Blood Orange Martini

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I was in Trader Joe’s today and scored 2 bags of blood oranges for only $2.49 each!

In the past finding this unusual orange meant driving the distance to a specialty food store and paying what seemed like a king’s ransom for the honor.  You can understand my excitement about this deal at Traders.

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All I could think about was crafting my all-time favorite cocktail, Blood Orange Martinis this weekend!!

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The bright maroon colored flesh seems like a freak of nature.  The rich and vibrant hue makes me want to break into a happy dance.

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Generally we think about darker colored foods having greater nutritive value but the truth is there is not much difference between a navel orange and a blood orange.

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The flavor is a different story. Blood oranges are less acid than their counterparts and have a distinct smell and taste of red berries. This explains why the seasonal fruit is so special and perfection in my cocktail.

I hope you will grab a few bags of blood oranges, squeeze that precious juice and shake a few cocktail along with me.  We can toast each other!

à votre santé!

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blood orange martini

 Blood Orange Martini

1 part orange vodka

1 part blood orange soda

2 parts blood orange juice

½ part triple sec

Zest of ½ orange

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain before serving in a glass with a sugar rim.

 

 

Herbs and Spice and Everything Nice

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A post on gardening is perfect for Mother’s Day week.  My Mom is a gardening expert. In fact, I have said many times, her garden should grace the covers of magazines like Southern Living or Better Homes and Gardens.

She truly lives for the blooms and she is my gardening muse. I look to her for inspiration and guidance before I plant anything new on our property and she never steers me wrong.

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Growing my own herbs brings me so much joy and satisfaction, I am sure I get this trait from my mother.  There is simply nothing that can compare to that fresh herbaceous flavor and color brought to dishes like the sweet and savory Herbed Chevre and Honey Panini, an all-time favorite recipe, shared below.

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Creating an herb garden for seasoning your dishes can be as simple as choosing 3-4 varieties for a pot to rest on your kitchen ledge.  If you would like to craft an herb garden with me, YOU CAN!  Join me for my upcoming class, Lunch and Learn HERBS where we will prepare dishes jam packed with fresh from the garden flavor before crafting a charming herb gardens to take home and enjoy.

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Let me show you how I get that fresh herb flavor in all my dishes.

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When we moved into this home, ten years ago, there was a small patch of earth on a retaining wall that got full sun and a bonus, it was right outside the kitchen door. It’s the perfect local to grow a few herbs.

Each year I remove 3-4 more of the huge shrubs that used to fill this bed entirely and I expand my kitchen garden, planting more and more food to enjoy at our table and in my cooking classes.

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To get started on your own kitchen garden…

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add good stuff to build the soil like compost and peat moss and till the soil well.  Be sure to remove any roots and stones.

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Next, add a good amount of Calloways flower bed mix before planting herbs and vegetables.

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Be sure to water everything in well.  Keep the water coming so herbs and vegetables can grow to their peak. Look at these peppers!  Only 1 month in the ground and there is already fruit to harvest!Herbs4

 Don’t you just love these little flat stones painted as garden markers, they add a bit of charm to my garden!

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One last thing!  I am so proud of my bay tree!  It has been working so hard to hang on for the last year and look at it grow now! YAY!

Wishing you all a wonderful Mother’s Day!

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Herbed Chevre and Honey Panini

8 slices good quality white or country bread

6 ounces fresh chevre

1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley

1 tablespoon fresh chopped chives

1 teaspoon dried basil

½ teaspoon dried dill

¼ teaspoon dried thyme

Zest from 1 large lemon

1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

½ cup creamed honey

Pinch lavender (optional)

1 teaspoon butter

In a medium bowl mix goat cheese with all herbs and lemon zest, let mixture rest 1 hour to overnight to allow flavors to meld.  Add lavender to honey and mix well.  Heat grill pan over medium heat.  Swab pan with a small amount of butter.  Grill bread on one side until golden brown.  Swab pan with remaining butter and turn bread to other side.  Coat half of the bread with the chevre mixture, next a pinch of gruyere cheese followed by a generous amount of honey. Top with second piece of bread to create sandwiches.  Use a press or heavy skillet to press sandwiches into Panini.  Serve warm.

