The Gift of French Cuisine

The French peasant cuisine is at the basis of the culinary art. By this I mean it is composed of honest elements that la grande cuisine only embellishes. -Alexandre Dumaine I don’t remember exactly when it happened. One day I resisted even opening my then-pristine copy of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking … More The Gift of French Cuisine

Unquenchable: Natalie MacLean’s Terrific New Book on Wine

If, like me – overwhelmed by the hundreds of possible choices in front of you at the grocery store or local wine shop – you’ve ever stood in front of the endless shelves of stunning wine bottles and felt like just closing your eyes and grabbing a bottle, any bottle (preferably one on the lower … More Unquenchable: Natalie MacLean’s Terrific New Book on Wine

Oreillettes, A Part of Provence’s Thirteen Desserts

Fried dough, a universal love. Grease, sugar, what more could you dream of? In the south of France,  when you want fried dough, you’ll get oreillettes. As with any traditional holiday dish, each cook has his or her version. The signature taste with these oreillettes is the orange flower water. In New Orleans, oreillettes come … More Oreillettes, A Part of Provence’s Thirteen Desserts

The Provençal Thirteen: Fennel- and Cumin-Scented Sablés

In France, you’ll find sablés,  buttery cookies that originated in Normandy. (You know they had all that butter to get rid of there.) Most sablés are sweet. But in Provence, for the famous Thirteen Desserts of Christmas Eve, cooks prefer savory little disks perfumed with fennel and cumin. Cumin? How did cumin get into mix? … More The Provençal Thirteen: Fennel- and Cumin-Scented Sablés

Nougat Noir, or Black Nougat, Another of the Thirteen Desserts

A Provençal gros souper (Christmas Eve dinner) would not be correct without some nougat noir to challenge the skill of your dentist and possibly lay waste to your dental work. In other words, nougat noir can be a bête [bite!] noire*, if you’re not careful. For nougat noir is a hard candy, not the pillowy stuff … More Nougat Noir, or Black Nougat, Another of the Thirteen Desserts