I just realized that its been at least two weeks since I last posted our weekly menu. Shame on me ! No excuses really only that time has not been my friend recently. Today is Mothers Day in France and a perfect opportunity to say thanks to all Mom’s. No doubt the best job in the world with rewards that exceed any monetary value. A special thought goes out to my mother in law today, no doubt a very hard day for her.

So, how am I spending my day?  Well after being spoiled by my hubby and kids this morning we had a great brunch and I’m baking cookies for some of the kids in our condo building. Princess dresses for the girls and ice cream cones for Alex (his choice). Dinner will be simple tonight and serving with an exceptional bottle of wine (future post). 

Saturday: We were at my in-laws for dinner 
Sunday: Grilled Asian Steak with Sweet Slaw (I’ve been eying this recipe for a few years now ever since it appeared in the June 2008 Bon Appétit magazine)
Monday: Grilled snapper with cilantro rice
Tuesday: Tuna Sandwhiches (yes this has become a ritual – this is what happens when mom works late on a Tuesday night)
Wednesday: Lemon Fettuccine with Broccoli and Pancetta– again from the June 2008 Bon Appétit Magazine
Thursday: Grilled Chicken with Haricot Verts
Friday: My son’s new favorite dish – Tacos

Bon Appétit !


As part of the ‘big package’ that I sold to my son, I mentioned that we could do football (soccer) t-shirts. He’s very much interested in the French Ligue 1 football championships and knows all the teams and their t-shirts. Needless to say this was an easy sell as it combined his two favorite things for the moment, football and cookies.

Being the perfectionist that I am 🙂 I started a few days early because I of course as any other mother wanted things to be flawless. Dorie Greenspan’s Sugar Cookies were made and the frosting prepared for them however Alex on accident knocked over the box that was holding over 4dozen cookies, he was heartbroken when he realized so back to square one 🙂 His party was on Saturday so I finished baking a new set of cookies the  Friday afternoon and my hubby and I stayed up until 2am decorating the cookies.

T-Shirt Cookies
T-Shirt Cookies

The cookies went into the party bags that we gave out to the kids, I’m not a fan of the sugary candy that they put into the bags and instead wanted to share something that was personalized and homemade.

Goody Bags with T-Shirt and Number 4 cookies
Cookie Goody Bags


Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s – Baking From My Home to Yours

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Makes about 50 cookies (depending on diameter)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons; 5 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Sugar or cinnamon-sugar, for dusting (optional)

Whisk the flour, salt and baking powder together and keep close by.

Working in a mixer with the paddle attachment, if you have one, beat the butter at medium speed for a minute or so, until it is smooth. Still beating, add the sugar and continue to beat for about 2 minutes, until the butter is light and pale. Add the egg and the yolk and beat another minute or two. Reduce the mixer speed to low and steadily add the flour mixture, mixing only until it has been incorporated. In fact, because this dough is best when worked least, you might want to stop the mixer before all the flour is thoroughly blended into the dough and finish the job with a rubber spatula. When mixed, the dough will be soft, creamy and appealingly malleable.

Turn the dough out onto a counter and divide it in half. If you want to make roll-out cookies, shape each half into a disk and wrap in plastic. If you want to make slice-and-bake cookies, shape each half into a chubby sausage (the diameter of the sausage is up to you – I usually like cookies that are about 2 inches or more across) and wrap in plastic. Whether you’re going to roll or slice the dough, the packets must be chilled for at least 2 hours. (Well wrapped, the dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.)

Getting ready to bake the cookies: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Have two lined baking sheets (page 000) at the ready. For these, I prefer to bake a single sheet at a time. You can fill both sheets and keep one sheet covered in the refrigerator while you bake the other.

If you are making slice-and-bake cookies, use a ruler to mark off 1/4-inch intervals on each roll of dough. With a sharp thin-bladed knife, slice the dough into rounds and place the rounds on one of the baking sheets, leaving about 1 1/2 inches of space between each cookie.

