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Saturday, November 26, 2005
IMBB/SHF - Chewy toffee and milk chocolate chip cookies

The lovely cookies are already a star among my friends

I had originally intended to call this post: "my life project" as I wanted to write about my new cooking project. But then I found out the SHF-IMBB theme was Cookie Swap and my post instantly changed aim. Anyway I'm going to write about both things as they're related.

I want to open a salon de thé in London. Actually I can't find a great place where you could stay for hours drinking the best hot chocolate and eating the most delicious cookies on earth while reading the latest cookbooks.
Here is my last life achievement. It rose after my boyfriend and I, walking around in Chelsea, had a discussion about my passion: cooking. And there he suggested I should open a kind of salon de thé (i.e. tea room). At that precise moment I wondered why I had never thought about it before. It seems so ideal for me; I'm conscious it's going to be hard to fight against Starbucks and Café Nero and that the whole thing is not going to be easy: wake up a 5am to bake thousands of muffins, cookies, pancakes… but this is what I want to do and I hope I'll be able to. Then i could publish my books and bake and cook as much as I want.

In that wish I'm trying to find the best recipes I can manage to produce for things such as cookies, muffins, sandwiches…
So you'll have to cope with all these experimentations.
Actually, last week-end I spent 2 days experimenting with flour, eggs, sugars, butter and chocolate chips and finally managed to make the most delicious chewy chocolate chip cookies I have ever had.
You understand, now, why this post has become part of SHF-IMBB event.

Just a short note: I sometimes have french reflex – when I read (a little too fast maybe) the theme was Cookie Swap, I instantly thought of cookies as what, we, French call cookie : the American TRUE cookie. Not your usual cookie that we call biscuit. So I'm sorry not to be very creative with this recipe. Hope you'll understand.

When I create a recipe I always think in cups as it's easier for me to realize how much it does of each ingredient. Sadly, I didn't have my scale when I made these (because I was home for the week end) and then I can't give you the metric measures. Just in case : 1 cup = 250ml.

Chewy toffee and milk chocolate chip cookies
makes 26 large cookies

One bite of these and you'll go to heaven. These are for me the perfect cookies: chewy and tasty. The toffee is not actual toffee but the deliciously browned white chocolate.
I advise you to eat them straight from the oven or cold as I think they develop a nice flavour while cooling. Actually I didn't like them warm.
To keep them chewy and moist, I wrap them by 6 (a cooking batch) in foil, as soon as they're out of the oven.
If you're not convinced yet, I should let you know that I had taken 6 of these with me in the train (back home – 6 hours) with the intention to keep them for the week, but I did eat them.

4½ cups flour (I used Italian tipo 00)
3 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt

200g melted butter
1½ cups caster sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
½ cup light muscovado sugar
3 eggs
seeds from 1 vanilla pod

2 cups milk chocolate buttons
½ cup white chocolate buttons
Preheat the oven to 160°C.
Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.

In a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt. Set apart.
In a large bowl, mix the butter and sugars, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla seeds and mix well.

Pour the flour over the egg mixture and mix until you've got a smooth dough.

Fold in the chocolate buttons.

Form balls (¼ cup approx.) of dough and press them slightly between you hands. Place on the lined baking sheet (I put 6 disks on one baking sheet).
Bake for 15 minutes, until the edges are very lightly coloured. And repeat until you've used all the dough.
Cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack and enjoy!

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Friday, November 25, 2005
10 kitchen confessions meme

Me, in my boyfriend's kitchen cooking roast potatoes.

I have been tagged by Anne from Station gourmande for this meme. I thought i could never do it by this week as i'm so very busy and as tons of posts are waiting to get online. But i've been thinking all the days about the 10 confessions i could make. Sure there're some i wish i wouldn't tell, but i tried to be as honest as possible.

Here are my confessions, try not to laugh, please.

The general confessions

1. I can't eat lamb. I know i'm missing something, but i can't help. I just find the smell of it awful. Actually if there's some lamb cooking in the kitchen i really can't go in it : i have to apply a 10 meters safe distance. Wow it makes me SHIVER.

2. But i could have CRISPY RICE with soya sauce for breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner; and all in the same day. I find this so delicous. Can you imagine i'm able to eat 120g (uncooked weight) rice for lunch???

The food obsession confessions

3. I can't help but think about FOOD every second of the day : new combos, recipes to try, recipes to improve... If i could i'll go and check all the food blogs in the world to see new pictures and new recipes to add to my list.

4. It seems i can't go out without buying a new cookbook. I went to London for 3 days and bought 3 cookbooks and would have bought much more if i could afford it. Actually it's a good thing that cookbooks are quite expensive (25£ is a lot of money for a student) because if they'd be cheaper i think i would have to BUILD A NEW HOUSE to put them all.

5. I can't think about anything non-food related to put on my Xmas wish list. In fact, my interest in fashion is getting lower and lower everyday (forget that gucci bag) and i'm now more focused on KITCHEN FASHION.

