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The comic, inspiring and always fashionable adventures of this "mad designer" as she navigates the reality of pursuing her dream...living the artisan lifestyle of a jewelry designer.

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Friday, September 14, 2012



Fresh Chanterelle (ou Girolles en Francais) Mushrooms from the market in Fontainebleau. They have a distinct rich flavor with a woody or  earthy aroma. There are many ways to cook chanterelles. Most of the flavorful compounds in chanterelles are fat-soluble, making them good mushrooms to sauté in butter, oil or cream.
Though records of chanterelles being eaten date back to the 1500s, they first gained widespread recognition as a culinary delicacy with the spreading influence of French cuisine in the 1700s, where they began appearing in palace kitchens. For many years, they remained notable for being served at the tables of nobility. Nowadays, the usage of chanterelles in the kitchen is common throughout Europe and North America.
I had a plate of sautéed Chanterelle mushrooms as a  starter dish in a local restaurant in Barbizon which I decided to recreate served with spätzle (traditional Alsacian egg noodles) for our dinner.



First I washed and brushed the chanterelle mushrooms, then  sauté  in  butter in a pan with garlic and shallots. At the end add a bit of fresh chopped parsley.
The spätzle, since I didn’t have fresh, I cooked in water according to the directions. Then in a pan sautéed with butter and a bit of cream fresh, bread crumbs, salt and pepper to taste.

And Voila…dinner is served.  

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Beaucoup du tomates !

Our friend Deloisy just dropped off 4kg (aprox. 8.8 lbs) vine ripe yellow tomatoes yesterday morning. So what do I do with this windfall…

Sliced tomato salad with goat cheese and a fresh baguette for lunch,with the tomatoes that are in really good shape and beautiful.

The really ripe tomatoes and those with spotty skin, I will make a Blond Tomato Crumble or Crumble Tomates Oignons et Parmesan. Last weekend Blandine made this for us and it was so good I decided to give it a whirl. I didn’t get the recipe so I looked one up on the internet that seemed the most similar to the one Blandine made. I have gotten fairly good at reading recipe’s in French but I also look at the Bing translation just to be sure I am not missing something (see below).

Crumble tomates oignons et parmesan

Cuisson, cooking time : 35 min
Ingrédients (pour 6 personnes) :
  • 200 g d'oignons grelots, 4  medium onions
  • 1 cuillère à soupe d'huile d'olive, 1 T olive oil
  • 2 cuillères à soupe de sucre roux, 2 T. sugar
  • 15-18 tomates olivettes ou 4 grosses tomates bien mûres, 15-18 small to  meduim tomatoes or 4+ large tomatoes (I used 18 in mine)
  •  2 gousses d'ail, 2  cloves of garlic
  • 1 cuillère à café de thym, 1 tsp. dried thyme or I used small handful fresh thyme from our garden.
Pour la pâte à crumble, for the crumble I used a French measuring cup for the amounts in grams but here is the conversions (not tested) I looked up. :
  • 120 g de parmesan, 1 cup finely grated parmesan
  • 120 g de farine, 1 cup flour
  • 100 g de beurre, 8 T butter softened
  • salt and pepper to taste
Préparation :
Préparez la pâte à crumble : râpez le parmesan à la grosse grille, mélangez-le à la farine puis ajoutez le beurre bien mou en morceaux.
Mélangez du bout des doigts jusqu'à obtention d'une pâte granuleuse. Réservez.
Prepare the dough to crumble: In a bowl combine grated parmesan, flour, softened butter and salt/pepper to taste. Combine with fork until small grains in texture. Set this aside.
Epluchez les oignons et les tomates. Coupez les oignons en 2, faite-sles compoter dans un sauteuse dans l'huile d'olive et le sucre à couvert 10 minutes.
Peel onions and tomatoes. I used a mandolin to slice the onions. The tomatoes I roughly chopped after they were peeled. btw to peel a tomato put tomatoes in a pot of boiling water until the skins split then remove immediately. Once they are cool enough to handle the skins will slip right off.  
In a dutch oven over medium heat add olive oil followed by the  onions and sugar. Cover and cook 10 minutes. The onions should soften but not get colored.
Ajoutez les tomates coupées en morceaux ainsi que l'ail écrasé et le thym, laissez cuire à feux doux encore 10 minutes.
Add the peeled, chopped tomatoes, crushed garlic and thyme to the pot. Cook another 10 minutes until fragrant.

