I am very rarely inspired by a recipe. It almost never happens happens that I eat something great and I want the recipe. Of course I enjoy it, but my true inspiration to create a recipe comes from “things” of everyday life. At the moment I am inspired by colour. Every day as I watch nature, I witness colours deepen and darken, fade and disappear. I am mesmerized by the dark of wet wood.. the doors, the windows, the wood piles along the country roads ready for winter fires, the deep beiges of dry fields, the soft creams of the sheep grazing the green hills..and then I remember that recipe saw in a magazine, or the one I tasted at a friends home, and I’m inspired to create the same. This time - A chocolate mendiant tart I saw in a magazine at the hairdresser. I can’t remember the magazine, or theexact ingredients, except for the addition of the Nutella and the icing sugar roasted nuts. And yes, the chocolate colour perfect to accompany the browns I see around me. And the taste..perfect for the cold rainy days..or any other day!
Une Pincée de fleur de sel:
- I used orangettes(candied orange strips). See crystallized orange strips how to make them. It is worth making them yourself to buying those tasteless ones in the supermarket.
- Other dried fruits I used: Dried figs cut in slices and dried cranberries.
- Nuts I used: Freshly shelled walnuts and pistachios.
- I didn’t use a sweet pastry, because the chocolate is sweet enough.
- This dough is enough for 2 tarts. I always make a double quantity so I have a spare pastry ready to roll out in the freezer.
- Consider using this pastry recipe..Omit the cheese, thyme and peppercorns in the recipe. It is much more buttery, delicious of course, but also richer.
- Leave the tart/tartlets to stand for a day to develop flavor.
- It is important to leave the dough to rest. I always leave my dough overnight, it prevents shrinking. This time I was too hurried and in the photo you can see the result..shrinkage!
..an old dilapidated, but charming door contrast beautifully with white stone walls..
..typical Corréze country-with light cream stone houses and dark roofs, dark shutters, rusted barn equipment, nestling in the green hills..
green Corréze hills with brown soil prepared for new fields, dry cornfields of the past season and stark, late autumn trees..
..happy, creamy white sheep roaming the green hills..
..two friends, a familiar Corrézien sight..
..this is a time of year I love to sketch. At the moment, I am truly inspired by the browns and the shapes, especially those of leaves, branches and everything else I find on my walks..
..the stacks of wood ready for the fast approaching winter..
Joyeuses Paques, happy Easter, gesëende Pase, buona Pasqua, felices Pascuas…!!!
Christmas time is chocolat time. A feather light chocolate mousse. The perfect ending to a magical christmas dinner. And in January we’ll go on a diet.
This is a recipe from Chocolate desserts by Pierre Hermé. I’ve been making this mousse for many years and haven’t found a recipe that is so light and delicious as this one…it is a true winner !!
- This is a basic mousse recipe…add some flavor the your mousse by infusing the milk with grated orange zest, or a tsp of coffee, or a pinch of cardamom, cinnamon, any other Christmas spices.
- Using milk makes for a lighter mousse, but if you want it richer and creamier, use cream instead of milk. I even go so far as tu use 2 percent milk.
- The longer the mousse stands, the creamier and denser it becomes, but it is still good. I prefer to make my mousse nothing more than 12 hours in advance…having a beautiful feather light chocolat mousse.
- It can be kept up to two days in the fridge.
- Cover the mousse when chilling it in the firdge to prevent it from absorbing other flavors in the fridge.
- Serve as individual portions in glasses, or scoop quenelles from a glass dish onto a plate.
- See how to make quenelles.
- Decorate with chocolate shavings or a touch of edible gold leaf.
…and memories of christmas dinners…
How can we dwell on our past, delight in experiences long ago and not remember past years spent around a christmas table. Always special, however small or simple. Each table has a story of its own…one year a daughter arrived long after midnight from a long and problematic journey, one year there was a last meal with an elegant and fragile neighbor, one year was spent in the company of a crazy crowd of friends , one year delivered an utterly chaotic and catastrophical dinner ..one year was sad with last goodbyes, one year was spent alone and tearful in a strange country…so many christmas dinners, so many stories, so many memories…
May you have great memories of past dinners…whether you were with family or friends, or whether you were alone, or whether they were sad times…whatever the case…they are yours, cherish them, becausethey give you a history. A past.
