Sesame bars

The other day, I was looking for a recipe using golden syrup. I really love it, it’s one of the proper British thing I enjoy a lot.

Anyway, I was browsing through some recipes and I found a sesame bar recipe.
When I was at school, everybody used to have a snack at the 10 o’clock break, I was one the only one that didn’t have anything to eat…
Luckily, my best friend always used to give me a bit of hers. Her parents were very healthy food orientation-wise so she would always have sesame bars.

I’m sure you know what they are; they’re very small thin bars with 4 or 5 of them in a tiny packet. They’re great for kids because they are just sweet enough for them to enjoy but still good for nutrition.
With high hopes to recreate this vivid childhood taste, I started the recipe…

It’s very simple and quick. When I put all the ingredients together in my tin, I didn’t think it would be good at all, it just looked like a big mess to me.
Well I was wrong (once more)! Once it cools down, it gets really hard, just like the proper stuff.

It was very nice and did meet my expectations. Even if I was happy with it, I’ll try again with honey instead of golden syrup, just to see the difference.

For about 20 bars, you’ll need:

– 200g of sesame seeds
– 125g of oatmeal
– 3tbsp of golden syrup
– 50g of brown sugar
– 4tbsp of vegetable oil

Gently heat the golden syrup in a pan.

Combine the sesame, oatmeal and brown sugar. Add the oil and warm syrup.

Stir until well combined, pour it in a 20 x 30cm tin, previously lined with baking paper.

Bake for 25min at 180C until golden.

Cut while warm as it will get hard when cooled.

sesame bars

Mylène

Honey-roasted nuts

I love honey roasted nuts, I discovered them in the uk and it was love at first bite. The thing is that I like them quite sweet, nicely coated in honey.

Supermarkets offer some very expensive and very salty ones, with absolutely no taste of honey at all. I prefer the ones you find on mediterranean stalls but they’re incredibly expensive.

I found a few recipes, they were all similar but different in the same time. I found one that combined maple syrup and honey… Heaven.
Anyway, I got all the ingredients ready and started. I followed the recipe but just added a little more honey. I found the roasting time a bit short so made it a little longer.

The result was really great, you get golden brown nuts with a deep honey flavour but there are two things I wasn’t too happy with: the first is that the nuts stuck quite a lot to each other so I had to take them apart while they were still warm, one by one. The other thing is just my personal taste, I would have liked a bit more coating, I really like them very sweet. Everybody else thought they were just right.

nuts

You’ll need:

– 450g of nuts of your choice (I used almonds and cashews)
– 3 tbsp of honey
– 1 tbsp of maple syrup
– 30g of butter
– vanilla powder or extract, to your taste
– 1 pinch of cinnamon
– 2 tbsp of sugar

Heat the honey, syrup, butter, vanilla and cinnamon in a pan until all melted.

Lay aluminium foil on a roasting tray, transfer the nuts and syrup onto it. Make sure you coat all the nuts with the syrup.

Put the tray in the oven (180C) for 6 min.

Take the tray out and mix all the nuts, making sure they all get another layer of hot syrup on them.

Put the tray back in the oven for 6min.

If you’re happy with the look of your nuts at this stage, you can decide to take them out now or give them a stir and put them back in for a further 6min.

The nuts should be golden brown and the syrup not too runny.

Toss them in sugar while hot and eat cold.

Mylène

Pain d’épices

For this first december post, I wanted to share something that sounds very christmassy.

To me, it doesn’t really feel like christmas is only in 3 weeks as we were thinking about christmas biscuits and products to make ages and ages ago. However, something that makes me think of christmas is gingerbread cake (pain d’epices in french, meaning spiced bread).

When I looked online for a british recipe, I found out they were all with golden syrup and most of them with black treacle. The french recipes use honey instead, as golden syrup and treacle are practically unknown in France.

I was quite excited to use golden syrup, I absolutely love the smell of it but I was really disappointed… I didn’t find that wintery taste I was looking for, I could hardly taste the spices and the treacle was overpowering, even if I didn’t put much at all.

So what was I going to do???? Well, like most girls when they don’t know what to do, I phoned mummy!

As I already knew to use honey instead of golden syrup, I only wanted to know what blend of spices she uses. In french supermarkets, you can buy a gingerbread mix, the spices are already put all together so it’s really easy to use.

I’m a great believer of using fresh, unground spices, you get much more flavour, so I had to buy all these spices that I couldn’t find anywhere for weeks but I finally did (except one).

I was very happy with my final french gingerbread, just how I like it!

pain d'epices

For 1 gingerbread, you’ll need:

– 1 desertspoon of mixed spices (cinnamon, staranise, coriander, ginger, nutmeg, clove)
– 250g of honey
– 50g of sugar
– 10cl of milk
– 100g of butter
– 200g of flour
– 1 egg
– 40g of ground almonds
– 1 teaspoon of baking powder
– 1 teaspoon of baking soda
– the zest of an orange

Heat up the milk and honey together in a pan.

When it comes to the boil, take it off of the hob and add the butter.

When it’s melted, add the sugar, flour, egg, ground almonds, baking powder, soda, orange zest and spices.

Pour the mixture into a greased loaf tin (or little individual ones) and bake for about 45min to an hour, until completely cooked in the middle.

Leave to cool down and eat!

