Quality. What does the word mean to you? Does it have to be expensive? Does it even matter? I’ve been thinking a lot about quality lately.

For me, quality is important. In the kitchen, the taste of a recipe is drastically altered with the addition of superior chocolate. A pasta dish takes on whole new life when served with fresh, local vegetables. A cheese plate with carefully crafted cheese enlivens the palette and introduces a whole new world of flavor.


raspberry lineup1
raspberry fork


I’ve never been a fan of quantity. I’d much prefer a few bites of a well-crafted dessert over a monstrously over-portioned piece of cake at a local eatery. I’d rather stay in a good hotel for 5 days than be in a lousy environment for 2 weeks.  If I can’t find decent quality, I’d rather wait or save until I can.


furniture collage


Many people tell me quality “is too expensive.” Is it? When you buy something of inferior quality you buy it time and again. When you eat poor quality food, you get sick. When expect less than quality in people, you get it and you pay for it in lost years of life.

Quality (n.): The degree of excellence in something.

To me, quality and beauty go hand in hand.

Often people are told they should settle for less. After all, if you don’t settle, you won’t buy into what’s being sold, right?

Never, ever settle.

Incidentally, quality need not be expensive. Someone left a comment about the piece of furniture pictured in the lower right frame and said it must have been expensive. It is wood, it is solid, and it is well made. But in all honesty, I found it at a local shop for 50.00

So, is quality important to you? How do you feel about quality vs. quantity?

In honor of quality, I made you a batch of Petit Fours filled with raspberry and Framboise liqueur and smothered in a beautiful white chocolate. They are divine.


Petit Fours with Framboise and White Chocolate

1 recipe Genoise made in square pan – cooled, trimmed, sliced into 2 layers.
2 lbs. tempered white chocolate
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. Framboise liqueur
1/2 cup fresh raspberry juice (Puree fresh raspberries and strain)
3/4 cup good quality raspberry jam
1 tbs. Framboise liqueur
2-3 tbs. pectin (start with 2 & sprinkle on more if needed)
Washed, fresh raspberries

Heat water, sugar and 2 tsp. Framboise in saucepan until sugar is dissolved. Cool and refrigerate.

In a medium saucepan, stir and heat raspberry juice, raspberry jam, and Framboise liqueur. Slowly sprinkle in pectin while stirring rigorously. Boil for about 8-10 minutes until mixture is thick, dark and bubbly. Pour into square mold (the same size as your cake pan) lined with a silpat. Cool and refrigerate.

To prepare the petite fours, remove all ingredients from the refrigerator. Using a pastry brush, brush the cake layers all over with the simple syrup. Peel the raspberry filling off of the silpat (it will be soft but should peel off with the pectin addition) and place on the bottom layer of the cake. Affix the top layer of cake to the bottom layer of cake. Your basically making a sandwich with the raspberry filling in the middle. Cut into squares (or diamonds or whatever shape you prefer) and separate into mini-cakes. Brush off excess crumbs and chill for 30 minutes to overnight.

Place disposable paper under a baking rack. Line up the petit fours on the baking rack. Temper the white chocolate and pour over each cake, smoothing out with a small spatula where necessary. Garnish with a half raspberry.


petit four cut


Here’s to quality of life. Bon Appetit!



Fresh New England

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  1. Hi El! As always, stunning photos. Look at those beautiful berries you have over there. I haven’t seen any nice looking ones in the markets here….for once, you’re beating us out in the produce dept. 🙂

    Funny-my dad and I were talking about this very thing over coffee at a little cafe yesterday. I ordered a latte and he did the same but got an incredible flaky pastry with apricot, almonds, and little currants. We shared it and I mentioned how obese I’d be if I lived in France–I’d go croissant-crazy. He was saying how, actually, if you have a little quality treat each day (like we were sharing) you’d end up avoiding all the processed (quantity) stuff so many of us end up eating. Good point. I could use a flaky, buttery croissant each day 🙂

    On that note, I’m slowly making my way through the delightful chocolate you sent. Right now, onto the cinnamon milk chocolate–it’s incredible. Again, many thanks.

