French Toast

January 31, 2015

French toastI’ve been putting off writing a post until I felt better. About everything. It has not been an easy reentry to life in Paris.

I still don’t know how to write about the Charlie Hebdo attacks and the other horrific acts of terrorism that followed. Am I okay? People still ask this a lot. No. I’m not. It still feels surreal and overwhelming and like the world is spinning out of control.

I’m still a bit numb from it all.

In the midst of all of this, I’ve been trying to reestablish some kind of normal, but it’s been a challenge.

I have a new oven, but when I turned it on, it began to smoke and I had to open the window to air out the kitchen. I googled this, of course, and I learned that new ovens can emit toxic fumes and that I shouldn’t worry, but if there are birds close by, they could die. This was not reassuring.

I caught my printer on fire the day before, which smelled mysteriously like cabbage soup. Then the speakers for my iPad, which did not smell like anything at all. The day before that, a cherished vintage floor lamp. When I plugged that into the wall, naturally, using a converter as with the other two items, it made a slight buzzing noise before the electricity for the whole apartment shut down.

I locked myself out of the apartment (and the building) somewhere around there, too, which meant I had to walk to the real estate agency in the sad sweat pants and gray hoodie I’d been wearing for the previous two days, with dog in tow and without phone, to ask them if they had another key. They didn’t — but the owner thankfully did, and Eric got on his scooter and fetched the keys while Rose and I sat on the front stoop for an hour or so to wait for someone to either enter or leave the building, because of course I hadn’t yet memorized the door code. Luckily, it was not raining at the time and wasn’t that cold. Seems like it might have even been in the low 40s that day, but it was already dark. It’s all such a blur now.

On Sunday, to cheer myself up, I made French toast (above). It was not a disaster. Just some bread and a couple of eggs, some heavy cream, and cinnamon and sugar mixed together before you put it in the bowl. It’s pretty impossible to screw this up, which is one very good thing about French toast. You cannot see this, but there are bits of butter with chunky sea salt between each layer, and the bread itself, a seedy, crusty variety from the boulangerie around the corner, is perfect and wonderful on its own. I made enough for me and for Rose, too. We don’t do this brunch thing very often (at all), but the way I see it, we’d had a rough patch and we were out of Christmas green and red M&Ms from Target and had very few options left.

For the first time since we arrived, I felt like we were going to be okay.

 

 

 

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Ho Ho Ho.

December 24, 2014

IMG_0354In case you’ve wondered where I’ve been, that’s a long story. Let’s just say that I’m glad this year is almost over.

2014, get outta here. Scram, you.

It wasn’t all terrible, though. I wrapped up the year with a fabulous weekend at Lake Austin Spa Resort, which, no matter what, always seems to put me right back on track — and I’m not saying this just because I had a much-needed “age-defying facial,” but being there reminded me how much I love teaching and cooking, and sharing all of my goofy stories. My goal for 2015? To be even sillier. Consider yourselves warned.

I’m also in the midst of another big change. After months of schlepping back and forth from DFW airport to Charles De Gaulle, I’ll be settling into a new apartment in Paris next week. It’s bright and cheerful and is on a small, quiet street with vine-covered Art Deco buildings. The market is a five-minute walk away. The Bois de Boulogne is even closer. Rose is looking forward to speaking in her native language again and playing with her best friend Ulysses, a flatcoat Labrador who lives nearby. I can’t wait to unpack my bags and uncork the Champagne.

In February I’ll be teaching cooking classes again — in my own Paris kitchen — and doing my flea market (and baguette-eating) tours, too. See the above TOURS link for details, or just shoot me an email at info@cowgirlchef.com.

Merry Christmas, everyone, and onward to 2015. Let’s show 2014 how it’s done.

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Roasted Red Pepper Dip

October 16, 2014

A few years ago, I was invited over to a friend’s house for dinner in Paris. He and his wife were from Syria, and they had one of the sweetest love stories I’d ever heard. Sasha was working in Paris as a handyman, and she had come to visit friends. The families knew each other, but she […]

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Speedy Spanakopita

September 9, 2014

This is what I made as a clean-out-your-fridge dinner the other night. I know. I sort of couldn’t believe it, either. But filo dough is one of those things I always have on hand when I’m in the U.S., because it’s impossible to find in France (instead, there’s a much thicker pastry called “brick”), and […]

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Zucchini Oatmeal Bread

September 5, 2014

Zucchini breads can be awfully boring things, but who wants to break up with zucchini bread? Not me. But I can’t remember the last time I made it. Enter my new big zucchini bread love, one of substance and complexity, with a gorgeous, dark caramel crust and tender, moist insides. The blackish specs you see […]

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No Recipe: Sweet Potato Wedgies

September 2, 2014

Sometimes doing the simplest of things, like changing the shape of a particular vegetable, can completely alter the outcome. Until now, my go-to roasted sweet potato method has pretty much been the same as red-skinned potatoes — cut into smallish, one or two-inch cubes, toss with olive oil, sea salt and pepper and roast at […]

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Lime Poppyseed Cake

August 29, 2014

I’ve wanted to make this for a long time, since my coffee-filled, editing-the-book-manuscript afternoons at Kooka Boora (now KB Cafeshop) in Montmartre, when I nearly always had a thick piece of a lemony poppyseed cake with my triple lattes. I always wondered how it would taste if the lemon were lime. Swapping out the lime for […]

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Zucchini and Corn Galettes with Green Tahini Sauce

August 24, 2014

You say fritters, I say galettes. I can’t bring myself to call these sweet summery pancakes “fritters.” Fritter sounds so, oh, unhealthy, right? And these are not fried, which I believe a fritter — an Americanized form of the French word, frire, (to fry) — normally would be. Instead, they cook quickly, and with very little oil in a […]

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Oatmeal, Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies

August 18, 2014

Newsflash: my new favorite cookie is also one that’s — gulp! — gluten-free. But that’s not why I made them, and it’s not why I like them. But I saw this recipe and liked that it used maple syrup instead of refined sugar and wondered how this alone would transform a cookie. It’s not a […]

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No Recipe: Oven-Dried Tomato Skins

August 15, 2014

The sad truth of testing recipes all the time means that there’s a lot of waste. I often make full recipes of dishes (to serve two or four) in order to get the measurements right, but one cowgirl can only eat so much. Things get tossed out. And even when I’m not in recipe-testing mode […]

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