Sunday, 4 March 2012

Salmon al Pesto in Filo Pastry with Lemon and Rosemary Rice

Woow, I haven't posted anything for a month. It doesn't mean I haven't been baking, but I haven't made anything new.. I baked a lot of brownies :-) I also did some nice dinners, but forgot to take pictures..
Anyways, yesterday I had some friends home for lunch and I wanted to make something yummy of course.
I had filo pastry in the fridge, and had to use it. So I made this delicious salmon with pesto rolled in the filo pastry, accompanied by lemon and rosemary rice.
It's easy, and there's not so much cooking to do:-)

Ingerdients (for 4 people)
4 pieces of salmon
Fresh pesto (homemade: whizz together basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts and parmeasn)
Filo Pastry
15gr melted butter
250gr rice
2 lemons

Preheat the oven at 180°C. Place a long piece of salmon on a sheet of filo pastry. Cover the salmon with pesto, then roll it in the filo sheet, and close it. Do the same for the other 3 pieces. Place on a tray, brush some melted butter on the pastries and bake in the oven for 20-22 minutes.
At the same time: place the 250gr rice and 500ml rice in a sauce pan. Add the juice of 1 lemon ( the 2nd lemon is to serve with the salmon), and 2tsp of rosemary. Bring it to a boil, then lower the gas, cover it and leave it to cook for a good 15min. Stir and check the seasoning as it will lack salt.

Salmon and rice should get ready at the same time and is ready to be served.

I forgot to mention that I made a lovely chocolate mousse for dessert and obviously forgot to take a picture of it. We ate them too fast. But who doesn't know what a chocolate mousse look like??!
I made chocolate mousse many times and never got the lightness I was looking for. I always compared them to the one my mum makes (mum's recipes are always the best). So I simply copied her recipe for once, and got THE best and easiest recipe of a chocolate mousse: light and not too sweet and with only 3 ingredients:
eggs; salt and chocolate.
For 4 servings, you will need:
3 eggs
100gr dark chocolate
 pinch of salt
Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Melt the chocolate. Whisk it to the 3 egg yolks. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff. Add the egg whites slowly to the chocolate mixture.
Pour into individual (or not) glasses. Chill for min 2hrs. Easy, isn't it?

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Classic Baked Cheesecake

I get ideas of recipes reading cooking books and magasines, watching TV, or asking my friends what they'd like to eat - because the dessert I bake always end up with them :-)
I got this classic baked cheesecake recipe watching the TV show Australia's Masterchef. I immediately wrote down all the ingredients and steps while watching the professional cook Donna Hay make this cheesecake. I love watching them cook the entire recipe on TV, as it makes it easier to replicate.
So i followed the exact same recipe, and I think got the same result. A sweet and creamy classic baked cheesecake. This is a one to keep!

Ingredients for the base:
50gr ground almonds
100gr plain flour
50gr caster sugar
90gr chilled butter, chopped

Ingredients for the filling:
500gr ricotta cheese
330gr cream cheese
4 eggs
260gr sugar (big oopppps.. I am realising now I've only put 60gr in my cake... and it wasn't bad at all!!!)
1tbsp lemon zest
zest of 2 lemons
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 tsp corn flour mixed with 1.5 tsp of water

Preheat the oven to 150°C.
Prepare the base: place the 4 ingredients into a bowl and mix until getting a coarse mix, or put in the mixer, and the food processor will do the rest. Line the base of a 20cm round tin with baking paper. Place the base mixture in the tin and press gently with fingers until even and then smooth out with the back of a spoon. Bake for 15 minutes or until light golden, set aside.
Prepare the filling: put the cream cheese, ricotta, eggs, sugar, lemon zest, juice and vanilla in a food processor. Combine the cornflour and water until smooth and add to the cheese mixture. Process the mixture until smooth.
Grease the sides of the cake tin, then pour the filling over the base. Tap lightly to remove any air bubbles. Smooth the top. Bake for 1 hour. Turn the oven off and stand the cake in the oven for 1 hour, leaving the door closed. Refrigerate and serve cold.

White Wine Risotto, with Chicken and Broccoli

After making salmon and thyme risotto last week, I decided to make another kind of risotto today for lunch: white wine, chicken and broccoli risotto, with loads of parmesan of course! I hadn't made a risotto in years, literally, so I don't know why suddenly I crave for it... I used to make chicken risotto every week when I was a nanny. It is a great way to make the little ones eat veggies: any sort of finely chopped vegetable is good and can be hidden easily :-)
Anyway, today I made it more "grown-up", splashing some white wine in the cooking of the rice and adding extra parmesan for more taste.

