Sep 29, 2008


It has almost been a year since I started my blog, but before that, I was of course a huge fan of some great food blogs out there including one which I particularly love: Chubby Hubby’s blog. I’ve been following his food adventures for a long time now, but when I recently saw his post on Heston Blumenthal’s “popping candy chocolate cake" my smile reached all the way to my ears and immediately I told myself “I HAVE to make this!!!”. But I was curious about two things: 1) doesn’t the candy start “popping” in contact with the other ingredients? How is this going to work?! 2) Where on earth am I going to find popping candy? I know in the U.S. there are “pop rocks” but in France… it’s a bit more difficult to find the equivalent. It’s a candy that goes waaay back, that it’s vintage status has almost led it to become an extinct candy specie! I had to look in a lot of places before I found some…and still, I didn’t even find the powder on it’s own. I only found those lollipop with powder bags- you know what I mean? The recipe calls for 100gr of popping candy which would had meant that I needed to buy at least about 50 of those bags… just imagine the look of the cashier if I showed up with that! I already got an odd look with the dozen of bags I had purchased for this first trial.

Anyway, so what I did – as I was really curious how this was all going to turn out- was test out only the popping-candy base, and I divided the quantities in half. I actually did it twice. The first time I was overexcited that I didn’t even follow the recipe and started to experiment on my own. Instead of the hazelnut, I put cream…the way you would make a ganache. But once I started adding the popping candy, it started making that famous fizzy noise which meant that the effect was destroyed! Argh, silly me! So I went back into the kitchen and followed the recipe precautiously. Let me tell you, you have to be extra careful that not a single drop of water falls in and that there is no humidity whatsoever…or else everything is ruined! The recipe says you have to make a paste out of the hazelnuts, but as my food processor is currently broken I could only grind it (which is why you don’t see any hazelnut paste in my photos). When it came to the stage of adding the popping candy, I held my breath and crossed my fingers that I wouldn’t hear a fizzy noise… which I did NOT end up hearing! What joy! With this small test quantity I made, I decided to place the hazelnut-chocolate paste into little cups and tried out a bite of it … the popping candy effect was there! I then took another bite a few hours later…the effect was still there! Then again I tried it at the end of the day, and the day after and … it was still popping! Yes, the recipe did indeed work out- but only if you follow it religiously. So next time, I will do the full cake recipe hoping that I can find the popping candy on it’s own without the lollipops!
The bags I loaded up on...and that felt like a blast in the past!
Teenage mutant ninja turtles, my goodness!!

I had tons of lollipops to throw out... just keeping the popping candy!
Adding the popping candy!

For Heston Blumenthal's popping candy chocolate cake recipe, click one of the links below:
Via Chubby Hubby's blog: click here.
On the Times Online: click here.
Or on The Guardian: click here.

Sep 23, 2008


Let me tell you beforehand- this post was not supposed to be about the featured phyllo crunchies. This post was meant to be about this wonderful dish (please, I hope I do not sound too stuck up!) I had cooked up the other day. It was supposed to be about this delectable gilthead bream/daurade on a bed of sunny colourful Mediterranean vegetables which were cooked with tons of fresh basil and also served with sautéed gnocchi and finally everything was blessed with a very delicate lemony creamy light sauce… just perfect with a glass of white wine… argh… my mouth waters each time I start thinking of it. The thing is, it was nothing too fancy shmancy, but I had this exact precise structured way I wanted to plate the dish…and -drama in the kitchen- a disaster happened. The plating did not turn out how I had planned and so that is how these totally unrelated phyllo bites take over for this post. Voilà. Not sure if any of the above made sense, but I promise I will redo this fish dish of mine, I will make sure it turns out looking as I want, and then I will be more then happy to share the result with you. As you can clearly see, I do have somewhat of an obsessive perfectionist edge when it comes to food.

Anyway, so I guess today I can instead share a quick & super easy recipe if you happen to have feta, phyllo, olive oil and vegetables in the likes of zucchini, red pepper, etc etc… I love phyllo- I even prefer it over puff pastry. I love it’s amazing crispiness, luminous golden colour, geometric beauty and also as a bonus- it’s healthier because it’s not as greasy! These phyllo squares take 5 mins to wrap up and less then 15 mins in the oven. They are brushed with olive oil and stuffed generously with feta, grilled vegetables and black olives. In a matter of seconds, the phyllo parcels are ready to bake and are sealed with sprinkles of sesame. As simple as that- recipe at the end to prove it!
Almost ready to go into the oven...

Enjoy immediately while it's still warm and crunchy!
Recipe for crunchy phyllo feta & grilled vegetable squares:

Zucchini- thin slices
Red pepper – chopped into large dices
Black olives – without the seeds
Olive oil
Sesame seeds
Salt & Pepper

How to make it:
Preheat oven to th8. Place the veggies on a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, and grill in the oven until they colour nicely. Take out when ready, set aside, and lower oven to th6. Roll out the phyllo and brush both sides lightly with olive oil. In the center of each sheet, place a generous amount of feta and top off with the olives and grilled vegetables. Add a pinch of salt & pepper. Wrap up, brush with olive oil again if you feel it’s not sticking together properly, and add a sprinkle of sesame seeds. Bake in oven for 12-15 minutes.

