturdy ,weatherproof..very rubbery..floral Doc Marten like boots.With a heel and laces..;)
My boots were exactly the ones in my little Jardin above..

I cannot bear to wear my Hunters while in the mud for digging.
I also replaced my shoe like muckers.They were so used..
I wear boots more than shoes in life..
In order of preference..  Boots..  Flip Flops..Slippers..Sandals..  Shoes.

PS..Anyone watching Bloodline on Netflix? What a cast.
I know..I love Call The Midwife..this is the opposite.

Have a lovely weekend..hopefully most if not all of our snow will recede..

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter Sunday~















Lucas is the big boy now..
We see a big difference ..






Let's start with Easter Saturday~
It snowed during the night and into the morning..
That's what our backyard  and borrowed landscape looked liked through the window~

 Yeah.. so Saturday had a fresh new carpet of white snow..I love snow..just not in April~
Thankfully the sun shone all day..
So some of it melted..
And our kitchen was bright and cheery to finish some of the preparations..
I had made a Heritage cake..and frozen it..
I made some white chocolate Easter eggs and placed them on top..w/ some Cadbury eggs in the bottom part..
And placed some of my painted geese cookies around.. a slight drizzle of icing sugar mixed w/ almond extract first..and a sprinkling of fairy dust(icing sugar) after.
A few eggs here and there..I love those eggs♥

I made my wedding cake/all purpose great white basic cake..but made cupcakes because I had spoiled myself at Williams-Sonoma  and bought the last package of adorable Peter Rabbit cupcake kit.
WS is new to us..and far ..more than an hour..so I have been twice since it opened:(
I could be a regular.
I made a cream cheese buttercream icing..and it piped beautifully~
It just cuts the sweetness perfectly..andd not cream cheesy ..like my carrot cake cream cheese icing.

Linzers..  bunny faces:)  Some w/ the Laura Secord Nutella..others with raspberry preserves..
I didn't have hazelnuts so picked a new recipe.
This recipe w/out the hazelnuts ..doesn't comapre..I like the real linzers.

The baskets were packed and primped.. and a delicious quiche was baked.
Jacques cooked the spiraled ham..


That was Saturday~

Sunday ,early I put together the dough for Barbara's Honey Rolls..
They are delicious..and not one was left..and jacques didn't even get to try one.
They are puffy and honey..and pillowey.
I prepped Terry's Mustard sauce..
This is great you know..not everyone has a blog..but sometimes we get emails..and email back..and tips and tricks are shared with bloggers.
Terry ..doesn't blog..but still shares recipes and this mustard sauce was her husbands' mother's recipe.
She sent me the hand written recipe:)
This sauce was sooo good..and is now one of our regular recipes for ham and easter too.
Thanks Terry..

It was 20 F..by 9 AM.:(

Caroline came early ..around 10 and hid these eggs here and there..a lot of the snow had melted..see how unpretty Spring can be.

The Easter Bunny had left the boys a note in the mailbox..explaining that since they were bigger now..their eggs had their initials on them;)

And we three girls stayed outside while Jacques stoked the fire and chatted with Frédérick~
The kids came in..frozen..and by the fire they opened their eggs and munched..
By teh time lunch came around..we heard..:"I only want a bread..I only want ham..etc;)"
So they ate then went to play..and we finished up..by dessert they were hungry..then went outside again to play..
Busy busy day..
Max..our 7 yr old is in love with anything Shark related..His birthday is June 6th..he has already prepared his wish list..Max studies in French..so just smile at the phonetically spelled words..(some of them)
So now you can understand why Mylène made them shark hats after lunch~





La Recette
For my 42 year old basic cake recipe
Courtesy of Denise Cardin and she called it Butter Cake


4 eggs
 2 cups of sugar
2 cups all purpose sifted flour
2 tbsps baking powder
1 pinch of salt
+
11/2 cup of milk simply simmered with butter the size of an egg yolk.



Sift your flour  salt and baking powder..set aside.
In your stand mixer beat eggs with sugar until lght and creamy..add flour..mix..add the warmed milk/butter mixture..

