untitled (paris in the rain)

28 04 2011

there’s something cozy about paris in the rain.

drizzle, rather.

the glistening zinc rooftops, the early dark

make me want to settle in, shut down,

look at lit windows and imagine the home inside.

it must be cozy in there.  i bet they’re eating something delicious.

comforting.

soon i’ll be in my home, my windows invitingly lit, warm smells coming from my stove.

porcini ravioli, spinach cream sauce, wish we had some garlic and parmesan,

but it will still hit the spot.

rhubarb poached in blood orange juice and brown sugar.

warm, atop vanilla ice cream.  maybe.

inspired by a fortune cookie:

a noria turns buckets.

in the rain

everything stops.

take a deep breath,

and just.

slow.

down.

duties,

jobs, recipes, phone calls, address changes, photo editing

can wait one more day.

tonight,

it’s me and the stove in this borrowed apartment

in paris

in the rain.

On this day in 2008: Fish Stock Use #1: Seafood Risotto

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Encyclopédie du Chocolat

18 04 2011

Way back at the beginning of the year, upon learning of it on Fiona’s blog, I signed myself up for the Foodie’s Reading Challenge.  I have since posted about zero (0) books.  It’s downright shameful.  I mean, reading and cooking are two of my very favorite pastimes.  So here goes nothing.

Foodie's Reading Challenge

My very thoughtful husband bought me this absolutely fantastic book for Christmas, and I’ve been wanting to write a little bit about it but haven’t really known where to start.  It is, after all, an encyclopedia.  An Encyclopedia of Chocolate, to be more precise, edited by Frédéric Bau, the director of the chocolate school for Valrhona.

Encyclopédie du Chocolat

It is a sumptuously photographed book, which make it a delight to flip through, licking my lips at the mouthwatering pictures.  But it’s full of useful information, too.  The first part of the book is dedicated to techniques and basic recipes.  As a professional, this is probably my favorite part, because if I’m wondering, for example, why my praliné isn’t setting up properly at work, I can find the answer here.  (the mixture is probably too warm, in case you’re wondering.)  Or how to substitute dark chocolate for milk chocolate, and vice versa – the cacao percentage in a chocolate can have drastic effects on a recipe if you’re not careful.  Or say I just want to make Nutella from scratch.

I also love having such a great set of base recipes such as ganaches, pâte à choux, cream fillings, mousses, and caramels.  That way I can play around with the individual components and let my creativity run free.  Knowing that I have a good recipe as a jumping-off point is always a good start.

There’s an excellent illustrated section towards the back which shows the equipment used in professional pastry and chocolate shops.  Since it’s in French, this section is invaluable for my working  vocabulary.

In the middle are the recipes, grouped by category (Grands Classiques, tartes, and so on) with one recipe per chapter presented by a French celebrity chef.  Gilles Marchal of La Maison du Chocolat, Jean-Paul Hévin of best chocolat chaud in Paris fame, and Cyril Lignac of just about everything are among the participants.

Encyclopédie du Chocolat even won the award for best chocolate cookbook at this year’s cookbook festival in Paris.

When I finally decided to see what this book could do, I looked to the classic ganache tart.

note the lovely book in the background...

Of course, it came out beautifully.  For a photo of the finished product, as well as the resulting recipe, click on over to the Recipe of the Month at Girls’ Guide to Paris.

If you’re interested in buying the book yourself, and you can read French (the English version is due in October of this year), I’ve assembled a few links that might help you do so.  It’s up to you to figure out which one is geographically appropriate for you.

Encyclopédie du Chocolat at Valrhona Chocolate (US)

Encyclopédie du Chocolat at Amazon (Canada)

Encyclopédie du Chocolat at Amazon (France)

On this day in 2009: Kicking it Old School

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Moving Week, or Eating Down The Pantry

12 04 2011

I had ambitions to write up a lovely parting post for my street this week. I went out on Saturday, which was gloriously sunny and took lots and lots of pictures, and even a little video, but now the thought of going through them all and writing something worthwhile about each one feels too daunting. I seem to have forgotten, despite the fact that I did it just one year ago, exactly how much physical and mental energy it takes to pack up your entire apartment. Time, too. The good news is that we did finally find an apartment, one we’re excited to move into, in a completely new neighborhood which will be fun to explore and get to know. Don’t worry, I’ll give my current neighborhood a proper sendoff. It will just be after the move.