Versez ce mélange dans un plat beurré, recouvrez de la pâte à crumble et enfournez dans le four préchauffé à 200°C (thermostat 6-7) pendant 35 minutes.
La pâte doit prendre une belle couleur dorée. Servez tiède.
Pour this mixture into a flat buttered casserole dish, cover generously with crumble and bake in preheated oven 400F for 30 minutes or until bubbly and top is golden brown. Serve Warm or also great leftover cold!

Bon appetit ! This goes well with grilled pork chops or chicken or all by itself, LOL!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Penne Pasta with Chicken, Lemon, Garlic and Fresh Tomatoes

This is my adaptation of the Angele Hair Pasta with Lemon and Garlic from “IN THE KITCHEN WITH ROSIE”  by Rosie Daley cookbook. It is a perfect fresh and easy  Spring dinner!
Servings 4 or 2 with leftovers Smile

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3-4 T pesto sauce
1/2 lime juice
2 c dry penne pasta
Black pepper; to taste
A couple handfuls of arugula
1 med. to large lemon juiced
2 c  Fresh Tomatoes; 3-4 medium, chopped
1/4 c. Freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 T olive oil
1/4 c Fresh basil; chopped
2 cloves Garlic; peel and mince
1/2 c Dry white wine
  • Marinade boneless skinless chicken breast in pesto sauce for a couple of hours. I usually do it in the morning and let it sit all day in the pesto.
  • Add pesto used to marinade to small stick proof skillet pan; no need to add any oil if using a stick proof skillet pesto already has enough; sauté stovetop.
  • After the chicken is lightly browned on both sides cut into bit sized chunks and return to skillet to finish. Stirring to coat all sides of chicken in pesto sauce, set aside.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and maintain at a boil.
  • Put the olive oil and garlic in a sauté pan and cook over medium heat just until the garlic begins to brown.
  • Remove the sauté pan from the heat and pour in the wine. Return it to the heat. Cook for another 1 to 2 minutes, until the wine has been reduced by half.
  • Stir in the lemon juice and tomato.
  • Remove the pan from the heat.
  • Place the pasta in the boiling water and cook to desired doneness, with a bite, al dente.
  • Add the basil, a couple of handfuls of arugula, cooked chicken, black pepper, and parmesan cheese,  along with the tomato mixture. Toss and serve immediately.

Spring in Barbizon, France…

…planting the first flower pots…


…red, orange and yellow buttercups…


…adding new herbs to garden outside the kitchen with citrus thyme, rosemary, thyme and coaxing back the existing parsley and thyme from last year…


…adding basil and parsley to the bed in the back to go with the chives…


…watching the first flowers of spring bloom in the yard…


…enjoying the sunshine!!!


Soupy Black Beans & Rice with Blackened Chicken

Spring is finally coming to Barbizon, with the sun shining on my face I am remembering Miami, FL. This is my shout out to Miami flavor, and bringing all my memories of South Beach to France!!!  Hint: soak the dried black beans the night before you want to serve this meal.


Blackened Chicken Recipe

I am still looking for the perfect blackened chicken recipe but this one is defiantly in the runner up!  At first I thought the mayo based mop for basting was  weird but it really worked to keep the boneless skinless chicken breasts moist while cooking. I did this under the broiler (it started to rain) vs. the grill but it would defiantly lend itself to grilling. 

Rub Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 4 teaspoons sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 clove fresh garlic (through salt in mortar and pestle) or 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • zest of one lemon & 10 turns of freshly ground black pepper ( add to fresh garlic and grind then add to the rest of the rub mix) or 1 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper, divided
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
Basting Mop Ingredients:
  • 1 1/3 cups mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 large green onion, chopped
  • sprinkle of cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  1. In a small bowl, combine dry rub ingredients and add wet rub ingedients (garlic & lemomn zest) mix will and sprinkle over both sides of chicken. Set aside.
  2.  In another bowl, combine Basting Mop Ingredients; cover and chill 1 cup for serving. Save remaining sauce for basting.
  1. Grill chicken, covered, over indirect medium heat for 4-6 minutes on each side or until juices run clear, basting frequently with remaining sauce. Serve with reserved sauce.
  2. OR put broiler close to the heating element and cook chicken until the top is looking done and the spices have set, flip and do the other side.  Then put the rack down one from the broiler element and continue cooking and basting on each side until chicken is done in the middle, approx. another 3 min. per side.  The basting mop will bubble and blacken and that is what you are looking for in the final product.
Soupy Black Beans ( my favorite recipe from the Miami Spice Cookbook)

