There are two types of Americans in Paris. Those who go home the month of August and those who stay. Although I secretly envy those who can binge on a month-long ice cream headache of Americana, my summers are a more local affair, doing a mini Tour de France of friends’ vacation homes throughout this fine country.
I’m pondering what France’s summer traditions are, but I’m blanking. Oh, yeah the month of August not at home, fleeing to everywhere but here? Merguez on the grill? Spritz on a terrace? Summer reading and late dinners? A bottle of chilled rosé on ice?
Ok, these new traditions work just fine for my developing adult tastes. But I still can’t help but miss those sticky childhood summers at home in Chicago: the twinkling bell of the paletas guy selling my favorite ice pop arroz con leche, shucking the golden husks off sweet corn hot off the Weber grill, the self-inflicted pain of watching daytime tv all day long and the call of arms when the ice cream truck roll through the neighborhood.Although I come from the Klondikian school of frozen treats, the Magnum bar is my good-to Euro replacement. I quickly learned last summer that “A Magnum-a-day keeps the bikini bod at bay”. But every now and then, it’s the only thing that will do the trick. Happy Summer!
Here it is! It’s my lovechild and she is due the 29th of April, 2015.
When I moved back to Paris 4 years ago, the city was on the verge of American over-saturation. Le Camion Qui Fume scandalized as it smoked up the museum-quality streets of Paris. I was shocked to discover Marshmallow Fluff and Easy Cheese filling an aisle of a nearby bookshop. At my most vulnerable, I ate “authentic” cupcakes as dense as butter cookies. Nevertheless I was seeing my culture impersonated and regurgitated into a 10 euro jar of Jif. The demand was flattering, but not exactly what I had left back in the States.
Seeing the lack of authentic American cookbooks, I have been trying to get one off the ground for several years now. American baking is not all about reconstituting processed ingredients like in the books I had seen in the French cookbook market. In my new book Pâtisseries et gâteaux d’Amérique, I focused on recipes that have the same respect for quality ingredients that even the French could revere. And thanks to Marabout for helping me make it happen. Pâtisseries et gâteaux d’Amérique has over 64 pages of colorful, step-by-step recipes. And the American desserts that I know and love.
Pre-order a copy today on Amazon.
Note: The book is written in French, but generously illustrated in watercolor. It’s still a belle objet that can be shared with anyone.
Baking Chez Moi, by lauded cookbook author and new friend Dorie Greenspan, uncovers simple French homemade desserts. Goodbye macarons, this is the easiest way to get into the soul of the French home.
I just turned in my manuscript for a very exciting book coming out in May chez Marabout! But more on that soon. Nevertheless, I’ve been knee-deep in powdered sugar since September, testing recipes and reinterpreting my research into watercolor. Although I could make fortune investing in butter, I promised myself I would swear off baking until the New Year. But an impulse buy Christmas tree and a string of (very French) strobe LED Christmas lights led little to the imagination. Like any normal human being, I had to make gingerbread ornaments. Here’s my recipe for a spicy gingerbread cookie open to any royal icing self-expression…
2 sticks softened butter / 225 g de beurre à temperature ambiante
1 cup packed brown sugar / 180 g de sucre vergeoise
1 cup molasses / 300 g de melasse
1 teaspoon clementine zest / 1 cuillère à café de zeste de clementine
5 ½ cups all-purpose flour/ 760 g de farine type 65
1 teaspoon baking soda/ 1 cuillère à café de bicarbonate de soude
1/2 teaspoon salt / 1 cuillère à café de sel
4 teaspoons cinnamon / 4 cuillère à café de cannelle moulu
4 teaspoons ground ginger / 4 cuillère à café de gingembre moulu
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg / 1 cuillère à café de noix muscade moulu
½ teaspoon ground pepper / ½ cuillère à café de poivre moulu
Beat the butter and brown sugar 3 minutes until light and fluffy. / Dans un saladier, battre le beurre et le sucre 3 minutes en un mélange mousseux.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and pepper. Add little by little in the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined. / Tamiser ensemble la farine, le bicarbonate de soude, le sel, la cannelle, le gingembre, le noix muscade et le poivre. Ajouter en pluie dans le saladier. Mélanger jusqu’à l’obtention d’une pâte homogène.
Divide the dough into three balls. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 2 days. / Diviser la pâte dans 3 boules. Couvrir avec le filme plastique. Mettre au frais 1 heure ou jusqu’à 2 jours.
Roll out the dough to 1/2 centimetre in height. / Rouler la pâte 1/2 centimetre en hauteur.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Cut out shapes using cookie cutters. Place on a cookie sheet covered with parchement paper. If making ornaments, cut a hole on the top of each cookie using a skewer. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes. / Préchauffer le four à 180°C. Couper la pâte à l’aide d’emporte-pièce. Placer les gateaux sur un plaque de cuisson couvrir avec une feuille de papier sulfurisé. Mettre au congelateur 15 minutes.
Bake cookies 12-14 minutes until the cookies are firm and lightly colored around the edges. Cool cookies on a wire rack. / Enfourner et cuire 12-14 minutes. Laisser refroidir.
To make the icing, beat 1 cup of powdered sugar with 1 egg white until a thick icing forms. Add more powdered sugar for a thicker consistency. Pour icing in piping bag with 2 millimeter round nozzle. / Pour la glacage, battre 125 g de sucre glace avec 1 blanc d’oeuf jusqu’a l’obtention d’un glacage homogène. Verser la préparation dans une poche douille avec une douille ronde de 2 millimetres.
Decorate cookies with the icing and colorful sprinkles. Let the icing set 1 hour before serving. / Décorer les gâteaux avec la glaçage et le sucre coloré. Attendre 1 heure avant servir.
“Bonne fête!” mon mari sweetly exclaimed in a mid-morning call. Similarly, all the Frenchies I’ve crossed paths with today have been generous with their 4th of July wishes. But at the same time I dream of Cheddarwursts, first-degree firework singes and backyard barbecues.
I had a rendezvous in the 16eme this morning, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. The most American thing I could do was point, reacquaint myself with her glory and take a proper phone pic. I assure you I wasn’t the only one.