Monday, March 28, 2011

Je retourne à Paris....

For any of you who follow my Facebook page or my Twitter feed you may have heard that I will be going to Paris, France this week. This is more than a vacation for me, it is a return to a place I once lived for a time. During the fall of my senior year of college I studied in Paris for the semester. While in Paris I experienced every emotion in the book. My start was rocky, vexed by fatigue, loneliness, foreignness, and a lack of modern comforts (ie internet in my room). My transition was difficult but eventually I got a handle on Paris and my concerns about returning to the USA disenchanted by Pairs and completely over my 2 decades of francophilia faded completely. I love Paris and La France more than ever. 
See the Stars on the Eiffel Tower?
France was "president" of the European Union while I was there.
This is my chance to see my Paris with my friends, without loneliness, without being so foreign... So I am packed up, have my list of the best macaron places from Girls Guide to Paris printed out, my Paris Moleskine I had when I first went to Paris, I've been looking up restaurant suggestions from David Lebovitz, finished reading Paris Was Ours last month, and have been testing my rusty French on my friends. I am ready. The anxiety I had been feeling about my trip since I bought my plane ticket has mostly subsided and I feel fully prepared to return to the City of Light. 
Eating lunch along the Seine
(that's probably some baguette filling my cheeks)
Fortunately this is all working out thanks to one of my very best friends who needed to be in Paris for her masters and offered for me to come along and play tour guide to fellow visitors. I'm very grateful to her and lucky to be going back with such wonderful company. 

I will probably not be updating The Culinary Librarian Facebook or Twitter pages much this week, but periodically I will try to post a picture or an update, so keep an eye on them. As of yet I'll keep what I am thinking about for Paris blog posts until I return... I can never be sure what I will find there, anyway. Here's to wishing you all a wonderful week while I am away, a favorable exchange rate for our mighty dollar, and beautiful weather. À bientôt mes chers! 

My profile picture was taken when I was in Paris at Les Fous en L'Ile restaurant on Ile St-Louis, where I lived.
The restaurant was decorated with tons of chickens and coqs. Chef Ludo would love it!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Macaron Day NYC 2011!

Sunday March 20th marked the beginning of Spring as well as Macaron Day 2011 in Paris and New York City! I was fortunate enough to be able to celebrate Macaron Day NYC with my good friend Kyle on a gorgeous sun-drenched afternoon. We enjoyed complimentary macarons from 7 patisseries/choclatiers/bakeries, 1 well-paid for macaron and finally finished the day with homemade macarons by ME! (mine were certainly not the tops of the day)
Macaron Day signs each stop had in their window
Throughout our city-wide macaron crawl I documented our whereabouts on foursquare and on my Twitter. Our travels took us from the Upper East Side all the way down through Chelsea, Soho and ended in the East Village. All in all it was a wonderful day, complete with tempting treats and superb weather.

Proceeds from macaron sales on the 20th went to support City Harvest as well as other local organizations (FC Chocolate Bar mentioned a different organization they were supporting). 
Enjoy a play-by-play of each stop we made and get out in New York and try some of these great sweets!! 

Butterfield Market
1114 Lexington Avenue (78th) | (212) 288-7800 | 
Selection: (From Payard) Pistachio, Chocolate with Cocoa Nibs, Vanilla Bean (with coconut?), "Seasonal" Cranberry and Chocolate Passion Fruit

Kyle and I were happy to see that our first stop had a full table of macaron jewels out and ready for us to choose from! The macarons supplied to Butterfield Market come from Francois Payard's bakery. When provided with a variety of choices, I still cannot resist anything ending in "cocoa nibs!" Kyle went for the Vanilla Bean which had toasted coconut on the shell. I was very pleased by the perfectly-macaron texture of Payard's macarons: crispy exterior, chewy center, luscious filling and a little fun and crunch with the cocoa nibs. We found ourselves presented with this same selection at two additional Payard locations through out the day- these first macarons of Payard's were by far his best of the day. 
Welcoming table full of macarons!

Vanilla Bean with toasted coconut and Chocolate with cocoa nibs from Payard
La Maison du Chocolat

Friday, March 11, 2011

Food Corps: Grow For It!

I first heard about Food Corps through a tweet from Mark Bittman back in the spring of 2010. Reading the article on Bittman's site from Paula Crossfield (of Civil Eats) I could tell Food Corps would develop into something amazing. Immediately I signed-up for their newsletter and started receiving information about the planning conference calls being held monthly. Unfortunately all the calls began at 5pm and I couldn't participate. I made sure to keep my eye out for and new information, hopeful to be a involved once the program was fully established. 

So what is Food Corps exactly? Paula Crossfield did a great job summarizing the program in the introductory article:
            [...] FoodCorps, an AmeriCorps program that would put service members to work     
            building school gardens and establishing farm-to-school relationships in towns across 
            the United States, specifically in places where people lack access to fresh produce. A 
            collaboration between the National Farm to School NetworkSlow Food USA and other  
            groups, the FoodCorps program could begin as early as 2011. (source)

Finally the time has come! Momentum for the program has been non-stop since this past fall: Food Corps announced its host sites on November 30th, began circulating their recruitment video the first week in February and finally went live with their member application on February 8th! Application deadline is April 10, 2011 at 5:00pm EST. 

