28 July 2010

French Cooking with Sophie

For the month of July we have been hosting a young woman from Paris by the name of Sophie. We have had a wonderful time! We have stayed here in Michigan, and found new joy in some of the everyday things we do!

Last night, Sophie and I baked for The Boulevard Market's first-ever "French Social"! The French Social was created as a way to get friends and neighbors together, that have a common love of France, French cooking, travel and wine! Each guest is invited to share photos, food and memories of their time in France or their dreams of going to France. Who has the best advice, but the ones who have done it?!

I put together a small basket of treasures that I purchased in France just for this occasion, to have a prize giveaway and Sophie and I tied up bouquet garni with Le Monde newsprint as a small gift for each attendee, herbs courtesy of Prochaska Farms!

Gerard Bertrand Pinot Noir is on the menu and of course a bevy of beautiful french cheeses, Cantal, Roquefort, Morbier, Camembert and Baguettes!

Sophie and I went over a few recipes and decided on a few easy appetizers to share, that she loves and misses! Cheese Straws, Gougeres and Meringues!

We had a great time baking together and sampling our efforts! These are fairly simple recipes with a bit of technique involved, but no one will criticize that...they will be too busy eating! I will post some photos of the event tomorrow...berets included!


1 cup milk
1 stick unsalted butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup flour
4 large eggs
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large saucepan , over medium heat, combine milk, butter, salt, pepper and nutmeg until scalded. (Scalded is just below boiling point) Add flour all at once and stir until smooth dough is formed. Turn heat to low and continue cooking about 2 minutes stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, beat eggs & cheeses until smooth. Dump hot mixture into eggs and whisk until smooth and eggs are incorporated.

Spoon mixture into a pastry bag and pipe out into approx. 2 inch balls. You may need to press lightly after piping to form a nice little ball. Bake 13-15 minutes until golden brown.

Serve immediately, or if making ahead, warm in a 425 oven for 5 minutes.


6 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using a whisk attachment on an electric mixer, beat egg whites & cream of tartar on medium speed until frothy. Add 1 cup of the sugar, raise speed to high and beat until whites form very stiff peaks. Whisk in the vanilla. Fold in remaining 1/2 cup of sugar carefully.

Fill a pastry bag with meringue and pipe onto parchment paper into desired shapes. You can make a style, or try making small bowls to hold fruit and whipped cream!

Bake for 2 hours or until meringues are dry but not browned. Turn off heat and allow meringues to sit in oven 4 hours or overnight.

Store in airtight container!

26 July 2010

Tasting at The Boulevard Market July 24

Occasionally I get a bug to try out new recipes on my customers! I hope that they enjoy, I know I enjoy feeding them! This past Saturday was no exception. Michigan has been ridiculously hot this summer and I needed some dishes that required absolutely NO indoor cooking! Fun, local, seasonal fare that's FULL of flavor and interesting to eat. I hope you enjoy as much as I have!


1 small watermelon, rind removed, seeded and sliced
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 lb. Bleu Affine cheese

3 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar (I used our Boulevard Market bottled one!)
3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I used Mas Portell brand from Spain)
Salt and pepper

Toss to combine watermelon, onion and bleu affine cheese. In a small bowl combine vinegar and lemon juice. With a whisk, add olive oil in a thin drizzle, constantly whisking until emulsified. Salt and pepper to taste.

I laid my fruit and cheese out on a large platter and drizzled with the dressing. Magnificent!

Halloumi & Sweet Corn Salad

3 large ears of sweet corn, blanched and cut from cob
4 ounces Piqullo peppers, sliced (These are Spanish peppers that have been roasted and peeled)
1 package Halloumi cheese, approx. 8 ounces

2 Tablespoons fresh chives
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and pepper

Grill Halloumi over high heat until browned and crispy. Combine cheese, peppers and corn.

In food processor, pulse chives and oil until pureed.

Drizzle Chive Oil over vegetables and toss to coat. Salt and pepper to taste.

I only used about 1/2 of the chive oil recipe on my dish and saved the rest to use on chicken!

