Do you want a fun, edible project to tackle this weekend? Then try making these delicious chocolate eclairs for your family. They are only slightly harder than making basic brownies, only because there are three components to prep instead of one. You will need a few tools like sil pats, pastry bags and star tips to make this. There are plenty of stores like Michaels or Sur La Table where these easy to find items can be located if you do not have them already. The results will be worth any frustrations you may experience….
For father’s day, I made a very simple summer time dessert utilizing two of my favorite flavors, lemon and strawberries. It was the combination of two basic pastry components, Pierre Herme’s delicious lemon curd and a basic panna cotta recipe enhanced with a touch of zested lemon. I wanted to share this quick recipe with everyone. Sometimes simplicity is hard to beat.
Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. ~ George Eliot
For those of us who revel in the sensuality of life, Fall is a wonderfully bountiful time of year. The trees adorned in vibrant autumn hues of deep reds and golden yellows are a feast for the eyes. A refreshing crispness fills the air, stimulating our appetites for heartier, more comforting dishes. Much needed rains replenish aquifers and awaken the slumbering mushroom spores. Soon chanterelles, boletes and matsutake will poke their curious heads through the forest humus adding to our table. Coho salmon get nature’s signal and begin their runs up several rivers in the Olympic Peninsula to spawn. And perhaps the most elusive and forbidden of all harbingers of Fall, the red fleshed Mountain Rose apple, appears for a brief glorious moment.
Time just passes by too quickly. Maybe I am getting too old. One season is gone and another arrives before I am fully ready for it. It seemed like only yesterday I was sauteing spring’s flowering kales and broccoli rabes with chili flakes, garlic slivers and olive oil. Now summer is here. For many parts of the country, the first perfect tomato eaten warm with salt in your your or that impossibly juicy peach signifies summer’s presence. In the Pacific Northwest it is July’s arrival of wild huckleberries. Extremely juicy and reminiscent of a blueberry except with a more intense sweet, tart flavor. They are hand picked high in the Cascade mountains and can range from a deep bluish black to purple to a bright firetruck red. A very versatile fruit used both in savory dishes and a wide range of desserts like clafoutis, cobbler, milkshakes and pancakes. You can eat them raw, pickled or cooked. Of all the ways, I like them baked in a traditional clafoutis which is somewhere between a pudding and a custard. They are quick and simple to make. Baking them in France is like making cobbler….
Liet and I once stood picking and eating salmonberries, trying to find words to describe their somewhat caramellike flavor, when two elderly men came down the dirt road behind us. They, too, had been berrypicking, and they proudly displayed the fruits of their labors. These included salmonberries in three colors with bright bits of green fern enhancing their fresh look. – Time Life Books, ‘American Cooking, The Northwest’
My mother is a wonderful baker. From an early age she instilled in me a love and passion for fresh fruit tarts. More often than not, apples were the preferred medium. At 85, her caramelized apple tart (tarte tatin) rivals anything any Michelin starred chef could ever hope to conjure. She made dough unapologetically, with the same certainty an artist feels knowing the exact shape of a statue long before the marble was ever chiseled. Every unmeasured step, deliberately repeated methodically. She too had learned the secrets at her grandmother’s apron strings. Carefully mixing small cubes of ice cold butter into the mound of flour and sugar. Pressing hard with the heels of her hands till the mound resembled a coarse corn meal. Adding just the perfect amount of chilled water to insure it would ball. Her hands repeated these same moves for so many decades she no longer had to think. Tart making is an art learned by practice. I am sharing the same experiences with my five year old son Beaumont. This morning we wrestled with the dew covered thorny bushes that protected a hidden cache of sweet salmonberries. Carefully we pulled them one by one, periodically stealing one into our mouths thinking the other wasn’t watching. I envisioned my mother smiling; knowing what she had so devotedly learned would continue long past her final breath. She had done her job. Le feu sacre was safe for one more generation.
“The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.” ~ Willie Nelson
I apologize for apparently having fallen off the edge of Earth for the past month or so. Bad blogger. I returned from the Alsace Wine Festival and jumped directly into the overloaded work frying pan. Between an intense business trip to Japan checking out wagyu farms and a company rebranding I have had little time to even think let alone write. I feel the need for two quick ricotta recipes to hopefully act as a life preserver to toss to both of my faithful readers who are drowning in a sea of despair….
