Monday, December 19, 2005

Apple Tart in Los Angeles

Yet another classic: la tarte aux pommes!

We're just back from Los Angeles where we've spent 3 days with our friends Mike and Failop, as a warm and cosy "pre-vacation" (we're leaving tonight for France where we surely will experience another climate!). On Friday night we all cooked dinner together. Mike prepared a sweet and velvety butternut squash soup (with pears and cream). Failop cooked a juicy pork tenderloin with herbs and potatoes, served with roasted aspargus. Pierre and I baked an apple tart. There are so many French bakeries around Mike and Failop's apartment in Westwood that we had been salivating all day thinking of a nice pastry for our sweet tooth. It was simple enough to satisfy our craving. Here is how the recipe goes:

  • 1 pâte brisée pie crust (see my recipe)
  • 3 to 5 juicy apples depending on their size (we used 5 small organic Cameo apples this time)
  • For the custard:
    • 1 whole egg
    • about 3 tablespoons sugar
    • about 1 cup milk
  • Some sugar (1 or 2 tablespoons) to sprinkle on the top
  1. Roll out the pie crust on a tart dish (buttered or lined with parchment paper).
  2. Peel the apples and remove the core. Slice them in thin wedges. Place them on the pie crust in a spiral on in concentrical circles, starting from the edge of the crust and going inward, the thicker side of the wedges facing up.
  3. Prepare the custard: beat the whole egg with the sugar. Add the milk and beat well.
  4. Pour this mix on the apples. Sprinkle with sugar.
  5. Bake 30 to 45 minutes at 360F.

There was some pie crust left... We had foreseen this and bought some raclette cheese, a Swiss cheese perfect for melting. We cut the pie crust left overs in small rectangles (maybe 1"x3"), placed a smaller rectangle of cheese on top and rolled them together. After 10-15 minutes in the oven at 360F and 2 minutes under the broiler, we had delicious crispy snacks!

Now it's time to get on the plane and enjoy 2 1/2 weeks of chocolaty delicacies, home made marvels, restaurant creations, regional specialties.... I wish you all Happy Holidays and see you next year!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Black Lentil Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Onions

Holiday season often rimes with potluck parties. We were invited to a very cool one yesterday night to celebrate winter and its many delights with our friends before everyone goes on vacation. Each of us was in charge of bringing a specialty from ones native region. The buffet was therefore composed of mexican guacamole, tunisian roasted vegetables, Provence wine and many more succulent dishes. Pierre and I opted for a lentil salad, in honor of our native city of Lyon, proud capital of gastronomy, although our salad ended up not being truely à la lyonnaise.
The proportions below are for a big, big potluck party salad that can serve 15+ people as an appetizer. It can be prepared one day in advance.

Lentil Salad:
  1. Rinse 1 pound black lentils in warm water.
  2. Coarsely chop 1 yellow onion.
  3. Peel 2 or 3 garlic cloves, cut in half and remove the stem.
  4. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large pan.
  5. Add the onion, garlic, 1 bay leaf and 1 branch fresh thyme. Cook for 2 minutes on medium heat to soften without coloring.
  6. Add the lentils. Stir a little then add 1 bottle white wine (a light and dry one. Pino Griggio is perfect). There must be enough liquid to cover the lentils. Add water if necessary.
  7. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and let simmer for about 45 minutes or until the lentils are soft and they have absorbed most of the liquid.
  8. In the meantime prepare a vinaigrette dressing with Dijon mustard (2 tbs), Jerez vinegar (spanish sherry vinegar, 2 tbs), olive oil (6 tbs), salt and pepper.
  9. Pour the vinaigrette on the lentils while warm to allow them to absorb the dressing's flavors.
  10. Add the roasted tomatoes and roasted onions (see recipes below) cut in large wedges (remove the rosemary, thyme and garlic from the tomatoes).
  11. Serve cool but not cold.

Roasted Tomatoes:
  1. Rinse 4 ripe tomatoes. Cut in half and remove the seeds with a teaspoon.
  2. Sprinkle with salt and let drain, face down on a paper towel, for about 10 minutes.
  3. Place the tomatoes face up on an oven-safe dish. Sprinkle with salt and thinly chopped garlic (2 cloves).
  4. Add fresh rosemary and thyme and a few drops olive oil.
  5. Bake at 330F for 45 minutes.
Roasted Onions:
  1. Rinse 2 yellow onions, whole with their skin.
  2. Place them on a metal dish (a cookie sheet for example).
  3. Bake them for 1 hour or until soft at 350F.
  4. Peel them once they have cooled down and cut into 6 or 8 wedges.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Baked Cod with Tomatoes and Preserved Limes

A few months ago I was left with several limes after a party where we didn't drink quite as many cocktails as we anticipated. Not knowing what to do with so many limes (they're a rare fruit in my kitchen) I browsed as usual on Marmiton.org (they also have an English version) and found an amazing Carribean chicken recipe using preserved limes (citrons verts confits à l'huile d'olive). The first step was then to make the preserve... This is how I made my first jar of olive oil preserved limes.

The chicken was awesome. Several months past before I thought about my limes again, quietly waiting for my attention in the fridge's door. I wanted to assort the limes with other ingredients. I had in mind that preserved limes would be the perfect condiment for fish. So here's what I "concocted".

Baked Cod with Tomatoes and Preserved Limes:
Serves 2.
  • 1 big North Atlantic Cod filet
  • 1 big ripe tomato
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • a dozen slices of preserved limes (see the recipe at the end of this post)
  1. Rinse and slice the tomato. Chop the onion. Drain the lime slices.
  2. In an oven-safe dish, spread 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place half the tomato slices at the bottom of the dish, one next to the other. Place half the slices of preserved lime on the tomato slices. Sprinkle with half the minced onion. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cut the cod filet in two pieces and place them in the dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover with the other half of tomato slices. Place lime slices on the tomatoes. Finish with a dash of olive oil, salt and pepper.
  4. Bake about 30 minutes at 365F.
We served the fish with rice Pilaf. The tomato juice and olive oil combined perfectly with the bitterness of the limes. Very nice!

