19 April 2010

Rhubarb and strawberry tart

The rhubarb plants my friend gave me last year are thriving.
This acid plant is usually paired with strawberries to mellow it out, I like this combination and decided to make something out of it for a simple dessert between friends.

Rhubarb and strawberry tart
For a 23 or 26 cm tart pan (9 or 10 inches)

125 gr unbleached white flour
62.5 gr butter (cold)
45 gr cold water
1 pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients, either by hand in a bowl or in a mixer, don't over work the dough or it will be too hard once baked, when it forms a homogeneous mass, form a ball, roll it on a lightly floured work surface and fold it as if you are making puff pastry or croissants, wrap it in cling film and place in the refrigerator to cool down for at least 1h, when ready to use roll out the dough and line a tart pan. 

1 pint of strawberries
A few stalks of rhubarb, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch or so long sticks
3 Tbsp Almond meal (to absorb moisture from fruits)
Sugar to taste

Sprinkle almond meal over pastry dough, place rhubarb and strawberries over in chosen pattern, sprinkle sugar to taste.
Bake in 390 F pre-heated oven for about 30mn to 40mn (depending on your oven).
Serve warm as is or with whipped cream for extra indulgence.

13 March 2010

Coconut cake/cookies

My friend's 2 year old daughter has a higher sensitivity to gluten and dairy but also has a sweet tooth, knowing that I have modified a recipe I had to accommodate her restrictions and it was a hit. Now every time she visits she asks: "il y a du gâteau?" (is there cake?).

Gâteau noix de coco - Coconut cake
A 9" / 23 cm square silicon mould
3 eggs separated
9 Tbsp Sugar
4 Tbsp coconut flour
Vanilla bean paste (a little goes a long way)

Whisk egg yolks, sugar and vanilla until mix becomes whiter
Add 2 Tbsp coconut flour
Whip egg whites into stiff peaks
Add half of egg whites to egg and sugar mix
Add remaining coconut flour
Add remaining egg whites

Butter mould (even though it is silicon, because this recipe has quite a bit of sugar it is better to butter the mould, alternately you can line the mould with parchment paper)
Pour and level batter
Bake in preheated oven at 355 F for 15 to 20mn
When baked remove from mould immediately and let cool.
I usually cut this big square into small 2" squares and serve this as cookies to my little friend or to bigger friends with a bowl of fresh fruits.
Because there is no gluten this cake will not rise and will be fairly dense but nonetheless tasty.

19 February 2010

Mardi Gras - Part 2 - Crêpes / Crêpes Suzette

While the galettes are savoury the "crêpes" are typically sweet, served with a sweet filling.
Here is a recipe that I modified to make it lighter.

For about 20 crêpes 9” diameter
1 ¾ cup All Purpose Flour 250 gr
2 Egg 2
2 cups Milk 500 ml
1 Tbsp Sugar 1 Tbsp
1 pinch Salt
Flavour with 1 Tbsp Rum or Kirsch or Orange flower water or/& vanilla
Alternate recipe: substitute half of the milk with a light blonde beer, it will make for lighter crêpes

In a bowl measure the flour, slowly add the milk and whisk until you obtain a smooth batter without lumps, then add the eggs and continue whipping.
Then add the sugar, salt and flavouring of choice.
Mix until all combined and no lumps.
Rest for at least 1 hour.
Pour a ladle full of batter into a preheated oiled crêpes pan (non stick if possible), swirling the pan to coat the bottom evenly with batter.
Cook over medium heat a minute or so, until the sides of the crêpe come loose from the bottom of the pan, turn over for half a mn or so and set aside on a plate placed over a pan of hot water and cover with plastic wrap to keep the crêpes warm, repeat until all the batter is gone.
Serve with various fillings. 

Filling suggestions
Sugar, lemon, jam, chocolate, cooked banana and orange…

Variation on crêpes Suzette

Ingredients for the sauce for 15 crêpes
1.5 oz Sugar 42 gr
6 oz Butter 170 gr
1 tsp Orange zest 1 tsp
6 fl oz /12 Tbsp Orange juice 180 ml
6 Tbsp Grand Marnier 90 ml


Sprinkle sugar evenly on the bottom of a preheated pan over medium heat, do not stir.
When the sugar begins to caramelise add the butter, then the orange zest and juice and let the sauce thicken.
Then add the Grand Marnier (or Cointreau or Curaçao blue) and flame it.
Place a crêpe in the skillet and cover it on both sides with sauce, fold in a triangle and reserve in a hot dish, continue covering all the pancakes with sauce.
When all done pour the remainder of the sauce over the crêpes and serve hot. 

