Monday, June 10, 2013

Summer Food Inspiration

Oh yes, there was more goodness to be found in that paper grocery bag that carried my name.  After the initial shock that my friend was really giving me a pair of her Mother’s vintage Caron bottles, not to mention one quite full of Bellodgia, I started to look through the rest of the bag.  It held cookbooks, in French and English and Italian.  One is entirely devoted to Chestnuts (Italian); another devoted to slimming French recipes.  But my eye went straight to this book.  I didn’t have time to tell my friend the reasons why I went right for this one.  As I picked it up she mentioned a French friend had given it to her.  One look at the cover and you will also probably be seduced by this book, if you love authentic French country living.


In the States you might not recognize the name Gaston Lenôtre.  He was born in Normandy and went on to build one of Paris’ first post-war culinary empires.  Starting with a single bakery, he went on to open a string of bakery-cafes as well as build a catering service (for venues like balls as Versailles and dinners at the Elysée) and a cooking school.  His students included Pierre Hermé and David Bouley.  Hermé apprenticed to Lenôtre at the age of 14, and was later the Chef de Patisserie for Fauchon.  And then the direction behind the phenomenally successful renewal of Ladurée and is the macaroon king.  He also has some amazing cookbooks.   David Bouley was the genius behind one of my top-ever NYC restaurants, Bouley.  Don’t get me started gushing about those two….just know that they learned from the master, Gaston Lenôtre… He is one of the gods of modern French pastry.  He looks rather concentrated on his work in this image, but he was said to be disciplined but much fun.  He passed away just a few years ago at age 88.


(image courtesy of New York Times)

Gaston lightened up the 1950’s French pastry world, with less sugar, and also concentrated on the very best ingredients.  Coming from a family of chefs in Normandy, he understood cream and butter, and insisted on the freshest eggs.   He was also one of the first pastry chefs to make use of the freezer; a revolutionary idea at the time.   When I lived in Paris there was no better place for pastry and small savory than Lenôtre.  The store on Avenue Voctor Hugo was a minute’s walk from my flat, and it’s the go-to place in the 16th for take out gourmet.  We bought macaroons and pastries here, not at Laduree.   I love their crevette-pamplemousse salad by the 100 grams. It’s all good….

Now for this book, written by Gaston with his daughter Sylvie, those principles of quality shine through.  Rose Petal Sorbet...I can’t wait to make this.  It’s better than any other recipe I have seen, and the styling of the image is perfectly divine.  The shades of pewter, the rose petals, the enormous spoon and the shears are all perfectly authentic and delicious, not to mention the color of the sorbet itself. Who would  not want to taste this?~ 


How about a lavender pound cake:  will try this soon as well~


the images are styled in the old fashioned way; really, really well.  Most include a glass of something refreshing to go with the dish, and gourdes and other natural vessels are used for serving; one of my preferences~


There are recipes for raspberry-rosé wine and blackberry-infused wine. I love these burlap-wrapped corks and the glasses; I love it all; I love France and the French lifestyle, and this summer I will show you these recipes and we’ll party like this, authentically~


Cherry soup- gorgeous image~


these hazelnut biscuits looked so good~


I made them with the ground nuts from Paris; though they were walnuts not hazelnuts, they were amazing and Mom and Dad ate the whole plate with assistance from Honey and Biscuit.


The book is an extensive collection of recipes,focused on what you can find in your garden.  Feeling inspired, I offered to make the cake for my niece’s graduation yesterday, from high school.  I made a white cake, in three layers, imbibed with Kahlua and filled with French jam.  It was filled with fresh strawberry slices and creme, finished with creme Chantilly. 


I topped the cake with that perfect cluster of Madagascar jasmine from the garden.


This was a really delicious cake, though my family mowed through it so fast I didn’t have time for a photo. And, I told everyone that other than the cake I was off duty for the night.  My niece Nicole is getting married in July 2014 and I am helping style the wedding; so Nicole and I were busy talking details. My new Pinterest board is for her wedding details.


Look for many new and authentic recipes from the Lenôtre book here.  I LOVE this book for so many reasons and look forward to sharing it with you.


  1. Andrea, how wonderful! You are so kind to share!

  2. Thank you for sharing this my dear friend! What an exquisite and appetizing book. I'm sure to see the most wonderful recipes you'll create from it's inspiration!

  3. Un livre de cuisine que je possède comme d'autres de chez Lenôtre. Un livre fabuleux ! Une très jolie publication.
    Je vous fais de grosses bises

  4. Your enthusiasm for it is palpable!!!
    Love the burlap topped bottles and your cake looks divine!
    I look forward to more!

  5. It is a beautiful cake. I would never have thought of combining coffee and strawberries in flavour, together.

  6. I wish you knew how inspired I am right now! I can't wait to follow along this summer and see if I can keep up with you! I hope my daughters will join the fun...but if not, at least I'll have someone to help me eat all this deliciousness. I hope the French Paradox is real!!

  7. Dear Andrea how wonderful and just the kind of gift you appreciate so much!
    I will go and look at your new Pinterest board. The cake look absolutely gorgeous!!

    Art by Karena
    Giveaway from Splendid Sass.

  8. I was thing what to cook. Now I will go sit in the closet.
    This all looks sooooo awesome. My cooking is Boooring.
    Rose petals , I have the soap
    believe me I could dig into that in a heartbeat..The French do it the best.

  9. A gift of cookbooks is probably one of the best gifts you can receive. Rose petal sherbet sounds delicious. I would love to get my hands on a cookbook like this one. Thank you for posting!