It’s time for brunch!

Do you brunch on the weekends? And what is brunch anyways besides breakfast and lunch together, as this recent article in Toronto Life explores?

Is brunch just an excuse for being lazy or decadent?

I enjoy a lovely brunch from time to time especially when the weather is perfect and I don’t have too much to get done before Monday.

seasonal omelet with smashed potatoes and greens

Brunch at the Krebs used to be an institution in Skaneateles, NY. They recently reopened after a major renovation on August 15th. This is a beautiful restaurant with a full bar, restaurant and outdoor porch.

seasonal omelet with smashed potatoes and greens

beefhashatKrebs2014Our meal began with mini-scones and muffins which were  served before our coffee arrived.

pre-meal pastries at the Krebs

pre-meal pastries at the Krebs

My husband ordered the seasonal omelet, and I ordered the hash which is actually a potato croquette of potatoes, beef, and red peppers. The menu also included eggs benedict, steak and eggs and several sweet pastry options.

Can you see the lovely poached eggs on top of the croquette?


And our sweet ending was fresh baked biscuits and….


homemade strawberry jam. Overall, it was a wonderful brunch experience.  Though the prices are higher than what you would pay in Syracuse, the ambiance is elegant and the service is flawless. I’d recommend the Krebs brunch for a special occasion. I plan to go back for a birthday brunch!




If brunch is your thing, check out my book.

And if you happen to be in Syracuse, consider my book reading on September 4th at 7pm Barnes and Nobles Dewitt, NY.


Changing food trends in Paris in SOC 390

How is food changing in Paris?

pistachio, chocolate and almond financiers

How has globalization and immigration changed food trends in Paris? Where does one find an “authentic” french meal or travel for an “exotic” dinner?

Eric Kayser

Are  hipsters really ruining Paris by erasing the city’s distinctiveness?

Or as Adam Gopnik suggests,  is Le Fooding  a threat to the traditional Michelin guide to dining? Michelin rated restaurants have historically been associated with status and distinction. Does eating at highly rated restaurants increase our own cultural capital? Sociologists emphasize that taste is a social construction so how does cultural capital inform our taste?

French food has always been diverse with important regional differences but, is the historical diversity of Paris from Africa, South Asia, China and Vietnam adding more cultural and dining options in the city? Can these new ethnic foods have the status of French food? Will students enjoy French Lebanese food over “authentic” Parisian food or will they opt for French McDonalds? Spending time in Paris may shape some of their own ethnocentric understandings of ethnic cuisines.

0218 McDonald's, Paris

These are a few issues my students plan to explore while they are in Paris for Sociology 390 as we sample French cheese, Lebanese hummus and shawarma, Parisian financiers, brioche and macaron,  and Algerian tagines when we’re there!

0254 Laduree, ParisYou can follow my students on their adventures here:

Happy New Years Eve! Why not mini chocolate chip cookies with fleur de sel?

Happy New Year!  Are you doing anything delicious for New Years eve?

I just finished baking up a batch of mini-chocolate chip cookies.  Why chocolate chip cookies for New Years Eve because my girlfriend requested tiny treats that didn’t require utensils, and in Paris I  know I won’t be eating chocolate chip cookies.

Deciding which chocolate chip recipe to use to be quite a daunting a decision. Do I go with the traditional and well tested Nestle toll house recipe,  or with the New York Time Jacque Torres recipe that changed cookie baking in this household as it recommended chilling cookie dough overnight? Or with the Gourmet tiny chocolate chip recipe (food writer Lesley Porcelli introduced me to) which changed my cookie aesthetic forever. These cookies are tiny, buttery, crispy and almost perfect.
So I have adapted from both recipes and  made a few alterations. Instead of light brown sugar,  I prefer dark brown (I skip white sugar entirely because I like the deep dark flavor of dark brown sugar). I slightly change the baking temperature,  amounts of chocolate chips and salt. Lastly, I don’t refrigerate the dough overnight but I do refrigerate for 2-3 hours or throw the dough in the freezer for an hour. You can read more about the science of chocolate chip cookies at

 Farha’s favorite mini chocolate chip cookies with sea salt (fleur de sel) :

  • 10 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup of dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 1/2 tsp  baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt (or Torres recommends coarse salt)
  • 1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli or Toll House, but many people love Scharffen Berger,  Callebaut or  Guittard for baking.)

