Puerto Rican Chicken Stew or Pollo en Fricase

This is island comfort food.  Served with red beans and rice, Sweet sliced avocado and juicy rounds of tomato, this stew will feed crowds and satisfy all.  Pollo en fricase was served to my older sister and me at least once a week during summers spent in Puerto Rico.  We couldn’t get enough of it.  Having a mother who didn’t know how to cook and didn’t care to learn pretty much guaranteed bland at best, off-putting and unpalatable at worst, dinners at home in Fort Lauderdale.  For Cynthia and me, Puerto Rico was a richness of flavors, a panoply of scents rolling out of the kitchen of our grandparents’ home, heady and overwhelming in their mystery and perfume.  All sorts of rules were broken.  As little girls we were served strong Puerto Rican coffee with steamed milk sweetened with all the sugar a child could want every morning with breakfast.  I knew of no child in Fort Lauderdale given coffee with breakfast.  In Puerto Rico it was unheard of to have a sandwich for lunch, something almost expected at home.  Our midday meal was invariably the largest meal of the day with dinner being a much smaller serving of what had been prepared for lunch or we could choose to have soda crackers with butter and Quick, chocolate milk.  Chocolate milk for dinner?  Another rule broken.  At our home in Fort Lauderdale chocolate milk was not allowed…ever.  It was understood between my parents and Cynthia and me that our summer indulgences were allowed unrestricted.  We weren’t aware at the time but it turns out whatever happened in Puerto Rico stayed in Puerto Rico.  Buen provecho!

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This stew could be served alone it is that hearty.  With the addition of potatoes and/or pumpkin it is a complete meal.  Both white meat and dark meat work well in this dish, however, if white meat is used make certain the stew never heats up to more than a simmer.  A healthy, boiling pot will guarantee dry, tough meat.  I take the skin off of all the pieces of chicken because the skin becomes incredibly unappealing after having been simmered in the sauce.   I usually prepare boneless chicken as it can be difficult to maneuver around a slippery bone with a fork and knife.  The cup of sofrito called for in the recipe is necessary for a spectacular result so make sure you don’t leave it out.  It can be bought in the international section of your grocery store but better would be home-made.  That recipe can be found at http://wp.me/s264J2-sofrito and is easy as can be.  If your family isn’t wild about olives they may be left out.  I try to find green olives with the pits still in as I think they add more flavor to the recipe.  Please don’t feel you have to use your best bottle of wine, either.  Jimmy went out and $7.00 on a bottle of Pinot Grigio, it was perfect and didn’t break the bank.

 

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Puerto Rican Chicken Stew or Pollo en Fricase

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken (breasts and/or thighs) cut into serving size pieces
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons adobo seasoning or the seasoning blend of your choice.  Adobo is an all-purpose blend of salt, garlic powder, oregano, black pepper and turmeric.
  • 3 tablespoons achiote oil  (optional) This may also be found at the grocery store on the international aisle or on the blog at http://wp.me/p264J2-EB.
  • 1 cup of sofrito
  • 2 1/2 cups of onion, chopped
  • 2 large cubanelle peppers, cleaned of seeds and inner white ribbing, chopped
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, washed, dried and leaves chopped
  • 1 head garlic, minced
  • 1 heaping tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 standard 750-ml bottle inexpensive Pinot Grigio or dry white wine
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4″ rounds
  • 2 pounds calabasa or butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 3/4 cup small green olives
  • 1/3 cup capers, rinsed and drained
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a large bowl combine the chicken, lime juice and adobo and mix well making certain all surfaces of the meat have been competely coated.  Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to marinate for an hour if you have the time.  An afternoon or overnight is ideal for the best flavor.
  2. In your largest saucepan heat the achiote oil over medium, add the chicken with the surface that would have had skin facing down, and brown for 5-6 minutes.
  3. Add the sofrito, onion, cubanelle pepper, garlic, oregano and cilantro and cook until softened stirring all the while.
  4. Raise the heat to medium high and pour into the pot the bottle of wine.  Continue to stir and scrape the cooked bits from the pan as the wine evaporates, 4-5 minutes.
  5. Add the carrots, pumpkin, if using potatoes add them now, tomato sauce, olives and capers.  Stir well to combine all the flavors.
  6. Taste for any needed salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
  7. As soon as the stew begins to boil, cover and drop the heat to simmer.  Cook for 1-1 1/2 hours or until chicken is tender to the fork.
  8. Serve hot.