Today is Mardi gras. 16 Fevrier. According to Catholic tradition, it is the last day of indulging in the “fat of the land” before taking on the fasting of the 40 days to Pacques(Easter). It is celebrated by crazy feasting, carnivals…so, in the fun spirit of Mardi gras…let’s feast and carnival today, for tomorrow the world ends!
And the way to do it…crêpes of course. Every which way you want it. Stacked, rolled, folded in parcels, folded in triangles, aumoniéres, flambéed, caked, salty, sweet, natural…you name it.
My husband’s favourite crêpe is sprinkled with softly flavoured cinnamon sugar, drizzled with lemon juice and rolled. He folds it double and whops it into his mouth, crunching on the still crackling sugar, while he starts sprinkling and rolling the next one.
We have a good friend who spreads his crêpe with butter, sprinkles liberally with sugar, folds it into a little parcel to entrap the butter and there you go…warm, melted butter and sugar…. every bite.
Then there are those individuals more deliberate. I am one. Open up the crêpe on a plate, very warm, spread a loaded knife with nutella over one half, fold over and then again to form a triangle, pick it up ever so dainty with your hands and then with closed eyes, dig those teeth into the crêpe, all the while feeling the warm chocolate trickling down your fingers. Pure heaven.
- I always use 2 eggs for 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of water and 20g of butter. It makes it easy to multiply for big batches of crêpes.
- I use water instead of milk for lighter crêpes, that way I can eat one extra!
- The baking soda adds to a ligher crêpe.
- Leave the batter to stand and “develop” a while…like a good relationship.
- Don’t keep the crêpes warm over hot water or on astove, it dries out with heat. Keep the crêpes close by your baking process and turn the stack often to keep warm. If necessary they can be quickly reheated in small batches if too cold.
- Don’t sprinkle with sugar just after baking, unless you want syrupy crêpes. Sprinkle with lemon juice and sugar individually when eating for crunch.
- DO make some oopsedaisies…and enjoy them while baking!!
- When using Nutella, warm a little in the microwave to soften for easier spreading.
Of course there are many ways to indulge when feasting on a crêpe: drizzlings of canadian maple syrup and sprinkled with chopped nuts; mountain honey; a scoop of vanilla ice cream with dark decadent chocolate sauce…
Or how about some caramelized fruit – crêpe Suzette with flambéed oranges; apples and currants with a hint of cinnamon, lemon juice and oven roasted almonds, drizzled with a trickle of thick balsamic syrup, red berries with créme frâiche; tropical caramelized mango with passionfruit; banana with caramel sauce and fleur de sel… endless possibilities!
Don’t forget the salty fillings; smoked salmon, drizzled with lemon juice and mixed with capers and some chopped spring onions or chioves, parsley or dill, and served with a greek tzatziki made from fromage blanc, lemon juice and cucumber and finshed off with a sprinkling of lump eggs.
Or my favourite…spinach sauteed with onion and thyme, sprinkled with freshly grated nutmeg, s touch of lemon juice and a generous helping of créme frâiche and lastly sprinkled with crumbled goats cheese…
But crépes are not only about the filling and eating. On days like Mardi gras, when the world is a little crazy, baking crêpes should be a little crazy too. A little flopping and flipping, whirling and twirling and of course, countless oopsedaisies!!
And so, as this day ends… and our tummies call to a halt… and the craziness turns to mellowness… only one thing remains…..
Trucs & astuces de nos grands-méres:
May the following forty days be light and healthy and when we eat again at Easter, may it not be Mardi Gras crêpes…
Time again for some December ambiance!
After putting up our tree we enjoy a candle lit dinner with music and good wishes for the season. It has been our family tradition for many years to put up our tree on the first day if December and light a candle every night for the whole month of December for someone – people who aren’t with us any more, people who are still with us…This year is no exception. We finish our evening with a small and light dessert. A white chocolate panacotta and dark chocolate mousse – a combination of light dark chocolate mousse and the contrasting white panacotta with smoother texture. The mousse is the only chocolate mousse I’ll ever make and it comes from the collection of chocolate desserts from Pierre Hermes. I’ve been making it for years and haven’t yet come across any better, any lighter, any more delicious! the panacotta is simple and classic with some white chocolate added.
- Don’t overwork any mousse! Always stir gently until just mixed.
- Never boil chocolate, melt at gentle heat in the microwave or over simmering water until just melted. It melts from the inside outwards, so ti will still hold its shape, but the inside will already be melted. Stir often.
