Macarons just like Angelina’s

I discovered Angelina back in the days when I was modeling and use to spend my days just a couple of yards away from this landmark Parisian Patisserie . You may have heard of their hot chocolate …so creamy and delicious ; Alice and I were lucky to hold a hot cup of this deliciousness just last January (check past travel posts about Paris for all the yummy details ) but what I loved the best was their XL macarons : chocolate , coffee cream , pistachio crunch , caramel … unfortunately they have stopped making this XL size and only offer mini cute one bite macarons just like everybody else . https://angelina-paris.fr/en/

Not only the XL size is way more delicious “en bouche” , a better balance of flavors and texture , crunchiness and smoothness but it is way easier to make at home !!! Making perfect La Duree powdered colored macarons require some experience and a few trials even for a seasoned baker but this is my easy way to seriously delicious , melt in your mouth macarons !

( fun facts : Macarons are gluten free , pronounced mac-a-rohn not macaroon ….macaroons are coconut type of cookies , a totally different thing and not gluten free )

First trick : I only make them in one flavor , Chocolate . Yes because everybody loves chocolate but also because it is much more forgiving if your oven heat circulation color them brown a bit more in the back or sides …no matter what , they will be brown not pink with brownish sides ! I tried the pink , the white …even with my convection oven , I always got into troubles ! So chocolate it is !

For the macarons shells: 1 pound /450 gr of powdered sugar , 2 cups /200 gr of almond meal , 6 tbs /40 gr unsweetened cocoa powder , 3/4 cup / 200 ml egg whites ( about 6 larges ) Measure to be precise , a batter too liquid will not work .

Sift Powder sugar , cocoa and almond flour together to obtain a fine powder . You may have to do it a couple of times or blend in a food processor if you are using a more coarse almond meal . The finer the better . If you only do it once like I did …you will have a slightly less smooth shell but that won’t change the taste or result .

Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff . Fold in the flour mix gently little by little making sure to have an even brown mixture . The batter should be pretty thick not to spread thin on the baking sheets . Spoon the batter into a Ziploc bag and refrigerate until ready to pipe .

Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper and draw 15 circles 2 1/2″ diameter . Cut a corner of the ziploc bag and pipe the batter onto each circles as evenly as possible .

Let rest 5-10 minutes before to put in the oven preheated to 400F

I can bake the 2 sheets at the same time , side by side , but if this do not fit in your oven then bake them one at a time . Do not stack them as this would not make then cook evenly .They should be firm to touch and dry and cracked on top . About 10 minutes in my convection oven . It goes fast and you may have to turn the sheets once to avoid over coloring on one side . Slide parchment on work surface to stop cooking and allow to cool down . Mine are far from picture perfect but once put together and in your mouth , you’ll forget all about that perfect round circle !

While the shells are cooking , prepare the ganache : 3/4 cup /200ml whole milk or half and half or cream , 5 Tbs /70 gr unsalted butter , 8 oz /235 gr semisweet chocolate ( not unsweetened) Using a good dark chocolate is key . I like dark Belgian chocolate from Trader Joes or Valrhona best . Chop the chocolate in small pieces . Bring the milk and butter to a simmer . Remove from the heat and ad the chocolate . Whisk until melted and smooth . Transfer to a small bowl and let cool . I keep mixing once in a while to check the texture . You want it firm enough not to spread on the baked cookies but not too firm and hard already . By the time your shells are cooked and cooled it should be the right texture for the ganache .

Now trick 2 : I spread a layer of jam on each side of the shells …sometimes I also ad some more in a nest at the center of the ganache . To make 2 flavors , I do some with seedless raspberry jam available in our shop ( seedless is important ) and orange which I flavor with some Grand Marnier …because …why not ! Spoon the chocolate ganache and press each side of the shells to allow the cream to spread all the way to the sides .

Trick 3 : That is the most important one ! DO NOT EAT the same day you make them . These would be too dry and crunchy . Allow them the rest and soak up some of the ganache moisture so they will be crunchy on the outside but moist and smooth in the center . Cover with aluminum foil and keep in a cool place but do not refrigerate ( that is too much moisture and will kill the shell ) Next day is heaven ! 3rd day is still good but the shell starts to soften . You can freeze these too . But it does not get better than home made XL second day macarons !