 

The French Tart(e)

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The first French tart can be traced back to medieval times.  In the 1500’s tarts were enriched crusts generally stuffed with meat fillings and  were seen as haute cuisine for nobility. The tart naturally evolved to include sweet, fruit and custard fillings as well.

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A tart can also be called a pie, like our all-American apple pie but a tart never has a top crust.

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You may also be wondering what the difference is between a tart and a quiche.  Quiche always has an egg base. The tart may or may not have eggs in the recipe and a quiche is always savory.

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The frugal side to my personality loves the tart.

As long as you have a sheet of puff or pie pastry in the freezer, you can have a gorgeous dinner in minutes with leftovers (I like to call them planned overs) from the week.  Start with one serving of protein like a chicken breast or 4 ounce of salmon or ham; add whatever vegetable you have on hand.  Add all the ingredients along with 6-8 eggs and a sprinkle of cheese to the pastry, throw it in the oven and dinner is done!

Whether the tart is sweet, savory, loaded with fruit or eggs, I am in!

If you want to learn to make French tarts from scratch, join me for my upcoming French Pastries Workshop. We will sip wine while we prepare 3 types of tarts along with Crab Gourges, the adorable Saint Eve from Bayeux France and so much more. Details on registration below!

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One of my favorite things to do while in France is to press my nose against the glass of the fine patisseries, gazing upon the beauty and artistry of each morsel. Look at these mushroom hand pies!

  I am in Paris right now with my A Taste of Paris 2018 group; follow along on our culinary journey on Instagram @atasteofparis.

Are you ready to make a French adventure of your own?  Travel with me in 2019!  

signature3 no block less spaceClassic French Pastries Workshop- Friday, May 4th 11:00-2:30 Join me in my gourmet kitchen to prepare my favorite time honored French pastries.  I will share the skills I’ve learned in cooking schools attended all over France in this fascinating look at the French pastries.  We will talk about how gourmet Patisseries prepare their goods and ensure freshness at all times.  Our time together begins French sparkling wine and delicate Crab Gourges, oh my! For our lunch we will prepare 2 savory sensations Goat Cheese and Ratatouille Tart and Salmon and Potato Quiche, both served with a Bistro Salad and French wine of course!  Next, we will head to the sweet stuff including Grand Mariner Soufflés that rise to amazing heights, served with an unbeatable White Chocolate Sauce.  We will feel like we are standing at the Maubert Marche in Paris where I first tasted the fabulous Apricot and Pistachio Tart, this treat will thrill you.  We will craft delectable and creamy Orange Crème Brulee.  Next a classic, Eclairs stuffed with Vanilla Pastry Cream and slathered with Chocolate Ganache.  And last but not least the precious Saint Eve from Bayeux, France will delight.  Guests will be provided a box to take their full sized portions of any goodies not consumed in class. Limited seats available! Class Fee $79.00

Register TODAY by email to lorie@atasteofparis.net OR click HERE to go to class registration page!

Most requested~Fontina Mac and Cheese

macncheese8.jpgDon’t you just love make the dishes that people ask for?  My homemade Fontina Mac and Cheese is one of those dishes.

Recently,  I had a long-time student share that my Fontina Mac and Cheese has become a holiday tradition in her home.  Her husband and daughter insist on it for all special meals.  I can’t tell you how much this story both humbles and brings me so much happiness all at the same time.macncheese6.jpg

Such simple ingredients really do make magic when they are combined!macncheese2.jpgJust mix milk products with half of the cheese.macncheese3Sprinkle the rest on top and bake.

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The person in my life that requests this dish is my son, Brandon.  He is a second year college student that has left our nest empty.  It fills me with joy to prepare this dish for him.  My heart swells as I pick up the special ingredients, grate the cheese and slide this glorious dish in to be baked.  But mostly because she says something funny like “oh mamma it’s goooood” when he sees it coming out of the oven! And it is!

