Pâtisserie Duployez

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Category: Pâtisserie Shop and Cafe
Cuisine: French Pâtisserie Shop  and Cafe
Price Range on Average: EUR 3-5 per pâtisserie
Ambiance: Chic and simple
Address: 5, rue Désiré Delansorne 62000 Arras, France
Tel: +33 03 21 51 77 18
Website: http://www.artisanenor.fr/les-artisans/patisserie-duployez/
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday, 8AM – 7PM
Last Visited: 2016

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Review:
There is no secret to my life long love affair and obsession with french patisseries. I feel so lucky and humble to have had the opportunity to get to know France so well. To travel in its beautiful cities and regions regularly means I’ve had the privilege to sample the very best tarte au citron meringuée, taste fine aux pommes, macaroons and mille feuille.  I usually travel by train or plane to France but on several occasions, usually on holidays I like to drive and go for a road trip through France. This time around I drove from the UK to France and discovered a real gem. In a very small, quaint town of Arras there lies a lovely, simple and chic Salón de thé. Not quite as chic and grand as the ones you’ll find in Paris but certainly very lovely.

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The pâtisseries are immaculate and not to be missed. If you are in Arras or near it and are not sure where to go for tea, this would be the place to go. The pâtisseries and cakes are a work of art. There’s a wide selection to suit every palette.

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Quiche Lorraine Part 2

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I was sitting at a café in Arras and I immediately felt so excited to be back in France again. I’ve always been fond of French patisseries, macaroons and amazing cakes.
Although, I am very adventurous with my food and will happily try anything and experiment on recipes. I do have certain favourites that I just can’t help having so much of. A trip in France is never complete without my usual quiche, croque monsieur and French patisserie for lunch. This is one of my all-time favourite lunch dishes at home and in France.

I do like my quiche warm though and I must admit that I have experimented on over 30 or so different Quiche Lorraine recipes to get to this version. I am sure that in a few years’ time this experimentation will go on. I called this my Quiche Lorraine Part 2 since this is an adaptation of my Quiche Lorraine Part 1 which is also on this blog.

After my bloated quiche disaster, an eggy wobbly quiche that just collapse when you slice them that’s really more of a scrambled egg than a quiche and a burnt pastry quiche that almost went alight. Well, this one finally works without collapsing, setting the smoke alarm in the kitchen off or burning the house down.  I know that I should expand my horizons and learn more about other dishes and experiment on other recipes but having so many failed attempts on a quiche, I am now determined to try and make so many variations of this wonderful quiche that works. I hope you enjoy this one.

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KITCHEN KIT:
A pan, a knife, a wooden spoon, a rolling pin, a pastry brush, a 23cm pastry tin/silicone mold about 3.5cm deep, baking beans, baking parchment and a whisk.

Serves: 8

Ingredients:
1. 500g of shop bought short crust pastry at room temperature. You can also follow my short-crust pastry recipe on this blog to make one.
2. 400ml  crème fraiche
3. 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
4. ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
5. ¼ tsp. salt
6. 1 tbsp. of olive oil.
7. 1 large banana shallot, peeled and finely diced.
8. 5 rashers of streaky bacon, diced
9. 200g. Gruyere cheese, grated

Process:
1. Lightly flour your rolling pin and your work surface. Roll out the pastry until it is to a thickness of a£1 coin and then lift into a tin/silicone mold. Gently press the insides of the pastry and trim excess pastry with a knife. Cut a large piece of baking parchment, place this in your pastry case and then add the baking beans.

2. Heat the oven to 200C fan, bake the pastry case blind for 15 minutes until the pastry is crisp and set. Remove from oven and carefully lift the paper and beans out. Return pastry to the oven and cook for another 5 mins or until the base and sides are golden and crisp.

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3. Meanwhile beat the crème fraiche, eggs, ground black pepper and salt in a bowl. Set aside. Next, place a pan on a medium heat, add 1 tbsp. of olive oil and fry the shallot until translucent. Then, add the cooked shallots into your crème fraiche and egg mixture.

4. Using the same pan to cook your shallots,  add your diced bacon until golden and crisp (you do not need to add oil into the pan as the bacon will release its’ own fats).

5. Once cooked, scatter your bacon on your pastry and pour your crème fraiche and egg mixture over. Sprinkle the top with Gruyere cheese and bake in the oven for 35 minutes. Change the setting of your oven to grill and continue to bake for another 5 minutes. This will give your quiche a nice golden colour on top. (if your quiche is still wobbly, put it back for another 5 minutes to bake).

6. Once baked leave the quiche to cool for 10 minutes, this will make sure that the quiche doesn’t fall apart when you sliced them. Serve with a nice rocket salad with French dressing. Bon appetite!

 

Note: The pastry needs to be at room temperature if its too cold the pastry will crack when you roll it out. Baking beans as I’ve found out in my early days of baking is a necessity, without them baking a pastry blind will give you a dome instead! I also learnt that it’s best to be patient and let your quiche bake for the time it needs to bake, taking the quiche out too soon because of the urgent need to snack will give you scrambled egg instead. Thus my tip will be to be patient with the quiche, it’s worth waiting for.

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Lemon Drizzle Cake

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I love this simple, humble cake. Easy as it may look, I’ve actually had several disastrous lemon cakes in the past. Some too lemony, some too bitter and some even roasted! There have been times when I’ve over zested the lemon and the bitter whites of the lemon ended up in the cake, making it more of a Bitter cake than a Lemon cake! Yikes!

There have also been times when I thought I could get away with not accurately measuring the ingredients. But after all the trials and tribulations and disastrous experiments! Life taught me to be patient. When it comes to baking, precision and lots and lots of patience are prerequisites. Sadly there are no short cuts and no easy ways around it. If you want to enjoy that cake, you have to learn to wait for it to bake and not open the oven door too early!

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I love that comforting smell of a cake baking in the oven and I certainly love eating them too. Hence, I learnt to sit still and not get over excited. The last time I got over excited, I’ve made the fatal mistake of having an early peep in the oven only for the whole thing to collapse, within seconds of opening the oven. Forcing me to start from scratch all over again! Lesson learnt. Do not get over excited and open the oven when your cake is baking or when anything is baking, cakes simply don’t like to be rush and for their temperature to fluctuate!

I do not know the origin of lemon cake. It is common in England but it is also in France. I’ve also had Lemon cake in Italy. Although, lemons are first thought to have been grown in Assam, Burma and China I don’t think the Indians, Burmese or Chinese would have made lemon cakes!  Wherever it comes from I hope that everyone gets the chance at least once in their life time to try a lovely lemon drizzle cake.

If baked well, it’s so homely and comforting. As such it is my cake of choice when it comes to friends’ presents and birthdays. The scent of the lemon and the sweetness of the cake bring back that happy homely memories for me and I hope that those of you who eat this cake will also enjoy happy memories of home and comfort.

KITCHEN KIT:
A loaf tin, pastry brush, baking paper/parchment, spatula, an electric mixer or a balloon whisk, 2 bowls, a sifter and a lemon zester.
Alternatives: you can either use two 17 x 7.5 x 6cm H loaf tin or one 19 x 9 x 6.5cm H loaf tin.

Ingredients:
For the lemon sponge:
1. 2 large lemons, zest only (finely grated)
2. 200g softened, unsalted butter
3. 200g caster sugar
4. 3 lightly beaten medium eggs
5. 200g sifted self-raising flour

For the lemon syrup and decoration:
6. 2 lemons, juiced (100ml)
7. 70g icing sugar
8. 1 tsp. of pear sugar/sugar nibs

For the lemon sponge:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Grease a cake tin and line the bases with baking parchment.

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3. In a food mixer, cream together the butter, salt, sugar and lemon zest until pale and fluffy.

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4. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and then add them very little at a time to the creamed butter mixture.

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5. Next, fold in the flour into the mixture, mix until well combined and pour the mixture into a lined cake tin.

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6. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until well-risen and golden-brown on top. Insert a skewer or a cake tester in the middle of the cake sponge, if the skewer comes out clean and not wet, your cake is done.

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7. Remove from the oven and turn the cake out onto a wire cooling rack. Prick the cake all over with a cake tester or a skewer.

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For the lemon syrup and decoration:
8. Squeeze the lemon juices into the sugar and gently whisk to dissolve the sugar. Slowly drizzle over the cake, wait for a few moments before pouring over the syrup, so that it all sinks in the cake.

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9. Decorate with pearl sugar/sugar nibs and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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Enjoy!

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Tarte Fine aux Pommes

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I’ve first discovered these amazing tarts on my first trip to Paris and ever since they came into my life. I’ve longed to eat them at every opportunity that arises! As much as I love pain au chocolat or a freshly baked croissants aux amandes for breakfast, nothing is better for me than a wonderful  Tarte Fine aux Pommes first thing in the morning. Although, many would insist that these should be eaten later in the afternoon or for dessert. I would argue that it is always best to start your morning well. That means wake up early, while half the world is still asleep,  take your time to enjoy the sun and a moment alone with a Tarte Fine aux Pommes! Here’s my take on the wonderful Tarte Fine aux Pommes! Bon appetite!

KITCHEN KIT:
A rolling pin, a 3 ½ inch cookie cutter (or anything round you can use to cut the pastry), pastry brush, a wooden spoon, a small pan and a tart baking tin (optional)

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Ingredients Serves 30:
1. 700g. all butter puff pastry
2. 8 medium size Apples, peeled and sliced into very thin slices ( use Cox or Granny Smith Apples)
3. 1 lemon, zest and juice
4. 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
5. 2 tbsp. light brown sugar
6. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
7. 4 tbsp. apricot jam

Tarte Fine aux Pommes
1. Pre-heat oven to 200C.
2. On well floured work surface, roll your puff pastry. Using a cookie cutter, cut the pastry into small round circles.

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3. Line a baking tray with baking parchment/paper, place the pastry circles on top.
4. Place your sliced apples in a bowl and mix with the lemon juice and zest, lay the apples on top of the pastry, dot the apples with some butter, sprinkle over some sugar and place in the oven to bake for 20 minutes.

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5. Place a small sauce pan over a low heat. Slowly heat your apricot jam and vanilla extract, once warm brush this onto your cooked apple tarts.

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6. Sprinkle over some more brown sugar and place back in the oven to bake for another 3 minutes. If you would like it to caramelise you can set your oven to Grill instead and bake the tarts for 2-3 minutes, you’ll have to keep a constant eye on it to make sure the tart doesn’t burn.

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Serve immediately.

 

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Creme Caramel

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Creme caramel is certainly one of my all time favourite classic desserts. It was a childhood favourite and still is. The best part of this dessert is that it is easy to make and comforting to eat.  Although this dessert has made its way into Micheline starred restaurants, to famous french brasseries of Lyon, Bordeaux and Paris, with its the ‘Egg flan’ equivalent being equally famous across Spain’s many fine restaurants. This dessert for me is still best serve at home made by my lovely Mom! who never fails to supply UNLIMITED creme caramel to me and my sister. I love this dessert so much that I often eat this for breakfast -well on the times when I’ve beaten my sister to the fridge first!!

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KITCHEN KIT:
A small sauce pan, a medium size pan, a large bowl, a whisk, a fine sieve, 4 medium size ramekins, a pastry brush and a baking tray.

Ingredients Serves 4:
For the caramel:
1. 2 tbsp. water
2. 125g. golden caster sugar
3. 1 tbsp. unsalted butter (brush your ramekin base with the butter)

For the creme mixture:
3. 500ml. full fat milk
4. 1 tsp vanilla extract  or 1 vanilla pod
5. 2 medium eggs and  3 egg yolks (organic or free range)
6. 125g golden caster sugar

For the caramel:
1. In a small saucepan add your water and sugar, then place the pan on a medium heat. Leave it without stirring, until the sugar has completely dissolved, you can gently shake the pan to make sure the sugar dissolves evenly.  Allow to simmer until the syrup turns into a rich brown caramel colour. This takes around 10 minutes.
2. As soon as the colour turns caramel, immediately remove the pan from the heat.Pour the caramel into 4 (buttered)medium size ramekins, gently shake each ramekins around so the caramel coats the base evenly. Transfer the ramekins to a baking tin and set aside.

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For the creme mixture:
5. Pre-heat the oven to 150°C
6. Pour the milk in a saucepan with the vanilla extract and bring it to simmering point for 4-5 minutes.
7. In a large bowl, lightly whisk the eggs and egg yolks with the sugar. Gently pour your hot milk into your eggs and sugar mixture, whisking all the time.

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For the final stage of making the creme caramel:
8. Pour your creme mixture through a fine sieve into your ramekins with caramel base.

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9. Place the baking tray with the creme filled ramekins in the oven and carefully pour some boiling water in the tray, two-third of the way up the side of the moulds.

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10. Finally, bake the creme caramel for 55–60 minutes, until the crème caramels are just set ( you can check if they are set by gently pressing the middle of the creme mixture with your thumb).
11. Once set, remove from the oven and leave to cool, then place in the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour (I prefer mine to chill overnight).

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12. To serve, use a knife, soak it in hot water and slide it around the inside edge of the ramekin, place the bottom of the ramekins into a hot water for a couple of seconds and then turn it upside down on to a serving plate.

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Bon Appétit!

