Monthly Archives: July 2011

The Most Amazing Cup of Coffee

The French Press

Coffee. I love my morning coffee. I love the aroma lingering through my house as I’m preparing for the day ahead.

I love my after dinner coffee. This flavorful elixir just completes my meal.

I own a Keurig 1-cup Brewer, and it’s nice and convenient for a quick cup of joe before heading out the door in the morning.  But on the weekend, or when I have a little more time to relax and enjoy a couple of cups of freshly brewed coffee, I bring out my French Press and the magic begins.

The French Press

A French press requires coffee of a coarser grind than a standard drip brew coffee filter, as finer grounds will seep through the press filter and into the coffee. French press coffee is brewed by placing the coffee and boiling hot water together, and leaving to brew for a few minutes.

Brewing the Coffee

After about 4 minutes, simply press the plunger to trap the coffee grounds at the bottom of the beaker.

The flavor of a French pressed coffee is so rich because the coffee grounds remain in direct contact with the brewing water, and the grounds are filtered from the water via a mesh (instead of a paper) filter, therefore coffee brewed with the French press captures more of the coffee’s flavor and essential oils (which would have become trapped in a traditional drip brew machine’s paper filters.)

I don’t need to add milk/cream or sugar. It’s delicisous as is. Just pour a cup and enjoy!

~ aww ~

As with drip-brewed coffee, French pressed coffee can be brewed to any strength by adjusting the amount of ground coffee that is brewed.

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Sunday Morning Breakfast – French Toast

French Toast

One of my favorite things to eat for breakfast on any given weekend is French Toast. It’s been a family favorite at my house for years. So whenever my kids are home for a visit, or I have overnight guests, I’ll usually make this special treat.

This morning, I decided to make this delicious breakfast ~ just for me. I adapted my recipe to serve one, and pulled my griddle out of the cupboard. The great thing about French Toast is that it’s fairly easy to make, and takes only a few ingredients:

Deb’s French Toast
(serves 4)

Pre-heat frying pan or griddle on medium high heat.

5 whole eggs
1/2 cup of Milk
1/2 teaspoon of Vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon of ground Cinnamon
8-10 slices of french bread (or other bread of your choice)
Canola or Vegetable oil

Whisk eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon together in a medium-sized bowl.

French toast in the making.

Drizzle oil on pre-heated frying pan/griddle, and give it some time to heat up.

Dip slices of french bread into the batter, one at a time, letting each slice soak for 10 seconds on each side.

soaking up the goodness

Immediately place battered bread on oiled and pre-heated griddle (pan must be hot); continue with each slice of bread until your pan is full.  Cook until golden brown, and turn over to cook the other side. I usually sprinkle some additional cinnamon on the toast before turning them over.

Cook until golden brown

Place French Toast on plate and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Serve with butter and syrup.

Sunday Morning Breakfast

Bon Appétit!

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Easiest (melt-in-your-mouth) Chocolate Croissants – Ever!

melt-in-your-mouth pain au chocolat and cafe

My house smells like a Boulangerie (French bakery) this morning.

I just baked some fresh pain au chocolat (chocolate croissant) and ~ I don’t mean to brag ~ but this was quite possibly the flakiest, tastiest, butteriest, chocolatiest pain au chocolat I’ve ever had ~ outside of France.

Easy chocolate croissants? You might ask. Yes! And I’m making this my “French Find” for the week!

I really can’t take all the credit for this amazing treat. If you are lucky enough to have a Trader Joes in your neighborhood and you enjoy chocolate croissants, then take a trip to their freezer section and look for their private label “4 Chocolate Croissants”.

Trader Joes Chocolate Croissants
 
These are not something you can just take out of the freezer and bake immediately, you actually need to let them sit out for about 9 hours and let them defrost and rise.  So if you would like to enjoy them for breakfast, simply take them out the night before, place them on a buttered baking sheet and let them rise overnight. You will be amazed at how much larger they become.
 
9:00 PM
 

frozen, ready to rise croissants

6:00 AM

By the next morning the croissants have tripled in size!

after 9 hours

For added color and taste, whisk up an egg and lightly brush onto the uncooked croissants with a pastry brush…

brushed with egg

Pop ’em in the oven (pre-heated to 350F) and bake for 20 minutes…
 

fresh out of the oven

Cool and enjoy…

for best results - cool on rack

Oh, and these are a great way to impress your overnight house guests – they will be amazed at your “cooking” abilities!

Bon Appétit!

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French Lessons: French Wordsearch Puzzles

French Wordsearch Puzzle

Reinforce your French vocabulary with these wordsearches on various topics of French vocabulary that I found on this French Linguistics website:

http://www.french-linguistics.co.uk/games/wordsearch/

As with the crossword puzzles, the games are divided into the categories below to choose your desired wordsearch theme.

  • Basic adjectives
  • Colour adjectives
  • Computers and the Internet
  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Jobs and Professions
  • People
  • Shopping
  • Time, Days, Months and Seasons
  • Around Town
  • Transport

Note that these wordsearches are for playing on-line. (If you require wordsearches in PDF format for printing, then a pack of 350 French wordsearches is also available. Permission is also granted to print and photocopy these wordsearches as many times as you require for educational use.)

jouir de! (Enjoy!)

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Having fun with my French family name: Grenelle

One of the most fun things for me when I’ve travelled to Paris, especially the first time, was finding my family name all over the city.
 