I hope you will love this dish as much as we do

XOXO

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Fontina Mac and Cheese 

1 pound cavatappi pasta

1 ½ cups heavy cream

3 cups whole milk

1 tablespoons flour

2 cups grated Fontina cheese

1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

¾ cup grated parmesan cheese

2 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

¾ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Butter a 9×13 glass baking dish.  Cook pasta in salted water to just al dente.  Whisk seasoning and flour into cream and milk.  Add half of the cheese to the milk mixture.  Place cooked pasta into the prepared baking dish and pour milk mixture over pasta, stir to combine well.  Sprinkle top of dish with remaining cheese.  Bake 25 minutes, if top is getting too brown tent lightly with foil.  Allow dish to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

 

Let’s COOK Together!

I am very excited to be cooking at the Williams Sonoma at NorthPark mall in Dallas this Saturday, April, 7th from 11:00-3:00.  We are celebrating the launch of Giada De Laurentiis’s new book, Giada’s ItalyGiadas_Italy_Final-1503618517-625x790Giada’s Italy offers a fantastic assortment of flavor packed recipes and simply stunning photography. Photo with Giada 2 (2)I will be cooking several recipes from the book as William Sonoma prepares for her store visit the following day. I’ll be cooking live, offering yummy bites, and it is FREE!Lorie-grapefest-12.jpgI would LOVE to cook with you in May!

There are two opportunities both with delectable results. In my French Pastries Workshop, you will learn classic skills like sweet and savory tarts; how to make a soufflé rise to amazing heights and the precious Saint Eve from Bayeux, France.  Or join in the fun for French Macarons, where the best part is taking home the results!

I’ll be back from Paris just in time to teach with loads of new fun findings. Register now by email or call 214 551 9630Tomato basil tartlets

Classic French Pastries Workshop- Friday, May 4th 11:00-2:30 Join me in my gourmet kitchen to prepare my favorite time honored French pastries.  I will share the skills I’ve learned in cooking schools attended all over France in this fascinating look at the French pastries.  We will talk about how gourmet Patisseries prepare their goods and ensure freshness at all times.  Our time together begins French sparkling wine and delicate Crab Gourges, oh my! For our lunch we will prepare 2 savory sensations Goat Cheese and Ratatouille Tart and Salmon and Potato Quiche, both served with a Bistro Salad and French wine of course!  Next, we will head to the sweet stuff including Grand Mariner Soufflés that rise to amazing heights, served with an unbeatable White Chocolate Sauce.  We will feel like we are standing at the Maubert Marche in Paris where I first tasted the fabulous Apricot and Pistachio Tart, this treat will thrill you.  We will craft delectable and creamy Orange Crème Brulee.  Next a classic, Eclairs stuffed with Vanilla Pastry Cream and slathered with Chocolate Ganache.  And last but not least the precious Saint Eve from Bayeux, France will delight.  Guests will be provided a box to take their full sized portions of any goodies not consumed in class. Limited seats available! Class Fee $79.00Classic Macaroons-4.jpg

French Macarons Thursday, May 10th 6:30-9:00 This class will offer a true hands on cooking experience and the best part you take home the results!  Macarons, the quintessential French treat; light, delicate and irresistible! After studding macaron making in Paris, Lorie will lead a hands on class using tried and true Laduree method, but now with time saving shortcuts. We will first toast the macaron with a flute of bubbly before diving in to make this love at first bite treat.  Each step of the process will be clearly defined so students can replicate the process in their own kitchens with success!  We will prepare Salted Caramel, Raspberry Rose, and Mint Chocolate.  Recipes for additional macaron flavors will be shared. Class size is limited to 10, class fee class fee $62.50

See you soon!

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Pink Champagne

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Is there a more festive sound on earth than a champagne cork popping?

This is my last PINK post for March.  I have been posting all month celebrating women and a special event I am hosting in Paris next year.

A Taste of Paris Goes PINK

The response to my all-female culinary excursion, set for April of 2019 has been amazing, in fact there is only 1 room left for this adventure of a lifetime.  Don’t hesitate; click the link for more information and to register.

