My Best Picnic Recipes


I am now back in Paris after a couple of weeks’ traveling and visiting family, and I am happy that it still feels very much like summer here in the city, as bronzed Parisians gradually return and many shops and restaurants are still shuttered.

French kids won’t be back in school until early September, and to prolong that summertime feeling, there’s nothing like getting together with friends to find a grassy spot in a park, spread out a big blanket, and ready your plates for a little picnic.

This list highlights my best picnic recipes, favorites from my repertoire that are portable and easy to share. Want to share your own go-to provisions or tips for picnics?

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Best Eats in Nantes, From a Local

Daniel Buren et Patrick Bouchain, Les Anneaux, Quai des Antilles, Nantes, création pérenne Estuaire 2007 © Martin Argyroglo/LVAN

Daniel Buren et Patrick Bouchain, Les Anneaux, Quai des Antilles, Nantes, création pérenne Estuaire 2007 © Martin Argyroglo/LVAN

Travel season is upon us, and I want to make sure you see and taste the best France has to offer! When it comes to Paris I’ve got you covered, but there are many other cities with exciting and delicious things for you to experience. So I’ve asked a team of French bloggers from different cities to share their favorite spots, and I am offering them to you in this new series.

In Nantes, Stef and Cha recommend…

Stef et Cha Les Ptits BonheursI am delighted to introduce you to our guides to Nantes, locals Stef and Cha. They love Nantes and share their enthusiasm on their blog, Les Ptits Bonheurs à Nantes. The blog is filled with tips, local happenings, and hidden spots in Nantes, which they say illuminates life — small moments of happiness (“petits bonheurs” in French) are essential to daily life!

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Modern Potluck: A Giveaway!

Modern Potluck

Have you ever been invited to a summer potluck and found yourself with a bad case of the cook’s block and no idea what to bring?

Former Food & Wine editor Kristin Donnelly has just released a cookbook for that very situation: in Modern Potluck: Beautiful Food To Share, she highlights perfectly shareable meals sure to impress at your next gathering.

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Chocolate Madeleines

Chocolate Madeleines

In French food culture, kids aren’t offered snacks at all hours of the day. This is often pointed out as a plus when comparing food habits between French and American children.

(I will note that I never go out of the house with my sons without taking something to eat for them. Newsflash: French kids are not immune to low-blood-sugar meltdowns. My go-to snacks then are dried figs or dried apricots, these crackers, and/or almond butter sandwiches.)

As a nation however, we are religiously attached to the mid-afternoon mini-meal we refer to as le goûter. This is our chance to share homemade treats, and it is the happy outlet for most of my baking endeavors.

Perfect chocolate madeleines

On weekends, when my sons have friends over to play, I jump at the chance to whip up a batch of these chocolate madeleines, which are perfect to me. They have a deep chocolate-y flavor, a nice “bump” that everyone loves to bite off first, and they’re just the right level of sweetness for kids and grownups to appreciate them.

The recipe is adapted from these perfect madeleines from Blé Sucré pastry chef Fabrice Le Bourdat. I’ve added melted chocolate and cacao powder to the batter, and adjusted the sugar and butter amounts accordingly.

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Best of July

A Bench on Avenue Trudaine

Have you had a chance to go on vacation yet? Will you be skipping town later, or not at all this year? Whatever your situation, I hope you’re having a beautiful summer full of small joys and vibrant flavors. Seeking summertime inspiration? Here are my best summer recipes!

Best of July 2016

• I love height-of-the-summer tomatoes so much it hurts! The producer who delivers a weekly selection of vegetables to our door every Monday has switched to full-on tomato mode with fruits of every color, every shape, and fabulous flavor; I couldn’t be happier. If you want to see what his selection looks like on any given week, watch this Facebook Live video. As for my favorite tomato recipes, check out my panzanella, my gazpacho and the tomato panade that’s included in The French Market Cookbook.

• I was out running some errands in the grands magasins neighborhood (= the Printemps and Galeries Lafayette department stores on Boulevard Haussmann) and I dropped by Café Pouchkine. Their blueberry bostock caught my eye, and I’m glad it did: it’s a slice of brioche garnished with almond cream à la almond croissant with a blueberry filling tart enough to balance out the overall sweetness of the pastry. Mind-blowing!

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