Monday, September 26, 2016

More from Paris........


You don't have to have a smart phone to view the pics of restaurants, museums, (me!) and all the beautiful sites of Paris.

Just click on this link to follow our trip on instagram.
Click on each photo to see the description.

It's easy.

Happy Monday!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Paris Apartment Envy


Is it ok to have apartment envy?
I do.

I don't like change, I guess that is why we visit the same city every year! We usually rent the same place, and we love it.
It's very grande, to say the least........who died and left me Queen of France?

If you are visiting Paris for the first time, you might want to stay in a hotel, especially if you don't speak French, just to get the feel of the city and its arrondissements (neighborhoods) and also to have a concierge help you with dinner reservations and travel plans around and outside the city.

However, if you are a seasoned traveler, like moi (yeah, right), then I suggest you rent an apartment in the city.

There are so many GORGEOUS apartments for rent! Beyond your wildest dreams.

If it's Eiffel Tower views you are looking for, head over to the the 7eme (though it will cost you).....hip lofts in the Marais (also don't come cheap)......less expensive ones in areas that are not tourist driven, like the 2nd and the quiet 16th (more residential).

An apartment gives you the freedom to hang out longer in a bigger space, perhaps cook a meal, and bring back cheese and wine for snacks.....you don't have to rely on room service or a restaurant. It also gives you a feeling of being a local for the time you are there.

I have helped many people w/ apartment rentals in Paris, there are some great sites, and all types of apartments to fit your budget.
Here are some good websites.

Paris Perfect
Haven in Paris

I have rented from both sites and I can guarantee you a beautiful, clean apartment with an English speaking person to help you get set up.

Our apartment is located in the 8th arrondissement, in a quiet area, and close to the Arc de Triomphe. Not my favorite area, to be honest....too quiet at night, and nothing in our area is open on Saturday and Sunday because it is very residential (not too many tourists).....so we have to walk at least 30 minutes anywhere. We rent it because we are renting from friends and the apartment is SPECTACULAR.

I know you've been here before, but here's the tour again........

The first pic up at the top of the post is nighttime view of the living room with enough seating for a lively conversation!


We are on the top floor (5th) with a large spiral staircase.....I can make it up 3 flights, but then I'm out! There is an elevator, thankfully.

Years ago we rented a beautiful apartment with no elevator.....coming home after wine at midnight was not fun in heels walking up those 4 flights. OUCH.

Make sure your rental has an elevator if you are on a top floor. Word to the wise.

This is my view from every window in the massive apartment......not too shabby. All French doors open and there are no screens on any windows in Paris. No bugs and zero humidity.

There is a balcony that goes the entire length of the apartment, and I spend a lot of time out there.


There is a longggggg hallway with over 1000 books (the owners are avid readers and opera goers). You will never be bored. I am happy to sit in the apartment all day, truth be told.


There are 2 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a full size gourmet kitchen and a huge dining room, which we rarely use. I never cook here, except to reheat a piece of quiche.


I don't live like this at home, as you know, so when I travel, I go big. ;)


I will post more pics over the weekend.....as always, if you want to see the minute by minute trip, go to instagram! I will be there!

Au revoir for today!

xo

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Paris Pics for Thursday 9/22

Posting on social media sites keeps me too busy to write a proper blog post....so please forgive me.

Today, we visited the beautiful Musee Nissim de Camondo, one of my favorite small museums in Paris.


A gorgeous Beaux Arts mansion located in the 8th arrondissement, once owned by a Turkish Jewish merchant family at the turn of the century.

Monsieur Camondo was a collector of antiquities and decorative arts. A feast for my eyes.


The kitchen with its chef's office and staff dining room is reminiscent of Downton Abbey!


I would happily cook in this kitchen all day. That stove is 10 feet long and all cast iron....and who is polishing those copper pots?
Not moi!


I had the best crock of onion soup gratin today, if anyone cares......at a nice brasserie in the 8eme.


Now it's time for a snack.....and I will write again tomorrow.

As always, if you would like to follow our trip, please follow me on facebook or instagram where you can get the whole shebang!


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Paris Pics of the Day


Bonjour,

For those of you that are not following me on instagram or facebook (and why aren't you?), here are a few pics from the week.....I promise to do a post when I have some time.

I'm too busy eating........;)






See you soon.

xo

Monday, September 19, 2016

Same Place, Same Time, Same Channel: Paris


I'm out of here for 2 weeks......the usual, boring place, my happy place and favorite city, Paris.

After 10 years of band-aids and blisters, I am finally bringing sensible, comfortable shoes only, no high heels, and I promised myself not to overpack.


This trip, I plan on eating as many pastries and croissants as I want, I am even taking a croissant baking class.


I have stopped this nonsense about worrying about a few extra pounds, life is too short not to enjoy.

