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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Bonne Année à toutes et à tous!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

French Butter Cream Frosting


French Butter Cream Frosting or Crème au Beurre au Sirop

1-1/4 c. butter softened [2-1/2 sticks]
1 c. sugar
1/2 t. white corn syrup
1/2 c. cold water
5 egg yolks
1 t. vanilla
Dash salt

Cook the first 3 ingredients until it thickens.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks with the salt until fluffy, add the warm syrup into the yolk mixture and continue beating, add vanilla and continue beating mixture until it cools.
Cream the butter and add to the frosting mixture. If it still seems a bit soft refrigerate.

Image from google images

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Quote of the Week

"The longer we dwell on our misfortunes the greater is their power to harm us" Voltaire

Friday, December 25, 2009

Joyeux Noël

Joyeux Noël a vous tous.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Bûche de Noël


A Christmas Tradition in our home is the serving of a special cake called "Bûche de Noël" at Christmas time.Here's the recipe I use.

Ingredients:
5 Eggs separated

1 cup Powdered sugar
3 tablespoon Cocoa

Filling:
1 cup Whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon Vanilla
1/4 cup confectionery sugar
4 tablespoon Cocoa

Icing:
12 oz. semisweet chocolate
8 tbsp. unsalted butter
2/3 cup heavy cream

Candies for embellishment

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 400F. Grease 15" x 10" jelly roll pan. Line pan with wax paper. Grease and flour paper.

In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites with a mixer on high speed. Beat to soft peaks. Gradually beat in cup of powdered sugar. Beat to stiff peaks and set aside.

In a small mixing bowl beat egg yolks on low speed until thick. Beat in a cup of powdered sugar and the 3 Tbsp cocoa at high speed. Fold egg yolk mixture into egg white. Spread in pan. Bake for 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched.

Invert cake onto powdered sugar coated towel and carefully remove wax paper. Starting at the narrow end, roll towel and cake up. Place seam side down on a wire rack to cool.

To make filling:

Beat all filling ingredients together. Unroll cooled cake. Spread filling and re-roll without the towel.

To make icing:

Melt chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler set over simmering water over medium-low heat, whisking often. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in cream. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until icing thickens, about 4 hours. (Don't refrigerate; it makes icing hard to spread. Ice the cake with the chocolate icing and decorate with chosen decorative embellishments.

Image from google images.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Quote of the Week

"To enjoy life, we must touch much of it lightly." Voltaire

Photo by Ralph Morse, Time/ Life Pictures & Getty Images

Friday, December 18, 2009

Special Weekend Gift Special

I will have a "Weekend before Christmas special" in my shop on Etsy ~ Simply French Designs. I always offer free worldwide shipping but for this weekend I will also be including a free gift. The gift is a French charm bracelet kit "Boheme" from Seven Gypsies and will automatically be included with every order over $25.00. This free gift special will be available from Friday, December18 through Sunday, December 20. Click on the image below to be taken to my shop.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Art of Making Santons

A tradition I enjoy at the beginning of Advent is displaying our French Creche Scene with it's colorful Santon characters. In October of each year I purchase a new piece or two to add to our little Provençal village.

Santon comes from the Provençal word meaning "santoùon", or little saints. Santons usually represent the people of villages in Provence and are generally depicted in 19th-century dress. The original Crèches in Provence date back to the 17th century, at a time when larger nativity scenes were outlawed during the French Revolution. Santons were created and displayed along with biblical figures, to represent everyday people of the village, such as the baker, policemen, fishmonger or local priest, bringing their simple offerings or gifts to Baby Jesus.

The Provençal Santons of today are made from fine clay usually found in the Marseilles and Aubagne of Provence. Two-piece plaster molds are made from original carvings and are filled with the clay for molding. The figures are placed in a kiln for baking, are removed from the mold and painted in great detail using bright colors. In November and December every year, there are Santon Fairs in villages throughout Provence area of France. The original Marseilles Santon fair is still in existence, from the end of November to Twelfth Night (Epiphany).The largest crèche in the world (an official Guinness record) is an 1136 square-meter miniature of a Provençal village, located in the town of Grignan in the Drôme, 10 km west of Valréas, France. Someday I hope to visit in November and pick out a very special Santon for my Creche. The photos that accompany this blog post are from our family Santon Nativity Scene. (If you want a close up view - click on the photos to enlarge).
For more information on Santons visit a few of my favorite websites:
http://www.santonsmarcelcarbonel.com/?language=en
http://www.simplytreasures.com/