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Moelleux au chocolat (The very gooey Mini Chocolate Lava Cakes)

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I love this dessert! In fact I haven’t met anyone yet who hasn’t fallen madly in love with these gooey little cakes. These cakes are widely available in many brasseries and cafes in France. They are also frequently available in my house-hold due to my serious addiction to these cakes. They are perfect for dinner parties too as they can be prepared a day in advance. They also don’t need to be taken out from the fridge ahead of time before baking, as they need to be bake straight out from the fridge, whilst they are still very cold to get the ‘gooey chocolate lava in the middle’ consistency. Baking the cake cold will make it slower for the heat to penetrate the middle of the cake, making it yummy and gooey!

KITCHEN KIT:
4 Ramekins oven-proof, a whisk, pastry brush, s small pan and heat-proof bowl.

Ingredients Serves 4:
For the Ramekins:
1. 10g. of softened or melted unsalted butter
2. 10g. cocoa powder

For the Moelleux au chocolat:
3. 85g. Dark Chocolate use at least 70% cocoa and a very good quality chocolate, broken into small pieces
4. 85g. unsalted butter, softened
5. 85g. light brown sugar
6. 43g. of plain flour
7. 3 eggs, lightly beaten
8. 1/2 tsp. of vanilla extract
9. A pinch of fine salt

For the Ramekins:
1. Brush the insides of your ramekins with butter, then coat them with the cocoa powder. Tap them a couple of times to remove any excess cocoa at the bottom of the ramekins. Then set the ramekins aside.

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For the Moelleux au chocolat:
2. In a heat proof bowl, add your butter and chocolate, place the bowl in a pan of simmering water (bain marie). Stir the butter and chocolate until melted and well combined. You can also melt them in a microwave on low, for 15 seconds.

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3. Next, whisk the eggs with the melted butter and chocolate, then add the vanilla extract, the flour and sugar. Whisk until all the ingredients are well combined.

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4. Pour the mixture into your ramekins, cover with a cling film but make sure the cling film does not stick into your cake mixture. Place in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight. The mixture needs to be cold so the centre remains cold when baked making it gooey.

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5. When ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 180C. Bake the cake for 18-20 minutes. The sides of the cake should look crisp, and the cake will look more like a little dome, when poked in the middle the chocolate should pour out like a lava. Run your knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the ramekins, making it easier to transfer on a plate.

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Serve immediately with madagascan vanilla ice cream or double cream.

Bon appétit!!

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Trout en Papillote

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KITCHEN KIT:
Grease proof paper and a large baking tray.

Ingredients Serves 2:
1. 2 trout, gutted and cleaned
2. 1 medium size fennel, sliced
3. 3 sprigs of spring onions, finely chopped
4. 2 lemons (1 lemon zest and 1 sliced)
5. 3 tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
6. 1/4 tsp. of salt
7. 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
8. 1 tbsp. of butter (1/2 tbsp. for each trout)
9. 1 medium size potato approx. 230g, peeled, sliced and parboiled for 10 minutes.

For the salad:
10. A handful of rocket leaves
11. 2 tbsp.lemon juice
12. 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
13. 3 pinches of salt
14. 3 1/2 tbsp. Extra-virgin olive oil
15. A handful of roasted pine nuts

For the Trout en Papillote:
1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
2. In a bowl mix the oil, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Rub this all over the trout and inside the cavity.
3. Next, place each trout on a large sheet of greaseproof paper onto a baking tray.
3. Stuff the fish with the fennel and spring onions. Place the potato slices underneath each trout.

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4. Dot all over with some of the butter.

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5. Now, bring the edges of the greaseproof paper together and fold to form a sealed parcel. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes (cooking time would depend on the thickness of the fish). The flesh of the fish should be opaque, if it is translucent you would have to cook it a bit longer, as you are cooking the fish with the skin on just slightly lift the skin to check the flesh of the fish.
6. Once done serve the fish with the juice from the parcel.

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For the salad:
7. Mix the lemon juice, mustard, salt and oil. Pour over the rocket leaves and sprinkle over some roasted pine nuts.

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Serve the trout with the side salad immediately

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Baked Alaska with lemon curd (Omelette norvégienne)

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KITCHEN KIT:
An electric whisk, a big bowl, 2 of 7′inch round baking tin and a 3′ inch cookie cutter

Ingredients Serves 4:

For the Madeira Cake:
1. 75g. unsalted butter
2. 75g. caster sugar
3. 2 medium size eggs. lightly beaten
4. 113g. self raising flour
5. 1/2 lemon, zest only
6. 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
7. 1 tbsp. of full fat milk
8. 2 tbsp. Pousse Rapier (alternatively you can use Grand Marnier or other types of Orange Liqueur)

For the Lemon Curd:
9. 2 small lemon zest and juice.
10. A pinch of salt
11. 50g sugar
12. 50g melted unsalted butter
13. 4 egg yolks

For the Alaska:
14. 4 big scoops of good quality Madagascan vanilla ice cream
15. 65g egg whites
16. 50g caster sugar
17. 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
18. Pinch of salt
19. 1 tbsp. of Flaked Alomnds

For the Madeira cake:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Grease and flour your 2 baking tin, line the base with greaseproof paper and grease the paper again.

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2. Next, cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Add the lightly beaten eggs, one at a time, beating the mixture well between each one and adding a tablespoon of the flour with the last egg. This process although time consuming will make sure that your mixture doesn’t curdle.
3. After adding the last egg, mix again for a minute, then gently fold in your lemon zest and 1 tbsp. of milk.

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4. Pour your mixture into your baking tin and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until golden-brown on top and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
5. Once your cake is baked, remove from the oven and set aside to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn it out on to a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Before brushing it all over with Pousse Rapier. Then finally using a cookie cutter, cut the 4 small cakes.

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For the Lemon Curd:
6. Put the lemon zest and juice, salt, sugar and butter into a small saucepan and heat gently until the sugar and butter have melted. Remove from the heat. Leave to cool for a minute, add beaten egg yolks and whisk all together.
7. Turn the pan onto a low heat again, whilst constantly whisking. Once the curd thickens, remove from the heat. Cover with a cling film once cooled, refrigerate for at least an hour, preferably overnight. Once ready for use, spread the lemon curd on each cakes.

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For the Alaska:
8. First, Pre-heat the oven to 230C.
9. Place a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of the lemon curd. Place in the fridge to prevent the ice cream from melting.
10. Then in a clean bowl, add half of the egg whites with the sugar, lemon juice and salt and whisk until soft peaks form.
11. Then add the remaining egg whites, continue whisking until the meringue forms stiff peaks.
12. Spoon the meringue mixture over the ice cream and cake, covering all sides completely. Sprinkle the top with some almonds and bake for 2-3 minutes until the meringue is golden on the top.

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Serve immediately.

Note:
This dish is fantastic for dinner parties, as it can be prepared in advance. You can make the lemon curd and sponge cake a day before or you can also make everything well in advance and freeze. Once you have covered the cake, lemon curd and ice cream with the meringue it can be frozen in the freezer.  It doesn’t have to be defrosted, to cook it simply place it in a pre-heated oven of 200C to bake for 8-10 minutes until golden all over, bake straight from the freezer.

 

 

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Rasberry Clafoutis

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I love this dessert, it’s ever so tasty and moorish but then I do have a very sweet tooth! This lovely dessert which originated from the Limousin region of France is traditionally serve with black cherries. However, this dish can also be made with plums or other types of berries. I’ve heard that in some parts of France this was also made with the actual pits of the cherries as it does brings out amazing flavours when baked in this traditional way. I haven’t tried making it yet so for the time being I can only say that I love the raspberry version. Bon appetite!

Ingredients Serves 6:
1. 250g. raspberries
2. 1 lemon, zest only
3. 130g caster sugar
4. 35g unsalted and melted butter
5. 20g unsalted and softened butter
6. 90g plain flour
7. A pinch of salt
8. 1 egg
9. 1 egg yolk
10. 300ml.  full fat milk

Rasberry Clafoutis:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease your baking dish with butter. Sprinkle over 2 tbs. sugar on your baking dish coating the inside of the dish with the butter and sugar.
2. Place the raspberries, lemon zest and 1 1/2tablespoons of the sugar in  the bowl.Gently mix coating the raspberries all over with the lemon zest and sugar, then set aside to macerate for 15 minutes.

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3. Next, add your flour and salt into a bowl and set aside.
4. In a another bowl, whisk the egg, egg yolk and remaining sugar, then slowly add this into the flour and salt. Mix until all the ingredients are incorporated.
5. Add the milk, stirring the mixture continuously for 2-3 minutes until the batter is smooth, add the melted butter and mix until well combined.
6. Now add the macerated raspberries in your baking dish, mixing gently to release the juices from the berries.

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7. Pour the batter over the raspberries and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the top looks golden brown and  the batter is set. To test that it is cooked through, insert a cake tester or knife into the centre of the dish, when you removed it, it should come out clean and dry. Remove the dish from the oven allow to cook for a couple of minutes before serving.
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Serve with some additional lovely fresh raspberries.

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Creamy Mushroom and Thyme Vol Au vent

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Ingredients Makes 6:

For the mushroom mixture:
1.  1 tbsp. of butter
2.  1 shallot, finely chopped
3.  150g chestnut mushrooms, finely chopped
4.  10g morel mushrooms, finely chopped (hydrate dried morel mushrooms on a 100ml hot water before chopping and reserved the liquid)
5.  1 tbsp.  thyme leaves
6.  50 ml. Madeira
7.  200ml double cream
8.  1 tbsp. cornflour
9.  ¼ tsp. paprika
10. ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
11. ¼ tsp. salt

For the pastry case:
12. 1 pack ready rolled shop-bought puff pastry if you are in a hurry or just feeling lazy, otherwise you can also make your own pastry by following “All Butter Puff Pastry” instructions on the pastry section of this site.
13. 1 egg, lightly beaten for glazing

For the mushroom mixture:
1.  On a large frying pan over high heat add the butter, cook the shallots, mushrooms and thyme leaves for 3-4 minutes. Add the Madeira and simmer for 2 minutes.
2.  Next, add the 100ml liquid from the morel mushrooms, cream, cornflour, paprika, pepper and salt, stir well for 1-2 minutes to prevent lumps from forming and thicken the sauce.  Season to taste and then set aside.

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For the vol au vent pastry cases:
3.  Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line your baking tray with a greaseproof baking paper.
4.  On well-floured surface roll out the puff pastry and cut 12 circles with 10cm diametre cookie cutter.
5.  Cut a smaller circle out of the centre of 6 of the circles.
6.  Lay the 6 (10cm diametre) circles on your lined baking tray; brush the pastry circles with a lightly beaten egg. Now place the six circles with a ‘hole in the centre’ on top of each of the full circles and glaze the sides only with egg.

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7.  Bake in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until risen and golden-brown. Cut the top circle as shown in the picture below.
8.  Allow to rest for a minute and spoon over the mixture inside the vol au vent pastry cases. IMG_3888

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Serve immediately.

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Ratatouille

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The name of this French Provençal vegetable strew, ‘Ratatouille’ originated from the Occitan word ratatolha or in French ‘touiller’ which means to ‘toss the food’. This dish is so versatile, it can be eaten by itself or served with an accompanying meat or fish. It can even be added or toss into a pasta with some pesto. I love making this beautiful and colourful dish. Not only it is healthy, it is also very tasty and so easy to prepare. I do two types of ‘Ratatouille’ a more traditional version making the ‘Ratatouille’ without any crunch  and another version with crunch, which is a ‘Ratatouille au Gratin’.
The picture above is ‘Ratatouille’ without the crunch on it which is the classic way to cook this dish.
The picture below on the other hand is the less traditional version “Ratatouille’ au Gratin” with its extra crunch.

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KITCHEN KIT:
A large frying pan and an oven proof dish.

Ingredients Serves 2:
For the Ratatouille:
1.  2 tbsp olive oil
2.  1 red onions, sliced
3.  2 cloves of garlic, crushed
4.  2 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
5.  2 bell peppers, roughly chopped
6.  1 courgettes, chopped
7.  1 aubergine, chopped
8.  2 large ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
9.  1 tsp sea salt
10. 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
11. 1 tbsp. herbes de Provence

For the crunch:
12. 4 tbsp. panko breadcrumbs
13. ½ tbsp. herbes de Provence
14. 2 tbsp. grated comte cheese

For the Ratatouille:
1.  Preheat the oven to 200ºC on Grill.
2.  In a large frying pan, heat the oil and cook the onions for 2 minutes, until they are soft.
3.  Add the rest of the vegetables, salt, pepper and herbes de Provence; gently stirring to cook all vegetables evenly for 5 minutes. Then lower the heat, cover the pan with a lid and allow it to simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring gently from time to time so the vegetables doesn’t stick into the pan.

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For the crunch:
4.  Transfer the vegetables to an ovenproof dish, mix the breadcrumbs with ½ a tbsp. of herbes de Provence and 2 tbsp. of comte cheese; sprinkle this over the vegetables and place the vegetables under the grill for 3 minutes.

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Serve immediately.

 

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Coq au Reisling (Alsatian Chicken cooked in Reisling wine)

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This is more of a continuation from my Alsatian blog yesterday. Another local speciality of Alsace, this dish is serve in many restaurants in the region and one of the local favourites too. A creamy sauce, with cute little Alsatian pasta, best eaten with a refreshing Reisling wine. Bon appétit!

KITCHEN KIT:
A pasta sauce pan and a large pan with a lid. 