18 February 2010

Mardi Gras - Part 1 - Buckwheat crêpes

In France and even more so in Brittany we have a tradition on Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), the day before Ash Wednesday (this year it was on Tuesday 16th Feb.), to make galettes and crêpes, the galettes are typically topped with a savory filling, while the crêpes are sweet, here is a recipe that works quite well for the galettes.

Galettes au sarrasin – Buckwheat crêpes (savory)
For about 15 galettes/crêpes 9” diameter
1.5 cup / 220 gr     Buckwheat flour
3 Tbsp / 22 gr       All purpose flour  (10% of the buckwheat)
1.5 tsp /  6 gr       Salt 
1 Egg
1.35 Tbsp / 20 ml  Sunflower oil 
½ cup / 120 ml     Whole milk 
1 cup + ¼ cup / 230 ml + 50 ml    Cold water  (or more if needed)

In a bowl measure the buckwheat and all purpose flour.
In a separate bowl mix the salt, egg, oil and milk.
Pour the liquid mix over the flours and using a wooden spoon or your hand mix all into a ball, then slowly add the cold water while always mixing and beating the batter, when all the water has been added continue beating the batter for 15mn to air it well (traditionnaly in Brittany this is done by hand in a big bucket, but you can use a stand up mixer with the paddle attachment).
Pour some water on top of the batter to cover it and place the lid on then let it rest covered and refrigerated a few hours, overnight for better results (the galette will have a more appealing look, they will be brownish instead of greyish).
When ready to cook the galettes check that the batter is VERY liquid, if not enough add more cold water to it.
Pour a ladle full of batter to a preheated oiled crêpes pan (non stick if possible), swirling the pan to coat the bottom evenly with batter (if it is not liquid enough it will "ball up" and the galette will be "for the dog" as is the tradition for the first couple of missfits).
Cook over medium heat until the sides of the galette come loose from the bottom of the pan (1mn or so), turn over for a few seconds and set aside, repeat until all the batter is gone.
Serve with various fillings, place the cooked galette in your preheated pan and place filling on top.
Reserve all cooked galette in a plate covered over a pan of hot water so they won’t dry out.

Filling suggestions
Egg, cheese, ham, white sauce with mushrooms, spinach, blue cheese and walnuts, goat cheese and Espelette chilli powder, smoked salmon/Lox and crème fraîche… If you combine egg, cheese and ham it is called “une complète”.

20 January 2010

Gluten free, dairy free, egg free bread

When looking for gluten free breads it seems there is always eggs and milk added, to me these ingredients mean making a cake not a bread, so I decided to try creating a new GF bread without eggs or dairy and the final product turned out really nice and tasty, like real gluten bread. The bread got eaten before I had time to take a picture!

Gluten free, dairy free, egg free bread
15 gr        Flax seed grounded to a fine flour (it is better than buying it already grounded)
30 gr        Brown rice flour
150 gr      White rice flour
20 gr        Millet flour
20 gr        Sorghum flour
20 gr        Quinoa flour
40 gr        Buckwheat flour (Sarasin)
35 gr        Potato starch
20 gr        Coconut flour
53 gr        Tapioca flour 
½ tsp /2gr Xanthan gum 
1.5 tsp     Salt

460 ml    Tepid water
3 tsp         Active dry yeast
1 tsp        Maple syrup (to activate yeast)

Place all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl except yeast.
Mix water, yeast and maple syrup and let it rest for 5mn (it will start bubbling)
Pour liquid over dry ingredients and mix with paddle attachment for 5mn on speed 1, scraping the sides of the bowl at least once. You will obtain a batter like dough.
Pour in a silicone mould.
Let rise covered with a cotton/linen cloth for approx. 1h until it reaches the top of the mould
Bake in pre-heated oven at 350 for 45mn at least (check for hollow sound and lighter weight)
This bread is quite moist thus won't keep very long, it will freeze well already sliced for ease of use and toaster readiness.

