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.

5 Eggs separated

1 cup Powdered sugar
3 tablespoon Cocoa

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

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

Candies for embellishment

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:

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


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