Ingredients Serves 2:

 

For the chicken and reisling sauce:
1.  2 chicken legs
2.  70g. butter (40g from frying and 30g for the sauce)
3.  ½ tsp. salt
4.  ½ tsp. ground black pepper
5.  30g. shallots, finely chopped
6.  1 tbsp. of fresh thyme leaves
7.  50 ml. cognac or armagnac
8.  250 ml. Reisling (For this dish, I used Trimbach Riesling Frederic Emile, 2006 dry Reisling wine)
9.  150 g.  Paris mushroom
10.  200 ml. double cream

 
For the pasta:
11. 120g. dried corolles d’Alsace pasta (I used a pasta by Reflets de France)
12. 2 pinches of salt
13. 1 tbsp. oil
14. 1.5 litres of hot water

 

 

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For the garnish:
14. A handful of thyme leaves 

For the chicken and reisling sauce:
1. In a large sauce pan over a medium heat, melt 40g. of your butter. Add the chicken legs (cook the skin side first), fry and brown for approx. 5 minutes on each side.
2.  Once the chicken is brown and cooked, transfer into another clean pan, over medium heat. Add 30g.of butter,  ½ tsp of salt and ½ pepper, then add the shallots and cook for  2 minutes.
3. Add the cognac/armagnac and allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes.
4. Next, add the mushroom and the Reisling wine. Cover the pan with a lid and leave to simmer for 20 minutes.
5. After 20 minutes, remove chicken legs from the pan and set aside on a warm plate; turn the heat up and reduce the sauce by a third. Finally, stir in the double cream, season to taste with a couple of pinches of salt and pepper. Cook the sauce for 2 minutes before serving.

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For the pasta:
6.  Meanwhile, while your sauce simmers, prepare the pasta. Place the pasta pan over a high heat; add the hot water, salt and oil. Allow to boil then add the pasta in.
7.  Cook the pasta for 7 minutes and drain. (If you are using a different type of pasta or a different brand of pasta follow the pasta packet instructions for cooking time. as this varies.)

Plate the pasta into a plate and add the chicken and sauce. Garnish with some thyme leaves and serve immediately.

 

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Meatballs in rich tomato and red wine sauce

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The pasta and wine I used for this dish is from the Alsace region of France, which is located on the west bank of the river Rhine, between the Rhine and the Vosges mountains. To the north and east Alsace shares a border with Germany; to the south with German-speaking Switzerland and finally to the west with Lorraine and Franche Comté. Making Alsatian cuisine quite different from the rest of France, pasta is one of the typical dishes from this region. Dishes from Alsace are also known to be packed full of flavours, rich and hearty with German names. A definite place to visit for another gastronomic adventure! bon appétit!

KITCHEN KIT:
A large bowl, a pasta sauce pan and a large pan with a lid.

Ingredients Serves 2:

For the meatballs mixture:
1.  4 sausages (sausage meat removed from casting)
2.  150g extra lean minced beef
3.  ½ tsp. salt
4.  ½ tsp. pepper
5.  ½ tsp. dried chili flakes
6.  ½ tsp. herb de Provence

For cooking the meatballs:
7.  2 tbsp. olive oil

For the tomato and red wine sauce:
8.  1 tbsp. Butter
9.  2 rashers of bacon, sliced
10. 1 tbsp. herb de Provence
11. ¼ tsp. chili flakes
12. ½ tsp salt
13. ½ tsp. ground black pepper
14. 1 small onion, chopped
15. 2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
16. 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
17. 1 tbsp. tomato paste
18. 400g. or 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
19. 150ml. good quality red wine (for this recipe I used Domaine Barmès Buecher – Pinot Noir Vieilles Vignes 2006)
20. 300ml. beef stock

For the pasta:
21. 120g. dried Monschel pasta (I used a pasta by Reflets de France)
22. 2 pinches of salt
23. 1 tbsp. oil
24. 1.5 litres of hot water

For the garnish:
25. A handful of roughly chopped parsley

For the meatballs:
1.  In a bowl mix all the meatballs mixture, ingredients listed above. Then make this mixture into small round balls. Set aside on a plate.
2.  On a large pan over a high heat, add 2 tbsp. of olive oil. Add the meat balls and cook for 3-4 minutes until the meatballs are cooked and brown on all sides.
3.  Remove the meatballs from the pan once cooked and set aside on a clean plate.

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For the tomato and red wine sauce:
4.  To keep the flavors of the meat in your sauce, using the same large pan you cooked the meat balls in and add the butter and bacon. Over a high heat, cook the bacon for 2 minutes, then add the herb de provence, chili flakes, salt, pepper, onions, celery and carrots; cook further for 2 minutes.
5.  Finally add the tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, red wine and beef stock. Once the sauce starts to boil lower the heat, add the cooked meatballs into the sauce and gently simmer for 15 minutes.

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For the pasta:
6.  Meanwhile, while your sauce cooks, prepare the pasta. Place the pasta pan over a high heat; add the hot water, salt and oil. Allow to boil then add the pasta in.
7.  Cook the pasta for 7 minutes and drain. (If you are using a different type of pasta or a different brand of pasta follow the pasta packet instructions for cooking time. as this varies.)

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Plate the pasta into a plate and add the meatballs and sauce. Garnish with some chopped parsley and serve immediately.

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Note:
Ready-made meatballs are now available for purchased in many super markets in the UK. If you are in a rush, you can buy these ready-made meatballs instead. Though, if you have the time to make the meatballs adding your own herbs and spices into it will surely make a lovely difference and personal touch to the dish.

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Chocolate Soufflé:

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KITCHEN KIT:
A sauce pan, a silicone baking spatula, a whisk and 4 oven proof ramekins

Ingredients Serves 4:

For the pastry cream:
1.  180ml full fat milk
2.  1 tsp vanilla extract or half a vanilla pod seeds
3.  25g caster sugar
4.  25g plain flour
5.  4 tbsp. cocoa powder (for a more intense chocolate flavour add more, I sometimes put more but on this occasion I put less) 
6.  4 large eggs, (yolks only)

For the soufflé:
7.  4 large eggs, (whites only)
8.  55g sugar
9.  ½ tsp. lemon juice
For the ramekins:
10.  1 tbsp butter
11.  1 tbsp golden caster sugar

 

For the pastry cream:
1.  In a medium size pan, bring the milk and vanilla extract/seeds to a simmer.
2.  Meanwhile in a bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, flour and cocoa powder in a bowl until well combined. Slowly add the warm milk mixture into this whisking continuously until well combined.
3.  Return the milk and creamy egg mixture into the saucepan, over a low heat, continue to cook for 1-2 minutes, whisking continuously, until thick and smooth.

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For the soufflé:
4.  Preheat the oven to 170C. Brush your ramekins with butter and dust all sides with golden caster sugar.

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5.  In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites and lemon juice until soft peaks form. Gradually whisk in the sugar, until stiff peaks form.

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6.  Spoon over a quarter of the pastry cream into the egg white mixture. Gently fold and once well combined add the rest of the pastry cream. It is important to do this gently to keep the air on the egg whites. Using a pallete knife smooth over the top of the soufflé, and then run a knife around the edge of the insides of the ramekins to allow the soufflé to rise.

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7.  Finally spoon this over the buttered ramekins, dust the top with some icing sugar and place in the oven to bake for 8-10 minutes.

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8.  Dust the top with some more cocoa powder and serve immediately.

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Pot au feu (A very comforting meat stew)

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This is a very comforting dish that is quintessentially French.  A dish that is not just tasty but also very easy to prepare.  It is not a surprise that this dish is famous among French families.

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KITCHEN KIT:
A large casserole pan with a lid/cover and a medium size sauce pan with a lid

Ingredients Serves 6:
 
The Meat:
1.  330g ham hock (that has been soaked in cold water overnight in the fridge)
2.  150g flank of beef , sliced into 3
3.  100g smoked bacon rashers, sliced into approx.1 inch’ in length
4.  100g good quality sausage
5.  200g bone marrow
6.  1.5 litres of water
7.  2 pinches of salt

The Vegetables: 
8.  6 black peppercorns
9.  Bouquet garni ( 3 bay leaves, 5 parlsey, 3 sprigs of dried thyme all tied together)
10. 1 garlic clove, unpeeled
11. 1 medium size savoy cabbage, sliced into large chunks  3 wedges
12. 2 medium carrots, peeled and quartered
13. 2 celery stalks, cut into thirds
14. 1 large turnip, peeled and halved
15. 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
16. A bunch of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped  (for garnish)
     
The Meat:
1.  In a large casserole pan add all the meat ingredients except for the sausage and bone marrow.
2.  Pour 1.5 litres of cold water into the pan, add salt, cover with a lid and bring to a boil.
3.  Once it starts to boil, lower the heat and allow the simmering for 3 minutes whilst removing impurities that rise up into the surface. (best not to remove all the fat that comes out of the meat as it does add flavour to the dish)
4.  Next, add the bouquet garni, garlic and peppercorns. Cover the casserole pan with a lid leaving a small gap slightly open to allow the steam to come out.  Continue to cook gently over low heat for 1 and ½ hours.
5.  After 1 and ½ hours add the bone marrow and the sausage.

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The Vegetables: 
6.  Meanwhile in a separate medium size pan, bring water to a boil and blanch the savoy cabbages for 3 minutes.  Drain the cabbages and add these into the meat casserole pan.
7.  Add all the other vegetables listed above into the meat casserole pan. Continue to cook gently for 45 minutes.
8.  Finally add some chopped parsley, serve the meat and vegetables on a large plate and serve the consommé separately on individual bowls.

Serve with warm freshly baked bread, dijon mustard and cornichons.

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Calvados Soufflé

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This is such a wonderful dessert to have specially if you’ve had a rich  and heavy meal when all you wanted for dessert  is something sweet and light to finish your meal.  I got this idea from a restaurant I’ve recently  visited in Rouen called  ‘Restaurant La Couronne’ this restaurant is a definite must to visit when in Rouen, one of the oldest restaurant in town that has become an institution in its own right and serves amazing  Calvados Soufflé. The Calvados Soufflé I’ve had at La Couronne is certainly more alcoholic than my recipe, I wanted to create a more toned down version, a soufflé that just gives  a slight hint of the calvados flavours. However, if you love alcoholic desserts then simply add more calvados into this recipe for that extra kick. Enjoy : )

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KITCHEN KIT:
A sauce pan, a silicone baking spatula, a whisk and 4 oven proof ramekins

Ingredients Serves 4:
For the pastry cream:
1.  180ml full fat milk
2.  ½ tsp vanilla extract or half a vanilla pod seeds
3.  25g caster sugar
4.  25g plain flour
5.  2 tsp calvados
6.  4 large eggs, (yolks only)

For the soufflé:
7.  4 large eggs, (whites only)
8.  55g sugar
9.  ½ tsp. lemon juice

For the pastry cream:
1.  In a medium size pan, bring the milk and vanilla extract/seeds to a simmer.
2.  Meanwhile in a bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar,calvados and flour in a bowl until well combined. Slowly add the warm milk mixture into this whisking continuously until well combined.
3.  Return the milk and creamy egg mixture into the saucepan, over a low heat, continue to cook for 1-2 minutes, whisking continuously, until thick and smooth.

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For the soufflé:
4.  Preheat the oven to 170C. Brush your ramekins with butter.
5.  In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites and lemon juice until soft peaks form. Gradually whisk in the sugar, until stiff peaks form.

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6.  Spoon over a quarter of the pastry cream into the egg white mixture. Gently fold and once well combined add the rest of the pastry cream. It is important to do this gently to keep the air on the egg whites. Using a pallete knife smooth over the top of the soufflé, and then run a knife around the edge of the insides of the ramekins to allow the soufflé to rise.
7.  Finally spoon this over the buttered ramekins, dust the top with some icing sugar and place in the oven to bake for 8-10 minutes.

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La Couronne’s Calvados Soufflé -  http://www.lacouronne.com.fr/

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Îles flottantes (Floating Island)

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KITCHEN KIT:
An electric whisk, a large bowl, a small pan for the praline and a large sauce pan for the meringue.

Ingredients Serves 4:
For the Crème Anglaise:
1. 50g golden caster sugar
2. 2 large eggs, yolks only
3. 1 tsp. vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod
4. 250ml full fat milk

For the Praline:
5. 1 tbsp. chopped hazelnuts
6. 75g caster sugar
7. 25ml water

For the Meringue Islands
8. 65g egg whites
9. 50g caster sugar
10. 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
11. Pinch of salt
12. 1.5 litre of water

For the Crème Anglaise:
1. In a bowl cream the egg yolks and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
2. Meanwhile, in a large pan bring the milk and vanilla pods/extract to a boil. Gently simmer for -5 minutes. Then allow it to cool for 30 seconds.
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3. Pour the milk mixture onto the eggs and sugar, whisking continuously until smooth, then gently pour the mixture into the saucepan. Place on a medium heat and stir continuously for 5 minutes, or until the mixture has slightly thickened. It is important to continuously stir and not allow the mixture to reach boiling point as it will split and you will end up having a scrambled egg rather than a crème anglais (this happened to many times for sure). Your mixture should have a single cream texture rather than a thick custard texture as it will thicken after chilling it in the fridge.
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4. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl, stir for a few minutes, then place into the fridge to chill for at least 3 hours.

For the Praline:
5. In a pan, over low heat, gently dissolve your sugar with the water.
6. Then turn the heat high up and add the chopped hazelnuts, stirring continuously, coating them evenly all over for 3 minutes this will turn copper brown in colour.
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7. Place on a sheet of baking paper to cool, until it solidifies. This will only take 1-2 minutes.
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For the Meringue Islands:
8. In a clean bowl, add half of the egg whites with the sugar, lemon juice and salt and whisk until soft peaks form.
9. Then add the remaining egg whites, continue whisking until the meringue forms stiff peaks.
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10. Very gently drop 4 spoonfuls of meringue into a large pan of simmering water and simmer for a few minutes or until they are slightly puffed up. Turn them gently around to cook them on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and place them on a plate.
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The Assembling:
11. Pour over some crème anglaise on a shallow bowl or dish, place your meringue island on top and finally sprinkle over broken pieces of praline.
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Serve Immediately.

