Monday, April 28, 2008

Hello New-York!

Note: French version is on my other food blog La cuisine de Babeth
Rare cancer awareness: don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma



Just a short message to let you know that I will be less blogging in the next 10 days. I will try to connect to share some of my experiences, but I cannot promise anything. Tomorrow my private-jet, euh a big plane with a lot of other passengers..., will take-off direction: New-York. I will visit my little brother who is an intern-architect in Brooklyn.

See you soon!

Previously on La vie in English: Cheese-cake lollipops!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

[Daring bakers] Cheese cake pops!

Note: French version is on my other food blog La cuisine de Babeth
Rare cancer awareness: don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma



Hi my dear fellow food lover friends, today is the day the secret society: Daring Bakers reveals April challenge. We, the Daring Bakers, prepared with love a very cute surprise for you: cheese cake pops. I must admit I was never found of cheese cake while living in California and was never touched by the French cheese cake frenzy trend. But as a docile member I tried this month recipe. I just replaced the vanilla extract by real vanilla, and it's a real taste booster, a little je ne sais quoi that makes me fall in love with this cheese cake recipe.
I'm leaving tomorrow to visit my brother in Manhattan so I will give an other chance to American cheese cakes. I will keep you posted of course!

I'm a very lucky girl because my friend Jeff brought me from La Reunion more than 30 vanilla pods! Also here in Antibes, France I was unable to find lollipops sticks, so I just cut in 3 colorful straws. Even if there a huge Anglo community here on the French Riviera I was unlucky in my cream cheese quest. I asked for help to the Daring Bakers community and miss Tartelette told me that "Kiri" or "petit-suisse" will work well. Thanks a lot :-)


Here Elle & Deborah April's challenge:

Cheesecake Pops

Ingredients: Makes 30 – 40 Pops

5 8-oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature

2 cups sugar

¼ cup all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

5 large eggs

2 egg yolks

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

¼ cup heavy cream

Boiling water as needed

Thirty to forty 8-inch lollipop sticks

1 pound chocolate, finely chopped – you can use all one kind or half and half of dark, milk, or white (Alternately, you can use 1 pound of flavored coatings, also known as summer coating, confectionary coating or wafer chocolate – candy supply stores carry colors, as well as the three kinds of chocolate.)

2 tablespoons vegetable shortening

(Note: White chocolate is harder to use this way, but not impossible)

Assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars, dragees) - Optional

Directions:

Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Set some water to boil.

In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. If using a mixer, mix on low speed. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and cream.

Grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan), and pour the batter into the cake pan. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes.

Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.

When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2-ounce balls and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 – 2 hours.

When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, heat half the chocolate and half the shortening, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and chocolate and shortening are combined. Stir until completely smooth. Do not heat the chocolate too much or your chocolate will lose it’s shine after it has dried. Save the rest of the chocolate and shortening for later dipping, or use another type of chocolate for variety.

Alternately, you can microwave the same amount of chocolate coating pieces on high at 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth.

Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. If you like, you can now roll the pops quickly in optional decorations. You can also drizzle them with a contrasting color of melted chocolate (dark chocolate drizzled over milk chocolate or white chocolate over dark chocolate, etc.) Place the pop on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate and shortening (or confectionary chocolate pieces) as needed.

Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.

Previous Daring Bakers challenges:
-Julia Child's French bread
-Lemon meringue pie
-Tender potato bread

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Chocolate chunk muffins

Note: French version is on my other food blog La cuisine de Babeth
Rare cancer awareness: don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma



God! it was difficult to come up with the ultimate, perfect chocolate chips or chunk muffins recipe. I did a lot of experiments in my tiny kitchen. We have in our apartment what is called in France: une cuisine américaine (American kitchen). It's a comic association once you know the size of American kitchen from each side of the ocean. In France an American kitchen is tiny place where only one slim person can cook, separated from the living room with a bar. And as you know in the US kitchens are huge some times as big as a bowling.
So I tried many recipes with poor results: either the dough was too liquid to form nice rounded and cracked muffins, or too sweet, or even all the chips/chunks/fruits used sank to the bottom.
I turned towards Nigella, the domestic goddess for help. She has a chocolate chips recipe, she knows what she's talking about, but (still one complaint) the batch of muffins was not homogeneous. After a little bit of thinking I found what was wrong in Nigella's recipe: she gave quantities in the metric system, and what she's giving is a little bit more each time as rounded cups. And as everybody knows muffins are Americans so the y need to be treated such as with cups!
However after some tuning I found the ultimate muffins recipe! I'm kind of proud of me :-)

