Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Big Boys Birthdays~









We were so busy this past week..and I must admit I applaud that new quote.:"being busy is highly overrated".
When I hear..I'm so busy ,etc..I feel a choice to be busy has been made.
Except when appointments with doctors and dentists car repairs or tune ups etc..sometimes you just have no choice..
It has been a couple of appointement laden weeks for Jacques and I.
Friday we celebrated the big boys..46 and 42.
I decided to make the Nordic Ware beehive cake .I have had that pan at least 10 years..And I used the recipe on the cardboard it was packaged with.The last time I had made the Martha Stewart one.
The little cake tumbled out of the mold perfectly..
Don't expect a huge cake..it's ideal as an add-on.. or for a luncheon..or a small dinner party but for 12..it's not enough..that's why I made more things..but it's got the cuteness factor down to a T.
I had bought mini bees to decorate..but take another glance at tiny yellow hearts..do you see them?
I had to share..again..that wondergirl of baking all things pretty Sprinkle Bakes..shared an interesting method to make home made edible decorations at a very small price..
Go here for the tutorial..I loved doing them and will do more..Noah stole a heart.. and said EUwwww..what is that?  Anyways ..I like them.:)He expected more:) wonder if we could flavor them?  Next I will try that.Noah needs a taste..not just a consistency;)
Anyway the cake disappeared..it's like a pound cake..  num num playing Apples and Oranges;)

Made a new baklava recipe..I'll share it..


I made cookies..I'll post those soon..Chicken cookies for the Chicken men..:)

Love playing  society games w/ them..Lucas is getting into it..The men were moaning the Canadiens/Senators game..while we partayed playing games in the kitchen.And the younger ones Lightsabered and dressed up etc..
That day for lunch we ate lightly as I knewthat it would be non stop munching from the time we got there..
Had Carrot -ginger soup..How easy are soups like this?

A pat of butter..3 sliced organic carrots..a chopped onion..some garlic..some curry powder..sauté..cover with organic chicken broth..simmer until fork tender..and use your hand held blender adding  some freshly grated ginger.. a bit of cream or milk..season to taste.
Love.
So many carrot soup variations..like so many carrot cakes:)

Worked in the gardens Sat-Sunday~
So nice to be outside..even if it's chilly.


Friday, April 24, 2015

Plus bleu..comme le bleu de tes yeux~









Our first little girl..40 years ago..had the starkest black hair..like my mom..and I stitched a poem for her..about it on her white pillow case♥
Something about nothing more glorious to me than the sight of her beautiful hair on a white pillow case~
She reminded me of my mom..and her middle name is for her..Jeannette.
Then our second daughter appeared a few short 18 months later..
with fair hair and blue eyes..
They are blue..like the sky..like Jacques' mom's..no one else has those blue eyes..and Edith Piaf sings them so well..her blue eyes..

This little post..has shades of blue..

Many Mondays..Lucas comes for a little visit..fresh off the school bus.
I usually have home made something for him..this week I had been busy that Monday..and pulled out Little Ecolier type cookies..

He thanked me..but said my baked cookies..are special♥
Not like bought cookies..
Next Monday..I'll be baking.
When he arrives..he gets a snack..and later we have tea..I have used 3 different kinds of cups etc:)

I love that he enjoys it..enjoys pouring..and serving us after he serves himself.


He had a new book!

A book that had a secret code for writing words~

I remember secret codes..

One of the few things I do remember.

I was part of The Princess Club when I was 10.
Margaret Burnett..Susan P.. Gwen B... I think..we were part of this little club..
we found a fallen tree trunk and built our little fort..house/club around it..
we were Nancy Drew..the Hardy Boys..all rolled into one.. with pig latin and secret codes..

so when Lucas asked if he could write me things in code and I should decipher them..I was keen to go.

When he left I promised I would drop a letter off to him..using the Secret Codes:)

I took a pic of the code w/ my mini Ipad.. and the next morning I wrote him a letter..scrolled it..waxed it..tied it and sent off.
Most fun I had had in days.
His mom told me  he said it was a secret letter between he and I♥

♥ Daoust is open!
One of my favorite places opened this week..
a family owned and operated/greenhouse/ market place..

Pansies wre blowing in the chilly wind yesterday  as I scooted by..
I could not resist..
I bought blue for here..and multi for Mylène's hostess gift for the birthdays today..

