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Archive for the ‘France’ Category

After last Thursday’s “heavy” post I thought I would give you a break!  I am feeling rather giddy today as Husband is on his way home!  He called from Paris at 5:30 and he was about to board the plane for Atlanta.  If all goes as scheduled, I will see him step thru that gate at 9 tonight.  A month is a very long time when he is gone, and OH SO short when he is home.

Don’t forget tomorrow is Friday Baking Day…closing comments for this challenge, new recipes added!  And you will LOVE the new recipes! As you can tell I am in a bit of a rush today…things to do!  But I have tomorrow’s post ready and waiting…and then remember the drawing for June will be on the last day of the month! Hey, why don’t you invite your friends to join us for Friday Baking fun?!

AND it is full steam ahead on International Overall Day this coming November.  The interest is there, people are making contact and there is a flickr group started!  I will post more about all the overall happenings next week. I am gathering more pictures to share and hopefully will have some fun stuff to share then.

Until tomorrow I will leave you with another photo to enjoy!

julius


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Hello again! Just a couple of things before we get started this morning.  First, you still have until 8 a.m. CST to get your recipes posted for the Brioche, Cream Puffs or Focaccia.  Second, a big hug and thank you to everyone who left me a sweet, supportive comment yesterday.  I don’t want anyone to get the impression my feelings were hurt over anything that was said before.  I was mostly “laying my cards on the table” and coming to the defense of anyone who takes the time and effort to keep a blog and has met with the same or probably worse behavior.  Nonetheless, THANK YOU for being so kind and I do appreciate the time you spend here.

Now without further ado, here are your new recipes. Comments will be closed on the recipes posted on June 12th for the week of June 12-19 at 8 a.m. CST this morning (can you believe I am a little ahead!? Me either!). Thanks to those who participated! I hope you enjoy the next two recipes PLUS a Bonus Recipe! As last week, one is sweet, one is savory.  If you have any questions that cannot be answered by reading the Friday Baking page, email me or leave a note.  Happy Baking Everyone!

Recipe One:

Rachel’s Redneck Macarons

redneckmacaroons

Cookies:

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 3/4 cup corn starch
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temp
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Filling:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted  butter at room temp
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift both flours, cornstarch, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, at medium speed, beat the butter and powdered sugar until smooth and lightened slightly in color (about 1 minute).  Stope the mixer and scrape the sides.  Add the vanilla and mix until blended.  On low speed add the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated and smooth.

For each cookie, roll a level teaspoon in to a smooth ball.  pLace the cookies on the parchment lined baking sheet spacing them two inches apart.  Use a fork and gently flatten the cookies into a 1 1/4″ disk.  Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the tops feel firm and the cookie bottoms are slight browned – about 30 minutes.  The tops of the cookies should not color.  Repeat with the second pan.  Cool on the pan 10 minutes and them using a wide spatula, gently transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the filling: In a medium bowl use a wooden spoon to stir the butter, powdered sugar and vanilla together until smooth.  Stir in chips.

Turn half of the cookies bottom side up and using a thin spreader, smooth a rounded teaspoon of filling gently and evenly over each one.  Place the remaining cookie halves right side up on the filling and press VERY gently.

What a sandwich cookie!! The name just popped out of Rachel’s mouth when we asked her what they were.  The do resemble the lovely and delectable French Macarons which is your Bonus Recipe for this week!

Recipe Two:

Challah

5 cups unbleached white bread flour
2 tsp salt
2 TBSP yeast
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup plain yogurt or sour cream ( I almost always use homemade yogurt)
1 egg beaten
1/2 cup butter softened
1 egg beaten for glaze

Warm the milk/yogurt together to 90 degrees. Mix the flour and salt in a bowl and make a well in the center. Put the yeast in the well and add the warm milk/yogurt mixture. Mix to disolve with your fingers. Add the beaten egg and butter. Mix to form a dough. Turn onto a floured work surface and knead for 5-10 minutes until soft and shiny. Let the dough rise in a greased bowl covered with oiled plastic wrap, in a warm place for about an hour or until doubled.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface, punch down and form into a ball. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts. Roll each piece into a rope about 10 ” x 1 “. You may have to work slowly with a little rest in between so as not to stretch the dough to quickly.

To make the dough into a braid, press the four ropes together on one end, giving them a little twist and tuck for neatness.

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Counting from your left, fold strand 1 over strand 2, 3 over 1 and 4 under 1 and 4 over 3. Repeat until you reach the end. As you work the strands will probably lengthen. Nip and tuck the second end in the same way you did the first. Place finished loaf on a greased baking sheet, cover wtih oiled plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile heat the oven to 400.

Brush loaf with the second beaten egg and bake in the center of the oven for 35-45 minutes

Cool on wire rack.