Tip all flours can be substituted for other GF ones, however it is important to keep the Tapioca and Xanthan gum, they compensate for the lack of gluten.

08 January 2010

Galette des rois

In France 6th January marks the celebration of Epiphany, the coming of the 3 kings or the Three Magi: Balthasar, Melchior and Gaspar bringing offerings to Jesus Christ, and as most traditions in France we celebrate with food, in this case it is the Galette des Rois. 
The bakeries go crazy over this and you can find galettes from December until February, the quality varies greatly, but if you are lucky to have tasted a good one you will remember it forever. I have this taste lodged in a corner of my memory and every year wait in anticipation to have a slice or more. 
Since moving to the US it is more difficult to find a galette des rois and this year I finaly decided to make it. 
It is basically an almond filling (Frangipane) encased between 2 sheets of puff pastry.

Galette des Rois
For a 10" galette 

Puff pastry (see recipe here)
Frangipane (see below)

Ingredients for Frangipane
3.5 oz / 100 gr Sugar
3.5 oz / 100 gr Almond powder / almond meal (you can make it yourself by finely grinding the almonds)
3.5 oz / 100 gr Butter at room temp.
2 tsp Corn startch (increase if you increase the rum)
A few drops of almond extract
2 Tbsp Rum
2 Eggs
100 gr Pastry cream (see recipe here - do not put whipped cream)

Mix Sugar, almond, butter, corn startch, almond extract, rum then add the eggs.
When all blended add the pastry cream.

Assembling and baking the “galette des rois”
Split the dough in 2 equal parts, roll out 1 half while the other stays in the fridge, form a 10 ½ " circle (use a sharp knife to cut the dough, it will help it to rise nicely), lay it on a Silpat and chill while you roll out the second circle (slightly larger than the first one as you need to allow room for the filling).
Take first circle out, spread it with Frangipane (almond filling), leaving 2” without filling on the edges, brush water on the edges and place second circle on top of the filling and seal the edges by pressing them, it is really important to seal the edges properly or the filling will escape when baking.
Make a small hole in the center for the steam to escape and decorate the top of the dough with a sharp knife (beware not to cut through the dough completely).

Regrigerate for 30mn.
Brush with egg wash and bake in preheated oven for 30 to 45 mn at 370 F / 187 C depending on your oven (it's better to over bake than under bake). To know when it is baked lift the bottom and it should be golden and dry, it soggy return to the oven.
Serve slightly warm. 

05 January 2010

Puff pastry - Pâte feuilletée

I have always loved making desserts and baking but was shying away from making real puff pastry with a pre-conceived idea that it would be too hard to make and would take too much time. Nonetheless I kept researching about it and finaly decided to go for it. Here is a fairly straightforward method that will give you really amazing results. Slightly different than a previous version already posted.

Puff pastry - Pâte feuilletée
For 2 10 ½" circles
1 ¾ cup + 1 Tbsp / 250 gr All purpose flour       
3 ¾ fl oz /
125 gr (115 ml) Water (cold)           
1 tsp /
6 gr Pinch of salt           
2 Tbsp
/ 25 gr Butter (room temp.)       

1.5 stick /
162 gr Butter unsalted (cold)   

In the bowl of food processor with dough blade mix all ingredients except cold butter, give a few pulse until the dough gathers together, take out on a clean dry work surface and form a ball without working the dough too much, make a cross on the dough (to help it relax).
Place the dough ball in a plastic wrap in the fridge for 20mn.
Take the cold butter and work it into a flat square 6”x6”.
Take the dough out of the fridge and spread the cross and roll out the dough into a square 9”x 9” approx.
Place the butter square on top of the dough square. Sideways and close the dough over the butter in the shape of an envelope, seal well so the butter won’t escape (very important).
Roll out the dough into a rectangle about 12” long (9" wide) and make a double turn.
Repeat and chill dough for 30mn.
Roll out the dough into a rectangle about 12” long and make 2 double turns.
Chill for 30mn.
At this point you can either use the dough or freeze it.