April 2010


When people say, “Let’s meet for brunch this weekend,” I usually pass. In general I’m pretty punctual for appointments but on the weekend, I just can’t do it. There’s no weekend buzz killer than having to set the alarm clock even if it means going somewhere to eat. But when the invitation is, “Let’s have brunch at my place,” that changes the game altogether. There’s no rush to arrive on time so that everyone gets seated at once and you know that there will always be a big pot of coffee waiting for you as soon as you walk in.

This weekend was my turn to invite people over for brunch. However, since the weather forecast said it would be a beautiful day in Paris and my friends Jeremy and Florent have a rooftop terrace in the 6eme, they were hosting and I was cooking at their place.

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…why didn’t I start macerating strawberries earlier in life?

Today was Sunday, so I was at the Porte de Vanves farmer’s market and came back with a bounty of produce, including two baskets of strawberries. When I got home and tried them, they weren’t very flavorful.

Around the same time last year, I went farming for a few months and got to pick the first strawberries of the season straight from the vine. They were tiny and organic and bursting with flavor. Strawberries are such fragile fruit that they have to be eaten right away, so that’s where I came in handy.

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Needless to say, I kind of over did it.

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I was reading the Cooking Light food site and came upon “25 Most Common Cooking Mistakes” and there it was, exposing my ugly secret:

18. You try to rush the cooking of caramelized onions.

In theory, I love to caramelize onions. In fact, I love to caramelize the bejeezus out of everything — shallots, leeks, tomatoes, carrots — and usually always with success but when it comes to onions, I’m impatient and turn up the heat and constantly move the onions around, desperate for them to caramelize in twenty minutes, thirty max. So I always end up with crispy onions instead of soft, melty goodness.

It’s not like I actually believed that cookinglite.com was mocking my inability to caramelize onions — but maybe it was taunting me, just a little bit and that got the better of my cooking ego. Anyway, I happened to have a whole bag of onions. I was intent on perfecting the fine art of caramelization.

So I spent the next few minutes, eyes burning, in a frenzy, chopping, chopping, chopping, onion after onion and then putting them in a pan over very low heat:

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