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Caribbean Chicken or Pollo en Fricassee

yield: serves 6 with rice

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A Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookie

My father is 94 years old.  He lives at home, in the house I grew up in.  He takes no medications.  None.  His preventive regimen consists of vitamins, little or no red meat and more green, leafy vegetables than one can imagine.  And it’s all organic.  His Achilles heel is his sweet tooth.  He has commanded no more cakes or pies to be baked for him.  He has no self-discipline.  These cookies are different.  Not too sweet and pretty clean.  I believe he’ll embrace and enjoy the fruits of this recipe.  I’m almost certain I’ve developed a wheat allergy so I’ve been trying to figure out how to have the occasional treat without sneezing and coughing.  I’m done with red, watery, old-lady eyes and a constant, bothersome post nasal drip.

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I fashioned these based on my breakfast cookie.  That said, these cookies rock.  Made with dark chocolate, they satisfy  sweet cravings at first bite.  Even Daddy loved them.  I replaced conventional white, bleached, wheat flour with almond and coconut flours.  In lieu of white sugar, (so bad for you!), I used coconut sugar.  The result is a thick, chewy, healthful cookie studded with gorgeous, dark chocolate chips all gooey and soft.  I don’t bake them often, they may contain good fats but they’re still fats, however, these make a wonderful occasional indulgence.  And my family loves them.  Hope ya’ll do, too!

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A Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookie

  • Servings: 25 cookies
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, I use dairy-free “Enjoy Life” brand available at grocery and health food stores
  • sea salt to taste
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350° and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside.
  2. In a medium size bowl add coconut flour, coconut sugar, almond flour and baking soda.  Mix well so all ingredients are thoroughly combined and set bowl aside.
  3. In a large bowl combine eggs, coconut oil and vanilla and mix well.
  4. To the egg mixture add the flour mixture and the chocolate chips.  Mix well until all the chips are evenly distributed.
  5. Use a melon ball scooper to measure out 25 equal portions of dough.  My scooper is 1 1/2″ in diameter and holds 5 teaspoons.  I pack each scoop firmly.
  6. Place each ball of dough on the parchment paper lined baking sheet and gently flatten the top of each cookie with your hand.
  7. Bake for 17-20 minutes or until bottoms are golden in color.
  8. Remove from oven onto a cooling rack and immediately sprinkle with sea salt.
  9. Allow to cool completely before storing.

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Sofrito

The base of all the best Puerto Rican dishes is sofrito, a brilliant blend of onion, pepper, garlic, cilantro and culantro.  I can’t believe in the five years I’ve been writing this blog I haven’t posted it yet.  I’ve searched high and low for the post but it ain’t there so here goes.  Sofrito is what makes Puerto Rican food dance in your mouth.  Simple and inexpensive to make, this is a Hispanic kitchen staple and should always be  in your kitchen as well.  Typically it’s prepared in large amounts then frozen in individual portions to be taken out of the freezer and used as needed.  You will taste sofrito in almost all of our chicken, bean and rice dishes.  Oh, and in soups and stews.  It is loved and used in Latin American, Spanish, Italian and Portugese cooking.  Every country, every town and every household has its own recipe.  Some use tomatoes, some don’t.  Some use bell peppers and cubanelles in addition to local sweet peppers.  In Puerto Rico a small sweet pepper called “aji dulce” is always used but as I’m unable to find them here in Fort Lauderdale I just stick with the cubanelles.

At the farmer's market in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. Here you can find everything from fresh beef and goat from the mountains to fresh tamarind, mavi bark and all the island herbs a girl could want!
At the farmer’s market in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. Here you can find everything from fresh beef and goat from the mountains to fresh tamarind, mavi bark and all the island herbs a girl could want!

Sofrito to Puerto Ricans is like oxygen to human beings.  The minute it hits the hot oil the onions, garlic and herbs open up.  There is always a head jerk reaction when a Hispanic smells this blend cooking!  It will perfume your home like nothing else.  As with most recipes this fragrant condiment is best homemade although it can be found jarred in most grocery stores in the international section.  If you try this recipe I’m pretty sure you’ll be adding it to many of your dishes.  Enjoy!

