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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Poilane’s Corn Flour Bread

At some point, we’re all going to have to decide on the same measuring system. Maybe we can make it our New Year’s resolution? Most of the world is using the metric system while a few holdouts, namely the United States, Liberia, and Burma, are sticking with other systems of measurement. For the record, I know some very good bakers that use cups and tablespoons,…

At some point, we’re all going to have to decide on the same measuring system. Maybe we can make it our New Year’s resolution? Most of the world is using the metric system while a few holdouts, namely the United States, Liberia, and Burma, are sticking with other systems of measurement. For the record, I know some very good bakers that use cups and tablespoons, and I like them as well.

Anyone who says they aren’t accurate hasn’t encountered a French recipe that calls for un verre de vin de lait (a “wine glass” of milk), a cullière à soupe (a soup spoon) of baking powder, or trois feuilles de gélatine, when every sheet of gelatin I’ve come across is either a different size, weight, or strength. And my wine glasses come in a lot of different sizes, too, although I always seem to reach for the largest ones…but not necessarily for baking.

Although books have been written on the subject, my take is that most Americans like holding measuring spoons and cups. It’s more tactile and visceral, kind of like how many of us holdouts don’t want to make dinner in a machine that will make it for us.

Many of us have fond memories of measuring cups, having seen our parents and grandparents using them, and having them handed down to us, but for recipe writers, metrics really are the way to go. The accuracy issue aside, it’s easy to cut a recipe down, say, 20%, which comes in handy when you’re testing a recipe but find that if you could somehow resize the batter down by 20-percent, it’d fit perfectly in a standard cake pan. Otherwise, you’re stuck telling people to use 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of milk, or the 3 tablespoons plus 1/4 teaspoon of heavy cream I saw in a European cookbook that had been translated into English. I don’t know about you, but I’m not measuring out 1/4 teaspoon of cream to make a batch of ice cream.

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