Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Seven Minute Frosting and Macarons

What, say you, is a macaron?


Just about every blog I've read recently talked about "Macaron Day".  As I was reading each and every post, a very strange thought popped into my here goes my story.

See this link for a recipe and photo of Macarons by David Lebovitz

Growing up in the 1950's and '60's, my mother made 7-Minute Frosting (do people still make it?) lots of times to cover a deep dark chocolate layer cake or a yellow layer cake with coconut shreds on the frosting.  We ate it while it was fresh, that's to say, it lasted for just one day, most of the time.  If it did get past the first day, the surface of the frosting developed a crust, but under this crust the texture was still soft and gooey.  When that happened, we considered the frosting to be a little old and least past its prime anyway.

Click here for Martha Stewart's recipe for 7-Minute frosting

As I pictured this in my mind, I thought,  this is almost exactly like the famous macaron, the only difference is the crust on the macaron is meant to be there!  That is the surprise....the softness under the crusty top layer.

How weird is this?   What I took for crusty, and moving toward stale, back then, is today's sought after desired effect for a perfect macaron.    « The macaron has been in existence since the middle of the 1500's, so some claim.  See Wikipedia for more information. »

Now,  what about the famous dessert  "Pavlova" ?   It, too, has a crusty top with a soft interior.  I first tasted one while in Australia having dinner with friends.  The sweetness of the meringue coupled with the tart of the passion fruit was fantastic!  Oh, so many,  sweet culinary pleasures....♡

Just saying.....


Tuesday, March 20, 2012


In a previous posting, I wrote about the soft egg that was coated in breadcrumbs and was rather neat to see.  Well, you know me, I just had to try this for myself. 

The part where I had to boil the eggs for exactly 5 and 3/4 minutes was pretty easy!  I didn't even have any trouble peeling the shells off of the eggs, either.

When I needed to coat the egg with the crumbs, I should have gone back to read the recipe again, because I didn't dip it in an egg wash to help the crumbs stick.  (I thought I would put some mustard on it and then roll it in the crumbs.)  My first egg lost all of the breadcrumb coating while in the hot oil.  All was not lost however...the egg was still good.

What a mess!

After rereading the directions, more carefully this time, the coating stayed in place.  

See,  the coating is still on the egg!

I put my egg on top of a salad instead of a mushroom sauce, mainly because, I didn't have any mushrooms, but I did have all the fixings for a salad.  It was very tasty.

Mmmmmmmmm,  good!

I love an arugula salad with an oil and vinegar dressing, also with some carrots and croutons.

Egg is almost gone, still one piece hanging in there.

Here's a good ending....sopping up the extra dressing with bread.

Those of you who love salads, will like this one.  The creamy yolk mixes with the greens and the dressing to create a richer taste.  The breading and frying of the soft-boiled egg adds a mysterious allure to the presentation.  Food for thought.......

P.S.  I bought these white plates and bowls in 1981 at the Migros supermarket in Geneva, Switzerland where I lived for three years.   Each time I shopped there, I would buy more until I had a large set of 12 of all the pieces.  I still like their simplicity....they have served me well.



Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Hi folks,

I'm back cooking again, this time I wanted to try apple fritters.  I rarely eat fried foods but I just saw a cooking show where they made this recipe so I decided to give it a try.

My batter consisted of flour, dark beer, and baking powder....mix it all together until it is the consistency of pancake batter.  I peeled and cored the apples, then sliced them into thin strips, rather like julienne strips, but just not so small.  Add the apple to the batter and coat them well.  That's it.

I dropped the coated apple pieces into hot oil, let them brown on one side before I turned them so they could brown on the other side. Each side only takes a very short must watch them to make sure they don't burn.  Take them out of the oil and place them on a rack in order to have them drain the excess oil, or put them on a paper towel if you don't have a wire rack.

Powdered sugar dusted on top

This is an easy dessert to do, plus the ingredient list is so short!

Better yet, try it with a big scoop of French Vanilla Ice Cream!

How did it taste?  The outside was very crispy, while the inside had soft chunks of cooked apple pieces.

Try it today......... make someone you love extra happy.

