Flavorful Chicken and Potato Salad

Life in France is obviously different from life in the United States.  One of the most frustrating things to adapt to has been store hours.  Everything is closed on holidays, Sunday, and even often at lunch time.  This entails a little more meal planning than I am used to.  Back home, it does not matter if it is Thanksgiving Day and I run out of butter; all I have to do is run to the 24 hour grocery store, no sweat.  But here, things are trickier.  This little difference has caused me to think about my next meal even more than I normally would have, and to come up with recipes and meals that are make-ahead, portable and made with shelf-stable ingredients.  

Maisons Lafitte

A week or two ago I headed ten minutes from my house to Maisons-Lafitte for the day and knew that a pack-able, make-ahead meal would be necessary to take with me for lunch.  The grocery stores were already closed for the night, because they close at 8, and I had to work with what I already had on hand.  Thus, my new favorite potato salad was born.

You can make as much or as little as you like.  Eat it warm or store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  You will notice that none of my measurements are exact because each time I make it to taste.  


-chicken breasts
 -shallots, sliced (or onions)
-garlic, minced
-Dijon/Ancienne mustard

1. Cut potatoes into bite-sized pieces and boil until cooked through.  Meanwhile, poach the chicken breasts in a pot of water seasoned with bay leaves, spices, salt, lemon etc.

2. Shred cooked chicken into bite-sized pieces and toss it in a bowl with the potatoes.

3. Add remaining ingredients to taste and enjoy!


Chocolate Truffles (Truffes au Chocolat)

Since arriving in France, I have been missing working with chocolate.  Naturally, I enjoy eating the creations of renowned Parisian chocolatiers, but there is something special about eating delicious bonbons made with your own two hands.

Last weekend, with the help of my now photographer boyfriend, I whipped up a batch of simple chocolate truffles.  I made a trip to Déco Relief next to St. Eustache to pick up some Mexican Cacao Barry chocolate and a new spatula.   

These truffles are a great place to start if you are new to the world of chocolate making.  Give them a try and let me know what you think.

Chocolate Truffles
-300g chocolate
-165g heavy cream
-20g honey
-30g salted butter

-tempered chocolate (for dipping)
-cocoa powder (for rolling)

First, you will measure all of your ingredients.

Melt your chocolate very slowly in the microwave or over a pot of simmering water.  Stir often.

Add the warmed cream and honey in 5 or 6 stages.  Stir vigorously.  The ganache will look split at first, but fear not, it will come together.

When all of the liquid is incorporated, add the butter and use an immersion blender to mix.

Leave the ganache in a covered bowl overnight or in the refrigerator for a few hours, until it is firm.

Roll pieces of the set ganache into spheres and temper your chocolate.

Put some cocoa powder in a shallow container.  Dip each piece of ganache in the tempered chocolate and cover it in cocoa powder.  When the chocolate has set, sieve and set aside.



Bonus Outtake:

Déco Relief

Kitchen equipment store specializing in cake and chocolate decorating supplies.

6 Rue Montmartre 75001

Metro: Les Halles/Chatelet


Cheap Chocolate in Paris

With a chocolaterie on each corner, you might wonder why there is even a necessity for cheap chocolate in Paris.  Does anyone even buy those colorfully wrapped bars in the supermarket? In a country where children consume an average of 11.9 grams and adults 5.7 grams of chocolate per day, it is not exactly surprising that someone is buying the cheaper stuff.  In addition to price, when stockpiling chocolate it is important to remember the shelf-life.  When you buy boutique chocolates, it will be necessary to consume them within two or three weeks so that nothing spoils.  But with "cheap" bar chocolate, this worry disappears.  Hurray!  Your stash is safe from mold!

I have taken it upon myself to test and compare the chocolate and confections commonly found in French grocery stores for you, my dear readers.  Enjoy this guide to 4€ well spent.  Recognition must be given to my boyfriend who has sacrificially helped me try many different chocolates over the last few months.  


