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The One Fanged Dracula Pumpkin

I take Halloween very seriously. It is after all my favorite holiday. You might not be able to tell but I am listening to “Thriller” and wearing pretty sweet Halloween glasses right now. Themed writing at it’s finest! hahaha! Everything might be tinted orange.

What do I LOVE about Halloween in the States?

No not the excuse to dress in a super skimpy costume that everyone seems to use this holiday as an excuse for. Sad days!

When I was young I loved the day, it would always be blustery and cold, we would have an orange themed dinner and then head out to go trick-or-treating around the neighborhood until late at night. Now, it’s just as fun -the old scary movies, decorations galore, pumpkin carving, and eating way too much candy while waiting for ridiculously cute kids to come by and say “Trick or Treat, Stinky Feet! Give me something good to eat!” hahaha!

Halloween Baking

My family would go all out. Spiderwebs around the doorway, tons of cut out bats hanging from the ceiling in the foyer, a full Frankenstein with body parts on the dining room table, dry ice bubbling in a Calderon, oh and my favorite…. a little ghost that would make sounds when someone was near. We hung it from the tree in the front yard and then threaded the rope it was attached to through a small crack in a window at the front of the house. Then we would pull the ghost far up in the tree, hidden from those below, and lay in wait for Trick-or-Treaters to come by… BOO! tehehe!

Halloween in Paris has been a bit different. haha! It actually started this year on my birthday with an awesome box from my coworkers that contained… Halloween themed candy!! What! You know me too well! The sickeningly sweet, totally awesome, shaped pumpkins and ghosts and witches! Ah yumm!

Then I received a box from mi madre with candy corn (which I proceeded to eat within 48 hours), 10 cookie cutters, decorations, and themed napkins!!

Halloween

The cookie cutters I used to make a …. Halloween Sculpture in class … entirely out of Sugar!

Halloween Sugar Sculpture

And then there was the search for the great pumpkin. Halloween isn’t a big holiday in France so I thought this would prove to be next to near impossible. But sure enough, just about a week before Halloween I started to see Jack o’ Lantern pumpkins popping up all over the place. Well not everywhere but I did happen to find one relatively easily at my local flower shop. Pop over to Sara in La Petit Village for the Story of the Jack O’Lantern!

Anna and I took a trip over there to pick one out from the 6 available and then lug it home. I stopped to take it on a photoshoot at the Champ de Mars. Or maybe it was me taking a break from carrying a very heavy pumpkin. ;-)

Jack O Lantern Pumpkin Paris

A very late night out lead to a pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks in the morning (how dare they be out!) and cookie making at Jenni’s for a Halloween picnic!

iPhone Pics 10-30-13 025

We all met at the Champ de Mars and found a covered spot because the weather was looking a bit gloomy due to hurricane Stormaggadeon that was blowing through! And had a pretty awesome Halloween spread complete with guitar music by Amin!

iPhone Pics 10-30-13 029 Puff Pastry Coffins

Puff Pastry Coffins by Anna (below)

Anna and Pumpkin

Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Bread by Ian.

Monster Munch

Monster Munch ~ yuck!

We also had wine, cheese, beetroot salad, rye bread, my Halloween sugar cookies and two types of muffins (pumpkin and banana!)! Yummm!!!

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And the One Fanged Dracula Pumpkin was born! bahaha… spooooooky

iPhone Pics 10-30-13 036

 

Happy Halloweeeeen!

Now you should listen to Monster Mash, the Purple People Eater, I Put a Spell on You, and Skeleton in the Closest by Louis Armstrong. oh the watch an Alfred Hitchcock movie- but not Psycho at night because that’s just crazy! ;-)

I’m off to Disneyland tomorrow for their Halloween celebration! Super excited! Now what to dress up as!

 

30. October 2013 by Molly
Categories: cookies, halloween, paris | 3 comments

Brownies Beurre Noisette in Metrics

My absolute favorite brownie recipe has made it across the ocean. I’ve made it twice here and soon there after my friends have made it several times- one a reported three times in one week.

Yes, it is that good.