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Mix together unsalted butter, brown sugar, sea salt, and baking soda in a large bowl, then mix in one egg and a teaspoon of real vanilla. Add the AP flour and mix. Then add your cup of  chocolate chips.

Drop teaspoons of dough on ungreased cookie tray, and
(optional)   sprinkle the top of the teaspoons of dough with a pinch of sea salt before you bake.

Bake for 7-8 minutes.

I cool them on a rack for about 20 minutes and start eating them three at a time with every meal, or until they are gifted away.IMG_1698

Have a delicious New Year! Please follow me during my travels to Paris, Baltimore, Burlington and Glasgow in 2014. Continue reading

Have you been to Maison Kayser in Manhattan? Financiers and pastries for Eid

pistachio, chocolate and almond financiers

pistachio, chocolate and almond financiers

Food & Wine called the financier “God’s Perfect Cookie” (moist, small, fragrant and hopelessly addictive).

the pistachio financier

At Maison Kayser in New York, the financiers  on the upper east side are just as perfect as they are in their original Parisian bakery!  I first read about the perfect pistachio financier from David Lebovitz. He explains, “If you’ve never had financiers before, prepare yourself for a treat. But even if you’ve had them, you’ve likely never had financiers from Kayser bakery. Each little moist button is the perfect taste of ground almonds and French butter.” They could be mistaken for madeleines, but are denser, moister and just much more delicious!

Run, don’t walk, past the Laduree  to Maison Kayser.  Laduree might be a more beautiful shop, but the eclairs, financiers and bread at Kayser should not be missed!

Eric Kayser in Paris

Eric Kayser in Paris

Maison Kayser had a strict no photography policy  so I didn’t take photos on this trip to NYC, but posted a few that I took on my first trip to Paris.  If you can’t make it to the upper east side, anytime soon, Saveur published the pistachio financier recipe last year which emphasized how the egg whites and almond flour contribute to why, “despite its unassuming look, the financier is a small vessel of joy”.   I’m also on the hunt for the recipe for a chocolate financier which is also dark, decadent, and moist.

Only second to the Maison Kayser financiers are the ones at  Colson in Brooklyn.

I sent some to my niece this summer who   preferred them to Smitten Kitchen’s chocolate wafers!  So someone special is getting a delivery of Eric Kayser financiers for Eid.  Eid Mubarak!

More financiers please at Eric Kayser in Paris.

More financiers please at Eric Kayser in Paris.

Tastes like fall: curried delicata squash and chick peas

One of the many wonderful things about upstate New York is seasons, and my  season is fall!

I can’t wait for squash stews, pumpkin pies and the vibrant colors of autumn leaves.

Delicata squash  might be my favorite squash because it doesn’t require peeling.

This is what I made with the first delivery of squash from our CSA.

curried delicata squash and chicke peas
Roasted Delicata squash and chick peas
• 2 squash (delicata or acorn)
• Chick peas – 1 cup
• Garlic- 2 cloves chopped finely
• Oil – 3 T (vegetable or olive oil)
• Cumin (I like whole) – 2 tsp
• Fresh chopped onion – 1 small.
• Turmeric – 1 tsp
• Coriander – 1/2 tsp (optional)
• Salt – 2 tsp
• Parsley or Cilantro – optional garnish
1) Halve the squash and, with a spoon, carve out and discard the seeds. Slice into inch chunks.
2) Toss together with chick peas, garlic, olive oil, coriander and cumin and place it on a baking tray.
3) Cook the squash and chick peas in a 400 degree oven for about half an hour until it is tender and golden.
4) Garnish with fresh chopped parsley or cilantro.
• ***Serve over rice with raita, or toss with room temperature kale for a main salad.

Taste like fall!

Taste like fall!

