Best Gifts for the French-Loving Cook

Gorgeous stove photo courtesy of La Cornue.

Do you have a cook in your life who loves all things French? A total Francophile who is sure he/she was français(e) in a previous life? Here’s a hand-picked selection of utensils and ingredients to Frenchify their kitchen with style!

This is one in a series of themed gift guides I am publishing this week; here’s the complete list of my best gift guides.

Best Cooking Gifts for Francophiles

French-style Kitchen Towels

French-Style Kitchen Towel

These French-style kitchen towels, simple and stylish, are made with highly absorbent cotton. (Hint: The pros always have one tied to the waist of their apron.)

French bread knife

Opinel Bread Knife

I am a big fan of this French-made bread knife from Opinel, an 1890 company based in Savoie. It is lovely to look at, the beech wood handle is comfortable to hold, and the stainless steel, slightly curved, serrated blade is super sharp. I have now given it as a gift to three different recipients, and the joy in their eyes cannot be faked.

Continue reading »

30-Minute Vegan Risotto with Kale and Mushrooms

Could there be anything more comforting, on a damp November night, than a beautiful plate of creamy risotto? The aromas dancing up to your nose, delivering the scents of fall in the form of soft kale ribbons and meaty morsels of mushrooms?

Well, sure, you say, that sounds more than okay. But risotto requires you to stand and stir, and I am tired. Yes, I reply, but. There is another way: you can cook risotto in the pressure cooker.

It is quite revolutionary, and I may very well incur the wrath and curse of generations of Italian mammas, but I need to share this: a super simple method that brings risotto from stove to table in thirty minutes flat, ingredient prep included.

That weeknight risotto seems a lot more realistic now, right?

Continue reading »

25 French Recipes for Thanksgiving

Gorgeous stove photo courtesy of La Cornue.

Thanksgiving isn’t a thing in my own very French family, but I have many American friends in Paris who do celebrate it.

They usually host their special meal on the Saturday following the actual Thanksgiving Thursday, since French companies and schools don’t consider it a holiday (obv.).

A few years ago, it was a real challenge to find a whole turkey to roast in Paris in November — easier around Christmas — but Parisian butchers have gotten the memo, and have started advertising turkeys to their American customers, in varying levels of English. Ordering in advance is a must. (If you’re nervous about this, read my tips on Paris butcher shops.)

Through my extended family and friends, I have been fortunate to partake in a few Thanksgiving meals over the years, on both sides of the Atlantic. The feeling of warmth and the amazing food are not soon forgotten.

And when I am invited, I like to contribute dishes that are both French in spirit, but fit nicely into the Thanksgiving traditions.

So here are my suggestions of French recipes for Thanksgiving, if you want to add a little Gallic flair to your all-American celebration. Did you know French settlers actually preceded the Mayflower Pilgrims by several decades in holding the first Thanksgiving service in the New World?

Continue reading »

Goat Cheese and Herb Babka

When I lived in California, Saturday mornings saw me driving to the farmers market as bright and early as I possibly could, to get my fill of gorgeous produce and crisp morning air.

I would stroll around from favorite stall to favorite stall, including the cornucopian mushroom stand we still talk about with stars in our eyes. And when I was done with my “need” purchases — you know, grownup stuff like fruits and vegetables and bread and eggs — I would start weighing my “want” options.

The market treat that most frequently got my vote came from the little Russian pastry table that stood in one corner of the market. The woman there sold a marvellous poppy seed pastry that was all dark swirls and golden, sticky crests. Back home, I would slice it thinly and eat it with tea, checking my teeth for stray poppy seeds when I was done.

Despite moving home to Paris, I never could get that pastry out of my head. Alas, I did not know the name for it — it was always a point-and-smile kind of transaction — and my research led me nowhere. It was not a rugelach, it was not a kolache, it was not a makovník… but what was it?

And then, our blessed Internet did its magic. Through its grapevine and Pinterest (follow me there!) I learned of something that was gaining incredible popularity: the chocolate babka or krantz cake, a yeasted cake of Eastern European Jewish origin that is rolled up and twisted to form multiple layers of attraction.

Goat Cheese and Herb Babka

Continue reading »

Cinnamon Recipes: 263 Things To Do With It, Part I

Ahhh, fresh cinnamon, you amazing spice you.

Whether it’s used as a subtle accent or a more assertive note, cinnamon adds a one-of-a-kind layer of warmth to many preparations, sweet or savory. It can boost the taste of other ingredients and deepen the overall flavor of dishes, sometimes acting as a barely recognizable, “secret” ingredient.

A little while ago I asked you to share your best cinnamon recipes, and you submitted such brilliant, inspired cinnamon ideas that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to compile this rich list of suggested uses for this wonderful, versatile spice.

As we head into the holiday season, I give this list to you in two installments. Ideas from the realm of sweets below; savory, beverage, and non-food uses follow in Part II. Enjoy!

About the cinnamon I use

I am in love with the fresh cinnamon I order from Cinnamon Hill, a small company that specializes in sourcing and selling the highest-quality, freshest cinnamon from Sri Lanka and Vietnam (ordinary cinnamon usually comes from China or Indonesia). I get whole sticks, and grate them with the beautifully crafted (and highly giftable!) cinnamon grater that Cinnamon Hill has designed. Truly, you don’t know what cinnamon tastes like until you’ve tried freshly harvested, freshly grated, top-grade cinnamon, and it makes an amazing difference in this recipe.

Continue reading »

Get the newsletter

Receive FREE email updates with all the latest recipes, plus exclusive inspiration and Paris tips. You can also choose to be notified when a new post is published.

View the latest edition of the newsletter.