My Newest Gougères, our first recipe choice from Dorie Greenspan’s new cookbook. Served for lunch (yeah) with Butternut Squash Soup topped with toasted coconut shreds.
Who doesn’t keep some kernels of wisdom tucked into their hip pocket to pull out when needed. For me, my pocket runneth over with pithy tips. Here are just two:
1. PEOPLE LIKE TO BE THANKED. (My mother) While growing up, I knew whenever someone gave me a gift, a thank you note was to follow and I was going to write it. That has trickled down through three generations. My teenage granddaughters have yet to persuade their mother that e-mails count.
My parents, generous to a fault, were simply teaching me gratitude and appreciation. Ingrained in my DNA is knowledge my father, a kid of the Great Depression, got to college because of a baseball scholarship. He had no money, an athlete’s appetite and was kept fed only through the generosity of a local Catholic family who lived near campus. He never forgot that nor do I.
Dorie Greenspan’s newest cookbook, Everyday Dorie, the Way I Cook
2. After giving the keynote address at a Seattle food blogging convention and being asked the secret of her success, she replied, “I AlWAYS SAY YES.” (Dorie Greenspan)
Several years ago I was sitting in the audience with many of my French Fridays with Dorie blogging colleagues when Dorie answered this question. It was a shocker for me because I had always believed there was great value and discipline in being able to say, “No.”
October is a month for birthdays. Local author Cathy O’Connell and I always celebrate together. This year we’re also jubilant about the recent publication of her latest novel, The Last Night Out. Don’t miss it.
This was an uncomfortable moment. Having just lost a husband who suffered through an unforgiving disease for eight years, I was trying to redefine my Life. Dorie, who I had grown to admire and respect, was suggesting my “rules of engagement,” might need tweaking.
You know what I did, Readers? I began to tweak, deciding to keep the good guys, Strengthand Resilience, while shelving the more negative “No.” By paying attention I soon realized the charismatic Dorie’s “Yes,” is more a compromising Getting-to-Yes. Now that philosophy was explained in the innovative 2011 book “Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In.” Ironically Dorie’s built her phenomenal 40-year career by saying, “Yes,” but left it to authors Fisher, Ury and Patton to write a book explaining it.
My friend, Karen Kribs, celebrated my birthday by hosting an afternoon High Tea. Aranzazu (pictured) enjoyed the fun also and we all loved it.
It doesn’t hurt to have one of our Valley’s most talented musicians and a dear friend, Charlotte McLain, amongst us to play Happy Birthday tunes during tea time.
That’s why we’re here today. Seven years ago, merci to an Oprah’s article, I joined French Fridays with Dorie, an international group devoted to cooking through Dorie’s Around My French Table cookbook. Many of you subscribers know my oft-repeated story about connecting to this group and committing to a weekly blogging schedule. That provided me with structure and a social community, props to re-build a lifestyle.
Avoir, Mon Ami. My bruised and battered FFWD cookbook got quite a workout the past 7 years. The binding is even separated from the content pages. Retired, with love, on a shelf of honor but still making the delicious recipes.
Our FFWD group retired two years ago, after cooking 300 recipes together. Some of us continued blogging. Many pursued other interests. The one thing we did, however, was keep in touch with each other. We clearly could not break up the group. Nor did we want to lose touch with our Dorie, the author of 13 cookbooks, winner of five James Beard and two IACP Cookbooks of the Year awards, who had showered us with interest and support.
An international meet-up: Frankfurt, Germany, meets Aspen, Colorado, in Vail. Rose Heda and I have been French Fridays with Dorie food blogging colleagues for 7 years but had never met. Knowing she would be in Boulder this week, we’ve had a lunch planned since last February. Last Wednesday it happened: a 3 hour lunch, lots of chatter, a wonderful “real” friendship now.
