Seeded Multigrain Crackers

I love my trusty DSLR camera, but it weighs a ton, and lugging it even around my kitchen when I’m baking means I’m not as nimble as I’d like to be. (I’m a baker, not a photographer, as several people noted regarding my previous post.) So I treated myself to a new camera and am getting to work on making the pictures here more casual. Once I figure out what all those dials, knobs, and levers on it, that is.

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Caramelized Endive and Blue Cheese Tart

When I first heard about tarte Tatin, nothing sounded better to me. What first seems like way too many apples packed into a skillet, then caramelized and baked under a blanket of buttery pastry, then turned out and served warm, became one of my favorite desserts.

I’ve had recipes for them in several of my books, but also enjoy the savory version. I’ve seen upside down tarts made with fennel, tomatoes, carrots, and other root vegetables, but an upside-down caramelized tart with Belgian endive always appeals to me the most. The contrast between the slightly bitter, chewy, spears of endive, make the base for a perfect savory tart, especially in the winter. And I don’t think anyone would disagree.

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Double Chocolate Bundt Cake with Chocolate Glaze

One of the compelling things about food blogs is how they bring together people from all over the world. Cooking and eating is something we all have in common, no matter where we are from. Blogs have globalized cooking, erasing borders and boundaries. And I’ve enjoyed learning more about other people’s food and cooking, and meeting them as well.

Things have changed over the past few years, but a little over a decade ago, “link rolls” listed maybe a half-dozen blogs, and people would excitedly add new ones as they learned about them. One that stood out was Cafe Fernando, written by Cenk Sonmëzsoy. He started like most of us – sharing what he was eating and cooking, but eventually became known for his gorgeous photography, too.

I, and other readers of Cafe Fernando, weren’t the only ones who noticed him. Cenk got a publishing deal and spent six years working on his book, which was in Turkish. I was at a dinner party recently with some Turkish people who had non-Turkish spouses, and both sides agreed that Turkish is one of the most difficult languages to learn.

When I saw his book, I didn’t need to know any Turkish (although I can say, “Thank you,” “Goodbye,” and “hazelnut” in Turkish) — the book was so unique and beautiful that I didn’t need to understand any of words. Although I was hoping one day to be able to make the Hazelnut & Caramel Cookies, which were speaking my language.Continue Reading Double Chocolate Bundt Cake with Chocolate Glaze

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Giant Bean Gratin

I spent much of the fall and winter running around, while a pile of cookbooks waited patiently for me to cook from them. Now that I’m back in the saddle, and in the kitchen, I’m getting around to some of the many recipes that I’ve bookmarked. One of the first that caught my eye was the “Pizza beans” in Smitten Kitchen Every Day.

It also goes by the adult name, “Tomato and Gigante Bean Bake,” but since Deb Perelman, of Smitten Kitchen, has two kids, calling them “pizza” made them more alluring than “bean bake.” Me? I need no excuse to simmer up a pot of beans, especially in the winter, when I am looking for any excuse to keep the oven fires burning.Continue Reading Giant Bean Gratin

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Philadelphia & Pittsburg L’appart Book Events

On January 10, I’ll be in conversation with Beth Kracklauer of the Wall Street Journal discussing L’appart and signing books at White Whale Books in Pittsburgh, PA. The event is scheduled to start at 7pm but I’ll update this post with details and a link when it’s posted on their event page. (So check back here before the event, or call the store for additional details.)

And on January 12, I’ll be talking with Paul Bennett of Context Travel, and signing books at Barnes & Noble in Philadelphia at 7pm.

In conjunction with the Philadelphia book event, Context Travel is giving away a trip to Paris! Included is a 3-night stay at a hotel and spa, a private half-day tour with one of their expert guides, and a travel stipend. For more details and to enter, visit their website.

[Next month I’ll be at WHSmith in Paris on February 8th. You’re welcome to RSVP at that link.]

