Monday, March 30, 2009

[Daring Bakers] Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna

God! March is already ending and so with it March Daring Bakers! This month we were all baking Lasagna. With Mathieu we love Lasagna, home-made are the best! But I've never tried making home-made pasta dough. It was fun!
As usual I'm a bit late to post the challenge ... don't know why I'm not learning from a month to the next one ...

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.


Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna (Lasagne Verdi al Forno)
(Serves 8 to 10 as a first course, 6 to 8 as a main dish)

Preparation Time: 15 minutes to assemble and 40 minutes cooking time

10 quarts (9 litres) salted water
1 recipe Spinach Pasta cut for lasagna (recipe follows)#1
1 recipe Bechamel Sauce (recipe follows)#2
1 recipe Country Style Ragu (recipe follows)#3
1 cup (4 ounces/125g) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


Method
Working Ahead:
The ragu and the béchamel sauce can be made up to three days ahead. The ragu can also be frozen for up to one month. The pasta can be rolled out, cut and dried up to 24 hours before cooking. The assembled lasagne can wait at room temperature (20 degrees Celsius/68 degrees Fahrenheit) about 1 hour before baking. Do not refrigerate it before baking, as the topping of béchamel and cheese will overcook by the time the center is hot.

Assembling the Ingredients:
Have all the sauces, rewarmed gently over a medium heat, and the pasta at hand. Have a large perforated skimmer and a large bowl of cold water next to the stove. Spread a double thickness of paper towels over a large counter space. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius). Oil or butter a 3 quart (approx 3 litre) shallow baking dish.

Cooking the Pasta:
Bring the salted water to a boil. Drop about four pieces of pasta in the water at a time. Cook about 2 minutes. If you are using dried pasta, cook about 4 minutes, taste, and cook longer if necessary. The pasta will continue cooking during baking, so make sure it is only barely tender. Lift the lasagne from the water with a skimmer, drain, and then slip into the bowl of cold water to stop cooking. When cool, lift out and dry on the paper towels. Repeat until all the pasta is cooked.

Assembling the Lasagne:
Spread a thin layer of béchamel over the bottom of the baking dish. Arrange a layer of about four overlapping sheets of pasta over the béchamel. Spread a thin layer of béchamel (about 3 or 4 spoonfuls) over the pasta, and then an equally thin layer of the ragu. Sprinkle with about 1&1/2 tablespoons of the béchamel and about 1/3 cup of the cheese. Repeat the layers until all ingredients are used, finishing with béchamel sauce and topping with a generous dusting of cheese.

Baking and Serving the Lasagne:
Cover the baking dish lightly with foil, taking care not to let it touch the top of the lasagne. Bake 40 minutes, or until almost heated through. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes, or until hot in the center (test by inserting a knife – if it comes out very warm, the dish is ready). Take care not to brown the cheese topping. It should be melted, creamy looking and barely tinged with a little gold. Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and let the lasagne rest for about 10 minutes. Then serve. This is not a solid lasagne, but a moist one that slips a bit when it is cut and served.

#1 Spinach Egg Pasta (Pasta Verde)

Preparation: 45 minutes

Makes enough for 6 to 8 first course servings or 4 to 6 main course servings, equivalent to 1 pound (450g) dried boxed pasta.

2 jumbo eggs (2 ounces/60g or more)
10 ounces (300g) fresh spinach, rinsed dry, and finely chopped; or 6 ounces (170g) frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
3&1/2 cups (14 ounces/400g) all purpose unbleached (plain) flour (organic stone ground preferred)

Working by Hand:

Equipment

A roomy work surface, 24 to 30 inches deep by 30 to 36 inches (60cm to 77cm deep by 60cm to 92cm). Any smooth surface will do, but marble cools dough slightly, making it less flexible than desired.

A pastry scraper and a small wooden spoon for blending the dough.

A wooden dowel-style rolling pin. In Italy, pasta makers use one about 35 inches long and 2 inches thick (89cm long and 5cm thick). The shorter American-style pin with handles at either end can be used, but the longer it is, the easier it is to roll the pasta.
Note: although it is not traditional, Enza has successfully made pasta with a marble rolling pin, and this can be substituted for the wooden pin, if you have one.

Plastic wrap to wrap the resting dough and to cover rolled-out pasta waiting to be filled. It protects the pasta from drying out too quickly.

A sharp chef’s knife for cutting pasta sheets.

Cloth-covered chair backs, broom handles, or specially designed pasta racks found in cookware shops for draping the pasta.

