Home made pizza are the best !

Making pizza at home is fun and easy ! The trick for a perfect pizza is in the stone you use . Cookut makes one with wholes throughout so your pizza will cook evenly ! This French brand makes very ingenious cooking gadgets , we use and love all of them  .IMG_0108 (Large)IMG_0109 (Large)Because we get heartburn with tomato sauce , I like to make a different kind of pizza using white fig jam for the base then pancetta , ricotta , arugula , capers and depending on the season fresh figs or tuna . Sprinkle with some oregano, olive oil and in the oven until fluffy and crisp ! A little balsamic cream before to serve ad just enough acidity !

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Tarte Tatin in less than an hour !

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I do not know anybody who does not love a Tarte Tatin .  There is nothing better specially on a cool day !  Makes the house smell so wonderful .

For 100% success what you’ll really need is an 8″ cast iron pan . If you do not have any , you will still need a pan that can go from the stove top to the oven .

4-6 medium size Apples ~ 100 grs ( just a little less than a stick of butter ) ~ 100gr  (1/2 cup ) of granulated sugar ~ 1 vanilla bean , 2 sticks of cinnamon ~ 1 pie crust ( i use  Trader Joes frozen ones)

Set the oven at 375F

Spread the butter with your hands in an even layer at the bottom of the pan . Sprinkle with the sugar . Scrape the beans of vanilla evenly and put on the 2 cinnamon sticks . Peel , core and cut the apples in quarters . I use Fuji apples , they give out enough juice but not too much , get soft but do not compote when cooking , These are the most important criteria for choosing them . You do not want an apple that stay very crunchy either . IMG_2645 (Large)

Arrange the apples round side down over the butter . Make sure they are tight .IMG_2648 (Large)

Start the cooking on the stove ( high -medium high ) Do not touch the apples , let the butter /sugar melt  and bubble . You want to stay close to make sure you do not burn your caramel as it goes fast toward the end ( you can lower the setting a bit to make sure you do not over cook the caramel since it will still cook a bit after you take it off the flame ) . I rotate the pan to make sure the coloring is even , you want to avoid one side to caramelize faster than the other . This process should take about 12-15mns .  When the caramel has the perfect color not too light or dark ( taste bitter ) take off the stove and let rest a few minutes before to cover with the crust .IMG_2649 (Large)

Once you put the crust over the hot apples , you have to act fast . Using a spatula , tuck the sides of the crust into the pan and poke some holes so the steam can come out .

Bake for 18-20 mns . When the crust is golden brown , it is ready !

Carefully turn over into a plate when still hot . I like to use the juices left at the bottom of the pan . Pour some Calvados , Grand Marnier or Rhum in the pan , warm up and flambe. (Do not put the hood on or the flames will be sucked up)  Pour immediately over the tart . Serve warm with creme fraiche , vanilla ice cream or whipped cream .IMG_2654 (Large)

 

 

Canard in a hurry…

It starts to feel like fall and if you are starving  for something earthy , delicious that you can make in 15mns , here it is !

Duck breast with honey and cherry vinegar reduction over a creamy polenta …

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Now days you can easily  find duck breasts . I buy mines at Whole Foods . They don’t always have them out but they usually always have some in the back as these come in frozen . I like to have a pack in my freezer at all time so we are ready when ever the urge comes ! Each pack has 2 breasts . ( Note the proportions are  for 4 breasts even though I only show 3 in the pictures ) Thaw the day before .

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Your best 15mns cooking start now :

Take the breasts out of the package , pad dry , score the skin with a sharp knife  and season well with salt and pepper .

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Put the breasts skin down in the cold pan without any fat at all . Put on medium heat and let the fat melt and the skin crisp  about 4-5 mns .

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Turn and continue to cook on medium for an other 4-5 mns

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Check the meat by pressing onto the meat . It should not be hard but spring back . If not cooked enough it will be very soft . You can turn it back one more time to get that skin well crispy if you think you need an extra  minute to cook .

