Sweet (and savory) memories

I’ve been MIA from my dear sweet blog. January brought the passing of my mom’s dear sweet husband and that of my dear sweet father-in-law. I still catch myself not believing that they are gone from us. February brought a three-day trip to Washington, DC and the usual whirlwind of classes, lesson plans and the like and the serious last minute preparations for the annual France Trip with my eighth graders. And now, that has come and gone as well. Thus the cartoon. In this post, I am going to focus on the delicious aspects of that trip. I hope you are hungry!

The 2018 Paris Delicious List

#1 Goat cheese crème brûlée eaten in a little restaurant near the Panthéon (listed on the menu as crème brûlée de chèvre cendré, oignons confits); the goat cheese salad I also had was noteworthy.

 

 

#2  Steak-frites and the “sauce” Charmélcia at Bistro Régent, our last dinner, near the Gare St. Lazare train station (all you can eat fries and bibb lettuce-vinaigrette salad included with your steak, duck or salmon- the only entrées on the menu)

#3  Hachis parmentier (think Shepard’s Pie) served at Odile’s apartment- we ate at the homes of Parisians through VizEat. Odile also gives cooking lessons in her home. The butternut squash soup with crème fraîche and riz au lait she served for dessert were also amazing.

 

 

#4  My darling Pierre Hermé’s creations- I tried a take on the Paris-Brest dessert from his new shop 86 Champs (a joint venture on the Champs-Élysées with L’Occitane but as much as I love that shop I only had eyes for Pierre)

 

I also had (at least one) macaron…

#5  German-style hot dog from  Le Stube– I would never have found this one on my own. Leave it to Bertrand Tour Guide to take us here. We got our dogs to go and ate them in the park at Palais Royal. Pique-nique!

#6  Rillettes de canard in a small café near the Marché d’Aligre— AP, my co-chaperone wouldn’t agree, but I love rillettes- slow-cooked meat similar to pâté- this one made from duck, eaten on bread with little cornichons. Another Bertrand find.

#7  My cheese plate (I often eat cheese instead of dessert) from the cafeteria/restaurant on the top floor of Galeries Lafayette; we sat next to the ladies from the Chanel counter in their cute t-shirts; the view of Paris (not of the Chanel ladies) was pretty spectacular too– la Tour Eiffel and le Grand Palais

 

Okay, full disclosure here– AP and I later opted for (and shared) an éclair made by Christophe Adam- after we shopped and before we took off on more walking adventures–we needed our strength, you know. The “food court” in the Galeries Lafayette Maison building is pretty spectacular as well. Pierre Hermé has a spot here, too.

 

 

 

#8  My daily half baguette spread with demi-sel butter and jam at our hotel- nothing fancy, but what a great way to start the day. They have a fancy coffee machine now- no more little pots of strong coffee and warm milk- but the coffee is really good and it’s much easier on the women who take such good care of us at breakfast.

#9  Mint tea and pastries at the Grand Mosquée de Paris– oui, another Bertrand idea. We took the kiddos to the Jardin des Plantes (zoo, dinosaurs, park) and as our little afternoon pause-café we ducked into the tea room for a treat; a first for me! The glass of sweet mint tea was amazing.

#10  Galette (savory crêpe made with buckwheat flour) of ham, cheese and an egg in the Marais for lunch- a lovely Sunday morning treat

We had eating adventures outside of Paris– Normandy, Senlis, Versailles– but I will leave that for another day. Today’s project is to try to duplicate the goat cheese crème brûlée. I have already made the hachis parmentier. It was not as good as Odile’s… but I will keep trying. The Ex-Ex and Niece liked it and gave it a thumb’s up.

Hachis Parmentier 
recipe from Genius Kitchen

SC’s notes: I did not use instant potatoes (quelle horreur!) nor did I add tomatoes. Odile said she used a bit of tomato paste so I did the same. She added mascarpone to her potatoes (I should have) and most importantly, she used leftover beef stew for the meat. I didn’t happen to have any in my refrigerator (beef stew doesn’t last long here) so I substituted the best ground beef I could find. I will keep working on the recipe, but this is a good base. Garlic mashed potatoes would be good as well. I sprinkled some gruyère cheese on the top of the potatoes before putting it in the oven. I think that next time I will bake it 15 minutes longer.

READY IN:

40mins

SERVES:

8

INGREDIENTS

  • onions, chopped
  • garlic cloves, minced (or pressed)
  • 1tablespoon butter
  • tablespoons olive oil
  • tomatoes, chopped
  • 1-1⁄2 lbs lean ground beef
  • tablespoon herbes de provence (or other herbs to your taste)
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1egg yolk
  • tablespoons parmesan cheese
  • 4 -5cups mashed potatoes (instant is fine)
  • 3⁄4 cup gruyere cheese, grated (can also use emmental or similar)
  1. In a large frying pan, cook the onions & garlic in the butter & olive oil on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, ground beef, herbs, salt & pepper. Cook until the meat is browned thoroughly. Turn off heat & add egg yolk & Parmesan cheese, stirring to mix completely.
  2. Spread the meat in the bottom of a lightly oiled oven proof dish (a 9×13 would be perfect). Spread the potatoes on top of the meat mixture. And finish by sprinkling the grated cheese on top.
  3. Bake in 400 deg oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted & the potatoes lightly browned.
 
Bon appétit, mes amis. Please keep reading! I promise to keep blogging, through good times and sad ones. Make good food and feed people. That’s a sure way to be have good times.