One of my favorite regions in America is Northern California. In a lot of ways, the picturesque Anderson Valley of Mendocino County reminds me in spirit of the South of France and Italy, though perhaps in an obscure kind of way. The sun-kissed rocky hills and foggy valley floor are home to thousands of acres of grape vines, small organic farms and herds of goats and sheep. Its bucolic small towns nestled among towering redwoods and craggy coastlines bathed in the golden California sunshine are a photographer’s wet dream. Like Peter Mayle’s biographical series ‘A Year in Provence’, Mendocino boasts a unique rhythm governed by its own cast of colorful characters that people the region. Artists, musicians, farmers, brewers, and vintners shape and enrich the colorful tapestry woven from a strong sustainable, organic and independent fabric….
What could be more soothing and comforting than a warm apple tart lovingly baked by your own sweet maman? It is the French equivalent to still warm and gooey chocolate chip cookies served with a cold glass of milk. My maman had a natural talent for making delicious tarts and would bake them often. Everytime I eat one now it brings me back to my childhood. It’s like a warm embrace from my maman on a cold, dreary Portland afternoon. …
Epiphany : a Christian festival held on January 6 in honor of the coming of the three kings to the infant Jesus Christ
: a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way – Merriam Webster Dictionary
Every French kid looks forward to January 6th as the day we get to eat a galette des rois, or King’s Cake, and perhaps be king or Queen for a day. Hidden among the warm rum scented layers of frangipane (almond cream) and puff pastry is a small ceramic figurine guaranteed to break your tooth if you aren’t careful. The figurine, also known as a feve, used to actually be a small bean but changed to figurines sometime in the late 1800’s. The cake celebrates the feast of Epiphany when the three kings brought gifts for sweet baby Jesus. Who ever finds the feve in the galette gets to wear a crown and be king or queen for the day!…
Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.
– Calvin Coolidge
Of all the culinary treats that grace the French Christmas table, nothing inspires more child-like joy than a rich, chocolate Bûche de Noël. Real yule logs, the kind from living trees, have had symbolic significance to the French for centuries. Until the late 1800’s, it was a widespread custom for extended families to gather under one roof, and burn a sacramonial log. In the soft glow of the embers, the family would drink vin cue, cooked wine and sing Christmas carols before attending midnight mass.
My family has been giving homemade Bûche de Noel’s to friends, families and our local community since I was a small child. This holiday season, I am sharing my favorite recipe so that you may start your own family tradition.
François, Beau and Lisa
Love is a fire of flaming brandy
Upon a crepe suzette
Crepes Suzette may be the most well travelled of all French desserts. It has achieved it’s status as a cliché much like New England Clam Chowder or Chicken a la King has. It has been said that crepes Suzette are served more often outside of France than actually in France. While the exact origins will never be known there are plenty of popular stories and some great theories….
The lines between sanity and insanity are starting to get blurred. It’s getting hard for me to distinguish what is and what isn’t anymore. Ghosts from my culinary past are coming back to life in my waking visions. Between working full time and getting up at 3 am to have a few uninterrupted hours on my kickstarter campaign I am starting to lose it. Sure, last nights Michael Franti concert coupled with a seriously strong rum drinks at Rum Club did not help. Tonight I found myself back at Old Drovers Inn, yelling for a pick up on table 16 while ripping a line cook a new one for dropping a plate during a rush. My four year old’s wide opened eyes, too scared to react or move, told me I had finally crossed the line.
Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are charming gardeners who make our souls blossom
~ Marcel Proust
If you want to get in the moment and listen to what I am as I write this click here, c’mon, do it. It will make you feel what I am! Now start from the beginning and read thru…
I want to thank each and every one of you for your help so far. As of last night at 8:07 pm we have 8,461 dollars pledged towards our goal of $20,000 in our all or nothing campaign to publish my first cookbook. That means we are 42% funded by an astounding 124 backers. 124 people that I have close relationships, partial relationships, old friends, new friends, winemakers, winos, people I met on wine tours, people I have never met but consider my friends, people from the VW community of the Samba, people from the Rambling Epicure facebook group, people from my job, my wife’s job, old bosses, famous cookbook authors, famous tv celebrities, old commis, line cooks and assorted dirt bags who plate food for a living….