If you are making roll-out cookies, work with one packet of dough at a time and roll the dough between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper to a thickness of 1/4 inch, lifting the plastic or paper and turning the dough over often so that it rolls evenly. Lift off the top sheet of plastic or paper and cut the cookies – I like a 2-inch round cookie cutter for these. Pull away the excess dough, saving the scraps for re-rolling, and carefully lift the rounds onto the baking sheets, leaving about 1 1/2 inches of space between each cookie. (This is a soft dough and you might have trouble peeling away the excess or lifting the cut outs. If so, cover the dough, chill it for about 15 minutes and try again.) After you’ve rolled and cut the second packet of dough, you can form the scraps into a disk, chill, roll, cut and bake them.

Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 9 to 11 minutes, rotating the sheet at the mid-point. The cookies should feel firm, but they should not color much if at all. Remove the pan from the oven and dust the cookies with sugar or cinnamon-sugar, if you’d like. Let them rest 1 minute before carefully lifting them onto a rack to cool to room temperature.

Storing: The cookies will keep at room temperature in a tin for up to 1 week. Wrapped well, they can be frozen for up to 2 months.

Royal Icing by Brown Eyed Baker

4 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons meringue powder
6 tablespoons water
 ***I usually add 1/2 tsp of lemon juice to the icing as I find that the Meringue powder slightly changes the taste***

Mix all ingredients on low speed for approx 10 minutes. Add more water if depending on the consistency that you are looking for.
A great step by step tutorial can be found here: Brown Eyed Baker’s Tutorial for Shaped Cookies

Heavy title I know, but my son recently celebrated his 4th birthday with his first real party where he invited his friends. His original theme was Toy Story but the new Wilton pan was not coming out in time for his big day and because he’s such a big football (soccer) fan I decided to sell him on the Football theme – football field for the cake, t-shirt cookies etc.

Birthday Football Cake
Football (Soccer) Birthday Cake

The cake base was simple, two rectangular cakes using the recipe Perfect All American Chocolate Butter Cake Recipe from the Cake Bible –  Rose Levy Beranbaum   . I have to admit that this particular chocolate cake has become THE recipe for chocolate cakes around here. Its very light with a rich chocolate taste that literally melts in your mouth.The cake itself stays moist for a week after baking and the recipe itself is very easy to assemble.

For the filling and frosting I decided to try a Swiss Meringue butter cream for the frosting as it is not as sweet as a traditional butter cream  and for frosting it holds peaks and shapes beautifully.The recipe came from Martha Stewart and it was everything it said it would be and more. The one ‘hic’ that I had with this was that it did not (at least with me) take the gel coloring very well and even though I added a fair amount of green it remained a light green as opposed to the dark grass green that I was looking for. Perfectionist mom was slightly disappointed (Ok a lot if you ask my hubby) even when my son was screaming look it a football field how cool :). I used the same butter cream to fill the layers and honestly apart from the color hitch that I had I was blown over by this frosting.

Last cake related hitch of the day ? I had ordered two sets of goal posts and candles for the cake, only one came in the delivery so the cake looks slightly unbalanced.

Perfectionist mom (which should be the title of this blog) was a little deflated but after remembering that cakes like this are not the norm in France I knew that I would still “look good” , the kids and parents were all pleased with the cake and most importantly of all – Alex was thrilled with his cake which was the aim 🙂
Perfect All American Chocolate Butter Cake by Rose Levy Beranbaum
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Serves 12
1/2cup + 3 tablespoons or 63 grams – Unsweetened cocoa (dutch processed)  *** I use Valhorna cocoa
1 cup or 236 grams – Boiling water
3 large eggs or 150grams (weighed without shell)
2 1/4tsp or 9 grams of vanilla
2 1/4 cups + 2 tablespoons or 235 grams of sifted cake flour
1 1/2 cups or 300 grams sugar
1 tablespoon or 15 grams baking powder
3/4 tsp salt or 5 grams
1 cup or 227 grams unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350F or 180 C

In a medium bowl whisk together the cocoa and boiling water until smooth. Cool to room temperature.
In another bowl lightly combine the eggs, 1/4 of the cocoa mixture, and vanilla.
In a large mixing bowl combine the remaining dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30seconds to blend.
Add the butter and remaining cocoa mixture. Mix on low speed until dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed (high speed if you
are using a hand held mixture) and beat for 1 1/2minutes to aerate and develop the cake structure. Scrape down the sides.
Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with a spatula. The pans will be about 1/2 full. Bake 25 to 35 minutes or until a tester inserted near the center comes out
clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center.

