About Loulou

A former pastry chef who loves cooking, baking, tasting cheese and wine. I live a very quiet, yet rich life in the south of France.





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Favorite Foods

cheese, Champagne, pears, huckleberries, Mexican mole, gumbo, BBQ shrimp, grits, Thai green curry

News about Loulou

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  • Loulou Sep 17 10:43 AM - Comment
    is now friends with
  • Loulou Jul 15 3:14 PM - Comment
    is now friends with
  • Loulou Apr 7 8:20 AM - Comment
    commented on How Much Do Our Meals Cost? (and a Recipe).

    Thanks Mark! I’m still trying to figure out how it all works.

    Anon - I love that you have shared a breakdown of the prices in Portland for this dish. Thanks for taking the time to do that.
    I think that we have pretty low prices on some things here in the rural south of France.

  • Loulou Mar 21 8:25 AM - Comment
    commented on Fresh from the Farmers' Market.

    The local white and green asparagus should be in the markets in the next couple of weeks. After they arrive, French strawberries will show up.
    Can’t wait!

  • Loulou Mar 9 1:22 PM - Comment
    Back home in France. Spring is in the air and I hope to find asparagus at the market tomorrow.
  • Loulou Feb 19 7:32 AM - Comment
    In New Orleans for a couple of weeks visiting friends, eating in the best food city in America and celebrating Mardi Gras.
  • Loulou Feb 19 7:10 AM - Comment
    In New Orleans for a couple of weeks visiting friends, eating the best food in America and celebrating Mardi Gras.
  • Loulou Feb 6 11:48 PM - Comment
    Getting ready for a birthday party - mine!
    Kim Feb 7 2009, 7:30 AM
    Happy belated birthday, Loulou!
    OpusOne Feb 18 2009, 10:07 PM
    How was the B-day... any surprising gifts?
    Loulou Feb 19 2009, 6:38 AM
    Thanks Kim!

    OpusOne - Yes. My friends got together and made a custom bracelet for me. It is gorgeous!
  • Loulou Feb 6 11:48 PM - Comment
  • Loulou Feb 6 11:32 PM - Comment
    is now friends with
  • Loulou Feb 3 10:26 AM - Comment
    commented on Novella Carpenter.

    Bravo Novella! She is an amazing, resourceful woman and I can’t wait to read her book.

Latest Blog Posts

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How Much Do Our Meals Cost? (and a Recipe)

From Loulou — Blog by
March 21, 2009

Out of curiosity I decided to start adding up the cost of some of our meals.
We base most of them around vegetables and fruit in season (for the most part), don’t eat a lot of meat (Cassoulet being one exception!) and love rice, beans and pasta.
One rule I have: I won’t trade quality for quantity. We try to buy as much local and organic as possible. Often the price isn’t much higher and I think it’s worth it.

We have been acutely aware of food prices for the last 5 years due to our a tight budget. Weekly shopping at the outdoor market in Olonzac every Tuesday for fruit, vegetables, cheese, eggs and some meat means that we only have to see the inside of a large grocery store about once every 10 days to 2 weeks. The average weekly expenditure at the market is usually between €10-20 and that fills the big straw market bag to overflowing.

Swiss Chard - La Blette

A big bundle of Swiss Chard will set you back about €1.00-1.50 while in season. That’s one kilo (2.2 pounds) of greens that are packed with iron, magnesium, potassium and vitamins K, A and C.
The leaves, which is what most recipes call for, will equal about one pound once they’re trimmed from the stems, and the stems can be saved and enjoyed in recipes like this one or this one.

I tried this recipe with the bounty from last week’s market. In a word...excellent!

Swiss Chard, Potato and Chickpea Stew
from Food and Wine magazine
serves 4

  • 1 pound Swiss chard, tough stems removed, leaves washed well and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds baking potatoes (about 3), peeled and sliced 3/4-inch thick
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups drained and rinsed canned chickpeas (one 19-ounce can)
  • 3 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 hard-cooked eggs, cut into wedges

1. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the chard and cook for 3 minutes. Drain thoroughly and set aside.
2. 2 In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the potatoes and onion and sauté, stirring frequently, until the potatoes start to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, paprika, turmeric, cayenne, and salt and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
3. Add the cooked chard, chickpeas, broth, and water. Bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Serve the stew garnished with the hard-cooked eggs.

The Cost:
1 kilo organic Swiss Chard - €1.00 (only used the leaves and saved the stems for another use)
1 ½ pounds organic potatoes - .60
small can chickpeas - .50 (normally I would cook my own so these would cost less)
1 onion - .20
2 organic eggs - .70
garlic, olive oil, various spices and stock - no idea so we’ll say - 1.00

= €4.00 For four servings. Not bad.
This is just one meal, one example. There are more to come.

Are these food prices are comparable to the prices where you live?

The Need to Knead

From Loulou — Blog by
February 6, 2009

(originally published on Chez Loulou on January 22, 2009)

Seems like forever since I’ve dug my hands into some soft, squishy dough, stretched and kneaded it into a glossy, springy ball and made some homemade bread.

For a long time I was making my own bread almost every day. Or at least every other day. I had the luxury of time and love the meditative rhythm of this domestic activity.
Then things got so busy over the holidays that I simply got out of the habit.

This morning, once again, I was overcome with the need to knead.

This Olive Oil Dough is the perfect blank canvas. Some delicious combinations I’ve experimented with:

  • extra bits of cheese (something we always have lying around) and tomatoes
  • a mélange of raw onions and minced garlic
  • a simple mix of fresh herbs such as rosemary or thyme, and a heavy drizzling of olive oil
  • caramelized onions
  • a gutsy mix of bacon and arugula
  • roasted red peppers and ricotta
  • coarse sea salt, red pepper flakes and olive oil

Today I made up an interesting mix out of a few things I had sitting in the fridge; a half a bag of arugula, a couple green onions and some feta. I chopped up the onions and arugula and mixed them in a bowl with some olive oil, salt and spicy red pepper flakes. Those were scattered on the dough and then dotted with crumbled feta cheese.

It was excellent!

Simple Olive Oil Dough

  • 1 1/3 cup (325 mls) lukewarm water
  • 1 packet yeast
  • 1/3 cup (75 mls) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 to 4 cups (450-600 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt

Whisk together the water and yeast in a large bowl until yeast is dissolved. Whisk in olive oil. Add one cup of the flour and whisk until combined.
Switch to a wooden spoon and stir in the salt and slowly incorporate enough flour to make a soft dough.
Turn out onto a floured surface and knead, using as little extra flour as possible, for about 5 minutes. The dough should look satiny and feel moist but shouldn’t stick to clean hands.
Place the dough in a large, clean bowl, cover with a tea towel and let it rise at room temperature until it has doubled in size, at least 1 hour. Two hours is better.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Punch down the dough and stretch onto a cornmeal sprinkled or olive oil drizzled baking sheet.
Add toppings of your choice and let it rest while the oven warms up.
Bake until golden about 30-35 minutes.

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