jeudi 20 décembre 2012

Boeuf Bourguignon les amis!

My poor non-French people,

It's my pleasure to share with you the new French and Parfait recipe...
Boeuf Bourguignon!
Hope you'll like it beaucoup beaucoup!


1 onion
1 pound beef roast or oxtail or beef cheeks (or all)
4 oz lardons (sliced bacon)
2 carrots, 1 turnip, 2 parsnips

What to do...
Stir the oinion and the lardons, and add the beef
Make sure all the cubes brown on each side
Then add the wine
Salt, pepper, some Laurel…
Put on sim for at least 3 hours…

Et Voilà !

dimanche 16 décembre 2012

Remembrance of recipes past... Pain d'épice

My dear, poor, non French people,

Remember the good old time when you spent hours next to the mailbox (the real one, not you average hotmail-yahoo-gmail electronic version) waiting for a letter of your dear chéri? And then reading it again and again trying to figure out what he actually meant by "I like soccer and you too"?

Where are all those letters now? 

I wonder how kids today will have a reminder of their first love letters... 
That's what I thought a few months ago when I was sorting out old drawers at my mother's house. All those silly post cards and pink note-letters suddenly confronted me to the funny, romantic, and a little bit too dreamy 10 year-old me. Trop bizarre! And that's when I found it. Written on a pink cardboard, with a very cautious hand. My first recipe.

Pain d'épices (du cahier de Mamie)


1 cup sugar

1 cup honey

1 cup water or milk

4 cups flour

1 tbsp baking soda

I remember exactly when I wrote it. Another day of summer vacation. Sun, public swimming-pool, bike in the woods... and boredom. I was back at my grand-mother's farm and didn't know what to do. 

She herself was more than busy as usual, in between the garden and the hens and the rabbits and the dinner to prepare. "Why don't you look in the recipe notebook and see what you can do?"

How I loved her recipe notebook! 
She had started it during World War II, when she was just une jeune fille en fleurs, a 20 year old mademoiselle. It was full of handwritten recipes copied from other friends notebooks, or cut out from the local newspaper. 
That day I decided to start my own collection. And copied her famous pain d'épice recipe.

Her gingerbread was awesome. So so simple. 
It's basically milk and honey and flour and c'est tout (that's all). Which makes it very very different from the anglo-saxon version of it. 
No spices for a cake called "Spices bread" (pain d'épices)! I know it's strange, but who cares when it's good!

She would bake one every wednesday, for me to have as a snack after the Ballet class. I would always share it with my friends, who loved it. So much that 15 years later, when my friend Stéphanie called me to invite me to her wedding, she asked for just one gift: la recette du pain d'épice de mamie Laurence. This recipe...

I still like to have it as a post work-out treat, but it's also great for a winter breakfast. Slice it and spread butter and you forget about cold feet and running nose! 

La Recette 

Put the milk (or the water, but really, milk is better) to a boil, 
and then mix it with honey and sugar.

Add slowly the flour and the baking soda. 
 Mix it well.

Grease a pan in butter and pour the mix

Bake for one hour at 200F

The pain d'épices is great the next day, and even the following days.

Bon appétit les amis!

PS: I have to talk to you about my favorite processed pain d'épices: "Prosper" de Vandame. I can still see my little brother spreading tons on Nutella on it for his "4 heures" (litteraly 4pm, the time French kids were supposed to have their afternoon snack). And we loved their ad, a remake of a song of Maurice Chevalier, Prosper.


dimanche 9 décembre 2012

Cook Faisan like a real peasant (Pheasant au vin)

My dear, poor, non French people,

Let me tell you: it's never funny to be the turkey of the stuffing. 
I guess that would be the litteral translation of "Etre le dindon de la farce", a popular French saying that means "being the laughing stock". 

Why do American people are so concerned about it ? The stuffing I mean. That what amazed me most last month as I was enjoying my first real Thanksgiving. Even a gourmet like me had never seen people fight over what should or should not be put inside an animal...Très très bizarre!

The whole ceremony is actually very exotic for a poor French girl like me. I guess I felt the same thing as an American girl in front of the Eiffel Tower: I thought I was in a movie! Loved it.
I tried to think of a similar celebration back in France, and it suddenly reminded me of family fall tradition. Le déjeuner de la chasse, chez tatate Giselle. And faisan.