Preserved Limes:
  • 1 lb. organic limes
  • salt (about 2 tablespoons)
  • olive oil (2-3 cups or mode depending on the jar's size)
  • 2 or 3 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  1. Rinse the limes (whole, with their skin) and dry them with a paper towel.
  2. Slice the limes (about 1/2 cm or 1/4" thick). Place them in a colander. Sprinkle with salt and let them drain for 12 hours.
  3. Remove the excess salt by gently damping the lime slices with a paper towel.
  4. Place the slices in an air tight jar. Add the cloves and bay leaf. Pour olive oil until all the slices are fully sinked.
  5. Wait at least 1 week before using. This preserve can be kept up to one year in the fridge, if the limes are organic.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Eggs "à la coque"

I've always been fascinated by the myriad of beautiful ways eggs are cooked in the US and Anglo-Saxon countries in general. The names are so appealing: sunny side up, over easy, eggs Benedict... Omelets come with a long and imaginative list of ingredients that varies from one region to the other. Eating eggs in the morning makes breakfast a real feast! I love it.

There's nothing comparable in France... Eggs are eaten much less often, traditionally for lunch or dinner, where they replace meat, as a lighter and cheaper option. We use eggs extensively in pastry, custards, sauces and the like but rarely as the center piece of a meal. And our "omelettes" usually contain... well, eggs, salt and pepper... with sometimes (but not necessarily!) a single other ingredient like mushrooms, fresh herbs or tomatoes. At least that's the way it is in my family.

However, there is one recipe that you guys might not know yet... The funny and delicious "œufs à la coque". The eggs are soft boiled, for only 3 minutes. This is just enough time to harden the white and get the yolk warm but liquid. The eggs are placed immediately in a cute little dish, "le coquetier", just big enough to hold the eggs upright.

Children love eggs à la coque and I was no exception. My Dad was always assigned to cut off the top of the eggs, knocking on the shell with a dull knife. He would then remove "le chapeau" and I would start with this piece, scooping off the egg white with a little spoon. I would then dip "les mouillettes" in the yolk (these are buttered toasts cut into long "fingers"), and scoop the egg white at the bottom. My favorite joke was to flip the empty eggshell up side down and ask: "Papa, can you cut off the top of my egg for me?" Of course he would play along, even after a thousand times, and look genuinely surprised to find out the shell was empty!

As an adult the first part (eating the egg!) is still truly enjoyable. You should try, even for breakfast!

To sum up, you need:

  • 1 egg per person
  • 1 slice white or whole wheat bread, toasted
  • butter
  1. Gently sink the eggs in boiling water.
  2. Boil for 3 minutes (4 if they are very cold).
  3. Place in egg cups or on a bed of lettuce leaves (the idea is to hold the eggs upright).
  4. In the meantime, toast the bread, spread butter and cut into "fingers", the size of french fries.
  5. Cut off the top of the egg, "le chapeau" ("the hat").
  6. Eat the egg white with a tea spoon.
  7. Dip the toasted bread fingers in the yolk.

If the eggs are part of a lunch or dinner, they can be served with a green leaves salad.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A day in the kitchen

Is there anything more rewarding than sharing the result of ones culinary efforts with friends or family? I had this wonderful and pleasurable experience last week-end: I invited my dear friends (we were seven adults and three babies) and made ambitious plans for the menu. Pierre and I spent the whole Saturday in the kitchen, and we harvested the fruits on our hard work on Sunday enjoying the good food and wine and the excellent company. Here is what we prepared:

Pastis, fruit juices and tiny snacks
*
Red bell pepper coulis, cumin feta cheese and roasted pistachios by the glass
Mixed greens salad with hazelnut vinaigrette
*
Veal paupiettes cooked in white wine
Fresh pasta with a Chanterelle-mushroom tomato sauce
*
Cheese plate
Home made rosemary bread rolls
*
Pear and green apple sorbet
Almond chocolate croquants

  • Apéritif is big in France. It usually takes place in the living room (or in the backyard on a hot day), where everyone (including the host!) has a chance to sit down and relax over an informal chat. People are sometimes invited for the apéritif only and the snacks and beverages that are served can get very fancy and numerous. But last Sunday our apéritif was very simple and light: I didn't want my guests to be full before starting lunch! We had Pastis, a refreshing anis alcohol, served with water -Pastis makes you believe you're sitting at a café on a tree-lined village square in South of France. We also had fruit juices and a few olives, mixed nuts and tapenade spread on tiny toasts.

  • The appetizer was served in glasses, as it seems to be the trend in France right now (this is just a guess based on my readings of Marmiton's forum). I tried a recipe found on my favorite website. I prepared the three main ingredients on Saturday as they could be stored (separately) in the fridge overnight. First I needed to broil the red bell peppers (4 pounds of them, about 5 minutes on each side, grill set on high) until the skin became black and detached itself from the veggie's flesh. I let the peppers in the oven 10-15 more minutes (oven and grill turned off) to let them cook a little then peeled and seeded them. I blended the peppers' flesh and added about one tablespoon of olive oil (then placed this coulis in a plastic box, in the fridge). I cut about 1/2 pound feta cheese in small cubes, added 2 tablespoons of crushed cumin seeds, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and mixed everything with a fork (another plastic box in the fridge). Lastly I chopped a handfulsulls of dry-roasted, unsalted, shelled pistachios. Just before serving on Sunday, I poured about 3 tablespoons of bell pepper coulis in each glass (I chose sturdy whisky glasses), added 1 1/2 tablespoon of feta cheese on top and sprinkled with pistachios. The glasses were served along with a mixed baby greens salad with a delicious hazelnut oil vinaigrette dressing prepared by Pierre.

  • Paupiettes are little pouches of meat, usually a veal round stuffed with ground meat. I based my veal paupiettes on several recipes and comments I'd found in my cook books and on the internet. I bought 8 slices of veal round for scaloppini. The stuffing was made with 1 pound of ground veal, 3 or 4 fresh Chanterelle mushrooms (chopped), 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs (finely chopped chives and ), 1 whole slightly beaten egg and about 1/2 slice of sandwich bread (without the crust, cut in small cubes). Plus salt and pepper. Once everything was mixed together I placed the veal round on a cutting board, placed a slice of on each slice of veal and placed 1/8th of the stuffing (about 1 tablespoon) in the center. Then I rolled them and tied them up like a gift box. I sautéed the paupiettes a minute or two in a lot of butter, until the meat got a nice golden color, then poured about 1 cup of white wine in the pot (Pino Griggio is great for cooking) and let simmer for one hour on medium heat, with a lid.

