French Archive

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

paris + a deep, dark salted butter caramel sauce

first cafe creme

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.

red curb

afternoon, montmartre

It’s fun to be an observer, and partial participant, in a foreign country. You get to sit in cafes, unhurried by those needling things like work (though, from the sights of the cafés, this luxury is not limited to tourists) and watch someone else’s world from behind your cafe creme. Except, it is all so much more exciting to you. Everything in France tastes louder: the milk, creamier; the coffee, richer; the chicken, so much more “chickeny” kind of like when Julia Child had her first meal in France, sole meunière (“a morsel of perfection”) and was bowled over by the fact that it tasted so much more like itself. And their butter, oh baby… well, we’ll get to that soon.

jacques bonseargant

rue de tournelles

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Monday, October 13, 2008

molly’s apple tarte tatin

molly's apple tarte tatin

[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!

peeling the applescoring the apples

The beginning of apple season this year found me in Highlands, North Carolina. The Forest Service had just finished a new hiking trail, the trailhead just steps away from my parents’ cabin. Dad, Sophie the doggie and I hiked along the trail until it opened up into a rolling field with rows of huge old McIntosh apple trees–the remnants of an old farm, it seemed, with some abandoned garden flowers still blooming, even. The apple trees were long untended–even overgrown in places with blackberry brambles–but still sagging with delicious fruit. We stopped and filled our backpacks. If there’s anything my Dad loves more than food in general, it’s free food, so he was thrilled.

dicing the butterrolling out lid/base

Back at the cabin, I made a baked apple dessert and 2 quarts of applesauce. It was the end of a weekend of epic feasting, largely thanks to the efforts of Smitten AKA the Best Houseguest Ever. [Ed note: Aww.] So the thought of a Tarte Tatin, my favorite apple dessert, seemed gluttonous, as it contains more than two sticks of butter. I would have to save it for another time.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

pear and almond tart

pear almond tart

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?

three boscs

Thus, it was with great interest that I came across an article written by Dorie Greenspan for Bon Appetit a couple years ago about yet another thing that makes French women so fabulous–aside from the fact that they’re always perfectly dressed without looking like they’re trying too hard and can tie a scarf with their eyes closed while I do mine in front of a mirror and it still looks awkward. It’s because they say things like “Why’d do you do it?”—”it” being baking a rich chocolate cake topped with raspberries and chocolate ganache—”I mean, it’s great, but cakes like this are the reason pastry shops were invented.”

sweet tart shellpears, poaching

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

anything-but-clementine clafoutis

clementine segments

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.

clementines

Often enough, things exceed my expectations. There are better-than-Campbell’s Cream of Tomato Soups, there is Fennel Ice Cream and Red Velvet Cake and, loudest as of late, there is brining.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

cherry clafoutis

cherries galorie

You know what? I’m having a fantastic summer. Life is incredibly sweet, juicy opportunities for personal and professional development are cropping up left and right, we’re going to Napa in one month and — I’m thrilled.

Its terrible how little I like to talk about this, how fearful even the most level-headed of us can be of jinxing out all the good in the world by bringing it up. I mean, really. There is a difference between flaunting or bragging about a good life and celebrating it, or at least there ought to be. Did I tell you Alex and I had a little paper airplane flying contest before we went to bed two nights ago? Yeah, things are that kind of fun.

cherries cherries

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