La Trésorerie and Café Smorgås

La Trésorerie and Café Smorgås

The word trésorerie in French means “treasury.” But in spite of its vaguely unpleasant connotation with the place that receives your taxes, it can also mean “treasure trove,” such as in this case, to describe La Trésorerie.

La Trésorerie and Café Smorgås

One of the nice things about living in an international city like Paris, is that you can visit “another country” by just taking a métro, bike, or a short walk, and find yourself in the middle of another culture. Behind the Gare du Nord are streets lined with Indian and Sri Lankan restaurants and épiceries (food shops), and the Goutte d’Or has a few lively markets, such as the one at Barbès, that caters to the African community.

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Roasted Peppers

roasted pepper recipe

One of the things I don’t like are bell peppers. They’re one of those things that people are, for some reason, always trying to convince me to like. (What’s up with that?) And they always seem to put them on airline food as well, presumably due to their forceful, overpowering flavor, which helps the food make more of an impression on our dulled palates at higher altitudes. (And in my experience, my brain, too.) And if there wasn’t a ban on bringing pointy metallic objects on planes, I’d travel with a set of tweezers to remove the offending red and green strips they seem to like to drape over everything.

Roasted Peppers

However, like just about every other thing in my life, there’s a contradiction. And in this case, it’s that I love chile peppers — in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Go figure.

Roasted Peppers

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New York/Brooklyn Booksigning: Friday, October 10th

This Friday, October 10th, I’ll be at The Brooklyn Kitchen for a book party!

My Paris Kitchen Book Cover

For this free event, on hand will be samples to tasting from My Paris Kitchen, and there will be copies of Ready for Dessert, a collection of my all-time favorite dessert recipes, and My Paris Kitchen, a collection of stories and recipes from my French kitchen, that I’m happy to sign for you. And – gulp – since holiday season is slowly approaching, signed copies of my books make great gifts for friends and family. I’m just sayin’…

Ready for dessert cover blog

The fun, food, and wine will take place from 6pm to 8pm.

If you can’t make it to the shop, or live elsewhere, and would like a signed book, you can order one from The Brooklyn Kitchen — I’ll sign it, and they’ll send it. Click here to order.

The Brooklyn Kitchen
100 Frost Street (map)
Brooklyn, New York
(718) 389-2982

[If you plan to come, you’re invited to confirm on the Facebook Event page to let them know about how many guests to expect, although it’s not required to RSVP. If you have other questions about the event, feel free to contact The Brooklyn Kitchen.]

Thai Stir-Fried Chicken with Chile Jam

Thai Stir-Fried Chicken with Chile Jam recipe

I was recently interviewed about cookbooks that I like and when I thought about the ones I’ve been most intrigued with, a few stood out. They were single-subject books that explore a single topic, which I find useful when looking for a straightforward recipe to try out. But the more complex, thorough books help me understand cuisines that I’m not all familiar with. For example, I have a massive, magnificent 688-page book on Thai cuisine that is the ne plus ultra of Thai cookbooks. But every time I’ve cracked it open, I feel like if I don’t get all twenty-seven ingredients called for in the recipe, it’s not going to work. Or that I’m doing something wrong and I’ll be cursed by a thousand Thai grandmothers (or the internet) for the rest of my life.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s a great book and I love sitting in am armchair, reading about food traditions and so forth. But in reality, and in the kitchen, it’s a different story. And often we have to make compromises or make do with what we can, if we want to make a dish.

Thai Chiles

It can quickly become tiresome having the authenticity police breathing down your neck, with people picking out anything that you’re doing wrong when making dinner. (As I wrote in my recent book, cultures and traditions change over time. Italians didn’t always have tomatoes, chiles weren’t always part of Thai cooking, and hamburger meat didn’t originally come from America.)

So it’s a true pleasure to have a reassuring voice like Leela Punyaratabandhu, in her terrific book, Simple Thai Food, telling you that – you know what? – you don’t need to make yourself crazy to cook Thai food. We can all breath a sigh of relief. And, if necessary, you can make a few adjustments and still retain the original flavors of the dish.

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Caractère de Cochon: Ham & Charcuterie Shop in Paris

Caractère de Cochon

Many times, I’ve walked by Caractère de Cochon, a slip of a place on a side street, just next to the earnest Marché des Enfants Rouges, in the ever-growing hipper upper haut (upper) Marais, and wondered about the cave à jambons jam-packed with hams of all sorts hanging in the window and from the rafters. But I’ve never stepped inside.

Caractère de Cochon

But recently I was talking to my friend Jennifer, and she’d mentioned the place in glowing terms, letting me know it was, indeed, an amazing emporium dedicated to all-things-ham. So we made a date to go. However as (my) luck would have it, of course, on the day of our date, it was closed for a fermeture exceptionelle.

