Chesnut and Chocolate Kings cake

It’s my birthday and though I am back on le Regime, I am going to treat myself today and bake a chestnut and chocolate galette. I have had too many cupcakes in December and the sight of one gives me stomach pains so let’s try an old French staple. Though I am inspired by the traditional French “Galette des Rois” I
am going to make it a little original by adding chestnut and chocolate chips. Yummy!

We eat la Galette for the Epiphany holiday and usually hide a surprise inside. The one who finds it is crowned king or queen of the day.

Ingredients:

Crust
Pepperidge Farm Frozen Puff pastry sheets (2) – defreeze day before
some white flour to roll the dough
1 egg
Butter cooking spray

Filling
Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal flour (1 cup)
Almost extract
1 cup salted butter (a little soft)
3/4 cup of confectionery sugar
2 eggs
2 tbs chocolate chips
crumbs of chestnuts (about 6 roasted/boiled)
a splash of rhum
a splash of almond extract

Mixing in everything for the filling is easy. I start by the eggs with the sugar than butter than almond. Save the chestnuts and chocolate chips to place them on top of the basic filling when it is dressed on the dough.

Dealing with the crust in a small NY kitchen without many utensils is a little bit more tricky so here are my tips. Use a pizza pan and a smooth yet strong glass.

Turn the pan upside down put some flour all over it and on the glass then spread the first sheet of dough so that you can cut around the top in a circle shape. Do the same thing with the second sheet put then cut at the base of the pan so this circle is larger. Keep the left over for a small quiche or cinnamon rolls.

Clean it up , dry, spray with Pam butter or just butter! Lay the larger sheet , spread the filling leaving 1 each all around in diameter.

Dip a piece of cotton or a brush in the remaining egg that you have whipped for an egg wash and put some in the empty space it will work as glue for the second piece of dough you can lay on top. Turn the sides in and press so there is no wholes. Continue patting the top of the cake all over with the egg wash.

Put in pre-heated oven 350 degrees. Make sure you turn the cake clockwise untill all the sides are heavenly golden. Then turn the pie upside down and gold the bottom or it might not be cooked inside . Do the same clockwise thing . Turn it around one more for 5 minutes and it is cooked. So depending on the over 30 to 40 minutes. But really just follow your instincts and the gold…. wait 20 minutes and eat. You can also eat cold or re-heat .

PS: you can draw motifs on top and on the edges with a spoon or something smooth but for your first time be careful because you can’t cut into the dough or the filling would spread.

Voila and it is delicious!!!

Published in: on January 9, 2010 at 4:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Real French Diet

It is that time of the year. After 2 weeks of food decadence , your clothes seem to have shrunk. Maybe used hot water instead of warm was used for the laundry but most probably your body as expended. Time for “le regime”, la diete. There are lots of legends about French women. I read that they could eat anything in moderation. It is BS. French women diet all the time. Some of them in a healthy way, others yes but just eating a little bit of high calorie food so it does not amount to too many calories.Typically one stops eating starches, sugars and fat. No potatoes, cheeses, bread, butter, desserts…Then we focus on staples that are filling and low in calories which are:

Fruits
Vegetables (steamed)
Crudites
low fat/low calorie yogurts
Vegetable soups (potages)
Ham
Tuna (no mayo)
Grilled Fish
Grilled chicken

Voila

Published in: on January 5, 2010 at 12:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Roasted Capon Miam! Miam!

American chickens taste weird. I rephrase. They taste different than French chickens. It is hard to describe and you have to taste it for yourself. The French meat is not as thick and the flavors more intense. I could not make it to Paris for the Holidays so I had to eat something that reminded me of my Christmas as a child. I will buy a slice of fois gras for New Year’s . My favorite Christmas entree is Capon. I was really happily surprised to find one at Citarella. A capon is a castrated rooster and the one I found was about 10 lbs.

It tasted amazingly exactly like a French chicken or capon. Here is my recipe if you find one. Capon is “Chapon” in French BTW and filling is “Farce”. Roast it for 15 mn per pound at 400 degrees. Cover it with Aluminum when the top has browned to avoid burning. Rub it with a Viva/Browny towel dipped in warm butter before you put it in the preheated oven. Every 30 minutes, make sure to pour some juices all over the beast with a spoon and add 1 cup or 2 of chicken broth.

