I have recently been on a bread kick, walking into aperos (the French after-hours exhale) craddling my homemade pretzel, bagel, Brasilian cheese puff or focaccia obsession.  My friends often roll their eyes as I unwrap my olive oil-scented focaccia of the moment. Hate if they will, but it is curiously the first thing to disappear off the table.

Buying a baguette is easy enough, but when I need a taste of home, my go-to source for spot-on recipes is King Arthur Flour.  Seduced by its hands-off 1-minute mix in a food processor, my trusty focaccia recipe has made a weekly appearance chez moi and has become my apero standby.  It’s cheap, impressive and quick enough to whip together before a soiree.  The most taxing part is waiting the hour or so it needs to rise.  But that time can be used for things like “freelancing” (a minute-to-minute recap of gmail accounts) and an Instagram documentation of the process.

A good recipe is like a good friend.  In this case, this recipe will always rise to the occasion.  I made this focaccia with a spoon in a country cabin in the rolling hills of Les Cévennes.  It still even worked out when I forgot to switch the oven from broiler to regular oven.  And it can be accessorized with just about anything left over in the fridge or pantry.  How about dressing one up in sesame seeds, poppy seeds, garlic powder and sea salt à la an everything bagel? If not, I borrowed a brilliant idea from cook Alix Lacloche while I was styling her book.  Inspired by the paper-thin lemon slices and fennel seeds in her crispy lemon pizzettes, it’s the perfect herbal addition to a focaccia evoking the sunshine of the South.

Haters are going to hate, but bakers are going to bake.


Fool-proof foccacia adapted from King Arthur Flour

Yield: 1 loaf, 10 servings

1 ½ cups warm water

1 packet (5 g) dry, active yeast

2 teaspoons honey

3 ½ cups all-purpose flour

4 tablespoons olive oil + more for baking dish

1 teaspoon sea salt + more for sprinkling


For an “everything bagel” version:

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon sea salt


For a lemon/fennel seed version:

1 lemon, thinly sliced on a mandoline or in a food processor

1 tablespoon fennel seeds


1. Mix water, yeast and honey in the bowl of a food processor.  Let sit for 5 minutes until frothy.  Add flour, olive oil and salt.  Mix in the food processor for 1 minute, until the dough is smooth.  If using a hand mixer with a dough hook or a spoon, mix dough at least 1 minute until a soft, sticky dough forms.

2. Heavily coat a 8″ × 11″ baking dish with olive oil.  Sprinkle dish lightly with sea salt.  Press the dough into the pan evenly using oiled hands.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1 hour.

3. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Unwrap the dough.  It should be puffy and doubled in size.  Poke fingers into the dough to create indentations.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with desired flavorings.

4. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top of the focaccia is golden brown and springy to the touch.  Let cool before serving.

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Beet it!


Man vs vegetable!  That’s what I’ll call my nocturnal battle to eat what I like and play up to the picky taste buds of mon mari.  If it were up to me, everything would be christened with lemongrass and a handful of cilantro.  But alas, this is France!  It’s not about chasing culinary fireworks, but enjoying quality ingredients in their unadulterated state.  But I take this with a grain of salt and a star anise.  But I am always up for the challenge, looking out for enticing meatless recipes which could get past Monsieur Meat & Potatoes himself.

I wish I could take full credit for this winner, but I found inspiration from a smoky beet burger recipe on one of my go-to blogs SPROUTED KITCHEN. I knew these burgers would be an easy sell.  Beets recreate the crimson hue of ground beef.  And pulsed mushrooms and chickpeas give the burgers a toothsome texture and the right amount of umami to lure mon mari for the second bite.  Under a silken cloak of sauteed mushrooms and melted brebis cheese, this was one veggie burger incognito.  Accompanied by handcut french fries, it was an easy sell.  Victory is mine!