Le faisan au vin


1 pheasant

1 bottle of red wine

1 onion or 2 shalots

3 cloves

4 carrots

1 pound brussel sprouts

1/2 pound mushrooms

It's every 3rd sunday of September. And always at my grand-aunt's farm.
The opening day of the hunt lunch is never to be missed in my family.
Tatate Giselle is still hosting it every year, even is she's more than 80 years old now. Et le menu? Still the same..

Crudités first, with the incredible mayonnaise de tatate Giselle (made from scratch with fresh eggs from the farm, a creamy, thick, golden mayonnaise I still dream of). 
Then Bouchées à la Reine (savoury Vol au vent with sweetbread, please remind me to cook and write the recipe very soon!) 
And a game meat dish: hoar, doe, or pheasant.
And who has the more make up on? The male, on the right!

Pheasant is really a natural part of the diet in the area of France I come from.
There are plenty of woods and forests in Sologne, and they are rich in wild animals.
As it's only 100 miles south of Paris, the area has always been a holiday destination for kings, princes, and then rich families who came for a good hunt.
But the French Revolution changed it all by allowing peasants like my ancestors to also hunt, in communal woods, and I guess that's what my family celebrate every year.
The guys (and some girls of my generation, but not me, I had rather read!) would go hunting in the morning and try to come back with some trophy (they would tease each other all year long about it... but my mom always said that it was more a walk in the woods...)

This bird has nothing to do with lazy farm raised animals like hens, gooses... or turkey. It's most of the time in the wilderness, and is therefore less fatty and more muscular. It can be very dry if not prepared well, that's why I like better to have it marinate in wine 24 hours. 

La recette

Peel an onion and put 4 cloves in it

Peel the carrots and cut them in two

Put the onion, carrots and pheasant in a large bowl and pour the bottle of wine

Add salt, pepper, and some laurel and let marinate for at least 24 hours.

Then heat a cast iron pan, or just a regular cooking pot.

Brown the bird in a little bit of olive oil.

Add the marinated wine and carrots, and maybe some other herbs like thyme.

Put to a boil and then set down to low or sim, and let it slowly bubble its way, something like 2 or 3 hours.

Add the trimmed Brussel sprouts and the mushrooms 20 minutes before serving.

Et voilà!

As you can see, this recipe is very similar to the very traditional Coq au vin.
Strangely I find it easier to find a pheasant here in LA than a rooster ( at the 3rd and Fairfax Farmer's Market), but you can do exactly the same recipe with a male chicken...

Bon appétit les amis!

vendredi 30 novembre 2012

Chaud Cacao! Or the French and perfect Chocolate cake

My dear, poor, non-French people,

What does a girl need to be really French and Perfect? A pair of Louboutin? A glass of Demoiselle Champagne? The last Vanessa Bruno it-bag?  
Non non non les amis! Pas seulement!  
What she needs is also a recipe for an easy, festive and délicieux chocolate cake.   

Un gâteau au chocolat, oui madame!  

The one you can decide to bake from scratch at the last minute to celebrate a sister’s birthday, impress a mother in law, or comfort a friend (and/or yourself).
I’ve been looking for it everywhere, and I’m extremement happy to share my best find with you poor non-French people:

Le fondant au chocolat de Pierre Hermé


4 eggs

1 cup sugar

8,8 oz butter

8,8 oz dark chocolate (65%)

3/4 cup flour

Pierre Hermé is French pâtisserie mega star. 

Tell his name to any French and perfect woman and she will faint quicker than an American teen in front of Justin Bieber…


If Parisiennes can queue for hours in front of a store, it’s not to get the best rebate on the next Ipad mini mini: it’s just that Pierre Hermé released his new macaron collection
(yes, there's a fall, winter, spring, summer collection, just like haute couture).

Ah la la… 
(rasberries and sweet rose cream flavoured with litchi in a sandwich of rose flavoured macarons) 

or his incredible olive oil or figs and foie gras macarons… 

I for one am forever grateful for his great classic recipes in “Larousse des Desserts”, the French pastry cookbook bible...

And for this amazing and sooooo simple flourless chocolate cake.

