Cheese Souffle

The word soufflé used to strike terror in the heart of cooks far and wide. I never got that memo, though, and one of the first things I ever baked was a chocolate soufflé when I was less than sixteen years old, from my mother’s copy of The Settlement Cookbook, the 1951 edition. The ingredient list is pretty concise; looking at the book now, there…

The word soufflé used to strike terror in the heart of cooks far and wide. I never got that memo, though, and one of the first things I ever baked was a chocolate soufflé when I was less than sixteen years old, from my mother’s copy of The Settlement Cookbook, the 1951 edition. The ingredient list is pretty concise; looking at the book now, there are two chocolate soufflé recipes in it – one with four ingredients and the other with six.

The author explains how to put the soufflés together with only four or five concise sentences. There are no mixing bowl or baking dish sizes given, and chocolate is just listed as “chocolate.” There’s no mention of whether it’s bittersweet, semisweet, or unsweetened chocolate. (There are also no substitutions for any ingredients offered, and storage instructions weren’t included, presumably because people just figured that out for themselves.) It’s fascinating how times have changed in terms of how recipes are written today.

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Croque monsieur

France has been creeping (or bursting, in some cases) out of lockdown. As of May 11th, people can come and go without carrying a written permission slip. The outdoor markets, hairdressers, and other types of shops have reopened, under the advisement of the health ministry, who is encouraging people to wear masks and practice social distancing, keeping 1 meter (3-feet) apart from others. Some stores…

France has been creeping (or bursting, in some cases) out of lockdown. As of May 11th, people can come and go without carrying a written permission slip. The outdoor markets, hairdressers, and other types of shops have reopened, under the advisement of the health ministry, who is encouraging people to wear masks and practice social distancing, keeping 1 meter (3-feet) apart from others. Some stores (and people) have been strict about this, while others remain cavalier.

No one quite knows where this is going, with many proclaiming “It’s over!” while I’m remaining prudent. But on June 2nd, restaurants and cafés may be allowed to reopen.

While everyone waits, some restaurants in Paris have started serving food-to-go, either to pick up sur place, or be delivered. We’ve had food delivery services for a number of years, which are popular, but their offerings lean heavily on burgers, poke bowls, and bagel sandwiches, which aren’t very inspiring to me. In response to the virus, better-quality restaurants have gotten on the bandwagon and even my local French bistro is serving la cuisine française for pick-up…although bringing home a Steak-frites and Frisée salad in a box isn’t quite the same as sitting inside with a carafe of vin rouge.

For the record, I would love it if restaurants were allowed to put tables on the sidewalks and squares, distanced apart, which clients from any of the nearby restaurants would be allowed to use. (And while we’re at it, and since it’s my fantasy, let’s make the tables no-smoking, too.) Diners could still interact and remain “together,” as if they were inside, but if restaurants can only operate at half-capacity, most dining rooms are just too small and the profit margins are just too tight to make a go if it if they can only fill half of those seats.

In other news, I know a lot of you out there have been making your own bread. And I can’t think of a better use for it than to make yourself a Croque monsieur.

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Weekend Reads

Thanksgiving is (kinda) just around the corner and you can check out this round-up of Thanksgiving Recipes here on the blog. Rather than getting all stressed out, though, maybe think of making less…and having more fun. As a French friend once told me, “We don’t go out to eat for the food. We go out to be with our friends.” Another friend in Paris told…

Thanksgiving is (kinda) just around the corner and you can check out this round-up of Thanksgiving Recipes here on the blog. Rather than getting all stressed out, though, maybe think of making less…and having more fun. As a French friend once told me, “We don’t go out to eat for the food. We go out to be with our friends.” Another friend in Paris told me that when she entertains, she serves only three things, which may not pan out for T-day spreads; I can skip the marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes…but not the turkey, stuffing, purée (mashed potatoes), and cranberry sauce.

Every November I get asked by a few people, “What do the French do for Thanksgiving?” Since it’s an American holiday, I don’t think they want to be in the mishigas of cultural appropriation, sp they’re fine to let us have it, and don’t do anything to celebrate. That said, some butchers in Paris stock whole turkeys (pro-tip: Stay away from butchers in upscale neighborhoods. The prices some of them sell them for are insane), and go to a regular butcher shop elsewhere. Even better, if you order in advance, some butchers may be willing to put the turkey on the same rôtisserie they use for roast chickens, to cook for you, which is a godsend if you have a petit apartment oven.

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Tomato Tart

I didn’t know what to make for dinner the other night. I had some tart dough tucked away in the freezer, and because I was having trouble closing the door (er…what else is new?), I realized it was time to clear some of the stuff out. But I also had some beautiful tomatoes on hand, and a tub of fromage frais (fresh spreadable cheese), which…

I didn’t know what to make for dinner the other night. I had some tart dough tucked away in the freezer, and because I was having trouble closing the door (er…what else is new?), I realized it was time to clear some of the stuff out. But I also had some beautiful tomatoes on hand, and a tub of fromage frais (fresh spreadable cheese), which the universe seemed to be telling me that I should make a tart out of.

I’ll admit that I’m not the most creative person with tomatoes. I usually eat them just as they are; I have a hard time messing too much with heirloom tomatoes since they are so precious around here. My usual M.O. is to slice them up, drizzle them with good olive oil, sprinkle them with salt, and eat them that way. But when the stars – or ingredients – aligned in my kitchen, a Tomato Tart seemed destined for our dinner.

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