Tag Archives: courses

Flourless Chocolate Cake (Quatre-Quarts au Chocolat)

Flourless Chocolate Cake (Quatre-quarts au Chocolat)

Flourless Chocolate Cake (Quatre-quarts au Chocolat)


4 eggs

about 275 grams of good quality dark chocolat: minimum 70 % cocoa

(In order of preference…Valrhona, Lindt, Nestle)

about 275 grams of sugar

about 275 grams of butter


  1. Weigh the 4 eggs to define the weight of all other ingredients.
  2. Whatever they weigh is how much you need of each other ingredient. Eg: 4 french eggs weigh 275 grams.
  3. Cut a piece of parchment paper in a circle that will fit into the bottom of your cake pan, not up the sides.
  4. Butter the bottom of the pan and put the parchment paper. Then butter the parchment paper and the sides of pan and coat with powdered cocoa, this replaces using flour for when you de-pan.
  5. Break chocolate into small pieces and melt in a double boiler. When melted, add butter and gently mix until butter is melted then remove from heat and let cool.
  6. While chocolate is cooling, in 2 separate mixing bowls, separate egg whites and yolks.
  7. Beat egg whites until fluffy but not too dry.
  8. Add sugar to egg yolks and mix with beaters until light and a litlle frothy.
  9. Pour chocolate slowly into egg yolk mixture until just blended then gently fold in egg whites.
  10. Pour batter into cake pan and bake at 350 F for about 45 minutes. The cake will rise slowly and when the center has risen and a knife comes out clean it’s done.
  11. Let cool a little and turn out carefully onto a flat surface, peel parchment paper off then turn back over onto cake dish.


Absolutely decadent served with Crème Anglaise!


Boeuf Bourguignon

Boeuf Bourguignon

Boeuf Bourguignon


Beef* - 800 grams

(cut into about 1.5 inch cubes, taking off any big fatty parts)

Lardons* - 150 grams

Onions* - 5

(average/large yellow onions, cut into 6 parts)

Carrots - 5

(peeled and cut into 1 inch parts)

Mushrooms* - 200 grams

1 Bouquet garni*

1 garlic clove, slightly crushed

1 bottle of decent red wine

(don’t waste your money on anything fancy)

1 Beef bouillon cube (optional)

Chopped parsley

100 gr of butter

Tbsp of cooking oil

3 rounded Tbsp flour

Salt and pepper


  1. Brown onions in a large frying pan with the butter and oil.
  2. When nicely browned, put into cooking pot, reserving the butter to brown the meat.
  3. Brown meat very well on all sides, adding more butter if needed.
  4. When the meat is well browned and cooked, sprinkle with flour and let cook another couple of minutes, mixing from time to time to get the flour cooked.
  5. Put into pot with onions and deglaze frying pan with a glass of water, bringing it to a simmer and scraping all the residue from the pan, and add to pot.
  6. Fry lardons until browned and add to pot, deglazing again the frying pan.
  7. Add carrots to pot and then pour wine in until the meat is just barely covered.
  8. (1/2 wine - 1/2 water also works)
  9. If you add too much wine, your dish will be too liquid.
  10. I add a cube of beef bouillon for extra taste.
  11. Let simmer for at least 2 1/2 hours and add mushrooms. cook at least 30 minutes more.
  12. Add more wine/water if necessary to have a nice amount of sauce but not too liquid.
  13. Put into serving dish and sprinkle with a little chopped fresh parsley.
  14. Serve with steamed potatoes or if you want to make it fancier, Pommes Duchesse.


* Beef - When the butcher trims the cuts of beef that have been ordered, or the meat for his display, he reserves all the left over pieces, which he sells as Boeuf Bourguignon. Therefore, there is no special piece of meat, but you can ask for collier, la pointe de culotte, etc. cut in 1 1/2 inch cubes.

* Onions - You can replace the yellow onions with small pearl or cippolini onions, to make the dish look a little nicer but they are annoying to peel. And you should take them out of the pot for part of the cooking so they don’t fall apart.

* Lardons - 1/4 inch thick slices of bacon, cut into small strips, crosswise. You can find the uncut bacon, salted or smoked, at the butcher shop and ask them to cut it into 1/4 inch strips. You will then cut these crosswise into little 1/4 inch strips.

