Christmas is over.
Secretly, I breathe a sigh of relief. Continue reading
Christmas is over.
Secretly, I breathe a sigh of relief. Continue reading
It’s here. The week of Christmas.
Am I panicking?
Oddly, no. Mostly, because I spent the first half of December panicking. I am sufficiently burned out from being anxiety-ridden and all that’s left is Christmas excitement!!
It’s also my birthday this week! I’m not much of a birthday person but I’m pretty excited for it and Christmas this year for a couple of reasons:
I’m sure there are many other reasons why this Christmas season is special. I’m a lucky girl who has a lot of love and food in her life.
Here are some good reads:
Happy Holidays-ing. Keep calm, drink your coffee (laced with bourbon) and remember that I love you all!
Old friends are special.
Especially ones that will gobble a whole dozen donuts with you and will always be ready for more. Yeah. He’s that kind of friend. A keeper.
With his shock of stark, yellow hair, prominent, French nose and his Banana Republic air to him – it was hard not to notice him in a crowd. Frenchy had always been this way – striking and distinct, but always warm and happily magnetic in person.
He is affectionately called “Frenchy” by his old high school friends because his family is actually French. Though he was born in the U.S., Frenchy spent over seven years living in France. Anyone from the European continent felt exotic to us high-schoolers at the time and so Frenchy’s persona was born!
I remember one year, for my birthday, he brought me the best surprise – crepes! We had them with Nutella and sugar and I thought I was the most special girl to deserve such a surprise.
Recently, I begged him to show me how he made crepes. It didn’t take much arm-twisting. He enthusiastically agreed and was excited, as was I, at the prospects of gorging ourselves on crepes for a night.
I was curious as to exactly how “French” it was to enjoy crepes. I found out from Frenchy that his family made crepes together from time to time and would make a whole meal out of it. They would use crepes as a part of the main dish – with savory elements such as eggs, bacon, vegetables and whatever else they liked. They would then round off the meal with crepes for dessert – something simple like sugar and lemon juice or Nutella and banana slices as the filling.
Frenchy was so skilled at turning out crepes. He made many in no time at all. He told us about a French holiday tradition (the holiday of la Chandeleur in which it is a custom to have crepes on that day) that if you hold a coin in the same hand that you are holding the crepe pan in and you successfully flip the crepe, it will bring you good luck!
Some of us were not so successful in our crepe-flipping endeavors. It was a fun experience nonetheless! I felt so very French while making and flipping crepes!
We decided, early on, that we would make a crepe cake. Aside from the fact that I’m a terrible traditional cake-maker (I am always too manic and impatient. I end up putting the icing on too soon and it all melts into a horrible, sugary mess), I was also desperately craving eclairs. So we decided to make a horrible, wonderful bastardization of two French classics and thus, the Eclair Crepe Cake was born!
Layers upon layers of crepes, vanilla pastry creme and tempting, tantalizing, titillating chocolate ganache.
Did we devour this? Oh yes. Yes, we did.
And now, it’s your turn!
Eclair Crepe Cake
What You’ll Need:
For the Crepes:
You will need about 20-25 crepes
A non-stick crepe pan or shallow skillet
For the Pastry Cream
For the Chocolate Ganache:
Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring between each 30-second session until the chocolate has just melted. Takes about 1 minute – 1.5 minutes total. It’s okay if you still see lumps of chocolate chips. Keep stirring and the mixture will continue to heat and melt the chocolate and you will have a luscious ganache.
To Assemble the Cake:
Gather your cooled crepes. Place the first one on you platter and spread a thin layer of pastry cream (around 2-3 tablspoons of cream). Start from the middle and push the cream outwards. Do this for three crepe layers.
On the 4th layer, spread about two tablespoons of the chocolate ganache, working from the inside out. I like this alternation so that the rich chocolate doesn’t overpower the pastry cream and you can taste all the layers more distinctly.
Repeat 5-7 times until you have the desired height and layers of your crepe cake.
Top the cake with a thick layer of chocolate ganache (1/4 cup or thereabouts) and dot with blackberries or sliced strawberries.
My best advice to you is to make this cake in advance. The cake cools, settles and tastes better if it is left to sit overnight.
With that being said – I definitely did not do that. In fact, it was close to 11pm and the friends I was cooking with were worn out and hankering for a slice of the cake. Our sweet, French man cut the cake for us and we devoured our warm, chocolate-seeping slices in a weary but oh-so-satisfied silence.
