Results tagged raisins from David Lebovitz

Pierre Hermé Macarons

macarons

One of the things about living in a city like Paris is that you spend a lot of time – well, dealing with life. Bills to pay, paperwork to do, typos to avoid, stolen bikes to replace, smokers to dodge on sidewalks waving lit cigarettes (I got nailed the other day – ouch!), or buying a pair of shoes, can easily take up much – or all – of your days. It’s too-easy to get wrapped up in all that minutiae and let all the things you love to do get overwhelmed by the other things that tend to take over, if you let them.

I’ve let them and decided to do a little turn-around by revisiting the places and eating the things that I love in Paris. It’s easy to forget the pockets of wonderfulness that people see when they come here for a week – the parks, the boulevards, the chocolate shops, and just taking a stroll and getting some air (in between all the sidewalk maneuvering) and take in the city.

macarons

Macarons aren’t new. Macarons gerbet, or filled macarons are distinctly Parisian and have been around for about 150 years. True, they are available elsewhere nowadays. But like a New York or Montreal bagel, or Chicago deep-dish pizza, certain foods get designated with an appellation because they are so closely associated with where they were first made. (Bagels and pizza are from neither of those places mentioned, originally. And macarons, which were originally from Italy, then came to France and are usually available as simple, crispy cookies made with egg whites, sugar and almonds.) But that’s getting back into minutiae, a word I had to look up the precise spelling for, twice (more minutiae!) and I’m more interested in tasting pastries. So I took a stroll over to the relatively new Pierre Hermé macaron boutique in the Marais.

Macarons kind of had their day in the soleil. Everyone wanted to either make them, or come to Paris and sample them. For a while, almost every day a question or two would land in my Inbox from people who were making macarons, wondering why their macarons didn’t have the ruffled “feet”, or why their tops cracked – and could I diagnose them? Interviewers were astonished when they’d ask me what flavors of macarons Parisians made at home, and I responded that I couldn’t think of anyone that made macarons in Paris because no one had the space for a baking sheet on their kitchen counter. And honestly, it’s easier for people to get them at their local pastry shop or bakery.

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Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

oatmeal raisin cookies

We seem to be going though an age of competitions and it’s interesting for me to see so much fascination with being a chef, and people acting out on television what goes on (or they perceive goes on) in restaurant kitchens. I spent most of my life behind the stoves and let me tell you, it’s often not pretty and I would not want anyone following me around with a camera while I cooked. (Which is why this blog doesn’t include a webcam.)

I’m not sure how this fascination with being a chef came to be as it’s really ‘grunt’ work and there’s nothing at all glamorous about it; no matter how many tattoos you have or how much you swear at underlings, there’s still a ton of work involved and no way you’re going to get through it by the end of your shift. Sure, I had a great time cooking with friends and co-workers (well, most of them…), but the grueling hours and the physical labor involved is one of the main reasons that I’m permanently damaged, both physically and psychologically.

flocons d'avoine oats

Thankfully I was part of that elite group of people in the professional cooking world: The bakers and pastry chefs. Unlike the line cooks, who were whooping it up and play with fire, we disciplined souls were in the back of the kitchen, dusting doughs with flour, rolling out cookies, melting chocolate, and creaming buttery cake batters. But a regular chef once said to me—”Why are all you pastry chefs so weird?”

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Cornmeal Cookies (Zaletti)

cornmeal cookies blog

If I had to name one food that I couldn’t live without, chocolate would be right up there. Salted butter is on that short list, too. Seeded bagels, California dried apricots, black and white cookies, osetra caviar (if money, and sustainability, were no object), lobster rolls, French fries, and really good fried chicken would also be on that list. Not as fancy as some of those things, but just as good, another thing that I can never seem to get enough of is crunchy cornmeal.

And the good thing is that I live next to Italy, so whenever I pop over and visit my neighbors, I always bring back not only good coffee by the kilo, but as much polenta as I can jam into my suitcase as well.

cornmeal cookie dough

A few years ago I was shamed into only using stone-ground cornmeal, but the locals seem to have taken to instant polenta, which I was told wasn’t bad by a well-respected chef. That’s what is widely available here, but I just couldn’t bring myself to agree when I tried it for myself.