When Dr. Katie Baillargeon, a FFWD alum and administrator of our Cook the Book Fridays blog, discovered Dorie was writing another cookbook, she asked if we could cook through it like before. Dorie was delighted. As were we. Can you hear the drumrolls? This is our first post from her amazing new “Everyday Dorie, The Way I Cook.” Gougères are a classic French appetizer. We chose this recipe because Gougères were the first recipe we posted from AMFT in 2010.
Readers, I promise you are going to love this new adventure showcasing Dorie’s recipes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
Just out of the oven.
MY NEWEST GOUGÈRES by Dorie Greenspan, Everyday Dorie, The Way I Cook
Makes about 60 gougères
From Dorie: “Gougères are French cheese puffs based on a classic dough called pâte à choux (the dough used for cream puffs). It’s a testament to their goodness that I’m still crazy about them after all these years and after all the thousands that I’ve made. Twenty or so years ago, when my husband and I moved to Paris, I decided that Gougères would be the nibble I’d have ready for guests when they visited. Regulars chez moi have come to expect them.”
1⁄2 cup whole milk
1⁄2 cup water 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
11⁄4 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 large egg white, at room temperature
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (preferably French)
2 cups coarsely grated cheese, such as Comté, Gruyère and/or sharp cheddar
2⁄3 cup walnuts or pecans, lightly toasted and chopped
From Dorie: My secret to being able to serve guests gougères on short notice is to keep them in the freezer, ready to bake. Scoop the puffs, freeze them on a parchment-lined baking sheet or cutting board and then pack them airtight. You can bake them straight from the oven. Just give them a couple more minutes of heat.
1.Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat it to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
2. Bring the milk, water, butter and salt to a boil over high heat in a medium saucepan. Add the flour all at once, lower the heat and immediately start stirring energetically with a heavy spoon or whisk. The dough will form a ball and there’ll be a light film on the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring for another 2 minutes or so to dry the dough. Dry dough will make puffy puffs.
3. Turn the dough into the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or work by hand with a wooden spoon and elbow grease). Let the dough sit for a minute, then add the eggs one by one, followed by the white, beating until each egg is incorporated before adding the next. The dough may look as though it’s separating or falling apart but just keep working. By the time the white goes in, the dough will be beautiful. Beat in the mustard, followed by the cheese and the walnuts. Give the dough a last mix-through by hand.
I used a small 2-Teaspoons cookie scoop, available on line, to form the balls of dough.
4. Scoop or spoon out the dough, using a small cookie scoop (11⁄2 teaspoons). If you’d like larger puffs, shape them with a tablespoon or medium-size cookie scoop. Drop the dough onto the lined baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between each mound. (The dough can be scooped and frozen on baking sheets at this point.)
5. Slide the baking sheets into the oven and immediately turn the oven temperature down to 375 degrees F.
6. Bake for 12 minutes, then rotate the pans from front to back and top to bottom. Continue baking until the Gougères are puffed, golden and firm enough to pick up, another 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately—these are best directly from the oven.
S T O R I N G: The puffs are best soon after they come out of the oven and nice (if flatter) at room temperature that same day. If you want to keep baked puffs, freeze them and then reheat them in a 350-degree-F oven for a few minutes.
Bofinger Sauerkrat with a knuckle of pork, white sausage, Strasbourg sausage, sausage with cumin, smoked pork belly, pork loin and boiled potatoes. Brasserie Bofinger
Dear Miss Manners,
When I was in Paris recently, I attended a small dinner party with four other American friends. Our gracious host and hostess live in an apartment with a balcony view of the Tour Eiffel. During our marvelous dinner we set our Apple watches for “on the hour” alarms to catch the 5-minute breathtaking display of sparkling lights superimposed over the tower’s golden lighting.
That meant the five of us left the table en masse four times during dinner. Was that rude? Is an apology needed? I feel guilty. Thank you for responding ASAP.
PS – In our defense, here’s our once-in-a-lifetime view. Vive la France.