I serve them with fresh raspberries or with a couple of candied orange rind I had made with oranges from our yard

Cherry season means Cherry Clafoutis !

They are as many clafoutis recipe as people living in France …everybody has one … me included . You may even have one as this French classic has crossed borders !

I combined a few recipes , made a bunch of trial clafoutis and this is the final version that I always do now !

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Basically a clafoutis can be a crepe batter poured over cherries ; a blend of eggs, flour and milk . Like crepe batters there are many recipes more or less rich . The richest the ingredients , the smoother and tastier . Try to switch the milk for a mix of milk and whipping cream and you will have even more delicious crepes . You can also ad an extra egg , a bit of melted butter …it only gets better I can tell you that!

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I like to mix grounded almond meal and flour to give it an extra flavor that mixes very well with the cherries . Beside the cherries , you probably have everything in your pantry at all times except for the vanilla sugar which I always bring back from France when I go.  Scrape the beans of a vanilla pod into some sugar and let it work its magic for a few days and it will be just as good .

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Combine the following ingredients :

8 Tbs of grounded almond flour + 6 Tbs of sugar + 5 Tbs of flour + 1 tsp baking powder + 3 Tbs melted butter + 2 eggs + 200 ml of whipping cream  ( 1Tbs of dark rum )

You can replace the flour by gluten free flour in the same proportions and ad 3 Tbs of tapioca starch if you want a gluten free version . We have started selling whole purpose flour imported from France . It is not gluten free but French flour does not give me the stomach ache that any American wheat products do .  I found that my gluten sensitivity is always gone when I am in France …and it is the same when I use French imported flour or eat cookies from France 🙂 61490747978__D8B53F2F-A5B0-4BFA-8CBA-F4149EA541C2 (Large)Butter a shallow mold and pour the batter over pitted cherries , the more the better ! Some people say that un-pitted cherries taste better but it is scary to risk braking a tooth over dessert so I pit mine .

IMG_2661 (Large)    Sprinkle a few toasted sliced almond on top and bake at 350F for 30 to 40 mns or until golden brown and a knife blade comes out clean when picked at the center .

This version of clafoutis does not have the rubbery texture that some have . It is light , flavorful and even more delicious a bit warm served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a sprinkle of crunchy brown sugar  . Do not refrigerate and eat quickly !

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Home made pizza are the best !

Making pizza at home is fun and easy ! The trick for a perfect pizza is in the stone you use . Cookut makes one with wholes throughout so your pizza will cook evenly ! This French brand makes very ingenious cooking gadgets , we use and love all of them  .IMG_0108 (Large)IMG_0109 (Large)Because we get heartburn with tomato sauce , I like to make a different kind of pizza using white fig jam for the base then pancetta , ricotta , arugula , capers and depending on the season fresh figs or tuna . Sprinkle with some oregano, olive oil and in the oven until fluffy and crisp ! A little balsamic cream before to serve ad just enough acidity !

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This is the pizza from our childhood…bought cold at the bakery to pack for lunch in a waxed piece of paper …thicker , more doughy with olives, anchovies and oregano …I added mushrooms but you do not need to .It perfect just plain ! IMG_2485 (Large)

 

Tarte Tatin in less than an hour !

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I do not know anybody who does not love a Tarte Tatin .  There is nothing better specially on a cool day !  Makes the house smell so wonderful .

For 100% success what you’ll really need is an 8″ cast iron pan . If you do not have any , you will still need a pan that can go from the stove top to the oven .

