Monday, October 29, 2012

Simply charming

Today's treat comes in the form of this charm bracelet.  A pink bow- who doesn't love pink?  A clock-- Quelle heure est-il? Time to go to Paris!  A pretty little pearl- this bracelet is a pearl.  A camera- un appareil-photo- for taking photos of Paris.  More pink- this time in the form of a rose rose.  L'Arc de Triomphe- standing proud and beckoning for me to climb on up for the vues magnifiques sur Paris.  Another little white pearl- une perle blanche.  La Tour Eiffel- no charm bracelet would be complete without La Grande Dame, would it?  Another rose rose- one cannot have too many flowers.  Another clock reminding me that Paris is waiting for me- Il est 14h45, madame, où êtes-vous?  Je vous attends...
Another lovely little white pearl.  A postcard from Paris- une carte postale de Paris- I promise to send you one in January.  A sparkly diamant- we girls love things that sparkle!  And a last little pearl.  Paris, this bracelet, and the girlie who gave it to me first thing thing this morning are pearls.

Bon appétit, lundi!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Blogging is more fun than...

Blogging is more fun than grading papers, averaging grades, and writing progress reports.  Just ask me. I am an expert.  Therefore, I will start my Sunday with a blog and ignore the work for a little while longer.  It is chilly, windy, and rainy here so I am not tempted to play outside the way I did on Friday (shhh... it was a faculty workday to get all the work done and I only worked a half day).  So, instead of working right now on the paperwork, I will tell you about Friday and having fun.
The fun started around 2:00 pm.  The BFF and I went out to lunch like civilized human beings.

This is one of our newest restaurants in downtown Durham.  The Ex-Ex and I went to Pizzeria Toro a couple of weeks ago and loved it.  When the BFF and I walked in on Friday, one of my advisees was there having lunch with his family.  Bless his heart.  He and I have lunch together every Monday through Friday so I apologized to him and tried my best to not even look his way.  We sat as close as we could to the oven, in my opinion the best seat in the house.

This was our table decoration.

We started with parma ham.  It melted in my mouth.

We also sampled the marinated kale salad.  Pine nuts and a little kick from the peppers.

The BFF ordered the San Marzano tomato and buffalo mozzarella.

I opted for Cremini mushrooms.

(The Ex-Ex and I shared a fennel and sausage one when we were there.)

When the pizza comes out of the oven, the cheese is grated onto it and then olive oil and sea salt are added around the edge of the crust.  You do not want to waste one bite of that crust.
After lunch, the BFF had a surprise for me.  Her idea of really relaxing and spoiling herself is a manicure and pedicure.  And I am so happy to go along for the ride (I think it makes her feel less guilty if she treats me...).

Is it gross to have toes and pizza in the same blog?  I don't think so.  Neither do my happy toes.

Later that night, we went back to downtown Durham to Motorco.  At our upper school, we have an amazing band called In The Pocket made up of students and faculty.  They really are seriously good.

band artwork by Doug Marlette (1949-2007), award-winning cartoonist, novelist and former DA parent

Friday night, they launched their new CD, Further On Up The Road.

Motorco was packed with students, parents, faculty, and friends of the musicians.  It was a blast.  Ms. Sunshine was there to support her field hockey players who are in the band.  (They then went on to win the state tournament yesterday!!  Even after a night of rock and roll.)

Thank you for allowing me to relive my day of fun.  Now, back to work.
I will reward myself in a couple of hours by making French Onion Soup for our lunch.  That will help take the chill off the day and make my kitchen smell good while I work.  Hurricane Sandy is heading up our coast and bringing the rain and wind with her.  I order this soup every time I go to Paris, regardless of the season.  It just wouldn't seem right not to have it.

