Tag Archives: United States

Frenchie and Los Angeles

4 Feb

Los Angeles as it has been described to me so many times before is a love-it-or-hate-it city.

Most comments and descriptive remarks I hear about L.A. tend to be negative overall – at least in my experience.

I happen to fall in the other category of people – I love it!

This time I got to stay in and experience the Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Little Armenia areas.

A radical shift from the most popular and touristy neighborhoods.

There is something about the city that makes me happy and smile.

It’s not the sun nor the weather.

It’s not the eclectic mood that resonates through the city either.

Its diversity.

Its liveliness.

The picturesque aspect of its undeniable allure.

Scenic it is!

And this is what makes me want to come back every single time.

The artsy and bohemian-like Los Feliz was a perfect new stop for me to discover.

A walkable area – I know, hard to believe in L.A.! – with hints of a moody Brooklyn, NY meets Italian tile roofs and Art Deco meets Adobe style homes.

Alluring yet still a bit scrappy.

Wonderfully luxurious yet very much bobo.

A sense of community in a city that sprawls across 469 square miles (1,215 km2).

And to fight the Boston winter blues, a fresh salad to remember coastal L.A.

Bursts of flavors with Balti seasoning, currants and a drizzled citrusy vinaigrette.

A salad to keep sunny memories alive until the next visit.

Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Currants

serves 4

for the vinaigrette

1 Tbsp of olive oil

2 Tbsp of grapeseed oil

1 teaspoon of Champagne vinegar

zest and juice of half an organic lime

1 teaspoon of honey

half to 1 teaspoon of mustard

sea salt / pepper

a sprinkle of ground coriander

for the salad

4 Tbsp of pumpkin seeds

1 Tbsp of olive oil

1 Tbsp of Balti spice or seasoning

2 green zucchini – thinly sliced like ribbons

2 yellow zucchini – thinly sliced like ribbons

4.5 oz (127 g) of Gruyère – thinly sliced

2-3 Tbsp of Zante currants

2 Tbsp of flat-leaf parsley – chopped

In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients for the vinaigrette. Whisk until the emulsion thickens.

In a small bowl, mix the pumpkin seeds with the olive oil and the Balti spice until well coated.

In a small hot pan over medium heat, toast the pumpkin seeds until “noisy” – 2-3 minutes. When you hear them pop, put them back in the bowl and let cool.

Arrange the zucchini slices on a plate with the Gruyère slices.

Sprinkle the currants, parsley and the cold toasted pumpkin seeds.

Drizzle the vinaigrette on top and serve.


Frenchie and a New Season

26 Sep

The transition is smooth.

Warm during the day. Colder mornings and evenings.

Green leaves still shimmering in the sun.

But here and there, naked branches displaying richly inventive shapes in the sky.

Oui, c’est l’automne !

The colorful autumn patchwork slowly fighting to settle in front of our eyes.

It’s still too early though.

However, it’s not too early to open the windows wide open in the morning to let that bluish colder breeze invade the rooms of the apartment and create growing undulating waves with the bed sheets.

A colder breeze dominated by the yellowish light coming from behind the translucent clouds.

With the changing colors, it almost looks like the foliage gets thicker.


The last whispers of summer stretching and running wild through the Farmers’ Market.

But the produce of summer are now gone to unveil colorful squash varieties and apples.

The happy farmer standing in the sun trying to sell his beautiful apples only wears a t-shirt.

But the farmer working in the shadow already realized he would need to wear his sweater until the end of the day.

The first sweater of the season.

Pulling one over your head almost feel like an invasion – something you had forgotten about.

And then, it all comes back – the growing happiness of wearing and embracing a sweater.

With the apples, I’ll make a tart.

Maybe a clafoutis too.

And with the rhubarb from the garden, there will be goat cheese tartines. A sweet and salty ideal lunch.

Gift bags of tomatoes and basil for friends – the garden is over-producing.

Everyone likes tomatoes!

I know this is going to be a good fall season.

I can already predict it.

Ideas, plans, projects blooming within.

Visitors coming, trips planned, meals and recipes ideas in mind.

October will take me back home to France as well as Istanbul for a quick side trip.

Readers who have been to Istanbul, please feel free to share your recommendations, tips and suggestions.

I am all the more excited for my first time in Turkey.

Like a big detour in the middle of my French vacation. Landing in a different world.

Happy fall!

Frenchie and the Gluten-Free Easter Teacakes

4 Apr

With Easter fast approaching, I remembered that I used to spend Easter brunches with my friends “E. and D.” back in the Midwest until I moved to the East Coast.

Isn’t it always the same feeling? When punctual yearly Holidays come right around the corner and remind you of joyous past times spent with friends and family.

A gesture, a smell, a sight and the memories rush back.

A group of friends you hear heartily laughing as you walk by. The warm smell of baking a cake early on Sunday morning for breakfast. Or the brisk breeze coming through the window left ajar as you set the Easter table for a brunch with friends.