As you read this post it’s a good bet I’m boarding an Air Canada 777 making my 32-hours way to Aspen via Toronto and Denver. After more than a five months absence, my tiny 940’ condo will seem like a palace. May is always a month of construction frenzy at The Gant. That’s okay. It’s jackhammer-loud, noisy and messy with just me and the construction guys on site. As a reminder of that, I understand earplugs (free) await me.
Aspenites Karen Kribs and Cathy O’Connell enjoying the Paris Skyline with our host, Michael.
While eager to see Colorado, leaving Paris is a bit of a tug. If you’ve joined me virtually for this adventure, you already know I’ve loved my experience.
Another familiar face from Aspen, Fred Venrick.
It’s always a treat to eat white asparagus during its very short season. Aliza Sokolow, an award winning food photographer, is in the background with Dorie.
NIBBLES WITH the GREENSPANS
For starters there were oysters with gougères and salmon rillettes. The last two, which I’ve also made, were from Dorie’s Around My French Table cookbook.
In a recent post I wrote about having dinner with Dorie and Michael Greenspan who were spending time at their Paris apartment. If you recall, for more than five years I was part of a group which cooked through Dorie’s Around My French Tablecookbook. Last week Dorie called to invite me and my Aspen friends, who had just arrived in Paris, to come for drinks and nibbles. An unexpected invitation, I was very pleased as were my friends.
I had never eaten oysters before so Cathy provided a tutorial and encouragement.
Just a heads up Readers, if you’re ever invited for “nibbles” at the Greenspans, we’re talking full-fledged dinner. Let me say this about the evening…..I knocked at their door and introduced them to 3 Aspenites who they had never met before. By the end of the evening (ahem, 12:30am), we were all best friends.
Although I am being facetious about writing Miss Manners. We did bob up and down and Apple watches were involved.
All Aboard. Belgium-bound.
ANTWERP by TRAIN
At the International Market with Andrea and 3 of her 4 daughters
Paying homage to Morocco at the International Market in Antwerp
During my 8 years of food blogging many of the acquaintances I’ve known virtually are now friends. Those who live in the USA I’ve often met personally. Others who live in faraway places, not so much. That’s why last Saturday was such a treat. I finally met the very-talented Andrea Mohr who blogs as The Kitchen Lioness and lives with her husband and four daughters in Bonn, Germany.
Pomme Frites with Mayo, surprisingly delicious
Posing with Nijntje (Miffy), a storybook character
We cooked up a plan where I would come by train to Antwerp and she, Thomas and the girls would drive from Bonn, a 21/2 hour trip for us both. Miraculously, with thanks to the Europeans’ efficient train system, the day passed without a hitch. Andrea met me at the station with, what else, a bouquet of gorgeous tulips. Their itinerary included visiting the International Market and all Andrea’s favorite kitchen stores, seeing Antwerp’s historical highlights, enjoying Belgium food specialities and a hot chocolate break. Since we’re usually separated by 5,000 miles, this was a glorious meet up.
“Homeless Jesus,” a sculpture by Timothy Schmalz was installed in Antwerp in February.
Lunch – burrata and Jambon de Parme salad
Bofinger’s fish sauerkraut with haddock, scottish salmon, langoustine, sea bass, boiled potatoes and horseradish butter Brasserie Bofinger
Île flottante, Brasserie Bofinger
Memorial de la Shoah, Paris’ holocaust museum was dedicated in 2005 by President Jacques Chirac.
The Luxor Obelisk with the Grande Roue de Paris in the foreground. The ferris wheel is 2000′ high.
It’s been 5 weeks since I arrived in Paris with 2 small suitcases, keys to an Airbnb rental (first time ever) and a blank slate. Albeit unnerving, the onus on me, there’s freedom in that. If my friends and family questioned the sanity of this adventure, I didn’t know it. That was truly a gift. When I asked them, a time or two or three, “Have I lost my mind?” No one said, “Yes.”