Here my scientific conclusions:
1- use a measuring cup
2- as all muffins makers know: don't over mix! Leave your Kitchenaid or any other stand mixer in your cupboard. A lumpy batter will make the best muffins.
3- I used chocolate chunks instead of chips, the chocolate experience is even better!
4- a little something I've stolen from Nigella: set aside 2 to 3 chunks for each muffins you plan to make for sprinkling before putting them in the oven.
5- (optional) I married quinoa flour with dark chocolate. Quinoa flour has a malt flavor that goes very well with the intensity of dark chocolate

Here Babeth's ultimate chocolate chunk muffins recipe:
Ingredients: (making 12 big muffins)
-1 3/4 cup all purpose-flour
-1/3 cup of quinoa flour (optional if you don't have quinoa flour just use 2 cups of all purpose-flour)
-3/4 cup sugar
-1 rounded teaspoon of baking soda or 1 package of levure chimique
-1 cup of milk
-1/2 cup of sunflower oil
-2 eggs
-5 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Directions:
1- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
2- Place muffin cups in the muffin tin. I used silicon cups, it's more eco-friendly than the paper-ones.
3- With a knife coarsely chop the chocolate. Set aside 2 to 3 chunks for each muffins.
3- In a medium bowl combine the flours, sugar, baking soda.
4- In another bowl whisk the milk, oil and eggs.
5- Pour the milk mix into the dry mix. Add the chunks.
6- Stir just until the it's blended. Don't over mix, a lumpy batter will make the best muffins.
7- Spoon the batter into the muffin cups. Sprinkle on top of each muffins 2 to 3 chunks.
8- Place in the oven rack for 20 minutes at 400°F.


Check my savory muffins recipe: Brussels sprouts muffins
Check other quinoa recipes: quinoa mixed berry muffins, Brussels sprouts and read quinoa cassolettes

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Picnic/BBQ in Pégomas

Note: French version is on my other food blog La cuisine de Babeth
Charity: don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma



Sunday we fled civilization! We went to Pégomas for a picnic/BBQ at our friend Jeff country shack. We merrily celebrated Jeff comeback from his service tour abroad and the arrival of spring.



Jeff is a very special friend for me, he's the one who carried the umbrella, my kaki and vervaine provider.
We hit the road directions the country side (l'arrière-pays) with 2 big wicker baskets full of food provisions.





Our menu was:
brad beans and arugula salad, small purple artichokes, tapenade (puréed olives), Corsican charcuteries, lamb skewers, baked potatoes en robe des champs (meaning baked under the embers).

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A cookbook I cherish

Note: French version is on my other food blog La cuisine de Babeth
Charity: don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma



Anne
a foodie blogger friend of mine launched a game few days ago: what is your favorite cookbook? Well it's a very tricky question. I stared at my cookbooks collection very puzzled. Which one to pick?? I love all of them, to a certain extent of course. Some I won through various games are not keepers, but I won't name names.

I have some old ladies living on my shelves, but I though that they aren't game materials at least for this time. I wanted to pick a cookbook that everybody would be able to find without spending all week-ends till fall browsing yard-sales.
My pick is: Supernatural cooking by Heidi Swanson, a pleasant healthy Californian writing 101cookbooks blog.
I already tested her animal crackers (here).

Previously on La vie in English: 2 gingers maple-glazed salmon

Monday, April 14, 2008

2 gingers maple-glazed salmon

Note: French version is on my other food blog La cuisine de Babeth
Charity: don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma



Until recently, in my cooking world maple syrup was only good for drowning pancakes at breakfast. I know it's not particularly healthy since it's pure sugar but I love to sponge maple syrup with my pancakes. After few trips to Quebec with Mathieu I discovered a lot more in the maple syrup department. Maple syrup can be used on smoked ham, on roasted meat or fish and even to sweeten yogurts. I'm even thinking to use it as replacement sugar in muffins.

Micheline, Mathieu's mother-in-law, in a way my second mother-in-law, sent me by emails few typical Quebec recipes. Here, I'm presenting you the first one I tried at home: 2 gingers maple-glazed salmon, it's a keeper!

Ingredients:
-2 skinless salmon steaks
-1/4 cup of maple syrup
-3 tbs of fresh grated ginger (alternatively use powered ginger)
-3 tbs of lemon juice
-1 tbs soy sauce
-marinated ginger (can be find at any Asian supermarket)
-sesame seeds

Directions:
1- Preheat the oven at 400°F.
2- In a bowl mix together: maple syrup, grated ginger, lemon juice and soy sauce.
3- Place the salmon in a small baking dish and pour the marinade over it. Cover with an aluminum foil.Cook for 10 minutes.
If you don't have a baking dish you can make papillotes.
4- Remove the aluminum foil and broil at grill for 10 minutes till the fish becomes opaque.
If you're using papillotes just open them before.
5- Before serving sprinkle on top sesame seeds and marinated ginger.

