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Beat the Heat – Five of The Best Ice Creams of Paris

28 Aug

The “canicule”, the canicular days, seem to mostly be over but we still have around 27°C (about 80°F) here, which gives us a very good excuse to continue trying out the very best of Parisian ice cream creations.

Above you see the Amorino ice cream parlour opposite the Centre Pompidou, after a much-needed half hour cloudburst a few days ago.

But now the sun is back, and with the city being one of the centers, or THE center, of fashion, talking of French ice cream artists, I have to start with Pierre Hermé.

French Vogue referred to him as “the Picasso of Pastry”, but calling him “the Karl of Pastry” and in every case, “the Godfather of sweet delights” would neither go amiss. More on him and his wife, Austrian designer Barbara Rihl, in an upcoming post, but for now I can tell you that 1) should you visit Paris, try his macarons or you will miss out on your taste buds doing the Cha Cha (seriously, I thought I had tried all of the best macarons, but his are the epitome of macaron-mastery) and b) his ice cream creations equally wonderful.

On a recent trip to one of the Pierre Hermé boutiques, I tried the caramel-and-salted-butter version of his Miss Gla’Gla ice cream (above, in its chic silver packaging), ice cream sandwiches fit for kings and queens, and I also enjoyed one of his 2012 macaron creations, the “Mosäic”, a vanilla macaron with pistachio cream, flavoured with cinnamon and griottes (morello cherries). Bliss!

Pierre Hermè ice cream is also sold at Galeries Lafayette.

Back to Amorino. First, have a look at this:

Looks really nice, isn’t it? May I introduce you to one of Amorino’s (addresses here) specialities, the “Foccacina”. The Foccacina consists of two scoops of ice cream you may choose yourself (I had mascarpone with caramelized figs and Cantaloupe melon, a 2012 Amorino novelty) hugged by a delicate, freshly made warm bakers-biscuit-doughnut-like shell which tastes of Panettone.

Founded in 2002, Amorino’s ice cream truly tastes like real Italian gelato. Also, Amorino does not use artificial colourings or flavors.

What’s more, there are many different ways to enjoy your Amorino gelato: In a foccacina, as did I, on freshly-made warm Belgian waffles or in a cornetto with the ice cream shaped into a beautiful rose form.

And speaking of rose-shaped gelati, “Gelati d’Alberto” also offers them. I fell in love with them a few years ago.

Legend has it that Caterina de Medici brought Italian ice cream to Paris, when she arrived, about 500 years ago. And did you know that it is said that in 1686, Sicilian Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli, perfected the first ice cream machine?

Ice cream making is an ancient craft, dating back to the ancient Romans and Egyptians, serving frozen treats, but  until now, one of the loveliest ways to serve ice cream is in rose form. For Gelati d’Alberto’s ice cream, 12, rue des Lombards, find the full address and map here.

If you are looking for the most original ice cream spot: Glaces-glazed‘s Citroën food truck, find its current locations on facebook or on their blog (now you can only get their ice cream at Colette) and additional points of sale here. All the flavours are to die for – but if you live in Paris you can even get a subscription for additional members-only Glaces-glazed creations like Black Sugar Sex Magic (black chocolate, wasabi, ginger), Tunnel of Love (woodland strawberry, sansho pepper) or Kaoua (Brazilian coffee, cardamom).

And you may find French ice cream with the greatest touch of nostalgia at A la mère de famille”.

Founded in 1761 “A la mère de famille” is Heaven for everyone with a sweet tooth. Not only will you discover all sorts of French sweet delicacies, and all of these are truly fabulous, but there you will also find the very best marrons glacés (sweet syrup candied, glazed chestnuts). My suggestion: add them to cupcake dough and glaze the baked cupcakes with icing sugar frosting, sprinkle with thinly chopped marrons glacés…

Find all addresses of the A la mère de famille boutiques here.

Verrines de paté au saumon à la crème – Cream-topped Salmon Paté

22 Aug

Salmon and veal, that works? You may ask yourself, and frankly, after I recently re-discovered my first ever self-created recipe, I was really wondering what, at then 19, had inspired me to combine these two ingredients. But I remember people loving it back then and decided to  serve it as an entrée when recently I had guests for dinner. It turned out well, so here I am, happy to share it with you.

In fact, salmon and veal go great together, the veal even accentuating the salmon’s flavour without overpowering it.

Verrines de paté au saumon à la crème

Cream-topped salmon paté served in little glasses

Entrée / starter: served with toasted baguette, serves 4 – 6

Main course: served with toasted baguette and a generous salad, serves 4

Difficulty:    easy to medium, may be prepared up to 24 hours in advance

Time:           needs time to set

Prepare the paté the evening before if you like to serve it for lunch the next day, or prepare in the morning if you like to serve it for dinner later in the day

Ingredients:

For the Salmon Paté:

375 g / 13,23 oz           smoked salmon

4 ½  pieces                    leaf gelatin

80 g / 2,82 oz               shallots

1 tbsp                               butter

225 ml / 7,94 0z / 0,95 cups     supreme quality liquid veal stock

white pepper to taste

If you like, you may season the paté with any herbs suitable for fish, although this is not necessary

Usually you also won’t need any additional salt – salmon and veal stock add just enough saltiness to the terrine.