Place in 2 8 INCH round cake pans..(prepared..either parchment or greased and floured)
Or make cupcakes..
Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes for the 8 inch pans,tootpick test.
Remember baking varies with sizes of pans.

You can make pineapple upside down cakes with this etc..
It's fail proof.
If you can believe it..I was reading a new cupcake cookbook and tried the recipe in the book.
Failed..
Stick to tried and trues for certain things;)

Monday, March 30, 2015

C'est Pâques ..soon~











So I have been busy in the kitchen..it's off season here for everything.
Not enough snow to snowshoe..
Way too early to garden..
We did go and see The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel with one of our daughters..
It was good..not as good as the first though.I do admire that cast tremendously.
Judy Dench is 81..she looks fantastic..I love her clothes  in those movies..all that linene..all that fabric..I don't see any evidence of face lifts..etc..just a gorgeous face.
Maggie Smith 81 also..again..no artifice..a lovely face that still looks like Maggie Smith..
To be so fortunate at 81.I just love them to bits.
They are both..:"Dame"~
I must admit at the end..it was a bit exhausting trying to hold back tears  thinking we would witness a moment..at every step..I thought here it comes..the tears would well  and  then dissipate.
Nice little outing .Took the routine out of the week~
Actually it was quite unroutine like..Tuesday I took Jacques to lunch for his birthday..about an hour away.. what are the odds of your son-in-law..being in the adjacent booth?
Imagine..we hardly go out..and there he was with one of his reps.:)
Wednesday we babysat Noah..and I showed him how to cut the tops off choux..and fill with whipped cream..sprinkles and icing sugar~
Oli took the routine out of the weekend on Saturday.Tell me..I only had girls myself..now I only have boys..but I can't remember my girls lifting a marble rolling pin over their fragile little heads....and using it as "weights"..saying:"Look Nana I'm strong"~
There's the proof up above.
We baked cookies..the same sugar cookies..  and I had only made a 1/2 recipe..I was able to make the 4 x-large eggs..and we were able to make numerous small cookies with the leftover dough~
I think he used about 10 different cutters:)
Bunnies..chicks..animals..Angry Birds..I love baking with kids..everything is fun for them.
I did make some while I was alone..I had picked up a BIG egg cookie cutter at Williams-Sonoma at a truly great reduced price.It's in a shopping city..far..more than an hour away..where I took Jacques for lunch;)
It must be 5-6 inches high..I made one for each of the boys for their baskets.
I made plain round sugar cookies..added a wee bit of rolled fondant and added he Beatrix Potter Peter Rabbit edible wafer papers.
They are soooo sweet!!
I found those on Ebay.from the UK.I think I do these things for me also.

Last night was our first epi of Call The Midwife.I thought I would miss Jennie..I do..but the cast carries on beautifully and I cried again.So moving..That little boys and his siters..:(..


I have a few more things to do..but I must tell you ..not a chore.Play.
I played with paints..also and wanted to try scanning..


Can anyone tell me why the white watercolor paper scans greyish?
I find whites are so hard to capture in photo backgrounds and scanning.
Help? Please?
The other thing I wanted to know..is how do we create a downloadable file to share on blogs?
I tried everything to no avail..
Cloud..Behance..Docstoc..
I watched you tube videos..I spent about 2 hours Sunday..I know it is good for our brain to try and learn..but the soul gets depleted after so many failed attemps~?
I seem to get it..but when I add the link on my blog..NOTHING HAPPENS.
Please?

La Recette  des "sugar cookies"  tirée du livre Sprinkle Bakes.
I have shred this before..w/ links etc..;)

I made half..so this is what I do..

1 stick of butter..I use salted always...she does not though.
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 egg;)  This is easy..simply lightly beat one egg..measure..use half.
1 tsp of vanilla extract..I don't halve this and use the paste..that's why all my cookies have sprinkly tiny ,dark dots in them.
1/4 tsp of almond extract..I don't want the lmond overpowering for the boys..so I do  halve this.
1 1/2 cup of flour
I don't add the pinch of salt because my butter is perfectly salted.

