April 2006 archives

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt Recipe


At the markets during the spring and summer here in Paris, there are piles and mounds of strawberries. The sweet, fruity scent pervades the air as you get closer to the stands. I always come home with a kilo (2 pounds), which costs about 3 euros (about $3.50) and I eat as many as I can during their season. Some people swoon for the pale gariguette berries, which are slender and pointed, although I’ve tried them several times and don’t find them much better than the everyday Chandler variety that’s normally available.

While at the market this week, being such a good customer, I got a deal on a large flat of strawberries so after much jam-making, I decided to take my ice cream maker out for a spin and whip up a batch of Strawberry Frozen Yogurt.


Unlike the stuff at the mall, real frozen yogurt is made from plain, whole-milk yogurt, fresh fruits, and some sweetener. Although some people like to drain their yogurt first for a richer end-result, I prefer the lighter style of frozen yogurt. You can use Greek-style yogurt, which is three times richer than whole milk yogurt. Slicing the berries and tossing them in sugar makes the strawberries bright red in color and can make ho-hum berries quite delicious.


Strawberry Frozen Yogurt
About 1 quart (1l)

French yogurt is astoundingly good and I suggest you use a good-quality, whole milk or Greek-style yogurt for best results.

  • 1 pound (450g) strawberries, rinsed and hulled
  • 2/3 cup (130g) sugar
  • optional: 2 teaspoons vodka or kirsch
  • 1 cup (240g) plain whole milk yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Slice the strawberries into small pieces. Toss in a bowl with the sugar and vodka or kirsch (if using) until the sugar begins to dissolve. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours, stirring every so often.

Transfer the strawberries and their juice to a blender or food processor. Add the yogurt and fresh lemon juice. Pulse the machine until the mixture is smooth. If you wish, press mixture through a mesh strainer to remove any seeds.

Chill for 1 hour, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Continue Reading Strawberry Frozen Yogurt Recipe…

Lucques Olives

While at the market yesterday looking for things to snitch, I bought a sack of my favorite olives, les Lucques.


Lucques olives are originally from Italy, but are now most closely associated with France and they’re unlike any other olive you’re likely to sample, free or otherwise. Grown in the Hérault region in the south of France, the Languedoc, they’re harvested in the fall and can be difficult to find depending on the time of the year. These olives are meaty and sweet, not soft, salty, or mushy like some olives can be. The green flesh is firm and bright, and the olives themselves must be kept submerged in their light brine since they discolor very easily.

While they are available in jars, I am lucky to have a prime source for these green beauties just steps away from where I live. And they are certainly one of the best things you can possibly eat. The first time you try one, you’re likely to be very surprised to find they’re unlike any other olives you’re used to eating.

These fine olives are meant to be eaten just as they are, perhaps accompanied by thin slices of jambon and a bowl of crisp radishes with a glass of rosés as an aperitif. I buy small sacks of Lucques olives at the market weekly, since if I keep too many around, I tend to eat them all at once; they’re that good.

Jars of Lucques olives can be ordered in the US here and here’s an excellent guide to olives.

How To Get Banned For Life From Whole Foods

Do you wander the aisles at Whole Foods, soaking up all the good vibes from the organic, sustainable, and good-for-you products?

Ever been tempted to snitch a sample?

Well, you’d better not

What They Say vs. What They Mean

When they say,“Non”, they mean, “Convince me.”

When they say,“We do not take returns”, they mean,“Convince me.”

When they say,“It’s not broken“, they mean,“Convince me.”

When they say, “You need a prescription for that”, they mean,“Convince me.”

When they say,“The restaurant is completely full”, they mean,“Please come up with a better story.”

When they say,“The restaurant is completely full”, they mean,“We already have enough Americans in here.”

When they say,“Do you mind if I smoke?”, they mean,
“Don’t answer ‘yes’, or we’re going to pout and scowl while you try to enjoy your dinner.”

When they say,“It does not exist”, they mean, “It does exists…just not for you.”

When they walk right into you on the street and say nothing, they mean,“I’m Parisian.”

When they say,“I don’t have change”, they mean,“I want a tip.”

When they say,“Do you want directions?” they mean, “I look forward to telling you what to do for the next five minutes.”

When they say, “I’d like the practice my English”, they mean,“For the next 20 minutes, you’ll feel like a complete idiot while I speak perfect English and demonstrate a far better understanding of world affairs than you do.”

When they say,“They’re up on the seventh floor”, they mean,
“They’re right around the corner from where you’re standing.”

When they say,“We don’t have any more”, they mean,“We have lots more, but they’re in the back.”

