I spend too much money subscribing to French magazines. But I can’t help it. I love that they help keep me up to date with my French, sure. But every time they show up in my mailbox, I rip the plastic off, and turn right to the recipes. They’re even in the back of the fashion magazines. How can I describe these recipes? Effortless, and beautiful. And inventive. I spend a lot of my time re-doing French classics. But here, in these magazines, the French culinary sensibility is alive and well focusing on, often, everything but traditional French food. I loved the article about American whoopie pies, and how they were a cross between the American cupcake and the French macaron. Brilliant. These magazines show how the French really let their hair down in cuisine, but as with all things, they let their hair down with elegance.
The magazines that are devoted to recipes are like a holiday for me. I retire to my bed, and lie over the covers, reading nothing, just looking at the pictures. Pictures of hachis parmentier with a purple potato top. And pot de crèmes in old jam jars. Or leaf-shaped bites of puff pastry tossed on top of a salad instead of croutons. It’s my special heaven.
Since these magazines are hard to get your hands on, I thought it would be fun to recreate some of the most enticing recipes from my favorite French food mags. Which, to be honest, is something I rarely do. It was fun to finally get in the kitchen with this Gâteau Porte-Bonheur, and test a recipe. Usually I just stare blindly at them with adulation.
The Gâteau Porte-Bonheur, in a holiday article about how to cook with kids, caught my eye not only because it was so beautiful, and dainty, and delicate. But also because it was made with Petit Beurre cookies. Maman RAISED me on Petit Beurre cookies. They are single-handedly responsible for my height and stature, and my continued desperate affinity for all butter cookies. When I was little, we used to tuck into her bed and watch Eighties classics like The Cosby Show and Wheel of Fortune nibbling on the scalloped edges of Petits Beurres, so much that I would find myself sprinkled with cookie crumb detritus, and maman would have to fetch the dustbuster before she went to sleep. Continue reading