French Apple Tart (Tarte normande)

It’s the season for apple tarts, Fall, when the biggest bounty of apples shows up at the market. I’ve had to learn about all sorts of other varieties of apples since the ones available in France differ from the ones in the United States that I was used to. But it’s been a wonderful journey of discovery and I’ve found unusual varieties that were one day, abundant at the…

It’s the season for apple tarts, Fall, when the biggest bounty of apples shows up at the market. I’ve had to learn about all sorts of other varieties of apples since the ones available in France differ from the ones in the United States that I was used to. But it’s been a wonderful journey of discovery and I’ve found unusual varieties that were one day, abundant at the market, and the next week, all gone.

When I lived in California, we had some terrific apples, coming from places like The Apple Farm, which resurrected many varieties of “lost” apples, or what would be called in French – pommes oubliées. Thankfully most are as close as my local market.

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Cherry Clafoutis

One of the first books that made me fall in love with France and French cuisine was Roger Vergé’s Entertaining in the French Style. Vergé was the chef and owner of Moulin de Mougins, his world-famous restaurant on the Côte d’Azur, near Cannes. I never went, but used to page through the book, admiring the relaxed, friendly lifestyle that always seemed to revolve around a table,…

One of the first books that made me fall in love with France and French cuisine was Roger Vergé’s Entertaining in the French Style. Vergé was the chef and owner of Moulin de Mougins, his world-famous restaurant on the Côte d’Azur, near Cannes. I never went, but used to page through the book, admiring the relaxed, friendly lifestyle that always seemed to revolve around a table, laden with good food and plenty of local wine. It made me want to go and be a part of it all. In fact, there are two empty seats at that table, and I’d like one of them.

Cherry clafoutis recipe

Unlike a lot of chef books, this isn’t “aspirational” cooking, that is, pictures and recipes of foods that you could never hope to make. I recently got a book by a much-admired chef and I wanted to share a recipe. But there was only one recipe in the book that could be made in less than a day, and each recipe had at least one ingredient that I had no idea where I would get it. Don’t get me wrong. I liked the book a lot and his restaurant looks amazing, but it didn’t make me want to run to the kitchen. So I admired the book, and the food, from afar.

Cherry clafoutis recipe

There are so many pictures in Chef Vergé’s book that made me flash back to my past, decades ago, when I was learning more about French cuisine while cooking in Northern California, which shares a similar climate – and ingredients – with Provence. He had dubbed it “Cuisine of the Sun.” The much-loved chef recently passed away and I revisited the book, to relive what excited me about French cuisine, way-back-when.

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My Top Soufflé Secrets

The word soufflé in French means breath, which is an excellent name for these light as air treats. They’re easy and fun to make, can go from thought to table in 30 minutes and the ingredients are cheap and readily available (almost every grocery store has eggs). The only hard part is accepting that they must be eaten immediately, there’s no way around it. A…

The word soufflé in French means breath, which is an excellent name for these light as air treats. They’re easy and fun to make, can go from thought to table in 30 minutes and the ingredients are cheap and readily available (almost every grocery store has eggs). The only hard part is accepting that they must be eaten immediately, there’s no way around it.

A savory soufflé makes an excellent weeknight meal when the fridge is a little bare, either by itself or served with a little side salad, and it’s a great way to use up any herbs or that last piece of cheese that’s been hanging around a little too long. I really enjoy serving a sweet soufflé for dessert when we have guests as it’s full of flavour but doesn’t leave you feeling heavy when you leave the table.

Below I’m sharing my top tips and tricks, plus my favourite raspberry soufflé recipe, and I hope you’ll try out this this wonderful French dish.

Emily

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Madeleine Kamman’s White Chocolate-Chartreuse Bavarian

I don’t remember the first time I made this dessert, but I certainly remember being wowed by its flavors, and the creator of it, Madeleine Kamman. (Who I’ll get to in a minute…) I’d been making it for years and it’s a wonderful way to use white chocolate, which pairs remarkably well with dark chocolate, but also goes nicely with everything from berries and lemon,…

I don’t remember the first time I made this dessert, but I certainly remember being wowed by its flavors, and the creator of it, Madeleine Kamman. (Who I’ll get to in a minute…) I’d been making it for years and it’s a wonderful way to use white chocolate, which pairs remarkably well with dark chocolate, but also goes nicely with everything from berries and lemon, and caramelizes beautifully, which can be used in cakes, sorbets, and ice cream. (I learned how to make it at the Valrhona Chocolate School, and it’s become so popular that the company now sells it by the bar.)

What can’t white chocolate do?

Well, it can’t replace chocolate because it’s not chocolate. Milk chocolate technically isn’t chocolate; it’s chocolate with milk added. On a similar note, I’ve only had Home Fries served to me at diners, not at home. And I’m still perplexed that we call it Banana Bread, because some people have told me that Cornbread, if made with a few teaspoons of sugar, isn’t bread, it’s cake. Yes, some insist that white chocolate “…isn’t chocolate!” but herb tea, as it’s commonly called in the U.S., has no tea in it. So if you’ve ever sipped a cup of “chamomile tea” (or even if you haven’t), you are welcome to enjoy white chocolate!

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Flan Parisien

When people inquire about recipes from the pastries on offer in Paris pastry shops, I look at the recipes we used when I went to pastry school at Ecole Lênotre and it’s hard to imagine cutting down a recipe that makes a hundred canelés into a recipe that makes six or eight for a home cook, who likely doesn’t want to go out and buy…

When people inquire about recipes from the pastries on offer in Paris pastry shops, I look at the recipes we used when I went to pastry school at Ecole Lênotre and it’s hard to imagine cutting down a recipe that makes a hundred canelés into a recipe that makes six or eight for a home cook, who likely doesn’t want to go out and buy a hundred copper canelé molds at 35 dollars (or even €10-15) a pop. Professional bakeries don’t make a single gâteau Opéra or eight éclairs; it’s might be a dozen cakes, five or six dozen éclairs, and hundreds of caramels. So paring down a recipe that won’t overwhelm the oven, kitchen…or budget…of a home baker can be a challenge

Professional bakeries also make components separately as part of their schedule, and in large quantities, and will start the puff pastry or make the pastry cream for a cake or tart in advance, then assemble them over the course of several days. Often recipes depend on techniques learned over a period of time, such as macaronage, the proper stirring and folding of macaron batter, and aren’t just a list of ingredients. So as wonderful and generous as bakers tend to be, not all professionals can share (or in some cases, are willing to part with) the secrets of their success.

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Bostock

One of the lesser-known French pastries is Bostock. Perhaps it’s the funny name that doesn’t sound very French, as pain au chocolat or chausson aux pommes do, that’s been keeping it out of the spotlight. True, the name does sound like a Swiss bouillon mix and although I’ve read it’s from Normandy, I haven’t found any conclusive evidence of that. But wherever it’s from, the…

One of the lesser-known French pastries is Bostock. Perhaps it’s the funny name that doesn’t sound very French, as pain au chocolat or chausson aux pommes do, that’s been keeping it out of the spotlight. True, the name does sound like a Swiss bouillon mix and although I’ve read it’s from Normandy, I haven’t found any conclusive evidence of that. But wherever it’s from, the good thing about Bostock is that it’s one of the easiest desserts to make and doesn’t require rolling out any pastry, spending a day making brioche, or rely on any fancy techniques. It’s one of my very favorite things to eat.

Bostock was likely invented to use up leftover brioche that bakeries had on hand after they closed their doors. Bakers everywhere are naturally thrifty and this is a clever way to use up leftover bread, whether it be brioche, challah, or any firm-textured white bread, such as pain de mie.

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