Ingredients for 4 servings:
300gr risotto rice
1 large onion
2 chicken breasts
1 brocoli
white wine
1 litre chicken / vegetable stock
salt, pepper
Sweetcorn: optional (it adds great texture and colour)

Cook the chicken breasts in the oven until just done. Boil or steam the brocoli. Leave aside.
Cook the diced onion in olive oil until translucent (5-8 min) in a large pan. Then add the risotto rice and stir, to cover the rice in oil and onion. Splash a cup of white wine in the pan, and stir well. The wine will be absorbed by the rice, and evaporate as well. Add the chicken or vegetable stock little by little and stir well, to avoid the rice to stick to the bottom of the pan. Once the rice has absorbed the stock, add more, stir etc until the rice is completed cooked. This normally takes 30min on low-medium heat.
Then cut the chicken and broccoli, and add it in the risotto, gently stir. Sprinkle some parmesan on top, and have a taste of Italy. Buon Apetito!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Apple Tarte Tatin

We all know what a Tarte Tatin is: an upside down apple tart, due to a mistake made by a sister Tatin... that's the short story. Now, the "Tatin way" is a popular way of creating tarts, like tomato tatin, cheese tatin.
So I have decided to make my first attempt today.. I have eaten many apple Tarte Tatin before, but never thought of doing it myself. There are my different recipes on the internet so it is hard to know which one to follow. I asked a friend of mine who makes great Tarte Tatin, and asked my Mum too. Here is my first attempt: it definitely needs to be more caramelised but for a first try, it's not bad and I can confirm it tastes good :-)

This is the recipe I followed:
4 large granny smith apples
75gr butter
75gr brown sugar
zest of half a lemon
Puff pastry for 1 tarte

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Melt the butter and the sugar together, until it thickens and caramelises, add the lemon zest.
Peel the apples and cut in halves (or smaller peices). Cook the apples for 3-4 minutes in the caramelised mix.
Place the apples in a tart dish or tatin dish, and cover them with the puff pastry. Cook for 20min until the pastry is golden brown.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Grapefruit Tart

And to finish lunch today, I made a grapefruit tart. I've used the same recipe I used to make the Lemon Tart, just replacing the lemons with grapefruits. This time it is a pink tart, as tangy as the lemon one..
I also made shortcrust pastry but it's a little bit on the thick thigh (still eatable)... Enjoy :-)

Shortcrust pastry (home made or already made) or a plain tart pastry
Juice of 2grapefruits and 1 lemon
Zest of 1 grapefruit
40 gr butter
4 large eggs
200 gr caster sugar
165 ml cream
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Blind bake the pastry for 20-25 min and an additional 10 min without the weights/ beans.
At the same time, prepare the filling: lightly whisk the eggs in a bowl with a fork. Add butter, cream, grapefruit and lemon juice, grapefruit zest and sugar to the bowl. Place the bowl on the top of a sauce pan au bain marie (double boiler). The water needs to be simmering and not boiling. Use a heatproof spatula and stir constantly to prevent the mix from sticking at the bottom of the bowl. You need to stir until the filling thickens enough to stay on the spatula (it normally takes 20-25min). Strain the filling into the bakes pastry case ( to remove lumps), smooth the top and bake for 20min.
The tart needs to cool down and can be served at room temperature or slightly cold.

Basil Chicken Hash

For once, I took some time to cook and have a healthy lunch..I found this basil chicken hash recipe on the foodnetwork website (obviously from my dear friend, the Barefoot Comtessas, who else?) and kept it in my favourites for a very long time..I don't know why I never got the time to do it, because it is simple to make and was delicious..

Ingredients and steps I followed:
2 large chicken breasts
1 onion
4 medium size potatoes
3 spring onions
1 large red bell pepper
1 tbsp tomato paste
salt, pepper, parsley, garlic
basil leaves

Place some basil leaves under the skin of the chicken breasts. Rub olive oil on the chicken, season with salt and pepper and bake in the preheated oven (190°C) for about 30minutes, until the meat is just cooked.
Cook the diced onion and potatoes in a large saucepan, with olive oil and garlic.( I used garlic infused olive oil, to avoid cutting garlic). Leave to cook until the potatoes are cooked through. Season well too.
In a separate pan, cook the diced red pepper, add the tomato paste and sprinkle some thym.
Add the cooked chicken, paprika mix to the cooked potatoes and onion. Stir in the chopped spring onions. Check the seasoning, and sprinkle some parsley. Easy peasy and ready to eat:

Friday, 13 January 2012

Auntie Jeanne Cake

Ok, so I am baking another cake today, and I have a good reason... I have fresh yeast and need to use it :-))
I made Brioche yesterday and wanted to try a different kind of cake today. So Auntie Jeanne cake recipe is perfect.Don't ask me why it is called Auntie Jeanne cake. It is a family recipe and must be old, because I do not remember any Jeanne in the family and neither does my Mum.. but we've always baked it and kept its name..
Anyway, this recipe is similar to a brioche, but has a more cakey texture to it and is also way faster to prepare. The other good thing is that once it has cooled down, you can simply freeze it whole or into pieces.. and that's what I am going to do.

Here are the ingredients for one cake:
200gr plain flour
20gr fresh yeast
2 eggs
25gr caster sugar
100gr melted butter
4 tbsp milk

Melt the butter in a pan. Get the fresh yeast ready (break the yeast into some warm water -less than half a glass- and put the glass into a bowl filled with hot water. Let the yeast raise for about 10min). Then add the flour at the end. Mix well.
Pour the mixture into a greased loaf tin. Let it raise for approx 1hr (until it rises to the top of the tin). Bake at 200°C for 30 min (or until a knofe comes out dry and clean from the centre of the cake).