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Can you hear the sound of my own bottle of pink bubble popping right now?

I particularly love pink varieties; they tend to be a bit yeastier, with a velvety round finish, than their golden, fruit forward counterparts.

I rarely meet a bottle of pink bubbles that I don’t like but I wanted to share a few of my favorites with you and could not do so without relieving my recent trip to the champagne region with my September 2017 group.

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Here we are in Reims at our first stop, Taittinger. The Taittinger brut rosé, is vigorous and refreshing and you cannot beat this amazing vibrant shade of pink!

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We also visited Billecart-Salmon while in the champagne region.

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This is such an elegant brand and the brut rosé is lovely.

French champagne is expensive.  Visiting the region and many winemakers over the years, definitely gives me an appreciation of  the science and precision that goes into each precious bottle, which of course explains the high price tag.

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 If you don’t want to spend $50.00 or more for one bottle, there are lots of varieties can give you the same effervescence, lovely pink color and no sticker shock!

Le Grand Courtage is one of those brands; it is a product of France and is quite affordable.

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I tend to like sparkling wines that come from the Loire Valley like Deligeroy Cremant de Loire for around $15.00!

When shopping for an affordable bottle of bubbles check the label to see if it is made in France and in the traditional method and you can bet you will not be disappointed!

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You can’t do a post on Champagne without mentioning the world renowned Veuve Clicquot.  Veuve pronounced like LOVE with a ‘V”.  Can you tell I am having the time of my life?

I sincerely hope you are in celebration mode at your house and if you want to purchase a set of champagne flutes check out a few of my favorites below!

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Lenox Champagne Flutes

Villeroy Boch Champagne Flutes

LSA Champagne Flutes

 

Strawberry Cupcakes Make Sweet Memories

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I love fresh strawberries.  The natural growing season is April to June; pretty short, although with modern growing practices, we can enjoy good berries practically year round.  At the first hint of spring, I am ready for that burst of unmistakable flavor that brings me so much joy.

ATOP has launched A Taste of Paris Goes PINK, turning the site PINK for the month of March in celebration of our all-female culinary trip to Paris in April 2019.

My Strawberry Cupcakes are delightfully pink and simple to make.

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Most of you know I am a recent empty nester.

Thinking back on my fondest memories of school days with my kids under foot, cupcakes come to mind.  I remember the children running in the door, their shrieks of joy and those tiny faces filled with excitement because I had baked something yummy. These memories are priceless and a reminder that the most precious things in life, are often the simplest.

I know we live in a busy world and sometimes struggle to keep up.   My suggestion to stop and bake cupcakes is not meant to make you feel guilty but to give you permission to prioritize your day for the sweet faces than mean the most to you.

You will find my no-fail Strawberry Cupcake recipe below; it yields a beautiful batch in the prettiest shade of PINK.  The recipe starts with a boxed mix and calls for frozen berries making it easy to whip up, start to finish in less than 1 hour. I have also added a couple of my favorite time saving kitchen baking utensils.

A scoop for dishing batter, mess free, and…

OXO Cookie Scoop

… one batch cupcake pans that allow you to maneuver and clean up only one pan instead of two. There are two sizes, 24 count for standard cupcakes and 48 count for mini cupcakes.

Wilton 24 Count Pan
Wilton 48 Count Pan

Time goes so fast and in the blink of an eye everything changes.  If you don’t have an hour; order cookies online or swing by your local bakery.  Put the treats on a pretty plate and you will get the same results, a shriek of joy as your loved ones come through the door.

I don’t know about you but I live for those moments!

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Strawberry Cupcake

 

Batter

1 white cake mix

1 cup frozen strawberries thawed

1/3 cup oil

4 egg whites
½ cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all ingredients in a bowl with an electric mixer.  Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour batter into 24 cupcake tins lined with paper wrappers and bake for 19-23 minutes. Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting with strawberry buttercream frosting.

Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

1½ sticks butter, at room temperature

6 cups of powdered sugar

1 cup frozen strawberries thawed

1-6 tablespoons cream

In a medium bowl, mix butter and fruit with an electric mixer until combined.  Add sugar slowly whipping to incorporate.  If frosting gets to stiff, add cream a little at a time until desired consistency is achieved.  Continue to beat frosting for a few minutes to make it fluffy.

