"The evolving Francophile..."

My husband Jack has always wanted to live in Paris and learn French. I thought it would be good for him to achieve his life time dream. Hence, we moved to Paris in 2008. My first year was difficult. I started "missives" to relieve some stress and chronicle my life so friends back in the US could read what I am experiencing. I currently write about my food and travel experiences, which is my passion.

It is definitely a challenge to live here, but each year it gets easier, and quite enjoyable, in large part because I value friendships over locale. I have a love/hate relationship with Paris as do most Parisians, mais La vie est belle (but life is good)!

Friday, April 16, 2021




UPDATE:  As of April 16, 2021 Paris is still completely shut down. Restaurants will continue to be closed until we get enough people vaccinated and it becomes safe to go out for a meal again.

With that said, I will commence my restaurant reviews once restaurants reopen.

Please be safe...

Wednesday, December 23, 2020



Friday, July 17, 2020


As some of you may know, I hate to knead, and I don’t have own a stand-mixer, so I prefer using this recipe. Downfall, it's a 2-day process so I have to wait til next day to enjoy them. But then again, you’ll be able to have it for breakfast the next morning.


  • 2 1/2 cups (1-cup all-purpose flour, 00 (Italian/Romanian) or T45 (French tout-usage) and 1-1/2 cups of whole wheat flour). You can replace 50 grams of flour with some oat flour, rye, or spelt etc. But you always have to have a flour that has gluten. All whole wheat works, because it has gluten
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast. If using levain, use 100 grams of freshly fed.
  • Pinch of sugar, about a pinch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cups milk, if vegan use a nut milk or even water
  • 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon butter or oil


I did not take a photo of mixing the dough, but basically mix the flours together with a whisk. DO NOT add salt and yeast on top of each other it may kill the yeast. However, if using levain, you can miss the 2-together.  Atop the yeast add the pinch of sugar to help feed the yeast.

Add the liquid and butter or oil. Make sure if using butter, melt it a little til warm, but not hot. Mix it, with a little liquid at a time. Flour can be different even in hours of the day because of humidity. And, if by chance it seems too shaggy, add more liquid (water) until you get a sticky, tacky dough, but NOT overly wet.

Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for a minimum of 18-hours, on counter


Dust your mat or counter assuming. If you have tile counters, I recommend you use a mat or a cutting board. Pour dough onto a mat. Pat down with your floured hands or use a rolling pin if you prefer (I prefer my hands) and flatten to about 1 inch thick. Then using a cookie cutter (I used an old can) and cut into disk, any size you like. Dust a pan covered with paper wrap dusted with cornmeal. Cover with plastic and let it rise a 2nd time for approximately 1-hour.

Note: left over dough re-pat and cut more rounds. Won’t be as pretty, but will taste the same.

In an un-oiled pan at a low to medium-low heat, add the English muffins.

Cover the pan to create steam for about 5-7 minutes (depends on the size of your disk) Check bottom for a light brown color.

Turn over once the bottom is light

Voila, finished product

NOTE: I DO NOT cook the English muffins to well-done, in fact, I cook it til it’s slightly cooked and somewhat a little raw, only because we like our English muffins toasted. If you don’t like toasted English muffins, then cook them longer. If they are a little raw, as I like them, store them, score them for an easy cut and store them in the freezer.


Wednesday, July 15, 2020


As most of you know,  up until January of this year, we had a "get-away" home in the Sierra Nevadas of Lake Tahoe.

During our time there, I taught cooking and ran a now defunct cooking club called, "Serene Lakes Cooking Club."  Residences were located between 5-7,000 feet above sea level in elevation. So cooking at times were challenging.

I wrote this years back, but is still applicable today. So, if you find yourself in any mountain areas in high elevations, especially above 5,000 feet, I hope this information will help.

High altitude cooking

There are different schools of thought on high altitude cooking. Inquiring minds want to know, and here are a few tips that I’ve discovered through trial and error as well as some research I’ve conducted… Of course, they are debatable.

Before we get to the tips, what exactly is the difference?

Boiling point. Water and other liquids evaporate faster and boil at lower temperatures. Hence, liquids boil at 212 degrees F at sea level and at Lake Tahoe at about 198 degrees F. General rule, for every 500 feet of ascent, the boiling point is lowered by 1 degrees F. Wow, if that’s true, does that mean we get "hotter" the further we go up in elevation.

