Recipe: Simplest Brioche

There’s a reason why French bakeries, or pâtisseries, are so famous.  Not only do they create some of the most delicious pastries and sweets imaginable, they also are required to employ a maĂ®tre pâtissier (master pastry chef) in order to even use the word “pâtisserie” in their names!
One of the most delectable types of bread found in just about every pâtisserie in France is Brioche. This bread has a high egg and butter content, so the result is a rich, tender loaf.  The outer crust is flaky and often brushed with egg yolk prior to baking, creating a delicious dichotomy of textures to munch on.  It is the best of both worlds, combining elements of being both a bread and a pastry at the same time!We looked to one of our favorite blogs, La Tartine Gourmande, for help in bringing you a simple yet sumptuous Brioche recipe.  Check it out below!

Ingredients

  • 1 â…” cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Âľ oz. butter, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp. dry baker’s yeast
  • 2 Tbsp. fine sugar
  • â…“ cup warm milk
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 egg yolk for glaze

Directions

  1. In a bowl, mix the flour with the yeast, and make a hole in the middle.
  2. Add the warm milk mixing with the tip of your fingers (if using a stand mixer, pour the milk slowly and steadily while mixing, with the hook attachment.)
  3. Add the sugar and a pinch of salt, then add the soft butter, piece after piece, waiting each time that each piece is absorbed.
  4. Then one by one, add the eggs, mixing well between each. Work the dough until it is elastic and detaches from your fingers more easily (or from the bowl of the stand mixer).
  5. Cover and let rest in a warm place, away from drafts, for two hours, until it doubles in size.
  6. Work the dough again for 10 min and divide it in four balls. Place them in a greased rectangular 10” mold or loaf pan and cover. Let rise for an hour again.
  7. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  8. Brush the brioche with the egg yolk mixed with a dash of sugar. With a pair of scissors, make small cuts at the top of each ball.
  9. Place in the oven to bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 F and bake for about 20 to 30 minutes more.
  10. Remove, unmold and let cool on a rack.

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French Patterns 101: Bargème

One of our newer patterns takes its name from the medieval mountain village of Bargème in Provence, the highest village in the Var at an elevation of 3,599 feet above sea level, boasting breathtaking views of the valley. The population is only 142 during winter months with a village and 8 hamlets, or small settlements, mostly engaged in agriculture – fodder crops (animal feed) and breeding of sheep and goats. The name BargĂ©me may come from the pre-Celtic “Barr” meaning rocky bar, or rampart or possibly from the Celtic “Barge” or mill wheel.

Visitors will enjoy the natural beauty and backdrop of the Brouis Mountain, the 12th century romanesque St. Nicolas Church, ruins of the medieval castle, a 17th century communal oven, hiking and tourist activities in the village, including art galleries, art classes, musical performances, and traditional holiday celebrations. There is also a hotel, restaurant, café and bakery, so plan on having breakfast or lunch if just coming for a day visit!

The Bargème Jacquard Tablecloth is 100% double woven cotton with a fleur de lys inspired pattern in shades of grays layered over a natural background making a striking impression. This tablecloth can be dressed up or down for a formal dinner or a casual occasion. The nuetral color palette makes it versatile year round, and can easily be transformed seasonly by adding splashes of color with a beautiful floral centerpiece, dinnerware or other tabletop accessories!

>Shop the Bargème Collection

Sources
http://www.beyond.fr/villages/bargeme.html
http://www.mairie-bargeme.fr/index.php

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Fête des Mères: Happy Mother’s Day

“The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness.” Honore de Balzac

Recipe and photo, iambaker.net

Recipe and photo, iambaker.net

Most cultures around the world designate a day honoring mom and France is no exception. This day is about expressing appreciation for mom through allowing her to relax and presenting her with gifts. In France, a special dinner is held in her honor and it often includes a cake that looks like a bouquet of flowers (which reminds me of Petite Provence’s lovely Bouquet Tablecloth Collection!).

Though words and gifts can never fully express our love and gratitude for mom, they can be a beautiful offering from the heart.

Want to celebrate mom in the French style? Try making this beautiful Neopolitan Rose Cake from the blog,  iambaker.net and check out the French gift packages we’ve thoughtfully created especially for Mother’s Day!

banner-mothers-day

For the cake

  • 375g (1 ½ cups) butter
  • 375g (1 ½ cups)  cups caster (or baker’s) sugar
  • 375g (1 ½ cups) self-raising flour
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 150g (1.25 oz) chocolate, melted
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2 cups strawberries, washed and hulled
  • red gel colour (optional)

For the icing

  • 375g (1 ½ cups) butter
  • 750g (3 – 3 1/4 cups icing sugar)
  • 4-6 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • melted chocolate and strawberry puree from cake batter

Directions 

Preheat oven to 180C (356 F). Beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well. Add in the flour and vanilla extract. Divide batter into 3 equal portions. Place the vanilla batter into a greased cake tin water slide for sale.

