A king’s cake for the Epiphanie tradition

With the French … it’s always about food ! To celebrate the Epiphany until the end of January , people host parties or dinners where they serve for desert a special cake  ” Galette des Rois ” with a “feve” ( charm hidden inside ). It can be  a coin , a bean or a tiny santon figurine .  Who ever gets it , is crown the king  with a gold paper crown  and is hosting the next party 🙂


The frangipane is a very easy cake to make and here is my recipe :

Mix together with a spatula:

150grs /5.3oz Ground almonds

150grs/5.3oz Sugar

150grs/5.3oz sweet butter  creamed not melted

3 large whole eggs

2 tsp of almond extract

Line a buttered pie mold with a puff pastry ( the frozen ones from pepperridge farm work great) . Make tiny holes with  a fork . Fill with the batter and cover with a second puff pastry sheet . Close it , brush with a mix of egg yolk and milk so the pie will brown….you can decorate it with extra pieces of puff pastry or simply use a knife to make some diamond designs .

Bake at 400F for about 40mns or until golden brown . Eat still a bit warm or re- heat  if are eating it later ! Toast with some apple cider or Champagne !

Le Souffle au fromage

This must be the best kept secret by every French cook … and there is a good reason why : Every time you serve this , you totally amaze your guests ! But it is so easy to make …you don’t want them to know how easy it was to whip this up in just about 20 mns ….

Today Pierre will unveil the recipe of THE Cheese Souffle !

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For 4 ramequins :

50 grs of butter  –  50 grs flour –  250 ml of milk – 150 grs of cheese ( italian mix from Trader Joe’s is tasty ) – 5 eggs  – nutmeg – Herbes de Provence

First you have to make a thick “Bechamel sauce ” . This is a base sauce to a lot of french recipes and hopefully you have already mastered this one . It took me a while to get this right when I first started cooking ….I had just moved out of my parents home and in with Pascal into a tiny studio in Nice . I was 18 and had never cooked before as my mum was always cooking so much . Learning over the phone , without any proportions because my mum could do it in her sleep without measuring  , on an old electric cook top was not easy …I made it too thick , too thin , with a lot of lumps but I finally got it !

Us for my 18th birthday …some 30 years ago !

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In a sauce pan melt the butter . When hot ad all the flour at once and mix well to make a “roux” Let it bubble and cook until lightly colored ( a few minutes ) Then ad the warm milk and keep mixing at it will thicken right away . You want a smooth,  heavy , sticky thick texture for the souffle . Take away from the heat and let cool a little.

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While the batter is cooling off . Separate the whites from the yolks . Keep only 4 yolks . Ad them one by one into the batter , mixing well right away so they blend in and not cook in contact . Sprinkle some nutmeg , Herbes de Provence and finally ad the cheese mix .

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Whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt until and nice and firm . Fold into the batter until smooth .

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IMG_8957 [1280x768].JPGButter and flour the inside of the 4 ramequins . Pour the mix into the dishes . This is the most important note and THE secret to any successful souffle : you must “clean “the inside of the ramequin  by sliding a knife  blade along the rim to separate the batter from the dish allowing it to rise freely and straight up . If there is some batter touching on an area , this will stick and make the souffle only rise on the other sides …look crooked and not cook evenly . Cook for 30mns at 350F and serve immediately as the souffle will deflate as soon as you take it out of the oven .

Enjoy and amaze your guests too !

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What Pierre is cooking ….a French classic : Omelette Norvegienne

Pierre is back in the kitchen ! This is an easy desert that you can prepare ahead of time for most of it and that will really impress your guests !

Get your apron on !

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An omelette norvegienne is Not an omelette and has nothing Norwegian about it …..it is an ice cream desert that you put in the oven to sizzle the meringue and  finish by “flambe” at the table ! This desert was created in 1867 during the Exposion Universelle of Paris by a french chef of one of the grand hotel to impress their guests with a technical desert . It had been said that egg whites didn’t conduct heat well so a meringue would be a good isolation from the heat of the oven …and the “omelette Norvegienne ” was  created ! For the longest time it was the pride attribute of palace hotels only ….not any more !           

You will need : 1 quart of Vanilla ice cream , some golden raisins, a good dark rhum to soak them in , 6 eggs and less than a pound of sugar.

