Whole Wheat and Olive Oil Madeleines with Citrus

RECIPE: Whole Wheat Olive Oil Madeleines with Orange and Lemon

Whole Wheat Olive Oil MadeleinesI am a devoted fan of the Betsy-Tacy books.  I came to them late in life (they are considered, I would argue incorrectly, to be children’s books and so I deem discovery at twenty-eight to be late in the game), having found them face-out on a shelf in Barnes and Noble’s.  It was kismet.  I fell in quickly with Betsy, a young aspiring writer, prone to lists and dreams of self-betterment, going to high school in Minnesota in 1910.  We had nothing and everything in common.  I have re-read the six books every year since, sometimes twice, in times when I can use the escape of slipping in Betsy’s fantastically wholesome life and warm family.  Familiar, and yet a century and a world away.

Anna, “the hired girl” in the Betsy Ray stories, marks the first day of school each year by making muffins.  Because that is what one does on the first day of school!  I love the tradition and custom encapsulated in these books; the sense of remarking on the mundane.  And, of course, the idea of holding something warm and homemade and baked in the morning on a “school” day.  I must still be dreaming.

My life, I am sure like yours, feels impossibly hectic, like a bronco that can’t be broken.  Time has a mind of its own, and I can’t tame it.  But now that I am married, and living what I might call an “adult” life, I am looking to what tradition and custom I want to appropriate as my own, as my own family’s.  Betsy’s home is the happiest I’ve ever read about, and like her fictional to-be husband, I get most of my information on the world around me from the stories I read.  So I’ve taken little snippets from the turn-of-the-century traditions of the Rays.  Sunday Night Lunch (cold dinner and friends) was a fixture of my London life for years.  This September, I decided I would bring in muffins, in honor of the rentrée.  But I am hardly the all-American mid-Western girl that Betsy was.  I didn’t grow up on muffins.

But when I was young, I remember the lengths to which my mom would go to get me madeleines.  Excursions through the gourmet shops of Manhattan.  We would whip through the aisles like dust devils, inhaling olive ficelles and sampling peppery salamis.  To finally find clear plastic bags of madeleines, little shell cakes with happy, fat pot bellies.  Sweet and smelling of lemon or vanilla.  They remind me so much of my school days, that I knew, as an adult, madeleines would be my first-day-of-school muffins.

I couldn’t completely justify starting the day with cake, even if I bake it myself.  So I took out some sugar, swapped in whole wheat flower, and replaced some of the butter with olive oil.  Instead of extracts, I thread the dough will strands of fresh orange and lemon zest.  I could not believe how easy these were to whip up by hand in a single bowl, or how hearty and indulgent they were all at once.  I felt…spoiled.

I hope you try these whole wheat, olive oil, and citrus madeleines.  And, if you don’t have a madeleine mold, you could always go the way of Betsy and Anna and bake these in mini-muffin tins.  Bon app!

Whole Wheat Olive Oil Madeleines with Orange and Lemon
makes 16 Madeleines

2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 orange
1 lemon
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/3 cup sugar


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a small pot, melt the butter with the zest of the orange and the lemon. I use a zester, rather than a Microplane, because I like the big ribbons of zest in the Madeleines. As soon as the butter is totally melted, shut off the heat, and add the olive oil. Allow to cool and infuse.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the two flours, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar. Squeeze two tablespoons of juice from the orange, and whisk into the eggs and sugar. Add the cooled butter – olive oil mixture, and whisk to combine.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in batches, stirring just to combine. Spray the Madeleine pans with olive oil spray. Spoon 1 tablespoon of batter into each Madeleine mold. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, and then completely on a rack. Eat!

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Bakery, Bread & Butter, Breakfast & Brunch, Easy, Eat, Pastries, Recipes, Vegetarian

Whole Wheat Zucchini Flower Pizza with Lemon Ricotta and Thyme

RECIPE: Whole Wheat Zucchini Flower Pizza with Lemon Ricotta and Thyme

Zucchini Blossom Pizza 2To me, zucchini blossoms are the unicorns of the vegetable world.  There are so fleeting and hard-to-find, sometimes I’m not sure they exist.  But when I do stumble across them, they are precious, delicate, expensive.  I become covetous all over.  I have to have them.

