Pear Walnut Cake, A Family Tradition

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Tuesday, March 03, 2015


Pear Almond Cake
There are very few things that a cake won't cure. From gray days and heavy rain to sickness and nostalgia. This winter has been brutal for a lot of folks. Here we have been spared from the general malaise of being stuck in a never ending cycle of snow days, blizzards and freezing temperatures. We did have a very minor taste of it last week with a little very slushy watery snow blanketing our street one evening. First time Tiggy the new pup experienced the snow. She had a blast, slid down a small hill a couple of time and like me, enjoyed the quietness that comes right after it falls.
 
Pear Almond Cake
In anticipation of a snow day and potential loss of electricity (didn't happen), I went ahead and cooked a bunch of the vegetables and proteins I had in the fridge and freezers as well as the fruits laying about on the countertop. The results were a couple of stews and soups, a batch of pear financiers and this yogurt based pear cake.
 
Pear Almond Cake
This cake is my go-to, fullproof, can't-mess-it-up-even-if-you-tried cake. We learn to make this cake almost as soon as we can stand and stir in my family. All my aunts have equipped with and taught this recipes to their sons, my grandmother passed it on to my mom who passed it on to me and my brothers. It's a never ending cycle of goodness as we pass it on to the next generation of kids, siblings or friends.
 
Pear Almond Cake
And now I am passing on to you. It can be as understated as plain with a good cup of tea or studding with fruits, chocolate, nuts, flavored with vanilla, walnuts, lemon and anything in between. The result is a tender and crumbly cake that never ceases to comfort and make people smile.

A Mixed Vegetables & Greens Soup And Red Lentil Tomato & Saffron Soup

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Monday, February 16, 2015


Cabbage Soup With Salmon
Well, looks like the flu is making the rounds at work and I was not immune to its path. This strain has knocked me down for the greater part of last week. I am just starting to feel my head being clearer although I am still hacking away and the most simple activity leaves me completely wiped of energy. It totally zapped my appetite too leaving me with little desire or interest in food. A travesty!

Cabbage
I do know however that my body requires good, wholesome fuel in order to fight the virus. After the first couple of days spent on chicken broth, I took opportunity of a few moments when my energy was better to head out to the kitchen to fix a couple of big batches of nutritious soups. Even if I could only manage a spoonful here and there, I purposely cooked soups that would provide me with all the nutrients, proteins, natural carbs and fiber I needed.
 
Carrots
While I might have had to sit down at the kitchen counter to chop vegetables (legs and arms were getting tired fast), the promise of being able to lay back on the sofa, curled up with a pup and a hot bowl of soup was equal to none. Very slowly, one spoon after the other, I might manage this eating thing...
 
Cabbage Soup With Salmon
The first soup I made was kind of one of those you might create while cleaning out your fridge. I started picking up ingredients with flavor profiles that would work great together and added a few unexpected things to it. Spring cabbage, carrots, onion, potatoes were chopped, diced and simmered together. A whole head of mizuna went in last, adding a nice peppery touch. The whole thing got a whirl in the Blendtec until smooth. I served the soup warm, topped with some leftover cooked salmon and some pomegranate seeds. Nourishing and filling. While my husband took his with a glass of wine, I had to take an extra swing of cough syrup...but still, there was progress with the whole no appetite thing!
 
Mizuna
The second soup was from Diana Henry's new book "A Change of Appetite". I love that book and have been cooking my way through it over the past few months. I had been eyeing her "Lentil and roasted tomato soup with saffron" for a while and happened to have most of the ingredients on hand. So with a little adaptation in execution such as replacing fresh tomatoes with a canned fire roasted tomatoes and subbing the yogurt topping for a little creme fraiche, I was in for a rich soup packing a bunch of comforting flavors.
 
Red Lentil Tomato Soup

Honey & Vanilla Cake & On Nourishing The Soul.

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Monday, February 02, 2015


Cake_1b
Is it too late to wish you a happy new year?! I think not! So here, Happy New Year 2015! May it be filled with your wildest dreams and greatest accomplishments! I went back home to France for the holidays and enjoyed some quiet moments and some wilder ones with the family! It's always comforting to get home to the heart of things after a busy end of the season at the studio.

It's been a year... filled with some rewarding photoshoots on cookbooks coming out soon. Five cookbooks in particular that I worked on this past year, Southern Made Fresh by Tasia Malakasis, The Southern Gentleman's Kitchen by Matt Moore, Dream Puffs by blogger Barbara Bakes, The Good Pantry and The Great Cook with Cooking Light. I have loved working on them and hope you enjoy the work the whole team put in. I am currently shooting different projects, amongt which is Sara Moulton's new cookbook. All have been challenging, different and allowed me to spread my wings and strengthened my craft.
 
Cake_2b
Lots of changes at work and home. New interns, new coworkers, new freelance projects, new pace of living. It tested me and stretched me at times. It baffled and annoyed me too. I have learned to grow and moved forward from my reactions. I have learned patience and resilience in different ways. I have created both at home and work. I have shared and kept to myself. I have skipped this space more times than intended. It's too easy coming home after a long week of photo and just pour a glass of wine and enjoy the quietness of home.

