31 December 2009

Happy New Year

As yet another year ends I want to wish you all out there in the net space a wonderfull New Year 2010, I hope it will be filled with happiness, good health, good friends, good food and good drinks.

13 December 2009

My latest endeavour

A lot of time has gone by (again) since my last post, that is not to say I haven't been busy, in fact a lot of cooking happened since.
A couple of cooking classes, a big catering gig and here I am again.
A few samples to water your mouths and the menu.

* Piquillo peppers dip served with home made whole wheat crackers
* Hot artichoke dip served with home made crostini
* Mini tourtes à la viande (spicy sausage meat pies)
* Bite size chicken cordon bleu
* Seafood mousse in an endive "spoon"
* Cucumber canapés topped with seafood mousse
* Wispy tartlets assortment = Puff pastry squares topped with various fillings (spinach, bacon, cream cheese; pepper), (mushroom mix), (tomato & anchovies), (tomato & mozzarella), (roasted peppers & feta)
* Mini onion & cheese "popovers"
* Cheese platter served with walnut & pumpkin seed bread & grapes
* Puffed cranberry & mandarin tartlets
* Mini chocolate “fondants”
* Mini financiers

Interested in any of the recipes? Leave me a comment and I'll get back to you.

05 November 2009

An autumn meal - Beef Bourguignon

Where have I been might you wonder, well, France, Ireland, US road trip, all this has kept me very busy and not afforded me a lot of time for blogging. So while autumn is upon us, here is a very easy and delicious recipe to make and share in these cooler days.
You start the marinade on day one, cook on day 2 and serve on day 3.

Boeuf Bourguignon
For 6 people
3 lbs Beef stew (preferably chuck) (5 to 7 oz of meat per person)
1 Carrot (peeled and cut in small sticks)
2 Shallots (chopped) 
2 Bay leaves (French laurel rather than California)
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 or 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
1 bottle of red wine (preferably pinot noir)

5 Slices of bacon thinly diced 

1 clove of garlic chopped
2 Tbsp Brandy
2 to 3 Tbsp All purpose flour
1 to 2 tsp Coarse sea salt

Day 1

Place meat in container, pour wine over the meat to cover, add 1 carrot in stick, 1 chopped shallot, bay leaf, rosemary, thyme and pepper, cover and place in refrigerator overnight (best if marinated up to 24h).
Day 2
Brown the sliced bacon with remaining shallot and garlic, reserve in cast iron pot on very low heat.
Pan fry the meat (preferably in non stick pan), do not crowd the pan, place only a few pieces at a time, otherwise they will sweat and release all their juice.
Place the fried pieces in the cast iron pot as they get browned.
When all pieces have been fried deglaze the pan with a little water, reserve.
Pour the brandy over the hot meat pieces and flambé.
Sprinkle the flour and turn the meat over, then pour the liquid in the frying pan over the meat, add the marinade.
Sprinkle some salt, salt may be adjusted after cooking.
Bring all to a gentle simmer and let cook for 3 hours stirring occasionally. 

The next day warm up on low heat a couple of hours before serving, all the flavours will have developped.

For reference: this dish is from the Burgundy region famous for its fine pinot noir wines thus making it a perfect choice of wine to drink with.
This dish may be served with pasta or steamed potatoes, or for a distinctive experience puréed Jerusalem artichoke.

13 August 2009

The perfect burger bun - Brioche burger bun

A few weeks ago we had our neigborhood progressive picnic and the main course of the picnic was held at our house, we had to provide the burger buns and I had wanted to make them for quite some time so I launched myself into this new project, after some investigation and calculation (who said you didn't need to know your maths for baking? it's all about percentages!) I developped this recipe that turned out quite nicely.