Gases expand at higher altitudes. For example, leavening gases in breads and cakes expand more. Another analogy we can relate to, if you fly or come up to the "mountains" the gases in your body, in particular your stomach, expands. Hence, it needs to be expelled. Use your imagination as to how it’s done?


Cooking utensils.

For some reason, foods cooked at high altitude sticks to cooking pans. My guess is that since pressure is lower, the closer you get to heat source, the hotter it is and liquid heats quicker at the heat source, which could also potentially burn quicker. The liquid temperature is not evenly distributed. I’ve discovered non-stick surfaces work well. I’m not fond of Teflon, but Circulon makes a wonderful product.

Another trick, get rid of those double boilers. General rule, over 5,000 feet above sea level, double boilers are not hot enough to gelatinize starch. Be brave, use direct heat.

Longer cooking time. Have you noticed when you cook pasta or any starch it seems to take forever. You literally can go watch a movie, come back, and it’s still cooking (a little exaggeration, but you get the point). To compensate use about 20% more liquid to counterbalance the quick evaporation.

Another trick I’ve learned, if you’re cooking a dish that requires rice, e.g., Paella, pre-cook the rice to "al dente" stage, than incorporate in the dish and cook til done.

Quick rise. Breads and cakes rise rapidly. Only problem, it may rise quicker, but it isn’t quite cooked; hence, you tend to cook it longer and it dries out. Remember those quick gas expansions I mentioned above, a good solution would be to reduce the ‘proofing’ time. Another solution is to increase the temperature in your oven by 25 degrees F, and also reduce baking time by 20%. And, when using liquids, use cold water, it gives your baking goods strength. We do want them to ‘bake up’ tall and strong.

For recipes using Baking Powder: Break your baking rule. Forget room temperature anything, use cold eggs, and don’t overbeat the eggs. Cold eggs have more substance and strength, and not over beating minimizes the air. Remember the gas rule above. Also, decrease the amount of the baking powder slightly, typically by ¼. No adjustments are needed when using yeast. However, if you’re using eggs/yolks in e.g., tiramisu, beat the hell out of those eggs, you want gas, I mean air in your eggs.

General rule for "Mountain Cooking" - high altitude:
1. reduce baking powder by ¼ tsp
2. reduce sugar for each cup by 1-3 tbsp
3. increase liquid for each cup by 3-4 tbsp

I have also discovered something even simpler, if you can afford it, get a convection oven. The constant circulation of the heat seems to stabilize the pressure a bit. When using a convection oven, I do not alter the recipe.


Tuesday, July 14, 2020

French FLOUR


With the new world we live in, I can no longer review restaurants in Paris. So rather than being idle, I've decided to share my cooking experiences with my readers so when visitors come, or even residents, they will better understand how to translate their cooking with french ingredients.

As with most of us baking has become a hobby. But I had a lot of mishaps, since baking is not my forté. From these mishaps I learned a lot so I thought I'd share them with you.


Since I no longer go out to eat, I thought I’d share with you my cooking findings of experiments that I’ve done while in lock-down.

Although I don't bake bread as much as I used to, because the kilos we're gaining are going straight to our hips, I still bake a small boule for Just Jack maybe once a week.

During my self-imposed quarantine, which I'm still on (I go out maybe once a week), I took the time to learn as much as I could about the different flours in Europe and how they work, with a concentration on French flours.

  • The bran – Found on the outer part of the wheat berry
  • rich in fiber and minerals
  • This is the part that give most flavor to sourdough
  • The endosperm – The inner most part of the wheat berry
  • rich in starch, and made up mostly of carbohydrates and proteins
  • This is the part that is important for gluten development in bread
  • The germ – A small part of the wheat berry
  • rich in vitamins and healthy fats

Very simply put, French flours are graded by how much mineral is left in. The lower the number like T45, the less mineral, whereas the higher number, as in T110 the higher the mineral content. But that doesn’t necessarily correspond to protein amount, which I’ll get into later.

I believe American flours are easier to understand, we don’t have as many different flours at the supermarket shelves as we do here in France.

Here's some basic tips I’ve learned along the way.

1. The one factor that I discovered is that the absorbance of water-to-flour is so different than in US flours. Oftentimes, the flours in France absorb more water quicker and faster, so you actually need less water. I can only advise you to use your memory and remember what your dough felt like when you made the same bread in US. So I recommend you use your hands to “feel the dough." I found going with 65% hydration works well with weak flours (below 10% protein), whereas higher hydration for 11% protein flour (78-80%). But, be forewarned, you will very rarely find anything over 12% protein levels in France.