When they say,“It’s not my fault”, they mean,“It is my fault…but I’m not taking the blame.”

When they say, “That is not possible”, they mean,“Loser.”

When they say, “I am a Socialist”, they mean,“I’m not responsible for picking up my dog’s poop.”

When they say, “You package hasn’t arrived”, they mean, “I’m just about to go on break. Come back and wait in line for 30 minutes again tomorrow.”

When they say, “The fat’s the best part!” , they mean, “I’m under 40.”

When they say, “The cheeses in France are the best in the world”, they mean, “We are indeed a superior culture.”

When they say, “America is culturally-deprived”, they mean,“Please don’t show us Sharon Stone’s vagina again.”

Award-Winning Chocolate Friends

Every year the International Association of Culinary Professionals hands out awards for what they deem are the Best Cookbooks of the Year. Last month in Seattle, I attended the ceremony with a few friends and instead of getting drunk on the free wine and champagne and heckling the winners as usual, I was thrilled when the names were called and not one…not two…but three of my ‘chocolate’ friends won awards!

Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light
By Mort Rosenblum
Award: Literary Food Writing

When I moved to Paris, chocolatier John Scharffenberger told me that I must meet Mort Rosenblum. He told me stories about what a colorful character he was, living on a boat in the Seine, and being a war correspondent for the Associated Press. Not being very adept at making friends via the ‘cold-calling method’, I worked up the verve and took his advice, and Mort turned out to be one of the most, um, interesting people I’ve ever met! Having spent a lifetime as a journalist, he tackled chocolate in his latest book, researching everything from the working conditions on the Ivory Coast of Africa to the Mexican chocolate culture of Oaxoca, and finally exploring the exclusive realm of chocolate in Paris, including the laboratoire of the elusive Jacques Genin.

Mort also writes of an interesting ‘incident’ about my experience with a certain, er, French chocolate company that wasn’t very, um, nice to me. Even though my mother always said, “If you don’t have something nice to say, blah…blah…” (she obviously didn’t have a blog), he coaxed some of the gory details out of me. The rest was a story in my chocolate book, which was later deleted, so you’ll have to wait for my posthumous biography for the real dirt.
Since I can’t keep a secret for very long, you can read about some of my encounters with them in his book, Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light.

I’ll be leading a sold-out week-long Chocolate Exploration of Paris in May with Mort that promises to be great fun and we’ll be visiting Jacques Genin* himself for a hands-on presentation and tasting. Will report on that in May.

Chocolate Obsession
By Michael Recchiuti and Fran Gage
Award: Best Photography and Food Styling

After knowing him for almost 10 years, I think I’ve got his name right. In spite of my mangling his name too many times to count (we’re still friends)…and there’s certainly nothing convoluted about Michael’s sensation chocolate creations. I admire him so much that he’s one of America’s great chocolatiers, and I profiled him in The Great Book of Chocolate. After working for years in restaurant kitchens, he launched his company in San Francisco in 1997, selling his chocolates via local shops. An advocate of using locally-grown ingredients, soon Michael was a fixture at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market, and gave out tastes of his chocolates to eager early-morning shoppers. Once the farmer’s market opened their spanking-new, gleaming indoor facility, Michael opened his first boutique and his fame spread far-and-wide. With creations like Key Lime Pears, thinly-coated in bittersweet chocolate, and his do-it-yourself kits for making terrifically-gooey S’Mores (hey!…I’ll bring the marshmallows), Chocolate Obsession reveals many of his secrets and tips for successfully producing chocolate desserts and confections in your own home.
And if you ever get a chance to visit his shop, his chocolate fudge brownies are a-m-a-z-i-n-g…

(Maren Caruso, who won the Photography Award for her stunning photography, and co-award winner Kim Konecny, food stylist, will be shooting my next cookbook, due for release in the May of 2007.)

Chocolate Chocolate
By Lisa Yokelson

This oversized book is almost overwhelming with the variety of chocolate recipes. Lisa likes things over-the-top, everything from Chocolate Pancakes to deep-chocolate bar cookies studded with chips and nuts. Everything here is loaded with so much chocolate that you’ll go crazy.
You may go insane.

You may end up like TomKat.

But I hope not.

*Many of you have asked where you can get Jacques Genin chocolates. A limited selection is available at Pain de Sucre, 14 rue Rambuteau (Tel: 01 45 74 68 92). As far as I know, they’re unavailable in the United States. You can also try to visit his laboratoire at 18 rue St.-Charles. It’s not a shop and normally not open to the public, but he’s quite nice and often he’ll sell his chocolates to visitors if the weather is right, the planets are in correct alignment, and he’s in the mood.