Mixing the dough:
Mound the flour in the center of your work surface and make a well in the middle. Add the eggs and spinach. Use a wooden spoon to beat together the eggs and spinach. Then gradually start incorporating shallow scrapings of flour from the sides of the well into the liquid. As you work more and more flour into the liquid, the well’s sides may collapse. Use a pastry scraper to keep the liquids from running off and to incorporate the last bits of flour into the dough. Don’t worry if it looks like a hopelessly rough and messy lump.

Kneading:
With the aid of the scraper to scoop up unruly pieces, start kneading the dough. Once it becomes a cohesive mass, use the scraper to remove any bits of hard flour on the work surface – these will make the dough lumpy. Knead the dough for about 3 minutes. Its consistency should be elastic and a little sticky. If it is too sticky to move easily, knead in a few more tablespoons of flour. Continue kneading about 10 minutes, or until the dough has become satiny, smooth, and very elastic. It will feel alive under your hands. Do not shortcut this step. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and let it relax at room temperature 30 minutes to 3 hours.

Stretching and Thinning:
If using an extra-long rolling pin work with half the dough at a time. With a regular-length rolling pin, roll out a quarter of the dough at a time and keep the rest of the dough wrapped. Lightly sprinkle a large work surface with flour. The idea is to stretch the dough rather than press down and push it. Shape it into a ball and begin rolling out to form a circle, frequently turning the disc of dough a quarter turn. As it thins outs, start rolling the disc back on the pin a quarter of the way toward the center and stretching it gently sideways by running the palms of your hands over the rolled-up dough from the center of the pin outward. Unroll, turn the disc a quarter turn, and repeat. Do twice more.

Stretch and even out the center of the disc by rolling the dough a quarter of the way back on the pin. Then gently push the rolling pin away from you with one hand while holding the sheet in place on the work surface with the other hand. Repeat three more times, turning the dough a quarter turn each time.

Repeat the two processes as the disc becomes larger and thinner. The goal is a sheet of even thickness. For lasagne, the sheet should be so thin that you can clearly see your hand through it and see colours. Cut into rectangles about 4 by 8 inches (10 x 20 cm). Note: Enza says that transparency is a crucial element of lasagne pasta and the dough should be rolled as thinly as possible. She says this is why her housekeeper has such strong arms!

Dry the pasta at room temperature and store in a sealed container or bag.


#2 Bechamel

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

4 tablespoons (2 ounces/60g) unsalted butter
4 tablespoons (2 ounces/60g) all purpose unbleached (plain) flour, organic stone ground preferred
2&2/3 cups (approx 570ml) milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste

Using a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over low to medium heat. Sift over the flour, whisk until smooth, and then stir (without stopping) for about 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk a little at a time and keep the mixture smooth. Bring to a slow simmer, and stir 3 to 4 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Season with salt, pepper, and a hint of nutmeg.


#3 Country Style Ragu’ (Ragu alla Contadina)

Preparation Time: Ingredient Preparation Time 30 minutes and Cooking time 2 hours

Makes enough sauce for 1 recipe fresh pasta or 1 pound/450g dried pasta)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (45 mL)
2 ounces/60g pancetta, finely chopped
1 medium onion, minced
1 medium stalk celery with leaves, minced
1 small carrot, minced
4 ounces/125g boneless veal shoulder or round
4 ounces/125g pork loin, trimmed of fat, or 4 ounces/125g mild Italian sausage (made without fennel)
8 ounces/250g beef skirt steak, hanging tender, or boneless chuck blade or chuck center cut (in order of preference)
1 ounce/30g thinly sliced Prosciutto di Parma
2/3 cup (5 ounces/160ml) dry red wine
1 &1/2 cups (12 ounces/375ml) chicken or beef stock (homemade if possible)
2 cups (16 ounces/500ml) milk
3 canned plum tomatoes, drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Working Ahead:
The ragu can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. It also freezes well for up to 1 month. Skim the fat from the ragu’ before using it.

Browning the Ragu Base:
Heat the olive oil in a 12 inch (30cm) skillet (frying pan) over medium-high heat. Have a large saucepan handy to use once browning is complete. Add the pancetta and minced vegetables and sauté, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, 10 minutes, or until the onions barely begin to color. Coarsely grind all the meats together, including the prosciutto, in a food processor or meat grinder. Stir into the pan and slowly brown over medium heat. First the meats will give off a liquid and turn dull grey but, as the liquid evaporates, browning will begin. Stir often, scooping under the meats with the wooden spatula. Protect the brown glaze forming on the bottom of the pan by turning the heat down. Cook 15 minutes, or until the meats are a deep brown. Turn the contents of the skillet into a strainer and shake out the fat. Turn them into the saucepan and set over medium heat.

