Monday, January 30, 2012


One of my favorite tastes of Paris is Poilâne Bakery.  It is not far from l’Alliance, where I took French classes each day all day until I had exhausted every class you could take, and I remember my initial trepidation at ordering a simple loaf of bread in the bustling shop.  It is also steps from one of my favorite décor shops, Mis en Demeure.  Among the lovelies of Poilâne at lunchtime you can get a toasted open face sandwich called a “Tartine,” with various toppings, and often with a luscious French cheese.  Their large classic loaf is a whole wheat sourdough, with just the right amount of tang and simple, natural ingredients.  It’s what the French call “Bread, the old way,” before yeast.  The patriarche of the company was later killed in a helicopter crash with his wife, and the tradition is carried on by their daughter, Apollonia.  I could go on for an hour about Poilâne but will stop there.  Don’t visit Paris without a stop and the purchase of bread to take home or perhaps a sachet of punitions….

There is a Belgian bakery not far from me here in Laguna which has a bakery and also “tartines” on the menu.  But imagine my horror that they do not toast the bread for the tartines, even if the loaves are made on site. I have tried repeatedly to get a proper toasted tartine, but all they can respond is “our bread is special.”  Hmm...

If you live in Orange County, Bristol Farms in Corona del Mar flies in quarters of Poilâne  loaves each Thursday; they will slice it for you and I then pop it in the freezer.  I think other Bristol Farms stores also import, but you will have to check.  I am going to take a bread-making class this spring at the bakery, and understand that I am not being trop snob about the bread, I am on the quest for a good authentic bread.  Suggestions, recipes??  All are welcome!! 

Profiting from the warm weather this last weekend, I took a $6 loaf of Poilâne and made my own tartines; toast the bread, add the toppings, and pop them in the oven at the last minute; this is a great French lunch idea you can prepare ahead~


I served them on a silver tray covered in a worn French cloth; most then divided in two~


Here Gruyere over fresh Dijon mustard and Gruyere over Cremini mushrooms~


The favorite was home made “pistou” of garlic, arugula, pine nuts, olive oil, sea salt roughly ground in a mortar and topped with gruyere, plain or with boiled chicken breast~


The bomb, for me, toasted bread, butternut squash puree, wild arugula, fresh ricotta, topped with fresh pine nuts, olive oil, salt and pepper and the like….served hot below, cold on top….. YUM…


I served this on the small terrace in front of the citrus trees; it was an intimate affair for four~


Napkins of French linen and tied with French gilt gimp and a simple camellia from the garden~


Less is more; a simple camellia and crystal seemed enough~


the decanters held Perrier, California chardonnay, and for appertif, Pineau de Charentes; I had two little bottles of crème de Rose and crème de Violette to add to the wine, which some did~


Everyone got a cookie for the side of their plate….recette this week….


Roasted golden beets, grape tomatoes and green beans on the side~


Dessert was shaded, but coconut cake, linzer heart cookies and goat cheese cheesecake tarts with fresh berries….


more this week, including printable recipes….

Friday, January 13, 2012

Se Reposer

The Holidays are over, and yet they linger, like the welcome scent of the wood burning in the fireplaces of my neighbors’ cottages this evening. 


Wishing everyone a lovely weekend of repose….thinking of my East Coast Friends and their extreme weather….

{yes, I know, another dog fascinated by a fire…Honey will watch for hours….}

Monday, January 9, 2012

Pour Maman & How to Make a Seafood Platter

I have not yet finished my posts on France, but let me tell you that upon rentree in the States, my Mother made it clear that she wanted a p a r t y.  Her birthday was New Year’s Eve, and R and I dutifully called her from Beaune on Skype with best wishes, but what she really wanted was a seafood feast when I got home.  Of course….I spoil my Mom if you know me, and so tonight we had a few of her favorite foods with many of our extended family.

