December 2014 Newsletter There's a joke in San Francisco: The only way you know what the seasons are is by checking the produce bins at the market, b

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December 2014 Newsletter

Paris Outdoor Market-38

There's a joke in San Francisco: The only way you know what the seasons are is by checking the produce bins at the market, because the weather tends to be constant and relatively the same all year round. Not so in Paris, where - boom! - winter has arrived, which I know because there are piles and piles of fresh clementines at the market. So many that I need to start bringing my grandmotherly shopping cart - with wheels - to bring home the kilos I seem to load my pannier (basket) up with.

It seems the transitional date for the season to change (not minding the calendar...) is marked by the late November release of Beaujolais Nouveau, a rather forceful, fresh wine, known for giving you a powerful headache the next morning if you drink too much.

Paris Outdoor Market

This year - unlike others - I took it easy and just had one glass at Le Mary Celeste, where chef Haan Palcu-Chang did a special menu for the event, frying up bœuf bourguinon sandwiches (amazing), and bar maestro Carlos Madriz invented Beaujolais Nouveau-based cocktails for the evening, with bottles of wine provided by Josh Adler of Paris Wine Company. Yes, it's nice to have friends in Paris. It means I eat...and drink...well!

I'm probably the anomaly in Paris, because I like winter. (Especially now that my apartment finally has heat!) The skies are persistently gray, the air is crisp and sharp, and people take to their apartments, fending off the cold with Parisian hot chocolate. At least at my place, we do. Although now that I have heat, I don't have the same excuse for chugging down the stuff.

As November wound down, I found myself scraping ripe persimmon pulp into the ever-popular persimmon bread recipe, making sure I had enough for some persimmon margaritas. I tried to polish off the rest of the rosé from the summer, which I was successful at - thanks to a little help from some friends.

However I'm almost out of chocolate - a new radiator was installed just below my kitchen shelf, the one that held the chocolate (which kind of had a meltdown) - so I'm taking to the streets this week to restock my chocolate larder, just in time for my annual blitz of December holiday baking. I just made a batch of homemade marshmallows, ready to dip in chocolate with some toasted nuts, for a jumbo batch of Rocky Road. But I did save a few to float in a cup of chocolat chaud (hot chocolate), which I'm going to do, Américain-style.



Favorite Recent Posts On My Blog

Paris Outdoor Market-36
I got a little carried away at the outdoor market in Paris, snapping pics of all the beautiful produce!

A utterly ripe Camembert de Normandie was irresistible to me. And to my camera as well, who ate all my first pictures.

I don't know much about the Paleo diet, but I do know good food when I taste it. And Coffee-Braised Lamb Shanks with Ancho Chile fits that bill.

Since I get a number of requests for places in Paris to eat, where people will have a good time (and have good food), I reported on Le Richer and Juveniles.

And for those looking for a more upscale dining experience, I had dinner at the newly renovated Alain Ducasse at the Plaza-Athenée, where the all-new menu favors sustainable fish, vegetables, and grains.

I am happy to announce that I upgraded my blog post subscription service, so if you'd like to get blog posts and recipes mailed to you, so you don't miss 'em, you can sign up here.


Chocolate Truffle Recipe


Here's a little treat for the holidays, one that packs a big wallop of chocolate flavor in a neat little ball. Truffles get their names because they resemble French truffles, which are hunted by dogs and pigs in the forests of France. Chocolate truffles are much easier to find, and easier on the pocketbook, too. And with just a few ingredients, you can make these little chocolate treats at home.

Although I offer instructions for dipping them in chocolate, it's not necessary, and they can be served simply rolled in cocoa powder. Because these truffles have fresh cream in them, they don't last long - they should be stored in the refrigerator and brought close to room temperature before serving them. They'll keep for about a week in the refrigerator.

Feel free to us another liquor, and use whatever dark chocolate you like. Although I do recommend avoiding chocolate that boasts 70% or more cocoa solids (which should be listed on the package). Some of the high-percentage chocolates are quite acidic and can cause the emulsion to break.

(Adapted from The Great Book of Chocolate, Ten Speed Press.)

Chocolate Truffles
25-30 truffles

3/4 cup (180ml) heavy cream
8 to 10 ounces (225 - 285g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1-3 teaspoons rum, Cognac, or Grand Marnier

4 ounces (115g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup (50g) unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Heat the cream in a saucepan until it starts to boil. Turn off the heat and add the 8 to 10 ounces of chocolate. Let stand a minute, then stir it gently until the chocolate is melted and the mixture (the ganache) is smooth. Stir in the liquor. Scrape the mixture into a shallow baking dish, such as a pie plate, cover, and chill until firm.
2. Remove the chocolate ganache from the refrigerator and with a melon baller, a small spring-loaded stainless-steel cookie scoop, or a couple of teaspoons, dipping your choice of utensil(s) in very hot water before each scoop, scoop out truffles about 3/4-inch (2cm) round, tapping off the excess water before you scoop out each subsequent truffle. Put each one on a dinner plate. One done, use your hands to roll the truffles into more cohesive rounds, if necessary.
3. Melt the 4 ounces of chocolate in a clean, dry bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring until smooth. Spread the cocoa powder in a shallow baking dish or pie plate.
4. Use your right hand (or left, if you're left-handed) to dip the first truffle in the melted chocolate, smearing it with your hand to give it a thin chocolate coating. Drop the dipped truffle into the cocoa powder. Smear a few more truffles the same way with chocolate, dropping them in the cocoa powder.

Once you have about eight or ten truffles done, roll them around in the cocoa powder, then put them in a wide mesh strainer and shake off the excess cocoa. Repeat, using coating and dusting the rest of the truffles.


Links I'm Likin'

Finally, an answer to how to carry a homemade pastry on a crowded Parisian métro.

A Frenchman with a mission, eight years in the making. (Oof - Can't imagine carrying out the research techniques that went into that one!)

A long-term food blogger gives her thoughts on maintaining a long-term blog.

Stop babying those cast iron pans! Well, sort of...

Always wanted to work in the great outdoors? But feel chained to a desk? Now you can have both.


And in the end...

West Country Girl

Coming up on the blog this month are recipes for everything, from a classic French winter comfort dish, to a salty chocolate treat that I gorged myself on in Brooklyn. I'm working on a little gift list, as well as rediscovering a long lost recipe in my files, that makes good use of those leftover cranberries. I've also got plans to shift some things around on the site in the next few months, doing some renovations and upgrading some things, once the seasonal festivities are over. Watch out for any dust! - David


PS: Don't forget that my latest book, My Paris Kitchen, makes a great gift for the holidays!

My Paris Kitchen hi res
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