As for the stuffing. Farce a chaponSear one onion and add half a pound of sausage . Once it is brown, add 3 cups of ready to make bread stuffing (the one for Citarella with herbs and pine nuts was great) with a cup of chicken broth. Once it has the right consistency of stuffing it is ready.

When it comes to sides, I made some celery and potato puree but any sides that work with turkey can do. Also pour all the juices you find at the bottom of your cooking tray in a bowl and serve this as gravy.

Published in: on December 27, 2009 at 4:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Addicted to Lofbergs Lila coffee

I have no idea why I have this obsession with Sweden. I have never been but I guess Ingmar Bergman sold me on Sweden’s atmosphere and colors with one of my favorite movies Fanny & Alexander. Another of my favorite movies is Babeth’s Feast which happens to be in Denmark… go figure! There is a great Swedish coffee shop close to my office called Fika . They have great food and the most amazing coffee. Lofsbergs Lila is the brand and as they sometimes run out of the ground coffee I buy for home, I have found this place online where you can order it. What is so special about this coffee.The flavor of the Arabicas. There is something unique they do when they roast it. Dark roast is better.

Published in: on December 26, 2009 at 2:13 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Nespresso Chestnut Cream

Joyeux Noel. I am about to start cooking a Capon and will put up the recipe tomorrow. In the meanwhile to all the chestnut fans who have connected to my blog, make sure you run to get the seasonal chestnut cream pods from Nespresso . The flavor is amazing and calorie free.

Published in: on December 25, 2009 at 1:20 pm  Comments (1)  
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Litter box mess problem fixed!

I have 2 cats. Padme my eldest is 3 years old and our new arrival Sheba is 8 months old. We got Sheba from the ASPCA 3 months ago.

DIY kitty litter box

DIY cat litter box

She is a funny girl and moves around quite a bit. She gigs in her litter box like it is a life and death matter and spreads all the litter box outside of the box. Which brought litter dust all over the apartment. I bought a storage box at Bed Bath and Beyond which fixed the problem. It is from Iris and has a winged lid. I leave one open for access and opens both to remove daily waste. Since then I buy less litter and my apartment is almost litter free.

Published in: on December 20, 2009 at 10:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The 12 Things I can’t leave without

My boyfriend and a challenging job set aside what makes my French in America life tick? The 10 things I would need on a desert island. Of course this is superficial and I could live without them…

1- Coffee Nespresso after lunch and Swedish ground coffee in the morning. I know my limits and within them, coffee has always been a friend!!!

2- Anything Chestnut (you know about it)

3- Chocolate. Besides being yummy they say it releases some powerful chemicals against stress…

4- Tomatoes

5- Internet searches (pods,blackberry, computer…) I feel connected and smarter.

6- My cat Padme. I got her a baby friend too but Padme is my current big cat love.

7- Aliens. Not that I have met any but the thought of them existing somewhere is exciting.

8- Movies

9- Hot Baths

10- Victoria’s secret night tee shirts

11- Reading magazines. I am in the biz but it is also a favorite leasure.

12- Splenda. I have a sweet tooth and Splenda is just amazing.

Published in: on December 5, 2009 at 11:42 am  Leave a Comment  

Charlotte Gainsbourg France It Girl

Marion Cotillard reminds us of past icons such as Catherine Deneuve and Isabelle Adjani. She looks typically French and very glamorous when she parties out. However, if you want to know what’s hip in France and has been for a while, it is the Bohemian Chic trend that we call bobo. Celebrities such as Vanessa Paradis and Charlotte Gainsbourg are at the fore front of that trend. Charlotte Gainsbourg is the daughter of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin.

Serge Gainsbourg Jane Birkin

So she is French “royalty”. She is married to Ivan Attal (French actor and director) with 2 children Ben and Alice.

Charlotte Gainsbourg Ivan Attal

Charlotte is a very good actress and won the Cannes Film Festival award in 2009 for Antichrist.She is perfectly fluent in both French and English. Her first album 5:55 was amazing – but it is her much awaited new album with Beck called IRM that is going to reveal her talent even more. Charlotte has always been somewhat shy and reserved but a couple of years ago she suffered a brain incident and almost died. It changed a lot her perspective on life and has influenced her art. Tall and slim she always has a great fashion sense.