This time, the blossom sighting occurred in Connecticut.  I was staying at the parents’ house of a good friend, and they had a garden overrun by summer.  They can’t pick the tomatoes fast enough.  As we pulled away, my friend’s mother came to me, shoving a paper bag into my hands.  Tomatoes.  Zucchini in three colors.  Carrots.  Zinnias.  “Take them,” she pleaded.

On the way back to the city, we stopped at a country market, and there, gleaming bright in their little plastic case, were the blossoms.  It was the last box.  And only $4.  I shouted to Mr. English, jumping up and down: “Zucchini blossoms!  Zucchini blossoms!”  He told me he’d meet me by the cash register.

Zucchini Blossom Pizza 1I arrived home with whole wheat pizza dough, lemons, and my treasure in tow.  In my fridge, I had ricotta cheese, thyme, Parmesan, and pine nuts.  I rolled out the dough, ribbon-ed the zucchini with a vegetable peeler, and began to assemble.  Lemon zest and juice went into the ricotta, the base layer.  Then the zucchini, yellow and green.  Then the blossoms, stamens removed, laid out flat.  Then the parmesan, the thyme, the pine nuts.  Sea salt and olive oil.  I used my brand new pizza stone, and the result was heaven.  I think it would work just as well to leave the lemon ricotta off before baking, and then spoon little pillows of it, cold and fresh, and the hot pizza straight from the oven.

I sat munching my summertime treasure on the couch, already dreaming of my next unicorn sighting.  Because next time, I’m making zucchini blossom and saffron risotto.  I can’t wait!

Bon app!

Whole Wheat Zucchini Flower Pizza with Lemon Ricotta and Thyme
serves 4 to 8

1 cup ricotta cheese
Zest from ½ lemon
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper
1 zucchini
¼ pound zucchini flowers
1 pound whole wheat pizza dough
½ cup Parmesan, freshly grated
6 – 8 sprigs thyme
2 tablespoons pine nuts
4 teaspoons olive oil
bench flour

Position the oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Place your pizza stone in the oven on the middle rack.

Prep your ingredients. In a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, lemon zest and juice, and salt and pepper. Using a Y-peeler, strip the zucchini into ribbons, leaving aside the seeds at the middle. Clean the zucchini flowers by slicing them in half and removing the stamen. Set everything aside.

Divide the dough in two rounds. Using some flour to help you roll out the dough, roll the dough to a thin round about 13 inches in diameter. Very carefully, using oven mitts, pull the pizza stone out of the oven. Arrange the dough on the hot stone. Spread the dough with half the ricotta mixture, leaving about a ½ inch border for the crust. Then drape zucchini ribbons in a single layer across the top of the ricotta, followed by half the zucchini flowers. Top with half the Parmesan, and a nice pinch of salt. Then, top with leaves from half the thyme stems, and half of the pine nuts. Drizzle with half the olive oil. Cook in the oven for 10 – 12 minutes, until crisp. Repeat with the other half of the ingredients.

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Categories: 60 Minutes, Bread & Butter, Eat, Main Courses, Recipes, Tarts, Quiches, Pizzas, Vegetarian, Vegetarian

My Signature Carrot and Triple-Walnut Salad

RECIPE: Rainbow Carrot and Walnut Salad

Carrot Walnut Salad

I grew up eating carrot salads.  My mémé’s Moroccan one: spicy, lemony, overflowing with toasty and smoky cumin seeds, and punctuated with parsley, served on Friday nights.  My mom’s more Mediterranean one – shredded carrot floss, golden nuggets of Parmesan, olive oil, more lemon, more parsley, served on sunny cold winter days by our pool when we were living in Florida.  Whereas my friends ate salads that had carrots in them, we ate carrot salads.  Just carrots.  I like the humbleness of them. The healthfulness of them.  I like that they are cheap and cheerful, crunchy and sweet and savory.  A carrot is an honest vegetable; I have faith in carrots.  Old reliables.