Previously on La vie in English: the husband in the kitchen: apple tarte tatin, chiken ginger wok stir-fried

Friday, April 11, 2008

Staub great bargain deal tomorrow!

Note: French version is on La cuisine de Babeth
Charity: don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma



Tomorrow, Saturday 12th of April at 9 o'clock on vente-privée, a shopping web-site, there's a super Staub sale (outlet prices).
Staub is a cast-iron pots maker, the concurrent of Le Creuset. On the same shopping web-site you may recall that few weeks ago I told you about a Le Creuset super deal sale. Last time I was not quick enough to make up my mind and chose, so when I sure of the color and the size of the cast-iron pot I wanted they were all gone. Hope this time my brain will work faster!

You need to be a member to shop on vente-privée, here an invitation from me to become one.
(I've noticed today, April 16th, that the invitation link is broken. They're doing some upgrades on the site. You can still get an invitation, just drop me an email at: cuisinedebabeth[at]gmail[dot]com with your email address and I will add you to the list of happy customers!)

Previously on La vie in English: quinoa mixed berry muffins

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Quinoa mixed berry muffins

Note: French version is on my other food blog La cuisine de Babeth
Charity: about cancer don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma



Muffins and cookies are typical American snacks for me. When I was living in the US, I went crazy for cookies (fresh ones of course) and muffins. My favorite muffins were -and still are-: poppy seeds, chocolate chunks or chips and blueberries. As much as cookies are super easy to make, muffins are tricky to bake. Yes, those good-hearted muffins can be fiddly to prepare.

For perfect muffins: rounded, golden, tender with a pebby top, there's 2 rules to respect:
1- use oil instead of butter. Butter is composed only of 80% of butterfat the rest is solid milk and water. Fat helps to have moist muffins. If you're really not keen on oil use clarified butter.
2- don't over mix. Leave your Kitchenaid or any other stand mixer in your cupboard. A lumpy batter will make the best muffins.

Ingredients:
-1 cup all purpose-flour
-1 cup of quinoa flour
-3/4 cup sugar
-1 rounded teaspoon of baking soda or 1 package of levure chimique
-1 cup of milk
-1/2 cup of sunflower oil
-2 eggs
-1 1/3 cups of mixed berries

Directions:
1- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
2- Place muffin cups in the muffin tin. I used silicon cups, it's more eco-friendly than the paper-ones.
3- In a medium bowl combine the flours, sugar, baking soda.
4- In another bowl whisk the milk, oil and eggs.
5- Pour the milk mix into the dry mix. Add the berries.
6- Stir just until the it's blended. Don't over mix, a lumpy batter will make the best muffins.
7- Spoon the batter into the muffin cups.
8- Place in the oven rack for 20 minutes at 400°F.

Check my savory muffins recipe: Brussels sprouts muffins

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Scoop: scook!

Note: French version is on La cuisine de Babeth
Charity: don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma



When the only 3-star woman chef opens her very own cooking school it's a mouth watering promise. At the program: being a chef for one night: a one-and-one lesson with a real chef to prepare a feast for your friends. How yummy is that?
For more go to scook web site

Scook
243 avenue Victor Hugo
26000 Valence
ph:04.75.44.92.30
sales@pic-valence.com

Picture: Jeff Nalin

Friday, April 4, 2008

Carrot and turnip pork roast

Note: French version is on my other food blog La cuisine de Babeth

Charity: don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma



A few weeks ago we spent a lovely week-end in Paris at our friends Rico and Frida's place. Rico and Frida are just nicknames, I cannot tell you their real names because bounty hunters are after them! Their crime, if it's one, too much kindness!

Our Parisian week-end program: a bike rid in Montmartre district using the wonderful velib' service, a play, a visit to Paris' flea market and the Sunday roast. If you had read my post in French I named the recipe The Z' roast, an obscure reference to the time Rico and me spent preparing University entry exams together.

His pork roast was splendid, moist, tasteful and the veggies were literally melting in the mouth.

Ingredients:
- pork roast
- 4 big carrots
- 2 turnips (the smaller they are the tender they are)
- sunflower oil
- pepper seeds
- kosher salt
- 2 bay leaves
- white wine

Directions:
1- Peel and thinly cut the veggies.
2- Heat some sunflower oil in a cast-iron pot and smash 3 to 4 pepper seeds into it.
3- When the oil is hot roast for few minutes both sides of the meat. When golden add the veggies, bay leaves, salt and cover with liquid (wine or water if you prefer). Cover.
4- Cook for an hour at medium heat.

Other pork recipes:
- cured pork with green lentils
- Garlic pork roast with its crispy potatoes
Share on Facebook