In my KA..I blend the butter and sugar until just combined..don't overbeat.
Add egg and extracts.. combine..scraping down bowl..with half the recipe even more important.
I add my flour to that..and mix until it comes away from the bowl.
I have already prepared a cooking sheet with my Silpat..
I don't refrigerate.. I wrap and let rest..on my cool ceramic counter for a bit..it is cool enough here..in summer I do.. refrigerate..it;)
I lightly flour a board..roll and cut to the shapes I want..
I put the whole sheet w/ cut-outs..in my screened-in porch..that is unheated and frigid.For about 15 minutes..this summer I will refrigerate.
While the cut out shapes are chilling..
I pre-heat the oven to 350F

And bake ap 15-20 minutes.
Success every time..
Check them though..if they are bigger or smaller..keep an eye out..baking times will vary.
Cool on cooling racks..
When cool you can roll out fondant..the exact shape of your cookies..and apply w/ a gel (edible) or corn syrup..
Then you can add you wafer paper.. by cutting out the designs..and again adding a gel or corn syrup..that becomes your glue.

You can also just dip in a mleted candy melt..let dry..and addthe wafer paper in the sma manner..that's how the little button one is made.
I have a little tich for round wafer paper..once it is applied..a small piece of saran wrapping ith tightly will assure that the wafer paper adheres uniformly and tightly to even the periphery..
Lots of fun being had making wafer paper cookies.~


PS..
Yippee I figured it out!

Google Drive was the easiest way..

I think my problem was trying to view a download in a Preview mode..it works in published mode..
Now if I find something cute..I can scan save and share.






Friday, March 27, 2015

U Try It~ I did ♥












I love Peter Rabbit~
I loved the movie about Beatrix Potter~
And I think I would have loved her~Beatrix Potter..I was amazed ,when I read the tale of Peter Rabbit to Noah this week he had no clue who PR was!
This from the child that has every book imaginable..
I think Peter is out of favor here in QC.
In fact Jacques had never heard of him before me..
He said Peter Rabbit was not part of his French culture growing up..
I am French but my parents were bilingual..so perhaps that is why I had heard of him..

I am easily infatuated by artistic people.
Much more so..than financial people.
Or very technical people.
I admire them..I am in awe of them..I married one..
But I actually fall a little bit in love ..in a different way..with artistic ,creative people..photographers,artists,musicians,chefs.
My mom was a true artist..thus the love affair~♥
And the little wannabe part of me.
But I am not loose enough..too organized..too tidy..can't relax if my immediate surroundings are not..en ligne.
I was not always like that..when I started dating my husband..much to the concern of my dad..but my mom's 100% approval..
my dad actually told my husband....:"Have a look at her room..you will need a compass to dierct yourself once you walk in."
It was true.
My room had a black wall, a white wall and some kind of psychadelic black and white wallpaper..a single bed against that wall..and some kind of furry black throw..
most of my clothes were on the floor..a whirlwind..
I was 19.And this was 42 years ago..
My mom did everything for me..I am ashamed to say..she even made my bed as I sauntered off to university.McGill.
Marrying an engineer..made me re- assess my habits..
I could tell you 100 funny..now they are.. stories..that actually made me cry 41 years ago..

But w/ the years..I became ..a tidy nut.
So the artist flew away.
That's why I love...artists..most of the ones I have met..and gotten to know..  don't care about tidy..I am not generalizing..these are the artists I have come to know..could be very different for the artists you know..
And my mom was super tidy..but she had left her art behind..so many years before I knew her.
I love the stuff everywhere.. the art room that has paint and paintboxes ..and canvases..and LIGHT everywhere.
Pastel dust here and there.. oil on the floor..cookbooks that have pages turned and dirty..art stuck to the walls.I just can't function that way.
Wondering if Beatrix was that inclined..