  • The paupiettes were served with home-made pasta. Pierre made the dough and I helped him roll it out and cut it into fetuccine with his pasta maker. The sauce came from one of Jamie Oliver's books. First I cooked the tomatoes: I peeled 6 big ripe tomatoes after having boiled them for about 20 seconds and made sure to let them intact (according to the naked chef, the seeds are what make the sauce bitter, so it's better to cook the tomatoes whole). I heated a pan containing a few tablespoons of olive oil and added a chopped garlic clove, a dry chili pepper and a tablespoon of dry oregano. After a few minutes I added the whole tomatoes, covered the pan and let simmer for about 1 hour. While turning off the heat I added 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar and stirred. Then I sprinkled fresh basil and marjoram (1 tablespoon, coarsely chopped) and let the sauce cool down. I put it in a box in the fridge... The next morning just after my guests arrived, I prepared the mushrooms. I had about 1/2 pound fresh Chanterelle mushrooms and 1 bag of dried Cepes. I poured 300 ml of boiling water on the dry mushroom (in a bowl, obviously) and let them there for 15 minutes. In the meantime I cut the Chanterelles into large slices. I heated a pan with olive oil and added 1 garlic clove and a few branches of thyme. After 1 or 2 minutes I added all the mushrooms (drained, but I kept the cepes water) and let them cook for 5 minutes. Then I poured about 2/3 of the cepes water, trying to leave the impurities at the bottom of the bowl. After 5-10 minutes I poured the tomato sauce on the mushrooms, mainly to reheat it. Just before serving I added 1 tablespoon mascarpone cheese. Hmmm... Yummy!

  • The cheese plate is almost inevitable Frenchrench table. It always comes after the main course and before the dessert. On our cheese plate was Brie, Saint-Félicien, Mimolette and Tomme de Savoie. We tried to balance the plate, serving creamy cheese as well as dry ones, all with very different flavors. We served home-made ("Pierre-made") rosemary bread rolls. I'll ask Pierre to reveal his breadmaker secrets in a future post!

  • Last but not least... Le dessert. Pierre prepared a delicious sorbet on Saturday. He poached 4 Bosc pears and 4 green apples in boiling water (peeled, cored and cut in pieces) with a lemon rind and a stick of cinnamon for about 8 minutes. He then blended the fruits (drained, he kept the water) with the juice of the lemon until smooth. He prepared a syrup with 4 tablespoon brown sugar and 2 1/2 fl. oz. of the fruits' water (brought to a boil for 1 minute) then added the fruit purée to it and mixed well. He froze the sorbet on a cookie sheet and blended it 3 times every 2 hours before placing it in its final container.

  • In the meantime I prepared Provence croquants, which are small hard almond cookies. My recipe said to mix together 400 grams of all-purpose flour, 250 grams of whole roasted almonds (with the skin), 125 grams of powdered sugar and a pinch of salt, then to incorporate 4 whole eggs to the dough. I rolled the dough into logs about 1 inch in diameter and baked them 10 minutes at 350F. When I sliced them I realized they weren't cooked enough... So I turned the croquants into biscotti! I baked the slices at 350F for 10-15 more minutes. Then I tasted one... And I realized they weren't sweet enough to my taste! So I melted dark chocolate and dipped each biscotti in it. A long and epic adventure.
With all these dishes prepared in advance for the most part we had plenty of time on Sunday for our friends. And of course we cooked so many things that the fridge and freezer have been full ever since: we won't have to cook anything for a while!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Roasted Bell Pepper Salad

This Mediterranean salad is really simple and very refreshing. It could be served as an appetizer with a good slice of bread or as a side dish with grilled meat. It works great on the barbecue but you can also roast the bell peppers in the oven.

  • 4 red, orange and/or yellow bell peppers
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • if you want: 1 or 2 garlic cloves
  1. Rinse the bell peppers and place them on a cookie sheet in the oven. Turn on the grill to its highest temperature.
  2. Rinse the shallots and wrap each of them in aluminum foil without peeling them. Place them in the oven with the peppers.
  3. Do the same with the whole, non-peeled garlic cloves.
  4. Allow the bell peppers to roast on each side until the skin becomes dark brown and bubbly (about 5 minutes on each side). Flip the shallots and garlic cloves once in a while as well.
  5. Once the bell peppers are roasted remove all the veggies from the oven. Place the bell peppers in a plastic box and close it. The steam coming out of the peppers will help detach the skin from the flesh. Pour cold water on the (closed) box to cool it down.
  6. Peel the bell peppers and remove their seeds. Cut them in long strips and place them in a salad bowl.
  7. Unwrap the shallots and garlic cloves, peel them and slice them. Add them to the salad.
  8. Sprinkle salt, pepper and ground coriander seeds on the salad.
  9. Pour two tablespoons of olive oil and toss.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Cherry Tomato and Pesto Quiche

I'm making an exception today: the following recipe is not a classical French dish but something I "invented" yesterday night while trying to use up the cherry tomatoes and basil growing in my backyard. Since it turned out really good I wanted to share this new recipe with you guys (there are more quiche ideas here). So here it goes:


  • home-made pâte brisée quiche crust
  • about 4 tablespoons of home-made pesto sauce
  • 1/2 pound cherry tomatoes (it should work with 3 sliced "regular size" tomatoes)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of crème fraîche (or sour cream)
  • salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg
  • gruyère cheese
  1. Roll out the dough and place it in a buttered pie pan (or use baking paper instead of the butter, as I did). Make a few holes in the crust with a fork.
  2. Spread the pesto evenly on the pie shell.
  3. Place the tomatoes on top of the pesto.
  4. In a bowl, beat the eggs and crème fraîche. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg. Pour this mix on the tomatoes.
  5. Sprinkle shredded gruyère cheese on the top.
  6. Bake for about 30 minutes at 400F, or until the quiche has a nice golden color.

You can eat it warm or cold, with a green leaves salad or on its own.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Easy Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise is so easy to make that you'll wonder why you were buying industrial one so far...