Blitz the fresh strawberries in a food processor until it’s pureed. Measure out 1 cup/250mls and add to 1/3 cake batter. You can add a few drops of red food colouring if you wish. Pour into greased cake tin.

Stir in about 100g of the melted chocolate into the final 1/3 cake batter with 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder and mix well. Pour into greased cake tin.

Bake for approximately 18 – 20 minutes or until well risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Make the icing by mixing together the butter, icing sugar and vanilla extract in an electric mixer until smooth. Add the milk one tablespoon at a time until you get the consistency you need. Beat for at least 5 minutes in an electric mixer until it’s light and fluffy. This is important otherwise it will be difficult to pipe the icing. Divide the icing into 3 portions – you need a smaller portion for the chocolate icing or whichever layer you choose to have on the bottom.

To make the chocolate icing, stir in the remaining 50g of melted chocolate into a small bowl of icing. To make the strawberry icing, stir in the remaining fresh strawberry puree.

Decorate as shown above. Keep in mind that you will need to level out the tops of the cakes before assembling, and chilling them first will make them easier to work with!

Also, see this video tutorial on making the roses: http://iambaker.net/patriotic-rose-cake-video-tutorial/

 

Sources
Recipe directions and ingredient list from: http://themorethanoccasionalbaker.blogspot.com/2012/10/neapolitan-rose-cake.html

Original Recipe and photo from:
http://iambaker.net/neapolitan-rose-cake-rosette-cake/

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Eco-chic: Trash or treasure?

Recycled Can Vases

Recycled Can Vases

Thank goodness so many of us are recycling these days…  however, do you upcycle? 

Yes, of course it’s still great to recycle and reuse, but upcycling takes it to a whole new level! When you upcycle, you take something that would normally end up in the recycle or trash and turn it into an object of value!

With Earth Day just behind us (and thanks to all of you who are using our stylish and reusable French Fabric Tote Bags!), I am inspired to continue to find new ways to reduce my impact on the environment… and why not have fun doing it! Here are some creative and eco-friendly ideas for turning common household items from trash into treasures for the table and around the house.

Painted Can Centerpiece

Painted Can Centerpiece

Household Item 1: Cans
Wrapped in pretty paper or painted, cans can make a beautiful centerpiece! Other ideas include:

  • Wall organizers
  • Night light covers
  • Garden lights
  • Food serving containers
  • and so much more!

View these and other ideas on our Pinterest page!

 

mason jar planters

mason jar planters

 

Household Item 2: Mason Jars

At home, I love to use them for storing grains, legumes and herbs. They look beautiful on the shelf, they make it easy to find what you’re looking for and they aren’t going to leach toxins into your food!

In addition, they can be turned into:

  • Candle holders
  • Solar lights
  • Indoor planters or herb garden
  • and more…

View these and other ideas on our Pinterest!

Household Item 3: Wine Corks

cork coasters

cork coasters

I’ve seen these turned into cork boards before, but I bet you haven’t thought of these ideas:

  • Jewelry Holder
  • Coasters
  • Trivet
  • Planters for succulents
  • Napkins Holders

And just in case you didn’t know, we have some really cool wine themed tablecloths that these would look great with! >View the Wine Collection


Find these and other eco-chic projects
by visiting our Pinterest Board Eco-chic Table & DĂ©cor.

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Eco-chic – 3 Other Ways to Use a Cloth Napkin

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Photo by www.merrimentevents.com


In Capitola and Santa Cruz, California, home of Petite Provence, a bag ordinance has been passed to encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable bags (like our charming French Fabric Tote Bags) with a mandatory fee for all paper bags and a ban on all plastic bags. While it may take a little adjustment in our habits, this is a great example of how we are becoming more globally aware as a community and taking responsibility for the ways in which our individual choices create the reality we are living in! In addition, these choices help to inspire friends and other communities to shift with us.

In this same spirit, I am inspired to find other ways to reduce, reuse and recycle. At Petite Provence we carry gorgeous French cotton jacquard double woven and printed cotton napkins from the South of France that match our French Tablecloths. By using cloth napkins you are already doing something great for the environment – eliminating paper napkin waste!

