Easter Egg Jam Cookies

Like most French children, the boulangerie played a big role in my earliest food memories.

The corner bakery was the mythical place where snacks were purchased after school, where grownups could be observed closely while waiting in line with one’s mother for the Saturday lunch baguette, and where one secretly went to buy a few centime’s worth of candy to sneak into one’s room and share with one’s sister.

My allegiances to after-school snacks came and went. There was a long period of getting a milk bun (pain au lait) with a bar of milk chocolate unwrapped, unfoiled, and pushed right in. I never cared for pain aux raisins (eww raisins) but I was all over the almond croissants.

Easter Egg Jam Cookies

One of my all-time favorites was the lunettes à la confiture (“jam spectacles”), a football-shaped, sugar-dusted cookie sandwich with scalloped edges, and two holes cut out to reveal the layer of jam holding the sablés together (see this video).

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Best of March

March inspiration : Drawing Montmartre buildings!

• Spring has sprung, travel season has begun in earnest, and I am doing more of my private walking tours. A highlight this past month has been to host a newlywed couple with a unique and wonderful story: they were high-school sweethearts, then life took them separate ways, and some thirty years later they reunited and got married.

They were the loveliest of people, and the tour was made even more special by a friend of theirs, who got in touch with me to secretly arrange for me to buy them a gift of goodies (Champagne was involved) on her behalf during the tour. It was so fun and heartwarming to plot this for them, print out the friend’s note, surprise them with the gift, and take pictures.

• For my monthly museum challenge, I went to the Musée de la vie romantique, where entrance is free to see the permanent collection. My favorite thing to do is stand by the windows upstairs, look out at the courtyard and the trees, and pretend I live in this gorgeous hôtel particulier. (This museum is part of my which you can download for free!)

We also went with our kids to see Électromécanomaniaque at Halle Saint-Pierre, an exhibition of Gilbert Peyre’s work: this French artist builds mecanical and pneumatic installations from junkyard finds. It is a unique blend of poetic and batty, and children are positively mesmerized. The exhibition is on until April 23; go if you can !

• Also : I’m about to launch a podcast! It’s in French and it’s called Change ma vie : Outils pour l’esprit (“Change my life: Tools for the mind”). It will be about our inner lives, the power of thoughts, and how to feel really well. I have studied these subjects with increasing passion over the past years, and what I’ve learned has changed my life so much I wanted to share with others. The podcast will launch on April 27, and if you’re looking to add more French to your life, what better way? Sign up for the newsletter to be notified when it’s up; you’ll receive a little welcome bonus as well.

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Vegan Parmesan

Perhaps you recall the very delicious kale and mushroom risotto I shared with you a few months ago, which you can take from idea to table in 30 minutes? I knew that would get your attention.

I use this basic risotto recipe very regularly. It’s an easy weeknight dinner that can incorporate all kinds of vegetables: I like it with broccoli or carrots, radish greens or beet tops, peas or finely sliced green beans. The kids like it, and I can reheat the leftovers for lunch the next day. Win, win, win.

Because I make this often, I always have on hand a jar of the vegan “parmesan” that I like to sprinkle on top. It’s also handy when I make pasta dishes, such as this curried butternut squash pasta or this zucchini pasta with almonds.

If you have dairy troubles, or you’re simply curious about plant-based options, this vegan parmesan recipe is a life-changing formula I initially got from Dana’s blog. I’ve changed the proportions a little bit to suit my taste, but it is essentially the same.

Vegan Parmesan

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A Bucket List for Cooks : 50 Accomplishments For a Lifetime of Kitchen Joy

Gorgeous stove photo courtesy of La Cornue.

Do you know about the bucket list, also called life list? The idea is to list all the things you would like to accomplish in life*.

It’s an amazing exercise to do — on your own, as a couple, or with friends — because it says a lot about your deep desires and ambitions. It’s important to banish all the “yes, but’s” and allow yourself to dream big, without limiting yourself to what you think is realistic or acceptable. You can keep the list somewhere on a notebook and computer, and add to it as you think of new ideas.

My personal life list includes, among other items, getting a tattoo (I have a pretty good idea of the design) (Oh, hi Mom!), speaking Japanese, going on a meditation retreat, and sleeping in an igloo. An ideal scenario would be getting a tattoo on a meditation retreat held in an igloo in Japan; I have to see if the format exists.

I love the idea so much I’ve imagines a bucket list for cooks with 50 kitchen accomplishments to aspire to. I’ve included things from easy to difficult, in terms of technique, opportunity, and organization.

You’ll find the list below. Tell us in the comments how many you’ve already accomplished, and which you would add for yourself.

To help you do this, you can download your free printable bucket list; such a fun thing to do during an evening with like-minded friends! (If you want to slip it into your bujo, print it to 65% of the original format.)

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25 Best French Songs about Paris, Old & New

Photography by Anne Elder.

As I was putting together the chapter openings for my upcoming cookbook Tasting Paris, I was inspired to illustrate each with a few lines from a beautiful French song about Paris. (I’ve got to admit, I’m pretty pleased with this idea; I hope my editor keeps it in.)

Wanting to expand beyond my own knowledge of Paris-inspired songs, I asked my Facebook friends — such a clever, resourceful bunch — to suggest their own favorites. The resulting collection was so uplifting and brought me so much joy I couldn’t keep it to myself, so here it is, for your enjoyment.

You can listen to the songs individually, or play the whole bunch using this YouTube playlist or
Spotify playlist I created for you (and for me).

Do you have one you love that’s not included here? (Note: I decided to stick to French-language songs as a theme here, but feel free to submit songs in other languages!)

Classic Songs about Paris

“J’ai deux amours”, Josephine Baker

“Les Prénoms de Paris”, Jacques Brel

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