Mar 24, 2009


Because I’ll be away on holidays soon- which implies that I’ll be taking a break from blogging too- I thought I’d leave a few savoury images which you will hopefully enjoy…

I’m leaving this post short, with a dish mid way between the cold and sunny days… some comforting purée de pomme de terre to say good bye to chilly weather, and colourful roasted vegetables perfumed with fresh basil, olive oil and garlic to remind us that sunshine is on it’s way!
Before I end this post however, let me share with you a few secrets I used:

To add volume & crisp to a dish: simply grate a potato to produce thin shreds (like when grating carrots). Rinse under cold water several times. Optionally (but recommended), leave the grated potatoes in a bowl with cold water and icecubes. Drain, dry, and fry. The result? Crispy golden threads that can be used to decorate your dish!

For ‘herbal visual reminders’- if basil is one key ingredient of your dish, fry large beautiful basil leaves. They will become translucid and crisp, placed on your dish they will hint to the presence of basil. It’s a change from simply placing a fresh basil leaf, as when fried, it has a more ‘jewel’ like aspect.

When roasting tomatoes: depending on the ‘mood’ of your dish, I love leaving the stems of the tomatoes on. It adds a graphic yet rustic edge to any dish!

Lastly, (and some of you may already know this), when cooking meats or fishes, leave them out under room temperature about an hour before cooking them up. In French, you would say that ‘ca les detend’- which means, it helps the meat/fish ‘relax’ before it contacts heat and does not ‘shock’ as intensely in regards to the temperature change. This helps obtain a more tender result at the end.

Mar 23, 2009


Before I start writing about raspberries, cream cheese, and other sinful deliciousness, I need to mention a couple of things :
1) I’ll very very very likely be away on a trip end of this week (I’m taking a few days off from work, hurrah!)… destination will be revealed upon my return- but I can tell you from now that I’m very excited about where I’m going, and I think my camera is in for a real treat!

2) Today’s subject is cheesecake, as you probably guessed…and for this I need to make a confession. I’ve made cheesecake only twice in my life- this being the second time. I know, this can be a shock to some of you, but the truth is that cheesecake just happens to be one of those things I just don’t make at home…for some unknown reason. When I have a slice, it’s usually when I’m eating out.
Anyway- with that said, you can imagine that this second attempt to make cheesecake was quite a dramatic and intense experience for me as more then six years have gone by since my last home-made version. So I was crossing my fingers hoping that this would work out. I did tons of research to unlock the mystery of what makes a perfect cheesecake- from the baking time, to using or not using a water bath in the oven, to how long one should be mixing the ingredients, so on and so forth.

Finally, my gut feeling and baking experience helped lead me to a conclusion and I think I came up with a recipe (which was the result of research and a combination of many recipes) that I will keep and use again and again, because the result was just lovely! Each bite was a wonderful creamy rich experience with chunks of raspberries that reminded me spring time is very near, contrasted by a fragrant speculoos base…mmmm, pure delight!

Raspberry cheesecake (recipe for a 20cm diameter round cake mould)

200gr speculoos
25gr butter, melted
100gr sugar
Vanilla essence or pod
2 eggs
450gr cream cheese
100gr soured cream (in France, look for ‘crème fraiche’)
200gr raspberries + a handful for decoration
Raspberry coulis (optional)
Icing sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to th4/160C/350F.
Butter the sides of the cake mould, and line the bottom with parchment paper. Crush the speculoos to powder (either manually or in a mixer), and mix with the butter as to form a dough. Place this dough on the bottom of the mould, smoothing it out with your hand or the bottom of a cup. Bake for 10 mins, remove and set aside. In the meantime, mix the sugar, vanilla, and eggs and mix briefly (you don’t want too much air). Add the cream cheese and soured cream, mix at low speed until texture is creamy with no lumps. Throw in the raspberries and stir gently with a spatula. Transfer to mould and bake for 50 mins. At the end of baking time, turn oven off and leave cheesecake inside the oven for 30 mins. Remove, let cool and place in fridge overnight. Decorate with fresh raspberries, coulis and icing sugar, enjoy!

P.S: do NOT use frozen raspberries for inside the cheesecake. It will release water and you will have a soggy texture- trust me on this one!

Mar 16, 2009


Well… I was hoping that I’d be more regular with my posts this year, but I guess things aren’t working out exactly as planned ! Since the beginning of the year, many events have been happening in my life which have taken up a lot of time from sharing my culinary experiences here! I hope this will change soon, because without the cooking…I just don’t quite feel the same…cooking, baking, spending time in the kitchen and being curious with ingredients is certainly an integral part of who I am!

Anyway, I thought I’d pop by with a chocolatey hello with scrumptious turron & almond brownies- giving the classic recipe a bit of a Spanish twist! I absolutely adore turron, especially turron de Jijona (the softer type), and I thought I’d throw some into a brownie recipe along with some almonds for a bit of a crunch!
The brownie recipe I usually follow never disappoints- except this time I thought I should add a bit more flour and prolong baking time by 10 mins… well let me tell you- do not do it! Because the end result was not as moist as I was hoping for, and instead I obtained a somewhat cakey-brownie texture. Nonetheless – do not get me mistaken- these culinary accidents still produced a delicious result, and these brownies are especially fantastic when enjoyed with a cup of coffee (turron and coffee pair up amazingly well!).

Turron & Almond brownies (the right recipe!):

200gr chocolate, 70%
200gr butter
200gr sugar
4 eggs
100gr flour
5gr baking powder
Pinch of salt
100gr chopped almonds
150gr Jijona turron, diced

Preheat oven to th4/180C/350F.
Start by roasting the almonds- either in the oven or in a pan. Roast for about 5 mins, this will make them crunchier and gives them a delicious scent! Remove from oven/pan, chop the almonds and set aside. Melt the butter with the chocolate, preferably over a bain-marie. Transfer to mixing bowl, add the sugar & eggs- whisk. Follow with the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Finally add the chopped almonds and turron blando- mix very gently. Bake in oven for 25 mins, remove and let cool before serving.

P.S: because the Jijona turron is so crumbly and fragile, it would be best to dice and place in the fridge a couple of hours (or even a day) prior to baking the brownies.