Showing posts with label Sunday Baking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sunday Baking. Show all posts

15 June 2010

Cherry Almond Muffins

Last week, there was a large bag of fresh peas in the panier bio. Fresh peas are delicious but rather time consuming and so they sat there, in the fridge, waiting... Then one afternoon, the mom of one of the kids I babysit for called to say that she'd kept her child home for the day and she didn't need me. At first I thought "oh good, I can catch up on the million things I have to do" but these days I spend all my time running around already. So, I decided to spend the afternoon shelling peas instead. Let me tell you, it was one of the best afternoons that week.

I find there's something meditative in those sorts of cooking tasks:

Snap one end
Pull down the fiber
Open the pod
Run thumb down the middle
Listen to the peas fall into the bowl
Throw pod on the pod-pile

My mind just goes blank, or else muses slowly over its thoughts, stopping only shortly on one thing or another. I imagine myself in a time when life was slower, when you couldn't buy everything easily frozen, peeled, cubed in the supermarket, where cooking was what you spent a large part of your day doing (unless you could hire a cook and then she spent her day doing it). I'm not saying I'd want to go back to that. I'm very grateful for a number of time-saving conveniences in the kitchen. Still, there's something satisfying about doing things by hand or from scratch from time to time. It's like taking the scenic route. Sure, it's not the fastest way from A to B, but it does get you there and you're liable to see some beautiful views along the way.

What about muffins?? Yes, I'm getting there (I'm taking the scenic route, see?). Shelling peas reminded me how restful cooking can be and, as a result, I got up early on Saturday morning to make muffins. Well, to be honest, I got up early because the cats wouldn't stop meowing, scratching the door, and then, when I let them in, biting my toes.

I decided to let D. sleep in and keep the cats company while pitting cherries from the panier bio. The cherries we got were not the best for eating (some were too ripe, some not ripe enough), but I thought they'd be perfect for cooking. Don't worry, you can also make this recipe with canned or frozen cherries. But if you need a break from this quick-turn-around-fast-fast world, I recommend pitting fresh cherries by hand and letting the juice run down to your elbows to stain the placemats.

wet ingredients:
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
1/2 tsp almond extract

dry ingredients:
3/4 cup white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (you can use all white or all wheat, but I like a combination)
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

1 cup cherries, pitted and halved

1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 Tbsp brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 400F. Grease muffin tin or put in liners. In a large bowl, beat the egg and add the milk, oil and almond extract. Stir well. In a separate bowl mix together the dry ingredients. Add to wet ingredients and mix batter. Don't overmix! Gently fold in the cherries. In a small bowl, combine the sliced almonds and brown sugar and mix.

Fill each muffin cup to about 2/3 full and sprinkle each muffin with the almond/brown sugar mixture. Bake at 400ºF for 20 min or until the muffins are plump and golden brown on top.

31 January 2010

Maple Syrup and My Sister's Ginger Snaps

En français ici.
One of the most frustrating thing about being an expatriate (for me anyway, am I alone?) is not finding the ingredients I'm used to in the grocery store. Not that there aren't lots of wonderful new ingredients to explore (like more kinds of cheese than I ever imagined and the wonder of lardons and crème fraîche), but it takes some adapting. In three years, I've gotten down most of my conversions and substitutions : levure chimique instead of baking powder, crème fraîche with a bit of lemon instead of sour cream, poitrine fumée instead of bacon, found places to get some important ingredients (like brown sugar), and given up others as too hard to find or too expensive (cranberries, molasses, maple syrup).

Speaking of maple syrup, I have to allow myself a short digression to brag about the Carrefour maple syrup I found at only 4 euros a bottle! Have I mentioned I love Carrefour? Often their store brand products are very decent quality for a very affordable price. (In the interest of honesty, I have to say that I have no affiliation with Carrefour except for my store card, but if they want to pay me for the good press, I will not say no!) I made some pancakes this morning to test it out and I have to say, it may not have been the most flavorful maple syrup I've ever had, but it was definitely 100% maple syrup. The only suspicious detail was the picture on the bottle of... a city? Er, what city is that? (Canadian bloggers, any ideas?) And most importantly, why? Does this syrup come from the elusive urban sugar maple? Wouldn't a picture of a leaf have been more logical? But I digress... again.

