January 27, 2010

Nanaimo Bars - Daring Bakers

Have you noticed that January is almost over?! Usually this month seems to never end, at least to me. Now this time it flew away so fast! The end of a month means the Daring Bakers strike again! The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and What a great choice of a dessert! It is easy and fast to prepare - I have just finished these some half an hour ago - and it is really delicious. Though, I must confess, I didn't use custard powder, but made a vanilla cream myself. Besides this was the first ever Canadian dish I have ever prepared. Thanks for the challenge Lauren!

January 26, 2010

Tartelette au Citron

Did you know that nine out of ten lemons produced in Italy actually come from Sicily? Indeed, in the Province of Messina the production of lemons even exceeds that of the more famous oranges. The climate means a long growing season and the gathering of lemons takes place over three distinct periods. First is the autumn harvest or 'primo fiore', followed by the cultivation of the 'bianchetti' in Spring and the 'verdelli' between June and July. The most common variety of lemon is the 'femminello' which also has its own strains, some with seeds some without. ( I was more than happy when I discovered some beautiful Sicilian lemons right from the bottom of the Etna, at least that is what they said in the shop. I remembered a lemon tartelette I saw lately in a book of Alain Ducasse. It is simply fantastic, - you will love it if you are lemon addict like me- and his pâte sucrée was the best I have prepared so far! It is served among orange, grapfruit, mandrain and lime with some candied oranges slices, in my case I chose blood oranges and also added some candied slices of lemon.

180 g flour
30 g powder sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 egg
120 g cold butter

Mix flour, powder sugar, baking powder and a pinch of salt. Add cubed butter and crumble it with the flour mixture. Knead in the egg and knead a dough. Let it rest for at least 2 hours in the fridge. After roll out (it makes 6 tartelette of the size of 10 cm) about 3 mm. Let it rest for at least 30 minutes in the fridge and after blind bake for 13-15 minutes on 175°C.

125 ml lemon juice, fresh
55 g butter, melted
180 g powder sugar

2 eggs

Whisk lemon juice, powder sugar, melted butter together, add egg, whisk well and fill the blind baked tartelettes. Bake for 17 minutes on 150°C. Decorate and serve warm.

January 22, 2010

Fennel Soup

In the bottom of the fridge there were some fennel bulbs hiding. I bought them at the end of December, so I was very surprised that they are still good. I had the idea of a soup, that I didn't want to serve plain. Therefore I prepared a chervil-parsley pesto using almonds. I didn't add cheese, because I thought that wouldn't fit the fennel. I confess, I am not so much a fennel lover, but this soup was amazing. Light, and a decent touch of anise. To give something extra for fennel lovers I fried some cubed fennel and served among the soup.

2 tablespoon olive oil
3 fennel bulbs
1 potato
1 celery stalk
1 garlic clove
750 ml vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1 bay leaf
salt, pepper

Slice peeled potato, fennel, celery and garlic in thin slices. Heat olive oil and stew vegetables for about 5 minutes, until it gets soft, but do not let it brown. Add stock, coriander, bay leaf and cook for 40 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and blend it in a mixer, season and serve with fried cubes of fennel.

January 20, 2010

Chestnut Pancakes

How I love the citrus season in winter! So many kinds to discover, so many colours, tastes and forms! In one shop they sell a special kind right from Sicily and I can tell you it is a dream! It is only a pity that I forgot its name... Anyway, I bought a bag of chestnut flour somewhen last year and I have many plans with it. I adore roasted chestnuts and therefore I was more than curious about the flour. Besides it comes right from Ticino, from the southernmost canton of Switzlerland, where chestnut trees are typical. Since yesterday I've been craving for oranges, so I thought it would be a nice combination with something baked out of chestnut flour. I decided to prepare pancakes and served among a lavender infused orange syrup.

100 g chestnut flour
2 eggs
1 tablespoon cane sugar

125 ml milk
2 tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch of salt

clarifed butter for frying

Whisk all ingredients together and let it stand for 30 minutes. Heat a saucepan with clarifed butter and fry the pancakes for 2-3 minutes from both sides.

January 19, 2010

Bread and butter pudding

Almost for about 2 years or so, that this old-fashined, traditional British dessert has been on my to cook list. Finally, it found its way to my oven and was served this afternoon! It is often seasoned with cinnamon or nutmeg. I decided to flavour it with vanilla and a tiny bit of rum. It also contains raisins, and probably it is not the real thing without, but I left them out, because I just do not really like dried grapes. The next time I am going to bake it flavoured with orange.

