Thursday, December 31, 2009

French to English: Recipes for Christmas, Part 7 (and last recipe!)

Happy New Year, folks! 

happy new year

It's exactly 7:37 pm on December 31 and I'm feeling ambivalent about 2009.  Was it a good year?  From the learning aspect, I'd say it was an excellent year.  What I mean by learning is not so much the intellectual type of learning.  Let's just say it was an extraordinarily culinary year for me.

I turned to cooking and baking early this year.  I was never fond of the kitchen, but thinking about it now, my desire to learn had something to do with the death of my father in August 2008.  He was a hearty eater and I suspect he was just a tad disappointed that I did not have any culinary skills.  If he were alive today and observed my puttering about in the kitchen, he'd be grinning from ear to ear...

What comes to mind when we want to go all out and celebrate the New Year?  Many of my friends will readily say "champagne", but who can make champagne these days unless one owns a vineyard?

May I suggest lait de poule (eggnog) instead?  I looked for a recipe in French web sites and came across this one from "supertoinette" at  What's good about it is it's made at home and is chocolate-flavored! 
I have never tried making eggnog from scratch because supermarket shelves are stocked with them.  It's tempting to just grab a couple of cartons and serve them to guests when you've got other dishes to make from scratch.  Perhaps next year you and I will want to make homemade eggnog with chocolate.

Supertoinette's advice:  make sure the eggs are fresh, and don't keep the eggnog for more than a day - even if refrigerated!

Here's the recipe translated into English.  It's written in the first person.
This recipe will serve three people.  Use this web site to convert metric to American measurements:

Pour la casserole / In a bowl:

100 g de lait écrémé
100 grams of skim milk
13 g de vanille liquide
13 g of vanilla extract (the writer says "liquid" here as opposed to using a fresh vanilla pod or bean)
200 g de crème allégée
200 grams of light cream (use 5% - 8% cream)

Pour le robot mixeur / In the electric mixer:

100 g de chocolat noir en tablette
100 grams of a black chocolate bar
71 g de jaunes d'oeuf, très frais
71 grams of very fresh egg yolks

Préparation / Preparation:

1.  Je casse le chocolat en morceaux.  Dans une casserole moyenne, je verse le lait, la vanille liquide, la crème.
English:  I break the chocolate bar into pieces.  In a medium-size bowl, I pour the milk, vanilla and cream.

2.  Porter à ébullition, puis éteindre. Je secoue doucement pour faire tomber le blanc d'oeuf avec l'appareil de mamie.
English:  Bring the milk mixture to a boil and then turn off heat.  I gently break the eggs in an egg separator.  (The writer says "appareil de mamie" and I believe she's referring to the gadget that her child is holding).

3.  Je mets les jaunes dans un bol et les blancs dans un second récipient et je les garde pour une autre utilisation, les ranger au frigo immédiatement. Je pèse le poids des jaunes pour les noter sur la recette.
English:  I put the egg yolks in a bowl and the egg whites in a second container which I will use for another recipe, putting them in the fridge immediately.  I weigh the egg yolks and jot down their weights on the recipe card.

4.  Je verse la préparation chaude dans le bol du mixeur et je mets tous les morceaux de chocolat. Je laisse tourner 50 secondes, il suffit de compter jusqu'à 50.
English:  I pour the hot mixture into the mixer and add all the chocolate pieces.  I turn on the motor for about 50 seconds (just count until 50).

5.  Les morceaux de chocolats ont fondus dans la préparation. Je verse maintenant les jaunes d'oeuf. Je mets en route pour la deuxième fois le mixeur et je recompte jusqu'à 50. Je verse le lait de poule au chocolat dans des verres ou des bols !
English:  The pieces of chocolate have melted.  I now pour the egg yolks.  I turn on the mixer for the second time and count until 50.  I then pour the eggnog mixture into glasses or into small bowls!


Monday, December 28, 2009

French to English: Recipes for Christmas, Part 6

This classic French pastry never fails to please the taste buds; there are many ways of making it and I'm sure each one - French or not - has a recipe that's similar.  I'm talking about the brioche - a favorite breakfast item that perks up the appetite.  Many countries have their own versions of the brioche; the one that we have back home which comes close to it is the ensaymada - a sweet bread that's very soft and is topped with sugar and strips of cheese. 

This brioche recipe is from a French web site. I was puzzled when I saw the words "oeuf tempéré" and "beurre tempéré" ; I wasn't sure if the recipe writer meant egg (oeuf) and butter (beurre) at room temperature or a tempered egg as we know it in English.  Cooks say that to make tempered eggs when combined with a hot liquid, small amounts of the hot liquid should be added to the eggs gradually so that the eggs don't curdle or get lumpy. 