Start by macerating the raisins in rhum over night . The next day take the quart of ice cream and let it soften at room temperature for a while so you can mix in the raisins and some rhum as well …no measuring …you can put as much as you wish . I like it on the strong side . ( You can also layer different type of ice cream or ad some crunchy toffee in)

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Layer the bottom of a “pound cake”mold with plastic wrap so it is easy to take off the mold later . Fill the mold with the ice cream and put back in the freezer. This can be done weeks in advance.DSCN8773 [1280x768].JPG

The “genoise” bottom  sponge-cake : Separate the egg yolks from the whites of 2 large eggs . Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks are formed , then ad 1,5 oz/ 40 grs of sugar to make a meringue . Beat until shinny and firm . Mix the yolks with 1,5 oz / 40 grs of sugar until creamy and fluffy . Incorporate a little bit of white mixture to loosen the batter , then sift in 1,5 oz /40grs of flour . Finish to incorporate the rest of the meringue by folding it in delicately with a spatula .DSCN8794 [1280x768].JPG

Put the batter down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper . Shape it to be big enough for your cake mold . Bake at 375F for 6-8 mns max until barely colored and cooked through .DSCN8796 [1280x768].JPG

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Put the sponge cake on top of the ice cream and back into the freezer until last minute .DSCN8801 [1280x768].JPG

Last minute prep : Heat up your oven to 500F .  Make a meringue with 4 egg whites  , a pinch of salt and 10oz / 280 grs of sugar . Make sure you beat the whites until firm before to ad the sugar and keep beating until shinny and firm . I tried to make this before my guests arrive and keep it in the fridge . The meringue soften and my desert was a mess . So make this part at the last minute to insure you have a nice and firm meringue OR you could probably make an “italien ” meringue witch means to boil the sugar into a syrup and ad this hot sugar into your beaten egg whites  beating until the batter cools off making a more stable meringue that should be able to wait in the fridge . Put the meringue in a ziploc bag , cut a tiny hole at the bottom ( or use a pastry bag with attachment ) and you are ready to decorate your ice cream cake ! Take the ice cream cake out of the freezer and out of the mold onto a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil . Decorate with the meringue and put in the oven for 5 mns until the meringue get colored . In the mean time warm up some Grand Marnier in a pan so you can “flambe” your desert when it comes out of the oven .( Do not have the hood on when you Flambe anything or it will suck the flames up the hood ! ) DSCN8749 [1280x768].JPG

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Slice and serve immediately !! The combination of hot and cold is really what makes this desert so special and a perfect ending to a Holiday meal .

Enjoy !

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Duck Confit and wild mushrooms winter tourte

This is fabulous recipe I use to make back in France for the Holidays . Originally the recipe called for fresh duck breasts and fresh duck foie gras….the foie gras bringing enough fat to the otherwise dry breasts making for the perfect Holiday dish . Now living in California where such delicacy has been banned ( and I have to say that our own livers have also a hard time digesting it too now ) I have modified my recipe to something just as delicious and tasty but healthier, much easier to digest and also legal !! No need to smuggle foie gras on your next trip to France ! 

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Serve it with a wild arugula salad , caramelized pears and pecan with a basalmic vinaigrette .

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But before to get there you first have to make your own duck confit as it is just impossible to find some here . Duck confit is one of the most delicious way to eat duck , even for those who do not care for duck as it is cured in such a way that it falls of the bones and melt in your mouth . I just wish we could find fattier duck legs with a thick fat skin but I still got delicious results with the legs I find at Whole Foods . Once cooked the duck confit legs can be kept in the duck fat for months in the fridge making the whole process easier as many steps can be done in advance .

Making duck Confit legs at home is so easy you will adore this recipe !

First cure the legs with sea salt rubbing the duck . Lay flat in a baking sheet and put in the fridge over night or for 12 hours maximum  ( any longer and your duck will be way too salty ) Then rinse and pat dry . I would make as many as possible since they preserve so long . You will need 5 legs for a tourte …but a duck confit leg with a crispy skin served on a potato gratin or mash potato is also a fabulous dinner any day !


The next morning , put 2 legs in a gallon size Ziploc bag and ad a small container of duck fat ( about 10 oz ) and fresh ground pepper . My crock pot can fit 2 -3 bags so 4-6  legs . Do not seal the bags tight yet . Fill the crock pot with hot water .When you insert the bags , the air will come out  . Make sure you let all the air out before to seal close making this cooking style “sous vide” . Start your crock pot on low setting for the maximum time ( 6 hours ) once the cycle is finished , let it on keep warm over night . The next morning , take the bags out of the crock pot , let cool off and refrigerate until ready to eat !

