Last September, I got a lovely email from Lynne, a mother of two (and classically trained harpist - how cool is that) living in Sydney, Australia. She and her daughters had decided to cook their way through Lunch in Paris. (Mother-daughter cooking is always special. I have vivid memories of my mother, wrist deep in seasoned chop meat, urging me to try some right out of the bowl - my first steak tartare!). Never having had a professional test kitchen for Lunch in Paris, I was truly excited to see their results - to make sure the recipes worked as well in readers' kitchens as they had in my own. In honor of Mother's Day, I asked if I could share some of their marvelous pictures and cooking experiences with you.
Dessert was a big theme - I'm especially fond of this series of photos, taken while making the mini raspberry financiers. (Total 2 for 1 extra credit for the picture with the anchovy goat cheese tarts baking in the background!)
"The girls have loved doing all the recipes but the desserts have been their favourite, especially the INSTANT YOGURT AND SUMMER BERRY PARTAITS one as they can do that themselves, and now they improvise and change the ingredients as there is no cooking so they are free to do what they like. The ones they liked to prepare, watch, smell and eat are the two chocolate ones that were perfect..."
Even Aunt Joyce's Coconut macaroons made an appearance in a spiffy glass jar.
Lynne's pictures of the pork ribs and fennel salad got me thinking about creative ways to get kids to try new foods (zucchini flowers, anyone?).
Lynne and her husband hit the nail on the head. (As someone who grew up arranging cookies into precise pyramids on my mother's best china, I particularly love their idea of a "presentation contest" for the prettiest plate.)
"Cooking together has made the kids appreciate the time spent in the kitchen,made them more patient but more than anything it has made them more adventurous in trying the food - somehow new food doesn't look so bad when they have cooked it themselves. My husband is in hospitality so we are surrounded by good food and food art, so with each recipe we used to have 'presentation' competitions which was probably the best part for them."
French cooking often scares the pants off of home cooks, but Lynne & Co. took it in stride.
"My sister lives in France and is married to a French Chef - so the french way of cooking has been part of my life now for over 20 years, but I think what I loved about these recipes is that they were not coming from a real cookbook so somehow there was less pressure to get the recipes right - and so with NO PRESSURE they all came out perfectly."
I daresay, my "Student Charlotte" never looked quite that good...
The most recent image that Lynne sent along was this picture-perfect postcard of the lambshanks with orange and star anise. I'm thinking seriously about having them printed up as next year's Christmas cards!
My mom and Paul are in Provence at the moment. After last year's rocky start, I think they are really enjoying the pace of village life. We chatted with the fishmonger at the local market this morning, and taught Augustin how to use a straw in his apricot nectar at the cafe. While I'm writing this, they are up at the new playground, inspecting the slide.
In my mother's suitcase, underneath the Elmo underpants and Dr. Suess books for Augustin, was a package of blue marshmellow bunnies, just for me. Heirloom tomatoes may be my future, but a taste of the past is always welcome.
If you have pics of Lunch in Paris recipes you've made at home, SVP (that's French shorthand for "pretty please") share them on the Lunch in Paris facebook page.
Thank you so much to Lynne and her family for sharing your creations. Happy Mother's Day to all!
P.S. - I also asked Lynne for tips and any mistakes she might catch. Definitely use regular, not self raising flour for the choquettes. And some early editions of Lunch in Paris have a conversion error in the baking temp for the strawberry rhubarbe crumble (wihch I might well make this weekend!) - it should be 375F.