Sunday, October 24, 2010

Another Sunday in Paris with French Laurie

I've been fortunate to come to Paris again on business. I arrived a day early so I could enjoy the city with French Laurie. We headed to the Rue Cler for our petit déjeuner.

After a quick bus ride, it was a leisurely stroll through the Jaquemart-Andre Museum, which is across the river in the 8th arrondissement :

We walked down the very architecturally pleasing Boulevard Haussman:

And then we headed back over towards the 7th arrondissment, where Laurie lives. The beauty of Paris takes my breath away.

Each time I visit, I fall a little bit more in love with this wonderful city. As we were taking the bus by the Louvre I asked Laurie if she ever tires of the sites, or takes them for granted. Her response was, "never, not in Paris, it's just too special." Enjoy!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Quick Chicken Dinner

Last night I threw together a quick chicken dinner for the family. It received rave reviews, so I'm passing it on. Also documenting the recipe for my husband, so he can use it while I'm on the road this week for business travel.

Baked Chicken Breasts:
Place boneless breasts of chicken (I like these) in a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, and add a pat of butter or Earth Balance to each one. Squeeze one lemon (this was the right amount for seven 1/2 breasts) then sprinkle with Herbs de Provence and basil. Add some sliced onions and sprinkle with panko bread crumbs. Bake in 375 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes, depending on the thickness of your chicken breasts. When serving, be sure to spoon a little of the pan juices over the chicken breasts. It's delicious!
Roasted Carrots:
Place baby carrots in a baking dish or cast iron skillet. Lightly coat with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and bake in 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until browned.

Steam some asparagus and serve it with a little butter, Earth Balance or olive olive. You can also sprinkle with a little grated cheese. Enjoy!

Monday, October 18, 2010


Yesterday was our annual applesauce making day. My friend, Lee, who lives near The Big Apple in Wretham, MA, buys the apples and then we manage to carve out a Sunday in October to make the sauce. It's become part of the rhythm of our lives. Both our families, and several friends, are loyal fans, so we put up about four cases (quart jars) each year. I know a quart seems a tad large, but I have a few friends that can actually put away an entire quart in just one sitting. Yes, it's that good. So what's the secret? The apples, of course. We use Macouns and swear by them. The first few years we purchased the choice apples but then realized that they sell seconds, or not quite perfect apples, for a fraction of the cost. It really doesn't matter if the apples have a few blemishes as you cook them until they're mush anyway.

Homemade Applesauce
15-20 Macoun Apples (depends on size, but enough for fill a 12 qt stock pot)
1/4 cup sugar (optional)
3 tbsp cinnamon
1.5 cups of water

Yield: Approximately 7 quarts.
Wash the apples, cut them in half and place in your stock pot. You can fill them right to the top as they will reduce by quite a lot.

Place over medium heat and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat, cover the pan, and allow them to simmer. As the apples start to soften, gently mix them up every 5-10 minutes. Keep covered while cooking. It should take about an hour for them to cook down completely. This is how you want them to look:

Using a food mill, placed over a sturdy container, ladle the apple mixture into the mill and turn until you have just the skin and seeds left in the bottom of the food mill. You'll want to rinse out your food mill after about every three batches that you process. Be sure to use a rubber spatula to scrap off all the remnants that stick to the bottom of the food mill.  This is the pulp that adds both flavor and texture to the applesauce.

This is what it looks like after it's processed through the food mill:

Once your container is full you can pour the applesauce into the clean ball jars. Be sure to mix the sauce well beforehand to ensure that the pulp is evenly distributed throughout the sauce.

Fill the jars 1/2 inch from the top. Place the lids and bands on the jars and process in a water bath for 15 minutes. There are directions for processing included with the ball jars, or check here.

While this is a bit time consuming, it's well worth it. We enjoy applesauce throughout the fall and winter months. It's comfort food, for sure, at our house. Once you try it you'll be hard pressed to go back to the store bought varieties. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sauteed Apples

Yes, apple season is in full swing here in the Northeast. I am awaiting the arrival of my friend Lee, so we can put up our annual supply of applesauce. More to come on that later. Meanwhile, just wanted to share an easy apple preparation that receives rave reviews in my house. It's a wonderful accompaniment to roast chicken or pork.

Peel, core and slice 2 apples. Macouns are one of our favorites, but you can use whatever you have on hand. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter, or Earth Balance, with 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil. Add 1/2 tsp of cinnamon and 1/2 tsp of sugar. Gently saute the apples until tender. Serve as a side dish. They're also a great treat for kids. Variation: Toss in a handful of toasted silvered almonds. Enjoy!

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Sunday in Paris

I arrived in Paris this past Sunday morning at about 6:45am. The day was just breaking, and the light was beautiful, as I rode into the city to meet my friend, Laurie, who lives in the 7th arrondissemont, just a few minutes walk from the Eiffel Tower.
You get a peak view of the top of the tower when entering the garden courtyard of her apartment:

We headed out to the Rue Cler for a typical french breakfast, which was just what I needed after the flight. It was early, and the cafe was quiet, so it gave Laurie and I a chance to catch up.

Excellent baguette and jam:

Perfect flaky croissant and pain au chocolat:
 Light and fluffy cheese omelet:
Mandatory cups of espresso, and now ready to set out on our 7.4 km Sunday stroll.

First stop was the Pont Alexandre III bridge:

Grand Palais:
Petit Palais:
Elysee Palace:

La Madeleine:
Self service rent-a-bikes you can pick up at one stop and return to another:
Paris shops:

Adorable Paris children:

Cafe that's all set to receive the Sunday crowd:

Pont des Arts walking bridge, which links the Left bank to the Louvre:

The Seine

Food shops in the Marais:

Musée Carnavalet in the Marais:

Place des Vosges:
A lovely day in a wonderful city!