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Sofrito

  • Servings: 3-4 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 very large onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 heads of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cubanelle peppers, seeded and white inner ribs trimmed off, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro, tough stems cut off, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch culantro, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh oregano leaves, (optional)
  1. Add the onion to a food processor or blender and process until it becomes a thick, smooth paste.
  2. Add the garlic cloves and pulse until almost smooth.
  3. Add all the remaining ingredients and process until smooth and the cilantro and culantro are lovely green specks.
  4. Store in individual portions in the freezer.  I portion the sofrito and store it in air tight baggies but ice-cube trays also work well after transferring the frozen cubes to an air tight freezer bag.

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Bacon Jam with Spiced Rum

Lately I’ve been leaning towards simple but satisfying weekend dinners.  I find Saturdays can be exhausting, whether one is grocery shopping, making Home Depot and dry cleaning runs or staying home to spend the day doing yard work.  I always seem to bite off more than I can chew  and pay dearly for it hours later with sore muscles or Sunday morning when the alarm goes off at 6:15 to get ready for 7:30 mass.  No, weekends aren’t always the restful breaks we want them to be.  In order to make life easier and keep my family happy, I often prepare some sort of grilled sandwich or panino, served with a salad and some fruit, for dinner at the end of the week.  This stuff makes a sandwich absolutely sing.  The jam may be cooked in a crock pot or stove top.  I feel the crock pot just makes the entire process foolproof plus one doesn’t need to check on it every half hour to make certain it’s not too dry or, worse yet, burning.  But it’s up to you as either way yields a gorgeous product.   On Thursday I prepared this bacon jam and we enjoyed it over the weekend.  Saturday night I roasted brussel sprouts  and tossed them mid-roast with a few spoonfuls of the jam.  I’m sorry to say they were so good they were eaten before I could snap a photo.  You’ll just have to take my word they were fantastic!  I made grilled cheese sandwiches with Monterey jack cheese on a rich, dark whole-grain bread and spread both slices of bread liberally with a swath of bacon jam.  They were delicious served with the brussel sprouts and cold apple slices.

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For the Super Bowl game I kept my people entertained by giving them bacon jam palmiers made from store-bought puff pastry.  They were gone before you could say, “lickety-split”.  I spread the jam evenly over each sheet of puff pastry, rolled up the sides, sliced them with dental floss and baked them off.  What a luxury!  Even easier is to only roll one side and you’ll have pinwheels instead of palmiers.

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Monday morning as my son headed off to work I surprised him with the same grain bread toasted, bacon jam on both pieces of bread and a fried, organic egg nestled in the middle.  That’s some kind of treat, huh?  I hope you try this recipe.  I’m pretty sure you’ll find plenty of ways to enjoy it…including directly off the spoon!

Bacon Jam with Spiced Rum

  • Servings: 2 1/2 to 3 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 1/2 pounds thick sliced bacon, if the package is a few ounces less that’s fine
  • 2 cups yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/3 cup spiced rum, I use Captain Morgan
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup, I use dark amber
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 packed cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1/8 teaspoon or 1 large pinch of red pepper flakes
  1. In a large skillet cook bacon over medium high heat until the bacon is crisp but not burned.  Transfer the bacon to drain on paper towels and drain the pan of all but 3-4 tablespoons of bacon grease.
  2. Lower the heat to medium and return the pan to the heat.  Add the onion and garlic to the skillet and cook until the onion begins to soften and turn clear.
  3. To the pan add all of the remaining ingredients except the red pepper flakes and stir until all the ingredients are well mixed and any browned bits of bacon are loosened and combined.
  4. Crumble the bacon by hand directly into the onion mixture and stir well.
  5. If cooking in a crock pot, transfer the mixture to your slow cooker.  Set the temperature to high and allow to simmer uncovered for 3 1/2-4 hours.  The liquid should be somewhat syrupy.
  6. If cooking stove-top drop the heat to low and allow to simmer for 2 hours uncovered.  Check the pan every 30 minutes and stir.  If the mixture is sticking to the bottom of the pan lower the heat a bit and add 1-2 tablespoons of water.
  7. From the crock pot or the pan transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender or use an immersion blender and pulse until the jam still has texture and a few small chunks.  Try not to over-blend.
  8. Allow to cool 30 minutes, add the red pepper flakes and stir well to combine.
  9. Spoon into clean jam jars and cool completely before storing in the refrigerator.
  10. The jam will keep 2-3 weeks stored in the refrigerator.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