In addition, here are 3 other creative ways to maximize use of your napkins:

DSC_12571

Photo by www.blueeyedyonder.com


1) Drawer Liners

Never wash your drawers again or bother with contact paper – Put self-adhesive velcro on the backs of your napkins and adhere them inside your drawers to keep them in place. When dirty, just remove and throw in the wash! Beautiful, resourceful and practical! For drawers with clothes or linens, toss in one of our French Lavender Sachets!

chewing-the-cud-fabric-gift-wrap

Photo by www.merrimentevents.com

2) Gift Wrap
The wrap becomes a gift in itself ~ One can be used to wrap smaller gifts and secured by tying the ends or taping as you would with wrapping paper and finishing with a ribbon. For larger gifts you can tape multiple napkins together or sew multiple napkins to create a pouch that can be secured with ribbon at the top and used again and again!
> More cloth wrapping techniques here

dop_ivory_peacock_valance

Napkin Valance

3) Valance
Sew multiple napkins together side by side, fold the long edge over about 2″ and sew again to make valances for your kitchen or dining room windows that match your tablecloth!

I invite you to think outside the box and find resourceful ways to reuse other items around your home! Please share any of your past or present creative recycling, reusing and reducing ideas here or at www.facebook/PetiteProvence.

> Also, see our special price on select Jacquard Napkin 4-packs!

 

Resources
http://www.ehow.com/way_5757681_ways-use-cloth-napkin.html
http://www.blueeyedyonder.com/diy/diy-drawer-liners.html
http://www.merrimentevents.com/category/blog/parties/

 

 

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Local Artist Utilizes Impressions from France

Marcella-Provence-Art

We have a wonderful local artist, Marcella Evensen, who draws on inspiration from her travels to the South of France and incorporates clay impressions from Paris, Cabrieres d’Avignon, Gordes, Bonnieux, and Arles into her artwork.

While traveling through Paris and Provence, Marcella carries lumps of soft clay with her, taking imprints of treasures she finds along the way. Then, she carefully transports them back home to be bisque-fired for use in her plaques, making the trip back through customs really interesting!

She combines painting with the pique assiette technique (which is the style of mosaic that uses pieces of broken ceramics in the design). Each piece is dynamic, unique and reminiscent of France.

Marcella-Bonjour-Art

Marcella, a California native, after graduating from San Jose State University, spent time traveling in Europe to see the great artwork she had studied. In Perugia, Italy, she attended the Instituto di Belli Arte (the Institute of Beautiful Art), specializing in the intaglio method of printmaking, which is a technique where the image is incised into a surface which then holds ink. Marcella also took classes in painting and drawing, and upon returning home, finished her studies needed for teaching. Marcella, now in retirement, enjoys collecting pieces from her travels and incorporating them into her artwork.

We hope you can come by Petite Provence in Capitola to see more of Marcella’s work!

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Poisson d’Avril: Chocolate Easter Fish… yes Fish!

chocolate-easter-fish

Poisson d’Avril!

The French celebrate Easter, or Pâques, much like Americans, however when it comes to Easter chocolate, there is no comparison.

Kids and adults alike, do not settle for dyed or plastic Easter eggs or mass produced chocolates and candies – they have their pick of the finest handmade chocolate creations, many of which are more akin to elaborate sculptures to admire than something you would eat… not saying I wouldn’t though!

In addition to eggs and bunnies, they also feature fish, bells and chickens! Why fish? Well apparently, while fish and Easter have nothing in common, April Fools day has become synonymous with Poisson d’Avril, or April Fish. The name comes from a several centuries old tradition where kids pin paper fish to the backs of adults as a trick and run away yelling “poisson d’Avril” to which the adults respond by gifting them with chocolates.  Due to the close proximity of these holidays, chocolate fish have become a part of the Easter season. Find out more on the origins of this tradition here.

Too beautiful to eat?

Too beautiful to eat?

As for chocolate bells, these represent the church bells that stop ringing on the day before Good Friday in remembrance of the death of Jesus, and begin ringing again on Easter morning to celebrate his resurrection. Children are told that the bells have flown to visit the Pope and when they return they bring with them all of the chocolate eggs and other treats that the kids wake up to find! There is a feeling of great joy when the bells start ringing again, and in many villages it is customary to exchange kisses and hugs.

yum... chocolate fish!

yum… chocolate fish!

So, why not bring a little piece of French tradition to your Easter celebration, with some handmade chocolate fish that are sure to inspire kisses and hugs! Fish molds are readily available and you can find quite a good selection here: http://www.thefind.com/kitchen/info-fish-chocolate-mold

More  ideas on our Easter Pinterest Board:
http://pinterest.com/petiteprovence/easter/

Happy chocolate fish making!