When I’m in France, mostly in the summertime, I love to lose myself in the hypermarchés.  Yes, of course, everyone loves the markets.  But I love the supermarkets too, where prepared carrot salads are ubiquitous and I insist on bringing one to every picnic.  I move methodically, up one aisle, down the next.  No item undiscovered, unconsidered, unremarkable.  Mr. English puffs out his cheeks, stands impatiently tapping his foot as I consider five brands of Camargue gray salt, and want to consider at thesis level the advantages and disadvantages of each.  “It’s just salt,” he mumbles.  But not.  Everything there is a little different, and that little difference, for me, is wonder.

Take, for example, the carrots.  If you get a good hypermarché, the bagged salad section will also be replete with angel-hair shredded carrots, celeriac, and carrots with celeriac.  I make rémoulades without hesitation.  (The mustard selection is another twenty-minute decision!)  It’s amazing how just the little differences – the finer shred to our American shredded carrots – leads to such a feeling of novelty.  The carrots there are less crunchy, more downy, creating nests rather than piles or stacks.  Grass rather than hay.  It’s not better.  Just different, and to me, embarrassingly, a little exciting.

Carrot Walnut SaladI was shopping at my usual supermarket in New York this week when I came across a bag of shredded organic heirloom rainbow carrots.  Beet-ish purple-red.  Golden.  Standard-issue orange.  And ghost white.  All tossed together in a 10-ounce plastic sack.  There it was.  The novelty!  The excitement!  The rush of want.  And I didn’t have to cross the Atlantic.

I have long been working on my own version of a carrot salad.  I probably have editions of it on this blog that I have forgotten.  But I wouldn’t be my meme’s granddaughter and my mom’s daughter if I didn’t have a carrot salad.  Mine is with walnuts.  Carrots, root vegetables, earthy.  Walnuts, so woody, almost like tree bark.  I love them both, and I love them together.

Maille recently gifted me a jar of their walnut mustard, and I was immediately struck by just how walnutty it was.  A touch a honey (Tupelo!), a splash of white wine vinegar, a stack of Maldon salt flakes, crushed between my fingers.  Then, walnut oil, olive oil.  In go the rainbow shards of carrot, followed by parsley (can’t break that family tradition), and smashed toasted walnuts for a walnut triple-threat.  The result is so wonderfully of-the-earth.  Thoughtful, but simple.  I had some Terra Original chips, as I almost always do.  The colors matched my carrots, and I crumbled a few on top of the salad, the way my Le Comptoir places blue potato chip shards on its dishes in Paris, for salt and crunch and surprise.  It was just the perfect touch – very me – to autograph my contribution to the family carrot album.

Carrot Walnut Salad

Merci, Maille, pour la moutarde!

Bon app!

Rainbow Carrot and Walnut Salad
serves 4

Carrot Walnut SaladINGREDIENTS

  • 1 teaspoon walnut mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons walnut oil
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 10-ounce bag of shredded rainbow carrots
  • 1/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Optional: Terra chips, crumbled on top


In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, honey, and vinegar with salt and pepper.  Whisk in the two oils.

In a medium bowl, combined the carrots, walnuts, and parsley.  Toss with the vinaigrette.  Serve!

If you want, top with the Terra chips just before serving.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Cheap, Easy, Eat, For a Crowd, Recipes, Salad, Sides, Soup & Salad, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Brûléed Peaches

RECIPE: Brûléed Peaches

Bruléed Vanilla PeachesA bonus recipe!  I loved my peach and vanilla tarte tatin so much, I had to use my leftover peaches and vanilla sugar for something.  I love this for breakfast with Greek yogurt or for dessert with ice cream (Vanilla!  Ginger!  Lavender!) or crème fraîche.  All you do is sprinkle some vanilla sugar on a half peach and torch it like a crème brûlée.  The sugar forms the stained-glass-window crust, and the peach stays fresh and succulent.  If you don’t have a torch, you could always run it under the broiler, but the peach will then warm and cook ever so slightly.  You might prefer it that way!  Either way, a summer recipe not to be missed.

p.s. You could also do this with lavender sugar instead of vanilla sugar.  Reason enough to make it twice.