Grilled Zucchini in Seasoned Butter and Fresh Chevre

2 Small Zucchini cut 1/3 inch thick on a bias

1/4 cup Four Corners Creamery Cultured Butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon fresh, minced Chives
salt & pepper to taste

6 ounces Four Corners Creamery Fresh Goat Cheese, crumbled

In a small bowl, combine herbs and butter until well mixed.

Brush zucchini with olive oil and place on grill grates over high heat. Grill about 5 minutes per side until a bit softened and lightly browned. Toss with butter and sprinkle with goat cheese. Serve warm.

Grilled Camembert with Blueberry Compote

8 Ounce Le Chatelain Camembert
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Heat grill over high heat. Brush cheese rind with olive oil. Grill cheese for 5 minutes on one side, flip and grill additional 4 minutes. Grill any longer and you run the risk of the rind splitting and cheese leaking out! (Been there, done that!)

2 cups fresh Blueberries
1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
1 tablespoon corn starch

Put all ingredients in a small sauce pan and cook over medium low heat until fruit has softened and sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes. Serve hot or cold over warm Camembert or serve with hot or cold meats.

I am the first to admit I can be the queen of substitutions. You can always use what you have or like, however, because of the simplicity of these salads, exceptional ingredients are a must! I made the corn salad with fresh roasted red peppers and it was good....but the smoky, rich, piquillo peppers made it great! Enjoy!

08 July 2010

BEWARE: Contains gray hair and a swear word!

Maybe all of you can help me understand how it is possible to apply haircolor, stain every surface with in 5 feet and still not be able to color a few gray hairs?!?!!? What the hell are these hairs made of?

In my younger days, I thought I might go gray gracefully...I might if I was 70+! Now, they just plain aggravate me with their glints in the sun, the ones on the back of my head that I can't see, or the stray that sticks straight out of the lovely Audrey Hepburn-like ponytail (even after you've used your husband's hair gel!)!

Is this vain? Quite possibly.

Raising teenage girls has honed the hair coloring process for me....
The house rules have been straight forward. No piercing, no tattoos until you can sign your name legally (18) but hair is fair game. It grows, it can be colored...over and over and over again. Go nuts. And they did! They cannot afford the upkeep of platinum blond with sweeps of red, blue and black, so we have single handedly taken Sally Beauty Supply stocks to new levels. Over the years, I too, have learned to touch up my roots (shhh) and add a couple highlights, but I prefer the professionals.

Maybe I will take a cue from the girls and go golden soon....all the better to hide those grays? Kudos to those of you who have accepted the gray challenge and unlike myself...gotten over it already! Tomorrow is soon enough to start accepting my reality!

Small cakes...

I like small cakes. Petite, barely sweet, fruit studded, kinda dense, moist cakes. I like them with coffee, in the afternoon, at night while reading....just one, maybe two. I like the fact that one is just for me. No messy, full pan of frosting crusted, someone took a corner bite off, sort of cake. We make those too, but they don't hold the same fascination and specialness of tiny cakes for me. I'm not talking cupcakes per se... in my world that means frosting. These may be more muffin-ish, but you can be the judge!

I have a huge bowl of plump raspberries fresh from my garden and a bowl full of red currants, yet from the Farmers Market. 20 minutes from start to finish and only 6 petite cakes...enough for after supper and breakfast!

This is a French recipe that I have seen in multiple books and online that I tweaked a bit, but the measurements are odd. Each recipe called for a different pan, madelaine, large cupcake tin, even mini muffin tin, so I think you have some creative freedom on the form. I used the large muffin tin. Because the cakes should be short, the batter seems sparse, but no worries, they turn out great! Any berries you have on hand would be delightful...blueberry season is right around the corner! I also think a glob of jam or lemon curd would work well and be fabulous!

I mixed all by hand since it's a small recipe, easy clean up! The other thing I tried was a gluten free version of cakes and while more dense (barely), they were great! Enjoy!

3/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon powdered sugar
1/2 cup almond flour (put almonds in food processor and whirl until flour like consistency)
3/8 cup all purpose flour (can be replaced with spelt flour or almond flour)
3 egg whites, lightly beaten with a fork
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 ounces of butter, melted

Handful of fresh berries, washed and dried
Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, blend dry ingredients. Add egg whites and butter and stir until completely mixed and smooth. Pour into buttered muffin tin or madelaine pan and place berries on top of batter. Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.