Jill Colonna at the BBC Good Food Show Scotland 2010

 Jill Colonna, BBC Good Food Show Scotland

Hello, Bonjour and welcome! I’m Jill – a Scot living near Paris – author, recipe developer, and photographer behind the website.

Normally it’s the other way around: you write a blog, then get published.  Well, I was lucky and did it the other way around!  I started this blog end 2010 to coincide with the launch of my first recipe book, Mad About Macarons at the BBC Good Food Show in Scotland with my publisher, Waverley Books – hence the blog’s name (even if I stray from macarons most of the time). Since then the book has been translated into three languages, reprinted 9 times, and Waverley braved me again in 2015 to publish another easy patisserie recipe book, Teatime in Paris!

I didn’t plan on moving from Edinburgh to Paris. I just happened in 1992 when I followed my Frenchman to learn some French. I hadn’t entertained before so I had to learn to cook for – and from – my new French family and friends.

Today I’m totally immersed in a healthy French lifestyle and live near Saint-Germain-en-Laye just outside Paris with my husband, Antoine and two teenage girls, Julie (17) and Lucie (15). When not in the kitchen or running after the girls, you’ll find me seeking the best seasonal food, wine and tea in and around Paris.

For the latest recipes and articles on le blog, subscribe to receive email updates (choose daily, weekly or monthly), freshly delivered to your inbox.  If you’re on Instagram come and join my daily distraction and passion for taking pics!

Jill Colonna

ABOUT THE RECIPES: French Inspiration

You’ll see that ALL of the recipes here are EASY to make:
you won’t find recipes with complicated steps over a few pages – but you will find recipes that are inspired by great French chefs!
Living near Paris and spoiled for choice – either by fresh, seasonal ingredients at the market, or dazzled by the incredible creations on show in restaurants, patisseries, and chocolate shops – I’m here to pass on my Parisian inspiration. As a “lazy gourmet”, I aim to explore how to make easier versions inexpensively at home in my non-professional kitchen using good QUALITY PRODUCE that’s NOT DIFFICULT TO FIND.

Most recipes are French (starting with my very first classic recipe learned, Salade de Chèvre Chaud) but there are some Scottish influences that creep in – Italian too, as my husband is Corsican French – and I love re-creating recipes picked up from my travels. Recipes are reduced in sugar as much as possible to let the main ingredients shine through.

If you’re here for the first time, check out the Recipe Index. You’ll find recipes marked as gluten-free and for macaron, meringue and financier lovers who need egg whites, I have a whole database of egg yolk recipes, so nothing goes to waste.

If you have any BAKING QUESTIONS or QUERIES about my books, check out the Frequently Asked Questions page as you’re question may already be answered. I’ve also included a Glossary of Cooking Terms, so that there’s no confusion between our British and American talk.

The ultimate highlight is to see YOU make the recipes from either both my books and/or here on le blog, so please do share your delicious pics with us on the Facebook page or on Instagram (tag me @MadAboutMacarons).

MORE ABOUT JILL

Like all French roads that lead to Paris and then dizzyingly circle the Arc de Triomphe, my roads directed me to France and the French life: from regular family holidays in France as a child; my love of French flute music during a brief spell as professional musician; wine-tasting as a seriously fun hobby; to a French husband, who whisked me to Paris in 1992 following postgraduate marketing studies in my native Scotland. All that was left was to learn to speak French, entertain and cook like my new French friends and family …

avenue of trees country roads in France

I was born and grew up in Edinburgh.  If you’re American, this explains my British spelling of words.

From the earliest age I baked with Granny. Whether it was date turnovers, caramel “stuff”, matrimonial cake or copious amounts of snowballs, everything was recorded in her Black Book. We were so used to homemade fare that our treats were sometimes bought cakes: a sticky vanilla doughnut or a Tunnock’s Teacake with a bottle of Cream Soda from Norman the Baker’s milk-chocolate and cream van that hooted outside the front door in Musselburgh.

Jill-Stobie-Colonna

Photo credit: Dad – at the market in Riberac, 1980

Grandpa was a fishmonger, delivering fish around the coastal villages south-east of Edinburgh. He preferred mince and tatties while we often landed his best catch of fish served simply at home with Dad’s homemade chips.

