Casual Recipe for Serious Hot Chocolate

To Warm Your Hands, Heart and Soul —

Cup of hot chocolate.

Looking for inspiration? When it comes to hot chocolate (and so many other delights), I first found mine decades ago in a Paris café, and then more recently had it confirmed in Biarritz, the birthplace of modern chocolate, where this photo was taken. The recipe below is the version I had created in response here at home in California, and all these years later, it remains a house favorite. But no matter where you are in La Belle France, chocolat chaud never shows up just as warm milk merely flavored with a little sweetened cocoa. No, it’s a serious indulgence that invites you to dive deep into the essence of this luxuriously noble bean. So why not treat yourself to the real deal? And then sit back to savor each sip as you watch the lights come on — both inside, out, and all around. Mmmmm…

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Living It at Home

One Moment at a Time …

Sunday croissant.

For most of our time on this planet, human beings have known all they could do in any situation was to keep depending on foraging, hunting, gathering, sowing, reaping and sticking together just to stay alive. To seek out, share and take advantage of whatever they could find or had at hand. And then hopefully gather around the fire to sustain themselves and each other, perhaps to sing and give thanks for making it through another day.

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Bringing It Back Home

With Lasting Impressions of Moments That Mattered …

Moules heart.
Moules heart

And still do. After traveling throughout many different parts of France over the years, and really loving them all for different reasons, it was only a year ago when we first discovered what I call the “deep southwest” just north of the Pyrenees. Capturing our hearts at first sight, we immediately realized we had arrived in a less touristed region that still authentically embraces what we try to support in our lives at home and went to France for in the first place. La joie de vivre!

“Bringing It Back Home”, continued

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Embracing It All

With the Greatest of Ease …

Duck Confit Garbure.
Duck Confit Garbure

Monday marked the ninth anniversary of Come Home to Cooking. And even though our freshly stocked pantry and intentional reserve of leftovers so easily reflects how much we already feel just as much at home here in the deep southwest of France, it also reveals how quickly one can both adapt to and take advantage of readily available regional differences. While I always major in fresh fruits and vegetables back where we’re lucky enough to normally live in the bounty of northern California, I don’t keep smoked lardons, serrano ham, duck confit, goose rillette, AND foie gras all on hand as a matter of course. But right now along with all the produce, every one of those normally special occasion items is in our much smaller refrigerator here in France.

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Taking Off Again

In Hopes of a Life Without Critical Regrets …

Olive Tree.
Olive Tree

At least that’s our conscious intention. What with work and ongoing life responsibilities, for decades now, we’ve basically managed to take a holiday of any kind about every 4-5 years. No complaints, just the facts. And even back in the day when we were Montessori teachers with a combined income that allowed us only $7/week for groceries, I am happy to report that we feel we’ve always had a rich life.

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Set Yourself Up with Summer

Simple Pantry Stock Tips

Summer Produce on Worktable_112I took these shots last Thursday, when we’d just come home from the Marin farmers’ market, and the seasonal abundance in all that we’d found there was already filling me up with joy. Tasting our way through samples of all the ripe peach, nectarine and heirloom tomato varieties on offer had definitely primed the pump, and now our overflow of purchases was finding its way from bulging baskets into the awaiting fridge and worktable bowls. Everything carefully placed to keep track of for inspiring creations yet to come.

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Casual Recipe for Tomato Vinaigrette

To Help You Easily Make the Most of Summer —

Tomatoa Vinaigrette Ingredients_140While so many of us love eating salads, I’ve been amazed to learn from my students how many people dread making them — especially the dressing part. But when we have sweet, juicy, truly vine-ripened tomatoes to count on all season long, you can throw together both the dressing and the beginning of your salad in a matter of minutes. And did I mention how heavenly this creation both looks and tastes? So go for it! (Then the rest of the year you can depend on my Casual Recipe for Citronette to see you through; see link below.)

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Set Yourself Up with Freshly Ground Beef

Simple Pantry Stock Tip

Beef Ground 2_544Decades of professional cooking long ago firmly rooted me in the critical practice of making sure both my hands and equipment were thoroughly clean before starting to cook with them. And I’ve always been particularly concerned about the potential build-up of unhealthy germs and bacteria on machine parts hidden inside mixers, processors, blenders and grinders — especially when they might be left to set for the next use without cleaning in between.

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