Why don't we look at this brioche recipe and see what the writer meant by "oeuf et beurre tempéré." Usually we can make an educated guess by reading the recipe to the end.

Let's begin with the ingredients (this recipe is for one brioche)!
To convert measurements, I use this web site to help me in converting amounts of dry and wet ingredients: - an indispensable tool!

375 g de farine
375 grams of flour
20 g de levure de boulanger
20 grams of baker's yeast (also known as fresh yeast)
200 g de lait
200 grams of milk
65 g de sucre
65 grams of sugar
65 g de beurre tempéré
65 grams of butter at room temperature (or tempered butter) ?
1/2 cuillère à soupe raz de sel
1/2 tbsp sea salt
1 oeuf tempéré et 1 oeuf pour la dorure
1 egg at room temperature (or tempered egg) and 1 egg for egg wash

Étapes / Steps
1.  Délayez la levure dans 4 cuillère à soupe de lait tiède.
English:  Dissolve the yeast in 4 tablespoons of warm milk.

2.  Dans un saladier, faites un puits avec la farine tamisée, le sucre et le sel, y mélanger la levure, l’oeuf et le lait.
English:  In a bowl, make a hole (in center of bowl) with the sifted flour, sugar and salt and then add the yeast, egg and the rest of the milk.

3.  Battez la pâte dans le saladier jusqu’a ce qu’elle se décolle des bords.
English:  Mix the dough until it comes away from the sides of the bowl.

4.  Incorporez le beurre coupé en morceaux et battez la pâte à nouveau.
English:  Blend in the cut pieces of butter and mix the dough again.

5.  Laissez-la ensuite reposer 1h, elle doit doubler de volume.
English:  Let the dough rest for one hour; it should double in size.

6.  Rabattez la pâte, coupez-la en 4 parts égales, formez des pâtons et les placer côte à côte dans un moule à cake et laisser à nouveau reposer 1h.
English:  Fold the dough and cut it into 4 equal parts, shaping them.  Put them side by side in a cake pan (my comment:  you can use a muffin pan or loaf pan) and let them rest another hour.

7.  Faites une incision avec un couteau bien aiguisé (ou des ciseaux) au centre de chaque pâton et dorer la brioche à l’oeuf.
English:  With a sharp knife or pair of scissors, cut through the center of each dough piece and brush with egg wash.

8.  Enfournez la brioche à four moyen (200 °C) pendant 35 min.
English:  Bake the brioche at medium heat (200 degrees Centigrade or 400 degrees Fahrenheit) for 35 minutes.

Take a guess.  What does "tempéré" mean in this context?  Reading the instructions, it appears that the recipe writer meant eggs and butter at room temperature.  It doesn't call for tempering - the way we understand it in English - as there is no hot liquid involved.
Being an amateur bread maker, I have some questions that are not addressed in this recipe.  For example:
  • lait tiède - this is warm water.  The writer, however, did not specify how warm the water should be.  For someone who is baking the first time, it is important to explain how tiède is tiède.  Experienced bakers know that the temperature should be within the range of 90 degrees to 115 degrees F.  Novice bakers won't know that.  Anything above 115 degrees would kill the yeast.
  • in the list of ingredients, the writer simply mentions "farine", but in the steps, the phrase "farine tamisée" appears.  Are we supposed to sift the flour before mixing it with the sugar and salt?  Also, there are many kinds of flour - did the writer mean all-purpose, cake flour, wheat flour, unbleached or bleached?
  • How come the dough is not kneaded?  From what I know, brioche is made by kneading dough (to develop the gluten).
  • My egg wash is usually an egg mixed in with a bit of water or milk - depending on how you want your glaze (shiny, matte, dark brown, light golden, etc)
I have Peter Reinhart's book - Bread Baker's Apprentice - and he provides three versions of a brioche.  He calls them his rich man's brioche, middle class brioche and poor man's brioche.  It is the amount of butter and eggs that distinguishes all three.  If you have his book, you'd be more inclined to follow his recipe for brioche because he gives detailed instructions.  I'm not saying his recipe is better than the one above, but for someone who's a stickler for detail, Reinhart goes out of his way to do some hand-holding.

By the way, there are no right pans for brioche.  Some don't even divide the dough into pieces; they form it into a whole wreath or as a sandwich loaf.  The way we know brioche here in Montreal is the way most patisseries in France make it - individual pieces each with a tiny ball on top.  Reinhart also explains in his book how to make this shape.  In the recipe above, the writer says to make an incision on top of the dough pieces - that works too!

