Monday, August 15, 2016

Your Own French Onion Soup

 Soupe a` l'Oignon Gratinee
(Onion Soup Gratineed with Cheese)

"Anyone can cook in the French manner anywhere," says 
Mesdames Beck, Bertholle and Child, 
"with the right instruction."  ~ Mastering The Art of French Cooking

Today I celebrated the anniversary of Julia Child's birthday by making Soupe a` l'Oignon Gratinee.   My husband said it was just as good (or even better) than the French Onion Soup that we love in Paris!  

You can find the recipe in 

It's also fun to actually watch Julia make the Onion Soup in her 1960's TV show The French Chef .  I found The French Chef DVDs at my local library and have been enjoying watching re-runs of the show.  They bring back such wonderful memories of when I was a young girl and watched The French Chef on visits to my grandmother's house.  Julia's episode of Your Own French Onion Soup is from Season 1, Episode 2

To make the soup, you need a lot of onions (as Julia says) and about 3 hours to make your own French onion soup.  The recipe instructions are very clear and it's easy to make.  The key to the best flavor is to use your own home-made beef stock or by using a very good pre-made bouillon like Better Than Bouillon Beef Base which is what I used because it's always in my pantry.   

So cheers to Julia for teaching us all how to cook in the French manner.  And as Julia would say at the end of every French Chef show...

Bon Appetite! 

(In the photos:  Apilco Lion Heads Soup Bowls purchased at Williams-Sonoma)

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Old Fashioned Peach Skillet Cake

 Peach Skillet Cake

In season now:  peaches!

Peaches are a major crop where we live in the Yuba-Sutter area of California.  They are at perfection right now so I buy them every week either directly from the grower or at our farmers' market.  I love them for breakfast with Greek yogurt, in salads and, of course, in desserts!  I usually make peach cobbler every peach season, but this summer I'm trying out some new peach recipes. 

Freestone Peaches

 Today I decided to try the Peach Cake recipe in The Silver Palette Cookbook.  The recipe only requires three peaches and I just so happened to have three peaches on-hand.  

The cake recipe seems old fashioned to me since you bake it in a cast iron skillet.  I could see my grandma baking something like this back in her farm days.  The recipe is simple and most of the ingredients are pantry staples.  The recipe consists of a simple cake batter that you pour into a well greased skillet.  Then you top the batter with peach slices and bake the cake for 25 minutes.    

 Hot out of the Oven

Next you crumble a yummy topping (sugar, butter, cinnamon and nutmeg) all over the peaches.  Then you bake the cake for another eight minutes and the cake topping will melt and spread all over the peaches.  The cake will be nice and bubbly and smell delicious when you take it out of the oven.  Trust me, you'll want to cut into it right away!

More, please!

Oh my gosh, this peach cake is so good; I am not sure I will ever make a peach cobbler again!  The Silver Palette recipe is wonderful, but I did make one addition.  I added 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste to the cake batter to give the cake more flavor.  

If you're thinking of making a peach cobbler this summer, make this peach cake instead.  I guarantee you'll love it!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Clafoutis #trois

 Peach Clafoutis

It's Bastille Day and to honor my French heritage I like to make or bake something French on this French national holiday.  Last year on Bastille Day, I made a clafoutis (for the first time) with mixed berries and we loved it.  

 Freestone peaches

So this year for Bastille Day, I decided to make a clafoutis again.  I just love this simple and rustic dessert which couldn't be easier to make!

Julia Child describes the clafoutis perfectly in Mastering the Art of French Cooking:
  "The clafoutis is peasant cooking for family meals, and about as simple a desert to make as you can imagine:  a pancake batter poured over fruit in a fireproof dish, then baked in the oven.  It looks like a tart, and is usually eaten warm."

This is my third time (#trois) making clafoutis and I chose peaches this time for my fruit since they are in peak season right now in the Yuba-Sutter area where we live.  I buy my peaches direct from the grower Sodaro Orchards at their farm stand.  Their freestone peaches are at perfection right now!

Peach Clafoutis Recipe

As for clafoutis recipes, I use a recipe that I adapted from Chef Daniel Boulud from a video where he made clafoutis.  Here is the video link to inspire you to make your own:  Maison Boulud's Clafoutis

And here is my printable version of my adapted recipe:  Clafoutis

Happy Bastille Day
Vive la France!

(In the photos:  Apilco Quiche Dish purchased at Williams Sonoma)

Sunday, December 6, 2015

James Beard's Persimmon Bread

Boozy Persimmon Bread

It's that time of year here in Northern California when persimmons are in abundance.  Recently boxes of persimmons have been dropped off at my husband's office.  The majority of the persimmons end up at our house because it seems people just don't know what to do with them.   

  This year, I wanted to try a new persimmon recipe.  After an internet search for recipe ideas, I decided to try an old James Beard recipe for Persimmon Bread.  About ten years ago, the fabulous David Lebovitz adapted and revived Mr. Beard's wonderful 1970's recipe

 Hachiya Persimmons

For this recipe, you will need the Hachiya variety of persimmons. These are the elongated, heart-shaped persimmons.  They are often referred to as baking persimmons because their pulp puree is delicious in baked goods such as persimmon pudding and cookies. 