Let the cakes cook in the pans on the racks for 10minutes. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto  greased wire racks. To prevent splitting, reinvert so that the tops are up
and cool completely.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes

Makes 5 cups


5 large egg whites
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
4 sticks of butter or 453 grams unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


1. Combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in the heatproof bowl of a standing mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand
until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips)

2. Attach a bowl to the mixture fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed (if using a hand held mixer beat on
high speed, whisk until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom
of the bowl – about 10 minutes)

3.With mixture on medium- low speed (medium high if using hand held), add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing  well after each addition. Once all butter
has been added, whisk in vanilla. Switch to a paddle attachment (a hand held mixer works fine as well) and continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula, and continue beating until the frosting is completely smooth. Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.

4. (Optional) To tint buttercream, reserve some for toning down the color, if necessary. Add the gel-paste food color, a drop at a time. Blend after each addition until desired shade is achieved.

A little late in posting in general on the blog but we had a loss in our family that had me out for a while. This posts comes via The Daring Cooks Challenge, the challenge for May was to make Stacked Green Chili Enchiladas, however finding green chili’s in Paris was a challenge in itself !

Red Chili Stacked Enchiladas
Stacked Red Chili Enchiladas

Needless to say after a pleasant discovery of the three sites dedicated to Mexican cooking I was able to find most of the ingredients. The one ingredient that I could not find was the green chili so I had to substitute Ancho chili’s in its place, in its fresh form its called a Poblano Chili.

We love Mexican , Tex/Mex food here so even the hubby was excited to hear what this month’s challenge was. We took the opportunity to invite our next door neighbors, the husband is French and his wife is an American originally from Houston, Texas. Who says, enchiladas, also says Salsa, Guacamole and Margaritas ! what dinner  can go wrong with a start like that.

The red chili sauce came from Homesick Texan’s site for Stacked Enchiladas and it was perfect (if I do say so myself) the reviews were good and I’ve been asked to keep the recipe for a next time. I generally like things spicy and could have added some more peppers but as we had guests I decided to keep things a little more low key. It was also my first time having them stacked and maybe its just a habit but I prefer them rolled though they did look quite impressive on the plate.

The next time I make this dish I think I’ll make the corn tortillas myself, this was the original plan but the site that I ordered from  was out of Masa Harina so look out for another post on this !

These last few weeks we have been spoiled with very good weather, I almost want to say that its “nearly summer” but not quite. Anyway the taste of summer has us all in great moods and well just wanting to be outside. Which translates to needing very easy to go to meals that don’t require much preparation.
We are still partaking in the fresh peas that are gracing the markets, we buy at least 1kilo every week and we finish ALL of it. This week I decided to put a spin on cheese pasta dishes, as I wanted something light but with that hint of creaminess. The answer ….Ricotta ! This Italian cheese is made out of sheep milk or cow milk whey cheese. Its a fresh cheese (not ripened or aged), somewhat grainy, creamy white in appearance and has a slightly sweet taste.

For this dish we obviously played on the salty side, but ricotta is marvelous in desserts especially in cheese cakes or as the filling for cannelloni.

Penne Pasta with Fresh Peas and Ricotta

The list of ingredients, I have to admit that I did not really measure but just went with my feel so you may need to adjust the lemon and garlic to your liking.

Ricotta ‘Dressing’ for 4 servings

  • Ricotta Cheese ( I used about 8 tablespoons (C.S) )
  • 3 cloves of minced garlic
  • Juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1/2 tsp (cc) of lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons (CS) of chopped parsley
  • S&P
  • 2 tablespoons of high quality extra virgin olive oil

Blend the above ingredients and set aside, taste and rectify seasoning if needed.

I used whole wheat penne pasta however you can substitute with what your family likes. Right before the pasta finished cooking I threw in the peas for about 2 mins (we like it al dente)

Add pasta and peas to the ricotta mixture toss so everything is well incorporated, taste for S&P and add if needed.