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Buckwheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ve always had an affinity for whole grains. I use all-purpose flour frequently in baking, but I like the hearty taste of whole-grains, such as whole-wheat flour in croissants and polenta in crisp topping, in spite of regular surveillance by the authenticity police. My argument back is that most things, like croissants and baguettes, were likely made with flour that was closer to whole grain flour than the refined flour that’s used today. So adding whole-grains to pastriesmay make them taste closer to the original versions, than the ones we make today.

In addition to winning an argument, chocolate chip cookies get a win from the addition from what are now called “alternative” flours, such as buckwheat flour, which is popular in France due to it being an essential ingredient in French traditional dishes like kig ha farzand galettes (buckwheat crpes). Since I always have a sack on hand, when writing my book, L’appart, I dipped into my bag of farine de sarrasin, also called bl noir, or black flour, to come up with a recipe for buckwheat chocolate cookies that I can’t stop making…and eating.

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Brown Butter Financiers

One my favorites, of all French pastries, is the financier. Enriched with nuts, and moistened with butter, almost every bakery you go into has them. They come in different sizes, shapes, and even flavors; almond is the most popular, but you’ll sometimes come across financiers made with ground hazelnuts or pistachios. I like them all.There are a few theories how this mini-gteaugot its curious name.

One is that, traditionally, they’re baked in small, rectangular molds. Once baked and unmolded, the little cakes resemble bars of gold. Another is that even adults in France are known to indulge in an afternoon sweet stop at their local bakery, for theirgoter.Because people who work in the financial industry normally wear nice outfits or suits, something that’s neat to eat is appreciated, so they can stay presentable when heading back to the office.

I don’t have to worry about that, nor has anything come out of my oven turned to gold. (Quelle dommage!) But when I found myself with some leftover brown butter from infusing it in bourbon for Brown Butter Old Fashioneds, since I treat butter like gold, instead of tossing it, it got repurposed as a base for a batch of financiers.

Using browned butter keeps the butter flavor even more in focus. Some people get a little anxious when they see dark specks in pastries and desserts; I once had a waiter ask me what the dark flecks in the vanilla ice cream were. When I told him they were vanilla beans, and asked him (incredulously) what he thought they were, he replied, “I thought they were dirt.”

So after you brown the butter, when pouring it out of the pan, you don’t want to scrape up too much of the dark bits at the bottom of the pan, but I don’t mind a few in my cakes (in fact, I prefer them), so don’t fret too much about having a few in your batter. These cakes are also very forgiving, which is why so many bakeries in France offer them. They’re easy to make, keep well, and are the perfect afternoon snack – or as the French say, unsnack.

Browned Butter Financiers
For financiers, I use mini-muffin tins, which are easily available. I’m not a fan of silicone bakeware but know that some people like it. This batter is pretty forgiving so can be baked in madeleine molds or even in larger muffin tins, filling them only about halfway. If you use another size mold, you’ll likely need to adjust the baking time; bake them until browned on top, and the feel just set in the center when you touch them.

As mentioned, I made these with leftover brown butter from the Brown Butter Old Fashioned recipe. I started with 4 ounces (8 tablespoons/115g) of butter, which yielded the amount called for in the recipe. If starting from scratch, and making your own brown butter, start with that amount of brown butter, then you can measure it out when it’s browned and cooled. (If you need a bit more butter, you can simply add a bit of melted butter to it, to reach the 2 1/2 oz/75g amount. There are links at the end of the post with detailed instructions on making brown butter.

Servings24 financiers

Ingredients

  • 1cup (140g)


    almond or hazelnut flour

  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (180g)


    sugar

  • 5tablespoons (45g)


    flour

  • generous pinch


    salt

  • 4large


    egg whites, at room temperature

  • 1/2 teaspoon


    vanilla or almond extract

  • 2 1/2 ounces (75g)


    brown butter,slightly warm (liquified)

Instructions
  1. 1. Preheat the oven to 375F/180C and butter the insides of 24 mini muffin tins generously with softened, not melted, butter, making sure the butter the upper rims of the indentations.