French Onion Soup
6-8 servings
from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of French Cooking, Oxmoor House Publishing
(a gift from Son #2 Christmas 2010)

Topped with a thick piece of toasted bread and a generous amount of melted Gruyère cheese, onion soup was the favorite early-morning fare of the vendors and buyers who frequented the tiny restaurants surrounding Les Halles, the famous Parisian wholesale produce and meat market.  Although the market was torn down in 1971, the soup remains popular in Paris and throughout France.

For the soup:
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 lb. yellow onions, very thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. all-purpose flour
8 c. beef bouillon or beef broth
1 c. dry white wine
1 tsp. freshly grated pepper

For the topping:
6-8 slices coarse country bread, each about 1/2 inch thick
2 cloves garlic, halved
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 c. shredded Gruyère or Emmentaler cheese
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

In a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter with the olive oil.  When the butter foams, stir in the onions and sauté until translucent, 4-5 minutes.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the onions are lightly golden, about 15 minutes.  Uncover and sprinkle with the sugar and salt.  Raise the heat to medium and cook uncovered, stirring often, until the onions are deep golden brown in color, 30-40 minutes.
Sprinkle the flour over the onions and cook, stirring, until the flour is browned, 2-3 minutes.  Stirring constantly, gradually pour in the bouillon and 2 cups water.  Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil.  Stir in the wine and the pepper.  Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the onions begin to fall apart, about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the topping:
Preheat the broiler.  Arrange the bread slices in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Toast the bread, turning once, until dried out but not browned, 6-8 minutes total.  Remove the pan from the oven.  Rub both sides of the bread with the garlic halves and brush both sides with the olive oil.  Return to the oven, turning once, until golden, 4-6 minutes total.  Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 450˚F.
Place 6-8 ovenproof soup bowls on a rimmed baking sheet.  Ladle the soup into the bowls, filling them to within 1/2 inch of the rim.  Top each with 1 toasted baguette slice, sprinkle evenly with the cheese, and dot with the butter.  Bake until a golden crust forms and the soup bubbles around the edges, about 15 minutes.  Serve at once.

**If you do not have oven-proof bowls, melt the cheese on the bread slices in the oven and then add to the soup just before serving.

Bon appétit to all who are working instead of playing!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pots de crème and Midnight in Paris

The first quarter ends tomorrow and I always get some wonderful extra credit projects towards the end of the nine weeks.  This young chef made crêpes for his classmates and brought in two lovely jams for them to try, one a delicious sour cherry.  He titled this photo "Awesome photo of me!"  I agree.  He is quite a budding chef.  And a very funny guy.  Sometimes it is quite depressing to think that my life's work has been to try to beat verbs, vocabulary, and manners into middle schoolers' heads and then I stop to look at photos like this one and think about how many times my students have made me laugh and/or cry and I realize that there isn't anything else in the world I would rather be doing.  (Bless this jeune homme's heart... this is his third year in my class, he is headed to France with me in March, and he was in my advisory group last year...)
One of his classmates asked me, as she entered my class second period of the day, if I am always so happy in the morning.  I replied "Oui.  Pourquoi?"  And she informed me, with a bit of a snarl, that she doesn't trust people like me.  Vraiment?  Well, I told her that after 9 months with me five days a week and two weeks in France, she just might turn into a morning person, too.  That was shocking news to her, I think, and she didn't believe me for a second.  But it's fun to give her something to worry about.  Oui, I do indeed mess with them sometimes.  Makes it less depressing some days.  I love middle schoolers, though.  Elementary students are just too little (I taught 5th grade for a few years and routinely made them cry) and high schoolers scare me.  They are too smart.  I will keep my 6th, 7th, and 8th graders, thank you very much.  Merci beaucoup.
Today's treat was pots de crème, made by a 7th grade jeune fille.

Lovely little cups of chocolate for breakfast.   She made a presentation from her iPad, projected on the screen through my LCD projector, taking us through the process step-by-step.  Vraiment délicieux.  More happy classmates.  And a happy professeur de français!
Almost as happy as Some French Guy pretending to replace Hemingway on the cover of my most recent book purchase, The Paris Wife by Paula McLain.  It is the story of Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley and their tumultuous years together during Jazz Age Paris.  The period romanticized by Owen Wilson's character in Midnight in Paris.