Reducing and Simmering: Add the wine to the skillet, lowering the heat so the sauce bubbles quietly. Stir occasionally until the wine has reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Scrape up the brown glaze as the wine bubbles. Then pour the reduced wine into the saucepan and set the skillet aside.

Stir ½ cup stock into the saucepan and let it bubble slowly, 10 minutes, or until totally evaporated. Repeat with another ½ cup stock. Stir in the last 1/2 cup stock along with the milk. Adjust heat so the liquid bubbles very slowly. Partially cover the pot, and cook 1 hour. Stir frequently to check for sticking.

Add the tomatoes, crushing them as they go into the pot. Cook uncovered, at a very slow bubble for another 45 minutes, or until the sauce resembles a thick, meaty stew. Season with salt and pepper.

Alternative Recipes from Mary of Beans and Caviar

#1 Gluten Free Egg Pasta

The choice of the first flour is personal. I used corn flour because the subtle taste blended well with the dish. However, this is a matter of personal taste – please feel free to substitute a different flour for the corn flour but don't subsititute a starch.

150 gr corn flour or masa in North America - yellow with a slightly gritty feel (250 mL, 1 cup) NOT a starch
100 gr corn starch* (3/4 cup, 187.5 mL)
100 gr tapioca flour* (225 mL, 9/10 cup or a little over 7 volume ounces)
150 gr of potato starch* (250 mL, 1 cup)
100 gr of glutinous rice flour* (200 mL, ¾ cup)
10 gr of Xanthan powder (1.5 tsp, 7.5 mL)
10 gr of salt (1 tsp, 5 mL)

6 extra large eggs (60 gr each or 2.5 oz in weight, 1 fluid oz in volume)
3/8 cup of water (95 mL)
50 mL of extra virgin olive oil (1/5 cup)
Note: If you add cooked chopped spinach to this recipe, you may have to reduce the water. The recipe was not tested (yet) with the addition of spinach.

*fine white powder that squeaks when rubbed between fingers

Plastic wrap or parchment paper for your work surface
Aluminium foil to cover the lasagne

Sift all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients.

Whisk together 3 eggs, the water and/or spinach, and the oil. Pour into the middle of the dry ingredients. Mix with a sturdy wooden spoon, gradually drawing more of the flour mix into the wet ingredients. Add each egg as needed. The dough will be crumbly at the beginning but will gradually come together as you add the eggs. You will need to use your hands to squeeze and mix the dough.

The dough will be firm and stick together when ready. It will not have the elasticity of gluten dough therefore it will crack when kneaded and pushed. Form it into a smooth ball, oil it lightly, and cover securely with plastic wrap. Let it rest for an hour.

Put a sheet of plastic wrap on your work surface. This is very important as the dough will not hold together very well when lifted. Have flour ready for dusting (corn flour etc) and dust the surface lightly. Cut a piece of dough about the size of really large egg – it doesn’t matter the size but start small for the first one to gauge how much space you need. Keep the remaining dough covered so it does not dry.

Roll the dough into a ball and flatten into a disc with your hands. Put it on your work surface and flatten with your hands. Use a rolling pin and gently push the dough down and out ward from the centre. You may have to place one hand on the plastic wrap as you push the dough down and away. Gluten free dough does not stretch like wheat dough therefore it needs gentle flattening and pushing. If it breaks, pat it back together. If it is too dry, dab a little water with your finger.

The gluten free dough will be thicker than wheat dough and you will barely be able to see your hand through the dough. Once it is flattened, cut into strips or squares that will fit your pan.

Set the dough aside on the plastic sheet. There is no need to dry the dough. But if you do dry the dough, it will not be able to hang because it will break. Stack the rolled out dough with plastic sheets in between.

Stack the sheets when dry and wrap securely. Store in the fridge until ready to use. Freezing will make the dough crumbly and difficult to work with – so freeze only as a last resort!

This dough does not need to be precooked before being assembled into the lasagne.

#2 Gluten Free Béchamel - White Sauce

2 & 2/3 cup milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter or Extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons corn starch (fine white and squeaky) – another starch can be substituted
Salt and pepper to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg

Mix the corn starch with ½ cup of cold milk. Heat the rest of the milk in a small sauce pan until steaming but do not boil. Add the milk/cornstarch mixture to the steaming milk. Stirring constantly, raise the heat and heat the mixture until thick. Once it is thick, remove it from the heat and add the butter, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Have the béchamel warm or at room temperature ready to assemble the lasagne. Whisk the sauce occasionally if it becomes stiff or thick.

help-beat-sarcoma-a-thon now speaks Spanish!