4-6 medium size Apples ~ 100 grs ( just a little less than a stick of butter ) ~ 100gr  (1/2 cup ) of granulated sugar ~ 1 vanilla bean , 2 sticks of cinnamon ~ 1 pie crust ( i use  Trader Joes frozen ones)

Set the oven at 375F

Spread the butter with your hands in an even layer at the bottom of the pan . Sprinkle with the sugar . Scrape the beans of vanilla evenly and put on the 2 cinnamon sticks . Peel , core and cut the apples in quarters . I use Fuji apples , they give out enough juice but not too much , get soft but do not compote when cooking , These are the most important criteria for choosing them . You do not want an apple that stay very crunchy either . IMG_2645 (Large)

Arrange the apples round side down over the butter . Make sure they are tight .IMG_2648 (Large)

Start the cooking on the stove ( high -medium high ) Do not touch the apples , let the butter /sugar melt  and bubble . You want to stay close to make sure you do not burn your caramel as it goes fast toward the end ( you can lower the setting a bit to make sure you do not over cook the caramel since it will still cook a bit after you take it off the flame ) . I rotate the pan to make sure the coloring is even , you want to avoid one side to caramelize faster than the other . This process should take about 12-15mns .  When the caramel has the perfect color not too light or dark ( taste bitter ) take off the stove and let rest a few minutes before to cover with the crust .IMG_2649 (Large)

Once you put the crust over the hot apples , you have to act fast . Using a spatula , tuck the sides of the crust into the pan and poke some holes so the steam can come out .

Bake for 18-20 mns . When the crust is golden brown , it is ready !

Carefully turn over into a plate when still hot . I like to use the juices left at the bottom of the pan . Pour some Calvados , Grand Marnier or Rhum in the pan , warm up and flambe. (Do not put the hood on or the flames will be sucked up)  Pour immediately over the tart . Serve warm with creme fraiche , vanilla ice cream or whipped cream .IMG_2654 (Large)

 

 

Canard in a hurry…

It starts to feel like fall and if you are starving  for something earthy , delicious that you can make in 15mns , here it is !

Duck breast with honey and cherry vinegar reduction over a creamy polenta …

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Now days you can easily  find duck breasts . I buy mines at Whole Foods . They don’t always have them out but they usually always have some in the back as these come in frozen . I like to have a pack in my freezer at all time so we are ready when ever the urge comes ! Each pack has 2 breasts . ( Note the proportions are  for 4 breasts even though I only show 3 in the pictures ) Thaw the day before .

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Your best 15mns cooking start now :

Take the breasts out of the package , pad dry , score the skin with a sharp knife  and season well with salt and pepper .

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Put the breasts skin down in the cold pan without any fat at all . Put on medium heat and let the fat melt and the skin crisp  about 4-5 mns .

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Turn and continue to cook on medium for an other 4-5 mns

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Check the meat by pressing onto the meat . It should not be hard but spring back . If not cooked enough it will be very soft . You can turn it back one more time to get that skin well crispy if you think you need an extra  minute to cook .

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Put the breast in a platter to rest while you finish the sauce . Remove most of the fat witch you should keep to roast potatoes …it will take your week day potatoes to the next level  !

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In the good drippings that are left in the pan , ad 2 tbs of cherry vinegar and 2 tbs of clover honey .

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Give it a quick boil so the honey start to bubble  and the sauce thicken . Do not over cook the sauce or the honey will transform into caramel and make a sticky sauce .

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Cut the breasts in thick slices , display immediately on the plates and serve the creamy polenta . Pour the sauce around ( not over the skin to keep it crispy )

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There are plenty of polenta to choose from . I order this organic from from Vitacost as I now cannot find it in our local stores . I cooks in 2 mns and is really delicious . I just put more liquid to keep it creamy and use soy milk instead of water or gravy .

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Roasted apricots with lavender honey

It is apricot season !

DSC_4867 [Desktop Resolution].JPGOne of my favorite way to eat them is simply roasted….the twist ??  Some lavender honey  ! Place the apricots cut side up in an earthenware baking dish. Sprinkle with some lavender flowers( very little or it could be too pungent) . If your apricots are not too sweet ad some sugar ( 2-4 tbs) . Bake in the owen 350F . When they start to soften and releasing their juice ad some lavender honey ( up to your taste about 4 tbs) and a couple of tablespoons of sweet wine ( Muscat de Beaumes de Venise …this one is my favorite because it’s so close to my home town in Provence) Finish to roast until a bit brown. Serve still warm with some fresh made whipped cream or panacotta gelato. Personally I serve them with some home made lavender honey ice cream and almond “tuiles” a traditional cookie shaped like a roof tile . This recipe will transport you to Provence !