To find the original recipe in cups and teaspoons head over this way.

These are ooey gooey fantastically awesome. The secret- the browned butter. It adds the right amount of nuttiness, richness, and caramel flavor to the brownies.

Here’s some pics my British friend Jenni took who has now made these ahem 6 times sent me:

Browned Butter Brownies

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Beurre Noisette Brownies

Adapted from Bon Appetit, February 2011, recipe by Alice Medrich

142g unsalted butter cut into cubes

250g sugar

96g cocoa powder

pinch of dried vanilla or a “glug” of liquid vanilla

10 ml water

2g sea salt

2 large eggs

45g all-purpose flour

100-125g pecans (or walnuts), toasted and chopped

sea salt

Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius/325 F, and line the inside of an 8×8 square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving 2-inch overhangs and pressing the foil tightly to the sides of the pan.  (If you like spray the aluminum foil with non-stick cooking spray, though I didn’t find this necessary.)

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, stirring often.  The butter will first melt, then foam, then form more clear bubbles.  Once the butter has only bubbles (and no foam) and there are browned bits at the bottom of the pan, remove the butter from the heat.  Stir in the sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, salt, and 10ml water.  Let the mixture sit for about 4-5 minutes to cool, then mix in the eggs one at a time, beating quickly after each addition.  Once the chocolate mixture looks relatively smooth, mix in the flour, and then beat well for a few minutes.  Mix in the chopped nuts, and transfer to the prepared pan, smoothing the top before baking.

Bake for about 30 minutes or more, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean – if there is still a tiny bit of moist batter at the very bottom that is ok.  Remove the brownies from the oven and cool completely on a cooling rack.  Once cool, remove the brownies from the pan using the aluminum foil overhangs; then pull the aluminum foil away from the brownies and cut them into 16 square pieces.  Serve immediately or store in an airtight container.

Enjoy!

22. October 2013 by Molly
Categories: brownies, chocolate, pecans | Comments Off

Olive Us

You know those super cute little things that just make you smile.. well this is one of them. Just wanted to share some videos I’ve been watching by Olive Us, a family video series filmed in the countryside around their French farmhouse or in the beautiful deserts of Utah.

Le Petit Chaperon Rouge or Little Red Riding Hood. I love the ending of this one because they are eating Galettes! Something I know oh so much about now. :-D haha And it’s read by the little girl in French. Terribly cute.

 And then the video I think I’ve shared before, Betty in Paris! This is actually how I found Olive Us aka “All of us.”

I could seriously share these all day.. but here’s just one more!! A trip to an apple farm.

I LOVE the little boy!! hahaha!

ok ok! One more, last one I promise!! It’s just too cute to pass up. And you’ve really only spent 10 minutes watching these videos, so might as well watch another one. ;-)

And then if you just haven’t gotten enough- because I’ve seriously been watching them all day, you should watch:

Buying Eggs from a Petite Ferme

How to Visit a French Bakery

Garden Day

Learning to Play Petanque

 

Happy Friday! :-D Bon Week-End!

18. October 2013 by Molly
Categories: France, random wanderings in paris | 2 comments

A Trip to Versailles

I went to Versailles two weekends ago with a Frenchman.

He told me he would be fact checking this blog post, so I’ve decided to include an enormous amount of facts and maybe a couple that aren’t true. haha!

Versailles Fenetre

Here’s how the day leading up to Versailles went:

#1: I was given the choice of meeting at 8h08 or 8h39 … I think you can guess which one I chose… I am so not a morning person. haha!

#2: The super difficult decision of what to bring to the pique-nique. These things are important!

And then you stay up till 1am cooking in an itty bitty kitchen with one bowl, no tools, and a paring knife. Getting sewing lessons from mi madre over Skype. oh and drinking wine with your bestie because that’s what Saturday nights are made of!

Versailles Window

But then you’re up at 7:06AM the next morning rubbing sleep from your eyes thanking the stars that you live close to the train to Versailles. oh and glad there’s no headache involved.

Versailles Relief

I arrived au pied promptly 3 minutes before Pierre- I think this is the absolute first time I’ve met him and been on time. I was just as surprised as he was. hm or maybe he was late? I conveniently can’t remember. ;-)

And we were off!

