Dec 22, 2008


I think I will have to dedicate this cake to all those who love utter sweetness in their life…or in culinary terms, a golden coloured flavourful mixture of a caramel scented cake with dollops of heavenly dulce de leche and a crispy coating of pralines. To be devoured with moderation…
Recipe for Caramel & Dulce de Leche cake with Pralines:

3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence or a vanilla pod
100gr sugar
100gr caramel syrup (ready bought or home-made)
100-150gr dulce de leche
150gr butter
150gr flour
5gr baking powder
200gr praline (mixture of crushed caramelized nuts)

Preheat oven to th4/180C/350F. In a bowl, mix eggs, vanilla, sugar, caramel and butter. Then add the flour and baking powder and mix batter well. Transfer to cake mould (buttered & floured or lined with parchment paper), fill in half the batter and add a layer of dulce de leche before covering up with the remaining batter. Sprinkle a generous layer of pralines on top and bake for 45 mins- checking after if it is well cooked. If the knife does not come out dry, then note it could just be the dulce de leche but the cake in itself is baked.

Dec 20, 2008


I’m sure we all know of a recipe that never leaves our mother’s repertoire and that we’ve seen being made since years. I’m talking about the kind of recipes that your mother literally “owns” and that she could quite possibly have a copyright on (even if it’s been done by others, but you inevitably associate it to her more then any other person on earth). Well before this year ends, I want to feature a cake recipe that my mother has been cooking up in our home’s kitchen since before I was born. Indeed, my mom tells me that she had first made today’s featured orange-coconut cake when she was pregnant with me, and ever since she makes it each year around the winter season when oranges are abundant bringing in a fruity zest into the chilly days. So that basically means this is a cake that I grew up with, and that maybe explains why I ended up being such a sweet tooth! I grew up enjoying delicious fluffy bites of amazingly fragrant cake drenched with orange syrup and coated with clouds of whipped cream and grated coconut a bundle of tastes and textures filled with irreplaceable emotional value… mothers’ recipes are truly full of magic!
Above & below: the orange syrup being soaked up by the cakeMy mother’s orange-coconut cake
(for a small 20cm diameter round cake mould)
*My mother has the habit of measuring everything in cups (and when I say cups I am being literal here- no measuring cups, but drinking cups) which would explain the recipe below.

The recipe is split into the batter and the orange syrup. The syrup should be made first:

Orange syrup:
6 oranges (juice of)
½ cup sugar
In a pot, heat the orange juice and sugar. When it starts boiling, let it do so for about 5 mins. Turn off heat and let cool.

Cake batter:
2 eggs
½ cup butter
½ cup sugar
2 oranges (peels only)
2 cups flour
½ sachet (about 5gr) baking powder

Mix eggs, butter and sugar. Add orange peels into a food processor so that the peels transform into a zest, and add this to previous mixture. Then add the flour and baking powder. Mix well and bake in th5/190C/375F oven for 30 mins. When baked, remove and poke with a fork and pour cooled syrup onto hot cake. Pour all the syrup and leave overnight- everything will be soaked in by the morning. The next day, whip up liquid cream, coat the cake with the cream and add a generous sprinkle of grated coconut. Enjoy!

Dec 16, 2008


If I had the choice between meat, chicken, fish or seafood/shellfish as one “animal” type ingredient to eat for the rest of my life, I would with no doubt choose seafood/shellfish. I love it just as much as I love chocolate, so I simply cannot imagine a life without seafood & shellfish, like for example… scallops and shrimps which are actually part of what my post is about today. These kind of ingredients are especially popular during the holiday season here in France (along with foie gras of course, but I’ve never been a fan of foie gras believe it or not). This dish is a result of one of my nth spontaneous experimentations, and I realized that for the next time, I will need to twitch some details in terms of the presentation, because the recipe in itself turned out to be very tasty. For the eyes, it was a feast being a colourful dish with bursts of green (asparagus), yellow (saffron pasta), black (squid ink pasta) and rosy tones (shrimps & scallops) which all complemented each other to produce a rather elegant taste for the tastebuds. I find saffron and seafood to always match up well, it is one of those classics that always work out and which is also very present here with a delicious sauce made of amazingly fragrant kaffir lime, white wine, some cream, and saffron. I’m also submitting this to the Seven Fishes Feast event hosted by Maryann of Finding La Dolce Vita and Joe of Italyville.
Kaffir Lime (above) and more info here
Please note that when I cook savory, I tend to eyeball quantities. Sorry for the lack of precision, if you have any specific questions though I’d be happy to help- drop me a comment!

