Monday, January 21, 2008

It’s time to share my recipe for French King Cake !

La galette des Rois” , the cake of the Kings, is a cake celebrating the Epiphany. The Epiphany is a Christian feast which celebrate the visitation of the three Magi (Balthazar, Melchior et Gaspard) to the child Jesus.
In France, we celebrate it, the second Sunday after Christmas. On Epiphany, and all the other days of January, we eat « la galette des rois ». It is a kind of « king cake » made of puff pastry and filled with frangipane ( a mix of almond, butter and sugar).

The tradition is to put inside a trinket (fève) which is usually a porcelain figurine. There are very varied kind of « fèves » and most of French people like to collect it. After cuting the cake in as much part as they have guest, it is usual for the youngest person to go under the table and name the person who will have each piece. The person who gets the piece of cake with the trinket becomes "king" for a day and should wear a paper crown.

La fève

The tradition of the cake is coming from the XIVe century. In the south of France, the galette is a brioche who looks like a crown and is filled with sugar and fruits. The tradition of the « fève » come from the ancient roma, where in january, during the saturnals, a fève was put inside a cake for elected the king of the saturnals dinner.
We usually drink champagne with this cake. You can bake « la galette des roi » or find it in all the French bakeries in January. The cakes are usually sold in special bags, some of which can be used to heat the cake in a microwave without ruining the crispness of the cake.

La Galette des rois :

You need 2 circle of puff pastry sheets

The almond cream
3 eggs
almond powder
2 table spoon of your prefered alcool (bacardi, rhum…)
To decorate :
1 egg and 1 tablespoon of milk
1 fève

Work the butter with a fork until it’s creamy. Add the almond powder and the sugar. Melt until it’s creamy. Add the eggs, lighlty mix and add the alcohol. Whip it. Put the cream in the fridge for na half an hour.

Mix the egg with the milk. Put the pastry on a pan. Brush the outline with a paintbrush. Put the almond cream in the middle of the pastry. Add the fève. Cover with the other sheet of pastry. Press a little to leave out the air. Pinch for closing the two sheets with your finger. Cut a line of the middle of the pasty to avoid the pastry to swell. Make little cuts all around the pastry with a knife. Draw diamonds on the pastry. Brush the pastry with the mix of milk and egg.

Bon appétit !

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Madeleines remind me of France...

I enjoy making Madeleines because it’s remind me of France…
Madeleines are very small cakes with a particular shell shape. Their flavor is similar to pound cake with a butter taste.

l love this little cake with little bump… You can find the traditional pan in store like « a la table » or William Sonoma. I use a silicon molds, it’s so seasy !

Madeleine is a traditional cake from Commercy, a commune of the Meuse department in northeastern France. The first Madeleines were baked in the 18th century. Madeleines are also famous for their association with Marcel Proust, a famous French author, in his novel « A la recherche du temps perdu », In Search of Lost Time.

“She sent out for one of those short, plump little cakes called petites madeleines, which look as though they had been molded in the fluted scallop of a pilgrim's shell. And soon, mechanically, weary after a dull day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid, and the crumbs with it, touched my palate than a shudder ran through my whole body, and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place…at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory…”
— Remembrance of Things Past, Volume 1: Swann's Way.

Madeleine is the cookie, I make them for parties, for gifts and when friends share a cup of tea with me. She is delicious with a cup of tea, but also with chocolate mousse, with fruits salad or apple sauce or ice-cream.

Madeleine Recipe
Make 24 madeleines

3 large eggs at room temperature
2/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1⁄4 cup cornstarch
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄4 teaspoon salt

optional : You can perfume your madeleine with 1/3 cup of shredded coconut, or shredded almond or 3 tablespoon of orange flower extract or lemon juice or chocolate or just plain!

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

In the bowl mix with an electric mixer the eggs, sugar and vanilla for 3 minutes until it becomes yellow. Add butter and mix again. In another bowl mix together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Stir into the first bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the flour if you want.

With a soup spoon, put the batter into the pans, almost full. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the edges of the Madeleines are golden brown.. Remove from oven immediately and cool on racks or parchment paper.

C'est si bon !!!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A ratatouille, is cooking lovingly...

« La Ratatouille » is a traditionnal french provencal dishes originated in Nice, in the south of France. The word ratatouille comes from « touiller » which means « to toss food »

Since the movie "Ratouille" (rat a too ee), lots of you know what a ratatouille is. Nevertheless we don't really cook it like in the movie, with one zuchini and two tomatoes in only 10 minutes !!! The real one needs a little bit more ingredients and more time to cook. More time you cook it, better it is. The secret of a good ratatouille is cooking lovingly…

Ratatouille may be served as a side dish with meats, bbq or fishes. It is also good as a simple meal with rice or potatoes. If you have leftover, you can also keep it and have it later as a cold hors-d'oeuvre.

