A really good vanilla custard

In France, we call runny custard “creme anglaise” (English cream) and I really understood why in the first year I lived here. You eat A LOT of it! You seem to have it with or in most puddings.
In France, most puddings and desserts are served as they are, no cream or custard required. There are some things like chocolate brownies or a very chocolatey and rich cake with which we do serve custard but it has to be very cold and is usually quite runny.
And then we have the creme patissière, a thick custard.

The other thing that surprises me is that everybody (I mean most people) use shop bought custard.
I think that english people have a very different approach to shop bought stuff. You would never think about serving a shop bought custard in France, some guests would be quite insulted if you didn’t make your own.

custard_mix

Home-made custard is simple and 100 times better.

If you make your own, I assure you, the people you are cooking for will know and will appreciate the fact that you spent the 5-10 extra minutes to make it from scratch (tip for come-dine-with-me contestants). For me, the 2 things you need for a very quick and quality custard are corn flour and vanilla – you can use any sort of vanilla (extract, pod, paste…) but I highly recommend a vanilla pod or the vanilla powder.

I love vanilla powder so much. I use it everywhere. I can’t bare the extract anymore. You can find vanilla powder in good supermarkets and it’s fairly cheap for the quantity and quality you get.

I’m sure you already know the recipe but I’ll put it anyway!

For 800g of vanilla custard, you’ll need:

– 500ml of milk
– 5 egg yolks
– 100g of sugar
– 10g of cornflour (optional, it’s just much quicker)
– Vanilla

Heat the milk and vanilla together.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour until fluffy and light yellow.

When the milk is boiling, add a little of it, a bit at a time, to the egg mixture without stopping whisking.

Bring it back to the hob and put on a medium heat. Stir constantly for about 5 minutes or until it reaches the constistency you’re looking for.

It will get thicker when it cools.

If your custard is lumpy, whisk it and if the lumps are still there, you can seive it.
You can adjust the quantity of cornflour you need. If you want it thicker, put more of it or if you like it thinner, put less.

If you want a stiffer custard, for a trifle or a vanilla slice, you need more cornflour (about 40g).

Mylène

Chocolate biscuits / cookies

When I haven’t got a very busy day, I usually look around the internet, reading blogs and websites just to see if they have any interesting recipes I could try myself. Well, let me tell you, this is really dangerous: I absolutely ALWAYS find something, usually sweet, of course, and want to make it straight away. “Oh but there is that tart we have to finish and some leftover fudge, I don’t really need to make anything else” The last sentence was the voice of reason, I don’t listen to it very often when it comes to cooking, so I find myself on a Sunday at 11pm with a whole batch of chocolate biscuits, on my own.

This recipe, I don’t regret a bit. I found the recipe on a french blog but obviously, the original version is Martha Stewart’s. These are definitely the best chocolate biscuits I’ve ever made.

They are basically a stiff brownie batter, made into biscuits. They are very chocolaty but not bitter at all, chewy but crisp on the outside… Yum. They are a bit messy to shape but if you don’t mind licking your chocolaty fingers once the batch is in the oven, this recipe is for you.

For 30 biscuits, you’ll need:

– 115g of dark chocolate
– 90g of flour
– 25g of cocoa powder
– 1 tsp of baking powder
– 60g of butter
– 150g of sugar
– 40g of milk
– 1 egg
– 60g of icing sugar, to coat

Melt the chocolate on its own and leave it to cool.

Cream butter and sugar until white and fluffy. Add the egg and melted chocolate and carry on mixing.

Sieve flour, cocoa and baking powder together in a bowl.

Add half of it to the chocolate mixture, then the milk and then the rest of the powders.

Leave the mix in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Preheat the oven at 180C.

Take your dough and form walnut size balls, coat them in icing sugar and put on a tray. Space your balls at least 2 inches from each other.

Bake for 15 minutes. Do not leave them for more than that, they will look too soft but they will firm up when they cool down.

Eat cold.

chocolate biscuits

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

Chocolat chaud Parisien

I really enjoy a good hot chocolate in the evening, when it’s cold and rainy outside.
I usually do my own, with real chocolate but I’ve never tried the really thick rich hot chocolate you see in Paris or in the film ‘le chocolat’.