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Put the breast in a platter to rest while you finish the sauce . Remove most of the fat witch you should keep to roast potatoes …it will take your week day potatoes to the next level  !

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In the good drippings that are left in the pan , ad 2 tbs of cherry vinegar and 2 tbs of clover honey .

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Give it a quick boil so the honey start to bubble  and the sauce thicken . Do not over cook the sauce or the honey will transform into caramel and make a sticky sauce .

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Cut the breasts in thick slices , display immediately on the plates and serve the creamy polenta . Pour the sauce around ( not over the skin to keep it crispy )

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There are plenty of polenta to choose from . I order this organic from from Vitacost as I now cannot find it in our local stores . I cooks in 2 mns and is really delicious . I just put more liquid to keep it creamy and use soy milk instead of water or gravy .

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Roasted apricots with lavender honey

It is apricot season !

DSC_4867 [Desktop Resolution].JPGOne of my favorite way to eat them is simply roasted….the twist ??  Some lavender honey  ! Place the apricots cut side up in an earthenware baking dish. Sprinkle with some lavender flowers( very little or it could be too pungent) . If your apricots are not too sweet ad some sugar ( 2-4 tbs) . Bake in the owen 350F . When they start to soften and releasing their juice ad some lavender honey ( up to your taste about 4 tbs) and a couple of tablespoons of sweet wine ( Muscat de Beaumes de Venise …this one is my favorite because it’s so close to my home town in Provence) Finish to roast until a bit brown. Serve still warm with some fresh made whipped cream or panacotta gelato. Personally I serve them with some home made lavender honey ice cream and almond “tuiles” a traditional cookie shaped like a roof tile . This recipe will transport you to Provence !

Our Lavender Honey comes straight from Bonnieux in Provence. It is pure , raw and has not undergone any transformation . It crystallizes naturally and will melt if you warm it up . I love it just like that , spread over sweet butter on a good brioche or toasted challah  bread .IMG_2329 (Large)

Crepes fourees au Grand Marnier souffle

What’s best ? A crepe ? or a Grand Marnier Souffle ?

A crepe stuffed with Grand Marnier Souffle !!!! The French favorite Holiday of the Chandeleur is coming up February 2nd ( read more about it on the blog in a previous “recipe “post ) and you are just in time to master the art of crepe making ! Here are some tips from my kitchen .

I served mines with some home made Grand Marnier gelato ( just ad  Grand Marnier to a gelato cream base ) and it was the perfect hot , cold , fluffy and chewy texture …amazing and sure to blow your mind and your guest’s mind !

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This recipe will make 6 small individual crepes .  ( The ones on the photo were big : 11″ diameter and big enough for 2 people )

First you need to make the crepes . I use this shaker now because it is so convenient . No need to weigh anything . Milk , flour and eggs go in the shaker and the batter is done in 2 minutes …bullet proof , even my husband who does not cook is using it ! I flavor the batter with some vanilla and Grand Marnier . We sell the shakers at the shop and the magic crepe pans when we can ship some from France when we go .

Pour straight from the shaker with no lumps because it has a strainer inside . Butter the pan and cook on both sides . Reserve .

Make a pastry cream . This can be done in advance .

250 ml of milk , 3 egg yolks , 50 grams of granulated sugar ( about 3 1/2 Tbs) 15 grams ( 2 small tbsp ) of corn starch . 1/2  vanilla bean .

Mix the egg yolks with sugar and corn starch  . Ad the warm milk infused with the vanilla bean . Return to the pan and cook until it bubble mixing with a wooden spoon all the time ) . The boiling process smooth the pastry cream . Remove from heat and reserve with a plastic wrap covering the cream ( it has to touch the cream or this one will make a “skin”  ) You can keep in refrigerator for a couple of days .

Prepare the souffle batter just before to cook or it won’t rise so well .

Beat with an electric whisk 4 large egg whites with a pinch of salt . When getting firm , ad slowly 2 tbsp of sugar . and continue to beat until firm and shinny .