A well-prepared ratatouille requires cooking the vegetable in separate stages, and then combining. I dont' do that because most of the time I'm busy. My recipe is quite easy but really good. Try it !

3 tbsp of olive oil
1 chopped onions
1 chopped glove of garlic
1 eggplant
1 green pepper
2 zucchinis
5 tomatoes
Salt and pepper
Herbes de provence

Chop pepper, zuchinis, eggplant, onions and garlic. Boil the tomatoes in water, then peel and dice then.

Put a large pot on the stove, add oil to cover the bottom. When it’s hot, add the tomatoes cook slowly in medium heat for 10 minutes. Then add zucchinis, pepper and eggplant. Add onions, basil, garlic and herbes de provence. Salt and pepper. Stirr well and cook it for 50 minutes the first time, and heat again it before to eat, it would be more soft and tasting.

My idea : If you don't have good garden tomatoes with flavor, add just a small can of tomato paste.

Enjoy !

Thursday, September 13, 2007

What about my easy « gâteau au yaourt » ?

It is such an easy cake that children can make it without help ! Each french grand-ma teaches their grand-children how to cook the « gâteau au yaourt » and it is often the first French cake that franch children learn to make. This is also the cake you do when you have no time, no ideas, not lots of ingredients...

You have to use the yaourt pot, once empty, like a measure. A french yaourt pot is equivalent to a cup (see the picture) !
Ingredients :
1 pot of plain yogurt
2 pots of sugar
3 pots of flour
1/3 pot of canola oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 pinch of salt
1 tablespoon of amber rum (if you like)

Preheat the oven to 350 ° F. Buttered or grease a 10 inch round cake pan or a loaf pan or a pbread pan.

The preparation is very easy. You just have to put the ingredients one by one. As for me, I start with yogurt, sugar, eggs, oil, salt, baking soda and baking powder and I just mix everything untill it is smooth.

Pour the batter in a butterecake pan and bake for 30 minutes. Insert a knife in the middle of the cake, if the knife is clean, it’s ready. If not, just put 10 minutes more. Transfer to a rack to cool. Sprinkle with confectionner’s sugar.

The yogurt cake is a real base for lots of yummies cakes !

With this basic yogurt cake, you can add everythings you love. My favorite is with lemon zest ! it’s so yummy !

A lemon yogurt cake : just add rated zest (yellow peel) in the mixture and a little bit of lemon juice.

A nut yogurt cake : instead of putting two pots of flour, put one of almond or of hazelnut or any nuts that you like.

A flavored yogurt cake : use flavored yogurts (lemon, vanilla…)

A fruit yogurt cake : add some fruits (apple, pears, apricots..) in the top of dough. Or just in the plate.

A chocolate yogurt cake : add 6 teaspoon of cocoa powder or chocolate chips.

A salt yogurt cake : instead of sugar, just add some olives, ham, grated cheese and your favorite fresh herbs… A good cake fo picnic !

What about doing your own yogurt at home ?

Just take 4 cups of whole milk and heat at 113 ° F. Add one yoghourt or one teaspoon of yogurt starter (I use « yogourmet »* ) in a little bit of heated milk. Stir well, mix with all the milk, stir well again. And just put the milk in a thermos for one night or in a yogurt machine for 9 hours.

* Yogourmet can be found in « Wholefood market» or « Mother’s market

Friday, July 27, 2007

La Mousse au Chocolat, a lovely French sin !

The Mousse au Chocolat is one of the preferred French desserts: kids and adults adore it… If you go to France, it would be easy to eat one everywhere, in our traditional « café », in a brasserie, or in a restaurant !!!

There are many ways to make it, the only things you’ll always need are chocolate, and eggs (whites and yolks separated). My recipe comes from « Pierrette », my mother and I have never tried another one, because it’s simply delicious. It doesn't take long to make it and, it’s also a yummy light dessert as there is no whipping cream!!!

For the chocolate, use dark chocolate or milk chocolate as you prefer. Of course, the authentic mousse is made with dark chocolate. The best one is the guanaja which contains 70 % cocoa solids and which comes from Valrhona, a famous French brand from the south of France. And you are lucky, because you can find it in your Trader Joe’s. Many chocolates sold at supermarkets typically contain 50 to 60 percent cocoa solids. If you choose chocolate with a higher percentage, your mousse may be slightly denser. The quantity of sugar depends of your taste, and it’s also possible to make mousse au chocolat without sugar! Just try with different kinds of chocolates and use which one you prefer. You can also put a pinch of your preferred alcohol!

