Bookshelf: Tales of Traditional French Cooking

I know that many customers who appreciate our fine French antique furniture also enjoy French food and lifestyle. As the holidays are upon us, I thought you might like to see some recently published books about French cooking by American expats who are living the French lifestyle. They’ll make great stocking stuffers for the Francophiles in your life. You could also pair a book with some antique or vintage kitchenware from our gallery!

In a French Kitchen: Tales and Traditions of Everyday Home Cooking in FranceIn a french kitchen

This is the latest book by Susan Loomis who is well-known for her earlier memoir On Rue Tatin: Living and Cooking in a French Town. Her new volume In a French Kitchen mixes 85 recipes with stories about the American author’s friends and neighbors in her adopted town of Louviers in France.

She also shares lots of tips about cooking at home in true French style and without a lot of fuss. Recipes like Braised Asparagus with Herbs look like they are simple to prepare but very delicious. Chapters on French breakfast, dessert, cheese and bread are sure to make the mouth water!


My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories

My Paris KitchenMmm… just the dish on the cover makes me hungry and a copper pan is always so handsome to look at.

Food blogger David Lebovitz shares 100 French-inspired recipes that the author has gathered and created since moving to Paris more than a decade ago. The book is illustrated by photos of Paris and of the author’s own kitchen. Although he does write and reinvent some of the classics of French cuisine, he also gives more unusual recipes to reflect the way modern Parisians eat today. For example, Dukkah-roasted cauliflower, salt cod fritters with tartar sauce, and an exotic wheat berry salad with veggies and pomegranate.

Picnic in Provence: A Memoir with Recipes

picnic in provenceThe author Elizabeth Bard is a New Yorker but she’s lived in France long enough to write the popular book Lunch in Paris and now she’s following up with Picnic in Provence. The memoir is about Elizabeth moving from Paris to Provence with her husband and their infant son. There, among the acres of lavender fields, they start their own artisanal ice cream shop with unusual flavors like honey & thyme, olive oil and saffron. As you can guess, the book has plenty of recipes inspired by the culture and countryside of Provence.

Now we are all hungry, aren’t we? I can’t think of any recipes to offer you like the French cooking described in these books, but if you want some good all-American recipes for the holidays, we shared some favorites in our post on Christmas Cookies and Franklin Nut Cake.  Bon appétit!

AimeeAvatarAimee owns with her husband and best friend, Greg. Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way. She loves her 9 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina. Find us on Facebook or connect with EuroLux on Google+. Or you can sign up here to receive this blog in your inbox.

Christmas Cookies and Franklin Nut Cake

We are so lucky at this time of year! Kathy makes tray after tray after tray of Christmas cookies – she likes to give out gifts of cookies to the neighbors. Kathy is Greg’s mom and also our Mrs Fixit who handles all our restorations. Of course, she can’t stand the idea of her family not being able to eat as many cookies as humanly possible.

Kathy makes sugar cookies, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter blossoms, magic cookie bars, gingerbread, the Christmas cookies list goes on and on. However, Greg’s dad John and I agree on our favorite cookie – the white chocolate peanut butter sandwiches. In case you have never tried this scrumptious treat, here is Kathy’s recipe.

Chocolate Peanut Christmas Cookies

White Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwiches

Decide how many cookies you want to make – you’ll need twice that number of Ritz crackers. Spread peanut butter on half the Ritz crackers and use the other half as sandwich tops. Melt white chocolate in a double boiler. Carefully dip each peanut butter sandwich into the melted chocolate until it is coated, then set on wax paper and top with a pecan. Allow to dry. (Hide them from the family until you want to serve them as they tend to disappear quickly.)

Magic Christmas Cookie BarsGreg’s favorite Christmas cookies are Magic Cookie Bars. These are also pretty darn good, especially if you like coconut.