  2. 2. In a medium bowl, mix the almond or hazelnut powder, sugar, flour and salt. Stir in the egg whites and vanilla or almond extract, then the browned butter.

  3. 3. Fill each indentation of the mini muffin tins almost to the top. Rap the tins sharply on the counter to level the tops, then bake for 13 minutes, until nicely browned. Let the financiers cool in the tins, then remove them, using a sharp knife to help release them, if necessary.

Recipe Notes

Storage: The financiers can be stored in an air-tight container for up to one week. They can be frozen for up to two months.

Related Links

Brown butter Old Fashioned Cocktail

How to make brown butter(Serious Eats)

How to make brown butter video (Simply Recipes)

Summer Fruit Tart with Almond Cream

What is almond flour?

 

 

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Upcoming Lappart Events and Paris Trip Giveaway

 

December

I’ll be heading by train to Boston (yay – no airports!), for an appearance at Milk Streetcooking school with Chris Kimball. That event is sold-out but there’s an open-to-all event at Flour Bakery + Cafin Cambridge on December 13th with owner/baker Joanne Chang. If you plan to come, please RSVP so they know how many people to expect.

On December 19th at 7pm, I’ll in Brooklyn at Bedford Cheese Shop, in conversation with Ella Riley-Adams of Vogue.com…along with Romain! There will be copies of L’appart to sign for last-minute holiday gifts, and I suspect there may be cheese, too.


January

I’ll be riding the rails (or the glamorous bus) to Philadelphia for an event on January 12 at 7pm, at Barnes & Noblein Rittenhouse Square with my friends from Context Travel, who are offering a special Paris trip giveaway.

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Brown Butter Old Fashioned Cocktail

I recently did an event with Deb Perelmanfor our new books, L’appart and Smitten Kitchen Every Day. We’d both been traveling around, and not one, not two…but three times, we were in the same city at the same time, but didn’t see each other. One night, I was having dinner by myself before an event and after a two-hour slog through traffic, I needed a sip of something. While inching along on the clogged freeway, I’d sent her a text message, asking if she drank anything before events. She said no.

On my last book tour, I kept my coffee consumption to one cup in the morning, and no more than a small sip of wine in the evening, because I was balancing a lotof travel with a lack of sleep, and wanted to stay on an even keel for my events. So I heeded her sage advice.

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Supermoon Bakehouse

When I come to the states, with apologies to all who’ve urged me to check out a croissant, Kouign amann, or macaron shop, since I can get all those things pretty easily in France, I tend to stick with local favorites. I don’t think anyone from San Francisco is coming to Paris for a burrito, nor in anyone flying over from Brooklyn in search of the perfect bagel in Bordeaux.

Yet serendipity found me in New York at the same time as British baking palEdd Kimber, so I decided to break my rule for SuperMoon Bakehouse, which is offering a decidedly different take on classic French pastries. I’m not a huge fan of fussing with tradition, when it’s only done for the sake of being audacious, but some of the pastries sounded intriguing enough to brave rush hour on the packed New York subway, to high tail it over there, early this morning.

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Chocolate Caramel Cake

I’ve got a number of chocolate cakes in my repertoire, from a super-denseChocolate Orbit Caketo soft, warm Chocolate Dulce de Leche Cakes, from My Paris Kitchen. And they all share one thing in common: a lot of chocolate. I’m not much for adding things that detract from the chocolate flavor, so I shy away from adding raspberries or other fruits and berries, or layering them with cream, or what have you. I just like straight-on chocolate cakes.

That said (and what would the internet be with people contradicting themselves?), I do like caramel with chocolate (and for the record, coffee as well). So when I cameupon a rich chocolate cake studded with gooey pieces of tender caramel, I knew I had to get on it, pronto.

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