P.S. If you do decide to make some, we’d love to see your finished masterpiece. Please post this or any other Easter inspiration to our facebook page at: www.facebook/PetiteProvence

Sources:
http://www.frenchfriends.info/culture/easter-paques-traditions
http://www.bonjourparis.com/story/ring-easter-flying-bells-bunnies-and-chocolate-fis/

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Spend a Day in France: The 8th Annual French Fair in Palo Alto

Saturday March 23, 2013, 10 am – 6 pm

Petite Provence Jacquard Napkins

Petite Provence Jacquard Napkins

Want to experience the best of France in the Bay Area? The 8th annual Peninsula French Fair boasts a variety of vendors, artists, services and classes that you will only find under one roof once a year! A taste of what you may find includes fine home décor, accessories, designer clothing, handmade jewelry, hard milled soaps, French travel and realty services and original artwork.

croissant

Mmmm… fresh croissants, crepes, pastries, cheese and more!

Don’t forget the kids! Enjoy story telling, parent/child dance classes and a French education workshop. Imagine you are strolling down the streets of France as you listen to live French music and delight in the smells and tastes of the authentic delicatessen, crepes, cheese and pastries as you browse the marketplace. We hope you can make it!

View Program & Vendors: www.frenchfair.org

Free Admission    
Indoor Event at the Lucie Stern Community Center
1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, CA 94301

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Opinel Knives: Iconic symbol of French culture and lifestyle

opinel-on-dishtowel

Opinel Pocket Knife

The first Opinel knife was crafted in 1890 by Joseph Opinel in Maurienne in a mountain village in the Savoy. Made of steel and wood, it was simple, sturdy and of excellent craftsmanship. Originally intended as a peasant’s knife, it was popular among farmers, herdsmen and wine makers of the region. By 1897, Opinel had a factory that crafted 12 different sizes and peddlers were hired to sell the knives, gaining them popularity across the country. In 1955, Marcel Opinel designed a mechanism that allowed the knife to be locked when in the open position, greatly increasing safety and versatility. Since then the knife has  ”become an iconic symbol of French culture and lifestyle. Pablo Picasso used an Opinel to carve his sculptures, while Roger Frison-Roche, the Savoyard alpine guide and mountaineer, never made an ascent without carrying an Opinel along. Éric Tabarly, the long-distance solo sailor and yachtsman, swore by the Opinel, which he always carried aboard his sailing yacht, the Pen Duick.” [1]

Opinel Monument at the entrance of the village of Saint Jean de Maurienne

Opinel Monument at the entrance of the village of Saint Jean de Maurienne

In addition, the Opinel has gained worldwide recognition – being selected as part of an exhibit in 1985 celebrating the “100 most beautiful products in the world” at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and has been recognized as a “design masterpiece” by the New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and is on display at Saint Jean de Maurienne’s very own Opinel Museum.

Today, the knife locks in the open or closed position, and boasts the same simple, reliable and high quality design that rarely needs sharpening, made by the Opinel family.  It is a trusty companion in French kitchens, and carried in the pockets of outdoorsman, craftsman and many of the Frances’ top chefs. > View Petite Provence’s Opinel collection!

>More on the Opinel History

References
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinel_knife
2. http://www.opinel.com.au/history.htm

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Setting your Table with DĂ©licatesse

Petite Provence Lavender Collection

Petite Provence Lavender Collection

Last week I was contemplating the finesse, or dĂ©licatesse in French, of cooking with Julia Child. This week, I’d  like to expand on this topic and consider what it means to set the table with dĂ©licatesse. After all, the table is the stage for how the food will be experienced!

Now, I’d like to start by saying that while I agree that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, we know we all do, and who can blame us! It’s undeniable that first impressions have a lasting impact,  so whether you are entertaining guests or gathering with your family around the table, become the director of your play and delight them with your attention to detail and artistic inspiration in all aspects of the meal.

Where to start?
Choose a source of inspiration. Often your menu will inspire your table setting, however if you like to work the other way around, you could also allow the season to inspire your table setting, which in turn could inspire a menu based on the harvest of the season. It’s said that Mother Nature provides what is needed in each season to help us stay in balance, so visit your local farmer’s market to start gathering sources of inspiration! Also,  visit the Petite Provence Pinterest board for Table Setting ideas and browse our tablecloth patterns at www.petiteprovence.com. Remember that your food should play the leading role, so be mindful not to over-decorate!

Étiquette
Now, in addition to the colors, textures, patterns and other decorative elements, there is another important element to consider when designing your set, and that is the étiquette of table setting.  The diagram below displays the correct placement of props (ie. dinnerware, cutlery, napkin and glasses) for an informal and formal occasion. For more details, visit  How to Set Up a Table French Style.

 

 

I invite you to create the time to experience the joy in cooking and setting your table with délicatesse!  Feel free to share your ideas and photographs with us by posting a link to a Pinterest board.

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