Kathy’s Magic Cookie Bars

1/2 cup margarine or butter
1 1/2 cups Graham cracker crumbs
1 can sweetened condensed milk
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped nuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (325 degrees for a glass dish). Melt the margarine in the oven in a 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Sprinkle Graham crumbs over the margarine. Pour the condensed milk evenly over the crumbs and then top evenly with remaining ingredients. Press down firmly and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Chill if desired. Cut into bars. Store the cookie bars loosely covered at room temperature.

Franklin Nut Cake

However, Kathy doesn’t stop at just Christmas cookies. She also makes fruit cakes and my favorite, Franklin Nut Cake. Greg’s sister Laura and I agree that Franklin Nut Cake is fantastic for breakfast with a steaming cup of coffee – especially if you want to curl up with a good book while you nibble and sip. Franklin Nut Cake is actually a very old family recipe, handed down from Kathy’s mother, Margaret.

Margaret’s Franklin Nut Cake

1 lb. butter
2 cups sugar
6 eggs
4 cups of flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 lb. chopped candied cherries (red and green)
1/2 lb. chopped candied pineapple
1 lb. chopped pecans
2 teaspoons vanilla
NOTE: Save a few whole cherries and pecan halves to decorate the top of the cake.

Cream the butter and sugar, then add the beaten eggs. Add 3 cups of the flour sifted with the baking powder and salt. Mix remaining cup of flour with chopped cherries, pineapple, and nuts. Stir into batter and then add vanilla. Pour into a tube pan that has been heavily greased and floured. Decorate with saved cherries and nuts. Bake in a preheated oven at 250 degrees for 3 hours. Let the cake cool in the pan.

This cake is really rich, moist, and tasty! Even people who don’t like fruit cake love this. John is a case in point.

If you try these Christmas cookies and cake recipes, we’d love to know if you enjoy them! Tell us in the comments box below… or share your own Christmas cookies recipes.

Aimee owns with her best friend, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way.  She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina. Connect with or you can sign up here to receive this blog in your inbox.

Things We Love: Elsie’s Oyster Stew Recipe & Uncle Dick’s Bloody Mary

Thanksgiving dinner with Elsie's Oyster Stew Recipe for breakfastI love spending time with family during the holidays. This Thanksgiving, Greg and I look forward to traveling to Maryland to visit my family. We’re looking forward to it so much, I want to share my grandmother’s Oyster Stew recipe with you and my uncle’s wonderful Bloody Mary!

My grandmother, Elsie, lives in Westminster and I’ve always loved going to her house. As a child, it seemed like it took forever to get to Grandma’s house on the long drive from Florida. But Grandma was always waiting for us with open arms and some home-made delicious treat. She always let me lick the beater – even if it was a cherry pie filling that got all over my white jumper.

Grandma is famous for her Oyster Stew recipeAimee and Grandma

As I child, I didn’t realize how hilarious my grandmother is. She is quite the family clown and especially loves to tell stories. Even though we’ve all heard the stories many, many times, I still love to hear them again. At 87 years young, she’ll still climb up and hang from the tree branches with her grandchildren or strike a pose with a Rasta hat. (She claims she didn’t know I put that hat on her head – not true!)


Oysters and Bloody MaryMy Uncle Dick and Aunt Leigh host the big Thanksgiving meal and they surely know how to put on a gourmet feast for a crowd. The table is spread with all of the traditional favorites. Of course, my favorite part of the meal is when they serve the oysters! My Uncle Dick actually raises oysters in the Chesapeake Bay and lovingly tends to them all year long. We feel so blessed that he shares his bounty with us! Oysters on the half shell are served as appetizers with Uncle Dick’s Famous Bloody Mary cocktails. I am a huge Bloody Mary fan, so I will share this fantastic family recipe with you.


Uncle Dick’s Bloody Mary recipe

2 cups Clamato juice
1/2 cup vodka
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp hot sauce
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning

If you want a spicier drink, add more hot sauce or Old Bay Seasoning. (I do both.) Serve over ice.

