Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Beautiful disaster...

Some of you may know that I will soon be moving to the US for my job. And since I want to host Thanksgiving next year at my place (wherever that will end up being), I decided I should practice a staple: the cranberry sauce.

Unfortunately, I was the victim of what is commonly known as a rookie mistake: I overcooked it!

As a result, my sauce was absolutely beautiful, but horribly bitter and totally inedible!

The pics are nice however, so enjoy! ;)

21 November 2009

Scandinavian experiment

Some of you may know that a couple of months ago, I went to Norway and Sweden for a few days. I came back from there with quite a few delicacies such as Geitost, Flädersläktet (Elderflower) jelly, Wasa crackers (of course) and smoked moose ham.

A few weeks ago, I decided to use the smoked moose, since the peremption date was approaching.

With that in mind, I improvised a pasta casserole with a Chasseur-like sauce.

I do not recall the exact recipe, as I pretty much went along with the flow, but it went a little something like that:

  • fry the smoked moose in a bit of butter, until slightly crispy. Put aside on a plate.
  • in the same pan, fry a finely diced onion (I would have used a shallot if I had had one in stead) in a little bit of butter, until golden, but not too brown. 
  • add a few sliced rehydrated porcini (of which you will have kept the water)
  • add the meat to the pan, and flame with a little cap of Gin (the original smoked reindeer stew recipe I was inspired from contained juniper berries, which I did not have).
    NOTE: if you flame food, shut down air aspiration! and be very careful with your hair, brows and lashes! ;)
  • add a couple of handfuls of spinach leaves (I used frozen spinach, that I thawed completely beforehand, and pressed all the water out of), add the water used to rehydrate the porcini mushrooms and cook until spinach is warm and tender. 
  • add a dollop of sour cream on top, a little black pepper and salt to taste.
    NOTE: the smoked meat may be very salted, so be gentle with the salt!

  • pour on top of cooked whole grain pasta (I used penne rigate).

29 November 2009


Alsacian-like lemon and speculaas spices scented Christmas cookies

Christmas is by far my favorite holiday of the year. I just love everything that is remotely related to Christmas, the presents, mistletoe, holly, fragrant trees and decorations!

Inspired by an Austrian friend of mine, Bianca, I decided to bake Christmas cookies. Being french, I opted for an Alsacian recipe (lemon scented cookies); but because I have lived in the Netherlands for over five years now, I tweaked the recipe by adding Speculaas spices in the mix! Enjoy!

05 December 2009

Ingredients (makes about 15 cookies)

For the cookies:

  • 250g flour
  • 1/2 pack of baking powder
  • 70g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of Speculaas spices
  • zest of 1 lemon, finely ground
  • 1 egg yolk (use the white for the icing, see below)
  • 2 tbsp of creme fraiche (thick cream)
  • 100g butter, cubed 
For the icing:

  • 125 g icing sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice 
Pre-warm the oven at 180°C.
Mix the flour and baking powder in a bowl. Add the sugar, spices, vanilla extract, salt, lemon zest, egg yolk and creme fraiche. Stir thoroughly, and incorporate the butter. Knead well; you should have a nice smooth dough (albeit a little crumbly).
Roll the dough on a flat surface, to a thickness of ~1/2 cm. With cookie-cutters (I used heart-, star-, flower-, tree- and angel-shaped ones), cut out the dough in as many cookies as you can. If there is leftover dough, make a ball out of it, and roll it down again until all the dough hass been cut out.
Place the cut-out dough on a baking paper sheet, and bake for ~15 minutes. Once cooked, let the cookies cool down completely before icing them.

When the cookies are cool, mix all the ingredients of the icing, until you obtain a thick white smooth paste. Ice your cookies with a spoon, using the back of the spoon to smooth the icing. Apply as many coats of sugar icing as you please (I used three coats). Let the icing dry completely before manipulating the cookies.

Happy Christmas!!!


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Blanquette de veau à l'ancienne (old-fashioned french veal stew)

Cold weather makes me crave hearty, comforting food.
Lately, I've been trying to perfect a number of staple french dishes. Nothing like traditional stews, right?
My latest piece is a blanquette de veau à l'ancienne (translation: old-fashioned french veal stew).

INGREDIENTS (for 6 people):
- 1,2 kg cubed veal meat
- 2/3 big carrots
- 2 leeks (only the white part)
- 250g button mushrooms
- 1 large onion, stuck with 2 cloves
- 200g small onions ( I used spring onions)
- 60g butter
- 3 tbsp crème fraiche (thick cream is good too)
- 1 egg yolk
- 50g flour
- 1 bayleaf, 2 sprigs thyme
- juice of a lemon (to taste)
- salt
- 10 black pepper corns