Beet burgers (inspired by SPROUTED KITCHEN)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion  chopped

1/2 cup walnuts

1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped

1 cup grated beets

2 cloves garlic, smashed

1/2 cup chickpeas, cooked

1 egg

1 teaspoon soy sauce

2 cups cooked short-grained rice

1.)  Heat olive oil over medium heat.  Saute onions, walnuts, mushrooms, beets, garlic, and chickpeas until tender, about 10 minutes.  Let cool slightly.

2.)  In a food processor, pulse sauteed vegetables with egg, soy sauce, and rice until coarsely mixed.  Season to taste.  With wet hands, form mixture into 8-10 1-inch thick patties.  Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat.  Saute burgers for 5 minutes until crust forms.  Flip and cook for 10 more minutes until caramelized.

P.S.  Charlotte Brunet photo. Jessie Kanelos Weiner style.

P.P.S. Check out my BOARDING PASS on Prêt à Voyager!

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cue to something spring

© David Bonnier photo-Jessie Kanelos Weiner style
David Bonnier photo-Jessie Kanelos Weiner style


Pickled vegetable tartine with anchovy butter

serves 4

2 cups spring vegetables, finely sliced (carrots, radishes, turnips, cucumber, peas, asparagus, etc)

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 teaspoons anchovy paste or 4 anchovies, minced

fine herbs

4 slices country bread, toasted

1.)  In large bowl, mix vegetables with vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper.  Cover with water, adjusting seasoning to taste.  Marinate for up to two days.

2.)  Mix anchovy paste and butter until incorporated.  Spread mixture onto 4 slices of bread and layer each with pickled vegetables.  Serve immediately.

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poire / poireaux

© photo David Bonnier-style Jessie Kanelos Weiner
© photo David Bonnier, style Jessie Kanelos Weiner

Perhaps it is the food stylist in me. I have spent a good hour “casting” prepackaged ham slices at the supermarket.  I block rush hour traffic captivated by Subway sandwich ads in the Metro.  And worst of all, I have taken an admiration to the compost bin, a deconstructed wink at what is on the table.  I pitched the idea to my friend David at Studio B.  And behold, a crazy idea transformed into something I find crazy beautiful.  It’s the ultimate before and after.  Bon app’!


poire / poireaux soup with frizzled leeks and pickled pears

For soup: 3 leeks, trimmed, cleaned, cut into 1/2 inch rounds -1 pear, peeled and cubed – 1 bay leaf  4 tablespoons olive oil – 70 cl vegetable stock – Salt & pepper

For frizzled leeks:1 leek, trimmed, cleaned, and sliced into1 mm strips – 4 tablespoons vegetable oil

For pickled pear: 1 pear, peeled and cut into matchsticks – 1 tablespoon rice vinegar – 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon sugar

1.)  Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F.  Spread leeks and pear on baking sheet.  Add bay leaf, olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Mix until all well coated in olive oil.  Roast for 40-45 minutes until leeks and pear are golden and tender.  Discard bay leaf.

2.) To make pickled pears, in large bowl, mix pears with vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper.  Cover with water, adjusting seasoning to taste.  Marinate for up to two days.

3.) For frizzled leeks, heat oil in a saucepan over high heat.  Fry leeks until crunchy and golden, paying close attention not to overcook.  Drain on paper towel.

4.) In a blender, mix roasted vegetables and vegetable stock until smooth, adjusting seasoning to taste.  Reheat as necessary.  Serve soup with pickled pears and frizzled leaks.

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Cherries, peaches, apricots. What now?

© Jessie Kanelos

The past week, our fridge turned into a jewel box of stone fruit.  I haven’t made a trip to the kitchen without taking a little handful of cherries or pulling apart a perfect apricot.    But in preparation for yet another pendaison de crémaillère, I was racking my brain for a clever way to showcase all these seasonal beauties in a dessert.  I envisioned a colorful pavlova with macerated nectarines, cherries, and apricots, the luscious fruit sandwiched between vanilla-studded whipped creme and crispy meringue.  But after eating (and tirelessly trying to replicate) so many flawless French fruit tartes, I was sold on creating a humble free-form fruit tarte, with a flaky pastry folding over the kaleidoscope of summer fruit.  Nevertheless, it was a bonne soiree indeed.  Although mon mari uncannily likened my tarte to a pizza,  I took it as a good opportunity to have him to serve me another slice.

