• 1 tablespoon active dry yeast • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil • 7 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour • 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon salt •2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon sugar • 10 ounces black forest ham, cut into small cubes
1. Dissolve yeast in 2 1⁄3 cups warm water in a small bowl; set aside until foamy, about 10 minutes. Grease a large bowl with oil and set aside. Combine flour, salt, and sugar in another large bowl, add yeast mixture, and stir until dough is stiff. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth, about 15 minutes. Knead ham into dough, shape dough into a ball, and transfer to prepared bowl. Cover bowl with a clean damp dish towel and set aside, in a warm spot, to let rise until doubled in bulk, 1–1 1⁄2 hours. 2. Lightly dust 2 sheet pans with flour and set aside. Turn dough out onto a clean surface, divide into 24 equal pieces, and shape each into a ball. Put 12 dough balls on each pan, about 1" apart, cover with clean damp dish towels, and set aside, in a warm spot, to let rise until doubled in bulk, 1–1 1⁄2 hours. 3. Move one of the oven racks to center of oven and another oven rack to lower third of oven. Put a small pan of water on lower rack. Preheat oven to 400°. Bake rolls until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped, 25-30 minutes. Transfer rolls to a cooling rack to cool.
It's extremely rare for me to post onto LivingTastefully twice in one day, but I've had multiple requests for a photo of the newest addition to our family. He actually isn't even with us yet... a pied French Bulldog who we have named Bisous (Bee-zoo) and means "kisses" in French. We couldn't be happier and if all goes as planned, he should be with us by mid-January. It's as though Bisous was meant to be, even before we found him. When we were in Paris this past September, I finally got to meet Stacey Snacks (you knew this was eventually coming, didn't you, Stacey?) And all of you are probably wondering where I'm going with this... ... as usual, I'll make this a long story... My husband and I were invited to Stacey and Henry's apartment on the Right Bank of Paris; just off the Champs-Elysées. The entire evening was a Slap My Face, Pinch Me moment that I would do anything to relive. The balcony had a view of the Eiffel Tower and we stepped out onto it often...
And let me just say... the apartment was beyond French beautiful. Like I said, a Pinch Me moment to the max!
But finally, back to Bisous being "meant to be"... Stacey surprised me with the French bag below that has a pied French Bulldog woven onto the front. It has turned out to be (eerily) identical to the little pied male that will soon be ours. An omen, it seems.
(I now need to knit him a red scarf with black dots.) Our house has been far too quiet without Pipi. I'm looking forward to being totally preoccupied with this little guy.
But back to Paris. I have been known to make a complete idiot out of myself running after every French Bulldog I see while there. Here are a few of the photos I took of Frenchies on my recent trip. Above is a cast plaster French Bulldog with a collar that is for sale at a stationary shop on Rue du Bac.
Another "model" Frenchie sporting a hand-knit sweater and collar/leash at Le Bon Marché.
I absolutely love this old, paper maché French Bulldog in the window of an antique shop across the street from the French Sénat in the Jardin du Luxumbourg. I could find the perfect spot for him in my house...
A black-brindle Frenchie on a Saturday morning walk in the 7th Arrondissement.
And finally, a tiger brindle French Bulldog running off leash in the gardens of Versailles. That's the life! And yes, the French love their French Bulldogs.
I'm a stickler on presentation. I'm certain that all has to do with my aunt who lived next door while I was growing up. She was a baker and would often call me on the phone announcing she had something to show me right away. I'd immediately run over to her house, where I would find a cake... or a pie... or sweet rolls. The dessert was always beautiful, and we would talk about how lovely it was and how good it will taste. Then... I walked back home. The pastry was for another time; after dinner, or for guests that would be visiting. Never for that immediate moment. That's probably why I am so critical of myself and whatever I make in my kitchen. My family could care less. They just want to eat it, no matter what it looks like. I often describe my desserts as rustic; just never quite achieving that polished French pâtisserie perfection.