Brûléed Peaches
makes 1/2 peach -- make 1 or 2 halves per person

Bruléed Vanilla PeachesINGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 ripe peach, white or yellow, stone removed
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar


Pat the cut side of the peach dry with a paper towel and place on a rimmed baking sheet (line with foil for easy clean up).  Sprinkle the cut side of the peach with the sugar.  Using a torch, caramelize the sugar until it forms a golden crust.  Serve immediately.

Alternatively, heat the broiler.  Assemble the peaches as above and broil until the sugar crust forms — about 3 minutes.


To make vanilla sugar, place a vanilla bean in a jar of sugar, and let sit at least overnight.  This is a great thing to do once you’ve scraped the seeds from the bean for another recipe (like White Peach Vanilla Tarte Tatin).

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Breakfast & Brunch, Desserts, Easy, Eat, Fruit, Recipes, Sweets, Vegetarian

Summertime White Peach and Vanilla Bean Tarte Tatin

RECIPE: White Peach and Vanilla Bean Tarte Tatin

Peach Tarte TatinMr. English and I spent sixteen perfect days in France this summer.  It was my first vacation in a year, and I counted each perfect, sun-soaked, olive oil-drenched day one by one until finally the last, devastatingly, arrived.

The first week, we discovered the Alpilles, up high in Provence.  Rocky like the moon, relaxed — but chic, and brimming with rosé.  We stayed at a stunning hotel called Le Mas de la Rose, and as ever, we regaled ourselves at breakfast.  We like nothing so much as a really good hotel breakfast.

Breakfast at Mas de La RoseThe Breakfast Room - Mas de La RoseMasDeLaRose1MasDeLaRose2I love breakfast in France – cheese, baguette, yogurt, fruit so ripe it weeps.  They did a great seared brioche coated in sugar – better, I think, than French toast.  I’ll try to figure out that recipe.  Verbena tea.  Prunes.  Delightful!

And they had these fabulous jams in cool flavors that they procured at the market in Eygalières.  Strawberry mint.  Blueberry thyme.  And my favorite, peach vanilla.  I had never thought of peach and vanilla before, but I haven’t stopped thinking about it since!

Peach Tarte Tatin 1Someone at work recently turned me on to New Jersey peaches — nearly as good as the Provençal ones.  I found gorgeous white ones, although, of course, you could use the yellow.  I have traditionally found tarte tatin to be quite exacting and hard to get right, but I realize, it is so much easier to make with soft, ripe peaches than with apples, because you don’t need to precook the fruit.  Just swirl around sugar, water, and vanilla bean seeds in a pan until golden, add in some cool unsalted butter, and arrange your peach slices on top.  I add a pinch of Maldon sea salt too, because what’s caramel without salt?  Then I just top with puff pastry out of the fridge, and throw the whole thing in the oven.

Peach Tarte Tatin 2The caramel is bitter-salty-sweet, has that deep vanilla perfume, and it mixes with all the peachy juices.  When you flip it over, the caramel juices form a deluge, rushing to the edge of the platter (use one with a rim!), so that the tarte looks like the ark awash in a peachy sweet sea after forty days and forty nights.  The puff pastry soaks it up but keeps its own sense of self at the same time.  It is so good!  Throw some crème fraîche on the side.  It is a summer showstopper.  I had this grand plan to invite people over to devour it, but Mr. English and I just keep sneaking off to the fridge for “slivers”.  I’m putting this one on repeat until peach season is up!

Peach Tarte Tatin 4Bon app!