Light Brioche Burger Buns
For approx. 30 buns of 4" diameter

1 kg / Unbleached bread flour
250 ml / 1 cup Milk (warm)
250 ml / 1 cup Water (warm)
4 tsp Active dry yeast
5 Tbsp Sugar
6 Eggs
3 tsp Salt
113 gr / 1 stick Butter

Combine the water, milk, yeast and sugar and let stand until foamy (5 or so minutes).
In the bowl of a standup mixer combine the flour and salt, then add the liquid mix and knead using the hook of the mixer and add 1 egg at a time while kneading continuously until the egg is absorbed.
Then knead on speed 2 for 10mn at which point you add the butter cut in small pieces and continue kneading for another 5 or 10mn until all the butter has been absorbed.
You will have a fairly sticky dough.
Shape dough into a ball in the mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours (until at least doubled in volume).
Line a cookie sheet with Silpat or parchment paper and divide the dough into balls of equal weight, place each ball 2 inches apart
on the Silpat and flatten them into a bun shape. Cover loosely with a cotton or linen towel and let the buns rise in a draft free place for 1 or 2 hours until double in volume.
Pre-heat the oven to 400 F and set a pan of hot water on the sole of the oven.
When the buns have doubled up place in hot oven and bake for about 15mn, watch them after 10mn to prevent burning.
Transfer to a rack to cool completely, use immediately or store in air tight container for a couple of days or freeze.

When baking do not use a black or dark tray as it tends to burn the bottoms while the tops have not yet acquired their golden colour.
This recipe can easily be devided to make fewer buns.

28 July 2009

Mini brunch brioches

Here is a lighter brioche that can be enjoyed with sweet or savory food in-lieu of bread.
It is best to make this over 2 days, day one prepping the dough, day 2 shaping and rising.
Alternately you can prepare the dough in the morning and shape, rise and bake in the evening.

Mini brioches
For 43 brioches
3 Tbsp water
30 gr fresh yeast / 15 gr / 4 tsp active dry yeast
75 gr / 1/3 cup heap sugar
525 gr / 3 & 1/3 cup bread flour
1.5 tsp salt
6 eggs
255 gr / 2 sticks & 2 Tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
43 mini tartlet molds

Day 1
Measure the water and mix the yeast + 1/2 tsp sugar, set aside.
Mix flour, remaining sugar and salt then add eggs one at a time mixing well between each.
Add the yeast mixture to the dough and continue kneading for 10mn to allow flour to absorb liquids and the gluten to develop.
Let the dough rest for 15mn in the bowl.
Cut the butter in small pieces and add them little by little while kneading for another 10mn or so until all the butter has been incorporated (it might take a little longer, that's OK)
Place the bowl in the fridge overnight (minimum 8 hours) to allow the flavours to develop.

Day 2
Roll out the dough and make 1 turn (as if you were folding a letter), do this twice.
As the dough is sticky using plastic wrap to roll it in between will help greatly.
Then roll it out one more time about 1 inch thick and cut the dough in small pieces weighing approx 30 gr each.
Shape each piece in a ball tucking the corners under and placing them in little tartlet molds.
Let them rise covered with a cotton towel for 4 hours at room temperature away from drafts.
Place them in cold oven and bake for 25mn or so at 350 F/175 C.

You can make them a day ahead of serving and warm them up for 5mn at 350 F.

27 July 2009

A summer fare...

What better excuse than a birthday to organise a little get together and share some home made food?
Top it up with fantastic summer weather and you got it all!

On the menu of this simple brunch:

Vegetarian quiche

Crab quiche

Home smoked Alaska salmon - Poached Alaska salmon

Grilled vegetable terrine

Garden baby greens salad

Mini brioche (a lighter version than this one) - Check back for a future post with this recipe

Cheese board
And to conclude a raspberry bavarois/bavarois aux framboises - Check back for a future post with this recipe

23 July 2009

Raspberried out!

With this hot weather we have been experiencing for the past 2 months the raspberry bushes are full of fruits, so I made my liquor again (pictured) and tried a new by product of the wonderful raspberries:

Raspberry vinegar


600 gr fruits
600 ml white wine vinegar

600 ml cider vinegar

6 Tbsp sugar
A couple of big clean jars


Crush the berries in a food mill or with a fork, pour the vinegars and sugar over, mix all and fill the jars.

