Teatime Book Launch at the Treize Bakery Paris 20 May

I am so excited. To celebrate the release of “Teatime in Paris”, I have a very special Parisian afternoon tea event on Wednesday 20 May – in Paris, and at teatime!

The sweetest part is that it will be held at Treize…A Baker’s Dozen, one of the latest and trendy cosy café-bistros owned by my bubbly chef friend, Laurel Sanderson. She is also the owner of a contagious smile, fabulous energy and is the most welcoming and cheerful hostess you could imagine in this bustling area around Saint Germain-des-Prés!

This event venue is magic.  Tucked away at the end of an intriguing cobbled courtyard, it’s almost like following secret directions from La Da Vinci Code: turn left at the florist on rue des Saint-Pères, just directly across the street from the Da Vinci Hotel – where the Mona Lisa (La Joconde) soon afterwards became rather famous, as the Italian thief, Vincenzo Perruggia, who stole the painting from Le Louvre in 1911 initially hid on the top floor of this hotel, asking for room 603 up in the attic, so that he could hide up on the roof.  It’s hidden little secrets like this that makes Paris fascinating.

florist in rue des Saint-Pères in Paris

The best secret here is directly across from the Da Vinci Hotel – at N° 16, which is the opening to the courtyard. Walk to the end and you arrive at these white panelled doors. On opening, you’re immediately greeted with “Bonjour! Howdy! Welcome” and before you know it, you’re in a home-from-home haven in the middle of the Parisian left bank, or Rive Gauche.

Laurel’s menus are clipped to Madeleine cake moulds, and offer comforting homemade American-style southern foods from Laurel’s native Carolina – all made with good local French ingredients. Come for brunch (although on Saturdays you will need to reserve to avoid disappointment, as it has become pretty popular!), lunch or afternoon goûter for Coutume coffee, choice of 13 speciality teas and her signature carrot cake tempts us under a giant glass bell on the dessert counter. I could continue with more photographs of Laurel’s hidden gem here but I would love you to discover the place for yourself. In typical Laurel style, it’s fun.


As seating is limited (it’s a small bakery), Laurel has set up this online event form to reserve your place for the special Parisian afternoon Teatime event on 20 May. This includes a newly published copy of Teatime, fancy teas and coffee and of course, we’ll sample delicious pastries from the book. There will be lots of baking chat, so come with your questions and 4 o’clock teatime appetit! Extra macarons are guaranteed. We really look forward to seeing you then!

Update! Carol Gillott (of ParisBreakfasts fame), who did the beautiful artwork in the book, will be a special guest!

Treize 13 Bakery in Paris, 16 rue des Saint Peres

Wednesday 20 May 4-6pm

Trieze…A Baker’s Dozen
16 rue des Saint-Pères (go to the end of the courtyard)
75007 Paris
Tel : 01- 73 77 27 89

Metro : Saint Germain des Prés, Rue du Bac
Open Tuesday-Saturday 10am – 6pm (but shall be ‘closed’ especially for this book event)

strawberry eclair from Teatime in Paris

Join us on Wednesday 20 May 2015 at 4-6pm.
Click here to reserve your ticket,
treat a friend or spoil your Mum for French Mother’s Day!

Ticket includes a copy of Teatime in Paris, tea and pastries from the book

Laurel and I really look forward to seeing you there!

Pastéis de Nata Portuguese Custard Tarts Recipe

After tasting the exquisite Pastéis de Nata from Comme à Lisbonne in Paris, I just had to make these delicious Portuguese custard tarts at home. Besides, it’s a great egg yolk recipe!

Pasteis de nata egg yolk recipe

In true lazy gourmet style, I cheat and use ready-made puff pastry.  There’s nothing wrong with that. Just remember to use a good quality all-butter puff pastry. I use either defrosted (here in France, Picard do a good frozen puff), or ready-rolled (these are in packets of 230g and so easy to use). If you can’t find ready-rolled, just roll out the pastry to 3-5mm thickness and cut out your circles according to the recipe below.

One factor that’s not easy to control is the traditional extra hot oven needed to make traditional sized custard tarts more genuine looking.  As not all of our home kitchen ovens can go up as high as professional ovens to give them that beautifully scorched look, put it as high as you can – and keep an eye on them!  I’d suggest 7-10 minutes if it’s very hot, otherwise for about 10-15 minutes.

pasteis de nata recipe


Recipe inspired by Denise Browning at From Brazil to You, who adapted it from the cookbook, “Cozinha Tradicional Porguguesa”. Denise made mini tarts, whereas I made a slightly bigger, more traditional size like they serve at Comme à Lisbonne. So I used half quantity to fill regular muffin moulds, and cut down the sugar slightly, using a vanilla pod/bean instead of the extract.