Check out the Recruitment Video:

Food Corps is going to be great! Get involved! Apply! Let's start a strong and true food revolution all across America! 


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Chicken Parmesan for Two

Many moons ago my sister, an unconditional lover of chicken, came up with a song that goes like this: 
"I love chicken, I love parm! 
I love my brother his name is John, put 'em together and whattya got? 
Chicken parmesan! Toot! Toot!"
Chicken parmesan is a family favorite and something I enjoy cooking every once in a while. I cook mostly for just me, so only one portion. Chicken parm is delicious left over and a great meal to share with someone special- so this recipe is for two! It is fast, easy, and has a comforting and delicious result. Get in the kitchen and cook with a friend, a family member or a lover. Enjoy your dinner with a bottle of wine, or my favorite with saucy Italian- a tall glass of skim milk! Happy Eating! 

Tender, moist Chicken Parm

Chicken Parmesan for Two
Spray oil
1 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
1 tablespoon flour
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup bread crumbs (fresh preferred)
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 cup jarred tomato sauce, divided in half
Enough pasta for one or two people (depending on what you like)
3-4 tablespoons of shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with foil and a little spray oil. 

Boil a big enough pot of water for the amount of pasta you desire (Tip: Always use cold water from the tap when preparing to boil, it has less bacteria, etc).

Rinse your chicken with water and dry with a paper towel. Cut in half width wise on a cutting board (you can also butterfly these pieces to make the chicken even thinner). Using a meat tenderizer (or a hammer- feel free to get creative) beat each piece of chicken on a cutting board placing a piece of plastic wrap between the chicken and the tenderizer. The meat will flatten out.

Set up your flour, egg, and bread crumbs in three plates or shallow bowls. Dredge the pieces of chicken in the flour, coat with the egg, then coat with the bread crumbs. Place the chicken on the prepared baking sheet. 

Using one half of the sauce, spoon as much as you like onto each piece of chicken. Top with the mozzarella, then the parmesan. (Some people, like my sister, enjoy their chicken without sauce and will maybe have sauce on the side to eat.)

Bake the chicken in the oven for 14-20 minutes (depending on how thick your cuts of meat are). The cheese should be just browned when it is done. 

While the chicken is in the oven, cook your pasta at the right time so it will be finished just before your chicken is ready to come out. Toss the pasta with the other half of tomato sauce. 
Serve the chicken atop the pasta. 


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

RSS Obsessed: An Ode to Google Reader

I have recently become addicted to RSS feeds and reading blogs using Google Reader. My obsession began moments after reading the feature on LA Food Blogger Jo Stougaard in the LA Times where she mentions she reads 200+ blogs using Google Reader.

Before this I didn't read too many blogs or look at any sites daily. I would just click links in Twitter that sounded interesting to stay abreast of what was happening. My new style is to add the RSS feed to my Reader for every site I find and like. Google Reader will automatically update me when there is a new post and I can quickly read through all my favorite blogs and websites! 

One of the best things about Google Reader is if you have a Google account already, there is nothing new to create or sign up for and no additional site to sign-in to when you want to read all your blogs and feeds in one place. I can easily click "Reader" at the top of my Gmail screen when I want to check in for new feeds and browse over what was recently posted. The most set-up you need to do is building your reader feed by simply copying and pasting RSS feed and Blog links into the "Add A Subscription" bar. So quick and so easy!

Another great feature, you can search all the blogs and feeds in your reader making it so simple to find things you may have read a few days (or months!) ago or something you glanced at but didn't have time to finish reading. I love this feature because I am always half remembering things and sometimes have difficulty finding the source of my memories. Google Reader narrows down the search process to allow me to quickly find what I am looking for. This tool is extremely useful, especially if you find yourself doing research based in blogs. 

And of course, Google Reader is smart phone ready! You can download the Google Reader Application and get all the features of Google Reader on the go. This is something I'm quite fond of at lunchtime when I want to catch up on things I may have didn't have time to read during the morning. Easy to use and any updates you make on your phone will sync with your reader in-browser. 

So what are some of the things I read in my Google Reader?:
(All links are to RSS feeds-- add and enjoy!)

The Kitchn (found out about this blog from Kelsey Nixon)
A fun blog with a wide range of topics. My favorite thing is all the photos of kitchens they post!
One of the best sources for what's happening in the "Foodie" world. 
Their blog profiles an individual who has a "Good" food job once a week in interview format. It is a great inspiration to me every Monday (now, Tuesday) morning. 
Dr. Nestle's blog is the best source what what is going on in the world of food politics and safety. 
Jonathan Bloom's blog shares links about food waste, ways people are reducing their waste, and gets you thinking about what you do with your carrot peels. 

I encourage you to start using Google Reader and see if you like it as much as I do! Such a great way to stay in touch with all your favorite things. And if you do like it, odds are you will become as RSS obsessed as I am and look for that orange symbol on every website or blog you like. (I have even started tweeting and e-mailing sites who don't have an RSS feed asking them to post one!)

*       *       *

Do you already use Google Reader? Do you use a different RSS Feed reader? 

If so, please tell me about it!

What are your favorite RSS Feeds and Blogs to follow? (Leave links and information in comments)