On my recent trip to Paris, I visited my favorite culinary supply store, E. Dehillerin, and took my very patient husband along. (He now knows "my Paris" more than he had ever wanted.) There I picked up some steel rings for making small, individual tart shells. I'm now working at releasing the perfect pastry, finding that a pâte sucrèe pressed into the ring has a better outcome than a tart pastry that is rolled. But pressing fingers too hard against the ring when filling with the pàte sucrèe can also be problematic. I see many long days ahead working on technique. Don't you absolutely love this tower of molds that was in the Dehillerin window? Can you imagine the stunning dessert that would make?
My little raspberry tarts with pastry cream were inspired by the raspberry tarts above, that we ate at Le Petit Lux, along with our afternoon espresso. The pâtisserie is on Rue de Vaugirard, the longest road in Paris which extends from the Jardin du Luxembourg to the Porte de Versailles... Wow, that is long!
Ivy garlands at the Jardin du Luxembourg. If I tried to grow something like this in my yard, it would probably end up infested with red spider mites...
Sprinkle tarts with confectioners' sugar before eating... then, enjoy!
• • • • Raspberry Tarts with Pastry Cream • • • •
• 1 9-inch Pâte Sucrée tart crust or 6 small individual tart crusts, baked (recipe HERE) • 2 cartons fresh raspberries, or any other fresh berry • Confectioners' sugar for finishing
PASTRY CREAM (recipe adapted, from French Tarts by Linda Dannenberg) • 1 1/2 cups whole milk • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds removed with tip of a sharp knife • 3 large egg yolks • 1/4 cup sugar • 1 tablespoon cornstarch • 1 tablespoon flour 1. Bring milk just to a boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the vanilla bean and seeds and cover pan. Remove from the heat and set aside. 2. Combine the egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl and whisk briskly for about 2 minutes. The mixture should be thick and pale yellow. Add the cornstarch and flour and whisk to blend. Remove the vanilla bean from the milk. Slowly pour the milk into the egg mixture whisking constantly until blended and smooth. (I always use a ladle to transfer the hot milk.) 3. Return the mixture to the saucepan and bring just to a boil, whisking constantly over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook at a simmer, whisking and stirring constantly to avoid burning the mixture on the bottom of the pan. Cook until thick, smooth, and yellow, about 2 minutes. Remove the cream from the heat and immediately strain into a clean bowl. Take a sheet of plastic wrap and gently press it onto the entire surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Allow the pastry cream to cool, then transfer to the refrigerator. Chill for at least one hour before using. (Pastry cream can be made up to one day ahead.)
ASSEMBLY 1. Gently spread the chilled pastry cream over the base of the cooled tart shells. Cover the pastry cream with berries and sprinkle with Confectioners' sugar. Eat immediately or refrigerate until serving.
It's been a week now since I've returned from Paris. Usually I'll have a period for several days of still being there in my thoughts -- as if I'm still in Paris; somewhat of a mindful afterglow. But upon arriving home I almost immediately began caring for a family member with pneumonia -- quite a scare. With my sister now on the mend, fortunately, I have been scrolling through the 1200+ photos on my camera, and what I discovered is -- a large percentage is devoted to French outdoor cafés. ( And why must I go blocks [if not miles] to sit at a café or find a decent pastry shop at home?). I guess that's one of the things I love about Europe and why I always find myself longing to return. Below is just a small sampling of the tables and chairs that caught my eyes on the streets of Paris. So lovely...
One of my favorite shops to visit when in Paris is Astier de Villatte. I first discoved AV in 2000 at a small storefront on Rue du Bac. That location is now shuttered, but the flagship is on the Right Bank at 173 Rue Saint Honoré. I always stop by and just look. The joint venture between art students Benoit Astier de Villatte and Ivan Pericoli began by designing white handmade ceramic tableware and furniture and has expanded from there. I can only describe the centuries-old Paris shop as enchanting.
The tartlets above have a crust of Pâte Sucrée (rich, sweet shortcrust tart pastry) and a filling of Orange Marmalade and Chocolate Ganache with Grand Marnier. After my husband ate a tart made with Pâte Sucrée in Paris, that is probably all I will be allowed to bake in my kitchen! I recommend a low percentage bittersweet chocolate in the ganache, or even a semi-sweet chocolate.