Makes 12 tartlets (using 2x 6-cavity non-stick muffin moulds @ 7cm diameter)

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Baking Time: 8-15 minutes (depending on your oven)


4 egg yolks
80g sugar
15g cornflour/cornstarch (a lightly heaped tablespoon)
1 vanilla pod/bean, scraped of seeds*
250ml whole milk
230g puff pastry (1 pack of ready-rolled or a pack of frozen puff, defrosted)
Powdered cinnamon (to serve)

* 1 tbsp vanilla extract

1. Chill a bowl in the fridge. Put the egg yolks, sugar, cornflour and vanilla seeds (scraped from a pod cut in half down the middle horizontally) in a saucepan and mix well using a balloon whisk until you have a creamy paste. Gradually add the milk, whisking until mixed well together.

2. Put the pan on a medium heat and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens.  Remove pan from the heat. (If you don’t use the vanilla pod, add the extract at this point). Transfer the custard to the chilled bowl and immediately cover it with cling film to prevent a skin from forming. Set aside to cool.

3. Lightly oil or butter the muffin moulds and preheat the oven preferably to the highest setting – I used  250°C/480°F/230°C mark 9.

4. On a lightly floured surface – roll the pastry if needed – using a cookie cutter or glass (about 9cm diameter, slightly bigger than the 7cm diameter muffin cavity), cut out discs and press them into each cavity.  Spoon in the cooled custard about 3/4 to the top then bake for 7-10 minutes.  Keep an eye on them!

making portuguese custard tarts

5. Leave to cool in the moulds/tins for about 5 minutes then turn them out on to a wire rack.

Portuguese custard tarts and macarons

A baker’s loop. Use yolks for the custard tarts and macarons for the whites…

Serve them slightly warm and lightly dusted with cinnamon.

Pasteis de nata portuguese custard tarts

P.S. As large quantities of egg whites were used for starching clothes in the monasteries and convents around the 18th Century, the monks discovered this delicious way of using up the egg yolks and so a legendary Portuguese pastry was born!  And just for the record, I don’t starch hubby’s shirts with egg whites. Macarons are much better fun!

Click here for more about Pasteis de Nata and how popular they are!

Comme à Lisbonne, Paris

Paris has been blessed recently with the most glorious weather, making a perfect Springtime. This week the clouds and rains have perhaps joined us briefly but the clear blue skies have brought out more Parisians to cafés, wine bars and bistros. In my case, I used the sun as an excuse to drop everything and pop into more pâtisseries.

Rue du Roi de Sicile in Paris

In Rue du Roi de Sicile, we’re not transported to Sicily but to Lisbon. As the Pâtisserie’s name suggests at Number 37, the Pastel de Nata is the genuine article here: Portuguese custard tarts, or Pastéis de Nata, are deliciously simple and have quite a reputation.

As luck would have it, nobody was around. As I started to chat with this delightful lady and she was telling me the custard tart’s fascinating history, a regular popped in and already announced her order.  “Go ahead”, I gestured politely. Little did I know what a big mistake this is to make in such a popular pastry shop. Before I knew it, she’d nearly cleaned out the stock and there were just 5 left.  As another regular approached, I quickly ordered the last 5 custard tarts as I was given some nose-twitching looks when they were told that they’d have to wait for another batch to come out of the oven.

Comme à Lisbonne in Paris

According to Comme à Lisbonne, the Pastel de Nata (or Pastel de Belém) is to Lisbon what the macaron is to Paris. They were created before the 18th century by monks at the Jeronimos Monastery in the Belém district in Lisbon. As large quantities of egg whites were used for starching clothes in the monasteries and convents, they discovered this delicious way of using up the egg yolks.

They’re also particularly popular in Lusosphere countries and regions – including Brazil, Cape Verde, Goa, Macau … and recently we tried the very same tarts, Chinese Style, with Ann Mah at the legendary Jing Fong’s Dim Sum restaurant in New York.  They are global creamy custard pastry superstars!

Yellow pastry bag and scooter in Paris

As we liberally dusted our 5 Pasteis de Nata with powdered cinnamon, and bit into the addictively crunchy, flaky pastries with creamy custard, we realised we had a problem: we wanted more. So, for a touch of Lisbon in Paris, you know where to go – just don’t be too polite in the queue!

