If you’ve ever wondered how French pastry shops make cream puffs with that distinctive decorative crackly topping, look no further. (If you’ve never wondered, you can skip to the next entry.) The topping is called craquelin, a simple dough that’s easily put together and is a nifty little trick to gussy up ordinary cream puffs.
Results tagged recipe from David Lebovitz
Whew! It feels good to be back. I go caught up on a whole bunch of stuff. But boy, do I need a drink. Good thing I have this barrel of Negronis on hand. I featured my rotund wooden beauty in a recent newsletter, although I was concerned about mentioning my Negronis on social media because I often get in trouble with auto-corrected text. But there’s nothing to “clean up” after a few Negronis except perhaps you, and your guests.
I am in love with my barrel and was delighted when a friend in Paris saw it in my newsletter and called right away to tell me she had an old barrel holding up a bookshelf in her house, and brought it by as a gift the other day. However when I filled the it with water, it became what is probably the first indoor water sprinkler, with water spraying everywhere from between the bulging staves. So I’m glad to have a “pro” model to fall back on.
When it comes to baking and desserts, one doesn’t necessarily think of salt as a flavor. But more and more, I keep considering, and reconsidering, the role that salt plays in just about everything I bake. And because I keep both salted and unsalted butter on hand – I can’t imagine my morning toast without a little salted butter spread over the top – I’ll sometimes reach for the salted variety when tackling a baking project or making dessert.
I wasn’t the first person to put salt on dessert; people from various cultures have been sprinkling salt on fresh fruit for ages. And many pastry chefs, as well as some big chocolate companies, have gotten in on the “salt in chocolate” act as well.
But I’ve gotten so used to sprinkling it on sweets that sometimes if I’m having my last course in a restaurant and I think the dessert needs a little perking up, you’ll find me looking around the table for a little bowl of flaky sea salt. Salt is so important to me that I’ll sometimes carry a little wooden box of fleur de sel, which when I’d bring out in restaurants, my co-diners would give me a look as if I was being pretentious. (Then – of course – they’d ask if they could have a pinch too.)
There’s a big difference between lucky and fortunate. Luck is a winning lottery ticket blowing in your window. Fortunate means that you’ve taken the initiative and done something. And because of it, there was a positive outcome. So I would probably say that I was lucky because my mother was a good cook but it’s debatable whether I am lucky, or fortunate, because my partner is a good cook as well.
Before dinner a few weeks ago, I’d grilled off some vegetable beforehand and left them in a plat à four (baking dish) on the counter, ready for dinner. Right before we were to eat, I asked him to make a dressing for them, and went about the rest of my business, finishing up the prep for the rest of dinner before realizing what he’d done.
If I read one more recipe that begins with saying that the recipe is the perfect way to use up the overload of summer tomatoes, I’m going to scream. Okay, in deference to my neighbors, I won’t. But to me, there is no such thing as having too many tomatoes. That’s just crazy-talk.
We don’t have the overload of great tomatoes in Paris that folks have elsewhere, like when I was in Agen last year and the markets were full of them, or in San Francisco or New York, where market tables are heaped with them in all colors, shapes, and sizes. So I’m over-the-moon when I find good tomatoes and use them carefully because they’re so precious.
Someone recently asked me why I do what I do. More specifically, what compelled me. They were particularly focused on how I was likely most concerned with the finished product, asking me if that was my goal when I cooked and baked. I thought about it for a bit, and realized that the goal has very little to do with it; I like picking through lugs of fruits and berries with my hands, melting chocolate and butter until the mixture is smooth, the smell of folding toasted nuts into a cake batter, and lifting a batch of just-churned ice cream out of the machine and alternating the layers with ribbons of glossy chocolate swirl.
I do, however, have a rather particular thing for scoping out fruit and berries whenever I find them growing and using them to their best advantage. Most of the time, they end up in jams and jellies, especially since I recently returned to the trees which I found overloaded with wild plums a few years ago (which the owners had hacked down to their nubs the following year), which were now gloriously heavy with multicolored fruits of unbelievable goodness. And I spent a good afternoon plucking out the pits and making jam, and a nice tart out of them. Fait accompli!
Summer in France means a lot of things in France. En masse vacations, a blissfully empty Paris, price increases (which notoriously happen during August, when everyone is out of town – of course), and vide-greniers and brocantes, known elsewhere as flea markets, where people sell all kinds of things. If you’re lucky enough to take a trip to the countryside, the brocantes are amazing. But some small towns in France also have little antique shops that are always worth poking around in. And when your other half has a station wagon, well, the possibilities are endless. (And sometimes voluminous!)
A while back, I posted a recipe for a Meatball Sandwich, something I had been craving like a lunatic and just had to get my hands around. Then, a few weeks later, I ran into a reader (at a health food store!) in Paris who said, “That was funny…because I was craving the exact same thing, and then I saw it on your blog!”
Am not sure where these urgent food cravings are coming from, but they seem to go in waves, and like a courant d’air that blows through Paris – not all of us close the window on them. I haven’t seen any meatball sandwiches in town since I made one, but Hamburgers are still having their day and I was having a burger at a favorite burger joint, Big Fernand, and talking with one of the very nice mecs that owns the place.