I arrived with the wind of their optimistic wishes at my back. This trip has been truly magical. Although I’ll wring every ounce of joy possible out of these last few days in Paris, going home is definitely on my radar.
Japanese Cherry Tree, (Cerisier du japon)
Meanwhile, here’s a look at Paris Week #5, best yet.
Mary & Dorie, the French Fridays girls
FRENCH THURSDAY with DORIE
We had dinner at Bistrot Paul Bert with the man himself, Bertrand Auboyneau.
As many of you know, my blog began eight years ago with French Fridays with Dorie, an international group which connected virtually to cook the book, Around my French Table. The cookbook, newly published by the James Beard award-winning author Dorie Greenspan, contained 300 recipes.
Over the next 5 years, with Dorie’s friendship, encouragement and mentoring, we made them all. And we now look forward to cooking fromEveryday Dorie, The Way I Cook, which hits the stands October 23.
The fish is Sole and was delicious but note the cauliflower.
Dorie and her husband, Michael, who have an apartment in Paris, arrived unexpectedly a week ago and asked me to join them for dinner. (My social calendar, of course, was blank.) Before dinner Michael took me out on their balcony where, starting with the Tour Eiffel and moving left, I could see every major Parisian landmark. I’ve archived that unforgettable moment.
You can see in two photos that Dorie ordered scallops for an entrée. Here are what Coquille Saint Jacques look like in the markets.
ANGELINA, MS. BELLE ÉPOQUE
Several weeks ago I enjoyed a memorable dinner at Susanna and Philippe Saint-Loubert’s home. Susanna called last week with two questions: 1) Did I like chocolate? (Yes), and 2) Had I been to Angelina’s Tea House? (No).
“I know it’s touristy, Mary,” she admitted, “but you must go once and have their hot chocolate.”
I was game so Saturday we met at the famous Angelina’s on Rue de Rivoli. Established in 1903 by Antoine Rumpelmayer and named for his granddaughter, Angelina’s is a Parisian institution. It was designed by French architect Édouard-Jean Niermans in the Belle Époque style and retains that gorgeous interior to this day. Its fame derives from its almost pudding-like hot chocolate. We happily piled on the Chantilly cream and enjoyed.
When I was walking home from Angelina’s, I stopped to watch about 100 kids breakdancing in the middle open square at the Louvre. Two young men (not shown) were the leaders.
This is the week that my home away from home included Aspenites. So thrilled to see them.
I couldn’t stop smiling. (L to R) Karen Kribs, Me, Fred Venrick, Pat Hutchinson, Nancy Alciatore and Cathy O’Connell.
And, joined by Jim Hutchinson at the head of the table. Fred and Cathy just arrived from attending the London Book Fair where she promoted her new book to be published in September. We were celebrating.
Mille Feuille Minute a la Vanille Bourbon We ate at Le MaZenay in the 3rd Arrondisement.
My longtime friend and Ranger colleague, Judy Schramm, arrived yesterday with her granddaughter, Thea. I remember when Thea was born. And, no, I did not say that. She is darling and so excited to be in Paris.
On Sunday Cathy volunteered to take Karen and me on a sightseeing stroll. Karen and I envisioned a 2-3 hour walk especially since Cathy had hip replacement surgery 10 weeks ago. What began at 11:30am didn’t end until 5:30pm, 7 miles later. Karen and I staged a sweet sit-in and were rewarded.
Les Invalides, Napoleon’s Tomb (L), Le Tour Eiffel and Rodin’s Le Penseur (R). Hôtel Biron, where A. Rodin lived and now a museum devoted to his work.
Six weeks in Paris. Alone. Studio. 3rd floor walk-up. No elevator.
Admit it, right now you’re thinking, shouldn’t she have done this 40 years ago?
But, here’s the thing.C’est dommage.I didn’t.
I joined others for a wine/cheese tasting at Galeries Lafayette led by Thierry Givone, Wine Tasting in Paris.
Galeries Lafayette is a magnificent department store in downtown Paris.