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This bread but lovely served with any meal. We spread with honey butter. Delicious! If there is left overs it makes great toast or sandwiches, or even French Toast!

floline


Bonus Recipe: French Macarons

(this is a previous post from back in Jan ’08 – there is a short update at then end after we ate REAL Parisian Macarons)

Not the “pour one can of sweetened condensed milk over 5 cups of coconut, stir and drop by tsp onto cookie sheet” macaroons. The REAL macaroons. The macaroons like people stand in line for in Paris. Now I won’t lead you to believe that I would know if my macaroons were as good or even close to the same as THOSE macaroons. But I will say this…if THOSE macaroons are better than MY macaroons well, no wonder people stand in line for them. These were delectable! Hey! Ladurée has been making macaroons since 1862 and I have been making them since…Sunday morning so why not compare????

Now a small confession: I almost croaked from eating them. Yep, severely allergic to almonds – only the KEY ingredient in macaroons. I think if I had just eaten a baked and filled one, slowly savoring every bite, I might not have had to pop two Benadryl and take a sleep in the middle of having dinner guests. But nooooo, I had to lick the bowl after we had them in the oven. Look, they were amazing, okay? Truly the best cookie or cake as Ladurée calls them. This is from their website:

The story of the Macaroon

These small, round cakes, crisp on the outside, smooth and soft in the middle, are the most famous creation of Ladurée.

The story of the Ladurée macaroon starts with Pierre Desfontaines, distant cousin of Louis Ernest Ladurée, who at the beginning of the 20th century first thought of taking two macaroon shells and joining them with a delicious ganache filling. The way of making them has never changed since that time.

These small, round cakes, crisp on the outside, smooth and soft in the middle, are made every morning in Ladurée’s “laboratory”. The pastry chefs measure out very precisely the required amounts of almonds, eggs and sugar, before adding one final ingredient, a pinch of unique “know-how”, essential to the making of such a delicacy.

Once cooked and filled, the macaroons are put to one side for 2 days before going on sale, the time it takes to achieve a perfect balance between texture and flavour.

Macaroons come in two sizes: the mini-macaroon or “gerbet” and full-size macaroons.

With each new season, Ladurée pays tribute to this its most famous creation by creating a new flavour.
The existing range of macaroons is always the starting point when a new one is created, as the variety of colours is as important as the range of flavours and a vital part of their appeal.

I don’t really know how they wait two days to eat them but whatever.  There aren’t any more here!  Below is the recipe I used with a few pictures of the process.  A tutorial if you like.  In the next week or so I am going to make some using pecans instead of almonds and just see if it works and what the differences are.  I want so much to enjoy these cookies periodically but don’t want the whole allergic reaction, pop benadryl, become comatose for 2-5 hours, feel like I have been hit by a truck for 12-18 hours, all the while making 15-20 trips to “the little girls’ room” .  So I must improvise.  Then again maybe moderation would help.  So do you think a town of 2889 is ready for a Macaron Shoppe??? Me neither.   Until they are I will keep just making them for my friends and family.  Though at $2 each in the few US bakeries I could find that made them…it might be something to think about!

Swiss Meringue Buttercream
• 4 large egg whites
• 3 sticks (1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons
• 1-1/4 cups sugar
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract ( I used vanilla bean paste and it was yummy!)

Macaroons
• 1-3/4 cup confectioners sugar
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or other flavoring or combination (again I used vanilla bean paste – I love the pretty brown flecks)
• 1-1/2 cups (4 ounces) sliced almonds, finely ground, or almond flour
• the whites of 3 large eggs
• Pinch of salt
• 1/4 cup granulated sugar
• 1/2 recipe Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Sift confectioners’ sugar into a bowl. Whisk in ground almonds; set aside. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment beat egg whites on medium speed until foamy; add salt. Gradually add granulated sugar 1 teaspoon at a time, until the whites reach medium-soft peaks. Transfer to a large bowl.

Sprinkle half of the sugar-almond mixture over the egg-white mixture. Using a large rubber spatula fold until just incorporated. Add 1/4 teaspoon vanilla and remaining sugar-almond mixture, folding until just incorporated. Firmly tap the bottom of the bowl on a counter or work surface to eliminate any air pockets.

Transfer mixture to a large pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip (I didnt have a tip this size so I just use the coupler without a tip…worked fine – or so Rachel said! ). Pipe mixture into 1 1/2  – 2 inch circles on parchment lined baking sheet.

macaroons2.jpg

Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until macaroons feel slightly firm to the touch and can be gently lifted off the parchment (the bottoms will be dry), 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer parchment and macaroons to a wire rack to cool completely.

macaroons1.jpg

Carefully remove macaroons from parchment. Spread Swiss Meringue buttercream on the flat sides of the half of macaroons; sandwich with the other halves, keeping flat sides down.

macaroons3.jpg

Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes, before serving. Filled cookies can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days (This is comical isn’t it? The recipe made about  48 halves or 24 filled cookies so, I have no idea how long they will last in the frig!)

Isn’t this a beautiful cookie????

macaroons4.jpg

And I was right…they weren’t nearly as hard to make as one would imagine.   Family consensus – they were lovely, delicious, oh so good but Cream Wafers are still the favorite.

When we were in Paris we did eat Macarons…and honestly…liked ours better.