If you want to make a charming brioche, use the brioche pans - they're available in most bake ware stores.  Or you can order them online from Amazon.  They look like this:


They're also available in six-piece pans like this:


Amazon has other brioche pans.  You just go with the ones that strike your fancy, but I recommend the ones appearing on the first image above.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

French to English: Recipes for Christmas, Part 5

Carole Clement and Elizabeth Wolf-Cohen wrote La Cuisine Française back in 1995.  At that time it was actually titled The French Recipe Cookbook and the French version was created in 2002 by Manise, a Geneva-based publisher.  I could not find it on Amazon but the same authors came up with a similar book -
The Best Ever French Cooking Course (1999).

The book is divided into seven sections:  soups and salads, vegetables and toppings, eggs and cheese, seafood, chicken and venison, meats, desserts and entremets.

For today's recipe, I have chosen Piperade Basque from page 70 of the book.  The authors explain that the word piperade comes from the Basque term "piper" which means pepper (bell pepper in this case).

It is a simple recipe and is a meal in itself.  And being  Asian and a lover of rice, I think this dish would sit beautifully on a bed of white rice.  Just spread the mixture on the rice and watch your guests' eyes pop!

Ingrédients / Ingredients:

4 cuillères à soupe de graisse d'oie ou d'huile d'olive
4 tbsp of goose fat or olive oil
2 oignons, grossièrement hachés
2 onions, chopped coarsely
3 ou 4 poivrons rouges ou verts (ou mélangés), vidés et hachés
3 or 4 red/green peppers (or a combination thereof), seeded and chopped
2 gousses d'ail, hachées fin
2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1 petite pincée de chili en poudre or de poivre de Cayenne
pinch of chili powder or Cayenne pepper
900 g de tomates, pelées, épépinées et hachées
900 grams tomatoes, peeled, seeds taken out and chopped
1/2 cuillère à soupe d'origan ou de thym déshydraté
1/2 tbsp of dried oregano or thyme
8 oeufs, légèrement battus
8 eggs, slightly beaten
sel et poivre noir au moulin
salt and black milled pepper
persil frais, pour garnir
fresh parsley, to garnish

Méthode / Method:
1.  Chauffez la graisse ou l'huile à feu doux, dans une grande poêle, à fond épais.

English:  In a large and deep frying pan, heat the oil in low heat.

2.  Ajoutez les oignons et laissez cuire 5 à 7 minutes, en remuant de temps en temps, jusqu'à ce qu'ils fondent.

English:  Add the onions and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally until they become transparent and soft.

3.  Incorporez les poivrons, l'ail, et le chili ou le poivre de Cayenne.

English:  Add the bell peppers, garlic, chili powder (or Cayenne pepper).

4.  Cuisez 5 minutes de plus, jusqu'à ce que les poivrons s'attendrissent, en rémuant fréquemment.

English:  Cook for another 5 minutes until the bell peppers become tender.  Stir frequently.

5.  Ajoutez les tomatoes et assaisonnez avec le sel, le poivre et les herbes.

English:  Add the tomatoes and season with the salt, pepper and herbs.

6.  Cuisez à feu moyen 15 à 20 minutes, pour que les poivrons sont bien cuits, le liquide évaporé, et que le mélange s'épaississe.

English:  Cook at medium heat for 15-20 minutes so that the bell peppers are cooked well, the liquid evaporates, and the mixture thickens.

7.  Remuez des temps en temps pour éviter de brûler et de coller au fond de la poêle.

English:  Stir frequently to prevent the mixture from burning and so that it doesn't stick to the pan.

8.  Ajoutez les oeufs battu, et laisser mijoter à feu doux 5 à 7 minutes, jusqu'à ce que le mélange ait épaisse et soit légèrement pris.  Parsemez de persil et servez.

English:  Add the beaten eggs and let simmer at low heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until the mixture thickens and is slightly done.  Garnish with parsley and serve!

Conseil du chef:   Une fois que les poivrons sont cuits, éliminez le liquide de cuisson restant, avant d'ajouter les oeufs, pour éviter que la piperade ne soit trop aqueuse.

Advice from the chef:  once the bell peppers are cooked, remove the remaining liquid before adding the eggs so that the peppers don't get watery.

Well folks, hope you enjoy one or all of these recipes.  I hope to be back with the last one before 2009 comes to a close.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

French to English: Recipes for Christmas, Part 4

Do you know what Lac St. Jean in Quebec is known for apart from the fact that it's part of the Saguenay region and it links up with the St. Lawrence River?  How about majestic lakes, beautiful fjords, miles of blueberry paths and of course...Quebec's famous tourtière?

A chef once told me that if the tourtière is not from Lac St. Jean - or at least made the way it's supposed to be made - it's a toutière that just won't measure up.

Style: "Agfa" Tourtière is a must in Quebec households during the holidays.  Yes, turkey too, but it's the tourtière that hugs the limelight. 