Here’s some tips for getting to Versailles from Paris:

– Take the RER C – If you have a Navigo, it’s free for you on the weekend. Otherwise it’s about 9 euros and tickets can be bought at the station.

– Look for trains heading to Versailles – Rive Gauche and move to the top of the platform (the train is a short one).

– Take a look at the overhead listing (just like in the airport) to know when the correct train will arrive.

– The trains have names which are noted beside each listing. Our train’s name was Steve! Like Steve Urkel, Stevo, Stevie, or Stephan. :-D

– It takes about 30 minutes to get there.

Plenty of time for you to observe sleeping people, have your bag commented on, and chat with an American seatmate.. who happens to be the same guy that commented on your bag (hm..).

And not yawn! nope! I love early mornings! err

Versailles Interior When we got there, who was prepared? The Frenchman.

What wasn’t open? The annual ticket pass area aka the ticket I wanted to get. Don’t worry, it opened at 9:15, just 15 minutes late. How normal. haha!

Versailles Sun Windows

We talked with the the lady you must get past in order to buy tickets. In French. I understood about 50%? I’m getting better!! ;-) It’s only when the topic changes from what I’m expecting in the conversation that I get super lost. Like agreeing to a tour of the private apartments in the chateau. But this was after I correctly understood that I didn’t need an annual pass because I could get in for free, at least for the next two weeks before I turned 27. Donc 50/50- not too shabby.

I would also like to add as a semi-related note that it’s a lot more nerve-racking speaking French to a French person! A lot of it is that I don’t want to make a mistake!

By doing the private tour and paying just 7 euros more, we skipped the massive line outside and got to see what few people do!  Une bonne idea! Complete with top-secret headsets to hear the tour guide, even though we were usually the only group in a room at a time… haha! I didn’t wear mine. Versailles Opera The opera hall! The chandeliers along the wall are actually just half-chandeliers, reflecting in a mirror! Private Tour Versailles

Our tour guide.

This very cool clock that still tells the time and date (month, day, and year!) accurately until year 9999, and shows the rotation of all the planets, except for Pluto. Or maybe Pluto was there, I didn’t look too closely. nahh!

astrological clock Versailles

Then we did a bit of fast walking through the chateau because we were starving! And saw several short beds with ostrich plumes that would have been perfect for a nap. Beautiful doorways. And lots of gold embellishments. Versailles door view Versailles Chapel

Versailles Hall of Mirrors ^And the famous Hall of Mirrors!

Then picnic time!! Versailles Picnic

Guess what I forgot? dun dun dun.. the bread. For the second time! I shall never be trusted with this ever again.

Mushroom Galettes- Versailles But it’s ok sandwich fixings can be eaten by their lonesome along with Croustades aux champignons and chocolate-sea salt caramel cookies. :-D Chocolate Caramel Cookies

Mom- you’d be impressed, I ate cherry tomatoes! and they were good! gasp!

Then we wandered through the gardens sans map and nap- which is definitely the way to go. No stress! (a nap would have been good though- what? 7am is early! Scratch that, 7:06 is early!) and we discovered about 3 different gardens we’d never seen before!

Daylias Versailles Versailles Gardens Versailles Garden Fountain Versailles Gardens 2

I got orange juice at one of the two stands in the garden and a line promptly formed behind the one we went too, while the other remained completely free. haha! We were shooed off the grass. And helped three different sets of people in English and French. Quite multi-lingual we are. He just needs to brush up on his Japanese, because I have German, Spanish, and Italian covered, and we would be able to help all nationalities.

Ready to be impressed?

Ich ban ick en rosa kuh flecken!

voila!

aka. The only phrase I know in German besides Gesundheit, which means I would like a pink cow with spots! Useful in all situations.

My Italian is even better.

Then we headed back to Paris!

It was one of those days where you head home completely exhausted but with a smile on your face, oh and ready to take a nap. or a run- one of those.