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French beans wrapped in prosciutto

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KITCHEN KIT:
A steamer and a frying pan

Ingredients Serves 2:
1.  150g French beans, top and ends chopped and chopped into an approx. 2 inch in length.
2.  1 small garlic clove, crushed or finely grated
3.  ½ tbsp. of butter
4.  A pinch of salt
5.  2 prosciutto slices

The French beans:
1.  On a steamer, steam your French beans for 8 minutes.
2.  On a frying pan over low heat, melt your butter with the garlic and a pinch of salt. Add the steamed French beans stirring and coating it with butter all over for 1 minute.
3.  Remove from heat, half the French beans and bundle them together, wrap each bundle with a prosciutto.

Serve Immediately. 
 

 

 

 

 

 

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Boeuf Bourguignon

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This truly is a heart-warming; comforting dish that originally came from Burgundy (Bourgogne). This dish certainly is one of the very best of French peasant dishes that has been transformed into a magnificent haute cuisine over time. A French house-hold favourite, serve in many bistros in Paris, Lyon and Burgundy and now serve in many Michelin star restaurants. This dish requires the very best of full bodied red wine from Burgundy to give this dish justice. This is a dish where patience really does pays off, no short cuts for dish I’m afraid but trust me it is worth waiting for. The longer the cooking time the better this dish taste! You haven’t tasted beef until you’ve had Boeuf bourguignon! The meat in this dish just falls apart with a gentle touch of a fork, and it melts in your mouth like no other. The flavour of a full bodied red wine form Burgundy penetrates into the meat and the vegetables making it not just a food to enjoy for an evening meal but definitely a dish to remember by. I hope you enjoy this dish too! bon appétit!

KITCHEN KIT
Deep casserole dish with a lid

Ingredients Serves 6:

For the Marinade:
1.  900g  beef brisket, cut into large cube ( or shin of beef also works with this dish)
2.  4 thyme sprigs
3.  4 garlic cloves, crushed
4.  2 tbsp Armagnac  (alternatives: cognac, brandy)
5.  1 ½ bottle of full-bodied red wine- preferably from burgundy

For the First Stage Cooking Process:
6.  2 tbsp olive oil
7.  1 tbsp butter
8.  ½ tsp of salt
9.  ½ tsp of ground black pepper
10. 4 tbsp plain flour

For the Second Stage Cooking Process:
11. 1 tbsp. olive oil
12. 150g diced bacon
13. 8 small silver onions peeled kept whole
14. 1 tbsp. butter
15. 200g  chestnut mushrooms, chopped
16. 3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
17. 1 stick celery, cut into chunks
18. 3 Bay leaf
 
For the Third Stage Cooking Process:
19. 1 tbsp tomato puree
20. 600 ml beef stock (if you haven’t got the time to make the stock, I recommend using a shop bought good quality stock as it does makes a big difference with this dish, however if you decide to use a boullion I recommend using 2 small beef boullion pots the concentrated jelly ones rather than the powdered ones mix with 600 ml hot water.)
21. ½ bottle of good quality red wine (I used Roc Des Chevaliers 2010 from Bordeaux)
22. 1 Bouquet garni (made with 2 parsley sprigs, 2 thyme sprigs and 1 bay leaf)
23. Pinch of salt
24. Pinch of ground black pepper.

For the Garnish:
25.  A handful of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

 

The Marinade:
1.  In a deep dish, marinade beef, wine, 2 sprigs of thyme, garlic and armagnac overnight or for at least 3 hours.

For the First Stage Cooking Process:
2.  Preheat the oven to 200°C.
3.  In a bowl combine the marinated meat with the flour, salt and pepper. Shake off excess flour.    
4.  Place a casserole dish over medium heat; add 2 tbsp of oil and 1 tbsp of butter, brown the meat on all sides. Do this in batches, adding more oil as necessary to avoid the meat from sticking into the pan. Once cook remove meat from heat and set aside.

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For the Second Stage Cooking Process:
5.  Add another 1 tbsp of oil on the pan, add diced bacon cook for 2 minutes; then add the onions, 1 tbsp butter, followed by the mushrooms, carrots, celery and bay leaf. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the cooked meat into this.

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For the Third Stage Cooking Process:
6.  Add the beef stock, red wine, 1 tbsp of tomato puree and bouquet garni into the cooked meat and vegetables bring it to a boil.

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7.  Remove any impurities from the surface, and then simmer for 1 hour.
8.  After one hour,lower oven temperature to 180°C, cover the casserole dish and place in the oven. Leave to cook for 1 hour stirring occasionally. Season to taste and finally sprinkle over some roughly chopped flat leaf parsley.

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Serve with either roast potatoes, creamy mash potatoes or a nice baguette.

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Eggs in pots (oeufs en cocotte)

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I love having this for brunch on a late Sunday morning over a freshly baked home made bread and a nice cup of coffee.  I sometimes have this with honey glazed ham and wilted spinach rather than chorizo and once I had this at a cafe in Paris with slamon, so feel free to experiment and hope you enjoy this too! : ) bon appétit!

KITCHEN KIT:
2 ovenproof ramekins or clay pots and a deep baking tray

Ingredients Serves 2:
1.  8 tbsp. single cream or crème fraiche ( 4 in each ramekins or pots)
2.  2 pinches of salt  (a pinch on each ramekins/pots)
3.  2 pinches of ground black pepper (a pinch on each ramekins/pots)
4.  2 pinches of smoked sweet paprika (a pinch on each ramekins/pots)
5.  12 Picante Chorizo slices (6 in each ramekins or pots)
6.  2 sprigs of thyme, leaves only (1 sprig in each ramekins/pots)
7.  2 eggs

Eggs in pots (oeufs en cocotte)
1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C.
2. Place 2 tbsp of single cream or crème fraiche in each ramekins or pots.
3. Sprinkle over some salt, pepper and smoked sweet paprika on the cream/crème fraiche.
4. Add 6 chorizo slices on top, then sprinkle over some thyme leaves.

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5. Next, add 1 egg in each ramekins/pots. Spoon over 2 more tablespoon full of cream/crème fraiche on each pots.

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6. Place the ramekins/pots in a deep baking tray, pour enough lukewarm water into the dish to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins/pots.

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7. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until the eggs has set. 

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Serve immediately with a warm crusty bread.

 

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Chocolate Mousse with Salted Caramel Hazelnut

KITCHEN KIT
Electric whisk, sauce pan, wooden spoon, 2 bowls and 8 small glasses/liqueur glasses

Ingredients Serves 8:
1.   6 eggs, whites only
2.   ¼ tsp. lemon juice
3.   160g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa), broken into small equal size pieces
4.   2 tsp. cocoa powder
5.   ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
6.   5 tsp. golden caster sugar
7.   2 tbsp. roasted chopped hazelnuts (optional)
8.   1½ tbsp. salted caramel spread (optional)
9.   a pinch of chilli flakes
10. a handful of raspberries

 

The Chocolate Mousse:

1.  Add your chocolate pieces in a bowl resting over a sauce pan of simmering water. (Make sure that the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the simmering water). When the chocolate starts to melt, stir in vanilla extract and cocoa powder, then turn off the heat.


2.  In a separate clean bowl whisk the egg whites with the lemon juice into soft peaks, then add the sugar, and whisk briefly just until firm peaks form. It is important not to over whisk and lose the air. The lemon juice should help to preventing it from being over whisked.


3.  Vigorously whisk in a third of the egg whites into the melted chocolate. This needs to be done very quickly otherwise the chocolate’s temperature will drop and it will solidify.


4.  Fold the rest of the egg whites very gently into the mixture, just until the ingredients are combined. (It is important not to over fold/mix to keep the air from the mixture).


5.  Spoon the chocolate mousse mixture into small glasses and refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours or until its sets.


6.  This bit is optional: In a small sauce pan over a medium heat, dry-fry the chopped hazelnuts for 1 minute, then stir in the salted caramel. When the caramel starts to melt remove from the heat and leave aside to cool slightly for 1-2 minutes until the caramel hazelnut mixture sets. Sprinkle a couple of tiny chilli flakes over the top of the chocolate mousse, then spoon over the salted caramel hazelnuts, finish with a rasberry on the top.  Alternatively simply sprinkle over some grated lemon, fresh raspberries or grated chocolates on top of the mousse before serving.

(NB: For this recipe I used a ready-made salted caramel spread, from Vannes in France which I got as a present. If you are unable to find salted caramel spread in your local supermarket you can also make this easily at home using basic ingredients. Below is a recipe I have written for making salted caramel spread.)

Ingredients for the Salted Caramel Hazelnut:

1.  2 tsp. of chopped hazelnut
2.  Pinch of rock salt
3.  40g salted butter
4.  70g brown sugar
5.  150ml double cream

Making the Salted Caramel Hazelnut:
1.  In a sauce pan, dry-fry the chopped hazelnuts for 1 minute. Add the salt, butter and sugar.
2.  When the butter has melted and it’s golden-brown in colour, pour in the cream and bring to the boil.
3.  Remove the pan from heat and set aside. When slightly cooled, spoon the salted caramel over the chocolate mousse

Serve cold.

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Vanilla crème patissière

I love crème patissière and I love that it is so versatile. With this mixture I’ve made a strawberry tart, used it as a filling to eclairs, croquembouche and in many other occasions I simply served it with some lovely berries and crushed amaretto or lavander shortbread biscuits for an added texture.

IMG_3351

KITCHEN KIT:
A bowl, whisk, 2 sauce pans

Ingredients Makes approx . 400ml:
1.  100g egg yolks (approx. 5 medium size egg yolks)
2.  100g caster sugar
3.  40g plain flour
4.  Pinch of salt
5.  450ml full fat milk
6.  ½ tsp. vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod (beans only)

Vanilla crème patissière:
1.  Place 2 cling films on a plate overlapping each other and set aside.
2.  On a clean bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until the mixture becomes light and pale. Whisk the plain flour until well combined with the egg and sugar.


3.  On a medium sauce pan, over low-medium heat, add your milk and vanilla pod beans only or vanilla extract, bring to boil and remove from heat.


4.  Leave the vanilla infused milk to cool down slightly until you are bale to touch it with your finger tips and then pour this gently on a slow steady stream onto the egg yolk and sugar mixture.


5.  Finally transfer your mixture in a sauce pan over medium heat. Whisk continuously until the mixture is smooth and has thickened, just when it starts to boil remove from heat.  Leave to cool for a few minutes.
6.  Pour mixture on the cling film, leave to cool for 30-40 seconds then cover with another cling film so that the mixture does not form a skin, then place in the fridge for a least 1 hour before use. This mixture can now be use within 2 days kept in the fridge the whole time.


Serve cold.

IMG_3500

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Grilled Lemon Chicken with Lavander and Apricot Jam

KITCHEN KIT:
An oven proof dish, a sauce pan and a frying pan
Ingredients Serves 2:
For the Chicken:
1.  4 chicken legs, scored twice on the leg
2.  1 tsp. cooking Lavander, pounded on a pestel and morter
3.  2 sprigs of thyme leaves
4.  1 lemon zest and juice
5.  3 tbsp. Olive oil
6.  2 ½  tbsp. Apricot jam
7.  ¼ tsp. of salt
8.  ¼ tsp. ground black of pepper

 

For the Buttered Green Beans:
9.  300g green beans, trimmed
10. 1 litre of water
11. 1 small shallot, finely slice
12. 25g of butter, softened
13. 25g of slivered almonds
14. Pinch of salt
15. Pinch of ground black pepper
For the Grilled Lemon Chicken with Lavander and Apricot Jam:
1.  On a bowl combine all the ingredients listed above and rub these all over the chicken. Cover the bowl with a cling film and leave to marinade in the fridge for 1 hour or preferably overnight.
2.  Pre-heat oven to 200°C. Transfer chicken and marinade on an oven proof dish. Cook for at least 40 minutes.
3.  Remove the chicken out of the oven and change the oven setting to grill at 220°C heat. Return the chicken and marinade for 3-4 minutes.

 

For the Buttered Green Beans:
4.  On a sauce pan over a medium heat, bring salted water to a boil. Once it starts to boil blanched your green beans for 5 minutes or until the green beans has slightly softened but still have their crunch.
5.  Drain them after 5 minutes, pat dry with kitchen paper.
6.  On a frying pan over a medium heat add your green beans and shallots cook them for 3 minutes.
7.  Add butter and almonds into the pan. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve immediately.

 

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Spinach and Feta Cheese Quiche

Spinach and Feta Cheese Quiche

KITCHEN KIT
23cm fluted flan dish or tin about 3.5cm deep and a frying pan

Ingredients Serves 6:
For the Pastry, egg and cheese filling:
1.  1 pack ready rolled shop-bought short crust pastry if you are in a hurry or just feeling lazy, otherwise you can also make your own pastry by following “Savoury Shortcrust Pastry” instructions on the pastry section of this site.
2.  100g feta cheese, torn into pieces
3.  50g Gruyère cheese, grated
4.  450g crème fraîche
5.  4 eggs, lightly beaten
6.  Pinch of Salt
7.  Pinch of ground black pepper
8.  A handful of thyme, leaves only
For the Spinach:
9.  15g butter
10. 1 clove of garlic, grated or crushed
11. 200g baby spinach leaves
12. ¼ tsp grated nutmeg
13. Pinch of Salt
14. Pinch of Ground black pepper

The Pastry:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Roll out pastry into a greased tin. Line it with baking paper so that the baking beans don’t get stuck onto the pastry.
3. Fill the lined pastry with the baking beans- ‘blind bake’ in the oven for 20 minutes, until the edges are light brown and dry. Remove the baking beans and baking paper, set the cooked pastry aside.

