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Friday, February 24, 2006
Quiche Lorraine - my way

I love having people round the house. But sometimes i don't have anything to make some fancy nibble food and this quiche lorraine is just perfect.
It is a doodle to make and everyone loves it.

A quiche is a tart made of eggs and cream in a pastry crust. And quiche lorraine might be the most famous qhiche in the world.
It comes from the North East of France where the wind and the snow makes the people eat comforting dishes.

One of my first souvenir about quiche is me helping my mother to beat the eggs. So you can see here there is no reasons why a grown up couldn't whip up the best quiche in the world.
And really, it's up to you to decide how you want your quiche to turn out.

I like mine quite simple: the filling is just made by beating the eggs and cream together, then by adding lots of cheese and diced ham.
But you could add some tomatoes or other veggies. Indeed i love a quiche made of goat cheese and asparagus. But here we're not in the quiche lorraine's realm anymore.

Quiche Lorraine
serves 8 as a starter, or as part as a buffet

I am sorry i'm not very precise with the quantities but i always make my quiche trusting my instinct. You may find you have too much pastry, or filling; but again, i'm sorry i forgot to note down the quantities i use.
Anyway, i love to make these in small tart tins as i think they look so cute that way.
Although this quiche is delicious, i really encourage you to get off the line and experiment with other ingredients such as salmon, aneth and potato, or courgette, gruyere and bacon... Actually the combiantions are enless. Have fun! Listen to your heart and taste.

For the pastry
200g flour
100g butter
ice cold water to bind

For the filling
5 eggs
200ml double cream
4 tbsp best creme fraiche
salt & pepper
200g diced ham (or lardons [diced bacon])
250g freshly grated emmental

Sift the flour together with a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Rub in the butter until you have a soft breadcrumb texture. Add enough cold water to make the crumb mixture come together to form a firm dough, and then rest it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Roll out the pastry on a light floured surface and line 8 well buttered small tart tins (about 10cm diameter). Chill again.

Preheat the oven to 180 C.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs, cream and creme fraiche and season.
Mix in the cheese and ham and pour over the pastry bases.

Bake for 30 minutes or until golden.

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Friday, February 10, 2006
Seven's heaven - Meme

Another recipe i must ask - Maud's never-fail chocolate cakies (between a cake and a cookie)

I was tagged by Bea from La tartine gourmande for this 7 meme. All I have to do is make lists of 7 things. If it does not seems very clear to you, just look below...
Actually I decided to change it slightly - the main topic here will be food, cooking and baking! So let's call this the 7 food meme.

7 things to do/buy/cook/bake/eat before I die
- buy PH10 by Pierre Herme
- attend pastry and cooking courses at Le Cordon Bleu
- open a 'salon de the' [tea room] in London
- take classes in food photography
- go to NYC's foodies places like Dean and Deluca, Sur la table, Magnolia Bakery… preferably at Christmas time
- learn to make sushi
- have all the Rosle kitchen tools

7 things I cannot do/eat/make
- eat lamb - just the smell of it makes me sick
- unmould panna cottas
- 'pate brisee' [plain pastry] without farina tipo 00
- not thinking about food everyday
- not buying a cookbook every fortnight
- wait for the cake to be completely cold before icing it
- restrain myself from buying less than 5 packs of instant-action yeast when going to Waitrose

7 things that attract me to blogging
- improve my english
- improve my photography
- improve my culinary skills - like how to unmould pretty mousses from cooking rings
- discover the cookbooks I already own
- share a passion with foodies around the world
- discover new ways of cooking things
- great inspiration

7 things I say most often when I'm in a kitchen
- 'maman il est ou le beurre/le lait...' [mum, where is the butter/the milk...]
- 'tu peux me donner la recette' [can you give the recipe?]
- 'MoWmAwE' (full mouth)
- 'hum, c'est quoi?' [yum, what's that?]
- 'beurk, c'est quoi!' [ugh, what's that!]
- do you think it looks good? "t'es u" [are you sure?]
- 'comment on dit "parsley" en francais, mais oui tu sais le petit herbe verte...' [what's the french word for 'parsley', you know the little green herb...]

7 cookbooks I love
- How to be a domestic goddess from Nigella Lawson
- bills Sydney food from Bill Granger
- Mes desserts au chocolat from Pierre Herme
- Feast from Nigella Lawson
- The naked chef from Jamie Oliver
- Mes 100 recettes de gateaux from Christophe Felder
- Hope I will get it soon - PH 10 from Pierre Herme

7 food DVDs I watch over and over again
- Jamie's kitchen
- Nigella bites
- all the tapes I recorded from UKTV FOOD

PS - You may have noticed the new icon in the sidebar.
FOOD BEAM you are what you eat is my new food blog exploring natural foods, organic ingredients and whole grains.
Hope you'll enjoy it and have a good read.
(Read more...)



Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Soothing London - the last days - Cupcakes and roast chicken

Back from London, I can't remember much of the last few days apart from the fact that they might have been the most relaxing and enjoyable days in my life.
D. and I just stayed in Kingston and went to London once again. It was so cosy.
I baked my (not really) first ever cupcakes from the book I had recently purchased and they were a hit.
And we really enjoyed the German chocolate cupcakes along with a cup a hot chocolate (for me) or strong espresso (for D.).

Easy-mix yellow cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
Makes 12 cupcakes

This recipe you can achieve the perfect-simple cupcake in a minute. All you have to do is mix the liquid ingredients into the dry ones.
So easy but oh so good!
The cream cheese frosting has the right consistency to be piped and is delicious (you must lick the spoon…).

For the cupcakes
1 ¼ cups plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup corn oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup sour cream

For the frosting
½ cup (100g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 ounces (170g) cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups icing sugar

To make the cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 350°F-180°C.
Line a 12-bun muffin tin with muffin cases.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the egg and yolk and sugar until thickened and lightened to a cream colour (fanny : I did that by hand and it took only 5 minutes, maybe even less).
Mix in the oil and vanilla until blended. Mix in the sour cream until no white streaks remain. Mix in the flour mixture until it is incorporated and the batter is smooth.
Fill the tins with the batter and bake for 23 minutes.
Allow the cupcakes to cool on their tin for 10 minutes, then unmould and place the cupcakes on a wire rack until completely cooled.

To make the frosting
In a large bowl, beat the butter, cream cheese and vanilla extract until smooth and thoroughly blended. Add the icing sugar, mixing until smooth.
The frosting is ready to use.

German chocolate cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes

Ever since I saw German chocolate cupcakes on the cupcake bake shop, I have been desperate to make some myself.
So when I spotted this recipe I could only make it.
The cupcakes are moist and delicious.
Though, I didn't make the frosting that was given in the recipe but simply made a chocolate cream cheese frosting by replacing some of the icing sugar by cocoa powder.

easy-mix yellow cupcake batter (above)
¼ cup heavy cream
2/3 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
3 ounces (85g) semisweet chocolate
1/6 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F-180°C.
Line a 12-bun muffin tin with muffin cases.
In a medium sauce pan heat the cream and butter over low heat until the butter has melted.
Remove the pan from the heat; add the chopped chocolate and let sit for 30 seconds to soften.
Add the vanilla and whisk the sauce until it is smooth and all the chocolate has melted.
Pour this sauce over the easy-mix yellow cupcake batter and mix until no light streaks remain.
Fill each paper liner with the batter and bake for 23 minutes.
Allow the cupcakes to cool on their tin for 10 minutes, then unmould and place the cupcakes on a wire rack until completely cooled.

I also remember making a roast chicken with all the trimmings for supper. It was so delicious. Actually I have a great and unique way to cook the chicken that makes it tender and tasty.
With it we had the best roast potatoes ever; which I make using new potatoes. I know it's not usual, but I love the way the potatoes get so crispy outside and so soft-mashed inside. A pure delight! And I must talk about the Yorkshire puddings, my favourite dish ever. I love them big and golden; served just out from the oven with a good splash of gravy.
This is the end of my (short) trip to the UK. I hope I will be able to go back there soon.

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Thursday, February 02, 2006
Soothing London - DAY FOUR - Sushi and doughnuts

Today we're going to London, one of the busiest cities of the world. We have to be prepared – have a good full breakfast.
So we had breakfast on a bun, a great thing D. and I used to have in the St Lawrence market in Toronto and a banana smoothie.

OK we're ready. Our mission if we accept it is to reach Jane Asher's sugarcraft shop.

We arrived in London Waterloo just 30 minutes after we left Kingston.
Then we took the Northern and Piccadilly lines to reach Knightsbridge.
By the time we were in Harvey Nix and Harrods it was already 3PM. Time for lunch.
For me London lunch means Sushi.

I had my first sushi in London (YO! At the fifth floor) but now we discovered a new place where the sushi are even better. I always have the salmon sushi with chili ('salmon nigiri') and D., the ebi prawn nigiri with herb pesto. I also love the duck crystal rolls served with a hoisin sauce. But my greatest addiction is Edamame beans. I love the hot spicy ones.