Initial Black Bean Cook
  • 1 pound black beans, picked through and washed
  • 1 small onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, cored and seeded
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • quarter pound country thick cut bacon, cut into slivers or 150 grams smoked lardon
  • 1/2 onion, chopped fine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 green pepper , cored, seeded and finely chopped
  • 3 scallions,trimmed and finely chopped
  • 2 T dry white wine or white wine vinegar to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Rinse and pick through beans, pull out any foreign matter. Put beans in pot and cover with 3 inches of water.  Soak overnight.
  • The next day drain beans and put back in pot. Cover with 3 inches of water. Add halved onion, garlic cloves, bay leaves, bell pepper, cumin and oregano to the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat and skim off any foam that rises to the surface.
  • Reduce heat, cover, and gently simmer beans, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Add water as necessary to keep beans submerged. Remove onion, garlic, bay leaves and bell pepper with a slotted spoon and discard. 
  • Meanwhile: Prepare Sofrito.
  • Brown bacon in a heavy frying pan over medium heat.
  • Add remaining sofrito ingredients. Cook over medium heat until just beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Stir the sofrito into the beans along with the wine, vinegar sugar and salt and pepper. Cover and continue simmering bean, until very soft, about 20 mins.
  • Just before serving correct the seasonings, adding salt,pepper, cumin, oregano, or vinegar. The mixture should be highly seasoned. Spoon the soupy black beans over rice.


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Four Cheese Macaroni with Bacon…hang onto your girdles girls cause this is the ONE!

Mac & Cheese has always been one of my favorite comfort foods. Kraft will do in a pinch but the best mac & cheese was one I had one Sunday afternoon made by a friend’s Southern grandma but now this updated version may take the cake. WARNING: This is not low fat by any stretch of the imagination but totally worth the extra workout session, LOL.


I have been trying to explain the American  mac & cheese experience to Stephane.  We tried Kraft when I found it in an American grocery store here in France but I told him that was not real mac & cheese. Real mac & cheese is creamy, bubbly, cheesy goodness NOT orange. So now of course he has been asking me to put my money where my mouth is and make him some. I had a recipe from my above mentioned friend’s grandmother but my cookbooks are still in storage so I was really excited by this recipe* which is an updated twist on an old favorite,  found in the January issue of INSTYLE magazine. It is not a recipe for beginners as you need to make the cheese sauce with no lumps (actually not that hard once you get the hang of it) and does dirty a lot of pots and pans but I think you will find it worth the trouble. I know I did.  * I made a few changes/additions but this is pretty much the recipe from the magazine.



  • 1/2 cup butter (divided)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  •  1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • A couple twirls of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 cups Panko style bread crumbs (used a mixture of store bought and my own from old baguettes that I smashed)
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 5-6 slices of thin sliced  Prosciutto or similarly spiced meat such as Sopressata, Bresaola or Grisons meat. (see topping)
  • 1/2 lb. thick sliced bacon (I used lardon which is like a thick sliced smoked bacon) (see filling)
  • 1 lb. dried shell pasta (I used one box of Barilla trumpet shaped pasta)
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups grated whole milk mozzarella cheese (reserve 1/2 cup for topping)
  • 1 cup grated aged cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/4 cups grated smoked Gouda Cheese (reserve 1/4 cup for topping)
  • 1 1/4 cups grated Havarti cheese (reserve 1/4 cup for topping)


1. In a large saucepan melt 3 tsp. butter (first1/2 of the butter) over medium heat. Add Garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook until garlic is soft and fragrant but not brown (1-2 min.) . Add bread crumbs and quickly mix to combine. Remove mixture to a bowl.

2. Place sliced Prosciutto on parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake in 350° oven until crisp.  Then crumble and mix into bowl of seasoned bread crumbs above. Topping done! Set bowl aside for later.

1. In a large saucepan combine milk and onion over medium heat. Bring milk to a low simmer. Cook for 20 minutes stirring occasionally (you do not want burnt milk at the bottom). The 20 minutes is only a suggestion you do not want the milk to reduce too much but do want the onion to infuse flavor gently into the milk. Set aside when done (see sauce).

2. While the milk is simmering…In a large frying pan, cook bacon (or lardon) until the edges are crispy. Keep the grease in the pan but remove the bacon with a slotted spoon. Cut bacon into 1/2 inch pieces, I find kitchen scissors are the easiest to do this with and set aside.
3. Add apples to the hot bacon fat in the pan, sautèing until soft. Add bacon pieces back to pan; add vinegar and toss to coat. Remove pan from heat and set aside.

