Bastille Day Indulging: Triple Chocolate Financiers

Triple Chocolate Financiers (1) copy

France may be long gone from the World Cup, but that doesn’t mean we have to stick to schnitzel (or whatever it is the Dutch/Argentinians eat) at our viewing parties this weekend. Bastille Day — everyone’s favorite excuse to overdo it on red wine and rich food — is coming up this Monday, which means it’s time to break out the good stuff.

In honor of France’s big day, Master pâtissier Francois Payard was nice enough to share this over-the-top indulgent recipe for his signature triple chocolate financiers.

You’ll need a financier pan for the recipe below (clearly you have one, right?) If not, good ol’ muffin tins will do just fine.

Triple Chocolate Financiers

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Extreme Mother's Day Brunch Recipe: Francois Payard's Chocolate Brioche Pain Perdu

Brioche Pain Perdu

You”re not really gonna make plain old French toast for Mother”s Day are you? If you”re looking to kick that up a few notches, chef Francois Payard offers this Parisian take on Mother”s Day brunch, with an at-home recipe for his world-famous Chocolate Brioche Pain Perdu.

A counterpoint to American-style French Toast, Payard”s version is more of a sandwich with a chocolate chip filling, topped with sauteed bananas and whipped cream. OK wait, maybe it is pretty American after all. I mean, whipped cream and chocolate chips for breakfast? Doesn”t get any Yankier than that.

Best yet, this decade break-sert can be made ahead of time by freezing the sandwiches overnight (once assembled and soaked thoroughly), and then baked for 10 minutes before serving.

Chocolate Brioche Pain Perdu

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Croque Madame Breakfast Hot Dogs

So, I have to run something by you guys. Apparently, in Texas, hot dogs are classified as a breakfast food. Usually in the form of pigs in a blanket. Don’t get me wrong, they’re also welcome at tailgates and evening barbecues, but if you want to start the morning with a dog, it’s all good down here. What is this?! Have y’all heard of this? I really thought I was being tricked at first.


I first heard of this phenomenon from my boyfriend, Rob, a born-and-bred Austinite who wanted me to make lil’ smokies for brunch one morning. I thought he was just being a funky meat-loving dude, but turns out he was onto something, because a few weeks later, someone brought a pastry box into work and told everyone to help themselves to breakfast. I assumed it was a box of doughnuts, so imagine my surprise… pigs in a blanket! So the stories were true! Rob explained (after a respectable amount of “I-told-you-so” banter) that Czech kolaches are quite popular in Central Texas. I still had my doubts (and had actually never heard of kolaches before moving here) but the Internet confirmed his story. Kolaches started in eastern Europe as a sweet, fruit-filled pastry, but over here they’re more likely to be stuffed with sausage and/or cheese (Wikipedia calls savory types klobasnek, but they’re all called kolaches here.)

Okay! Now you know how I learned to stop worrying and love the morning hot dog. It didn’t take much effort to accept it– in fact, I wanted to embrace it wholeheartedly and really kick up the breakfast aspect. One of my favorite, most indulgent brunch dishes is also bread stuffed with meat and cheese: the croque madame. Why not combine Czech with French to make the ultimate cheesy, meaty masterpiece? Thus, my monstrous hot dog creation was born. Kolache expert (and fellow croque madame lover) Rob gave it an A+, so I figure I must be onto something.

Croque Madame Breakfast Hot Dog

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Artsy Photo of the Day

What did you have for breakfast today? Cereal? Banana? Granola bar? Sorry, I’m about to ruin any satisfaction you might have obtained from your measly meal, because for some lucky people, breakfast could be THIS:


A perfect Croque Madame sandwich smothered in creamy mornay sauce and topped with a rich, runny egg. With frites and black coffee on the side, of course. Go big or go home. Or as the French would say, I guess, rentrer à la maison ou grand feu?

(This exquisite sandwich can be found at Épicerie Café in Austin, Texas.)

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Burns My Bacon: Sous Vide

We’ve talked sous vide many times here on Endless Simmer. Now that the trend has died down a bit, KK asks, is it even worth it?