For 6 ramekins
½ cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup of sugar
3 eggs

- In a medium sauce pan, over low heat, melt the chocolate chips with 2 tablespoon of water, mix often with a wood-spoon. Take off of the heat when the chocolate is smooth.
- Add the 3 egg yolks and mix well.
- Beat the 3 egg whites with a pinch of salt until solid peaks form.
- Very gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture until well blended. Pour into ramekins or other dishes.

Refrigerate about three hours and serve chilled. Decorate with dusted cocoa powder, grated chocolate or raspberries, strawberries which complement the chocolate quite well…

With mousse au chocolat, drinking a glass of champagne would be perfect. Also, with a sweet wine and you can prepare some simple cookies to eat with it.

Monday, July 23, 2007

When I bored with baseball, I think about rhubarb...

During the week-end, when my children play baseball, I'm not(all the time) super attentive, I must confess. So, I take pictures of them or I take magazines from my purse and I'm looking for special recipes.
By chance, some days ago, someone left me some "Elle" magazine from France where I can find recipe cards that interesting to me. You may not know this, but I adore rhubarb, and in California, I can get rhubarb all year around. That's not the case in France, where there is a season for rhubarb (and also for all produce !!! ). So in one "Elle", I just discovered a recipe which reminds me the good fruits cakes of my grand-mother Adèle. I share with you that delicious recipe...
The Rhubarb Cake of Adèle
10 rhubarbs stalks
10 strawberries
1 cup of flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of sugar
3/4 stick of butter
1/2 cup of milk (soy or cow)
1 egg

Cake topping
1 egg
1/2 cup of soy cream

- Peel the rhubarb and cut in diced pieces. Put in a deep bowl with sugar and leave for two hours. - Preheat the oven at 375 ° F.
- Buttered inside of a pan or use a vegetable oil spray ans sprinkle a little of flour all over.

- Put in a mixer the flour, the baking powder, the sugar, the milk and one egg and mix until it is smooth.
- Pour in the cake pan and spread evenly.

- Strain the rhubarb mixture and use a paper-towel to blot the excess liquid. Rinse the strawberries and cut in slices. Arrange on the batter.

- Pour the rest of sugar with the soy cream and the egg. Pour over the fruits. Cook it for 45 minutes before removing from the pans.

And then enjoy !

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

la quiche lorraine, an old French recipe...

Everybody eats Quiche Lorraine in France, and perhaps you too ! La Quiche Lorraine was created during the middle of the sixteenth century. It came from Lorraine, a French region in the north east of France, near Germany. The word « quiche » comes from the German word « küchen » which means cakes. There are thousands of recipes of Quiche Lorraine, but most of them are made of eggs, milk or cream, hams or "lardons " (strip or cube of bacon) in a pastry crust.
We eat it warm like an entrée or for a one plate dinner with just a walnut vinaigrette salad ( 1 teaspoon of french mustard, 2 pinch of salt, pepper, 5 tablespoon of walnut oil and 1 table spoon of balsamic vinegar), it’s a simple family meal. We also like to bake little quiche for appetizers or buffet. It is a very easy and quick dish, especially if you buy the pastry.

For the pastry or buy pie crust in your store
1 cup of all-purpose flour
¼ pound (1 stick) of unsalted butter diced, at room temperature
1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of water
1 egg

Pour the flour into a bowl and make a kind of fountain. Pour into the fountain water, salt, and the butter cut up in little chunks and the eggs. Combine with your fingers or use a food processor. Do not overwork the dough or it will become tough. Gather the dough into a ball, wrap it in a plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

For the fillings : a béchamel
6 oz of fully cooked diced ham
less than ¼ cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
2 cups of milk
salt and pepper to taste
nutmeg to taste
4 oz shredded gruyere or parmesan cheese
2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 375 ° F.

To prepare the crust : on a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough with a rolling pin two or three times, rotate the dough and roll out again until you have get a circle. Fit the dough in a tart pan on parchment paper; stick the dough with a fork. Then put the ham or bacon in diced pieces on the dough.

Make a béchamel : in a medium sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. When butter starts to foam, add the flour, mixing well and immediately with a wooden spoon. Cook 2/3 minutes, stirring constantly. Then add milk little by little, stirring gently with a wire whisk or wooden spoon until smooth and thickened Add the shredded gruyere or parmesan, mix well. Out of the heat, add the eggs and mix well. Add nutmeg, pepper and salt. Fill the dough as full as possible with the béchamel and bake for 30 minutes, or until the filling is puffed and golden. Remove from the oven and serve immediately or let cool to room temperature. Cut into wedges to serve.

If you have some quiche leftover, just warm it in the oven to serve, the dough will stay crunchy !

The addition of onion to Quiche Lorraine makes Quiche Alsacienne. Without eggs, an open-face onion tart with anchovies and black olives is a Pissaladière Niçoise, a relative of pizza.