100% Whole Wheat, Orange, Nut and Olive Oil Biscotti

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Winter in Florida means citrus…jacked up citrus.  It’s the season for heavy with juice, dimple skinned, brilliantly colored oranges, lemons, limes and kumquats all begging to be juiced, baked or eaten out of hand.  I had a hankering for a crunchy dunking cookie and this is the end result.  I debated whether to drizzle a little icing or dark chocolate over the tops, both go so well with orange, but I opted for neither and went for a more European, unadorned cookie.  And healthful.  No white flour allowed today.  In working with the recipe I used pecans in some batches and walnuts in others.  Both are excellent but only if toasted prior to baking otherwise the nuts are bland and lost in the biscotti.  It’s a simple recipe and easy.

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As I’ve written in other posts, I strongly, strongly suggest using parchment paper to line your baking sheet.   It can be found at the grocery store but the paper is in a roll like tin foil or wax paper which makes it tricky to work with.  The ends of the paper curl imitating the roll in the box.  Flat sheets are found in many food warehouses and are much, much cheaper.  Leave them to cool completely before storing them and the cookies will remain crisp.  Dunk in a cup of coffee, hot tea or a glass of milk for a satisfying treat.

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100% Whole Wheat, Orange, Nut and Olive Oil Biscotti

  • Servings: approximately 50 biscotti
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour + extra to shape the dough
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt, a pinch
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons grated orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons orange liqueur, optional
  • 2 teaspoons orange oil or extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped, toasted walnuts or pecans
  1. Pre-heat oven to 300°.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl mix flour, baking powder and salt until completely combined.  Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a standup mixer add the eggs and, with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs until broken up.
  4. To the eggs add the sugar and olive oil and mix until well combined.
  5. Add to the egg mixture the orange zest, liqueur if using, orange oil or extract, vanilla and mix until completely combined and the orange zest is evenly mixed through and not in clumps.
  6. Add the flour mixture and nuts to the egg mixture and slowly beat until all ingredients are well mixed and there are no wet spots on the bottom of the bowl.  The dough will be heavy and sticky.
  7. Sprinkle flour on the counter and on your hands, divide the dough in half and roll each half into logs measuring about 14″X3″X1″.
  8. Transfer to baking sheet lined with parchment paper leaving 2 inches between the logs.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes then remove from oven and let cool 10-15 minutes.
  10. Move one log to a cutting board and, using a serrated knife, cut each log diagonally into 1/4 inch cookies.  Place cut cookies back on baking sheet cut side up.  Slice the second log in the same manner.
  11. Return baking sheet to the oven and bake 30 minutes, turning over cookies after 15 minutes of baking.
  12. Allow cookies to cool completely before storing.

