Express greediness

This Easter has been soooo busy this year. A part of my family came to visit and I really wanted to celebrate properly. Actually, I made myself busy… I made my own chocolate eggs (which took a very long while), I also made some egg shaped chocolate macarons, decorated biscuits…

We had a very nice time all together, the weather was not as good as expected but it was ok at the end.

Anyway, I wanted to share a recipe I’ve found a couple of weeks ago. Sometimes, especially in the evening, I’m absolutely dying for something sweet after dinner but I haven’t got anything suitable. It’s during one of these times that I’ve found this recipe online. Of course, I didn’t feel like cooking anything too long (more than 5 minutes)and I wanted something delicious.

So, let’s talk about this ultra super express sweet pleasure!! It’s a Spanish biscuit called mantecao, it is extremely crumbly so very delicate. I honestly don’t know any other recipe as quick, easy and delicious as this. Enough with my blablabla, here’s the recipe…

For about 20 biscuits:

–  100g of sunflower oil
–  100g of sugar
–  200g of plain flour
–  A teaspoon of vanilla extract

Mix all the ingredients together, make little balls, bake for 10-12min at 180°C. The biscuits must not be golden or brown, they have to stay white otherwise they’ll be rock hard. Leave to cool down and eat.

I told you it was quick!

Some people add lemon rind, cinnamon… The original recipe is made with lard. The thought of it makes me sick but if you’re not vegetarian and your taste buds are not sissies, you’re welcome to try the real thing.

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

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

Sorting out a website and more

These last few weeks, we were thinking about selling our goodies online; we thought about it since we started our business but we didn’t have a real think about it until the last few months.

At the same time as trying to create a website, we ordered safe and beautiful boxes to send our stuff in. We finally got macaroon boxes and decorated biscuit boxes and they look absolutely amazing! I’m so happy with them! Even if the website isn’t ready (at all), I’m really excited about it!

Anyway, I had a quite busy week last week but very nice. I had a lot of occasions to celebrate : 3 Birthdays and, of course, Valentine’s day. This year was the first year when I really felt creative about it so I let my imagination go!! Valentine’s day is really big over here compared to France where people don’t really celebrate lover’s day.

I made a whole meal as a valentine’s present, my starter was a roasted red pepper soup with goat cheese. It was very tasty!

Here’s the recipe:

For 3 people, you’ll need:

–  4 red peppers
–  1 medium onion
–  1 clove of garlic
–  Half of a potato
–  Half a litre of vegetable stock
–  1 desert spoon of sugar

Cut in half and de-seed your peppers. Roast them under the grill until the skin goes black. Put them in a jug and cover it with cling film. When it’s cooled down, remove the burned skin, chop your peppers and leave them in a bowl.

Chop the onion, garlic and potato and cook them for 5 minutes in a bit of oil. Add you peppers and stock and cook for about 15 minutes. Blend your vegetables and season with salt, pepper and sugar.

You can serve it as it is or with a piece of goat cheese and a drizzle of cream.

Also this week, we worked in a lovely shop in Northampton: St Giles Cheese.

We supply them every week with a selection of our stuff. They are really nice people who care about local businesses and the quality of their products, I really recommend this shop, and not just because they sell our stuff!

Mylène

Galette des Rois

Like every early January, I’m going to make a Galette des Rois. It’s a tradition in France; it’s supposed to celebrate a religious moment (epiphany) but for most people, it’s just an old family tradition. It’s a pie filled up with frangipane (or something else) and covered with pastry.

The whole excitement about it is that there is a “fève”, a little character made of porcelain, hidden in it.  You cut the galette and ask the youngest child to go under the table (I know, it’s weird) and he’s going to choose who’s having what piece without seeing.

The one who’s got the fève is the king or the queen of the day and can choose his queen or her king.

In medieval time, the (real) king and nobles used to choose an 8 year old boy with no money to be the king for the day; the boy could eat what he wanted and had servants all day. Each person in the court gave money for the boy to be able to go to school.

Anyway, enough of the mythology, here’s the recipe.

You’ll need:

–  2 circles of puff pastry
–  150g of ground almonds
–  100g of sugar
–  2 eggs
–  100g of melted butter
–  1 egg yolk, for brushing

The almond mix – Mix the almonds, sugar, eggs and butter together (for mine I also added 1 tablespoon of pistachio paste).

Put one circle of puff pastry on a baking tray, brush the edges with water.

Spread the frangipane (almond mix) but stop at about 3cm from the edge.

Put the fève randomly on the frangipane and place the second circle of pastry on the first.

Stick the edges together as much as you can then brush the pastry with egg yolk.

Finish by drawing a nice pattern with the top of a knife. Put in the oven on 180°C for about 25 minutes or until golden.

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

Focaccia mon amour…

Since I arrived in UK, I noticed all the Italian food you can find in the supermarkets here; we don’t get the chance to get it in France. I was surprised to see Italian breads, sauces, risotto… Italian food is so popular over here. I then realized I didn’t even know half of the Italian famous dishes.

Anyway, I discovered the existence of focaccia on a food programe on TV.  It looked amazing and I couldn’t wait to try it.