But...every year I follow Susannah Conway's "Find Your Word" online course and this time without exceptions I jotted down ideas, words, feelings, intentions. Last year my word was "awaken". It found me. On a commemorative evening on the beach in Charleston. It nagged at me and made me unsettled and aware. I've awakened to truth. In friendships, partnerships and work. It was brutal and nourishing at times.


Cake_3b
Nourish. This one little word kept coming back in my brainstorming sessions with Susannah. While I felt depleted and conquered, my Taurus self would just kick that feeling to the curb with a screaming "I want to nourish the good stuff!".

I want to nourish my creativity with more collaboration with people who do give a damn about heart and art. I want to nourish my partnership with my mate with more roadtrips, creative outlets done together. I want to nourish my playtime by writing posts more often. I cook and shoot a lot on the weekends for me but never nourish the urge to share. It takes work to work on playtime...!

So here it is...My first installment of what the word spoke to me at that moment. A Honey and Vanilla Cake to nourish the souls and the bellies of the people around you. One slice at a time...


Cake_4b



Weekend Suppers With Friends: Fresh Market Tabbouleh Salad, Seared Lamb Chops With Olive Chimichurri & A Warm Mushroom Salad

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Monday, November 17, 2014


Tabbouleh Salad
During fall and the holidays, it's all about cozying up and having with friends around our table. We make a fire, text a few friends and start cooking, gathering, and setting up a feast. We take special care in making sure no one goes to a cold house and a lonely dinner. Weekend suppers with friends make the moment during the holidays creating long lasting memories of their own.

Everyone is relaxed and ready to extend the weekend by a few hours nestled around a table filled with good food and conversation. Meals vary depending on the mood but a few sure ingredients remain the same, by heritage or taste. Charcuterie, good crusty breads, nibbles of cheese and olives, fish or grilled meats and plenty of fresh and colorful sides. And if you are invited to our house, you know there will be olives involved.

Lamb Chops With Olive Chimichurri
One recent Sunday afternoon, we decided to gather new friends and have an olive themed dinner. Sundays are definitely meant for cozy dinners. A last hooray before the week starts all over again. 

Any gathering we host start with an antipasto tray revolving around a few good cured meats, some burrata or other cheese, pickles, seasonal fruits, green and black olives of sort. My favorites remaining kalamata, tiny shriveled oil cured or plump marinated black olives and pickled garlic stuffed green olives. I am the one eating olives like they are M&Ms. That's where my heritage shows through. Provence is never far away from any dish I cook.

We followed with pan seared lamb chops with kalamata chimichurri sauce, a colorful market fresh tabbouleh salad with black olives, heirloom tomatoes, persimons, cucumber, radishes and thinly sliced red onions. All dressed in a creamy parsley vinaigrette. My favorite of the evening was a warm mushroom salad with olives and thyme filled with lobster mushrooms, chanterelles and portobello mushrooms. So so good. I want to make it again with a poached egg on top for a simple weeknight dinner or brunch.

Antipasto
Laughs. Good food and wine. Plenty of stories to go around is how I love spending a weekend evening. It doesn't matter whether our friends are good cooks and want to participate. We just like to get together and share stories and memories around a good meal. If you have an anecdote at the ready, there is definitely a plate awaiting you at our table!

How do you enjoy some down time with friends and foods during the busy holiday season? Curious minds (mine!) want to know! Enjoy the recipes below and please share with me and Lindsay Olives what makes your holiday moments special and enter their holiday sweepstakes (link here). 
Disclosure- yes, this post is in partnership with Lindsay Olives, but opinions are my own. Mushroom Salad

Littleneck Clams With Chorizo & Spicy Tomato Gazpacho

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Friday, November 14, 2014


Clams With Chorizo
It's clear that in the South the weather has no idea how to behave or what to dress for right now. It's ok. I can make pretend for a couple days that this is a prolonged Indian summer just as well as being able to put on a turtleneck or a scarf. I'm always in love with this time of the year especially where I reside now. The colors of Autumn, the brisk change in the air and everyone's behavior to keep cozy is something I truly relish.

The South can be surprising though and after almost 18 years here, I still find myself oscillating. One November day can be in the high 70s and the next can dip to the low 40s. Which is why I rarely rely on the temperatures to cook the seasonal foods I love. I could be waiting a long time to make a hearty pot roast and would never stop making cold soups or ice creams... 

Thus, it's not uncommon for us to have a warm and hearty dish such as these Littleneck Clams With Chorizo and Potatoes one evening and a refreshingly cold Spicy Tomato Gazpacho with a couple of boiled eggs for a light Saturday lunch within the same week.

The South may seem to have its own slower pace but don't be fooled, we're quick to adapt our cooking repertoire when necessary. Just like we keep flip flops and sweaters very close to one another....

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