Let the jars rest in a dark place shaking them occasionally for minimum a week or until you decide the taste is good enough.

Filter the mixture through a fine mesh sieve and fill a few bottles.

Enjoy with a nice summer salad or all year round to remind you of the summer flavours.

Lucky shot of a tree frog

13 July 2009

What's for dinner?...

For the past couple of month with the good weather I have spent so much time outside that my inspiration for cooking has taken a back seat, yesterday we finally had substantial rain fall (which is great for my garden and for my creativity in the kitchen) so we spent a few hours at the Seattle center for the Bastille day celebration and when we returned home I wanted to have a nice but easy dinner and after looking in the fridge inspiration finally struck me and I created this very nice and super quick meal.

Roasted chicken with mango sauce
For 2
2 skinless chicken breasts
1 ripe mango
1/2 lemon (zest and juice)
2 Tbsp honey
1 rosemary twig
Salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 390 F / 200 C
Place the chicken breast in an oven proof dish.
Peel the mango, reserve a few strips for serving and using a knife scrape all the "flesh" and juice surrounding the pit, cover the chicken with it.
Zest and juice the lemon over the chicken & mango.
Pour 1/2 Tbsp honey over each chicken breast and the remaining 1 Tbsp in the dish, add a little water (approx. 1/2 to 1 cup - 125 to 250 ml), sprinkle salt and pepper to taste, keep in mind that pepper gets stronger as it cooks/bakes. Cut rosemary twig in half and place each piece on the chicken.
Place dish in pre-heated oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes untill juices run transparent.
You want the top of the chicken to be a little browned and the mango/honey/lemon to be slightly caramelised. By that time the water should have partially evaporated and form a sauce.

I served this with quinoa, it is a very versatile gluten free grain that I have been using recently. A nice alternative to rice, cooks in 15mns.

15 June 2009

Strawberry fields...forever...

It is the season again, the lovely fruity strawberries are back in full force.
I recently made this simple and tasty version of strawberry tart.
Have fun making it and sharing it.

Strawberry tart –Tarte aux fraises

For 1 x 10 ½ inch tart pan


Half the recipe of short dough/pâte sablée (see separate post)

½ pound Fresh clean strawberries

Bavarian cream (see separate post – Pastry cream + whipped cream)

Confectioners sugar for dusting


Roll out the dough thinly enough (1/8 inch) and line the tart pan, blind bake in pre-heated oven 375 F for 20 to 25 mn depending on your oven, it will be baked when the colour is golden brown, beware not to over bake it.

When baked and cooled down cover the bottom of the tart with Bavarian Cream and arrange the sliced strawberries around the tart.


Assemble the tart as close as possible to the serving time. Sprinkle a dusting of confectioners sugar before serving. Tart shell and cream can be made a day ahead, store shell in an air tight container.

Bavarian cream

Bavarian cream

Pastry cream/crème pâtissière


½ pint / 240 ml Whole milk

½ oz / 1 ½ Tbsp / 15 gr Cornstarch

2 oz / 4 ½ Tbsp / 57 gr Sugar

1 pinch of Salt

1 Egg

¼ tsp Vanilla extract

2 oz / 2 Tbsp / 27 gr Butter (can be omitted for a lighter cream)

Bring milk to a boil.
In a separate bowl hand whisk the cornstarch, sugar, salt and egg until you obtain a smooth texture. Pour 1/3 of the hot milk over the mixture while whisking rapidly, then pour this mix back into the pan of hot milk over medium heat and whisk constantly until it thickens and looses it’s starchy taste. Add the vanilla extract.
At this point you can add the butter and stir until it has completely dissolved.

Pour the pastry cream in a bowl and let cool before refrigerating.

