Monthly Archives: March 2015

Cookbook Review: Southern Living Southern Made Fresh

March 30, 2015, posted by Gina with asides by Michelle – Yesterday I found a new cookbook called Southern Made Fresh by Southern Living and authored by Tasia Malakasis.  Southern Living magazines and books have long been a fabulous source for trusted and delicious recipes. Malakasis offers fresh twists on familiar Southern recipes by taking a lighter, healthier approach. I took a little time to peruse this book and I would like to highlight a few recipes tthat really appealed to me.

Green Beans with Gribiche Sauce

Perhaps Michelle from our office in France has tried this dish.  This sauce is a mixture of mayonnaise, lots of fresh herbs, chopped eggs, capers and pickles and it sounds so decadent to me. Oh, and another nod to France, it calls for haricots verts, which is French for very thin, fresh green beans. [Michelle’s note: Well, I’ve seen green beans and gribiche on menus but never together; it sounds delicious though. You often see gribiche sauce served with tête de veau (calf’s head). I know, don’t freak out on me I just live here.]

Tomato Pie with Fresh Corn and Herbs

This just screams summer to me. I have made a tomato pie for so many years that I no longer need a recipe to prepare it. What caught my attention with this recipe is that it calls for fresh corn and herbs in the filling with heirloom tomatoes on top. What’s great about the corn is that it allows you to omit eggs and use less cheese, only 1 cup of parmesean, which makes for a healthier pie.


I will admit to never having read this word before opening this cookbook. Rillettes, as stated in the book, is French for pulled meat that’s combined with flavorful herbs, butter or lard. Did I read that right? Yep, it says lard. Upon further investigation, no lard is actually used in the making of this dish. Instead, butter or cheese are used as the binding agent. Perhaps our French office can weigh in on this little culinary treat. In the book, several different meats are used including chicken, sardines, and pork. [Michelle’s note: Ah yes, rillettes, a fairly common item on menus in Lyon. It’s a thick spread usually eaten with toast. I ate herring rillettes as an appetizer recently and, oddly, just before the writing of this post I ate at a restaurant that served sardine rillettes as an amuse bouche.]

rillettes sardines

If you were to ask me if you should purchase this book my answer would be yes. Besides having a great selection of delicious sounding and easy to follow recipes, the book is filled with beautiful pictures that will either make you want to cook, eat or have a garden of your own. Most of the recipes have photographs to accompany them. I will admit that I was not familiar with Tasia Malakasis, but she appears like a lovely host throughout the book sharing stories and inspiration.  While she lets her readers know she is part Greek and part Southern to the core, she certainly has a range of influences woven throughout the book. The one downside is there are not many dessert recipes, though she admits to not having a sweet tooth, a trait I wish I could acquire. But what it lacks in deserts, it more than makes up for with its wide variety savory dishes that would appeal to just about any palette.

To read more about this cookbook and the author click HERE.

Bonus photos from Michelle:


An acquired taste: Tête de Veau with Gribiche sauce


Scallop Rillettes and Goose Rillettes at the French grocery store chain Monoprix

Random Flower

March 24, 2015, posted by Michelle – When I came home early this afternoon from a meeting I was greeted by this blossom sitting on the front door lock of our building. I have no idea who put it there or why and, moreover, there’s not a tulip poplar anywhere close to our place. Anyway, it put a smile on my face.

pink blossom

Re(de)fined Rustic

burlap stripeMarch 22, 2015, posted by Gina – We’re proud to show you our latest creation: A centerpiece made with stock flower, gerbera daisies, tulips and roses in a wooden crate decorated with a striped burlap ribbon.

Inspired: Spring Green 1 comment

green table 2March 20, 2015, posted by Michelle -We caught sight of this table in a shop window in Lyon, France. We love the simple, clean, springtime feel of the green and cream tones and the sparkle of the wine glasses and chandelier. We also liked the use of three runners set across the table serving as placemats. Do you have creative ideas on how to use table linens? Leave us a comment by clicking on the title of this post to expand the comment form.

A Happy For You! 1 comment

Are there certain flowers or colors that instantly boost your mood? Do you sometimes pick up flowers or small gifts to give someone “just because”? Let us know! Just click on the title of this post so that the comment form appears at the bottom of the post.

