Thursday, July 21, 2011


Coffee and Pain au Chocolat
Coffee and pain au chocolat.

Dill ricotta sandwich
Dill ricotta topped with cucumbers and tomatoes and fleur de sel from Guérande spooned over a piece of fresh baguette.

Leek and garlic pesto pasta
Pasta with creamy leek and garlic pesto from Bittman, and Dorie Greenspan's garlicky crumb coated broccoli.

Gateau au Citron
Gâteau au Citron, an absolute favourite chez nous.

Breakfast museli
Breakfast on most days. The yogurt is not homemade but one of my favourites, Malo nature.

Caprese sandwich
Mozzarella, tomato, basil, olive oil, pepper and fleur de sel.

White beans and spinach
White beans, spinach and potato in a creamy coconut curry over couscous.

Weekly pizza
Weekly homemade pizza.

Chausson aux pommes
Breakfast on the weekends after a trip to the boulangerie: chausson aux pommes.

Leek, potato and zucchini pancakes
Not photogenic but very tasty. Leek, potato and zucchini pancakes from NYT's Diners Journal. I always add garlic.

Chocolate chip cookies
Chocolate chip cookies from David Lebovitz's Ready for Dessert.

Monday, July 18, 2011

New top with Peter Pan collar

Drafting Peter Pan collar

I finally drafted a Peter Pan collar using Gertie's three-part video tutorial that I've had bookmarked for a few months now. Gertie's tutorial is very detailed, and overall, I found the collar quite easy to draft, as I followed her directions exactly.

Adult Couture Dress & Smock Blouse

I drafted the collar for a smock pattern I've made before from this Japanese book. Once I sewed the collar pieces together, I wasn't quite sure how to attach the collar to the top but it worked out rather well in the end. I used a 2" bias strip folded in half as a facing, and again, followed Gertie's directions.

New top

As for the smock pattern itself, I changed quite a bit. I obviously left out the ties and slit down the front. I also reduced the front piece by about 1" on the fold for a better fit, and converted the gathers of the original pattern to an inverted pleat in the center. I added gathers to the sleeves by extending the original sleeve about 1" on either side at the cuff end, and finished the sleeves with bias tape.

New top

Even after having washed it once, the fabric is a little stiff owing to the sizing but I'm hoping it will soften with use. It was a cut-piece of about 1.5 meters that I picked up months ago for five euros, so I can't complain. It was perfect to practice new drafting techniques!

New top

I'm most chuffed about having drafted a Peter Pan collar, and about manipulating the smock pattern to make something different. I love this top! Despite the sleeves, it feels summery, and since Paris has remained rather cool this month, I really appreciate having sleeves.

Thanks to my husband for taking all the photos!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Le quatorze juillet

Lac d'Annecy

I didn't take a single photo on France's independence day but I did enjoy being in Paris for the holiday. We started the day with a run along the Seine, looking up at the sky to watch the flypast of helicopters and jets accompanying the parade down Champs Élysées. After brunch, as we watched cyclists climb the Pyrenees on le Tour de France, I made another chocolate cake to bring to a potluck dinner.

Sunset_La Tour

This photo is months old but we enjoyed a similarly spectacular sunset with the same vantage, from a friend's apartment with a fantastic view over the city. We nibbled on delicious food and sipped on wine as we waited patiently for the fireworks. The theme this year was From Broadway to Paris, and the show didn't disappoint. La Tour Eiffel made for a grand backdrop, and it was probably the most extravagant fireworks show I have ever seen.

All in all, a splendid day in the City of Light.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Indian spiced peas with tomatoes and dill

Indian spiced peas with tomatoes and dill

In India, dill is often prepared like spinach or any other green leafy vegetable. It isn't simply reserved for garnishes or used in small doses like other herbs but rather cooked up as a side dish to be eaten with chapatis and dal.