Bon Appétit

I know, I know, a week with no posts. This week has been a long week for me and though we did make just about everything on the menu this past week, life with the kids just got a bit crazy this week.

Here I am a week later with a new menu. The weather in Paris continues to be a precursor to summer and the terraces of bars and cafés are already in full swing. For those that have never been to Paris, the first rays of sunshine dictate that one needs to fine the nearest terrace to sit and worship the sun. However as there are no time limits on tables once you find “yours” its “yours” for as long as you want. The highways find a new life with Parisians fleeing the city to the beaches of Deauville (Normandy) for that weekend escape. Summer is just around the corner ….

The market is starting to come alive with fruits and vegetables and we are still taking advantage of the fresh sweet peas that’s currently in season. We tasted strawberries from Spain today, longing for the
‘Gariguette’, an old and much-valued Provençal variety. Its slightly smaller and a deeper red than the traditional strawberry but packs ever much the taste punch.

Many of you know the song written by Vernon Duke and E.Y Harbug which was made famous by Frank Sinatra – “April in Paris”, he was very right when he sang ‘ I never the knew the charm of Spring, never met it face to face, until April in Paris.

So with that what exactly are we eating this week ?

Saturday: Grilled hamburgers with mushrooms and onions / fries

Sunday: Pasta with fresh peas and ricotta cheese

Monday: Fish ( precise dish to be defined) with rice (again to be defined)

Tuesday: Tuna sandwhiches ( a new favorite of my son)

Wednesday: Grilled lemon chicken with haricot verts and carrots

Thursday: Semoule with lamb chops

Friday: Another favorite – tacos with homemade guacamole and salsa

Bon Appetit !

Ah another Saturday, another menu 🙂

The nice thing is that since Spring finally decided to make an appearance here in Paris, waking up on Saturday (albeit earlier than I would like thanks to a certain 1yr old who shall remain nameless) feels like a mini vacation thanks to the cloudless blue skies.

My stomach seems to want to skip spring and move directly onto summer but the cool nights remind me that warm dishes seal of long days.

Here’s is what’s being served for dinner this week at our house:

Saturday – Date night out with friends, going to a restaurant that’s considered one of Paris’s best bistros  will  let you know how the restaurant was

Sunday –  Grilled shrimp with lemon parsley orzo

Monday – Fish (not sure how I’ll do this as hubby is still at the market) with fresh veggies

Tuesday – Trying out a vegetarian chick pea burger recipe that’s actually one from Rachel Ray but I found it via This Week for Dinner

Wednesday- Grilled lemon chicken with Moroccan couscous salad via Epicurious

Thursday – Grilled slices of boneless leg of lamb with creamy polenta

Friday: I’m out for the night but the boys will be having Pizza !

What are you eating this week ?

Bon appetit !

Shrimp and Asparagus Tarts 2

This receipe was the last menu that was done this week, I had a really hard time finding a dish for Saturday night, normally our Saturday night dinners are more ‘fun’ and typically always very easy as we are usually out running errands or at the park on Saturdays.

My son LOVES shrimp, he can’t get enough of it and right now I’m LOVING asparagus so tried to make a dish that combined the two, that and I had puff pastry squares sitting in my refrigerator. To be honest I made up the dish as I went along so the result was just as much of a surprise to me as it was for hubby. My son ate the sauteéd shrimp with Parmesan polenta.

Shrimp and Asparagus Tarts
For 2 individual servings
Preparation time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 30mins

  • approx 2lbs shrimp
  • 1 box of green asparagus
  • 2 cloves garlic- minced finely
  • 1 shallot minced finely
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoons plive oil
  • 1/4tsp bird pepper (chopped finely)( I used bird peppers but you can use whatever you have around, it needs to have some spice to it)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Cilantro
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • Puff pastry (mine was already in individual portion sized squares, if not you can make one big tart or by using a cookie cutter to make appetizer sized portions)
  • salt & pepper
  • fleur de sel (if not regular salt will do) 

Preheat oven to 210 (c) or 410 (F)

Prepare shrimp by removing shells and tiny black veins that run on the top and bottom of shrimp (not only are you removing the intestines of the shrimp, by doing this the shrimp will  also curl up once cooked). Set aside 9 shrimp per tart (if doing individual tarts) for the topping.