The important thing is to have all the ingredients at room temperature. Take them out of the fridge about 15 minutes in advance.
  • 1 very fresh egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (try Maille or Amora brands)
  • salt and pepper
  • canola or sunflower oil
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice.
  1. Place the egg yolk in a bowl. By the way the bowl should be at room temperature too.
  2. Add the mustard, salt and pepper. Stir until obtaining a smooth paste.
  3. Let the oil flow in a thin stream over the mustard paste, stirring constantly with a metal spoon or a whisk. Pour the oil slowly enough so that the emulsion remains homogeneous at all time. Theoretically one can make up to 1 liter of mayonnaise with 1 egg... So add as much (or as little) oil as you need, as long as the constistency of the sauce doesn't change (it shouldn't become liquid).
  4. Finish with the vinegar or lemon juice. Stir some more to incorporate.
  5. Consume right away or keep in the fridge with a plastic film covering the bowl, no more than a day or two.
Variant: in some recipes the vinegar is added at the same time as the mustard, salt and pepper. That works too. Adding the vinegar at the end is Pierre's mom's secret (not anymore!) and I never missed a mayonnaise since I started doing it this way.

Another alternative: if you are using an electrical blender you can use the whole egg (white and yolk). The mayonnaise will be lighter in color and texture.

Mousseline sauce: this impressive sauce (which is perfect with steamed aspargus for instance) is nothing more than a fancy mayonnaise. The egg white is whipped separately (into a firm white foam) and incorporated at the end.

Photos added on Sept. 09, 2006

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Baby shrimp stuffed avocado

We are just back from Washington D.C. where we've spent 3 beautiful days walking on the Mall, visiting museums (I loved the NMAI), federal buildings and memorials under the warm sun of late summer. We've also spent an afternoon in gorgeous Georgetown and stopped at Café La Ruche for an early dinner before going back to the airport. I had a delicious stuffed avocado. Avocado became really popular in France in the 1970's . You would find this recipe in any french cook book of that time. I only takes a few minutes to prepare and can be served as an appetizer, on its own, or as a main dish (like at La Ruche) with a mixed greens salad. The avocado can be served in it's "shell" (I mean with the skin on) and eaten with a spoon. All you need is:
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 4 tablespoons peeled, cooked baby shrimps
  • 2 tablespoons home-made mayonnaise (see my next post).
  1. Rinse the avocado and dry it with a paper towel. Cut it in half and remove the seed but don't peel it (or do so... It's up to you).
  2. Mix the baby shrimps and the mayonnaise in a bowl.
  3. Place each avodaco half on a plate and pour half of the shrimps on each one. You can place the avodado on a lettuce leaf to prevent it from sliding on the plate.

And voilà!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

very French Rice Salad

Here is a nice and simple idea for lunch.
  • 1 cup (200 grams) long grain rice
  • 2 hard boiled eggs (10 minutes)
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 3 scallions
  • 1 can of tuna in water
  • 1 small can of sweet corn
  • 1 handful of black olives
  • 3 or 4 tablespoons of vinaigrette salad dressing
  1. Boil the rice in a lot of salted water until cooked (15-20 minutes). Drain the excess water and let the rice cool down (you can rinse it with cold water to go faster).
  2. Thinly slice the scallions.
  3. Slice the tomatoes and the eggs.
  4. With a fork, cut the tuna in small chunks after draining all the water from the can.
  5. Drain the olives and the corn.
  6. Add all the ingredients and the dressing to the rice and toss.
  7. Eat cold.
There are many variants to this refreshing salad. You could replace the tuna by cocktail shrimps, crab meat or cubed chicken breast or use no meat at all. You could add other veggies, like green and red bell peppers, cucumbers, avocado... You could add fresh herbs, like parsley or tarragon... Be creative!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Cumin Lamb Chops

Don't like lamb? Well, this might make you change your mind... The flavors of cumin and lemon blend perfectly with juicy lamb. This is simply indescribable.

Per person, you need:
  • 2 lamb chops
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon
  1. Place the cumin seeds in a mortar and crush them a little to release their flavor.
  2. Place the lamb chops in a plate and sprinkle salt and pepper on one side. Then sprinke half of the crushed cumin seeds and press gently to make then stick to the meat.
  3. Flip the chops and do the same on the other side.
  4. Heat up a pan at high temperature. Once it's very hot, pour the olive oil and place the chops in the center of the pan. Be careful, the hot and sizzling oil might splash.
  5. Cover the chops with a lid, turn down the heat to medium-high and cook for about 3-4 minutes without touching anything.
  6. Flip the chops and cook the other side for another 3-4 minutes with the lid on. The chops will be medium-rare. Place the chops on the edge and cook for another minute.
  7. Serve immediately with veggies, a salad, couscous... (these are only a few examples).
  8. Squeeze out a few drops of lemon juice over the chops and eat while they are still warm.

A nice side dish would be "ratatouille" (a South of France specialty –from Nice):
Cook bell peppers, eggplants, zucchinis, tomatoes, onions and garlic with olive oil, thyme and bay leave (+ salt and pepper). Simply place all the veggies cut in big chunks in a large pan with olive oil, add the spices and herbs and let simmer (with a lid) for about 30 minutes over medium heat.

Or you could try a greek salad:
Slice up ripe tomatoes, green bell pepper, onion and cucumber in a large bowl. Add cubed feta cheese and Kalamata olives. Pour vinegar and olive oil (1 tablespoon of vinegar for 3 tablespoons of oil). Add 1 tablespoon of dry oregano, salt and pepper. Toss delicately and place in the fridge for about 15 minutes to allow the veggies to marinate a little. Eat cold.

I'll give more details on these side dishes in future posts. Until then... enjoy the lamb chops!

Alternative: replace the cumin seeds by rosemary and don't use lemon juice.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Dream come true Chocolate Cake

I might be slightly biased but I sincerely believe that this chocolate cake is the most delicious one in the world. It's nice and crunchy on top but it's so soft and creamy in the center that it will melt in your mouth. My dad (who's a teacher) got the recipe from one of his students' mom who brought this cake to class one day (perhaps 10 years ago...) for her son's birthday party. Since then no one in my family would even consider trying another chocolate cake recipe :-)
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup (170 grams) sugar
  • 6 ounces (170 grams) butter
  • 6 ounces (170 grams) semi-sweet (dark) chocolate
  • 1/2 cup (50 grams) all-purpose unbleached flour

  1. Break the chocolate in small pieces and cut the butter in small slivers. Slowly melt them in a double boiler. You could also use a small sauce pan placed in a larger pot in which you pour water. The water should be almost boiling but not quite. Stir gently. The mixture will become shiny and smooth. This technique has the cute name of "Bain Marie".
  2. Break the eggs and separate the whites from the yolks.
  3. Mix together the egg yolks and the sugar in a large bowl. Stir well (with a wooden spoon) until the mixture becomes foamy and almost white. If you lift the mix with the spoon it should run down like a ribbon ("au ruban". French cuisine is always so poetic!).
  4. Add the melted butter and chocolate and stir well.
  5. Then incorporate the flour (sift it to avoid lumps).
  6. Beat the egg whites until you obtain a thick and firm white foam (called "snow" in French...).
  7. Incorporate them delicately to the dough, 1 tablespoon at a time, with an "under-and-over" motion.
  8. Pour the dough in a round cake pan (about 9" in diameter) lined with buttered aluminum foil or baking paper. The difficult part in this recipe is to unmold the cake...
  9. Bake at 350F until a crust forms on top, about 15-20 minutes. Turn off the oven as soon as the curst is formed but let the cake cool down in the oven without opening.
The crust might break into pieces when you unmold the cake... I haven't found a way yet to prevent this from happening. But never mind: the cake is divine!

