Easy Cheesy

27 02 2013

Like we did last year, Nick and I have again given up cooking meat at home for Lent.  Since all Catholics know that fish isn’t meat, our omega-3 levels are rising as we incorporate more fish into our diet.  But what is a meatless couple supposed to do with a jar of homemade olive salad, leftover from a Mardi Gras party?  In a flash of brilliance it hit me.

before the oozing mess

Olive salad tuna melts!  I ran to the shop downstairs for supplies, picking up cans of tuna, two kinds of cheese (emmenthal and mozzarella) and Poilâne bread.  The beauty of using olive salad in your tuna is that you don’t even need to chop an onion, and you can use a lot less mayonnaise than usual.  I made these twice last week, and I expect to see them on the regular weeknight rotation for a while.  But truly, I would eat this no matter the dietary restriction, because a hot, crunchy, melty sandwich with tangy, savory bits of olive inside appeals year-round.

On this day in 2008: Fauchon, or, I May Have a Problem

Originally published on Croque-Camille.

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Two Birthdays In One

18 02 2013

As you may or may not remember, this blog was essentially on hiatus for most of 2012.  It made me sad to miss celebrating the fourth birthday of Croque-Camille, but work came first.  Now I have a little more time again, so I’m here to right old wrongs and have a proper fourth birthday party!  And fifth.  Because here we are, five years after I started writing here, five years and a few weeks after I moved to Paris, five years and a few days after my own thirtieth birthday, three apartments and two jobs later, and I still love it.  So here goes: a month-by-month recap of the last two years.  When we last left off, it was…

February 2011: There was plenty of exploring, both in town and in the country, and I also started my gig at Girls’ Guide to Paris, where I wrote the recipe of the month for a little over a year.

March 2011: The trip to Budapest was great, and the opening of Candelaria changed the face of Mexican food in Paris, but most of my time was spent looking for yet another new apartment.

April 2011: We did eventually find that apartment (the one we’re in now, and so happy we didn’t have to move last year) and moved in.  I also managed to draw up a post outlining what I think makes a successful fruit salad.  I need to make that kiwi salad again – I have a lot of kiwis right now.

May 2011: I bid farewell to my old neighborhood, still a lively and bustling street that seems to be sprouting new trendy restaurants every week these days.  I also got to spend the day with Katia and Kyliemac, chatting and eating pastries for their podcast.

June 2011: I puzzled over potential career moves (and despite how it all turned out, I don’t think I made the wrong decision) and took a break in St. Malo, eating cheese and kouign amann.

July 2011: Indian cooking, a newfound obsession with vegetable and grain salads, a glorious trip to the Languedoc, and chocolate and candies from Fouquet.

August 2011: The month started with a tour of my new/current kitchen and ended with a delightful meal at Au Passage. (Incidentally, we ate at chef James Henry’s new restaurant, Bones, for my birthday, and loved it.) In between there was Chinese, Mexican, Indian, and Italian eating, and the Four Pounds of Cheese project, where I tried to reduce food waste, and mostly succeeded.

September 2011: In which I try to pretend summer isn’t over yet with a delicious watermelon-basil sorbet.

October 2011: I gave notice at work and announced my new (now former) job as executive pastry chef at Blend.  Speaking of blends, I wrote what I like to think is a helpful post about making your own spice blends.

November 2011: Won a book, made ice cream, ate cheese, started the new (now former) job, and still squeezed in a quick getaway to eat sausage and drink beer in Köln.

December 2011: Opened a restaurant.  Thought I’d share some of my hard-earned knowledge about working with yeast and natural starter.

January-April 2012: Worked pretty much every day.

May 2012: I optimistically thought I would be able to start blogging regularly again.  I made it to one post, a quick, easy recipe for jerk chicken (and some quinoa to go with it) (this was before quinoa was evil).

June-October 2012: Increasingly miserable at work, much-needed vacation, arrange to leave work.