During this past week.. I had some tea too alone.... w/ a pretty macaron..and made Penny's Ginger Cake.. from Ruth Reichl and the book Delicious.

DELICIOUS.

I love Ruth Reichl..hope to read this book..
and I could not resist,the look of Penny's cake.
I knew by the light color..that it would not be a gingerbread cake.
Jacques and I have ginger in our green tea every morning.
I buy fresh ginger..peel and cut in chunks and freeze..
nothing easier than using a  grater to grate fresh frozen ginger into anything every morning..So I took a large chunk out..
ground my spices..w/ the grinder I keep just for that..
and made Penny's cake.
I made half..yes I can use half an egg:)
My mini bundt..silicone..and I omitted the cloves because I had no whole cloves..
It was ginger perfection.
You can TASTE the fresh ginger..it is moist..and pretty.
I used Rhum and vanilla for the syrup..as we have no bourbon:(
And I left out the orange syrup..Just a dusting of snow..
Thanks Penny..and Lucas..and Jacques for carting me around every appointment these past busy weeks.♥

Bon Weekend..
Very chilly and damp this week~more in the forecast.It's 30F right now..enough please and thank you.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Finally..some green~

Sunday..evening...
















After a spell of brown and grey the sun shone this past week making things appear somewhat greener.
Last year..this time of year..I followed Chris and Scott's great tips about buying grocery basil and starting plantings inside.
I am following their lead again now..
This year I thought ..:"use your small San Pellegrinos..that you have been saving.."~:)
Done..
They actually look pretty on the kitchen counter catching the light..
Soon I'll start the Dahlias  in trays.
To cover the tree stump we are going to put a raised bed for herbs and a few vegetables.
The last thing I need is another garden..but a stump is hard to look at.
I need to fill in spots ..we shovel pruned older roses that were just not happy here anymore..
The nurseries will be seeing me.

We had pasta w/ my sauce and Chris's meatballs..with modifications..


That crust is my go to now.. 
PERFECT.
I made a new quinoa salad..
I had Pinned the recipe but then made changes..
The BBQ pizza requires a bit of pre cooked bacon..so I browned the quinoa in a tbsp of the drippings..:)
All 4 boys..have started Football close by..Oli and Noah are at the same level..beginners..then Max is at another level..and Lucas is at an older level.
We went to the first pratice..the families..if the boys enjoy it..will be there from 9-1..
It was lovely but brisk!
No uniforms yet..they are to follow..
A $3000.00 lens would be lovely to zoom in..
Any recommendations for a good not $$  zoom lens..for a Canon?
Longest zoom I have is 55-250mm..the reason I know is that it came with the camera ap 7 years ago..and it is written on the lens.
I am not even certain I won't look into a full frame camera one day..I don't even know what I just said you know..
I know nothing about cameras ...same as football.

Anyways..
It was fun to watch..the one I caught doing the warm up was Max..the smaller ones were not really doing anything..and the older one had not started:)
Frédérick came back from that first  workout assistant coach of Lucas' team..
Max put his ♥ into it.Push ups..burpees..OY.
He'll be 8 in exactly so many days..he can tell you..and he is  the shark lover.
Seems like that big board may be a usual fixture in our line of vision for a while..


OK probably..(no..truly..) the least pretty pic I have ever posted of our gardens..me amongst my garlic:)
Yes because that is how I felt this w/e..primping practically nothing..but w/ such anticipation and the sun in my face..:)
Watching my garlic grow...
That bratty little Clematis vine kept popping back into the photo:)



La Recette~

Adapted and modified..found here.

1 cup of quinoa..prepared as you like..I sautéed my quinoa in 1 tbsp bacon drippings..
I add 2 cups of broth..and simmer for ap 15 minutes..until all the liquid is absorbed..leave to rest..fluff with fork..you will kmow when it is cooked little tendrils seem to appear and no water is left..