I think that I will lose some sleep over this one... which means I will stay up too late reading instead of getting my desperately needed beauty sleep.  I love good books-- and crêpes and pots de crème!

Classic French Chocolate Pots de Crème Recipe
4 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

6 ounces dark chocolate (I used Ghirardelli Premium Baking Bar with 60% cacao - bittersweet chocolate)
1/3 cup cocoa
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
2 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar

Melt the dark chocolate and cocoa together in either a bain-marie, double boiler or a large stainless bowl over a stock pot.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, heat the cream and milk together until it is scalding (almost to a boil). Remove from heat. Whisk the cream/milk mixture very slowly into the eggs and sugar. You want to slowly warm the eggs so that they don't cook quickly. Add all of the cream/milk mixture to bowl to incorporate with egg mixture.
Then pour mixture back into the large saucepan. Bring to a simmer and stir constantly with a wooden spoon for about 5 minutes or until the mixture coats the back of the spoon.
Slowly whisk the custard mixture into the melted chocolate.
Pour into 4 individual serving containers.
Cover immediately with plastic wrap so that a film does not form on the top.
Let cool for 10 minutes then refrigerate for a least an hour. May be made days ahead.
Serve with whipped cream and shaved chocolate, if desired.

Enjoy one of the songs from Midnight in Paris as you dream about chocolate and Paris...

Bon appétit, my dear students, SFG, and Paris wives!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Madeleines, Mousse and Truffles

One of my sweet 7th grade girlies brought me sweets today.  Lovely little chocolate truffles carefully wrapped up in aluminum foil.  Aren't they beautiful?  I strongly encourage my students to cook.  I even give them a few points extra credit for doing so.  They can bring their masterpieces in to share with the class or they can just simply tell us about it and show photos of the process.  I always ask for the recipes, though.  I want to make sure they are homemade and, well, I love recipes.
Last Friday, another girlie made both mousse au chocolat and madeleines to share with her classmates.  She made a presentation about desserts in France.  With her mom, she watched Julie and Julia, a wonderful movie based on Julia Child's story, My Life in France, and Julie Powell's book of the same name about cooking her way through Julia's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  And silly me, I took no photos of her treats. I hope it was a mother-daughter bonding experience.  Perhaps someday I will have a couple of daughters-in-law who like to cook... One can hope, n'est-ce pas?
I bought these at Intermarché last January.  Mme P recommended them as the best grocery store brand. They are really good for breakfast with tea or coffee.

Julia's recipe doesn't look too complicated and they are really delicious.  I think I will try them.  I have my very own pan now, ordered from William-Sonoma with a gift card a student gave me a couple of years ago.

Commercy is located in the Lorraine region and the Meuse département of France.  It seems that these madeleines made famous by Marcel Proust are its claim to fame.  I understand why!

Little shell-shaped cakes
From Julia Child's The Way To Cook

This is presumably the true madeleine from Commercy, the one Marcel Proust dipped in his tea.  It's a charming little cake, perfect with tea, sherbets, and fruits.

Manufacturing note:  A strange method, this-- it was developed by the bakers of Commercy to insure a little shell-shaped cake that humped in the middle.  You can buy madeleine molds in most gourmet shops or through mail-order catalogues-- or you can bake them in scallop shells.  You can also bake the batter in muffin tins, and would then call them Commercy Cupcakes.  --JC

For 24 madeleines, 3 inches long

2 large eggs, lightly beaten in a 2-cup measure
2/3 c. sugar
1 c. all-purpose flour (scooped and leveled) plus 1 Tbsp. extra for preparing the molds
5 ounces (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
A pinch of salt
The grated rind of 1/2 lemon
Drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice
Drops of pure vanilla extract
Confectioners sugar, for sprinkling