Pictures added on April 22, 2006

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Pesto sauce

This classic italian sauce is fantastic on fresh pasta. You can also use it in a cake. Simply blend the following ingredients together until you obtain a smooth paste. Use it right away otherwise the basil will turn brown in contact with the air...


For about 150 grams (1/3 pound) of pesto, blend together:
  • 2 or 3 bunches of fresh basil leaves
  • 3 peeled garlic cloves (remove the germ)
  • 4 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon rock salt
  • 10 centiliters (almost 4 fl. oz.) olive oil
  • 2 handfulls (50 grams) pine nuts

Thursday, August 04, 2005

New recipe lists

You can now browse the recipes thanks to the indexes in the right column:

Also look for the new pictures (I'll add more)!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

"Create Your Own Salted Cake" Guide

Salted cakes are very popular in France, especially in buffet or potluck parties. They are easy to prepare and easy to eat while standing in a crowd! The base recipe is very simple and you can get as creative as you want.

Here's the list of ingredients you need for any kind of salted cake (we also call them cakes in the purest French):

  • 180 grams (1 1/4 cup) all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 10 centiliters (1/2 cup) olive oil
  • 10 centiliters (1/2 cup) milk
  • 100 grams (3.5 oz.) gruyère cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • about 250 grams (1/2 pound) "theme ingredient" (See below).
  • You also need a bread pan.

The "theme ingredient" is what will make your bread unique. It is added to the dough in small cubes or chunks. Here are some ideas:

  • feta cheese and at least 3 handfulls of fresh herbs: basil, chive and parsley (top left picture)
  • pitted green and black olives (this cake is a classic -the famous cake aux olives)
  • pesto sauce and pine nuts (picture on the right)
  • pears, walnuts and blue cheese
  • smoked salmon and fresh aneth
  • sun-dried tomatoes and Serano ham
  • sautéed mushrooms, parsley and garlic
  • etc...

The olive oil can also be replaced by another type of oil that will better blend with the flavors of your theme ingredients (e.g. sunflower, walnut, hazelnut oil...).

Now here's how to proceed:

  1. Sift the flour over a large bowl. Add the baking powder.
  2. In another bowl break the whole eggs and beat them. Slowly pour the olive oil and the milk and mix well. Add the salt and pepper.
  3. Pour the egg, oil and milk mix over the flour. Stir fast until smooth.
  4. Shred the gruyère cheese and add it to the mix. Stir well. The mix should be smooth.
  5. Now add the theme ingredients and incorporate them slowly, For example: cut the feta cheese in small cubes (1/2"). Coarsely chop the fresh herbs. Then add everything to the dough.
  6. Preheat the oven at 350F.
  7. Butter a rectangular bread pan. Pour 1 tablespoon of flour in the pan and shake the pan over the kitchen sink in order to cover all sides of the pan with flour. The flour will stick to the butter. Throw the excess. This will make the cake really easy to unmold. You could also use a nonstick pan...
  8. Pour the mix in the pan and place in the preheated oven at 350F for about 50 minutes, or until you can insert a knife blade in the center of the cake and take it out dry.

Let the cake cool down before unmolding it otherwise it might break into pieces.

Serve the cake cold and sliced with a green leaves salad and vinaigrette dressing or on its own !

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Tomato tart Tatin

This tart is cooked upside down, like the famous apple tarte Tatin. It's a great recipe for warm summer days. You can even take it out on a picnic.

You can eat warm or cold with a green leaves salad (and vinaigrette dressing).

For a 10" tart (6 slices):

  • 6 ripe tomatoes
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • gruyère or emmentaler cheese
  • 1 pâte brisée pie shell (see previous post)
  • 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard (or Dijon mustard)
  • a few fresh basil leaves.
  1. Preheat the oven to 380F.
  2. Remove the green heart of the tomatoes. Cut them in halves crosswise (perpendicularily to the stem). Place them face up (bumpy side down) in a round pie pan. Don't hesitate to squeeze in the tomatoes as they will shrink while cooking. Add as many tomatoes as needed to fill up the entire pan. Sprinkle them with salt, pepper and olive oil.
  3. Place in the warm oven and allow to cook for 30 to 45 minutes, until the tomato juice flows in the pan and the tomatoes get a little mushy.
  4. In the meantime roll out the dough. Spread the whole grain mustard evenly.
  5. When the tomatoes are cooked, remove the juice from the pan and throw it away. Shred the cheese and sprinkle evenly over the tomatoes. Then flip the pie shell over the tomatoes, mustard side on the cheese. Insert the sides of the pie shell in the pan. Make a small hole (the size of a dime) in the center of the dough to let the heat and steam get out while cooking.
  6. Bake at 380F for 30 minutes.
  7. Fresh out of the oven, flip the tart on the serving dish and sprinkle with coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves.

Alternative:

This recipe is great in the regular order ("upside up") too. It's quicker to prepare because you don't need to cook the tomatoes first. Here's how to proceed with the same ingredients:

  1. Remove the green heart of the tomatoes and slice them crosswise with a sharp knife (about 1/4" slices). Place them in a plate. Sprinke salt, pepper and olive oil and let them marinate. You could add some dry herbs at this point (oregano, thyme or herbes de Provence for instance).
  2. Roll out the dough and line up the pan (use baking paper or butter). Punch a few holes with a fork so that the crust doesn't "baloon" while baking. Spread whole grain mustard on the pie shell. Shred gruyère cheese and sprinkle it over the mustard.
  3. Arrange the tomato slices in circles on the pie shell, trying to drain as much juice as possible before placing them in the pan.
  4. Bake at 380F for 30 to 45 minutes.
  5. Out of the oven, sprinkle coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves and serve warm or cold with a green leaves salad.