Vintage Linens 1 comment

March 11, 2015, posted by Gina – Recently, I hosted a Cookbook Club luncheon and decorated the tables with some of my favorite vintage napkins. The theme was early spring so I created a lighter, pastel look that hinted at pretty dyed Easter eggs and the soft palette of springtime blooms. Read more about the luncheon menu and recipes on our Recipe Page.

vintage napkins

Do you have a collection of vintage or special linens? To leave your comments or thoughts, click on the title of this blog post and the comment form will appear at the bottom of the page.

vintage linen

Cookbook Club Early Spring Lunch 1 comment

March 11, 2015, posted by Gina

Does a cookbook club sound fun to you? I belong to one and we are currently trying out recipes from the Barefoot Contessa Cookbooks.

We have 12 members, as we determined that’s how many people most of us can seat comfortably in our homes,  we meet once a month and we take turns being the hostess. The hostess plans the menu, prepares the main course, sets the theme, if there is one, and sends the menu out via email. The members sign up for the dish they would like to prepare and the big rule is they must prepare the recipe exactly as it is written in the cookbook.

provençal tomatoes
Provençal Tomatoes

Once we are finished with our meal, we make notes in our cookbooks as each person talks about their recipe. They may suggest any changes they would make to it and whether or not they would make it again.

All recipes can be found in Barefoot Contessa Cookbooks; Family Style, Parties and The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. You can also find the recipes online (google “Ina Garten’s Parmesan Chicken”, for example).

The Menu for an Early Spring Lunch

YUMMY DRINK – Herbal Iced Tea*

APPETIZER –  Smoked Salmon Dip

SALADS – Tabbouleh and Tuna Tartare

MAIN COURSE – Parmesan Chicken, Provençal Tomatoes and Chive Biscuits

DESSERT – Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake and Coconut Cupcakes

The Verdict: Surprisingly, everyone liked ALL of the items which rarely happens. My favorite was the orange chocolate chunk cake. I make the Parmesan Chicken on a regular basis for my family and the tomatoes were fabulous even though it’s not peak tomato season. Many thought the coconut cupcakes would be great for Easter, maybe put a few jelly beans on top.  Both salads were delicious and the tabbouleh in particular tasted very fresh.

tabbouleh salad
Tabbouleh Salad
tuna tartare
Tuna Tartare

*A note regarding the herbal iced tea, we all agreed that it was a little tart. The original recipe it calls for pure apple juice which, in addition to being much more expensive than regular apple juice, was not very sweet. We decided that this tea would taste better if it was slighter sweeter and used regular apple juice to obtain that sweetness. Maybe it’s the Southern predilection for sweet tea, who knows? Honestly, it was a little tart, 12 people can’t all be wrong, right?

chive biscuits
Chive Biscuits


Ushering In Spring 1 comment


The primrose sign says, “I am produced in the Mont d’Or countryside”. The Monts d’Or is a mountain chain northeast of Lyon, France.

The primrose sign says, “I am produced in the Mont d’Or countryside”. The Monts d’Or is a mountain chain northeast of Lyon, France.

March 10, 2015, posted by Michelle – In contrast to the icy weather the Southern United States has experienced the past few weeks, here in my part of France (Lyon) it’s been fairly mild lately. The past couple of weeks have been sunny and sidewalk cafés are full of people enjoying lunch while soaking up the sun. Daffodils have started to pop out and the small flower kiosks and markets all over the city are starting to look bright and cheery again.


Great Idea: Use an old ladder to display flower pots and plants. We loved the miniature clawfoot tub planters.

Great Idea: Use an old ladder to display flower pots and plants. We loved the miniature clawfoot tub planters.
Fleurs des quatre saisons

One Word: Happy…. AND we found another creative idea – An old wooden cable spool is a great place to showcase flowers and plants in pretty planters.

One Word: Happy…. AND we found another creative idea – An old wooden cable spool is a great place to showcase flowers and plants in pretty planters.

Baskets of flowersHave you seen signs of Spring yet where you live? Do you have great ideas for displaying plants and flowers? We’d love to hear from you, so if you’d like to leave a comment just click on the title of this post and the comment form will appear at the end of the post.