Logic would dictate that the more things you eat out of your pantry and fridge before you move, the fewer things you have to move. I think we’ve been doing a pretty good job with this.  The freezer is now empty, save for a few trays of ice cubes and a couple of ice packs, and the fridge contains mainly condiments.  Tonight I finished off the bag of frozen spinach, the tomato paste, the milk, the cream, and the harissa – all went into a bread pudding that smells delightful.

Last night I indulged in a fresh goat cheese crottin in the name of going through a large quantity of lettuce.

Salade de Chèvre Chaud

Yep. I made a lovely salade de chèvre chaud.  The rest of the baguette and cheese also ended up in tonight’s dinner.  Speaking of, the oven timer just went off!  Time to eat.

On this day in 2010: Fribourg d’Alpage (A wonderful cheese.)

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Secrets of Fruit Salad

4 04 2011

Fruit salad is a deceptively simple dish.  It seems like you could just throw in a bunch of cut up fresh fruits and call it a day, and a lot of people do just that.  I am not one of them.  And I am often complimented on my fruit salads.  So what’s the secret?  I’ve got several.

  • Honey. Try drizzling a little honey over your fruit.  An unusual or unique one, such as Tasmanian leatherwood honey or Corsican chestnut honey will make your salad much more interesting.  Taste different honeys and try to imagine them paired with various fruits.  A floral honey is nice with stone fruits or tropical fruits, an earthy or nutty one is great with berries or citrus.
  • Salt. A few flecks of crunchy sea salt will really make the flavors sing.  I like to use vanilla salt, which I make by scraping a vanilla bean into a jar of fleur de sel.
  • Acid. Particularly lemon or lime juice.  It not only brightens the flavor, but also acts as an antioxydant to keep more delicate fruits from going brown.  Go ahead and throw some zest in there, too, if you like a more pronounced citrus flavor.
  • Herbs. Mint, basil, and tarragon are three that compliment fruits especially well.
  • No “Kitchen Sink.” It may be cliché, but “what grows together goes together.”  Apples and oranges pretty much never belong in the same salad.  Try to limit yourself to a few well-chosen, seasonal fruits.

Some seasonal suggestions:

  • Spring – Early spring still relies on tropical fruits, but later on, strawberries, cherries and apricots steal the show.  Try them with a little crushed dried lavender.
  • Summer – Probably the best season for fruit salads, summer abounds with juicy stone fruits, berries, and watermelons.  Summery basil and refreshing mint are natural complements, but a little chili pepper makes for an unexpected twist.
  • Fall – Late-season melons, grapes, and plums provide a lingering taste of warmer days.  Crunchy nuts add contrast.  Fall is also a great time for compotes.  Essentially warm fruit salads, think apples or pears and dried cranberries, cooked with a stick of cinnamon to spice things up.
  • Winter – Winter is a great excuse to eat tropical fruits that might otherwise cause guilty feelings among the locavore set.  Pineapples, mangoes, papayas, and other exotic fruits combine with kiwis (grown in temperate climates, but in season in winter) to give a splash of color to the earth-toned palette of winter produce.  Lively citrus salads are made intriguing with a hint of tarragon.

kiwi salad

Kiwifruit Salad

A simple dressing of citrus, honey, and salt elevates ordinary fruit to new heights.

4 kiwis
juice of ½ lime
1 tsp. Honey (I used Tasmanian)
pinch of vanilla salt

  1. Peel the kiwis by cutting the ends off and slipping a spoon between the skin and the flesh. Cut the kiwis into lengthwise quarters, then horizontal slices. Place in a bowl.
  2. Add the lime juice, honey, and vanilla salt and stir to combine. Let the flavors mingle for about 10 minutes, then eat.

Serves 2.

On this day in 2008: New Ganga (a now defunct Indian restaurant)

Originally published on Croque-Camille.








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