Anyhow, my sister (not Future Master Baker, oh dear, I have food genes all over my family) sent me some delicious ginger snaps for Christmas (and the recipe because she loves me), and they were large and soft and chewy and a bit spicy, in sum, perfect. But I feared that the recipe might not be France-friendly. I had a moment of discouragement when I saw "molasses" on the list of ingredients, but of course I like a good challenge as well as the next cook, and I decided that substituting some brown sugar for white and honey for molasses would probably do the trick. And it did. In fact it was so yummy that I might make them that way all the time. I'll let you decide...

Ginger Snaps

2 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves (I used allspice)
a good pinch of salt

3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar (or 3/4 cup white sugar and 1/4 cup dark brown sugar)
1 egg
1 Tbsp water
1/4 cup molasses (or honey)

more sugar for rolling cookies in

Preheat the oven to 350ºF/180ºC. Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt, and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar(s) with a mixer or a fork, until they are light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, water and molasses (/honey). Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet, stirring as you go. Shape the dough into small balls (about the size of a walnut) and roll in the extra sugar.

Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, flatten slightly, and bake 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool 5 minutes on the cookie sheet before removing to a cooking rack (or to your mouth...or is that just me?).

Thanks sis!

26 March 2009

Apple Pecan Bread

En français ici.
My high school French teacher, who I am still in touch with (funny what friends one keeps from high school), came to Paris last week with a group of students from my old school. It was fun to see him and strange to think that I'd been on that same trip nine years ago (now all the students seemed intimidated by me!). But my french teacher and I don't only share a passion for French; we also both love to cook and being the thoughtful person he is, he brought me these wonderful presents from the States:

As you can imagine, I put them to good use immediately, making a pecan version of these brown sugar muffins. Once those were all eaten up, I got to thinking what else I could be baking. For weeks and weeks and weeks in my CSA, I've been getting apples. I guess they're the only fruit that lasts through the winter, but they've been getting less fresh as the season goes on and they're really best for cooking. D. made a delicious apple/apricot tart this week, but there were still apples leftover. So I decided to make this apple pecan bread.

Many apple bread recipes that I looked at were written for 2 loaves. I only have one loaf pan so I had to adapt. For those of you who live in small apartments or just don't have multiple loaf pans, this is for you.

D. insisted this was the best bread in the whole world and I have to say, it's pretty darn yummy. I'll be making more of it ASAP.

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups diced apples (about 1 large or 2 small)
1/2 cup chopped pecans (plus 10-12 pecans, chopped, for garnish)

Preheat the oven to 325F/170C. In a small bowl combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and salt, and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, vegetable oil, white and brown sugar and vanilla extract. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined.

Fold in the apples and pecans and spoon the batter into a well-greased loaf pan.

Here, I toasted a few extra chopped pecans with a couple tablespoons of brown sugar in a dry pan on medium heat and topped the apple bread with it. This makes for a deliciously sweet, crunchy crust and I highly recommend it.

Put in the oven and bake 45-55 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then remove to a wire rack (so the bottom doesn't get soggy as it cools).

01 March 2009

Apple-Banana Clafouti

En français ici.
Today we have Sunday Baking Returns. I haven't been doing weekend baking for a while, partly because I haven't been so much in the mood for sweets, partly because there are few good fruits around this time of year to inspire me. In fact what inspired me this week was D. sending a recipe to my inbox and insisting that I make it. The recipe comes from the talented Nathalie, whose blog Clopin-clopant is worth spending some time exploring (if you speak a little French) and whose book, Sortie de route, I thoroughly enjoyed. She's also published a collection of short stories that's waiting for me to dig in. And on top of all that she's a good cook, you ask? Well apparently so, because I tried this recipe and it's delicious!

(The measurements are translated so pardon me if they're a little strange.)

4 eggs
2.7 oz flour (a heaping 1/2 cup)
1 cup milk
4.2 oz sugar (about 3/4 cup -- she used castor, I used 1/2 dark brown, 1/2 white. I like the richness brown sugar gives it and it goes nicely with the banana)
2 Tbsp butter, melted

2 apples, peeled and cut into small pieces
2 bananas, peeled and cut into slices

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F.

Butter a pie or tart pan and lay the pieces of fruit in a generous layer at the bottom. Mix together the other ingredients in a bowl and pour over the fruit.

Bake for 40-45 minutes until the clafouti is set and the fruit is golden on top. It will rise, but don't worry that's normal and it falls when it comes out of the oven -- that's normal too.

Thanks Nathalie!

08 December 2008

Holiday Pecan Pie

Pour mes lecteurs français, je n'ai pas traduit cette recette car il y a trop d'ingrédients qu'on ne trouve pas (ou difficilement) en France. Mais ne vous désespérez pas : il y a plus de bonnes recettes à venir en français bientôt !

