We are celebrating the return of the Olympics with sunflowers by using sunflower seeds in our baking. This is the recipe for our sunflower seed baguette. Sunflowers from the Miyagi area of Japan are featured at the Olympics. The organizers said that after the earthquake and tsunami, the parents planted sunflowers on a hillside in Miyagi in memory of their children who died, and every year now the hill becomes covered with sunflowers.

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We love the look of this fig star bread. We first saw the star shaped bread in Italy. A soft sweet bread that looks very festive, but is actually very easy to make. The bread is made from a basic sweet bread dough, and for this version we used fig jam and fresh figs.

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The cassoulet at Au Pied de Cochon – the perfect Parisian brasserie – was one of the highlights of visiting Paris. On this particular trip, we were there in the winter, so the restaurant was serving le Cassoulet Toulousain. This means it is in the style of the way it is made in Toulouse, which is a classic. It is made with pork shoulder, duck confit, garlic sausage and topped with bread crumbs. With some research, I was able to recreate the recipe at home.

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Laduree in Paris

We diligently tried all the best french macarons in Paris, but nothing compared to Laduree! Maybe it was the pastel colors, or the uber cute shop, or the matching ribbons and tissue paper with the Laduree insignia, but nobody does it like Laduree!

(A list of our favorite tips for traveling with a camera is included at the end of this blog)

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Almonds at Weddings

Candied almonds have historically been given as wedding gifts or served to the guests as wedding favors.  In France, Calissons d’Aix en Provence are said to have been served at the wedding of the king in the 1400s.  The Italians serve five almonds to signify five wishes for the bride and groom –  health, wealth, happiness, children and long life.  known by many names – dragee, confetti, Jordan Almonds, mlabas, koufeta – they are popular at many American weddings as well.