My mother's kitchen confessions

6. When my mother tells me how somebody made something i always say : "i prefer my way to do it", even if i never REALLY made that thing. But as i think a lot about food, i think a lot about how to cook certain things and feel like i know how to make them.
The best example is puff pastry : never made it but feel very confident about it.

7. When i'm back home for the week end, i spend all my time in the kitchen. And when i'm cooking, my mother's always around tidying up all the mess i make. I always tell her "i can clean mum!", with a bored hint in my voice; but actually i'm happy she's here to clean because i'm such a lazy dishwasher but love my kitchen to be tidy. Merci Maman, je t'aime.

The preference for sweet confession

8. I loke to cook. This is a fact. But i like to bake more. I always feel the urge to bake some mufins, cookies... more than i feel the need to cook savoury dishes.
I'm happy NOT TO HAVE an oven her in my little apartment as i would bake all the time and miss the class.

The always-want-to-do-something confession

9. My school is organizing a repas de noël [xmas lunch] for all the students (300 people). And i filled in the form to be a member of the organizing time because i thought we were actually going to prepare the food and not buy it. I tried to convince the other members but they all sai "cook for 300 people, NO WAY".

The blog confession

10. Since i've started this blog and thus since i started getting serious in photography, i always think of my recipe in photography-bility before making them and it's accurate that NO ONE CAN TOUCH the food before i have it in my little box...

I now tag Zarah Maria from Food & Thoughts and Melissa from The traveler's Lunchbox.


Saturday, November 19, 2005
Snowflakes cut-out cookies

When i went to UK last week, i couldn't help but dropped by Jane Asher's cake shop in Chelsea. I was pleased to see they had coconut essence - and then bought two bottles - and found a set of lovely snowflakes cookie cutters.
I couldn't wait to go home and try them.
I wanted a recipe for cut-out cookies so that they don't spread out and ruin the beautiful snowflake look. I found this one, from Donna Hay's "Gourmandises". The cookies were called "biscuit de noël à la vanille" (ie vanilla xmas bicuits). They were heart shapped and covered with icing sugar and looked great.

Biscuits de Noël à la vanille

This makes far enough biscuits, i can tell you. Actually, i'm very disapointed with this recipe : the dough tasted so good, but the cooked biscuits were far to hard to bite and were to neutral in taste. I presume they must be made not to be eaten, but to be hold by the Christmas tree.
Anyway, i found that covering them with royal icing and reducing the oven down to 150°C made them more edible and found myself eating one of what i called , just a minute ago, an "awful biscuit".
I used 1/2 tsp coconut essence instead of the vanilla essence given below as i wanted to try using my fresh-buy.

185g soft butter
225g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
350g flour
1 egg + 1 egg yolk

1 egg white
250g icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla essence. Add the flour, and the eggs and knead until you've got a smooth dough. Cover with cling film and refrigirate for at least 30 minutes.
Roll to a 5mm thickness and cut out shapes.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until just brown.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Liste de Noel - Kitchenaid Superstar

Ma liste de Noël en Français pour mes parents chéris que j'aime

My mum has been pushing me to make this list for at least 2 weeks. And i must admit that it's quite weird i haven't made it yet. But here i am and here is what i want for Christmas.

My number one wish is an Artisan KitchenAid standmixer in White.
This is such useful in a kitchen; but i know i can wait for it as i don't have my own kitchen yet and managed to cook without it for years. Basically if i'd got a stand mixer fo Christmas, i'd be so happy.
Other small things such as a silicon 13-14cm wide loaf mould from Jamie Oliver Tefal's collection are high on my list.
Some nice cookie-cutters from Jane Asher would be great too.
Maybe a puzzle piece one or unicorns... I thought about that because i got some lovely snowflakes cookies cutters (which i'll talk about in another post).
Another great thing i found browsing the web was this flour sieve. Staying in the baking realm, let's now talk about silicon. I'd like a monobloc rubber spartula (something quite similar and somehow useful would be a "corne or racle-tout"), a great and very useful silicon baking sheet. Because i bought high quality belgian chocolate chip and can't wait to make moist and not-crunchy cookies (it's always better when the cookies don't stick to the baking sheet, isn't it?).
Some cooking rings wouldn't be too much, as long as they're 6cm high ; and one thing i wish i could have is a Rosle Magiwhisk (fouet plat a spirale), i had great fun discovering their "soulève gateau", which must be very useful.
Hep, this is not finished yet. I remembered Heidi saying she bought a pizza stone and i agree with her that it changes the whole thing about pizzas. According to Heidi (again), i should think about getting an oven thermometer. Talking pratical, a 16cm chef knife is a great investement.

Now in souvenir of a never-achieved quest, i name a glass cake dome.

[Update - i got almost everything i wanted bar the kitchen aid]

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005
How to make goat cheese ?

