Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Nutella or Jam Brioche Flower Bread


“Why do you keep eating bread and jam,” asked Father, 
“when you have a lovely egg?” 
“I like bread and jam,” said France, 
“because it does not slide off 
your spoon in a funny way.” 
- Russell Hoban, Bread and Jam for Frances 

Sometimes I feel a bit like Frances, eating bread and jam as much and as often as I do. Breakfast is always two oblong pains au lait, brioche buns, smeared with cherry jam. Every single day. While there is often cake on the kitchen counter and cookies galore in the pantry, when snack time rolls around (mid-morning, mid-afternoon, just before a workout), I find the jam and grab either the loaf of bread or baguette, the box of biscottes, or a slice of matzoh, heat up a café au lait and go to town. When out of town staying in a hotel, the basket of croissants and chunks of baguette are placed between us, and don’t we all feel that a croissant is the most luxurious breakfast treat? Well, I offer my croissant to husband, split the hunk of baguette in two, spread it with jelly or jam (cherry, orange) and start my day with bread and jam.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Cake Roll - Bûche de Noël


Beauties in vain their pretty eyes may roll; 
charms strike the sight, but merit wins the soul. 
- Alexander Pope 

With Christmas approaching rather quickly, I have been thinking about bûches de noël, the traditional Yule log cake served on all French tables at the holidays. While bakeries and pastry shops are already filling their glass cakes with bûches of all sorts, genoise filled with buttercream, layers of dacquoise, crispy feuilletine, mousse and bavaroise, or even ice cream bûches glistening under a cloak of gelée, I am considering making my own. Creating a büche is quite simple and rather fun for the flavor variations, the range of possibilities is endless, making for a very personal and personalized treat. And very festive!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Cocoa Molasses Chew Cookies


In seedtime learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy. 
- William Blake 

As things cool down outside, things are heating up within. I stepped out to walk the dog just yesterday and it was if Old Man Winter had arrived sometime during the night, sneaking into town on a whip of Arctic wind, the scarlet and silver shimmer of the holiday lights illuminating his way through the streets of Nantes. He seems to have drawn his cloak of burnished pewter over the entire city, casting a mysterious glow that bodes snow. Yet even as rumor finds its way to me, whispering of snow just a few hours away in Paris, we must settle for a kind of odd brume, the same one that arrives every winter content to mock my wishes for white yet bringing only mist.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Vanilla-Rum & Chocolate-Chestnut Saint Honoré


No party is any fun unless seasoned with folly. 
- Desiderius Erasmus 

Celebration season is swiftly approaching… Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year's Eve, my birthday and the purchase of a hotel. I've long been contemplating upping my pastry game and holiday season just seemed to be the time to do it.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Vanilla or Chocolate Sponge Cake with Cherries


Don't threaten me with love, baby. 
Let's just go walking in the rain. 
- Billie Holiday 

Autumn has arrived in full force; great swathes of leaves tinged gold and russet lie matted and forlorn in the gutters and gathered round the trees. Like mud. Autumn is ushered in with rain and smoky skies the color of dull pearls and I am saddened to think that we will never get snow, not in this part of the world. I turned my back and the city was dressed for Christmas, absent for two short days and the city was awash with cherry pickers and men in neon yellow vests and hard hats hooking holiday lights on every lamppost, swags of lights strung between buildings like clothes drying in the wind. But the gray rain-sodden days and my moody soul are not even brightened by the glittery lights, as they will not likely be turned on for at least another month. So we huddle inside and wait for news about the hotel and this weather, the changing season, makes me want to bake.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Olive and Parmesan Bread Stick Twists with Speck


Fallen leaves lying on the grass in the November sun 
bring more happiness than the daffodils. 
- Cyril Connolly 

Rain beats against the windows and batters the streets below, the wind howls (yes howls) in a terrifying rhythm against a backdrop of deep pewter gray, bruised and swollen. It is if the lovely first days of autumn carried in on November have been tarnished, have been sullied and stained by the single day of violence my city suffered.

Monday, November 3, 2014

David Leite's (via Jacques Torres) Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies


And the days dwindle down 
To a precious few, September, November - 
And these few precious days I'd spend with you, 
These golden days I'd spend with you. 
- Maxwell Anderson 

November arrived and with it our son, Simon, back from his two-month internship at a design agency in Munich. As I scooped golf ball-sized rounds of chocolate chip cookie dough onto baking sheets, he chattered away, telling me about the apartment where he stayed, about the people he worked with, about the projects he worked on and his thoughts about where he will apply for his fourth year internship next year. And his fifth year internship the year after. There is nothing like a real work experience to excite and motivate him to get through his next three years of school.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Italian Apple Cake - Torta di Mele

BACK TO SCHOOL – An Apple for the Teacher

School days, school days 
Dear old Golden Rule days 

I head back to school this week, two days in which to earn my Food Hygiene for Restaurants diploma. I was going to take the Permis d'Exploitation pour License IV course, which allows one to sell alcohol in a hotel, bar or restaurant, which I thought would be great fun, but as the Employment Agency at which JP is registered would cover the costs if JP took it, I was shuffled off to food hygiene. Well, I will be the one making the jams, cakes and breads served to hotel guests, so it is only fair. And school starts Monday.

Monday, October 20, 2014

French Meringue-Topped Rice Pudding with Apples


It is said that desire is a product of the will, but the converse is in fact true: 
will is a product of desire. 
- Denis Diderot 

So the cat is out of the bag. We are buying a hotel.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Caramelized Onion, Herb and Asiago Cheese Bread


Banish (the onion) from the kitchen and the pleasure flies with it. 
Its presence lends color and enchantment to the most modest dish; its absence reduces the rarest delicacy to hopeless insipidity, and dinner to despair. 
- Elizabeth Robbins Pennell 

Nose running like a second grader in finger painting class trying hard not to run a sleeve across her face, barely able to see through the thick veil of tears that have gathered, eyes stinging, I blubber nonsense about the sheer discomfort of the task yet forge ahead, press on with one, two, no three, I can get through to the end but I don't. I have to drop the knife and, a wad of paper towels pressed to my face, against my eyelids, dash from the kitchen and into the living room, fling myself towards the open window and breath in, desperately, greedily sucking in air. While husband sits cozily in an armchair and chuckles at me.


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