The word itself - tourtière - means a pan or a dish that had legs used in France decades ago, said  Julian Armstrong (food editor and author).  She was interviewed, along with Richard Bergeron (famous Montreal chef)  by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on the subject of tourtière.  The discussion focused on  which is the authentic one, seeing that numerous recipes have come up.

Julian Armstrong says it really depends on where the cook comes from, so tourtière has its regional variations.  Richard Bergeron said that there are four types of spices that go into the making of tourtière:

  • cinnamon
  • cloves
  • allspice
  • nutmeg

These four spices go back to a practice in 17th century in France.  In Lac St. Jean, tourtière is not your typical meat pie.  It's more of a large and very deep pie dish with layers and layers of dough.  The idea behind making tourtière is to make it for a minimum of 18 persons.  This explains why a pot with a deep bottom is used.

Some tourtière recipes use ground beef, ground pork (or a combination), chicken livers; in Scottish settlements in Quebec, Ms. Armstrong said the tourtière is made with rolled oats, and among the Irish, potatoes are added.

The debate could drag endlessly about which tourtière is the real McCoy, but I'm afraid you won't get a definitive answer!

Instead of agonising over the genuine from the imitation or the adulterated version, let's get a tourtière recipe translated for you pronto! (Note:  this recipe has cloves, but not the other three spices above and is taken from, from "louisep" - a contributor to the site.

Ingrédients / Ingredients



850 g de porc haché, le plus gras possible

850 grams of ground pork (high fat pork)
3 petits oignons hachés 3 small onions, chopped
3-5 dents d'ail écrasées 3-5 cloves of garlic, crushed

2-3 tranches de pain déchiquetées

2-3 slices bread, torn to pieces

sel et poivre

salt and pepper
1 c. à s. chaque de thym et de sauge séchés tbsp each of dried thyme and sage

1/2 à 1 c. à soupe de clou de girofle moulu (au goût)

1/2 to 1 tbsp of ground cloves (to taste)

Procédure / Procedure

1.  Préparer 2 abaisses de votre pâte à tarte préférée et précuire le fond de tarte.

English:  Prepare two crusts of your favorite pie dough and pre-cook the bottom.

2.  Faire revenir les oignons et l'ail dans un peu de corps gras.

English:  Cook onions and garlic in fat.

3.  Ajouter la viande hachée et cuire doucement jusqu'à ce qu'elle soit complètement cuite.

English:  Add the ground pork and cook in low-medium heat until completely cooked.

4.  Ajouter les herbes et le clou de girofle, le sel et le poivre.

English:  Add the herbs, cloves, salt and pepper.

5. Ajouter, petit à petit la quantité de chapelure nécessaire pour absorber le gras.

English:  Gradually add enough breadcrumbs to absorb the fat.

6.  Remplir le fond de tarte précuit pour qu'il soit généreusement comble et recouvrir de la deuxième abaisse de tarte. Froncer les rebords.

English:  Spoon the pork mixture generously into the pie mold and then cover it with your second crust.  Seal the edges.

7.  Enfourner et cuire à 200C pendant 20 à 30 minutes pour que la pâte soit bien dorée.

English:  Bake at 200 degrees C (400 degrees F) for 20-30 minutes until the pastry turns golden brown.

8.  Servir chaud, tiède ou froid.

English:  Can be served hot, warm or cold.

If you're interested in the CBC interview, you can listen to it here:  It's a delightful interview, with good insights into French Canadian cuisine, back in the good old days!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

French to English: Recipes for Christmas, Part 3

I've given you recipes for breakfast pudding and Gérard Depardieu's Merlan Colbert.  Let's now try this dessert recipe.  It's a pie tart with apples and blueberry.

The recipe says "myrtilles" and I wasn't sure what it meant in English.  After checking with Termium and my old reliable Harrap's, I found out that they're blueberries - well, sort of.  "Bilberries" are more accurate; at least that's what they're called in Europe.  Termium says that they're also known as:

  • black whortleberry
  • burren murtle
  • dye berry
  • huckle berry
  • hurtle berry
  • whinberry
  • whortle berry
  • wineberry

To lessen the confusion, the ISO came up with a standardized definition:  bilberry.  Bilberries look like blueberries and they grow in parts of the US and in forests and woods in Europe.  They are five-seeded berries and are available commercially as dried fruit.

The recipe says that if you use fresh bilberries, you'll need to cook them first. One good thing about this pie tart is that you can use any kind of dough - puff pastry, short flake crust (a type of dough with a high percentage of fat so that you get this tender, crumbly crust) or shortbread pastry (has a grainy texture).

It's an easy recipe you can do in a nano second for guests who are dropping by at short notice.  It is perhaps a good idea to stock up on store-bought pie dough during the holidays so you can just thaw them and roll them out with the minimum of fuss.

