Salads just in time for spring

It’s only natural to envy Patricia Wells.  The American journalist has lived the fantasy of many a food lover since she moved to Paris in 1980.

As the restaurant critic of the International Herald Tribune for 27 years, she made her living by eating and writing about some of the best food in the world.  Now she splits her time between Paris and Provence, teaching small groups of students how to shop, eat and cook like a French woman.  Hard life, eh?

The rest of us are grateful that Wells shares her good fortune in a string of  terrific cookbooks, starting with “Bistro Cooking” (Workman, 1989), which revealed the secrets of the small family restaurants of France for soul-satisfying dishes such as celery remoulade and pot-au-feu.  Now, just in time for the salad days of spring and summer, William Morrow has released “Salad as a Meal,” her ninth collection of recipes. Continue reading Salads just in time for spring

Macaroons for Passover

Baking for Passover is a challenge, especially for cooks who weren’t raised in the Jewish tradition.  Dietary restrictions forbid the use of wheat flour, leavening – even confectioner’s sugar and vanilla extract, which rules out most of the average home baker’s best recipes.

Yet dessert is the one course where there’s room for innovation in a menu bound by tradition.  The brisket may have to be braised Great Aunt Ethel’s way for the seder every year and the matzo balls prepared according to an old family recipe, but everyone’s open to new delights by the end of the meal.  A guest can feel safe contributing something sweet to the feast.

This year, I’ve been playing around with a variation on the macaroons that I initially found in Jacques Pepin’s ”Fast Food My Way” (Houghton Mifflin, 2004).  I’ve adapted the recipe over the years to the point where Pepin probably wouldn’t recognize it anymore. Continue reading Macaroons for Passover