Brussel’s sprouts and zucchini gratin with Comté and bacon

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Vegetables have probably never been so rich and satisfying. I took the year’s first Brussel’s sprouts, combined them with a nutty brown butter béchamel sauce, crumbled bacon and grated cheese and threw them in the oven. They were so good that we ate half the pan as a main dish and finished off the rest as a side the next day. The veggies keep just a tiny bit of their bitterness, which is quickly overpowered by the creamy goodness that is béchamel. You could throw whatever you have lying around in this gratin, I’m pretty sure you can’t go wrong! Continue reading

Brown butter cream sauce

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This is one of my all-time favorite sauces. It’s quick and easy, requires very few ingredients, and is amazingly tasty. I usually make it to accompany fish, but it’s also fantastic with poultry or even on roasted or steamed veggies. My fridge is always full of crème fraîche, and this sauce can also be made with whipping cream, although it will be slightly less thick. Continue reading

Pear and apple crisp with vanilla bean-infused brown butter and cardamom cream

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Let me tell you about why I think I secretly buy fruit. I’m not really a fruit eater. I never have a sudden urge to bite into an apple, not to bake fruit pies (other than this incredible nectarine tart). I don’t go crazy when it’s strawberry or raspberry or whatever other season, with the exception of cherries, which I don’t even like that much, other than the excitement factor of them coming from my back yard. I buy fruit because I know it’s good for me and I should eat it. Unfortunately, it usually ends up staying in the bowl for so long that I suddenly have 6 ripe nectarines or 4 mushy almost-brown pears. And then what happens? Dessert-making damage control.

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Olive oil, almond and blood orange cake with brown butter glaze

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So, I never used to think I liked olives. I guess the only exposure I’d ever had was the overly salty, pre-packaged kind that comes on top of pizza in America. When I came to France and went to the South for the first time to pay a visit to my friend, I was shocked at how different real, fresh, well-seasoned olives could be. We’d go to the marché and buy grams and grams of them, trying several different flavors and licking our fingers after each squishy, fragrant bite. Turns out, I have a penchant for green olives, usually marinated in a mixture of garlic, oil and basil.

And speaking of oil… who knew good olive oil could make such a huge difference in my cooking? I don’t think I even bought my first bottle of olive oil until I moved here. Granted, I didn’t do much cooking before coming to France, but when I did, it almost always consisted of vegetable oil if I needed any at all. I can’t imagine making a vinaigrette with generic oil, or marinating my steaks with anything other than delicious, rich olive oil. It just gives a unique earthy taste to whatever it touches.

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Oatmeal, brown butter chocolate chip cookies

I have a soft spot in my heart for chocolate chip cookies. I think most Americans do. They remind me of my childhood, of eating the dough even though my Mom told me the raw eggs weren’t good for my stomach, painstaking minutes of anticipation as I waited for them to come out of the oven and burnt tongues as I devoured them a little too soon. I used to have trouble making cookies. I just couldn’t get the texture right. They were always slightly cakey, and I prefer a chewy, succulent, moist, brownie-like cookie. I had a cookie epiphany when I discovered brown butter. I first used it in this recipe, one of my all-time favorites combining nutty butter, salt and chocolate. There’s nothing better. Continue reading

Lemon, brown butter, cardamom and poppy seed cake with lemon curd

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I love lemons. All citrus, really. Fresh lime juice in a cocktail, baked into coconut lime shortbread bars or with spicy pork or chicken in a savory dish. Tangerines and clementines for breakfast, lunch and dinner or candied and served with a ginger-orange cheesecake. Lemon zest with roasted chicken or fresh-squeezed lemonade in the summer. The possibilities are endless.

I bought some poppy seeds a few weeks ago and have been searching for a use for them. Jérôme’s been craving a lemon tart for weeks, but each week our lemons manage to find another purpose. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to try something new.

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Brown butter chocolate chip cookies with vanilla bean-infused fleur de sel

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I know the holidays have been over for a while now, but I can’t stop making cookies. It’s safe to say that I spend a considerable amount of time pouring and salivating over food blogs. It’s also no secret that I bookmark a lot of recipes, most of which cater more to my sweet tooth than to, say, my physical need to eat in order to survive. I went overboard during the holidays, blaming winter and convincing myself that I actually needed the extra calories to get through the season. But I just can’t seem to stop myself. Finding a recipe for chocolate chip cookies with sea salt on the internet did not help matters.

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