*Mushrooms - cut into small parts depending on their size, small button mushrooms can be left whole.

* Bouquet garni - is a bundle of herbs tied together with string and mainly used to prepare soup, stock, and various stews. The bouquet is cooked with the other ingredients, but is removed prior to consumption.

I often cheat with a vegetable bouillon cube, of which we get good quality organic ones in the super market.

The key to a delicious Boeuf Bourguignon is the infusion af all the ingredients.

For the best results:

Make it a day (or two!) before, cook at a low simmer for 2-3 hours, let cool and re-simmer later on for 1-2 hours.

Add more wine/water if necessary to have a nice amount of sauce but not too liquid.



Cheese Soufflé (Soufflé au Fromage)

Cheese Soufflé (Soufflé au Fromage)

Cheese Soufflé (Soufflé au Fromage)


30 grams of butter

30 grams of flour

25 cl of skimmed milk

4 egg yolks

6 egg whites

150 grams of grated comte, gruyere or emmental(order of preference)

Salt, pepper and nutmeg


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C
  2. Prepare soufflé dishes by buttering very generously the sides and then covering with bread crumbs.
  3. Bread crumbs work better than flour because this prevents the batter from sticking to the sides, thus allowing it to rise more easily.
  4. Melt butter in a frying pan on medium heat.
  5. As soon as it begins to foam, add flour and mix with a wire whisk to obtain a roux that is white and smooth.
  6. Let this cook for a minute then add milk, little by little, whipping so as to not get lumps.
  7. Once all the milk is blended, cook a little while, whipping all the time, then remove from heat and season to your taste.
  8. Separate the egg yolks from the whites being careful not to get any of the yolk in the whites.
  9. Add the egg yolks to the bechamel one by one, mixing all the time.
  10. Then add the grated cheese.
  11. Beat egg whites, with a pinch of salt, until fluffy and firm but not too dry.
  12. Fold in gently to batter and pour into dishes, filling about 2/3rd high and not more than 3/4.
  13. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes without opening the oven. You can watch them rise and it should be obvious when they are ready.
  14. Serve immediately because as they say in French “The guests can wait for the soufflé but the soufflé doesn’t wait for anyone”.


Important rules:

-Eggs should be room temperature, the whites will be fluffier.

-Do not open the oven while the soufflé is cooking as the air will make them fall.

-Butter and flour very well the sides of the mold so that the batter does not stick. -Preheat oven well in advance. If the temperature is not right the soufflé will not rise well.

Timing: You can keep the batter hot in a bain-marie before you’ve added the whites but the whites must be added at the last minute. The soufflé must be served immediately out of the oven. Count about 45 minutes from the time you begin to beat the egg whites

Making a soufflé can be very intimidating but it is not rocket science. It’s actually quite simple but you just need to follow carefully some very specific steps.

– The soufflé dish must have smooth and straight vertical sides and it should be higher than it is wide. Terra cotta works best for heat repartition.


Fennel Parmesan Salad (Salade de Fenouil et Parmesan)

Fennel Parmesan Salad (Salade de Fenouil et Parmesan)

Fennel Parmesan Salad (Salade de Fenouil et Parmesan)


Very fresh fennel bulbs, as big as you can find.

Good quality Reggiano Parmesan cheese (not Grana Padano, not grated)

Fleur de Sel (or other good rock salt), I use Guerande



  1. Cut off the fine leafy tips and reserve.
  2. Slice Fennel bulb in half lengthwise, rinse and dry.
  3. Place the open sliced part down on cutting board and slice very thin, crosswise so that the fibers get cut with each slice.
  4. Keep the large slices separate from the smaller/greener branch slices for presentation purposes.
  5. Spread the larger slices first in a large flat dish, then the smaller branch slices on top.
  6. Sprinkle with fleur de sel, quite generously, then squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the dish.
  7. Slice parmesan cheese paper thin and spread out over fennel.
  8. Then chop a little, or just break apart, the leafy tips and sprinke on the dish.
  9. Voila!





Approximately 1 apple per person.

Puff pastry or shortcrust pastry.