November 2012: Catching up with the blog, defining my life via baking – muffins, wedding cakes, Twinkies.

December 2012: I put the smack down on the “macaron”, and develop some recipes for the McCormick Flavor Forecast.  My friends are still talking about these caramel sage bars.

January 2013: And I started the Paris Pastry Crawl (which I realize I haven’t touched yet for February, but there’s still time). I didn’t mean to rag on Laurent Duchêne quite so much, but I thought it was a valuable lesson, and helpful to show you, my dear readers, what can go wrong when making an éclair.

A huge thank you to all of my readers, past and present, who have kept me going for five (!!!) years.  I might babble into the ether regardless, but it’s so much more rewarding when I know people are out there, reading and commenting and sharing and just generally being interesting people who I love to interact with, whether in cyberspace or real life.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Paris Pastry Crawl 2103: Éclairs: The Recipe

8 02 2013

I do believe I promised recipes to accompany my Pastry Crawl so that those of you not in Paris can enjoy along with me.  With the exception of Christophe Adam, French bakers in general adhere very strictly to the rules of éclair making: e.g. If  it’s a chocolate éclair, it has chocolate filling and chocolate icing.  If it’s a coffee éclair, it has coffee filling and light brown, hopefully coffee-flavored icing.  Rarely is it anything else.  And yet, in the United States, a chocolate eclair is almost always filled with vanilla pudding (yes, pastry cream is hardly more than a fancy name for pudding (in the American sense.  Don’t make me open the British pudding can of worms.)) and glazed with chocolate.  So I suffer none of these compunctions, instead viewing the éclair as a canvas for whatever flavor combination strikes my fancy.  On this particular occasion, inspired in part by a recent post on Not Without Salt extolling the virtues of butterscotch pudding, I chose to make my filling butterscotch.

unadorned

I am admittedly out of practice piping éclairs, my muscle memory being confused between the lusty behemoths we used to make in the States and the skinnier, more uptight ones I became accustomed to making in Paris.  You can see examples of both in the above photo, insert fat American joke here.

!#@%*

Let it be noted that the fatter an éclair is, the greater the cream-to-pastry ratio.  Do with that what you will.

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Paris Pastry Crawl 2013: Éclairs: L’Éclair de Génie

1 02 2013

Somehow January is already over.  But éclair month is still going (I got a bit of a late start, and then my internet was down for ten days, so I figure I can borrow a few days from February).  I think at this point, a little history of the éclair is in order.

rows of éclairs

I went to the library to do my pastry research, but it turns out that the best information I found was right on my own bookshelf, in Dorie Greenspan’s lovely Around My French Table.  She explains that they were invented and named by Carême.  One of the first celebrity chefs, Carême gained fame in the late 18th and early 19th centuries because of his elaborate pastry creations called pièces montées.  The tradition lives on today, mainly in the form of the croquembouche, still popular for French weddings and other celebrations.  So it’s safe to say the guy liked his pâte à choux.  Dorie writes that Carême was the fist to pipe it into “long, fingerlike shapes.”

Once the pastry was baked, he sliced the strips in half, filled them with pastry cream, and glazed their tops, creating an enduring classic, which he christened éclairs (éclair means lightning).  No one’s certain why he called the slender pastries lightning…I hold with the camp convinced that the name described the way and éclair is eaten – lightning fast.

Dorie Greenspan, Around My French Table

yes, please

Like most French words, éclair can be translated more than one way.  I’ve always thought of it as a flash, which makes the name of éclair guru Christophe Adam’s shop a cute play on words: L’Éclair de Génie becomes “the flash of genius”.  Adam, probably best known as the pastry chef who made Fauchon a destination for éclairs with his collection of imaginative takes on the classic pastry, now has his own shop which sells éclairs and truffles.  I found out about it on Dorie’s delightful blog (where would I be without her?) and knew that I would have to include it in my éclair tasting.  I am not disappointed.

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