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Blue Ribbon Broccoli Salad

I have always hated broccoli.  The smell of it cooking made me gag.  My older sister, Cynthia, felt exactly the same and to this day we both run at the mere sight of broccoli on the stove.  As little girls we sometimes fought like cats and dogs but, regarding broccoli, we were always in agreement.  It did not go unnoticed by the two of us that Puerto Ricans didn’t embrace vegetables; red beans and rice, sliced tomatoes and avocados were the only vegetables to grace our grandparents’ dining room table.  Our summers on the island were stress free and complete indulgence.  It was during one of our summer sojourns our neighbors, Don Juan and Dona Angelita Orta, issued an invitation to dine with them that evening.  It was understood the summons was for Cynthia; I was not included.  I believe we were around the ages of eight and six and, regrettably, I was sassy, impulsive, unconcerned with hygiene and may have had a slight tendency to lie.  It goes without saying, Cynthia was the golden grandchild and I was the disgraced, six year old ne’er-do-well.  And Cynthia took full advantage.  She made certain I overheard her discussing which of our matching dresses she should wear.  Seething with impotent anger and pea green with jealousy I retreated to our bedroom.  I’d rather loll on my bed, stare at the ceiling and let the mosquitos bite me than endure her smug and simpering side eyes.  Late in the afternoon she was bathed, her hair brushed until it shone like mahogany and she  was dressed in one of her many party dresses.  I remained on my bed…most certainly smelling like a child who had spent the morning playing outside in the heat of the day and most definitely with the attitude of a defiant, petulant schoolgirl.  The time came for her to leave and while she ran a hairbrush one last time through her hair and told me goodbye, I replied with a hateful hiss, “I hope they serve you broccoli! Lots of it.”  She blanched at my comment knowing if they did, she would be obliged to eat it.  And eat it with a smile on her face.  Good manners are everything.  I didn’t look at her nor did I say goodbye as she left the house escorted by one of my aunts.  My nasty outburst had been heard by my family but seeing how dejected I looked and how low I felt, they said not a word and left me alone.  I stayed on that bed sulking, allowing the occasional mosquito to whine past my ear before finishing it off with a fast slap of my hand, for once not feeling satisfaction after the kill.  The phone rang in the other room and, after a moment or two, quick footsteps were heard.  “Alicia, levantate!” “Alicia, get up!” “The invitation was for both of you!”  My heart soared…then quickly filled with fear and apprehension.  “Titi, do you think they’ll serve us broccoli?”, I asked as I was hastily bathed.   I didn’t want to go next door where I knew, in my heart of hearts, we would be served a gleaming platter of emerald-green nasty.  Off I went dressed to match Cynthia, little white socks and Mary Janes on, not ready to face my comeuppance or eat humble pie in the shape of, gag me, the dreaded cruciferous known as broccoli.  The Orta’s housekeeper, Tata, whom I adored, answered the door.  I was welcomed with unconditional love from all.  And broccoli was not served.  I learned my lesson, though.  Hence forth I have tried to wish others well and, yes, over the years there have been many, many lapses in my thoughts and behavior but I will keep on trying!

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I only eat broccoli raw but I love it and this is one of my favorite ways to have it.  This salad is both sweet and savory; the carrots and dried cherries lend sweetness, the bacon and scallions are savory and while the toasted almonds provide a flavor link.  It needs no time to marinate, however, is equally delicious served the following day.  Cranberries may be substituted for the dried cherries although I feel the cherries bring much more flavor to the dish.  I cook my bacon in the oven.  The oven baked method is time-saving and clean up is a snap.  I rough chop almonds, cut about into thirds, then roast them in the oven.  I find I scorch too many nuts pan roasting them.    This salad may be served as a side dish or entrée but, regardless how it’s served, it will make a broccoli lover out of all!

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Blue Ribbon Broccoli Salad

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 cup mayonnaise, I use reduced fat
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 2 bunches of broccoli, there are typically 2-3 heads per bunch
  • 6 slices bacon
  • 5 scallions
  • 3 carrots
  • 3/4 cup whole almonds
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  1. In a small bowl combine mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, celery seed and salt and whisk until smooth.  Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in refrigerator to chill.
  2. Cut broccoli into bite size florets and put in a large bowl.
  3. Cook bacon, drain well and chop or crumble.  Add to broccoli.
  4. Finely slice the scallions using all of the white and pale green.  Discard any tough, dark green ends. Add the scallions to the broccoli bowl.
  5. Using the large holes of a grater, grate the carrots into the bowl of broccoli.
  6. Rough chop the almonds, toast them, either in the oven or stove top, and add to broccoli.
  7. Rough chop the cherries then add to broccoli.
  8. Drizzle the mayonnaise dressing over the salad and toss well to completely combine.  Make certain all ingredients are covered with dressing.
  9. Serve each plate with a fresh grind of black pepper.

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Double Strawberries and Cream Cheese in Puff Pastry