Whipped cream
3 fl oz / 6 Tbsp / 90 ml Heavy whipping cream

1/8 tsp Vanilla extract

Whip the cream and vanilla to stiff peaks.

To obtain the Bavarian cream simply fold the whipped cream into the chilled pastry cream.

14 June 2009

Pâte sablée - Short dough

Short dough – Pâte sablée
For 2 x 10 ½ inch tart pan

1 ¾ cup / 250 gr All Purpose Flour
1 stick + 1 Tbsp / 125 gr Butter
1 Egg
½ cup + 1 Tbsp / 125 gr Sugar
½ tsp Vanilla extract

Combine flour and butter in a mixing bowl and pulse until you obtain a crumble.
Add egg, sugar and vanilla and pulse until well mixed, but do not overwork the dough, otherwise it will be very difficult to handle.
Form into a ball in a plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.

For reference
Baking time is 25 to 30mn at 375 F / 190 C depending on your oven. The baked colour is golden brown.

31 May 2009

Another month...

Another month has gone by and not much writing has happened! That is not to say I haven't been busy, in fact very busy, with the warm weather settling in so are the weeds and we have a big garden that means a lot of weeding to do!
And planting and seeding, so another month of not much cooking but a lot of gardening, see for yourself...
"The Jungle"


Vegetable beds fencing doubled up with chicken wire
(potato "field" in the background)
Bleeding heart & Fushia

30 April 2009

Mountain beaver??..

Spring is upon us again which means I have spent a lot of time in the garden rather than in the kitchen this month of April.
If you remember, last year a mountain beaver chopped my newly planted leeks. So this year I completely surrounded my vegetable garden beds with fencing hoping this would detter the little creature.
So what a surprise when one morning I looked over and saw this little guy hopping into my garden beds and then running for dear life upon seeing me!
At first I thought, here is my mountain beaver, these little rodents are very specific to this area of the US, and can make a lot of damage, you can find more info here.

But after investigation it turned out my visitor was a Norway rat, I say was as my faithfull knight (aka Jewel the dog) rid me of this pest in one bite of her powerful jaw.

So long little rat, RIP.

22 March 2009

Short crust Flaky dough/Pâte brisée

Here is a very versatile pastry dough a friend of mine gave me, it is perfect and works every time, the secret is to not overwork the dough.

Short crust Flaky dough
For 1 x 11 to 12" (28 to 30 cm) diameter tart dish
200 gr / 1.5 cup All purpose flour
113 gr / 1 stick unsalted butter, cold and diced
1/2 Tsp salt
75 gr / 4 TBSP ice cold water (place a couple of ice cubes in a glass of water)

In a food processor place flour, butter and salt and pulse a few times untill you obtain a kind of crumble then add the water and pulse a couple more times, DO NOT overwork.
Take the mixture out on a cling film/plastic food wrap and by hand form a ball by gently pressing it together, then place a second sheet of cling film on top of the ball of dough and roll the dough out between the 2 sheets of film into the desired thickness.
This will make it easy to roll and lay into the dish you choose by simply peeling of the top layer of film and inverting the dough on the dish and peeling of the second sheet of film.

Last minute "steak" and Guinness pie

Last Tuesday I got home at 17h and given that it was St Patrick's day and my history with Ireland we had to have something Irish for dinner, so I put together a last minute Guinness pie with what I had in the fridge.

Last minute "steak" and Guinness pie
For 6 (or 4 very hungry appetites!)
3 slices Bacon, chopped
1 big yellow Onion
1 TBSP brown sugar
6 Mushrooms, sliced
1 bottle Guinness 12 fl oz
1 TBSP flour
1 Pound ground beef (since this is last minute I had no time to simmer the steak for hours and ground beef worked just as well)
2 Carrots, peeled and diced
1 Courgette, small and diced
1/2 cup to 1 cup Green peas
1 small head Broccoli
Thyme, Rosemary, Pepper, salt, Worcestershire sauce, to taste
Flaky pastry dough (see separate recipe)