Ok, it’s not diet at all…
Tons of butter, sugar and chocolate, but you just need a small bite to go straight to paradis: a place where everything is as cozy and comforting as the arms of an ideal prince charming… 

The only important thing is to use the best chocolate you can find. 
65% cocoa is obligatoire. I chose to bake this one with my precious “Piment d’Espelette" chocolate that I snuggled from my last trip to the Basque Country. The delicate red peppers add a twist of spice that I love.
If you can't fly to La Confiserie Daranatz and buy this amazing chocolat right now, you can also just add a tablespoon of Piment d'Espelette or even paprika. 

La recette

Melt the chocolate and the butter in Bain-Marie (sloooooowly)

Preheat the oven at 350°F

Mix the eggs and the sugar

Add the chocolate and the butter

Then the flour

Pour in a buttered pan

Let in the oven for 25 minutes, with the door slighly open (use a wooden spoon to put in the door for example)

This gâteau is even better the next day.
You can add apricot jam for example, and of course icing.
But I love it like that, "raw", with its cracks on the top...

Now have a bite. Did I tell you what the name of the cake "fondant" means in French?
Now you know what a French and Perfect chocolate cake is...

Bon appétit les amis!

samedi 24 novembre 2012

Be a good poire ! Teach your pears how to swim in wine!

My dear, poor, non-French people,

Let me be a good pear today, or "Une bonne poire":  this is how my French friends call someone who’s always helping everybody, even if people are taking advantage of it. 
It’s nice, at least it’s much better than being “une vraie dinde”, “a real turkey”, which is how we call people who are stupid and brainfree, I would say…

Anyway, after all your stomach has suffered last Thursday, I’m sure you’ll love this delicious and healthy dessert.

Les poires au vin


4 pears

1 bottle of red wine

3 tbsp honey

1 tbsp vanilla seeds

3 Cloves, Anise, Pepper

This recipe is actually very similar to the strawberry wine soup I wrote about this summer. Let’s say it’s the autumn, warm, version of it. 
It’s the perfect way to end a good meal : no need for another big fluffy pie that will only stay on your hips and not on your palate as a souvenir…

I love doing it too because it reminds me of winter time and skiing vacation: you actually cook the fruits in something that is very similar to vin chaud, mulled wine.  

The best after a day of slaloms in poudreuse, powdery snow. (Or, after visiting half a dozen fromageries for the best Tomme de Savoie: why ski when you can prepare a Raclette or a Fondue?).

Poires are such great autumn fruits! 

Where I come from, in the Center of France, they are deeply used. 
You can find "poires tapées" (beaten pears): pears that are pealed and dried during three days in special wood ovens, and then "beaten" with a special instrument and laid in a traditional basket. 

But my favorite is la poire my grand father used to make with the fruits left at the end of the season: a pear brandy he would always serve to his good friends at the end of a great meal. 
Adults would sip a glass of this gorgeously perfumed "eau de vie" (litteraly "water of life") while we kids would try not to be seen trying to soak a sugar cube in their glass: it's called "un canard", a duck, and it's a little piece of drunken sweet heaven...
"Eau de vie"... almost like water, makes you really feel you're alive!

La recette

Put the red wine to a boil

Add the spices: the cloves, the star anis, the vanilla, and a little bit of pepper
Melt the honey in it

Peal the pears, leaving the stem and gently plundge them in the wine

Put on sim and Cook for 25 minutes

You can eat them warm, but I prefer them cold, they can be kept in the fridge for days.

Bon appétit les amis!

lundi 19 novembre 2012

A magic soup just for you

My poor non-French people,

I guess you all know now that "French women don't get fat".
Mireille Guiliano, who I was lucky to meet a few years ago and interview her for a profile of her I directed for French TV, has explained to the whole world the basics of the French and perfect silhouette: eat everything, not too much, enjoy it but pay attention, and when you've forgotten all the rules, try and detox with a good leeks soup.
She's totally right, of course, but I prefer another magic soup...

La soupe de Cresson comme à la maison


2 bunches of Watercress

2 cups chicken broth



and some Creme Fraiche...

One of the best surprise when I arrived in LA was to find upland-cress so easily at the market.
It's actually quite rare in Paris, only in season and in some very specialised primeurs (fresh vegetables grocery shops).
But my mom would often cook it when I was a kid : in Sologne, where my village is, the land is very wet in some parts, and you could sometime find some fresh one while walking in the woods.