4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions. When pasta is done drain and set aside for assembly.

1. As pasta cooks, melt 1/4 cup butter (second half of butter) in a large sauce pan. Sprinkle with flour (a tablespoon at a time) over butter and whisk together to form paste. Cook over medium low heat 1-2 minutes but do not let pan get too hot or you will get lumps and scorch your milk. (This I have learned by trial and error, uggg!)

2. Slowly one ladle at a time (or approx. 1/2 cup) add your milk mixture whisking each addition until smooth. Raise heat and slowly bring to a gentle boil stirring constantly. Once it is boiling reduce the heat so that you have a gentle simmer continue to stir and add nutmeg and pepper to taste. Let sauce thicken until it coats the back of a spoon. Maybe 5 minutes (but feels like longer as you stand there stirring, LOL)

3. Slowly add (while stirring constantly) 1 cup of each of your grated  cheeses until cheese melts. Your sauce is done, turn off the heat and prepare for assembly.

1. Add pasta from strainer back to the large pan you used to cook the pasta, add apple/bacon mixture and mix well. Then fold your cheese sauce mixture into the pasta.

2. Pour above into a lightly greased 13” x 9” backing dish.

3. Mix your remaining cheeses with the bread crumb topping in a bowl and then sprinkle on top of your pasta in the baking dish.

4. Broil until bread crumbs are golden and cheese is bubbly (about 4-5 min).
 Serve immediately.

Yield: 6 big old serving!

Friday, January 27, 2012

My first Raclette

Have you ever heard of Raclette??? I hadn’t but melted cheese over potatoes with ham…what’s not to love! This is how it works: An electric raclonette is placed on the table which has individual cups that fit under the grill. 
The guests grill a slice of cheese, which may be topped with a raw quail egg in individual cups then pour the now melted cheese and cooked egg over sliced potatoes on their plate.
This is eaten with charcuterie, assorted pickled vegies and a simple green salad.
This was absolutely delicious; however, I will defiantly have to add another day to my workout schedule to combat the calories consumed, LOL. Totally worth it thought!!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tomato & Apple Soup…an old favorite all grown up


I just got the January issue of INSTYLE magazine (and in English - oh joy!) and found some updated “comfort food” recipes. Today is a typical cold and rainy January day so I decided to try out this new recipe for tomato soup. The reason I am calling this version of tomato soup "all grown up" is because the apple cider I have found so far in France is the alcoholic kind. It is not too potent only 4% alcohol but in addition to the wine in this recipe I thought this may not be for kids, LOL. 

I have to say I usually do not enjoy fruit in savory dishes or really fruit in general; however,  in addition to apples this recipe’s ingredients also include Dijon mustard and chili paste so I figured that would balance it out without making it too fruity. 

I couldn’t find my chili paste so I used 3 small red chili peppers, chopped and a dab of Harissa.  I like the warmth the chili’s give to this recipe and the sweetness of the apples cut the acidity of the tomatoes. Now I just need a grilled cheese sandwich, a good book and I am all set!


2 T butter
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
3 tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 cup tomato paste
1 T Dijon mustard
1 tsp. sambal (chili paste available at Asian markets)
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 16oz. cans whole peeled tomatoes and juice (I used diced tomatoes and their juice)
4 cups apple cider
3/4 cup liquid crème fresh (or heavy cream), divided in half

  • In a large soup pot, melt butter over medium/low  heat. Add onions, garlic and a pinch of salt. Sauté 10 minutes until pale and tender.
  • Add apples, tomato paste, mustard, chili paste and white wine. Let reduce by half (5-7 minutes).
  • Add tomatoes and cider; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer (partially covered to let steam vent) for an hour stirring occasionally.
  • Pour half of soup in blender. Purée with one part of cream until smooth. Repeat with the second batch and combine it all together. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Lentils with Wine-Glazed Winter Vegetables…what is for dinner tonight…

Winter Veg.4

I found this recipe on the Cooking Light website and decided to try this instead of making lentil soup with the dried lentils I have purchased for this week's menu. I substituted turnips for the parsnips in this recipe because I like the flavor better and also parsnips are not a local produce for France and therefore more expensive per kg. The result was fab. and I will definitely add this to my winter lineup. Tonight I am serving this with roasted pork studded with garlic and rubbed with Herbs de Provence but I think it could also stand alone and be served as a vegetarian meal over bulgur.