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

Rare cancer awareness: don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma

After last week 1st bilingual French/English brunch post, I'm really proud to introduce the first Spanish/French brunch. I guess now help-beat-sarcoma-a-thon, share your bunch for a good cause is trilingual whouhahou :-) This week recipe is from a friend of mine, Ana. She's from Guatemala and followed her husband to Luxembourg last year.

Her recipe is a staple from Guatemala: Rellenitos, basical fried platanos, black beans and chocolate balls. It sounds really yummy! To read her recipe just click here!

help beat sarcoma

In association with beatsarcoma.org we host a campaign on the web: "share your Sunday brunch for a good cause". We are well aware that won't change the world but it shows that we care and we may also raise some funds (adsense has been implemented on the dedicated blog and you can find a direct link for donations).

One of my friend Nathalie was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer: sarcoma. A cancer that doesn't get much public attention. With her support I launched help-beat-sarcoma-a-thon or how to share your Sunday brunch for a good cause. The idea is to raise awareness, and why not also donations, about this cause on internet, but a joyous way. And what more joyous than sharing a good meal! To participate don't forget to check here the rules here.


To read again the 9th help-beat-sarcoma-a-thon entry, follow this link!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Hey Luxembourg, let's have a cultural week-end!

Note: You prefer Oulala? Read this post on my French blog: La cuisine de Babeth
Rare cancer awareness:
don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma

This week-end, Saturday 28th andSunday 29th of March Luxembourgish museums part of « d’stater muséeën » group, open their doors to the public. And the good news doesn't stop here:
-it's free!
-you can catch guided tours in French, Luxembourgish or German
-a lot of kids activities are organised
-you can meet artists
-or catch a conference
-and free shuttles to go from one place to another are also free

So let's beat the gloomy weather in Grand Duché and let's make this week-end a cultural one!

Program in pdf format can be download here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

evoo toasted pumpkin soup

Note: You prefer Oulala? Read this post on my French blog: La cuisine de Babeth
Rare cancer awareness:
don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma

evoo toasted pumpkin soup

Today is the 25th of March and it's ... snowing ... Quite depressing after a really (I mean REALLY) long winter here in Luxembourg area. This morning snow took us by surprise after a lovely first sunny spring week. Where did the sun goes? Please come back!

Anyway to keep me warm I had soup for lunch, one of the many I made and froze during all winter. Before living with Mathieu I was not a huge soup fan. They made it to the table only when I was sick, but let me tell you that my Canadian husband adores soups. I tried prepare with veggies in season the soups we eat. I always make a big batch and freeze the left-over. It comes handy on those lazy evenings when I don't want to cook.

Anyway soup du jour was a creation of mine: evoo toasted pumpkin soup, served with a dash of squash seed oil. This oil is a little souvenir from Geneva, Switzerland where I visited my dear friend Emma. Squash seed oil, also named butternut squash seed oil is great to kick to flavor of this soup, but also great as a salad dressing. The oil is dark brown green and has a roasted nutty taste, especially delicious in Fall or Winter.

Ingredients:
- about 10 oz of pumpkin (or 1 slice of a medium one)
- 2 small turnips
- 3 potatoes
- 2 carrots
- 1/6 of a medium size celeriac (note if you don't use the rest sprinkle some lemon juice on it to prevent it to darkened)
- evoo (extra virgin olive oil)
- 1 Maggi chicken stock cube (or about 4 1/4 cups of chicken broth in that case no need to add water in #3)

- optional: butternut squash seed oil

Directions:
1- Peel and clean the pumpkin slice. Cut in cubes.
2- Peel and sliced the celeriac, carrots, turnips and potatoes.
3-Add the chicken stock cube to about 1 liter (4 1/4 cups) of boiling water. Stir. (the more water you will use the more liquid your soup will be). Add the sliced veggies (but not the pumpkin, anyway it's a fruit :-) ). Cover and let it cook for about 20 minutes.
4- How do I know the veggies are cooked? Test them with the tip of a knife, if it enters them like butter it's ready.
5- In a hot pan add a splash of olive oil and the pumpkin slices. Cook it for about 15 minutes until it's nicely golden. (it's cooked when the pumpkin flesh color turns dark orange) Set aside.
7- Mix it altogether with a blender.

Other soups recipes:
-Jerusalem artichoke soup
-soup at Tiffany
-
cream slip peas and bacon
- cream hokkaido squash soup

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

1st bilingual help-beat-sarcoma-a-thon entry!