This recipe is called "Tarte aux pommes et aux myrtilles" and I got it from

Ingrédients / Ingredients



1 pâte à tarte (feuilletée, brisée ou sablée)

1 pie dough (puff pastry, short flake or shortbread)

1 pot de myrtilles en conserve

i jar of bilberry jam
4 pommes 4 apples (recipe does not specify what kind of apples, so use your favorite)





Note:  whoever wrote this recipe did not specify quantities, and assumed you're accustomed to making pies with your eyes closed.  I know, some recipe writers assume too much.  I feel the same way when I'm reading a user's guide for a software product.

Your best bet in this case is, if you're using bilberry jam, scale back on the cinnamon and sugar and start with teaspoon quantities.

Also:  I would not use green or bitter apples for this one.  I'd go with a "safe" variety like Royal Gala.

Étapes / Steps:

1.  Eplucher et couper les pommes en morceaux dans une casserole avec un peu d'eau au fond afin d'obtenir une compote.

English:  Peel and slice apples.  Put them in a casserole and heat them with a bit of water to turn them into a compote.

2.  Etaler la pâte à tarte dans le moule, la piquer avec une fourchette et répartir dans le fond les myrtilles puis compléter avec la compote de pommes.

English:  Spread out the dough in your pie pan or mould and prick holes with a fork.  Pour your bilberries and then pour your apple compote above the bilberries.

3.  Saupoudrer de canelle et de sucre (ce n'est pas nécessaire si vous utilisez des myrtilles en conserve qui sont déjà sucrées) selon votre goût. Si vous utilisez des mirtilles fraîches, les faire cuire au préalable.

English:  Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar - according to taste - over the mixture (it isn't necessary to use cinnamon and sugar if you're already using bilberry jam which is sweet).  If you're using fresh bilberries, cook them first.

4.   Mettre au four à 200°C (th.6) et laisser cuire selon la pâte (feuilletée, brisée ou sablée) environ 30 mn.

English:  Bake in a 200 C oven (400 degrees F) for about 30 minutes (time will vary depending on the type of pie dough used).

Pour 4 personnes:  Good for 4 people.

You'll agree, this is a low-maintenance recipe, not requiring extraordinary acrobatics in the kitchen.  It would also be interesting to taste the combination of apples and bilberries!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

French to English: Recipes for Christmas, Part 2

Guess who said these words:

"Bien utilisés, les cinq sens que nous possédons nous aident à apprécier les plaisirs simples et authentiques de l'existence, comme cuisiner ou faire l'amour, et l'importance de partager ces moments de bonheur."

Translation: "If we use them well, our five senses help us to appreciate the simple and authentic pleasures of human existence, like cooking and making love, and to share these moments of happiness (with others)."

Clue:  he's a famous French actor, and has incontestable talents in drama and comedy.


Who doesn't recognize that face?

Gérard Depardieu, it turns out, is not only an actor and co-owner of a French winery, he's also an author of a book - Ma Cuisine (Éditions Solar, Paris, 2005 - ISBN:  2-263-03868-X).

Surprised?  So was I!  But then, a Parisian isn't a Parisian if he doesn't talk of gourmet delights.  Depardieu comes across as a larger than life persona, someone who makes the most of life.  So it isn't shocking that he's come up with a livre de recettes of his own.  Besides, he owns reputable and high-end restaurants as well as a winery that has produced winners!

The table of contents of Ma Cuisine tells us that Monsieur Depardieu can tackle anything:  appetizers, soups, seafood, meat and chicken, vegetables, and desserts.

For today's recipe, I have chosen his Merlan Colbert - a fish dish.  I know most people will be thinking "turkey" during the holidays and probably won't venture into serving fish because not many people eat it at Christmas time.  But I'm sure there are some of you who would not mind deviating from the traditional turkey. 

Google pointed me to Brian St. Pierre's web site,  He explains that Merlan Colbert is a whiting fish which is breaded and fried in clarified butter.  It is also called Merlan de ligne Colbert and the French restaurant in Paris - La Fontaine Gaillon - is known for it.  Guess who owns the restaurant?

Here's Depardieu's recipe which I've translated for you!  The only thing is, there is no mention of clarified butter.  Mind you, there are many ways of cooking Merlan and this is probably his favorite version.  It's also a very simple recipe (Note: where he says 3 tablespoons of flour and breadcrumbs - I think you may need more).

Ingrédients / Ingredients



4 beaux merlans bien frais 4 very fresh whitings
3 cuillères à soupe bien bombées de farine 3 heaping tablespoons of flour (Depardieu does not say what kind of flour)
2 oeufs 2 eggs
3 cuillères à soupe de chapelure 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
sel, poivre salt, pepper
2 citrons jaunes 2 young lemons
1/2 bouqet de persil plat half bunch of flat parsley (not the curly parsley)
1 bain de friture 1 pan with hot oil

Procédure / Procedure

1. Nettoyez les merlans, séchez-les dans du papier absorbant, levez-les par le dos - c'est-à-dire tirez rapidement la queue pour retirer l'arête centrale, désarêtez-les avec une pince à épiler et laissez-les en attente.