Happy Bastille Day!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Sage pork roast

I came accross this excellent recipe while looking for innovative ways to use up sage leaves (our sage plant is growing amazingly fast!). The sage and Dijon mustard give a delicious taste to the meat, which is as tasty fresh out of the oven than cold in a sandwich. I'm salivating writing this post!

Here is what you need for 4 people (+ leftovers for cold sandwiches):
  • 2 pound pork roast (boneless shoulder blade roast)
  • To stuff the pork roast:
    • 12 fresh sage leaves
    • salt and Cayenne pepper
  • To spread on the outside:
    • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
    • salt and Cayenne pepper
  • To pour in the roast pan:
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons water
  • To make a sauce once it's cooked:
    • 1 tablespoon honey
    • juice of 1 lemon
Now follow these easy steps:

  1. Preheat the oven at 380F.
  2. Stuff the roast: if the roast is tied, remove the string or elastic net. Place 8 sage leaves inside the roast (you might need to cut the meat "horizontally"). Add salt and pepper inside the roast, then tie it up with kitchen twine (or string).
  3. Pour the olive oil and water in an oven-safe pan.
  4. Spread Dijon mustard on all sides of the roast and place it in the pan. Sprinkle salt and Cayenne pepper all over the roast.
  5. Place the 4 remaining sage leaves in the oil around the roast.
  6. Bake for at least 45 minutes at 380F.
  7. While you are slicing the roast on a cutting board, pour the lemon juice and honey in the roast pan. Mix with the pork juice. Put the pan back in the oven while you finish slicing the meat. Pour this sauce on the meat before serving.

This pork roast is perfect with sautéed zucchinis (cubed, sautéed in olive oil on medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes).

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Excellent news!

Marmiton.org has just launched an english version of its website! Check it out: LetsCookFrench.com!

The english version is brand new and there are "only" 550 recipes at the moment but if it gets as successful as the original french version (which already has more than 28,000 entries!) it will be an amazing database on cooking (not only french cooking by the way).

But don't forget to come back to this blog ;-p My next project is to add pictures... I'll start this week-end!

Saturday, June 25, 2005

"Create Your Own Quiche" Guide

There are as many Quiche recipes as there are cooks out there... But they all follow the same guidelines. So here's a kit to create your own quiche. Unleash your imagination!

You will need 4 groups of ingredients:
  1. "Pâte Brisée" pie shell (see June 19th post).
  2. Cooked veggies or meat (see examples below).
  3. Custard mix made of 3 eggs, 2-3 table spoons of crème fraîche (or sour cream), freshly grated nutmeg, salt and pepper. Beat all these ingredients together and that's it.
  4. Shredded cheese like Gruyère, Emmentaler or Comté.
Then follow these steps:
  1. Roll out the crust and line a 10" tart pan (butter the pan or use baking paper). Use a fork to make a few holes in the shell to prevent it from "ballooning" while baking.
  2. Place the veggies or meat at the bottom of the pie shell and spread evenly.
  3. Pour the custard mix over the veggies or meat.
  4. Sprinkle with shredded cheese.
  5. Bake 30 to 45 minutes in a preheated oven at 375°F (190°C).
Here are a few examples of veggies or meat:
  • 3 yellow onions, finely sliced, sautéed in butter for about 20-30 minutes (until transparent and golden). This is the famous "tarte à l'oignon".
  • or, 5 to 6 small zucchinis, sliced or cubed (with or without the skin), sautéed in olive oil with a fresh garlic clove.
  • or, a bunch of fresh spinach, sautéed in butter only 2-3 minutes (replace the crème fraîche by ricotta cheese in the custard mix).
  • or, cubed fresh ham (I mean plain flavor -no honey, not smoked, uncured, simply cooked; e.g. the French Madrange ham). This is the "Quiche Lorraine" recipe.
  • or, 1 or 2 cans of tuna and freshly chopped chives.
  • or anything you'd like to try out!
The custard can be made with milk rather than cream, for a lighter option. Bring 2 cups 1 cup of milk to a boil then slowly pour over the beaten eggs, stirring constantly. Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper (great with the Quiche Lorraine recipe).

To spice it up, you could add 1 table spoon of whole grain mustard to the custard mix or spread it on the crust before adding the veggies (great with the onion tart recipe). It tastes good and it looks good too!

No need to buy a 300-page book on quiches: you have it all!

    Sunday, June 19, 2005

    Easy Quiche Crust from Scratch

    This dough is called "pâte brisée" in French (pronounce "pat breezay"). It is the base for all quiche and pie recipes. If you take the time to make your own crust, your quiche will taste a million times better (at least!) than if you buy it ready-to-use.

    The ingredients below are enough to make 2 thin crusts. Use one half of the dough right away and freeze the other half for your next recipe!

    • 250 grams of flour (1 and 3/4 cups or a little over 1/2 pound, unbleached, all-purpose)
    • 125 grams of unsalted butter (1 stick)
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tea spoon of crème fraîche (or sour cream if you can't find it)
    • 1/2 tea spoon of salt.

    The base ingredients are the flour, salt and butter. The egg and crème fraîche are here to help them stick together (plus the egg will give the crust a nice golden color). I got the tip from a marvelous little book called Quiches, cakes & compagnie. You can replace them by water.

    1. First sift the flour over a large bowl and add the salt.
    2. Cut the butter in tiny cubes. Incorporate the butter to the flour with your finger tips (you can't really use a spoon here... You could use a pastry blender but you'd loose all the fun of making your own "pâte brisée"). The dough will feel like coarse sand grains between your fingers.
    3. Push the flour and butter mix on the sides of the bowl, digging a hole in the center.
    4. Break the egg and pour it in the hole in middle of the bowl. Beat it a little with a fork then use a wooden spoon to incorporate the flour little by little. Add the crème fraîche or sour cream and mix again until the dough is homogeneous. (Alternatively, or if the dough is still dry, pour a few drops of water and knead.) Use your hands to knead the dough and form two balls of the same weight.
    5. Place the balls of dough in plastic wraps and let them rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour before using or freezing.
    6. Let the dough warm up a little before rolling it out.