Sunday, December 13, 2009

French Proverb

“Write injuries in sand, kindnesses in marble”
Painting by Dante Gabriel Rossetti





Friday, December 11, 2009

French Canadian Tourtiere


"In France the Tourtiere pie-dish was a kitchen utensil for cooking pigeon and other birds. The contents of the dish were known as ‘piece tourtiere’ and during the first years in New France these distinctive words were used. Over the years the word ‘tourtiere’ came to mean a pate of fowl or game cooked and seasoned according to a special household recipe in the family stew pan, for into it went not merely turtle-doves but every kind of edible bird. Every housewife possessed her own secret recipe, jealously preserved from generation to generation. It was in this way that some venturesome housewives began to prepare ‘pieces tou-tieres’ not only with birds but with the meat of both wild and domestic animals. Such recipes held additional appeal since they provided more filling and sustaining meals." --Daily Life In Early Canada
Recipes for this dish in my family generally use pork as the primary meat. We serve this pie at out yearly family - “Le Reveillon” Christmas Celebration, which will be held this year on Sunday, December 13th .

My Family Recipe for Tourtière
  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground pork
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  2. In a saucepan, combine pork, onion, garlic, water, salt, thyme, sage, black pepper and cloves. Cook over medium heat until mixture boils; stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and simmer until meat is cooked, about 5 minutes.
  3. Spoon the meat mixture into the pie crust. Place top crust on top of pie and pinch edges to seal. Cut slits in top crust so steam can escape. Cover edges of pie with strips of aluminum foil.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, remove foil and return to oven. Bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown. Let cool 10 minutes before slicing. The flavors get better the day after, so it is wonderful for leftovers!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Make Your Own French Beret

You still have a few weeks before Christmas to create some special gifts. I found this great video on the Internet for creating a French Beret.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Quote of the Week

"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born." Anais Nin
Portrait of a Young Woman, Marie Louise Elisabeth Vigée-Le Brun

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

French Chocolate Sable Cookies

Etsy Cottage Style blog is hosting a Christmas cookie exchange party. I have included my favorite recipe below (which I love because you can make several cookie logs ahead of time and freeze for future use - always handy around the holidays). Click on the photo below to view all the recipes!
French Chocolate Sable Cookies

Ingredients:


1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup Dutch Process Cocoa

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

2/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

5 ounces good quality, bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chip-size bits


Sift the flour, cocoa, and baking soda together; set aside.

Put the butter in the bowl of a mixer and beat on medium speed until the butter is soft and creamy. Add brown sugar,granulated sugar, salt, and vanilla extract; beat for another 1 to 2 minutes.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the sifted dry ingredients. Mix only until the dry ingredients are incorporated (the dough will look crumbly. For the best texture, don't work the dough too much once the flour is added). Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix only to incorporate.

Turn the dough out onto a smooth work surface, divide it in half and, working with one half at a time, shape the dough into a log that is 1 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place on center rack in the oven. Working with a sharp thin-bladed knife, slice rounds that are 1/2-inch thick. Place the cookies on the cookie sheets leaving about 1 inch space between each cookie.

Bake only one sheet of cookies at a time and bake each sheet for 12 minutes. The cookies will not look done, nor will they be firm, but they will finish cooking while cooling. Remove from over and let the cookies cool on the baking sheet, until they are only just warm or until they reach room temperature, then place on plate. Makes about 36 cookies.

NOTE: This dough can be made ahead and be either chilled or frozen. Wrapped them in an airtight container. The logs can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for 1 month. If the dough is frozen, don't defrost it before baking—just slice the logs into cookies and bake the cookies 1 minute longer. Packed airtight, baked cookies will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days; they can be frozen for up to 1 month.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

French Movie Quote

Marie (Quiveron) Bracquemond
I think we can't go around measuring our goodness by what we don't do, by what we deny ourselves, what we resist and who we exclude. I think we've got to measure goodness by what we embrace, what we create and who we include.
Père Henri, Chocolat

image from Google images

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday - Cyber Monday Sale at Simply French Designs

Today, known as Black Friday in the retail world, is the official beginning of the Holiday shopping season. I will be having a sale in my Etsy Shop ~ Simply French Designs all weekend, from Friday, 11/27 through Monday, 11/30 (also known as Cyber-Monday in the on-line retail world). I will be offering free worldwide shipping and an additional 10% off with code "SDBlog" in the notes to seller. You must mention this code to obtain the 10% discount during this weekend event. The free shipping, however, is available to everyone and will be offered for the whole holiday shopping season until Christmas. Click on the banner at the top to be taken to my shop and enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Apéritifs

To precede a meal with a gentle Apéritif is very European. The word Apéritif comes from the Latin verb "Aperire" which means “to open”. The apéro is therefore designed to whet the appetite before a meal.