Eat and be merry! Be French!
I won’t lie.
This current holiday season has been an absolute CHORE. I have no idea what it is about this year but December sneaked up on me with all the stealth of Peter Pan’s shadow – seemingly innocuous but altogether mischievous and hard to handle.
Between the hectic schedule, the decorating, the ever-busier roads, the present-buying, and the constant cooking and eating – I can hardly catch my breath. This past week was especially difficult to stand still for a mere moment.
I suppose I found myself in that holiday cliche where I let the stress, the materialism, and the rituals of the Holidays overcome me and I lost sight of what really matters.
Just kidding. Sort of.
In all earnestness though, if you’re feeling the stress this holiday season – breathe in deeply and exhale some jolly serenity because when it comes down to it, all that matters is that you have shown some genuine love and appreciation towards those who have made this past year enthusiastically bearable.
Have a beautiful, noms-filled week.
As a child of immigrants and tradition – I sometimes hate to deviate from age-old recipes but, as always, lack necessitates innovation. I’m sure, to those familiar with Falafel and have grown up eating it, the idea of baking it is near abhorrent. For this, I truly and deeply apologize.
I’ll be honest – I would have fried the Falafel as tradition dictates but I didn’t have enough oil to fry with! Furthermore, the holiday season is ripe with overeating and I can feel my thighs expanding. I figured, just for once, that I could shun my Paula-Deen-excess-loving-butter-glorifying ways and do without the extra fat.
Have you had Falafel before? Does hearing the word ‘Falafel’ make you want to rhyme it with words like waffle or awful? Your answer should be yes. Don’t judge me.
Like hummus, Falafel’s origin is claimed by at least half-a-dozen countries in the Middle Eastern region of our world. Regardless of where it came from, it’s utterly delicious. It is basically a ball of ground chickpeas with spices and herbs that is usually deep fried.
What You’ll Need:
Make yourself a giant spread of pita, olives, tomatoes and cucumbers, sauteed veggies and hummus and labneh. And if you’re like me – you’ll roast some spiced chicken thighs just to cram into your already-overflowing pita sandwich.
It is another Monday.
This particular Monday signaled the end of a beautiful weekend spent commemorating a best friend and her marriage to her charming now-husband. Of course, because she is one of my best friends – not only was the ceremony absolutely gorgeous but the food was also phenomenal. I would have expected nothing less. Congrats, Sara and Mark! May your life be filled with happiness and much marinara sauce and cake! (If you knew Sara, you would understand why this isn’t a strange thing to wish her.)
After the wedding festivities, the good times continued with the most glorious of brunch meals at the well-reputed Fahrenheit restaurant in Charlotte. My meal of choice was the Loco Moco – complete with a tender lamb burger and a griddled ramen patty. Don’t even get me started on those sunny side-up eggs. Oh, dear god. Oh. Ohhhhh.
Furthermore, if you had the good sense to order a Bloody Mary at Fahrenheit, your morning alcoholic needs would be tended to by a very lovely lady who rolled around a cart with all the Bloody Mary accouterments you could ever ask for. When she pulled up with that cart, I felt like Harry Potter on the train to Hogwarts for the first time and the snack trolley just pulled up. My eyes became wide and need for vodka and tomato juice intensified beyond words.
Aside from attaining Bloody Mary nirvana in a restaurant on the top floor of a beautiful hotel in a beautiful city – I was reminded once again that not only is food a reason to gather together but food as part of a celebration can only intensify the sense of camaraderie and affection for one another. It goes without saying – but I’ll say it anyways – that the world can only use more of a sense of togetherness.
What are we fighting for? What are your thoughts on Obama’s recent Oval Office address?
Beyond love, a healthy respect for each other what moves us as individuals is required to sustain a marriage. Do we forget this at times? What reminds us?
Yottam Ottolenghi – on of my favorite chefs and author, has come out with a new cookbook! Take a gander at Nopi!
“That is the crucial question that will determine whether a Paris climate change accord has teeth, or whether it is little more than an expression of good will.” And how much money can we contribute to developing countries since 1st-world countries are the ‘aggressors’ in causing climate change?
Jamie Oliver’s Chicken in Milk. Don’t even begin to question it. Yes, it sounds weird. Is it weird? No. NO. IT’S NOT WEIRD. It’s probably one of the best chicken recipes I have ever had the pleasure of making. I’d send Jamie Oliver flowers of gratitude if I could.
So many things to think about! May you have a wonderful week filled with wonderful meals!