Pâte Sucrée/recipe by Regan Daley • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar • 1/4 teaspoon salt • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces • 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten 1. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse several times just to blend the dry ingredients. Add the cold butter and pulse until the size of fat peas. Add the lightly beaten egg yolks and pulse two or three times, just until the mixture looks moist and crumbly and comes together in a clump when you squeeze it. If the mixture seems very dry, lightly beat one whole egg in a separate bowl and add up to half of this to the dough, pulsing until incorporated. The dough should be moist but still crumbly. 2. Dust your fingers with flour and press the dough evenly over the bottom and up side of a 10-11-inch tart pan with removable bottom (or into 2-inch tartlet pans, as I've done). Wrap the pan(s) and pastry carefully in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours, at least. 3. Preheat oven to 375˚F. Prick the bottom of each chilled tart shell all over with a fork. Line the pastry with a piece of aluminum foil and fill the liner with rice. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the edges are just coloring, and the bottom of the pastry is beginning to cook. Remove the foil and rice and return the shell(s) to the oven until lightly browned all over.
Chocolate Ganache • 1/2 cup heavy cream • 4 ounces finely chopped dark chocolate • 1 tablespoons butter • 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier 1. Bring cream just to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Pour cream over chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Let stand for 2 minutes. Add butter, then whisk mixture until smooth. Add Grand Marnier and whisk in. Let cool, stirring often. Use immediately.
Assembly of Tarts • Orange Marmalade • 1/4 cup chopped white chocolate • heavy cream 1. After pulling the tart shells from the oven, brush each of the bottoms with a teaspoonful of orange marmalade. Gently spread the Chocolate Ganache over the marmalade. 2. Melt the white chocolate over low heat or in a microwave oven with enough heavy cream to make it piping consistency. Fill a small zip-lock bag with the melted chocolate and make a tiny cut at one of the corners of the bag. Pipe a disk of the white chocolate onto the chocolate ganache and decorate with a silver dragée, if desired.
I'm again at home in Saint Paul... back in the real world. Living as a Parisian is over. But I'm o.k. with that (for now, anyway). I'm always happy, at a certain point, to return to my kitchen and my refrigerator (where at the moment, there is absolutely nothing to eat). Today I will work at replenishing our food supply, but soon enough I will start posting photos of my time in Paris -- truly one of the best trips I have ever taken there. On this visit with my husband (a rarity, having been there only once with him before) we met our daughters' high school French teacher for dinner (!) one evening. The following night was spent with Stacey (of Stacey Snacks) and her husband, Henry, at their over-the-top apartment in the 8eme (with a balcony view of the Eiffel Tower). It was a pinch me experience; not only because of the setting, but because Stacey and I have followed each others' blog for the last seven years -- with Stacey based in New Jersey and me, in Minnesota. It took our mutual love for France to finally bring us face à face. So... allow me to get organized, get something made to eat, deal with the eggplant and beets that continue to produce wildly in my garden, and upload my hundreds of photos. I will be back soon with pictures, stories, and recipes...
I'm taking a break from LivingTastefully to do some traveling over the next few weeks, and the timing for my trip couldn't be any better. After losing my sweet French Bulldog Pipi, it has been difficult being at home without her. Getting away will help, I'm sure. My husband and I will be spending time in Northern Ireland (he has relatives there), and in Paris (for me). It will be an interesting trip. I usually go to France with my sister and we travel so well together. She was very understanding when I stood in the pet department of La Samaritaine in Paris for two hours, making the difficult decision on which leash to bring back for Pipi. And she is always as anxious as I am to hit La Grande Epicerie or G. Detou to search out olive oils, vinegars, and chocolate, and never rushes me when I roam E. Dehillerin for pastry/baking equipment. It will be different with my husband. He will at some point probably say, "I've had enough of this", and head out elsewhere. But that's o.k... Bill was business development manager in France and western Europe for an American company. He'll be alright... we'll meet up for dinner! I am also very excited about finally meeting Stacey of Stacey Snacks one evening while in Paris. (Visit Stacey's blog daily and your, "What shall I make for dinner tonight?" question will be forever answered.) Stacey and I became friends through our blogs, and have a shared love of cooking/baking, gardening, antiques, and yes... France. We will be meeting Stacey and Henry at their Parisian apartment on their anniversary! Definitely a champagne moment! And as far as my sister Susan (my frequent overseas travel companion)... Susan will be in Germany when I'm in France, hosting her first "OFF THE BEATEN PATH TOUR" of the Erzgebirge and Thuringian regions of the former East Germany, where our mother's family is from. This is a trip with an emphasis on early German toys and Christmas. I've been hearing about the tour on a daily basis and the wonderful (unknown to Americans) locations they will be visiting. So... this is it for a while from LivingTastefully. I'll be back in October and certainly ready for some serious fall baking. Enjoy the remaining, beautiful September days!