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

Rare cancer awareness: don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma

After letting a man in charge on Women's day, brunch for a good cause is proud to present the 1st bilingual French/English entry! Babeth59, a French foodie, gave her oven roasted French toast recipe. It's delicious and easy to bake!
Her recipe is also the 9th help-beat-sarcoma-a-thon entry follow this link!

help beat sarcoma

In association with beatsarcoma.org we host a campaign on the web: "share your Sunday brunch for a good cause". We are well aware that won't change the world but it shows that we care and we may also raise some funds (adsense has been implemented on the dedicated blog and you can find a direct link for donations).

One of my friend Nathalie was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer: sarcoma. A cancer that doesn't get much public attention. With her support I launched help-beat-sarcoma-a-thon or how to share your Sunday brunch for a good cause. The idea is to raise awareness, and why not also donations, about this cause on internet, but a joyous way. And what more joyous than sharing a good meal! To participate don't forget to check here the rules here.


To read again the 8th help-beat-sarcoma-a-thon entry, follow this link!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Free macarons today!

Note: You prefer Oulala? Read this post on my French blog: La cuisine de Babeth
Rare cancer awareness:
don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma



Like every 20th of March for the last 4 years it's macaron's day! Pierre Hermé and his fellow pastry chefs from Relais desserts group are celebrating spring with macarons. And the great news is that they are giving them away for free!
Where? In Paris, of course, but also all over France (addresses here), Belgium (addresses here), Switzerland (addresses here), the Netherlands (addresses here), Japan (addresses here) and in Luxembourg (addresses here)!

And Pierre Hermé himself will sign his macarons gilft boxes at Paris Publicis drugstore.

Jour du macaron is also a day to give back, pastry chefs made a special red macaron that you can buy for 1 euro. All the benefits will go to FMO (Orphan desease organisation) charity.

So for macaron's day near you: follow this link.

For macaron's day near La vie in English:

Maison Oberweis
La Cloche d'Or - 1, rue Guillaume Kroll - Luxembourg - Tel : +352 40 31 40
19-21 Grande Rue - Luxembourg - Tel : +352 47 07 03

Friday, March 13, 2009

Fruits and veggies are burning!

Note: You prefer Oulala? Read this post on my French blog: La cuisine de Babeth
Rare cancer awareness:
don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma


Photo: AFP

This night a fruits and vegetables warehouse at Rungis was devastated by a massive fire. The fire started at 2:30AM (Paris time), hundreds of firemen worked all night, the fire is now under control.
The origin of the fire is still unknown.

Rungis is known as the world largest farmers market with its 232 hectares of warehouses. Rungis has been located in Paris suburbs near Orly airport for 40 years, in replacement of Halles de Paris.
Every day 6000 tons of fruit, vegetable, meat or fish are traded, and 12000 workers are employed.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Jerusalem artichoke soup

Note: You prefer Oulala? Read this post on my French blog: La cuisine de Babeth
Rare cancer awareness:
don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma

topinambour

Winter is supposed to be ending anytime soon, at least on the calendar. Winter was pretty harsh here in Lorraine / Luxembourg area, and hot home-made soups were a lot on the menu. I tried to compose with seasonal veggies: Brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflowers, turnips, celeriac or potatoes. To avoid palate boredom I played with spices and herbs.
During one of my weekly trip to Thionville farmers market I bought some Jerusalem artichokes. Most certainly our grandparents won't be thrilled to see them back in the kitchen, at least in France. How is it in your country? Please tell us! During World War 2 potatoes were requisitioned by the Germans and hard to find. Potatoes were replaced by Jerusalem artichokes and Swedish turnips. To much of something kill the appetite for it.

In French we call the Jerusalem artichokes topinambours. They're also named in English topinambur, sunchoke or earth apple and are not from Jerusalem but Northern America.
They arrived in France in the 17th century after being discovered by Samuel de Champlain (Quebec city founding father). But they arrived at the same time as some Indians from Brazil, called Tupinambàs. People thought that the vegetable root came with the Indians, poor Samuel.

Like for my other home-made soups, I froze this one in small 1 to 2 portion bags.

Ingredients: (to make about 1.5 liter)
- 4 Jerusalem artichokes
- 2 potatoes
- 1 turnip
- 2 carrots
- 1 branch of celery (rib + leaves)
- 1 Maggi chicken stock cube
(or about 4 1/4 cups of chicken broth in that case no need to add water see #3)


Directions:
1- Clean, peel the potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, carrots and turnip. Slice them.
2- Trim the end off. Slice the rib and keep the leaves. (We will use them to flavor the soup, no waste)
3- Add the chicken stock cube to about 1 liter (4 1/4 cups) of boiling water. Stir. (the more water you will use the more liquid your soup will be). Add the sliced veggies and celery's leaves. Cover and let it cook for about 20 minutes.
4- How do I know the veggies are cooked? Test them with the tip of a knife, if it enters them like butter it's ready.
5- Mix it with a blender.





