Ingredients & Fine Foods

Terroir Products: What to Eat in the Jura

Montbéliard cows, just chillin'.

Montbéliard cows, just chillin'.

This is a guest post written by Anne Elder, my wonderful intern, about the recent class trip* she took to the Jura. The photos are also hers. Take it away, Anne!

When I drive through France, the roadside signs always make me feel like I’m about to meet a celebrity, bearing names of towns I only know from the perspective of my tiny Paris kitchen, and the labels on my favorite foods.

I felt that very excitement traveling through the Jura, a French region that’s just south of popular oenophile destination Burgundy, but one that is oft overlooked by tourists. It is a lush mountainous region near the Swiss border, where the land lends itself to the production of many delicious terroir foods.

The concept of terroir is pervasive in French cuisine (and increasingly in America, too), dating back centuries.

Eating a produit du terroir means you are indirectly tasting the ground in (or on) which it was made — tasting the soil, the climate, the craftsmanship. This notion ranges from cheese, and how the hay eaten by the Montbéliard cows impacts its flavor, to wine and how the precise fusion of soil and climate and skill meet to grow grapes that are pressed into such a complex beverage.

Jura is a goldmine when it comes to seeking out terroir. Equipped with rain boots and notebooks, my classmates and I were determined to learn how to taste France. We drove over hilltops, past rows of sapins (spruce trees, which are cut down into boards where the cheese will be left to age) and stayed in a gîte, a no-frills guest house.

During our five days there, we were afforded the opportunity to see the cheese production from the farm to the aging cellar, taste wine still ripening in oak barrels, and sample many more local recipes and products cooked by gracious hosts.

If you are able to travel to Jura on your next trip to France, here are the terroir products you must not miss.

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Raw Chocolate in Paris: A Virtual Tour of the Rrraw Chocolate Factory

Rrraw chocolate truffles

To get you in the mood for Easter, here’s a special chocolate gift for you: I’m taking you on a virtual tour of a raw, bean-to-bar chocolate factory!

Rrraw is a small French company that makes high-quality, delicious stone-ground chocolate that is also raw, vegan, and organic. I have been in touch with the super friendly owner, Frédéric Marr, for years, and I finally had the chance to visit the workshop a few weeks ago. So I took lots of pictures to share with you!

Their range of raw chocolates includes square vegan truffles and chocolate bars in various flavors, such as coconut, cashew, seven spices, hemp seed, pollen, aguaymanto… I am also quite taken with their chocolate-covered cacao beans, crunchy and brittle in their smooth coating.

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Seasonal Produce Calendar

Seasonal Produce Calendar

Shopping seasonally is the very first step to cook flavorful, healthy meals for your family and your friends, and save money doing so. But since pretty much everything is available year-round these days (hello carbon footprint!), it can be hard to know what’s really in season and what you should be looking for when you shop.

I’ve put together this handy guide to seasonal produce to tell you what fruits and vegetables are in season when, but also how long they will stay fresh, so you can minimize waste. With this information in mind you can compose a smart selection of produce on your weekly market run, with a few fragile items to eat within a couple of days, with sturdier ones that will last until the end of the week or longer.

To download your FREE seasonal produce calendar, fill in the form below!

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Paris Chocolate Shops: Do’s and Don’ts of Buying French Chocolate

Henri Le Roux: Filled chocolates

You can’t spend time in Paris and overlook the chocolate side of the experience; I won’t let you!

The French have elevated the chocolate craft to an art form, and although there are spectacularly talented artisans all around the country, it is in Paris that you’ll find the highest concentration. This means it is the perfect opportunity to treat yourself to some of the most delicate, most intensely flavorful chocolates in the world… and buy a few gifts for others, too, if you’re feeling generous.

I must warn you there are lots of sub-average chocolate shops as well, so you have to know what to look for. And the good places are typically set up to look like luxurious jewelry boutiques, so the shopping experience can be a little intimidating. But I’m here to help! Here is my guide to artisanal chocolate in Paris.

You’ll find my Top 5 Paris chocolate shops at the bottom of this post, along with a few helpful phrases. The photos illustrating this post were taken by my intern extraordinaire Anne Elder; our thanks to the Henri Le Roux team for letting us shoot at their rue des Martyrs shop.

Chocolate bars from Henri Le Roux

Chocolate bars from Henri Le Roux

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Sweet Potato Recipes: 40 Irresistible Ways to Use Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

The sweet potato is an incredibly versatile tuber, but I tend to prepare them in the same two or three quick and easy ways most of the time, so I decided to seek new ideas. I wasn’t disappointed: there seems to be no end to the inspired recipes one can dream up to use sweet potatoes and enjoy their irresistibly sweet taste and superfood status (more details here), and I collected my forty favorites to share with you below, organized by cooking method.

My sweet potato of choice is the orange one, which is vibrantly flavorful and loaded with nutrients (especially beta-carotene and vitamin A). It’s not easy to find Europe-grown ones at this point, but you can find imported ones in an increasing number of supermarkets, organic or not. Sweet potatoes grown in the United States tend to keep longer (at cool room temperature, never in the fridge!) and their flesh is moister.

You’ll find all the recipes I linked to below gathered on this Pinterest board for easy browsing.

Winning pairings

~ Sweet potato + Bacon
~ Sweet potato + Leafy greens, especially kale and spinach, and salad greens, especially arugula and mâche
~ Sweet potato + Beans, especially black beans
~ Sweet potato + Chickpeas
~ Sweet potato + Lentils
~ Sweet potato + Maple syrup
~ Sweet potato + Chicken
~ Sweet potato + Pork
~ Sweet potato + Miso
~ Sweet potato + Butter
~ Sweet potato + Tahini
~ Sweet potato + Nuts, especially walnuts and almonds
~ Sweet potato + Potato
~ Sweet potato + Sage
~ Sweet potato + Olives
~ Sweet potato + Anchovies
~ Sweet potato + Herbs, especially cilantro and chives
~ Sweet potato + Citrus, especially lemon and lime
~ Sweet potato + Avocado
~ Sweet potato + Carrot
~ Sweet potato + Quinoa
~ Sweet potato + Feta cheese
~ Sweet potato + Broccoli and cauliflower

Steaming and boiling

Steaming is the best way to retain all the nutritional benefits of sweet potatoes. Cut into 2- to 3-cm (1-inch) cubes, they will need about 10 minutes of steaming. Sweet potatoes also do well boiled and puréed in the cooking liquid for a soup.

~ Make patties with the steamed and mashed sweet potatoes and an egg as the binder, possibly mixing them half and half with regular potatoes, and cook in the skillet or the oven. Add feta cheese to the mix.

~ Pair with lentils for this Thai-inspired sweet potato soup.

~ Pair with chickpeas to make sweet potato falafel.

~ Use it in an easy vegetable curry.

~ Turn it into a sweet potato hummus.

~ Use it to make a gluten-free pizza crust.

~ Make sweet potato and kale balls.

~ Add to your burritos, quesadillas and tacos.

~ Roll into sweet potato tots.

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