Incorporate gently the egg white mix into the pastry cream ( the cream cannot be hot , if you just made it . let it cool down at room temperature ) Do not over mix .

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Stuff the crepes while setting them up on parchment paper . img_3523 (large)

Cook 10-12 mns in hot oven 375-400F  until fluffy . Do not open the oven or the souffle will flop .

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Sprinkle with confectioner sugar and serve immediately with the Grand Marnier gelato or home made “creme anglaise ” ( see below )  flavored with Grand Marnier . I made a little hole into the middle of the crepe and spoon a scoop of gelato that melted and worked like the sauce does when you eat a grand Marnier souffle. If you do not want alcohol you can serve this with vanilla gelato and  chocolate sauce .

Basic creme anglaise : It is almost the same principal as the pastry cream with the difference that this one cannot boil or it will curl .

4 egg yolks + 80 grams of sugar + 400 ml of warm milk. return to the pan and cook on low to medium low heat turning constantly with a wooden spoon until it coats the spoon ( this can takes around 10-13 mns ) Ad Grand Marnier to your liking ; I like about 40 ml

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Roules au fromage recipe

 

Roules au fromage … all your childhood in a plate !!!

This was our ” hamburger” , mac and cheese , our fast food ,  the one thing our mum would buy at the butcher and just warm up in the oven ….one of the first thing we buy when in France , but Pascal’s craving was too strong to wait any longer and he thought I could probably figure out how to make them at home from scratch ….the result was even better than the “real deal” from the French deli !

Best of all is that you can make the shells in advance ( I even froze 4 to use later )  You can fill up the roules and have then ready in your fridge up to a few days ahead of time  . Serve with a nice green salad and you have a delicious meal in no time !

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Most of what you’ll need is already in your pantry or fridge : Butter , flour , milk , eggs . You’ll also need some shredded Parmesan cheese ( not grated not shaved ) and a sheet of puff pastry to make 6 shells  ( I get the frozen ones from Pepperidge Farms ) 

First roll the puff pastry on a floured surface . It has to be thin but not too thin  ( the roller and egg will give you a scale since I forgot to measure …hoops ) Cut into 6 long pieces .

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Since I did not have any Cannoli molds , I made some with heavy duty aluminum foil and I think it may work even better when you have to remove the cooked shells as aluminum can be crushed thinner .

2 important things : The molds have to be way longer than the actual pastry so you have something to grab when it comes to removing the aluminum and you have to butter the foil very well to make that tricky step easy . Brush 1″ on one side of the pastry along the length with some lightly beaten egg white so it will glue the over lapping pastry as you roll it on the mold . That took a practice run without the “glue” so I would suggest that you try out also before to wet the dough . Then brush some egg wash to color the shells when they’ll cook .

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Cook in a hot oven 425F for about 13-15 mns . The shells have to be a bit under cooked as they will go in the oven again later. Let cool down then remove the aluminum molds . You can crush the aluminum to make this easier , but it should be a breeze if you butter them well .

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The filling is a simple Bechamel or white sauce that needs to be thick enough not to run off when you’ll warm up the rolls again . Here are the measurements for 2 rolls :

50grams / 4 Tbs butter , 50grams / 5 Tbs Flour , 30ml Milk / 1 1/4 cup , 25 gr / 2 oz shredded Parmesan, nutmeg , salt to taste

( I put the measurements in grams as well for those who have a scale , also because it is easier to multiply quantities for 4 or 6 shells )

Melt the butter in a saucepan , when hot , ad the flour slowly and let “foam” while mixing with a whisk the whole time . Cook just a few minutes and keep light colored before to ad the milk .Because this is will be a thick sauce , adding the milk is a bit more difficult as it thicken very quickly and makes lumps. But it is also easy to break those lumps when whisking a thicker sauce so don’t be scared , just ad the milk in 3 times and smooth in between .