White Peach and Vanilla Bean Tarte Tatin
serves 4 to 6

Peach Tarte TatinINGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/8 teaspoon Maldon sea salt
  • The seeds from 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 ripe white peaches, pitted and quartered
  • 1 sheet thawed frozen puff pastry


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a 10-inch sautépan, meat the sugar, water, salt, and vanilla over medium heats until golden brown, swirling the pan occasionally to ensure even caramelization – about 9 minutes.

Take the pan off the heat and swirl in the butter.  As soon as the butter is melted, arrange the peach quarters neatly in the caramel (I use tongs so I don’t burn my fingers).  Then, quickly roll out the puff pastry just a little bit, so it covers the pan, and using the tongs, tuck it into the edges of the pan.  Using a paring knife, cut two little steam vent slits in the pastry.  Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes.  Then, let rest on the counter for 10 minutes.  Then carefully turn out onto a plate, and serve with crème fraîche!

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Desserts, Eat, Fruit, Provence, Recipes, Vegetarian, Voyages

Summertime French Country Deviled Eggs with Maille Cornichons, Capers, and Herbs

RECIPE: Deviled Eggs à La Campagne

Deviled Eggs Campagne à La CampagneIn the elevator, rocketing up from the sizzling sidewalks, I hope my apartment, so high in the sky, will offer some relief.  It turns out I’m just twenty-odd stories closer to the sun. It is still hotter than hot.  I know what hell is like – I have known for as long as I can remember.  It is New York City in August.

I am just back from two weeks in the South of France, where it was even hotter than hotter than hot.  But the heat was dry, the mistral was blowing – and, we must not forget, there were pools…and fountains, and a sea.  Still, even with the respites available, I was surprised to see the locals eating pappardelle à la crème; courgette lasagna; brandade parmentier.  Of course, I am no fool.  When in France, do as the French do – and I did.  But as a rule, in the summer heat, I prefer lighter things.  These are the only months when I want no cream, little cheese, and definitely no mayo.

Egg salad à la campagne is a tartine I have made for a long time.  While I am a born New Yorker, I have never understood traditional New York egg salad, bursting with mayonnaise, squirting out over the edges of an over-stuffed bagel.  Ick.  But my improvisational French country version, full of hard-boiled eggs smashed together with peppery sea glass-green olive oil; fresh, grassy herbs like chervil, chives, and parsley; capers; cornichons; and sometimes shallots is so much lighter AND at the same time, much more flavorful with so many different bright flavors punching through the richness of the eggs.  Plus, I don’t fear that it will loose its cool in this heat, as mayo has no part in it.

Deviled Eggs à La Campagne Usually, I serve egg salad à la campagne as a tartine on pain au levain, a wheat sourdough.  But I thought, for a picnic, it might work well as a riff on deviled eggs.  I mash the yolks with parsley (chervil is best if you can get it) and chives, lots of olive oil, and tangy capers.  Lots of salt and coarse black pepper.  Then, I add my favorite part: the cornichons.  I adore Maille cornichons (I’ve been known to eat a jar in a day), and they are getting easier and easier to find in the States.  They are super-crisp and not at all sweet – vital to the supreme cornichon.  Plus, each jar is fitted with an ingenious cornichon basket that lifts out, so you don’t need to fish around in the brine with your fingers.  I also chop up a few of pickled pearl onions that come in each jar, and added, of course, a spoonful of Maille mustard.  Then I nested the mixture back in the waiting hard-set egg whites.

Maille Cornichons Pearl Onions

Maille Cornichons and Pearl Onions

To me, while they are decidedly old-world, these deviled eggs are at the same time very modern.  Fresh, bright, light, and full of flavor instead of fat.  Pack them for a picnic this summer, serve them at a shower.  They dress up or down and go anywhere.  Bon app – and stay cool!

Merci à Maille pour les cornichons!

