Sunday, 25 September 2011

Chocolate, Walnut and Banana Cake

I ate my first piece of banana cake only a few months ago and absolutely loved it. I had never tried any banana muffins or cakes before and thought I should definitely make it at home one day. The day has come! Old bananas on the kitchen counter? Today is finally the day I make it. So I flipped through my baking recipe book and the internet and found many different recipes: recipes with or without milk, chocolate, nuts, oatmeal..I have decided to use the one described below, adding chocolate chips and chopped walnuts. I think it's a great combination.
For a first try, I am pretty proud.

(Should serve 12people)
175gr plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
Half a tsp of baking soda (optional - I did not have nay and omitted it)
125gr unsalted butter
150gr caster sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
275gr very ripe banana
150gr dark chocolate chips
handful chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 180°C.
In a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and baking soda. In a second large bowl, beat together the melter butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Then add the vanilla and mashed bananas. Beat well.
Then gradually add the dry ingredients in. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips and chopped walnuts.
Pour into a greased tin loaf and bake for 50min to 1hr (to check, insert a skewer in the centre and it should come out clean).
Optional: icing the cake with icing sugar mix with water.

Mum's Gaufrettes (Small waffles)

I can't make waffles for the simple reason that I don't own a waffle iron. We used to make them so many times at home, the normal waffles and the small, thicker ones, called Gaufrettes.
My Mum made some the other day and sent me the recipes and the pictures for the blog :-)
So here is the very easy recipe small waffles:

500grplain flour
250gr butter
250gr caster sugar
11gr of baking powder (this is levure chimique in french)
1 pinch of salt
1/2 glass of milk
4 eggs
Melt the butter and the sugar togather, add the milk, and leave it to cool. Mix in a bowl the flour, salt, baking powder, the 4 egg yolks and add it to the butter-sugar-milk mix.Then beat the eggswhites until stiff, and add them to the mixture. Leave it to rest for about 1hr. 
Bake the waffles in a waffle iron (1 waffle= 1 tablespoon of the mix)
Et voila :-)


Saturday, 17 September 2011

Leek, Onion and Ham Quiche

Since I stayed home this afternoon, I got time to think and prepare dinner ahead (for once): leek, onion and ham quiche.
My mum makes quiches with anything. Her traditional one is the Quiche Lorraine (which I thought was made just for me, until I was old enough to understand it was not - big deception there!!). Quiche Lorraine was originally made of egg, cream and bacon only. We now add cheese (gruyere), and other ingredients such as onions etc.
I make quiches with leeks, simply because I love leeks.
The best dough for quiches in general is bread dough. Making dough scares people, but it's very easy and you really can't miss it.
For a large quiche or tarte you need to knead 200gr of plain flour, a pinch of salt, 100gr of margarine (vegetable oil butter), and half a glass of water. Knead for a good 5 minutes until you get a soft, bouncy and elastic dough.

Ingredients for the quiche:
The amounts vary on the size of the dish and quiche you make. 
3 leeks
1 large onion
3 eggs
120ml single cream
120ml milk
(If this is not enough, 150ml/150ml)
salt, pepper
gruyere cheese
(Optional: bacon, goat's cheese instead of Gruyere)

Preheat the oven to 220°C.
Thinly slice the leeks and onions and gently cook them for 20-30min.
Prepare the bread dough at the same time. Line it in the pastry case. Spread the cooked leeks and onions on the dough. Scatter pieces of ham over the leeks.
Beat the 3 eggs, the milk and cream. Add salt and pepper to your taste and pour the filling into the pastry case. Scatter Gruyere on top and bake for 40-45min. The result is here:

Serve freshly baked. although it is also good the day after, or cold. I freeze some portions and take one to work from time to time. It is always good to have a portion in the freezer.. just in case..

Biscotti for you, biscotti for me

Whenever I go to Cafe Nero with my friend to meet up for a coffee, I take a biscotti. I just love them. They are my favourite biscuits to accompany a coffee or tea. So I thought I'd try to make them at home and this way have my tea with a pistachio, almond and orange biscotti, in this rainy day.

The following recipe should make about 30 biscottis. You can basically replace the pistachio and almonds by hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, or have them with no nuts at all.

200g caster sugar
2 medium eggs
zest of 1 orange
200gr plain flour, sifted + extra for dusting
1 teaspoon Baking powder
50grs almongs, 50grs pistachios

Preheat the oven to 180°C.Mix sugar, eggs and orange zest together. Stir in sifted flour and baking powder and nuts then mix to get a sticky dough. You then knead the dough on a lightly floured surface.Divide into 2 portions and roll each into a 30cm log. Bake on a baking tray for about 25-30min, until lightly browned. Cool on the tray for 10 min. Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C.Cut the logs into 1cm slices diagonally and place them back on the baking tray.Bake for 10 min until golden on top. Turn over and bake for another 5-10 min; Cool down before eating them. Then soak them in a lovely yummy capuccino :-))

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Lunch from Perigord

Perigord is a region in France where we eat foie gras. We call "assiette Perigourdine" a first dish that is made of foie gras, smoked duck breast (magret de canard), duck gizzard, croutons and a nut-dressed salad. This is simple to prepare but need access to the fresh products from the region which is not always easy outside of France. We have had the chance of eating this today. It was really tasty and a not so heavy start of a long Sunday lunch.

