A Half Bagel Sandwich

A Half Bagel Sandwich

Slice half of a huge poppyseed bagel in two. Toast the halves lightly. On one side, spread Branston pickles and arrange an extra-thin slice of excellent ham.

On the other side, spread a generous amount of ricotella. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and the swarm of poppyseeds that have fallen at the bottom of the paper bag the bagel came in – never let a good thing go to waste.

Close the sandwich, wrap it tightly. Decide not to wipe the counter right away. Aren’t those poppyseeds pretty?

Bring the sandwich to the office, and take it out during a lunchtime meeting. Enjoy your really really tasty concoction, under your coworkers’ green gaze, as they themselves munch on a mayo laden, processed chicken, cardboard bread sandwich.

Galette Repas… ou pas!

Galette Repas... ou pas!

This Galette Essene is a small loaf of sprouted cereals bread, which I found at my organic grocery store. I talked about a galette essénienne before, but this is a different animal : where my former galette was brittle and cracker-like, this one is a moist little thing.

The package, by calling it a “galette repas” proclaims it can be eaten as a whole meal. It came in different flavors, and I chose the white bean, tomato and basil. I brought it to work for lunch, along with some cherry tomatoes.

I was intrigued, I was curious, I was atiptoe, I was happy : it’s not everyday that you get to taste something entirely alien. I took a first bite. Interesting. The texture very cake-like, not too dense, and a sweet, earthy taste. I took a few more bites, thinking ha, isn’t this cool, I’m having cake for lunch, what a fine discovery.

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Leek and Ricotta Frittata

Leek and Ricotta Frittata

Food never tastes as good as when you are really hungry. And although the temptation is strong to just grab and scarf down the first thing that crosses your path (tasty or nasty, edible or otherwise), it’s a much better move to resist the urge, and pay attention : what does your stomach yearn for, what appeals to you the most, what would really fill that void, hit the spot?

If you do that, and if the demands of the grumbling monster inside can be reasonably met (I mean, sure, I want caviar too), this is when food tastes best.

When I found myself in that situation the other night, I opened the fridge, and spotted a bunch of leeks that needed to be used up (mmmm, leeks!), the opened package of ricotta (oooh, ricotta!) and a few eggs (yum, eggs!). I put a hand on my stomach and murmured : “Ricotta and Leek Frittata? How does that sound?”. A long, guttural growl of approbation echoed. I immediately got to work.

Sure enough, instant gratification it is not – but do you really see me running down the street to Le Mac Do? However, I have also found that once I let the monster know it shall be fed, once it sees I am indeed busying myself to do just that, it usually calms down and keeps quiet until the food is ready.

In passing, frittata means omelette in Italian (the stress is on the first syllable). I’m sure some of you can tell me more about the real way the Italians do it, but what is commonly called frittata outside of Italy is an oven-baked omelette : you usually start it in an oven-proof skillet, and then you flip it and put it in the warm oven to finish cooking. I skipped the skillet step, and I guess what I made could be considered a crustless quiche, but calling it a frittata is much more fun.

Besides, who could possibly resist the pleasure of saying…

La frittata è fatta!” *

* An expression which means – I am told – “that’s torn it!”, “the damage is done”.

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Ricottella de Poisat

Ricottella de Poisat

This package of ricotta was given to me by a passionate and very kind cheese maker from Grenoble, whom I met at the Salon du Fromage – a parting gift after our long conversation, during which we tasted the whole array of his products (and not your teensy scanty samples either), discussed their respective flavors and textures, personalities and benefits, and swapped recipe ideas.

It is sweet with a mildly acidic edge, and its texture, slightly curdled, doesn’t have much to do with the Finetta ricotta you find in grocery stores here.

We’ve enjoyed it simply on its own, with good crusty bread, but we’ve also combined it with lemon zest and a pinch of sugar to coat warm bow-shaped pasta ; we’ve used it in a frittata, as a sandwich spread, and we’ve had it for dessert, drizzled with maple syrup. As you will infer, we had quite a quantity!

Oh, and um… wanna see my ricotta naked?

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Lime and Ginger Melon Jam

Confiture de Melon au Gingembre et Citron Vert

[Lime and Ginger Melon Jam]

The truly magical thing about making your own jam is that they tell you to store the jars in a cool and dark place for a few months, to let the flavors develop fully. Oh sure, it is something of a heartbreak at first – you would so like to keep it close to you and dip the occasional finger in – but you know to be reasonable, you’ve been told to act like a grownup, so you relinquish and stash them at the back of a kitchen cabinet.

And life goes on, of course. Summer draws to a close, and fall, then winter, come and go with their own share of distractions and sweets and excitement. And all of a sudden, without a warning, spring is back! And you clean up the house! And the kitchen cabinets! And what do you find in there, all but forgotten, sitting side by side, cuddled up in the back? Your lovely lovely jars of summery jams.

And the following morning, it is with a renewed joy and high expectations that you pop open a jar of lime and ginger melon jam, and spread it generously on a big slice of bread.

Mmmmmm. So sweet and fragrant, so spicy and warm, with candied bits of ginger and lime peel, like tiny gems.

Well worth the wait.

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