Thank you all for you kind comments. It was a difficult week but things are slowly getting back to normal. I'm a bit exhausted, but I've been meaning to post about my very favorite thing about Thanksgiving (yes, I know, we're getting closer and closer to Christmas, but at least I'm in the holiday spirit) and that's pecan pie.

I say "Thanksgiving" or "holiday pie" instead of "Christmas pie" and that's because D. is a certifiable Grinch when it comes to Christmas (there's may even be a greenish hint to the skin that comes on towards the beginning of December, and becomes more pronounced when surrounded by shoppers "getting in the spirit"). I personally love Christmas so I don't let grinchy-ness get in the way of preparing to give presents or listening to the soundtrack of the nutcracker on repeat. And almost everyone enjoys edible presents like Clementine-Walnut Meringues, for example, or Peanut Butter Chocolate Balls (and more ideas on that to come). But Christmas, like Thanksgiving, is often about eating good food at home with family, and this pecan pie could certainly fall into that category.

It's simple to make, can be made ahead of time and is oh so yummy!


1 pie crust

2 cups (250g) pecans coursely chopped, plus 10 whole for decorating the top

3 large eggs
1 cup (215g) light brown sugar
1 cup (2 dl) dark corn syrup (yes, I know, corn syrup is bad for you, but this is only recipe I ever use it in so I let myself splurge. It makes the consistency so perfect!)
5 Tbsp (70g) melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp dark rum
1/2 tsp salt (unless you used salted butter, in which leave out the salt)

Preheat the oven to 375F (190C) and spread out the chopped pecans on a cookie sheet. Toast the pecans in the oven until golden 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Whisk the rest of the ingredients together until well-blended. Stir in the toasted pecans. Warm the pie crust in the oven until hot to the touch (a couple minutes, no more). Pour in the filling and arrange the 10 whole pecans on top in the pattern of your choice. Bake 35-45 minutes, until the edges are firm and center is set but still a bit quivery (it will continue to harden as it cools). Let stand for at least an hour or more before serving to allow it to set completely. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

24 November 2008

Walnut-Clementine Meringues

En français ici.
Ok, I'm one day late for Sunday baking, but this weekend I had the good fortune to visit the beautiful town of Arras in the north of France where (stereo)typically the people are friendly and the weather is dismal. Although we've been trying to drag it out with all these gorgeous autumn photos and recipes circulating in the blogosphere, after this weekend, I think I can safely say "winter is here"! Time to start thinking about Christmas then, right? What? It's not even Thanksgiving yet? Ok, but almost and I'll get to that next week, don't worry.

This is the view at the Arras train station when I left. The train came on time (miraculously, despite a 2-day strike and the snow) but the high-speed train was not so high speed on icy rails! Understandably with this kind of weather, one has to find ways to stay warm. Let me recommend tasting local beers as a good way to do that:

What does all this have to do with today's recipe? Well as you might have figured out if you've been following closely, after the Pots de Crème à l'Orange last week, I had 6 egg whites just sitting around waiting to be turned into something festive and yummy to bring along on my adventure to thank my host. Did somebody say meringues? These seasonal meringues are as pretty as they are delicious. They look impressive and they're not all that hard to make even if they cook for a while.

3 egg whites
a heaping 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 cup superfine sugar (if you don't have superfine sugar, which I didn't, put 3/4 cup regular sugar in your mixer or food processor for about 30 seconds)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp clementine zest
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted

egg whites with sugar and stiff peaks

Bring the egg whites to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 200F/105C. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until the egg whites form soft peaks when you lift up the beater. (Technically you can make these without an electric beater, I've done it with a fork, but my arm is not willing to relive the experience!)

Add the sugar little by little while beating and beat until the egg whites form stiff peaks and feel smooth between your fingers (not too gritty).

Spoon the egg whites onto a cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil. Sprinkle the clementine zest and walnuts on top and put in the oven, on a rack in the center. Cook 1 1/2-1 3/4 hours at 200F/105C. Then turn off the oven, stick a wooden spoon in to prop open the door slightly and let cool 4-6 hours or overnight. The less time you leave them to dry out, the more chewy the center will be, the more time you leave them, the more light and airy they'll be all the way through. It depends how you like them.

16 November 2008

Pots de Crème à l'Orange

Some periods of the year are nothing but holidays or birthdays one after the other and sometimes you have to make your own occasions. This week, with D. and a friend of ours who's been feeling a bit down, we decided it was high time to make a special occasion for no reason, cook a good dinner and drink to our own health and good times.

