March 2013 We had some snow in Paris last month, which was beautiful and heavenly. And no, not just because it covered all the cigarette butts and ot

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candied almond recipe

March 2013

We had some snow in Paris last month, which was beautiful and heavenly. And no, not just because it covered all the cigarette butts and other stuff that piles up on the sidewalks. But it blanketed the city with a layer of pure white crystals, which lit up the city. Paris is notoriously gray in the winter and you forget how much snow brightens things up, until you go to snow-covered cities and see the difference. (Of course, when all that snow starts melting and getting funky, it's a little different.) But I'm a big fan of snow – so bring it on! And I hope we get more.

Because winter is the time to hibernate indoors, I decided to give my wooden kitchen counters the nourishment and attention that they were lacking. (And no, that's not a metaphor for my life.) My friend Meg brought me two tins of Osmo Top Oil, which did the trick nicely. Although I had to first take everything off the counter, which made me realize how much room I had underneath all the cooking clutter Afterward, I was hesitant to put everything back because I wanted to keep that space as pristine as possible. But work must go on..and on…

clean kitchen counter

I did foolishly decide to give my counter a full two swipes of finish, which tied the counter up for 16 hours. Then, of course, I decided to make some salted caramelized almonds (recipe below) as a hostess gift for a party that I got invited to - since it's a recipe that doesn't require any counter space. It's hard in France to bring wine to a nice party since usually the hostess or host has picked out wines. And bringing a bottle, I think, can make them feel like they have to serve it lest you feel slighted.

And I don't like bringing flowers either, because harried hosts (and hostesses) have to scramble to find a vase. And lastly, I don't live all that close to any exceptional chocolate shops (malheuresement!) – so I decided to stir up a batch of these nuts. They take just a few minutes of standing over the stove, which I was happy to do in a chill of winter.

Then I packed them into little bags, one for the folks having the party and the other, well, I haven't decided yet*. But at least my kitchen - and the counter - is, woefully, back to normale.


*Actually, I ate them.


Interesting Blog Posts from February

L'Manufacture du Chocolat Alain Ducasse
I visited the first (and only) bean-to-bar chocolate-maker in Paris. Wow.

Kimchi Omelet
Super simple, kinda spicy, super good.

Nutty Magdalenas
Tasty Catalan teacakes made with ground nuts and olive oil.

Food Gifts to Bring French People from America
Think there's nothing the French don't want from America? Think again.

The trials and tribulations of trying to get a glass of water.

If you haven't made this amazing dish of eggs cooked in spicy sauce, get thee to the stove!


Stuff From Around the Web

Clotilde went to visit the new Alain Ducasse Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Shop as well. I think I need to go back...
Faith at The Kitchn talks about her budget/luxe kitchen remodel.
Chef Daniel Rose of Spring is giving a hands-on master cooking class in Paris.
The famous France vs American CEO tire letter. Ouch!
Man, these blood orange margaritas from Deb look like something I could use right now.
I'm a speaker at Food Blog Connect in London, coming up in July.


Candied Almond Recipe

candied almonds 2

Salted Caramelized Almonds
About 3 cups (500g)

Adapted from The Perfect Scoop

These caramelized almonds are incredibly simple and you can make them with ingredients that you likely already have on hand. They work equally well with raw peanuts, although I haven't tried them with other nuts – mostly because they are just perfect as they are!

I did a variation of them on my blog a few years back, so it you want step-by-step photos, head over there.

1/2 cup (125ml) water
1 cup (200g) sugar
2 cups (275g) whole almonds, untoasted and unblanched
Flaky sea salt

1. In a large skillet, heat the water, sugar, and almonds until the liquid begins to boil. Start stirring the almonds and the syrup cooks, coating them in the sugar syrup.
2. Continue to cook the almonds, stirring frequently, until the sugar syrup starts to crystallize, then eventually becomes sandy. It may take a bit of time, perhaps 5 to 8 minutes.
3. When the syrup darkens on the bottom of the pan a bit, continue to stir the almonds, scraping up the liquidifed caramel syrup on the bottom, turning the almonds over in it to coat them. Continue to cook, stirring and coating the almonds until they're glossy and shiny (as shown in the photos.)
4. Remove from heat, sprinkle in some flaky sea salt, give the almonds a few stirs, then scrape them out onto a baking sheet. You can break them apart with your fingers once the almonds are cool enough to handle.

Once completely cool, store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

candied almonds
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