I was recently joking that when I’m forced to wake up very early in the morning I’m not sure if I should feel sorrier for myself, or for the people around me. So when my friend Jean-Louis, who works with the people who make Comté cheese finally gave in to my incessant pestering to join him for a visit, I was excited when after three years, he finally said “Oui”. Actually, he speaks very good English. So he said “Yes”.
Results tagged salt from David Lebovitz
In my recent winter newsletter, I sent out a list of some of my favorite recipes that are great candidates for the holidays. Here I compiled more recipes from the site for sweets and treats that I hope will make your holidays a little happier.
Nibbles & Drinks
The Best Holiday Nut and Pretzel Mix: This it the best snack I know of to go with festive drinks. I can’t get enough of it. Make this for your next cocktail gathering!
Spritz: Want a holiday drink that’s lighter than a cocktail, and more festive? Try pouring a Spritz (or two) this year for guests.
Roasted Squash: Could this recipe be any easier? Oven-roasted slices of squash, which you can customize with different herbs and spices. Leftovers are great cubed and tossed in a salad of winter greens with toasted pecans and dried cranberries.
Sardine Pâté: Silky fish pâté is great spread on toasts with flutes of sparkling Champagne.
In August, most of the businesses in Paris shut down while a vast number of people take their annual holiday vacations. And in case you think that’s a grammatical error, in French one says les vacances, in the plural. So if you have a problem with that, I would tell you to take it up with them yourself, but right now most of them are unavailable at the moment.
It sounds odd, but I know several business in America that follow the same model of shutting down for a few weeks so everyone can go on holiday at the same time, negating the need for constantly changing schedules the rest of the year to adapt to everyone’s particular vacations. (Although I am awaiting the results of a medical test and it would have been nice of the doctor to let me know that he was leaving for three weeks.)
Bread bakeries, which are an integral part of French life, also close up shop for two- to four weeks. But each shop plans their vacation(s?) in conjunction with the neighboring bakeries, by law, and posts those locations on their door so you can always be assured of fresh bread no matter what neighborhood you live in.
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.
Because the question comes up from time to time, I thought I’d answer some questions about making substitutions in my recipes, and swapping out or deleting ingredients.
The short answer is: Ingredients are added to recipes for a specific purpose and there is a reason that they are there. When you substitute or swap out ingredients, results will vary and won’t be the same as mine.
Some may work, and others won’t. And I can’t comment on results unless I’ve tried it myself. The most common request is folks who want to reduce the sugar or fat in a recipe, but in most instances, people are not happy with the final results. So unless you have health issues such as allergies and intolerances, it’s best to stick with the recipe.
One recent change that’s occurred in home baking is the proliferation of “premium” products, such as “European-style” butter, stronger flour (with more protein and gluten), high percentage chocolate, and instant yeast. Using products such as these can alter results and it’s simply not possible to write a recipe that includes variations for each kind of product that might be available in the diverse geographical regions of the world. So it’s up to you to use your best judgement and alter a recipe as necessary, to compensate for the variation in products. (You may wish to consult the manufacturer directly to get further directions on using their product.)
Realizing that people have various dislikes and dietary needs, here are some guidelines you might find useful when using my recipes on the site or in my Books. If you’re looking for more comprehensive information about baking ingredient substitutions, I’ve provided links at the end where you can find answers. Do remember that these are general guidelines and are not applicable to each and every recipe that exists. Home bakers are encouraged to experiment—especially those on restricted or special diets, because they’re often best educated on how to modify recipes to meet their particular dietary needs.
Spices are interchangeable in recipes. When I come up with spice amounts, they are to my personal taste and that which I think others will like. Reducing 2 teaspoons of cinnamon to 1 teaspoon won’t alter the way a cake or cookie turns out, but it won’t have the same oomph as the ones I did. However not everyone likes, say, cloves or other spices. So if you see a spice in a recipe you don’t like, you can omit it and perhaps dial up one of the other spices or flavors to compensate.
Gluten and Flours
In recipes that call for flour, I mean all-purpose flour. If I mean cake or bread flour, that will be noted. I’m not an expert on gluten-free baking and there are others who are so can’t advise about substitutions with specialty flours. King Arthur carries a gluten-free baking flour that they advise is a good swap for wheat flour. I haven’t used it so can’t confirm, but people who bake gluten-free likely have their own techniques for substituting wheat flour if you don’t wish to use a gluten-free flour mix, such as:
I had a wee bit of a dilemma recently. In my refrigerator was a half-jar of crème fraîche, that I had to use up before I left for a recent vacation on the beach. I’d been thinking about making caramels with it, but I also knew that I would be slipping on a swimsuit within a few weeks. And being alone in my apartment with an open jar of ultra-rich crème fraîche was probably not a good idea.
So what did I do? I hemmed and hawed about it, until I channeled my mother, who would have flipped out if I tossed away the rest of the crème fraîche. (Or anything, for that matter.)
I don’t think I’ve ever made a New Year’s resolution. Even if I did, I likely didn’t have much success sticking with any of them, so I just don’t bother with them anymore. Usually resolutions involve quickly-forgotten rules about eating better, losing weight, and saving money. (Which is probably why I never make them in the first place.) So I wouldn’t place any bets that I’m going to stick with doing any of those three things this year, I’m happy to report that for those of you with more will-power than I, this Potato Leek Soup falls neatly into all three categories.
I kind of have a funny relationship to soup. If I’m going to eat soup, I eat it as a main course for lunch or dinner, not before. And since for me, soup is a meal, I like thick soups. I’m not a fan of slurping up thin broth from a vessel. If I wanted to lap up watery liquid from a receptacle, I’d slip a collar around my neck and get down on all-fours for my supper. No thank you. (Well, at least not at dinnertime.)
So where do I start with this one?
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.
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…