Thursday, November 30, 2006

16, Rue Royal, Paris

Despite the fact that I feel very crowded and occassionally rub elbows with total strangers..... and I am seated at a marble-topped table made for a person much, much smaller than myself..... Laduree still remains a haven of calmness for me and the many Parisians that are regulars .
Mouthwatering delectables entice you as soon as you enter this establishment. Counters are arranged to perfection with assortments of pasteries and of course, their famous macaroons, teas and cofffees, eclairs, petits -fours, chocolates, house cakes, brioches, pains au chocolates and an entire assortment of condiments to tuck in your suitcase for your travels home.
Croissants are the essential French pastry and simply put, nothing beats the real thing.....Once in a "blue moon" I will run across a croissant that appears to be flakey, but pick it up and it is loaded with fat and generally leaves a huge grease mark on the plate and all over my fingers. I give up! I just wait for the real thing! Sunday mornings in Paris are the best time to indulge in eating croissants.....but remember, no butter! I ordered an almond croissant......that's what you are looking at.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Picatta Al Limone

Had enough turkey? I am on overload at my house and decided enough was enough! No more turkey.............
Fortunately for my family, I had a few packages of veal frozen for emergencies.....this would be classified as an emergency. And, another factor that inspired me to prepare this dish was , the veal was sliced thin and pounded to perfection......quick and easy!

6-8 veal pieces, pounded and thin.
4 Tablespoons of butter.
1 Tablespoon oil.
1/2 cup of white Italian wine
Flour for seasoning.
Salt and pepper to taste.
3 Tablespoons of fresh lemom juice.
3 Tablespoons of capers that have been rinsed.
2 Tablespoons of freshly chopped parsely.
1 Cup of chicken stock.

Dust each piece of veal lightly with flour. Heat the olive oil and the butter and fry the veal until it is light brown, about two minutes.

Add the white wine and increase the temperature so that the wine is able to reduce to 3 or 4 tablespoons of liquid. Now pour in the stock and reduce this until all the liquids have become thickened. Add the capers and the lemon juice and simmer for a few minutes. Be sure to taste for seasonings. I had to add more salt.
Return the veal to the pan and let the veal heat for just about a minute. Sprinkle with the fresh parsely and serve at once!
This was very easy and such a pleasure to prepare........Happy Cooking!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

6, place de la Madeleine-Paris

If I lived as a Duke in Burgundy, my friends would be leaving my house with a gift barrel of fooling, this was one way to make sure your party guests hit the road quickly! ( I wouldn't even know where to find a barrel, let alone enough mustard to fill anything!) However, I can lead you to fill your own jar at this wonderful store in Paris.... Maille, the little store very near the Madeleine Church and metro. French mustards need wines or what they refer to as verjuice (the juice of sour grapes), and often wine itself to develope the flavors in mustards that vary from region to region. The most popular mustard manufacturers-Maille, Poupon, and the others, all carry top secret recipes and they are part of the appellation controlee which regulates standards of production. Most of us have eaten Dijon mustard which does have a bit of a bite-but wait until you taste the stuff in Paris-yee gads......your nostrils will flair and you will think you just had a bite of wasabi! Dijon mustards are wonderful for condiment usage and perfect for cooking. The mustard available from Maille is ideal for everything.....especially cooking! Remeber that any mustard added to a sauce should be added toward the end of the cooking or it could possibly turn bitter. Happy Cooking!

3 ripe mangoes
3 1/2 ounces of powdered sugar
3 1/2 ounces of thick cream
1 tablespoon Maille Fruit Preserves and Honey Mustard
1 ounce of butter

Peel the mangoes completely.
Slice mangoes into thick pieces.
Place mango in a buttered baking dish or 4 individual ramekins.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Mix the cream with the fruit preserves and honey mustard and pour over mangoes.
Bake for 20-30- minutes. Oven temp: 300 degrees.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