Other soups recipes:
-soup at Tiffany
-
cream slip peas and bacon
- cream hokkaido squash soup

If you look closely to the picture you may see Babeth :-)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Leonidas on vente-privée!

Note: You prefer Oulala? Read this post on my French blog: La cuisine de Babeth
Rare cancer awareness:
don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma


Today it's great bargain deal tips on "La vie in English" and "La cuisine de Babeth". After this morning's tip on delicatessen Père Pelletier sale on Bazarchic, I want to share with you an other great super sale. Starting tomorrow morning at 7AM till Friday 13th of March midnight on vente-privée they have an outlet prices Leonidas sale. Leonidas the delicate Belgian chocolate.
I know with this economy everyone is stretching every dime, but being careful doesn't mean you cannot indulge great products at discount prices!

It's Lent and I'm talking about buying chocolate??? I'm not the devil, nor I wear Prada, but you will be safe trust me. With vente-privée shipping delay you will not receive your order before Easter :-)
To take advantage of those bargains you need to be a member, and it's only on invitation. Well you will tell me, great but how I can get a VIP invitation? Simple! Just click here I'm inviting you :-)

Père Pelletier, delicatessen at discount prices

Note: You prefer Oulala? Read this post on my French blog: La cuisine de Babeth
Rare cancer awareness:
don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma

Starting today till Friday the 13th of March midnight, on Bazarchic you can buy gourmet delicatessen from Père Pelletier brand at bargain prices. They have all kind of oils, vinegars, syrups, candies, salts and peppers.
I know with this economy everyone is stretching every dime, but being careful doesn't mean you cannot indulge great products at discount prices!

To take advantage of those bargains you need to be a member, and it's only on invitation.
Well you will tell me, great but how I can get a VIP invitation?
Simple! Just click here, I'm inviting you!

Note: Bazarchic it's same type of shopping website as vente-privée

Monday, March 9, 2009

Kitchen nightmares, mathematical nightmares for Gordon

Note: You prefer Oulala? Read this post on my French blog: La cuisine de Babeth
Rare cancer awareness: don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma


Picture EPA

Breaking news:
Who doesn't know the "infamous chef" aka Gordon Ramsay, the only British chef who is possible to follow on the Michelin stars of Joël Robuchon and Alain Ducasse.
Infamous chef is how journalists re-christened Gordon after his hit TV show: Hells' Kitchen, and not me (Gordon, no need to catch the first Eurostar to kick my ass).
I prefer to watch Kitchen nightmares, where Gordon is my more a Robin Hood of lousy and disgusting UK restaurants. He taught them how to cook decent, even good, food and be profitable.
The good news is that Gordon hasn't lose his cooking gift but has an accounting problem. A £10.5 million tiny problem. Gordon Ramsay Holdings, the holding is charge of worldwide Gordon's activities couldn't pay the overdraft at the bank at the end of the financial year ... oops ... Thanks God, Gordon was able to secure a new, more important, overdraft with the Royal Bank of Scotland.
But with the crisis, even recession, all over the place 2009 will be tough for City's restaurants, Gordon's ones included. No more lavish corporate parties or enormous clients entertainment in London, Dubai or NY.
Be strong Gordy! You can survive this recession.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

8th help-beat-sarcoma-a-thon entry!

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

Rare cancer awareness: don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma

Today it's Women's day, and to celebrate it a man was in the kitchen this morning to prepare a yummy, ocean breeze feel, brunch for a good cause: help-beat-sarcoma-a-thon! This man is my dear friend Patrick who prepared his creamy smoked herring. To read the 8th help-beat-sarcoma-a-thon entry follow this link!

help beat sarcoma

In association with beatsarcoma.org we host a campaign on the web: "share your Sunday brunch for a good cause". We are well aware that won't change the world but it shows that we care and we may also raise some funds (adsense has been implemented on the dedicated blog and you can find a direct link for donations).

One of my friend Nathalie was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer: sarcoma. A cancer that doesn't get much public attention. With her support I launched help-beat-sarcoma-a-thon or how to share your Sunday brunch for a good cause. The idea is to raise awareness, and why not also donations, about this cause on internet, but a joyous way. And what more joyous than sharing a good meal! To participate don't forget to check here the rules here.


To read again the 7th help-beat-sarcoma-a-thon entry, follow this link!

