Not your regular pumpkin pie – Pear tart with Chestnut Cream

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Chestnuts are popular in Europe, even more so than they’ve become here in the US.  When the weather gets colder, in many cities in Europe you can buy hot roasted chestnuts on the street, they come in a paper cone and you enjoy them al fresco – a quintessential taste of Fall.

The recipe below comes from one of our favorite French Blogs, called Papilles et Pupilles (translated loosely it means Taste buds and pupils (as in the pupils of your eyes), a reference to the fact we taste our food but we also taste it with our eyes.

Pear chestnut pie

Image source Papilles et Pupilles 

This pie is not only beautiful, it’s really easy and it would make a great addition to a holiday gathering.   The ingredients are easy to find and according to the comments, it works well with apples too, if you prefer to use them instead of pears.

Below is a translation of the recipe:

Preparation 10 minutes.  Cooking time 40 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 100 grams (about 3.3 oz) chestnut cream (the sweet kind with vanilla) – available on our site here
  • 5 pears or equivalent canned pears in syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 25 cl of cream (8.4 fl oz)
  • 50 grams powdered sugar (a little over 1/4 C)
  • one pie dough (your choice, premade)

Method

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (210 degrees C)

Peel pears, remove cores and cut in 2. If using canned pears, drain well.  In a pan, warm the chestnut cream with 2 tablespoons of the cream.  Mix well.

Line a pie pan with the pastry dough and prick it with a fork.

Spread the chestnut/cream mix on the bottom of the pie. Place the pears face down (back up) all around (you can slice them if you want to)

Beat together the 2 eggs, sugar and remaining cream. Pour over the pears.

Cook 40-45 minutes.

Cool on a pie rack.  Serve at room temperature or cold.

 

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Paper Napkins! Can You Really Ever Have Too Many?

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Paper Napkins! Can You Really Ever Have Too Many? 25 Paper Napkin Designs For Any Occasion.

 

Random fact: Paper napkin collections are a thing. Don’t believe us? Read this story about a Slovakian woman who has a very cool collection of over 62,757 paper napkins (and counting). While we’re not THAT obsessed with paper napkins here at Touch of Europe, we do have a ton of fun and quirky designs that we think are perfect for the holidays and beyond! If you frequently host dinner parties, but don’t want the duty of folding or washing linen napkins – these 25 disposable napkin designs are for you!

 

Eiffel Tower I Fell Cocktail or Beverage Napkins

1. Eiffel Tower I Fell Cocktail or Beverage Napkins

Citron Lemons Ephemera Disposable Elegant Napkins

2. Citron Lemons Ephemera Disposable Elegant Napkins

VIP Gold Cocktail Luncheon Disposable Napkins

3. VIP Gold Cocktail Luncheon Disposable Napkins

Red Poppies - Beverage or Luncheon Napkins 4. Red Poppies – Beverage or Luncheon Napkins

 

Age Isn't Important Unless You're Wine or Cheese Cocktail or Beverage Napkins

 

5. Age Isn’t Important Unless You’re Wine or Cheese Cocktail or Beverage Napkins

 

Blossom the Pig - Beverage or Luncheon Napkins

6. Blossom the Pig – Beverage or Luncheon Napkins

 

 

Fine Wine, Great Friends Cocktail or Beverage Napkins

 

7. Fine Wine, Great Friends Cocktail or Beverage Napkins

 

 

Great Wine, Good Company is Cheaper than Therapy Cocktail or Beverage Napkins

 

8. Great Wine, Good Company is Cheaper than Therapy Cocktail or Beverage Napkins

 

Vineyard Sheep - Beverage or Luncheon Napkins

9. Vineyard Sheep – Beverage or Luncheon Napkins

Love Bug - Beverage or Luncheon Napkins

10. Love Bug – Beverage or Luncheon Napkins

 

Being Perfect Makes My Day That Much Easier Ephemera Humor Paris Disposable Napkins

