Canistrelli (Coriscan shortbread cookies)

I was gifted this lovely little guide book of Paris recently. It’s not your typical guide book of monuments and activities, but a guide book strictly of food places and shops that any avid foodie, like myself, must see while they are in Paris. As you probably know, I’ve been working my way through the many food options that Paris has to offer and I always like to bring this book along with me so I can find a good place to eat no matter what arrondissement I’m in. Clotilde, the author of the book, also has an excellent blog called Chocolate & Zucchini, that I highly recommend taking a look at. 

In addition to the restaurant and bakery reviews, there’s a sampling a different recipes, all within the French cooking tradition. I decided to take a stab at some canistrelli the other day (otherwise known as corsican shortbread cookies).

I was pleased with how simple the recipe look at first – no butter, no eggs – and anything with wine always sounds good to me. I couldn’t find chestnut flour – the flour situation here in France is still taking some getting used to – but I did find almond flour, which I used a substitute. 

As I said, these were super easy to make, but they seemed to be lacking a little something. They were crunchy and and flakey, which I’m sure would go great with an afternoon tea, but I guess I was searching for something above and beyond the basic shortbread that I was used to, and this simply wasn’t it. Needless to say, I served them at dinner the other night and there was not a single one left! I would love to play with these again – maybe adding some different spices and more lemon and definitely will eat them next time with some hot tea! 

CANISTRELLI

(Adapted from Clotilde’s Adventures in Paris)

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cups chestnut flour (substitute almond flour)
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine

DIRECTIONS:

1) Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

2) In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flours, salt, baking powder, and lemon zest.

3) Form a well in the center and pour in the olive oil and wine. Stir the liquids into the solids, working gently with a fork, until the dough comes together.

4) Turn out onto a clean work surface, and knead gently until the dough comes together into a smooth ball, without overworking it. Add a little more flour or water as necessary to adjust the consistency.

5) Lightly flour the work surface underneath the dough, and use the palm of your hands to pat it into a disk, about 1/2 inch in thickness.

6) Slice the dough into 2.5-cm (1-inch) squares or diamonds with a dough cutter or sharp knife.

7) Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 160°C (325°F) and bake for another 15 minutes, until the canistrelli are golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool completely before serving.

8) Enjoy! 

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Goodbye Marseille, Hello Paris!

With a heavy heart, I left Marseille this morning to start a new adventure in Paris. Charlotte and I have been together for 2 and 1/2, so it was very sad to say goodbye to each other, but with 21st century technology, I know we’ll keep in touch more than we probably do even when we live in the same city. Coming to Marseille was the perfect way to start my time in France. I got to speak a lot of French, eat a lot of really good food, and be part of a French family for 10 days. It was wonderful! Charlotte’s grandma has already invited me back!

By the way – HAPPY NEW YEAR! Can you believe it’s 2012 already? I was ready for 2011 to be over and am ready to move on with my life again post-cancer. Char, her brother, her cousin, and I went to a fun little party out in the country where we had wonderful dinner, hung around, and just partied into the New Year. Waking up on New Years Day was amazing – it was literally 60 degrees outside, if not more. I was so beautiful and wonderful way to spend my last day in Marseille.

Once again, the TGV never ceases to amaze me. It’s just so fast! I successfully navigated the metro from Gare de Lyon with two backpacks and one shoulder bag, got stuck in the turnstile once, and made my way to my apartment, which is in the 11th arrondissement. I’ve come to the conclusion that the Paris metro is not as scary as I had anticipated. I think I had this fear that since I know the New York subway so well, learning anything new would be impossible. But not so! I made my way to David’s apartment to pick up my stuff without a hassle and he helped me get a Navigo pass, which is an unlimited metrocard with my picture on it! Next task will be to the know the Paris metro as well as I know the New York one.

I am so happy with my apartment! It was a little daunting walking up the four flights of stairs at first, but it’s well worth the haul. Bringing my suitcase up the stairs was genuinely one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. I vow to never carry anything more than 20 to 30 pounds up again without help for fear of slipping and falling. I’ve only done a little bit of snooping around my neighborhood, but so far, it seems pretty awesome. I went out and bought a bit of food and tonight I think I’m going to stay-in, unpack, and enjoy my new digs! Much more to report tomorrow and this coming week as I get to know the area 🙂

Here’s the kitchen, with the stove that I so desperately wanted: 

Living room with pull out king-size couch:A view from above:

My bed, which is up a ladder (hopefully I won’t tumble down ;-): 

Huge closet (I think it’s a sign I need to go shopping): 

Coconut Rice Krispie Treats

Rice Krispie cereal is one of those cereals that never gets old. Although I don’t buy it too often, I always enjoy eating in whenever I get the chance. The same holds true for rice krispie treats, which makes this timeless cereal that much better by adding a whole bag of melted marshmallows. Clearly, the only way to make this treat any better would be to add possibly my favorite ingredient of all time – coconut. In my opinion, coconut should really go in every dessert treat, but  I do understand that sometimes it just doesn’t fit and I restrain myself from adding it to everything. For rice krispie treats though, the more coconut, the better.

