Tag Archives: The Francophile in Moi

For Dreaming of Paris at Breakfast Time: Crepes Recipe!

February 2013

Six months of nannying near Paris pushed me to a proficient level of French, a level at which I could approach people my age and feel comfortable enough to speak to them (ie: not sound like a three-year-old; ie: I could date in French). Fast forward more years than I care to count, and I’m far better at eating French than speaking French. As sad as that realization may be (and as much as I am working to remedy that), the consolation is ever so delicious…

Crepes and Nutella Mess

Crêpes
Makes 10 crepes

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups organic, unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
5 eggs (local/free-range)

1 1/4 cups organic whole milk
1 1/4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup and 1 Tablespoons butter, melted

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and the eggs.

Gradually add in the milk and water, whisking to combine.

Add the salt and butter; beat until smooth.

Relinquish the bowl of batter to the crepe master at the griddle

OR

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium-high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each crepe.

Tilt the pan with a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly.

Cook the crepe for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is light brown. Loosen with a spatula, turn and cook the other side.

Serve hot with Nutella, Bonne Maman jam, fresh fruit and homemade whipped cream. If eating these crepes on a quiet Saturday morning by yourself, whip out that French grammar book and get busy!

Bon Appétit!

29 Cakes for 29 Years: Mocha Cake Recipe

February 2013

To say I like planning theme parties is an understatement, so when I decided to have an Amélie Themed Anniversaire, I crafted many small, film-inspired details (that perhaps were mostly apparent to me?). One of those details was the birthday cake…or cakes, rather. Combine the espresso and chocolate flavors from Amelie’s waitressing job at Café Des 2 Moulins with the opening credits, in which little Amélie bites raspberries off each of her fingers, and you have the inspiration for my birthday cake tradition!

Cake Side View

Chocolate Espresso Cake with Coffee Glaze & Mocha Buttercream

Note About Size: In order to get 29 little cakes, I doubled the recipe and used a large, sheet pan, but your everyday dessert craving or small get together probably doesn’t call for that much cake. However, your everyday dessert craving or small get together probably does call for a rich chocolate dessert with the bold accent of espresso. The recipe below is for two, 9″-round, cake layers.    

Coffee Glaze

Coffee Glaze

Ingredients

1/4 cup raw cane sugar
2 Tablespoons boiled water
1 Tablespoon instant espresso powder or instant coffee granules

Directions

Combine the raw sugar, water and instant coffee in small bowl. Stir until sugar and coffee are dissolved.

Raspberry Garnish Cakes

Mocha Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients

1 bar (4 oz.) Dark Chocolate Baking Bar, melted

2 teaspoons instant espresso powder or instant coffee granules
3 Tablespoons organic heavy cream

1 cup (2 sticks) organic, unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups organic powdered sugar

Directions

Dissolve instant coffee in cream.

In a separate bowl, beat butter, vanilla extract and salt in large mixer bowl for 3 minutes.

Beat in melted chocolate until blended, scraping occasionally. Gradually beat in powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in coffee mixture, 1 Tablespoon at a time, until desired spreading consistency.

Birthday Cake Assembly 01

Chocolate Espresso Cake

Ingredients

5 oz Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips, melted

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups organic, packed light brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) organic, unsalted butter, softened
4 organic large eggs
2 Tablespoons instant espresso powder or instant coffee granules
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup organic buttermilk

Directions

Preheat oven to 350º F. Grease and line two 9-inch-round baking pans with wax paper.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl.

Beat brown sugar, butter, eggs, instant coffee and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl for 3 minutes.

Gradually add melted chocolate and continue beating for an additional minute.

Beat flour mixture into creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Pour into prepared pans.

Bake for 33 to 38 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Run knife around edges of cakes. Invert onto wire racks; remove wax paper. Cool completely.

Brush coffee glaze over cake layers.

Spread Mocha Buttercream Frosting between layers and top of cake.

An Amelie Anniversaire [Birthday]

February 2013

Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain is a colorful, accordion-accompanied film about Amélie, whose childhood was suppressed by a mistaken diagnosis of a heart defect. Her isolation causes her to retreat into a fantastical world of imagination. As a young woman, she leaves home to becomes a waitress at the Café Des 2 Moulins (two windmills) in the heart of Paris. In her Montmartre apartment, she discovers a time capsule from a previous tenant’s boyhood. In resolving to return the memories to the owner, she sets off to become a do-gooder. After helping those around her, Amélie soon realizes she must be bolder in pursuing love and her own happiness.

