April 2014 Desktop Calendar

At the beginning of every month in 2014, I will be offering a new wallpaper to apply on the desktop of your computer, with a food-related picture and a calendar of the current month.

As a new feature this year, the desktop calendar is available in two versions: a US-friendly version that features Sunday as the first day of the week, and a French version (shown above) that complies with international standards, featuring Monday as the first day of the week.

Our calendar for April is a picture of the springtime pot-au-feu I am gearing up to make now that the first spring vegetables are appearing on market stalls.

Instructions to get your calendar are below.

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March Favorites

Gluten-free and organic cookies by Belgian company Generous.

Gluten-free and organic cookies by Belgian company Generous.

A few of my favorite finds and reads for March:

~ A vegetarian’s alphabet.

~ Absolutely delicious gluten-free and organic cookies from Belgium, with irresistible packaging as a bonus. I have a special weakness for Charlotte Chocolat and Céline Citron.

~ What can you eat for 10€ (that’s about $14) in Paris?

~ Networking is for everyone.

~ Taste testing for the best lemon tarts in Paris.

~ How is it that honey keeps forever?

~ Looking forward to Superbarquette, a street food festival at Paris’ Wanderlust April 11 to 13.

~ The 30-second habit with a lifelong impact.

~ Cannot wait for strawberry season to commence in earnest so I can make this meringue roulade.

~ Eating beef in Paris.

~ A guide to Paris’ best coffee shops.

~ A tour of British accents in a minute and a half.

Any favorites of your own to share this month?

Cherry Clafoutis with Chestnut Flour

I attended the Omnivore festival in Paris last week, a fabulous three-day event during which inspiring chefs climb up on stage to demo dishes and talk about their cuisine, and the sentiment that was expressed by several of them mirrors my own: we are currently going through the toughest time of year for the produce-oriented cook.

It no longer feels like winter, and certainly we’ve had our share of cold-weather vegetables, but spring is not quite there, and the bounty it promises has yet to be delivered. We are stuck in this limbo of non-season, having to make do with what’s left of the winter months — which isn’t actually very much — as we dream of pea shoots and strawberries.

Recently, this limbo of non-season has made me pine for — of all things — cherry clafoutis.

Fruit is especially hard. The apples and pears are all from storage, and the citrus is a wan version of itself — all pith and little flavor — so we’re mostly left with exotic or frozen fruit.

Recently, this state of affair has made me pine for cherry clafoutis, and more specifically this clafoutis, which I’ve had bookmarked for seven years, ever since it was first published. I planned to make it with frozen sour cherries, which can be easily procured from the all-frozen-foods grocery store the French love so.

It is a slightly unorthodox clafoutis, in that the egg whites are whipped to create a mouthfeel that is moist and fluffy, rather than the more classic, flan-like texture. It is delicious.

Instead of using regular wheat flour, I chose to make my clafoutis with the chestnut flour I brought back from Corsica. I intuited that it would go well with the flavor of the cherries, much like hazelnut flour flattered them in this loaf cake; I am happy to report my intuition was spot-on.

As for the cherry pits, it is up to you to keep them in or out: tradition leaves the cherries unpitted — supposedly this adds a hint of almond flavor — but having to maneuver the pits around your mouth can be a severe hindrance to your enjoyment, and certainly if you’re serving this to young children, the pits need to go. (The frozen sour cherries I used are already pitted, so that was that.)

Join the conversation!

Are you experiencing the same lull in seasons where you live? How do you deal with it? And do you ever make clafoutis ?

Cherry Clafoutis with Chestnut Flour

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Cauliflower Salad à la Café Pinson

Café Pinson is one of Paris’ most delicious lunch spots for vegetable lovers. Co-founded by Agathe Audouze and driven by her interest in naturopathy and personal history with food intolerances, it focuses on fresh, seasonal, and healthful foods, with no dairy ingredients and (mostly) no gluten, whole grains and unrefined sweeteners, and low-temperature cooking to preserve nutrients.

It doesn’t hurt that the interior design was created by Dorothée Meilichzon, who excels at putting together inviting and cozy spaces, with mismatched vintage-style furniture and whimsical details that seem right out of a Pinterest board.

