Chayote Squash

Christophine

This morning, Maxence and I went for a stroll towards Barbès and Chateau-Rouge, a more ethnic part of the 18th arrondissement, just a few blocks from where we live. In the rue de Clignancourt, we stumbled upon a few small stores selling food (mostly) from the Antilles – the French Caribbean. We both love browsing around exotic grocery stores, and these reminded us very nicely of our recent vacation, as the Seychelles cuisine is somewhat similar to that of the Antilles.

We ended up buying a few goodies : coconut milk, a jar of hot mango pickle and a jar of tandoori paste, whole smoked herring, a piece of dried salted cod (we decided to try and get past the strong smell), plantain chips and sweet potato chips, passion fruit, guava fruit, sweet potatoes from Egypt, hot peppers, and a few christophines, white and green.

Christophines, also called chouchous, chouchoutes or chayottes, are these weird-looking vegetables, and are said to taste like potato or zucchini depending on the source. Intriguing, no? The most popular uses seem to be au gratin or boiled.

Ah, the sweet and distinctive happiness of finding a new vegetable to try!

Spiced Pumpkin Soup

[Spiced Pumpkin Soup]

I am ordinarily not a huge winter squash fan. I used to dislike sweet and savory together when I was little, and that seems to vaguely remain when it comes to pumpkin and its brothers and sisters. But I do love the look of them and how they come in all shapes, sizes and colors and look like a little munchkin tribe. And the other day at the grocery store, I could not resist buying a big plump slice of bright orange courge musquée – also called courge muscade (literally nutmeg squash), which is your typical Jack-O-Lantern shaped pumpkin. I looked at it, and suddenly I knew : soup. That’s it. I will. Make. Soup.

After researching a little for inspiration – and this included washing my hands thoroughly to leaf with care through Stéphan’s precious Larousse Gastronomique, which he let me borrow under the absolute promise that I would take care of it as if it was my firstborn child – I came up with the following recipe.

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Corsican Tartine

Tartine Corse

Tartines have been a fairly trendy lunch fare in Parisian restaurants for a while. Originally, “tartine” means a slice of bread, toasted or not, with something spread on it, usually eaten for breakfast : butter (tartine beurrée), jam (tartine de confiture), cheese (tartine de fromage)…

For a few years now, the concept of tartine has been recycled into an easy but delicious main dish : one or two slices of bread on which ingredients are laid, creating a sort of open-faced sandwich. It’s interesting to note that this is a flashback to the Middle Ages, when slices of bread were used in lieu of plates!

This simple idea can lead to an infinite number of variations. But it is a very open concept that should be used with care, and one has to make sure the combination of ingredients is sound. Whipping up a tartine using all the miscellaneous leftovers in the fridge can work wonders. Or not.

It is also very tempting to throw in a lot of goodies, but as is often the case with cooking, more is not necessarily better, and too many flavors can cancel each other out. The idea is to pick a central theme or focus for your tartine and try to find the minimum set of ingredients that expresses it fully. The tartine can star a nationality or ethnicity (Mediterranean, English, Italian, Greek, Jewish, Swedish…), an ingredient (vegetarian, chicken, duck, salmon, cheese…), or even a color (tartine verte, tartine rouge, tartine jaune, tartine violette…).

Then, the simple process is this.

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Where Do I Eat The Best Tartines?

As a complement to my post about The Wonderful World Of Tartines, here’s a list of my favorite restaurants for tartines in Paris :

Boulangerestaurant
85 bd Malesherbes, 75008 Paris
01 45 22 70 30
(Baker Eric Kayser’s restaurant)

Androuët sur le Pouce
49 rue St Roch, 75001 Paris
01 42 97 57 39
(tartines starring the best cheese in season, several other addresses in Paris)

Le Potager du Père Thierry
16 rue des Trois Frères, 75018 Paris
01 53 28 26 20

Le Pain Quotidien
2 rue des Petits Carreaux, 75002 Paris
01 42 21 14 50
(several other addresses in Paris)

Coquelicot
24 rue des Abbesses, 75018 Paris
01 46 06 18 77
(this is initially a bakery, our favorite for baguettes)

Aux Pipalottes Gourmandes
49 rue de Rochechouard, 75009 Paris
01 44 53 04 53
(one other address in Paris)

Pear Rosemary Crème Brûlée

Pear Rosemary Crème Brûlée

Two weeks ago, my parents came over to my apartment. The plan was for the three of us to have lunch together, and then go out on a mini-tour of the 9th and 18th arrondissements, using a guidebook called “Paris Buissonier“, which my sister and I gave our mother for Mother’s day : it describes itineraries to walk through parts of Paris that are seldom visited, providing interesting and unusual facts and comments about what you see along the way. An excellent little book to get to know our beloved – and huge – city better, avoiding the crowds. The name “Paris Buissonier” alludes to the expression “faire l’école buissonière” (literally “to attend shrub school”), which means to cut class. When I was younger, I thought there really was a school called “Ecole Buissonière” – it sounded like one I’d want to go to!

For dessert, I decided to try my hand again at crème brûlée, to make sure last time wasn’t just a fluke. I had read recipes that flavored the cream with rosemary, and I had ripe pears on hand that needed to be used, so this time I whipped up Pear Rosemary Crèmes Brûlées. As I did not have milk on hand, I used light whipping cream in addition to regular. (I know what you’re thinking, who’s that girl with two types of whipping cream in the house, but no milk…)

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