Oh yes, I forgot to add, the beer was a terrific amber ale, I drank what I had left over from making the batter.  I'm in the process of taste testing some of Michigan's fine brews, so that might be an upcoming post you won't want to miss.

I'm providing a link to a recipe here. I saw Jacques Pepin making a batter with beer, so I used beer for my recipe.  I didn't use an egg, I substituted beer for the water, I added 2 tsp. baking powder, and cut down the recipe for a smaller amount.  I only wanted about four small fritters so I used 1/2 cup flour to 1/2 - 3/4 cup beer. Add the beer a little at a time until it is like a thick pancake batter. I only used half of an apple.  You could add a little cinnamon and sugar, or a little lemon zest to add more flavors. That's the nice thing about cooking at home...add what you like.

Good eating!  ... and drinking!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My corner of the world....

A very cheery hello to everyone,

As the days become longer and the sunshine warms the earth, I'm reminded of the beauty of my little place in the world.  Daffodils are breaking the surface of the once frozen soil, and soon buds will be appearing on the trees and shrubs.  My forsythia comes first, followed by lilacs and crab apple trees, all in their splendid glory. The rebirth of such beauty is overwhelming to my eyes...the time-out period of winter allowing all living things to re-energize. 

Last summer,  on my way to the Farmers' Market,  I was stunned by the flowers and colors decorating the downtown area.  I had my iPhone in my pocket so I began shooting the lovely scene.  It was all so beautiful....I can hardly wait to see what this summer's plantings bring!

Here's what I photographed last year.

First, going from snow to white blossoms in my own yard.

from snow covered tree........ white blossomed tree

lilacs on my table from.......

the lilac tree on the side of my house

a glorious pink flowering crab tree

spectacular globes of color on every lamp post

Farmers' Market in the background under the green roof

The photos above are all found in the downtown area.  More flowers bloom all summer long by the curbs on the main streets throughout the city.  Many people have window boxes filled with annuals such as geraniums (like in France), impatients, and petunias.  Every year, art students create an original piece following the theme set by the city.  Later on in the summer, these works of art are auctioned off to the highest bidder.  It's fun to see what will be on display each year, the themes are sometimes very unusual!  If you look closely, you can see a frog, a turtle, and another one I can't quite make out what it is.

Getting ready to plant soon,


Bistro, Café, Eggs, Burgundy, and Trausse

Hello mes amis,

As I've continued to search for great blogs which are of interest to me, I came across some information I found appealing, not just for me, but for those people who will be traveling to France for a first trip or a return trip.  Here are a few of them.

After looking at many blogs in the past few days, I found this blog post by Wendy Lyn of The Paris Kitchen Blog describing what a bistro is all about. I definitely agree with her.  En fait, her entire blog is amazing and one that should not be missed!  She is a long time resident of Paris and knows her stuff!  You will not be disappointed with the knowledge she imparts.

Another post from Aidan of  Conjugating Irregular Verbs Blog.....which I found to be mouth-watering good...... was about the egg dish she ate at The Café Constant on Rue Saint-Dominique in the 7th.  She also found a recipe and video for making the eggs online at Wisconsin Foodie.  I'm very much like her when I find something delicious,  I want to try it in my own kitchen.  She did make them for her family and it all turned out great.  Here is the final installment with her very own version of the eggs! Bravo and well done!

and.....which came first?

I think you won't go wrong if you lunch, or dine, at either of these two places in Paris.  The really terrific thing about both is that their prices are reasonable.

A third blog I like is the one by Erin Hill who is a painter living in, and giving tours, in the south of France.  She's an Aussie who has found another great part of the world to sketch.

All the photos with dates on them I've taken myself....this is not by Erin Hill.

Last, but certainly not least, I came across this blog of a southerner living in the Burgundy region of France.  She has wonderful posts and many good recipes, too.  Lynn tells how she and her husband came to live in the chateau with this first post....very interesting!  An added plus on her blog are all the beautiful photos

I hope you've enjoyed my sleuthing.....and have clicked on the links in green to read more.