From the endearing missions, to the quirky romance and the Montmartre backdrop, the film has always filled me with such happiness. For my 29th year of life, I, like Amélie, decided to plan something whimsical and quirky for myself- a night in which the film came to life!

French Party People

[In the apartment of Raymond Dufayel]
-I really like this painting.
-It’s “Luncheon of the Boarding Party” by Renoir. I paint one every year, for years now. The hardest is the eyes. Sometimes, they change their moods on purpose,when I’m not looking.
-They look happy here.
-They better be! This year, they had hare with morel and waffles with jam for the children.

Palmiers and Candlelight

Amelie Anniversaire

Amélie doesn’t have a boyfriend. She tried, but it didn’t live up to her expectations. On the other hand, she enjoys all sorts of little pleasures,putting her hand in a bag of seeds,piercing the crust of crème brûlée with the tip of a spoon. And [skipping stones ↓] on the Saint-Martin-canal.

French Flag of Goat Cheese

The French Flag of Goat Cheeses- Fraternité, Égalité et Liberté

Apples and Antics

Bretodeau Sleuthing

[At the home of the grocer Collignon’s parents]
-Before the grocery, he used to be a ticket puncher.
-What’s wrong with that?!
-At night, he gets up and punches my oleanders!

Cheese and Quiche Face

Since hordes and hordes of tourists flock to Montmartre each year, I adorned the table with a typical tourist souvenir- snowglobes featuring my own photos of the Sacré Coeur and the Café Des 2 Moulins.

Blubber Suicide

Amélie’s only friend is called “le Cachalot.” But the atmosphere at home turned it into a neurasthenic and suicidal fish. Since these suicide-attempts only increased her mother’s stress,a decision is made. ENOUGH!!!

Gnome and Quelcy

[Amelie and her father in his kitchen after the disappearance of his garden gnome]
-
Your garden gnome is gone ?
-Is he back in the shed?
-Moscow and there. Nothing.No explanation.
-Maybe he wanted to travel around.
-I don’t get it. I don’t get it.

Gnome and Accordioniste

IMG_9571

IMG_9589

Since Amélie worked in a cafe making espresso drinks, I baked a mocha cake, layered with mocha buttercream (recipe to come!). The opening credits inspired the raspberry garnish.

Gnome and Cake

Gnome at the Creperie

Amélie’s only refuge is the world she makes up. In that world, vinyls are made the same way as crêpes, and the neighbour’s wife, who has been in a coma for months,just decided to do all her sleeping at once.

Creperie 01

The outside world seems so dull that Amélie prefers to dream her life until she’s old enough to leave. Years later, Amélie is a waitress in a bar in Montmartre, Les Deux Moulins [pictured above in my own photo from Montmartre] .

Amelie Theater

Raspberries and Popcorn

[In the movie theater]
-Sometimes, Amélie goes to the movies.
-I like to turn around in the dark to see the faces of the people around. And I also like to spot the little detail nobody will ever see. But I don’t like it when the driver doesn’t watch the road.

Screening

-I know who the mystery man of the photo machines is, M. Quincampoix.He’s a ghost, M. Quincampoix. Nobody can see him.He can only be seen on photographs. When a girl has her picture taken,he moans: hooooooooooo. While he softly caresses her neck. That’s when he’s caught by the camera, M. Quincampoix!

Behind the “theater,” I made a Photomaton (photobooth), since no Amélie party would be complete without a photobooth. More details on DIY photobooths in a subsequent post.

Accordion Dance

If you have ever listened to the film’s soundtrack by Yann Tiersen, you know the accordion plays heavily into the theme. Fortunately for me, I happened to know a really talented musician! The party would not have been the same without his musical accompaniment.

Accordion and Dog Painting

Polaroids and Album

[Intro to Nino Quincompoix]
Pages full of failed identity photos that their owners had thrown away and that had been re-assembled and classified by some eccentric. Some family-album!