Prepare asparagus by trimming the ends and the stems to get rid of the fibrous exterior. Steam for about 5 mins (depending on how crisp you like yours, we like ours quite crisp). Set aside.

Mince finely the garlic ,shallots and pepper. Chop remaining shrimp finely this will make the base of the tart.

In a non stick skillet, over high heat pour 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and heat until pan is hot, add shallots,garlic and pepper stir for a minute. Add chopped shrimp and saute until shrimp is cooked through, add the heavy cream  and a pinch of salt. Stir through until heated and simmer for a minute. Remove from heat and cool for a few minutes – rectify seasonings if needed.

On a baking tray line with parchment paper and place puff pastry squares evenly apart. Cover tarts evenly with the shrimp mixture and bake for 20 mins ( until pastry is golden brown and slightly raised).

While tarts are baking, in a non skillet pan add remaining oil and over high heat sauté the remaining shrimp and asparagus, season with salt and pepper once shrimp turn pink add lime juice and cilantro toss together and remove from heat.

 Once tarts are finished, slide carefully onto plates and top with asparagus and shrimp mixture.

Serve immediately !

We served this with a green salad , perfect for a light dinner or lunch.
Portobello mushrooms would be great in place of asparagus or shrimp

I know, I’m late today but yesterday and today, the weather has just been perfect and so we were either outside or running errands. I was also catching up on some of the great blogs written by fellow foodies.

These last few weeks I’ve been having a hard time coming up with menus, probably due in part to the fact that with this great weather I want to switch directly to summer and also the fact that our 1 year old is now eating pretty much what we eat I’ve been trying to tailor menus so that I can cut down on the double meals.

Here’s our menu for this week.

Saturday Shrimp and Asparagus tarts / green salad 

SundayGrilled prime rib with a sweet potato salad ( an epicurious recipe that we absolutely love)

MondayPan fried sole with fresh peas and carrots 

TuesdayPasta with home made tomato sauce 

WednesdayCurried Chicken with rice

ThursdayGrilled cheese sandwich bar ( i.e either using brie, manchego or comte)

Friday – either Tacos or take out pizza

Bon appetit !

Birthday Cupcake

Happy 1st Birthday to our Happy Baby ! 
Last Tuesday our youngest turned 1 a big cap for the 4 of us if I do say so myself. Our oldest was quite happy to participate in the festivities and of course like any soon to be 4yr old is now very inquisitive as to when it will be his turn to celebrate.
I of course started planning her birthday a few months ago but like any good procrastinator actually did everything the night before into the yearly morning hours of her birthday. Instead of doing a traditional number 1 cake I decided to highlight her first 12months. The idea each cupcake would represent 1 month of her life and show a picture of her at that stage. I had it all planned out to go to the craft store and get new supplies to make the toppers, but of course this did not happen and had to dig into my scrapbook supplies (good thing I never kept up with it) 
It also did not help that I started the toppers at nearly 11pm at night and well making 12 unique toppers  had me finishing at around 2am. 
I tried a Martha Stewart recipe for the cupcakes and frosting and was remarkably surprised at how moist the cupcakes were (one week later we are still eating them). I should have made chocolate as it seems that the birthday girl preferred this but there’s always next year 🙂 

I will post the recipe for the cupcakes  later on as its from her Cupcakes book and believe it or not she does not have the same ingredients listed on the website. However I’m listing the ingredients for the butter cream below.

Classic Butter Cream

Makes about 4 cups via Martha Stewart

  • 12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 pound confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  1. Beat butter with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.
  2. Reduce speed to medium. Add sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating after each addition, about 5 minutes. (After every 2 additions, increase speed to high, and beat for 10 seconds, then reduce speed to medium-high). Add vanilla, and beat until butter cream is smooth. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. (Bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth before using.)

I have to admit that I did have fun making this cake and seeing her growth in pictures. Highly recommend doing this for any first birthday’s that you may have in your entourage.