Are sables just cookies or much more?


Are sables just cookies or much more? This past week I baked sables also known as French shortbread. I didn’t think much of it at the time. We were having a friend visiting from San Francisco and I was in my second week of teaching diversity in the city (a course that explores diversity in Paris through culture, immigration, religion, fashion and lastly food).

I had put aside a few to give Lesley Porcelli, the food writer and baker, and upon eating the rest she emailed me “I was really, really smitten with those plain cookies! They were total perfection” (as opposed to the chocolate sables I usually bake). Then three days later she texted, “my father-in-law wants your shortbread recipe. We all love it”.

These cookies are a variation of Dorie Greenspan’s cornmeal shortbread, but the difference was that I didn’t use lemon zest or vanilla, and substituted lemon extract for both.

I didn’t think these cookies were blog worthy until I realized sables are much more than a cookie…they are symbolic of my first trip to Paris from 2009 when I discovered French pastries and and financiers (my other favorite french treat). And now that I am taking my students to Paris in January, I think it’s time I share the sables with my class as well.

Cornmeal Shortbread Cookies
(recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
2/3 cup sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon (I used lemon extract)
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted, room temperature butter (use Kate’s butter if you can find it)
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract, or 1/2 teaspoon of pure almond extract (remember I skipped this and used lemon extract)

In a medium size bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk in the cornmeal, and set the mixture aside.
Working in the bowl of a stand mixer or other large bowl, rub the sugar and zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant.
Add the butter and extract to the bowl and, using either your stand mixers paddle attachment or whisk, or a hand mixer, beat on medium speed until the mixture is very smooth (about 3 minutes).
Reduce the mixer to low speed and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until the flour streaks have disappeared into the dough (do not over-mix).
Roll the dough into two logs of dough, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or freeze for one).

Getting ready to bake:
Preheat the oven to 350F, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or baking mats.
Place one of the rolls of dough onto a cutting board and slice about a 1/2 inch apart.
Place the baking sheets in the oven and immediately lower the oven temperature to 300F. Bake the cookies for 25-30 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking time. The cookies should just slightly golden.
Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature.

Sables...much more than a cookie?

Sables…much more than a cookie?

My students in SOC 399/Diversity in Paris will be sampling more Parisian French, Lebanese French and Moroccan French treats when we travel there this January. Check back for more of our culinary adventures. Currently they are exploring how contemporary diversity in Paris is changing its culture, art and culinary landscape.

What happened to Nabisco chocolate wafers?

What happened to  Nabisco chocolate wafers? They seem to have disappeared from all my local grocery stores. I know they are still made because  you can order them on

Smitten kitchen chocolate wafers

Smitten kitchen chocolate wafers

I  really love chocolate wafers for sweet treats at home, or for making my own ice cream sandwich.

So during the heatwave I finally made a batch of chocolate wafers using Smitten Kitchen’s recipe. These chocolate wafers are almost like a deep dark shortbread.

Fresh out of the oven, these are getting mailed to Tampa...

Fresh out of the oven, these are getting mailed to Tampa…

I recently made a batch by reducing the sugar from  1 cup of sugar to 3/4  cup of sugar for my mother’s birthday (she’s diabetic). My tip with this recipe is use the best dutch processed cocoa you can, and be sure to refrigerate the dough for at least an hour before you bake. I usually use Droste cocoa.  Others really love Scharffen Berger for baking.

They are perfect on their own (think high end Oreos meet Dorie Greenspan’s dark chocolate sables aka world peace cookies), but they also make the perfect mini-ice cream sandwich, especially with Talenti Gelato in espresso or Belgian chocolate or Soco Icecream in salted caramel.

Smitten kitchen wafers with Talenti chocolate gelato

Smitten kitchen wafers with Talenti chocolate gelato

So for those of you who suffered through a heat wave, need a sweet treat for Iftar or are looking for a new ice cream treat, consider these!

I’ve also tried other recipes from Smitten Kitchen, and along with David Lebovitz and Dorie Greenspan, it is one of my favorite go to baking blogs!