A few classic French treats


Yes, you guessed it - millefeuille! Caramelized puff pastry layered with vanilla crème pâtissiére, Americans refer to this particular delight as Napoleon. I did a brief internet search and couldn't find a quick answer as to WHY we refer to this as Napoleon, cuz the French don't. Oh well, it's good no matter what you call it!

Having just returned from a wonderful trip to France and the Netherlands, I wanted to share with you some of the goodies in which I indulged during our stay. I tried to make a point of tasting some of the classic French pastries to be had, whether in Paris, Lille or pretty much any large city or small village in the country. If there's a pâtisserie or salon de thè nearby, you should be good to go.

Although Steve and I were in Paris for almost two weeks, my most memorable classics were enjoyed in Lille, right near the Belgian border. The millefeuille you see above was at the Meert salon de thè, just down the street from niece Christina and her family's apartment in the heart of vieux-Lille.

I joined Christina and her children, Kiera and Liam, for a memorable mid-morning chocolat chaud et millefeuille. Christina had the millefeuille as well, along with the signature "M" inscribed cappucino, while Kiera went for her favorite religuese caramel and Liam devoured L'impérial, a layered chocolate hazelnut number topped with a gilded hazelnut (hey - it's France!).


Later that same day Steve and I joined Christina and her husband Glen for dinner at a lovely restaurant on the ramparts of vieux-Lille. Delicious food, good company and lovely surroundings sums it up.

For dessert Glen had his "usual" dining out treat, the café gourmand. Basically coffee with a medley of small desserts, the selection here was quite the assortment!


Christina and I went with the strawberry-pistachio tart served with a vin jaune sorbet - delicious! The crust was so crisp, the pistachio filling just right and the cool sorbet the perfect complement to the fresh berries.


You might be wondering what the Steve-meister had? He went with dessert wine which is often his answer to restaurant desserts. From a guy who loves pastries? Go figure! He claims he won't eat any dessert that his wife hasn't made. How sweet is that!

How about we end on a more savory note, OK?. In northern France one of the specialties is the planche, a board of charcuterie, cheeses, olives, etc served with bread. For a couple of our lunches at G&C's apartment, they provided us with that particular repast. Nothing like fresh baguette, a medley of cheeses, some saucisson, fresh veggies and hummus, nuts - and let's not forget the wine. Yum!


Thanks for everything Glen and Christina! And Kiera and Liam too!!

A pastry year in review and looking ahead

Wow!  It's already January 4 (one of Steve's favorite lines after the new year is "this year is flying by!), and I'm excited about a couple of recently purchased pastry books, compliments of a Schuler's gift certificate from my book lover husband.

Here's a little new-book-preview before I look back at some of the favorite things that I baked in 2015.

Dominique Ansel's The Secret Recipes caught my eye, not because of his cronut fame, but because he shares the history of his pastry profession as well as some of his innovative recipes.  I've just started working my way through the book, and I'm already inspired.

Samantha Seneviratne's the new sugar & spice spoke to me since I'm always trying to think a bit outside the box when it comes to spices and flavor combos.  And her stories of family life in Sri Lanka only serve to enhance the collection of recipes that focus on specific spices such as cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, pepper and more.

And so I look forward to plunging into some new baking adventures.

The cover recipe of Samantha's book is first on my list - pistachio and chocolate butter cake.  Of course I must get some cardamom in the house!

Dominique's "magic soufflé" looks really interesting (and challenging) - brioche dough wrapped around a chocolate ganache filling - man oh man, that should be fun.  I love doing new things with brioche dough, so stay tuned folks!

Now here's a brief pictorial of some of the favorites from this past year.

Galette des rois . . . .

served with chantilly, toasted almonds, fresh citrus and caramel drizzle.

My first English muffins . . . .

served toasted with butter and jam.

Brioche craquelins . . . .

oh so citrusy and crunchy with a crumb to die for.

 Chocolate génoise entremet . . . .

Golden raisin toast apple tart . . . .

Millefeuille chocolat . . . .

 Tarte aux fruits rouge pistache. . . . 

Cannelés bordelais . . . .

Crunchy topped choux  . . . .

Rustic summer crostata . . . .

Gateau Breton . . . .

au naturale
and . . . .

avec crème d'amandes et confiture
Tea flavored shortbread . . . .

Thanksgiving citrus cream tart . . . .

And last but not least a Christmas coconut cream tart . . . .

But I simply can't sign off without a reminder of the perennial favorites . . . .

croissant et pain au chocolat

chausson aux pommes

croissant aux amandes


Here's to a fantastic year of baking and pastry for 2016!!