When cool..place in a large bowl..add 1 cup rinsed drained chick peas
Chop up some kale
Grate 1 carrot
Finely chop some peppers
Parsley
Pumpkin seeds as garnish..
The dressing is simple..
The juice of 1/2 a large lemon 
some zest to taste

ap 3 tbsps olive oil
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp grainy Dijon mustard
Salt and Pepper to taste.
Whisk all together and mix into the salad.
Top w/ Pumpkin Seeds.
Makes a lot..I like it for lunch~



Friday, April 17, 2015

Olive Bread Twists~















I loved every marché in France that had olives to "sell"..and every landscape in Italy that had olive trees or groves..
Plus particulièment..I love olives..and bread..
So when I saw this post..I knew I had to make them..
I am so glad I did..

the only thing I will do differently next time?
Add  more olives..and salt~

The bread is lovely with Jacques' latest molasses dry cured pork thinly sliced♥

That bread whisk? Works so well for mixing the no knead bread recipes.

Soft cheese goes particularly well with these small baguettes..

I made 8 instead of 10.

One evening I made Ricardo's shrimp w/ garlic and sesame seeds served on a lovely rice..

There were a lot of appointments..here and there..so quick fish was on the menu..one night rotisserie chicken and vegetables..Rapini penne pasta..   



When I see that tree..in the last photo..I see a day trip that was nothing short of spiritual..and overwhelmingly beautiful.


While there.. (too short our time there..too short..)..I told Jacques I could live there..
It was sooo quiet..sooo serene..I knew even back then..that is what I love.


Bon Weekend~










Monday, April 13, 2015

Choux~ Choux Pastry~










Minis..I have a folder on Pinterest of Minis.. so nice to see small once in a while especially for desserts..
I have made these in the past..some with success..some without.
We were watching Curieux Bégin one night,,and Lesley Chesterman was a guest.
I knew who she was..  and knew what she did..but I had never seen her nor ever heard her speak.
I instantly liked her.
Down to earth,natural,smart,genuine.
She is a also a pastry chef apart form being a writer,food critic.. columnist..etc..
She made choux pastry on the show..just a small segment of the show..and I just loved how she explained everything.
So I set out to do it her way.
I had never seen anyone explain it so well:)
So I made some..and they rose and puffed and became golden and light.
This was definitely a make again for me...and I did.
You can fill them with all kinds of things..from whipped cream that you have flavored..or not..  a pastry cream.. a coffee cream..the last ones I made..Saturday..had espresso whipped cream in them.
What prompted me to have a real coup de coeur..was her sifting of icing sugar on top.
Fill them with ice cream and add a glaze..
or make a mountain out of them and make a croquembouche.
If you have never made any..this is fun to try..to make and to serve~

The finished little choux are way  too pretty not to make.

Again..both times I made 1/ 2 of the recipe..you can find the recipe in it's entirety here.

I'll jot down the half that I did..and a brief explanation of how I made them..


La Recette


1/4 C milk
1/4 C water
1/4 tsp salt..(I used salted butter so nosalt for me)
1/2 tsp granulated sugar
50 grams of butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 eggs beaten together 1 egg beaten apart   (full recipe is 5 together 1 apart)

Place first 5 ingredients in a pot on stove..bring to a boil,remove from heat and dump in the flour all at once..stir with wooden spoon until it forms a mass.. and does not stick to the sides or bottom of the pot,,put the mixture back on the stove and stir w/ wooden spoon about 2 minutes.

I then removed the pot from the stove..added 2 beaten eggs and beat w/ a hand mixer..1 egg at a time and make sure they are perfectly incorporated..it will be a smooth smooth mixture..lump free.. add more egg until the mixture kind of has a sheen..gloss to it..
I needed to add half of the extra beaten egg..and it was perfect.

I used my Silpat and piped the choux..  they like to be close together but not touching..they will expand and puff up so leave room.
You can flatten slightly w/ a fork..but I use the pastry brush as I am brushing all the tops with some of the leftover beaten egg.
Bake in a preheated 375 F oven for ap 35 minutes..don't peek by opening the stove..but keep and eye out..
The first time I did them like this..the second time..for fun..I took them out slit a steam vent and put them back in 5 minutes..

Place on cooling rack..and let cool before handling..they are as light as air:)

It made  about 18 choux for me.

Meanwhile 10 minutes before I was ready to pipe the cream filling I froze the beaters and the bowl for the cream..

Once cooled..slice in half and fill with cream..

I used this recipe..and again halved it

1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 tbsp of instant coffee (I used instant espresso)
1/4 tbsp boiling water
1/2 C icing sugar
vanilla to taste.