I was dying to try it so I looked online for some inspiration.
A lot of the recipes I saw were made with cornflour to thicken it up but I thought it was cheating a bit so tried another one.
It needs only 3 ingredients and it’s dead simple.

You can choose the thickness of your hot chocolate by just cooking it for longer.

If you have never tried the real thing, you should do it tonight!!
It’s so rich that I couldn’t finish my cup but do not worry, it’s not fattening at all, it’s just very chocolatey.

For 2 large mugfulls, you’ll need:

– 550ml of wholemilk
– 150g of very good quality chocolate (I don’t like it too strong so I made it 80% dark and 20% milk chocolate)
– half of a vanilla pod, scraped
– 1 dessertspoon of sugar (only if you want to)

Boil the milk with the scraped vanilla pod. Leave it for 10min to infuse.

Take the pod out and whisk the chocolate in until melted.
At this stage, you can choose to serve it as it is but it will be a very thin hot chocolate.

Put it back on the hob, medium heat, and whisk constantly until you get the consistency you want – It can take 5 to 20min.

Serve it as you like, with whipped cream or not.

I personally love it as it is.

Enjoy

Mylene

Using left-overs from your recipes

Some recipes require only the egg whites, some only the egg yolks, some only half of the pot of cream you just bought…  Most of the time, these left-overs end up in your bin or resting in a plastic tub for weeks… With the prices of food what they are, you can’t really afford waste. Here are some ideas for recipes with these kind of leftovers.

Egg Whites: You can make amazing tasty meringues, crispy on the outside and soft inside, with a very simple recipe: Weigh your egg whites, whisk them and add during whisking the same amount of sugar. When it’s firm and shiny, stop whisking and add the same weight of icing sugar, incorporate it with a wooden spoon. Lay little bits of this mixture on a tray. Cook it in a very very low oven (90-100°C) for about an hour (depends how big are your meringues) or until you can press the meringue without it to break.

Egg Yolks: I have the most amazing recipe of (kind of) crème brûlée ever! It’s dead simple and really quick to prepare. In a pan, pour 150ml of milk and scrape in a vanilla pod. When it arrives to the boil, remove from the heat and add 80g of sugar (or less if you like it less sweet). Leave the mixture to infuse for 5 min. Meanwhile, whisk 3 egg yolks with 150ml of double cream, add the vanilla milk with the vanilla pod removed and pour the mixture into 4 individual ramequins which can allow being put in the oven at high temperatures. Put them in a tin, half filled with water and put it in the oven at 180°C for about 20-30 min. Allow them to cool down and put them in the fridge. This recipe is really nice because you can use your egg yolks, cream and milk left-overs. You can change the flavour as well (crushed nuts, pistachio paste, chocolate…). I usually serve it with a tiny meringue and a layer of homemade caramel sauce on the top (don’t try if you’re on a diet).

You can make delicious pasta carbonara, tasty quiches with you egg yolks as well.

Cream: well, anything really; quiches, pasta and mushroom with a bit of mustard, chocolate truffles, a chocolate sauce, mixed with milk and chocolate, you can have the most amazing hot chocolate you ever tasted.

Milk: rice pudding (recipe in an older post), hot chocolate, confiture de lait (basically the French “dulce de leche” just AMAZING, we call it ‘milk jam’, it’s just milk with sugar and vanilla cooked for ages in a pan… Recipe to follow!

I hope these ideas are going to help you to use your leftovers in amazing tasty dishes.

Mylène

Busy, busy, busy!!!

These last weeks have been absolutely full of work. Well, it’s normal because it’s nearly Christmas!! So I didn’t have much time to think about writing on the blog!

So mince pies, ginger biscuits and various Christmas goodies haven’t got any secrets for me anymore!!!!

So after this ultra busy time, a little holiday will be heaven, especially if it’s in Brittany!! I go to France for a few days to celebrate Christmas with my family. I’m really looking forward to see everybody and cook for them.