Quiche-Bake Blind

The Egg and Cheese filling:
4. Whisk 4 eggs, gruyère cheese and crème fraîche on a bowl. Season with a pinch of salt, ground black pepper and thyme leaves. Set aside.
For the Spinach:
5. On a large frying pan over medium heat, add 15g butter, just when the butter starts to melt add the garlic and stir for 1 minute, add spinach and cover with a lid. Cook until the spinach has just wilted.
6. Season the spinach with grated nutmeg, salt and black pepper.

 

The Baking:
7. Lay cooked spinach at the bottom of your pastry; add the feta cheese, pour the egg and cheese mixture over and bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until quiche mixture has set with just a slight wobble when lightly shaken.


8. After baking leave to rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Spinach and Feta Cheese Quiche

Serve warm.

 

 

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Lemon Sole Beurre Noisette with sautéed new potatoes with parsley and garlic

lemon sole with beurre noisette

This is such a lovely easy supper to make that I often have this dish for an evening meal on a working week.  Most people are probably too tired to go to a super market after work. But in my case, food shopping and cooking is such a joy that it has become a highlight of my daily routine.  I often drive straight to Waitrose right after work in search for fresh fish, prawns, mussels or clams all at such fantastic heavily reduce rate after 6pm! Since you never know what fish or shell fish would be available, it is like an exciting guessing game for me from my journey from the office to Waitrose. I would consider the different fish/shellfish possibilities that I would get and start thinking on how best to cook each possibilities! The fish monger would often ask me what I plan to do with a hake, with the mussels, with the cockles, with the prawns or the sole that are left in the counter. After careful deliberation and thinking on what to get, I would often share my recipe options to the fish monger who is ever so nice to amuse me and say I think your choice to cook the “sole” tonight is a good option. It is always a fun experience to experiment on new dish and recipes. But I would say that when it comes to lemon sole, the traditional french classic way of cooking it, still is the best and most satisfying way of eating it!  Varieties are good but when you have the best, then all other options simply don’t matter. Lemon Sole cooked in Beurre Noisette is simply the best way to cook and eat a lovely fresh lemon sole that will give you a long lasting taste to savour and remember by.

KITCHEN KIT:
Kitchen towels/paper, 2 frying pans and a sauce pan with a lid.

Ingredients Serves 2:

For the Lemon Sole:
1.  2 lemon sole fillet approx. 150g each, skin removed
2.  2 tbsp. plain flour
3.  ½ tsp salt
4.  ¼ tsp ground black pepper
5.  2 tbsp sunflower oil
6.  55g butter
7.  ½ lemon juice
8.  1 tbsp. flatleaf parsley, chopped
9.  1 tbsp. cappers and or almond slices

For the Sautéed new potatoes with parsley and garlic:
10. 200g new potatoes, slice approx. 5mm thick
11. 2 tbsp sunflower oil
12. 20g butter
13. 1 clove of garlic, chopped
14. Pinch of Rock salt
15. 1 tbsp. flatleaf parsley, chopped
The Lemon Sole:
1.  Preheat oven to 100 ºC. Pat the lemon sole dry with a kitchen towel.
2.  On a large plate mix the flour with salt and pepper. Add fish fillets one at a time and coat with the flour, salt and pepper evenly all over, then shake off any excess.


3.  On a large frying pan over a medium heat add 2 tbsp. of oil. When the oil is smoking hot, add the fish fillets in the pan (flesh side down first). Cook for 1-2 minutes on one side until golden-brown, then turn the fillets over and cook (skin side) for another 1-2 minutes until golden-brown. Plate and place in the oven to keep it warm. (Thin flat fillet of less than 1 inch thick cook between 1-2 minutes, thicker fillet of approx. 1 inch thick cook between 3-4 minutes)

lemon sole with beurre noisette
4.  Using a kitchen towel/paper wipe the frying pan and return to a medium heat. Melt the butter and when it starts to turn light brown, turn off the heat and add the lemon juice.


5.  Pour Beurre Noisette over the cooked lemon sole fish fillets and garnish with chopped parsley and almond slices or cappers.
For the Sautéed new potatoes with parsley and garlic:
6.  On a sauce pan over a medium heat, add water and salt and bring to boil. Add potatoes and blanched for 8-10 minutes. Then drain and set aside.
7.  On a frying pan over medium heat, add oil and when the oil is hot add the sliced and drained potatoes. Sauté for 3-4 min. on each side until golden brown.
8.  Just before they finish cooking, add and melt the butter, sprinkle the chopped parsley and season with pinches of rock salt.

Serve immediately.

 

 

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Pear and Black Pudding (Boudin Noir) Rocket Salad with Bleu D’Auvergne cheese

KITCHEN KIT:
Frying pan

Ingredients Serves 2:

1.  2 conference pears, peeled and quartered
2.  6 slices of black pudding
3.  120g rocket salad
4.  2 tbsp olive oil
5.  ½ tbsp unsalted butter
6.  a few mint leaves
7.  2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
8.  3 tbsp water
9.  1 tsp brown sugar
10. 1 tbsp honey
11. Pinch of salt
12. Pinch of ground black pepper
13. 20g Bleu D’Auvergne cheese, torn into small pieces
14. a few mint leaves, torn
The Pears and Black Pudding:

1.  On a small pan over medium heat, add oil and black pudding slices, re-heat for 2 minutes(1 minute on each side), then set aside. (Some black puddings has a more reddish colour to it as per the picture below, when you re-heat it, it will turn into a darker colour pretty much immediately just like the picture below, don’t worry it is not burnt, as long as you cook it for only 1 minute on each side, your black pudding should be fine.)


2.  Reheat the same pan over a medium heat, melt your butter, then add your pears and cook for 1  minute.
3.  Add water, sugar and balsamic vinegar onto the pan and let it simmer for 5-7 minutes until liquid becomes syrupy, allow the pears to caramelised, very gently turning them a couple of times to coat the pears with the syrup.


4.  Plate the pears with black pudding and rocket salad, drizzle rocket salad with the liquid reduction and sprinkle over some torn mint and Bleu D’Auvergne cheese.

Serve warm.

 
Extra Tip:
For the Pears:
For this dish I used Conference pears, sweet and juicy, with grain like texture, taste good eaten fresh or cooked.
You can also use other types of pears, such as Comice pears; probably one of the sweetest bunch of the pears family equally good eaten fresh or cooked. Comice pears are also a very well-known match for cheeses. It has a fruity aroma, juicy and less grainy texture compared to many other varieties of pears.
Whichever type of pears you choose, I recommend using a slightly under ripe pears as they keep their shapes during the cooking process. Over ripe pears falls apart and can be grainy when cooked.

For the Blood Sausage/Black Pudding:
Black puddings bought from a local butcher or super market are already cooked, so they just need a gentle re-heating as they do crumble very easily. I found British black puddings in England are firmer compared to the ones made in France. For this dish I used a British one,  bought from my local butcher an already cooked black pudding, sliced it thickly and very gently heat them to keep their shapes. 

 

 

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Pear Tarte Tatin

Pear Tarte Tatin

KITCHEN KIT:
Pastry brush
Heavy base oven proof pan o tarte tatin pan
Alternatively use a frying pan and a cake tin/cake mould

Ingredients Serves 6 (or Serves 2 if my friend Justin and Tobias are around):
1.  5  pears, cored, peeled and halves
2.  100g butter
3.  120g caster sugar
4.  300g shop bought all butter puff pastry, rolled to an approx 5mm in thickness. Alternatively you can also make your own puff pastry by following the “All Butter Puff Pastry” instruction on the pastry section of this site.
5.  1 vanilla pod or ½ tsp. of vanilla extract
6.  1 egg lightly beaten, for glazing

The Pear:
1.  Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC. Peel, halve and core the pears, then set aside.
2.  On a pan, melt your butter and dissolve your sugar over medium heat. When the mixture turns golden, add vanilla pods/extract do not stir but swirl the pan around instead.


3.  Add the pears carefully as the caramel will be very hot, cook pears on the caramel for 8-10 minutes (4-5 minutes on each side).

 


4.  Once the pear has slightly softened and caramel turns into copper colour, remove from heat. Gently turn all your pears cored side facing upwards.

 

The Pear with Puff Pastry:
5.  Roll your pastry on a flour dusted surface, approx. 3mm in thickness, long and wide enough to cover your baking dish. Place your pastry on top of your pears and tuck in the pastry around the inside edges of the pan. If using a cake tin/mould, transfer pears cored side facing upwards and some of the caramel liquid, then place pastry on top of the pears, also tucking in the pastry around the inside edges of the cake tin/mould.


6.  Using a pastry brush, brush the pastry with beaten egg.  Then using a sharp knife prick the pastry all over and bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until pastry is crisp and golden brown.


7.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
8.  Pace a slightly larger plate on top of the pastry, and then very carefully, using oven gloves, invert the tart onto the plate.
Served warm with crème fraîche/ chantilly cream / vanilla ice cream.

Extra Tip:
Tarte Tatin can be kept in the fridge in a tin/cake mould after it is cooked and reheated at 150ºC, 15 minutes before serving.
When making the caramel, don’t use a non-stick pan, using a non-stick pan will crystallize your sugar instead of giving you the nice caramel liquid.
Tarte Tatin- originally made with apples from Rouen, France with Reine des Reinettes (King of the Pippins) and Calville apples. If you prefer to make this tart with apples I recommend using these apples or alternatively Braeburn, Golden Delicious or Granny smith, as these types of apples hold their shapes during the cooking process and does not break apart into a mush.

 

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Ginger and Lemongrass Infused Crème Brûlée

Crème brûlée

KITCHEN KIT:
4 ovenproof ramekins, small sauce pan, whisk, strainer or muslin cloth and a blow torch.

Crème brûlée

Ingredients Makes 4:

1. 300ml double cream
2. 2 stalks of lemon grass bashed and slice
3. 30g ginger, peeled and slice into matchsticks
4  3 egg yolks
5. 25g caster sugar
6. 20g demerara sugar

Day 1:
1.  In a small sauce pan over a low-medium heat, bring to boil your cream, galangal and lemongrass. Transfer to a bowl, place in the fridge and let the cream infuse with the ginger and lemon grass overnight.

Day 2:
2.  Preheat the oven to 150ºC.
3.  Strain your cream mixture using a muslin cloth or strainer. Discard the lemon grass and ginger slices. Gently heat your cream in a small sauce pan over a low-medium heat. When it starts to boil remove from the heat.


4.  In a small bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar and then add your infused cream. Ideally try to whisk constantly as you pour the cream in, this will help to prevent the egg from curdling. Alternatively only pour in the infused cream when its cool enough to dip your little finger in the mixture.


5.  Pour your mixture into four ramekins. Place your ramekins in a baking dish, fill the baking dish with cold water to two-thirds of the way up the ramekins (i.e. create a bain marie). Bake for 40 minutes until the custard sets with just a slight wobble when shaken.


6.  Once baked, set aside to cool for 10 minutes and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.


7.  Sprinkle over some demerara sugar, caramelise using a blow torch or grill in the oven.

Crème brûléeCrème brûléeCrème brûlée

Serve.

Crème brûlée
Extra Tip:
Use demerara sugar instead of icing sugar, this gives a nice toffee like flavour to this dessert.
Use a blow torch to make it easier to evenly caramelise the the creme brulee. Direct the heat around the corners of the ramekins, this cannot be achieved under a grill.
Bain-marie: although some chefs uses hot water, using cold water works too.
The creme mixture can be made 3 days in advance, kept in the fridge in an air tight container or in a bowl covered with cling film.
Leftover egg whites can also be kept in the fridge for 3 days, also in an air-tight container, or immediately freeze and used within a month or 30 days.
Suggestions for egg whites: make macaroons.

 

 

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Cherry and Almond Madeleines

Cherry and Almond Madeleines
KITCHEN KIT
Madeleine Mould 40cm x 20cm

Ingredients Serves 5:

The Madeleines:
1.  3 eggs at room temperature
2.  133g sugar
3.  150g plain flour
4.  50 ground almond
5.  1 tsp of baking powder
6.  1 lemon, grated zest only
7.  40g  runny honey
8.  40g double cream
9.  1 tsp almond extract
10. 200g melted and cooled unsalted butter
11. Glazed cherries
12. Icing sugar for dusting

Preparation method:
The Madeleines:
1.  Preheat the oven to 200°C. Butter and flour a Madeleine mould.
2.  Beat the eggs, almond extract and sugar until pale.
3.  On a separate bowl add flour, baking powder and lemon zest.
4.  Mix the honey and cream with the melted butter. Add the Beaten eggs and sugar onto this mixture. Then slowly add the flour and lemon zest mixture.  Leave the Madeleine mixture to rest for 1-2 hours or overnight if possible.
5. Grease the Madeleine shell mould, sprinkle some flour over.
6. Put a heaped tbsp of Madeleine mixture into each Madeleine shell and press cherries in the mixture.
7. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Transfer the madeleines to a wire rack and leave for a few minutes. Dust with some icing sugar once cooled.