You can buy duck fat at specialty stores like Whole Foods . It comes in small containers and looks solid ….this will also preserve the duck once cooked and can be used over and over ….also tastiest way to saute some potatoes ! I always have some in my fridge ….

 The day you want to make the duck tourte , take the duck out and warm up to melt the fat. Boil some thick potatoe slices . When almost cooked , drain and lay on a baking pan . Display the duck legs on top and put in oven to broil until the skin gets crispy and gold. DSCN8802 [1280x768].JPG

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For a 12″ round pie mold big enough to serve 8 people :

Pull the crispy skin and duck meat off the bones of 5 legs , lightly mash about one big cooked potato ( the one sliced that was under the duck in the oven ), mash slightly a small jar of cooked and peeled chestnuts. Rehydrate a bag of wild dry mushrooms ( 25grs from Trader Joes ) then saute in butter with a bag of sliced crimimi mushrooms ( 10oz bag chopped ). Once all the water is evaporated ad to the meat + 2 eggs and 20ml of whipping cream , pepper , NO salt .Mix well DSCN8804 [1280x768].JPG

You will need a package of 2 frozen Pepperidge Farm Puff pastry sheets . Defrost the day before . Roll flat the 1st sheet and lay inside the pie mold. Fill with meat mix , cover with the second puff pastry sheet using water or egg white to “glue” the 2 together . Decorate with the rest of dough .Make a small chimney so the steam can get out and keep the crust crunchy , brush with egg yolk so it will get a nice color and bake for a bout 45 mns at 375F or less. Serve warm not hot .DSCN8815 [1280x768].JPG

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And voila !

Recipe for the Holidays

Cardon de Noel is a traditional vegetable dish for Christmas in Provence. You can find some during the Holiday season in the Italian markets like Mona Lisa ( Cardone ) Italian usually just fry them but we make them in a light cream sauce . The delicate flavor tastes like artichoke bottoms and pair very well with truffles . It is simply delicious and I wish I could find some year round ! Here is the way to prepare them …not complicated but the preparation on the vegetable is a bit labor intensive . The best would be to find super fresh young cardone , as white as possible ( that makes it easier to clean ) but it’s not always the case …They look like big celery stalks but are a bit “furry” and more grey .


RecipeYou have to remove all the threads like for celery ….and there are always a lot ! Wear gloves as it will stain your hands . Put in a bucket of cold water with a lemon juice or the cardone will turn black .





RecipeIn a large pot , boil water ; salt and sift in a large tablespoon of flour without making lumps. This will whiten the cardon as it cooks . Boil slowly for about an hour or until soft and tender . You probably will have to ad some water from time to time .

 Pierre is just over looking my job today !






recipeStrain in a colander …this can all be done in advance and put in the fridge to keep straining . The day you want to eat it just a make a light consistency white sauce or “bechamel sauce ” This is the most basic of all french sauces ….but I remember it took me a year to master when I was 18 and just moved out of my parent’s home and in with Pascal my husband  ….some 30 years ago now ! Since then I never weigh or measure anything and always just make a perfect bechamel ( put a good chunk of butter in a sauce pan , when bubbly ad the flour and “foam ” to make a “roux” …ad more flour as needed to thicken your roux and your sauce later ; ad milk and whisk non stop , keep adding milk until reach the right consistency , then ad a small container of whipping cream .)  For this recipe you want it to be pretty liquid like an “english cream ”  and you want to make more than enough so your vegetable is swimming in the sauce because as you bake it in the oven it will thicken and reduce . I do not put any cheese or other seasoning as it kill the delicate flavor ….only a good shaved truffle  is perfect addition . bake for 30mns or so until gold on top and serve .This dish goes perfectly with any poultry . Hope you like it !



Rabbit or Chicken with black olive tapenade and potatoes with bay leaves

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DSC00637 [Desktop Resolution].JPGThis is a traditional recipe from Provence with bold mediterranean flavors. It’s also  very healthy and  delicious ! 

