Tag Archives: Paris

A Bastille Day for the Memories

Eiffel Tower
Last year for Bastille Day I was lucky enough to be in Paris for a reunion of a bunch of my friends that live abroad. Bastille Day was the occasion in which our trip was planned around and the center piece of the trip was a picnic at Champ de Mars, which is the park at the base of the Eiffel tower, where they have a big firework display to mark the occasion. Bastille Day (the 14th of July) was a delightful day of wandering about Paris, soaking in the sights, and catching up with my lovely friends most of which I had not seen in over 2 years. We enjoyed catching some rays at The Jardin de Tuileries, eating at brassieres, and chatting about the going ons of the past years. As the day wore on it was time to collect the rest of the group in order to prep for our picnic. We were a bit worried that it was going to rain for the big event since the weather could not make up it’s mind between sunshine and down pours (which luckily only happened as we ate). Thankfully for our plans the sky decided to clear up for us just as we were on the way to go shopping. Once we collected the rest of our group all 15 of us headed off to the local grocery store to split up and buy supplies. We ended up with a large array of meats, cheese, bread, and plenty of other snacks, of course what we got was not the best Paris has to offer but for the prices and the fact it was all from a supermarket it was quite great. We of course also picked up some wine, you know only 13 bottles worth and a few other drinks, since we knew this was going to be a risky move because we had heard that during the festivities that alcohol is not allowed in the park we decided to not risk getting a mini Heineken keg (that was the dutch boys idea in the first place). We knew it would be a risk but we figured we might as well try because what is a holiday picnic with out wine, at the very least we could always locate ourselves somewhere a bit further away from the action.
Eiffel Tower

When we reached the park, as expected, there were Police checking everyone’s bags as they entered the main area, we figured that we should move on to somewhere where it was okay to have our wine but as we were coordinating where we go someone in the group found an entry point where no one was checking bags. Magically we were able to sneak into the park all the wine which was quite an amazingly hilarious thing. Of course through the whole time we had to be on guard and hide what we were drinking since the police were patrolling the park for this particular reason but that made it extra fun and memorable. Thankfully fate was endlessly on our side on this day and we were never found out even though there were a few close calls.
Eiffel Tower
After a few hours of eating, drinking, and chatting dusk turned into night and the fireworks began. I have to say that the fireworks were some of the best I have seen and I have been to some impressive displays, though part of it could have been the fact the majestic Eiffel Tower was a part of the view. The Eiffel tower was even dressed up for the day with a disco ball hanging from it’s peak and lights that were a part of the show. To accompany the fireworks there of course was a speakers around the park playing euro pop/ electronic music. It was a truly epic day and evening in every respect and sealed my forever love for Paris.
Eiffel Tower
This particular Bastille Day will forever live in my memories and I feel that I should commemorate it by celebrating my own way back home this year. So I am hoping that everything works out and that I am able to plan a Picnic/ Barbeque at the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. As I was out of town for 4th of July (Travel Post about the Oregon Coast coming soon) and was unable to contribute to our picnic I want to go all out for Bastille day but we will see what happens but for now I am planning to make a few different tapas for snacking and a Blue Cheese Frozen Yougurt number for dessert. So stay tuned in for that.
Eiffel Tower

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , ,

The Great Macaron: The First Attempt

Macaron
I recently bought the Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel and while browsing the beautiful pages of the book I came across the Macaron recipe and was re-inspired to finally attempt them. I have been meaning to make them forever because of the normal reasons that they are so cute and you can make them in a million different flavor and flavor combinations. I was always hesitant because of everything I read about them being so temperamental, but have always wanted to make them so this weekend I decided to just go for it I mean what could really go wrong? Its just food. So before I set out to buy supplies I did some extra research on the web for tips and tricks to make sure I got the best results possible and I found this wonderful post on Macrons by The Brave Tart.  Once I found this recipe and technique I decided to go with it since it was a lot less fussy than the Bouchon version and since I am not a fussy person at all this really appealed a lot to me.

