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

My version of the best ever mash

Everybody has already experienced  eating bad mashed potatoes: bland, super-thick and really difficult to finish. I have experienced quite a lot with mash over the years and I think I’ve found the recipe I really enjoy.

You’ll need:

–  A couple of potatoes
–  Butter
–  Milk
–  Crushed  garlic
–  Cheese
–  Nutmeg
–  Salt and pepper

Cook the potatoes in salted water, mash them while still hot and add all the ingredients.

I didn’t give you the exact quantity of each ingredient because it’s totally up to your taste. If you like your mash thick, just half a glass of milk will do; if you like it really rich, you can put quite a lot of butter (really don’t hesitate, it will make a difference) and cheese. Don’t underestimate the power of your seasoning. I think most people are scared with salt and pepper but really, you MUST season enough if you want a good result. Nutmeg is mash’s best friend, it reveals all the flavours; don’t abuse it, just a good pinch would do.

I find that the garlic gives a little kick which is just perfect with potatoes.

When I don’t feel too guilty and that I have left over cream, I use it instead of milk and the difference is actually quite amazing.

The options are endless, you can add parsnip or sweet potatoes, egg yolk, goat cheese…

It only takes you 2 minutes to transform an old boring mash into something delicious so don’t hesitate.

Mylène

Halloween

As you know, Halloween is here and it doesn’t only mean kids coming to knock at your door for treats . It means an other occasion to make seasonal and fun recipes.

When I think about Halloween, I especially think about pumpkins. They are wonderful for loads of things. Pies, soups, toasted seeds for a healthy snack, muffins, ice cream, cupcakes, cheesecakes,…

I couldn’t wait to try some recipes. So let’s buy pumpkins!

The first recipe I tried was a pie.

It was a “normal” pumpkin pie recipe that I found in one of my vegetable cook books. I used very dark sugar instead of light brown and all I could taste was the sugar and the spices. I couldn’t taste the pumpkin at all. It was still good but not wonderful. Well, maybe it’s only personal taste.

I wasn’t totally impressed by the pie so I had to try something else. I then made cupcakes. I used a recipe found on the internet, very easy to find. I made them and they looked really good and tasted great!

 

I was glad with the result of the cupcakes but I still had half a pumpkin to use.

I didn’t even think about it for one second, it had to be soup otherwise the kitchen would have been full of goodies and I would have been too tempted to resist eating them!

The soup was very nice, especially the texture but if I could have had another variety of pumpkin, it would have been much better (the one I had was grown for the size and shape and not for the taste). Anyway, here is the recipe…

You’ll need

:

– 1kg of pumpkin
– 2 sweet potatoes
– 2 onions
– 2 cloves of garlic
– 800ml of vegetable stock
– a pinch of cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg
– 200ml of cream (less or more, depends of your taste)

Chop all the vegetables. Cook for 5 min the onions in some olive oil. Add the other vegetables and cook for 2 min. Add the stock and the spices. Cook until the pumpkin is tender.

When it’s cooked, blend the vegetables and add the cream. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy!