Citrus Bars with Zesty Hazelnut Crust

Citrus is our reminder of the importance of gratitude. At the end of the winter, when our immunity against seasonal colds and our patience for eating rough root vegetables has hit its breaking point, these bright orange and yellow gems come to our rescue. 

The intoxicating odor of citrus fruits has unfailingly seduced me throughout the month of February, and my citrus binges became pretty serious in March. On a recent trip to Paris, I stocked up on fresh fruits and veggies at the fabulous Terroirs d'Avenir, paying no heed to the extra baggage I would be dragging along with me to the train station. 

I couldn't bear leaving the beautiful bergamot and hefty grapefruits behind, imagining the lovely breakfasts that would help me start off the coming days. It wasn't until I saw a photo posted by my friend Stacey of The Modern Domestique of a lemon bar she made with Meyer Lemons from her parent's garden that I thought of an alternate use for my citrus haul. 

Full disclosure: these are mostly lemon bars, but I encourage adding that extra quarter cup of juice from something else: whether it be bergamot, grapefruit, clementines or even limes- just to experience the full scope of these lovely tart and bitter, sweet and sour fruits, plus the extra zest really perks up the hazelnut crust

Be sure to save all the shells and peels of the fruit to put in a large jar of water and make a refreshing, vitamin c packed beverage to enjoy throughout the day. 

Citrus Bars with Zesty Hazelnut Crust

For the crust: 

1 cup (100 grams) shelled hazelnuts, lightly toasted in a dry pan over high heat

2 cups (230 grams) all purpose flour

2 tbsps granulated sugar

1 tsp coarse sea salt

1 cup (225 grams) salted butter, cold and cubed

1-2 tbsps ice water

Zest from one of each citrus fruit used in the bars (lemon, bergamot, grapefruit, etc.) 

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a 9" X 13" oven safe pan with butter or cooking oil. In a food processor or blender, pulse together flour, hazelnuts, salt, and sugar. If using a food processor, add cubes of butter directly to the mixture and pulse until it becomes a course meal. If using a blender, transfer the mix to a bowl and do this part by hand. Add the ice cold water as needed if the dough gets too dry. Press the dough into the bottom of the oven safe pan, creating an even layer. Bake for 20-25 minutes (or until golden) then remove from oven and let cool. 

For the bars: 

5 large eggs

1 1/2 cup (275 grams) granulated sugar

3/4 cup (180 mL) lemon juice (4-5 large lemons)

1/4 cup (60mL) juice from 1 bergamot, grapefruit, lime,  or other citrus fruit of your choice

1/4 cup (30 grams) all purpose flour

Zest from all the fruits used

Powdered sugar (optional)

Whisk together eggs and sugar until combined (color should become a pale yellow). Stir in juices and zests. Sift in the flour, stirring it in as it's added. Pour the mixture over the warm crust and bake 15-25 minutes, or until set. Remove from oven and let cool before cutting into squares. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving if using. 

Valentine's Day Special: Couples of the Paris Food Scene

Photo courtest of Boneshaker Doughnuts

Photo courtest of Boneshaker Doughnuts

While I prefer Galentine's Day over the more traditional Valentine's Day, I think celebrating love is a pretty great idea in general- especially given the horrors perpetrated by the very un-loving Trump administration these past few weeks. 

Relationships are full of challenges, whether with your bestie, your partner, or yourself, and they are also full of rewards -all of which deserve a glass of bubbly and more than one day a year of recognition (okay, more than one glass of bubbly, too while we're at it)! 

As Valentine's Day approached it occurred to me that the Paris food scene is full of happy couples that not only live together, but work together, too. Doubling their commitment to extend beyond each other but into their careers as well is an impressive act of love and collaboration.

Some of my favorite places to eat and drink in Paris exist thanks to the dedication and creativity behind these love-fueled collaborations. So in honor of one of Valentine's Day, here are a few of my favorite couples in the Paris food scene

Amanda & Louis: Boneshaker Doughnuts

It hasn't yet been a year since Boneshaker Doughnuts has existed as a brick and mortar doughnut shop in the 2nd arrondissement, but the story behind how the little bakery came to be goes back much further. "Louis and I met in Paris in 2002" co-founder Amanda Scott explained to me. "He and my then-boyfriend bartended together at the same Irish pub in St. Germain des Près. Back then, he sported a shoulder-length ponytail (!!), a billy goat beard, and enormous lamb chop sideburns. I remember watching him once, around 3 am, balancing on top of kegs and racing them across the pub. It's funny to look back and think that we'd end up married - neither of us had any idea at the time! "

Their paths crossed again seven years later, when they were both single and developed a mutual crush. "it look him a year to kiss me...and another year after that for us to decide to make it official." After that, things moved quickly,  "Lou and I got married in 2013, our son, Loïc, was born in 2014, and we started making doughnuts in 2015. We opened to doors to our shop, Boneshaker, in 2016."

Both veterans of the service industry, the couple dreamed of having a place of their own. "Louis and I knew that we wanted our business to combine high-quality ingredients and craftsmanship with a casual, happy vibe that suited our lifestyle... we realized a doughnut shop would encompass all of those things, as well as coffee (unlimited access to delicious coffee is definitely a perk!)" American born, Amanda had lots of examples to inspire her from her homeland, "we modeled Boneshaker on the mom and pop doughnut shops that you find in American beach towns, with a Parisian touch."

