There I am.  Nose pressed against the window of a pastry shop in Paris.  It is a magnificent display of opulent, mouth watering goodies,  but what has caught my eye are miniature golden loaves  – Financiers.  The story is that because they look like tiny bricks of gold they were given the appropriate name.

I am a long way from my favorite patisserie in Paris. I have been making ice cream.  This means a container of left over egg whites sits on the kitchen counter.  There are many things you use egg whites for.  Angel food cake.  Concord Cake.  Meringues. And financiers.  I was craving the rich chewy buttery goodness of those financiers.  Normally this classic is made with ground almonds .  This version uses coconut.  You will love this twist on an old favorite.  The edges are crispy golden buttery brown, chewy on the outside, dense and rich inside.

If you don’t have those tiny shallow rectangular molds  not to worry.  You can use any small mold or muffin tins filled part way.   The recipe comes together in one bowl and is quick to prepare.    The little cakes are baked quickly at a high temperature so you really much stay close to your oven, and not day dream about walking down the avenue des Champs-Elysees.

Please try this version the next time your have left over egg whites.  COCONUT CAKES FINANCIERS




An enchanted hour was filched from the hereafter and tossed into the lap of the present, as a foretaste of what is to come  . . A mystic world, into which we step as soon as we cross the threshold of the porch.  ( Ethelind Fearon)   


It rained through the night.  A soft, gentle rain that became a lullaby singing one to sleep.   A rain that turned an ordinary morning into one filled with grace and beauty.


This was the enchanted hour.  The past is now the present.  A year ago I had planted this Winter Star Camellia .  And in the early morning the delicate, paper thin, almost translucent flower began to bloom.   It is these moments that your heart and soul fill with happiness.  You smile and caress the delicate petals.  Drunk with their exquisite beauty.


 Then with a sigh a few petals fall.  Theirs is a short lived beauty – making them all the more precious.    I revel in the contrast of the  spent petals resting on the old wooden table.  They will not be tidied and swept away for they belong to this moment of enchantment.


(Ethelind Fearon was born in 1898 in Essex England.  Her passion was writing and gardening (she was a gardener to H.G. Wells) .



There are chocolate brownies  – the kind you make for children’s celebrations and Sunday barbecues.  And then there are chocolate brownies made for really special occasions –  such as a family member’s 50th Birthday.  This decadent dessert was a request of my gorgeous daughter-in-law Andrea.

Double Chocolate Truffle Brownies is a creation so rich in chocolate, butter and cream that one taste gives you shivers of delight.  You melt the butter and chocolate and carefully stir it into the richest, darkest bowl of delight.  Then you whip the eggs and sugar into frothy golden thickness.  Add the chocolate mixture.  Lovingly stir in the cocoa flour and finish with the freshest roasted walnuts.  The brownie cake cools  filling the kitchen with its sensual chocolate perfume.  Then you top it with ganache –  that bit of chocolate heaven other wise known to mortals as truffles, and sprinkle it with glittering sea salt flakes.

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE BROWNIES is the chocoholics dream.  You might consider going over the top and serving it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Why not?


It is interesting how a piece of music can recreate vivid memories.  This morning I was listening to CBC radio.  They were playing a Mozart violin concerto  and I slipped a couple of decades back into the past.  I was remembering Father Mulcahy and the actor William Christopher who played him in the television series M.A.S.H.



William Christopher was performing dinner theatre at a major hotel in our city.  On his night off he came to our restaurant for dinner.  Of all nights for me to be out of town!  I was dismayed that I had missed the opportunity to tell him how much joy watching M.A.S.H had given us.   I gathered up my courage and telephoned him.  “You had given us so much over the years would you please let us show our gratitude by dining with us at Roxy’s Bistro.”

And that is how it all began.  He walked into the restaurant.  Other diners smiled and nodded and respected his privacy.  A group of us talked long into the evening.  William Christopher told us when he wasn’t doing dinner theatre he taught music at a California university.

I asked if there was music he was particularly fond of.  “I love Mozart.  Particularly his violin concertos.. The concerto #5 in A Major is one of my favorites”  he replied.  I slipped quietly from the table  and put a tape into our sound system.  Mozart’s violin concerto #5 soared through the high-ceiling room, swirled around our table wrapping us in music.  We sat quietly sipping our wine and listening.  It was the perfect ending to a perfect evening.

Early the next morning the phone rang.   The oh so familiar voice from M.A.S.H.  William Christopher asking us to be his guests at the dinner theatre.  We still watch M.A.S..H. every evening at 7:00 pm.  It is like watching old friends.   And every once in a while we say to each other “remember when we’ve dined with Father Mulcahy”.