Winter Veg.1

My winter vegetables  are cooked separately, glazed with tomato paste and red wine, and then added to the lentils. Any lentils will work, but I like black or French green lentils for this recipe; they make for the most dramatic presentation and have a great flavor.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups)

  • 3 cups water 1 1/2 cups dried lentils
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil 
  • 2 cups chopped onion 
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped peeled celeriac (celery root)
  • 1 cup (about 4 small) diced turnip
  • 1 cup (about 4 med. to large) diced carrot 
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh or 1 teaspoon dried tarragon, divided
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 garlic clove, minced 
  • 2/3 cup dry red wine
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon butter 
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 
  • Combine water, lentils, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and bay leaf in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes. Remove lentils from heat, and set aside.
  • Heat olive oil in a medium cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celeriac, turnip, carrot, and 1 1/2 teaspoons tarragon, and sauté 10 minutes or until browned.
Winter Veg.3
  • Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt, tomato paste, and garlic; cook mixture 1 minute.
  • Stir in wine, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  • Stir in mustard.
  • Add lentil mixture, and cook 2 minutes.
  • Remove from heat; discard bay leaf, and stir in butter, 1 1/2 teaspoons tarragon, and pepper.
Cooking Light
MARCH 2000

Thursday, January 12, 2012

What I am working on now....Spring Line Sneak Peek

I have really been in the groove lately working on my Body Armour Spring Line. It was actually really hard to stop working on new pieces I am designing to take some pics. of some of the completed designs but here are two of them at least. Hundreds of stainless steel rings have been opened and closed by hand to make the chainmaille and chains in these two pieces. All of the chains in both pieces are handmade. When I come up for air again I will price these and list them in both my Etsy and Art Fire Shop.

Euro 4-in-1 weave Harness/Necklace/Sash

Byzantine Lace Collar with Detachable Shoulder Harness

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Soup of the week…Chou vert Frisé (Cabbage) with Artichoke, Giant White Bean and Sausage Soup


Even though I am just cooking for two, I love to make a big pot of soup every week. I purposefully make enough to last for one dinner and several lunches. This way I am not cooking every day but have something easy and delicious for us to eat and in the winter I could eat soup everyday . Planned laziness…gotta love it!
This recipe is adapted from “Tuscan Kale Soup with Artichoke and Chicken Sausage”  found on Taste With The Eyes blog that I  follow.  Artichokes are one of my very favorite vegetables so this immediately attracted me to this recipe. While familiarizing myself with the different foods available at our local Carrefour (French version of a Walmart Super Store) I found large bags of frozen artichoke hearts. Very exciting (for me at least)!  I have yet to be able to find kale so I am using Chou Vert Frisé  (curly leaf green cabbage) that is available here during the winter months.  I added some leftover giant white beans I cooked for another meal to this but I have also made it without them.


1 small head of Chou Vert Frisé (curly leaf green cabbage) or kale
1 lb. ( 500kg) Toulouse sausage (mild sausage)
1 med. onion diced
1 tsp. fennel seed (crushed)
2 red chili peppers finely chopped or 1 tsp. chili flakes
6-8 frozen artichoke hearts (sliced)
1/2 of a lemon
3 quarts chicken stock


  • Wash cabbage leaves and drain. Remove tough middle stem from leaves and cut into 1-2 inch pieces. Do not worry if they seem too big the cabbage will cook down.  I used about one heaping colander full of torn cabbage leaves for my soup. 
  • Remove sausage from casings and crumble into bite size pieces while browning in a large stock pot. When sausage is done remove and drain in a bowl lined with paper towels.
  • While this is cooking crush fennel seed in a mortar and pestle.
  • Remove excess grease from pot and in same pot Add onion, garlic, chili and crushed fennel and sauté until onion is translucent but not brown.
  • If using frozen artichoke heart. Thaw before hand, then slice. Squeeze juice from 1/2 a lemon over the artichoke hearts, add zest if desired
  • Return browned sausage to pot. Add artichoke hearts, chicken broth and cabbage leaves to pot.
  • Continue cooking stirring occasionally 30 minutes or until  cabbage and artichoke hearts are tender. Adjust seasoning as necessary adding salt and pepper.
Serve with fresh bread and cheese or try a little grated parmesan cheese on top.
Yields: 6+ adult size servings

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