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givewayfrenchgeneral

Have two copies of this LOVELY book French General Home Sewn ! So I am giving one away!  This is a beautiful book with 30 sewing projects.  This is from the amazon.com website:

As the founder of the renowned crafts and notions store French General Kaari Meng scours the French countryside and Parisian flea markets for vintage treasures. Now this beloved designer has gathered her favorite patterns into a charming sourcebook sure to be coveted by crafters Francophiles and home decorators. She offers 30 simple sewing patterns for French-inspired projects~a scalloped tablecloth piles of pillows and bedding a festive party garland totes~and more. Lay-flat spiral binding and ready-to-use pattern sheets and embroidery transfers plus step-by-step directions gorgeous photographs and helpful illustrations make it easy to bring the palettes and pleasures of traditional French living into any home.

How to win you ask?  Leave me a comment saying you’d like to enter and if you would be so kind as to mention this giveaway on your blog, I would very much appreciate it.  Nothing elaborate.  Just a little blurb sending folks back over here with this graphic used as a link back to me.

givebanner1

Am I making sense?  Sound like a lot of trouble??? It’s not really.  And since you are so nice to oblige me in this…I will be adding a toile apron to go with your new sewing book!  A one of a kind toile apron made by Moi!  How does that sound?  Pretty sweet huh? The deadline to leave a comment is Thursday at noon CST.  I will do the drawing Thusday evening.  And just so you know…I will be doing a Valentine’s Giveaway as well!

Good luck everyone! Now leave me a comment and I will put your name in the trusty mason jar!

jar

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I think I would like to own a chocolate shoppe.  One a lot like this:

This lovely little shoppe was in the village of Valencay where we stayed in France.  Isnt it just adorable???

This is the owner on the right and her helper.

Thank you Hannah and Rachel for helping me out with the French!  They had several conversations with these nice ladies.  I stood there with my mind completely blank.  Nothing I practiced would come to me.

We visited this little shoppe several times during our stay.  It is hard to say what our favorite thing was but the Pain Au Chocolat was pretty near the top. And these lovelies were delicious as well:

That little hazelnut chocolate gateau was especially delish.

My mom, oldest daughter and I catered for about a dozen years…having a little shoppe might not be that far fetched.

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How did this happen? Where was I when Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday flew past? In just 4 short VERY short days I will drive Husband back to the airport to go to work. When I think of the fact that he will not see his happy home for 3 long months, I realize the sacrifice he is making to take us to France for this much anticipated vacation. I don’t think I would do it. But as he always says, “I love home, but my home is where ever you and the kids are.” I think he might have to rethink that after this trip. Home is where your bed is. Your table and chairs. Your garden. All those familiar, favorite things. Not only is this a huge in terms of time, it is just as huge in the use of his hard earned money. So yes, he loves us. A lot.

I realized after talking again to the home owner day before yesterday, that we are going to be at a great disadvantage not knowing much French. I do however (maybe not well) know how to say ” Bonjour. J’ai besoin de la clef de maison s’il vous plait.” This might get me the house key we will need. I sincerely hope so.  I am told the neighbor who holds the key for us does not speak English.  But expecting her to is rather silly, now isnt it?  You know what?  We will manage.  And manage well.  I am going to believe this.  Not need to get frightened now.  I have several pocket translators and I am reassured time and again that if we will make the effort, the French people will go out of their way to help us in anyway they can.  To say this will be a learning experience is quite the understatement.  I am however writing necessary phrases down in my own hand (I remember things much MUCH better if I write them down, to keep with me at all times.  One thing I have to remember is not to jump into a conversation without first saying “Bonjour!”.  This is considered very rude.  You know how you walk up to a clerk in a store and start with “Can you please tell me where______ is?” – not done.  Nope.

I will be posting more pictures of the lovely book shelves/cabinets.  We have decided to let them “cure” for a couple of weeks before placing the books back.  So I will show you the finished work and then when they are all loaded, I will show you more!

I must get busy.

Au revoir!

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Just thought I would let you know!

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has she gone you ask??? Well…I stole away for a couple of days with Husband.  Voilà! He was in class during the day (some work related stuff) and I did a little (too much) shopping.  I found the cutest little French Antique store.  The owner is actually French, she has been here 9 years and we had the nicest chat about our trip.  You can read more about it over at April in Paris.

I really hadnt intended on going but I couldnt say no.  Our time is so limited and it has been such a busy, busy hitch with the holidays, I admit it was a very good decision.   AND in amongst all my other shopping, I picked up a little something for the giveaway! Which as you all know is just a week away!  So…if you haven’t entered your name better mosey over there and do so.  And a couple of things I picked up for Michelle who helped me out with the kids.
The kids did just fine without me.  My friend Michelle watched the younger two for me on Monday afternoon and fed them two meals for which I am very grateful.  I know she went out of her way because that’s just how Michelle is…above and beyond the call of duty!  After all Hannah is 19.  And with Oldest Son just across the road and the two younger ones stayed with him at night.  All was well when I got home.

I spent most of my days at the fabric stores.   I have a couple of aprons ordered and I ‘thought’ I had the material for the one I havent made when THERE IT WAS…the cutest piece of fabric so…I have to get on that today and tomorrow and get those in the mail!

I will be back later with a recipe or two and as soon as the person who ordered the aprons has them in hand, I will post pictures!

Have a lovely day!

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