Cresson is so full of flavors, you would almost forget that it's very good for your diet, and for your health.
The Romans thought it was a good way to prevent baldness, the Greek imagined it was a good detox after a big hangover... 
Now the scientists have discovered a new incredible benefit: it is full of isothiocyanates, a good prevention against cancer, and mostly lung cancer I understand.

My uncle Bernard loved to use it in a salad in his restaurant, but I prefer it in a soup.This one is great to get comfort and energy at the end of a long day.

And the taste of the cresson?
I've spent the last three days trying to define it, and am still wordless.
So let me quote my boyfriend on that: "subtle, a bit astringent, it's kind of like a time bomb... Gosh, I don't know, why don't you cook some more so I can taste it again ?"

La recette

Put the chicken broth to a boil.

Wash the upland cress, cut it in half and plunge it in the broth.

Let it simmer for 20 minutes.
Put the leaves in the blender and mince them.

Then mix with the chicken broth

Add salt, pepper, and at the very end, add the touch of paradise: a tablespoon of creme fraiche...

(it's hard to find a good one here, so I use Crema Mexicana, which is very easy to find in the supermarket)

C'est tout!

Bon appétit les amis!

dimanche 11 novembre 2012

Be Chic! Cook Grilled Chicon!

My dear, poor, non-French people,

Let me tell you one thing. "La vie, c'est de la m...", as my grande amie Maha always says. Life is a bitch. You never get exactly what you wish for and alway miss what you don't have. 
Take me for example. I live in California, where the weather is 600 times better now than the rainy foggy Paris in November. 
And what do I dream of ? Cobb Salad on Malibu Beach ? Pas de chemin Joseph (I guess that's how you would translate "Now way Jose").
I dream about endives au jambon, les amis.

Endives au jambon


6 Endives

6 slices of Jambon blanc

1,5 oz flour

1,8 oz butter

2,5 cup milk

Grated gruyere

Jambon blanc is one of the best jewel of French charcuterie. Sérieusement
My dear uncle Bernard pretends that the best in the world is made and sold in the Rue de Verneuil, not far from the Orsay Museum in Paris. 

But I can't afford the jet ticket to the Left Bank every other day, so I was delighted when I found a fairly ok one in the market this week.

Click on the pic to know where to buy this jambon

This white cured ham is in every French fridge. It's the main ingredient of the popular "Sandwich Parisien" (Baguette, butter, gruyere cheese on Jambon blanc) and also a must have for all the "never getting fat" Parisiennes: this ham is poor in calories and rich in protein.

Now it's parfait grilled with Endives. 
This strange vegetable is grown in the dark, mostly in the North of France, where it's called Chicon. 
You can also eat it in salad, with some blue cheese and walnuts for example, but it is a totally different plaisir when cooked: it gets bitter, but in a great way, the kind of taste you pull a face at when you're a kid, but adore when you get older. 
And it's a great veg' to keep your youth in, as it's one of the rare natural ingredient full of selenium, a great anti-oxydant.

And how do we marry them? With a great white dress, and a perfect sauce: béchamel. This French classic was invented 4 centuries ago for the young duke of Bechameil and is now synonym of French and Perfect comfort food. It's not that diet, so I invented another "girly version" without it, which is also a délice, a delight.

La recette

Preheat the oven at 450°F

Trim the endives, and caramelize them in a non stycky pan. (you can add butter if you want, but you can also try not to get too fat)

Add one inch of water, cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, go for the bechamel...
Mix the flour with 10cl of milk.
Put the rest of the milk into a boil, and add the flour mixture when the milk is bubbling.

Stir Stir Stir Stir Stir Stir Stir Stir Stir Stir Stir Stir Stir

Add salt and pepper.
When the sauce has reduced enough to your taste, add the butter in small bites.
Lick the spoon and go to heaven.


Lay the cooked endives in an oven pan

Dress them each with a slice of jambon

Pour the bechamel

Add the grated cheese
(or, if you're going léger skip the bechamel part and add a pinch of cheese)

Put in the oven for 20 minutes (15 for the without sauce version)


Voilà !

The French and perfect way to eat your veggies and yout protein and your calcium while giving an orgasm to your palate...

Bon appétit les amis!