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q & a

Do you make your own condiments?

Ain't nobody got time for that! When my friend Amy suggested I make my own harissa, I quickly changed the subject to avoid hurting her feelings by revealing my opinion on the subject. I mean, really? Might as well start making my own ketchup. But seriously, though, there are some quality brands out there that do the job perfectly fine. After all, that's what they were created for!

Here are a few of my favorites:

Do you buy organic food?

Yes, and no. I buy organic eggs and milk. As for vegetables and meat, I buy organic when I can, but I still want the product to look nice and fresh. I prefer to buy a non-organic apple than a wrinkly old thing thats attracting hundreds of fruit flies. I am totally behind the organic movement, and support local farming, but I also understand that not everybody can afford to buy these products.

Can I substitute crème fraîche for sour cream?

Hahahaha...absolutely not. Sour cream cannot be cooked, so when you want to add a creamy taste and texture to a dish, go for crème fraîche. However, you need to be careful to heat the crème fraîche gradually, so as to avoid shocking it. One super simple use of crème fraîche is the sauce my grandma used to make with steam asparagus. You can find it here.

One substitue you can use for crème fraîche is cream cheese (savory dishes only, of course - don't go eating your apple crumbles with Philadelphia, please).
Honestly, I don't even use sour cream.

Is it worth making your own yogurt?

Yes, definitely. American yogurts are vile. They have this jelly-like texture and nasty artificial flavoring. Even though I'm always for simple solutions, I must admit that my recently purchased Euro Cuisine Yogurt Maker has changed my life. I also found shortcuts to make the yogurt, which you can find here. In terms of price, it is actually slightly cheaper to make your own. But really, though, it's worth it for the taste alone.

If you can't spare even five minutes per week, then at least go for Greek yogurt brands such as Fage, Oikos and Chobani.

Do you make your own broth?

Never. I am sure it's great if you have nothing better to do than spend hours cooking a chicken carcasse. As far as I'm concerned, I will purchase either a carton of organic chicken bouillon or simply add a cube of Knorr chicken stock to some hot water. Facile!

What's your beef with Julia Child? (no pun intended)

If you have ever watched one of Child's videos, you will quickly realize that under the pretext of making French food, she makes everything fussy and more complicated than necessary. I mean, she literally uses ten pots for her boeuf bourguignon, when I use only one (count for yourself here). And she probably didn't even have a dishwasher. May her lively, respectable self rest in peace.

Is it worth making your own pie dough?

It's really up to you. If you're like me and pastry-making just isn't your thing, run and buy yourself a pack (or two) of Pepperidge Farm puff pastry sheets. They will perfectly do the trick and no one will tell the difference!

Where can I find good bread?

I can only speak for NYC, where I find the best baguette at Maison Kayser, and the best spelt country bread and raisin bread at Le Pain Quotidien.


Anonymous said...

It’s true! This Ratatouille is so easy, delicious and serves eight generously. I made it for the first time for fifteen guests, served it buffet style, and everyone loved it! Since my crowd was large, I doubled Cecile’s recipe, but the dish remained subtle with all the different flavors coming through. It’s so versatile and healthy, not to mention you can mix it with almost anything or eat it alone (I cooked it longer, uncovered) - definitely my new fave - a genuine classic and a permanent part of my repertoire.

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