Rue de Grenelle

My family came to the U.S. from France  many (many) years ago, but our family name “Grenelle” (which was changed to Grinnell upon arrival at Ellis Island) is prevalent throughout Paris. In fact, there’s even a neighborhood in Paris named Grenelle. 

Map of Grenelle, Paris

In addition, there are streets, i.e., Rue de Grenelle, Grenelle Ave, Boulevard De Grenelle; a Hotel Grenelle; the Grenelle Bridge and Pont de Grenelle – the location where the 9m high scale model of the Statue of Liberty in New York stands, facing in the direction of New York. The Statue was given by the US to France in the 19th century for the Universal Exhibition.

Grenelle Bridge, Pont de Grenelle and the small scale replica of the Statue of Liberty

Rue de Grenelle runs from the Champs de Mars (Eiffel Tower), through the Rue Cler area (where there is a famous street market), cross the Invalid (Napoleon’s tomb), then continues to go through the Ministry area where all beautiful sumptuous old town homes hidden behind those unpretentious looking doors. It finally comes into the St. Germain des Pres area, and ends at the “Place de Croix Rouge” where the Celine’s “Taurus” statue stands.

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Trois Couleurs: Bleu

Theatrical Poster

Three Colors: Blue | Trois Couleurs: Bleu is a 1993 French film written, produced, and directed by the acclaimed Polish director Krzysztof Kieślowski. Blue is the first in The Three Colors Trilogy, themed on the French Revolutionary ideals; it is followed by White and Red.

According to Kieślowski (in the films Bonus Features: Commentary by Anne Insdorf, A Look at “Blue”) the subject of the film is liberty, specifically emotional liberty, rather than its social or political meaning.

Set in Paris, it depicts Julie, played by Academy Award winner Juliette Binoche (“The English Patient,” Best Supporting Actress, 1996) a young woman left devastated by the unexpected death of her husband and child. Julie attempts to cut herself off from everything and live in isolation from her former ties, but finds that she cannot free herself from human connections.

She sell all of her possessions and moves out of her large country home and retreats into an apartment in Paris where she attempts to disappear into the world around her. The only thing she keeps is her daughter’s blue bead lamp, a colorful focal point in her drab, spartan quarters, and the only reminder of her lost life. At one point in the film she tells her mother: “I don’t want any belongings, any memories. No friends, no love. Those are all traps.” 

Julie's Bleu Lamp Shade

The film has wonderful cinematography and makes frequent visual allusions to its title: numerous scenes are shot with blue filters or blue lighting, and many objects are blue. When Julie thinks about the musical score that she has tried to destroy, blue light overwhelms the screen. The film also includes several references to the colors of the tricolor that inspired Kieślowski’s trilogy: several scenes are dominated by red light, and in one scene, children dressed in white bathing suits with red floaters jump into the blue swimming pool. Another scene features a link with the next film in the trilogy: Julie is seen accidentally entering a courtroom where Karol, the Polish main character of White, is being divorced by Dominique, his estranged French wife.

Blue won multiple awards:
Venice Film Festival, 1993: Best Film, Best Actress: Juliette Binoche, Best Cinematography: Sławomir Idziak
César Award, 1993: Best Actress: Juliette Binoche, Best Sound, Best Film Editing
Goya Awards (Spain’s Academy Awards): Best European Film

Cast:
Juliette Binoche as Julie de Courcy (née Vignon)
Benoît Régent as Olivier Benôit
Charlotte Very as Lucille
Emmanuelle Riva as Madame Vignon, Julie’s mother
Florence Pernel as Sandrine
Guillaume De Tonquédec as Serge

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French Lessons: U and V

English - French Dictionary

un, une   
a, an

un point c’est tout
And that’s final, and that’s that,  period.

vas-y!
Come on, Let’s go; go ahead! Used to encourage someone (pronounced vah-zee)

va-t’en!
imperative form, like above, literally meaning “Go from here” but translating more closely as “Go away.” Roughly equivalent to idiomatic English get lost or get out.

vendu (pl. vendus)
sellout. Lit. sold (past tense of “vendre” = to sell); used as a noun, it means someone who betrays for money.

vin de pays
literally “country wine”; wine of a lower designated quality than appellation contrôlée

vinaigrette
salad dressing of oil and vinegar; diminutive of vinaigre (vinegar)

vis-à-vis
“face to face [with]”: in comparison with or in relation to; opposed to. From “vis” (conjugated form of “voir,” to see). In French, it’s also a real estate vocabulary word meaning that your windows and your neighbours’ are within sighting distance (more precisely, that you can see inside of their home).

vive […]!
“Long live…!”; lit. “Live”; as in “Vive la France!”, “Vive la République!”, “Vive la Résistance!”, “Vive le Canada!”, or “Vive le Québec libre!” (long live free Quebec, a sovereigntist slogan famously used by French President Charles de Gaulle in 1967 in Montreal). Unlike “viva” (Spanish) or “vivat” (Latin), it cannot be used alone; it needs a complement.

vive la différence!
“[long] live the difference”; originally referring to the difference between the sexes, the phrase may be used to celebrate the difference between any two groups of people (or simply the general diversity of individuals)

voilà!
literally “see there”; in French it can mean simply “there it is”; in English it is generally restricted to a triumphant revelation.

volte-face
a complete reversal of opinion or position, about face

Voulez-vous coucher avec moi (ce soir)?
“Do you want to sleep with me (tonight)?” In French, coucher is vulgar in this sense.

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