In a large frying pan sauté the chopped bacon, then after a couple of minutes add the thinly sliced onion and sauté till it get a slightly caramelised colour, add 1 TBSP brown sugar then the sliced mushrooms.
After 5mn pour some of the Guinness over the mixture and let it simmer on low heat for 10 to 15mn, half way through add the TBSP of flour to thicken the sauce, pour more Guinness and continue simmering, adding salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary (don't put too much salt as the Worcestershire sauce has still to be added later).
When the sauce/gravy is thick enough add the ground beef and let everything simmer, add more Guinness when necessary, the mixture should not be too wet or too dry.
Then add the carrots, courgette, green peas and broccoli and stir all.
By this time the entire bottle of Guinness should have been poured and sufficiently evaporated so the mix is just moist enough.
Add a few drops of Worcestershire sauce, make sure you taste.
Pour all in an oven proof dish (Pyrex in my case), spread evenly and cover with rolled out flaky dough, tucking it in the sides of the dish, make a few holes for the steam to escape.
Place in pre-heated oven at 400 F for 30mn or so (until the dough is baked).
When baked remove from the oven, and for a personal touch add a few drops of Jameson Irish Whiskey in each of the steam holes and place in the oven for a further 5mn then take out and let stand for 5mn and serve... with a pint of Guinness, of course ;-)
Slánte! (Irish for "to your health")

17 March 2009

Happy St Patrick's day!

The recipe of this Guiness pie will follow shortly,
in the meantime have a very happy St Patrick's day!

24 February 2009

GF Orange Cranberry Pecan Muffins

I recently came across an excellent Gluten Free recipe book "125 Best Gluten-Free Recipes" by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt, I highly recommend it to people affected by gluten intolerance, and even for non celiac the recipes in this book "work" and taste great. Here is my adaptation of one of their recipes

Orange Cranberry Pecan Muffins

1.5 / 375 ml cup Rice flour
1/3 cup / 75 ml Cornstarch
1/3 cup / 75 ml Tapioca starch (you can grind your own from tapioca pearls in a coffee grinder)
1.5 tsp / 7 ml Xanthan gum (essential in gluten free baking to "glue" the GF flours together)
1 Tbsp / 15 ml Baking powder (GF)
3/4 tsp / 4 ml Salt
1 cup / 250 ml Dried cranberries
1/2 cup / 125 ml Pecan (grossly chopped)
1 cup / 225 ml Orange juice

2/3 cup / 150 ml Orange marmalade
1 tsp / 5 ml Cider vinegar
1/2 stick / 50 gr Butter
2 Eggs

In a bowl mix together all the dry elements (rice flour, cornstarch, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, dried cranberries, pecan).
In another bowl mix well the wet ingredients (orange juice, marmalade, vinegar, melted butter eggs)
Pour the wet mixture over the dry mixture and gently combine with a fork (do not overwork).
Using a cookie spoon fill each muffin mold and let them stand for 30 mn.
Bake in pre-heated oven at 360 F / 180 C for 20 to 30 mn depending on your oven and the size of the muffin molds you are using (I use mini silicon molds which makes it easy to unmold when baked).
Let the muffins cool on a rack before enjoying them for breakfast or with a cup of tea or coffee.

23 February 2009

Mushroom soup

Mushrooms are typically an autumn crop (thus the photo), but soups are really a nice comfort food, especially in these long winter months. While living in Ireland I was given this delicious recipe for mushroom soup, I make it from time to time and always love it.