Our Lavender Honey comes straight from Bonnieux in Provence. It is pure , raw and has not undergone any transformation . It crystallizes naturally and will melt if you warm it up . I love it just like that , spread over sweet butter on a good brioche or toasted challah  bread .IMG_2329 (Large)

Crepes fourees au Grand Marnier souffle

What’s best ? A crepe ? or a Grand Marnier Souffle ?

A crepe stuffed with Grand Marnier Souffle !!!! The French favorite Holiday of the Chandeleur is coming up February 2nd ( read more about it on the blog in a previous “recipe “post ) and you are just in time to master the art of crepe making ! Here are some tips from my kitchen .

I served mines with some home made Grand Marnier gelato ( just ad  Grand Marnier to a gelato cream base ) and it was the perfect hot , cold , fluffy and chewy texture …amazing and sure to blow your mind and your guest’s mind !

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This recipe will make 6 small individual crepes .  ( The ones on the photo were big : 11″ diameter and big enough for 2 people )

First you need to make the crepes . I use this shaker now because it is so convenient . No need to weigh anything . Milk , flour and eggs go in the shaker and the batter is done in 2 minutes …bullet proof , even my husband who does not cook is using it ! I flavor the batter with some vanilla and Grand Marnier . We sell the shakers at the shop and the magic crepe pans when we can ship some from France when we go .

Pour straight from the shaker with no lumps because it has a strainer inside . Butter the pan and cook on both sides . Reserve .

Make a pastry cream . This can be done in advance .

250 ml of milk , 3 egg yolks , 50 grams of granulated sugar ( about 3 1/2 Tbs) 15 grams ( 2 small tbsp ) of corn starch . 1/2  vanilla bean .

Mix the egg yolks with sugar and corn starch  . Ad the warm milk infused with the vanilla bean . Return to the pan and cook until it bubble mixing with a wooden spoon all the time ) . The boiling process smooth the pastry cream . Remove from heat and reserve with a plastic wrap covering the cream ( it has to touch the cream or this one will make a “skin”  ) You can keep in refrigerator for a couple of days .

Prepare the souffle batter just before to cook or it won’t rise so well .

Beat with an electric whisk 4 large egg whites with a pinch of salt . When getting firm , ad slowly 2 tbsp of sugar . and continue to beat until firm and shinny .

Incorporate gently the egg white mix into the pastry cream ( the cream cannot be hot , if you just made it . let it cool down at room temperature ) Do not over mix .

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Stuff the crepes while setting them up on parchment paper . img_3523 (large)

Cook 10-12 mns in hot oven 375-400F  until fluffy . Do not open the oven or the souffle will flop .

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Sprinkle with confectioner sugar and serve immediately with the Grand Marnier gelato or home made “creme anglaise ” ( see below )  flavored with Grand Marnier . I made a little hole into the middle of the crepe and spoon a scoop of gelato that melted and worked like the sauce does when you eat a grand Marnier souffle. If you do not want alcohol you can serve this with vanilla gelato and  chocolate sauce .

Basic creme anglaise : It is almost the same principal as the pastry cream with the difference that this one cannot boil or it will curl .

4 egg yolks + 80 grams of sugar + 400 ml of warm milk. return to the pan and cook on low to medium low heat turning constantly with a wooden spoon until it coats the spoon ( this can takes around 10-13 mns ) Ad Grand Marnier to your liking ; I like about 40 ml

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Roules au fromage recipe

Roules au fromage … all our childhood in a plate !!!

This was our ” hamburger” , mac and cheese , our fast food ,  the one thing our mum would buy at the butcher and just warm up in the oven ….one of the first thing we buy when in France , but Pascal’s craving was too strong to wait any longer and he thought I could probably figure out how to make them at home from scratch ….the result was even better than the “real deal” from the French deli !

Best of all is that you can make the shells in advance ( I even froze 4 to use later )  You can fill up the roules and have then ready in your fridge up to a few days ahead of time  . Serve with a nice green salad and you have a delicious meal in no time !