Free-form stone fruit tarte

1 1/4 cup flour, plus 1 tablespoon

10 tablespoons of butter, chilled

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

3-5 tablespoons ice water

3 cups seasonal stone fruit (peaches, apricots, nectarines, plums, mirabelles, cherries, etc), pitted and quartered

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon rum

1.)  Preheat oven to 375 degrees f.  Add sugar and salt to flour.  Using a food processor, pastry cutter, or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles a fine meal.  Adding one tablespoon at a time, pour in the ice water and stir just until a dough forms, being careful not to overwork the dough.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.

2.)  In the meantime, dissolve the honey in the rum.  Pour over the pitted and quartered fruit and add the tablespoon of flour.  Stir.  And let marinate while dough is cooling.

3.)  Roll out the dough between two sheets of parchment paper until 1/4 of an inch thick.  Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Prick the center of the dough with a fork.  Spoon the fruit into the center of the dough leaving 2-3 inches on each side.  Fold the dough over the fruit.  Brush the pastry with beaten egg yolk and sprinkle with coarse sugar.

4.)  Bake for 45 minutes until the pastry is golden and the fruit is bubbling.  Serve warm with ice cream.  Or cold with creme fraiche or whipped cream.

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Picture a Pita

Fly me to the Moon

I have been on a bit of a bread-making kick lately.  As of now, I have not whipped up anything to give the four boulangeries on my block a run for their money.  Most everything has been a bit doughy and heavy-handed like all amateur homemade bread.  However, I came across a terrific recipe for pita on one of my favorite foodie sites, Gilt Taste.  (Check it out here at http://www.gilttaste.com/stories/4806-make-perfect-pita).  ‘Pita, you say?  How granola of you to make,’ you must be thinking.  ‘You might as well start making your own Windex and growing your own flaxseeds.”  But at the end of the day, it’s something a bit less traditional to mess up, right?  To my chagrin, it’s more or less the same recipe as pizza dough.  But with the dough, there is more rolling than the Harlem Globetrotter-twirling pizza treatment.

And what’s the greatest part about homemade pita?  Although there is no instant gratification in bread-making, there will be instant gratification when it hits the table.  And I can attest for a lot of friends who have minimal NYC and/or twenty-something kitchens.  Pita can be cooked either in an oven or in a skillet.  Alongside some store-bought hummus, tabbouleh, and other Mediterranean accoutrement, it’s an instant party!

Lentils Continued…

Yes, here is the recipe for lentils I promised you a few weeks back!  Oh, Lentils.  The mighty, high-protein, highly-economic standby food!  Like all simple foods in France, they get the VIP treatment.  Lentils are always dressed up with bits of foie gras or smoked salmon.  However, considering we just bought an apartment, they rest unadorned, but nonetheless delicious.

Sadly, my husband is opposed to spice.  He will find ways to eat around herbs.  As I heard so eloquently said recently (in David Lebovitz’s blog), Americans are into fireworks when eating.  However, the French prefer something truly simple and well-made. It goes to show that my own personal style is to throw a handful of cilantro on everything.  Needless to say, the following recipe is tasty whether you choose to dress it down for dinner for two, served with some baked potatoes and grilled sausages.  Or in my case, incorporate some chopped ginger, garam masala, creme fraiche and a handful of cilantro for lunch!

Compromise be gone!