I had been keeping this recipe that my youngest sister (aka future master baker) sent me for a special occasion, and I decided it was high time to pull it out, especially since Christmas is right around the corner (or at least that's what shop decorations would have you believe) and some of you might already be menu-planning. I find it's good to have tested your recipe beforehand because it takes some of the stress out of the actual holiday. So I'm doing my homework, see!

Without further ado, I give you littlest sister and her notes on this recipe:

So... basically, I'm in love with this recipe. It's like chocolate mousse, but using yolks instead of whites makes it smoother and richer. The orange adds a certain lightness and the Grand Marnier makes the flavor complex and layered. It's really good. And much easier than you'd think. I was so worried I'd do it wrong, and it turned out perfectly on my first try.

The recipe says to just break the chocolate into pieces, but I actually chopped it pretty finely. It speeds things up.

Dad says he used to have pots de crème in posh restaurants in New Orleans [where he grew up], so... people will probably be really impressed if you make this for them. ;)

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup half-and-half
12 oz. (340g) semi-sweet chocolate, broken into pieces

6 egg yolks

3 Tbsp. orange-flavored liqueur, such as Grand Marnier
1/4 tsp. freshly-grated orange peel

fresh whipped cream

orange slices

In the double boiler, heat the cream, half-and-half and chocolate until the chocolate melts. Stir with a whisk until all of the ingredients are well-blended and remove from the heat.
In a blender [or not] whirl the egg yolks, liqueur and orange peel. With the machine running, slowly pour in the hot chocolate mixture. Return the mixture to the double boiler and continue to cook until it thickens to a lightly set pudding. Divide among dessert cups and chill for 2 hours. Serve garnished with whipped cream and orange slices.

So were they impressed? Oh yes they were! Thanks sis! The recipe calls for orange peel and orange slices. I used clementines because they're very available at this time of year. Unable to find half-and-half in France, I just put an extra 1/2 cup cream and 1/2 cup reduced-fat milk. I also used a hand-held electric beater, which I do not recommend, unless your kitchen needs redecorating with chocolate polka-dots. Bon appétit!

Oh, and while you're enjoying your chocolate, remember to submit your entries for the Energy Food Challenge this week!

09 November 2008

Apple Strudel and My Wonderful Mentors

It's been a couple months now since Kristen at Dine and Dish launched the second round of Adopt-a-blogger, an event that pairs experienced bloggers with newbies (like me). I had the wonderful luck to be adopted by Giz and Psychgrad over at Equal Opportunity Kitchen, a blog that I had already come across and admired as one of the heavyweights in foodie blogging.

Giz and Psychgrad blog as a mother-daughter team, switching off or sometimes writing entries together. Their goal, as they put it, is to create a "living" cookbook, with colour commentary. (Yes "colour" looks strange to American readers, but we'll give them a break because they're blogging from Canada where "color" probably looks strange, or at least American.) They're not kidding when they say "Equal Opportunity". One of the great things about their blog is the diversity of recipes they post about, everything from the basic pasta, cakes and cookies, to the exotic Sri Lankan Red Shrimp Curry, and the daring homemade pizza dough. And speaking of daring, Daring Bakers is one of the many events all over the culinary blogosphere that Psychgrad and Giz bravely participate in.

It's no surprise then that this week, still overrun with apples from my CSA, after two apple-pear pies, and who knows how many batches of apple-walnut muffins, I decided to head over to Equal Opportunity Kitchen for some new inspiration. I went back to September (beginning of apple season), where I had bookmarked Giz's Apple Strudel. I didn't have phyllo dough so I made my basic pie crust, rolled it out and cut it into quarters which I wrapped around the filling. I also substituted sliced almonds for the walnuts, just based on what I had in my pantry. These strudel-inspired mini pies were delicious! I definitely suggest you check out the original recipe especially if, like me, you don't know what to do with all your apples!

Which I'm on the subject of Psychgrad and Giz, they have given me an award:

I would like to pass it on to Camille at Croquecamille, Nina Timm over at My Easy Cooking, and Ivy at Kopiaste (a blog I discovered thanks to World Food Day), all of whose photos of recent recipes have had me sitting in front of my computer muttering "yum yum, yum yum." (Yes, like a crazy person, I know.)

Speaking of Camille, I also received an award from her (I feel so showered with blog-love!):

Which I will pass right along to my mentors, did I mention they're awesome?

