ms Janstch-inspired scones

sconesThough I got rid of most of my belongings before moving here, I made sure to make some room in my suitcases for a few keepsakes that would remind me of home and my family and friends back in the US. One of the goodies that I brought with me was Ms. Janstch’s scone recipe. My good friend, Mrs. Moline, whose social reach is more expansive than I could ever imagine, introduced me to a whole host of lovely ladies back in Austin, TX. Ms. Janstch was among these lady friends. She graced us with dozens of scones at a lady’s potluck brunch one Sunday. Her scones without a doubt were the star of the brunch and I just had to have the recipe before leaving. Luckily, Ms. Janstch was gracious enough to share her recipe with me. I have since adapted her recipe to my own kitchen and tastes. Ah, the nostalgia invoked each time I make these lovely scones!
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ms Janstch-inspired scones

Stuffed Mushrooms Topped with Panko

Stuffed Mushrooms

Our American cuisine has a pretty bad reputation here in France. Most of the French believe that our diet consists entirely of industrially produced foodstuff that impart essentially no nutritional value. I wouldn’t say that they are entirely wrong, as evidenced by the increasingly high rates of obesity in the US. Nevertheless, many American dishes still figure prominently on my list of favorite foods, stuffed mushrooms being one of them.

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Stuffed Mushrooms Topped with Panko

Fleur de sel chocolate chocolate cookies

chocolate cookies

Though it’s been three and half years since I’ve made France my home, I’m still very attached to my American roots. France has introduced me to a whole new world of pâtisseries and has brought out the sweet tooth in me, yet I still have a fondness for making American baked goods, such as cookies, muffins, cupcakes, etc. Cookies are probably one of the easiest things to make, but the Frenchies haven’t quite mastered this goodie of ours. I find that their interpretation of our cookies is a bit too dry and crunchy for my liking. I myself prefer soft and chewy cookies. Ahhh, nothing like the nostalgia of my days back in the states brought on by biting into a warm, gooey chocolate chip cookie!

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Fleur de sel chocolate chocolate cookies

Riz au lait à la vanille

Riz au lait à la vanille

Since moving to France, I’ve developed quite an ardent appreciation for French desserts, both for the exquisitely refined pieces of art by pastry chefs such as Claire Heitzler of Lasserre as well as for the more mundane and quotidian desserts like chocolate mousse. Not too long ago, I discovered riz au lait, or rice pudding. Several of my old co-workers who occassionally grabbed lunch at the hospital café would often have it for dessert. I’m not sure which brand it was that they ate, but it came packed in a jar very much like this. When I saw that very jar sold in the dairy aisle at the market, it reminded me of my old co-workers and how much I miss seeing them (that is, those who didn’t my work life miserable) everyday. So, compelled by nostalgia and curiosity, I grabbed a couple of jars. I couldn’t wait to dig in and taste the creamy goodness.

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Riz au lait à la vanille

Brunch at Château Mont-Royal

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Being a bicontinental couple, our lives were naturally divided across two different countries, with my family and friends being in the US and his in France and the US as well.  This did not make for easy wedding planning, since we wanted to be able to celebrate with as many of our family and friends as possible. Making everyone come to Paris wasn’t very realistic, so we had 2 weddings, one in France with our immediate family and one in California where we had a traditional 10 course Vietnamese banquet. Thus, twice a year, the mister and I celebrate our wedding anniversaries, in October to mark the day that we exchanged “oui’s” in France and in March for the feast that we shared with everyone in the US.

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Brunch at Château Mont-Royal

Mushroom & Spinach Quiche

Mushroom Spinach Quiche

Consecutive days of blue skies and sunshine coupled with warmer temperatures undoubtedly signal the return of spring, and the dark cloud that seemed to be following me everywhere is finally starting to dissipate. For the past several months, I had succumbed to what my friend has coined a professional depression, which extinguished my curiousity, motivation, and creativity. Living in France was starting to wear on me as well. It’s not easy being so far away from family and friends, especially since it’s been an uphill challenge trying to establish an equally strong social circle here. Consequently, I started to withdraw from pretty much all activities that brought me any sort of pleasure, including cooking.

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Mushroom & Spinach Quiche

Réveillon du Nouvel An 2014

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Going out to celebrate new year’s eve has never been my thing. Even when I lived in the US, I always preferred to spend a quiet evening at home watching the ball drop with Dick Clark. Even here in Paris, a crowd of 300k people on the Champs-Elysées doesn’t appeal to me either. For me, the ideal way to ring in the new year is by preparing and feasting on a multi-course meal at home with my husband. Le réveillon, or new year’s eve dinner, is actually something that I look forward to with much anticipation all year long.

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Réveillon du Nouvel An 2014

Bûche de Noël à la crème moka

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I hope that y’all had a happy and festive holiday full of warmth and delicious food! The holidays crept up on me so quickly this year that I hardly had any time to get into the holiday spirit. The mister and I have been so consumed by renovating our home that planning our réveillon de Noël, or Christmas eve dinner, completely escaped us this year. Instead of putting together an elaborate dinner, we opted to spend a low-key evening at my in-laws. Though it was a quiet evening, our réveillon included traditional holiday goodies, such as foie gras and lobster. Though not so acceptable to eat in the US, I still look forward to indulging in the rich, creaminess of foie gras each and every holiday season. Here in France, a holiday meal just would not be complete without it.

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Bûche de Noël à la crème moka

vendredi vietnamien ~ aubergines braisées

japanese eggplant

My poor blog fell to the wayside and started collecting quite a bit of dust while we were re-doing our kitchen. The renovations had taken much longer than I had anticipated because the mister did all of the handy work himself, including the electricity, plumbing, flooring, painting, and installing the new cabinets. With a regular 9-5, however, his progress had been rather slow, particularly because noise ordinances here in France prohibit any sort of construction that causes excessive noise that could be a nuisance to neighbors on Sundays and after 7:30 pm on weekdays.

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vendredi vietnamien ~ aubergines braisées

Chouquettes

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I’m so sorry to have left y’all hanging for so long! In the midst of our kitchen renovations (our apartment is still a disaster zone, by the way, because my husband decided to embark on another renovation project in my absence-the whole apartment this time!), it was pretty difficult to prepare anything worth salivating over. And, immediately after finishing our kitchen, I took a much needed two week trip back to California to visit my friends and family after not seeing them for over 2 years!! I can’t even begin to tell y’all how thrilled I was to be back on US soil again where everything is familiar to me and to finally get to celebrate Thanksgiving again with everyone back home. Obviously, the French don’t celebrate this hedonistic food fest and my husband isn’t the biggest fan of turkey, so it’s been a good three years since I’ve had a real Thanksgiving meal! Though, after going home this time, I feel a bit inspired to start my own Thanksgiving tradition for when I can’t make it back to the US so I can have a little piece of home here in France.

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Chouquettes