Category Archives: Favorite Recipes

Frenchitude Lesson #5: Make Your Own Pastry Whenever Possible

Frenchitude Lesson #5: Make Your Own Pastry Whenever Possible

Wait a second! Before you surf on to other websites, just let me get one point across; MAKING THIS FRENCH PASTRY, or Pâte Brisée, RECIPE IS AS EASY AND QUICK AS FALLING OFF A LOG!!!!!!

All my friends know that I am absolutely, without a doubt, the first person to take advantage of short-cuts on the domestic front such as store-bought pastry. However, this recipe, bequeathed to me by my very French, very talented friend Charlotte Buffet, is a shortcut so incredibly short that even I am willing to take it.

It takes about two minutes, never fails, and garners rave reviews every time.

To quote Charlotte directly, using this recipe for homemade Pâte Brisée when making any kind of quiches or fruit tartesfait toute la différence.” It is the difference between a ho-hum tarte aux pommes and one that makes you want to kiss the person sitting next to you.

This recipe is what Frenchtitude is all about – emphasis on those little details that provide a heady effort / pleasure ratio.

If you want a photo of the tarte crust just have a look at the recipe for Mémé Germain’s tarte aux pommes . Otherwise you can enjoy the photo of Charlotte and our friend Martial (Clémentine’s godparents) above. As you may be able to tell, we’d had a bit to drink that particular night.

Charlotte Buffet’s Pâte Brisée Recipe

250 grams of flour
125 grams of butter
1/2 small glass (about 1/3 cup) of water
Pinch of salt

Tools Required
Food processor with blade attachment
Kitchen scale (metric)


OK, brace yourselves…this is really tough…

– Measure ingredients and add in no particular order into food processor.

– Press on “mix” button until ingredients have formed ball-like form which has detached from sides – takes about a minute or two.

– Remove pastry (see, you have just made pastry!) ball from food processor, flatten into disc, wrap in cellophane and put in fridge for at least an hour before using.

– 1/2 of the pastry ball is perfect amount for 6-8 person quiche or tarte

*Freezes wonderfully, so you can always have some pastry, not to mention some Frenchitude, on hand.

**Frenchitude Fridays (French + Attitude = Frenchitude) give ideas for how to inject a bit of frenchness into your life, whether you live in Toronto or Tuktuyuktuk.

Mémé Germains’s Apple Tarte

This time of year brings apples, and apples for me mean apple tartes.

Nobody could make une tarte aux pommes like Franck’s grandmother, the fabulous Mémé Germain, who passed away last winter just five days before Clémentine was born.

Every time I set out to make a tarte aux pommes I think back to all the times we’d stop at Mémés studio in Beaune on the way home from school and she would have made us one for our goûter.

I personally believe Mémé is up there in heaven drinking her beloved cassismousseux and whipping up delicious french dinners for the Cherubims and Seraphims. However, in the meantime making her tarte aux pommes brings her back to us for a while.

Mémé Germains’s Tarte Aux Pommes

1 unsweetened pastry crust (and if you don’t know how to make this, tune in tomorrow)
3-4 Golden Delicious apples (the only kind Mémé would use)
3-4 tablespoons of applesauce
1 tablespoon of butter
Sprinkling of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of clear jelly (i.e. apple, quince, etc.) + 1/4 tsp of hot water

– Butter and flour pie or tart pan (size 6-8 servings)

– Roll out pastry on floured surface until you have circle big enough to fit into pan with a couple centimetres extra to go up the sides. Put pastry in pan.

– Poke pastry here and there with a fork.

– Spread applesauce over bottom of pastry. Right now I use a small jar of “baby food” applesauce or pear/apple-sauce that we always have on hand for Clem. This is handy if you don’t have any applesauce kicking around and don’t feel like making any. One small baby food jar is the perfect amount

– Peel apples and cut in quarters off the core. Slice quarters into even pieces about 1/4 of a centimetre thick.

– Arrange, overlapping (the apple slices shrink a bit when cooked) over applesauced pastry into an outer ring and then a smaller, inner ring. Use imagination and make pretty patterns as desired.

– Pick little chunks of butter off tablespoon amount and drop at random intervals on top of apple slices.

-Lightly sprinkle with brown sugar.

-Put in 200 degree Celsius (400 degrees Fahrenheit) oven for about 20-25 minutes or until apples and pastry are nice and brown.

-Once removed from oven let cool on rack or in pan. When cooled mix jelly with hot water in bowl and using pastry brush brush mixture over crust and gently over apples. This was one of Mémé’s tricks for making it look as good as it tastes.

* Still working on the quality of my “food porn” photos. Progress has been made but as you can see there’s still some way to go…

Charlotte Buffet’s Madeleines

Yesterday was Sunday and my last day of normal food, as I start my fun GI exam “prep” work as of this morning, which includes a really strict diet. Of all times in my life to cut out chocolate…anyway, yesterday I celebrated by finally succeeding at making delicious homemade madeleines – the ubiquitous french mini-cake.

I had tried a few times over the last few weeks but my madeleines didn’t hold a candle to my friend Charlotte’s. So finally on Saturday afternoon I went over to Charlotte’s for a madeleine lesson. Anyway, my madeleines weren’t exactly the same as Charlotte’s – probably explained by a different oven and a different madeleine tin, but they were pretty darn delicious.

