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!