Serve warm fresh from the oven.

Cherry and Almond Madeleines

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Rib-Eyed Steak with Bernaise Sauce and triple cooked chips

Steak with Bernaise Sauce

KITCHEN KIT:

Griddle pan, pastry brush, electric whisk, deep fat fryer or a deep pan.

Ingredients:

For the Rib-Eyed Steak:
1. 240g rib-eyed steak  (2x)
2. pinch of salt
3. pinch of ground black pepper
4. vegetable oil

For the Bernaise Sauce:
5.  1 shallot, finely chopped
6.  3 tbsp fresh tarragon leaves, finely chopped
7.  4 tbsp dry white wine or vermouth
8.  4 tbsp water
9.  2 tbsp white wine vinegar
10.  175g unsalted butter
11.  3 egg yolks
12.  Pinch of salt
13.  Pinch of ground white pepper
14.    Pinch of sugar

For the triple-cooked chips:
15.  2 medium size Maris Piper or King Edward potatoes
16.  1 litre groundnut oil, for frying
17.  Pinch of Rock sea salt
18.  Pinch of ground black pepper

The Steak:
1.  Using a pastry brush the steak on both sides with vegetable oil, rub some salt and pepper on the steak.
2.  Heat a Griddle over a high heat until it is smoking hot. (Do not oil the pan and do not add the steak until it is smoking hot.)
3.  Add the steak and cook 2½ minutes on each side for a medium steak.
4. Once cooked set the steak aside on a plate to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

The Bernaise Sauce:
1.  On a small pan boil for 3 minutes the shallot, 1 tbsp tarragon, 4 tbsp water, 4 tbsp dry white wine/vermouth and 2 tbsp white wine vinegar. Reduce liquid by a third and strained liquid. Once strained, you should have approx 3- 4 tbsp of liquid. Set aside to cool.
2.  On a small pan over a low heat melt 175g of butter, bring to boil, skim foam off the butter and discard. Leave the butter to cool at room temperature.
3.  Meanwhile whiz the egg yolks, liquid reduction and 2 tbsp chopped tarragon. Then, slowly add the butter in a steady stream while whisking (it is important to do this slowly to ensure the butter don’t split from the mixture). Season with salt, ground white pepper and sugar.

The Chips:
1.  Peel and cut potatoes into ½ inch thick, rinse and soaked in cold water for 15 minutes changing water 2 or 3 times to remove the starch.
2.  Over a medium heat simmer your chips for approx 30 minutes, until they are almost falling apart.
3.  Gently drain your chips; leave them to cool and dry out. If you have time place on the freezer for 1 hour to continue to dry it out.
4.  Heat 1 litre of oil in a deep-fat fryer or a deep pan. Fry the chips in batches for approx 5 minutes in small batches until a light crust forms; then drain them on a kitchen paper for 5 minutes.
5.  Transfer chips on a wire rack, leave to rest for another 5 minutes and place them again in the freezer for 1 hour.
6.  Final stage, heat the oil again in the deep-fat fryer or deep pan to 180ºC and fry the chips until golden approx 6-8 minutes. Drain and season with salt and pepper.

Serve warm with triple cooked chips and bernaise sauce.

Steak with Bernaise Sauce

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Macaron

Macaroon

My  OCD or obsession for Macaron began in Muswell Hill, London, there is a lovely cafe called Sable D’or near where I used to live- http://www.sabledor.co.uk/ I went to this cafe every Saturday morning to have a nice latte and 5 macarons. The chef makes the best hazelnut macaroon and the staffs are ever so friendly. There were times when I feel blue and I know that a hazelnut macaron will make my day. So I run to Sable D’or hoping they are still open by the time I finish work. Unfortunately, I am not always successful at getting my macarons fix. Since moving out of London, I decided that I could no longer tolerate waiting to go to London, Paris or Lyon to eat macarons so I decided to make them and now can have them then whenever I crave one or two or three.

The best Macaron I’ve ever eaten was at Chocolatier Bouillet in Lyon. Although I will never say ‘no’ to a Ladurée Macaron, for me the macarons I ate at Chocolatier Bouillet in Lyon are still the best, in terms of the variations and combinations of flavours they offer. When I visited them last year I tried each and every single one of their 52 different macarons. I ate every single one with great pleasure and although I couldn’t walk very well after all the macarons I’d consumed, I’d say the temporary discomfort was well worth it and I can’t wait to do it again next time I visit them.

Here’s a my version of my favourite hazelnut macaron.

Macaroon

KITCHEN KIT:
Macaron mould/baking parchment, piping bag, electric whisk or food mixer.

Ingredients Serves 1 just for me:

The Macaron:
1.  130g icing sugar
2.  130g ground almonds
3.  100g egg whites only
4.  Pinch of salt
5.  2tbsp water
6.  100g  caster sugar
7.  ¼ tsp vanilla extract
8.  ½ tsp of food colouring ( I prefer to use the food colouring paste rather than food colouring liquid)

The Hazelnut & Chocolate Ganache:
9.  40g blanched hazelnut
10. ¼ tsp vanilla extract
11. 2 ½ tbsp sweetened condensed milk
12. 60g good quality dark chocolate
13. 2 ½ tbsp whipped cream (optional)
14. Pinch of salt

The Macaron:
1.  Preheat the oven to 180°C
2.  On a large bowl mix the icing sugar, ground almonds and 50g egg whites. This almond mixture will turn into a paste like texture. (it may not look like the egg whites are enough to transform the ingredients into a paste but it is, so be patient, keep mixing and do not be tempted to add more egg whites or worst water)
3.  On a separate clean bowl, whisk the remaining 50g egg whites with a pinch of salt until they hold a medium-stiff peak.
4.  On a small pan gently melt 100g sugar with the 2tbsp of water, boil until the sugar dissolves into thick syrup. (it is important to get the sugar granules completely dissolve or your macaron shells will be grainy and will easily crack, as it happened to me recently so ensure that the sugar are well dissolve)
5.  Slowly pour your sugar syrup onto your whisked egg whites, whisking constantly as you slowly add the sugar syrup,  whisk until the mixture becomes stiff and shiny again.
6.  Gently mix you almond paste onto this, add ¼ tsp vanilla extract and ½ tsp food colouring, mix until the mixture becomes stiff again.
7.  Pour the mixture into a piping bag. Pipe the mixture onto a macaron mould or into a baking parchment. Drop the macarons on a flat work surface 2-3 times to flatten the macaron shells.
8.  If you would like to add hazelnut pieces or pearl sugars as decoration, add it at this stage.
9.  Leave the macarons out to form a dry shell between 30 minutes to 1 hour, the macaron shells must be complete dry, it should not feel sticky or wet when you touch it with your fingertips, if your macaron shells are not completely dry, leave it for a longer period to form a dry shell do not bake it unless the shells are dry or they will not bake properly (the shells will crack). Once the macaron shells are dry, bake in the oven for 15-17 minutes, with the oven door slightly ajar/open, this allows the steam to come out of the oven, alternatively you can also bake in the oven with the oven door complete shut and opening it only a couple of times to let the steam out.
10. Remove from the oven, leave to cool at room temperature for 30 minutes before adding the hazelnut and chocolate ganache. (The macaron shells are completely cook if they come off easily from your macaron mould/baking parchment. The shells should not be sticky, if they are sticky they are undercooked)

MacaroonMacaroon

The Hazelnut & Chocolate Ganache:
11.  Roast the blanched hazelnuts in the oven for 5 minutes. Then finely chopped on a food processor until the nuts turned into a paste like texture.
12.  On a small sauce pan, gently melt the condense milk and dark chocolate. Once melted, add onto the hazelnut paste. Blend until the mixture are all incorporated into a smooth paste.
13.  Add cream (optional), vanilla extract and pinch of salt, then mix lightly.
14.  Pipe the mixture on the inside of a macaroon and sandwich together.

Leave to rest for 30 minutes before serving.

Macaroon

Extra Tip:
Macaron Lifeline:
Macarons keep for 5 days in an airtight container and don’t need to be refrigerated.
When cooled (not immediately after taking them out of the oven), they can be frozen in an airtight container, defrost in an airtight container with the container lid on at room temperature. Do not defrost on a plate expose to air it will make the macaroons soft (not to be microwave either).

Baking in the oven:
It is important that the oven temperature is not higher than 180°C degrees otherwise the macaroon shells will crack. Some Macaron recipes suggest a lower temperature but my personal experience so far hasn’t been great, with a lower temperature the macaroon shells remains undercook.

Folding:
Almond paste needs to be folded into the beaten egg whites, just when you no longer see egg whites stripes around your bowl stop folding, over folding will make the macaron shells crack.

The Ganache:
This can be made a day in advance kept in the fridge in an air tight container.
Usually made with whipped cream, I sometimes add whipped cream to the above ganache mixture and sometimes I don’t. If I want to serve the macaroons on the same day I add the whipped cream, making this ganache mixture less dense.
And if I planned to keep the macarons for a few days I don’t add the whipped cream as I found it makes the macaron shells a bit soft after a while.

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Toulouse Cassoulet

Toulouse cassoulet

KITCHEN KIT:
Flameproof casserole pan, frying pan, and ovenproof dish

Ingredients Serves 6:
1.  300g haricot beans (I use canned beans for this dish)
2.  1 clove
3.  1 medium onion, peeled only; left whole
4.  1 medium size onion peeled and chopped in big chunks
5.  4 garlic cloves finely slice
6.  approx 120ml red wine
7.  approx 800 ml of water
8.  A bouquet of garni made of 1 thyme sprig, 1 parsley sprig and 1 bay leaf tied together with a kitchen string.
9.  2 sprigs of thyme leaves only
10. 3 carrots peeled and chopped into big chunks
11. 400g Toulouse sausages alternatively use good quality Lincolnshire or Cumberland sausages.
12. 200g pork rind
13. 300g skinned off belly pork
14. 400g pork collar
15. 4 tbsp of duck fat
16. 4 tbsp tomato puree
17. Pinch of salt
18. Pinch of pepper
19. Pinch of chilli flakes
20. 75g dried bread crumbs

The Cassoulet:

Stage1
1.  Insert the clove on the whole onion, drain your beans and set aside.
2.  Place casserole over a medium heat; add clove-onion, pork rind, pork belly, garlic and 800ml of water, if you have a large pan add more water (the water needs to just about cover all of your ingredients). Partially cover casserole and bring to boil.
3.  Once it starts to boil, season with salt and pepper, reduce heat to low and simmer for 4-6 hours, adding water occasionally until the pork rind has softened (almost dissolved). Then stir in your drained beans. Remove heat uncovered and set aside.
4.  Take half of the liquid from your casserole dish and set aside.

Stage 2
5.  Place frying pan over a medium heat, add your duck fat and pork collar for 8-10 minutes until golden brown and cooked, then add the bouquet garni, onions and carrots stir for 2 minutes.
6.  Next add the tomato puree and red wine let it simmer for 5-8 minutes until the alcohol has burned off.
7.  Pour half of the liquid from your casserole dish onto your frying pan, covering the pork collar, bouquet garni, onions and carrots, if the liquid is not enough to cover all the ingredients add some more water. Cover the frying pan and simmer over medium heat for 2 hours.
8.  Add the Toulouse sausages and cook for another 30 minutes.
9.  Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 180°C.

Stage 3
10.  Once sausages are cooked, transfer all the ingredients from your frying pan onto an ovenproof dish, starting with the sausages, discarding only the bouquet garni. Add the cooked bean mixture from your casserole dish onto this dish as well.
11.  Place in the oven to cook for 4 hours. Remove from the oven then sprinkle over some breadcrumbs. Cook for a further 30 minutes or until the breadcrumbs has turned golden brown.

Toulouse cassoulet Toulouse cassoulet

Serve warm with freshly baked Pain De Campagne.

Toulouse cassoulet

Extra Tip: I usually make this dish with the ingredients listed above, though today I had some left over confit de canard and I added this onto the cassoulet as well, if you do have some left over duck legs add it on the cassoulet it would taste just as nice. If a lot of oil comes out of your cassoulet you may want to drain some of it off though this would be more of a personal preference.

 

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Goat’s Cheese Salad (Salade de fromage de chèvre)

Goat’s Cheese Salad (Salade de fromage de chèvre)

KITCHEN KIT:
Salad bowl and small whisk

Ingredients Serves 4:

For the salad:
1.  2 yellow chicory
2.  150g Sainte Maure Goats cheese
3.  120 Rocket Leaves
4.  A Handful of chopped Walnuts
5.  A few strands of Saffron
6.  1 tbsp honey
7.  1tbsp warm water

For the French vinaigrette:
8.  130 ml extra virgin olive oil
9.  2 ½ tsp wholegrain Dijon mustard
10. 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar
11. 2 tbsp water
12. Pinch of salt
13. Pinch of ground black pepper

For the salad:
1.  Toss only the rocket leaves with French Vinaigrette on a bowl.
2.  Mix honey and water on a separate bowl. Add walnut and cover all over with the honey and water.
3.  Plate your chicory leaves, add rocket salad in the middle, add slice goats cheese, walnut and finally some saffron strands.

For the Vinaigrette:
4.  Simply whisk all the ingredients above together.
Goat’s Cheese Salad (Salade de fromage de chèvre)Goat’s Cheese Salad (Salade de fromage de chèvre)Goat’s Cheese Salad (Salade de fromage de chèvre)

Serve.

Goat’s Cheese Salad (Salade de fromage de chèvre)

Extra Tip: The French vinaigrette will keep for 1 week on the fridge.

