Cooking the Book: The Little French Bistro by Nina George

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“White witches should be very skilled at baking,” Pascale said as she showed her how to prepare the gâteau breton, but however hard she tried, Marianne’s cakes never tasted as luscious and as enticing as Pascale’s.”  -The Little French Bistro, Nina George, 2017.

With a title like “The Little French Bistro,” you know food is going to play an important role in the novel. Armchair traveler foodies will delight in the descriptions of classic Breton cuisine. In fact, the ability to cook is critical to the protagonist. It helps her find employment and a place in her new community.

If you are looking for something sweet to enjoy while reading the book try Gâteau Breton, also known as kouign-amann, Brittany’s shortbread. Perhaps you will even discover a bit of magic in your first slice.

“Some said that it took a sprinkling of magic to make a kouign so good that it would enchant a person’s heart forever, so they would never forget where they had eaten their first slice. -The Little French Bistro, Nina George, 2017.

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Gâteau Breton

Ingredients

350g plain flour

350g salted butter

300g sugar

6 egg yolks (+ 1 extra for brushing over)

A splash of rum (optional)

Method

Mix together the flour and sugar then gradually mix in the butter.

Add the egg yolks as you knead the dough – normally by hand – and the rum if you wish. Don’t knead the dough for too long, only long enough to incorporate all the ingredients.

Spread out the dough in a deep, round ovenproof dish or springform mould.

Using a fork, etch diagonal stripes onto the surface, then coat with a yolk egg-wash for a golden finish.

Bake for around 45 minutes at 180°C, leave it to cool then take it out of the dish or mould.

This cake keeps for a long time and some believe it tastes even better after a few days. It is usually served in slices with a cup of good coffee. It can also be served with a little jam or prune conserve – but whichever way it’s served, it’s delicious.

Sources:

First image: finisterebrittany.com

Second Image: Unattributed via Pinterest

Recipe: finisterebrittany.com

 

The Minister’s Cat Brings You the Letter “A”

I read Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” in grade school, and it quickly became one of my favorite books. I re-read it every year, and enjoy watching several versions of the movie.

Some of the movies show an invisible Scrooge dancing around his nephew’s party while the guests play “The Minister’s Cat.” I don’t know the rules, but it looks fairly straightforward.

All players sit in a circle, and the first player describes the minister’s cat with an adjective beginning with the letter ‘A’ (for example, “The minister’s cat is an adorable cat”) Each player then does the same, using different adjectives starting with the same letter. Once everyone has done so, the first player describes the cat with an adjective beginning with the letter ‘B’. This continues for each letter of the alphabet.

A player is “out” of the game if they are unable to think of an adjective, or if they repeat one previously used. Players may clap in unison or speak in a rhythmic manner during the game, setting the pace for each player to speak his line; if a player falls too far behind the pace while thinking of an adjective, he may also be declared “out.”

It goes like this:

 

 

I thought it might be fun to play online, but with a twist. Since this is a bookish site, you have to post a picture of a cat, preferably yours, with a book, newspaper, letter or other reading paraphernalia.

To start, I have two examples.

The Minister’s Cat is an agile cat.12308496_715461405221150_5018020163434121162_n

The Minister’s Cat is an attentive cat.

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I plan to upload a new letter and cat every day. Do you have a cat image to play along?

Today is the LETTER “A” ONLY, or you’ll be out!