Indian spiced peas with tomatoes and dill

When I was younger, it definitely wasn't my favourite option for dinner but as an adult, I have grown to love the flavourful 'vegetable', often prepared with roasted, crushed peanuts or roasted mung dal.

Indian spiced peas with tomatoes and dill

I had a small bunch of dill left over from this dinner but not enough to make a stand alone vegetable side. I though it might pair well with peas and tomatoes, and it does! The dill definitely takes center stage but is not overly powerful. If you aren't a big fan of dill, leave it out all together; the peas and tomato combination is wonderful by itself.

Indian spiced peas with tomatoes and dill

I realise too, that cooking Indian recipes often involve a long ingredients list which can seem intimidating if you are not accustomed to cooking Indian food regularly. So I've decided to post simple Indian recipes as and when I cook them. I can also post a few tips for cooking Indian food, if that seems useful to anyone.

Indian spiced peas with tomatoes and dill

Indian spiced peas with tomatoes and dill
Makes 2 servings


sunflower or vegetable oil
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic minced
2 medium tomatoes (not too ripe) cut in large cubes
2 cups fresh (or frozen) peas
1 tsp corriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
red chilli powder (to taste)
2 fistfuls roughly chopped dill

  1. Add oil to a hot frying pan. Add onions and cook till translucent. Add garlic, and cook for a minute.
  2. Add corriander, cumin and chilli powder. Be careful not to burn the spices. Keep stirring and add water, a teaspoon at a time, if needed, to avoid burning the spices. Cook till 'raw' smell of spices disappears, about 1 minute
  3. Add tomatoes. Cook for a minute or two, till tomatoes still hold their shape but skin starts to pull away.
  4. Add peas, stir, and cook till peas are almost done. Add dill, stir, cook for a minute. Turn heat off, cover pan for five minutes.
  5. Serve with rice or chapatis and yogurt. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

No bake chocolate cake

We had a friend over for dinner last night; instead of cooking up several courses, I served a number of small plates. The spread included roasted red peppers with garlic and basil; a mozzarella, tomato, and strawberry salad (from Dorie Greenspan's Around my French Table); tomato-chèvre tartlets with homemade pesto (also from Dorie Greenspan's Around my French Table); a simple lettuce salad with balsamic vinaigrette, and plenty of crusty baguette to mop up the juices.

No bake chocolate cake

Heidi's No Bake Chocolate Cake made for a wonderful close to the meal. I kept it simple, and left out the allspice and espresso. I also replaced the heavy cream with crème fraiche, and was tempted to arrange some sliced strawberries on the top but ultimately went with some chocolate curls instead.

It was a simple and delicious meal, focused on fresh, quality ingredients. I will definitely be making all of these dishes again!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sorbetto top

Sorbetto top

The Sorbetto top from Colette Patterns was perfect for the one-meter piece of cotton fabric that a friend gave me. I cut out the smallest size and lengthened the blouse by several inches so that I could finish it with a wide hem. It is loose and comfortable, and it made for a quick and easy addition to my wardrobe. As for the black linen skirt, I made it using the pattern I drafted last year to make this skirt.

I made this top a couple of weeks ago but today is the first day I was able to wear it without a cardigan. I wore it to the park for a picnic lunch date with my husband, who kindly took this photo!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Salmon cakes

Salmon cakes
Salmon cakes with a yogurt-mayo-dill sauce, lemony spinach and pan-fried garlic potatoes.

Before I forget, here's what I did:
  • Mix cooked salmon, minced onion, minced garlic, lemon zest and juice, mayo, fresh dill and ground pepper together in a bowl. I also happened to have some sweet relish in the fridge so I put some in but capers or minced pickles with a pinch of sugar would taste equally good.
  • Add a lightly beaten egg. Mix.
  • Shape cakes with hands, coat with bread crumbs (I was out of panko), and fry in batches till golden brown on both sides.
  • For the sauce, mix yogurt, mayo, fresh dill, a wee bit of relish and harissa. Season with salt.
Enjoy with a nice glass of white wine from the Loire Valley!