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Most of what you’ll need is already in your pantry or fridge : Butter , flour , milk , eggs . You’ll also need some shredded Parmesan cheese ( not grated not shaved ) and a sheet of puff pastry to make 6 shells  ( I get the frozen ones from Pepperidge Farms ) 

First roll the puff pastry on a floured surface . It has to be thin but not too thin  ( the roller and egg will give you a scale since I forgot to measure …hoops ) Cut into 6 long pieces .

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I made molds with aluminum foil and parchment paper .The molds have to be longer than the actual pastry so you have something to grab when it comes to removing them and you have to butter the paper to make that tricky step easy .

Brush 1″ on one side of the pastry along the length with some lightly beaten egg white so it will glue the over lapping pastry as you roll it on the mold . That took a practice run without the “glue” so I would suggest that you try out also before to wet the dough . Then brush some egg wash to color the shells when they’ll cook ( PS : this pic was from the first try without parchment paper , just buttered foil .Still worked but much more difficult to remove the molds )

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Cook in a hot oven 425F for about 13-15 mns . The shells have to be a bit under cooked as they will go in the oven again later. Let cool down then remove the molds . IMG_1102(1) (Large)

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The filling is a simple Bechamel or white sauce that needs to be thick enough not to run off when you’ll warm up the rolls again . Here are the measurements for 2 rolls :

50grams / 4 Tbs butter , 50grams / 5 Tbs Flour , 300ml Milk / 1 1/4 cup , 25 gr / 2 oz shredded Parmesan, nutmeg , salt to taste

( I put the measurements in grams as well for those who have a scale , also because it is easier to multiply quantities for 4 or 6 shells )

Melt the butter in a saucepan , when hot , ad the flour slowly and let “foam” while mixing with a whisk the whole time . Cook just a few minutes and keep light colored before to ad the milk .Because this is will be a thick sauce , adding the milk is a bit more difficult as it thicken very quickly and makes lumps. But it is also easy to break those lumps when whisking a thicker sauce so don’t be scared , just ad the milk in 3 times and smooth in between .

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Take off the heat and ad seasoning , salt, pepper, nutmeg ( enough to show in the batter ), the shredded parmesan cheese and mix well 

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 Pour this mix into a ziploc bag that will serve as pipping bag . Let it cool a bit more at room temperature . Do not wait until it is too cold to pipe into the shells or the dough will be hard and rubbery .Finish each end with some extra shredded cheese to garnish .

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At this point you can refrigerate or freeze until you are ready to serve . Bake to re heat in the oven for about 15-20mns at 375F , until crust and cheese are  golden .

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Plan better than me and serve with a green salad for a complete meal ! 

Enjoy !

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La Chandeleur

In France , 40 days after Christmas every year on February 2nd , we celebrate ” La Chandeleur ” by making crepes ! 

The date actually marks when Jesus was presented at the temple in Jerusalem.But Before becoming a religious holiday, Chandeleur stemmed from several pagan traditions celebrating the fertility of the earth and the beginning of the end of winter.

It’s said that in the 5th century, Pope Gelasius I started the Festival des Chandelles on this date, a candlelit procession through the streets of Rome that culminated in placing the blessed candles in the churches. Gelasius linked this custom to crêpes by handing out galettes (a type of salty crêpe) to poor pilgrims who arrived in Rome that day.

Nowadays the crepes themselves are the most important thing about La Chandeleur !

Get your kit asap as we just received some crepe pan from France as well as the flour . This makes such a difference !! A non stick shallow rim pan and flour that does not makes lumps or gives you stomach cramps …

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Making crepe is fun for all and easy as 1 – 2 – 3 !

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Un : You NEED this “gadget”  .  
I will never make crepes any other way now that I’ve tried this …I didn’t think it could beat my century old recipe but it is just as delicious and so much easier ! Plus it is 100% guaranteed to work !
Trust a French cook …and I know Crepes ….  

IMG_8374 (Large).JPGFill in with milk to the marked line , then ad flour to the next line , crack 2 eggs and shake !

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  Deux: I added a few extras just because …vanilla beans, orange flower blossom…wta ever you like best !

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Trois: No lumps , perfect consistency crepe batter going in !

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Swirl and cook on high heat until it browns on the side and bubble …just like pancakes. It is all in the “tour de main” to make an even crepe, not too thin or too thick .

