La Défense is a business district in the suburbs just around Paris. It is sometimes compared to the Parisian New York because of its skyscrapers. Needless to say the skyscrapers are way smaller and it barely resembles New York, but if you’ve never seen the place, it gives you an idea: this is a place where people work, so rather serious.
Since there are many open spaces at the center of the business district, there is, from time to time, one or two art exhibition(s). I still think that this one was a bit unexpected for the place though. The pictures were taken in March 2010.
It’s been a while since I have posted a recipe. Days are getting shorter and a little gloomy sometimes (yes, even in Austin, TX), so I thought I would share this heartwarming recipe, a cross between French comfort food, namely quiche, and a very American seasonal ingredient, butternut squash.
Now, I am not saying that the French are not using pumpkin or butternut squash. They are. The squashes most often used are potiron (pumpkin) and potimarron (red kuri squash). It was not often that I would find butternut squash (apparently called Doubeurre in France) in Paris, but things might have changed. I would say, though, that the use of many different sorts of squashes in cooking is more American than French.
Last month, I was in awe in front of the choice of squashes (edible or ornamental) Whole Foods in Austin was displaying:
So, this is the season when squashes are “extensively” used to cook in America. Now quiche is quite typical of French cuisine, even if cooked elsewhere. The most often seen kind of quiche is the quiche lorraine which is made with bacon.
A quiche is rich and ideal for this time of the year when temperatures begin to decrease. It is also quite simple to make.
To make this quiche, you will need:
– 12 oz of pre-diced butternut squash
– 4 eggs
– 8 oz of crème fraîche (I use the Vermont Creamery one. Now you can use heavy cream, but we like it better with real creme fraiche)
– Grated cheese
– 1 roll of pie crust
So no, I didn’t make the pie crust myself (Pillsbury is fine by me on busy week nights) and I also used pre-diced butternut squash.
You see, I used to buy the squashes whole and to cut them. That was until a winter evening in Brussels, Belgium. Long story short: I could not manage to cut open the
darn big squash and hubby came to the rescue with a “I see you need a man here” comment. The man cut his thumb and we spent the evening at the ER of a public hospital of Brussels, next to an obviously drunk guy who came to the ER with a huge shovel, and hubby was taken care of by a doctor who obviously had been dumped by a boyfriend recently since she complained the all time she stitched up my husband’s thumb about men being sissies.
Sorry squashes, you look pretty whole, but really, you’re not worth such evenings ;-)
But I digress. Let’s go back to our recipe.
1. Preheat your oven to 350F. Put the diced squash in water, bring to a boil and cook for 3-4 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and the crème fraîche. Add salt and pepper to taste.
3. Pour the mixture on the crust. Add the drained, diced squash.
4. Add grated cheese (I used cheddar), as much as you want but enough to cover the quiche.
5. Cook for 30 minutes. Et voilà !
If you are craving something sweet – which I can completely relate to ;-) – I invite you to check my recipe from last year for pumpkin and chocolate chips madeleines.
This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is “infinite.”
In a new post created for this challenge, share a photo that shows us a glimpse of the infinite.
Infinity can produce contrasting effects on (and in) us: it might make us feel dwarfed or amplified, afraid or empowered. It might take the form of a wide panorama or a zoomed-in fraction of an object. A starry sky? A sea of commuters on a train platform? Rows of corn in a field? No pun intended, but the possibilities really are endless.
For this week’s theme, I chose to show you one of the
infinite number of many pictures I took of a demonstration in the streets of Paris.
This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is “saturated.”
This week, show us a photo of whatever you’d like, but make sure it’s saturated. It can be black and white, a single color, a few hues, or a complete rainbow riot; just make sure it’s rich and powerful.
I have no idea what those are or why there were there :-)
Notice that each rabbit was bigger than the Smart car in the background!
This week WordPress Photo Challenge is Sea:
Lots of questions, lots of interpretations. Show me the different sides of Sea with your contribution!
Besides New York (and Pelham Beach Orchard, for which I had already posted pictures here), I have not been near the sea for a long time.