Fin

Photos by my very talented friend Alex Mohamed!
Party held at Assemble: A Space for Arts + Technology (and the occasional birthday party)

Time Flies When You’re Having Galette!

January 21, 2013

On Friday, a coworker gave me an early birthday surprise in the form of a Galette des Rois from La Gourmandine. The surprise of the cake warmed my heart, but the cake itself made me so [unreasonably?] happy. I was beaming, and people were noticing. First of all, this is what I call the almond croissant of cake, and everyone knows how obsessive I am about almond croissants. Secondly, my memories of France are flavored with this cake.

Galette and Lessons

As I strolled down my almond flavored memory lane, it finally dawned on me how much time had passed since I lived in France, and admittedly, I felt a little bleu.

Galette and Figurine

However, my Special One quickly assured me I most definitely have more French adventures in store. Furthermore, I can’t complain about six years that have been filled with friends, family and adventures to other parts of the world. Even furthermore, my birthday is starting with a slice of my favorite cake, a mug of French pressed coffee and an attempt to make my brain think en français again! January is all about daily French diligence (on one very big sheet of paper)!

Galette French Lessons

Additionally, this year’s galette bestowed upon me a little female baking partner for the little baker from last year. Allow me a moment of musing, and I propose these figurines are a sign! My next French adventure will be with my Special One, and it will be better than a birthday slice of galette (ie: most amaaaaaaaaazing!).

Galette Open Slice

I hope you all have a cake that makes you this happy, and I hope someone surprises you with that cake!

Happy Birthday To Me!

Pancakes & Purples (Berry Port Wine Sauce, Round III)

May 2012

I like pancakes as much, if not more than, the next brunch-loving lady, but I especially like our partnership of pancakes.  I make the batter, and he flips the ‘cakes.  On this gluten-free Sunday morning, we took our partnership of pancakes into the sunshine for a perfectly relaxing, coffee-accompanied start of a sunny day.  Then we drizzled our griddle stacks with the berry bursts of flavor leftover from a special birthday dessert.

“To love someone is to see a miracle invisible to others.”

Chestnut Flour & Berry Pancakes

Note:  Depending on the origin of yours oats, this recipe is gluten free.  For more on oats in a gluten free diet, here’s an intro to the issues.  

Ingredients

1 cup chestnut flour (more if fruit is watery)
1/2 cup organic quick-cooking oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 eggs (local/free-range), at room temperature
2 Tablespoons honey
3/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 Tablespoons goat butter, browned
1 1/4 cup frozen cherries, thawed

Directions

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees or the lowest temperature available.

Combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and lemon zest.

Next, whisk the egg in a bowl and add it to the dry mix.

Add the honey, milk, vanilla extract, almond extract and browned butter. Stir to combine.

Heat a cast iron griddle or skillet over medium heat and lightly coat with oil.

Using a ¼-cup scoop, pour the pancake batter onto the skillet and add 6-8 blueberries on top of each pancake.

Cook until browned on each side (they are ready to flip when the tops start to bubble a little).

To keep already made pancakes warm, place them on an ovenproof dish or baking pan in the oven.

Serve with berry port wine whipped topping and extra berry port wine sauce.

Berry Port Wine Whipped Topping

Ingredients

4 oz organic Neufchatel cheese
1/2 cup organic whipping cream, chilled
1/2 cup blueberry-cherry sauce (mostly the liquid)
2 Tablespoons organic brown sugar

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to whip until well combined. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

A Very French Baked French Toast & Roasted Pineapple

March 2012

It was the bright and sunny brunching hour at the special cabin in the woods, but more importantly, it was the last brunching hour of the long weekend, so we treated ourselves to a decadent baked French toast!

This decadence stemmed from the substitution of croissants for bread and a layer of Justin’s chocolate hazelnut nutbutter (more wholesome than nutella!), making for a very French, French toast!  One rather rich thought entered my mind as I was making this… can you even fathom a bite of baked French toast made with almond croissants?!?!  One bite would surely be heaven, and one bite would surely be enough! Perhaps I’ll try that one day!

Baked Croissant French Toast

Inspired by Bon Appétit

Ingredients

5 all butter croissants, cut lengthwise

2 Tablespoons Justin’s chocolate hazelnut butter
*1 cup homemade bourbon whipped cream (recipe below)

5 large eggs (local/free-range)
3/4 cup organic buttermilk
1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 Tablespoon organic brown sugar

extra maple syrup

For the Baked French Toast

Grease an 11×7 glass baking dish with butter.