Special equipment suggested:  (Julia was nothing if not thorough!)
A mixing bowl and wooden spoon; a bowl with a tray of ice cubes and water to cover; a pastry brush; 2 madeleines pans, 12 cups each; a large cake rack

The batter:
Measure 1/4 cup of the eggs into a bowl, then beat in the sugar and the cup of flour.  When thoroughly blended, let rest 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, melt the butter in a 6-cup saucepan, bring it to a boil, and let it brown lightly.  Place the 1 tablespoon of flour in a small bowl and blend in 1 1/2 tablespoons of the browned butter; set aside for preparing the madeleine pans.  Stir the rest of the butter over ice until cool but liquid; blend it and the last of the eggs into the batter along with the salt, lemon rind and juice, and vanilla.  Preheat the oven to 375˚F and set the racks in the upper and lower levels.  

Paint the madeleine cups with the reserved butter-flour mixture.  Divide the batter into 24 lumps of a generous tablespoon each, and drop them into the madeleine cups.

Bake in the preheated oven until cakes are lightly browned around the edges, humped in the middle, and slightly shrunk from the cups, about 15 minutes.  Unmold unto a rack.

Serving and storing:
When cool, turn shell side up and dust with confectioners sugar.  They will keep in the refrigerator for a day or two in an airtight container and they freeze perfectly.

Bon appétit, budding chefs, M. Proust, and Julia!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Chill out, world!

a fall lavender bloom in my "garden"

It is a beautiful day here in my world.  Bright blue cloudless skies, 65˚F- my ideal weather conditions.  I did escape for a little while today, to go to school and copy a test for my 7th graders for tomorrow morning (I do not trust copy machines on Monday mornings, do you?) and to go up to our high school to check out the construction going on.  The Ex-Ex will have a fabulous gym and a new office-- finally-- in just a few weeks.  I think he is excited.  Although it's hard to tell because he had to go in and work for a few hours today, too.

Note the huge window.  He will get all new furniture and everything.  Too cool.
But the fact that I have to spend my favorite day of the week planning lessons and grading papers makes me kind of grouchy on a day like today.  Today's horoscope offered a bit of advice--

Leo- Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012
"The Lion"  July 23-Aug 22

You may be under a great deal of stress, dear Leo.  It seems as though you simply can't please everyone.  Your partner and your career may hold the most sway with you now, so try to reach a compromise between them.  If that doesn't work, just tell the world to chill out.

I need a daydream.  Here is what my de-stress imaginary picnic looks like.   Elodie Farms fresh chèvre, a Loaf baguette, one of my Nutella brownies, and a glass of Côtes du Rhône from Wine Authorities.  Want to join me?

Bon appétit, daydreams!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Paris, Pierre Hermé and Macarons

Oui, Some French Guy and I have our countdown going already.  I've promised him that he can go with me.  He is anxious to get back to his homeland and find a new baguette.  He's been carrying that one around for quite some time.  (I am trying to convince the 8th graders to start their countdown, too, but they just aren't into it yet... Go figure.)
Carol at Paris Breakfasts is off to Paris much sooner than moi.  She has a new suitcase and a new camera for her next adventure.  She listed her must-haves for trips and then asked for reader input.  I always take too much.  And when I go in January, I will be taking gifts from my students to their pen pals since I will be visiting our exchange school.  Mais oui, mes amis, I will be working.  But since I am going to be in FRANCE and I am a FRENCH teacher the whole trip is work, wouldn't you agree?  N'est-ce pas?  Bien sûr.  
I will report back to my students about the new exhibit at the Musée d'Orsay about Impressionism and Fashion.  I must try a couple of new macaron shops and make my first trip to one of Pierre Hermé's real shops, not just the little section in Galeries Lafayette.  (SFG will probably like one, too.)

After all, M. Hermé did recently send me an autographed picture of himself.