- Put the meat and the "cloved" onion in a large pan, and cover with cold water. Add some salt, and bring slowly to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes and remove the froth that will form at the surface.
- Meanwhile, peal the carrots, and cut them in big chunks. Wash the leeks, and tie them together with the bayleaf and thyme. Add everything to the boiling meat, as well as the 10 pepper corns. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.
- Peel the small onions, and cook them for 10 minutes in salted boiling water.
- Clean the mushrooms, and cut them in half (or quarts, depending on the size). Sauté them in a pan with a little butter. Salt, and put aside.
- Strain the meat and vegetables, but filter and keep the broth. You will need 50cl of the broth to make the sauce, but put the rest inthe fridge; it will be useful when you want to heat up the leftovers.
- Melt the 60 g butter in a pan. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute on medium heat. Add the filtered broth progressively, stirring continously until the sauce is smooth. Cook for a few minutes until the sauce thickens. 
- Add the meat and vegetables to the sauce again (after removing the string from the leeks), and heat gently. 
- Just before serving, add the egg yolk to the crème fraiche, and stir the mixture into the dish.
- Serve with white rice, fresh pasta or boiled potatoes. My favorite is white rice.
- Bon appétit! ;)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Tomato soup and cheddar-Marmite twists

Malou asked me the recipe of my tomato soup and cheddar-Marmite twists.

As I mentioned in my past accomplishments post, the recipe I used came from the british cooking magazine BBC Goodfood.
I cannot take credit for the ingeniosity of this wonderful dish.

Here is the link to the original recipe.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Homemade spaghetti recipe

Dead simple!

After my last post, Malou asked for the recipe of my homemade spaghetti.

For all kinds of pasta: 1 egg/100g of regular flour.  

Note: you can also use semolina flour to have a little more of a coarse dough. Be careful, the dough may be a little dry then, so adjust the quantity of semolina flour to a little less than if you use regular flour

Just make a small well in the flour, and break the egg(s) into this well. Slightly whisk them and then incorporate them progressively into the flour with your hands. I find that just twirling my fingers in a clockwise manner in the egg mixture is enough to take some flour every time, until it becomes really tacky and gooey.

Note: counter-clockwise swirling works just fine ;)

Then I just go at it full throttle, and use both my hands as I knead the dough  on a clean surface until it is firm and springy. If it is too sticky, you can use a little more flour. Then I just wrap it in cling film, and let it rest for at least 45 minutes in the fridge. 

When the dough has rested a while, I usually cut it, and make small patties of it, before I stretch it in my pasta machine. I then use the tagliatelle/spaghetti blades of the machine if I want to make long pasta; if I stick to lasagna, then I just don't use those blades.

Attention: those pasta are fresh, and cook really quickly! I think 2 minutes in boiling salted water are enough. Tagliatelle are delicious fresh. Spaghetti however are a little too "floppy" if not dried before hand.

I dry my pasta in two different ways:

1- I make little nests, and let them dry as such

2- Clothes hangers work wonders, but I suggest a little safer setup...

(I find that 5 eggs and 500g of flour will be plenty enough for a big lasagna dish)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Some of my past accomplishments

Okay...the purpose of this blog is to post a new entry whenever I cook or bake something from now on.

However, I've been cooking and baking for quite some time now, and it would take me too much time and energy to make individual posts and explanatory texts for each and every one of those dishes.

So I've decided to make one big giant recapitulatory post. If you'd like to know more about any of the dishes/recipes, don't hesitate to ask, and I'll do my best to get back to you!


26 September 2009: Challah

19 September 2009: Tomato soup with Marmite/cheddar twists (BBC Good Food)

24 May 2009: Double-potatoes and Halloumi bake (Nigella Lawson)

24 May 2009: Almond and orange blossom biscotti  (internet)

13 May 2009: Lamb kebabs and hasselback potatoes (Nigella Lawson)

10 May 2009: Saffron-scented chicken pilaf (Nigella Lawson)

10 March 2009: Pangasius filets with fragrant coconut sauce (internet)

7 March 2009: Fesenjan, a persian dish consisting of chicken stewed in pomegranate juice and walnut sauce

28 February 2009: Fragrant pork kebabs on lemongrass sticks (Mini C, Tanya Carr: Healthy Dairy-free Eating) 

22 February 2009: Homemade spaghetti al pesto alla genovese (recipe by an Italian colleague of mine, Andrea)

14 February 2009: Boeuf Bourguignon (internet)

31 January 2009: French kidney and mushroom stew 

23 January 2009: homemade herby lasagna

Various baking experiments: pecan pie (internet), lemon curd cake (Delia Smith) and chocolate and honey cake (Nigella Lawson)

See you soon with more recipes ;)

A taste of Louisiana


Those of you who know me know that for the past 3 moths or so, I've been reading the Southern Vampire Mysteries series of books by Charlaine Harris. Those books are also known as the "Sookie Stackhouse series".

You may also be aware that I am quite obsessed with HBO's True Blood TV show (in general) and Alexander Skarsgård (in particular).

Anyway...To cut a long story short,all of those things combined have made me crave Southern food so bad...

I gave in on October 24 2009, and made myself a nice, spicy and wonderfully comforting Jambalaya.

Let me know what you think of it!