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26 February, 2009

Foodie Friday: Croquembouches...or...French Wedding Cakes!

Foodie_Friday_Logo_2Welcome to the second fabulous Foodie Friday hosted by our gracious hostess with the mostest...Gollum at Designs by Gollum! After yesterday's post in which I mentioned croquembouches, I realized that many Americans are not familiar with what they are. So tonight, I want to tell you a little bit about them!

The croquembouche, which means "cracks in the mouth," is a pièce montée....a pyramid of profiteroles or cream puffs. It is the traditional wedding cake in France! Notice that this one is shaped like a church!
(photo Max Dupain)

This is the more traditional style...held together with hardened caramel or spun sugar and often decorated with flowers. This outer shell is the source of the "crack"!
(photo Henriot Patisserie)

This is a much more elaborate version, decorated with chocolate and Jordan almonds or dragées, the traditional parting gift for the guests at French weddings.
(photo Recettes Romandie)

They can be very beautiful and elegant such as this one....
(photo Martha Stewart Weddings)

...or this less traditional rendition for Valentines Day.
(photo Hotel St. Germain)

Here's one made of strawberries and chocolate...
(photo A Cake Oddessy)

...and here's one made by a Ukrainian pastry chef for his bride as her wedding dress!! Is that love or what??? Wearing it, I mean??
(AP photo)

IMG_4758 Inspired by Gollum and her recent posts using grocery store food to produce works of art, I am going to make my own croquembouche! Here's all I need...cream puffs, whipped cream to be the "glue" and caramel to drizzle on top!

IMG_4761 Hmmm...I seem to have used up all my doilies. A flattened out coffee filter will do!'s my first layer...add whipped cream...

IMG_4764  Now add a few more layers...oh oh!! Not enough cream puffs! Think...think...

sharp1 Hey!...this looks pretty good! lol I like it!

sharp2 Oh no!! Disaster! My whipped cream glue is starting to melt!! I'll add more of one will notice!

IMG_4772 That's better! Now...drizzle the caramel! No...something is still missing....

IMG_4773 It's the flowers!! how's that?? Taaaa daaaa!!! A croquembouche made entirely from grocery store food!! How do you like my creation? Isn't

IMG_4778 Oh noooooo! Houston, we have a problem...and I'm afraid this one is beyond repair!! Nothing to do but eat it!! Would you like some of my croquembouche?

IMG_4781 Thanks so much for coming by! Be sure to drop by Gollum's to see the list of this week's participants and continue your gastronomical tour of blogland!! Now if you'll excurrze moif...snarf... snarf...
See you next time! A la prochaine!

25 February, 2009

Tablescape Thursday...or...Dinner in Provence

Welcome to Tablescape Thursday with our hostess with the mostest, Susan at Between Naps on the Porch! Please be sure to pay our gracious hostess a visit to see one of her wonderful tablescapes and to find a list of this week's participants!

Once again, our co-host is Baby Kitty, who is very busy checking out the placement of the flatware. He is a big fan of Miss Janice and wants to be sure that everything is done properly!

Tonight, imagine that we are having dinner in a little restaurant in a village in Provence! I am using my favorite colors, yellow and blue, because they remind me of the sunny south of France! Do you see my new Spode plate and spice jar on the sideboard? I won those in a giveaway from dear Diane at Four Paws and Co. Don't they just look right at home?

I am layering my yellow Vent du Sud tablecloth with Waverly placemats in a provençal pattern and, at the center, my very special table scarf that I found in Fontaine de Vaucluse, France! In Provence, it is common to mix patterns in fabrics and layer with coordinating colors.

The simple centerpiece is an arrangement of faux paper whites and a pair of blue and white candlesticks. I cannot use real plants for fear of having them eaten by my staff! lol

I used placemats at the two ends of the table and let the scarf serve as an interesting touch at the other places. I am using crystal goblets because there is already so much color on the table. These are actually my everyday dishes that I bought at HomeGoods about 6 years ago.

My friend Linda at Nina's Nest took me for my first shopping trip there. I walked in and these plates were on a big cart, not even on display yet. I squealed so loudly when I saw them that the manger came kidding! Women started gathering around the cart to see what was so wonderful! Poor Linda had to explain...her first trip to HomeGoods!! lol They match my placemats which match my window treatments and the wallpaper in my kitchen!!!

There are four different salad/dessert plates that feature little shops you would commonly find in France. This one shows a wine shop.

This one is a boulangerie...a bakery that sells bread, not sweets.

This is a little grocery store/ fruit market. You can see from the name that the shop is in Provence!

And here is my favorite... a pâtisserie....a pastry shop! It's called Le Chat Blanc...the white cat. In the window is a croquembouche, which is a pièce montée...a pyramid of profiteroles or cream puffs held together by hardened caramel drizzles! Can you guess what it is? It's a French wedding cake!!!