Versailles Garden Horse Fountain

07. October 2013 by Molly
Categories: France, paris, Paris Bucket List, Paris Day Trip, Travel | 5 comments

Mushroom “Galettes” or How to Cook in an Itty-Bitty Kitchen in Paris

My kitchen here in Paris is approximately a 113cm x 145cm or 44in x 58in or if we’re talking feet, 3’x4′. Oh and part of this is taken up by the sink/stove top/fridge. But! I thought I would prove to you that size doesn’t matter (that sounds bad!) hahaha! :-D

If you have one bowl, a paring knife, cutting board, oven, frying pan, and bottle of wine (this is actually a necessary tool and beverage) you can make these beauties:

Mushroom Galettes

Pictured here at a picnic at Versailles!

I found the recipe over on Smitten Kitchen (a blog I’m a huge fan of). The one massive mushroom galette (or was it a galette?) looked perfect for what I wanted (well for what I wanted to tweak to get what I wanted ;-) ). The only thing that was holding me back was her explanation. She described it as an incredibly difficult recipe, that while worth it, took a very long time to do. Which to me means that the perfect time to start it is at 9pm in the evening.

I made some changes to the recipe and when excluding a Skype session with my mom for a sewing lesson, I can say that these take about an hour to make (maybe less, eh probably less, but I was occupied..?), and about 40-50 minutes to bake.

Mushroom Galettes- Versailles

I love my French friends because we always end up discussing food. It doesn’t matter where we are or what we’re doing, the subject always comes up, because in France, cuisine is a part of the national identity.

We were at our Mexican Fiesta Part Deux last weekend (blog post coming soon) and after discussing a very interesting sounding salmon pasta Jess and Vincent had the other night, I told them about the Mushroom Galettes with Bleu cheese I’d made.

Galettes? Béatrice and Vincent (our two resident Frenchies at dinner) sounded skeptical. “But Galettes are sweet!”

Vincent decided they would more likely be called “Croustades” aka “Croustades aux champignons.”

Béatrice countered with “Feuilletés aux champignons” and then provided proof of sweet galettes at my birthday. hahaha!

French Galettes

Not that I didn’t believe my Frenchies (especially with such yummy evidence), but I felt like a little more research was necessary. So I pulled up Wikipedia this afternoon. :-D

Galettes – typically large flat round free-form crusty cakes, or cookies but! they are also a kind of crepe called a Breton galette  made with buckwheat.

Croustade – a French culinary term meaning a flaky crust, usually a puff pastry or another type of flaky pastry.

Feuilletés – a pastry or hors d’oeurve using a puff pastry

Because I couldn’t decide which of the two options (because galette is obviously out) described the recipe best, I went with the one I could better pronounce. So the name has now changed to the more accurate “Croustade aux champignons” tehehe!

Here’s how to make them. Let’s start with the pastry dough, because it needs time to chill! It’s flaky, but not a puff!

The recipe calls for flour, salt, butter, sour cream, lemon juice and water and then gets super finicky about freezing the butter separately than the dry ingredients for an hour then combining. What? This sounds like one of those silly pie crust tricks like adding Vodka to the crust that while it might make the crust flakier might not be worth the time/effort. So I scratched that first thing.

Cut the butter into smallish cubes (about 2 cms).

Cutting Butter- mushroom galettes

In a bowl, add the flour and salt. Do a quick little stir and then put the butter cubes on top.

Now this is probably the most difficult part of the recipe. Incorporate the butter into the flour/salt with your hands. You kind of mash the butter but mix it with the flour at the same time. One of our pastry chefs describes it as the “show me the money” motion. Mash a bit then let it fall through your hands into the bowl. It just takes a bit of practice but is super easy. What you don’t want to do it incorporate it so much that it becomes a dough because the butter warms up so much that it starts to melt. The finished texture should be similar to sand. Large pieces of butter are ok!

Sablage- mushroom galettes

Next, mix the sour cream (or I used a thick plain yogurt) with the water and pour into the middle of the base. Look at those big pieces of butter! ;-)

sandy- mushroom galettes

Mix together with a spoon or your hands. Wrap in plastic and chill! It’s as easy as that! The dough will be pretty sticky because of the amount of liquid that is added.