“A barn raising, also historically called a “raising bee” or “rearing” in the U.K., describes a collective action of a community, in which a barn for one of the members is built or rebuilt collectively by members of the community.” – Wikipedia
No one is born a great cook, one learns by doing. – Julia Child
My mother came from an upper middle class family that lived in the south of France. The extent of her food education before meeting my father was learned by eating in restaurants like Oustau de Baumaniere in Provence, Pieds de Cochon in Paris or having her father’s cook Mémé make dinner nightly. When my mother came to America and first married my father she didn’t know how to cook. Ironically, she learned by reading Julia Child’s seminal book ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’. Through Julia, she was reunited with her mother culture and proudly fed us a different meal every single night (my father’s requirement). My first moments in the kitchen, hanging on my mother’s cliched apron strings, were spent pretending to be a more French version of Julia. I grow up adoring Julia and watching her TV shows. Today, I still love her and reference her books on a daily basis. …
Chocolate’s okay, but I prefer a really intense fruit taste. You know when a peach is absolutely perfect… it’s sublime. I’d like to capture that and then use it in a dessert. – Kathy Mattea
Cherries may mark the beginning of Summer, but tree ripened peaches let you know it’s here, for real. The farmer’s market in Portland is currently flooded with beautiful peaches grown in Hood River, Oregon. This is the perfect dessert for when you want something quick, easy and simple enough that even a four year old with a plastic knife and a very short attention span can make….
I did not know how long I could wait before plunging head first into cherry season. Maybe it’s because I am getting older and my sense of time has become more skewed and perverse. Maybe it’s the positive effects of climate change. But seriously, do cherries really show up this early? Damn, I couldn’t remember. I do recall walking to school uphill in both direction when I was a young piss-ant….
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys (chefs)
Don’t let ’em pick guitars (knives) or drive (cook on) them old trucks (ranges)
Let ’em be doctors and lawyers and such
Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys (chefs)
‘Cause they’ll never stay home and they’re always alone
Even with someone they love
~ Ed and Patsy Bruce
I always feared Beau would follow my flour dusted footsteps into the kitchen. It’s not any kind of life anyone should wish upon their offspring, especially ones they love. That might sound a dire proclamation coming from a guy who spent over half his lifetime sweating in hot kitchens pretending to be a Chef. Cooking professionally is a hard knocks life riddled with unimaginable strife I would not wish upon anyone….
Thirty years of professional cooking took a heavy toll on my body and I needed to change or face dire consequences.
Recently we changed our eating patterns to tremendously positive results, both intended and not. I know that’s probably the most unexpected first line of a post featuring a picture of a big plate of profiteroles crammed full of creamy Turkish coffee ice cream drenched in a thick stream of hot chocolate sauce, but it’s true. Thirty years of professional cooking took a heavy toll on my body and I needed to change or face the dire consequences. The constant binge eating of whatever was within six inches of my fingers coupled with scarfing down massive plates of pasta before service was unhealthy at best. If I didn’t mend my ways I wouldn’t see my son reach manhood let alone puberty….
Gâteau Paris Brest… miam miam. The name alone conjures decadent childhood fantasies of praline flavored cakes I would indulge in on our annual visit to France. We always flew into Paris and stayed a few days before taking the TGV south to Marseille to see my uncles, aunts and cousins. My mother wanted to eat at her favorite restaurants and buy clothes while I craved sweets. Paris is an exciting city to wander through. The beautiful architecture and promenades often blur the lines between the centuries in way you can’t get in a younger country like America. The distinct French approach to style that oozes in everything they do. The highlight was ogling at all the Paris pastry and chocolate shops’ window displays crammed with multi colored displays of macarons, cakes, eclairs and tarts. It evoked the same giddy feeling I got standing outside Marshall Fields or FAO Schwarz at Christmas time. …