i'll admit it. i am a shameless francophile. all things french. french food, french music, french language, french art, french fashion, french architecture, french literature, french cinema. french fries. i think it may come from my younger days, with nose buried in book, hiding my awkwardness from the world. i was not margaret christine in oklahoma, texas, arkansas, or louisiana (we moved around a bit). i was babar's buddy, tintin's traveling companion, madeline's mate, the little prince's pal.
as i grew older, i was absorbed in fitzgerald's tender is the night, and snuck a copy of henry miller home from the downtown library. thank goodness my mother wasn't a reader. i couldn't finish it. it was scandalous. i blushed when i returned the book to the librarian. those french were a randy bunch.
and then i moved on with the expatriates-imagined myself the contemporary of the fitzgeralds's, twain, stein, joyce, hemingway, james, then spent time with the beat poets as they lazed about paris--baldwin, kerouac, et al. but the clencher was a movie i once saw about isadora duncan that i remember to this day. let's just say i never wear silk scarves with the top down and leave it at that.
i spent the afternoon honoring bastille day in my own way, the way i would like to spend every 100+ degree afternoon, in a dark, cool theater sunk in a chair with the iced coffee i snuck in, (don't judge, i buy the six dollar popcorn, but if i get that and the drink, there goes the utility payment for the month--and of course the french wouldn't be suckered into it, you know....) solo, watching woody allen's newest, midnight in paris. it is quite good. i recommend it for anyone who enjoys 'nostalgic thinking', france, literature, art, or owen wilson. but that wasn't enough. not enough french to satisfy. so as i enjoy a leisurely breakfast of croissant, jam, and cafe au lait, i thought i should hardly let the weekend of bastille day pass without mention of some of my favorite french themed sites and sights on the web. i thought you might like to daydream along with me for a bit.
and my favorite,
there's scads of delicious french food being shared in the blogosphere. a few of my favorites out there are:
on bastille day proper, saveur magazine shared recipes for twenty french desserts that i think you'll like. just looking satisfies my sweet tooth, however this weekend i have a little surprise for my sweets-loving, hardworking farmer man, and he is going to dancing a little jig when he sees it. i prepared
la côte basque's dacquoise
and he better get home from austin in short order if there's to be any left for him.
from saveur magazine,
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/3 cups finely ground hazelnuts
1 1/4 cups finely ground almonds
9 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
FOR THE GANACHE:
1 cup heavy cream
3 oz. milk chocolate, chopped
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
FOR THE BUTTERCREAM:
2 cups granulated sugar
5 egg whites, room temperature
1 lb. unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened
3 tbsp. coffee extract
2 cups sliced almonds, toasted
1. For the meringues: Preheat oven to 250°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and draw three 8'' circles on paper. Sift together powdered sugar, hazelnuts, and almonds into a medium bowl, pushing lumps through sieve, then set aside. Put egg whites in the clean bowl of a standing mixer and whisk on medium-low speed for 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium and whisk whites to soft peaks, about 2 1/2 minutes. Gradually add sugar while continuing to whisk, then increase speed to medium-high and whisk until whites form medium-stiff peaks, about 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer whites to a large bowl and carefully fold in 1/3 of nut mixture at a time with a rubber spatula. Divide meringue between parchment circles and gently spread out evenly. Bake in middle of oven, rotating positions hourly, for 4 hours. Allow to cool.
2. For the ganache: Heat cream in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat, add milk and bittersweet chocolates, and let sit for 1 minute. Whisk until smooth and set aside until thick enough to spread.
3. For the buttercream: Combine 1/3 cup water and 1 1/2 cups of the sugar in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until it reaches 250° on a candy thermometer. Put egg whites in the clean bowl of a standing mixer and whisk on medium-low speed for 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium and whisk whites to soft peaks, about 1 1/2 minutes. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar while continuing to whisk, then increase speed to medium-high and whisk until whites form stiff peaks, about 2 minutes. Carefully pour syrup into whites, whisking until cool, about 10 minutes. Add butter, bit by bit, whisking constantly until buttercream
4. To assemble: Spread 1/3 of buttercream over each of 2 meringues. Spread ganache over remaining meringue. Layer meringues, placing the one with ganache in the middle. Spread remaining buttercream on sides of cake, then cover cake with almonds and refrigerate at least 5 hours. Before serving, dust cake with powdered sugar, if you like.
this week's words that inspire us:
image creditstitle image, alicia bock, images used to create montage courtesy of http://www.sfgirlbybay.com/ , final image courtesy of paris hotel boutique .