Deviled Eggs à La Campagne
serves 4 to 8

Deviled Eggs Campagne à La CampagneINGREDIENTS

  • 8 eggs, hardboiled and peeled
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Maille Dijon mustard
  • 6 Maille cornichons, finely chopped
  • 2 Maille pickled pearl onions (from the cornichon jar), finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped capers
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped chervil or parsley
  • Salt and pepper


Slice the hardboiled eggs in half vertically and scoop out the yolks into a large bowl.  Arrange the whites on a serving tray.

Add the olive oil, mustard, and salt and pepper to the yolks, and mash until smooth.  Add the remaining ingredients, and stir to combine.  Pipe or spoon the yolk mixture into the hollows of the egg whites.  Drizzle very lightly with olive oil and garnish with extra herbs.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Breakfast & Brunch, Cheap, Easy, Eat, Eggs, For a Crowd, Recipes, Vegetarian

How and why you should celebrate Bastille Day!

RECIPE: Sloshed Red Berries in Rosé Wine with Thyme

Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong era because one of my favorite things to do is “entertain at home”.  Does that sound so Mitford?  I’ll be honest: I don’t do it as often as I would like.  The excuses are endless: I work, and I live in Manhattan where dinner out can cost as little as $7.00 and my “dining room” is the size of a postage stamp, and everyone’s schedule is a mile a New York minute.  But in serene moments, I fantasize about having everyone over, having the time and space to put out a feast, and just sitting all night talking and laughing and refilling wine glasses until the early morning.  I like that it’s about the company, which feels precious.  I like that it can last.  Shoes come off.  No one is waiting for your table.  And you make memories.

Consequently, I’m always looking for an occasion for a party.  And one that I am religious about is Bastille Day.  I’m half French, but most of my friends aren’t, so it’s always the perfect excuse to throw an “extra” celebration on the calendar.  Every year it changes.  One year, the famous Bastille Day can-can show at the now defunct but fabulous Florent in the Meatpacking District of New York City; another year, pétanque in Madison Square Park.  Sometimes, it’s just a bottle of rosé and sandwiches on the roof, or if we’re out of the city, a barbecue on the beach or in a backyard.  One lucky year, it was a rainbow of pastel fireworks from a bridge spanning the Seine, followed by a nightcap in a café spilling onto the sidewalk a stone’s throw from Notre Dame (that was while I was at Le Cordon Bleu, and I’ll never forget it).

As the multitude of French lifestyle books over the last few years will attest, you don’t need to be French to, well, be French!  And you know what?  I’m okay with that.  I have always been evangelical about French flavors and joie de vivre.  So this year, join me in throwing a fourteenth of July fête!  You don’t even need to tell people it’s Bastille Day – just use it as an excuse to have people over, to celebrate summer, to rejoice, and to say chin-chin.  Or, do as I do, and go all-out:

The Food

Crustless Quiche

Crustless quiche stuffed with tangy chèvre and fines herbes

It’s summer, so I always think picnic food, things that can be picked and nicked at will throughout a long, hot night.  A reader favorite has always been my Petite Crustless Quiches with Fines Herbes and Chèvre, which you could also bake as one large quiche and serve in wedges or squares.  I love Bon Appetit’s recipe for chicken roasted with garlic and herbes de Provence, which I serve at room temperature.  Another favorite is Elizabeth Bard’s oven-roasted ribs with honey and rosemary, from Lunch in Paris.  But my “franglais” choice for this year is the lowly merguez baguette, street food in France: spicy North African lamb merguez sausage, charred on the grilled, and stuffed unceremoniously in a crusty baguette.  I would add half sour or new pickles and cilantro for a banh mi feel, or, instead, goat cheese and drizzle of honey, or a wonderful American red pepper preserve, or a broccoli pesto.  It’s casual, but it’s not expected.

Merguez Baguette

Merguez baguette charred off the grill

To start, I recommend my riff on guacamole: avocado’s mashed with goat cheese and served with artisanal potato chips (try with sweet potato chips!) and crudités.