Now, three weeks into the journey, I am surprised by its so-far-so-good success. This trip was no whim but a dream which finally evolved into a now-or never-moment. I chose “now” with the caveat being a United Airlines return ticket in my backpack.
Paris-Brest, Brasserie Bofinger, 5-7 Rue de la Bastille. Four years ago my French Fridays with Dorie cooking group made the dessert pastry, Paris-Brest. I had no idea what it was or looked like at the time. So at lunch last week, I ordered it. And, ate the whole thing!
It was in February, 2014, that Paris-Brest was our recipe choice one week. This is what I made. I remember it being good enough to share.
For le plat principal, the main course at Bofinger’s, I had Scallops with creamy risotto in thick shellfish sauce.
At this point in my life I’m experiencing Paris through seasoned eyes and with layers of learning as baggage. I’m grateful for each moment here. It was satisfying, for me at least, to capture all together Rodin’s Le Penseur, Les Invalides and Le Tour Eiffel in my lens (photo above). Each of those images which represents three centuries of world history are something special to see.
Friday night I met my friends from Edinburgh, Araminta and Charles Ritchie. for dinner at the home of Susannah and Philippe Saint-Loubert. The Saint-Loubert’s were very gracious to include me.
Susannah is a wonderful cook. She made a variation of Coq Au Vin but it was her sauce that was truly authentic, delicious and red in color as it should be. Charles and Susannah
I understand that the dessert, Génoise roulée, was from a recipe of Araminta’s but baked by Susannah. With or without fruit, perfect.
With the hits, of course, have been misses. On Day 2 it took 45 minutes for me to find a boulongerie that was only three blocks away. I went the wrong way on the metro but turned myself around at the next stop. The graffiti defacing Paris’s beautiful buildings breaks my heart. And it’s obvious the French haven’t received the memo about cigarettes. If secondhand smoke kills you, I’m a dead woman!
Last week I spent a day each at Musée Louvre, d’Orsay and Rodin. At the d’Orsay there is an specific area reserved for students to work and draw.
There are always student groups at the museums. I realized I could understand what the guides were saying to the youngsters. Sometimes I hung out with the kids. No one seemed to mind.
The guides who talk to the kids keep it simple and entertaining.
This little guy resides in this pipe at the Hôtel Biron among Rodin’s art work, rent free. He’s a very cold french sparrow!
Every night I put together the next day’s plan but even so, there’s still uncertainty, a new address to find, a snafu here or there. Whether I’m deciphering a French menu, losing my way or figuring out the Paris metro system, I know it doesn’t matter how slowly I go, eventually I’ll get there. Sharing it with you makes it even better.
On Saturday at Georges Larnicol’s, a chocolatier on my street, they needed to deliver a large chocolate Easter sculpture. The delivery car was smaller than the sculpture.
There was lots and lots and lots of discussion while the girls held the heavy and fragile chocolate sculpture.
Then they tried to load it into the hatchback. Nope. Hopeless. The last I saw of them, they were taking the chocolate sculpture back into the shop.
Flàneur – An observer who wanders the streets of a great city on a mission to notice with childlike enjoyment the smallest events and the obscurest sights he encounters.
Tuesday was Macaron Day 2018, a celebration of this beloved morsel and to raise money for cystic fibrosis. Begun by Pierre Hermé in 2013, many Paris pattiseries now participate. I went to the source (Sylvia, pictured, works for Cystic Fibrosis) to donate and eat macarons.
It’s a rainy, bone-chilling cold Paris evening, providing me the perfect opportunity to rewind this past week for you. Before these seven days blur into “If it’s Tuesday it must be Belgium,” moments, here are mine. Deciding this week’s most unforgettable sighting was a toughie. I’m calling it a toss-up between
noted architect Frank Gehry and a young french mother.