It was on our family holidays to France in the late 70s that I discovered my first vanilla “flan” in the back of a sweltering Cortina car with no air-conditioning, washed down with warm lemonade that called itself “Pshitt” on the label. It was the start of a long love affair with this country. Dad drove us from Edinburgh to the South of France most summers during the 80s. Thereafter car air-conditioning arrived to replace towels on seats and Opel Fruits – and I discovered hairspray.

Jill Stobie-Colonna National Youth Orchestra of Scotland London Proms James Loughran

Rehearsing for the London Proms – I’m on flute with the big 80s hair

I started to cook while studying music at Edinburgh University and playing/touring with orchestras. It was trendy to be Vegetarian so I joined in – until it became slightly out of control as the first signs of anorexia crept in: a typical dinner was a “stew” out of a simple tin of tomatoes sprinkled with dried herbs. Thankfully my parents stepped in and it was on trips to Cyprus, Italy, and during two consecutive summers of flute studies in France where I gradually discovered that I enjoyed a new world of fresh food, full of flavour: tasty homemade bread, olive oil, fresh fish, colourful Mediterranean vegetables, garlic and cheese! From then on, taking pleasure in good, healthy food has been an obsession for myself and my family.

Alain-Marion-Flute

French flute study with the late Alain Marion (Paris Conservatoire), Academie d’International d’été, Nice

After a brief freelance spell and teaching in schools, the musical menu changed course to wine. I poured over the books for a first Diploma from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust and a wine research project (with Waverley Vintners) to a Marketing Masters, but a brand manager post in the wine trade quickly fizzled out when I giggled at a non-wine-drinking Frenchman at the local pub (our business school “annex”). His revenge? Whisking me to Paris. Nearly 25 years on, I’m still here and Antoine and I continue to learn about wine on our travels together.

For ten years I worked at the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) until 2002, I quit my  publishing/marketing post in exchange for a Mum’s apron, determined to cook like the French. Baking challenges took hold and before I knew it, was hooked on making macarons. Experimenting with delicious failures, I came up with a fool-proof recipe that worked in a non-professional kitchen. I’ve been so grateful to have Waverley Books take me on with the first book, Mad About Macarons and last year we continued the adventure with Teatime in Paris which includes easy recipes for pastries, where to find the best ones in Paris, and my infatuation with French chefs’ creations.

WHSmith Paris book signing event Jill Colonna

WHSmith book event and macaron tasting in Paris

Today I adore the French diet, especially as I can ENJOY ALL THE FULL FAT BUTTER, CREAM and SUGAR – but it’s deliciously in strict moderation with no snacking. I learned quickly from the French culture that it’s a crime to waste food too.  Portions are not huge and we finish everything that’s on our plate. You won’t find packet mixes in our house, either. Home cooking and baking is also important to us at home as we know what ingredients are used: good, honest without the preservatives, and seasonal or local as much as possible.

I’ve been fascinated with Antoine’s French family and friends’ relaxed approach to the “plaisir” or pleasure of food. Even with two teenagers, our evening meals are something to look forward to; even if short, we enjoy sitting around the table as it’s a precious time for us to catch up with news of the day.

Now, alas – even in France – the giant coffee and sandwich fast-food chains are seriously on the rise, especially at lunchtimes. Thankfully it’s still rare to see French people eating and drinking on-the-go, something I sincerely hope will remain exceptional as part of such a champion gourmet culture. So let’s stick to French traditions by truly enjoying good, honest, healthy food at regular mealtimes with no grazing along the way.

Jill Colonna image

photo credit: Christina Conte

Although still a full-time Mum, I devote the rest of my time to writing about food and am currently working on another book – this time with a completely different twist. I also love an excuse to take part in French gourmet festivals: lately I revelled in the most challenging of sweetest jury duty for chef Christophe Roussel’s amateur pastry competition (including Mercotte, France’s equivalent of Mary Berry) in La Baule. So, if you need a taster – then count me in!

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions and please do sign up for my new monthly newsletter for a dose of French life, sharing discoveries at home in Paris and abroad.

Cheers, santé, and thank you for popping by!


ABOUT REVIEWS

I’d love to hear from you if you have any questions about my work. I am happy to accept quality food-related product reviews that I believe will be of interest to my readers.  I only post honest but positive feedback (if any negative, I just don’t post). For product reviews, food/travel promotion or events, do feel free to contact me with your product or concept and I’ll get back to you soonest. A bientôt !