Rosé BerriesAnd for dessert, you have to try my new Sloshed Berries in Rosé.  It couldn’t be easier, and it is so good (I have just been eating it very fashionably out of a Ball jar from the fridge).  For four people, pour a cup of rosé wine (I used côtes de Provence) into a small saucepan along with three tablespoons of sugar.  Heat the two together just until the sugar dissolves; then turn off the heat, throw in one or two sprigs of fresh thyme, and let the syrup infuse until it comes to room temperature.  One of the best combinations I picked up in France is strawberry and thyme; the herb cuts through the sweetness and adds a woodsiness that you can’t quite place.  It feels grown up.  Just toss the cooled rosé wine syrup with an assortment of berries, and you have the most light, refreshing, surprising, (and intoxicating) dessert.

Kerry and Berries

French Market Berries

Berry paparazzi shots from French markets last summer

The Drinks

You can’t go wrong with very cold bottles of rosé.  Another option is La Piscine, a drink I discovered in Juan-les-Pins, near Cap d’Antibes.  As fancy as it sounds, it’s just champagne on the rocks, and I like how irreverent it is.  And a panaché is always refreshing: equal parts beer cut with good French limonade.


La Piscine in Juan-les-Pins, and artisanal limonade in Forcalquier

Kerry PetanqueThe Activities

If you are outside, it must be pétanque.  Mr. English and I have already determined that in our retirement, we will be a fiercely competitive husband-and-wife pétanque duo.  Look out Provence!

If you’re at a table, play French Consequences.  Write a sentence in English, and pass it to your left.  The person there attempts to translate it to French, and then folds it so that only the French shows.  Then, the next person translates it to English, folds, and passes it along.  And so on.  By the time it gets to the end of the table, it’s pretty funny.  This works best if everyone has taken a little bit of French and forgotten it, and / or you’ve had a few of the drinks I recommend above.


A picturesque pétanque court at Le Couvent des Minimes; playing pétanque in a New York City park

The Music

For something fun, search “French” in Songza; they have a handful of lively playlists, my favorite of which is French hip-hop.  Who can resist?

Or, for something classic, create an Edith Piaf station on Pandora.  Timeless.

Bistro Lights

Bistro lights strung up at our wedding

The Décor

Bistro lights, strung from trees, from balcony railings, or even from bookcases always make me feel like I am eating on the sidewalk to the tune of a wonderfully wheezing accordion.  Blue, white, and pink hydrangeas on the table remind me of those wonderful pastel tricolore Parisian fireworks that July five years ago.  For me, a truly French touch is always plain white china that allows the food to speak without being interrupted.  And I love Duralex Picardie glasses: inexpensive but authentic, stackable, and perfect for water and wine.


Pink, blue, and white hydrangeas evoke le bleu, blanc, et rouge (at also the red, white, and blue of the Fourth)

Paris White China and Sparrow

White china reminds me of French bistro; here, a plate we shared with a Parisian sparrow

The Invitations

I have long been a devotée of Paperless Post, which provides virtual iterations of beautiful stationary – the paper weight, the embossing, the foil magically jump of the screen, but retain the ease, timeliness, traceability of email.  I love it so much that the save-the-date to our wedding in France was created using Paperless Post.  If you search for “France” and “Paris”, you’ll get some great themed options!

So, bonne chance, mes amis, with your summer entertaining!  Bastille Day is such a fun occasion; and besides, I happen to think the world should celebrate things like equality, brotherhood, and freedom more often.  Bon app!


A version of our real “save the date” on Paperless Post

Sloshed Red Berries in Rosé Wine with Thyme
serves 4


  • 1 cup rosé wine (like côtes de Provence)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 to 2 sprigs thyme
  • 12 large strawberries, halved
  • 16 blackberries
  • 24 raspberries


In a small saucepan, heat the wine and sugar over medium heat, stirring until dissolved.  Take off the heat and add the thyme.  Leave to infuse and cool completely.

Combine the berries and divide among four cups.  Divide the cooled syrup over them, and serve right away.  It’s that easy, and so very good.

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Desserts, Easy, Eat, Fruit, Recipes, Vegetarian