October 25, 2012
This snack is like butter and jam on toast, but tweaked into something a little more sophisticated.
The camembert has a buttery, creamy texture, but, you know, cheesier. It’s got a little funk on it. But it’s not a punch-you-in-the-face funk, just a mellow funk.
The grapes here are cooked just a little — not to the point where they’ve turned into jam, but just enough to warm them up and concentrate their sugars. You can use any grapes you like, as long as they’re seedless, but I happen to love the colors on the gorgeous flame grapes. The thyme lends a savory note that keeps this snack from heading into dessert territory.
I snacked on this on a rainy afternoon before a long night of chugging through some work emails, but these lovely little crostini would be equally at home as the appetizer at a fall party.
October 16, 2012
Chestnuts are making their way back to the street vendors. Sometimes, stepping out of a metro stop, I smell the familiar smoky charcoal smell of the roasters and almost stop to buy a handful.
But invariably, whenever I do buy some, they’re nearly impossible to peel. That’s why I’ve taken to roasting them at home — I can cut huge slits in the peels before roasting them, and they nearly fall off after being roasted.
I’ve also found what seems to be the perfect dipping sauce for chestnuts: chestnut honey, or miel de châtaignier, mixed with a good amount of coarse-ground pepper. The tongue-coating quality of the honey helps to mitigate the tendency of fresh-roasted chestnuts of being a little dry, and the pepper cuts through their creaminess with some spice. And I must admit, pairing honey made from chestnut flowers with the nuts that those trees eventually produced is pleasingly recursive.
September 26, 2012
This is spanakopita. (These are spanakopitas?)
It’s spinach and feta wrapped up into little phyllo triangles and doused with butter. The phyllo gets golden brown and butter-crispy and shatters into little shards that get all over your clothes that will make people on the street look at you funny if you forget to lint-roll yourself before leaving home.
September 18, 2012
Can we talk about wheat berries for a second?
I have no idea why no one eats them. With all the hullabaloo about quinoa and farro and other good-for-you grains going around, it seems only natural to start introducing other whole grains that aren’t getting as much air time.
So, meet the humble wheat berry. A wheat berry is not a berry at all, but a whole wheat kernel — the stuff that’s milled to get whole wheat flour. It’s eaten a lot more here in France (as a side dish, similar to rice) than in the States. Because the whole kernel is left intact, its nutrients come with it too: protein, fiber, iron, and vitamin E. It’s got a lovely tender, chewy texture and its flavor is nutty and similar to other whole grains like brown rice.