Hachiya persimmons need to be really ripe or they are astringent tasting.  The best way to ripen them is on the countertop.  You'll know they are ripe and ready to use when, according to David Lebovitz, they are "soft and like a water balloon about to burst."

 Glorious Persimmon Pulp

The recipe calls for 4 (squishy-soft) persimmons to make 2 cups of persimmon pulp but I ended up using about 8 persimmons for my pulp.  After spooning out the pulp, I put it through a fine mesh sieve leaving the seeds and skin behind.  What is left is the most glorious, orange-colored persimmon puree. 

 Ready to Bake!

 This recipe makes two loaves.  I like to kick-up the spices in recipes so I added: 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp ground cloves to the 1 tsp nutmeg in the recipe.  I used Cognac for my boozy liquor.  You can add your own combination of dried fruits and nuts to the batter.  I've made the recipe twice now and like it best with just dried dates and toasted pecans.

One of my best tips for making quick breads like this is to use loaf liners.  I picked up this tip while travelling in England and use loaf tin liners by Tala, a British brand.  I use 2lb loaf liners in my American 9" loaf tins.  

Another tip to prevent the edges of your breads from browning too much is to put foil strips around the loaf tin edges during the last 10 to 15 minutes of baking.  

Better than Fruitcake!

    This bread, like many quick breads, tastes even better a day or two after you make it.  You even get a little "whiff" of cognac when you unwrap it! 

Thank you James Beard and David Lebovitz. 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

French Cake & Julia

 Gateau a l'orange one is born a great cook, one learns by doing."
~ Julia Child, My Life in France

I am remembering Julia Child on her birth date today.  Julia was my first cooking teacher.  As a very young girl, I loved watching The French Chef at my grandmother's house.  

One of my baking goals is to replicate the delicious gateau a l'orange that we enjoyed on our last trip to Paris at Mamie Gateaux.  And, thanks to Julia, I believe I can!

 Mamie Gateaux
66 rue du Cherche-Midi
Paris, France  75006

We came for the quiche and stayed for the cake!

I adored this adorable tea room and patisserie shop just a few blocks away from the Le Bon Marche and La Grande Epicerie de Paris on nearby rue de Serves.

 Maison Patisseries Menu
(The house pastries)

We arrived too late for the quiche so we enjoyed patisseries for a tea break lunch. 

That cake!

I loved the gateau a l'orange at Mamie Gateaux!

From my taste memory, I believe it is a simple orange sponge cake.  I found a recipe for Gateau A L'Orange in Julia's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1 on page 671.  I think this recipe will help me replicate the gateau (French cake) and I will add an orange glaze to it, like the one at Mamie Gateaux.  

And you can bet that on our next trip to Paris, we'll be having the quiche at Mamie Gateaux's and that oh so delicious, gateau a l'orange!  

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Clafoutis Deux

Cherry Clafoutis

Thank you Daniel Boulud for your wonderful clafoutis recipe!  We loved your mixed berry clafoutis so much that I couldn't wait to make another one.

 Farmstand cherries

And when I saw these beautiful cherries at the farm stand, I knew I was destined to make a traditional clafoutis with cherries, just like the famous ones from the Limousin region of France.

To fill 

Over the past few weeks, I've learned a lot about this French dessert clafoutis.  For example, I learned that the ancient word clafoutis translated, means "to fill".

So this time, I made a large clafoutis.  I filled a large round Apilco oven-proof dish with cherries (I pitted mine even though the French do not) and batter.  Then I baked it in a 350 degree oven for about 50 minutes until it was set and golden brown around the edges. 

Ready to Serve

Once baked and out of the oven, 
a clafoutis becomes a puffed and delicious French custard cake.  Trust me when I say, they are delicious!  Traditionally you serve a clafoutis warm, cut in wedges and dusted with powdered sugar.  


You can find my printable version of Daniel Boulud's recipe by

Clafoutis recipe

Monday, July 20, 2015


 Mixed Berry Clafoutis

Want to impress your guests...
make a clafoutis!  

I've wanted to make Julia Child's clafoutis for years.  Last week, on Bastille Day, I decided  a clafoutis would be the perfect ending to my French themed dinner so I finally made one.

I've tasted many French desserts but I've never had clafoutis.  From my research, clafoutis is the best known dessert of the Limousin region in France.  This rustic dessert is traditionally made with cherries in a buttered dish and covered with a thick crepe-like batter.  They are also called fruit flans as seen In Mastering The Art of French Cooking, where Julia Child calls them fruit flans.  

In my usual manner, I researched and compared recipes for my clafoutis.  In the end, Daniel Boulud's clafoutis recipe won out!  His recipe includes almond powder (almond meal) which traditional recipes do not.  The batter made enough that I could experiment and make two individual sizes as well as one large clafoutis, too.

Here's how simple a clafoutis is to make:

Step 1

 Fill your buttered and floured oven-proof dish (or dishes) with fresh fruit, of your choice. 

(This dessert was perfect for my petite Emile Henry pie dishes.)

 Step 2

Pour in the thick crepe-like batter.  Bake slowly till golden and puffy. 

 Step 3 

Let cool on a wire rack. 
They will deflate a little...just like a souffle!

Sprinkle on confectioner's sugar and serve. 


You can get the Maison Boulud mixed berry clafoutis recipe and watch Chef Daniel Boulud make it on this video from YouTube.