English:  Clean the whitings and dry them with kitchen towels.  Raise them holding their back; that is, quickly grasp the tails to remove their middle bone.  Debone them with a pair of tweezers.  Set them aside.

(My comment:  I would ask the fish store to debone and clean them - will save you some time - and frustration)

2. Mettez dans une première assiete la farine; dans une deuxième assiette, cassez les oeufs, saulez, poivrez et battez-les légèrement; dans une troisième assiette, placez la chapelure.

English:  (you'll need 2 separate plates and a bowl for this step).  On the first plate, spread the flour.  In the bowl, break the eggs, add salt and pepper and beat lightly.  On the second  plate, spread the breadcrumbs.

3.  Faites chauffer l'huile de friture à 180 C.

English:  Heat the oil until it reaches 180 degrees C.

4.  Passez rapidement les merlans, un par un, dans la farine, puis trempez-les dans l'oeuf battu et enfin roulez-les dans la chapelure.  Lorsque les merlans sont bien enveloppés de cette panure, plongez-les dans l'huile brûlante, laissez-les cuire pendant une quinzaine de minutes.

English:  One by one, quickly coat the whitings in flour,  soak them in the egg mixture and then roll them in breadcrumbs, making sure they're well-coated.  Fry them in the oil and leave them to cook for about 15 minutes.

5.  After they're cooked, lift them with a skimming ladle and place them on a very hot plate.  Put the lemons (cut in two segments) along the sides and sprinkle flat parsley over the fish.

Temps de préparation / Preparation time:  15 minutes

Temps de cuisson / Cooking time :  15 minutes

Pour 4 personnes:  for 4 people

Note:  there are numerous kinds of whiting.  If you're not sure what to buy, perhaps someone there has heard of Merlan Colbert, so just say, "pour faire la recette Merlan Colbert de Monsieur Depardieu!"  According to a food writer, the merlan's fresh when its eyes still look silver and "shiny."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

French to English: Recipes for Christmas, Part 1

It's that time of the year when your weekly shopping list is a little longer, and you're wondering whether or not you should invite friends over, and then agonise over what you're going to serve them.

combo croissants cranberry

Not last year's potato gratin again, or the spinach and cheese omelette that almost burned because you lost track of time.  It's a juggling act trying to focus on what's on the stove and what's inside the oven while you carry on a conversation with your guests.  They're oblivious to the fact that you need to concentrate and keep your eyes on the oven timer.

It's Christmas, folks!  The papers are starting to come out with articles about how not to get stressed, how not to go over budget and how not to get indigestion and heart burn.

A writer once said that Christmas is just one huge domestic hiccup.  She said she'd rather skip the whole ritual and the chitter-chatter, not to mention the sweaty times in the mall and the "someone stole my car" as you go around merrily in the parking lot.  While it's tempting to relax 100% and be in your PJs on Christmas Day with the fireplace burning and a book of ghost stories, no can do!

After all, Christmas is the time to renew friendships, to open your home, your arms, your wallet and your spirit. 

So let's get the kitchen going!

For the rest of December, my blogs will feature recipes from French web sites or magazines.  I will translate these recipes for you in case you chance upon my blog and you're also wondering what to make for Christmas.  The ingredients will be in table format, while the procedure will be presented this way:  French step first followed by the the English step.

I'm starting with pudding because it's the all time favorite comfort food.  Also, it warms the heart when it's minus 20 outside, a welcome change from the usual eggs and bacon breakfast!

This recipe is called Pouding aux croissants et aux canneberges.  It's from the web site of Coup de Pouce, a French Canadian weekly magazine owned by the Transcontinental Group of Companies.(

Pouding aux Croissants et aux canneberges (Pudding with Croissants and Cranberries)

Ingrédients / Ingredients:



6 oeufs légèrement battus

6 eggs, slightly beaten

500 ml (2 tasses) de lait

500 ml (2 cups) milk

500 ml (2 tasses) de crème à 10 %

500 ml (2 cups) 10% cream

180 ml (3/4 tasse) de sucre

180 ml (3/4 cup) sugar

10 ml (2 c. à thé) de zeste d'orange râpé

10 ml (2 teaspoons) of grated orange peel

5 ml (1 c. à thé) de vanille

5 ml (1 teaspoon) vanilla

6 gros croissants de 5 po x 3 po (13 cm x 8 cm), coupés en cubes de1 1/4 po (3 cm)

6 large croissants measuring 5 inches by 3 inches (13 cm x 8 cm), cut into 1/4 inch size cubes

250 ml (1 tasse) de sauce aux canneberges

250 ml (1 cup) cranberry sauce

Procédure / Procedure:

1. Dans un grand bol, mélanger les oeufs, le lait, le sucre, le zeste d'orange et la vanille. Réserver.

English:  In a large bowl, mix the eggs, milk, sugar, orange zest and vanilla.  Set aside.