One Top Artisan Bakery

Despite the increasingly acknowledged fact that this bakery is so popular today, you can still manage to wiggle through the door and savor the aroma of freshly baked bread. You are undeniably in the right place, the bakery of Poilane.....
Visiting the local bakeries and pastry shops in Paris is a big priority on my list of places to see. Not only do I want to see, but I definately want to taste....
One shop we traveled to, on this last fast and furious excursion, was to the Poilane's bakery on Cherche-Midi. There is still no mass production and each loaf is still handmade. Once inside the store, every corner is jammed packed with delicious pastries and breads that could cause you to go into hyperdrive.....I wanted to taste everything!
In this artisan type of bakery, there is continuous skill and care given to every item that is baked and the methods used have remained the same since its inception way back in 1932. There are two shops to visit in Paris and one in London. I hope you can make it to one of the shops's worth the time ... and getting lost on the way is one of the joys about roaming the streets in cities unfamiliar to us.....

Friday, November 17, 2006

A Quick Trip with my Sis!

That's my wonderful sister walking down the street.....she loves Paris (and France ) as much, maybe more than I. We live quite a distance apart and really enjoy the special times when we can be together. We are taking off for a few days, bet you might guess where......I'll be posting again later next week. Please stop by....will miss all of you! Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Cooking..............

Thursday, November 16, 2006

2006 Beaujolais Nouveau

One Fall sometime ago, I was introduced to this wine, not this producer, but to the wines and region of Beaujolais. There is a particular variety of grapes produced in the granite soil here that is found nowhere else, so I am told. I am not an expert by any means, but have aquired a taste for this oaky red wine which seems to be a wonderful companion to many foods that I enjoy.
For the last couple of years, I have marked my calendar and when the 16th or 17th of November rolled in, I was rolling out of my drive to the local wine store. Desparate to be the first in line, I never was! I have tried to keep this a secret in my little town as long as possble, but the "wine" got out! Last year one "piggie man" bought up practically the entire allotment of the Duboeuf. I was cursing under my breath and hoped he would hang on to a few bottles of this Nouveau , thinking they would age nicely, (not this wine, you drink it promptly) and then maybe next year he would not be so greedy or eager to buy..... .. I just wanted a few bottles to have for the holidays.......goes so nicely with turkey and beef.
Whatever you may have heard about this wine and all the hoopla that goes on in France when it is allowed to be sold, is hoopla for a reason. There is much history behind this Nouveau wine. It goes all the way back to the invention of the cork and the fresh wines that were instead, poured into casks. No corks, then it had to be drunk fairly quickly. Today it is still made hastily in order to be sold as quickly. This is not a wine you buy to store and keep for months at a time. Six months are probably pushing its expiration..... This is an inexpensive wine and has been chosen by many local bistros in the region of Beaujolais as a great table wine. And one more thing. ....a "good "bottle of Beaujolais can survive and mature for a long time. Try some, you may enjoy!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Table Settings

Throughout my travels, I have always been fascinated with beautiful dishes and cooking essentials. The first time I visited Paris in 1963 (yee gads) I noticed the small boutiques filled with beautiful colored ceramic and porcelain tableware. I knew when I grew up and had my own kitchen, I was going to have dishes similar to what I saw scattered all about the small shops in Paris. Well, guess what....I managed to drag home boxes upon boxes and now, I can't even use what I have. It seems ashame to have too many choices today.....just when you think you have everything, you see something else and go out and buy it! I spend hours in specialty and kitchen shops whenever I am on the road. I am so bad , my own sister refuses to shop with me if she knows I am in the dish mood.....there goes the whole day! I am not alone when it comes to buying kitchen essentials and beautiful tableware...........we all want out tables to be perfect and festive for any occassion after we have spent hours preparing for that special event.
I would enjoy seeing how all my blogger friends decorate their tables for the upcoming holidays. Please try to take a few photos that we all could share viewing after things have calmed down. Let me know your thoughts about this!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Mascarpone Pear Tart

I have a wonderful platter of pears on the kitchen table that are crying out, "do something with me." Well, they are about to be done! There are a few that are bruised so I won't use those! Choose the pears that are perfect in shape-nice and round... they will have to fit nicely against each other when you are doing the final arrangement.