Friday, March 9, 2012

Hip-hip-hurray for bread

Hi to all,

Well, after reviewing my photos of Rue Montorgueil, and having more than enough ice cream in my freezer, I decided to put my ice cream machine away for awhile and make some French baguettes....quite a switch, you say?

I've made bread many times before but I had a new idea I wanted to try, which was, to start the baking on the highest rack for the first 10 to 15 minutes.  Our kitchen ovens don't get as hot as a professional oven therefore making it very difficult to get that first quick rise.  I read this idea of using the top rack, one day, so decided to give it a try now.  Also, I tossed a little water onto the oven floor to produce the burst of steam to help the quick rise before the top of the bread gets too dry.

With the high temperature, and the bread on the highest rack, I did feel the need to watch through the glass front on the oven door to be sure it wasn't going to burn.  In my opinion, they did get a little over browned.  As soon as I saw this, I moved the bread to the middle rack.  If you try this, you'll have to watch carefully because ovens vary.  I moved my bread after 12 minutes, but maybe, looking back, I should have moved it at 10 minutes.

As you can see, I made my own device to hold the baguettes ( ingenuity rules! ) while on their last rise and in the oven, with heavy tin foil formed into grooves, and then I put parchment paper inside.  It worked great!

I didn't have a razor to slash the tops before putting into the oven, so I snipped them with a scissor, which didn't work as well.  I knew a baker in Geneva who told me that some bakers stored a two-sided razor in their mouths in order to work faster....he said, also, that many times they chewed on the razors....yikes!  Picture this: they would flip the razor in and out with their tongue like men sometimes do with a short you know what I mean....have you ever seen that??   The picture in my mind is all too scary!  I'm shivering as I type this!

 The inside was moist while the crust was very crispy.  It could've had larger holes inside...something to work on!

 There are many recipes for French bread online,  I used this one, but I cut it in half using just 2 cups of flour and 1 cup of warm water.  This bread turned out to be pretty good, however, it didn't rival those baguettes you buy in a great French bakery. In case you want to know more about the baguette look here. was really yummy this morning topped with butter and raspberry jam!

**Thanks, Aidan, you're my first follower!


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Hey there again!

...hope you like food photos, because I'm honoring the shops on Rue Montorgueil today.....

when I remember my walk down this street last September, I want to move there this minute just so I could shop there everyday...reminiscent of my Geneva days when I shopped for fresh produce in my little neighborhood market each day for that evening's meal. It's all about buying local, fresh, seasonal, and eating right away. 

.... my meals would be soooo good.    (I eat pretty good right now, but I'm sure I would be more inspired)

The rue starts at L'eglise Saint-Eustache in the 1st arrondissement and ends in the 2nd arrondissement near where Les Halles once was, before they tore it down.  The rue is quite lengthy with shops on each side, there are even more shops on the side streets too.

Click here to see and read "A Food-Lover's Walk Down Rue Montorgueil in Paris".  This blogger has a great site called

Two bloggers I've been following have just posted "the Men of Rue Montorgueil",  you can read what they have to say, and see great photos of the men who own and work the shops, too.  Start with ,  after that one, try this site  it's the February 29, 2012 posting on her blog.  I'm envious of them...they can go there when they want because they live there!

Now sit back and enjoy a few of the photos I took while meandering up Rue Montorgueil.....

the street sign on the north end

the entrance on the north end of Rue Montorgueil

looking back down the street....

trying to decide what to eat.....a very hard decision.....take note of the cow scene on the roof....!!

cute little marzipan oink-oinks in a pastry shop...."1 little, 2 little, 3 little piggy"......

lots of sandwiches....

yummy small pizzas for anytime....they will reheat them for you too....

all kinds of cheese.....


you can pick up something to take home for dinner after work ends.....

young family shopping for lunch


more salmon

fillets of fish

Monk fish and escargots

large shrimp...gambas


sweet figs....

 juicy melons....Cavaillons, maybe?

salad plates ready to go.....

lunch plates of ham....

one of the side streets....

really cool cobbled street....

sun flowers.....


pink flowers....



and........more flowers!

meat shop

I can visualize myself in an apartment here, growing old, and only having to step out my front door to buy all that I need to live on.....what a life!

.................................want to join me?