Speaking of artists..Amy at UTryIt~  made me fall in love w/ a little Easter cookie scene she created..
I knew I had to make some to pop into the boys baskets..I like making the things that go in their baskets..
These cookie vignettes..I am wrapping individually..They have their own stand after all.
I made my regular sugar cookies..I had Matcha..the sprinkles..everything..so I was good to go apart from the Lindt bunnies..I have a small silicone mold..but the bunnies were just a bit samller and I wanted to make them like Amy did.
Plus a Lindt at Easter.is like a Laura Secord treat at Easter~
I couldn't add a flower in the bunnies ear..nor could I add roses..they are BOYS after all as they like to tell me.
But I am thinking of dollying one up for Donella if I see her..  or I will ask Myène if Giu is now too old for these.
You can let your imagination run wild..
Amy was kind enough to even include a video..Amy THANK you for sharing these ADORABLE Easter treats with us..
I am paying it forward for those who would have missed these;)
Bon Weekend~







Monday, March 23, 2015

Easter is less than 2 weeks away~














Are you starting to get ready?
I am.. I started sugar cookies,painted with Wilton Colors.
These keep very well..in tin boxes..in my cold room at this time of year.
We still have lots of snow ,but since Jacques snoblows pathways..those parts are to the grass..so the children can at least walk and pick and find their eggs on snowbanks..
Things could change though.In our province snow can leave in one week.With heat..
Fingers crossed.
I've started growing grass in baskets..and after only one week..it has sprouted..and growing..and I may need to mow;)
Donellas hyacinths are blooming ,I am one that loves their scent.
Smells like heavenly Spring.
Saturday ,we went to Caroline and Frédérick's with our family♥
The boys had made posters for grandad..and we were served a feast.
Caroline had cute black and white checked napkins and w/ our cutlery they were wrapped with the menu for the evening.
Mylène made a pumpernickle loaf w/dip..Caroline made these..Presented exactly like this..she used edamame though..the platters looked like spring on a plate..and even Lucas loved them.Times are a changing.
I cannot even imagine their food bill later on~
Not sure you can read the menu..I took the pic w/ my Ipad..
We had an apple fennel salad w/ breads..Ricardo's was the hit bread of the night.
Then the main course was a fabulous risotto..the serving trays for the risotto were bones that Fred obtained from the butcher..used the marrow..cleaned ..washed..cut..filed and polished..the presentation was superb.. we each had a medley of root vegetables including Jerusalem artichokes..half a roasted cornish hen and thin veal scallops that were fried and leaning over the cornish hens..
BEAU..I can never get over his artistic presentations.
And his finesse in the kitchen.Like second nature..no first.
I had made the Maple Cake Roll..but used a different cake recipe..no baking powder..and you beat 10 full minutes..again..no cracking..and you bake 10 full minutes...but add the flour after by spoonfuls,folding in..
The filling I made creamier..so the mélange soaked a bit more into the cake..that was Marie's idea.
I love when someone makes something I tried..but gives itan even better vibe.:)
I decided to add another dessert..while I had hungry people around me..
I fell upon a most beautiful blog..Fork and Flower..exquisite taste..the photography..the styling..♥..anyway I had pinned this recipe a LOOONG time ago..but didn't have a suitable mold..
Lo and behold I didn't find a recommeneded springform..but I did find this set..
and went ahead and made half the recipe and used pan #2.
So we had 2 smaller desserts instead of one big one..
The cake turned out beautifully.


My notes..as I said I mde half..I didn't have Calvados and I knew that...I can't bring myself to buying Calvados to make a few recipes..I used Sortilège,which is a QC liqueur ,maple flavored.It worked harmoniously.
In her recipe..if you can find when to add the caramelized walnuts please let me know.I went ahead and added to the batter(mine were pecans)..
And asked if that was right..I think so.
Beautiful cake..wonderful taste.
My glaze is that liquid gold I made a while ago and keep in the fridge..a thin burnished caramel you make stovetop and keep to glaze cookies or dishes such as these.
Yes ..yet another apple cake;)
I really do not think we can have too many.
I'll pull out the spring wreath..fresh cushions for the wicker..and hope the weather cooperates for Easter~

PS ..the adorable digital emebellishments were found at We Lived Happily Ever After~
I love her work..and they have just been blessed with a new baby boy~
Thank you Hannah.