Hopefully, these recipes and table-setting tips will inspire your own Parisian dinner parties and give you the push you need to get through the worst of winter. But — if that’s not enough — we’re also giving away two copies of The Little Paris Kitchen to two lucky readers! To enter to win one of these fabulous cookbooks, simply leave a comment on this post telling us your ideal dinner party for a cold winter day. We’ll choose our favorites!
All Cakes Considered by Melissa Gray (Chronicle Books). For one year, the author (a producer at National Public Radio’s program All Things Considered) brought in a cake to work every Monday, and this book is the result. It is a fantastically entertaining book. The recipes are a mix between previously published recipes, and the author’s own (bequeathed by friends and family, or tweaked and ‘co-opted’ for personal use from other sources), so of course they have been tested and retested. What I love about the book is the author’s voice, the way the instructions are written, the stories, all of the written text. What I do not like about the book– you need a 10″ tube pan to make the majority of the recipes, or you need shortening. If you live in a place where it’s difficult to find either (especially the latter), you’re out of luck. Comb the internet to find a shortening alternative. If you can get over those two things (I’m still smarting), then this book is a winner. There’s even a chapter on non-cakes (cookies etc)!
Baking Unplugged by Nicole Rees (Wiley). Baking Unplugged is the hands down winner in my spot recipe testing. The recipes are good, easy, and practical. The simple philosophy behind the book is that you can make great desserts without any electrical equipment (except an oven, of course). The preliminary chapters at the beginning review tools, ingredients, methods, and how to read a recipe. The books chapters are then divided into types of baked goods, with no dearth of explanation of technique. The book is clear and concise, easy to understand. I wish I had had this book when I started out baking. This is a book for anyone who wants to get back to basics in the kitchen, someone who has a small kitchen with only a few tools, someone who is lazy and doesn’t feel like plugging in the equipment. It’s a perfect book for beginners– I am a firm believer in the ‘learn in the manual way’ in order to excel in the automated world. I really really like this book. One last important note– there are no photos at all in the book. But please don’t let this discourage you.
I started small, blending veggies into smoothies. Then I started to create healthy versions of my favorite comfort foods and wrote everything down. Eventually, I had a binder full of recipes that I thought I should share with others, so I started YumUniverse.com. Then I started sharing resources that could be downloaded by anyone, anywhere. I wrote a book, I’m finishing a second cookbook, YumUniverse: Pantry to Plate, and I’m launching my first 4-week gluten-free baking course in early 2017.
Late February marks the time of year when winter’s charms begin to wear out. Sweaters and scarves, once donned excitedly, are now put on begrudgingly. Snow, which once seemed magical as it fell to the ground, is now just an unwelcome reminder that cold days still lie ahead. While one might prefer to simply hibernate until spring arrives, there are things one can do to shake up the midwinter doldrums. You can, for instance, go winter camping! Or, if going out isn’t your thing, take the excitement indoors with a dinner party! Dinner parties are excellent cold-weather diversions — they bring your favorite people together in an intimate setting full of warmth, laughter and that winter-weather essential:
Thomas Keller Bouchon Bakery Cookbook: I went through a serious sad gir phase two years ago where I would take the subway to Columbus Square and eat Bouchon baked goods at the Time Warner Center. By myself. Every week. I thought it was pretty sad at the time, but now I’m thinking that was a pretty great way to spend my weekend days. Could be worse than eating a cupcake and watching people rush by with fancy bags and coats
As much as I don’t like to admit it, food is the weak link in my self-care practice. I don’t have a horrible diet, but having grown up with a mother who packed me cucumber and sprout sandwiches for lunch, I just have an “I eat healthy” point-of-view that isn’t exactly true. I haven’t fully connected what food does for my body, but I’m making my way there. I’m lucky enough to have met Heather Crosby, a creative entrepreneur who has embraced the responsibility of being accountable for her own health after years of being told she’d be on medication for the rest of her life.
I decided that I wanted to go to “a city” when I received my degree in graphic design at a university in West Virginia. My senior year, I went to Chicago for a wedding, fell in love with it, and when I returned to school, got to work contacting the most respected design firms in Chicago. Eventually, I landed a 3-day-a-week contract gig for 3 months at a small boutique firm. I sold my truck, packed up my kitties, and used 80% of what was in my bank account to rent a small apartment in Chicago. From that point forward, momentum snowballed and over the course of 16 years, I was able to work for many of the firms I’d long admired.
One of my favorite aspects of Heather’s work and approach is her respect for bio-individuality and the fact she even addresses that on her website and in her books. It reminds me of the gentle notes in guided meditations where you acknowledge that it’s natural for your mind to wander, just come back to the breath when you realize you’re thinking about work. Following someone like Heather, who acknowledges that we all come to the table with different habits, beliefs, traditions, and dietary needs, makes me feel okay when I enjoy the comfort food my grandmother made. I know I can always come back to my kale salad without any guilt and with an overall commitment to a primarily plant-based diet. Today, Heather shares some of her story and self-care routines
If you’re anything like me, Halloween has a tendency of sneaking up on you like Freddie Kruegar in a nightmare. One minute, you’re installing your air conditioner in May and all of the sudden —BOOM— there are trick-or-treaters at your door. I have no idea how this keeps happening to me (early-onset dementia, perhaps?), but when October 31st rolls around, I often find myself sans-costume and sans-plans. So—if Halloween (two days away, you guys!) has snuck up on you this year, but you still want to get a little festive—don’t worry, y’all! Design*Sponge gotchu covered.