Pasteis de nata Comme à Lisbonne in Paris

Comme à Lisbonne
37 Rue du Roi de Sicile
75004 Paris

Open Tuesday-Sunday 11am-7pm

Métro: St Paul or Hôtel de Ville

If you can’t make it to Paris or try them from Portugal, then here’s an easy Pastéis de nata recipe to make them yourself at home – ideal for the egg yolk recipe collection.

Kindle Edition of Mad About Macarons now on Amazon!

We’ve been so excited about Teatime in Paris, that Mad About Macarons has perhaps been the little brother around here recently. I say “brother”, as livre is masculine (in 23 years, I still haven’t got my head around genders in French – but that’s another story). But this is has been a real Mad About Macarons week.

If anything, macarons are stronger than ever and so it has been encouraging to see lovely messages circulating on Twitter. This week Becky of @Becksbake tried out the recipe for the first time from the book and was successful in making her pink macarons a super hit at her weekend dinner party. Thank you so much for all the feedback and tweeting your beautiful macaron feet, Becky! Now it’s up to the others (you know who you are ..) Please stop being so scared of attempting to make macarons, get the aprons on and get cracking the eggs …

successful macaron making twitter

Then another surprise came via email that Mad About Macarons has been featured as being highly innovative in the Presentation Innovation Chapter of an e-book, “Catalyzing Innovation” by Michelle Greenwald. She refers to the “interesting and unexpected” Bloody Mary macaron recipe from the book and their “whimsical presentation”. The e-book is sold through the iTunes store and is frequently updated with the latest innovations that are thought to be noteworthy and inspiring.
So, thank you, Professor!

mad about macarons bloody mary vodka-tomato

Finally, I am thrilled to announce that Waverley Books has released the Mad About Macarons Kindle Edition. I admit, I only bought my first e-book the other day and it was so easy. Now you can have the hardback and keep it free of kitchen spatters with the recipes also on your tablet.  That’s just my humble opinion: IMHO – another newbie I learned this week.

As they say on Amazon, start reading Mad About Macarons: Make Macarons Like the French on the Free Reading Kindle app or on your Kindle in under a minute.

Matcha Do About Green Tea at Sadaharu Aoki Paris

You’ve already heard me rave about them, haven’t you? These Matcha green tea macarons are by award-winning pastry chef, Sadaharu Aoki. For nearly 20 years, he has been amazing the Parisians with his Japanese influences to French pâtisserie. His yuzu citrus macarons pack a delicious punch, as do the black sesame. But for me, his tea-infused macarons are extra special such as Earl Grey, Hojicha grilled Japanese tea, and genmaïcha, which is a green tea combined with roasted brown rice.

Sadaharu Aoki paris macarons

Green tea, however, is the chef’s favourite addition to his pastries. Do you remember the Tokyo Macaron Yaki at the latest Salon du Chocolat in Paris, where Mr. Aoki came up with the idea of sandwiching and baking a chocolate macaron with a green tea waffle? It’s most unusual – and highly original – like an oozing chocolate waffle cake with the delicate taste of green tea.

Sadaharu Aoki Tokyo macaron yaki for the Salon du Chocolat Paris

This week was my birthday. So what? At 47, it’s nothing special but the day started out with a delivery from Waverley Books of a box of my book, “Teatime in Paris” (that sounded funny).  Of course, I had to share it with you on Instagram and Facebook, just as the neighbours probably heard the excited squeals down our street. Smells of new books are now also drifting around the house and they keep turning up next to pastry tastings.


Let me introduce you to Ginza: a raspberry, strawberry and hibiscus pastry which, like his other pastries are wonderfully light and not too sweet. I chose this primarily for the colour and to make a change from the Matcha-inspired pastries, but his green tea combinations are particularly stunning.

As such a creative artist, it’s no surprise to see this macaron wall art at Aoki’s boutique in Rue de Vaugirard.  I seriously would consider hanging this up at home. So, Monsieur Aoki, if you ever become  fed up with this on your wall, you can donate it to a happy and mad-about-macarons home. Just saying.

Macaron Wall Art by Sadaharu Aoki Paris

Meet Sadaharu Aoki’s Bamboo. It’s his more recent Japanese take on the classic Opera, which has had Parisians singing its praises for the past 60 years. Like the Opera cake, each fancy layer is made up of joconde biscuit, buttercream, chocolate ganache, syrup and glaçage – but in place of the traditional coffee syrup to accompany the chocolate, chef Aoki exchanges it with Matcha green tea and adds a splash of Kirsch liqueur, which helps add that special tonality or timbre to the opera singing!

