Results tagged nuts from David Lebovitz

Salted Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

chocolate chip cookies

When I worked in the restaurant business, if you happened to walk in during staff meal, you could always tell who were the pastry people: we were the ones dousing our food with vinegar and salt. That is, when we had time to sit down and eat. I like sweets, but I like them tempered with something not-necessarily sweet, which is why sometimes you’ll see a squeeze of lemon juice added to a fruit ice cream base or bakers like me include a pinch of salt in batter, to balance things out.

For many years, salted butter was banished from most baking recipes, since the amounts varied by brand and unsalted butter was said to be fresher; the theory was that salt is a preservative adding it to butter may mean the butter is older. In France, you can get the most wonderful salted butter at not just fromageries, but in supermarkets, which usually say on the package that the butter has cristaux de sel de mer, big crystals of sea salt, and they note which region the salt is harvested from as well, giving it provenance.

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Zucchini Cake with Crunchy Lemon Glaze

zucchini cake with crunchy lemon glaze

A few years ago, I was extremely fortunate to meet Gina DePalma, the pastry chef at Babbo in New York City, thanks to the matchmaking efforts of Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg.

Being bakers, we struck up a friendship and she gave me a copy of her gorgeous book, Dolce Italiano. And after we had dessert and coffee together, we ambled the streets of New York City a little and made plans to meet in Rome, where she was moving to work on her second book. Unfortunately we didn’t get to have our Roman holiday, but I often thumb through her book and dream about how much fun we would have had lapping our way through the gelaterias of Rome and eating all those pastries with little sips of Italian espresso in between bites.

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Holiday Snack Mix

pretzel & nutmix

I gave this recipe out a year or so ago on the site. But because it’s so easy to put together, I made it yet again last night, to have as a little nibble with some white wine before dinner. And we couldn’t eat it fast enough. (And almost didn’t have room for dinner.) It’s adapted from The Sweet Life in Paris. So for those of you who might have missed it, I’m bringing it up from the archives as you might want to make a batch for an upcoming get-together, too.

bretzels toasted nuts blog

It’s really simple to make: all you really need is a bag of pretzels, a mixture of any kind of nuts that strikes your fancy, some spices, and a flurry of sea salt. Add a restrained amount of melted butter and maple syrup, and when it comes out of the oven, you’ll barely be able to wait until the salty-sweet, spiced mixture of glazed nuts and pretzels is cooled down before diving right in.

I know, because last night after I made it, two of us wolfed down the entire batch. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go toast off some nuts, melt some butter—and open yet another sack of pretzels…

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Fruitcake Bar Recipe

I’ve been making these Fruitcake Bars more and more as the holidays approach. Not only are they incredibly simple to put together, unlike other fruitcakes, these really do taste great.

fruitcake bars

They can be made up to a week in advance, which will undoubtedly help alleviate holiday stress. It’s from my archives but thought it worth sharing again since folks enjoyed them so much at a recent Paris book event (and wine-tasting), and because the baking season is quickly approaching and it’s nice to have a recipe for a very easy-to-prepare dessert or snack.

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Liqueur de noix: Green Walnut Liqueur

vanilla ice cream, doused

I recently stayed with some friends who have a house in the Lot, a lesser-visited area of France which is really beautiful. Because it lacks beaches, that’s seems to be the only thing keeping it from being an ideal summer vacation spot for hoards of tourists. Consequently, I was able to score some gorgeous old bistro wine glasses at a local flea market, which would’ve been ten times the price in Paris or Provence. (Actually, in Provence, they would’ve been twenty times the price.)

And speaking of amazing deals, when I spotted a few walnuts trees loaded with green walnuts behind their house—and the huge pool…and the immaculate vegetable garden…and the fabulously-equipped kitchen, they told me to take some, as they won’t be there in the fall, when they’re ready to harvest.