This was just the starter... We then had another French classic dish: rabbit cooked in cider, dauphinoise potatoes ( gratin dauphinois) and carrots (usually served with rabbit).
The dauphinoise potatoes is easier to prepare than you think: place all the thinely cut potatoes in a dish. Add salt, pepper and gruyere to your taste inbetween layers. Pour the "appareil" (half milk, half single cream, pepper, salt, nutmeg), and cover with gruyere.. in the oven and its ready.

To end up a already excellent lunch, we had a "pièce montée", which is assembling choux à la crème (choux filled with cream patissiere) together with caramel. This one was not home made, as we were already busy with the rest, but I put it down on my list of things to try. I kept eating the choux.. they are so light and puffy!

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Aperitif Time

There won't be a lot of baking this weekend for me ... I am home (in France) and my mum is doing most the cooking, but I am around to help prepare the snack for the aperitifs..First done are the salmon croissants. 2 ingredients: puff pastry and salmon, nothing could be simpler..

Next on the list was making some sausage rolls(using puff pastry as well); cheese and ham rolls, and some olive cake. There's no leftovers so I guess they were good!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

A one-bite snack – Chouquettes!

So today, I came back home feeling a bit "gourmande".. but I didn’t fancy anything heavy or naughty, so I decided to make some chouquettes! They are small “choux”, like the profiteroles, with pearl sugar on top. They are delicious, light and eaten in one bite (that makes me eat more!!). They are perfect for a snack in the afternoon, or evening. I made them once before going to the cinema- my friend was really surprised to see I had made us bags of chouquettes to eat during the movie :-)
Normally people prefer to eat them still a bit warm, but I like them cold, even if they get a bit soggy.
Because there's only my flatmate and I at home tonight and we won't eat them all, I will take what’s left to work tomorrow, and I’m sure no one will mind their sogginess….

Here are the ingredients – that will make 28/30 medium size chouquettes
125 ml milk
125 ml water
100gr butter
150 gr plain flour
pinch of salt
2 tea spoon caster sugar
4 eggs
50gr pearl sugar (I buy it in france but you can find it  easily on the internet)
Preheat the oven 185/ 190 C.
In a saucepan, bring the milk, water, salt and butter to a boil. Then take it out of the heat and add in the flour. Stir well until it all comes from the pan (if it helps, put it a few seconds over the heat to make it all come off the bottom of the pan (it should NOT stick to the bottom). Then add in 2 eggs, whisk well (a good 2 minutes – the texture will get weird at this point, but it’s normal). Add the 2 other eggs and again, whisk until you get a smooth sticky blondie texture – at this point, you’ve got pain in the arm). You can then add some of the pearl sugar or only put it on top of the chouquettes – I like to add some to the mix.
On a tray covered with baking parchment, drop dollops of the mix (this should make 2 trays of 15 chouquettes), sprinlme the sugar pearls on top of them and bake them for 25 minutes until golden brown
Now quick, quick, eat ‘em all before they get cold!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Breakfast breads.. an old time favourite!

Hi! My name is Laurene, I live in London but am originally from France.
I have been thinking about starting a blog for a while now, to share some recipes and ideas about the food I like.
I have always liked baking and cooking in general. I remember myself, little, helping my mum prepare desserts (and staying til the end just to have a taste and lick the spoon covered in chocolate). I would also bake a lot on Wednesday afternoons (as we wouldn’t have school) and prepare brownies, cookies for my step dad (that was only the excuse).
Since then, I have been baking my own cakes and biscuits regularly and thought I should share some of the recipes with friends and family via a blog. I will mainly post sweet dishes, as they are my favourite to make, but also some savoury ones.
Anyone can comment on the posts... let me know if you try the recipes and add a tweak to them.

I thought I would start today with something that I do nearly every week: sweet breakfast breads. They are so easy to do  - they take about 5 minutes to prepare!!!
 Those yummy little breads are perfect for breakfast or for an afternoon tea with cream, jam and a hot drink. I personally have them for breakfast “on the go”. I bake a batch (see recipe below – that should make 12-14 breads) and freeze them in bags where I put 2. I take a bag from the freezer in the morning, and have them with a coffee at work. Fast and easy :-)

Try them & enjoy them as much as I do!

Sweet Breakfast breads recipe:
400gr of flour ( I mix plain and wholemeal flour)
Pinch of salt
65 gr of sugar
16 gr of yeast
65 gr of butter
200ml milk
1 egg
Extra and optional: sugar in pearl
First, mix in a bowl the flour, salt, sugar, yeast. Add in the melted butter, warm milk and egg. Mix it all by hand. The mixture is going to be sticky. Create 12-14 balls with the dough (adding flour), place them a couple of cm apart on a tray so that they have enough space to rise. Place the tray in a dry but warm place ( a cupboard) for about 1hr, giving enough time to have the breads rise double their initial size.
Preheat the oven at 185 degrees and bake for 12 to 14 minutes.
They are delicious eaten warm or cold, with jam, butter, or any spread
Bon appetit!