Merci beaucoup à Bruno, Mélanie et Valentin pour leur patience (eh oui je suis pas encore une parfaite fermière) et leur gentillesse. A bientot !!! Fanny

If you've ever read my blog, you might know i'm studying agronomic sciences in Toulouse. And as a first year student i must do a training period in a farm.
So i did. I went to a farm located near the lovely town of Tourrettes sur Loup in the Cote d'Azur. The farmer, Bruno (which is also a fabulous poet), breeds Alpine goats. I spent 2 weeks there a fortnight ago and had a great time : i milked the goats, made the cheese, tried to place ALL the goats in a meadow; but what i loved most was cuddling the babies (as i called them but basically they were 6 to 8 months old) and especially the little Arwen - who's a bit ill (she can't walk properly and is a bit slow).

So, how to make soft goat cheese?

1. Milk the goat and put the milk in a basin. Add 1ml rennet for 1l milk and yeasts and leave to stand overnight.
The next morning you'll get : curd and whey :
2. Fill the mould with the curd.
The following afternoon, turn the "cheeses" upside-down and add a pinch of salt over each cheese.
3. The next morning, unmould the cheese and salt the other side. The cheese is now ready to be eaten... Bon Appétit !

But at Bruno's you can also have lots of different cheeses : pesto cheese, tapenade cheese, tomme (hard pressed cheese), buchette, pepper cheese...
If ever you visit the Cote d'Azur , please go to Bruno's and you'll be amazed how come you'd never tasted such fine goat cheese.
Here is his website : for further information and access map.

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Friday, November 11, 2005
A perfect night - 10th of november

Last wednestday night, i took off for London for my boyfriend 21st birthday. To celebrate his birthday, we went to Fifteen the famous Jamie Oliver's restaurant. I am a big Jamie's fan and was so excited with going there.
We waited for a table at the nice bar - from where you can see the Trattoria's kitchen. The Trattoria is located on the ground floor and provides some good Italian food : antipasti, primi, secondi and dolci.
When our table was ready, we went down stairs, where the light is lower. We seated and were given the "tasting menus" :
- dressed olives!
Those are big, meaty and very tasty olives served with a delicious foccacia and very strong olive oil. - To get you started
Pickled red mullet with capers
Bresaola with rocket and horseradish crème fraiche
These two "starters" were served in big china spoons. I deeply loved the red mullet. I definitely have to try this combo at home : red mullet, capers and coriander. Simply delicious.
The bresaola was as delicious but more classic, though the presentation gave a little twist on it.
- Jamie's fantastic salad
Of prosciutto di San Danielle with beautiful buffalo mozzarella, mint, gerden leaves, aged 12 year old Belazu basalmic and Selvapiana olive oil
This dish was astonishing. I love the buffalo mozzarella with the mint leaves - a great and unsual combination. The prosiutto was delicious. What's more to say : IT WAS FANTASTIC...
- Ravioli
Of pumpkin, chestnuts, wild mushrooms and parmesan in a sage butter
(you could also choose the lightest potato gnocchi with slow cooked venison ragù orange-romary gremolata and pecorino)
I loved (again) those ravioli, the pumpkin was still holding it's shap -giving the ravioli a nice bite-, the chestnut brougt creaminess and the mushrooms had a ravishing scent.
- Char-grilled wild line caught west Mersea sea bass
With mashed Jerusalem artichokes, purple sprouting brocoli, Italian parsley ans salsa rossa piccante
(you could also have a pan-fried loin of Welsh lamb from Elwy Valley with Scorzonera "alla romana" and warm ratte potatoes, red onion and spinach salad finished with a pistachio-anchovy dressing)
I think the sea bass was delicious with the spicy tomato-ish sauce and the Jerusalem artichokes. The brocoli were nice to - very crunchy (which is unusual but satisfaying to a French mouth).
- Formaggio
St James (Somerset, England)
Washed rind sheep's milk - unpasteurised cheese with a rich creamy, curdy texture
The cheese (which was fabulous) was served with a kind of grilled tortilla from Tuscany, the best dattes i ever had and a great pickle made with i don't know what + sultanas.
- Dolci
Tiramisu with clementines, crushed hazelnut and biscotti
I was surprised how tiramisu is good along with clementines. Though it's sad the clementines' skin was a bit to thick. But the whole thing was just as good as all the menu.

To accompany this tasting menu, we had a great red wine from Italy (2001). I can't remember the name, but it was very good.

At least, we were almost the last to leave the restaurant and my father-in-law-to-be Peter and i were having a look at Jamie's last book "Jamie's Italy". Then when i went back from the bathroom, i found him chatting with the waitress and see if it was possible to get a copy of "Jamie's Italy" signed "for Fanny". Now i know what i'm gonna get for Xmas!!!!

Then we went back to our hotel by cab and i had the most exciting city tour : we passed by the Thames where we sam the OXO building, the London Eye, Big Ben, the House of Parliament and the we headed towards Buckingam Palace. It was so beautiful.

Thank you so much Peter and Sheena for that amazing night. And HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAVID !!!