IMG_8381 (Large).JPGThen comes the flip …traditionally you flip the crepe with one hand  while holding a coin in the other hand ….if the crepe land in the pan , it is good fortune , good harvest to come . I can do that …or could do that …but nowadays I play it safe : my technique is to get a very flat spatula under the crepe all the way to the center and then flip . 1st Crepe is usually “bad” and either trashed or for the cook …as the cook , I take that 1st bad crepe with just sugar …you can really taste the vanilla , orange zest…

IMG_8382 (Large).JPGA real good crepe is soft and melt in your mouth…the secret is all the fat you put in the batter: whole milk versus skim milk ; my ancient recipe even says that to make “fine” crepes add more eggs  …most of the ones we buy at farmer’s markets , trucks…are like cardboard to me and made under low heat witch is not ideal . I like to melt a little chunk of butter after I flip the crepe, let it melt , ad some Grand Marnier and granulated sugar . It is soaked in juices and the most delicious crepe you can ever serve !

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Quatre: Oh well …we need Creme Chantilly s’il vous plait ! 
An other totally ingenious gadget that makes whipped cream in less than a minute . Just ad room temperature heavy whipping cream in the jar with the 3 special silicon balls , a little powder sugar and shake …it is magic ! No mess , no electric whip …and the  whipped cream stays whipped for a couple of days if you can resist eating it all !

IMG_8385 (Large).JPGEt voila ! Now you are ready for the Chandeleur !

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 These not so “gadgets” after all …are any kitchen’s best tool ! The chicken is fabulous ,infused with flavors , steamed and not dry …served with roasted chestnuts warmed up in the gravy …even better than potatoes !

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The secret is in the holes ….will make your pizza crust evenly crunchy …IMG_8741 (Large).JPG

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One of my favorite Easter lamb recipe !

This is a very traditional lamb shoulder recipe typical from Provence and the perfect Easter meal . Lamb shoulder are almost impossible to find here but you can make this sauce with any other lamb roast .

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In your baking pan  put a lemon ( sliced , seeds removed ) and a whole can of anchovies in olive oil ( do not be scared by the anchovies ..their bones will melt during cooking and they won’t give a fishy taste to your lamb at all but a nice deep salty flavor …this is actually the secret ingredient ….if you don’t tell , they won’t know but they will love it ! ) , then some garlic cloves ( i usually boil them first for 15 mns to pre-cook them , that avoid to have them dry out and still be hard …this way they will melt in your gravy )  If you are doing a leg of lamb you will probably have to double all these proportions . Lay over you lamb ( shoulder , leg or rack) . Insert a few garlic cloves rolled in thyme and salt under the skin. Rub with herbs, rosemary works very well , salt and olive oil ;  bake .Once the meat is done , put aside . Remove the slices of lemon , take the skin of the garlic cloves and mix it all with the cooking juices to make the best gravy to accompany a lamb dish .

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DSCN3066 [800x600].jpgI like to serve my lamb with green beans, a potatoe gratin ( gratin d’auphinois de preference ! ) and an eggplant gratin too ….

For the gratin d’auphinois : slice with a mandoline thin slices of potatoes . Layer them in a baking dish  with herbes de Provence ,sliced onions , salt and pepper. Cover with whipping cream or chicken broth if you do not want the dairy and fat !In Provence we do broth but in the rest of France they do cream and sometime cheese ….up to you .  Bake until done …make sure it doesn’t get to dry …ad some liquid if necessary .

The eggplant “papeton” : skin and cube the eggplants ( 2 ) saute in oilve oil , ad salt , 2 bay leaves and cover immediately so the eggplant will give out water . Ad 2 crushed garlic cloves, thyme and cook cover until the eggplant make a mash .Ad a bit of water if it gets too dry . Take off the heat and ad 2 eggs beaten. Pour in a baking dish and bake in a double boiler until done ( 1 hour or so ) VOILA !!!

I appologize if my photos are not the best because I always remenber to take them when I’m in the midle of the cooking process and my hands are a mess or in a rush when I serve it because we really want to eat  right away !!! Can’t wait when it’s that good 🙂