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January 13

or October 1(relics)

Saint of the day:
St. Remigius

Patron Saint of France


The Story of Saint Remigius

St. Remigius or Remi, Bishop of Rheims was the great apostle of the Franks, and was illustrious for his learning, sanctity and miracles, which in his episcopacy of seventy and more years, rendered his name famous in the church. As a boy he made great progress in learning, and in the opinion of St. Sidonius Apollinaris, who was acquainted with him in the earlier part of his life, he became the most eloquent person in that age. When only twenty-two, too young to be a priest, much less a bishop, he was chosen in 459 to fill the vacant See of Rheims. But he was ordained and consecrated in spite of his youth, and amply made up for lack of experience by his fervor and energy. Under the protection of King Clovis, who was baptized by Remigius, St. Remigius spread the gospel of Christ among the Franks, in which work God endowed him with an extraordinary gift of miracles. The bishops who were assembled in a conference that was held at Lyons against the Arians in his time, declared they were stirred to exert their zeal in defense of the Catholic Faith by the example of Remigius, "who", say they, "has everywhere destroyed the altars of the idols by a multitude of miracles and signs." St. Remigius, whom St. Gregory of Tours refers to as "a man of great learning, fond of rhetorical studies, and equal in his holiness to St. Silvester", died about the year 530.








Basilica of Saint Remigius

Rue Saint-Julien, 51100 Reims, France






Les Treize Desserts de Noël

Thirteen desserts of Christmas are a tradition in Provence. They are enjoyed after le gros souper – the big supper. These thirteen desserts represent Jesus and his twelve apostles at the Last SupperThere must always be thirteen desserts, but the composition varies greatly from village to village. However, they will always be served at the same time, on the same table and each guest must have at least a small taste of each dessert. The food traditionally is set out on Christmas Eve and remains for three days until December 27th. This allows the family to nibble as they pass the table. 

Thirteen desserts sounds like gastronomic overload, but as you’ll see, they are actually very healthy. 

The Thirteen Desserts

The first four are “les quartre mendiants”. These four beggars represent monastic communities: walnuts or hazelnuts symbolizing the order of St Augustin, almonds for the Carmelites, raisins for the Dominicans, and dry figs for the Franciscans. And then there is fougasse or pompe à l’huile. This is an olive oil flatbread eaten with grape jam made during the last harvest season. The tradition is to break the bread into individual servings with the fingers, rather than cut the bread with a knife. This is said to protect your wealth from bankruptcy in the coming year. 

Two nougats are next. White symbolizes good (made with pine nuts, pistachio and hazelnuts) and black nougat for evil (made with caramelized honey cooked with almonds).

So that makes seven so far.  The rest can vary considerably according to the region, but they could include: 

  • Dates (perhaps stuffed with marzipan) representing the foods of the region where Christ lived and died

  • Dried plums from Brignoles

  • Calisson d’aix en Provence – a marzipan-like candy made from almond paste and candied melon

  • Quince fruit paste or jam

  • Candied melons

  • Casse-dents of Allauch – a biscuit

  • Cumin and fennel seed biscuits

  • Fried bugnes

  • Pain d’epice

  • Fruit tourtes

  • Oreillettes – light thin waffles

And finally, a platter of fresh seasonal fruit usually counts as one dessert, and is always served. It can be a selection of oranges (a sign of wealth), apples, pears, Christmas melon, plums and grapes. What a treat!  However, for les enfants (children), there is a catch.  In some households, the children are not able to start eating until they’re able to name all thirteen desserts of Christmas on display.

Oreillettes à l'abricot


For the crème pâtissière

  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) milk

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 large egg yolk

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
    and cut into small pieces


For the pastries

  • 2 x sheets frozen puff pastry
    (each of mine were 227g and 10x10-inches/ 25x25cm)

  • 12 fresh apricots, halved

To assemble

  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten for egg wash

  • Pearl sugar


Make the crème pâtissière:

  1. In a medium pot, bring the milk to a boil over medium-high heat (or you can do this in a microwave)

  2. In the meantime, whisk the egg, yolk, sugar and cornstarch together in a separate medium pot.

  3. Once the milk has just reached a boil, remove it from the heat and pour a couple of teaspoons of milk into the egg yolk mixture and whisk until combined. Whisk quickly so you don’t scramble the eggs.

  4. Slowly pour in the rest of the hot milk, whisking constantly, and place this pot over medium-high heat.

  5. Continue to whisk until the mixture starts to thicken and produce large, slow bubbles. This should take 3 to 5 minutes. It should be quite thick (it should coat the back of a wooden spoon). Remove the pot from the heat.

  6. Transfer the mixture to a clean bowl and whisk gently to cool the mixture down slightly. Let it sit for a few minutes.
    Whisk in the vanilla and then the butter, a couple of pieces at a time, until completely incorporated.

  7. Cover the crème pâtissière with plastic wrap, with the wrap touching the surface to prevent a skin forming, allow it to come to room temperature (you can use it in the recipe now or refrigerate until you are ready to use).

Assemble the pastries

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375˚F. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.

  2. Unroll the thawed, but chilled, puff pastry sheets and cut each sheet into quarters. Place four pastry squares on each baking tray.

  3. Place a heaping tablespoon's worth of the crème pâtissière in the middle of each pastry square and use the back of a spoon to spread this across the middle of the square, diagonally.

  4. Place three apricot halves on top of the crème pâtissière.

  5. Fold two opposite corners of the pastry in to meet over the top of the centre apricot.

  6. Brush the bottom corner of the pastry with some eggwash and lay the other corner on top, pressing slightly so it sticks.

  7. Brush the whole pastry (not the apricots) with eggwash and sprinkle with a little pearl sugar.

  8. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the pastry is golden and puffed.

  9. Remove from the oven, transfer the pastries to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool slightly. Brush the apricots with the warm jam/ jelly.

  10. Serve warm or at room temperature. Best enjoyed the day they are made!



Crustacés et Coquillages

Seafood Platters are eaten at this time of year and are served with love!

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