Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sticky Toffee Pudding

See this? Doesn’t it look just scrumpalicious, nested in its little takeout box? See how the sticky caramel coating has rubbed off a bit on the right side, where the little pudding’s shoulder was leaning, as I carried it home?

I had walked to Rose Bakery for lunch, armed with a magazine and a notebook, my personal treat when I’m home on a weekday. Usually, after I’m done with the yummy and copious lunch (an assortment of their salads, a main dish, a coffee and a cookie), I have to drag myself away from the dessert case and resist buying one of their tempting pastries, because, you know, lunch was indulgence enough.

But this? This just looked too good. And really, with a name like that, who could resist? Try saying it out loud and enjoy the syllables : sti-cky-tof-fee-pud-ding. Then fast, stickytoffeepuddingstickytoffeepuddingstickytoffeepudding. Can you think of a cooler thing to say? I can’t.

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Dried Fruits with Marzipan (Fruits déguisés)

Fruits Déguisés

And what are fruits déguisés you ask? Most people would tell you that they are a traditional Christmas confection, in which dried fruits (dates and prunes mostly) have their pit replaced with a piece of brightly colored pâte d’amande (almond paste).

To me however, fruits déguisés are much more than that : they are one of my earliest culinary joys. When I was five, my kindergarten teacher had us make some as a gift for our parents. For the record, that teacher’s name was Marguerite and I didn’t like her because she felt the need to comment on my thumb sucking, but I digress. I don’t remember making the fruits déguisés, but I remember going home and sharing them with my family, and most of all I remember how immensely proud I was when my mother asked me to show her and my sister how to make them.

We bought the supplies, and I glowingly explained how you slit the fruit open carefully, remove the pit, roll a little bit of marzipan between your palms, insert it in place of the pit, and close the fruit on it, leaving it slightly open to show the beautiful dash of color. I emphasized, as the teacher had, how important it is to handle the knife with caution, to make even-sized marzipan pits of alternate colors, and to retribute yourself with the occasional piece of marzipan, in whichever color you like best.

I decided to make fruits déguisés again very recently, and this time improvised on the basic recipe a little : I used figs in addition to prunes and dates, and stuffed them with almond paste, but also hazelnuts, almonds, chocolate squares and little chunks of almond cookie. I then packaged them up, throwing in a few candied kumquats, and gave them as pretty little gifts to my cooking class students.

Pink Buffet!

Pink Buffet!

Yesterday was an exciting, if exhausting, day : I went and helped my friend Keda Black, a fellow cook and writer, with the creation of a buffet for the opening of an art show, at a gallery named La Périphérie. This gallery is a really great place, roomy and bright, setup in a rehabilitated workshop just outside of Paris. The show features illustrations by Carlotta, an illustrator who works for French and Japanese magazines. The theme for the show was Pink, so I’ll give you three guesses as to what the idea for the buffet was!

The menu Keda had thought up was wonderful : pink tartlets of leek and blue cheese, or hazelnut paste and beetroot (a little beetroot juice in the dough works wonders), there were three different kinds of dips (white bean, carrot or beetroot based) with different dippers (fennel, pink chips, or pink radishes), which we served in little glasses and ramequins, there were cute and delicious mini-loaves of herb and cheese bread ; there were mini-madeleines flavored with rose water syrup and frosted mini carrot cakes, there were strawberry jellies and glasses of berry trifle with whipped cream. A little pink in everything, and all of this washed down with champagne of course.

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Apple and Cumin Lentil Salad

Apple and Cumin Lentil Salad

Salade de Lentilles Pomme et Cumin

This past Saturday, our dear friends Laurence and Jean-Christophe threw a housewarming party (pendaison de crémaillère if you remember) in their cool new apartment, just off Bastille. Laurence had asked if we could bring a little something and I had gathered from reliable sources that Marie-Laure and Ludo were going to bring Ludo’s famous cheesecake. I felt that the sweet ground was thus amply covered and decided to make a salad.

I didn’t feel like going to the store to pick up ingredients, so I played a little game of peek-in-the-fridge-rummage-the-kitchen-cabinets-forage-the-drawers, which resulted in this lentil and apple salad, featuring a little tofu for protein and color contrast, and flavored with shallots, cumin and chopped parsley.

I also had a few sheets of brick dough leftover. Brick dough is a very thin wheat dough, somewhat similar to phyllo dough, which is used in North African cuisine. Brick dough tends to dry out pretty quickly once the package is open, so I had the idea of baking the ones I had left into pretty little toppings to decorate the salad.

I very much liked how this salad turned out, and I received very kind compliments from the guests at the crémaillère. And there is also a particular charm to serendipitous recipes, no?

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Sweet and Swirly Rusk

Sweet and Swirly Rusk

Well you know, I’m sorry, but I feel like I wasn’t given a fair chance. At all. I mean, really, who could resist?

On the package it reads : “delicious rusks with the delicately sweet taste of malted barley”.

And the rusks have a swirl pattern on them.

And there is a little red banner proclaiming that it is new and nouveau, and nyhet! As well!

And the serving suggestion actually suggests you smear a little jam on it. I mean jam, who would’ve thought?

And each rusk is only 32 calories, and chock-full of truly excellent things for that little body of yours.

And there is a resealable inside package, which I’m sure I could actually reseal, had I not ripped it open from the side.

So really, with marketing schemes this elaborate, what’s a girl to do?

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