You will need:
Scallops & Shrimps
Saffron and/or Inksquid pasta- if you can get both, that would be great!
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper

For the saffron sauce (quantities for about 3 people- but you can always make more if you feel this is too little)
Olive oil
1 small shallot, chopped very finely
200ml white wine
1 kaffir lime (juice of & zest)
50-70ml light liquid cream
Pinch of saffron (threads, if possible)

As with all savory dishes, the mise en place and serving temperature is crucial. Chop the shallots and set aside. Start off by cooking the pasta. During this time, chop off the rough ends of the asparagus, and boil for about 6 mins. When pasta is ready, remove and run under cold water to stop cooking process. Set cooked asparagus & pasta aside. Now the sauce: place the shallots in a pot with a bit of olive oil until they turn into a translucent golden colour. Add the white wine, kaffir lime & zest and let simmer for 2-3 mins. With a strainer, transfer mixture to another pot as you want to remove the shallots & zest (I removed the shallots for aesthetic reasons and to keep a silky smooth overall texture). Now, in the “new” pot add the liquid cream, saffron and season with salt- turn down heat and let the flavours infuse. Lastly, pan-sear the scallops & shrimps by placing them in a hot pan covered with some olive oil. Season with S&P according to personal taste. If you can, at the same time, heat the pasta & asparagus (separately) in deep pans with a few drops of olive oil. Season with salt according to personal taste. Place ingredients on serving dishes, and at the very end, heat the sauce and whisk (takes about 1 min in total) to accompany the dish. With this order, everything should be at the correct temperature so you can enjoy the flavours at their best!

*Kaffir limes can be bought at Asian food speciality stores. They have a wonderful peculiar taste & scent of limes and coriander.

Dec 14, 2008


Above: a delicious basket of Swiss & Austrian deliciousness.

I’ve been so busy lately but am so happy to be back blogging (and making up for my absence with three recipes!) with some lovely Christmas cookies for this holiday season ! The list of recipes I could had tried was very very long, with Christmas cookie varieties from all over the world but I stayed close in Europe with treats from two nearby countries: Switzerland (and their amazing Basler Brunslis and Zimtsternes) and Austria’s infamous Linz tart (which I did in small and bite size versions with a bit of a twist). I’m particularly attached to these three pastries as they bring back so many memories from my childhood years spent in Switzerland… especially the Basler Brunslis which I was absolutely mad about, and still am. It was great making all these childhood faves at home, and I’m super happy to participate in Susan’s (from Food Blogga) wonderful Eat Christmas Cookies event.
Above: addictive & delicious heart shaped Basler Brunsli

Above: mini & bite sized Linz tartlets with some marzipan slipped in

Basler Brunsli (Swiss brownies with cinnamon & cloves)

50gr dark chocolate, melted in a bain marie
100gr brown sugar
100gr ground almonds
1 teaspoon cocoa
1 egg white, whisked, stiff
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon clove, ground
1 teaspoon kirsch

In a bowl, mix all dry ingredients, then add the melted dark chocolate and kirsch. Fold into egg white mixture and mix well. Place dough in fridge for at least 1 hour before rolling out and cutting in desired shape. Original recipes say you should leave the raw cookies on a baking tray overnight before baking them- so if you’re patient enough then it could be worth it. Bake in 200C/400F/th6 oven for 8 mins.

Zimtsterne (Swiss cinnamon cookies)

2 egg whites, whisked, stiff
170gr icing sugar
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon kirsch
235gr ground almonds

In a bowl, mix the egg whites with the icing sugar. Keep about ½ a cup aside for the frosting at the end. In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients, then fold into remaining egg whites and add kirsch. Place dough in fridge for at least 1 hour before rolling out and cutting in desired shape (traditionally in a star shaped). As with the Basler Brunsli, it is recommended to leave raw cookies on baking tray overnight before baking them. Just before baking, spread a layer of the egg white & icing sugar mix set aside (in the 1/2 cup) on top of cookies. Bake in 200C/400F/th6 oven for 6 mins.

Mini Linz tarts

200gr butter, softened
130gr sugar
2 eggs
135gr ground almonds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon almond essence
330gr flour
Cherry or raspberry jam (I used cherry jam and I also added some slices of cherries)

Mix butter, sugar and eggs. Then add the ground almonds, cinnamon and almond essence and mix. Finally, add the flour and mix until you have a nice dough-y texture. Place dough in fridge for at least 1 hour. Roll dough in tart mould, place a thin layer of marzipan and finish with a generous spread of jam. With remaining dough, make long strips and place on top of tart in a criss-cross design. Bake in 200C/400F/th6 oven and check after 20 mins. It might need some more time, so it’s best to check as of 20 mins.