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Pork Tarragon in White Wine and Cream

Pork Chop in Tarragon and White Wine Cream Sauce

Ingredients Serves 2:
1.  1 pesandor shallot finely chopped
2.  200g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
3.  2 garlic cloves, crushed
4.  1 tbsp of tarragon leaves only chopped
5.  30g butter
6.  1 tbsp of olive oil
7.  100ml white wine
8.  200ml cream
9.  2 tsp whole grain Dijon Mustard
10. Pinch of Salt
11. Pinch of ground black pepper
12. ¼ tsp of nutmeg
13. A handful of flat leaf parsley finely chopped for garnish

The Pork:
1.  Rub the pork with olive oil pinch of salt and pepper.
2.  On a medium heat fry the pork 4 minutes on each side.  Once cooked remove from heat set aside.

The Sauce:
3.  Using the same pan you used to fry the pork, add butter over medium heat. Add garlic, shallot fry for 1 minute then your mushroom, fry for 2 minutes then add your tarragon leaves; cook for a further 3 minutes.
4.  Add wine and let is simmer for 2 minutes. Then add your cream and Dijon mustard. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
5.  Add your pork again to heat for 1-2 minutes.  Sprinkle with parsley.

Serve with mash potato or pasta.

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Confit De Canard

Confit De Canard

KITCHEN KIT:
Deep casserole pan, 2 frying pan and a baking tray

Ingredients Serves 2:
For the confit duck leg:
1.  2 large duck legs
2.  30g rock salt
3.  1 tbsp black peppercorns, crushed
4.  4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
5.  4 bay leaves, torn into pieces
6.  4 sprigs of thyme leaves
7.  400g duck fat, melted on a deep casserole pan

For the flageolet beans:
8.  2 tbsp olive oil
9.  1 tsp butter
10. 50g streaky smoked bacon sliced
11. 150g flageolet beans (I used canned beans, drained)
12. 150ml chicken stock
13. ½ medium size onion finely sliced
14. 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
15. 2 bay leaves
16. 3 sprigs of thyme leaves
17. ½ tsp ground black pepper
18. Pinch of salt
19. Pinch of cayenne pepper
20. A handful of roughly chopped parsley (for garnish)

Day 1
For the confit duck leg:
1.  Place duck legs on a dry tray, rub the salt, pepper, garlic, bay leaves and thyme leaves all over the duck legs. Cover the duck legs with a cling film and marinade overnight.

Confit De Canard
Day 2:
2.  Pre-heat oven to 140ºC
3.  Wash off the marinade and pat dry the duck legs with kitchen cloth.
4.  On a deep casserole pan melt duck fat, add the duck legs skin side down and bring the temperature up to 85ºC, when there is no bubbles on the surface of the fat. Then place in the oven for 3 hours to gently simmer. (Meanwhile prepare the flageolet beans)
5.  After 3 hours, remove duck legs from the duck fat and set aside for a few minutes. (you may notice on the picture below that the duck fat has set, this is because I left the duck in it’s fat for a day after cooking it in the oven to enrich its flavour more, you can keep duck in its’ fat on an air tight container for a few days or months before you cook it.)
6.  On a dry frying pan over medium heat, fry your duck legs skin side down first. 5-7 minutes.

Confit De CanardConfit De Canard

Day 2:
For the flageolet beans:

7.  On a frying pan add olive oil on a medium heat; gently fry your bacon until golden brown and crisp, before adding the rest of the ingredients listed “For the flageolet beans” above; simmer for 5-10 minutes until liquid has reduce by a third, adjust seasoning  and remove bay leaves before serving.

Serve duck warm on a bed of flageolet beans.
Confit De Canard

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Chicken Liver Parfait

New Chicken Liver Parfait

Usually serve with brioche slices and chutney or prune jam or figue jam. But I personally prefer this with macaroons and black cherries balsamic vinegar reduction.

(For recipe on Chicken Liver Parfait with Macaroon in Black Cherries Balsamic Vinegar Reduction please visit my blog posted on 11th of December 2012)

When I haven’t got the time to make the macaroons I have this instead with a lightly toasted brioche with either plum or apricot jam. I love the sweetness of the plum or apricot with the chicken liver parfait.

IMG_3610

KITCHEN KIT:
A food processor, a sauce pan and a Terrine Mould of approx 12½ inches long. I used to use a 12½ inch mould but as I recently got a lovely ‘Terrine Mould’ present that is approx 10 inches long, I used this now instead, using same recipe below and just pour the excess mixture on a small ramekin/oven proof dish.

Ingredients Serves 8:

For the parfait marinade:
1.  400g fresh chicken livers (remove the sinews and gall bladders or it will be bitter) It is also important to get fresh and not frozen chicken liver.
2.  500ml of milk
3.  2 tsp of salt

For the parfait:
4.  100ml Madeira
5.  100ml ruby port
6.  60g of shallots, finely chopped
7.  2 sprigs of thyme leaves only
8.  1 garlic clove, finely chopped or grated.
9.  50ml Armagnac (alternatively you can also use cognac)
10. 3 pinches of salt
11. 3 pinches of ground black pepper
12. 400g of melted, unsalted butter
13. 5 large eggs or 4 medium ones

For a butter base glazing:
14. 120g softened butter.
15. 3 bay leaves
16. a handful of pink peppercorns
For a jelly base glazing:
14. 150 ml. port
15. 30 ml. water
16. 1 tsp. sugar
17. A pinch of salt
18. A pinch of ground black pepper
19. 5g. of gelatine
20. 3 Bay leaves

For the parfait marinade:
Day 1:
1.  On a bowl, add the milk, 2 tsp of salt and chicken liver. Soak overnight or for at least an hour.

Chicken Liver

For the parfait:
Day 2:
2.  Drain chicken livers and discard the liquid marinade.
3.  Preheat the oven at 120°C and grease your terrine mould with butter.


4.  On a sauce pan bring to boil the Madeira, Port, shallots, thyme, garlic, Armagnac, pinches of salt and pepper until liquid has reduced by one-third and then remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool.


5.  Once the liquid has cooled down add on a food processor with the drained chicken livers and process, slowly add the eggs one at a time. Process until all the ingredients are incorporated and smooth.
6.  Next, add the butter slowly into the parfait mixture, as the parfait may split if the butter is added all at once too quickly. Process all ingredients well.


7.  Press parfait mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl; then add the mixture into the terrine mould. Cover the terrine mould with a greased foil or with a terrine mould cover.


8.  Place the terrine in a deep baking tray; pour in boiling water until it reaches two-thirds of the way up the sides of the terrine. Cook for 45 minutes or until just set. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

For the butter base glazing:
9.  Once the parfait has cooled down at room temperature, remove the foil and any discolouration from the top. Pour over melted butter on top of the parfait, decorate with pink peppercorns and or bay leaves.
10. Cover with a cling film. Chill on the fridge overnight, though ideally it would be best to give it 2
days to chill.

 

For a jelly base glazing:
9.  On a small sauce pan, warm the port, water, 1 tsp of sugar, pinch of salt and ground black pepper. Add and melt the gelatine.
10. Once the gelatine has fully melted, pour the mixture on top of the parfait, decorate with bay leaves. Cover with a cling film. Chill on the fridge overnight, though ideally it would be best to give it 2
days to chill.

IMG_3539

IMG_3540

IMG_3541

IMG_3542

IMG_3544

Removing The Chicken Liver Parfait from the mould:

Day 3:
11. Dip a palette knife/knife into hot water, run through the sides of the terrine to detach the mixture from the terrine mould.

Transfer onto a plate and serve or spread over the macaroon shells and sandwich the macaroons together or spread on a toasted brioche with apricot/plum jam.

Chicken Liver Parfait

Chicken Liver Parfait

Extra Tip: Leftover Chicken liver parfait can be eaten for up to 3 days, if covered with a tight cling film on the fridge. The cling film needs to be air tight to prevent the parfait from oxidising and discolouring. The addition of the double cream, nutmeg/all spice and thyme gives the parfait a creamier texture and more delicate flavour. If you prefer your parfait to be firmer, with a stronger chicken liver and Armagnac flavour omit the double cream, nutmeg/allspice and thyme from your ingredients. I have tried both recipes and enjoyed both equally.

Chicken Liver Parfait

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Moules Marinières

Moules Marinières

KITCHEN KIT:

Casserole pan

Ingredients Serves 4:

1.   2kg fresh mussels

2.   35g butter

3.   1 medium size shallot finely chopped

4.   1 clove of garlic

5.   100ml dry white wine

6.   120ml double cream

7.   A handful of finely chopped flat leaf parsley

8.   1 sprig of thyme leaves only

9.   Pinch of salt

10.  Pinch of pepper.

 

The Mussels:

1.  Wash the mussels over cold running water, removing any beards and grits. Place the mussels over a cold bowl of water, discard any mussels that floats and mussels that remains open after tapping onto them.

2.  On a medium heat, melt butter on a casserole pan. Once the butter starts to foam, add the shallots, thyme leaves and garlic cook for 2 minutes. Add mussels, wine and cream and cover the lid. Cook for 4 minutes or until the mussels have opened, then remove from heat.

3. Season with salt, pepper and top with chopped fresh parsley.

Serve warm with french fries.

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Croque Monsieur

Croque Monsieur

KITCHEN KIT:
Sauce pan, pastry brush and a cookie cutter size 3 inches.

Ingredients Makes 6:

1. 20g butter (for buttering the slice bread)

2. 50g butter (for the béchamel sauce)

3. 50g flour

4. 200ml milk

5. ¼ tsp grated nutmeg

6. 1 tsp Dijon mustard

7. Pinch of ground white pepper

8. Some thyme leaves

9. 55g grated Gruyère cheese

10. 18 slices of good quality white bread (crusts removed, I use a cookie cutter instead to remove and shape the white bread)

11. 12 slices of good quality ham

The Bread:
1.  Preheat oven to 180°C.

Preparing the 3 slices of bread:
This process if for one portion only, (repeat this process 6x to make 6 portions):

2.  For the 2 slices of bread, butter only one side, cut using a cookie cutter. Grill in the oven, butter side up for 3 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside.
3.  For the 3rd slice of bread however, butter, cut and grill both sides of the bread.

The Bechamel:
4.  Heat your sauce pan over low heat, melt your butter and then add your flour to make a roux, slowly add your milk whisking continuously until your béchamel has thicken and is smooth. Add mustard, pinch of pepper and 45g of grated Gruyère cheese, stir until the cheese has melted and all the ingredients are incorporated together. Remove from heat once béchamel mixture is smooth.

The Croque Monsieur:
5.  Spread mustard over the un-grilled sides of the bread; add ham, béchamel sauce, then again another ham on top.
6.  Top the ham with the slice bread that has been grilled on both sides, add ham on top and another layer of béchamel sauce.
7.  Finally, add the last slice of bread with mustard spread all over the un-grilled side of the bread (the grilled side of the bread should be facing upwards) spread a thin layer of béchamel sauce on top of the grilled side of the bread, add the rest of the 10g grated gruyere cheese and thyme on top.
8.  Grill for 5 minutes or until golden brown.

 

Croque Monsieur

Croque Monsieur

Serve warm fresh from the oven.

Extra Tip: This is my take on a classic French croque monsieur. I like to used a round cookie cutter to remove the edges of the white bread as per the picture below, it does not only remove the crust but it makes the croque monsieur looks pretty to serve over lunch. I also like to grill both sides of the middle ‘sliced bread’ as it does add a crunchy texture to the croque monsieur, keeping the other 2 slices with only one side of them grilled makes the bread soft on the inside and crispy on the outer layers, giving different textures to this dish. Decorate with a walnut and some thyme leaves on top.

 

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Chicken Liver Parfait with Macaroon in Black Cherries Balsamic Vinegar Reduction

Macaroons

Chicken Liver Parfait
Usually serve with brioche slices and chutney. But I personally prefer this with macaroons and black cherries balsamic vinegar reduction (as per the picture above).  I got this idea from a foie gras macaroon I had in Lyon, it was heavenly and I have since made the macaroon with either foie gras or chicken liver parfait filling which are both equally tasty. When I haven’t got the time to make the macaroons I have this instead with a lightly toasted brioche with either plum or apricot jam. I love the sweetness of the plum or apricot with the chicken liver parfait.

KITCHEN KIT:
Food processor and a Terrine Mould of approx 12½ inches long. I used to use a 12½ inch mould but as I recently got a lovely ‘Terrine Mould’ present that is approx 10 inches long, I used this now instead, using same recipe below and just pour the excess mixture on a small ramekin/oven proof dish.

 

Ingredients Serves 8:

For the parfait:
1.  400g fresh chicken livers (remove the sinews and gall bladders or it will be bitter) It is also important to get fresh and not frozen chicken liver.
2.  500ml of milk
3.  4 tsp of salt
4.  100ml Madeira
5.  100ml ruby port
6.  60g of shallots, finely chopped
7.  2 sprigs of thyme leaves only
8.  1 garlic clove, finely chopped or grated.
9. 50ml Cognac or Armagnac
10. Optional- 2 tbsp of double cream
11. Optional- ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg or all spice
12. 5 eggs
13. 400g of melted, unsalted butter
14. A pinch of ground black pepper
15. Optional- Whole pink peppercorns and bay leaf

For the glazing:
16. 60g softened butter
17. 60g softened lard (you can replace lard with another 75g of softened butter)

The Parfait:
Day 1:
1.  On a bowl, add the milk, 2 tsp of salt and chicken liver. Soak overnight or for at least an hour.