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Israeli Couscous with Butternut Squash & Preserved Lemons

Israeli Couscous

When I started this site, I had forums, where people could chat and post messages. Before we took it down (because my brain was about to implode), one of the burning questions on there was this: Is couscous pasta?

My contention was that it wasn’t, since it wasn’t a ‘paste’ (or as the French would say, un pâte), which is what I believe—in my limited intelligence—that pasta is.

On the other hand, perhaps it is pasta, because couscous is flour mixed with water, then rolled until little granules form. Theoretically, then, it is a paste before it’s broken down into little bits. Which makes me wonder if kig ha farz is pasta, too? (Although back then, no one would have know what that was, so it wouldn’t have bolstered my argument.)

flat leaf parsley

Then, to make matters even more complicated, there’s Israeli couscous, whose springy, chewy texture wouldn’t raise an eyebrow if someone called it pasta.

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No Foolin’-It Really Is Carrot Cake Ice Cream

ice cream

When I proposed an article to the Los Angeles Times about unusual ice creams, I was surprised when took me up on it. Yikes! So I went to work, inventing recipes for some new flavors, and adding a tangy twist to a frosty favorite.

So no foolin’…if you’re looking for some all-new wacky flavors to churn up, head to my article 31 Flavors? Think Outside the Carton for three new kooky concoctions.



Related Links and Ice Cream Recipes:

Recipes to use up leftover egg whites

How long does ice cream last?

Tips for making homemade ice cream softer

Recommended equipment to make ice cream

Recipes to use up leftover egg whites

Making ice cream without a machine

The ice cream shops of Paris

Meet your maker: buying an ice cream machine

Compendium of recipes for ice creams & sorbets

What is gelato?

Let’s Make Ice Cream!

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Traditional Mincemeat Recipe

mincemeat

After making my last batch of Quick Mincemeat, which found its way, then disappeared into, one of my Thanksgiving desserts, for some reason, I got a hankering to make the real-deal. I don’t know what possessed me, but when I get something stuck in my craw, it can take the Jaws-of-Life to get it out of there.

Making traditional-style mincemeat requires one not just to mix up bunch of dried fruits and candied peel, but also demands one to include a generous blob of animal fat in the mix. Thus, I began my search for suet in Paris. Which you wouldn’t think was all that hard. However I’ve learned that here, some things take a little less thinking-about, and a little more legwork than one might think the situation should really warrant.

uncooked mincemeat

I figured one of the many butchers at my local outdoor market would have kidney fat, no problem. But at each stand, they just solemnly shook their heads “Non.” When I told them I needed it to make a dessert, you can imagine their Gallic reaction.

C’est normale for me when I’m trying to find something specific around here. With my luck, even if I’m searching for a four-legged table, I’ll go to the magasin des tables, which’ll have every conceivable kind of table—except for the kind with four legs.

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Quick Mincemeat Recipe

minceingredientsblog

Mincemeat is the mother-of-all holiday recipes. The holy grail to some, especially my friends across the Channel in England. But this version is much easier than any traditional recipe and you can use it very shortly after you make it. A lot of people, who upon hearing the word mincemeat…well, their first reaction is a prolonged and rather extended look of dismay.

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Gâteaux aux kakis

Since I write in English quite a bit better than I do in French, the blog and my recipes are in the language of Shakespeare. However I realize a portion of my readers aren’t native English speakers, yet tirelessly trudge through my writings sans complaint.

This post is for you.

I would venture to guess about 90%* of the recipes in print and on the internet are in English, and a majority of them are in good ‘ol cups-and-tablespoons, forcing a great many people with whom we share our global village to do their unfair share of translating and converting.

persimmonontree.jpg
Les kakis, aka, persimmons

So, it’s turnabout time.
Here’s a recipe that I made for Christmas gifts, which I distributed to some favorite people in Paris, such as shopkeepers I visit, chocolatiers I frequent, and vendors at my local market that let me slip in front of the dames who make them rifle through the onions for twenty minutes looking for the elusive best one while I wait patiently behind them while they count out the 14 centimes while the people behind me start pressing themselves up against my backside or shoving the wheels of their metal shopping cart against my heels as if I can possibly move forward.

(For fun, I usually start backing up slowing, which causes a near riot behind me and is great fun to listen to. If you’re going to do this, though, whatever you do, never, ever look behind you. Keep staring straight ahead, as if you’re completely oblivious to what’s happening back there.)

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