The most wonderful part of walking out to the garden and  picking tomatoes is the fragrance of  their leaves.  You rub them between your fingers then inhale.   It’s an intoxicating aroma.  It begs you to pluck a ripened tomato from the vine.  You know which tomato is perfect for picking.  You gently  touch it and it falls into your waiting hand.

You fill your basket with the little darlings.   Then if you are like me you can’t resist choosing the most perfect tomato and bite into it.  You  savor the sweet flesh and juices still warm from the sun.   This is bliss.

And then when you get just a little weary of another BLT sandwich or one more tomato enhanced salad  you make this glorious, very French, so addictive,  extraordinary simple dish of tomatoes simmered in a little butter, sprinkled with fresh thyme, sea salt and freshly ground pepper and cloaked in rich cream.  Unlike most French recipes containing tomatoes you do not peel or seed the tomatoes.

This is the perfect side dish for grilled meats or roasts.  Served with savory suppertime crêpes it is positively a star.  Head out to the garden or your favorite Farmer’s Market and choose the most perfect tomatoes for TOMATOES IN CREAM WITH FRESH THYME.



POLENTA WITH BRAISED PORK AND TOMATO SAUCE … and my favorite cooking pan. !


I have a favorite cooking pan.  It is the one I reach for when I am sauteing or braising meat.   It is a very large pan –  13 inches across.  You can brown a lot of meat at a time.

It is a very deep pan – 6  inches deep. The contents can sizzle and spit and everything stays IN the pan.

It is a very heavy pan – 10 pounds. But two handles make it easy to handle.   The bottom of the pan is very flat.  It cooks so evenly there are no hot spots to burn its contents.

It cleans beautifully – shiny as a new silver coin.  Amazing when you realize this same pan had been used several thousand times in our little French restaurant, Roxy’s Bistro.  I have great affection for this pan.

I use this perfect pan to make  Southern Italy dish PORK RAGÙ with polenta.  Pieces of boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt)  browned in olive oil are slowly simmered in a robust rich wine tomato sauce fragrant with fresh thyme and rosemary.  Then it’s served over the creamiest, most luxurious polenta you have ever tasted.

I also use my perfect pan to make polenta.  Think of polenta  rich with whole milk, unsalted butter seasoned with a little brown sugar and fine sea salt.  Grate a little Parmigiano-Reggiano over it.  Sprinkle the polenta with chopped fresh parsley and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and you have polenta that is the stuff dreams are made of.   Polenta that compliments superbly your lovingly prepared Pork Ragù.

There is a secret to this type of cooking.  The Pork Ragù tastes even BETTER after it dreams away in the refrigerator for a couple of days.   This makes it the perfect dish for entertaining.  You simply carefully reheat the Pork Ragù  and  whip up the polenta.  Even the polenta benefits from a tiny rest before being plated.  If you have any left over Pork Ragù it makes a gorgeous sauce over pasta.  It also freezes beautifully.

Have an Italian for dinner – cook PORK RAGU.









Rillettes of Pork.  The name sound like something you would like to take on a picnic?   You know – one of those picnics where you spread heavy blankets and soft cushions over fragrant grass.   Throw a checked tablecloth down.  Unload crystal wine glasses, linen napkins and heavy silver from an ancient picnic basket.  You open a terrine of  rillettes of pork.  Smear it generously on crusty bread.   Add some sharp, sweet gherkins.  Open a bottle of good red wine. Utter Bliss.

Rillettes of pork is a type of French pate famous around the Loire.  It’s sold everywhere in charcuteries and I even spotted it in supermarket.  The ingredients are very basic – Boston butt and pork fat. These are the two main ingredients of divine pate the English call “potted meat”. If you can find a good butcher shop selling organic pork and organic pork fat that is the best way to go.  If that is not possible buy a very fatty Boston butt  and use fat cut from the meat.  You also can use fresh pork belly.  Since we raise our own pork I used the”fat back” in this recipe.

Chunks of pork and fat are braised slowly until the moisture evaporates the meat is fork tender.  The meat and fat is mashed and packed into a terrine or small ramekins.  The fat that tops this decadent bit of delight has simmered with the meat and for me it is the best part of pork rillettes.   There is a little back and forth  into the refrigerator but the recipe is easy.  Most of the time spent is the slow simmering of the meat so do plan to make this when you can pop back into the kitchen and keep an eye on things.  The rillettes will keep, well wrapped, in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.  You can also freeze pork rillettes.

RILLETTES OF PORK  – a delicious appetizer and part of your menu for a perfect picnic.





Roasted rhubarb!    Doesn’t its title simply roll off your tongue.  Roasted rhubarb!  How intriguing.  How absolutely delicious.  Stalks of rhubarb roasted to sugary tartness.   This simple method allows you to roast pieces of rhubarb to a delicate tenderness that stays almost intact.

Rhubarb definitely has attitude.   It can be difficult to prepare.  It demands all your skill and attention.   A few minutes to long on the heat and you have mush.   Roasting your rhubarb is the secret to perfectly tender, perfectly whole pieces of rhubarb.  It  couldn’t be simpler.  Simply sprinkle with a little sugar.  A scatter of grated zest or orange or rhubarb, pop it in a very hot oven and VOILA you have superb rhubarb sauce.

Spoon it  into a crystal goblet.  Lavish it with cream.  You have the perfect ending to a meal.   Mix it into a dish of yoghourt.  Sprinkle it with a little crunchy granola and breakfast is ready.   It’s delicious with rice pudding.     Serve it over slices of toasted pound cake with an extravagant splash of whipped cream and you have company fare.  You can serve roasted rhubarb warm, at room temperature, or chilled.  All this from a few stalks of rhubarb.   ROASTED RHUBARB … it’s the perfect summer dessert.

FOREVER CHIC … Le Femme Francaise d’un Certain Age



I am a woman of a certain age.  La Femme Francaise d’un Certain Âge

It is my wish on my birthdays to celebrate a life well lived.  To celebrate with elan, grace, elegance, humor and a glass or two of Champagne.  To celebrate with family and friends.  To celebrate with cake and sparklers.  To celebrate with joy and happiness this life of mine.

FOREVER CHIC by Tish Jett is a book divulging French women’s secrets for timeless beauty, style and substance.  What makes this book different is the advice is for older woman.   The significant chapters deal with hair, skin care and fashion.  Take your little black book and pencil in the lists, the suggested products and the ideal must-have fashions.  Some of the products may not be available to you or prohibitively expensive but there is an encouraging abundance of excellent ideas.

If you have little time for this type of book you can skim read the mantras that make French women  appear younger than their years and more stylish than runway models.  But their thoughts on beauty regimes and fashions  will inspire and encourage you to accentuate your strengths and conceal your weaknesses.



I don’t understand how a woman can leave the house without fixing herself up a little  –  if only out of politeness.  And then, you never know, maybe that’s the day she has a date with destiny.  And it’s best to be as pretty as possible for destiny.” – Coco Chanel

I am not embarrassed to admit I never leave the house without  make-up and the right clothes for the occasion.   Sometimes it is simply bright red lipstick, perfectly pressed chinos  and a classic white shirt.  It is never t-shirts with silly words, flip-flops and baggy ripped jeans.   This does require effort and discipline but organization makes it possible.  I do like to do things the easy way.  Perhaps I am a little bit lazy.  But if all parts of my life are tidy and in order.  If my closets are organized. If my shoes always put away cleaned and polished.   I can accomplish anything.  It is not possible if you live in chaos.

The situation for women of a certain age is this.    The children are grown up.  You have less obligations. You may live alone.   Perhaps you have retired.   Why not look your very best? Recently I went to a convention for women volunteers.  I was late arriving and sat in the back row.  From this vantage point I looked at the back of about 300 women well over a certain age.  The majority of the women had their steel gray hair cut so short that from where I sat it looked like a room of men dressed in women’s clothes.

FOREVER CHIC is inspiration and encouragement for those of us getting older.   Why not do it the French way – with grace and style.






It is the attention to detail.  The little extra that pushes something over the top.  That take it from very good to extraordinary.    And when that extraordinary itself is truly magnificent you have pure gold.

During our restaurant years every evening I made a gorgeous caramel sauce.   We would pour it liberally  over our house-made ice cream.  The recipe was time consuming and demanding.  So I started  the hunt for a caramel sauce that one could whip up quickly and without too much stress.

Making caramel sauce is rather like the fairy tale Brothers Grim Rumpelstiltskin.  You turn water and sugar into a deep burnished rich golden colour.  And you do not have to give up your first-born child to do it.

This caramel recipe has just the right balance of caramelized sugar to butter and cream.  The recipe is easy.  You put water and sugar into a pan.  Watch it turn a deep golden brown.  Whisk in butter.  The aroma smells like McIntosh Toffee.    Add a little cream.  Cool.  Taste.  Sprinkle in  flakes of  fleur de sel  and faster than you can say Rumpelstiltskin you have the most decadent salted caramel sauce.

Pour it over ice cream or a slice of cake.  Add a generous dollop of whipped cream and you have a dessert worthy of a four star restaurant.  The very best part of this recipe for caramel sauce.  It refrigerates beautifully.  I must admit I occasionally remove the chilled sauce, dip a spoon into its silky goodness and swoon over this stealthy treat.  The sauce will keep two weeks refrigerated.

SALTED CARAMEL SAUCE  – is pure gold!


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