Adventures in French Cooking.

It’s “French Cooking” if I’m cooking and it’s in France, right? I thought so.

With an afternoon to myself, and a boyfriend to impress in the evening, I decided to chef it up. Or, more specifically, bake it up.

Little known fact about me: I had my first apricot only 3 years ago, on a trip to Burgundy with my Parisian friend Matt. We were at the local market and I just couldn’t resist these babies:

I obviously had no idea what I’d been missing. Apricots are delicious, and since then I’ve gobbled them up when they come into season each May.

Today I decided to channel my love of apricots into a tart. Several years ago I bought a cookbook called “Once Upon A Tart”. It was the cookbook of a bakery I used to visit during my NYC days. I now have perfected their scone (seriously, I make it better than they do) and when I bother to take out my madeleine tin I also make a delicious honey madeleine. However, despite being a relatively adventurous cook, I’ve always been a little intimidated by pastries such as pies and tarts – so the tart chapter was well-read but poorly explored. I’m pleased to tell you that my first tart effort, while not perfect, came out looking pretty good, if I do say so myself!

Can’t comment on the taste just yet – as I mentioned earlier, I have a boyfriend to impress, and he hasn’t come home from work yet. I have high hopes though.

I wasn’t done yet. Next up – using the madeleine tin I’d ferried over from the US. I’d done these before, so I wasn’t nervous. But then I took out the “Bicarbonate” I’d selected in the grocery store, thinking it was “baking powder”. But when I opened the box it had the consistency of table salt, not of either the baking powder or baking soda I was used to. A quick Google search (seriously, what would we do without Google) revealed that bicarbonate is roughly equivalent to baking soda – and that you need to use one-fourth the amount of soda if you’re converting from powder. Glad to narrowly avoid a cookie disaster – and pull these out of the oven a little while later:

Obviously I had to sample one (okay, two) of these… verdict: amazing. These I will be bringing to my lunch date tomorrow, with my new friend.

Did I mention that I made a friend? Well, she’s not quite a friend yet. We met on the internet. She’s American and she lives in my town, and that may be all we have in common, but I’m willing to find out more. Friend of the blog Natasha has had great success converting internet friends into IRL (“in real life”, Mom) friends, and I’m going to follow her lead.

In addition to all the baking, I also started dinner preparations. I’ve noticed that the French take terroir very seriously, not just with their wine. The package of pork came with this sticker:

“Le cochon de Bretagne”… should go nicely with le cidre de Bretagne that is chilling in the fridge.

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