Place all the ingredients in your chilled bowl and beat until you get the consistency you want.
I like it firm enough to pipe prettily.

Sift w/ icing sugar

I fill mine shortly before serving..These I made in the afternoon around 2  ,filled and then refrigerated them ..
They were fine at 6.30 still.
I don't have whipped cream stabilizer but I read that you can even make them the night before if you have used stabilizer.
I read KAF has some.


The first time..I used plain whipped cream...the second time..the café one.
These are adorable..mini desserts..


I made Ricardo's bread again ..and forgot it!
I baked it maybe 20 hrs later..and it was just as good.

Perfect bread recipe..Crunchy crust..holey interior.♥

We had D. Lebovitz's Chicken Marsala  again..w/ modifications..and it was just as good again.
We watched the finale of Bloodline..

Saturday I went for a walk with 2 boys on bikes and one walking.. my daughter, and Ray their Chihuahua..
How those small dogs can walk so fast walking  against the cold wind of Saturday w/out a Kleenex in hand ..paw..is beyond me..
We met big dogs that should be ferocious..they were so sweet..while Ray tried to show them who was boss;)
They walked on indifferently.

Sunday Lucas rode over on his bigger bike..and I stepped out into the gardens..and hauled out the cushions for he porches.
The warm sun on my face..felt like a great gift.

My Easter tulips waned on Friday..they had lasted quite long though..
my daughters hyacinths..are still gorgeous here.



Soon we will be admiring our garden tulips..Not a second too soon I might add:)



Look at Pachysandra..I know I know..takes over..It's where I don't mind it to..but what resilience might I add!
The snow recedes.."like a hairline" ,my friend Nancy wrote..
and all this Pachysandra  survives ..year after year after year~

Friday, April 10, 2015

Comforting Pea Soup~






I love this soup..~
no better time to make it than Easter..when a hambone and ham is available.
I even used the spiraled ham and it is delicious.
There are so many recipes..
mine is now   a bit of this..a bit of that gleaned here and there.
It is still quite cold here..the weekend promises to be warmer..hopefully more snow will melt~
I was craving this Tuesday..after Easter..

Ma Recette~

1 1/2 cups of whole yellow peas..I place them in a large microwavable glass bowl.. More than cover with water.. to the top almost..Microwave on high for about 15 -20 minutes..let rest about 1/2 hr..and rinse. They should give a little..not be rock hard..and not mushy...because the cooking is done stovetop..so still with a bite.

2 carrots,2 stalks of celery,1 large onion,1 garlic clove.
I put all that in my food processor for a fine chop.

In a heavy pot..I use my large red Staub..
Sauté the finely chopped vegetables in a bit of Evoo and a tbsp of butter..
Add your ham bone that has  a generous amount of meat on it still..add 4 cups of chicken broth..2 cups of water..2 bay leaves.. salt and pepper..not too much salt..adjust that at the end..because your broth may be salty..and ham is salty.

Bring to a boil.. reduce heat..cover and simmer ap. 2 hrs.. check though..you don't want mush.. remove the bay leaves and hambone.. remove  ham that is left and chop and return to pot.. add ap 1 tsp of savory. .. or more to taste..I need savory in my pea soup..adjust seasonings..
What I do..is use a potato masher..and just give a couple of mashes..pea soup seems to go from fine to a block if it is too thick..I like to still have a pea soup consitency not a cream of soup..
You could also use your hand blender.. and give a buzz or two.
Serve..garnish with chopped parsley.
Love this..hope you will too.

I see my garlic tips poking through the ground that is still so cold..and I think..:"what a miracle!"..
so everything must be possible.

I planted them in fall..snow fell..we FROZE all winter..and as soon as the snow receded..these brave bright green stems forged  through♥

We are still so far from gardening..I have been playing  garden indoors.

It is easier for me to paint flat and not 3 dimensional.
I think I can only play flat and not loose.



I have 2 new pairs of garden boots.
My rubber boots had no hold..too weak..and I would often hurt the sole of my digging feet w/ them while pounding on the spade..
I bought sturdy ,weatherproof..very rubbery..floral Doc Marten like boots.With a heel and laces..;)
My boots were exactly the ones in my little Jardin above..