11. Being Perfect Makes My Day That Much Easier Ephemera Humor Paris Disposable Napkins

 

Iris and Stanley Swan Whimsical Napkins

12. Iris and Stanley Swan Whimsical Napkins

 

Time to Drink Champagne and Dance on the Table Cocktail Napkins

 

13. Time to Drink Champagne and Dance on the Table Cocktail Napkins

 

After Monday and Tuesday is W T F Beverage or Cocktail Napkins

 

14. After Monday and Tuesday is W T F Beverage or Cocktail Napkins

 

The Berry Festival - Beverage or Luncheon Napkins

15. The Berry Festival – Beverage or Luncheon Napkins

Macarons Luncheon Disposable Napkins

16. Macarons Luncheon Disposable Napkins

Save Water Drink Champagne Beverage or Cocktail Napkins

17. Save Water Drink Champagne Beverage or Cocktail Napkins

La Lavande Ephemera Luncheon or Cocktail Disposable Napkins

 

18. La Lavande Ephemera Luncheon or Cocktail Disposable Napkins

They read about the perils of drinking... disposable Napkins

19. They read about the perils of drinking… disposable Napkins

Union Jack Mosaic Luncheon or Cocktail Disposable Napkins

20. Union Jack Mosaic Luncheon or Cocktail Disposable Napkins

 Victoria Garden Flower and Butterfly Napkins

 

21. Victoria Garden Flower and Butterfly Napkins

 Le Velo Parisien Bicycle - Beverage or Luncheon Napkins

22. Le Velo Parisien Bicycle – Beverage or Luncheon Napkins

Winter in Paris Disposable Eiffel Tower Holiday Luncheon Napkins

23. Winter in Paris Disposable Eiffel Tower Holiday Luncheon Napkins

  Save Water Drink Wine Beverage or Cocktail Napkins

24. Save Water Drink Wine Beverage or Cocktail Napkins

Bon Appetit Ephemera Luncheon or Cocktail Disposable Napkins

25. Bon Appetit Ephemera Luncheon or Cocktail Disposable Napkins

 

If you’ve read our previous posts, you know that we’re all about reusing and recycling – but, we know that it’s sometimes easiest for a dinner host to use paper products. Paper napkins are so versatile. Many designs can go from elegant to casual and back again with ease. Serve them up with a holiday meal. Present a hostess with a pack of napkins to accompany a nice bottle of wine. Collect them just because! Whatever the occasion, these napkins are sure to add the right amount of pizzazz (and/or humor) to any table or bar.

+ Check out these pinnable ways to FOLD PAPER NAPKINS for many occasions.

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25 Items for Anyone Who Loves Paris

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25 Items for Anyone Who Loves Paris

 

Ah, Paris. The City of Lights, love, style, sophistication, beauty, great food… seriously, we could go on forever. There is so much to love about the French capital – and so many ways to keep Paris near and dear when you can’t actually be there.

Below you’ll find our top 25 must-haves for any self-admitted Francophile. All available at touchofeurope.net.

Paris is Always a Good Idea Cocktail Napkins

  1. Paris is Always a Good Idea Cocktail Napkins

Punch Studio Canvas Tote Bag 'C'est la Vie'

 

2. Punch Studio Canvas Tote Bag ‘C’est la Vie’

Paris is Always a Good Idea Girl Luggage Tag with Bow

3. Paris is Always a Good Idea Girl Luggage Tag with Bow

Paris is Always a Good Idea Hardcover Cloth Journal

4. Paris is Always a Good Idea Hardcover Cloth Journal

Paris Is Always A Good Idea Girl Passport Cover

 

5. Paris Is Always A Good Idea Girl Passport Cover

Paris Green French Motif Coir Doormat

6. Paris Green French Motif Coir Doormat

Eiffel Tower Window Decor 2 Sided No Glue- Cling Nouvelles Images7. Eiffel Tower Window Decor 2 Sided No Glue- Cling Nouvelles Images