- Use older egg whites for better lightness(as well as nicer meringeus).
- Use egg whites at room temperature.
- Mix egg whites into the chocolate mixture as follows: Scoop a third of the beaten egg whites into the chcolate and whisk to make the mixture lighter and easier to fold in the rest of the egg whites. Fold in the egg whites with a big whisk in a figure eight shape, without whisking. Fold in until JUST mixed. don’t overwork!
- A mousse gets heavier the longer it stands. I usually serve a mousse within a day. Of course it can be eaten afterwards, but it is more creamier and has lost that lightness that is so typical of a mousse.
- Decorate with some chcolate petals or sprinkle some golden flakes over the top.
I took my husband and his saw down to the Loire and we came back with with some tree brances covered with moss. It was to be our tree for this year. I enjoy a live tree, and this year was one made fom some dried brances from our own river across the road. It always feels special to go and pick up some branches by the Loire, come back home, stick them into a garden urn and hang them with decorations and fairy lights.
…reading and looking…
…moss from the garden and old postcards…
…just some prettiness…
…colour from dried hydrangeas…
…christmas dinner from 2008…
…Tokala and Ayiani in the snow…
…la neige au bord de la loire…
…la loire and two of us…
… chocolat chaud devant la cheminée…
* Trucs et astuces de grand-mères.
When you start getting all kinds of cravings, you must either be very pregnant OR very depressed OR very much on a road back to good health. I’ve been candidate in all three categories at some stages in my life, but thankfully I fall in the last one now!
I have been absent for some time, due to some health hiccups. Thank you for the caring support and encouragement I’ve received from friends out there. Slowly but surely I’m starting to dance to the rhythms of everyday living again and what better way than to tag along some indulgence. Chocolate. The cooler evenings ask for more drama at the end of a meal; something comforting, rich and lasting. Not that I have made that many meals these last few months! I have a wonderful husband who happily took over the role of chef. And he did such a great job that I probably would’ve assigned him permanently to this position, were I not quite stingy with sharing my reign as maestro in the kitchen! I think I can safely say I’ve claimed back my apron with this decadent, gooey chocolate dessert.
I’m sure everybody has his/her own unique recipe for this dessert and they’re all good. Some tips I could pass on for those who make it for the first time:
- Be sure to keep the portions very small, because it is extremely rich and 5 spoon fulls of satisfaction can keep you going for the whole week.
- Play around with presentation to suit your meal – something more elegant in an interesting ramekin, served with some whipped cream or créme fraiche on the side, decorated with a mint leaf or some red berries. Or finish off a light meal by the fireside in a rustic fashion, by serving your chocolate desserts in tiny “cocottes“(pots), directly from oven to plate, with some cold ice cream as accompaniment.
- This dessert is best eaten warm. Not directly hot from the oven as you don’t want to scorch your palate into kingdom come, but certainly warmer than room temperature. Let it cool for about 15 to 20 minutes before serving.
…decadence in a “cocotte”…
- 150g dark chocolate
- 125g butter
- 3 eggs
- 100g castor sugar
- 3 Tbsp flour
- 1 tsp natural vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
- Butter 6-8 ramekins(depending on size) and sift lightly with flour.
- Break the chocolate into pieces and melt with butter over boiling water, or in the microwave(stir frequently).
- Add the eggs to the chocolate mixture, one at a time while continuing whisking.
- Add the sugar, pinch of salt and lastly stir in the flour.
- Fill the ramekins 3/4 with the chocolate mixture.
- Bake in the oven for about 12-15 minutes, until the top starts to crack and the pudding starts pulling away from the sides, but still feels soft when pressed down on the top. The core should be thick and runny….gooey is the right word. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly.
- Serve warm with créme frâiche or cream or even a dollop of vanilla ice cream.
Serves 6-8 people
A big THANK YOU! to TASTEmagazine in South Africa, who named Myfrenchkitchen in their August issue as the Best blogger from abroad. I feel very honoured. Read more about the magazine and its impressive list of awards here.
I was sharing company with four very accomplished artists in the kitchen who were mentioned for…Sophia from Capetable for Best local living, Nina from My easy cooking for Best make-me-now-pics, Jeanne from Cooksister for Best veteran site and Inge from Vanielje kitchen for Best leisurely read. A belated congratulations to you all!
…OK, let’s eat!…