Friday, December 2, 2011


Here's a cocktail that is both beautiful and intoxicating, so be careful - they are so nice looking and festive, that you might forget to sip!

We once offered Crantinis at a dinner party as a pre-dinner cocktail.  Almost half of our 11 guests were french, and none of them took up the offer.  Not even interested.  They went for the Champagne.  I'm not saying that that says anything, I'm just saying that that is the way it was.  (That's a lot of "thats" in one sentence, isn't it...and my old english teacher must be cringing wherever he is...).  Four of us did go for it, however.  Three American gals & one Irish guy.  He said something like, an Irishman would never turn down an offer for a drink....neither could the Americans apparently! 

 So, here's how I make them:

Enough for 2 drinks

2 shots vodka
1 shot cranberry juice extract (fresh cranberries that are put through a juicer)
splash of lemon
1 shot of simple syrup* (optional)
Lots & lots of ice cubes - as many as will fit in your martini shaker

* simple syrup = putting equal quantities of water and sugar in a pan and warming it until the sugar melts.  Make as much or as little as you need.

Yes, I shake mine.  Always.  So, that's it:  add all ingredients to the cocktail shaker & shake it up, baby.  Keep shaking.  Maybe put a towel on the shaker because it's going to get good & cold.  Keep shaking.  Water from the melted ice that you've been shaking will dilute the drink a bit (definitely in a good way).  Then pour a little & taste.  Is it good?  Do you like it?  If not, now's the time to rectify it.  Add a little more cranberry juice or more simple syrup....or maybe more vodka?  I certainly won't judge... 

I actually prefer it on the dry side rather than sweet, but everyone might not agree with me on this.  I added freshly juiced cranberry juice because we didn't have any bottled cranberry juice in stock but did have an extra bag or two of cranberries in the freezer.  That made the cranberry juice natural, without added sugar, and by default, it turned out Crantinis on the dry side. 

Don't you just love the little bubbles?  I only added this picture because of that....and the brilliant red color which I swear is only possible if you use freshly juiced cranberry juice...

This drink is smooth, tart, acidic, and has a hint of vodka.  Bon dégustation.  Hope you enjoy. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tarte Fine à la Tomate & Moutarde

Tomato & Mustard Puff Pastry Tart

The tail end of summer is winding down fast.  Here's an easy tart to pull together that uses the last summer tomatoes you may have on hand.  This makes a great lunch when served with a salad, packs well for picnics or makes nice appetizers if cut into bite-size pieces.

200-230g / 7-8 oz puff pastry (either fresh, or frozen that has been thawed)
5-6 ripe tomatoes, sliced thinly and seeded
about 2-3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
about 1/3 - 1/2 cup of grated gruyère or swiss cheese
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
salt & pepper
herbs de provence, to taste
chopped sun dried tomatoes (optional)
1 tablespoon capers (optional)

It's so easy, that you can practically follow the pictures to understand how to do it:

  1. I used a 26 cm / 10 inch glass pie pan - I buttered the bottom before laying out the puff pastry dough inside. Make a decorative edge by pinching the sides with your figures (we'll just call it rustic then).  You could also make this in a rectangular shape or cut into small individual circles.  Use a sheet of parchment paper underneath in these cases.  Dock the dough; rest in fridge until needed.
  2. Preheat oven to 200°C /400°F (I used convection).
  3. Cut your tomatoes thinly and seed them.  Coat with olive oil.  Set aside until needed.
  4. Spoon the mustard on the bottom of the puff pastry dough.
  5. Sprinkle with cheese.  Just a thin layer is enough.  This isn't really about the cheese, it's all about the tomato.  Sprinkle sun dried tomatoes over the cheese (if using).
  6. Place the sliced tomatoes in a rosary pattern around your tart, on top of the cheese.  You could even cut them in half again to get a tighter pattern. I didn't do that today, but when I do, it looks really nice.
  7. Season well with salt, pepper and herbs de Provence (or substitute with rosemary, thyme).  Sprinkle a little more chopped sun dried tomato and capers, if using.
  8. Bake in oven about 20 minutes, or until nicely browned on the  top, side and bottom (the advantage of the glass is that you can actually see it).  The tomatoes should be cooked down a bit & there shouldn't be liquid left from the tomatoes. 
  9. Remove from oven and let rest about 15 minutes.  Can be served room temp or slightly warmed but I find that it's not as good if served piping hot out of the oven.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Bye Bye Bali...Back to Paris

It's been forever since I've was in Bali and returned to Paris.   Since end of April in fact.  Don't know what happened here.  Time seems to have just evaporated, like it tends to do. The year has been busy with several events, private dinners, cooking lessons and the such, but also with lots of visitors.

OK, so that's my way of explaining why I haven't been around much.  "Stuff" has been happening.  Oddly enough, it's not as easy to restart as I thought.  The longer the break, the more difficult it is. 

The good news is that I've been cooking up a storm this year...!

Anybody still out there?  (I hope, I hope!)


Monday, April 11, 2011

Fruit Smoothie

I just love smoothies and have been making a lot of them here in Bali. All you need is a blender, some fresh fruit or vegetables, a few ice cubes and/or cold juice.  I personally prefer the naturally sweet, fruit smoothies, but have insisted on occassionally drinking the less sweet, vegetable varieties, all in the name of good health.