Mylène

White chocolate & vanilla panna cotta with honey roasted figs

For the chocolate week, I have to make something with white chocolate. As I’ve never made panna cotta, I thought it would be nice to try it.

But there was a little problem: it’s usually made with pork or beef gelatine, and I’m a vegetarian.

But that didn’t stop me. I’m too aware of veggie setting agents to let it go like that!!

So I looked in my cupboard to try and find that veggie powder gelatine I bought a couple of months ago.

I followed a recipe found on-line and replaced the gelatine with my vegetarian powder.
I wasn’t that happy with the texture of it, I think I’ve put too much setting agent so it wasn’t wobbly enough to my liking but the taste was really good.
I think the setting agent I used was very strong so I recommend to use half of what it says on the packet.

For 4 pots, you’ll need:

– 500ml of cream
– 150ml of milk
– 100g of white chocolate, chopped
– 60g of sugar
– 1 vanilla pod, scrapped
– 1 tsp of veggie setting agent, or 4 gelatine leaves, soaked

Heat the cream, milk and vanilla together.

When it’s almost boiling, remove from the heat, add all the other ingredients and stir well until everything is well melted.

Pour into individual ramequins and leave it to set for 4 hours.

panna cotta skin with vanilla seeds

You’ll also need:

– 4 figs
– 1 tbsp of honey

Before serving, roast the whole figs in the honey for 5min in a hot oven (200°C).

Take the panna cotta out of their ramequins by running a thin knife around it or run some hot water on the ramequin to make it come out.

Serve the panna cotta with one roasted fig next to it and drizzle with the ‘honey and fig syrup’.

Mylene

French nougat

The other night, I was looking for a recipe I never made before and I found a few recipes of nougat online. I didn’t really know what to expect; I always thought that things like perfect fudge, nougat or caramels were quite impossible to achieve at home but now, I totally changed my mind after making this.

It requires a couple of special ingredients but if you have them in your cupboard, try it! It takes about 20mins of cooking, the result is just stunning. Soft, sweet, honey-like, nutty nougat… Just how I love it!

You’ll need a kitchen robot and a sugar thermometer. The robot isn’t so important, you can still do it with an electric whisk but it will take you a little longer.

For about 60 squares, you’ll need:

– 400g of sugar + 20g
– 100g of glucose powder
– 125g of water
– 250g of honey
– 2 little egg whites (about 50g)
– 2 sheets of rice paper
– 300g of mixed nuts, roasted

Heat the sugar, glucose and water together.

In another pan, heat the honey on its own.

After 5 mins, start to slowly whisk the egg whites in your robot, they must not go too stiff.

When the honey reaches 130°C, pour it gently on the egg whites, still whisking.

When the sugar mixture reaches 148°C, pour it on the egg whites-honey, still whisking. Keep whisking until the mixture has cooled down.

Mix in the nuts.

Put a sheet of rice paper in a 15cm square tin and pour your nougat in. It’s going to be sticky, so you can put water on your hand and just shape it with your hands.

Put the second sheet of rice paper on and leave it over night to cool completely.

Take it out of the tin (can be hard) and cut it as you wish!!

Enjoy!

Mylene

Poached pears

I’ve always seen recipes of poached pears in red wine but never really had the occasion to make any. I don’t usually buy pears. Most of the time, when you buy them in supermarkets, they never go ripe and stay hard for ages.

Anyway, the other day, my mother in law bought (incredibly) large pears and I had the green light to do whatever I wanted with them. I thought about poaching them in red wine but didn’t have any…
I had some cooking white wine so I decided to change the usual recipe and try it with that!

Like I never tried before, I looked up online for a recipe. All the recipes were totally different so I decided to make my own.

The result was quite impressive. It was all looking very posh and delicate. The flavors were quite surprising, like all the alcohol goes away and I used spices, I couldn’t really taste the wine but it was still giving good flavors.

I then found some more pears and did the same with red wine. In England, prices of wine are very high so with my tight budget, I didn’t want to waste most of the bottle on only 4 pears so I’ve made some changes.

For 4 poached pears, you’ll need:

– 4 ripe pears, carefully peeled but with the stalk left on
–  About 250ml of red or white wine (for the proper recipe, use about 600ml)
–  100ml of apple juice (you can use something else, I just had some in the fridge), no juice in the proper recipe
–  3 tablespoons of light brown sugar
–  1 tablespoon of honey
–  1 vanilla pod, cut in half and scraped
–  1 teaspoon of cinnamon
–  1 teaspoon of allspice

Put all the ingredients except the pears in a high sided pan, make sure the liquid is quite high in it, it has to cover more than half of the pears. Simmer it for 5 min and add your pears, stalk up; if they don’t stand properly, just cut a tiny slice at the bottom, it should then stand nicely.

Cover with a lid and cook for about 20 min or until soft and tender. Stab one with a knife to make sure it’s soft in the middle. If your pears weren’t completely in the liquid, turn them around a couple of times to cook them properly.

When they’re cooked, you have two options: take them out of the juice , keep them in a tub, refrigerate them and cook the juice for about 30minutes or until reduced and thickened. Serve when both pears and syrup are chilled.

You can also leave the pears in the juice, put everything to soak overnight in the fridge and reduce the syrup the day after and chill it again.

Personally, I prefer the white wine version, mush sweeter and delicate but the red wine one is brilliant because of the red color of the pear.

Mylène