Mushroom soup
1 Tbsp Olive oil
1 Shallot
1/2 pound Mushrooms (I use crimini)
2 cloves of garlic (according to taste)
1 slice smoked bacon
2 Tbsp Parsley (fresh if possible)
1 Thick slice of bread (brown preferably, cut into small pieces)
1.5 pint Chicken stock
A pinch of freshly grated Nutmeg
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/4 pint Cream or Milk

Wash the mushrooms (do not peel or remove the stalks), cut them in small pieces.
Finely chop the shallot.
In a large pan pour the olive oil on medium heat and soften the shallot, add the mushroom pieces and let them soften for a few minutes.
Add the garlic finely cut (or crushed), the slice of bacon thinly sliced and 1 Tbsp of parsley.
Let it all stew for a few minutes then add the slice of bread and chicken stock and simmer for a further 15 mn or more. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.
Liquidise then add the cream or milk, re-heat and serve with 1 Tbsp of fresh parsley.

20 February 2009

Sablés aux noisettes/Hazelnut shortbread cookies

In Pike Place Market (Seattle) there is a French bakery, Le Panier, they make all sorts of delicious "patisseries", while there last week end we bought some hazelnut shortbread cookies and we liked them so much that I decided to recreate them at home. I used a recipe my brother gave me for lemon "sablés" (will be posted later) and changed it as follows...

Sablés aux noisettes
For 50 or 60 cookies, depending on the size and shape

200 gr unbleached all purpose flour
100 gr hazelnuts (whole)
100 gr confectioners sugar
200 gr butter at room temperature (like an ointment, very important, it shouldn't be too cold nor melted)
A few drops of vanilla extract

Gently toast the hazelnuts in a pan on medium heat to enhance their taste, then while they cool, in the bowl of a mixer (Kitchen aid) measure and sift the flour, add the sugar and the butter in small pieces, then add the vanilla (to taste).
Now the hazelnuts should be cooled enough to be grounded, not too much, as you want to have big chunks to bite in.
Add them to the bowl and using the paddle, blend all until you obtain a dough (like pastry dough), when it sticks all together stop and place on a sheet of plastic wrap and shape as you want (a round log or a long rectangular log). Put in the refrigerator for 30 mn to 1 hour until cold and solidified.
Take out and cut into thin or thick cookies and place them on a cookie tray covered with a silpat/parchment paper.
Bake in pre-heated oven at 400 F for 10 mn or a little longer if thicker cookies, they should not brown and will spread a little while baking and once they have cooled down they will harden.
Enjoy these treats with a cup of coffee or tea.

Tip: you can also freeze part of the log and have fresh cookies for these unexpected guests anytime

05 February 2009

Cardamom yogurt cream

A few years ago while still living in Ireland I tasted a very unusual and flavourful refreshing dessert cream infused with cardamom, I was given the recipe and never made it and forgot about it. Then last week while flicking through my recipes I found it again and decided to make it. Enjoy this very easy recipe with a fresh fruit salad of orange and kiwis. Prepare the cream one day ahead as it needs to chill.

Cardamom infused yogurt cream
1 jello mold is best
225 ml / 8 oz Milk
200 ml / 7 oz Cream
200 gr / 7 oz Sugar for more flavour you can substitute with honey
8 cardamom seeds hulled and grounded with a pestle and mortar (it is very advisable to use whole rather than already ground cardamom as the flavour will be more intense)
3 rounded tsp powdered gelatin (I yet have to try this recipe with agar agar)
4 Tbsp cold water
425 ml / 15 oz Plain yogurt

Pour milk, cream and sugar in a stainless saucepan with the ground cardamom on low heat, stir until the sugar is melted and the liquid is warm to touch.
Turn off the heat and set aside to infuse.
Pour the gelatin in a small bowl containing 4 tbsp of cold water and let it "sponge".
Then pour over the gelatin and stir some of the infused mixture then gradually add the rest of it.
Beat the yogurt lightly until smooth then add it to the cardamom/gelatin mixture.
Pour all in a Jello mold, cover and place in the refrigerator for several hours until set (preferably overnight).

28 January 2009

Scallops risotto - Risotto aux noix de St Jacques

I used to never make risotto but somehow I have developed a taste for it which means I made it again a couple of nights ago, this time I had scallops and thought why not making them in a risotto (I still need to give you the last recipe I prepared scallops with).
It takes about 20 to 25 mn for the risotto to cook.