1/4 cup of sugar
1 egg
1/4 Teaspoon of pure vanilla
6 ounces of mascarpone cheese
1 heaping Tablespoon of flour
3-5 Tablespoons of milk, or more if needed

2 Tablespoons of sugar
1 Tablespoon of lemon juice
4 perfectly ripened pears
3 ounces of macadamia nuts, roasted and chopped coarsely
2 Tablespoons of a clear fruit jelly, melted

Use your favorite sweet pastry for tart crust.

Use a loose bottom tart pan. Grease and gently add the crust to the pan. Trim to make pastry fit. Line the pan with pie weights, I use beans, and bake until lightly browned, about 15minutes at 350 degrees. Cool the crust.
Now, the fun part. Mix the cheese, vanilla, egg, and sugar until smooth. Add the milk so that you can spread the cheese mixture over the baked pastry crust. Cover the entire surface of the baked shell with the cream.
Once the pears have been peeled, brush them with the lemon juice to keep from turning brown. Now place the pears around the radius of the tart pan. They should fit nicely against each other. Sprinkle with the roasted chopped nuts.
Bake until light golden brown, about 40-45 minutes at 350.
Spread the heated jam and brush over fruit until completly covered.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Italian Culinary Exposition

How fortunate to have been able to attend this competition of various restaurant owners around Italy. The event took place in Montecatini Terme on a sparkling Sunday. Crowds of people silently wished to" just have a bite" of each display as they strolled thru this Neo-Classical museum with their cameras aimed and never missing a Kodak moment . Intermingled among the numerous huge marble columns at the Roman Spa were masterpieces designed by perfectionists. I have a few photos to share with you so you can view the displayed sculptures and tables of tempting appetizers,main courses and rustic crusty breads.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Osteria del Trivia

Few smells are as evocotive as fresh garlic intermingled with local seasonings cooking in the spotless kitchen of the Osteria del Trivia. If you happen to be in the town of Spoleto, Italy, and have a hearty appetite for Umbrian fusion, this is the place to stop for dinner. The restaurant is located in a quaint and handsome neighborhood, off the main path in the historic hilltop area. There are wonderful plates of seasonal treats, truly authentic, from pastas galore to balsamic laced pork-chops, stuffed artichokes, bountiful bowls of bean and minestrone soups, signature lamb and finally an array of desserts. The restaurant is opened from 7:30 each evening except Tuesday. The entire family is working in the kitchen and on the floor extending their gracious hospitality to all. You will not be disappointed..........Via Del Trivio,16

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Formaggio da Travola

In Italy, table cheeses are known as formaggio da tavola. As you noticed in the photo, this was presented to us each morning for breakfast. I can not begin to tell you how wonderful this combination tasted.....those who have had this before, you know what I mean. Once again, the unexpected ingredients of flavors filled my plate as I piled on the cheese "sky-high" trying not to look as if I was starving. I really couldn't help myself...............
Unlike the French cheeses, the Italian cheeses are more famous for use in "cooking" rather than for being eaten as a course alone. (As for my observations, cheese was always offered after every course, normally a very sweet blue.) The cooking cheeses are known as formaggio per cucina and what I think is the most famous is the Parmigiano Reggiano. This cheese is rarely eaten as part of a cheese platter outside of Italy..... this is the perfect cheese eaten with a fresh figs or a thin slice of proscuitto. Another fresh cheese is the ball of buffalo mozzarella served with some juicy ripe tomatoes and fresh green basil. And, my favorite, fresh ricotta sweetened with some honey. As you can see, the fresh farm cheese served with the pears was my choice.
The wonderful thing about being away from home is eating differently. I know fresh cheese and a slice of fruit would take third place next to the oatmeal and eggs at my house.( I generally sneak in a piece of fruit with my cereal, though.) Trying to find and buy fresh cheese is the problem where I live..... I definatley could be satisfied with that each day! Happy Cooking!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Tagliatelle and Walnut Pasta

Pasta originated in southern Italy with the first industry located near Naples. It was located here to take advantage of the sunshine, abundant grains and pure waters. In Italy, pasta is eaten as a primo piatti, first course, rather than the main course and it is always prepared and cooked fresh to order. My daughter and I are doing our best to produce some fresh pasta for lunch.....Patrizio is watching carefully .....or is he watching Allison? What do you think?

