Monthly Archives: October 2010

  • Cookbook Review: Around My French Table Cookbook Review: Around My French Table

    Cookbook Review: Around My French Table

Cookbook Review: Around My French Table

  I’m going to cut to the chase here. Dorie Greenspan’s “Around My French Table” is my favourite new cookbook. In fact, with just a couple of months to go until the end of the year, I am going to be so bold as to say this is potentially the best cookbook of 2010. I first came across Greenspan’s blog when I read one of her charming posts on Paris. Voila, I thought to myself, a kindred spirit. A foodie who loved Paris enough to live there for many years. Of course, I have never lived in Paris but I try to visit every few years and dream about a time in the future when I can retire there for part of the year. When I received “Around My French Table” in the mail, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I have several cookbooks proclaiming to be the ultimate French cuisine compendiums (Julia Child’s […]

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  • Hazelnut-almond financiers redux Hazelnut-almond financiers redux

    Hazelnut-almond financiers redux

Hazelnut-almond financiers redux

  I am a micromanager at the best of times and one of the ways that manifests itself is my obsessive checking of my blog stats. I can’t help but wonder – who keeps misspelling my surname as Nercessian to come to this blog? And who are the readers in Afghanistan? Also, are financiers molds really that hard to find that so many people find my blog by Googling those keywords? (Please, for the love of all things chocolate, reveal yourselves!) In fact, they are hard to find and I bought my silicone financiers molds at eBay from a purveyor in New York City. And after many, many, many months I used them.Many moons ago I used the recipe from Clotilde Dusoulier’s book to make financiers and blogged about it. I followed the recipe almost exactly last time, and they were delicious and impossibly moist, but I couldn’t help but think […]

  • Bobby Flay’s pumpkin pie with cinnamon crunch and bourbon-maple whipped cream Bobby Flay’s pumpkin pie with cinnamon crunch and bourbon-maple whipped cream

    Bobby Flay’s pumpkin pie with cinnamon crunch and bourbon-maple whipped cream

Bobby Flay’s pumpkin pie with cinnamon crunch and bourbon-maple whipped cream

  I have to admit I was wary when making this pie from Bobby Flay’s new book “Throwdown!”, which features recipes from his cooking challenge show on Food Network. For one, whenever he is challenged on his baking skills, he is nervous because he knows baking is not his forte. Second, even he acknowledges taking the easy way out by making a graham cracker crust rather than making a pastry crust. Third, he admits the “Throwdown” show audience booed him for using pumpkin puree from a can. Well, he won the challenge. So when my co-worker and I agreed to bring pumpkin pie leftover from our Thanksgiving celebrations, and be judged by our peers in an informal “Throwdown” of our own,  I was feeling pretty unbeatable. After all, I’m the more domestic of the two of us – married with a kid and I bake all the time, while my competitor […]

  • Dorie Greenspan’s Nutella Tartine Dorie Greenspan’s Nutella Tartine

    Dorie Greenspan’s Nutella Tartine

Dorie Greenspan’s Nutella Tartine

  Where a North American after-school snack might be a glass of milk and cookies, the French goûter is often a pain au chocolat. Sometimes, Dorie Greenspan says in her new cookbook “Around My French Table” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) it might even be an open-faced chocolate sandwich. This may seem ridiculous to Canadians, and Americans, but it’s not unusual in Europe where Nutella is as popular as peanut butter is here. Even in the Netherlands, my good friend Elsbeth served me chocolate shavings on toast for breakfast when I stayed with her in Utrecht. This recipe is French pastry chef Pierre Hermé’s interpretation of the after-school treat (you may know him as the master of macarons).I still need to review Greenspan’s book, which came to me via the good people at Thomas Allen, but in the meantime I am imploring you to make this, eat this, even if you make nothing else off […]

  • Barefoot Contessa’s brioche loaves Barefoot Contessa’s brioche loaves

    Barefoot Contessa’s brioche loaves

Barefoot Contessa’s brioche loaves

I made this recipe out of laziness. I couldn’t find any brioche or challah to buy for one of Dorie Greenspan’s tartine recipes in either of my local grocery stores and I didn’t feel like driving to my favourite French bakery to buy any. So, I made some myself. Once again, Ina Garten’s “Barefoot in Paris” book came through with a fail-proof recipe. It sounds like a lot of trouble to make, but it’s nearly effortless. If you’re not familiar with brioche, it is a French bread verging on a sweet with a high egg and butter content that translates into a tender crumb and a dark, golden, flaky crust. It’s ideal to use when making French toast, bread pudding, or even to toast and spread with a thin layer of butter. I used to wonder what all the fuss was about when my mother would fall into raptures over brioche. Even […]

  • Halloween creepy cobweb cupcakes Halloween creepy cobweb cupcakes

    Halloween creepy cobweb cupcakes

Halloween creepy cobweb cupcakes

I’m so very behind on my blogging, I have a number of cookbook reviews on hold as well as some fabulous desserts but I can’t resist posting a photo of these creepy cobweb cupcakes because they are timely and I am a journo and I am nothing if not timely. After all, I have a pumpkin on my doorstep, an Elmo costume in my son’s closet and a gigantic bag of teeth-rotting chocolate-coated candy in my basement. Yup, Halloween is just around the corner and you probably have a costume party or two to attend. Rather than the ubiquitous caramel apples, take these as host gifts instead and you’ll seem thoughtful and gifted all at once.I made these cupcakes using a simple vanilla recipe, but really you can use any cupcake base. The book that I got this idea from suggested using a pumpkin muffin as a base but some children may […]

  • Nigella’s chocolate banana muffins Nigella’s chocolate banana muffins

    Nigella’s chocolate banana muffins

Nigella’s chocolate banana muffins

  This recipe comes to us from Nigella’s latest behemoth cookbook “Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home,” which I will be reviewing in short order so stay tuned. In the meantime, though, this was one of the first recipes I marked after leafing through the book at a galloping pace. I leave for work so early during the week I don’t get to have breakfast with my son so I try to make him something special for breakfast on the weekends. On this particular weekend, my son was boycotting any and all fruits so I decided to sneak some bananas into his diet by way of these muffins. He’s not much of a chocolate fan, so I was taking a risk.In her recipe, which you can also find online, Nigella says these muffins are so darkly delicious they are begging to be served as a dessert alongside coffee […]

  • New York, New York Super Crumb Cake New York, New York Super Crumb Cake

    New York, New York Super Crumb Cake

New York, New York Super Crumb Cake

  It may have been seeing the Cake Boss waxing poetic about the huge palmfuls of crumbs on the crumb cake at Carlo’s Bakery on the Food Network, but one Sunday night I was suddenly seized with the feeling that I must make crumb cake. I had never eaten it before, but I imagined it to be warm, moist, with a hint of cinnamon, and perfect alongside a steaming mug of coffee. Comfort food at its sweetest.Fortunately for me, I had recently purchased Jill O’Connor’s “Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey Treats for Kids” just because I am so utterly besotted with O’Connor’s earlier tome “Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey.” (Jill, if you are out there, can we be friends?) And sure enough, my latest cookbook addition included O’Connor’s take on crumb cake, which became popular in New York with the arrival of German and Dutch immigrants in the 1800s. You can find […]