Scallops risotto / Risotto aux noix de Saint Jacques

For 2 people

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Shallot thinly sliced
3/4 cup / 150 gr of Arborio risotto rice
1 small bottle / 187 ml of dry white wine
1 1/2 cup / 350 ml Chicken stock
1/2 lemon zest and juice to taste
3 or 4 cloves of garlic (depending on how much you like it) thinly chopped
1 tomato chopped up
2 scallops (or more depending on their size, here in the US I found some fairly big ones so 2 were enough) chopped in smaller pieces
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/4 cup Parmesan finely grated

Before you start warm up your chicken stock.
In a saucepan pour 1/2 Tbsp olive oil and sauté the shallot, when it is translucent (not brown) pour the rice and toss until it has absorbed the oil, then pour the wine over and stir over medium heat until most of it is absorbed.
Then add 1/2 cup of warm chicken stock and stir continuously until mostly absorbed, then continue with the rest of the stock adding 1/2 cup at a time until absorbed.
Halfway through add the lemon zest and juice.
When pouring the last 1/2 cup of stock take a separate pan and in 1/2 Tbsp olive oil sauté half of the garlic and tomato (do not brown the garlic) then when the tomato is cooked through add the rest of the garlic and the scallops pieces, salt and pepper and sauté till cooked through.
While the scallops are cooking the liquid in the rice should be all absorbed, add the Parmesan and stir.
At this point add the cooked scallops to the risotto, stir and check the seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Serve at once this rich and creamy mixture.

25 January 2009

The GF Pizza Crust challenge

Last August we stayed at the "B&M Zoo" family cabin on Flathead lake in Montana and they challenged me to create a gluten free pizza crust as a major part of the family is gluten intolerant and it is always a challenge for them to find tasty GF pizza. Fast forward to last week and I received a mail enquiring of my progress, so I finally got to work and came up with the below recipe, my home committee of gluten lovers approved thumbs up of this new gluten free pizza crust, so I guess it's time to share it.

Gluten free pizza crust
1 cup / 180 gr Rice flour
1 cup / 145 gr Sorghum flour
1/2 / 80 gr cup Tapioca flour (if not available you can make it by grinding the tapioca pearls in a clean coffee grinder or use corn starch)
1/4 cup / 40 gr potato starch
2 tsp Xanthan gum (very important element in all gluten free baking, it is the "binding" agent that acts similarly to gluten)
1 tsp salt
1 egg
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup tepid water (can be increased by 1/4 cup depending on the dryness of your various flours, also rice flour absorbs liquid a lot)
2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 tsp sugar

Turn on your oven to 150 F.
Before you start measuring all the dry ingredients, mix the yeast with the tepid water and sugar and and set aside (it will start bubbling up a bit).
Then measure your dry ingredients in the mixing bowl of a stand up mixer (rice, sorghum, tapioca, potato, xanthan gum, salt). Pour the water/yeast mixture, the egg and mix with the paddle of the mixer for 4 or 5 mn till all well incorporated, then add the olive oil.
The dough will be a bit sticky but it shouldn't be too wet so after the first cup of water/yeast mixture you can add up to 1/4 cup of water but do it progressively.
Once all incorporated cut a third of the dough and roll it out on a Silpat or if you don't have one on a sheet of parchment paper cut to the size of a jelly roll pan, to the thickness you desire (I rolled mine very thinly and it was perfect), spray or baste a little olive oil on top so it won't dry out, turn of the oven and place the jelly roll pan and let the dough rise in the pre-heated oven for 30 mn.
Roll the rest of the dough on another pan and let it rise in the turned off oven as well. (If you have removable bottom tart pans these will also work just fine).
Then turn on the oven to 375 F and pre-bake the dough for 15mn, take it out and increase the oven temperature to 425 F and place the toppings of your choice on your pizza crust (I kept mine simple with tomato sauce, anchovies, black olives and mozzarella cheese) and put it back in the oven to finish the baking process for a further 15/20 mn.
The result will be a thin crispy crust gluten free pizza.

