Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Paris Encore

(photo credit: taken by my son last summer)

I'm going to Paris again!

Here I am again, less than one year after my previous (and first) visit, counting down the days. Only 18 more to go! 

A friend and I made a spur of the moment plan to make a trip to Paris together for une petite vacance & it seems luck was on our side because once the decision was made, everything else fell into place. Our immense excitement overrides any trepidation we might feel over the prospect of leaving our respective spouses in charge of our kids while the two of us enjoy our week away. 

On the agenda: staying in & exploring the Marais, strolling through the Marche aux Puces on our first morning there, trying out Poilâne's famous bread (something I missed out on last time), wandering around the city & taking photos with Sophie Pasquet & a group of photographers, meeting the lady behind Promenades Gourmandes,  and visiting the home & gardens of Monet at Giverny. So far these are the few big things on my list. In the midst of it all I expect to unwind & get my groove back. 

I can only hope the weather cooperates.

I may not blog a lot between now & then but I hope to make some updates during my trip. 

à bientôt!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Baking with Dorie: Brrrrrr-ownies

I couldn't make these because, where I live, peppermint patties have been impossible to find & I wasn't able to make my own (no peppermint extract either).

Everyone else in the group seemed to have loved these. Have a look at the blogroll here to see their posts & for the recipe. 

Monday, March 21, 2011


A lot of people said the full moon looked no bigger than average Saturday night. But to me it seemed so much brighter that night. And as always, spectacular.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tarte aux Poires (Pear Tart)

I've never met Paule Caillat, but when I finally see her next month, I'm going to hug her.

Not only is she wonderful, she has also been so patient with my constant queries these past several months. I mentioned earlier that I wanted to book a class with her but all my planning & frequent e-mailing ended in anti-climax when I discovered I wouldn't be able to take one class I was looking forward to because of non-availability and another clashed with something else I will be doing that same day. When I found out the latter, I was sure Paule might want to whack me over the head with a cast-iron skillet for being such a nuisance. But didn't I already establish that she's wonderful?

She really is. For forgiving me. And for being the source of what has become my favorite sweet tart dough recipe.

The last time I made a tart inspired by Paule, I got the creme d'amandes (almond cream) wrong. Well - almost wrong. I hadn't known what creme d'amandes was and had used the first random recipe that I found through google search. It turns out, a much superior recipe was sitting right under my nose the entire time. If only I had bothered to consult BFMHTY

So here's my latest attempt at making a tart: I used Paule's recipe for sweet tart dough but entirely substituted the all-purpose flour with whole-wheat flour this time. The almond cream filling comes from BFMHTY  (recipe can be found on Dorie Greenspan's blog ) & is topped with freshly poached pears d'anjou. I resisted the urge to use either ginger or cloves in the poaching liquid because Paule warned that they might overpower the delicate flavor of the almond cream. But I did use a vanilla pod. 

The tart shell is par-baked for 7-8 minutes at 350F and then cooled before filling with the creme d'amandes & topping with poached, sliced pears. It goes back in the oven & needs to be baked for 45-50 minutes or until the almond cream is puffed and brown on top. 

Taking a bite out of this tart is complete bliss. I especially love the creme d'amandes which came out so much better than my previous attempt!  I told Paule that the first time I ever had tarte aux poires was in Disneyland &, while it may have been better looking than what you see here, I cannot say that it came anywhere close to this one in flavor.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Whole-Wheat Waffles & Swallowing the Frog

The truth is, I've been kind of distracted lately. I'm burned-out and have the worst case of writers' block ever. 

I sit here facing my laptop screen & the words just don't come. I blame it on the weather, the annoying renovation in our house, and the endless academic writing. As far as the latter is concerned lately I'm so un-inspired there too. I sit and stare at blank pages until the last moment imaginable because I know I have to write my essay then & a late submission will mean a big, fat, ugly 'F'. At this point, when I'm so close to the end, this current strategy of procrastination is hardly proactive.

So, what do I do? Instead of writing, I head into the kitchen and mix flour with sugar and eggs to create comforting distractions. I do this almost daily & I take several photos. But they never make their way into a blog post. Because that involves writing. And I just cannot do that lately.

This week I'll have to swallow the frog: I'll push myself to blog about at least some of the things that have appeared in my kitchen the past couple of months. Maybe I can re-direct some energy here. It is most certainly needed because in past months my blog has begun to look like a shrine to BFMHTY alone. And, much as I love Dorie & BFMHTY, I'd really like to blog more often than the obligatory BWD bakes. 

Here are some waffles to distract you while I try & get my groove back:

Whole Wheat Waffles
(from the Nordic Ware leaflet that came with my Waffle iron)

3 eggs, separated
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract (the recipe didn't ask for this but I added it)
1.5 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder

Grease & preheat both sides of waffle iron on medium heat for 3 minutes.
Beat the yolks, sugar, vanilla & oil together in a medium bowl. Add half of the milk and stir.
Add dry ingredients and the remaining milk. Mix until just blended. Set aside.
Beat egg whites till stiff & fold into the batter.
Pour 1 1/4 cups of batter into the center of the waffle iron. Cook for 1/2 to 1 minute. Flip to the other side and cook 2-3 minutes. Remove gently with a fork & serve with syrup or fruit.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Baking With Dorie: Honey Nut Scones

Monday mornings are my favorite day of the week. It's the only time I have the house completely to myself & so I allow myself the luxury to move about in slow motion; letting dishes accumulate &dust gather while I catch a couple of hours of reading & lazy day-dreaming.

Freezing-cold Monday mornings are perfect for snuggling up on a favorite couch & celebrating the moment with freshly-baked scones and tea.

These scones have just a hint of sweetness & so they'd pair perfectly with any kind of jam. I was out of unsalted walnuts & other nuts so I made mine nut-less. I am sure the walnuts would have added a nice texture & so I'll be sure to make them with nuts next time. I loved them! Soft on the inside with a pleasantly crunchy exterior and barely-there sweetness. A complete winner in my books.

The recipe was chosen by Tina. Please head over to her blog at My Domestic Bliss for the recipe, or turn to page 31 of Baking from my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan. This week we were joined by a new member - welcome to BWD Rivki! Please check out the blogroll here to see everyone else's posts.

Next up we're baking Brrrr-ownies (page 103). If  you'd like to join our baking challenges, please drop me an email at needfulthings at ymail dot com. We'd love to have you bake along with us!


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