I am using my pewter flatware again because I like the way it looks...chunky and old-fashioned. It just seems like the kind of flatware you might have in a tiny restaurant in a little village in Provence!

I have added an Italian egg plate because I love the colors. This one usually hangs above my stove.

I like to use these pots for breadsticks or condiments. They reflect the pattern in the candlesticks.

Well, there you have dinner in Provence! I hope you have enjoyed our little outing and will continue your tour de tablescapes by visiting Susan at Between Naps on the Porch!

24 February, 2009

Mardi Gras!...What's on Your Wall and Wordless Wednesday

Welcome to What's on Your Wall Wednesday with our gracious hostess, Barb at Grits and Glamour. Be sure to drop by her blog to be inspired with decorating and cooking tips and to see a list of this week's participants!

In keeping with my Mardi Gras theme, I would like to share this poster which is one of my favorite souvenirs of my first trip to New Orleans many years ago. I added the scroll work above and below to give it a little more presence. I love the colorful birds and the lace on the clown's costume!

Of course, the French Quarter was my favorite part of New Orleans! Saint Louis Cathedral is at its heart. Yes...I know this isn't my wall! lol Bear with me...I'm getting there!

In Jackson Square surrounding the cathedral there are all sorts of artists and street performers. You can stroll around and listen to some jazz, buy a painting or have your portrait sketched. And that's what we did...

This is a sketch of my daughter when she was two years old that was done by one of the artists in New Orleans. Now she is twenty-eight and has a family of her own, but her little face will be captured forever as a sweet reminder of a special vacation in New Orleans at Mardi Gras!

Don't forget to visit Barb and see what's on everyone's wall this week!

Welcome to Wordless Wednesday with our most charming hostess, Dixie from way down in French Lique, Texas! Please be sure to drop by her wonderful blog to see a list of this week's participants and to find out how to play along! Our phrase this week is.....


Laissez les bons temps rouler!! Be sure to drop by French Lique, Texas to say hello to Miss Dixie and check out this week's participants!

23 February, 2009

Wooo hooo! Look what I won!! Thanks, Diane!

The dishes at my house are having a party and you are invited!! Why? Because we have two new residents!! My friend Diane at Four Paws and Co hosted a Blue Monday and a Giveaway about two weeks ago and I was the winner!! Sooooo....I have had my camera by the door and I have been stalking the woman....excitedly waiting...

...and today it came!!! Look...there's even a kitty on the front of the package! Let's bring it in!

Ohhhh! Baby Kitty has come to help me open it! Look...lots of styrofoam peanuts and bubble wrap!

Baby Kitty spies an envelope!

Ohhh...look at the card!! Diane knows me really well, doesn't she? Isn't this a beautiful cat picture? It looks so real!

There's a sweet note inside! That Diane is such a sweetie, isn't she?

Here's the package on top, all bundled up in pink tissue! I can't stand it any longer...let's open it!!

OHHHHHHHHH! Isn't it just gorgeous?? It's a blue and white Spode plate! I love it!! I especially love the scalloped border with the beading around the edges!! And isn't the design beautiful? It has a big sunflower and lots of curly cues! frenchy!

It's the May plate from the Spode Blue Room Regency Series! I don't have any of those! This is my first!

And look...there's another package all wrapped up in pink tissue with a pretty sticker!

This time Isabella comes to help me unwrap it. It's a pretty blue and white Spode spice jar!

Can you see? It says rosemary. That works really well for me because I actually have rosemary in my garden! Don't you love the flowers and the lettering? It's gorgeous!

And another package! It's also all wrapped in pink tissue with another pretty sticker!

Ohhhh! It's the lid! I love the basket weave pattern on the edge! And look at the flower on the knob!

Wait!!! Look!! There's something inside!

It's another little package! Diane, you are just too nice!!

Are you drooling now?? Aren't these gorgeous! Some blue and white earrings to match my blue and white Spode!! And the best thing is that Diane made these herself! Not only is she generous and sweet...she's talented as well!! Thanks, Diane! I'm putting these on right now!

And here's the spice jar with its lid...perfect, isn't it?

Ohhhh...I know exactly where they are going, too! What do you think? I think they look like they belong here, don't you?

Oh my! Aren't they gorgeous?? I love them both! Thanks, Diane! You could not have chosen anything any more perfect if you had tried!!!! And...just in case anyone is worried that the new Spode dishes feel lonely in their new home.... think these new kids on the block will fit in just fine!! Don't you? Thank you so much, Diane!! I can't tell you how much I love them!! Now, everybody...come join the dish party!
And please be sure to visit sweet Diane at her blog Four Paws and Co to meet her furbabies, see her gorgeous home and find out what she is up to!!