  2. I totally agree with you. We get so much crap pushed on us here in the US it’s hard to remember what quality is. I think other cultures like France are much more demanding of retailers and food service providers. Maybe if we stop buying all of the junk made in China they’ll get the message. Fab photos too!!!!

  3. El – the quality of your pictures and writing keep on getting better! I am a firm believer in saving for and focusing on quality be it food, clothing or furniture, even if it means compromising on quantity. It simply saves you from the hassle of replacement or other problems down the road. I think that our society’s costly priority on quantity is woefully skewed, and it is time for all of us to elevate the idea that quality should never be compromised.

  4. couldn’t agree more with you about quality. i’d rather have the high quality ovens, dishwashers, fridges (gaggenau, miele, sub zero, etc…) anyday over the less quality ones. from exp. they last so much longer and rarely break down. same holds true for foods.
    how is your new home? settling in ok?

  5. Your photos are beautiful and your words are true. Do you remember the Made in the USA label? How about clothes that said Made in Italy or Made in France? They don’t sell quality anything anymore. My roommate and I went to buy a desk the other day and all we could find was high priced particle board. Do you now where we can get some decent antiques in the new england area for a fair price. I’d love to buy real wood. I can’t find it!

  6. Dawn- The move in has been very slow because I sprained my ankle and knee and recovery is slow. You get used to the boxes after a while :>) Thanks for asking!

    Sharon- There are some great places in NE for antiques and solid furniture. Here’s one to try.

    Delish – What do I think of designer labels? I saw a $2000 designer handbag that was made out of vinyl last week. Need I say more?

    Thanks for the wonderful comments. Please keep them coming!

  7. You are always so thought provoking. Sadly we have become a society of conspicuous consumption. Manufacturers are savvy and they produce more expensive, less quality products and have no trouble selling them.
    Your petit fours look stunning.

  8. OMG is that you’re furniture?! I don’t think I could afford that table in the lower left hand corner. It looks like something I saw at a museum once. I do agree with what you say and I luv the petit fours!

  9. Vicki- I had to laugh when I read your comment. I bought that table at the Rhode Island Antique Market. The price tag said $89 dollars and then it was 25% off after that. The final price was about $67 dollars. But you’re right…it is solid wood…it is old and it is pretty cool looking. I look for quality but I hardly ever pay full price for it. I’m too cheap!! Also, I’m a huge fan of fixing up good old things and love the blog Before and After. Have you seen it? Thanks for your feedback.

  10. I submit that buying quality is more cost effective in the long run. Well made, classic clothing will live forever in your closet and and costs less than the ten dresses from Target that come and go during the same duration. I feel the same way about food. Buy local, organic ingredients when possible and you will be rewarded with better health and more satisfying meals. Thanks El, for the reminder.

  11. The petit fours look spectacular! I thought about trying to make some for Valentine’s Day, but I didn’t end up doing it. Hopefully, I’ll get around to making them for a party at some point soon. Your recipes sounds really good, so I’m bookmarking it! I love raspberries. Beautiful pictures!

  12. Life really is too short to settle for second rate anything, especially second rate chocolate & cheese!

    Lovely, lovely photos El and I suspect we have similar taste in furniture.

  13. Your photos…wow, wow, wow. And the petit fours look amazing. I am missing New England more and more lately. Hate that I haven’t been home on so many years.

  14. Gorgeous! My former boss and friend at Cafe Liliane in SF used to say, ” We eat with our eyes!” And we do. What a sumptous feast!

  15. El, I couldn’t agree more. I bought custom made sofa 25 years ago. I’ve reupholstered it myself several times. It has survived two kids, two cats and a dog. I am getting ready to redo it once again. A sofa of less quality could never have stood the test of time.
    Framboise is also a top quality product. Your Petit Fours are a work of art! Well done!

  16. Well put! Quality is everything. I can’t understand why people buy so much stuff that don’t last. Or they brag that they paid so little for a mound of dessert. Like you I’d rather save for a while so I can buy good quality furniture. And when it comes to chocolate, there is no compromise!