I prepared the entire meal in less than two hours’ time; and that involved a few stores but mostly a visit to our Chinese market, 99 Ranch Market.  Here in Southern California, they have the best prices for fresh Maine lobster ($6.99/lb  I have to ask Yvonne Petite Gallery how this compares), shrimp, and also live Dungeness crabs; unfortunately the steamer (free service) was en panne so I brought it all home.  Thank goodness I had brought two fait-touts home from France and pressed them into service with my NYC thrift-store one; as well as a pair of skimmers also from Guy~


Is it just me, or do I feel like a chef when I cook with 19thC French copper? The lobster and crabs were prepared here quickly.


The trio of pots are going off to Peter at East Coast Tinning this week for a redo on the lining; the largest one here, far right, is 19thC and with wolfs’ teeth joinery; it is $700 NEW at Williams Sonoma, but I prefer this old one sourced from Guy in Brittany and Normandie and full of character and about $130 to retin; more on retinning old coppers later;


The ooohs and ahhs and oohs by my family, on the copper…will you soon be addicted to these pieces, as I am?


In summer these skimmers scoop tomatoes from the pot; here, the shrimp, ready to go into an ice bath~


And now to assemble a plateau; I know in NYC and Paris they use ice and the like, this is is simpler.  Start with a large tray.  This one I bought for my parents for their 50th; it is enorme, yes, so good for this~


I cut up the boiled lobster tail in one dish, and use prepared Dungeness Crab in another dish, set aside~


Halve several lemons and set on the platter~


Prop up several seafoods, the mostly in-edible portion of the lobster as well as the crabs on the lemons (sent home w my bro in law each year, Merry Christmas!)


I like volume…prop the lobster up a little…..


Add in the claws or cut them up with the tail; add in the cups of meat behind~


This was the quickest platter I have ever made but it was still so good~ toss boiled shrimp on top as well as a bunch of boiled whelks~


my table was a mess and we had blue willow plates and pistol handled knives set out; it was fine….


to cut the seafood, pommes frites, matchstick style; who can resist?


Baked brie and homemade graavlax for starters, I will show you later…..


Everyone was happy, it was a whipped up meal. We had dessert the next day which I will show you later.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ma Cuisine

Bienvenue a ma petite cuisine a Beaune; la porte est toujours ouverte aux mes amis et invitees, une visite a notre maison est aussi un cours de cuisine informel~

Welcome to my small kitchen in Beaune; the door is always open to my friends and guests; a visit to our home is definitely also an informal cooking class~


C’est ici je je suis la plus contente de ma vie, en preparant les plats avec la meilleurs saveurs de la France, trouve toute l’annee a la marche de Samedi de Beaune (une tarte avec groseilles de la France et fraises de Maroc, avec crème fraiche d’Isigny, Normandie)~

It is here that I am the happiest in my life, making dishes with the best flavors of France, which are found year-round at the Saturday market in Beaune (red currant (France) and strawberry (Morocco) tarte with crème d’Isigny from Normandy)~


Pour que R ne va pas “mourrir de faim” j’ai fait une enorme blanquette de veau avant de partir~

So that R will not die of hunger, I made a large veal stew at his request before leaving Beaune~


Mes collections de cuisine sont utiles et beaux; ici plateaux anciens en carton bouilli pour porter du the, un gouter, ou verres du vin a l’etage; le bougeoirs sont en cas d’une coupe de l’electricite~

My collections in the kitchen are useful as well as pretty; here old paper mache trays are stacked, for carrying tea pots, snacks, or glasses of wine upstairs; the candlesticks are there in case the electricity gets cut~ 


Quelques bouilloires (une de 4 litres et une de 3 litres) sont pretes a servir et utilises quotidiennement~

A few kettles (one holds a gallon, the other 3 litres), ready for service and used daily~ 


Les deux fait touts sont aussi la, pour faire….tout quoi!

The two stock pots are also there, for making….well…just about everything!


En hiver, une barquette des fruits exotique pour un gouter; raisin Muscadet, clementines, meme un ananas d’Ile Meurice~

In winter, there is a boat of exotic fruits for snacks, Muscat grapes, clementines and even a pineapple from the Island of Mauritius~


A cote, mes outils de cuisine, ranger dans un fait tout marque “Hotel de Paris” en creux; un tres bonne affaire a 30 Euros!~

Nearby, my kitchen utensils are arranged in a small stock pot stamped “Hotel de Paris,” a super deal at $40!