Grandma after frying the oystersUncle Dick actually puts the oysters on the grill for a few minutes, which makes shucking easier. Grandma is in charge of making fried oysters – also a family tradition that I love. After the big meal, we all sit around digesting, watching football games, and catching up with the latest family news. I snapped this photo of my dad and grandma kicking back – she still has on her chef’s coat from frying the oysters!

Uncle Dick always brings enough oysters to make Elsie’s Oyster Stew recipe for breakfast the next morning. If you’ve never had it, you might think it sounds gross. (Greg won’t even try it!) But if you like oysters, it is heavenly.

Elsie’s Oyster Stew Recipe

Stick of butter
1/2 pint of shucked oysters
Milk, enough for everyone to have a bowl
Salt & pepper to taste
Old Bay Seasoning

Bring the milk, butter, and spices to just below boil. (Don’t boil it or the milk will scald.) Take it off the heat and add oysters and juice. Let the stew sit for a few minutes until the oysters curl up on the edges.

Aimee&Grandma2013I always look forward to spending time with my family, and especially my grandmother, as you can see from this photo taken this year.

Do you have fond memories of your grandparents? Tell us about them in the comments area below, or share some of your favorite family recipes!


Aimee owns with her best friend, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way.  She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina. Connect with or you can sign up here to receive this blog in your inbox.

Warm Up with a Mid-Winter Tea Party

The bone-chilling cold of winter currently grips much of the country, and it’s the second such blizzard in less than a month! If you need something to warm you up physically and mentally, why not hold a tea party?

A lovely English style tea service for two --

Many of our clients own Victorian homes that they’ve either fully restored or are in the process of restoring. But no matter where you live, a proper English style tea will warm your tummy and your heart!

A Proper Tea in 5 Simple Steps

1. Choose a good, black tea such as English Breakfast tea. Loose tea will give you a great result. Place the tea in a tea ball or knot it in a piece of cheesecloth and drop it into scalding (not boiling) water. Let it steep to your desired color, usually 5-10 minutes. Two cups of English Breakfast tea --


2. Start with a great savory. To quell the appetite, begin your tea service with a hot, bite-size morsel. You can go fancy, with something like Mini Mushroom-Beef Wellington, or choose something a little easier, like these miniature quiches with bacon and chives.

Miniature quiches for tea; tea savories --

3. Add a classic cucumber sandwich. Usually served as part of the savories, the cucumber sandwich is a staple of English teas. This recipe for Buckingham Palace Garden Party Cucumber Sandwiches may not be the queen’s own, but your guests will find them tasty!

authentic English cucumber sandwich

Scones with clotted cream and jam --

4. Add scones with clotted cream and fruit curd. What we would call a “biscuit,” the English call a scone. And you simply can’t serve an authentic “cream tea” without clotted cream and curd to top the biscuit. You can use any flavor of fruit curd, though lemon curd is always popular and can be purchased at most grocery stories. You also can use regular jam. And you can make your own clotted cream. Here’s one great clotted cream recipe. And here’s another recipe for mock clotted cream.

5. Finish with something sweet. Indulge your palate with an authentic French macaron that’s as tasty as it is pretty. They look fancy, but they’re not really that hard to make. Check out this recipe for Macarons Aux Amandes.

Authentic French macarons in pretty pastel colors --





Of course, you’ll want to set a pretty table, with lace doilies, linen napkins, and your best tea service. Take your tea by the fireside and ride out the cold winter storm in warmth and style!

Aimee owns with her best friend, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way.  She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina.  Connect with or sign up to receive this blog in your inbox!

Bookshelf: Napkin Folding, Soups & More

Part of what I love about living with antiques is the innate sense of history each piece embodies. And nowhere is this more evident than with antique or vintage French Country kitchen furniture. When I sit down at my antique kitchen table, I can almost feel the original owners gathered around, the entire family enjoying a bowl of the classic French pot au feu. Who knows how many generations ate this hearty stew and drank wine together at this very table? I love France, and my antique dining table connects me with those wonderful people on a soulful level.