As well as to Alex Rushmer over at Just Cook It, whose blog truely is excellent: the man makes his own charcuterie for goodness sake. He is afraid of nothing, plus his descriptions will make you laugh (or possibly never eat pâté again, or both).

Also to Sam over at Antics of a Cycling Cook, whose blog I've been following for quite some time now and love just as much as when I first started reading it.

And to Apples and Butter, a relatively new blog with delicious recipes and wonderful photos, both exotic and every-day fare.

26 October 2008

Automne et une tarte pomme-poire/ Fall and Apple-Pear Pie

Despite not being in my native New England surrounded by maple tree reds, oranges, and golds, or even being in the countryside at all, I've been trying to take advantage of the fall colors here in Montmartre.

Bien que ma Nouvelle Angleterre natale me manque, surtout ces érables qui s'embellissent chaque automne de rouge, orange et jaune doré, j'essaie de profiter des couleurs d'automne ici à Montmartre.

Although I may grumble about the tourists constantly walking head up and tripping regular pedestrians while trying to get the best photo, I secretly never tire of looking up at the Sacré Coeur myself. With the fall light through the slowing browning chesnut trees, you can see why.

Comme tout autre parisien (natif ou d'adoption), je me plains souvent des touristes qui bloquent le passage piéton où ils s'arrêtent fascinés par le haut de la butte, et restent en plein milieu pour avoir la meilleure photo. Pourtant, je dois avouer que moi-même je ne me lasse jamais de regarder le Sacré Coeur, même si je le vois presque tous les jours, avec la lumière d'automne à travers les châtaigniers, vous pouvez voir pourquoi.

Some of the best places to find real fall colors in this neighborhood are the many vines that climb on old houses and turn fiery red in October.

Pour soulager mon envie de rouges automnaux, je n'ai qu'a regarder les vignes vierges qui grimpent sur les anciens immeubles, et qui prennent une couleur de feu en octobre.

And lastly, the best way to get in the fall spirit, of course, is to cook fall food and for me that means getting creative with my CSA. A couple Sundays ago, I mentioned an apple-pear pie in passing without giving any sort of recipe (what a tease)! This week, as I said in my last post, pears made another appearance in our basket, and D. immediately began lobbying for the pie. Luckily, after spending Friday and Saturday in London (more on that soon!), I was ready to relax around the house today peeling and coreing fruit. Next week I'm in a 6-day workshop on Bérénice by Racine. I'll see if I can post, but until then, eat up!

Finalement, la meilleure façon de célébrer l'esprit d'automne est de cuisiner avec des ingrédients de saison ! Cette semaine dans le panier bio, il y avait un sac plein de poires et D. voulait absolutement une pie à l'américaine pomme-poire. Heureusement, après 2 jours passés à Londres ce week-end (je vous en reparlerai bientôt !), j'étais contente de passer mon dimanche à tranquillement peler et couper des fruits. La semaine prochaine je suis un stage de 6 jours sur Bérénice de Racine. Je verrais si j'ai le temps de poster, mais d'ici là, régalez-vous !

Ingredients / Ingrédients :

-6 cups fruit, apples and pears, peeled, cored and sliced / 1 kg fruit, pommes et poires, pelées, et coupées en lamelles
-2 Tbsp lemon juice / 2 c.s. jus de citron
- 1/4 cup sugar / 50g sucre
-1/4 cup brown sugar / 50g sucre brun (si vous n'avez pas de sucre brun, vous pouvez mettre 100g de sucre en poudre normal)
-1 tsp cinnamon / 1 c.c. cannelle
-1/2 tsp vanilla / 1/2 c.c. arôme de vanille
-2 Tbsp flour / 2 c.s. farine
-2 Tbsp milk / 2 c.s. lait

-butter / beurre
-cinnamon sugar for topping / mélange de sucre et cannelle pour garnir

Mix all the ingredients (except the butter and cinnamon sugar) in a large bowl. Stir well. Prepare your favorite homemade or store-bought pie crust (my simple butter-free crust). Pour the ingredients into the bottom crust. Dot with butter and cover with second crust. Brush the crust with a little milk and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mix. Cut slits for the steam to escape and cook at 375F/190C for about 1 hour, until the juice is bubbling over (don't forget to put a cookie sheet on the shelf underneath to catch the drips). Cool and serve.