Here's a fruit smoothie recipe that I made not so long ago.  Of course, you don't have to use as many ingredients as I did - that's what happened to be on hand.  They're absolutely delicious with a couple of fruits only - and most any variation works well as far as I'm concerned. There's only one critical rule:  the fruit must be ripe, and therefore full of flavor!!  I know that goes without saying, but I felt compelled to say it anyway!

1 baby banana
1 white peach
about 1/2 a cup of each:  watermelon, papaya, mango
1/2 cup of fruit juice (orange, or apple, or whatever you have; I used freshly squeezed orange)
5-10 ice cubes

Cut fruit into chunks & place in a blender with the juice.  Turn on and blend till may need to stop & stir the pot a few times, or add a splash of water, to get it mixing well...Add as many ice cubes as you like - it does dilute the flavor a bit, but the trade off is that it produces a thicker, more refreshing drink.  Which I'm all into around here!

Optional additions:  Greek plain yoghurt & honey, tsp of wheatgerm, a few leaves of arugula, carrot juice instead of fruit juice...we could go on and on here...



Monday, March 7, 2011

Bali Food - Tropical Fruits Part 1

 I simply can't get enough of the local fruits.  Even a banana tastes so much better than a banana....And it's not just me romanticizing things because of the beautiful surroundings, they really do taste better!

Tropical fruits in Bali are refreshingly satisfying, but more importantly, they are fresher than fresh.  I think it may have something to do with lack of refrigeration at the markets and perhaps in many homes.  Therefore everything is harvested just in time for selling, and bought just in time for using. Or so I've been reading. At any rate, they are the freshest tropical fruits I've had in a long time.

I find myself naturally gravitating toward these wonderfully nutritious treats.  Any time of day.  It feels like I'm on an unplanned spa detox, or something, because I've lost all interest in french style breads & pastries, cheeses, and even wine. (Yes these items are available here in my hotel, at the expat grocery stores, or at specialty stores/cafés).  I just have no taste for them.  Anyone who knows me well might find that hard to believe, but with so many fruit choices and fruit juices at hand, I tell you it's easy to do.

Here is a sampling of some local fruits, many of which I tried for the first time:

The Rambutan, or sometimes called the hairy red fruit.  It reminds me of a lychee but not quite so juicy.  The flavor is great however.  I love it & recommend trying it.  The "hairs" are not as prickly as they might seem.  And it's quite easy to open up.  I used a knife just to see, but you can easily peel it and pop it into your mouth.  Just be careful not to eat the pit. 

The Salak, or snakeskin fruit, is a rather exotic looking thing.  Who would ever guess you'd find a fruit inside that hard looking armoured exterior?  It's not a soft fruit.  In fact, it's crunchy and kind of hard.  The texture almost reminds me of a clove of garlic.  In fact, it looks like a clove of garlic on the inside, but luckily tastes nothing like it.  It has more of a nutty taste with a citrus acidity.  Each of the white bulbs contains a big brown pit which is not edible.  I find this fruit interesting.  I don't know what you could do with a salak other than to eat it as is....but I certainly appreciate it, even if it's not the first fruit I would grab from the fruit basket (that honor goes to passion fruit...)    

Orange Peel Passion Fruit - simply amazing.  So fresh;  so fragrant.  In Paris, I can buy passion fruit (with a dark red peel) at the légumerie and the vendor will pick out the wrinkle skinned ones because those are the ripest.  Here, that's not been the case.  The skins have been smooth & fresh looking.  If you're not familiar with passion fruit, simply cut them in half and scoop out what's inside.  The fruit is actually a gelatinous kind of liquid with seeds.  The liquid is divine and the crunchy seeds are edible.  All together, it is outrageously good.  The perfum of the fruit is delicate and hard for me to describe.  You must taste one for yourself.  In this variety, the liquid is a pale grey color and the seeds are a darker shade of that.  You can see the uncut, whole fruit in the top photo - it might look like an orange, but it is a passion fruit.  And by the way, they are super light weight.

Yellow Peel Passion Fruit - here the very smooth outside peel is a pale yellow color, the gelatinous liquid is yellow, and the seeds are dark.  This variety also tastes divine.  This particular one was very juicy, and slightly acidic....making it very good!  The little white nubbies inside are really soft and pliable which is a nice mechanism for protecting the delicate fruit inside. It's no wonder that passion fruit finds its way into many dessert and pastry delicacies...

More tropical fruits from Bali to follow later on...


Friday, February 25, 2011

Bali Adventures

Yesterday it was 6°C (43°F) in Paris.  Today,  I'm in Bali with 30°C (86°F)  temperatures and 95% humidity.  (It took 25 hours door to door, by the way, in case you're wondering...)

I usually drone out the noise of traffic , sirens, and the occasional drunk before falling asleep in Paris.  Here the sounds are much different - high winds and monsoon rain storms at the moment, tropical birds, or intense waves crashing against the beach.  I am a world away.

Join me on this adventure over the next four weeks.  More than anything, I hope to share new food discoveries from Indonesia.  I have no doubt there will be plenty!  And I never would have imagined coming here like this...


Friday, January 14, 2011

Survey on French Pastry, Boulangerie & Food Experience in Paris

For all you French pastry, bread & food lovers, please take 5 minutes to fill out the survey that can be found on this link:

It will help my friend Guillemette with her final thesis for her master's degree in Patisserie-Boulangerie tourism in Paris.

Merci beaucoup!