On Thursday I took the metro to the Bois de Boulogne, a large public park in the 16th arrondissement. My destination was Foundation Louis Vuitton, the city’s newest art/cultural center located on the park’s western edge. Designed by architect Frank Gehry, he wanted “to design, in Paris, a magnificent vessel symbolizing the cultural calling of France.”
I ate lunch at Foundation Louis Vuitton at its signature restaurant Le Frank, named for architect Gehry. The food was meh but sitting under his fish light sculpture worth the pricey meal. Gehry is obsessed with fish. In 1983 he was commissioned by Formica to design a fish lamp, his first, using their then-innovative plastic laminate.
Also on Thursday I was walking down the Rue de Rivoli when I approached a bus stop. Passengers were getting off while others waited to board. There was a snafu at the back door as a young mother chattering on a mobile (left hand) tried backing out of the bus while tugging a stroller (right hand). Bags were hanging from the stroller and, oh, the baby of course. After maneuvering it down the steps, her stroller landed with a loud thud. Mama’s talking never lost a beat. The gathering crowd watched in amazement as she gathered herself, making her way who-knows-where.
It’s nice to pick a neighborhood bistro, always a friendly stop. Mine is La Fontaine Sully.
The July Column is a monument standing in the center of the Place de la Bastille to commemorate the Revolution of 1830. (Think actor Hugh Jackson.) It anchors my neighborhood and is the beacon to make my way home everyday.
LIFE HAPPENS, CHOCOLATE HELPS
Despite the weather, Parisians seemed intent on celebrating Easter week. While we North Americans are partial to jelly beans and Peeps, flavored marshmallow candy shaped into chicks and bunnies, the French prefer chocolate. For the myriad of artisanal chocolate shops in Paris, Easter is profitable.
Johana helps me choose my chocolate at Edwart’s. David Lebovitz recently featured this shop in his blog.
She insisted I sample a number of chocolates before choosing my own. By the time I finished sampling I didn’t need a box of chocolates!
Patty Price, an extraordinary baker and blogging colleague who lives in San Francisco, is in Paris taking classes at La Cuisine Paris. We met at the popular Breizh Cafe and talked (what else?) food while treating ourselves to Chef Larcher’s galettes de blé noir, buckwheat crêpes.
BAKE the WORLD a BETTER PLACE*
Tuesday I joined La Cuisine Paris for its three-hour Marais Soirée Gastronomy Food Tourto offer my taste buds an intensive workout. It was the ultimate CrossFit training session – wine, charcuterie, fromage, bread, Foie Gras, and chocolat but the pastries…full stop.
During the food tour our guide, Amber, suggested a #food hack. “If a patissierie, boulangerie or chocolat shop has chandeliers, go in.” We stopped by Aux Merveilleus de Fred (has a huge chandelier) where the bakers work in the windows. That’s very enticing for those who pass by. This shop’s main product is the merveilleus, a fantastically rich cake with a layer of meringue, a layer of whipped cream, a layer of meringue, a layer of whipped cream followed by a coating of one of 7 different toppings. Oh la la
The product. (I chose pink – cherry.) Aux Merveilleux de Fred photo
NO, JUST NO
Centre Georges Pompidou
CROWN of THORNS
The Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, Gothic architecture at its finest, was the destination of choice for hundreds of tourists.. I happily joined the crowd to look, see and marvel. It’s also a Friday, the day the Crown of Thorns, the wreath reputed to have been worn by Jesus, is displayed. This relic traveled from Jerusalem to Constantinople circa 1063 and by 1238, during the reign of King Louis IX, landed at Sainte-Chapelle for safekeeping. Thorns were often given to European royals to commemorate great events. At the British Museum I recently saw a thorn gifted to Mary, Queen of Scots when she married King Francis II. The thornless remains are kept in the treasury at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris.
I don’t do selfies well but wanted to show that I was there. Notre Dame Cathedrale. (I’m in the red stocking cap on the right.)
The Crown of Thorns, from afar. I got closer which was very exciting for me but was in a cameras forbidden area.