  17. My mom is turning 80 next month and I am having an afternoon tea for her. These are absolutely going on the menu – and when I make them, I will let you know how it goes. Raspberries are the ultimate berry. I grow my own where everyone else has gravel… between the front drive garages on the front of the house. That small strip is enough for the entire year… and I use a LOT of rasperries.
    What a pleasure to read, and to look at you wonderful work.

  18. It’s funny I was just having this conversation with my husband this wknd (about clothes actually). I agree that quality is worth both looking for, and if need be, paying for. And right now, I am craving your petite fours! That last photo is mouthwatering.

  19. What a find. I stumbled across this blog and I’m seriously impressed. Your photography is superb. I can’t get over how thought provoking your posts are. Can’t wait to try out your recipes! Bookmark! Bookmark!

  20. I’m definitely a champion of quality over instant gratification, and will not hesitate to wait out for the optimal combination of price and quality in an item. Which is why antique flea market purchases are incredibly satisfying! Hope your leg is healing well, aided by raspberries and white chocolate I’m sure!

  21. You are right about quality, it is very important. But it need not to be only for material things (ie furniture, clothes, food, etc). It also needs to be incorporated in friendship, love and personal well-being.

    Your petit fours look fantastic! 🙂

  22. Beautiful post El! The quality is undoubtedly important, especially in the kitchen. One can never turn poor quality ingredients into outstanding dishes. Your photography definitely meet your quality needs! Love the petit fours you made. I just have to wait when raspberries are in season here.

  23. I agree with you 100%. Quality is much more important than quantity (unless we’re talking about dollar bills!)

    I would rather eat 1 warm homemade cookie, than an entire package of that mass produced garbage.

    The idea that more food is “better” is the reason we’re stuck in such a nutritional wasteland here in the US.

    On a happier note, those raspberries all lined up in a row are so natutal and gorgeous.

    As for the recipe – the various forms of raspberry going on there must make for a very tasty plate of petit fours!

  24. Hi El, great clicks. I too believe in quality in the kitchen. It makes a a hell of a lot of difference to the end result. I can attest to that based on earlier failures which I have had. This is a great “food for thought” post.

  25. Wonderful post, El! I agree with you and try to focus on quality over quantity, though I’m not always as successful as I’d like to be. Something to work on for sure.

    Gorgeous photos and I love the combination of flavors you used in these petit fours. I’ve never made petit fours but they’re on my list of things to try. Thanks for the inspiration!

  26. I am with you one hundred percent! I would rather do without than settle for something inferior!
    I remember when I lived in France people arguing for hours over the Brie de Meaux or the Brie de Melun and which was best!
    Quality is wonderful because it brings out the highs, the excitement for something beautiful or extremely tasty.
    Beautiful photos! Nice cake too!

  27. You are absolutely right about quality, especially in people. I wish I could sink my fork into that white chocolate and raspberry!

  28. El, how do you do it? How do you take such beautiful photographs? I’m dying to know your secret, whether you took a course or can recommend any good books because I’m trying to learn how to do food photography and it’s pretty hard. Help. Like this post, everything about this blog reflects quality and I love white chocolate and raspberries!!!

  29. I completely agree with you on the quality v quantity debate. I was only thinking about that the other day. Really, buying something just because it’s cheaper is often not only a false economy, as you say, but basically, is inferior. I’d rather not have something, than have to buy something of poor quality. Keeps it simple – and life less cluttered! Though, would be happy to add this delicious treat in my life. Amazing….

  30. gorgeous!! and I completely agree with your sentiment. i’m definitely on the less is more camp and indulging in quality ingredients in particular is such a true delight. if i ever win the lottery, i’m buying lots of great cheeses!

  31. These look absolutely luscious. And that raspberry looks so delectable that I want one right now. Unfortunately we don’t get fresh raspberries in India.

    I loved your “quality” talk too and fully endorse it. 🙂

  32. I agree that quality does not have to be expensive. I went to Goodwill and bought a beautiful teacup and saucer. Handpainted with beautiful gold trim for under $2.00. What a find!

  33. You are singing my song. I love something solid with a story when I can get my hands on it. I love the chips and scratches and paint flecks. I’ve had to learn to like the other things in life as well, however, and that’s okay. Your petit fours are lovely, of course. Very.

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