I will definitely let him know that I am coming for a visit.
I have 91 days to make plans!  A lot of daydreaming will go into the planning, that's for sure.
And I will get around to making one of his macaron recipes soon... maybe.  He has a recipe book in English now.  A little pricey but probably worth it just for the delicious pictures.

I will, of course, take some more photos of my own in January.  C'est promis!
One of my girlies at school decided to make macarons for her class recently.  What a sweetheart.  They were quite happy.

She used a recipe from one of my books.

On of the creative girlies in the class drew a picture of the macarons for me.

Another one of the girlies has borrowed the book now.  Maybe we will get treats again soon.  I hope so!

Bon appétit, SFG, M. Hermé and girlies who like to cook!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Marie Antoinette and Orange Brioche

Marie Antoinette at age 13 by Martin van Meytens, 1767.

Well, boys and girls, tonight I was looking forward to a nice quiet evening of gubernatorial and presidential debates.  But what should I see when I get to the "Today in History" section of the local newspaper?  Today is the 219th anniversary of the death of Marie Antoinette.  She lost her head on October 16, 1793 in what is now the Place de la Concorde in Paris.

Marie was just short of her 38th birthday.  Her body was tossed into an unmarked grave but exhumed in 1815 and taken to the Basilica of Saint Denis for a proper Christian burial.  

I visited her gravesite last March.

She is also immortalized in stone in Saint Denis, alongside her husband, Louis XVI.

Funerary monument to King Louis XVIand Queen Marie Antoinette, 

(I have developed quite a thing for statues lately.)
Some Marie Antoinette facts...
-- She was the 15th child of Holy Roman Emperor Francis 1 and Empress Maria Theresa of Austria.
-- At her home court, she was encouraged to play with the "commoners" and was allowed to wander the gardens and have pets.  The atmosphere was much more relaxed than it was in France.  She tried to recreate this later at the Petit Trianon and her little farm, le petit Hameau, but she was not very successful.  It is a cool place to visit, though, and where I saw my first "wild" boar.  (If you find yourself at Versailles in nice weather, rent a bike and ride around the grounds-- a great way to see everything without wearing yourself out and spending all of your time walking.)
-- She didn't take her education very seriously and had lousy handwriting.  
Her signature:

However, she was a good singer and dancer, could speak Italian and French in addition to her native German, was fairly proficient in English, was a decent artist, and had great poise-- a queen in training, wouldn't you say?
-- Maria Antonia, as she was called, had crooked teeth and the French didn't care for that so before her marriage, she had to have very painful oral surgery to correct her smile and bring her up to queenly snuff.  No braces back in the day.
-- After all the marriage negotiations, she was finally wed by proxy in Vienna.  Her brother stood in for the bridegroom who couldn't make the trip, I guess.  She was handed over to the French at the age of 15 and headed for the palace of Versailles where another wedding ceremony took place.  The mystery surrounding the consummation of the marriage plagued the newlyweds for years.  A marriage of convenience?  Perhaps the future king of France had problems?  
-- Her mom was hyper-critical and her husband was not very affectionate.  She turned to shopping and gambling.  However, she did seem to get tired of fancy petticoats and lots of make-up and helped change fashion. 
From this

To this

-- She birthed four children, two sons and two daughters, but one daughter lived less than a year.
--"Let them eat cake."  Did she really say this?  Supposedly, upon being told that the peasants had no bread to eat, she quipped that they could eat brioche, a sweeter bread than the usual baguette.
-- There is a fascinating story about The Diamond Necklace Affair at this website.  I can't possibly retell it and do it justice.  Just click and read on.  It was the undoing of Marie Antoinette.

As I attempted to write this post about Queen Marie Antoinette, I quickly realized that I had barely scratched the surface and that I am very ignorant about her.  I've seen the 2006 movie, Marie Antoinette, starring Kristin Dunst and didn't care for it.  I just read a story about the attempted escape from Paris by the royal family in the book Parisians:  An Adventure History of Paris by Graham Robb.