118 Draycott Avenue, Chelsea
London SW3 3AE
Mon to Sat: Noon to 11pm
Sunday: Noon to 10pm

Price (for 2 – light lunch) – 20/30£

Then we went to Jane Asher's, the prettiest shop in the world. You can find hundreds of things to make and decorate cakes.
Here is a list of my absolute favourites:
- paste colourings (I own more than 15 of them); I love the gooseberry which gives the most beautiful pistachio colour and the two I recently purchased are Wine and Eucalyptus.
- Belgian chocolate buttons
- coconut extract
- cookie cutters
- edible glitters
- chocolate moulds (I got the one with hearts)
- chocolate thermometer
- muffin cases
- sprinkles…

Jane Asher's
24 Cale street

Back from Chelsea we stopped at a petrol station to get something to drink and I found the most delicious crappy drink in the whole world – Bounty drink 'made with real coconut'.

Then we went to Harrods to get some Krispy Kreme – as the saying goes if you going to get wet you may as well go swimming. Today was really the day of junk style food.
We headed towards the Sheraton Park Tower where we enjoyed our doughnuts and ordered hot chocolate.
We had an amazing view from our room.

We finished our day at San Lorenzo, a great Italian restaurant where we saw the famous photographer David Bailey.
P. had a pollo alla mattone (grilled chicken), D. had a scallopina alla Milanese and I had a scallopina alla romana. It was very good. The meat was so tender.
For pudding we shared the most delicious sorbet I ever had. It was a berry sorbet but tasted like a raspberry and lime-lemon sorbet. It was very smooth and so fresh.

San Lorenzo
22 Beauchamp place

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Soothing London - Day THREE - Brownies and cheesecake bar

Now that I've got my book about cupcakes and all the professional tools to ice them (except for the 1M nozzle, but I am going to London tomorrow; which obviously means I am going to Jane Asher's sugarcraft shop) I have to buy a muffin tin. I already own one, but here in Kingston there is none. So I headed towards John Lewis which has a great cook's tool shop.
I love the John Lewis products – they're cheap and with a professional quality.
So I bought a small 6-bun tin and couldn't resist to get some nice brown muffin cases.

Then I went to a great health shop called food for thoughts, where you can find a great range of organic grains, cereals and products.
I was so happy when I saw that little pot of tahini (sesame paste), because it seems it's not available in France and I've been craving to make some hummus lately.
I also love their organic jumbo oat and barley with which I make the most delicious muesli.

Food for thoughts
38 market place

In front of that little shop there is a great Borders. I love Borders as its cookbooks collection is updated regularly and also because you can sit in a comfortable sofa with a Starbucks while reading your favourite cookbook.
This time I had a tall white chocolate mocha (which is so good associated with a banana and caramel muffin) and read Chocolate chocolate by Lisa Yockelson. The cover certainly looks good but the content is a little disappointing – in my taste.
I think it was a little TOO MUCH. I mean I love chocolate, as a lot of people do, but I have the feeling that the writer forced herself to like it. There are way too many chocolate chips – it seems she didn't know what to put in her cake so 'why not chocolate chips, as I am a chocolate lover and can never have enough of it!'. This is my very own personal feeling and I clearly understand that the book is called Chocolate chocolate so that's normal to find so many chocolate chips in its recipes.
But I also think there are too many variations of one recipe which makes the reading a bit confusing.
However I think the recipes are sound great and creative and I loved the first part of the book in which the writer makes a complete list of the best chocolates to use and how to reveal their flavours.
So I'd encourage you to buy this book if you're a chocolate supermegafan.
Anyway, i think the book is worth it only for its beautiful the pictures were and I am considering buying the book and using it when in absolute chocolate crave.
And indeed D. and I had chocolate cravings later that day. So inspired by the pot of Milkyway spread I spotted at Sainsbury's, I made a brownies and cheesecake bar.

Brownies and cheesecake bar
Serves 10 as part of a tea

Milkyway is a spread combining two different flavours – hazelnut chocolate and milk.
My brownies and cheesecake bar does exactly the same. The base is a rich brownies and the topping is a slightly sour cheesecake.
I love the balance between these two layers.
And I love how the bar melts in your mouth.
This is better eaten the day after it is made.
For the (one-pan) brownies
175g best dark chocolate
175g butter
150g caster sugar
3 eggs
110g flour

For the cheesecake
200g cream cheese
1 egg
50g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp flour

Preheat the oven to 180°C. And line a 33cm x 23cm x 5.5cm tin.
Melt the butter and chocolate over low heat. Turn off the heat and mix in the sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time and finally sieve in the flour and mix well.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin and set aside while making the cheesecake mixture.
In a large bowl mix all the ingredients together until you've got a smooth mixture.
Spoon this over the brownies base and with a rounded knife swirl the batter so that the brownies form lines across the cheesecake layer.
Bake for 45 minutes and turn the heat off leaving the tin in the oven until completely cooled.
Keep in a cool and dry place overnight.

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