Happy Easter to you readers celebrating Easter this coming week. I also gratefully appreciate so many of you for commenting or sending me e-mails, texts and articles since I’ve been in Paris. It keeps the solitariness at bay.
Can we agree that seven years of blogging about food is worth 250 calories? Thus, the cake.
Lately I’ve been reflecting on this lifetime of growing, cooking, eating and sharing food, realizing it’s the frame work I’ve used to build and re-build my life. Most of my happy memories are in some way attached to food.
– From my childhood I still crave Mom’s Apple Crisp, Helen Shelley’s Whipped Cream and Oreo Cookie Pudding, Millie Potter’s Molasses Cookies and Carole Renken’s mom’s Rice Krispie Bars. There are so many memories attached to each of those cravings.
– As for silly family memories, this rises to the top. The turkey wouldn’t gobble if I didn’t bring a huge batch of Chex Mix to my family on Thanksgiving. Every year my granddaughters wonder aloud if Grandma will remember. It’s always a week before the holidays when I get the call.
“Hi, Mom. It’s Missy.(long pause)Mom, now I am serious, please, please don’t put so much butter in the Chex Mix this year.”
“Mom, Mom, I really mean it this year.”
“I know Missy.”
When I arrive the girls are quick to spy the Chex Mix canisters in the car. “I only doubled the butter,” I whisper to them.
They giggle and run in to tell their Mom. I do penance. Eleven years. Same story.
Take a look at the potato plant, just dug from of the soil. Potatoes are now grown in the Valley by Woody Creek Distillers who make acclaimed craft spirits including 100% Potato Vodka. WCD Photo
– One of my favorite Michael Memories is our annual potato harvest. We Iowans could not successfully grow tomatoes in Aspen but our potato crop was gangbusters. Each fall Michael would make the call. It was time. He’d grab his pitchfork to dig up the plants as I got down and dirty to retrieve those spuds. Since I experimented with different varieties, there was lots of ooh & aah-ing as we spotted each one. And God help that man if he mistakenly speared and damaged one of those tubers. Our harvest’s success dictated the number of guests invited to our boisterous potato parties which followed.
In Las Vegas, where I’ve spent the holidays, some people go High Brow and some go Low. I favor the Low – my favorite burger joint on Eastern Avenue.
My long-lasting friendships, whether in Iowa, Nevada or Colorado were nourished and nurtured in the kitchen and around the table. This experience of the past seven years of cooking virtually only raised the bar. In an instance of serendipity I joined French Fridays with Dorie, arguably among the first virtual cook-the-book food groups.
This exposure to kindred spirits throughout the world was an unexpected gift. C.S. Lewis nailed it, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
LV now has a big box IKEA. Since I had never visited an Ikea I stopped by to taste their iconic Allemansrätten meatballs with mashed potatoes & gravy and lingonberry sauce.
For me, every week I make time to plan, cook, click and write. My measuring cup runneth over.
There are none of the long lines here in Las Vegas as reported at Danny Meyer’s popular Shake Shacks in New York City.
Still worth a stop for the ‘Shroom Burger, a crisp-fried portobello mushroom filled with melted meunster and cheddar cheeses, topped with lettuce, tomato, and ShackSauce. Tasted mighty fine with french fries and a salted caramel shake.
YEAR EIGHT KICKS OFF IN SAN MIGUEL de ALLENDE
On Thursday I am flying to San Miguel de Allende, located in central Mexico, for a 5-week visit. Designated as an UNESCO World Heritage Site, SMA joins other historical cities like Venice, Florence, Salzburg and Prague as the most historically and culturally significant in the world.
I will be living near the centro histórico, the city’s 500-year-old downtown district. For the next few weeks of posting I’ll be trading David Lebovitz’s recipes for those of Diana Kennedy, aka the “Julia Child of Mexico,” and Señora Trini, the reigning cook in my hosts’ cocina.
Gracias, Readers, for a wonderful seven years with you.