So I was delighted to discover a trio of new books from Robert Rose publishing that will help you enjoy your antique furnishings during this holiday season. Two are cookbooks and one teaches you how to create elegant napkin folds — perfect for any occasion, and particularly appropriate for those planning a Victorian Christmas. Let’s dive right in!

Top 100 Step-by-Step Napkin Folds

This delightful book by Denise Vivaldo takes you through all kinds of fun and pretty napkin folds with skill levels that range from easy to challenging. Vivaldo has catered everything from the Academy Awards Governor’s Ball to Hollywood wrap parties, so she knows her stuff. The book is helpfully wire-bound so you can set it flat right next to you as you walk through the steps to create each napkin fold.

Napkin folding is kind of a lost art, yet it will make your family members and friends feel very special to sit down at a place setting that includes a folded napkin. And your holiday dinners will feel even fancier with the simple touch of a folded napkin.

In the book, Vivaldo also discusses how to choose the right napkins for any occasion, what to look for in terms of fabric (to make folding work better), and what size napkin to use for various occasions (think: cocktail napkins, luncheon napkins, dinner napkins, and even paper napkins). This is a book that will reside on your bookshelf for years to come, as you discover the fun of napkin folding.

I thought this “orchid fold” would look particularly lovely on a Victorian Christmas table. Email me for a full-size version of the photo you can print out and keep! (Note: All photos and recipes courtesy

Orchid Napkin Fold Directions from EuroLux Antiques.jpg (5.19 mb)

150 Best Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the volume of cooking involved in the holidays? I know I do. So, I was pleased to discover this book of delicious (and simple!) grilled cheese sandwiches. Written by Alison Lewis, a nationally known recipe developer, 150 Best Grilled Cheese Sandwiches includes selections that range from humble to decadent.

A little history (because antiquers always love history!): The grilled cheese sandwich dates back to about 1920. It became popular during the Great Depression as an inexpensive company supper dish and was often called the “Cheese Dream.”

If you picture the grilled cheese sandwich of your childhood and can’t stomach even the thought of the calorie load, you’ll be happy to learn Lewis’s book includes tips on how to lighten-up a grilled cheese sandwich (hint: use grainy mustards and Greek yogurt) and devotes an entire chapter to light and healthy sandwiches.

Grilled cheese sandwiches are enjoying a huge resurgence and were recently named a major trend in cooking. These sandwiches can be fun to prepare with guests, and you can even create dessert sandwiches!

One of our favorites to help us get out of the holiday turkey rut is this decadent-looking Grilled Roast Beef and Stilton sandwich.

Grilled Roast Beef and Stilton
Serves 4

You’ll need: a panini grill or large skillet. Preheat panini grill to medium, if using.

  • 8 slices whole wheat bread
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise or basil aioli
  • 12 oz thinly sliced roast beef
  • 1 cup arugula leaves
  • 2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup crumbled Stilton cheese (or your favorite blue cheese)
  1. Brush one side of each bread slice with butter. Place on a work surface, buttered side down. Spread 4 bread slices equally with mayonnaise. Top equally with roast beef, arugula, tomatoes and cheese. Cover with remaining bread slices, buttered side up, and press together gently.
  2. Place sandwiches on preheated panini grill or in a large skillet over medium heat and cook, turning once if using a skillet, for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown and cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

300 Sensational Soups

Getting back to that pot au feu I mentioned earlier… With their classic beef stew, the French knew this truism: A good soup nourishes the heart as well as the stomach. This fabulous soup cookbook by Carla Snyder and Meredith Deeds will keep your family warm all winter. When you share the sublime soup recipes in this book, you’ll connect with friends and family members on an intimate level.

Vegetarians and vegans will be happy to know the book contains plenty of meat-free selections. There’s even a classic pot au feu recipe! But I loved this decadent lobster chowder recipe because I think it would make a beautiful first course for any holiday dinner.

Rich Lobster and Roasted Corn Chowder
Serves 6

Preheat oven to 425F. You’ll also need a large rimmed baking sheet.