Clear Glass Eiffel Tower Salt and Pepper Set

8. Clear Glass Eiffel Tower Salt and Pepper SetPunch Studio Paris Promenade Set of 3 Nested Book Boxes

9. Punch Studio Paris Promenade Set of 3 Nested Book Boxes

Paris Eiffel Tower Transferware Tray and Guest Towel Gift Set

10. Paris Eiffel Tower Transferware Tray and Guest Towel Gift Set

Stoneware Ring Dish with Eiffel Tower & Gold Detail, White

11. Stoneware Ring Dish with Eiffel Tower & Gold Detail, White

Fringe Studio Paris Gold Set of 5 Magnets in Gift Box

12. Fringe Studio Paris Gold Set of 5 Magnets in Gift Box

Fringe Studio Paris Script Porcelain Slab Tray

13. Fringe Studio Paris Script Porcelain Slab Tray

Fringe Studio Bonjour Small Eiffel Tower Lacquered Tray

14. Fringe Studio Bonjour Small Eiffel Tower Lacquered Tray

Eiffel Tower Paris Images Set of 4 Coasters

15. Eiffel Tower Paris Images Set of 4 Coasters

Paris Passport Fun Set of 3 Different Tea towels- Black

16. Paris Passport Fun Set of 3 Different Tea towels- Black

Paris Patchwork Metal Retro Serving Tray

17. Paris Patchwork Metal Retro Serving Tray

Fringe Studio Paris Script Faux Leather Journal, Perfect Bound

18. Fringe Studio Paris Script Faux Leather Journal, Perfect Bound

Paris Script Graphic- Eiffel Tower Wine Bag

19. Paris Script Graphic- Eiffel Tower Wine Bag

Punch Studio Par Avion Paris Sticky Notes Pad Portfolio

20. Punch Studio Par Avion Paris Sticky Notes Pad Portfolio

La Tour de Paris Porcelain Boxed Set of 2 Plates

21. La Tour de Paris Porcelain Boxed Set of 2 Plates

Bone China Large Capacity Gift Boxed Mug, Paris Letters

22. Bone China Large Capacity Gift Boxed Mug, Paris Letters

 

Paris Eiffel Tower Jacquard Kitchen Tea Towel

23. Paris Eiffel Tower Jacquard Kitchen Tea Towel

Cavallini Carte Postale Joyeux Noel Glitter Greetings Postcards

24. Cavallini Carte Postale Joyeux Noel Glitter Greetings Postcards

Large Glass Globe Paris Eiffel Tower Ornament

25. Large Glass Globe Paris Eiffel Tower Ornament

And for even more Paris inspired products including Fleur de Lis and Eiffel Tower themed items, visit us online at www.touchofeurope.net

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Durance en Provence – Made in France

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Durance (3)

1986 was the year that a group of farmers got together and created a line of French bath & body, home care, and aromatherapy products that would go on to rival all others. Durance en Provence’s line of lovely hand creams, body lotions, shampoos, face serums, perfumes, hand soaps, bar soaps, essential oils and more is great for women and men alike.

provence-lavender-749x387

Lavender Aromatherapy Products

lavender

 

The benefits of organic lavender are endless. Not only does it smell wonderful, it’s great for pampering and relaxation, soothing of the skin, and insomnia. Lavender essential oil has health benefits including pain relief, scalp and skin treatment, enhancement of blood circulation and aiding in the treatment of certain respiratory problems. Keeping this in mind — Durance en Provence specially developed a line of lavender based products with health and stress relief in mind.

 

Durance (7)

Olive Oil Products

Durance 2

The first uses of the olive tree as a medicinal plant date back more than 4000 years ago, so it’s no surprise that Durance uses olive oil in many of it’s products. The health benefits are extensive. So great in fact, that doctors encourage us to take 2 tablespoons of olive oil daily. While Durance’s natural olive oil products aren’t edible — they are still just as good for you. Olive oil is great for the skin and hair.