They’ll be gone? Party in the Lot, everyone!!

green walnuts

Near the end of June, specifically the 23 and 24th, is when the walnuts are traditionally harvested in Italy, although in the center of France, the walnuts are usually just right around the middle to the end of July. They’re perfect to use for liqueur-making when the walnut, and a slightly-crackly shell, is starting to form in the center.

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Why Stealing is Wrong

recipe book

Well, I wouldn’t say it was exactly stealing. But last time I was in the states, I was going through one of my frighteningly-full storage lockers (there’s your glimpse into the glamorous life of international living…) and while rifling through cookbooks, I came across my own personal book of handwritten recipes, a fat mess of pages, stained with butter, eggs, almond paste, and lord-knows what else, that I compiled during my years working in restaurants.

It really is a treasure trove of recipes and I was thinking I should start a “working my way through the book” blog, dedicated to doing each-and-every recipe in there. Then I thought the better of it and got that idea out of my mind—fast.

The main reason being that most of the recipes make a hundred servings and call for things like 80 egg yolks or 5 1/2 cups of honey or 8 quarts of heavy cream.

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Fruitcake Bar Recipe (Friendship Bars)

fruitcake bars

Maybe this happens to you. Maybe it doesn’t.

You’re invited to a party and as a nice gesture, you bring something along. Being a baker you decide, naturally, to bake something.

So you get to the party, you’re wining and dining, loosening up and enjoying yourself. But when people find out you’ve brought a dessert, they all of the sudden get very interested in you, and what you’ve brought, what’s it called, how you’ve made it, what’s in it, what’s the recipe, etc..etc…

The most difficult was when I brought a Bûche de Noël to a Christmas party, which is a fairly complicated affair involving spongecake, chocolate buttercream, soaking syrup, and lots of crackly meringue mushrooms for decoration. Some nutty woman followed me around all night with a pen and note pad, prodding me for recipe details and I spent the whole night trying to avoid her.

But let’s say you’ve been working on recipes all day, or adding recipes to your blog. So you go to a party and maybe you’d rather just not talk about what you’ve made: After all, don’t they know you have a food blog and a couple of cookbooks where they can get all that information?

(And no, I don’t have a recipe for Bûche de Noël. But thanks for asking…)

Bakers Edge Pan

So my technique for throwing ‘em off the scent is to make up names for things I’ve baked that mean nothing, something innocuous that no one can possibly question what’s inside it. I’ve brought to parties Chocolate Surprise Cake, Mystery Spice Cake and Baked Summertime Fruit Dessert. But you need to be careful since if you pick the wrong name, something like Chocolate Emergency Cake, you’ll have to explain the story behind the moniker ‘emergency’.
And we can’t have that, can we?

Then there’s Friendship Bars, which is the name I often give these Fruitcake Bars.

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REGIS Chocolatier

Living in a foreign country, as an outsider, you tend to notice lots of contradictions. If you try to learn the native language, like I am, you’ll notice there’s all sorts of curiosities specifically designed to trip your up. When people ask me what I do all day, they don’t realize that just to do something as basic as write a check, I often have to pull out the dictionary. (Although I’ve seen French people consult theirs almost as frequently.)

But English ain’t no walk in le parc either…we’ve got where, we’re, wear, ware…that all sound exactly the same but mean pretty different things.

carameling-nuts.jpg
Caramelizing Nuts for Praline at REGIS

One of the things you learn when speaking a new language is that there are lots of rules…and seemingly just as many exceptions. Sometimes they’re things not taught in classes but you just need to learn by osmosis.

For example, Paris is generally pronounced Par-EE, without saying the final ‘S‘.

But if you say the name Régis, you say Rey-GeeSS you certainly do pronounce the final ‘S’.

Similarly, if you mention the 16th arrondissement, most Parisians who don’t live there (or is that ‘their‘?) will sneer and say, “Oh, they are all snobs over there” or “I don’t like those people there, they’re not very nice.”

So imagine me being pleasantly surprised when I went to visit REGIS chocolatier in the heart of enemy territory.

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