Thought you might like a quick tour of my vegetable garden...
So far, we've been eating French Breakfast Radishes, lettuces, and rhubarb. My peas are close to being ready. I'm looking forward to a favorite Pea and Prosciutto Risotto, along with a slew of other pea recipes I've been planning to try.
There are two beds of Haricot Vert (slender French green beans), along with a climbing purple heirloom variety.
Above is our rose arbor. There are future plans to rebuild it since my husband says the roses are now holding up the structure.
Other vegetables in the garden... red cabbage classic and Japanese eggplant jalapeño peppers English cucumbers zucchini chioga and red beets kale yellow onions asparagus eight heirloom tomatoes strawberries
New this year... Brussels Sprouts!
Also throughout the garden... sweet basil flat and curly parsley dill cilantro rosemary sage tarragon chives mint thyme
(I think) I know what it's like for diehard morel mushroom hunters. Filled with extreme eagerness to pounce when the moment seems right, the hunter becomes overly aware of the time of year and the weather patterns. Have the temperatures, rain, filtered sunlight been optimal? And once it's determined that mushrooms could possibly appear, abandoned cars are seen parked along woodsy landscapes. Hunters, racing to find the mother lode during that brief window of time... I'm not trying to make anyone jealous here, but this past weekend, that mother lode was found. I won't be bragging proudly to all of you as if this was my discovery, because I did not join in the search. I stayed behind at the cabin (just relaxing). I had nothing to do with any of it. Occasionally, during the two hour hunt by my husband and several others, I heard screams of delight in the far-off distance from my friend Debbie. If anyone was meant to find this haul, it was Debbie. Having never before searched for them herself, Debbie is often the fortunate recipient of morels from all of those who are aware of her intense love for this mushroom. By the way... eating a meal prepared by Debbie with morels is heaven.
During this search, the small group happened upon a carpet of morel mushrooms so dense, it was hard not to step on them. Our host, who has seriously hunted morels for much of his life, had never seen anything like it. This bag of morels was just one of several.
Morel mushrooms sliced in half and awaiting dehydration.
The following day, I went out to comb the forest floor myself. I found one. ONE! And that was only because Debbie called me over to the area she was searching. I stood there; my eyes slowly scanning the ground. After a short time, Debbie pointed me in which direction to face. Then she told me how far away the mushroom was. Time passed... nothing... more time passed... finally... Eureka! I found a morel. A single morel. I wonder how many I actually walked past and never noticed. I was not, however, shy about taking several of the fresh morel mushrooms home with me. Debbie told me how she would prepare her morels that night and I did the same -- Scrambled Eggs with Morels and Chives. Since I barely had anything other than eggs in my refrigerator when we returned from the cabin, it was the perfect dish. It is amazing how a morel mushroom can elevate a simple dish of scrambled eggs into something so extraordinarily delicious. Just as a truffle does. Better than a truffle? Possibly. I hope we're invited back to the cabin next spring... please?
Serves 2 • 4 large morel mushrooms • 6 large eggs • Butter • 2-3 tablespoons sour cream • Salt and freshly ground pepper • Fresh chives, minced 1. Gently brush the morels to clean, then dice. In a small skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Sauté the mushrooms over medium heat until juices are released and mushrooms are reduced. 2. In the meantime, crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk briefly to blend. Season with salt and pepper. Melt 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium-low heat. Add the eggs and gently cook, stirring almost constantly. I like using a thin metal spatula to turn the eggs over as they scramble. When almost done, add the sour cream and stir into the eggs. 3. Divide scrambled eggs between two plates. Top with the sautéed morels and sprinkle with chives; adjust seasonings.