While I can’t pinpoint one specific reason for Durance’s ever-growing popularity, I can definitely come up with a few. Perhaps it’s Durance’s use of organic and natural ingredients grown in Southeast France that makes their products so superior. It might also be that Durance’s products are free of parabens and other toxic ingredients often found in beauty products. Maybe it’s just the fact that Durance en Provence products smell wonderful and leave your skin feeling even better. I encourage you to try this line. Your skin and nose will thank you.

Durance (1)

Already familiar with the Durance en Provence line? Share what you love about these products in the comment section below.

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Linen Care: Cleaning and Storing Vintage Linens

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toe-linencaregroup-2-resizedCare of Antique and Vintage Linens

We want to start by saying that this section is meant to help get you started or to help give you new ideas. Please leave comments if you have any additional tips, comments, and any contributions on the subject.
The key thing to remember when dealing with older textiles is to be gentle. Old linen fibers are old and hence can be weaker and prone to damage. You will mostly want to hand-wash, although your washing machine can sometimes help avoid the heavy labor and work this imposes.
Do not try to rush the process and be patient; it can take days to obtain results. Some textiles have had decades to accumulate dirt and soil!

Supplies to have on hand:

  • Soap flakes or a very gentle detergent,
  • Q-tips,
  • large soft towels,
  • a large container,
  • clothespins
  • Biz (use sparingly and only where applicable to your particular situation)
  • Lingerie bag(s) – especially useful for fringed items, silks, delicate laces and embroidery
  • Ribbon (to help avoid tangling fringes, make sure it’s white or cream)
  • Gloves (to protect your hands)
  • Specialty products and stain removers as needed.

General stains and yellowing:

1. Start by soaking the item in a mixture of Biz (if desired) and a gentle detergent (Dreft, Orvus Quilt Soap, laundry flakes). Soaking is important and should not be skipped. Dry and brittle fibers benefit from water and from immersion.

2. Soak up to 2-3 days if you can and as needed. Use the washer, and replace the water regularly. Just drain the water, spin a few seconds to get rid of excess, and put more in. Do not spin or use the machine for very old and delicate pieces.

3. For delicate items, use a container and wash gently, stirring with a spoon. Rinse, rinse, rinse. Better too much than not enough.

4. Remove items from water. Be gentle since at this stage the linens are very fragile. If the piece is heavy, support it with both hands, or get help. Do not let large pieces just hang down. Place linens on a towel and start patting dry. Do not squeeze. Roll gently into a towel.

5. Lay item flat, on a towel or white sheet. Especially if you are using the outdoors, a white sheet will help reflect the sunshine available. If will also protect your linen from grass stains and worse. Grass fields in Europe were known in the old days as the ‘bleaching fields’.

6. Dry items in sunshine if available. Even in winter, with a weak sun, outside drying is great. We do not recommend the dryer since it makes linens grayish and dulls them. Never use the clothesline for anything large and/or heavy. Sheets (especially linen), quilts, bedspreads and the like have to dry flat. Putting them on a line will damage them by stretching them out of shape and result in major damage.

7. If you really must use a dryer because of where you live or because it’s -20F outside, try using some of the special dryer sachets available. Also try to remember to remove the linens before they are completely dry to make ironing easier. Do not use the dryer if there are still stains and spots left on the piece. If at all possible, only use the dryer as a last resort and when you are absolutely sure an item is 100% clean and well rinsed. Use the lowest heat setting and take items out as soon as the excess water is removed. Try to never use the dryer for anything that has to lie flat since it will distort them.

Ironing- Not everyone’s favorite job but it truly can be therapeutic and a pleasure. Make sure you have a good quality iron and that it is perfectly clean. Try to get to your ironing when the linens are still damp (even a bit wetter than damp). This makes the job easier and the results will be better. Hand ironing can be relaxing at a leisurely pace, in front of television for example.