 

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Want to win this set of PINK kitchen utensils?  Send me email addresses for friends that might enjoy my blog, cooking classes or a culinary trip to France!  Each email address is an entry for your friend and for YOU! Winner will be announced on March 31!

Enjoy!

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Pink Grapefruit Martini

It’s Friday!

And I’m keeping the pink theme going through the end of March to celebrate the launch of A Taste of Paris Goes PINK, an all-female culinary trip to Paris in April 2019. Grab your daughter, mother, and friends to join me for this boutique culinary excursion of a lifetime. Seats are going FAST!

Since it’s the weekend, how about an aperitif, as the French would say!

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Sometimes after a long week, I just need to chill with a cocktail and some girlfriends.

My no -fuss Grapefruit Martini – a juicy balance of sweet and tart – is the ideal cocktail to serve friends or just bring the week to a close.

It’s not too sweet so if one drink won’t flip your mood, no worries, you can have a few.

You know they say, we taste with our eyes first, and this pretty pink martini would look fetching served in Luigi Bormioli retro chic glasses.

Are you planning a party for lots of BFF’s? The more the merrier, I always say!

Be sure you are stocked up on wine charms to help everyone keep their drinks straight. Below are a few of my on-trend favs. The jeweled bees by Joanna Buchanan have been buzzing around in my head since I first laid eyes on them.  I am not sure how long I can resist temptation!

Tassel Wine Charms 

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Fred Wine Lines

Wine Charms March 9

Bug Wine Charms

Bug Wine Charms March 9
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Grapefruit Martini

2 parts grapefruit vodka

2 parts Ruby Red Grapefruit juice

½ part triple sec

Grapefruit twist for garnish

Shake all ingredients with ice and serve in a chilled glass with a grapefruit twist.

 

As always; drink responsibly and do not drive!

Enjoy and

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A Taste of Paris Goes PINK!

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Registration for ATOP Travel is now OPEN. In April 2019, I am hosting a very special event: A Taste of Paris Goes PINK. This all-female trip is jam-packed with amazing offerings.

What a perfect time to travel with your mother, daughter, sister, or best friends, and ME to The City of Light. You will be treated like royalty at the Ecole Ritz Escoffier, the most luxurious address in the city of Paris. You will enjoy a custom-crafted class on classic French desserts at the famed Lenôtre. You will venture into a 400-year-old cave for a cheese and wine pairing class, igniting your palate and your spirit. You will also be treated to a Champagne tasting event like no other, complete with Champagne Sabering!

To celebrate this extraordinary one-time offer, my website will go PINK for the entire month of March!

Get ready for PINK- fun, food, and fashion just in time for spring.

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Just a few of the precious ladies that have joined me for ATOP trips!

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Chocolate Lava Cake for your Valentine!

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Chocolate Lava Cake is the PERFECT Valentine dessert.  Nothing melts the heart quite like the molten center of a rich chocolate cake! And a bonus, this recipe is simple to make, no mixer required. Just stir up the easy batter and fill your ramekins. Remember to chill the prepared cakes before baking as an insurance policy for those luscious liquid centers!

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Chocolate Lava Cake

1½ sticks butter

1 cup dark chocolate chips

1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed

6 eggs

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour

Butter 6 (6 ounce) ramekins well and dust with flour.  Melt chocolate and butter in the microwave in 30 second intervals stirring in between each heating and let cool.  In a bowl combine flour and sugar.  Add eggs to the chocolate mixture one at a time and incorporate well before adding flour and sugar.  Mix to combine.  Using a kitchen scoop, spoon batter into prepared dishes and place the dishes into the refrigerator to rest 1-2 hours or for up to 3 days.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Let rest 3 minutes before inverting dish onto a plate, dust with powdered sugar if desired.

For fabulous recipes and a great time, join me for an upcoming cooking class, Click Here for a full schedule of events.

Enjoy!

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