250g Sugar


  1. Peel apples, quarter and cut out core.
  2. Fry apples in 4-6 rounded Tbsp unsalted butter to brown, on one side first, then turn and brown on other side. You want brown apple color without cooking down the apples, keep browning until just before the apples start getting mushy.
  3. Then in another frying pan make the caramel:
  4. Pour 250 grams sugar in frying pan, using a flat edge wooden spoon to stir until sugar melts to a liquid golden brown caramel then pour quickly, before the caramel has time to harden, into pie tart pan covering the bottom evenly. Then place the nicely browned sides of apples down on top of caramel. This will be the top after it bakes. Place apples nicely into attractive spiral or circular pattern.
  5. Then place pie crust on top tucking extra crust into sides of dish. The crust needs to plenty larger than the pie pan. Uneven looks nice.
  6. Bake in oven at 400° F. until crust is brown and the caramel is bubbly, about 30 minutes. Then cool until luke warm, loosen crust from sides of tarte pan, turn onto large flat serving plate. Do not let cool too much or the caramel and pie crust will stick to the pan. Tapping with some kitchen utensil will help the pie come unstuck from pie pan.
  7. Best served warm but can also be served cold, with vanilla ice-cream or crème fraiche.


- It is important to choose apples that will hold their shape while cooking, not melt into apple sauce, and not release too much liquid. In North America Golden Delicious, Granny Smith or Jonathan are excellent choices. Gala and Pink lady are good too.

- Research shows that the tarte Tatin was first created accidentally at the Hotel Tatin in the 1880s. The hotel was run by two sisters, Stéphanie and Caroline Tatin. There are conflicting stories concerning the tart’s origin, but the most common is that Stéphanie Tatin was overworked one day. She started to make a traditional apple pie but left the apples cooking in butter and sugar for too long. Smelling the burning, she tried to rescue the dish by putting the pastry base on top of the pan of apples, quickly finishing the cooking by putting the whole pan in the oven. After turning out the upside down tart, she was surprised to find how much the hotel guests appreciated the dessert. In an alternative version of the tart’s origin, Stéphanie baked a caramelized apple tart upside-down by mistake, regardless she served her guests the unusual dish.


Review from “I Prefer Paris”


Dinner that night was the freshest of oysters followed by thick fennel soup and Moroccan stew, eaten around the fireplace in the living room with excellent red wine hand chosen by Xavier.

Up early the next day, we set out in the chilly fresh country air to the local food market…

I met Mary Pochez through a friend of mine about 6 years ago at an art opening and we had a nice chat. Mary is an ex-pat married to a Frenchman and has lived in France for over 30 years. We kept in touch by email over the years, as she reads my blog, but physically have not seen each other since our first meeting. I remember she told me she lived in a chateau in the Loire and I was always curious what it was like.

Mary contacted me in mid-October last year and said she was looking to start cooking classes at the chateau. She wanted to know if I wanted to come to the chateau for a day or two to be the guinea pig for her classes. I told I would be very pleased to come and visit and she said I could bring a few friends if I wanted. I made arrangements to come the first week of December and invited Carol from Paris Breakfasts and a travel journalist friend of mine from Australia currently living in Paris.

We took the train to Le Mans and then a bus to La Fleche, a small town near the chateau. We arrived about 1PM and Mary showed us the quaint medieval town, which had an important historical significance to it: King Henri IV founded a Jesuit college and later on cadet school. In 1808 Napoleon built a military academy.

We drove through the scenic countryside where the leaves were still turning on the trees. We made a left off the highway to a dirt road, where Mary announced this was the entrance to the chateau. We drove and drove through the woods and Mary pointed out features of the 1200-acre property including the pristine lake and the working farm. Finally we arrived at the chateau, a aged Grand Dame with white weather vaned shutters, moss eaten stone steps, a beige yellow stone facade, and a stone fountain with a water sprout shooting up the height of the chateau. On the right side of the chateau was a small chapel and on the left in the distance was an orangerie. This was the real deal.