Mélanger tous les ingrédients (sauf le beurre et le mélange sucre/cannelle) dans un grand bol. Mettre une des pâtes (il en faut 2 pour une tarte à l'américaine) dans un plat à tarte. Remplir avec les fruits, disperser des noix de beurre dessus et couvrir avec la deuxième pâte. Étaler un peu de lait sur la pâte et saupoudrer avec le mélange sucre/cannelle. Couper des ouvertures sur le dessus de la pie pour laisser échapper la vapeur. Cuire à 190C pendant environ 1 heure, jusqu'à ce que le jus boue (penser à mettre un plat en dessous de la pie pour attraper le jus qui coule). Laisser refroidir et servir !

I'm entering this post in the World Food Day Thanksgiving Event because I think it is appropriately seasonal and festive. I love how Thanksgiving brings together family and good food with seasonal ingredients: good for the soul, the body and the Earth. I am extremely thankful for my family, both immediate and extended. I couldn't ask to be part of a better, more supportive, wonderful group of weirdos.

Ivy, qui était une des hôtes de l'évenement pour World Food Day auquel j'ai participé, continue de nous faire penser à ce sujet important avec son événement pour Thanksgiving. Les pies sont les desserts traditionnelles de Thanksgiving : pie au potiron, pie aux noix de pécans et pie à la pomme. Ces pies, et la plupart des plats traditionnels de Thanksgiving, utilisent des ingrédients de saison et cette fête est donc bon pour le corps, pour la terre et pour l'âme, puisqu'on pense à toutes les choses pour lesquelles on veut remercier l'univers. (Pour les dindes, j'avoue, c'est peut-être moins sympa !) J'en reparlerai sûrement, mais pour moi (comme pour plein d'autres), Thanksgiving est avant tout une célébration familiale et j'ai la chance de faire partie d'une famille merveilleuse, complètement barge (comme toute les familles), mais dont les membres se soutiennent énorment et j'en suis reconnaissante.

Last piece of business, but certainly not least, Nazarina over at Giddy Gastronome, a wonderful site where she makes good food and her own beautiful soaps(!), has very kindly given me this adorable Butterfly Award! The rules say to pass it on to 10 people, but rather than listing them here, for now, I will just send you over to my blog roll "Good Cooking" for recipes or "Fun Websites" for other things to explore. Thank you Nazarina!

19 October 2008

Apple-Walnut Muffins

Pour ceux qui lisent mon blog en français, je vous demande de m’excuser : j’ai une petite grippe et je n’ai pas eu l’énergie de traduire cette entrée pour l’instant. Je le ferai bientôt !

Well this whole weekend has been spent in bed with a bad cold (which I probably came down with while baking almond/pine-nut cookies with the six-year-old I baby-sit for who was sick and kept licking her fingers and sticking them back in the batter…). Anyhow, I’ve been more into chicken soup and ginger, honey, lemon tea than fancy creations and Sunday baking. Still, I promised these Apple-Walnut Muffins and lucky for you, the pictures were already taken so I can post them from under my warm comforter!

We got a big bag of apples in the CSA both last week and the week before, and I made a few batches of these muffins (adapted from the Joy of Cooking). I also made some by combining this recipe with the recipe for Brown Sugar Muffins that I posted about earlier this year, and I believe the results would have been delicious had I not forgotten to add an important ingredient… Can you tell I’ve been a bit stressed lately?

This week, the fruit from the CSA is pears, which I’m sure would be good in these muffins too, but D. is rooting for pie. My body, on the other hand, is rooting for more time spent in bed, so we will see.


2 large eggs
¾ cup sugar
1½ cups coarsely grated or finely chopped, peeled apples

1½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
scant ½ tsp salt

5 Tbsp melted unsalted butter
½ cup coarsely-chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 400oF.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar. Stir in the apples and set aside for 10 minutes. This allows the apples to render their juices with the sugar and eggs and makes for moist muffins.

In the meantime, in a separate bowl whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt). Melt the butter on the stove and chop the walnuts.

Once the apple mixture is done sitting, stir in the melted butter and walnuts. Add the flour mixture and fold in until the dry ingredients are just moistened. Be careful not to overmix. Pour batter into greased (or lined) muffin cups and bake 14-16 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the muffins comes out clean. Let sit 3-5 minutes before removing the muffins from the pan and letting cool on a cooling rack, or eating immediately!

12 October 2008

Sunday hangover?

Après les croissants de dimanche dernier, vous pensez peut-être que je passe tous mes dimanches à ne rien faire, car j'ai fait la fête la veille. Et puis, pourquoi pas après tout... mais en fait, j'avais l'intention de poster une recette de muffins pomme-noix (ça sera pour la semaine prochaine, c'est sûr !) sauf qu'hier soir D. m'a fait cadeau d'une super soirée pour mon anniversaire, avec notamment un punch merveilleux (dont la recette est un secret que je ne peux pas dévoiler ici).