Before beginning this journey, I was not aware of the various "collections" available from Lindt.  There are different distinctions written on the packaging like: EXCELLENCE, LINDOR, CREATION, CONNAISSEURS, RECETTE ORIGINALE, LES GRANDES.

The least expensive and least interesting lines are the "original recipe," "Lindor," and "excellence."  These are the lines you will find most often in the states.  They are the traditional, plain dark and milk chocolates with infusions or small twists.  

The "Creation" line are thin bars of dark or milk chocolate with soft fillings that range from typical praline to whipped fruit fondant.  They are made in indented molds for easy breaking and each tab is a generous bite.   

Naturally, the best line is the most expensive line: "Connaisseurs."  These are thicker bars with no lines to indicate where one should break or how much is a serving.  Obviously, this is fantastic, because it is pretty clear to me that one bar is one serving, right?  The bars in this line are filled with thick pralines and caramel fondants.  You cannot go wrong here.  

Rocher Noir is a nod to a classic French confection.  Rocher means "rock" or "boulder" and the mixture of almonds with chocolate piled into a mound is often referred to this way.  This particular member of the Creation line comes in dark or milk chocolate and deserves a good report as a yummy bar for the price.   

Coulis de Chocolat was a bit of a disappointment.  The filling was more sugary than chocolatey and the texture was off.  

Passion Frappée is supposed to be served straight out of the refrigerator, which I did not realize before tasting it.  It was unpleasant and tasted fake.  After storing in the refrigerator it was slightly more palatable, but mostly because the chill took some of the flavor away.  

Praliné Façon À L'Ancienne was pretty delicious and full of hazelnut flavor.  It is part of the connaisseurs line and I am fairly certain that this flavor is unavailable in the states.

Passionnment Fondant Noir is pretty similar to some Lindt varieties you can find in the USA.  It is a good staple.  This one is not overdone and you will not be disappointed, especially if you eat it slightly above room temperature.

Délice Pistache was not particularly délice-ious.  As is usually the complaint of my resident pistachio specialist, the filling tasted more of almond than of pistachio and green food coloring must have been used.

Praliné Feuilleté is in the running for my favorite bar in the "Creation" collection.  The texture is perfectly crispy and the nutty praline really stands up to the chocolate.

Noir Intense is the typical dark bar you can find anywhere and I used it for baking because I am a snob and cannot say that I always enjoy eating this one on its own.  If I want a piece of dark chocolate by itself, I will splurge for the Valrhona or Cacao Barry.

Opéra is inspired by the impressive, multi-layered French cake made with coffee.  The bar was a nice homage to the pastry, but still does not measure up to anything in the "connaisseurs" collection.

Truffe Craquante was crunchy, as advertised.  However, perhaps it was a little too heavy on the orange flavor.

Praliné Feuillantine wins.  It is probably the favorite of each one of my team of experts.  Sure, it is  not made with Valrhona's praline paste, but who can afford that anyway?

This brand is certainly not on the same level as Lindt, but several of their offerings are pretty good, plus they are decidedly less expensive.  They are also rolling out a line of organic chocolate bars.

Truffé Noir is light and easy to eat, as chocolate should be.  What is chocolate if it's not easy to eat?  There is not any real intensity in this bar, but it is a nice sweet treat.

Praliné Intense Noir was heavy on the nuts if a bit too sweet.  Not a bad afternoon snack.  Ignore my empty box of Kinder Chocofresh...

Fin Noir Orange was not delicious.  The little bits of orange were unpleasant and abundant.

Mousse au Chocolat Noir circling back to Lindt...was another one of those ho-hum tablets that is best enjoyed as an afternoon snack.

Here is a brand readily available at each "Bio" or organic market in Paris.  The prices are a little higher as you are paying for the organic-ness, but overall I would say it is worth the money.  They even offer couverture chocolate for professional use.

70% Cacao was a great first selection and I look forward to trying more of their bars.

Also tried, but not recommended: Framboise Intense, Noir Puur, Schoko-Bons

Let me know in the comments if there are other brands and flavors I should have tried!