I have this book in my bookcase but have not read it.

It has now been placed just under the Graham Robb book and is next on my list.

For the past four years (since spending Halloween in France and not dressing up), I have considered dressing up as her for Halloween.  I think that this is a sign that the time has come.  I have two weeks to get that costume pulled together.  Got any good suggestions?

Also while living in France, I decided to try to learn to make a decent brioche à l'orange.  The B&B guests were served quite a bit of it.  I discovered that it makes great French toast, too.  I tried several different recipes and blogged about it here and here.   

Bon appétit, Marie Antoinette!

My source:

Sunday, October 14, 2012

William the Conqueror and 1066

You just have no idea what you will learn on any given day by actually reading the newspaper.  Yes, I am an old dog.  I still get a daily newspaper.  The Durham Herald-Sun.  I used to write a monthly food column for it before I was dumped in favor of a new writer who got a weekly column.  I am still a bit bitter about that.  Oh well.
Anyway, I discovered that today, 14 October, is the anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, the defeat of the King Harold of England by William the Conqueror (1028-1087) in 1066.  I actually talk about this event quite a bit in French class.  I turned to Google to help me with my facts.  (I am always a bit afraid, though, that I have been misleading my little darlings, though, so I researched with a bit of trepidation.)
He held several titles- William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, and William II.  His fight against the English was immortalized in the Bayeux Tapestry.  (I haven't seen this yet.  One of these days I will visit Bayeux.  I did go to St. Malo once and there is a marker on the beach that states that William left from that spot to sail across the English Channel.)  He was crowned king on Christmas Day 1066 in Westminster Abbey.  He is buried in Caen, in northern France.
I did find quite a bit of additional interesting stuff.  Using the format of's article, I will present 10 of these tidbits--

1.  He was of Viking origin:  Norman- Norseman- Man of the North

2.  Behind his back he was called William the Bastard.  He was illegitimate, the product of an affair.

3.  His wife, Matilda of Flanders, wanted nothing to do with him at first.  He was head over heels in love and she finally gave in.  They had 9 or 10 children.  There was never any evidence that he had any affairs, most uncommon at the time.

4.  It didn't pay to diss his mama.  When some folks decided to make fun of him for being the grandson of a tanner, referring to his mama's daddy, he had their hands and feet cut off.  Ouch.

5.  He tried for many years to master the English language but never managed to do so.  He was illiterate.  However, because of the invasion, French became the language spoken in English courts for about 300 years.  It is estimated that about 80-85% of the English language comes from French (and Latin).  Ever wonder why we have cows but eat beef?  Sheep but eat mutton?  Pigs but eat pork?  The first words are Anglo-Saxon and the second ones, oui, you guessed it, French.

6.  In the Battle of Hastings, William's jester died first.  He was the precursor to books-on-tape, CDs, and iPods because he rode alongside William to keep him entertained by telling stories and singing.  When they encountered the English troops, M. Jester taunted the English and they killed him on the spot.

7.  He was described as "burly and robust" and was evidently quite fat in his later life, although he was reportedly in good health and died from a fall from his horse while still fighting the enemy.  Only his femur bone survived and it is thought that he was 5'10, tall for a Frenchie at the time.  Some made fun of his weight (probably not to his face, just like the bastard thing).  He even made up his own version of a fad diet that consisted of only wine and spirits.  Nope, didn't work.  He was so large that he had to be stuffed into his coffin.

8.  At his funeral, his dead body exploded.  Seems he had an infection and that stuffing into the coffin thing caused his abdomen to explode.  Really, really gross and smelly.

9.  At least 25% of the English population claim to be descendants of William.  Quite a few Americans of British ancestry claim the same.

10. His name became the most popular name for English males by the 13th century.  According to  my research, it is the third most popular name of 2012.  In French it is Guillaume, an old French name with Germanic origins:  wil- desire +  helm- protection.
One of my favorite actors, William Shatner, comes to mind.  With a crown and a beard...?  Who knows?