We will probably see the same sites, same people and eat at many of the same restaurants that we visit every year, so I hope you will not be bored with my posts.

I have to thank that reader from 8 years ago who said "I was boring because I go to the same place every year", they have given me a lot of material over the years!

Don't forget to follow my instagram posts for minute by minute photos!


Au revoir.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Fresh Fig Tart


This is my #1 fig tart I make in the summer when I am lucky enough to have fresh figs.

I have made it with dried figs in the winter, but there is nothing better than using fresh figs during the season (which is mid to late September in my garden, NOW).

It's pretty simple and almost tastes like you bought it at a French patisserie.

It is from chef David Tanis (who lives in Paris and was pastry chef at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Ca.).

I suggest you go find some figs and make this....it's so good.


Fig Tart (adapted from NY Times):

4 tablespoons butter, melted, plus butter for greasing pan
1 cup natural raw almonds (not blanched) or almond meal
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
8 ripe figs, stems removed and sliced in half
raw sugar (turbinado for sprinkling on top)

Heat oven to 350F degrees.

Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan or pie pan; set aside.

Put almonds and 1/4 cup sugar in a food processor and grind to a coarse powder. Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt; pulse to combine.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, melted butter, honey and almond extract. Add almond mixture and beat for a minute until batter is just mixed. Pour batter into greased pan.

Remove stem from each fig and cut in half. Arrange fig halves cut-side up over the batter.


Sprinkle figs with raw sugar and bake for 30 minutes, until golden outside and dry at center when probed with a cake tester.
I let my tart cool in the pan for 20 minutes before removing it.


Enjoy!


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Grilled Fig Salad w/ Roasted Beets & Prosciutto


THE FIGS ARE FINALLY HERE!

Yes, folks, for 3 weeks only, I can find figs at the supermarket, farmer's market and on my little tree in New Jersey! woohoo!


For this salad, I grilled my figs in a grill pan because they weren't that sweet (happens sometimes).
The heat of a grill will bring out the sugars in the figs and make them jammy and sweet.


I paired them with roasted golden beets, arugula and speck (smoked prosciutto).

Here's how:

Slice figs in half and if not sweet, grill in a grill pan with a little olive oil for 2-3 minutes on flesh side only.


You know how to roast beets by now, so I am skipping this instruction.


Dressing:

1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp of grainy mustard
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
sea salt & pepper


Whisk the dressing ingredients with a fork.

Roll up the prosciutto or speck slices, not too tight, and cut them into pieces, you will have nice little rosettes for your salad.

Plate everything together and drizzle with some dressing.


A beautiful dish for company or my lunch!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Baked Chicken Parmesan with Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce


Chicken "Parm" or Chicken Parmesan is a crowd favorite here in NJ, along w/ fried calamari and great pizza (I won't mention the disgusting vodka rigatoni on so many menus too, yuck).

I used to be a snob about this Italian American dish, calling it "pizzeria food". Who would put melted cheese on chicken?

Well, I have gotten off my high horse and have learned to love it. It's so comforting, a chicken cutlet, breaded then fried and topped with melted mozzarella and marinara sauce over linguine. It's really delicious.

Since the cherry tomatoes are falling off the vine for another few weeks only, I decided to make a roasted cherry tomato sauce and bake the chicken instead of frying.

Success. Delicious.
May I have some more please?


Baked Chicken Parm w/ Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce: (serves 2-4 people)

For the Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce:

a big bunch of cherry tomatoes (I like to mix colors)
olive oil
kosher salt
splash of balsamic vinegar

In a deep roasting pan, lay out the cherry tomatoes and drizzle with olive oil and kosher salt. Splash w/ balsamic vinegar.
Roast the tomatoes for 30-40 minutes in a 375F oven until blistering and there is a nice sauce around them.

For the Chicken:

boneless chicken breasts, pounded thin (4 cutlets)
1/2 - 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
4 tbsp mayonnaise
kosher salt & pepper
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 slices of smoked or fresh mozzarella cheese
fresh basil leaves

Since we are doing this in the oven, the panko won't brown, so brown the crumbs in a skillet first.

In a nonstick skillet, heat some olive oil and cook the panko breadcrumbs in the skillet about 4 minutes, using a spatula to move them around, until golden brown. Pour crumbs into a pie plate and season with kosher salt & pepper.

Prepare a baking sheet w/ parchment paper, if you have a rack, then place it on the baking sheet, so all sides get nice and crispy (if you don't, no biggie).

Mix the mayo and parmesan cheese in a flat dish and dredge each chicken breast in the mayo cheese mixture, then into the breadcrumbs.
Coat both sides, patting down so the breadcrumbs stick.


Lay the prepared chicken breasts on the baking sheet.

Roast the tomatoes on the bottom rack and the chicken on the top rack for 25 minutes (I start my tomatoes while I am preparing the chicken, because they will take a little longer in the oven).