After last Sunday's croissants (let someone else do the baking) you all are going to think I spend my weekends partying and waking up bleary-eyed. And why not, after all? But the truth is I was intending to write to you about some yummy moist apple-walnut muffins today (next week - I promise!) but last night D. threw a party for my birthday, which was a few days ago, and made a delicious punch from a secret recipe that I can attest included rum - lots of it! A bunch of people came and they brought presents and wine and other goodies, including two wonderful food-related gifts:

Book about exotic ingredients, their properties and simple recipes in which to use them.
J'ai reçu plusieurs cadeaux très sympas dont ce beau livre de cuisine sur les ingrédients exotiques et comment les préparer.

Whipped cream maker!
Et un siphon crème et chantilly !

By the way, if anyone has any good Swiss chard or celery root recipes, I received both in my CSA basket this week and have no idea what I'm going to do with them! Hope you had a restful weekend.
Appel à recettes : si vous avez des idées pour utiliser de la racine de celeri ou des blettes, j'ai eu les deux dans mon panier bio et je suis perdue ! J'espère que vous avez passé un bon week-end.

05 October 2008

Sunday Croissants - let someone else do the baking

This week there will surely be baking in Hopie's Kitchen, possibly a reprise of the Zucchini Bread as there was loads of zucchini in Friday's CSA basket again, and something with apples...mmmm. But this Sunday I decided to let someone else do the baking and, living in Paris, there are plenty of good bakers around to pick up the slack.

After a Saturday night birthday party for a friend, and numerous servings of spiked punch, I decided to do Sunday the traditional French way. I slept in, rolled out of bed around 11am, threw on some clothes and headed around the corner to the best neighborhood boulangerie. Now, I'm not claiming that it's the best boulangerie ever, or in Paris; it's not famous or anything. It's just one of many wonderful places to get amazing bread and patisseries in the time it takes to say "bonjour" and "bon dimanche."

Later, browsing through Joy of Cooking for particular recipe, I got distracted by a paragraph about croissants. It's like the dictionary for me: you look up a regular old word and end up being seduced by finifugal and abluvion, and then you're done for. But that's another story. According to the Joy of Cooking, although popularized by the French, croissants were actually invented in Hungary. In 1686 Hungarian bakers, who were working through the night to prepared the morning's pastries, heard Turkish invaders tunnelling under the city. If it weren't for the bakers, it would have been a massacre, but thanks to their warning, the Hungarian army had enough time to rally and defeat the invaders. As a thank you, the government mandated the bakers to create a pastry in the shape of the crescent on the Turkish flag, so everyone could nibble on the symbol of their defeat!

Still, no one can argue that the French know how to do pastries. So this morning with buttery croissants still warm from the oven, hot tea and coffee for proper croissant-dipping, and despite the dismal, rainy weather, I remembered why I love living in Paris.

28 September 2008

Coq au vin for World Food Day

En français ici.
Well since last Sunday, I did lots of baking, and in the middle of the week I baked Zucchini Bread, we interrupt your regularly scheduled Sunday Baking to bring you a little social, world-consciousness...

Ivy of Kopiaste and Val of More Than Burnt Toast have come together to create an international food-blogging event for World Food Day (Oct. 16) to heighten awareness for hunger in the world. The point isn't just to sit around and be depressed about it (a danger in my case, 'cause this sort of stuff makes me feel helpless and depressed!), but to focus on what each of us can do about it by donating to a local food bank or supporting sustainable, local agriculture (joining a CSA, using ingredients that are in season, etc), or contributing to international aide organisations like Action Contre la Faim. (And, I don't want to get too political, but voting for elected officials who support sustainable energy and foreign policy that takes into account some of these issues is helpful too!)

The rules of the event are to create a regional dish from your country or a family favorite that will feed 6 people and send it in. In the roundup after Oct 16th we will create a "conga line of international dishes to feed the world!" Of course, this brings up existential questions: my region? My country? Um... So, I chose a traditional French dish based on a recipe by an English man and translated into American and adapted by me!