The most widely favored Apéritifs are aromatic wines, which are wines flavored with herbs and other products and fortified with alcohol. Many of the these wines have the bitter tang of quinine. I read somewhere (sorry don't remember where) that historically, Europeans living in the tropics helped to popularize flavored wines when they discovered that quinine (which was the antidote for tropical disease malaria) was more palatable when swallowed with some wine. Eventually, quinine flavored wines became appreciated in their own right for their refreshing bitterness.

Apéritif wines include vermouth (sweet or dry, or a blend of the two), Pineau de Charentes, Byrrh, Lillet, St Raphael, Campari, Dubonnet and Positano just to name a few. Serve straight or over ice-or my personal favorite is chilled Lillet with splash of club soda and a slice of orange. Accompany Apéritifs with snacks such as olives, roasted almonds or nuts, pate, crackers and bread sticks. Enjoy!

Santé!
Links:
History of Spirits

Sunday, November 22, 2009

French Proverb

photo by Robert Doisneau
“Where there's music there can be love”

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cheese-Crusted Potatoes (Gratin de Pommes de Terre) Recipe

Gratin de Pommes de Terre
(Cheese-Crusted Potatoes)

4-5 cups peeled, thin skinned potatoes (about 2 lbs)
salt and pepper
About 1/2 pint (1 cup) whipping cream(or half cream and half regular strength chicken broth)
3/4 cup of shredded Swiss or
Gruyère cheese

Spread potato slices evenly in a shallow, 1 1/2-quart casserole and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Pour in enough cream to barely cover potatoes.

Bake, uncovered, in a 325 degree oven for 1 hour. Sprinkle with cheese and continue baking for 20 more minutes or until tender when pierced. Makes 4 or 5 servings.

Image from google images

Sunday, November 15, 2009

French Proverb

“There is no pillow so soft as a clear conscience”

Friday, November 13, 2009

Baked Brie with Almonds


Baked Brie with almonds

A favorite appetizer of mine.

ingredients:

1 small wheel of Brie cheese

2 tablespoons butter

1 package almonds, slivered


  1. spread butter on Brie and top with almonds
  2. place on an oven-proof plate and bake in a 350 degree oven for a few 10 minutes until browned
  3. Serve with warm chunks of French bread, crackers and grapes. Bon Appétit!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Armistice Day in Paris 1946



French Armistice Day, like Veteran's Day in America, falls on November 11th each year. The day originally marked the end of World War I. In 1954 in American, Congress changed the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day as a holiday to remember all soldiers killed during a time of war. Click on photo to be taken to an interesting site to view a short film from 1946.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

French Proverb

“That day is lost on which one has not laughed”

Friday, November 6, 2009

Mousse au Chocolat (Chocolate Mousse)


8 oz dark bittersweet chocolate
3 eggs, separated
8 oz chilled whipping cream
3 tablespoons sugar

Instructions:

  • Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Let it cool for a couple of minutes.
  • Stir the egg yolks into the chocolate
  • Whisk the egg whites until very stiff and peaky, then slowly add the sugar, whisking after each addition.
  • Gently and slowly fold the egg whites, a spoonful at a time, into the chocolate. Don't fold too quickly as you want to keep the volume of the eggs as much as possible.
  • Pour gently into the small bowls or ramekins and put in the fridge for a few hours.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Etsy French Inspired Treasures

Here are a few items I found on the Artisan Site Etsy with that ooh la la, French flair! Click on the photo to be taken to the item in the shop.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

French Proverb

“To believe a thing impossible is to make it so”
photo by Denise Dion-Sullivan

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

a few new things

I love creating key chains with a French theme. Any of these can also be made into a necklace. Just email me or send me a convo from my shop. Click on photo to be taken to item in my shop Simply French Designs:




Sunday, October 25, 2009

French Proverb

“You often meet your fate on the road you take to avoid it”
photo by Denise Dion-Sullivan

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Quote of the Week

"To communicate through silence is a link between the thoughts of man". Marcel Marceau

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Free Worldwide Shipping!