I lightly toasted the coconut for a few minutes in the oven first before I added it to the rice krispie and marshmallow mixture. Keep on eye on the roasting coconut though, as it can tend to burn quickly. The toasted coconut brings out the aroma and nuttiness of it of the shreds in my opinion. This is such a simple and easy treat to whip up. It’s light for just a sweet snack and had I had the time to drizzle chocolate over it, it would have made an excellent dinner dessert.

COCONUT RICE KRISPIES

(Adapted from The Craving Chronicles)

INGREDIENTS:

  • Cooking spray for greasing the pan
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 10oz (1 bag) of regular-sized marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 5 cups Rice Krispies cereal
  • 1 cup toasted shredded coconut
  • 3 ounces (about 1/2 cup) bittersweet chocolate chips, melted

DIRECTIONS:

1) Line a 9×13 inch pan or baking dish with foil, leaving a few inches of overhang on each side. Grease the foil very well with cooking spray.

2) In a large saucepan or pot, melt butter. Add marshmallows and heat over medium-low heat, stirring until melted. Stir in shredded coconut and coconut extract. Remove from heat. Add Rice Krispies and stir until thoroughly coated.

3) Spread Rice Krispie mixture into prepared pan. With the back of a buttered spatula or using a sheet of waxed paper, press mixture firmly into an even layer. Sprinkle with toasted coconut and press lightly to adhere to the top of the treats.

4) In a small, heatproof and microwave safe bowl, heat the chocolate in the microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir, and return to microwave, heating in 15 second intervals and stirring well between each heating, until chocolate is melted. Drizzle melted chocolate over the treats in the pan.

5) Cool at room temperature until chocolate hardens. Once cool, lift treats out by the edges of the foil. Cut into squares and enjoy feeling like a kid again.

Strawberry Muffins

On my new health kick (Ha) I bought yogurt, cottage cheese, strawberries, etc… All healthy things. Well, when I opened the top to the yogurt, I discovered a recipe for strawberry muffins that looked quite delicious. No oil, whole wheat flour, and very little sugar. Since my parents were out of town, and it was the end of Passover, I pounced at the chance to make something new that I had never tried before. Well, the final verdict is, they are easy to make but they don’t have so much flavor. The fresh strawberries make them a little more wet than most muffins and they didn’t have much else by way of flavor. They are certainly an easy breakfast item – I put half in the freezer to toast some morning – but I’m not sure I would make them again. From the tops, they look just like plain muffins, but I promise that they have strawberries in them.


Ingredients

· 1 cup all-purpose flour

· 1 cup whole wheat flour

· ½ cup sugar

· 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

· 2 eggs

· 1 cup plain Stonyfield Farm Yogurt (I used French vanilla)

· ¼ cup melted butter

· 1 teaspoon vanilla

· 1 cup chopped strawberries – fresh or frozen

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 12 muffin tin or line it with paper baking cups.

2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar and baking soda.

3. In another bowl, stir together eggs, yogurt, melted butter and vanilla until blended.

4. Toss the strawberries with the flour mixture.

5. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir until the flour is just moistened. The batter will be lumpy.

6. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.

Chewy Chewy Blondie Brownies

So in my rage of baking a many banana nut muffins to get rid of all the bananas we had that were going bad, I decided to try something besides fruit muffins, which turned into brownies. Not just ordinary brownies, but delicious chocolaty, chewy, blondie brownies. I got the recipe here, but I left out the nuts and the toffee bits and added an extra cup of chocolate chips. They were very very sweet and the lack of toffee was made up for by the coconut and chocolate chips.

Peanut Butter Brownies

One day while I was browsing the baking aisle at the supermarket, I saw that peanut butter chips were on sale, so naturally I bought a pack. I found a recipe for Peanut Butter Brownies from Hershey’s. They were very rich and peanut buttery. The top glaze was a little gooey, and I probably would just leave it off if I made them in the future.

INGREDIENTS

* 1-1/4 cups butter , melted
* 1-3/4 cups sugar
* 4 eggs
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
* 2/3 cup Cocoa
* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1-2/3 cups Peanut Butter Chips, divided
* PEANUT BUTTER CHIP GLAZE(recipe follows)

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

2. Stir together butter and sugar in large bowl. Add eggs and vanilla; beat with spoon or whisk until well blended. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; add to butter mixture, stirring until well blended. Reserve 1/2 cup peanut butter chips for glaze; stir remaining chips into batter. Spread batter into prepared pan.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Prepare PEANUT BUTTER CHIP GLAZE; drizzle over brownies. Let stand until glaze is set. Cut into squares. About 32 brownies.

PEANUT BUTTER CHIP GLAZE

1. Combine 1/2 cup REESE’S Peanut Butter Chips (reserved from brownies), 2 tablespoons butter or margarine and 2 tablespoons milk in small microwave-safe bowl.

2. Microwave at HIGH (100%) 45 seconds; stir until chips are melted and mixture is smooth. Gradually add 1/4 cup powdered sugar, beating with whisk until smooth. About 1/2 cup glaze.