Posts Tagged 'France'

Favorite Shots: Ocean Emotion

How does this picture make you feel? The shots that are really my favorite always evoke emotions. Perfect composition, or a neat edit mean nothing unless the shot makes you feel something. That’s what I think.

Feeling peaceful and grateful,


Pipe Dream #113: To Skip Allergy Season And Keep Paris Season

Paris was a dream and a half. Besides one bad experience in which several Parisians in a row would not tell me how to get to the Pantheon, which was approximately three blocks away, I had a grand time. Oh, and I had to buy allergy medicine from a French pharmacy too. It would have been a lot worse if the lady selling it to me had been rude and not understood that I wanted non-drowsy meds. Enjoy these!


Rando Tuesdays: Glazed Berry ‘Sperry

Continuing in our theme of French baked goods, I decided to try a little experiment. I told you that while in Paris, I visited La Durée, this cuter than cute bakery that sold the most perfect pastries. Well, I was inspired. See that strawberry tartlet thing on the right? And see how the berries look shiny? I have always wanted to know how they do that. I also want to know where they found so many teeny tiny strawberries, but that is beside the point.

I did some research and found out that all you need is a bit of apricot jam (or any flavor, probably) and a pastry brush. Just heat up the jam, brush it on, and voila! Shiny berries. Having all of these ingredients, I undertook the experiment.

A little sloppy, but all in all, I was pleased with the result. I will have to try it on a real dessert sometime.

Au revoir mes amis,


Rando Tuesdays: French Bakes

All the pastries in France were beautiful. I mean, compared to Germany, where it seemed like everything was heavy bread and cream cakes, France was full of whipped cream and puff pastry. I tried croissants here (clearly), and ate a multitude of other pastries for breakfast every day. Beignets, profiteroles, meringue tarts, you name it.

La Durée was one of the best pastry shops I visited. Everything was cute and pastel and perfect. The pastries were immaculate, and the attention to detail astonished me. Look at them! And they were 10 euros each, or something ridiculous like that.

The macaroons were also really fun. They come in all colors and flavors. They seem really fussy to make, so I’m glad I could try them without doing the work.

And I visited one place with walls full of chocolate and caramels. Yes please. I couldn’t help myself. I bought a little jar of caramel sel here, which is heaven in a jar.

Happy Tuesday,



Pipe Dream #110: To Not Burn Out (And Pay Damage Deposits) – Apple Tarte Tatin

Please please please follow the directions on this recipe. I promise it will turn out for you. I know because it is smittenkitchen’s recipe, and they always turn out. I also know because half of it (the pastry) turned out for me. The other half was clearly my fault, and due to my lack of proper utensils. I know, I know. A bad cook always blames her tools, right? But in this case, it was so true. And I was having a bad day. So despite the awful-looking, burnt pictures of this classic French tarte tatin, please make this. It is yummy and apple-y and caramel-y.

Not burnt and broken, like mine.

Here’s what went down: I knew I didn’t have the right pan, but I decided to MacGyver the thing anyway. I was in France, I wanted to make something French, ok? My heart was set.

I cut up the butter, and subsequently cut in the butter and made the pastry. After I had arranged the apples in the pan and set it on the stovetop, I got somewhat distracted by this, the other half of our dinner. There was also a whole chicken involved in the mix.

You too? It’s ok.

So there it was, bubbling away, when I noticed a funny burnt smell coming from the stovetop. 30 seconds was the difference between a dark caramel and a half-burnt caramel.

It took three hours, two knives and a heart full of remorse to fully remove the burnt caramel from that Pyrex. I was also potentially motivated by the fact that this was not my flat and that I would pay the damage deposit on it were there any, ahem, damage to the flat and the baking utensils therein.

For rainy days,


Apple Tarte Tatin

Adapted from smittenkitchen

1 stick plus two tablespoons cold salted butter (5 ounces), cut into cubes and chilled in freezer
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
1 1/2 cup flour
3 to 6 tablespoons ice water

7 medium apples
1 stick (4 ounces) salted butter
1 cup sugar

Prepare Crust: You can definitely use a food processor for this, but I used knives as I didn’t have a food processor. Pre-mix the flour and sugar in the food processor container, and cube the butter on a plate. Then put the dry ingredients and the butter in the freezer for a while. This will get everything, including the blade and container, nice and chilled. The colder everything is, the flakier and more tender your crust will be. Prepare about 1/3 cup ice water and refrigerate.

After you’ve chilled everything for at least 20 minutes, add the cubes of butter to dry ingredients and pulse until the largest pieces of butter are no bigger than tiny peas.

Add the ice water a little at a time, processing just until the dough starts to come together into a mass. Don’t overprocess it. Turn out onto well-floured surface and pat together into a ball. Don’t handle the dough too much, or the warmth of your hands will start to melt the butter. Flour the top of the dough and use rolling pin to quickly press and roll the dough out into a 10 to 11-inch circle. Keep turning the dough as you do this to make sure it doesn’t stick to the rolling surface. Throw more flour underneath the dough if necessary. Check the crust to make sure it’s just big enough to cover the top of your tarte tatin pan. Move the crust onto a piece of parchment paper or onto a floured rimless baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Prepare filling: Preheat oven to 375° F.

Peel, core and quarter the apples. Don’t cut them into smaller pieces than quarters–the quarters shrink considerably during cooking. You can squeeze a bit of lemon on them, but it’s not necessary.

Over low heat in a heavy, ovenproof skillet measuring 7 to 8 inches across the bottom and 10 to 11 inches across the top, melt the stick of butter. Remove from heat, add the sugar and stir until blended.