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Take off the heat and ad seasoning , salt, pepper, nutmeg ( enough to show in the batter ), the shredded parmesan cheese and mix well 

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 Pour this mix into a ziploc bag that will serve as pipping bag . Let it cool a bit more at room temperature . Do not wait until it is too cold to pipe into the shells or the dough will be hard and rubbery .Finish each end with some extra shredded cheese to garnish .

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At this point you can refrigerate or freeze until you are ready to serve . Bake to re heat in the oven for about 15-20mns at 375F , until crust and cheese are  golden .

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Plan better than me and serve with a green salad for a complete meal ! 

Enjoy !

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La Chandeleur

In France , 40 days after Christmas every year on February 2nd , we celebrate ” La Chandeleur ” by making crepes ! 

The date actually marks when Jesus was presented at the temple in Jerusalem.But Before becoming a religious holiday, Chandeleur stemmed from several pagan traditions celebrating the fertility of the earth and the beginning of the end of winter.

It’s said that in the 5th century, Pope Gelasius I started the Festival des Chandelles on this date, a candlelit procession through the streets of Rome that culminated in placing the blessed candles in the churches. Gelasius linked this custom to crêpes by handing out galettes (a type of salty crêpe) to poor pilgrims who arrived in Rome that day.

Nowadays the crepes themselves are the most important thing about La Chandeleur !

Get your kit asap as we just received some crepe pan from France as well as the flour . This makes such a difference !! A non stick shallow rim pan and flour that does not makes lumps or gives you stomach cramps …

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Making crepe is fun for all and easy as 1 – 2 – 3 !

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Un : You NEED this “gadget”  .  
I will never make crepes any other way now that I’ve tried this …I didn’t think it could beat my century old recipe but it is just as delicious and so much easier ! Plus it is 100% guaranteed to work !
Trust a French cook …and I know Crepes ….  

IMG_8374 (Large).JPGFill in with milk to the marked line , then ad flour to the next line , crack 2 eggs and shake !

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  Deux: I added a few extras just because …vanilla beans, orange flower blossom…wta ever you like best !

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Trois: No lumps , perfect consistency crepe batter going in !

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Swirl and cook on high heat until it browns on the side and bubble …just like pancakes. It is all in the “tour de main” to make an even crepe, not too thin or too thick .

IMG_8381 (Large).JPGThen comes the flip …traditionally you flip the crepe with one hand  while holding a coin in the other hand ….if the crepe land in the pan , it is good fortune , good harvest to come . I can do that …or could do that …but nowadays I play it safe : my technique is to get a very flat spatula under the crepe all the way to the center and then flip . 1st Crepe is usually “bad” and either trashed or for the cook …as the cook , I take that 1st bad crepe with just sugar …you can really taste the vanilla , orange zest…

IMG_8382 (Large).JPGA real good crepe is soft and melt in your mouth…the secret is all the fat you put in the batter: whole milk versus skim milk ; my ancient recipe even says that to make “fine” crepes add more eggs  …most of the ones we buy at farmer’s markets , trucks…are like cardboard to me and made under low heat witch is not ideal . I like to melt a little chunk of butter after I flip the crepe, let it melt , ad some Grand Marnier and granulated sugar . It is soaked in juices and the most delicious crepe you can ever serve !

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Quatre: Oh well …we need Creme Chantilly s’il vous plait ! 
An other totally ingenious gadget that makes whipped cream in less than a minute . Just ad room temperature heavy whipping cream in the jar with the 3 special silicon balls , a little powder sugar and shake …it is magic ! No mess , no electric whip …and the  whipped cream stays whipped for a couple of days if you can resist eating it all !

IMG_8385 (Large).JPGEt voila ! Now you are ready for the Chandeleur !

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 These not so “gadgets” after all …are any kitchen’s best tool ! The chicken is fabulous ,infused with flavors , steamed and not dry …served with roasted chestnuts warmed up in the gravy …even better than potatoes !

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The secret is in the holes ….will make your pizza crust evenly crunchy …IMG_8741 (Large).JPG

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