Send Rice Krispies…Quick!

Someone, anyone…help!…bring Rice Krispies!


I think I brought too many marshmallows back…

Choxie Lady

Everytime I go back to the United States, I’m certain to spend a good part of one day wandering aimlessly up and down the aisles at Target.

(And can everyone please stop correcting folks when they say “Target”, with “Tar-jay“, which was somewhat funny…about 10 years ago. But we’ve all heard it a zillion times before, and people expect us to laugh in response, but it’s hard to muster a plausable chuckle anymore, so let’s give it a well-deserved rest and go back to calling it Target, please.)

In France, prices for everyday items like towels and bath mats are outta sight and it’s worth lugging back an extra suitcase full of sundries, une valise géante, stuffed with corn tortillas, horizontally-lined notebooks, sunscreen, 12-packs of socks, bottles of Target PM, and a Michael Graves’ designer toilet brush.
Or two. Just in case. I mean, you never know.

One of the newer items at Target is a line of ‘upscale’ chocolates, whatever that means.


I guess it’s chocolate that’s either supposed to be of higher-quality, or has a certain je ne sais quoi. I had completely forgotten about it when I made it to the cash register, my shopping cart overflowing with DVD’s, socks, a pistachio-green yoga mat, mini-marshmallows (I need to count out how many are in a bag for a project, believe it or not), a 2007 monthly calendar (they only have weekly and daily calendars here…and who knows when I’ll be back), when I spotted some colorful boxes of Choxie, which Target states their new line of chocolate bars will “…satisfy the most sophisticated chocolate palates.”

Aside from the people wolfing down corn dogs and gulping down giant Cokes in the snack bar (and damn them to hell…they were out of my favorite: popcorn!), it wouldn’t be stretching the truth too much, nor would I be giving myself a ill-gotten pat on my back, to say I was perhaps the most sophisticated palate in the joint at that particular time of day (aside from my craving for Target popcorn, that is…) I felt like they were talking just to me, and me alone. So I knew I had to use my ‘upscale palate’ for a higher purpose and give those choxie chocolate bars a try.

The first was the hot chocolate bar: deep, dark truffled chocolate with chipotle chili heat.


First off, I have no idea what the heck “truffled” means…so I guess I can’t be all that sophisticated after all now, can I?
*Sigh*, how the mighty fall…

I assumed it suggests some rich heavy cream has been whipped in, but the only dairy item listed was butter “oil”. Sounds kinda greasy.

It was also cautioned on the packaging that my chocolate bars be kept “away from amateurs” as they were indeed intended for only the “most sophisticated of chocolate palates.” Not wanting to sound like a snob, but I think that might preclude an inordinate number of people who were Target shoppers that afternoon, including the girl who held up the Carmen Electra’s Fit To Strip erotic video workout DVD and attempted her own rendition for her boyfriend, who encouraged her, in the video aisle while I, along with several other sophisticated Target shoppers, watched in amusement. (Ok, maybe they were amused. I wasn’t. I don’t know what’s worse; considering buying a Carmen Electra workout video, or performing your own version of her moves in the Electronics Department.)

Getting off my high horse, safely back in the car, I snapped off a bite and took a taste. It was fine. Nice, not too intimidating or offensive. The heat of the chipotle chiles was spot-on; not feeling the heat at first, but the lingering warmth of smoky chili followed shortly afterwards.

Next up was the peanut butter pretzel bar: creamy peanut butter, pretzel twists and roasted peanuts, inside pure milk chocolate. (Apologies about all those lower-case letters, but that’s how they’re printed on the package.)


What should bother you more than writing in all lower-case letters is the words “pure milk chocolate”. What does that mean? “Pure” as opposed to “impure”? If you think about it, milk chocolate itself is actually “impure” chocolate, having been ameliorated, desecrated if you will, with milk. So why not call it as it is? I mean, does anyone buy a Carmen Electra DVD because she’s ‘pure’? Would we buy Fit To Strip if it came with some assurance of purity?

I think not.

Ok, maybe some of us would. Just keep it to yourself.

Anyhow, the pretzel bar was pretty good. The ‘pure’ milk chocolate was truthfully enrobing a nice, gooey filling of peanut butter, encasing the whole pretzel twists tucked inside. It was good, although you could buy a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, slice the whole she-bang in half lengthwise, slip a pretzel in, and call it a day for about one-third of the price. Then you could buy another pair of socks, perhaps. Or another designer bathroom brush.

Finally there’s mint cookie crunch: dark truffled chocolate (damn them, how dare they use the word “truffled” again…there’s so little respect for the truth nowadays) with a cool mint candy and chocolate cookie crunch.