09 January 2009

Succés au Chocolat - "Chocolate success"

On Christmas day I promised you the recipe for the cake in the photo, well finally it has arrived.
It is my version of a famous french cake called: Succés au Chocolat. It is made of 3 components: a layer of chocolate ganache encased between 2 hazelnut cakes then covered in a chocolate glazing.
It is easier to make than it seems. The first step is making the cakes, then the ganache then the glazing.

Succés au chocolat
2 spring form baking tins 24 cm/9" in diameter
2 small cooling racks (not smaller than 9" in width and length)
1 plate/dish larger than the cake diameter
1 serving plater

Hazelnut cakes
8 eggs
400 gr sugar
200 gr melted unsalted butter
200 gr ground hazelnuts (or almonds - almond meal) I usually ground the hazelnuts rather than buying them already grounded, it stays fresher that way.
4 TBSP all purpose flour

Separate the egg whites from the yolks (you can use the yolks in a custard) and whip the whites till firm, then add the sugar (like you would do for meringue).
Then gently fold in the melted and cooled down butter, the ground hazelnuts/almonds and finally the flour.
When all well integrated pour half into each greased baking tin that you have previously lined with baking paper.
Place in pre-heated oven at 385/390 F and bake for 20 to 30 mn (depending on your oven), the outside should be crispy and dry and the inside moist but cooked.
When baked turn upside down on a cooling rack and remove the baking paper (if you wait it will stick and will be very hard to remove), let the cakes cool.

Chocolate Ganache
200 gr dark chocolate (it is best to use chocolate that has a cocoa content of 60% or more)
200 gr heavy whipping cream
30 gr honey

Chop the chocolate into smaller pieces and place in a saucepan in a hot water bath (bain marie) then let it melt.
In a separate saucepan bring the cream and honey to a boil then let the liquid cool down.
Once the chocolate is melted and cooled down a bit add the cream/honey mix while mixing continuously, at first it will kind of solidify but keep adding the liquid and stirring vigorously then you will obtain a smooth and shinny cream like chocolate ganache. Let it cool down at room temperature till it starts "gelling" a bit.

Chocolate glaze (glaçage au chocolat)
90 gr extra dark chocolate (more than 70% cocoa content)
90 gr normal dark chocolate (minimum 52% cocoa content)
125 gr unsalted butter

Cut chocolate in smaller pieces and place in a saucepan in a hot water bath (bain marie), add the butter and let it all melt.
This will be done last and after the cake has been assembled as it has to be poured hot over the cake.

Assembling the cake
Place 1 hazelnut cake upside up on a cooling rack, spread the chocolate ganache evenly on top of it then place the second cake on top of the ganache and place it all in the fridge or freezer for faster result to cool down, the ganache will start getting harder but not too hard (like butter left out of the fridge for 30mn).
At that point take it out and place the cooling rack with the cake on top of the large plate and pour over it the warm/hot glaze/glaçage it should be quite liquid, it will spill over (thus the larger plate) and spread it evenly with a long spatula, cover the sides and smooth them too.
At this point you can delicately remove the cake from the cooling rack using a large spatula (or 2) and place it on a serving platter (it can be a little bit tricky so if you don't feel confident enough wait till the chocolate glazing has cooled down to move the cake and use the left over glaze to touch up). When all the cake is covered place in the fridge and let it cool down till the chocolate solidifies.
Keep it in the fridge and bring it out 1h before serving it.
In my opinion this cakes tastes best the day after making it so plan ahead. It's great for special occasions and tastes totally delicious.
You can also freeze it properly wrapped and use in a couple of weeks, just make sure to take it out of the freezer 24h before using it to thaw properly in the fridge.

Bon appétit and bonne année!

01 January 2009

Happy New Year from Paris

Wishing you all a very happy and healthy 2009.

Stay tuned for more recipes soon...