Yesterday I made a brioche and said I would prepare other things during the day, as I had friends coming over for dinner. Unfortunately I did not take pictures of the dishes (apart from the dessert, a quick pic before eating it) but I can tell you everything was delicious :-) For starter, I made a warm goats cheese salad, topped with a sort of chutney of yellow bell peppers and raisins.. It was sooo soft and yummy. Then for the main course, I made a fresh salmon risotto, and served it with grilled asparagus. That was easy to prepare and very good too.
And, most important, for dessert, a tiramisu! I love tiramisu. The combination of coffee and chocolate, and the soften of the mascarpone..mmmmm and it is so easy to prepare. You can prepare it the day before you need it, or the morning and no baking is required.. simple to make and sure to impress!
I've always used the same recipe and it comes from my sister in law who's Italian. I trust it is done the same way in Itlay, so I don't change a thing to her recipe!

3 eggs
250gr mascarpone
50gr caster sugar
grated dark chocolate
Ladyfingers biscuits
Marsala, Amaretto

Stiffly beat the eggwhites, with a tsp of sugar. In a separate bowl, mix the egg yolks with the sugar and the mascarpone until frothy. Add some grated chocolate to the mix and stir. Delicately add the eggwhites.
Prepare some filtered coffee or espresso coffee (about a bowl).  Add a tsp of sugar and Marsala or Amaretto.
Place the ladyfingers at the bottom of the gratin dish, covering the all dish. Pour some coffee onto the biscuits. They should all be covered. Add half of the mascarpone mixture on the biscuits. Cover the mix with a new layer of ladyfingers (dipped in the coffee), and cover them again with the rest of the mascarpone mix. Cover it all with some cocoa powder or grated chocolate. Store in the fridge for at least 8 hours before serving it, and enjoy this wonderfully light dessert!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

My Mum's Brioche

Today is my birthday and I shouldn't be sitting down and writing, right? But I still don't work, and I am at home most of the day, so I have plenty of time to cook and post it here. I am making several things today, and the first one ready is the Brioche. This is the recipe I got from my Mum and actually it must come from my grand parents (they were bakers). I love having a slice of Brioche for breakfast or for a snack in the afternoon. But you better not be in a hurry to eat it, because it is quite a long process. I started it at 11.30 and got it out of the oven at 4pm. So you need to plan, and be home most of the day to make this brioche. but it is well worth the effort :-)
You can also make 2 at a time and freeze one and unfreeze it the day before eating it, and it will as good as fresh!

Let's bake!

Ingredients for 1 Brioche (loaf tin)
250gr plain flour
25gr caster sugar
pinch of salt
3 eggs
125gr butter or vegetable margarine (room temperature)
fresh yeast (25gr)

Break the yeast into pieces into a glass of warm water (less than half full), add a pinch of caster sugar in the yeast. Pour some very hot water into a bowl, and place the glass in the middle. This will help the yeast grow faster. The yeast will grow (bubble until the top, in about 10 minutes). In the meantime, mix the flour, salt, sugar, eggs and butter with the fingers. Add the yeast when ready. The mix will be VERY sticky. Work it and leave in the bowl. Place a clean and dry dish towel on top and leave to raise for 1h30m in a warm place (22-25degrees). This is how the dough should look like after 1h30m:

Work again the dough in the bowl (mixing with one hand). Cover it again, and let it raise for another 1h30m in the same warm place.Then place the dough into the greased tin, cover it and let it raise for about 1hr (until risen high). Brush the brioche with egg wash and bake at 190°C for 30min (a knife should come out completely clean and dry). Ready :-)
Note that it is not supposed to be sweet, but if you prefer you can add more sugar to the dough.
Also, to make the "mountain effect" on top of the brioche, shape a zigzag with scissors on the top of the dough.

Sunday, 8 January 2012


Madeleine is a small sponge cake from the north east of France. It normally has a distinctive shell-like shape. (there are special baking trays to make them). At home, we eat them with a coffee, after lunch or for an afternoon snack, le "quatre-heures" (4pm-snack), and this is exactly what I am gonna do today. I had a small lunch to indulge myself a treat this afternoon :-)
Madeleines can either have a lemony or vanilla taste. I made this batch vanilla ones.

Ingredients for approx 18 madeleines:
190gr sugar
3 eggs
240gr plain flour
6g baking powder
90gr melted butter
75gr milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 200 to 220°C.
In a bowl, mix the sugar, vanilla, eggs, and half the milk until getting a frothy mix. Add in the flour, little by little. whisking well. Add the remaining of the milk, then finish by pouring in the melted butter. Mix well. Fill the trays using a pipping bag or a spoon. Leave to rest for a few minutes. Bake in the lower half of the oven for around 15 min (I baked mine 18 min). Remove the madeleines from the tray and leave to cool down. Try dipping them in your coffee or hot chocolate.. mmmm sooo yummy!