Chicken Liver

Day 2:
2.  Drain chicken livers and discard the liquid marinade.
3.  Preheat the oven at 120°C. Grease your terrine mould with butter.
4.  On a sauce pan bring to boil the Madeira, port, shallots, thyme, garlic and Armagnac, until liquid has reduced by one-third and then remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool.
5.  Once the liquid has cooled down add on a food processor with drained chicken livers and process, slowly add the eggs one at a time. Process until all the ingredients are incorporated and smooth.
6.  Add the butter slowly onto the parfait mixture, as the parfait may split if the butter is added all at once too quickly, season with 2 tsp of salt and a pinch of ground black pepper. Process all ingredients.  (Optional: add 2tbsp of double cream and ½ tsp of grated nutmeg or all spice)
7.  Press parfait mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl; add into the terrine mould, then cover the terrine mould with grease foil/terrine mold cover.
8.  Place the terrine in a deep baking tray; pour in boiling water until it reaches two-thirds of the way up the sides of the terrine. Cook for 45 minutes or until just set. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

The glazing:
9.  Once the parfait has cooled at room temperature, remove the foil and any discolouration on the top. Mix softened butter and lard together, add on top of the terrine, decorate with pink peppercorns or bay leaf.
10. Cover terrine with a cling film. Chill on the fridge overnight, though would be best to give it 2 days to chill.

Day 3:
11. Dip a palette knife/knife into hot water, run through the sides of the terrine to detach the mixture from the terrine mould.

Chicken Liver

Transfer onto a plate and serve or spread over the macaroon shells and sandwich the macaroons together.

For The Macaroon

KITCHEN KIT:
Macaroon mould, piping bag, electric whisk or food mixer

Ingredients:

The Macaroon:
1. 130g icing sugar
2. 140g ground almonds
3. 100g egg whites only
4. Pinch of salt
5. 2tbsp water
6. 95g  caster sugar
8. ½ tsp of food colouring (I prefer to use the food colouring paste as the colour is more intense compared to the food colouring liquid)
The Macaroon:
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
2. On a large bowl mix the icing sugar, ground almonds and food colouring. This almond mixture will turn into a paste like texture.
3. On a separate clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they hold a medium-stiff peak.
4. On a small pan gently melt sugar with the water, boil until the sugar dissolves into thick syrup.
5. Gently pour your sugar syrup onto your egg whites, whisk again until the mixture becomes stiff and shiny. Add this mixture onto your almond paste mixture. Gently mix together until the mixture becomes stiff again.
6. Pour the mixture into a piping bag. Pipe the mixture onto a macaroon mould or into a lined baking sheet.
7. If you would like to add hazelnut pieces or peal sugars as decoration add it at this stage.
8. Leave the macaroons out to form a dry shell between 30 minutes to an hour, then bake in the oven for 10–12. Remove from the oven, leave to cool at room temperature before spreading over the chicken liver parfait over the macaroon shells.
Leave to rest for 30 minutes before serving.

MacaroonsMacaroons

For the black cherries balsamic vinegar reduction:

KITCHEN KIT:
Small pan

Ingredients:
1. Black cherries in syrup (available in waitrose, picture below)
2. 4 tbsp of Balsamic vinegar
3. Pinch of sugar

Black cherries balsamic vinegar reduction:
1. On a small pan, heat the balsamic vinegar with the black cherries with it’s syrup and a pinch of sugar.Simmer until liquid has reduced by one-third, then remove the pan from the heat and set aside. Serve on the side of chicken liver parfait macaroon (as per the picture above).

Black Cherries in Balsamic Vinegar

Extra Tip: Leftover Chicken liver parfait can be eaten for up to 3 days, if covered with a tight cling film on the fridge. The cling film needs to be air tight to prevent the parfait from oxidising and discolouring. The addition of the double cream, nutmeg/all spice and thyme gives the parfait a creamier texture and more delicate flavour. If you prefer your parfait to be firmer, with a stronger chicken liver and Armagnac flavour omit the double cream, nutmeg/allspice and thyme from your ingredients. I have tried both recipes and enjoyed both equally.

 

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Gougères


KITCHEN KIT:
Piping bag

Choux Ingredients Serves 8:
1. 180 ml milk
2. 180 ml water
3. 180g flour
4. 3 eggs
5. ½  teaspoon of salt
6. ½ teaspoon of sugar
7. 100g butter
8. 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
9. 45g gruyère cheese
10. A handful of  nigella or poppy seeds

Glazing Ingredients:
1. 1 egg yolk only
2. 2 tbsp of full fat milk

The Choux:
1. On a sauce pan over a medium heat, add the milk, water, 1 tsp of sugar and 1 tsp of salt.  Bring all the ingredients to a boil.
2. Then add 180g flour, grated 30g gruyère cheese, 1tsp of Dijon mustard; mix until all the ingredients are incorporated, leave to rest for a few minutes until the mixture has cooled down.
3. Once the mixture has cooled down, add the 3 eggs one at a time stirring each time. The mixture should look glossy and smooth.
4. Add the mixture on a piping bag. Pipe the mixture to a size of approx. 1inch wide; leave some space between each piped mixture as they would expand whilst in the oven.


The Gougères:
1. Follow the above ‘choux’ recipe, after piping them on a baking tray, brush the top with the egg and milk glaze.
2. Sprinkle some nigella or poppy seeds, then add 15g gruyère cheese. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until puffed and golden brown on top.
3. Remove from the oven and slide the knife making a tiny insertion onto the bottom side of the gougères to let the steam out, making the gougères crispy.

Serve warm.

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Les Chouquettes

Les Chouquettes

Chouquettes are moorish, so it is best to make loads of it. Although they can be frozen once made, defrosted at room temperature and quickly heated in a low heated oven before eating them, for me they are still best eaten fresh from the oven when first baked rather than re-heated.  They are one of the best sweet snacks you can have. I love dipping these little choquettes lightly in nutella or hazelnut cream, or sometimes just swirl some nuttella on top of them once they are baked and has cooled down a bit. I hope you love it as much I do! bon appétit!

KITCHEN KIT:
Piping bag

Ingredients Serves 8:
1. 180 ml milk
2. 180 ml water
3. 180g flour
4. 3 eggs
5. ½  teaspoon of salt
6. ½  teaspoon of sugar
7. 100g butter
8. 30g icing sugar
9. A handful of sugar pearls

The Choux:
1. On a sauce pan over a medium heat, add the milk, water, 1 tsp of sugar and 1 tsp of salt.  Bring all the ingredients to a boil.
2. Then add 180g flour and 15g of icing sugar, mix until all the ingredients are incorporated, leave to rest for a few minutes until the mixture has cooled down.
3. Once the mixture has cooled down, add the eggs one at a time stirring each time. The mixture should look glossy and smooth.
4. Add the mixture on a piping bag. Pipe the mixture to a size of approx. 1inch wide; leave some space between each piped mixture as they would expand whilst in the oven.


Sugar Pearls Chouquette:
1. Follow the above ‘choux’ recipe then dust the chouquettes with 10g icing sugar. Add the sugar pearls on top  and sides of the choquettes, dust the chouquettes once again with more 5g icing sugar.
2. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until puffed and golden brown on top.
3. Remove from the oven and slide the knife making a tiny insertion onto the bottom side of the chouquettes to let the steam out, making the chouquettes crispy.

chouquette

Serve warm.

Les Chouquettes

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Quiche Lorraine Part 1:

Quiche Lorraine

I first had a Quiche Lorraine when I was at a primary school in Macau, my Mom took me to Lord’s Stows cafe in Macau where I discovered Quiche Lorraine. I love it since but only learnt to bake it when I moved to England.

20 different recipes, 20 failed attempts in creating the prefect light quiche, one came out of the oven looking more like a dome and when cooled collapsed on a baking tin, I still remember my relatives when they saw my dome like quiche, not quite French nor it is English, it’s just an eggy dome like, bloated thingy, they ate the 20th quiche I’ve baked as they laughed their heads off. After 20 failed attempts, I finally got there in the end. Thank goodness my family no longer have to endure another dome like bloated quiche.

Tips: Lessons from a bloated dome like quiche:
Baked the pastry forgetting to add the baking paper and baking beans meant that my pastry came out of the oven dome like.
Baked the pastry with the baking beans but forgotten to line the pastry with a baking paper meant when the pastry cooked all the baked beans were stuck on the pastry.
Baked the pastry and mixture at the same time for a longer cooking period than required- the quiche came out bloated and dome like. Lessons learnt; pastry must be baked first lined with baking paper and with baked beans to make sure the pastry doesn’t rise up, mixture then needs to be added and baked again, bake for no longer than 40 minutes.

KITCHEN KIT
23cm fluted flan dish or tin about 3.5cm deep

Ingredients Serves 6:
1. 1 pack ready rolled shop-bought short crust pastry if you are in a hurry or just feeling lazy, otherwise you can also make your own pastry by following “ Savoury Shortcrust Pastry” instructions on the pastry section of this site.
2. 2 tbsp olive oil
3. 1 medium onion
4. 175g diced bacon rashers
5. 450g crème fraîche
6. 4 eggs
7. Pinch of ground black pepper
8. 15g grated Gruyère or Mature Cheddar cheese
9. Pinch of Nutmeg or parsley

The pastry:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Roll out pastry into a greased tin. Line it with baking paper so that the baking beans don’t get stuck onto the pastry.
3. Fill the lined pastry with the baking beans- ‘blind bake’ in the oven for 20 minutes, until the edges are light brown and dry. Remove the baking beans and baking paper, set the cooked pastry aside.

Quiche Lorraine-Bake Blind

The filling:
While the pastry is baking, prepare the fillings as follow:
1. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, add diced bacon. Once cooked remove bacon and set aside.
2. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a frying pan over medium heat, add diced onion until soft and translucent. Remove onion and set aside.
3. Whisk 4 eggs and crème fraîche on a bowl, add cooked onions and 10g of grated gruyere cheese, season with pepper and nutmeg or parsley (if using), and add some of the cooked bacon onto the mixture. Leave some of the cooked bacon aside for later.

4. Pour the mixture into the pastry, bake in the oven for 20 minutes, (optional-take the quiche out and add the remaining bacon and cook the quiche for another 20 minutes or until the filling has firmed up.) If you do not want to sprinkle the remaining bacon, just cook the quiche throughout for 40 minutes or until the filing has firmed up.

Quiche Lorraine

5. This bit is optional- Take the quiche out, sprinkle remaining 5g of grated gruyere cheese on top, put the quiche back in the oven on grill for 2 minutes.

Extra Tip: use a cake tester or a knife insert onto the quiche, if it comes out clean without cream mixture stuck to it, then your quiche is ready. I like to make mine look golden on the top, so I usually add a bit of grated Gruyère cheese on top just before the quiche finished cooking it adds a nice golden brown colour on the quiche. Yum!!

Quiche Lorraine

 

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Les Madeleines à la crème au citron

Madeleines

These are traditional soft small cakes from Commercy and Liverdun in the Lorraine region of northeastern France. My love for Madeleines started when I first visited Paris. The Madeleines I had in Paris were sweet and simple. The recipe below is slightly sweeter, contains raspberry, lemon curd and lemon glaze. For me, Madeleines are best eaten warm, fresh from the oven.

KITCHEN KIT
Madeleine Mould 40cm x 20cm

Ingredients Serves 5:

The Madeleines:
1. 3 eggs at room temperature
2. 133g sugar
3. 200g plain flour
4. 1 tsp of baking powder
5. 1 lemon, grated zest only
6. 40g runny honey
7. 40g double cream
8. 1 tsp vanilla extract
9. 200g melted and cooled unsalted butter
10. Raspberries
11. Icing sugar for dusting

The Lemon glaze (optional):
1. 1 large size lemon- juice and zest
2. 150g icing sugar

The Lemon Curd:
1. 2 small lemon zest and juice.
2. A pinch of salt
3. 50g sugar
4. 50g melted unsalted butter
5. 4 egg yolks

Preparation method:

The Madeleines:
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Butter and flour a Madeleine mould.
2. Beat the eggs, vanilla extract and sugar until pale.
3. On a separate bowl add flour, baking powder and lemon zest.
4. Mix the honey and cream with the melted butter. Add the Beaten eggs and sugar onto this mixture. Then slowly add the flour and lemon zest mixture. Leave the Madeleine mixture to rest for 1-2 hours or overnight if possible.
5. Put a heaped tbsp of Madeleine mixture into each Madeleine shell and press a raspberry deep into the Madeleine mixture, raspberry holes needs to be facing upwards towards you so you can pipe a lemon curd inside the hole once the Madeleines are baked.
6. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Transfer the madeleines to a wire rack and leave for a few minutes.

Lemon glaze (optional):
1. Mix all the ingredients together, once the Madeleines are cool to handle, brush the shell indentations side with the glaze. Leave the glaze to set for a few seconds.

The Lemon Curd:
1. Put the lemon zest and juice, salt, sugar and butter into a small saucepan and heat gently until the sugar and butter have melted. Remove from the heat. Leave to cool for a minute, add beaten egg yolks and whisk all together.
2. Turn the pan onto a low heat again, whilst constantly whisking. Once the curd thickens, remove from the heat. Cover with a cling film once cooled, refrigerate for at least an hour, preferably overnight.
3. Put the lemon curd into a piping bag, piped the curd on baked madeleines raspberry holes. Lightly dust with icing sugar.

Serve Warm.

Madeleines

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