The following pictures were taken in the south of France, in Agde, back in December 2004.
To me, sea means beach, fishermen, picking up shells on the beach, a harbor and a lighthouse. Here are some of these aspects of the sea I saw in Agde.
Who hasn’t heard of the new, trendy, New York pastry called the Cronut? Raise your hand, please.
The Cronut, a creation of French pastry Chef Dominique Ansel, is the meeting between a French croissant and an American donut. The Cronut. Half French, half American. It is so popular that lines of Cronut-hungry people are forming every day, apparently starting as early as 5.30 in the morning to buy one (there is so much demand that you can only buy two per person). They sell out very quickly everyday.
Of course, this blogger being a French national living in New York, with a blog both in English and in French, I owe it to my readers (that’s you!) to do a review of the Cronut. I am what marketing people call an early adopter, but I usually refuse to wait long hours in line to try a new product. But of course, what I wouldn’t do for you my readers (cough)!
Well, I am sorry to say that I won’t be able to offer a review of the now world-famous Cronut. Unfortunately, it is impossible for me to get to Dominique Ansel’s bakery early enough to have a chance to buy one because, like Westchester Magazine’s website notes, “Metro-North doesn’t even run early enough to get you a decent spot on line.” (Metro-North is my railroad network to NYC)
And since I am leaving New York next week (sniff – more on this tomorrow), I probably won’t have the opportunity to try one in months or years… Or I’ll have to stick to copycats (more on this in a later post).
Nevertheless, there are plenty of other, beautiful and yummy delicacies to try at Dominique Ansel’s bakery in SoHo, and here are just a few we’ve tried.
Let’s start with the Paris-NY:
A twist on the Paris-Brest with a choux dough and a chocolate, caramel and peanut butter filling
In one word? Delicious.
Then there was a dark chocolate éclair (éclairs au chocolat are among my favorites):
Exquisite. Really good éclairs are hard to find (even in France) and this one was really really good.
Finally, we tried the Rhubarb Fromage Blanc Cake.
Delicate and subtle.
The check for these three pastries + one coffee amounted to $21. This is not cheap, since the pastries are small but I think this is worth it since everything was really good.
We also had the occasion to try another of Ansel’s star pastries at the Bastille Day Fair: DKA.
Our signature item, the DKA (short for “Dominique’s Kouign Amann”) is a smaller version of the traditional Breton pastry, which is similar to a caramelized croissant. A crispy, caramelized crust on the outside gives way to a flaky and tender crumb within.
Named the one of the top 10 items in Time Out New York 100 Best List in 2012, and the “best pastry we’ve ever eatened” by Dailycandy.com, the Kouign Amann was sited in 2011 by the New York Times as the next IT-pastry!
Oh-so-yummy! Sweet but not too much. The next best thing to the Cronut, I guess :-)
Dominique Ansel Bakery
189 Spring Street (between Sullivan and Thompson)
New York, NY 10012
– Dominique Ansel Bakery’s website
– Cronut 101, on Dominique Ansel Bakery’s website
– The Cronut: All Hype or Worth the Wait? at the Hungry Mouse
– 8 New Spring Sweets at Dominique Ansel at Gotham Magazine
– Dominque Ansel Bakery Now Torching Frozen S’mores at NY Serious Eats
– Counting Cronuts: The Dessert Craze Hits Westchester on Westchester Magazine’s website
– 5 choses à savoir sur le cronut, nouvelle viennoiserie préférée des Américains at L’Express
As mentioned earlier, we went to the annual Bastille Day street fair of the French Institute – Alliance Française of NYC.
The last time I went was in 2002, when I was spending the summer here. If I remember well, the fair was only one or two blocks, there were considerably less merchants and people altogether. This year, the fair took place on 60th St, from Lexington to 5th Ave.
I was very pleased to arrive around noon, when it was supposed to start, because there were already many people, and taking pictures wasn’t easy. There was a LOT more people just one hour later.
Without further ado, here are some pictures of what could be found there. Enjoy!
[Click on any picture to open the diaporama and enlarge the pictures]