Thanksgiving in Versailles

Thanksgiving in Versailles

It was November 1963 and I was living in the Château de Versailles overseeing catering for the American socialite, Florence Van der Kemp, who was married to the museum curator. The Van der Kemps were already well renowned as fundraisers for the restoration of the Château, and Florence decided to host a big traditional Thanksgiving

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Anne’s Holiday Gift Guide

One of Anne’s favorite things around the holidays is to put together her list of items that she’ll be giving to friends and family. This year, she’s sharing some of the go-to recipes she’s making as well as other favorites.

Yprocras (Spiced Red Wine)
Yprocas makes a great gift for anyone who likes mulled wine or cordials.  You can use it in place of Kir with Champagne to make a Yprocas Royale, adding a lovely holiday spice flavor.  I give Yprocas in old fashioned glass stopper bottles wrapped in colored cellophane with a little ribbon to tie the top festively.
Anne Willan's Ypocras (Spiced Red Wine)





Country Cooking of France
This James Beard Award-winning book is the perfect gift for cookbook collectors and/or for those who love French food, whether they like cooking about it or simply learning about the regional cuisine of France.  It an easy thing to order and send to those far away.
Country Cooking of France




Aunt Louie’s Yule Bread
This James Beard Award-winning book is the perfect gift for cookbook collectors and/or for those who love French food, whether they like cooking about it or simply learning about the regional cuisine of France.  It an easy thing to order and send to those far away.
Aunt Louie’s Yule Bread




SECRETS from the La Varenne Kitchen
Secrets makes a great gift for someone who’s just starting out in the kitchen, who is newly married, has just enrolled in cooking school or a cooking course, or even for the avid cook who’ll appreciate a handy reminder of the basics just as La Varenne graduates do.




Poudre Fine: Medieval Spice Blend (Recipe Follows)
I like to triple the recipe and then make several batches of this spice blend.  Then I transfer it to small tins with lids, stick a little premade bow on top, and give the tins as presents to those I know like to cook whom I’d like to give a small token of appreciation for the holidays.  I add a little card letting them know it’s a medieval spice blend delicious rubbed on duck, fish, vegetables and even lamb.  We have it on duck nearly once a week.

Poudre Fine Makes about 1 3⁄4 cups (200 g)
2 oz (60 g) cinnamon sticks
1 oz (30 g) whole nutmeg
1⁄2 oz (15 g) dried ginger
1⁄2 oz (15 g) peppercorns
1⁄2 oz (15 g) long pepper
1⁄2 oz (15 g) whole cloves
1⁄2 oz (15 g) grains of paradise
1⁄2 oz (15 g) dried galangal

Grind the spices together to a fine powder in a spice grinder or in a mortar with a pestle, then transfer them to a small bowl. (If using ready-ground spices, stir them together.) The spice mix can be stored in an airtight jar in a cool place for up to 6 months.

Recipe © Anne Willan, from The Cookbook Library (University of California Press, 2012).

My 5 French Staples

I recently shared 5 of my French kitchen pantry staples with Food52. You might be surprised at some of them, and perhaps you already have some of the same practices. Read more here.  

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The Edible Monument: The Art of Food for Festivals



Anne Willan was a contributer to this book. The Edible Monument considers the elaborate architecture, sculpture, and floats made of food that were designed for court and civic celebrations in early modern Europe. These include popular festivals such as Carnival and the Italian Cuccagna. Like illuminations and fireworks, ephemeral artworks made of food were not well documented and were challenging to describe because they were perishable and thus quickly consumed or destroyed. In times before photography and cookbooks, there were neither literary models nor a repertoire of conventional images for how food and its preparation should be explained or depicted.

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Columbus Dispatch Interview

Anne &  Lisa Abraham talk about the 50 Essential Recipes Every Cook Needs To Know as highlighted in “Secrets from the La Varenne Kitchen”, her favorite meal and what recipe she thinks is due for a comeback. Read more here.


Duck Confit Salad


A colorful mix of tart greens — white and red endive, arugula, watercress, pea greens — is good for this salad. You’ll find canned duck leg confit in a can. Serves 4 2 confit duck legs 1 small bulb fennel 1 medium head white Belgian endive 1 medium head red Belgian endive or one more

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Golden Peach Jam


Peaches are in peak season right now and my favorite way to preserve them is to make jam. This time of year you can find ripe peaches almost anywhere and our local farmer’s market had a bushel at a price that couldn’t be beaten. Making jam is a two-day process as the peaches should macerate with

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10-7-15 Anne Willan to VNA Meals on Wheels Luncheon

VNA Meals on Wheels LogoCMYK_printOn October 7th, Anne Willan will be joining VNA Texas for their sixth annual luncheon benefiting the Meals on Wheels organization. This intimate gathering will feature special recipes and stories from Secrets from the La Varenne Kitchen. We are honored to take part in this wonderful event that has helped to provide more than 146,500 home-delivered meals to elderly neighbors in Dallas. For ticketing and event details, click here.

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