While in this recipe you do not have to age the egg whites I did leave mine out for a bit while I was making french buttercream for the filling. I thought since I am doing this by hand leaving the eggs out a bit might make my whisking job easier. I do not have a stand mixer or a handheld electric mixer so I had to do everything totally by hand which was an effort but not as bad as I would have thought it would be. When piping the cookies out they became a little off shaped because my pastry bag skills need to be improved upon but otherwise they did not come out too bad. The first tray were hollow because I accidentally overcooked them. The cookies were not releasing from the parchment because I accidentally used the less slick side of the parchment which I now know not to do in the future. The second tray of cookies were better in terms of hollowness but the shells cracked, I don’t think I rapped the pan enough and that pan in particular is cheap and has its own issues to begin with.

For this first attempt I did not add any flavoring or coloring to the mix to really focus on the technique. I filled them with a buttercream mixed with a blueberry/ pomegranate preserve for simplicity sake. I can’t wait to make the next round more exciting and even better than the first attempt!

Check out these wonderful posts for some more hints and tricks for Macarons and remember that Macarons are only as scary as you make them out to be and even ‘failure’ is tasty!

Hollow Pursuits by the Brave Tart

How to make macarons: what’s working for me right now by eat. live. travel. write.

Why do my macarons have hollow shells? A work in progress. by eat. live. travel. write.

Tagged , , , ,

Wanderlust

Paris
Paris, France March 2011

Wan·der·lust noun \ˈwän-dər-ˌləst\ : strong longing for or impulse toward wandering (Merriam- Webster definition) known as Fernweh in German.

While this is primarily a food blog travel is an important part of my life and an important influence in ones cooking amongst other things. Traveling and wandering off the beaten path is one of the greatest ways to start understanding the world more and learning to look at everything differently. If you can save up some money and take a trip to a place unknown to you and see what you learn and taste in the process. I hope in the coming months to post a little bit more in relation to travel and food and how all are connected.

This post is just a small homage to my past travels and my upcoming ones this April and hopefully can help to inspire some travels of your own.

Tiny City
Nuremberg, Germany July 2012

Into the Void
Paris, France July 2012

Asilomar State Beach
Pacific Grove, California, USA September 2011

Church

Nuremberg, Germany July 2012

*Please note all the photos in this post are my personal photos, please do not use without consent*

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

A Tale of 3 Countries: Parisian Gnocchi Cheese Bake

ParisianGnocchi_02

Over this past weekend my friend came over for dinner and I was having the hardest time deciding what to make. Since I had been on a crepe kick my mind was still in french food land. After much pursing of the internet and my cookbooks this brought me to Parisian Gnocchi, which is an very specific application of Pâte à Choux. From there I decided that it would be great to make a riff on the delicious pesto Käsespätzle I had while in Germany last summer with a nod to American style mac and cheese. This dish became a fitting ode to my Europe trip in July that included a stop in Paris and Germany and a good lead up to my upcoming trip in the spring.

While I was at the grocery store the basil was not looking so hot but the Italian parsley was looking good so I decided to opt for a parsley based pesto instead of the traditional Basil. When I ended up making the ‘pesto’ it became a sauce that was reminiscent of pesto but defiantly not the traditional application. All in all the dish turned out really tasty and while it took a little while to make because of the steps involved (many of which though can all be done in advance so it can come together quickly) and was a much more sophisticated dinner offering than your traditional mac and cheese

PARISIAN GNOCCHI CHEESE BAKE

Serves 2 as a main and 4 as a side

You will need

1 recipe worth of Parsley ‘Pesto’ Parisian Gnocchi (See below) cooked and drained

1 Medium Spanish Onion

2 Cloves Garlic

1/2 Tsp Kosher Salt

1 Cup Cheese sauce (see below for the ‘recipe’)

Some reserved grated cheese from the Cheese sauce (Since I used all the cheese I had grated in the cheese sauce I topped the dish with Feta since it was what I had on hand)

8×8 Baking Pan

14″ Saute Pan or Cast Iron Skillet

1 Tbsp Butter

ParisianGnocchi_01

TO ASSEMBLE

Slice the cloves of garlic into thin slices

Cut the onion in half and dice 1/2 the onion into mid size pieces and slice the other half into thin slices

Heat up your saute pan on high heat and add the butter once the butter is hot add all the onions and salt, then turn the heat down to medium. Cook the onions until they are lightly caramelized.

Once the onions are lightly caramelized add in the garlic and cook just long enough to brown the garlic.