After 25 minutes, carefully pull out the baking tray and lay mozzarella slices on top of the chicken.
Turn on the broiler for 2 minutes only to melt the cheese. By now the tomatoes should be done too.

Transfer the chicken to a platter and spoon on the roasted tomatoes with their juices.

Garnish with fresh basil leaves.


This sounds like a pain, but it's very easy and very delicious!

I hope you try it.

xo

Monday, September 12, 2016

Friday Night Clam PIzza


Friday nights are usually pizza nights at my house.
You can make a quick pizza dough in your food processor in the a.m. and have fun preparing the pizza toppings together with husband and kids at night (I did it just with husband).

If you are confused by clams on pizza, don't be. It will be your new addiction.
Salty, garlicky, herby and just so damn good.

I have had 2 clam pizzas in my life. Both memorable.

First one back in high school at the famous Frank Pepe's in New Haven, CT (famous for clam pies)....and more recently at Franny's in Brooklyn, a different animal, but still fantastic (Franny's uses heavy cream on their clam pie).

Here, you want to make your own pizza dough....which is quite easy.

I used good quality canned clams.....but go ahead and grill some clams on the BBQ, then chop them if you are a purist. The canned ones were fine.

This is the like the best garlic bread you have ever had with some clams on top......it's a cravings thing.

This was so simple. It is now in the rotation for Friday night pizza night.


New Haven Style Clam Pizza: (adapted from Cooking Channel)

DOUGH:
3/4 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees F)
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for oiling the bowl

TOPPING:
3/4 cup chopped fresh clams
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 teaspoon dried oregano
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons cornmeal, for dusting
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Kosher salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
crushed red pepper

For the dough: Whisk together the warm water, yeast and sugar in a bowl. Set aside until the yeast activates and becomes foamy, about 10 minutes.

Whisk the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center. Pour the foamy yeast mixture and the olive oil into the well. Using a fork, gradually incorporate the flour into the liquid mixture. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until very smooth, about 5 minutes.

Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm area until the dough doubles in size, about 3 hours.

For the topping: In the meantime, mostly drain the clams, retaining about 2 tablespoons liquid. Mix together the chopped clams and juice, olive oil, oregano and garlic in a bowl. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F and adjust the rack to the lowest level. Put a pizza stone or turned-over baking sheet on the rack.

When the dough has doubled in size, turn onto a lightly floured surface and stretch into a very thin rectangle (which is easier than making a circle....but my husband is better at stretching the dough than I am), about 12 by 14 inches. Dust a pizza paddle or turned-over baking sheet with the cornmeal and place the dough on top; make sure it slides back and forth easily. Top evenly with the clam mixture and the Parmesan. Season with salt.


Carefully slide the dough onto the hot pizza stone. Cook until nicely golden brown on top and bottom, 8 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the parsley and crushed red pepper. Drizzle with more olive oil if desired.

This was FANTASTIC and very easy.


Enjoyed with a nice rosé champagne!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Best Plum Cobbler


I always make a cobbler at the very end of summer.

Not sure why I wait till berry and stone fruit season is almost over, it's just me procrastinating.
Too many cakes on my list to bake, and a cobbler is so easy.....why would I make one?

Well, I had some ripe plums ready for another yummy dessert, and I came across this plum cobbler on Orangette's blog.

Holy crap, this was the BEST cobbler because it uses an egg!
An egg in cobbler?

I usually would add a brown sugar topping w/ oats and butter, but an egg?
Yup.

So, you see, this was the best of both worlds.
You have this wonderful fruit bottom, and this cakey biscuit cookie thing on top.

If you have crystallized ginger, please use it, it is so ridiculous in this dessert, but if not, it's ok to omit.

We loved this and ate the whole thing in one sitting.

You can use any fruit, I am sure, but the plums were just divine.


Best Plum Cobbler: (adapted from Orangette)

For the plums:

2 Tbsp. lightly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour *(I omitted the flour in my fruit filling)
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
2 Tbsp. finely chopped crystallized ginger (OMG so good!)
12 to 14 Italian prune plums, halved and pitted

For the topping:

3/4 cup granulated sugar (about 4 to 4 ½ ounces)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1 egg, beaten well
7 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted (this is to drizzle on top.....I used a little less)

Mix the cut up plums with the brown sugar, cinnamon, flour (if using), and gingers. Set aside. The mixture will get nice and wet.

In another bowl, mix together the rest of the topping ingredients, except for the melted butter.
You should have a thick batter.

Arrange the fruit on the bottom of a buttered casserole dish....I used a 9" pie plate.


Now, using your hands, place clumps of the batter, like little biscuits, on top of the fruit.


Drizzle the melted butter over the entire dish.

Bake in a 375F oven for 30-35 minutes until golden.

Best served about 15 minutes after baking.


Loved.

Ok, I can put the cobbler thing to rest now until apple season.