Shake the pan so the butter-sugar mixture distributes evenly across the bottom. Arrange apple quarters in pan, first making a circle inside the edge of the pan. Place them on their sides and overlap them so you can fit as many as possible. Then fill the center of the pan; you may have some apple left over. Keep at least one extra apple quarter on hand–when you turn the apples over, they may have shrunk to the extent that you’ll need to cheat and fill in the space with an extra piece. This one piece won’t get quite as caramelized as the other pieces, but don’t worry–it will still cook through and no one will notice.

Return your pan to the stovetop on high heat. Let boil for 10 to 12 minutes or until the juices in the pan turn from golden in color to dark amber. Remove from heat. With the tip of a sharp knife, turn apple slices over, keeping them in their original places. If necessary, add an extra slice of apple to keep your arrangement intact. Return to the stovetop on high heat once more. Let cook another 5 minutes and then remove from heat.

Place the crust on top of the apples and brush off excess flour. Tuck edges under slightly, along the inside of the pan, being careful not to burn fingers. You can use your knife.

Bake in oven until the top of the crust is golden-brown in color, about 25-35 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack about 30 minutes.

Run a sharp knife along the inside edge of the pan. Place a plate or other serving dish on top of the pan and quickly flip over the whole shebang so the tarte drops down onto the plate. The pan will still be hot, so use potholders and be careful! Don’t burn yourself or drop stuff! If you are feeble and clumsy, get someone stronger and more coordinated than you to do this. Peek under the edge of the pan to see if the Tarte came out. If there are any pieces of apple left behind in the pan or otherwise out of place, carefully put them back where they are supposed to be.

This keeps well for about a day at room temperature; if you have to refrigerate it, warm it up slightly before serving.

Favorite Shots: Interesting Characters

One of my favorite things about traveling is all the odd people you see, doing all the odd things they do. It was the joy of my life to see precious old ladies after months of seeing no one but people my age. They are so dear.

One of my favorite games to play was the “I’m Not A Tourist” game. In London, I would take pictures of “the tourists” and refer to them as “all these tourists” as they passed by like I wasn’t one. I got so good at this game that I actually started to believe it was true. My family is very good at making up games to play. Other families had GameBoys, my family had “Let’s Find Some Hollow Sticks And Make Blow Guns.” I’m grateful.

I had to quit this game in Paris though, because 1) I don’t speak French very well and 2) the French girl I was staying with told me how annoying it was when all the tourists took pictures of her and her friends at the Pantheon on their lunch break. I got a little bit stuck on how neat it is to go to the Pantheon on your lunch break err day, but then I quickly put away my DSLR.

As I perused my pictures upon returning home, I realized that I may have an obsession with photographing the shockingly over-exposed old men on the beaches I visited. I probably shouldn’t have been surprised–another true true stereotype, European beaches are–but I still took photos at every opportunity. I can’t even apologize.

This one is easily my favorite. So typically French–the Speedo, the pose, the shoes…the moustache.

Oh you are so welcome,


Pipe Dream #72: To Eat European – Crêpes

Can I say something? What? This is the blog that I write and I can say what I want? Ok.

I love pancakes. I ate them every single week this summer and never got sick of them. They have a certain je ne sais quoi that is just so satisfying. And now, I would like to say something else, as well as present a proof and offer an opinion.

Europe does everything better. Yes, I said that. And since pancakes are merely a second-rate American imitation of French crêpes, crêpes are better than pancakes. And because I think that second-rate pancakes are so awesome, it follows that crêpes are absolutely bomb. They are je ne sais quoi-ing all over the place. But you probably already knew that because of the above picture.

When Wades went to France this last summer, she came back with a whole bunch of experiences. She saw palaces; she let French boys pay for her snails…she wore heels biking in the rain. Whatever. It was awesome. Anyway, she also came back with a new appreciation for French food. This is to the benefit of my entire family, as you can well imagine.

One of the best parts about the way the French cook is that they cook with their emotions. 1/4 teaspoon of salt? Eh, I’ll just throw it in until I feel like there’s enough salt. I put the recipe for crêpes below as per usual, but feel free to interpret the measurements a bit. Be French for a day. Live the dream. It’s not often you get to feel your way through a baking recipe.

The key to a good crêpe is thinness. You know you are a master when your crêpes are so thin than that they are translucent, Wades says. Actually, don’t try for that. I just made that up. But you still want to try for thin crêpes. You have to move the batter around the pan really fast to make a perfectly round crêpe, too, otherwise…

…this will happen. Very pretty, still tasty, but not masterful.

It’s perfectly all right to turn your crêpes with a spatula, but if you are feeling ambitious, you should go for the flip. Besides looking incredibly authentic, you will probably also look really cute. Look at Wades. There is a hopefulness in her eyes that just kills me.

Once flipped and browned, you can dress your baby up any way you like. I chose Nutella for my first and third crêpe, but in between I slathered one with cinnamon sugar and butter. You could also put on jam or honey. There is really no losing combination when it comes to crêpes.

Au revoir, mes amis,



As written by ma soeur, Wades

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 eggs
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and the eggs. Gradually add in the milk and water, stirring to combine. Add the salt and then the butter; whisk until smooth. Note: smoothness is ideal for the perfect crêpe, but don’t be bummed out if there are a few small lumps here and yonder; it’s practically inevitable.

Heat a lightly oiled frying pan over medium(ish) heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the pan, using approximately 1/4 cup for each crêpe. Tilt the pan in a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface thinly; make sure it’s even. 

Cook the crepe for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is light brown. Loosen with a spatula, turn and cook the other side. Or, if you’re feeling rather Francais, flip it.

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