Lentils for one and all (or 8 people)

1 ½ Cup Green Lentils, soaked for several hours or overnight

2 leeks, finely chopped

3 small onions, finely chopped

1 clove garlic

2 carrots, shredded

3 plum tomatoes, grated

1 tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

2 bay leaves

1 tsp. olive oil

6 cups water, more if needed

1.)  In a heavy-bottomed pot, sauté the leeks and onions over medium/low heat until soft and translucent.  Add bay leaves, carrots, garlic, pepper and tomato.  Cook until softened and lightly caramelized

2.)  Add the drained lentils and cover mixture with water

3.)  Cook for 30 minutes until the lentils are soft and stewy.  Add salt

4.)  Enjoy!

Spring a Leek!

By George, I’ve sprung a leek! Excuse the unforgivable pun; at least it’s a tad bit more sophisticated than ‘taking a leek’.  Eh? Eh?  Whenever I speak to my parents about one of the lesser-known members of the onion family, it’s the first thing out of their mouths.  Hence, proving my point that Americans are sadly unfamiliar with the said vegetable!  However, it is one of the first things I noticed  in French markets and menus: braised leeks, a light potato and leek potage, and the principle cure of obesity in Mireille Guiliano’s book French Women Don’t Get Fat.  The secret to not plumping up in these conditions is a magical leek soup which allows the occasional taste of wine and cheese with the promise of looking as svelte as one of Godard’s gals.  So I encourage you to take a liking to leeks, too!

When the tough, green leaves are cut off of the leeks, they can be subtle addition to soups, stews, and even salads.  However, I learned the following recipe from an Italian transplant in Paris, which explains the parmesan cheese.  However, you could replace the parmesan with emmental or swiss or simply omit it.  Either way, the leek is the star here !  So enjoy as a light lunch with a green salad.  And according to Mlle Guilano, because you are eating leeks, you are permitted to a little wine and cheese, too.


Any kind of savory pie crust will work here, but homemade is always better.  The egg yolk in the dough makes it both tender and cracker-like.

Pastry :

1 1/4 Cups Flour

4 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into ½’’ pieces

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

1 egg yolk, beaten

2-4 tablespoons ice water, more if needed

Filling :

2 large leeks, green tops cut off, white portion cut into 1/4’’ rounds

1 tablespoon olive oil

¼ cup creme fraiche or sour cream

¼ cup milk

4 eggs

¼ cup parmesan, emmental, or any flavorful cheese

1 tablespoon chopped chives

salt & pepper to taste

1.)  Mix flour, salt, and chilled butter.  Using a pastry cutter, two small knives, your hands, or a food processor, cut the butter into the flour until the butter resembles small, pea-sized pieces.  Add the egg yolk.  Add ice water one tablespoon at a time until a soft dough forms, being careful not to overmix.

2.) Turn the dough onto a floured surface and kneed several times until the dough is smooth.

3.) Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

4.) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

4.) In a saucepan over medium-low heat, sauté leeks in olive oil until soft and caramelized, about 7 minutes.  Let cool slightly.

5.) In a bowl, mix the eggs, crème fraiche, eggs, salt and pepper.

6.)  Roll out the pastry dough to 1/8’’ and spread carefully in a pie pan.  Add the prepared leeks.  Pour in the egg mixture.  Sprinkle on the cheese, it will nice caramelize in the oven.

7.)  Cook for about 30 minutes, or until the custard is set and the top.  Enjoy!

Illustration by Jessie Kanelos

Fig season has arrived in France!  The daintier, sweeter variety indigenous to France are at their peak although the larger imports from Greece and Turkey are not a bad snack either.  I’ve been waiting months to test out a recipe in Jamie Oliver’s Happy Days with the Naked Chef for months now.  ‘Tis the season!  It’s a sensually simple salad of figs, buffalo mozzarella, and prosciutto di parma.  I slit an x on the top of the figs and gently squeezed them to reveal their velvety flesh.  Arrange on a platter with sliced buffalo mozzarella.  Next, a few ribbons of jambon du parma were weaved organically between the figs.  A nice handful of basil thrown on top, a drizzle of best quality extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt and pepper.  And there you have a sensationally seasonal first course.