Sunday, 13 December 2015

mount of mars, hill of paris

m o n t m a r t r e

It's almost unforgivable when you think about it. A blog about Paris & yet so little about its world famous hill with a very impressive name - Mount of Mars (Mons Martis in Latin), no less - for mere 130 meters of altitude. Still, standing on top of this hill overlooking Paris will leave you with a lasting impression & so will walking through its streets.

Because Montmartre is more than a hill, much more. It's an old village, its la Boheme, cabarets & cafés, a meeting place for artists - painters in particular - at the Belle Epoque, Renoir, Picasso, Utrillo, & many more. It's where you'll find the last vineyards of the city, a certain French art-de-vivre, a je-ne-sais-quoi, oh hey wait, did I go overboard here?

Back to reality then. It's also a highly touristy place today, Place du Tertre in particular, but that's not where we're going. I'm taking you trough the little streets where you can still get a glimpse of the village that once was. 

Pictured streets & personal favourites: Villa Léandre, Avenue Junot, rue Lepic, Place des Abesses, rue Cortot, rue des Saules. Cheesecake at Marcel. And don't miss this place: Musée de Montmartre

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Saturday, 12 December 2015

cinnamon snails

A few weeks ago, a few months ago, Half a year ago, (damn this post has been a long time underway), I promised some of you the recipe for the pistachio chocolate escargots I made a few weeks ago (ahem) and here it is.


Because although they looked absolutely perfect on the pictures they were really quite complicated in the making (I still have nightmares about that pistachio cream) and not nearly as good at the good old cinnamon buns I've been making for the last 20 years... at least. In Danish we call them "kanelsnegle", meaning cinnamon snails because of their snail house shape. And it's no surprise that I'm finally making a blog post about them in the middle of winter. It's really not my favourite season & my trick to get myself sanely into spring is usually to eat my way through these cold months.

I baked these as a kid, it was probably one of the very first things I baked. Since then, I might have made them more than a hundred times. It's the perfect recipe when you have a large family and/or gluttonous kids as they're excellent for snack as well as brunch or just breakfast. I always make around 40 of them and they're usually gone within 48 hours.

This recipe will give you around 40 buns, but I recommend doubling up & putting half the dough in the freezer. That way all you have to do on a grey, rainy day is take it out, cut it into slices, into the oven & voila.

This is what you need:

For the dough:
- 125 g butter;
- 1/2 l milk;
- 750 g all-purpose flour;
- half a tsp salt;
- 180 g sugar;
- 1 fresh yeast cube (I don't recommend you replacing it with dry yeast as you'll find the snails to be very hard);

For the filling:
- 100 g melted butter;
- 180 g sugar;
- 4 tbsp of cinnamon

And now what:

Melt the butter, add the milk & stir till lukewarm. In a bowl, crumble the yeast & pour the milk mixture into it till it dissolves. Add salt, sugar & most of the flour. Knead the dough for a few minutes, cover & let rise for 40 minutes.

Knead the dough again, this time on lightly floured surface for at least 5 minutes. Roll it out into a large rectangle & spread out the melted butter on the entire surface. Sprinkle with sugar & cinnamon. Roll up dough until you have what looks like a large sausage. Cut into slices (around 1-1.5 cm) & place on a greased baking tray or sheet, Squash them a little bit with the palm of your hand & allow them to rise again for 20 minutes. Turn on the oven on 225 degrees Celsius.

I like my cinnamon snails to be shiny so I brush the slices with an egg wash that basically consists of one egg that I whip beforehand in a little bowl. That's it, now into the oven for about 10-15. The baking time really depends on the oven and the size of your slices, so make sure you keep an eye on them. I take them out when they are slightly golden.

Optional: Once the cinnamon snails have cooled down I like to mix icing sugar with water & make little decorations.

Other options: If you like, you can sprinkle with raisins, almonds, chocolate chips or almost anything you like before putting the buns into the oven.

With a lot of icing sugar:

With chocolate chips:

Bon appétit.

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Sunday, 22 November 2015

ode to paris

Ode to Paris - three little words & other than that I've been unable to write anything else. No words come to mind or too many words. Some cliches - & Paris has many - seem, well, cliche while some of seem suddenly make sense to me & extend beyond their usual meaning. Paris will always be Paris is one of them. Because in the midst of all the shock, horror & sadness the city has been going through these past days, Paris is still as beautiful as ever & maybe even more so. It's not going to break or fall. Will it change? Probably. Things seem to have changed already, the pace is different, slower, the solidarity is stronger, the need for solidarity even stronger than the solidarity itself, there's eye contact & there's fear, no matter how hard everybody tries to not let this rule our lives. 

We've been through these changes already in January when we last had terrorist attacks. And I know already that it's not going to last. It can't. People have to move on & normality is the best way to do so. Right now we're lingering somewhere in between grasping for some sort of normal to come back while we can't yet let go of what has happened and I don't think we should. At least not yet. I don't want to forget the many victims whose lives were so brutally taken away from them. And the thought of them seeing inhumanity & senselessness as the very last things before closing their eyes fills me with sadness.

The fear is more present this time than it was in January, far more present, in all of our minds I think. This will happen again and not only in Paris. Its happening already again and again all over the world & we seem so unprepared & unarmed to tackle it. I don't have any of the answers to how we can fight terrorism. I can't even seem to find anybody who has. So while I somehow wait for what will happen next & try to go on with my life & reassure my children, I walk through the streets of Paris to remind myself that it's still here & despite the fear, there's beauty around every corner. These pictures were taken on one of these recent strolls.

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