  • 3 cups corn kernels (fresh or thawed frozen)
  • 1 1/2 Tbl olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 lb boiling potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups clam juice
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 2 Tbl unsalted butter
  • 3 cooked lobster tails (each about 10 oz), meat removed and cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 3 Tbl chopped fresh chives
  1. On a baking sheet, combine corn, oil, 1/2 tsp of the salt and 1/4 tsp of the black pepper; toss to coast evenly and spread in a single layer. Roast in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Stir and redistribute into an even layer. Roast until corn is lightly but evenly browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
  2. In a large pot, saute bacon over medium heat until browned and crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels. Set aside.
  3. Pour off all but 2 tbsp of the fat in the pot. Add onions and saute until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add cayenne and saute for 1 minute. Add potatoes, stock, clam juice, and the remaining salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in roasted corn and cream; return to a simmer, stirring often, until potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes. Do not let boil.
  4. In a large, heavy skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add lobster meat and saute until heated through, about 1 minute.
  5. Ladle chowder into heated bowls and top with lobster. Garnish with reserved bacon and chives.

I hope you enjoy these recipes and the napkin-folding instructions and can use these ideas for your holiday entertaining — and the cold weeks ahead! These three books from Robert Rose will make a welcome addition to your antique French Country kitchen bookshelf. (Note: We are not affiliated with Robert Rose in any way.)

What elegant, decadent, or surprising dishes do you make during the holidays? Do you salute your ethnicity through food? Please share with us in the comments!

 Aimee owns with her best friend, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way.  She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina.  Connect with or sign up to receive this blog in your inbox!

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3 Updated Recipes for Your Thanksgiving

As the big day approaches, have you considered what you’re going to serve on Thanksgiving? We love the traditional trimmings, along with the turkey, but sometimes it’s nice to add a new dish into the rotation. Something that puts an interesting spin on the same-old, same-old. We rounded up a few fun dishes for your consideration this Thanksgiving.

Cranberry Royale Sorbet

Photo of cranberry sorbet in ice cream machine

Joy is a self-described Taiwanese-American girl living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. After a recent cranberry-picking expedition, she made this beautiful recipe from the book Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home. If you’re tired of cranberry sauce or cranberry relish, this cranberry sorbet might add just the twist you’ve been looking for. As an added bonus, Joy’s blog includes not only the recipe for Cranberry Royale Sorbet but her own version of Oslo Ambrosia: a meringue topped with Cranberry Royale, which is in turn topped with raspberry preserves and coconut whipped cream. Cranberries as dessert! Who knew?

Sweet Potato Hummus

Photo of sweet potato hummus in white fluted cup

Some people love baked sweet potatoes (also called yams), while others enjoy the traditional sweet potato casserole, complete with syrupy sauce and marshmallow topping. Flickr user Kari Sullivan brings the humble sweet potato into the modern era with this recipe for yam-based hummus. What an interesting appetizer. We can see using leftover baked sweet potatoes for this and enjoying it as a snack on Black Friday.

Roasted Pears with Bleu Cheese

Photo of pear halves stuffed with bleu cheese and nuts on a baking sheet

Pumpkin pie? Sure. Pecan pie? Definitely! But if you’re craving a new dessert this Thanksgiving, check out Roasted Pears with Bleu Cheese. From one of the Barefoot Contessa’s cookbooks, this recipe gets a bit of a spin from Adam Roberts at his blog, The Amateur Gourmet. Simultaneously sweet and savory, these roasted pears cover the dessert and cheese courses all in one!

Serving for a Crowd

After you’ve decided on your delicious menu for Thanksgiving, you may be faced with the time-honored conundrum of how to serve them all. We’ve got you covered. An antique or vintage buffet, server or console table like the one pictured adds extra space and a beautiful design touch to your interior.

We’re looking forward to the company of family this holiday, coupled with great food. What delectable dishes do you plan to serve this year?

 Aimee owns with her best friend, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way.  She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina.  Connect with or sign up to receive this blog in your inbox!

Enter your email address:

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