    I'll publish quiche and pie recipes separately... So keep posted! :-)



    Friday, June 03, 2005

    Delicious Pear Cake

    This is one of my Dad's favorite recipes (he's a great pastry chef!). The French name of this cake is "Délicieux aux Poires" and this is true: it is delicious! The pears cook in the dough, delivering their subtle flavor while baking.

    You need:
    • 3 or 4 ripe and juicy pears. I personally like Bosc, Bartlett and Starkrimson pears a lot.
    • 4 eggs
    • 125 grams (1 stick) of unsalted butter (European style...)
    • 250 grams of sugar (9 fl. oz. or a little more than 1 cup)
    • 250 grams of flour (14 fl. oz. or 1 cup 3/4)
    • 1 tea spoon of baking soda
    • 1 tea spoon of pure vanilla extract
    • 1/2 tea spoon of ground cinnamon
    • a round cake pan (about 10" x 2").
    1. Beat the whole eggs (white and yolk) and the sugar in a large bowl, until smooth and foamy.
    2. Add the melted butter. You can melt the butter (cut in pieces) in the round cake pan while pre-heating the oven at 365F. The butter should remain white on the surface (don't melt it until it's oily and bright yellow!). Stir well to incorporate the melted butter into the egg and sugar mix.
    3. Sift the flour and baking soda over the bowl while stirring. Incorporate the flour to the mix little by little.
    4. Add the vanilla extract and cinnamon and stir well until smooth.
    5. Pour the dough into the buttered cake pan.
    6. Cut the pear in halves, peel them and remove the center (seeds). Place the half pears in a circle on top of the dough, bumpy side up, pointy side towards the middle of the pan. Gently push the pears into the dough (they'll sink in while the cake is baking).
    7. Bake 1 hour at 365F. The cake is ready if you can insert a knife blade in the center of the cake and take it out dry (i.e. no dough sticking to it).

    Perfect at tea time, as a desert of even for breakfast!

    Monday, May 23, 2005

    Spanish Gazpacho

    This cold Spanish tomato soup is so refreshing in the summer! It takes 5 minutes to prepare, at least 1 hour in advance.


    Vegetables:
    • 1 big can (28 oz.) of unsalted whole peeled Roma tomatoes
    • 1/2 green pepper
    • 1/2 English cucumber
    • 1/2 small yellow onion
    • 1 garlic clove
    • 1 slice of white bread (I know... it's not a vegetable!)

    Spices:

    • 1 table spoon of Jerez (or Xeres) vinegar (it's a Spanish sherry vinegar) -you could use balsamic vinegar alternatively but it's worth trying to find Jerez.
    • the juice of 1/2 lemon (or 1 table spoon of ready-to-use lemon juice)
    • 3 table spoons of very good olive oil (you know... extra virgin, first pressed cold, from Southern Europe -Spain, Italy, Greece, France)
    • salt and pepper
    • 1/2 tea spoon of ground Cayenne pepper if you want to spice it up.

    The final touch:

    • a few croutons

    Now you just need to blend everything and serve it extra cold:

    1. Remove the seeds from the green pepper.
    2. Peel the English cucumber (you don't need to remove the seeds: everything is good in this type of cucumbers).
    3. Peel the onion and garlic clove, remove the germ in the center of the garlic clove.
    4. Coarsely cut everything in cubes or slices.
    5. Put the veggies in a blender bowl, pour the whole can of tomatoes (with the juice) and blend as finely as possible.
    6. Add the spices, oil, vinegar, lemon juice and blend again until smooth.
    7. Store the gazpacho in the freezer for about one hour (or in the fridge, at least 3 hours). Some people serve it with blended ice in it but it makes the gazpacho too watery to my taste... I'd rather wait until it's cold without adding ice.
    8. Pour the soup in individual bowls, sprinkle a few croutons on top and serve right away.

    Voila !

    Picture added on June 24, 2006.

    Sunday, May 15, 2005

    Home made fresh cheese



    We just found out how to make fresh cheese at home. It only takes a few minutes and it's soooo good!




    All you need is:
    • 1 liter of pasteurized milk (a little more than 4 cups). You want the milk to be a little fat.
    • 5 to 10 centiliters of white wine vinegar or lemon juice (about 2 oz.)
    • 1 table spoon of rock salt
    • Optionally: finely chopped fresh herbs (e.g. chives) and/or garlic (about 1 table spoon total).

    The process is amazingly easy:

    1. Slowly bring the milk to a boil, wait a few seconds then turn off the heat.
    2. Add the vinegar (or lemon) and salt and stir well. You'll see the milk turning almost instantly into a white, grainy paste (the curd) and a pale yellow, limpid liquid (the whey).
    3. Add the fresh herbs and garlic and stir some more.
    4. Let the coagulation be complete (let stand for 5 minutes).
    5. Filter the curd through a colander lined with a cheese cloth. Let it drain for about 5 minutes. You can keep the whey if you have a use for it... which we don't at the moment although we're sure there's one ;-)
    6. Press the curd in the cheese cloth and shape it into a ball.
    7. It's ready to eat! Or you can keep it a few more days... As you wish.

    The good thing is, since it's pasteurized milk AND you boil it AND you eat the cheese fresh, it's like eating cereals: no risk of nasty bacterias :-)

    This recipe works with all kinds of milks (for example goat milk) and all kinds of herbs.

    There are more info and pictures here.

    Wednesday, April 06, 2005

    Madeleines


    The legend is that a maid named Madeleine baked these tea cakes for the fallen polish king Stanislas Leszcynski in his castle of Commercy (a town in the region of Lorraine in the north of France). The king was so impressed that he named the cakes after the girl and this is how they became so famous. That was back in the 18th century...

    As for every "classic" there are many ways to make madeleines. This recipe is the one that consistently works out the best for me. The madeleines are as good looking as Starbucks' ones, but of course their taste is more authentic and you'll have plenty for the price of 3... :-)

    Here is what you need for about 3 dozens of madeleines:

    • 4 eggs
    • 200 grams of sugar (7 ounces, or a little less than 1/2 pound)
    • 200 grams of unsalted butter
    • 225 grams of flour (1/2 pound)
    • 1 tea spoon of baking soda
    • 1 tea spoon of natural vanila extract

    First beat the whole eggs in a large bowl with a whisk as you would do for an omelette. Add the sugar, all at once, and beat again until the mix is homogeneous and a white foam forms on top.