I cannot bear to wear my Hunters while in the mud for digging.
I also replaced my shoe like muckers.They were so used..
I wear boots more than shoes in life..
In order of preference..  Boots..  Flip Flops..Slippers..Sandals..  Shoes.

PS..Anyone watching Bloodline on Netflix? What a cast.
I know..I love Call The Midwife..this is the opposite.

Have a lovely weekend..hopefully most if not all of our snow will recede..

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter Sunday~















Lucas is the big boy now..
We see a big difference ..






Let's start with Easter Saturday~
It snowed during the night and into the morning..
That's what our backyard  and borrowed landscape looked liked through the window~

 Yeah.. so Saturday had a fresh new carpet of white snow..I love snow..just not in April~
Thankfully the sun shone all day..
So some of it melted..
And our kitchen was bright and cheery to finish some of the preparations..
I had made a Heritage cake..and frozen it..
I made some white chocolate Easter eggs and placed them on top..w/ some Cadbury eggs in the bottom part..
And placed some of my painted geese cookies around.. a slight drizzle of icing sugar mixed w/ almond extract first..and a sprinkling of fairy dust(icing sugar) after.
A few eggs here and there..I love those eggs♥

I made my wedding cake/all purpose great white basic cake..but made cupcakes because I had spoiled myself at Williams-Sonoma  and bought the last package of adorable Peter Rabbit cupcake kit.
WS is new to us..and far ..more than an hour..so I have been twice since it opened:(
I could be a regular.
I made a cream cheese buttercream icing..and it piped beautifully~
It just cuts the sweetness perfectly..andd not cream cheesy ..like my carrot cake cream cheese icing.

Linzers..  bunny faces:)  Some w/ the Laura Secord Nutella..others with raspberry preserves..
I didn't have hazelnuts so picked a new recipe.
This recipe w/out the hazelnuts ..doesn't comapre..I like the real linzers.

The baskets were packed and primped.. and a delicious quiche was baked.
Jacques cooked the spiraled ham..


That was Saturday~

Sunday ,early I put together the dough for Barbara's Honey Rolls..
They are delicious..and not one was left..and jacques didn't even get to try one.
They are puffy and honey..and pillowey.
I prepped Terry's Mustard sauce..
This is great you know..not everyone has a blog..but sometimes we get emails..and email back..and tips and tricks are shared with bloggers.
Terry ..doesn't blog..but still shares recipes and this mustard sauce was her husbands' mother's recipe.
She sent me the hand written recipe:)
This sauce was sooo good..and is now one of our regular recipes for ham and easter too.
Thanks Terry..

It was 20 F..by 9 AM.:(

Caroline came early ..around 10 and hid these eggs here and there..a lot of the snow had melted..see how unpretty Spring can be.

The Easter Bunny had left the boys a note in the mailbox..explaining that since they were bigger now..their eggs had their initials on them;)

And we three girls stayed outside while Jacques stoked the fire and chatted with Frédérick~
The kids came in..frozen..and by the fire they opened their eggs and munched..
By teh time lunch came around..we heard..:"I only want a bread..I only want ham..etc;)"
So they ate then went to play..and we finished up..by dessert they were hungry..then went outside again to play..
Busy busy day..
Max..our 7 yr old is in love with anything Shark related..His birthday is June 6th..he has already prepared his wish list..Max studies in French..so just smile at the phonetically spelled words..(some of them)
So now you can understand why Mylène made them shark hats after lunch~





La Recette
For my 42 year old basic cake recipe
Courtesy of Denise Cardin and she called it Butter Cake


4 eggs
 2 cups of sugar
2 cups all purpose sifted flour
2 tbsps baking powder
1 pinch of salt
+
11/2 cup of milk simply simmered with butter the size of an egg yolk.



Sift your flour  salt and baking powder..set aside.
In your stand mixer beat eggs with sugar until lght and creamy..add flour..mix..add the warmed milk/butter mixture..

Place in 2 8 INCH round cake pans..(prepared..either parchment or greased and floured)
Or make cupcakes..
Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes for the 8 inch pans,tootpick test.
Remember baking varies with sizes of pans.

You can make pineapple upside down cakes with this etc..
It's fail proof.
If you can believe it..I was reading a new cupcake cookbook and tried the recipe in the book.
Failed..
Stick to tried and trues for certain things;)