I now offer free worldwide shipping in my shop Simply French Designs on Etsy. Visit my shop where you will find my original, French Inspired Jewelry and Simply French Style for Everyday Living. Put a bit of joie de vivre into your life! Click on the French postcard above to be taken to my shop or view some of the items at the bottom of this blog.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Quote of the Week

"All I wanted was to connect my moods with those of Paris. Beauty paints and when it painted most, I shot" Ernst Haas, photographerBoulevard by François Avril

Friday, October 9, 2009

Petits Pot de Crème au Chocolat - Chocolate Cream

This is one of my families favorites! They prefer this over American Chocolate Pudding. It is delicious with a deep chocolate flavor and creamy texture.Leftovers can also be frozen for another occasion. Bon Appétit!

Crème au Chocolat - Chocolate Cream
Ingredients:
1 cup (1/2 lb) softened butter (preferably unsalted)
3/4 cup sugar
8 ounces good quality, semisweet chocolate, melted
6 eggs
2 tablespoons of Grand Marnier Liquor (optional)
Sweetened whipped creme (optional)
candied violets (optional)

With an electric mixer or food processor, beat butter and sugar at high speed until well blended. Slowly pour in chocolate and continue beating until blended. Still at high speed, beat in eggs, one at a time, until thoroughly blended. If desired, mix in liqueur.

Spoon into 8-10 individual dishes. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 3 days; freeze for longer storage.

Just before serving, garnish each dish with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and a candied violet, if desired. Makes 8-10 servings.

photo found on google image

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Quote of the week

"Les grandes pensées viennent du coeur." (The greatest thoughts come from the heart).
Vauvenargues
Le Jardin - oil painting by Julia Watkins

Friday, October 2, 2009

Creamy French Pumpkin Soup

This soup is simple, has wonderful color and is just in time for cooler Fall evenings!



Creamy French Pumpkin Soup


Ingredients:
2 1/4 lbs pumpkin, peeled and cut into chunks
1 large white onion cut in quarters
3/4 cup light cream
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
dash of nutmeg


Put the pumpkin and onion in a large soup pot with 4 cups of slightly salted water. Cook slowly, simmering for about 15 minutes or until tender. Using a hand blender, puree the pumpkin and onion with about half the liquid. Blend until a very smooth fine puree. Add 3/4 cup of light cream. Adjust the seasoning according to taste and transfer the soup into a serving pot and keep warm. Just before serving add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a little sprinkling of nutmeg. Pour the soup into 4 individual bowls and serve with warm French Baguette.Bon appetit!


Monday, September 28, 2009

Quote of the Week

"One must from time to time attempt things that are beyond one's capacity." Henri Matisse

Friday, September 25, 2009

French Cheeseburger ~ Cheeseburger a la Français

French Cheeseburger
Cheeseburger a la Français

Sweet, slow cooked onions complete this delicious burger. Use large, crusty rolls - split, buttered and toasted.

4 hot broiled Beef Patties
1/4 tsp dry basil
4 slices of Swiss Cheese
4 Crusty rolls
slow - cooked onions, hot or reheated
Dijon mustard

While beef patties are still on rack, sprinkle each with basil, then top with cheese. Cut rolls in half and place on rack alongside patties. Broil until rolls are toasted and cheese is melted. Spread rolls with butter, put a patty into each, and top equally with slow-cooked onions. Serve with mustard. Makes 4 servings.


Slow cooked onions with crème fraîche

Enjoy these soft golden onions as a vegetable side dish, or use them as a topping for other vegetables.

2 Tablespoons butter
3 large onions, sliced and separated into rings
salt
3/4 cup of Crème Fraiche or sour cream

In a wide frying pan over medium heat, melt butter. Add onions and cook, stirring often, until onions are soft and golden (about 20 minutes). Season with salt to taste. If made ahead, cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days; reheat to serve. If desired, stir in Crème Fraiche. Makes 4 servings.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Quote of the Week

"Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love." Claude Monet

Friday, September 18, 2009

French Custard Apple Tart

It is already feeling like Fall here in Maine. My husband and I enjoy walking through orchards and picking apples so I thought I would post an easy recipe for French Apple Tart. It is a creamy custard tart from the Normandy region of France.

French Apple Custard Tart

8-inch pie crust
1 lb apples (such as Golden apples)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup whipping cream
3 tbsp cognac or brandy
  • Preheat oven to 375° F
  • Peel, quarter, cut the apples into thin slices. Toss them in a bowl with 1/2 cup of sugar and cinnamon. Arrange them in the pie crust. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. Then let cool.
  • Beat the egg and 1/2 cup of sugar until mixture is light, pale yellow. Beat in the flour, then whipping cream, and finally the brandy. Pour in the mixture over the apples.
  • Return to oven for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with sugar and return again to oven for 20 minutes.
  • Keep warm until ready to serve. Bon appetit!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009