2. Dans un plat en verre de 13 po x 9 po (33 cm x 23 cm) allant au four, graissé, répartir uniformément la moitié des croissants.

English:  Grease a 13 in x 9 inch (33 cm x 23 cm) oven glass pie dish and spread half of the cubed croissants evenly.

3. À l'aide d'une cuillère, couvrir de la sauce aux canneberges et parsemer du reste des croissants.

English:  Using a spoon, spread the cranberry sauce over the croissants, then spoon the rest of the croissants as the final layer.

4. Verser lentement la préparation au lait réservée sur la  préparation aux croissants et laisser reposer pendant 15 minutes, en pressant de temps à autre avec le dos d'une cuillère pour bien les imbiber.

English:  Slowly pour the milk mixture (which you set aside) over the croissants and let rest for 15 minutes.  Press the mixture with the back of a spoon to make sure that all the croissants are well soaked.

4. Cuire le pouding au four préchauffé à 350°F (180°C) pendant 50 minutes ou jusqu'à ce qu'il soit gonflé et qu'un couteau inséré dans le centre en ressorte propre.

English:  Pre-heat the oven at 350 degrees.  Bake the pudding for 50 minutes or until it has fully expanded and a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.

5.  Temps de repos: 15 minutes

English:  Wait 15 minutes before serving.

Note:  Vous pouvez préparer le pouding jusqu'à l'étape 2 et le couvrir; il se conservera jusqu'à 12 heures au réfrigérateur.

English:  You can prepare the pudding up to step 2.  Cover and refrigerate.  It will keep for 12 hours in the fridge.

How do you make your pudding?

By the way, this isn't a literal translation.  If I did a literal translation, your pudding might end up in the you-know-what!

Monday, December 7, 2009

French to English: Marketing, Part 3


We've come to our third and final instalment of marketing terms.

marketing part 3 Marketing observers will agree that the 1990s ushered in a new focus for marketing strategy at corporate level.  It used to be that corporate marketing guidelines covered product, sales and distribution. A fourth perspective - socially responsible marketing - became part of the marketing landscape in the 90s.  Today, as we're about to end a decade since the millennium, the social responsibility component is reflected in the "green shift" - the unceasing preoccupation about protecting the environment at all costs.  I think our thanks are due to David Suzuki, Al Gore and all the other tireless activists who have been sounding the alarm about how we've become negligent as a nation towards our fragile environment.

The residential and industrial construction industry is well-positioned to take advantage of this concern for the environment by placing a priority on energy-efficient methods and products.  Our province's public utilities also pride themselves in feeding us with constant reminders about how to conserve fuel and tips on how to winterize our homes.

In short, the combination of marketing and the environment makes for a successful recipe that businesses can use if they want to be identified as being at the forefront of the collective social conscience.

This brings to mind a few newspaper articles I translated for Nuns' Island Magazine.  These articles were written by the editor who sometimes attends community meetings initiated by a real estate developer in Nuns Island.  When they hold meetings with residents, they don't necessarily do a direct sell of the condo towers they're building and promoting; instead they focus discussions on how their real estate goals do not in any way interfere with the area's natural habitats. 

Nuns' Island is an upper income residential area in Verdun Borough; residents are particularly proud of their lake (Lac de Battures) and natural forest where hundreds of bird species can be found.  Home developers in Nuns Island are aware of this and try, as much as possible, to respect the concerns of residents.  image

When marketing a real estate project, builders can follow the lead by this Nuns Island developer.  During meetings with residents, they describe the environment-friendly materials they use and the strategies they're keen on employing to keep heating and cooling costs down. (The bird photo above was taken from the web site of Nuns Island,

Sometimes, indirect marketing carries more punch than direct marketing methods.  Because the public is made up of enlightened and educated consumers, marketing experts must bear in mind that there are occasions when the unspoken word is stronger and more persuasive. Marketing a residential project could be successful if developers promote - and prove - that the project will not harm the environment.



aptitude à la vente sales ability
langage du corps body language
qualités relationnelles interpersonal skills
aptitude à trouver des solutions solution-finding skills
autogestion self-management skills
marché cible target market
conclure la vente close the sale
gérer les objections handle objections
couverture du marché market coverage
niveau d'intensité level of intensity
rapidité de la commercialisation speed to market
merchandising à gamme limitée limited-line merchandising

For the rest of December, I'll translate French culinary recipes into English - my way of adding to the festive atmosphere of the Christmas season. 