More Muffins?

pumpkin muffins

Sister Moo found an incomplete place setting of Fiesta ware for me at Kohl’s. The dinner plate was missing. Who cares? I love the color. And I realized that it matches the salt and pepper shaker that she found for me at a yard sale in Spruce Pine. (Turns out that the set belonged to the grandmother of one of my high school classmates. Makes me love it even more.)

Son #1 and Fiancée invited us over for an end-of-summer cookout at the pool at their apartment complex. The Most Adorable Baby in the World (who is now 7 months old) loves water. She would have crawled right into the deep end if her mommy had let her. No fear. I am very happy about that. I want her to be fearless and think that she can do anything that she sets her mind to. I, on the other hand, have long been afraid of water that is over my head. I didn’t learn to swim until I was in the 6th grade. My uncle taught me when I visited his family in Raleigh for a couple of weeks that summer. They had a pool in their backyard. I love to waterski and ride in boats, but I don’t like the idea of deep water. I took a swimming class in college. My teacher was a very patient woman and she taught us all the strokes, made us dive off the side of the pool, and timed us while we dog-paddled. Even though it was an 8:00 am class I enjoyed it tremendously. I enrolled both boys in swim lessons early on and they loved hanging out at the pool, but neither had any desire to be on a summer swim team and I was not the kind of mom to make them do something like that. I never told them about my fear of water. I swear I didn’t. But I don’t think that’s a genetic thing.

Anyway, Son #1 loves pumpkin spice. I thought of him when I found this for MABW–

kenn pumpkin spice

Too cute. The little black leggings have a ruffle-y tutu-like thing on the back.

I like to try out new recipes on the Ex-Ex and Son #1 and I found one for muffins on Sally’s Baking Addiction a couple of days ago. I took them to him yesterday and he texted today– “Those muffins btw were excellent. They are already gone.”  That’s my boy! And I am so happy that I found Sally!

Another thing that I’ve found (at Target)–

parchment liners

These are the best. The muffins don’t stick like they do sometimes in regular cupcake liners. (That is a major baking pet peeve of mine.) Target had two boxes left on the shelf and I bought them both.

Pumpkin Crumb Cake Muffins

15 muffins

  • 1 and 3/4 cups (220g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (340g) canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) milk, at room temperature (buttermilk would probably be really good in this recipe)

Crumb Topping

    • 3/4 cup (94g) all-purpose flour
    • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
    • 1/4 cup (50g) packed light or dark brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
    • 6 Tablespoons (86g) unsalted butter, melted

Maple Icing (optional)

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (180g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) pure maple syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) milk2

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F (218°C). Spray a 12-count muffin pan with nonstick spray or line with cupcake liners. This recipe makes 15 muffins, so prepare a second muffin pan in the same manner. Set aside. (SC note- I didn’t read this part– and wondered why I had leftover batter. I doubled the recipe so I used the leftover batter to bake a small loaf.)
  2. Make the muffins: In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt together until combined. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, pumpkin puree, eggs and milk together until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, then fold everything together gently just until combined and no flour pockets remain.
  3. Spoon the batter into liners, filling them almost full.
  4. Make the crumb topping: Whisk the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and pumpkin pie spice together until combined. Stir in the melted butter until crumbs form. Spoon crumbs evenly on top of the batter and gently press them down into the batter so they’re snug. (The recipe for the topping makes a lot. Don’t be afraid to use a lot on each muffin.)
  5. Bake for 5 minutes at 425 then, keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (177°C). Bake for an additional 16-17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The total time these muffins take in the oven is about 21-22 minutes, give or take. Allow the muffins to cool for 10 minutes in the muffin pan as you make the icing. *For mini muffins, bake for 11-13 minutes at 350°F (177°C) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Make the icing: Whisk all of the icing ingredients together until combined and smooth. Drizzle over muffins and serve warm. Cover tightly and store at room temperature for 1-2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Make ahead tip: For longer storage, freeze muffins (with or without icing) for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature or warm up in the microwave if desired. Top with icing before serving if needed.

I didn’t make the icing. Not enough time. But I bet it would be really good with the maple syrup added.

bran banana muffins

Today I decided to use up the overripe bananas in my refrigerator when I discovered a forgotten box of Raisin Bran Crunch next to the flour in my pantry. (How on earth I could have forgotten about it I have no idea. It hadn’t been there long, only a couple of weeks, and I am constantly pulling out the flour. Who knows? Anyway, I found a recipe to use as a guide. I cut down on the amount of sugar Genius Kitchen listed and I added cinnamon to mine. See how easy that liner peels off?!

Think I will make a cup of tea and enjoy one! While I do the week’s lesson plans.

 

Banana Raisin Bran Muffins

Makes 12

Adapted from Genius Kitchen

1cups Raisin Bran cereal

cup buttermilk (I used almond milk because that’s all I had in the refrigerator)

1cup vegetable oil

egg

1cup brown sugar

1teaspoon vanilla

small bananas, mashed

cup flour

teaspoon baking soda

teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix together cereal and milk; stir and let stand ten minutes while you assemble the other ingredients.

Combine vegetable oil, egg, brown sugar, vanilla and bananas, then add to milk/cereal mixture.

In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

Add to first mixture and stir until just blended.

Spoon into greased or lined muffin tins.

Bake for 15-20 minutes.

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En français:  L’automne est un deuxième ressort où chaque feuille est une fleur.

…Copyright © French Moments Ltd unless otherwise stated. Read more at https://frenchmoments.eu/french-quotes-and-sayings-about-autumn/ .

Bon appétit, tout le monde. I hope you are having a great Sunday afternoon wherever you are and whatever you are doing! Merci, French Moments and Albert Camus!