It works every time for me.

I have been obsessed with the unusual marriage of dried sour cherries and tarragon since last summer when a friend served them in a colorful salad on a hot bright evening thus creating a new combination of flavors for me, which left me thinking…

Why haven’t I thought of that before? And most importantly, how can I turn this strange marriage into a sweet treat?

I tried many variations from tarts, loaves, cakes. Nothing was satisfying.

And then I forgot.

So when my Midwestern Easter brunch friend “E.” recently told me he has been missing and craving my baked goods, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to experiment again with that subtle and peculiar blend.

“E.” taught me everything there is to know about celiac disease – maladie cœliaque ou intolérance au gluten, en français – as well as gluten-free diets, traps to watch for, pitfalls to avoid etc. when he was diagnosed with it.

At the time, I used to joke that my house would most likely be a treacherous and dangerous landmine for him because, let’s be frank – French cooking or baking is all about white flour.

So it’s only fitting that my Easter post would feature a gluten-free recipe.

Nutritiously delicious, these teacakes are everything I’ve been wanting for Easter: different, moist, unusual, simple and, yes, addictive!

I eat them as snacks. As desserts. As breakfast.

In the street too – they fit nicely in my pocket.

Round or square, they’re just that cute.

The teacakes even made it to Wellesley, MA on a beautiful spring weekend to admire the blooming colorful trees and cherry blossoms.

A long day spent outside rewarded with more teacakes once back home.

And I certainly took it upon myself to try as many batches as possible to find that perfect magic formula.

Yes, only the best for my friend!

Adding milk in the recipe when needed so they are not too dry. Dropping chocolate chunks for extra texture. I tried it all!

In the end, with tea or coffee, dunked in milk or plain – the eating combinations are endless.

And with every Easter spent in the U.S. comes my favorite hunt of the year – like the Hunt for Red October with a tiny sprinkle of Raiders of the Lost Ark, I make it my Easter mission to find a chocolate hen.

For those who are already familiar with my Easter menagerie post, it will come as no surprise that my dedication to the chocolate hen hunt is intense and, well… obsessive!

This is when random acts of kindness can turn your whole world around. When a friend drops off an unexpected present at my door one night.

A beautiful, plump, deliciously appetizing chocolate hen.

And the best part? It’s home-made!

Une beauté !

I now know what will be proudly displayed on my table Sunday.

And there might just be more teacakes too, who knows?

Both will make Easter than much more special as they represent friendship, old and new.

Happy Easter! Joyeuses Pâques !

Coconut, Chocolate, and Dried Cherry Teacakes with Tarragon

5 Tbsp (60 g) of cane sugar

2/3 cup (75 g) of hazelnut meal/flour

3 Tbsp (21 g) of coconut flour

1/3 cup (52 g) of sweet white rice flour

a pinch of sea salt

2 Tbsp packed of finely chopped tarragon

1/8 teaspoon (0.7 g) of baking powder

1 egg

1/3 cup (78 ml) of whole milk

1/2 stick (56 g) of melted butter

6 Tbsp (45 g) of dried sour cherries, roughly chopped

2 Tbsp (40 g) of semi-sweet chocolate chips or use coarsely chopped chocolate (60 to 70%)


2 Tbsp of unsweetened shredded coconut

1/2 teaspoon of powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon packed of finely chopped tarragon

Preheat the oven to 400 °F (200 °C). Make sure to read until the end – the oven temperature will need to get lowered during the baking process.

Butter a mini-muffin pan. This recipe will make 12 teacakes the size of mini-muffins.

If you are using square tins like on the pictures, the cooking time will differ a little – see below.

In a big bowl, sift the sugar, flours, salt, and baking powder together. Add the tarragon and mix well.

Melt the butter and let it cool at room temperature.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg and the milk. Fold in the flour bowl until you get a coarse sandy paste.

Pour the butter slowly over the sandy dough and mix well until completely absorbed. You should end up with a smooth, sticky batter.

Fold in the dried cherries and chocolate. Mix well.

Using 2 big spoons, fill the mini-muffin pan. I find it easier to use 2 spoons because the dough is sticky. Flatten the surface of each cakes with the back of a spoon.

Bake in the oven at 400 °F (200 °C) for 10 minutes.

Lower the temperature to 300 °F (150 °C) and bake for an additional 20 minutes if you are using a mini-muffin pan.

If you are using thinner tins (square or round) to bake the teacakes in, only bake them for an additional 15 minutes instead of 20.

Remove from the oven and unmold right away. Let the teacakes cool on a cooling rack or a cutting board.

These teacakes stay moist for at least 2 days as long as you keep them in an air tight container in the fridge. They are best eaten at room temperature.

Optional: mix the shredded coconut, powdered sugar and tarragon in a bowl and sprinkle on top of the teacakes before serving for stronger coconut/tarragon flavors.

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