Create one layer of croissants using four bottom halves.

In a bowl, whip the bourbon whipped cream and chocolate hazelnut butter together until creamy.

Add the 4 croissants tops. Use the remaining croissant to fill in any gaps.

In a mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, buttermilk and maple syrup.

Pour the egg mixture over the croissants, making sure to fully saturate the top layer.

Sprinkle with the cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar.

Let sit for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Bake until golden brown and set in the middle, about 40 minutes.  Serve with maple syrup.

*Bourbon Whipped Cream

Ingredients

1 cup organic heavy cream
3 Tablespoons Bourbon (Buffalo Trace)
3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 Tablespoon organic brown sugar

For the Whipped Cream

In a chilled bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Use an electric mixer to beat until peaks form.  Keep chilled until ready to serve.  Add a dollop to your brunch cup of coffee while you’re at it!

Roasted Pineapple with Pistachios 
Adapted from Bon Appétit 

Ingredients

1/2 cup (packed) organic brown sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 medium ripe pineapple, peeled, cored, cut into wedges or chunks
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/3 cup natural unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons torn fresh mint leaves

Preparation

Preheat oven to 450°.

Stir first 3 ingredients in a large bowl until sugar dissolves.

Add pineapple; toss to coat.

Let marinate, tossing occasionally, for 10 minutes.

Place pineapple, one flat side down, on a nonstick skillet; reserve marinade.

Roast pineapple for 15 minutes.

Stir/flip, brush with marinade, and roast until tender and caramelized, 10–15 minutes.

Drizzle with remaining marinade; let cool slightly.

Arrange pineapple on a plate.

Spoon Greek yogurt on top of the pineapple. Garnish with pistachios and fresh mint.

The sun was as warm and golden as that roasted pineapple.  When March hands you a warm, sunny day, there is no choice but to spend as much of the afternoon outside as possible, especially when that afternoon takes place at a cabin in the woods.

Oh that big hunk o’ man?!?  He’s my lumberjack boyfriend.  No big deal.

The grasses, trees and mountains began to yawn and stretch, as they gradually awoke from their winter slumbers.  For though the sun was quick to warm us that weekend, the grasses, trees and mountains had been dormant for many a cold, wintry month.  Their warmth was yet to come!

As a newcomer to that special cabin in the woods, part of my privilege is discovering the changes the seasons bring over the mountains, valleys and wooden beams.  I can’t wait to see how the cabin gussies himself with spring flowers and bright green grasses!

(…until the next, greener, sunnier times that is)

One For You & One For Me (Cabin Weekend, Part II)

March 2012

There’s a certain quiet that is felt.  This type of quiet is not defined by a lack of sound.  This type of sensory quiet is defined by a calm… a slower pace… a lack of “shoulds” and “woulds.”  This type of quiet accentuates small details… the endless appeal of a flowing creek, the rapid changes of the sky, the flickers of light cast on an array of textures and minutes marked by light and not by schedules.  I’ve only felt this type of quiet a few times, but they have been magical, memorable times, and this cabin weekend was one of them!

Like a long, quiet scene in a film, I watched myself float through the weekend with my special one.  We swayed back and forth on that swing, with its perfectly framed view.  We watched the flickers of light, felt the warmth of the sun and sipped slowly on drinks that added their own textures and patterns to the moments, as we quietly escaped reality.

One for Him

Negroni
1 part gin
1 part sweet vermouth
1 part bitters

One for Me!

AITA Snap + Organic Birch Beer + Organic Orange Slices

For Us!

A French wine connoisseur once told me tasting wine is not about elitism or fancy terms.  Wine tasting is about remembering your grandmother’s kitchen or recalling a meadow in spring.  It’s about memory and experience.

Smoky ash on goat cheese and fingertips.

The creamy taste and smell of asparagus?!?

A bite that made me think of eating the real deal at a port, while watching sailboats prepped for a major journey.

These were the characteristics of cheese tasting on a sunny afternoon, and future hints of asparagus in a creamy cheese will recall a weekend quietly slinking by a window view.