2. There is no “All-purpose flour” per se, nor “bread flour” as in US; they're usually labeled by types of flour, strength, or mineral content. I have friends that mix equal parts T45 with T55 to make an American version of “all purpose flour."  There is flour called “tout usage” which does mean "all-purpose" but it’s much weaker than the American version, it’s basically a type T45 with a tad more strength, and only a few brands carry them (Carrefour). It’s my go to for desserts.  Hence, when making bread, especially sourdough artisan bread, it's important if you're looking for a "strong white flour" then read the protein level. You could get a T55 which says it's good for bread but the protein level is only at 10% (weak).

3. You’ll see a lot of 00 for pizza dough. And, that’s exactly what it’s used for, pizza. I have used it in place of bread, but it’s not as strong for use with 100% “levain” but works well with commercial yeast, from my experience

4. For grains such as rye, spelt, kasha, teft, bulgar wheat etc., you will not find them at your grocery store. You need to go to the Health-food stores such as Natural.

5. Of course, you can go to the many markets and get flour milled by a farmer. They’re usually sold in bulk, so you’ll need to ask them what the flour is good for.

Well this is about as much as I’ve learned.

Happy Cooking.

Here my favorite sour dough bread recipe to use in France, that I adapted from the “Regular Chef”.  I created a checklist for your convenience

100 grams levain freshly fed and risen (your own favorite sourdough starter)
325 (for 65% hydration) grams water, tepid (75°F)
400 grams T65 (make sure the protein percentage is at minimum 11%)
100 grams Spelt (épeautre en français)
10 grams fine sea salt


- [ ] Fill a large bowl with 300g of water at about 85°F (~30°C)
- [ ] Add the entire levain (about 100g) to the bowl and stir to disperse it throughout the liquid.
- [ ] Add 400 g of flour, along with 50g of whole wheat flour (mixture), and stir with a dough whisk or by hand, until all flour is completely saturated.
- [ ] Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap, and allow it to rest in a warm environment (about 85°F or 29°C) for 20-40 minutes.
- [ ] While the dough is resting, mix together 25g of water and 10g of salt in a separate bowl or measuring cup.
- [ ] After 20-40 minutes, add the 25g of water and 10g of salt, and incorporate it into the dough by dimpling and folding it in.


* Transfer the dough to a clear rectangular container, cover, and return it to your warm environment for 25 minutes.
* During the bulk rise phase, we will perform 5 sets of folds, spaced out at 25 minute intervals.
* After the first 25 minutes, take your dough and perform a set of stretch and folds.
- [ ] One S/F 25 minutes
- [ ] Two S/F 25 minutes
- [ ] Third S/F 25 minutes
- [ ] 4th Coil 25 minutes
- [ ] 5th Coil 25 minutes
- [ ] Cover the container, and return it to your warm environment.
- [ ] If you see any large bubbles on the surface of the dough, pop them so they don’t end up in the final bread.
- [ ] The dough should be soft and airy by now, and it should have grown in size by about 20-30% since the beginning of the bulk rise phase.
- [ ] If it doesn’t seem ready yet, you can return the dough to your warm environment for another 25 minutes and perform another set of coil folds, then proceed from there.
- [ ] After the last set of folds, set the dough aside for about 10 minutes to let it relax.

SHAPE Remove your dough onto a lightly floured work surface, with the top of the dough facing down.

You now have one “floured” side of the dough, and one “unfloured” side.
Lightly flour your hands and bench scraper to prevent the dough from sticking.
Make sure your surface doesn’t have too much excess flour on it, then place down one of your dough pieces with the unfloured side facing down.
Use your bench scraper to form the loaf into a taught ball by scooping it from the side as you rotate it a quarter turn, then scrape it back toward yourself.
Repeat that process a few more times until you feel some tension develop on the outer surface and the dough and it maintains its round shape.  Be careful not to over-shape, which can cause the surface to tear.

Again, pop any large bubbles that form on the surface of the dough.

Dust the tops of the loaves with flour, then cover them with a floured kitchen towel and let them rest for about 20-30 minutes

They should flatten, but only slightly if you’ve developed some good tension during the initial shaping.  If they spread out too thin, you can give them another round of shaping, as we just did, to develop some more tension.

Then, let them rest for another 20-30 minutes.



Sunday, November 3, 2019

Happy Fall and Winter

We have decided to stay in Palm Springs for the winter. I want to wish everyone well. And, as General MacArthur once said, "I shall Return".  Safe Holidays to all.