Coq au Vin (à la Hopie)
adapted from Mark Crick's Kafka's Soup


For the marinade:
2 onions
1 bottle red wine (should be a bit of a strong wine, not too fruity)
6-8 juniper berries
1 Tbsp yellow mustard seeds
1 pinch coriander seeds
1 tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)
3 cloves
1 branch of rosemary
2-3 branches of thyme (or 1 tsp)
a pinch of pepper

For cooking:
1 large chicken or "coq" (if you can find it. My butcher happened to have them and proudly showed me the beautiful comb of the one I chose before chopping its head off and cutting it into piece, at my request, ew, sorry to get graphic, back to the yumminess).
1 large handful of baby onions
7 oz smoked bacon
2 carrots
5 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
3 sticks celery
3 leeks
a pinch of sage
2 Tbsp olive oil

Put the pieces of chicken in a large bowl or pot and prepare the marinade by pouring the wine over it and adding all the other ingredients. Let marinate 48 hours in the fridge, stirring after 24 hours.

When you're ready to cook it, take the chicken out of the marinade and drain. Keep the marinade! Chop the carrots, celery, and leeks (you could peel the carrots before you chop them, especially if they're not organic...). In a pressure cooker (or large pot), heat the olive oil. Put in the baby onions, bacon and pieces of chicken. Brown the chicken, then pour the marinade over it. Add the garlic, carrots, celery, leeks and sage. Salt and close the pressure cooker (or cover the pot). When the pressure cooker starts to sing, cook 35-40 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken. If you're using a pot, let simmer at least 1 hour until the meat is tender.

It's not a very photogenic dish, but it's loaded with flavor. I served it with some potatoes and it was delicious.

Serve however you like, but mostly don't hesitate to participate in the World Food Day event. Even if you don't have a blog, you can still create a recipe and email it with a picture to Ivy or Val and they'll post it on their blog!

22 September 2008

Sunday too-much-baking

D'habitude je poste une recette de dessert le dimanche, car c'est le week-end et je peux m'amuser en cuisinant. Pourtant, ce week-end je me suis tellement amusée, que je n'ai même pas eu le temps de poster ! J'ai fait des brownies pour que D.K. puisse les amener à la rencontre Cadavreski :

This weekend, there was so much kitchen activity that I didn't even have time to post a single recipe! I guess I had to make up for going away last weekend. On Friday, I made these brownies for D.K. to bring to a meeting with a group of writers who all participated in a collection of short stories together. On Sunday, I made another seasonal fruit pie : apple-pear, yummy!

J'ai fait une tarte (à l'américaine) pomme-poire, car j'avais des bons fruits de saison dans le frigo.

Et j'ai fait une très grande casserole de sauce tomate à congeler pendant que les tomates sont toujours en saison et pas chères au marché !

And Saturday, I spent making a huge pot of tomato sauce to freeze while tomatoes are still in season and fresh at the market. It was very exciting because I got to use my wonderful new kitchen scale (the only one I could find that had both pounds and kilos). The tomato sauce making idea came from spending time at my parents' house this summer where my mom and I were trying to think what to do with all the tomatoes from the garden that we couldn't eat fast enough. We came up with this very simple recipe.

J'ai eu l'idée de faire de la sauce tomate quand j'étais chez mes parents cet été : on n'arrivait pas à manger toutes les tomates du jardin assez rapidement. Ma mère et moi avons créé cette recette très simple avec les tomates et herbes du jardin et j'ai décidé que cela pouvait très bien aller dans mon envie d'utiliser des fruits et légumes locaux et en saison.

Ingredients :

4lbs tomatoes /1,8 kg de tomates

1 onion / 1 oignon

6-12 branches parsley / 6 à 12 tiges de persil (I like putting in lots of herbs, but you can adjust to fit your tastes)

6-12 branches basil / 6 à 12 tiges de basilic (j'aime mettre beaucoup d'herbes fraîches, mais vous pouvez mettre selon votre goût)

Fresh or dried thyme / un peu de thym frais ou séché

10 cloves garlic, peeled / 10 gousses d'ail, pelées

2/3 cup olive oil / 170 ml d'huile d'olive

salt, pepper / sel, poivre

Core tops of tomatoes, and slice, removing the seeds. Put all ingredients (except salt & pepper) in a pot and simmer on medium heat for about 15 minutes until sauce begins to thicken. Take out whole herbs (or take out some and leave some in). Put through food mill. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Couper les tomates en quartiers et ôter les pepins. Mettre tous les ingrédients (à part le sel et poivre) dans une grande casserole et faire bouillir à feu moyen pendant environ 15 minutes jusqu'à ce que la sauce commence à épaissir. Enlever les herbes fraîches (ou au moins la plupart) et mélanger dans un mixer. Ajouter le sel et poivre selon votre goût.