Bambou patisserie from Sadaharu Aoki Paris

As I’ve been writing this at teatime, the squirrel corner in the kitchen above the kettle reminded me of Aoki’s green tea white chocolate wafer thin bar with lightly toasted black and white sesame seeds.  I nibbled on it with some Earl Grey tea which was a great combination but I’m sure any professional tea connoisseur would have me grilled for that.

matcha green tea chocolate by Aoki

I’ll take you to Aoki’s tea salon another time. It’s on Boulevard de Port-Royal and I have a feeling that his Matcha Green Tea Millefeuille or Matcha éclairs are needing just another taste with a cup of tea.

Sadaharu Aoki
35 Rue de Vaugirard
75006 Paris

Metro: Rennes or Saint Sulpice
The boutique is closed on Mondays but Aoki is also at Galéries Lafayette Gourmet store on Boulevard Haussmann.


Profiterole Chérie Tea Salon in the Marais

Ever since Profiterole Chérie opened in Paris’s upper Marais in December, I’ve been itching to go. The two times I’d managed to get there from our banlieue outskirts on a cold, wintry evening on the way to one of my favourite restaurants in the area, I’d see the boutique closed with its beckoning pink and black decor and neon lighting.  That takes some going, I have to say, as the boutique doesn’t close until 8pm. Luckily I was given a push when Lindsey of LostinCheeseland proposed we went for a tasting.

Profiterole Chérie, Rue Debelleyme Paris

Profiterole Cherie, Rue Debelleyme, Paris

The boutique is the latest brilliant concept of celebrity pastry chef, Philippe Urraca, who won the accolade of Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF) in pâtisserie in 1993 and since 2003, has been Président of the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France Pâtissiers. He is not only seen frequently on French TV  but he was a most kind and approachable personality at the annual Salon du Chocolat in Paris – but I shall not embarrass him here with my goofy smiles with our look-at-me-simple-mum-with-top-pastry-chef pic taken together.

Profiterole Cherie tea salon Marais in Paris

Notice the shop across the street? Jean Colonna is a haute couture designer – we perhaps share the same surname and dentist but one day I’ll pluck up the courage to step into his fashion boutique. In the meantime I’ll just munch on choux puff profiteroles and gaze across the road in ecstasy.

Freshly prepared in front of you at the pâtisserie bar, all profiteroles are based on a small choux bun with craquelin (crumble topping) and once you’ve chosen from the tempting choice of current 11 “Ma Chérie” flavours, the welcoming staff delicately mount the sweet piece of art in front of you.

Preparing cream puffs at Profiterole Cherie Paris

Either sit at the bar and admire the assemblage (requiring an extreme test of will-power as you watch each concoction pass by) or choose a relaxing – albeit squeaky – light grey leather chair from one of the spaced out tables, as you admire the dusky pink and shiny black interior reflected by giant mirrors.

I chose Ma Chérie Caramel, filled with caramel ice cream and served with a little plastic pot of caramel sauce.  I also couldn’t resist this Ma Chérie Citron meringué, with a lemon cream, candied lemon, meringue sticks and frilly meringue collar, finished off with lime zest, gold leaf and its little accompanying pot of tart lemon sauce.  I was so in awe of gazing at Lindsey’s Mont-Blanc that I completely forgot about the sauces.  The Earl Grey tea I chose was spot on, although next time I do hope they’ll serve their teas in teapots; somehow, paper cups just don’t give the beautiful pastries justice.

Lemon meringue choux puff by MOF pastry chef Philippe Urraca

There are plenty more exquisite iced (glacées) or cream profiteroles (pâtissières) like this one to choose from. Chef Philippe Urraca has also written a book in French entirely dedicated to his choux pastry art, and it’s no surprise at his title: Profiteroles.

Well I managed to restrict myself to only two flavours with good old French-style willpower so that just means I’ll have to return to try the others!  You’ll love it.

Profiterole Chérie

UPDATE: Sadly, this boutique has now closed.

17 rue Debelleyme
75003 Paris (North Marais)

Metro: Fille du Calvaire (line 8)
Vélib’ stations 3003, 11045


Disclaimer: I was not in any way sponsored or invited as a guest by Profiterole Chérie and all opinions are entirely my own.