I spent some time this weekend catching up on magazines and noticed that two featured French twists on classic dishes in their February issues.

Provence Herbs in Linen Bags from I Dream of France

Provence Herbs in Linen Bags from I Dream of France

First, InStyle showed baking halibut wrapped in parchment paper with herbes de Provence. This is our favorite way to prepare fish at home, including sole and salmon. (Aluminum foil instead of parchment works fine.) We also like to wrap lighter-flavored fish with lemon and onion slices, with a little bit of salt and thyme. Just bake at 350 degrees and check every few minutes until the fish flakes with a fork. Wrapping the fish keeps it from drying out while it cooks, and doesn’t make a mess in your baking dish. Easy and healthful — who says French cooking has to be complicated?

Daniel Boulud's Lasagne Photographed by Kana Okada for Elle Decor

Daniel Boulud's Lasagne Photographed by Kana Okada for Elle Decor

In Elle Decor, Daniel Boulud’s column shares a recipe for chicken lasagne with spinach and mushrooms. This is on my to-do list for sure! This recipe is very old-world European because it has you make bechamel (white sauce) instead of the ricotta cheese mixture that is more typical in the States.

This month’s Elle Decor is also the International Issue, which I love because all the articles are republished from other editions of Elle Decor. The pieces are shorter than what usually appears in the American edition and have a different style of writing. Naturally, they feature a Paris apartment filled with art, checkerboard marble floors, klismos chairs, and a copper bathtub. However, my favorite was from Elle Decoration Russia, which showed a traditional Russian country cabin (called an isba) reproduced inside a Moscow apartment. The owner actually took a wall from an old cabin and had it re-installed inside the apartment to be as authentic as possible. My favorite detail was the kitchen’s painted cupboards, beautiful and special.

–Brett

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Bonne Année — Happy New Year! Two of the home decor magazines we subscribe to are starting off 2011 right with pictorials of Paris apartments. Check out newsstands for the January ’11 issues of Architectural Digest and Veranda.

Architectural Digest has two spreads, one a hôtel particulier (a very large and grand second home, this one has 8,000 interior square feet) with views of the Seine, the other an apartment pied à terre off the Champ de Mars. Because the issue is so new, they haven’t put photos online yet, but here is a lovely Paris apartment from their archives:

Parisian pied-à-terre in Architectural Digest

Parisian pied-à-terre in Architectural Digest. Photo: Marina Faust

LOVE those extraordinary yellow silk drapes!

Veranda shows a Left Bank apartment (actually a wing of the Hôtel de Bauffremont). It’s a lovely study of neutral tones, painted paneling, and country checks in an opulent, grand building full of gilt chandeliers and intricate parquetry — the juxtaposition perhaps a nod to Marie Antoinette’s fondness for pastoral style in the setting of Versailles. Again, the article is too new for photos online, so here is a photo from the 7th Arrondissment, where their building is located. The Eiffel Tower is also in this neighborhood!

Paris Apartment with View of Eiffel Tower

Paris Apartment with View of Eiffel Tower - rentavilla.com

Bonus item: Leaping ahead a month, the February ’11 House Beautiful has a review of a new cookbook called The French Country Table by Laura Washburn. Included is a recipe for the author’s soupe au pistou, and a beautiful photograph of her apple tarte, with the slices of apple arranged neatly and concentrically. Whenever I make apple tarte, I try to arrange the slices, but they don’t seem to line up right and I end up pouring them in willy-nilly. Fortunately, it still tastes good unarranged…perhaps we can call it Deconstructed Apple Tarte! Below is a photograph of apple tarte chez nous.

French Apple Tarte

French Apple Tarte - Deconstructed!

–Brett, I Dream of France

I Dream of France

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Gifts for Foodies

Check out our selection of Provençal cooking aprons and kitchen towels. Our aprons are made of cotton coated with acrylic to make them stain resistant. Just wipe clean, perfect for a busy cook!

Provence Coated Apron

Beauville Kitchen Towel

Gifts for Hostesses

The Honey Soap 2-bar gift box is one of our top-selling gifts! These boxes have it all: a honeycomb pattern, a bee motif, and a calligraphic story of honey in faded letters on the box itself (the whole story's inside). Packaged in lovely decorative boxes tied with raffia, containing two bars of 3.5 ounce soap.

Apiana Honey Soap 2-bar Gift Box

Fleur de Lys bottle opener: From the French Bourbon Dynasty, the Fleur de Lys is the true mark of royalty. Now available as a bottle opener! This is an easy gift because everyone can use a bottle opener.

Fleur de Lys Bottle Opener

Gifts for Messieurs (Men)

Sommelier apron: For the French cook, wine lover or barbecue enthusiast, this sommelier apron will inspire any man to cook (or keep you company with a glass of wine)!

Sommelier Apron

Jean-Marie Farina Cologne: One of the oldest fragrance products in France, its unisex scent has been worn by men and women alike for over 200 years.

Roger & Gallet Jean-Marie Farina Perfume

Gifts for Nesters

Get cozy with a French flair! How about an all natural bath or shower gel, or an artful block-printed table runner? Table runners are a great gift because the size works for everyone. Lay it lengthwise or crosswise on a table, dresser, buffet, or secretary desk. How easy is that!

Lavender Shower or Bath Gel

Couleur Nature Table Runner

–Brett