Obviously, the focaccia has to be thin and not thick like you usually find them in England. The dough is very very wet so it makes the kneading quit unusual but not bad at all, I actually enjoyed doing it.

My focaccia was really nice, light and very tasty. It didn’t last very long  at all, it’s very moreish. So for my very first one, it was a success. It was very easy to make so if you fancy making it, don’t hesitate and give it a go!

You’ll need:

–  500g of strong white flour
–  7g of fast action yeast
–  3 table spoons of olive oil plus more for kneading and topping
–  400ml of cool water
–  10g of salt

Mix together the flour, yeast, salt, olive oil and half of the water. Add the rest of the water a bit at a time.

You will soon think you need to add flour but don’t, it would be a big mistake.

Knead this wet dough for 5 minutes. Oil your worktop with olive oil and put the dough on it. Knead it a bit more and put it in a oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave it at room temperature for an hour.

Then pour the dough in two medium tins, covered with oiled baking paper. Press it gently to take the shape of the tin or tray. If your fingers stick to the dough, just put a bit more oil. Leave it at room temperature for an hour, without cover.

Preheat your oven at 220°C. Press gently your focaccia with the tip of your fingers to make little holes. Sprinkle with salt, rosemary, thyme… You can put garlic, olives…

Put in the oven for 20 min or until golden. Drizzle with virgin olive oil and serve warm with feta cheese, olives, dried tomatoes,… I personally love it on its own.

Absolutely delicious!

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!

 

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!!!!

Apple time!

As you know, it’s the apple season and if you’re lucky, you may have apple trees in your garden, or generous friends who can share some of their fruit.
I was given some cooking apples last week, so what to make with them?

If I was listening to my greedy boyfriend, I would make apple crumbles everyday but I’m trying to be creative and prepare some other wonderful puddings.
Here are some examples of things I’m making at the moment:

Old favourite, apple crumble (you can see the recipe on one of my older posts)

 

Apple pies. I’ve got so many different recipes: you can cook the apples separately or not. Take a pastry case and if you use an almond and egg filling with the apples (very popular in France) it’s called “tarte amandine”. You can make a kind of sweet apple quiche with eggs and cream and sugar which you pour over the raw apples before cooking (I know it sounds weird but it’s very good, it’s my special mum’s recipe)… I also love to just caramelize the apples with butter and sugar before to pour them in the pastry, mmmhhhh… 

Tarte tatin, this wonderful invention. Thank you so much to the Tatin’s sisters (French, of course!!) for this amazing new age apple pie. You just make a brown caramel with 50g of butter and 100g of sugar, pour it in a tin with high sides, put the apples all nicely on this lovely caramel, an finally put some pastry (puff, shortcrust or your own nice one) on the apples.

Make a little hole in the middle of the pastry to let the air go out. Cook it until the pastry looks golden and then turn the tin upside down onto a plate (don’t wait, it has to be hot!!), knock it a bit and remove it. If everything went okay, you should end up with a nice caramelized pie.

Compote or stewed apples. Everybody has their own recipe, I personally add a little bit of water, sugar and cinnamon to the apples when you’re cooking them.

Apple juice, if you’ve got a juice extractor

Sorbet!!!! Even if you haven’t got an ice cream maker, you can find a recipe online, doing it normally, pour the mixture into a plastic tub and leave it in the freezer for the night. The day after put the sorbet in your food processor until it goes creamy. Put it back in the freezer or eat it now! You have to take this sorbet out of the freezer about half an hour before to use it.

Have an appley day!

Mylène

A British recipe with a French touch….

That’s it, they’re gone, my 600 little precious macaroons are gone to be eaten very soon.

It was quite hard work but I thought it would be much more effort.

So now, it’s back to business as usual, the weekly order for a lovely shop in Northampton, St.Giles cheese.

Like I’m not too busy this week, I’ve got time to share a recipe! I’m not going to tell you the macaroon one mainly because it takes ages to make and because it’s a quite difficult recipe to explain. You can of course find a macaroon recipe on other websites.

So here’s my version of the best ever apple crumble. It’s a bit strange for me because it’s a proper British pudding and I’m French but I love to make it for my greedy boyfriend. Anyway, the recipe…

You’ll need (for 4 people):

–  About 4 large apples
–  150g of sugar (with demerara, it’s better I find)
–  100g of plain flour
–  100g of butter
–  A good pinch of cinnamon

First, peel and cut the apples into medium pieces.

Melt 20g of butter in a large pan.

When it’s all melted, add 50g of the sugar and stir it until you’ve got a nice caramel (don’t burn it!!!!!) it’s going to take about 3 min.

Add the apples and cinnamon and leave them to cook about 3 min in this lovely caramel and stir a few times. Then pour the apples into an oven tin.

Into a bowl, pour the flour and the rest of the sugar. Mix it together.

Melt the rest of the butter and pour it into the flour and sugar mixture. Mix it up with a fork until you obtain a nice crumble topping (if the mixture is too floury, add some more butter, add flour if the mixture looks too moist).

Put the mixture on the top of the apples and bake for 30 min at 180°C, until the top is golden.

Let it cool down a bit (if you can wait) and enjoy!!!!!!!!!!!!

Miam!

Mylène