Add in the Gnocchi and cook until the Gnocchi are starting to pick up a little color (make sure to mix periodically so they don’t burn)

While the Gnocchi are cooking preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and Grease your baking dish. (This would also be a good time to make the cheese sauce {see below})

Once everything is incorporated and the Gnocchi have started to turn brown on at least one side turn off the stove and remove from the heat.

Pour the contents of your Saute pan into the pot you used to make the cheese sauce (with the cheese sauce still in it) and mix to fully cover everything.

Empty the contents of the pot into your greased baking sheet and top with your reserved cheese.

Place the baking pan into the oven for 10 – 15 minutes until the cheese on top has started to melt and brown.

Remove from the oven and let cool for just a few minutes so the cheese can set slightly and cut into pieces and serve.

ParisianGnocchi_03

PARSLEY ‘PESTO’ PARISIAN GNOCCHI

Parisian Gnocchi is just Pâte à Choux dough (typically used for puff pastries, eclairs, etc) that is piped and cut into pieces over boiling water to make a pasta. This recipe is based on the ratio in Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking. These Gnocchi can be made in advance and stored for a day in the refrigerator.

8oz Water

3oz Butter

1 Tsp Salt

4 oz All Purpose Flour (sifted works best)

4 Large Eggs

about 1 Cup Minced fresh Italian (flat leaf parsley)

1 Tsp Fresh Ground Pepper

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

2 Cloves Garlic Minced

Small Food Processor or a ‘magic bullet’ blender works too

Small Saute Pan

2 4 Quart pots (or 1 just wash in between procedures)

Kitchen Shears

Wooden Spoon

Sheet Pan lined with a clean kitchen towel

Pastry bag with 1/2″ Tip or Large Zip Lock Bag

A ‘Spider’ or another device to scoop out the finished pasta from the water

The Procedure

Parsley ‘Pesto’

Start by mincing your garlic and parsley mix together with the olive oil 1/2 tsp of the salt and all the pepper in your food processor.

Blend together until a thick but rather smooth paste forms.

Heat up the saute pan and add your parsley mixture to the pan.

Saute briefly to pull out the garlic flavors and to meld all the flavors together.

Remove from the heat and place to the side.

Gnocchi

Place one of the 4 Quart Pots on the stove over high heat and add the water, butter, and 1/2 tsp of salt and bring to a simmer.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the flour stirring rapidly until a paste forms and the dough pulls away from the side of the pot. Keep stirring for about a minute longer to evaporate off some of the excess water in the dough.

Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. While the mix is cooling crack your eggs into glass mixing cup for ease of incorporating in the next step.

While the dough is still warm but not hot add the first egg. Mix thoroughly until incorporated, the dough at first will seem like it does not want to except the egg but with enough mixing it will.

Repeat the last step egg by egg until they are all mixed in, making sure to not add a new egg until the previous one is fully incorporated.

Once all the eggs are incorporated mix in your parsley pesto until thoroughly mixed.

Prepare your pastry bag or ziploc bag and scoop out the dough into it.

While the mixture cools fill your second 4 quart pot 2/3 of the way to the top with water and bring to a boil and set up your station. Near where you are boiling the water set up a sheet pan with a clean kitchen towel on it for draining the pasta.

Once the water is boiling pipe out the mixture cutting it with kitchen shears about every 1inch (if using a ziploc bag cut off the corner creating about a 1/2″ hole first). It is best to work in small batches so the pasta does not over cook while you are piping the rest.

When the gnocchi rise test them for doneness (they should could about 2min total, use your judgment based on your set up and the size of your pasta)

Once cooked remove from the pot and lay out to dry on the cookie sheet lined with the towel and let cool.

After all the Gnocchi is cooked you can follow the assembly directions above or keep it in a ziploc bag in the refrigerator for up to a day before preparing the Cheese bake

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Gratuitous Food Photos: Paris & Istanbul – Summer 2012

Lunch in Paris

Fried Goat Cheese and Apple Salad at a Brassiere in Paris

Steak Frites in Paris

Steak Frites at a Brassiere in Paris

Breakfast in Istanbul

Sunday Brunch in Istanbul at The House Cafe

Turkish Coffee in Istanbul

Turkish Coffee in Istanbul at The House Cafe

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,