Modern Potluck: A Giveaway!

Modern Potluck

Have you ever been invited to a summer potluck and found yourself with a bad case of the cook’s block and no idea what to bring?

Former Food & Wine editor Kristin Donnelly has just released a cookbook for that very situation: in Modern Potluck: Beautiful Food To Share, she highlights perfectly shareable meals sure to impress at your next gathering.

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Chocolate Madeleines

Chocolate Madeleines

In French food culture, kids aren’t offered snacks at all hours of the day. This is often pointed out as a plus when comparing food habits between French and American children.

(I will note that I never go out of the house with my sons without taking something to eat for them. Newsflash: French kids are not immune to low-blood-sugar meltdowns. My go-to snacks then are dried figs or dried apricots, these crackers, and/or almond butter sandwiches.)

As a nation however, we are religiously attached to the mid-afternoon mini-meal we refer to as le goûter. This is our chance to share homemade treats, and it is the happy outlet for most of my baking endeavors.

Perfect chocolate madeleines

On weekends, when my sons have friends over to play, I jump at the chance to whip up a batch of these chocolate madeleines, which are perfect to me. They have a deep chocolate-y flavor, a nice “bump” that everyone loves to bite off first, and they’re just the right level of sweetness for kids and grownups to appreciate them.

The recipe is adapted from these perfect madeleines from Blé Sucré pastry chef Fabrice Le Bourdat. I’ve added melted chocolate and cacao powder to the batter, and adjusted the sugar and butter amounts accordingly.

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Best of July

A Bench on Avenue Trudaine

Have you had a chance to go on vacation yet? Will you be skipping town later, or not at all this year? Whatever your situation, I hope you’re having a beautiful summer full of small joys and vibrant flavors. Seeking summertime inspiration? Here are my best summer recipes!

Best of July 2016

• I love height-of-the-summer tomatoes so much it hurts! The producer who delivers a weekly selection of vegetables to our door every Monday has switched to full-on tomato mode with fruits of every color, every shape, and fabulous flavor; I couldn’t be happier. If you want to see what his selection looks like on any given week, watch this Facebook Live video. As for my favorite tomato recipes, check out my panzanella, my gazpacho and the tomato panade that’s included in The French Market Cookbook.

• I was out running some errands in the grands magasins neighborhood (= the Printemps and Galeries Lafayette department stores on Boulevard Haussmann) and I dropped by Café Pouchkine. Their blueberry bostock caught my eye, and I’m glad it did: it’s a slice of brioche garnished with almond cream à la almond croissant with a blueberry filling tart enough to balance out the overall sweetness of the pastry. Mind-blowing!

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Feta and Fresh Herb Quick Bread

Feta and Fresh Herb Quick Bread

You can divide the French population in two camps: those who go on vacation in July, and those who skip town in August.

My own family was unequivocally juillettiste (August vacationers are called aoûtiens) so Bastille Day found us in the French Alps every year, crossing our fingers that the summer thunderstorms wouldn’t rain on our parade, quite literally.

These are the sweetest of childhood memories, the years blurring together into a single evening: the walk through the village carrying candle-lit lanterns, the fireworks, the stars in our young eyes, and the soft, unique feeling of being scooped up from the car fast asleep and carried into bed late at night.

As I became an adult, I soon lost the habit of celebrating le quatorze juillet: crowds make me anxious, and after a failed attempt to watch the Eiffel Tower fireworks from the heights of Montmartre (surprise, surprise, others had had the same idea), I pretty much gave up.

But now that I have kids, it’s different; now is the time their own childhood memories are formed (no pressure, right?). And as it turns out, my American friend and fab Pilates instructor* Emily recently moved into an apartment with a breathtaking view of the Eiffel Tower, and she threw a small party for some friends and their children to enjoy the fireworks**.

Dinner was assembled potluck-style, and the theme was “Typically French”.

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Best Eats in Aix-en-Provence, From a Local

Aix-en-Provence La Rotonde

Travel season is upon us, and I want to make sure you see and taste the best France has to offer! When it comes to Paris I’ve got you covered, but there are many other cities with exciting and delicious things for you to experience. So I’ve asked a team of French bloggers from different cities to share their favorite spots, and I am offering them to you in this new series.

In Aix-en-Provence, Clara recommends…

Clara Onuki Aix-en-Provence To explore Aix, we will be following Clara Onuki‘s footsteps ! Clara is a private chef and culinary instructor. She previously worked as a chef at hotels and restaurants before switching to freelance work. She specializes in healthy cooking and Japanese fusion, and is all about high-quality ingredients from small producers. Check out her site to know more about her services.

Aix-en-Provence, Clara says, is a lovely city where life is good. It has retained its old-world charm, with tiny cobblestoned streets, multiple greenmarkets, historical buildings, and the many fountains it is known for.

Aix denizens are true epicureans, often found on terraces (thanks to the Provençal sun!) sipping a happy hour drink, or biking around to run their errands in the small food shops.

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