I spent my end of summer vacation in Burgundy, and was lucky enough to catch the end of the wild currants growing in my mother’s yard. They flourish somehow, even though they’re left untouched for a good part of the year. It amazes me how well plants grow there. We harvested an enormous bundle of rhubarb and sorrel too! It was a fun trip filled with friends, the quiet French countryside, vide greniers (flea markets) and good food. When we’re in Burgundy I cook almost every day and night, usually for several people, so I always come home with new recipes and even more cooking inspiration. Here’s a keeper recipe I made with the harvest from the garden. Thanks to my dear friends, who put their high boots on to trample through the weeds and stinging nettles to delicately pluck these sweet and tart perfect crimson berries from the branches, I came up with this recipe. The grapes were picked from the vine just outside the window and were perfect for a little tablescape. If you don’t have currants you can use blueberries instead. I’ll make a new batch soon with frozen blueberries-if you freeze them at the peak of the season, summer will linger on a bit longer. The currants are delicate so I like to add them in layers. This also creates a nice gooey texture in the center of the bread.
Here are some other highlights from my stop-over in Paris, in case you find yourself there soon:
Le Marche De Les Enfants-Rouge-One of my favorite little markets in the Marais, my favorite stop is at the organic Crepe stand!
Pierre Herme-Ever changing delightful macaron flavors for a sweet exploration.
Merci Merci-I always seem to find something here to take back with me. They have great housewares and linens, and I had an enjoyable lunch there in the cafe. A percentage of the profits go to a charity in Africa so you can shop with a good conscience.
Hotel Particulier-An intimate, charming hotel in Montmartre. You will feel like you’re staying in a residence. It’s a bit out of the way, but a relaxing place to situate yourself if you feel like resting and hanging around the hotel after a long trip.
Chez Omar-If you’re in the mood for a tagine and couscous, this is your place in the Marais. They’re open late and on Sundays. The atmosphere is rustic and charming and if the weather is nice you can dine outside.
Relais de Venice-My favorite Entrecote place on earth near Port Maillot. A location just opened in New York City which is delicious too, although nothing beats the original location, I think it must be something in french butter that takes the sauce to the next level!
Porte de Vanve Flea Market- This is an ample size market, without being overwhelming. There is some furniture, but also smaller items and ephemera that if you can’t resist, you can easily fit into your luggage.
Jardin Touileries-I’ve loved this garden since I was a tyke, usually on my way to someplace I’m off to. I like to duck in for an hour or so and rest on one of the lounge chairs near the fountain, soaking in a little sun.
Eiffel Tower by night-I revisited the Eiffel tower by night, and it was so much fun all lighted up. There’s a light show that flickers throughout the tower every hour on the hour. You can walk or buy advance tickets for the elevator. Sensational views from the top.
Red Currant Bread with Almond Streusel Topping
300 g plain flour
1Tbsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
190 g sugar (my favorite is maple sugar! unfortunately none was available in the french countryside!)
210 ml milk
1 large egg, beaten
100g butter, melted+1 Teaspoon for greasing loaf pan
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups currants (for two layers)
For the topping:
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup slivered almonds
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
Special equipment: one 10-inch loaf pan, greased with butter
Preheat oven at 400°F
1. In a large bowl, sift the flour and mix in the baking powder, salt and sugar. In a medium bowl whisk the milk, egg, melted butter and vanilla extract. Stir until combined being careful not to over-work.
2. In a small bowl mix the topping; melted butter, slivered almonds, flour, sugar and pinch of salt.
3.Pour half of the batter into the loaf pan, patting down evenly with a spatula. Lay half of the currants (3/4cup) overtop, then the rest of the batter, then the final layer of currants. Sprinkle the topping over the currants and bake in the oven at 400 for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes and turn out onto a rack to finish cooling.