Sep 21, 2008


A while back I had tried these truly wonderful rose- anis macarons at Ladurée. I was pleasantly surprised with the combination of the two flavours. The refreshing edge of the anis overlaps very nicely with the sweet smoothness of rose. So, the other day when I was going through the kitchen closets, I spotted a bottle of concentrated rose syrup which we received from Syria. Then in another closet, a jar of anis seeds was staring right back at me. At that moment my mind went back in time recalling the heavenly Ladurée rose-anis macaron- and that is basically how I came up with this dessert… which is something like a panna cotta, but not quite…
Of course, as you can see from the photos, there is more then just anis and rose here. The base is a fuschia pink fig & rose, whereas the top layer is anis seed infused in a mixture of cream & milk (panna cotta like-ish). Views on this dessert were mixed because it all depends what side you come from. There are those people I know who are real traditionalists, who only love vanilla, chocolate, strawberry & co type classics. Then there are the “others” who like to experiment around and who generally preferred my dessert this time. And then there were just a few traditionalists that went over to the other side and enjoyed the flavour combination too. As for me? Well, I loved it. And no, I don’t love every single dessert I make- there are some that turn out to be disastrous and that see the light of day only once in their life, while there are other real keepers that I enjoy making over and over again. This was my first time preparing this specific dessert, but I know for sure I will be back at it again!

Above: concentrated rose syrup vs rose water.
The one I used this time was the concentrated rose syrup.
P.S: No recipe this time as everything was quite spontaneous. For the bottom part, I started with a layer of fresh figs followed with the rose syrup mixed with water and gelatine which was left to set in the fridge. After that, for the upper part, follow a panna-cotta type recipe and add on top of the bottom layer- only after it has set!

Sep 17, 2008


I must say, I don’t mind spending a lot of time on preparing desserts. Actually, it also depends on what the dessert is… some of them inevitably need many hours- or even days- to prepare. But I tend to find that fruit based desserts are usually quick to make and ever since the government here has been bombarding us with “5 fruits & vegetables a day” campaigns (which by the way, I think is a good thing- encourage people to get healthy!) I have been using more fruits in my desserts. I have no problem eating my 5 veggies a day (I’m a total vegetable addict!) but fruits…hmm… I have a bit more difficulty with that. I don’t know why, but I’ve never quite befriended fruits.
Maybe the only thing I like about them is that they are colourful and pretty to look at, and here I am presenting a quick & easy to make strawberry red and coconut white based dessert. There’s also a dash of lime juice in there too, all presented in a cute cup I totally fell in love with the other day while “food props” shopping. As a final touch, I added marshmallows coated in white chocolate and rolled into toasted coconut. I had done that marshmallow thing last year for Christmas but the coconut was not toasted, to give an impression of “eatable snowballs”. Anyway, the short and sweet recipe for this fruity cup is at the end of my post- but of course the strawberry-coconut matchup is versatile. My second option had been a strawberry-nougat duo… I’m sure both flavours create a tasty couple, but that will be for next time!

Recipe for strawberry lime-coconut cup:

Ripe delicious strawberries
Freshly squeezed lime juice
Coconut ice-cream
Grated coconut- toasted
White marshallows
White chocolate- melted

This is easy to make and the images should be almost self explanatory. Dice the strawberries. In a bowl, squeeze the lime juice, add some sugar, mix and gently throw in the strawberries. For the marshmallows: melt some white chocolate to then coat the marshmallows. Then roll the coated marshmallows in toasted grated coconut. Then fill in the cups with the strawberries, top off with a scoop of coconut ice-cream and decorate with the marshmallows and optionally white chocolate Mikado sticks. Enjoy!

Sep 15, 2008


Have you ever tried a mango from Egypt ? Well let me start off but telling you that they are most probably- if not certainly- by far the best mangoes in the world! As I have some family in Egypt, and as people from the Middle East tend to have this typical charming habit of always bring back food in their suitcases when visiting family, well as you can imagine- there is more then often delicious ripe mangoes from Egypt lying around in our kitchen throughout the year.
I just happened to receive some last week, and as much as I enjoyed them on their own, as much as I was dying to try out this spontaneously thought up combination of utterly sweet mangoes refreshed with shreddings of mint and with a naughty twist of tequila, which all in all goes fantastically well with a scoop of coconut ice cream. The result: a colourful exotic and glowing dessert- and do expect some more fruity posts coming up soon !
Recipe for Mango “carpaccio” with Mint & Tequila:

Note: I eyeballed this recipe, so I will do my best to assume the correct measurements below.

Count 1 large ripe mango for 2 servings
Fresh mint leaves- finely chopped
1-2 teaspoons of tequila / mango
1-2 tablespoons sugar
Coconut icecream

How to make it:

Slice the mango very thinly- almost like a carpaccio and place slices in a deep dish. In a small cup, mix the mint, tequila & sugar- mix well and transfer this mixture over the mango slices. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for a few hours. When ready to serve, lay out the mango slices and optionally top off with a scoop of coconut icecream (optional, but highly recommended between you and I!).

Sep 1, 2008


Well guys, I am trying to get back into the rhythm of blogging now. Here’s something for a start: a milk chocolate-almond-fig cake, which despite it’s simple and casual appearance ended up tasting fabulous! Three great ingredients and flavours combined can only produce something delicious, so this makes it a risk-free cake recipe! Plus, lately, I have been in an inexplicable mood for milk chocolate… I think it may be because I’m feeling autumn just around the corner and I’m being soothed by milk chocolate goodness. It’s crazy how the weather strongly influences my choice amongst shades of chocolate… an interesting correlation I recommend scientists to explore! Or if anyone already has the answer out there, I’d love to know!

100gr milk chocolate
100gr butter
4 eggs
Almond essence
125gr sugar
100gr flour
50gr ground almonds
5gr baking powder
Pinch of salt
Dried figs, chopped

Preheat oven at 180C. Melt the milk chocolate & butter together. In a bowl, whisk the eggs, almond essence & sugar then add the chocolate-butter mix. Follow with the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Finally, add the dried figs and gently stir. Bake for 30mins, then check with a sharp knife to see if cake is well baked. Remove from oven and let cool before removing from mould. Optionally, you can pursue with a layer of dark chocolate ganache sprinkled with bitter cocoa powder.