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Quiche Lorraine

Last weekend, Francophiles and Philadelphians – the ones who weren’t down the shore, anyway- flocked to the Fairmount section of the city for the 19th annual Bastille Day celebration. Across the globe, the French people celebrated their national holiday with picnics, parties and fireworks. Here, the Eastern State Penitentiary led the neighborhood in a celebration worthy of a block party with a light-hearted reenactment of the storming of the Bastille.

As tradition would have it, local “experimental cabaret troupe,” The Bearded Ladies, graced guests with an hour long outdoor stage performance, emceed by an Edith Piaf impersonator. There was plenty of dancing and singing throughout the set, and Marie Antoinette mocked the crowd from the walls of the Penitentiary, and shouted her command to “let them eat TaskyKake.” On cue, thousands of Butterscotch Krimpets were hurled at the crowd below.

While we weren’t lucky enough to catch a Krimpet, I did make something special and French inspired for a weekend brunch – traditional Quiche Lorraine.

Espelette from Paris replaced the Cayenne in this French recipe.

Espelette from Paris replaced the Cayenne in this French recipe.

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Apple Hand Pies

Whether you and your family stay in the city to see your neighborhood parade and head to the Parkway for Welcome America, or you vacation at the shore to catch some beach time and watch the fireworks, the proud, positive energy of Independence Day is infectious. Everyone is doused in red, white and blue, and the American flag lines streets all over the country. It’s natural to reflect on the true meaning of the Fourth of July and something as natural as sharing time with our family reminds us to be thankful for our freedoms. Whatever your traditions on this patriotic holiday, it’s pretty much guaranteed you’re attending a barbecue at a family member or friend’s house and will be eating some pretty delicious food.

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Thin and Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am one of those people who prefer to ease gradually into the holiday season when the time is right, and I can’t bring myself to listen to a single tune of Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. On the other hand, I’ve been planning and preparing for our annual Christmas Eve party since September. There are paper lists floating around the house of ideas for our menu, ingredients and items I look for in the circulars, and I’ve even starting a rough draft of a timeline for the week leading up to the big event.

One long list is dedicated solely to the cookies I plan on making to give to family and friends as the holiday approaches. There are some standards, like buttery, spritz cookies and my favorite Snickerdoodle recipe. I do like to throw some curve balls, though, so I’m doing my best to find unique options that have have “wow factor” while still being traditional enough to spread the holiday cheer.

One can’t go wrong gifting chocolate chip cookies, and I am pretty loyal to the classic Nestle Tollhouse recipe. Still, curiosity got the best of me when I came across a recipe that focused just as much on the texture of the cookie as the flavor. Read More…

Bûche de Noël – French Yule Log

We are now days away from Christmas and I am as ready as I’ll ever be. Sure, I’ve got a menu of items to make for our big “Eve” party this weekend, but I’ve at least finalized what I’ll be serving and need to only make one more trip to the grocery store for our fresh ingredients. Anything else in my pantry, though, has dwindled down to next to nothing, including my compartment of baking ingredients. Only last week it was overflowing with chocolate morsels, flour, granulated and brown sugar and various other things needed to open my home bakery for the holidays.

I was oh-so-proud of my baking cabinet and the sweets it helped me produce: the chocolate chips I had stocked up on to coat my Oreo truffles, the loads of granulated sugar it felt like I used with my candied orange peel, and the various other Christmas treats that remind me why I love to bake. My favorite holiday dessert, which has become a tradition since I first made it years ago, is considered my “pièce de résistance,” and I like to think my family is anticipating its big reveal this Saturday. The classic French Yule log is no joke – if, like me, you soak up every single complement thrown your way regarding any of your dishes, make a Bûche de Noël. You will be the talk of your family holiday party well into 2012. Read More…

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