I’m enamored with all things mint and dark chocolate, such as thin mints and Girl Scout cookies. And the last time I was in San Francsico I saw a tribe, or whatever they’re called, of Girl Scouts being rousted by the police for trying to sell their cookies in an ‘unauthorized’ location. What is wrong with a world that punishes cheerful, enterprising young ladies presenting their delicious baked goods in a public venue, yet allows Carmen Electra to make exercise videos and appear on their packaging, in various states of undress, without any regard for public decency, while evoking impressionable young girls, and perhaps a few boys, to follow in her tawdry footsteps?

This minty bar rated not so well on my sophisticated chocolate-palate meter; it wasn’t minty enough for me. I found the quality of the chocolate a little lacking as well. I mean, it’s hard to be so sophisticated, but the chocolate was lame. (Imagine if Carmen feels a bit lacking, having to hawk all those silly videos wearing those ridiculously skimpy outfits. How does that girl do it?)

The Verdict?

If you’re looking for bargain chocolates, you could do worse.
However you could also do better.
Each Choxie bar weighed in at 2.5 ounces and sold for $1.50 to $1.80. But if you lived near a Trader Joe’s store, you could pick up a 3 ounce bar of Chocovic’s Ocumare chocolate (one of the best chocolates I’ve tasted) for $1.79. And presumably they don’t sell Carmen Electra workout videos there either, so think of what else you’d be saving?

But finally the real test. The “If-I-Keep-It-On-The-Counter, Will-I-Pick-At-It-Incessantly-Until-It’s -Gone?” test. Sure enough the chipolte and the mint chocolate bars sit sadly neglected, but the peanut butter-filled tablet is gone.

Now if only I could say the same for Ms. Electra.

Caramelized Matzoh Crunch with Chocolate

I make this every year for Passover. It’s not that I’m all that religious (for some reason I seem to celebrate only the holidays where there’s lots of eating, drinking…and presents, of course.) But I always pick up a box or two of matzoh, which is stacked high in supermarkets this month, plus I love the sweet-crunch of this toffee-like confection.
The only problem is that I haven’t figured out how to adapt it for Easter.
Perhaps you can cut it into ovals with a cookie cutter and try to pull one over on your family.


The recipe is loosely-adapted from baker and cookbook author Marcy Goldman. Marcy’s run a web site devoted to the art of baking since 1997, called Betterbaking.com. In addition, she’s authored a cookbook of the same name with recipes and ideas and funny stories she’s gathered along her life as a mother, professional baker, and consultant.

You don’t have to be Jewish to like or make this (just like you don’t need to be Christian to like Christmas presents) but it’s delicious and super-easy to make…you can keep the candy thermometer in the drawer as well!

Feel free to substitute milk chocolate or white chocolate, and instead of the crushed almonds, to play around with toasted shredded coconut or other kinds of nuts. As I type, I’m thinking wouldn’t pistachios and white chocolate be nice together on top?
Maybe next year…

I spent this morning at my market handing little sacks of this to my favorite vendors (and a few I’m trying to win over.) So if you’re out at a market in Paris this morning and see the lots of butchers, fishmongers, fromagers, and olive merchants snacking on something, you’ll know what it is.


Caramelized Matzoh Crunch with Chocolate

  • 4 to 6 sheets of matzoh
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted or salted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup (firmly-packed) light brown sugar
  • optional: fleur de sel, or coarse sea salt
  • 1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips, or coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 cup sliced almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped

Line a 11″ x 17″ baking sheet completely with foil (making sure it goes up the sides) and preheat the oven to 350F degrees.

Line the bottom of the sheet completely with matzoh, breaking extra pieces as necessary to fill in any spaces.

In a medium-sized heavy duty saucepan, combine the butter and brown sugar and cook over medium heat until the butter begins to boil. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and pour over matzoh, spreading with a heatproof utensil.

Put the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the syrup darkens and gets thick. (While it’s baking, make sure it’s not burning. If so, reduce the heat to 325F degrees.)

Remove from oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips or chunks. Let stand 5 minutes, then spread smooth with an offset spatula.


Sprinkle with a flurry of fleur de sel or coarse salt, then scatter the toasted almonds over the top and press them into the chocolate.

Let cool completely (you may need to chill it in the refrigerator), then break into pieces and store in an airtight container until ready to eat.

mazel tov!

Related Links and Recipes

Chocolate-Covered Caramelized Matzoh Crunch (Recipe Update)

Salted Butter Caramels

Candied Ginger

Candied Peanuts

Chocolate-Covered Salted Peanut Caramels

A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking (Marcy Goldman)