The key to working with the one you love? "We’re often asked how we manage to live and work together," Amanda says. "I guess the simplest (and most eyeroll-worthy) answer is that we genuinely enjoy each other's company. We laugh a lot. Also, the fact that I'm upstairs in the kitchen and he's downstairs in the shop probably helps a bit - we each have our own roles within the business, and a bit of distance on bad days. And doughnuts."

Jaclyn & Pierre: Biérocratie

Jaclyn and Pierre, co-owners of the Biérocratie in the 13th arrondissement, hadn't always planned on making a living out of bringing great craft beer to the people of Paris. Originally from the U.S., Jaclyn came to Paris to study to be a pastry chef at Le Cordon Bleu while Pierre was building a career in computer programming.  

A housewarming party held by mutual friends would bring the two together one fateful night, but the idea to go into business together didn't come until later. "After a couple of years together, both of us experienced a sort of overall dissatisfaction with our respective careers - I loved working as a pastry chef, but never had enough hours, and Pierre was getting pushed into management positions at his IT development job." explains Jaclyn Gidel. "We got to talking about it, and realized that it was a really great opportunity to quit our jobs and create something together. Our common love of beer, paired with the growing craft beer movement, inspired us to open up Biérocratie."

Jaclyn and Pierre continue to stock quality craft beer in their shop as well collaborate on beer events with local bars like Les Trois 8. The paris has even embarked on another collaboration together: brewing their own beer! We'll keep an eye on what they have in store for us next! 

Maily & Jocelyn: Le Triangle

Maily and Jocelyn, two-thirds of the team behind microbrewery and restaurant Le Triangle, may have opened a business in Paris, but their story started abroad. 

"I was working in Montreal for a French company and Jocelyn came to work for us as a freelance graphic designer," explains Maily Malfreyt. "He was already an amateur brewer and working at Vices et Versa in Montreal. The funny thing is I wasn't at all interested in beer at the time- I thought we would have nothing to talk about. Seven years later we work together every day and I find myself serving and selling beer!"

The formula works, with Jocelyn making the beer, Maily greeting and taking care of guests with her signature smiles and warmth, and Laurent, Maily's brother in the kitchen, representing the third side of the triangle. 

Finding balance while working with loved ones is key, Maily says. "If I had one thing to say about working with my partner it's this: if we're still together today it's because we're very complimentary and different when it comes to working and our personalities. We're not in each other's way and we each have our job. There's also a mutual admiration," Maily adds, "I've always had a passion for passionate people!"

Happy Valentine's Day to these happy couples and to all of you out there making it work together! I'd love to hear more about couples in the industry- feel free to leave your favorite Paris partnerships in the comments! 

In Season: Homebrew Beef Cheek Pie

I'm not going to lie to you, this is a start-in-the-afternoon dish that you can count on dedicating some time to. If you're short on time, save this recipe for another day, but If you're on winter holiday, sick of running around shopping or engaging in other seasonal stresses, or just want to have an excuse to turn the oven on for a few hours and benefit from an additional source of heat- this Beef Cheek Pie has you covered. 

This recipe is partially inspired by Sam Sifton's Guinness Pie recipe with added inspiration from Holybelly's Beef Cheek Stew with Fried Polenta and Salad recipe (page 100, My Paris Market Cookbook). I switched out Sifton's brisket for a hearty cut of beef cheek and substituted Guinness for one of my very own homebrews in order to make this hearty one dish meal that is perfect for a winter dinner

You can use any dark or amber beer in this recipe, which will bring a nice bitterness to balance with the sweetness of stewed winter vegetables. Slow cooking renders the beef cheek melt-in-your-mouth delicious, making the hours of waiting worth it! 

Ingredients

800 grams (about 1 1/2 pounds) beef cheek

2 tbsps butter

1 large red onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 carrots, thickly sliced

2 celery stalks, thickly sliced

250 grams (about a dozen) button mushrooms, thickly sliced

2 tbsps canola oil

3 tbsps all purpose flour

1 75 cl bottle of dark or amber beer 

125 grams (1 cup) grated hard cheese like cheddar, comté, cantal, or tome

Pâte Brisé (page 48, My Paris Market Cookbook)

1 egg yolk 

For the marinade :

1-2 cups red wine

1 sprig rosemary

2-3 sprigs fresh thyme

Salt & Pepper

Preparation

Marinade the beef cheek in red wine, the beef cheek should be at least halfway submerged in the wine (and flipped once or twice to be evenly covered throughout the marinade period). Add rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper and let sit, covered in plastic wrap in the refrigerator overnight- or at least a few hours before making the tart. Cut the beef cheek into uniform 1 inch x 1 inch pieces once taken out of the marinade. 

Preheat the oven to 200°C (375°F)

In a large, oven safe pot, melt butter then add onions and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent.

Add carrots, celery, and mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms give, and then reabsorb, their juices. 

In a medium sized pan, heat canola oil and brown beef cheek by letting cook about a minute on each side. 

Add beef cheek, flour, and any remaining rosemary and thyme, to the large pot and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes. 

Add enough beer to cover the pot's contents. Cover pot and put in the oven to cook for 1 1/2 hour. 

After 1 1/2 hour in the oven, check to see if the stew has thickened. If not, cook on medium high heat on the stove top to reduce, otherwise, remove from oven and set aside. 

Roll out pâte brisé to about 1/4 inch thick and large enough to cover a 1 1/2 - 2 inch deep pyrex baking dish. 

Fill dish with stew, sprinkle with grated cheese, and cover with the pâte brisé, pinching along the sides to seal the pie top. Use a sharp knife to slice a few air holes into the crust, then brush with egg yolk. 

Bake tart for 45 minutes. Let cool at least 10 minutes before serving. 

Enjoy!