Charlotte Buffet’s Madeleines


-2 organic (non-treated) lemons
-200 grams of salted butter
-4 eggs
-200 grams of fine sugar
-225 grams of flour


– grate lemons for zest, set aside
– melt the butter on very low heat – make sure it doesn’t bubble
– break eggs into medium-sized bowl and then add sugar
– whisk vigorously, this is a VERY important step, with whisk until the mixture becomes pale in colour, about five minutes (your arm should really start to cramp up)
– add in lemon zest, whisk again
– add in flour, whisk until thoroughly mixed
– add in melted butter, whisk until thoroughly mixed

Pour batter into buttered madeleine tin which you should be able to find at any fancy cooking store. Cook at 190 degrees Celsius for about 10-20 minutes or until golden brown. Leave to cool on a rack. Bon appetit!

Can be stored for several days in sealed Tupperware type container or cookie tin.

I’m still working on my antique tour – will be coming soon! In the meantime, feast on these;

Laura’s French Chocolate Cake

When I asked Charlotte what kind of cake she wanted me to bake for her 8th Birthday dinner, she requested this one. Why? Because I have a firstborn who is as much a chocoholic as her mother. This french “fondant” chocolate cake is not for the faint of heart.

Even though I learned this recipe over here in France, you can find all the ingredients almost anywhere in the world. However, a word of wisdom – don’t stint on the quality of the chocolate or the butter, as you’ll see they are rather crucial ingredients.

– 200 grams of good black chocolate (I always use Nestle dessert chocolate, and swear by it)

– 200 grams of unsalted butter (if you are even considering using margarine, lard, or any other heinous low-fat butter substitute you don’t deserve to be making this cake)

– 5 eggs (the fresher, the better)

– 1 soup spoon of flour

– 250 grams of white sugar

– Butter and flour cake pan (preferably non-stick).

– Warm your oven up to 190 degrees Celsius (375 Fahrenheit).

– In the microwave or a double boiler melt the chocolate and the butter together, mix slowly with wooden spoon until shiny and without lumps.

– When melted, add the sugar and let cool about five minutes.

– Add in eggs to chocolate mixture one by one, stirring with a wooden spoon between each egg.

– Add in spoonful of flour and mix well.

– Put in cake pan approximately 20cm in diameter (I have a heart-shaped one that I always use for this cake) and bake for 22 minutes. The cake should be slightly wobbly in the middle when taken out of the oven. Let cool on rack. Great served slightly warm, and delicious and fudge-y after a night or two in the fridge

You can serve it with high quality vanilla ice cream (high fat bien sûr, and the kind with the real flecks of vanilla in it), with a fruit coulis, or just decorated with a bit of icing sugar as I did here. Candles are optional, but don’t be surprised that everyone in your family starts requesting this for their Birthdays, as is the case chez nous!

I know, I know I need to work on my food photo-taking technique…however, trust me, try making this cake! You will acquire new friends, make your children love you, and generally become a very sought-after host / hostess.

The Winter Wonderland quiche

Chelsi just emailed me tonight to ask for the recipe for the quiche I served along with Claire’s wine to calm nerves and replenish souls the day after the “Winter Wonderland” ordeal (read below!). Seeing as her and her chef husband Graham run what I’ve heard is a fabulous restaurant in Brooklyn (and one that I have every intention of visiting sometime in the not-so-distant future), I figure that this recipe MUST be good enough to include in The Grape Journal.

So here is the Winter Wonderland (actually, to be completely honest here, Meme Germain’s) quiche recipe to scoop everyone out of those winter doldrums.

-1 flaked pastry crust, use any basic recipe except keep in mind that the French I know use only butter (no lard).

– 3 large-ish eggs

– 300 mL (approx) liquid creme fraiche

– 2 tablespoons of good Dijon mustard

– 1 cup of grated emmental cheese (gruyere works perfectly too)

– 1 cup of whatever filling you want – could be ham, tuna, smoked salmon, broccoli…or a mix of two or more things…the variations are endless…I used “jambon blanc” (thinly sliced oven roasted ham).

Roll out pastry and put in greased or parchment paper-ed pan. Spread mustard on bottom of crust. Throw pan with crust and mustard into oven at around 215 to 220 CELSIUS while you are mixing up the rest, but do keep an eye on it and take it out or lower the temp. if it’s browning too fast.

In medium sized bowl mix together three eggs, 300 ML of liquid creme fraiche (we use 15% Milk Fat, but 30% is even better! As one of our favorite and full-bodied french TV chefs always exclaims “Ca ne gache rien!”) and about 2/3 of the cheese, add a couple of turns of some freshly ground pepper. No salt as the mustard seasons it just perfectly (and, very unlike Meme, I’m actually imparting this secret willingly).

This liquid mix should come to about 1/2 litre in volume in total. If it doesn’t, just keep adding more creme fraiche and mixing until it does. I just mix it with a fork – no electrical appliances required.

Take the crust out of the oven, sprinkle filling (ham, tuna, or whatever) on mustard layer. Pour in mixed up egg and cream mixture, sprinkle remaining cheese on top.

Put back in oven for around 20-30 minutes until puffy and nicely browned. Leave sit for around ten minutes before serving – I also like it cold out of the fridge!

Bon Appetit and stay out of those blizzards if you can manage it!