This recipe is normally made with rabbit…a common meat in France , very lean and tasty. Here it is hard to come by rabbit but I found some at Siesel meat market in Bay park near Morena Bvd in their frozen section. ( 1 rabbit cut into parts : legs, trunk in 2 or 3 pieces, liver…will serve 6 people )  You can also use chicken thighs ( skinless ), breast would be too dry. ( count maybe 2 thighs per person )

In a cast iron pot , saute the meat in olive oil until brown. Ad , 4-6 thin slices of pancetta , 2 large onions chopped in cubes, 1 shallot chopped and toss until onions are soft and gold . Pour in 1/2 a bottle of white wine ( it should not cover the meat entirely but come half way ) Do Not Salt or pepper ( a lot in the pancetta ) , cover and simmer for about 1 hour. There should always be some liquid but it is not a liquidy stew…more like a “civet ” . In a pan , saute 1 pack of small white button mushrooms and 1 pack of small crimini mushrooms washed and cut into 4 pieces . Cook until  all the water has evaporate. Set aside. Remove the pit of some black olives and cut in small pieces ( but not chopped) , set aside. When the meat is tender ad the mushrooms and olives, turn a few times and remove from the stove to let cool down over night. This is much better the next day ….and this way you can prepare it in advance. The following day ; just re heat the stew ; when hot  ad 80grs  of Black Tapenade ( about 1 jar ) and serve with some fresh linguine or some baked potatoes with bay leaves : Cut the potatoes so you can insert some bay leaves ( do not cut the potatoes all the way so they stay together) , 2 cuts per potatoe.

Display in a baking dish, ad a few spoons of chicken broth at the bottom, drizzel with olive oil, salt. Bake in the oven 350F for a bout 1 hour or until cooked. ( for a faster version , cover and cook in the microwave for 10mns then put in the oven for the finishing crispness.

Enjoy it !

White peaches in lemon verbena syrup / yellow peaches in lavender honey syrup

Peaches are in season right now and so delicious ! This is a very easy recipe that makes a fantastic fresh summer desert …..

For 4 to 6 white peaches :

Boil some water and pour over the peaches . Let stand a few minutes. Strain and peal . Cut the peaches in quaters.

In 80cl of water , disolve on medium heat about 200 grs of sugar ( more or less depending on how sweet the peaches are )  .Take to a boil for a few minutes and ad a bunch of fresh lemon verbena leaves ( I grow my own , but you can find some at Hillcrest Farmers market). Let stand covered to infuse the verbena . Remove the leaves and gently put the peaches quaters into that syrup . Simmer for 10-15 mns until peaches are poached. Ad some new fesh verbena leaves and cool down in the fridge . Serve very cold with some syrup and some leaves .

This recipe can be done also with yellow peaches . Instead  of sugar , I use lavender honey in the same proportions and ad long zests of citrus fruits ( grapefruit, orange and lemon ) witch I serve with the fruits . The mix of lavender honey and zests is fantastic .

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Voila !! Thanks Pierre for an other great recipe 🙂


“Clafoutis aux cerises ” or traditional french cherry cake.

It is cherry season again !! Time to make some cherry cake or as we say “clafoutis” in Provence. This is a very simple recipe that sure will delect eveybody.


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For 6 people and a round baking dish about 10″ diameter  2 ” deep :

Butter the botton of the mold .Then fill it up with enough cherries to cover the mold entirely and almost have a partial second layer of fruits ( you’ll need almost 2 pounds of fruits ) .Pit the cherries carefully !!

Cover the fruits with a batter made with :

2 eggs lightly beaten , 200ml of whipping cream,

50grs of grounded almonds ( about 4 tablespoons ) available at Trader Joes . Ralph and Whole foods also sell almond meal

75grs of self rising flour  ( about 4 tablespoons ) , 40 grs of melted butter , 75 to 100 grs of sugar depending on how sweet or not the cherries are ( 4 to 6 tbs ) , vanilla ( extract or beans) and a dash of a good dark rhum .

( please note that the tablespoons measurements are really approximative….my mum said a couple of soup spoons = 2 tbs ??  I measure in grams not in tbs…..measuring in grams will give you the perfect result and you won’t take the chance to have  a cake to heavy in flour ….)

Sprinkle with some coarse crystallized sugar and a few sliced almonds .Bake at 350F for about 30 to 40 mns ( until knife comes out clean and cake is golden brown )

Serve with some panacotta ice cream or vanilla ice cream. I think that cake is best eaten a few hours after it’s done …almost still a bit warm so I try to make it late afternoon if we’ll have it for dinner. It gets a bit soggy the next day with the moisture of the fruits.


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