4 – 6                                   little goblets or small glasses

For the cream topping:

2 dl / about 7 oz or a bit less than 1 cup      sour cream (more subtle than crème fraîche)

2.5 dl / about 8,8 oz or about 1 cup              heavy cream / double cream (for making whipped cream)

Serve with:

Baguette, toast, crackers…

Preparation:

  • soak the gelatin in water
  • roughly cut the salmon into pieces (it will be puréed later)
  • peel the shallots and chop them very thinly
  • Heat the butter in a pan and lightly sweat the shallot cubes until they begin to get transparent (but do not brown)
  • Add half of the veal stock, bring to a medium boil, then boil the liquid down to 1/3 of its original quantity
  • Pour this liquid into a mixing bowl, add the salmon pieces, set aside. Keep the used pan
  • Divide the remaining veal stock in half
  • Pour one of these halves into the pan
  • Pour the other half over the salmon-shallot-stock mix
  • Purée the salmon with the shallots and the stock. You aim for a nice purée with tiny pieces of salmon for looks and taste (see photo above)
  • Meanwhile, remove gelatin from water and squeeze well to get rid of remaining water. Put the gelatin into the pan with the veal stock and gently heat (do not boil) just until gelatin has dissolved.
  • Let this cool until tepid but before gelatin starts to set
  • Add dissolved gelatin-stock mix to the salmon, mix well but gently
  • Divide into 4 – 6 six glasses
  • Let the Paté set (for times, see above)

To serve:

  • About 30 minutes before serving take the Salmon Paté out of the fridge, this will intensify its flavour
  • Whip the cream but stop before it gets all set, it should still be a tad runny, but not too much
  • Add the sour cream to the whipped cream, mix with a spoon
  • Top salmon pate with cream
  • Serve with slices of toasted baguette, crackers, toast triangles or salad

Bon appétit et un bonjour de Paris!

Picnic in the Streets of Paris

1 Jul

Paris Picnic

Paris is bathing in the sunlight today and we’re preparing for a lazy Summer afternoon. If you happen to be in town right now, escape the big city hustle and bustle and join the picnic in Rue Montmartre. The whole quarter is coming together for a Summertime picnic in the charming pedestrian area. Bring your own food and drinks, tables and chairs will be provided.

Hope to see you there.

From 12:00 h – 16:00 h, Rue Montmartre, 2nd arrondissement, 75002 Paris.

Turinois – My Grandmother’s Family Recipe

11 Nov

Turinois vichy

Turinois – French Sweet Chestnut Truffle Cake

Whether you are the proud owner of a high-end kitchen that would even make Martha Stewart dream or whether you have a mini-kitchenette without an oven, this dessert is for you.

Over the years my grandmother Teresina has built a huge recipe collection and she’s happy to share some of her favorite ones with you. The first recipe even is an heirloom one, she got it from one of her best friends, it’s for “Turinois”, a French chocolate and sweet chestnut cake reminiscent of a large truffle.

Turinois coupole

Teresina was born in Rome, Italy, and together with her parents and siblings, spent many years in Paris, due to her father’s job which required frequent travelling.

Teresina

Next month she’ll turn 90 and she’s still very interested in cooking and crafts.

In the picture below you see the original recipe she wrote down many, many years ago. She uses sweet chestnuts which she prepares and cooks all by herself. I used frozen chestnuts, which work very well, I’ve adapted my version of the recipe accordingly and translated it into English for you.

Turinois

RECIPE:

Turinois – French Sweet Chestnut Truffle Cake

Serves: 4-6

Important: Needs time to set, if possible prepare 1 day in advance

Measures indicated in g/grams, if needed, convert the metric measures into your desired measures here. If you want to keep it simple just use sugar, butter and chocolate in a 1:4 ratio to the chestnuts.

400 g – 450 g frozen sweet chestnuts

100 g icing sugar / powdered sugar

100 g non-salted butter

100 g milk chocolate (I used about 80 grams  milk chocolate and 20 grams dark chocolate)

A pinch of vanilla (I used some seeds of a fresh vanilla bean/pod)

Preparation

  • Put the chestnuts in a pan, cover with water and cook until they are very soft
  • in the meantime, take the butter out of the fridge, cut into little cubes and put these into a bowl
  • grate the chocolate with a coarse grater, add to the butter
  • add the sugar
  • add the vanilla
  •  vigorously blend the butter cubes, chocolate, sugar and vanilla with a fork, really work the butter into the other ingredients  (if we did that twice daily we’d have perfectly toned arms forever…)
  •  When the chestnuts are cooked through, drain them thoroughly and immediately purée them (use the famous robot mixeur if you like/a cutter/blender, or if you don’t have one, mash the chestnuts with a fork, but really well).
  •  Add the still warm/hot (but not steaming) chestnut purée to the bowl and mix everything together with a fork. The chocolate, butter and sugar should melt and form a homogeneous, creamy purée.
  •  Pour the not too hot purée into a cake tin lined with wrapping film, into a silicone mould, or into little pâtisserie mini-cake forms like I did and leave until the Turinois is cool enough to put in the fridge. The Turinois needs time to set and become firm, leave in the fridge at least overnight.