Orange juice glazed prawns

Note: You prefer Oulala? Read this post on my French blog: La cuisine de Babeth
Rare cancer awareness: don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma

orange juice shrimps / crevettes au jus d'orange

Before revealing to the world wild web the 8th entry to share your brunch for a good cause, let's help beat sarcoma, here the story of a recipe that started like a lab trial and became a classic in my kitchen.
I grew up in Nantes, and after lived near the Pacific ocean and lately near the Mediterranean sea, so do I have to mention that fishes or other seafood and me we're deeply in love?

Ah simply prawns and home-made mayonnaise ... sorry I was daydreaming ...

Let's go back to our raviolis for a second, or for what matters this morning: the genesis of a recipe. While waiting for a TGV for one of my frequent trips to Paris, I was browsing Elle (the French issue, a bit different from the US or UK version: it's weekly published and at the end there's always 4 cooking record cards). One of those fashionable recipes grabs my attention: orange juice sauce on top of grilled eggplants.Even if the mixed of flavor grilled eggplants and orange juice sauce doesn't appeal me, the sauce intrigues me by it composition and easiness. So I reached in my purse for my moleskin and scribbled the sauce recipe. Then days later some gorgeous prawns were flirting with me from the fishmonger 's stall at Thionville farmers market. That's when the orange juice sauce arises in my mind.
"Be proud, prawns you will be served with orange juice !" I shouted (silently, I didn't want to end up in a psychiatric hospital!).
That's how I came up with this: orange juice glazed prawns recipe.

One more thing before the recipe. You may have notice the photoshoped look of the picture. The original picture was taken at night under yellow lights. The before (avant in French) / after (après in French) pictures bellow:

For the "not to bad result" (according solely to me) here the detailed steps in Photoshop:
Menu > Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels (to brighten)
Menu > Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Color Balance (playing with colors the pictures revive a bit)
Then Menu > Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels (to brighten one more time, this step is needed at the end. Even brightening more the 1st step won't give the same result)

Orange juice glazed prawns recipe: (for 2)
Ingredients:
For the sauce:
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup of orange juice
- 2 tbs of olive oil (evoo)
- 1 small glove of garlic

The prawns:
about 8 per person, prepared (shelled and deveined)
a dash of grape seed oil

Directions:
1- In a small pot bring to a simmer the orange juice, olive oil and chopped garlic.
2- Heat a dash of grape seed oil in a wok. When hot add the prawns, reduce heat to medium.
3- When the prawns abdomen opens out, they're ready.
4- Add the orange juice sauce in the wok. Let it glazed for 2 minutes.
5- Served, with for example curcuma colored rice.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Caramel cupcakes or a cooking video story in Paris!

Note: You prefer Oulala? Read this post on my French blog: La cuisine de Babeth
Rare cancer awareness: don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma

tournage cuisine studio tv
Photo Magali

Last Friday I woke up at 5a.m, just on time to jump into a TGV for Paris. I was invited again by Philips and Cuisine-Studio to shoot a cooking video. How sweet is my life? It's get even sweeter, I was asked to prepared a sugar based recipe. So I proposed to the crew manager to prepare the caramel cupcakes I made last November for the Daring Bakers challenge.

On set I met lovely French food bloggers: Sandra, Magali and Mamina. Mamina who like my Mum asked me if I washed my hands before starting. I always do, I'm a control freak for that: I wash them all the time! So we're safe!

This experience is rewarding to many aspects: a free trip to Paris, the chance to meet other foodies and last but not least the great pleasure to shoot a video and being pamper by a make-up artist. God this girl is talented! I'm not ugly but I'm a normal girl who woke-up at 5am, don't even bother to try to picture it in your head. It was a disaster.
Then it's always a pleasure to play the supporting actress to the butter, sugar, caramel and other dairy products :-)

Thanks a lot to all of you!

Dare seeing my other food videos?
-grilled marinated shrimps
-beet mousse (dip)
-calamari a la plancha

For caramel cupcakes recipe, just follow this link!

cupcake_caramel

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Caramel cupcakes

Posted for the 1st time on November the 30th of 2008

Note: You prefer Oulala?
Read this post on my French blog: La cuisine de Babeth
Rare cancer awareness: don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma

cupcake_caramel

It's time to reveal November Daring Bakers challenge. This month challenge was: caramel cake, that became cupcakes with me :-)
This month was hosted by: Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater (http://eggbeater.typepad.com/).
It was the first time I made cupcakes, and not the first time I indulged them of course.
The only variation added to DB challenge: physalis fruit on top.
The recipe is well explain and really easy.



