We had potato gratin twice while we were in Paris, and I vowed to up my game with my version at home.
I often use my mom’s simple recipe which calls for flour and milk (very little butter), but after chipping away at the browned, buttery crusts formed by both the versions I had in Paris, I knew it was the fat factor that made the difference.
I consulted two recipes, one from Julia Child and the other from Dorie Greenspan. I went with Dorie’s simply because I was eager to try some recipes from her book, Around My French Table (a gift from my mother-in-law).
Her version was perfect right down to the decadent, bubbly brown crust. It called for 1 3/4 cup of heavy cream (!), so I’m not surprised. I’m replacing mashed potatoes with this for Thanksgiving.
I found a digital version of her recipe over at Bon Appetit.
Don’t get me wrong, I really love what I do. But I have to admit, I’ve got a little job envy today.
As a die-hard coffee
addict appreciator, I can’t believe it took me this long to accept an invitation from our friend Lindsey to head over to Télescope. After a few days of the typical bistrot coffee, this fantastic coffee house was a literal and figurative eye opener. I met co-owner and barista David Flynn. What a guy – soft-spoken, friendly and full of exuberance for what he does. And he pulls off a very well-groomed paintbrush mustache, so bonus points for that. Incredibly talented, co-owns a thriving cafe in Paris with a devoted following and a warm atmosphere – yeah, I’d take that life. I will refrain from a lengthy narrative about about tasting notes, but it was the first time that I enjoyed a coffee like a fine wine. We came back the next day and I had a sampling of some different shots of espresso, all amazing. Full bodied, well structured, notes of banana, chocolate, lemon zest, oatmeal. All in a friendly, casual environment with great conversation and great music.
My mind raced about how to up our coffee game at home. High on the flavor and the serious buzz, an idea was…errr…brewing in my mind. Our DeLonghi is on its last legs, and we’ve been thinking about what to get. So I asked David about manual espresso machines, and if one were foolhardy enough to jump in to that, where one would begin. He recommended the Rancilio Silvia as a good starter, and I am plotting. Since all good comedy is rooted in suffering, I will be sure to share some of my misadventures if I decide to take the plunge.
Two weekends ago, we had dinner with my husband’s family. My mother-in-law is a fantastic cook, but she outdid herself with this creamy, garlicky aioli.
She served parmesan topped grilled steaks on a bed of lemony arugula and baked potato wedges which we all dipped (and redipped) into the aioli. Heaven! We were all embarrassed by the degree to which we fawned over it. It quickly went from polite, to exuberant, to an eyes-rolling-into-the-back-of-our-head-style swoon.
I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so a few nights ago, I recreated the whole meal (including a double batch of the aioli). Here are the recipes:
Three young goat cheeses: Pyramide Cendre, Chavignole and Coeur Gourmand. Perfection
Well, to me it does considering I’ve seen my share of tatins gone wrong.
I was inspired by this video by David Lebovitz. In it, he goes to the Bastille Market (still one of my favorite places on earth), snaps up some ingredients, then brings them home and effortlessly whips up lunch. Oh, you make it look so easy, David.
One of the things he makes a classic tarte tatin. The ease with which he tossed butter and sugar in the pan, arranged apples on top, cooked it, put the crust on, and baked it, inspired me to take another crack.
This time instead of babying and pre-caramelizing the sugar, I did as David did in the video: Butter and sugar in a pan, stir a bit and arrange peeled apples on top, cook. As easy as he made it look in the video.
I used David’s dough recipe from here and it was the easiest dough I’ve ever worked with. No one tell my grandma.
As you can see from the photo above, it’s a bit shallow in the middle, so there’s room for improvement. But the apples were perfectly caramelized, the crust was wonderful and there was no gnashing of teeth or hurling of spoons.
It’s a great feeling to know I can whip these up for weekend desserts. Well, unless this one was all luck.
Win! Big win.
I’ve been making fine-but-just-okay caesar salad dressing for years, and could kick myself for not going with the obvious – Carmine’s.
When I first moved to New York, a friend of mine invited me to dinner at Carmine’s. It’s a midtown Italian institution that I had written off as a tourist trap (which was funny since as a newbie, wasn’t I just one step removed from tourist?). The restaurant is huge, and so was the caesar salad they brought out as an appetizer. It was the best caesar salad I had eaten to date, and the dressing was thick, garlicky and flavorful. Not anything like the runny, milky white, mayo-based stuff that tries to pass for caesar dressing. BTW, there are few things in life I hate more than mayonnaise.
I had always intended to go back for more salad, but never did. In the years since, I’ve been testing many caesar dressings and though they were okay, none wowed. Then a few months ago, I was in a bookstore and saw a Carmine’s cookbook. Duh! Why hadn’t I thought to seek out Carmine’s recipe for caesar dressing? I leafed through the book hoping they included it, and was happy to see they did.
Of course I made it, loved it and couldn’t believe I hadn’t sought out the recipe sooner.
If I had to guess, I would credit the anchovies as the flavor makers. I was tempted to leave them out, but usually follow a recipe to the letter the first time I make it. Glad I kept them, because the flavor was so different from the other dressings I made. So garlic lovers and anchovy haters alike, give it a whirl!
Carmine’s Caesar Dressing
6 anchovy fillets
3 cloves of garlic (I used five because I loooove garlic)
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
juice of one small lemon
1 cup of olive oil
8 tablespoons of romano cheese (I’ve used parmesan a few times)
1 tablespoon of flat leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon of dried oregano
salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a blender or food processor, puree the 6 anchovy fillets. Add the garlic and blend until well mixed. Add the egg yolks and blend for about 2 minutes. Turn off the motor, add the vinegar and lemon juice, and pulse the mixture for 20 seconds. With the motor running, add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream until incorporated. Add the cheese, parsley and oregano, and pulse the mixture for ten seconds. Season with salt and pepper and chill for at least four hours. Chilling the dressing thickens it and helps it adhere to the lettuce.
The annual baking of chocolate crinkle cookies marks the beginning of the holiday season and the end of 11 months of restraint.
See, I’m a big fan of these cookies, but resist baking them throughout the year to preserve the holiday magic that surrounds them.
They puff and crackle, and the secret is to go crazy with the confectioner’s sugar. Don’t be shy! Double coat those puppies and then some. No one can resist these crackly cookies with a hefty dusting of “snow.”
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
In a medium bowl, mix together cocoa, white sugar, and vegetable oil. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir into the cocoa mixture. Cover dough, and chill for at least 4 hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough into one inch balls.
Coat each ball in confectioners’ sugar before placing onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Let stand on the cookie sheet for a minute before transferring to wire racks to cool.