The best thing ever happened recently. I know I’ve talked on here about losing my need for all things American in the kitchen and embracing what I can find here in France, and learning to make things that I still craved from scratch. But sometimes, I still get really excited when I can easily find a little slice of home. Hence the best thing ever: Marks and Spencer Food opened right next to my work! OK, so I know that M&S is British and not American, but I still find versions of my childhood comfort foods (good pre-packaged cheesecake and other sweets) as well as other, more adult and grown up flavors like curry sauces and chutneys and OMG: ground lamb! I’ve set foot in the store two or three times so far, and seeing this lamb mince was definitely the most exciting moment by far (even more so than the discovery of cheesecake!). I snatched it up without hesitating, and grabbed a package of Indian naan bread as well, set on the idea of making lamb burgers over the weekend. Continue reading
One of my absolute favorite things about France is macarons. They’re the epitome of everything I love in a dessert: both slightly crunchy and chewy, like a mixture of cake and cookies with a fabulous texture, small enough that I can eat several of them and try tons of different flavors and diverse enough that they never get old. Even though they’re incredibly expensive, buying a small box of macarons always seems worth it and makes my day. Macarons are a notoriously tricky pastry to make at home and up until now I’ve mostly been content to buy them in specialized shops. Recently I learned a trick that seemed as though it might help me conquer the home-made macaron and decided to give it a go at home. Continue reading
I grew up eating rhubarb straight out of my grandparent’s garden. Of course as a kid, the extreme tartness was a bit too much for me, but my Grandma sure knew how to make an amazing strawberry-rhubarb pie that won us all over. Since moving to France, I have a tendency to always choose rhubarb desserts when they’re available. One of my favorites is a perfect little rhubarb tartelette covered in a crumble topping. When my own rhubarb plant starting growing this year, I knew that I needed to find my own signature dessert showcasing all that I love about rhubarb. And honestly, what’s better than a curd? I LOVE curds, their silky texture and tart sweetness. This was a no-brainer. Continue reading
A few weeks ago I came across some lovely plums at the market. Yellow and dark red, I knew I had to transform them into some sort of sweet and tart dessert that I could eat for breakfast if I wanted. I’d already made an amazing earthy-sweet hazelnut and plum cake, so I decided to go a slightly different route with this recipe. A lemony cupcake, almost more of a muffin, really, with fresh plum slices and a dousing of cinnamon and dark cane sugar. Continue reading
Here I am, cooking with cinnamon yet again. I was in the middle of spending a quiet, lazy Sunday at home when I suddenly got a craving to bake something. I knew that I was almost out of both flour and butter, not to mention chocolate. I could have made yet another batch of my new favorite spicy cinnamon and cocoa cookies, but I felt like I should try something new. I almost went for peanut butter, but something told me to look elsewhere. After a few minutes of scrolling through Evernote, I spotted a recipe for cinnamon blondies that luckily required very little flour and butter, very few ingredients overall, actually.
I set to work searching through my pantry, making sure I had all the right ingredients. That’s when I spotted the cranberries. Then my brain began to whir… Cranberries, vanilla bean, rich brown sugar. Yes, this what exactly what I needed.
Having a stocked pantry makes life so much easier on a rainy afternoon after opening the fridge to find some chicken and… well, that’s about it. We could’ve gone the easy route, making some version of our standard chicken with pasta, usually involving cream and whatever vegetables and cheese we have in stock. Jérôme was all set to make it happen when I opened the cupboard and saw a poor, neglected box of couscous hiding in the corner. Couscous! This is what our chicken needed.
Unfortunately after three seconds of my mind mentally reviewing what I’d just seen in the refrigerator I realized that we had literally no vegetables in the house, save a few onions. A good couscous is all about slow-roasted root veggies giving flavor to a savory broth and being absorbed by the fluffy, light couscous and just pulling the dish together. But now my mind was made up. I wanted couscous, but how could I make it work without going to the grocery store?
France has introduced me to so many new colors and flavors in terms of food. Being an Iowa girl, things like parsnips and rabbit and mangos just didn’t exist at my local supermarket. One of the joys of the well-known French passion for all things food-related is in discovering different products, things that I’d never even heard of, and trying them all. I’m a big advocate of the phrase “I’ll try anything once.” I think it’s important to let your taste buds speak for themselves, and not to dismiss certain foods because of how they look or what you’ve heard about them. I’ve tried some pretty unappetizing things in my day, but my latest find does not fall into that category.
Persimmons are a lovely, bright orange fruit that is just begging to be eaten. They almost look like vibrant little tomatoes, but something about that shiny skin and little green top lets you know that this is no vegetable. I grabbed a few of these when I spotted them at a market as I was walking back to work for my lunch break. I’d seen recipes online for persimmon tarts, but since it was the middle of the winter, I felt like I needed something a little hardier. A few minutes on the web lead me to the perfect recipe: persimmon coffee cake.