    Melt the butter in a small pan. First cut it in cubes. Use low heat so that it melts without cooking (it should remain white and smooth, it shouldn't turn bright yellow and oily). I find that European style butter has more taste than "regular" unsalted butter. You should try!

    Add the flour to the egg and sugar mix. It's better if you sift the flour first: pour it in a sieve or a strainer over the bowl and shake until it's all gone through. Stir the mix while adding the flour, making small circles in the middle of the bowl to incorporate it without creating clumps. Then add the baking soda and stir again (you can also pour the baking soda over the flour in the sieve).

    Add the melted butter and stir well until the mix is smooth.

    Add the vanila extract and stir again. Other flavors are nice too: for example you could replace the vanila extract by finely grated lemon zest, orange blossom extract, cocoa powder... but you don't want to overwhelm the buttery, sugary taste, which is the most important in this recipe.

    Leave the bowl in the fridge for at least one hour.

    Then scoop the dough and pour 1 tea spoon in each shell of your madeleine pan (first spread butter and flour on the pan if it isn't anti-adhesive).

    Bake them at 365F for 11 or 12 minutes each. Check without opening the oven and take them out as soon as they are golden.

    Let them cool down on a grid and enjoy! You can also store them in a metal box or a hermetic plastic box with a paper towel at the bottom. This way you can keep them almost as good as fresh for about a week.

    [picture added 11/9/2010]


    Monday, March 28, 2005

    Vinaigrette - salad dressing

    This recipe is pretty basic but if you should know one thing about french cooking, it should be the Vinaigrette salad dressing. I believe this is the first recipe I learned as a child, while watching and helping my parents prepare dinner. Vinaigrette would turn any lettuce leaf into a delicate french course... Vinaigrette is also great on steamed aspargus, steamed leeks, boiled artichokes (all of them served warm), or a half avocado.

    Here's how I prepare it (but there are as many ways to prepare Vinaigrette as there are cooks out there):
    • 1 tablespoon of Dijon Mustard (try "Maille" or "Amora" brands)
    • add salt and freshly ground pepper
    • add 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar (not balsamic)
    • stir well then add 1 tablespoon of canola oil, stir until having a homogeneous emulsion
    • add 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil, one at a time, and stir well. If you add the oil too fast it won't incoporate to the dressing so make sure to stir well but not necessarily fast. Small movements work best, I think, but you should try to find your own technique
    • try the dressing and add whatever is necessary (oil, salt, vinegar...) to make it perfect for your taste. Note that this dressing should be a little thick (not too oily).

    There are many variants to the Vinaigrette dressing. You can mix different oils or use a flavored vinegar depending on what's in your salad (for example: add whole walnuts to mixed greens and replace one table spoon of olive oil by walnut oil). You could also add a finely sliced green onion or chopped chives. As long as you stick to Dijon mustard + any kind of vinegar + any kind of oil + optionally herbs, you can consider your dressing to be a vinaigrette...

    Tip: if you leave the dressing in the fridge the mustard and vinegar will separate from the oil. You can get the emulsion back by stirring slowly in the center of the bowl, making small circles until part of the dressing starts to emulsify, then widen the circles to incorporate a little bit more of the oil until the whole batch of dressing is smooth again.


    Thursday, March 24, 2005

    Chocolate Mousse

    Last Saturday night we had a dinner party at our house. I made a chocolate mousse for dessert and that was the best recipe I'd ever tried. Of course I found it on Marmiton which is a true gold mine for recipes (but only in french...). So here's a translation (with a bit of adaptation). By the way here's a cool culinary dictionary.

    It takes about 10-15 minutes to prepare, at least 3 hours in advance.

    For 4 people:
    - 3 eggs
    - 150 grams of semi-sweet chocolate (that's 1/3 of a pound)
    - 30 grams of unsalted butter (that's about 1 ounce)
    - 1 table spoon of sugar (well, some sugar: it depends on your taste and also on the chocolate --sweet or bitter).

    1) Melt the chocolate and butter:
    Break the chocolate in tiny pieces and cut the butter in small cubes. Then melt them in a "bain marie": put the chocolate and butter cubes in a sauce pan and put this one in a larger pot. Pour water in the larger pot until the sauce pan is floating (about half of the sauce pan should be immerged but make sure the water doesn't flow in the chocolate/butter). Heat until the water is almost boiling. This will allow you to melt the chocolate and butter at fairly low temperature, without risking to burn them. Stir regularly until you obtain a shiny, smooth paste.

    2) Break the eggs and separate the whites from the yolks.

    3) Whip the egg whites. First add a little bit of salt (just the amount that you can hold between two fingers -- what's the english word for "pincée"?). This will make it easier to have a bright white, firm meringue.

    4) When the chocolate is nice and smooth, remove it from the fire and let it cool down for 1 or 2 minutes, not more. When it's still warm but not hot, add the egg yolks one after the other and stir well.

    5) Add one table spoon of sugar to the chocolate mix and stir again until it's melted. Taste and add more sugar if you feel like it (that's really up to you... it shouldn't be overly sweet, though).

    6) Pour the chocolate mix in a large bowl and add the egg whites one table spoon at a time. Incorporate them slowly to the chocolate without "breaking" the foam. Make big circles with the spoon, taking the chocolate from the bottom of the bowl and pouring it over the egg whites, etc. You should obtain a nice brown foam.

    7) Pour the mousse in the serving dish (either a large bowl or individual cups) and place it in the fridge. Leave it there at least 3 hours, until the chocolate mousse is cool and firm.

    Last Saturday we were 12... So I simply trippled all the ingredients. It doesn't make it more difficult to prepare. With strawberries and shortbreads, it's delicious!

    Picture added on March 24, 2006

    Monday, March 21, 2005

    French Food Idioms

    Have you noticed how food sometimes ends up in expressions that have nothing to do with it? Like "piece of cake", "apple to apple", "cool as a cucumber", etc. Well, you can imagine that French people, food-centric as they are, have tons of food idioms as well. Some of them are regional, others are used very commonly all over the country; and all are so picturesque!

    I thought it would be fun to explain some of them (the cream of the crop!) in this blog, along with pictures and a recipe if possible. Here is the list of previously posted idioms. Click on any of them to get the full explanation!

    If you want to share your favorite French or English idioms, please do so! Leave a comment!