The devil is in the details

bull3

I often say “In my next life…” usually finished with “I am going to be an artist.” Because I sure am not one in this life. I have accepted that. It’s okay. Really it is. I failed trees in middle school. So, Wine and Design is just right for me. I have several creations upstairs, a few that I have gifted to relatives, one hanging in my classroom. It’s a step above paint-by-number and I enjoy it. But I have no illusions about my very limited abilities. The bull is my latest creation.  My first one also happens to be the same bull, just different colors. Son #1 has it.

While in Paris this last time, I looked at the paintings in the Musée d’Orsay in a bit more detail. At one time, there were no photos allowed in the museum but, as the story goes, the Minister of Culture paid a visit a couple of years ago and pulled out her smartphone and started snapping away. So, if they couldn’t control the Minister, they gave up and now the rest of us may photograph our favorite works of art sans flash, bien sûr. I had a long conversation with one of the museum guards about it- really more of lecture, but what the heck. It was a conversation in French and I always regard those as learning experiences.

So, enough of my tales and how about some up close and personal views of some of my favorite paintings?

These two are actually from Versailles. Legs and wigs?

Vincent Van Gogh, my favorite, as my readers and students already know–

vincent sig

table

Ahhhhh. All is well with my soul when I see Vincent up close.

Renoir–

Monet

sails

camille

Cézanne

mtsv

Sisley

sisley

I decided to take a little pause-café with a beautiful view of Sacré-Coeur– (“cake” is very popular in France, either savory or sweet but it has to be baked in a loaf pan to be called that; otherwise it is a gâteau)

cake et café MO

MO cafe

SC

I hope that your soul is feeling better and that these paintings helped.

Now for my latest baking adventure. Attempt #1 at chèvre crème brûlée.

I started with two basic recipes, the actual crème brûlée from Marmiton, a French recipe website I really like, and the onion confit from Honest Cooking. I will still probably tweak it a bit, but I thought it turned out well. Niece agreed. The Ex-Ex hasn’t tried it yet. I baked it in ramekins, but the portions should have been smaller. I think that the Parisian café baked it in the perfect dish- not as deep would be better. And if you have a kitchen blowtorch, use it. Much better than the broiler. Next time! If anyone has any suggestions, please send them!

Crème brûlée au chèvre frais avec les oignons confits

To make the onion jam:

Makes about 1-1/2 cups

2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced (about 3 cups)- for this recipe, I should have chopped them

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Add butter and olive oil to a large skillet and heat over low flame. Add onions and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent, about 20 minutes. If onions begin to dry out, add a tablespoon of water.

Add sugar, stir to dissolve, and add vinegar. Continue cooking over low heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are pasty and caramelized, about 20 minutes. At this point, you could add some herbes de Provence perhaps?

Onion confit can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to one week.

For the Crème brûlée

4-6 servings

130 g of fresh goat cheese

150 g of heavy cream

2 egg yolks

Pepper

Salt

Butter for dishes

Preheat oven to 140˚C (about 300˚F). Butter the ramekins and place them in the refrigerator to chill for at least 10 minutes.

Mix all of the ingredients together for 30 seconds. After that, I stirred in about a cup of the onion jam.

Fill the dishes to about 3 cm thick. I put a bit more of the onion jam on top.

Place in a water bath of boiling water.

Bake 30-40 minutes, keeping an eye on them.

Let them sit for a half hour before serving. I sprinkled them with turbinado sugar and then put them under the broiler heated to high. This is where the blow torch would have been better.

Bon appétit! Keep looking for the beauty in all of the little details. Maybe the devil is in the details for the artists trying to get it just right, but I think the effects are heavenly.

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