P1050467Sometimes my timing is the worst ever, but this is not one of those times. As if being back in Paris again couldn’t be better, the winner of  the annual best baguette competition was announced recently, and as luck would have it, the boulangerie is right next to my favorite weekend flea market, Porte de Vanves, in the fourteenth arrondissement. (I know, right?)

So off I went on Saturday to check out the treasures and the bread. Since I got caught in a downpour while looking at more vintage silverware that I DO NOT NEED, I walked on over to Aux Délices du Palais to dry out. By 11 a.m., they were already sold out of  les baguettes traditions (which are required by law to be made by hand with only flour, water, starter or yeast, and salt and nothing artificial), but the woman behind the counter assured me more would be available in dix minutes, so I bought a twisty stick made out of croissant dough and stuffed with chocolate chips and pastry cream so I could wait it out. The things I do for research, I tell you.

The baker here, Antonio Teixeira, is no slouch in the patisserie department, which is unusual — often a boulanger can make bread but doesn’t make great Viennoiserie. He’s also won awards for his éclairs and Paris Brest, and I read that President Hollande used to send his driver in for croissants for trysts with his (most recent) mistress.

So if you want to do this, too — croissants, not clandestine affairs —  do not make the mistake of buying the curvy ones, the croissants that say “croissant ordinaire.” These are not made with butter. You’ll always want the straight croissants for that.

Another tip: don’t turn them upside-down, or you’ll have bad luck. Maybe that’s what happened with Hollande.

Aux Délices du Paradis will be supplying baguettes to him for the next year, so perhaps someone can tell him about this.

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I got home a few hours later and tried the baguette. By now, though, it had been banged into a few times by people on the metro and the weather had improved, but the baguette, I’m afraid, had suffered a bit because of the damp air. The verdict: it was good, but it wasn’t the best baguette I’ve eaten in Paris. It was a bit soft and even though the mie – the insides — were tasty and had nice holes throughout, it was really just so-so. Which may have been due to the weather that day or my expectations, even.

I am going back to give the baguette another try and this time, I’m going to as for a bien cuit baguette –which I usually do, but I wanted to see what they’d give me if I didn’t. This one, as you can see by the above photo, was more blonde than burned. When it comes to baguettes, I like them crispy and dark brown so the crust has a caramelly flavor.

I should stop eating so much bread. I know this. But when I’m in the States, I eat almost none at all. In Paris, I feel like I have to make up for lost time, making bread the star of every meal, and in some cases, making bread THE meal.

Is that really so wrong?

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Chopped Cobb Salad

March 17, 2014

chopped chef salad

I’ve made Cobb salads before and I’ve liked them just fine. But when I was at Vinaigrette in Santa Fe not long ago, I ordered a chopped version, and fell in love with the Cobb all over again. It had me at first crunch — each bite had a bit of crispy bacon, bleu cheese, egg and lettuce — and was satisfying in a new way.

So I decided to make my own, using a simple vinaigrette and the rest of the classic Cobb ingredients (except turkey or chicken — which I realized later I forgot, plus avocado, which I would’ve used but I didn’t have one on hand)…hmm, without two of the salad’s key ingredients, maybe it’s a demi-Cobb?

Call it what you will, this salad’s delicious. It’s also a satisfying and light dinner for the in-between, sometimes cool and sometimes warm days ahead.

Chopped Cobb Salad

Makes 2 dinner-size salads

  •             3 eggs
  •             5 pieces of thick-cut bacon
  •             2 heads of Romaine lettuce (the ones in the 3-pack)
  •             1 pint of cherry tomatoes, chopped in small pieces
  •             2 ounces of blue cheese crumbles (I like Point Reyes in the U.S.)
  •             E-Z French vinaigrette

1. Put the eggs in a saucepan, cover with water, cover with your lid and put onto boil. When it boils, turn down to a simmer and set your timer for 10 minutes. Pour out the water and rinse with cold water until the eggs are cool enough to handle — then chop into small bits.

2. While the eggs are cooking, fry your bacon until it’s crispy and let it drain on paper towels. Chop into small pieces and set this aside.

3. Chop your heads of romaine into 1/4-inch slivers and put all of it in a bowl. It’ll look like a lot — but don’t worry, it’s just salad! Toss the tomatoes on top of this, the eggs, bacon, and bleu cheese crumbles. Drizzle some of the E-Z French Vinaigrette on top, toss, and divide between two plates for dinner; four for a side.

 

 

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Broccoli Pasta with Kalamata Olives and Capers

March 10, 2014

Since I got back to Santa Fe, I’ve been craving — and eating– just about anything green I can find. I’m putting spinach and kiwis in my daily smoothies. I bought kale (again- after admitting that I’m tired of seeing it everywhere) and plan to make a salad with it later this week. Parsley, cilantro, […]

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Giveaway: Food Lovers’ Guide to Dallas & Fort Worth

February 28, 2014

Chances are, if you live in Dallas or Fort Worth — heck, anywhere in Texas–then you already know June Naylor’s byline. She’s been writing about food and dining for more than 20 years, and she’s just written a comprehensive guide on where to eat in Dallas-Fort Worth right now, from dives to fine dining, Food Lovers’ […]

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Wild Salmon Salad with Lime Zest Vinaigrette

February 24, 2014

If you are lucky enough to be stuck in an on-again, off-again wintry mix storm in Texas, as I was recently, the best place to be is in Denton at my friend Melanie’s house. Rose has a big backyard to roll around in, and a friend next door — Pontus, the Irish wolfhound — who […]

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Broccoli Kale Lime Soup

February 17, 2014

Just as I was about to jump off the kale bandwagon — am I the only one suffering from kale fatigue?–I found myself in the Denton Kroger mindlessly tossing a bunch of the oh-so-trendy green curly stuff into my cart. It was a snow day, after all, and what’s a snow day for if not […]

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Valentine’s Day: Chocolate Mousse

February 10, 2014

There is absolutely nothing to making mousse. Just chocolate and eggs, pinch of salt, that’s all. But it is one of those things, like baguettes and eating yogurt for dessert on weeknights that is very French. It is this sort of simplicity that makes chocolate mousse a perfect dessert, especially for Valentine’s Day, when many […]

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Texas Tortilla Soup

February 7, 2014

Right, you’re probably thinking. Of course it’s Texas Tortilla Soup. What else would it be? But in this case, it’s called such because I made it while in Texas and yes, tortilla soup is most definitely a Texas thing, so there you are. One should definitely wear cowgirl boots while making this soup. If you want […]

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Superbowl Pulled Pork Nachos

January 27, 2014

Every now and then, even when it’s not Superbowl Sunday, I get a craving for nachos that won’t go away. And since this classic Tex-Mex staple isn’t something you routinely find on the menus of most New Mexican restaurants (ridiculous!), I sometimes make this pulled pork version at home. But it’s a dangerous exercise. Once […]

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Cauliflower with Harissa

January 23, 2014

I went through a phase a couple of years ago when I was roasting cauliflower just about every week. Just cauliflower, olive oil and some salt and pepper, that’s all. I ate it like popcorn  right off the roasting pan. Sometimes I’d make other things with it, toss it with a vinaigrette or add it […]

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