2 cups of toasted walnuts
1 3/4 ounce of fresh butter, salted
1 crushed garlic
1/2 cup of freshly chopped parsley
3/4 cup of extra virgin oil
1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup thick cream- I used whipping cream
A 14 ounce package of pasta, tagliatelle

Toast the walnuts until light in color, about 3 minutes on medium heat. Let the walnuts cool. After they have cooled down, process them with the parsley until well blended. Add the butter and mix well. Slowly add the olive oil to the processor while it is running and add the garlic, cheese and cream. Add salt and pepper. Follow the directions to cook the pasta. Drain pasta and add sauce .Toss well. Serve immediately.
A very quick and light pasta.....enjoy!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Patrizio's Tiramisu

The above photos were taken at the Capezzana Wine and Culinary Center located fifteen minutes west of Florence. We enjoyed an authentic hands on lesson making Tiramisu as resident chef Patrizio Cirri demonstated and then put us to work. I might also mention the schools director may be a name familiar to many of you who have read her cook and travel books, Faith Willinger. Patrizio was more than happy to share his recipe for my blogger friends in hope that you might join him around his wonderful wooden and marble table in the tradtional Tuscan kitchen at Capezzana.

Patrizio's Tiramisu

Serves 6-8 people and can be doubled.

4 eggs
3/4 cup of sugar
1 pound of mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons of Marsala/sherry
12 ounces of ladyfingers- use almost an entire bag of the sugar coated ones, not the soft ones you find in the bakery section.
2 cups of espresso,cooled.
2 tablespoons of coca powder.

Beat the egg yolks with sugar until pale and thick. Add the mascarpone and the Marsala and mix well.
Beat the egg whites until stiff and gently add to the mascarpone mixture.
Dip the ladyfingers into the coffee and place in a layer into a serving dish or bowl. Top with some of the mascarpone mixture. Make another layer of soaked ladyfingers. Now top with more mascarpone and continue with remaining cookies and mascarpone. Dust the top of the tiramisu with the cocoa powder. Chill.

This was by far, the most delicious tiramisu that any of us who attended the school had ever eaten. Of course, the biggest difference was the fresh mascarpone cheese that Pitrizio had available and...... that Patrizio made it! I certainly would like to have the market on that!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Deep Fried Zucchini Flowers

If you have grown zucchini in your garden, you have probably noticed the delicate blossom that is attached . For years I have never given much thought to saving these tender morsels, let alone preparing them as a side dish...wrong! My dear friend Viv, who lived in Firenze for a few months last year, raved and raved about how delicious this flower was to eat. I have had them prepared many ways in France, but not in a traditional Italian manner.
The courgette flowers appear in a steady stream while they are growing. Choose only the firm bright yellow and the most fresh for frying. Before frying, check to see there are no little visitors living inside the flower. Trim each flower so that you have enough to hold on to while you are dipping .


3 egg whites
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 3/4 ounce of plain flour
10-12 flowers
oil for the frying process
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/3-1/2 cup warm water

Take out your favorite wooden spoon and get ready! Start by sifting the flour with the salt. Stir in the oil and gently add the water.. ..Now you will need to use a small whisk to blend until the batter is thick, no lumps and smooth. In separate bowl, use a clean whisk and whip the eggs until they form soft peaks and gently fold into the batter. This is easy, right?

Heat your oil, canola will do well. Do not let the oil smoke. If the oil is really hot ,the flowers cook too fast. After dipping the flowers in the batter and coating both sides, cook until golden brown. Turn once. Use a slotted spoon to remove from cooker. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately. Sprinkle with salt for personal flavor. If you enjoy a more hearty effect, the flowers can be stuffed with an endless variety of cheeses. Gently stuff with cubes of cheese before covering with batter. Now, find your favorite bottle of white wine and pour yourself a glass or two!