A couple of years ago while in Paris my husband and I met good friends for lunch at Le St Joseph, a small, unpretentious restaurant just outside the city in the town of Garenne-Colombe. It took 45 minutes in a cab to get there, but the restaurant was (as they say in the Michelin Guide) worth a detour. Every dish we sampled on that June day was delicious and creative, but the one I remembered best was a creamy corn soup dotted with drops of sesame oil and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. The French don’t often cook with corn so I was even more intrigued by this first course.
Somehow I didn’t get around to trying the soup after returning home. However, when our first local corn appeared in groceries and farmers’ markets this summer, I thought of it, and Continue reading
Recently, my husband and I invited friends to dinner while they were in Paris, but, as it turned out, this couple had only lunch slots free. So, we decided to have a weekend lunch instead. I loved the idea of a mid-day meal, so I planned a simpler menu than I would have for a dinner.
To anchor the menu, I roasted thick cod fillets. Dotted with butter and seasoned generously with salt and cayenne pepper, they needed less than 15 minutes in the oven. Continue reading
When in France, one of my delights is cooking vegetables. With each season the French look forward to the arrival of fresh produce, and always use it imaginatively. Take for example the talented host who served my husband and me a delicious dish of baked veal slices topped with a beautiful asparagus sauce, or the creative restaurant chef who paired roasted eggplant cubes with fresh orange segments and then topped them with thin slices of dried goat cheese.
My own seasonal creations are far simpler since our rented apartment has a small kitchen. Zucchini (courgettes) and tomatoes are bountiful at the near-by fruit and vegetable stands, so I bought both to make a summer gratin.
A tian, a type of Provencal gratin prepared by baking layers of vegetables in a shallow dish Continue reading
When I spotted fresh shelled green peas in two of my local supermarkets recently, I was at once reminded of a pea soup I had sampled in Paris late last spring at Le St. Joseph, a restaurant located on the outskirts of the city, but definitely worth the cab ride. When the creamy, celadon green soup arrived at the table, it was garnished with a fine dice of snowy white feta and with crisp, golden mini- croutons. One sip of this delicious, verdant potage, and I was smitten. I polished off the bowl in less than 5 minutes.
Fast forward a year to those fresh peas nestled among the sugar snaps and snow peas at the grocery. I picked up several packages to create a facsimile of the Parisian original. Sautéed leeks and tarragon make fine partners to the peas, which are simmered for a few minutes in stock, and then pureed. Some half-and- half adds a smooth finishing touch, but it is the simple garnishes that truly distinguish this dish. I sliced a block of feta into fine Continue reading
Last month in Paris, I met a friend in the late afternoon for hot chocolate at Angelina’s, one of Paris’ most celebrated tearooms. Even though the line to get into to the famous salon took more than half an hour to pass through, the ethereal rich dark chocolate was definitely worth the wait. This month as Valentine’s Day approaches I’ve decided to reproduce the French hot chocolate stateside.
Served in a small pitcher along with a bowl of whipped cream, this French hot chocolate with its silky texture and intense chocolate flavor has been my favorite for years. I first discovered it on a trip to The City of Light back in the 80s. During that visit, I went to Angelina’s several days in a row to sip cups of the concoction while trying to unearth the recipe. A waitress finally revealed that the drink was made with chocolate bars that were broken into Continue reading
For those of you planning to make the Cherry Tomato and Radish Salad in Orange Vinaigrette with Whipped Chèvre featured on Monday, I realized after I penned the post that the amount of milk called for when whisking the chèvre could vary depending on the firmness of the goat cheese. I used a creamy, but somewhat firm chèvre from my local cheese shop (see photo above!) and it easily needed almost 2/3 cup of milk to get it to a nice whipped consistency. Softer goat cheeses like Chavrie (which I mentioned in the post) will need as little as 2 tablespoons of milk. I’ve made these notes on the recipe so be sure to check out the revised version here.
It’s been in the 90s every day this week–tomorrow we might be lucky and it will reach only into the 80s! Happy cooking everyone!
Monday (Lundi) High 95
Tuesday (Mardi) High 97
Wednesday (Mercredi) High 97
Thursday (Jeudi) High 97
When I looked at the weather app on my phone this morning, the temperatures above are what I saw. Paris is having a “canicule”—a heat wave! It certainly determined what I wanted to cook this week. No turning on the oven–salads and chilled soups will be on the menu instead.
A salad that I tasted recently at a fabulous Left Bank restaurant, Le Bon Saint Pourçain, was the inspiration for our lunch today. The image of halved cherry tomatoes, paper thin shavings of radish, and sliced red onion served with whipped chèvre was still dancing around in my head. The cool refreshing flavors as well as the vivid colors of this dish were appealing, but I also appreciated that all the ingredients were seasonable, and readily available in my neighborhood markets. Continue reading
On a warm, balmy Parisian night earlier this week, my husband and I decided to eat al fresco, so we set a small table on the apartment’s narrow balcony. Since we had enjoyed a robust lunch earlier, we wanted a light supper and found inspiration from the vegetables and fruits displayed in the local markets of our neighborhood.
I bought large Brittany artichokes (they measure close to 5 inches across!), bunches of fresh mint and chives, plus a couple of Cavaillon melons (those extra sweet little cantaloupes from Provence). I also picked up juicy apricots and cherries as well as figs.
At home I turned to some favorite recipes to prepare my cache. The artichokes were cooked in a big pot of boiling water and served with melted butter scented with lemon, mint, and chives. Some readers might remember this dish from one of my blogs of several years ago when I used the artichokes as a first course. This time they became the main course. You’ll find the recipe here. As a side, I made Melon with Pernod and Mint, a starter that has been in my repertoire more than 20 years. I tweaked the directions slightly and offered the chilled cantaloupe slices as a fruit salad rather than an appetizer. You’ll find that recipe below.
Glasses of rosé, a crusty baguette, some sliced saucissons (sausages), plus Roquefort and an aged chèvre paired with apricots, cherries, and figs completed our “dîner au balcon!”
When I am eating out, iIt’s not often that I pay more attention to a side dish than to the main course or dessert. But, during our last week in Paris this January that is exactly what happened. At the left bank Café Varenne on rue du Bac, I ordered a roasted bass with a broccoli and potato puree. It was the fish on the menu that had sounded so delicious, but it was the simple vegetable garnish that grabbed my attention.
The light green puree flecked with bits of verdant broccoli was smooth, light, and perfectly seasoned. When our waiter passed by later, I didn’t waste time asking him how it was prepared. He explained that both cooked yellow-fleshed potatoes and broccoli florets were puréed, and then enriched with a modest amount (for the French!) of crème fraîche and butter. Très facile, I thought! Continue reading
Last month in Paris, I booked dinner at Semilla, a favorite Left Bank restaurant of mine. Every dish my husband and I sampled that night was beautifully prepared, but the one that stayed in my mind for days afterward was the roasted cod and Belgian endives.
The dish included fresh turmeric as well as seeds from passion fruit, neither of which was available in my local groceries. So, I made a few adjustments, using ground turmeric as a rub for the fish and replacing the passion fruit with lemon juice. Although not identical, this stateside version rivaled the French one in freshness and in taste. My husband, who is not a fan of pan-roasted fish, actually stopped between mouthfuls to declare the dish a winner. Continue reading