Like I’m in a frenchy mood and that it’s sooooo freezing outside, I’ll share a recipe that my mum used to make all the time and it was amazing everytime. It’s rice pudding but cooked on the hob and not in the oven.

Riz au lait

You’ll need

–          100g of rice

–          1L of milk

–          5 tablespoons of sugar

–          1 vanilla pod

First, like the rice doesn’t cook brilliantly in sweet milk, cook it for about 5 minutes in boiling water. Cut the vanilla pod in half and scrape it with a knife to remove the vanilla beans, put it in the milk. Remove it from the water and pour it into a pan with the milk and vanilla. Cook it until the rice is cooked, the milk should have reduced. Remove it from the hob, add the sugar and mix the whole mixture. Leave it for 15 minutes to cool down and enjoy!!

Merry Christmas!!                       

Mylène

Banoffee pie

A massive classic over here, the banoffee pie is absolutely unknown in France. I never had the occasion to taste it or to make it so it was time for me to have a go!

I found a recipe which looked great and mouth watering and added my own touch. Instead of making a big pie, I decided to make 6 little ones mainly because we are only 3 living at home for the moment and I didn’t want to stuff myself with banoffee pie; I have to be presentable in my Christmas dress!!

I made my own pastry which is much longer to do but much more delicious as well.

You’ll need:

–  Shortcrust pastry , baked blind
–  2 bananas
–  2 tablespoons of sugar
–  50ml of milk
–  150ml of double cream
–  Half a teaspoon of instant coffee, diluted in a tablespoon of hot water
–  Vanilla extract or vanilla pod
–  Dark chocolate curls

First, put the sugar in a pan (don’t use a non stick one, in just ruined mine because of this recipe) and wait until the sugar melts and makes a caramel. Don’t stir it at all.

Mash one of the bananas with the milk and when the sugar has dissolved, pour the banana mixture into it until you have a nice banana caramel. Pour this caramel into the pastry. Let it cool down for half an hour or more.

When the caramel is cooled, cut the other banana into slices and arrange them on the caramel.

Whisk the double cream until stiff with some vanilla. Add the coffee (you can always add the half if it’s too strong) and mix it up. Put some cream on each pie and sprinkle with chocolate curls!

Ready!!!!

Mylène

Berry swirl bun internet research…..

When I have some free time on my own, I cook, of course, and I love looking for new recipes, usually on the internet.
It was during one of these moments that I found this recipe. It’s Jamie Oliver’s one, which means that you can’t really be disappointed.
So, the recipe is a Swedish bun with berries. The official recipe is with blueberries but I used blackcurrants, which are sharper and go very well with sweet buns.

Like any buns or pastries, it’s better just when it’s straight out of the oven so don’t feel bad if you can’t resist!

You’ll need:

–  One packet of yeast (7g) stirred in
–  375 ml of warm milk
–  2 eggs
–  A teaspoon of grounded cardamom
–  200g of sugar
–  A bit of salt
–  800g of plain flour
–  50g of melted butter
–  For the filling: between 200 and 400g of berries of your choice, roughly mashed in 75g of sugar and a tiny bit of orange juice

In a large bowl, mix the eggs, the salt, cardamom, butter, sugar, 500g of flour and the milk and yeast mixture.

It’s going to be thick and sticky.

Then add the rest of the flour. Knead this dough until it’s soft and lovely.

Put it back in the bowl, cover it with a tea towel and leave it to raise in a warm place for an hour or until it doubles of size.

Put the dough on your worktop and make a rectangle with it (use your hands). It doesn’t have to be big, about 30 cm long and 20 large.

Pour the berry mixture on it and then take the edges of your pastry and fold it in the middle and press gently to let the berries go into the pastry. Fold again.

It doesn’t have to be precise, it’s actually supposed to be quit messy.

Cut the dough into eight bits (I like having little portions so you can cut it into more than eight) and stretch and pull each portion in a long thin “kind of sausage”.

Roll this around your finger and put it on a baking tray with baking parchment on.

Do the same with all of the portions.

Leave these uncooked buns for 30 min in a warm place.

Cook for half an hour at 180°C until gold and crispy.

Tadaaaaam!!!!