Top 9 best French chestnut desserts. Ode a la chataigne.

Well I do love chocolate and coffee too but I have a soft spot for chestnuts dating back from my childhood. Chestnut translates to chata^igne or marron. I spent all my summers with my grandmother Paulette in Brive la Gaillarde in Correze. Basically in the South center of France where winters can be very cold and nutritious food such as nuts are a staple in local recipes. I like plain roasted chestnuts but it is the sugary version that has become comfort food for me. It can add up in calories so I am making low calories version with Splenda but here are my favorite French desserts with chestnut.

1. Chesnut spread

Chestnut, vanilla and sugar mashed together. Some people use it as jam, I think it works straight from the spoon (like Nutella) or mixed in with plain yogurt.

chestnut spread

2. The legendary marron glace

Very expensive because the cooking process is very long and difficult. It is presented in individual gold wrappers as they are very fragile. They have always been a little too sweet for me.

marrons glaces

3- Macaron a la chataigne

A rare and seasonal offer from Laduree. Chestnuts with almond paste! Waowwww!

macarons a la chataigne

4- Mont Blanc

The white part can be yogurt or at Angelina salon de the in Paris a mix of meringue and whipped cream.

mont blanc Angelina

5- Chestnut Ice Cream

Also rare and hard to find but sooo tasty

chestnut ice cream

6/ Maron Suis’

A chestnut mousse dessert that can be found in most supermarkets in France. Amazing and cheap 🙂

maron sui's



7/ La buche a la chataigne

The traditional French Xmas dessert (the Xmas log) can be made with chestnuts . Either in a frozen version with vanilla and pear. Or with chocolate in the more traditional way (with biscuit and butter). Lenotre has announced the release for this Xmas of a Buche designed with Kenzo with chestnut and green tea!!! Hope I will be in Paris to taste it.

Buche Lenotre Kenzo



8/ La barquette aux marrons

In the shape of a boat this almond, chestnut and chocolate dessert can be found in some patisseries.It is very dense and full of flavors.

barquette aux marrons

9/ La charlotte aux marrons

A chestnut mousse surrounded by wafers with a chocolate frosting. Lenotre made one that I was praying to get as my birthday cake.I think it was called la Chataigneraie.

chataignes

What can I say? I am a BIG fan.

Cote Violon, Cote Banjo

Joe Dassin and kitten

Joe Dassin and kitten


I really admire the genius of Serge Gainsbourg and in will most certainly be the topic of one of my future post. Jacques Brel was a tragic figure and amazing performer. But my all time favorite, the songs I want to hear when I am feeling blue are Joe Dassin’s songs. For many reasons. I used to listen to them again and again when I was a child and those were happy moments in a mist of not so happy ones. I was in love with him when I was between 6 and 8.
Joe Dassin et maryse massiera

Joe Dassin et maryse massiera

He was charming and had great hair. Him and his wife Maryse Massiera were friends of my parents . I remember him sticking up to me when my father was forbidding me to eat a piece of candy. I remember their many persian cats.
Joe Dassin and Maryse Massiera with their persans

Joe Dassin and Maryse Massiera with their persans


After all these years I think that Joe Dassin was a role model to me. His father the famous movie director Jules Dassin decided to move from New York to Paris to escape Mc Carthyism when he was a child. Joe stayed in France but always kept a strong connection to the US. He sang a lot of adaptations of American pop songs in French. Two songs made a big impression on me. “L’Amerique”. “Mes Amis je dois m’en aller, je n’ai plus qu’a jeter mes cles, car elle m’attend depuis que je suis ne, l’Amerique”. “Friends I have to leave, I’ll just throw my keys because she has been waiting for me since I was born, America.” See the similarities :). And my favorite song of all time is Cote Violon, Cote Banjo. This one is struggling to figure out what he loves best France or the US. I just love the banjo on the song and the lyrics. Here it is in a duet with Annie Cordy (lovely lady with whom I played kazoo on the Olympia scene).