Sous vide. It’s a French term meaning, “I’ve got way too much time on my hands and I don’t own a microwave.” This is a cooking process in which you put food into a plastic bag, remove as much air as you can, and then sloooooow cook it in a water bath at around 55 degrees for 72 hours. That’s more than a couple of days. Why would you do this? If you were on your meds you wouldn’t. Can you imagine everything being cooked this way?  You could get your dry cleaning back in less time. I mean, I could order food from New York and have it FedEx’d to me before my sous vide steak is half done.

When I was growing up, I thought that my mother invented fast food. The slowest thing that she cooked in our house was a TV dinner. That took 20 minutes. I was a teenager before I realized that the center of your Salisbury steak wasn’t supposed to be frozen. 72 hours to properly bathe my entrée? I’ve had goldfish that didn’t last that long in water. “Boil in the bag? Oh no, no, no. What’s the rush? Why don’t you sit back and relax while I sous vide us some pasta. Case of wine while we wait?”

The great Julia Child would have a hard time selling THIS French cooking method to American housewives. And really, as a restaurateur, how do you make any money at this? You certainly couldn’t advertise how fresh your food is. Even Michael Phelps wouldn’t last 72 hours in the water. Why would I want my food to? What’s the point? Flavor? After waiting 72 hours for a meal I would eat my shoes.

And in terms of technique, who couldn’t learn to master this? “Gee, I just couldn’t get the hang of sealing the bag. I don’t know how Keller does it!” Just imagine how long it would take to tape ‘Iron Chef Sous Vide.’ You could become a doctor in less time.

I absolutely love many classic French cooking techniques, and I’ll admit, I’m intimidated by some. Sous vide doesn’t make either list. I’m in no hurry to cook slower.  And on the opposite end of the spectrum,  I won’t be dragging home any canisters of liquid nitrogen either. If I want the word ‘extreme’ used to describe anything about my meal it had better be the flavor and not the cooking method.

Extremely flavorful? Qui. Extremely slow? Absolument pas!

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Top 10 New Foods of 2011

Another year gone by, another chance to look back fondly at the thousands of things we stuffed our faces with in 2011. After much internal debate, we’ve narrowed it down to just 10 — the very best new things we shoved in our mouths in 2011.

10. Tater Tot Poutine

Montreal’s greasiest, gravy-iest contribution to the food world, poutine officially became a trend back in 2010. It got even more amazing this year when chef Kyle Bailey of D.C.’s ChurchKey had the ingenious idea to replace the french fries with tater tots.

9. Kouign Amann

We first discovered this over-the-top traditional pastry, which is something like a croissant with twice as much butter and sugar, on a trip to Brittany, France this summer. Returning home, we were pleased to find it blowing up in the states. The best version we’ve tasted to far is the one above, from Starter Bakery in Oakland. It has also popped up at Dominique Ansel in New York and Bouchon Bakery in L.A.

8. Nouveau Filipino

Filipino food is among the most far-out in the world, so it was only a matter of time before it got a hipster update. From Adobo Hobo’s Filipino tacos in San Francisco to Maharlika’s spicy arroz caldo in New York (above), we’ll take all the creative Filipino cuisine we can get.

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Beka, You Had Me At Heavy Stainless Steel

filled crepe

Crêpes will always be one of my everlasting French food memories. I had been addicted to stopping at the Strasbourg Marché de Noël after school to get a crêpe filled with Nutella and some vin chaud. To be sure, it’s quite difficult to avoid the Christmas market as it has taken over the entire city of Strasbourg in November and December since the year 1570 with miles of gifts, drinks, and gosh darn delicious food. Um, French women don’t get fat, right?

Despite stuffing crêpes, eclairs, croissants, chocolates, and cream sauces into my face (stopping just short of bathing in butter), I somehow returned home to America from my studies abroad lighter than when I had left. Think about that for a moment.

Given all of the crêpe gorging studying that I had done in France, I thought I would be as qualified as anyone to review a crêpe pan.

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