So, what did William eat?  We already know about his unsuccessful attempt to diet by wine.  The lords of the manor ate well back in Medieval times.  Peasants not so much so.  William traveled with quite a large household and expected to be fed wherever he went.  It is said that in just a few days of Christmas feasting, he and his companions consumed 6,000 chickens, 1,000 rabbits, 90 boars, 50 peacocks, 200 geese, 10,000 eels, thousands of eggs and loaves of bread, and hundreds of casks of wine and cider.  Water wasn't sanitary or safe back then so not much of it was directly consumed.  Wine, cider, ale, and mead were the drinks of choice.  By all accounts, William did love to hunt.

In honor of all those chickens, I will post one of our favorite chicken recipes.  It is from Bistro Chicken: 100 Easy Yet Elegant Recipes with French Flair by Mary Ellen Evans.  It was given to me by my 2004  advisees.

Chicken Scaloppine with Parmesan
4 servings

Four 6 to 8-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts, tenderloin portions removed
5 ounces freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 1 1/4 cups)
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
2 large egg whites
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Lay each breast flat on a cutting board; cut in half horizontally to form two thin pieces; set aside.  Stir the cheese and flour together in a shallow bowl; stir in the basil.  Set aside.  Stir the egg whites and 1 tablespoon water together in a shallow bowl with a fork until slightly foamy; set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  When hot, working quickly, dip 4 breast pieces, one at a time, into the egg white mixture, then into the cheese mixture, turning to coat..  Add to the hot skillet.  Cook until browned and cooked through, 2-3 minutes per side. Remove to a platter; cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.  Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet; repeat with the remaining pieces of chicken.  Season with pepper and serve.

*Truc:  Buy the best quality Parmesan, preferable authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano, you can afford and grate it fresh just before using for optimum taste.

My sources:

I can't resist adding these videos to the post.

Bon appétit, Guillaume and all history buffs!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Eiffel Tower is pink!

And if you Appuyez ici, between the first and second floors, she sparkles!  One of my 6th grade girlies brought this to me today.  Adorable, n'est-ce pas?  Mme Eiffel is from Bath and Body Works and has a little bottle of Bonjour Pink Bloom anti-bacterial hand gel in her back.  Clever idea.  I tried to get B&BW to give me one of their big pink Eiffel Towers used in a display last year, but they decided to keep it.  So that they could use it again this year in another display, je suppose.  That's okay with me, just as long as they didn't just throw her away.  I will be in Paris, in her presence, in just a mere 100 days, but I don't think that she will be pink.  Mais on ne sait jamais.  I was shocked to see her dressed up in blue in 2008.
I made really, really good brownies for my advisees a couple of days ago.  I saved some edges for the BFF.  She is very fond of brownies, too.

I used up all the Nutella in the house making them, so I am going to have to stop at Target on the way home from school today and buy another jar.
If only I could find a jar this size in the U.S.

However I have only seen that size at Le Lafayette Gourmet at Galeries Lafayette.

Son #2 comes home for fall break tonight.  I'll bet he would like some homemade-by-mom-brownies.  And that means there will be a bowl that needs to be licked.  I specialize in that.

This recipe is from Alaska from Scratch who adapted it from a recipe by Mother Thyme.

Nutella Brownies

1/3 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. sugar*
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. Nutella
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Grease an 8x8 pan (I used an 11x7 pan, greased with the wrapper from the softened butter).
Cream butter and sugar together.  Incorporate eggs and vanilla until combined.  Mix in Nutella until smooth and fluffy.  Add in flour and salt until just mixed.
Scoop batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.  Bake 30 minutes or until set in the center.
Cool at least 10 minutes.  Cut into squares.

*Mother Thyme recipe uses 1 cup of sugar.  I thought they were sweet enough with just the half cup.

Bon appétit, Mme Eiffel!  Shine on!