Friday, December 4, 2009

French to English: Marketing, Part 2


Online marketing has morphed into a sophisticated package of multiple strategies that it is difficult to decide which strategy works best.  Marketing gurus will say:  it all depends on what you want to accomplish, what your web site or blog is all about and who your target audience is.  Ah, target audience - I love that word.

Because I do plenty of research on the Web and have shopped online for merchandise like books, kitchenware, electronics and software, I frequently receive marketing e-mails.  view cart Sometimes I regret signing up for newsletters and other e-mail offerings.  My box gets flooded and I don't even get to read them, either because I've reached a saturation point or just don't have the time.  Of course I can always unsubscribe, but there are times the e-mails come back despite the fact that I've requested to be taken off their mailing list. 

I've become weary (and wary) of repetitive e-mails from retailers I've bought from in the past.  I wonder if their aggressive online marketing efforts are hurting sales instead of boosting them.

Take this example:  I bought software three months ago from a retailer. While I like the software, it comes with a steep learning curve.  Joining discussion forums to learn some neat tricks was exciting at first but I soon lost interest.  Besides I have yet to decode the intricacies of the software.  Since I purchased the product, I must have received at least 50 promotional e-mails from the retailer telling me about this other cool software that they're sure I won't be able to live without. 

Because of my work, I probably know more about online marketing than most people.  Part of my job as a freelance writer is to  write marketing content for clients who sell a product or service.  Landing and squeeze pages and e-mail campaigns are a few examples of marketing content I have written.

Most online marketing campaigns focus on the "call to action" factor.  Retailers like to turn site visitors into buying customers - there's a whole science to it.  Writers who can churn excellent marketing content and get visitors to respond by signing up or buying a product are in demand.  One of the things that I'm learning - and will never stop learning - is how to attain a high conversion rate.  I'm referring to site visitors converting into points of sale.

Applying Some Marketing Principles

Let's take this blog.  It does not attract a lot of visitor traffic.  I even doubt that Google has "picked it up" and indexed it for search engine purposes.  The reason is obvious:  I have not initiated any marketing effort to make this blog more popular.  They say blogs take time and monumental effort before search engines notice it.

If I really wanted to monetize this blog and make it a passive income stream, what kind of online marketing strategies can I employ, in addition to Adsense?

  • Spread the word - I'd have to be more active in Facebook and Twitter and build a network of friends.  I tell them about my blog or sign off with my signature and my blog's URL.  I'd probably also need to join discussion forums that focus on translation and languages.  But I wish there were more hours in the day to build various networks on cyberspace.  One network already takes up a lot of time.
  • I would offer a free newsletter to people who want to receive additional French to English terms that they can add to their existing inventory.  This newsletter will not only contain a new lexicon every week, but also articles, leads, and the latest translation trends.
  • Let's not forget blogosphere.  You may have heard of Technorati, DIGG, StumbleUpon, and others.  I remember signing up with Technorati but have not seen results.  I have not tried DIGG or StumbleUpon which I hear are also effective.
  • Article submissions - submitting to an article directory like Ezine would enable me to link back to my blog.  For example, I could write a 500-word article on the best schools to study French to English translation.  In the resource box, I write a blurb about myself with my blog's link included.  People reading that article will probably want to know more about me so they click on the link that takes them to this blog.
  • SEO service - I'd probably need to pay for a service that will scrutinize my blog for an SEO assessment.  An SEO guru would explain to me why there are days I have zero visitor traffic.
  • Product sale - I could  write an e-book and sell it.

Plus I could do this and I could do that.  Online marketing strategies abound.  It's up to us to decide how far we want to take our marketing efforts.  Numerous companies specialize in it, some more focused and more niche-driven than others.

I'm guilty of using the "lack of time" excuse to explain why I don't market my blogs more aggressively.  Maybe I prefer to keep my blogs personal and small.  It's easier to manage them that way.  I'm not sure I can deal with becoming a popular blogger answering 250 e-mails a day from followers.  I can't neglect my clients. 

Perhaps one day I would actively market my blogs when I'm no longer writing for clients. In the meantime, I'll enjoy this free platform courtesy of Google, and build a lexicon for students and other individuals who are passionate about the French and English languages.

Here are your terms:



clients réguliers repeat clients
slogan slogan (or tag line)
excellent contenu great (or excellent) content
site dépouillé clean, uncluttered site
processus d'acuat complet full purchase site
offres promotionnelles promotional offers
bandeau publicitaire banner ad
phase de lancement introduction (launch) phase
phase du croissance growth phase
phase de maturation maturity phase
stratégie concurrentielle competitive strategy
stratégie de fidélisation customer loyalty strategy (or retentive strategy)
canal de distribution distribution channel