Un petit panier en style de banneton de Champagne a ete achete chez Jean-Luc; remplir des noix du marche et notres promenades dans la foret~

A small basket in the style of a Champagne harvest basket was bought at Jean-Luc’s on this trip; it is full of nuts from the market and walnuts gathered on our walks in the forest~


Et dans un petit coin, mes cuivres~

In the other corner, my coppers wait for use~


Bien sur, j’ai beaucoup des paniers pour faires les cours et faire du recyclage, et toujours un panier sur la chaise paillee remplie des pommes de terres, eschallottes, choux, onions et carottes, achete la premier jour pour faire beaucoup des repas~

Of course, I have lots of baskets, for me and for guests, to go shopping and drop off to recycling, and always a basket on the rush seat chair full of potatotes, shallots, a cabbage, onions and carottes, bought the first market day to make a variety of meals~


I hope you enjoyed my little French kitchen tour; I am busy now so will add accents later….bon week-end a tous~

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Réveillon (New Year’s Eve)

Le Réveillon de Saint-Sylvestre est arrivé vite.  Malgré mes idées de passer la fête avec une maison pleine des amis et invitées, c’etait R et moi toute en tranquilité, et c’etait ce que j’avais besoin après beaucoup des repas familial et les activités de ma vie.  J’ai decidé de faire une canette a l’orange pour notre repas, acheté le jour même, au marché de Beaune d’un èleveur  de volaille de Bresse.  J’ai commencé à le preparer, avec un apértif de Champagne avec quelques gouttes de crème de framboise de Dijon que R a preparé pour moi la cuisiniere~

New Year arrived quickly.  Despite my ideas of passing the holiday with a house full of friends and guests, it was R and I alone, in tranquility, and it was what  I needed, after so many family meals and the activities of my life.  I decided to make a duck a l’orange for our meal, bought the same day at the Beaune market, from a poultry farm in Bresse. I started to prepare it, with an apertif of Champagne with a few drops of raspberry syrup from Dijon that R prepared for me, the cook~

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J’ai dressé la table pour une fête, une espèce de photo-op, oui, pas pour diner à deux~

I set the table for a party, a kind of a photo op, not for dinner for two~

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Même l’escalier etait joliement dressé pour les fêtes pendant la semaine, avec les branches des arbres ramassées dans le fôret autour de Beaune, et illuminé pour la soiree; peut_être trop, R m’a dit~


Even the staircase was dressed prettily for the holidays during the week, with branches of trees gathered in the forest around Beaune and lit for the night, perhaps too much, R told me~

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En revanche, les bougies etaient une tres bonne idée, parce_que l’electricité a fait un coupe-circuit pendant que j’ai fait un plat de pommes de terres sautéesfaçon “chateau” et la canette etait presque fini.

On the other hand, the candles were a good idea, because the electricity had a short circuit while I made some potatoes in chateau style, and the duck was almost done~

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Cheri…. est_ce tu peux remettre le circuit???? R to the Rescue~

Honey, can you please reset the circuit?  R to the rescue!


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L’electricité n’est pas une bonne raison d’être en colère….nous avons passé quinze minutes au salon illuminé par les bougies avant de manger~

No reason to be upset by the electricity; we spent fifteen minutes in the salon lit by candles before we ate~

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J’ai dressé la table toute simplement avec du mousse ramassé du fôret et quelques bougies~

I set the table simply, with moss gathered from the forest and a few candles~

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Petit detail sur les chaises~

little detail on the chairs~

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Je vous souhaite un trés bonne année 2012~ beaucoup plus à vous montrer bientôt…. 

; Mention special pour Guy et Jacqueline a Vannes~ j’etais ravie de  parler avec vous hier soir~


I wish you a very good year in 2012 and still have much to show you.


Special mention to Guy and Jacqueline in Vannes, I was so delighted to talk with you last night~