Now let’s start on the filling! Which means lots of chopping!

First, we need to rehydrate the dried mushrooms. These add tons of flavor! In a bowl, cover the dried mushrooms with hot water and set aside for about 30 minutes.

dried mushrooms - mushroom galettes

Next, we chop! A lot!

Cube/roughly chop all mushrooms. I did all French button mushrooms but any sort of mix would be good. Yum! Slice the green onions and mince the garlic. And last, cut up the dried mushrooms.

Now we cook! The green onions and garlic first in a nice amount of butter.

cooking green onions- mushroom galettes

Then the shrooms and herbs/salt/pepper..  cooking mushrooms- mushroom galettes

Stir occasionally on medium heat until everything is cooked through. It will reduce quite a bit. I also added some of the liquid from the dried mushrooms to add more flavor.

Set it aside to cool, then crumble the blue cheese on top! I used a milder blue cheese called “bleu de gex” so it would not overwhelm the mushroom flavor. Make sure just about all of the liquid has evaporated.

cooked mushrooms and cheese- mushroom galettes

Roll out the pastry dough on a floured surface using the now empty wine bottle to about 2-3 mm thick. And munch on a bit of cheese.

bleu cheese- mushroom galettes

I made five mini galettes croustades but you can make one big one (just make sure the bottom is cooked). Pile mounds of the mushroom filling on the dough leaving a 4-5 cm border.

cutting dough- mushroom galettes

 

Fold the dough over the filling! We’re going for rustic here so no need to fret too much about how it looks. ;-) The best is to just fold the dough over itself.

Mushroom Croustades- Uncooked Folded

Brush with egg wash to give it a great golden brown appearance and bake! 200C, 400F Be sure to check the bottom to make sure they are done!!! If the tops start getting a bit too brown and bottom isn’t done, cover with foil.

Baked Mushroom Galettes

Croustades aux Champignons aka Mushoom non-Galettes

For the pastry:
1 1/4 cups (160g) all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick or 113g) unsalted butter
1/4 cup (58g) sour cream/natural un-sweetened yogurt
1/4 cup (60 ml) cold water

For the filling (my metric measurements aren’t the best, but this is cooking, so add to your liking!)
1/4 ounce (7 grams or one small packet) dried wild mushrooms, such as chanterelles, porcini or shiitakes
boiling water to cover
2 tablespoons (25g) unsalted butter
3/4 cup (not sure in grams, I’d eyeball it at 4 stalks or a big handful) sliced green onions
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 lb fresh wild mushrooms (about 20-24 medium sized shrooms), using a larger quantity of button mushrooms over other types, diced
5 ounces (120g?) Stilton or other good-quality blue cheese, crumbled

1 egg

For the pastry dough, cube butter and set aside. In a bowl, mix together the salt and flour then cut in the butter using your hands or pastry blender. In a small bowl, mix together the cold water and sour cream or yogurt. Make a small well in the flour/butter mixture, and pour in the liquids. Stir to combine then from into a disc, wrap with plastic wrap and chill.

For the mushroom filling, saute the green onions and garlic in butter. Next add all of the mushrooms and herbs. Saute until reduced and cooked through! Set aside to cool. Then add the crumbled cheese.

Assembly: Roll out the pastry dough to 2-3mm thick on a floured surface. Mound piles of mushroom filling the size of the finished croustade you would like. I used about 1/2-3/4 cup filling each for personal sized croustades. You can also make one large croustade. Cut the dough around the filling leaving about a 4-5 cm border. Fold the dough up and over the filling, leaving a space in the middle for it to show through.

Brush with egg wash (1 beaten egg).

Bake on parchment at 200C or 400F for 30-40 minutes. This will depend on the size, and oven. Be sure to check the bottom to make sure it is done. Cover with foil if the bottom needs a bit more time, but the top is brown.

 

Mushroom Croustades

 

Enjoy :-)

04. October 2013 by Molly
Categories: France, healthy, mushrooms, paris, Paris Day Trip, pastry, savory | 6 comments

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