Caractère de Cochon

Which, in my case, seems to happen a lot.

fermeture exceptionelle

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Paris Booksigning at Treize…a baker’s dozen, this Sunday

This coming weekend I’ll be at Treize…a baker’s dozen, in Paris on Sunday, October 5th, from noon to 1pm.

My Paris Kitchen

I’ll be signing copies of My Paris Kitchen at one of the latest, and sweetest, cafés in Paris – Treize…a baker’s dozen. Located in a gorgeous Left Bank courtyard, Treize…a baker’s dozen, where owner and chef Laurel Sanderson charms locals and expats with her home-style cooking, much of it rooted in flavors from her native South Carolina. Yet blended with a French sensibility, and French ingredients.

The café serves lunch, brunch and le goûter (afternoon snack), and readers of My Paris Kitchen will be familiar with Laurel, as she inspired a story and recipe in My Paris Kitchen. I’m excited to be a guest in her café for this event.

Treize_Logo__-_davidmlebovitz_gmail_com_-_Gmail

There will be copies of My Paris Kitchen available, and you’re welcome to bring previously purchased books as well. Looking forward to seeing you on Sunday!

[Note that there is a brunch from 1 to 4pm, which is sold-out. But this event is open to all from Noon to 1pm. If you’d like to RSVP to let them know you’re coming, you can on the Facebook Event page.]

Helene’s Brownies

helene chocolate brownie recipe_-5

The French do a lot of baked goods very well. if you’ve been to Paris, you don’t need me to tell you that with over 1300 bakeries in Paris, it’s not hard to find a pastry or baked good on every block that will be more satisfying than you can imagine.

One of the rare baked goods that the French haven’t quite mastered are les brownies. If you see them in bakeries and try one, you’ll find they’re often on the pas humid side. I’m not sure why, because they’re simple to make, and don’t require any special techniques: You just stir everything together, scrape the batter into a pan, and bake them. The only astuce (cooking tip) is that it’s important to watch them like a hawk, taking them out of the oven at the point where they’re still going to be soft and crémeux à l’intérieur.

Hélène's Chocolate Brownie Recipe

In August, we were visiting some friends who live on an organic farm in the Poitou-Charentes, and after dinner, Hélène, presented us with a large tart-like creation that looked like a big, flat chocolate cake that she’d baked up in between her other chores. I was told they were les brownies, but hers were different. In addition to a little bit of coconut that was added, which gave them a slightly elusive tropical flavor, they were moist and uber-chocolaty. I couldn’t keep myself away from them.

Hélène's Chocolate Brownie Recipe

The French don’t usually snack with the same fervor that Americans do (Romain’s father was once shocked to learn that I ate between meals), but I spend a good part of my day picking at any and all desserts that are within arm’s reach. And when everyone else was out in the fields down on the farm, weeding and working on hedges, I stayed back in the house, reading in a comfy chair — and found myself circling back around and around the pan of brownies, cutting off une lichette (a sliver), to help myself.

Hélène's Chocolate Brownie Recipe

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Six Books I’ve Been Enjoying

Stacks and stack of books are piled up here and there, in every possible space around my apartment. I can’t help it — I love books! I’ve got books on my nightstand, there are three stacks on my coffee table (and two precariously high stacks next to the sofa), and, of course, several on my kitchen counter with recipes that I’ve bookmarked. It’s not possible to write about all of them – that post would be as long as a whole book – but here are a few that I found especially interesting.

50 foods

50 Foods: The Essentials of Good Taste by Ed Behr

I haven’t read 50 Foods: The Essentials of Good Taste cover-to-cover, which is actually fine, since the book is a collection of chapters that you can easily flip through and invariably land on something fascinating and enlightening. Ed Behr is the editor of The Art of Eating, a well-written newsletter, and when I moved to Paris. I’d brought along one particular issue, with an in-depth article about a croissant-maker in the 14th. The writing and descriptions were so good, they made me anxious to try his croissants. (Of course, as always seems the case with me, the day I went there was a fermeture exceptionelle. And I never crossed town to go back.)

50 Foods is one of those books that you can learn something with every sentence that you read. So you can open to a chapter and learn why some honeys crystallize and why others remain liquids (and what big manufacturers do to prevent it from happening). Why the best goat milk cheeses are not available in the winter months. How the preparation of rice various from culture to culture – especially how Asians treat it differently than Italians. And how the normally technique-obsessed French don’t give rice any special treatment at all.

Chocolate gets its due, with a discussion of how it’s made, what’s the most satisfying way to eat it, and what wines go well with it. I agree with Ed’s proclamation that “Chocolate destroys most wines.” And while red wine is a popular, go-to choice for many, I share his feeling that chocolate needs a wine made from sweeter grapes, and Banyuls, a fortified wine from the south of France, and sometimes Madiera, which support and accompany the flavors in chocolate better than tannic reds.

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