Did you hear? The Eighties are back. Right outside my very front door, people too young to have experienced the decade the first time around are parading down the sidewalks in leggings and high-top sneakers, shoulder padded blazers, thick belts and inadvisable doses of fluorescent clothing, without a stitch of irony. You couldn’t pay me to join them; I aim only make myself live down each fashion disaster once in a lifetime, but in the kitchen? Oh yes, bring it on.
So, I’m cheating. I really wasn’t planning on cooking just yet. You see, I spent a whole lot of the last few weeks of pregnancy honing in on cookbooks that focus on simpler, but uncompromised cooking (and I will absolutely do a post on these, soon), bookmarking the kind of recipes I could imagine assembling with one hand tied behind my back (or you know, holding a squawking newborn) and even banking a decent amount of recipes, such as that date spice loaf and the stuffed eggplant, and a few other things I have even told you about yet. And I don’t need to cook either: Our fridge is filled with homemade matzo ball soup, spaghetti and meatballs, endless bagel fixings, pickles galore, fruit, sandwich bread, lunch meats, milk for cereal and you name it (did I tell you our families were awesome or what?). Do you hear me? There is no reason on earth that I need to be pulling down the pots and pans right now. And yet I did. Because there was something — one tiny thing, perhaps — that I had not anticipated when I mapped these early weeks out in my head.
I have been wanting to make the sugar puffs known as chouquettes forever, or at least as long as it has been since I read about them for the first time on Chocolate and Zucchini. I loved Clotilde’s descriptions of buying them by weight in French bakeries and how the best part is eating the sugar crystals (by licking your finger and reaching in, of course) that have collected in the bottom of the bag. They’re apparently the after-school goûter, or snack of choice, for the French schoolkid set and though I might be getting a late start on them, I am quickly making up for lost time.
And so, we went to Paris for eight days, which is never enough. Eight days is long enough to get you entrenched in rhythms (morning café, long walk through old streets, afternoon pastry, nap and late dinner), long enough to convince you you cannot remember the place you were before, but also long enough for it to seem cruel when you finally have to leave.
[Guest post by Molly] You remember Molly, right? This summer, she shared her secrets for awesome, dry-rubbed ribs. (I still dream about them, I really do.) Well, Molly also makes a killer apple tarte tatin, one of my favorite desserts and she was kind enough to come over to my apartment last week and demonstrate–you wouldn’t believe how amazing it smelled. Here she tells you how she did it, in her own words. Thanks Molly!
A lot more than anyone should, I fixate on Paris. It’s not just that we got engaged there, returned a little over a year later just because we missed it and scheme to find a way to expat ourselves there one day or at least for a couple years; no, that would be too obvious. My obsession lies with the fact that, as with all things we pine for, the grass just seems so much greener over there, from the Velib bikes to the old buildings which are never crushed to make room for fugly glass and concrete monoliths, and do I even need to get started about the respect given to artisan crafts from pastry to bread baking?
Sometimes I cook things even though I have significant doubts that they will be in any way delicious. Why is this, how is this so, you ask? Because I live in a mental place I affectionately call Hope. I wish to be surprised. I aspire to be wrong from time to time (though not, as Alex can but probably will not argue, because he is polite, too often, and certainly not if it would make him right) because if the sum of the parts that together comprise the world as I know it is all there is, I’d be kind of bummed. I’d be kind of bored.