 Tip:

If you use 400g chestnuts, the Turinois will become firmer and easy to cut/slice, with 450 it’s delicious as well, just a bit softer, you could probably even put it in a  piping bag and give your cupcakes a Turinois-frosting with it (the cupcakes would have to be put in the fridge afterwards and served soon).

Your very own Chalet in the Alps

5 Nov

Lace and Gingham

Turn your home into a French Chalet by adding a few rustic accents.

Follow your own ideas or easily sew lace ribbons to gingham placemats, pillow covers or throws. Instant Chalet charm!

If you are dreaming about a holiday in the French Alps and want to spend a bit more, “Les Fermes de Marie” in the Megève region might be the place for you. The Fermes, a cluster of beautiful wooden Chalets offer cozy mountain-style rooms from basic ones to junior suites. Or rent one of the two private Chalets; the bigger one offering 400 m2 / 4.300 ft2 of pure luxury, five en-suite rooms, bath tubs with a view, a fireside lounge, private patio – and after a day in the snow the professional staff of Marie’s luxury “Pure Altitude Spa” will visit you and offer a range of treatments in your Chalet’s private Spa area with Jacuzzi and fitness center.

Can this get even better? Yes! You’re in France, Dionysian pleasure included, of course!

And what would good wine be without delicious food? There are many restaurants to try. For those who would like  to follow in Julia Child’s footsteps and take home the secrets of French cuisine, Les Fermes de Marie also offers cooking lessons .

Snowy mountains, various winter sports, first-class service and culinary excellence, this is Holiday Heaven come true!

Brunch at ‘Le Loir dans la Théière’

2 Nov

Brunch Loire et la Théière

The wind is twirling the leaves around, bye-bye summer, hello autumn! There’s a beautiful mood in the Parisian streets right now.

The only downside: in the summer months energy levels have been so high, they were brushing the clouds, whereas at the moment the thought of sleeping in on weekends is just too tempting.

If there’s a reason to get up, it’s for a luscious brunch at Le Loir dans la Théière, “the dormouse in the teapot”. Queuing mandatory on weekends, and once inside expect to be stacked on top of each other, but it’s worth it, brunch heaven awaits you!

Look at all the delicacies in the first picture: croissants, pain au chocolat, marmelades, scrambled eggs with bacon, freshly pressed orange juice, café au lait, tea, and in front of me a salad du paysan, “farmer’s salad”, a salad with artichoke cores and grilled ham.

Loir Meringue Tarte

Le Loir dans la Théière is a mix between a cozy café and a pâtisserie, there’s a buffet with a big selection of fruit-, cream- and chocolate cakes and delicious French tartes. So it’s probably a crime only to photograph the trademark lemon meringue tarte.  It’s huge and oh so good!  Immerge yourself in inches of fluffy meringue and creamy lemon curd right down to the crispy crust.

One of my best friends, who was visiting me in Paris, and I shared this dessert dream. I’m sure she still dreams about it – I do.

Le Loir dans la Théière

3, rue des Rosiers, 75004 Paris, France

4th arrondissement,

Metro: Saint Paul

Auberge de la Reine Blanche

31 Oct

View from Île Saint-Louis

You don’t have to be Alice to meet this White Queen, you don’t even have to fall down a rabbit hole, just visit the Île de la Cité’s charming little sister, the Île Saint-Louis.

Walking around the Île Saint-Louis is like travelling back in time. The island is touristy yet has still kept some of its original charm.

Saint-Louis houses

Hidden away behind the house fronts you’ll find truly marvelous apartments. Get a glimpse behind the walls, check out the photos of the apartment ads in the windows of the island’s realtors and start dreaming.

Recently we’ve had dinner at the “Auberge de la Reine Blanche” on Saint-Louis’ “main street”, rue St Louis en l’île.

The Reine Blanche is tiny. If you’re only two, try to get the table at the window. Not that much space, but a view on what’s happening dans la rue.

Tarte provençale
Expect classic French food with a modern twist. The portions could be a bit bigger but the food was good. I’ve enjoyed “Tarte provençale”, a luscious vegetable tarte with goat cheese followed by a scrumptious “Brochette duo de poisson”, red mullet and salmon skewers with homemade chunky mashed carrots/potatoes.

Prices: About € 20 for starter and main course and € 25 for a three course meal.

Auberge de la Reine Blanche, 30 Rue St Louis en l’ile, 75004 Paris, France +33 1 46 33 07 87 ‎
In the 4th arrondissement, see map.