CARAMEL CAKE WITH CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING

10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature

Notes from Natalie for those of you baking gluten-free:

So the GF changes to the cake would be:

2 cups of gluten free flour blend (w/xanthan gum) or 2 cups of gf flour blend + 1 1/2 tsp xanthan or guar gum
1/2 - 1 tsp baking powder (this would be the recipe amount to the amount it might need to be raised to & I'm going to check)

I'll let you when I get the cake finished, how it turns out and if the baking powder amount needs to be raised.


Preheat oven to 350F

Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.

Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.

Sift flour and baking powder.

Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}

Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.

Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.

Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.

CARAMEL SYRUP

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)
In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.

When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.

Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}

Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.

CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING

12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste

Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.

Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month.
To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

7th help-beat-sarcoma brunch!

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

Rare cancer awareness: don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma



help beat sarcoma

In association with beatsarcoma.org we host a campaign on the web: "share your Sunday brunch for a good cause". We are well aware that won't change the world but it shows that we care and we may also raise some funds (adsense has been implemented on the dedicated blog and you can find a direct link for donations).

One of my friend Nathalie was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer: sarcoma. A cancer that doesn't get much public attention. With her support I launched help-beat-sarcoma-a-thon or how to share your Sunday brunch for a good cause. The idea is to raise awareness, and why not also donations, about this cause on internet, but a joyous way. And what more joyous than sharing a good meal! To participate don't forget to check here the rules here.


After David Leibovitz's light and fluffy spinach cake: check his participation to help-beat-sarcoma-a-thon here. and Cuisine Métisse is sharing with us a very British brunch idea: eggs bacon muffins, Vanessa who shares with us her express boiled eggs over bread taosts, it's Framboise from Martinique who shares with us a warm rabbit salad!

Monday, March 2, 2009

[Daring Bakers] Valentino flourless chocolate cake

Note: You prefer Oulala? Read this post on my French blog: La cuisine de Babeth
Rare cancer awareness: don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma

flourless chocolate cake

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.
We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.

I'm a bit late to post but end of February was a bit hectic for me. A lot of travels and a bad back injury. Thanks God someone invented Advil!

Chocolate Valentino
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
16 ounces (1 pound) (454 grams) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons (146 grams total) of unsalted butter
5 large eggs separated

1. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often.
2. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.
3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.
4. Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry).
5. With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.
6. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.
7. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter. {link of folding demonstration}
8. Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F/190C
9. Bake for 25 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 140F/60C.
Note – If you do not have an instant read thermometer, the top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet.
10. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.

Dharm's Ice Cream Recipe
Classic Vanilla Ice Cream
Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Recipe comes from the Ice Cream Book by Joanna Farrow and Sara Lewis (tested modifications and notes in parentheses by Dharm)

Ingredients
1 Vanilla Pod (or substitute with vanilla extract)
300ml / ½ pint / 1 ¼ cups Semi Skimmed Milk – in the U.S. this is 2% fat (or use fresh full fat milk that is pasteurised and homogenised {as opposed to canned or powdered}). Dharm used whole milk.
4 large egg yolks
75g / 3oz / 6 tbsp caster sugar {superfine sugar can be achieved in a food processor or use regular granulated sugar}
5ml / 1 tsp corn flour {cornstarch}
300ml / ½ pint / 1 ¼ cups Double Cream (48% butter fat) {in the U.S. heavy cream is 37% fat)
{you can easily increase your cream's fat content by heating 1/4 cup of heavy cream with 3 Tbs of butter until melted - cool to room temperature and add to the heavy cream as soon as whisk marks appear in the cream, in a slow steady stream, with the mixer on low speed. Raise speed and continue whipping the cream) or use heavy cream the difference will be in the creaminess of the ice cream.

1. Using a small knife slit the vanilla pod lengthways. Pour the milk into a heavy based saucepan, add the vanilla pod and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and leave for 15 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse
Lift the vanilla pod up. Holding it over the pan, scrape the black seeds out of the pod with a small knife so that they fall back into the milk. SET the vanilla pod aside and bring the milk back to the boil.
2. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and corn-flour in a bowl until the mixture is thick and foamy. 3. Gradually pour in the hot milk, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the pan and cook over a gentle hear, stirring all the time
4. When the custard thickens and is smooth, pour it back into the bowl. Cool it then chill.
5. By Hand: Whip the cream until it has thickened but still falls from a spoon. Fold it into the custard and pour into a plastic tub or similar freeze-proof container. Freeze for 6 hours or until firm enough to scoop, beating it twice (during the freezing process – to get smoother ice cream or else the ice cream will be icy and coarse)
By Using and Ice Cream Maker: Stir the cream into the custard and churn the mixture until thick (follow instructions on your ice cream maker)
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