Iron on a clean, smooth surface. Use a large white soft towel if you are ironing embroidery, and place the piece face down, so the embroidery does not get flattened. Use the correct setting, and work slowly from one end to the next. Fold or place item on a hanger, and let it sit until bone-dry (it’s not quite dry even after ironing). Ironing an item that has been out in the sun can be a true pleasure. It smells so nice! You can enhance the experience by using scented linen water. Only use starch if you will be using the linens, not storing them (see below). Roll tablecloths and large items (e.g. sheets) if storing them, to avoid stress on the creases.

What to do if washing is not enough?

If there are stubborn stains left, here are the things we recommend. Be especially cautious when working with any colored linens, and do spot testing where appropriate to make sure the attempted cure is not worse than the problem. Here is an overview of the most common problems and what to do:

– Rust. Sometimes rust is not actually rust. There are real rust sport of course, caused by metal and water coming in contact with fibers. Humid environments are very damaging to linens. The other ‘rust’ is simply a storage problem. Not rust at all. Usually a gentle soak, maybe followed by a treatment with one of the products below, will be enough, unless your item has already been so damaged by these spots that they degrade even further. You do not have anything to lose at this point by trying to get the spots out anyway.

– Yellowing, brown smudges, and stains. Caused by storage, wood, age, humidity and more. Can be especially noticeable in folds. A good soak followed by one of the products below for more stubborn stains, will usually do the trick.

– Ink. Special ink removers are available if a simple soak and spot treatment does not work. Vinegar can be useful as can hairspray. Spot test first.

– Pieces where the dye has run are not necessarily ruined. It requires patience and some elbow grease but they can be saved. If the run is recent, Ritt makes an Excess Dye Remover. However it is not appropriate for all pieces, nor will it always work. If the piece is going to be trashed anyway, you can try bleach with a very weak solution of bleach and water and a Q-Tip. Do not do this unless the item would be thrown away otherwise. Rinse thoroughly and use vinegar n the rinse to help neutralize the bleach. Last resort only!

Stain removal products and tips/tricks

– A mixture of lemon juice and water and let the item dry in the sun. Don’t ever do this for long and always rinse thoroughly afterwards since lemon juice is acidic. Don’t do this on very old and delicate pieces. Same with vinegar. Both work well but require caution. These 2 tricks work well with ‘rust’ so try these before anything more drastic.

– One of the best products available for linens is Restoration made by Engleside Products and available through our website. We cannot recommend this product enough; it is truly great. Follow the directions carefully, and never use it on silk (most of our tips do not apply to silk, the only product for that is LeBlanc’s Silk and Lingerie wash or a good dry cleaner).

– Another very good line of products is LeBlanc Linen Wash. The LeBlanc series smells good and works even better.

– An old family recipe for many Europeans is as follows: to whiten yellowed linens, soak them for 48 hours in a solution of ½ cup sea salt per 1 gallon of water. Rinse carefully and then dry in the sun if possible, on a flat surface.

A few words of caution

– Avoid bleach and products with bleach and optical whiteners. They will damage your items more than they will help them. Bleach destroys fibers by weakening them and generally the damage is not worth the results.

– Do not starch items that will be stored away. Only starch if you are going to use them soon. Starch attracts little bugs known as silverfish. They will feast on it and eat the fabric too!

– Fold items carefully if storing them, and refold often if storing them so that the fold lines don’t weaken the fibers. Store in a dark dry closet (remember the sun bleaches). Never allow linens to come into direct contact with wood and make sure they are stored in a dry place. If you can, store linens in acid-free materials, rolled up in the paper and in a cardboard box (acid-free). Also, do not store your linens in plastic bins or in anything plastic. Linens and textile in generals need to breathe.

+ Shop our newest vintage linens here:

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