So hungry are Parisians for that kind of food that it took about a week for the crowds to descend upon Café Pinson.

So hungry are Parisians for that kind of food in a non-granola environment that it took about a week for the crowds to descend upon the original location in the upper Marais. This success led to the opening of a second Café Pinson, this one in the super hot Faubourg Poissonnière neighborhood, where a new exciting spot sprout up every minute and a half.

I was recently invited to have lunch there with Agathe Audouze herself to sample some of the menu offerings, and among them I was particularly taken with the romanesco salad. I’m sure you’ve seen that fractal cabbage, light-green to yellow in hue, and handled in cooking much like cauliflower. Here, it was served cold, dressed in a vegan mayonnaise that was tahini-based, as Agathe explained, and topped with a happy sprinkle of brown flax seeds.

It was tangy and rich, a most appealing way of eating Brassicaceae. I noted the idea in my head and promptly reproduced it, not with romanesco but with cauliflower, which I had on hand. It was just as lovely in a home context as at the café, and I am adding it to my cauliflower repertoire, along with my other love-it-to-death favorite, the Cauliflower à la Mary Celeste.

Join the conversation!

Do you make cauliflower salads? What’s your favorite way of dressing them? And have you ever tried romanesco?

Café Pinson
6 rue du forez, Paris 3ème // +33 (0)9 83 82 53 53 // map
58 rue du faubourg poissonnière, Paris 10ème // +33 (0)1 45 23 59 42 // map

The original romanesco salad at Café Pinson.

The original romanesco salad at Café Pinson.

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Parents Who Cook: Aria Beth Sloss

Aria Beth Sloss is a writer, and the author of the novel Autobiography of Us, which has just come out in paperback.

She also happens to married to Dan Barber, a hero of mine and the iconic chef of Blue Hill in NYC, where they both live. I’ve been in touch with Aria ever since I published this fridge Q&A with Dan: I had mentioned her novel was about to be published, and she thanked me and offered to send me an advance copy, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Dan and Aria had a little girl last year, and of course, as part of my Parents Who Cook series, I had to ask how the household’s cooking life has changed since then. Aria shared her approach and tips with great generosity, and I hope you enjoy delving into it — and trying the two recipes she provided — as much as I did.

clotilde

Can you tell us a few words about your daughter? Age, name, temperament?

Aria Beth Sloss

Edith turned one last month. As divine retribution for all the times I scoffed at parents who ascribed real, complex temperaments to their infants, Edith has been the person she is now since the day she was born — cheerful, opinionated, determined, and hilarious. I never dreamed someone so small could make me laugh so hard.

clotilde

Did having a child change the way you cook?

Aria Beth Sloss

I’m embarrassed to answer this, because the change has less to do with the way I cook than the fact that I find myself cooking at all. I’ve always been a baker; my husband is a chef, so for many years, we had the perfect arrangement. Then we found ourselves with this new member of the household, who couldn’t, turns out, survive on cake and cookies.

When Edith started eating solids, around six months, we took what felt like a huge leap in faith by deciding to forgo purees (my heart was in my mouth for most of the first month’s meals) and give her modified versions (less salt, no windpipe-sized beans, etc) of what we ate instead. [Note from Clotilde: this is an approach often referred to as baby-led weaning.] Anxieties aside, it seems to have suited us all very well.

We found ourselves with this new member of the household, who couldn’t, turns out, survive on cake and cookies.

When my husband is home for dinner, he makes dishes very similar to those he made before our daughter was born — beautiful omelets, grain and roasted vegetable salads, tartines with a soft cheese, a lacing of vinegar, and a sprinkling of herbs — and we all eat them together.

On the nights he’s at the restaurant, I’ve developed a few fail-safe recipes: lentil soup (who knew babies like soup?), less aesthetically-pleasing but acceptable omelets, avocado mash on toast, baked sweet potato with miso butter [recipe below!], and a few simple pasta dishes like soba with toasted sesame oil and broccoli. Plus, I’ve started experimenting with sprouted wheat flour, which makes baked goods a lot more nutritious.

Aria and Edith in the kitchen at Blue Hill.

Aria and Edith in the kitchen at Blue Hill.

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