Peach, Prune and Ginger Clafoutis

Cherries are among my very favorite fruits in summer. Something about their crunchiness, their color, their smell, and also the fact that you can eat them straight one after the other, in oblivious bliss, until you discover the mountain of pits lying on the plate. I tend to buy humongous amounts of these juicy jewels each time I go to the market. I gorge on them raw and I use the rest to bake. As it turns out, there are now two of us in this home who share the same passion for cherries.

As I was preparing to bake a cherry “clafoutis”, which is a classic French dessert, I started leafing through various recipes in my books. The bowl of cherries was sitting next to me and Loulou, who was drawing a “portrait” of her papa. Long story short, the cherries were gone before I knew it and my cherry clafoutis plans disappeared with the fruit. That’s when the plums and peaches lying in the basket drew my attention. Time to be creative and come up with a variation on the traditional recipe!

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Chocolate Pear Cake

Tomorrow is C.’s birthday. Chocolate – we can’t go wrong, warmth, magnesium …a little sugar, but high cocoa percentage. Loulou is helping, “maman je peux t’aider?” (can I help you maman?) she says as soon as she sees the chocolate chip jar on the table? Of course you can taste some, we have to make sure we are using the proper ingredients. Approval. “Can I have some more please?” this time in English. That is the beauty of expatriation. Your children speak more languages than you, with a better accent. They can correct you even at two.

A couple of pears are sitting on the counter top. They remind me of my favorite pastry at the boulangerie across the street from my parent’s place. They sell the most exquisite chocolate-pear tart. Pear, chocolate, chocolate, pear. Feels like we are on the right track. As we are looking into one of my favorite pastry books, we come across the “delice de chocolat”, a moist chocolate cake, to eat lukewarm, to serve with an apricot sauce. Getting closer.

Instead of the apricot, why not pears, apricots are still a little sour these days? Also, we tried a gluten-free version of the recipe.

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Boysenberry Amandines

This morning and for the first time this year, Loulou and I saw Boysenberries at the market. I know only one boysenberry tree and it is in Macedonia, near the Prespa Lake. Memories, memories. Running around the tree, climbing, eating, eating, eating. This tree was sooo generous. So much to eat. It was the last village before Albania. Could not go further, perfect place to stop. So my cousins and I would climb there, seat for a while until all our clothes were stained and our cravings satisfied.

I haven’t eaten boysenberries that often. After moving to France, I could only go there every so often. So here they are, just in front of me in a basket at the market four blocks from home. Loulou saw me grabbing the first basket as if it was the last one available, and I would never see another one again. She was intrigued right away “I want one please…”. Then we took an other one, and an other one, and an other one…and it would not be reasonable to go for more.

It is fresh and crunchy, flavorful and colorful. What else can one wish for?

Boysenberries are fragile, so we treated them as little gems. Small portions of a “moelleux” dessert. We ate it lukewarm with some creme anglaise and tea. A little bit of Macedonia, France and England mixed together…

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Zucchini and Goat cheese Millefeuille

As we can finally feel some warmth, fresh dishes start to become more appealing. My first step was to look inside our refrigerator searching for fruits and vegetables that shout “refreshing“. Fresh herbs, zucchini squash…how about something sweet and zesty to add to that, maybe a tad tangy too…yes, a green apple will do. Don’t forget le fromage (cheese), preferably fresh as well…and I was ready to let my imagination flow.

This is my process most of the time. I think of a mood, I think sensation, and then open my fridge for inspiration. Then I look at Loulou to confirm my intuition – always making sure that I choose something she might like, something healthy too. We are very fortunate to leave next to a great produce market and if the fridge is empty, the produce is at hand just steps away.

For this recipe you will need a few tools like aluminum rings and a mandolin. But once everything is on the table, the next steps go really fast.

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Beet Carpaccio with pears, parmezan shavings and baby arugula

“Rain, rain, go away…” is the new song Loulou learned today at preschool. Sunny days are finally back, along with the lush blooming front-yards and the smell of Spring. Some fresh and colorful vegetables are lying on the kitchen table and waiting for our afternoon ritual of cooking together. Her curiosity for new flavors and colors is always inspiring. She loves to smell and touch, hands me the ingredients on the table and we mix and match colors, shapes, sweet and savory. A healthy and tasteful afternoon snack for both of us. This beet salad is the result of that mix and match game.

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Goat Cheese Mint Tomatoes

This is the first of many recipes to come. Why pick this one? So many reasons. Well, first because I found these pretty tomatoes this morning at the market. Also because the recipe is fairly easy and rewarding. Mainly because I love eating it. Especially when you pick your tomatoes in season, especially if you find them in different colors and shapes. Add to that the smell of the fresh mint spreading throughout my kitchen… now you probably understand my choice.

There is almost no need for recipe. Just imagine the bright colors on your plate and the texture of a fresh goat cheese. Add some mint, chives, lemon and mint…That makes me hungry already and it’s barely past coffee time.

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