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When last Jim and I were in Paris we had the good fortune to meet several times with my extended family.  They entertained us as only Parisians can, in fine restaurants with lots of yummy champagne.  My cousins also rounded up the family who were in town for a Sunday afternoon reunion in the house of my father’s cousin, Marie Claire, where we spent the afternoon reminiscing  over days long past and laughing at our young foolishness, sipping champagne and nibbling on a gorgeous mirabelle plum tart made by my cousin Hubert’s wife, Anne.  Marie Claire’s apartment had been her sister, Francoise’, and that was where I began my first adventure in France oh, so many years ago.  Whenever I went to Paris I stayed with Francoise and having gone all over the city by foot I came to know her neighborhood of Neuilly-sur-Seine pretty well.  With Mama and without, I took the Metro to get around, and found the walk to the station and back to the apartment an absolute delight.  Magnificent  maple trees lined the streets leading to her house and, I have to tell you, I never felt prettier or happier than when I my feet hit those sidewalks.  I felt as though I was walking on air.  Francoise’ building was, and still is, magnificent.  The entrance hall was mahogany, the floor large black and white tiles whilst an antiquated brass elevator  waited at the right…or was it the on the left?  Regardless, it was there in all its creaky, rumbling glory.  However, if you chose not to wait, an exquisite caracol staircase was ready to take you to the second floor.  Although the elevator was majestic it was still a bit utilitarian so I always chose to take the staircase, resplendent with a dark ruby Persian runner held in place by old brass stair runners tacked into the well-worn mahogany steps,  stained obsidian and sunken in the middle by years of use.  And the apartment!  I remember some rooms being sea-green in color, enormous oils of our ancestors hung in heavy gold frames on most walls and the dining room and her generous bathroom completely beguiled me with its charming fireplace and mammoth, cast-iron claw-foot bathtub.  For me Francoise’ house was, and will always be, the height of luxury.  She introduced me to the French press for coffee, the beauty and pleasure of engraved calling cards, the importance of knowing how to read a map and the notion that a sterling porringer makes a fine ash tray.

Treasured bits from years past. Crazy about her calling card!
Treasured bits from years past. Crazy about her calling card!

Meals were small and only when necessary.  We were too busy to eat.  We left the flat early in the morning.   Most days Francoise went to her office where she wrote for various magazines while Mama and I were off to museums, shops and concerts, all possible by taking the Metro.  Towards the end of the day we met up for a glass of wine or champagne then back to the apartment to dress for dinner.  How I love that apartment and how special it was to be back in it with Hubert, Anne and their daughters and Grand-cousin, Marie Claire.  Still lovely and well-appointed with family pieces but now with bursts of life and color from the artwork of many grandchildren.  Merci encore, Marie Claire, pour un apres-midi splendide!

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This pastry is not only easy but dramatic in its presentation.  The puff pastry is store-bought and although it appears braided it is not.  Strips of dough are folded over and the end result is one good-looking dessert.  The dried and fresh berries compliment each other quite well, the dried berries mixed with cream cheese lend a creamy texture while the fresh give a juicy blast of flavor.

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Double Strawberry and Cream Cheese in Puff Pastry

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 12-14 fresh, ripe strawberries, sliced vertically 1/4″ in thickness
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, I like using vanilla sugar
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 1.2-ounce bag or 2 cups of freeze-dried strawberries, available at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s
  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 (that’s 1 sheet) of a 17.3 ounce box of puff pastry, thawed but kept in the refrigerator until needed
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400°.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper or tin foil.
  2. Toss the fresh strawberry slices with tablespoon of sugar and set aside to macerate.
  3. In a blender, mini-food processor or magic bullet process the freeze-dried strawberries until they are the texture of powder.
  4. In a small bowl mix the cream cheese until it becomes loose and easy to handle.
  5.  Add the strawberry powder and confectioners’ sugar to the cream cheese and stir until both are completely mixed together.
  6. Remove the sheet of puff pastry from the refrigerator and gently unfold on top of the baking sheet lined with parchment paper or tin foil.  Place the pastry so the fold marks run vertically.  The pastry will look like 3 equal rectangles attached together by the folds.
  7. Working as quickly as possible so the dough stays chilled, lightly roll out the dough so that it measures roughly 9 1/2″X 10 1/2″.
  8. Leaving the inside rectangle intact, make 1/2″ diagonal cuts into the two outside pastry rectangles.  Discard the 4 corners of the pastry.
  9. Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly down the center rectangle all the way to the cuts.  Mound the fresh berries on top of the cream cheese mixture evenly.
  10. Fold the top and bottom flap of dough over the berry filling.
  11. Fold the diagonal cuts over the berry mixture alternating left and right until the entire pastry is braided.  Tuck in any loose ends.
  12. Brush the pastry with the beaten egg.
  13. Bake pastry for 30-35 minutes or until golden.
  14. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

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Ain't nothing but a party!

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