Mary’s husband Xavier, who I had not met before, greeted us warmly. He and Mary took us on a tour of the expansive house with endless rooms, hallways, and passages. Xavier told us Chateau de la Barbee was built in 1790 by architect Louis-Adrien Lusson and has been in his family since then. The property is ISMH (inventaire supplementaire des monuments historiques) or official historic French register because of its authenticity and rarity, having been built during the revolution. I was shown to my room on the second floor overlooking the back of the house with a lovely view. It looked like the set for a Ralph Lauren home furnishings waiting to happen with two wooden framed beds with white linens, plank floors, and an elegant old-fashioned white tub with fancy claws.

We had tea in the cozy den and got to know Mary and Xavier. Mary was a California surfer girl from a big family and became an international top model in her 20s. She told us about her globe trotting adventures all over Europe and hanging out with Janice Dickinson. She was introduced to Xavier at a dinner party and he courted her for many years until he won her over and she finally agreed to marry him. They have been happily together for 30 years and have two college age children. They lived in Paris full time and went to the chateau on weekends and holiday until they moved there permanently in 2009.

It was sunny day and I went outside to watch the magnificent crimson sun set against the black trees with a low fog rolling in.

Dinner that night was the freshest of oysters followed by thick fennel soup and Moroccan stew, eaten around the fireplace in the living room with excellent red wine hand chosen by Xavier.

Up early the next day, we set out in the chilly fresh country air to the local food market. Carol was as happy as a clam and we enjoyed perusing the local products and especially the low prices. We returned to the house and rolled up our sleeves to roll out the pastry for the pear almond tart. We then made an unusual dish I never had before that was so easy to make. Mary asked us to take some raw pieces of raw foie gras and wrap it in cabbage leaves she steamed. She then baked them.

At about 1PM we sat down for the lunch on the elegant dining room table laid with some of the original china, flatware, and crystal glasses from the early 1800s. The cabbage wrapped foie gras was beyond amazing and the main course was tender wild boar in a cranberry and mushroom sauce. The pear almond tart was so good it called for seconds. Xavier again picked the perfect red wine, a divine Chinon.

After lunch we walked around the grounds and Xavier showed us the inside of the chapel, telling us the romantic story of how they got married in it. We also got a tour of the orangerie and they told us of their grand plans to make it into an event space for weddings and affairs in the summer. We took some fun photos playing in the leaves and a sweet one of Mary and Xavier.

We headed back to the train station about 4PM, sad to leave the idyllic paradise. Mary gave each of us a sweet parting gift, a jar of her homemade jam.

I Prefer Paris

Coq Au Vin

Coq Au Vin (Rooster in red wine sauce)

Coq Au Vin (Rooster in red wine sauce)


1 4 lb rooster

(a capon will work if you can’t find a regular rooster)

150 grams of mushrooms

150 grams of smoked bacon bits

(see photo)

4-6 regular white onions, depending on size

2 heaping Tbsp of flour

1 bottle of red burgundy wine

(pinot noir suits well but really you can use any wine you have around, remember this is a no no Julia recipe!)

2 cups of chicken broth

2 big garlic cloves

parley, thyme, 2 bay leaves

50 grams of butter and a bit of whatever cooking oil

(I often add a bit of oil to butter when frying as the oil prevents the butter from burning)


  1. Cut rooster into parts: legs, wings, breast, back, neck and the giblets, leaving skin on and keep the carcass.
  2. Cut lardons into small strips, onions in 6-8 parts and mushrooms into 4ths.
  3. In a big pot, fry onions in butter and when slightly golden, add lardons and keep frying until browned. Then take out of pot and put aside. Fry mushrooms in same pot until slightly browned and add to onions and lardons on the side.
  4. In the same pot, brown all the rooster parts (add more butter if needed) on each side, add carcass then powder with flour, mixing gently and let brown a little more.
  5. After about 5 minutes, add crushed garlic, mix, let cook another minute then add the wine.
  6. Bring to a boil while gently turning. Add parsley, thyme, bay leaves, onions, lardons, and mushrooms and then cover with the broth until everything is just barely* covered. Add water if needed.
  7. *It’s important not to add too much liquid to not end up with a too watery consistence. Better to not quite cover with liquid and add more later if needed.
  8. Let simmer for 3-4 hours until the liquid has considerably reduced to a more “sauce-like” consistence.
  9. Salt if needed and serve with mashed potatoes, rice, pasta or couscous.


Mushooms, onions, lardons, broth, are very estimative.