5-6 slices of white bread
25 g butter

2 tablespoon apricot jam
1 egg
1 egg yolk

25 g sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
150 ml milk
150 ml cream

dash of rum

Butter a form, then spread some apricot jam on the bottom. Put the buttered slices of bread into the form. Whisk egg and egg yolk with sugar until creamy, add vanilla paste, milk, cream and rum, whisk and pour it over the bread slices. Let it soak for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 180°C and bake the pudding in a bain marie for 20-30 minutes. When ready brush it with marmalde and let it stand for 15 minutes before serving.

January 17, 2010

Vermouth Sauce

Pacific cod caught by trawl or Atlantic cod

Pacific cod caught by longline

Well, it might sound strange or funny, but I started to think about this dish somewhen in December last year. Yesterday, I had it ready in my head, so it was time to cook it finally. The basic idea was to serve zander with parsley root puree in white and in green among some beet and some kind of sauce. The whole dish just didn't feel right, so I put it back on a shelf and let it ripe. The last time I had cod in my kitchen was somewhen in spring last year. I do not want to write again about the overfishing problem, but just this Saturday in a supermarket I saw high mountains of canned tuna for a special price...and that made me sad and angry and I keep on asking why do they still sell?! In many of these shops you can see advertisements that they do care about the overfishing problem and they sell MSC. That is good, well, better than nothing, but then why do they offer at the same time canned and fresh tuna (not the mention the rest). At least they are on the way...hopefully not yet too late!!! I know, I know as long as people buy - the shops will sell, at least until the last fish was caught. Anyway, now back to dish, that post should actually be about. So after having a smaller fight with myself, I bought a piece of MSC cod. I through away the parsley puree, instead I prepared potato puree with a macadamia nut pesto with parsley and lemon oil. As far as the beet is concerned I simply wrapped it in foil together with salt, olive oil and bay leaf and baked it. I caramelised some shallot with some cane sugar and cooked a it with orange juice and beet juice to a sauce, sieved and cooked the baked and chopped beet in it with a tiny touch of star anise. I wanted to keep the fish simple, so I flavoured it with some curry and fried. Of course there was something missing, yes the sauce. I decided for a vermouth sauce, simple and perfect with fish.

1 shallot
1 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf

100 ml vermouth
300 ml fish stock
3 tablespoon double cream
salt, pepper

In a saucepan reduce vermouth by 1/3 together with the chopped shallot, thyme and bay leaf.
Add fish stock and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes. After add cream and cook until it is thick enough. Sieve, season and serve.

January 15, 2010

Chocolate Sabayon

When I arrived home, after an hour of walk with my dog outside in the cold I was craving for chocolate. Snow is already about to melt, you can see the green grass under it, so it not the fairy winter wonderland outside, not anymore. It is rather grey, than white. It is that kind of weather when you prefer to stay in bed with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book. The good book part was done earlier this afternoon, now it was time for the chocolate. I wanted something fluffly, light and warm but not hot. Chocolate mousse would have been a good option, except the fact that is cold and I didn't want to wait an hour until it is ready to be eaten. I decided to go for an orange flavoured chocolate sabayon by Michel Roux. It is done in a few minutes, it is warm, but not hot and it is fruity. Exactly, what I was craving for.

75 g sugar
2 egg yolks
25 g cocoa powder
zest of an orange

Melt sugar in 75 ml of water on low temperature. Then bring it to boil and set it immediately aside and let it cool completly. Beat the sugar syrup with the egg yolks over a water bath until it reaches 65°C. Remove it from the heat and beat in cocoa powder. Stir in the freshly grated
orange zest and serve.

January 14, 2010

Pork Satay - Daring Cooks

Time for the first Daring Cooks' Challenge of 2010! We just had it for dinner, but I must say it wasn't my cup of tea. The meat was kind of delicious, but the sauce...well it wasn't mine. Though I do like peanut sauce and I prepare it once in a while according to that pretty old recipe I posted almost 2 years ago. Anyway I am looking forward to the next challenge!

The January 2010 DC challenge was hosted by Cuppy of Cuppylicious and she chose a delicious Thai-inspired recipe for Pork Satay from the book 1000 Recipes by Martha Day.

January 12, 2010

Winter Salad

After the holiday time, with the tons of cookies and the heavy food, I really needed a break. I guess, I am not the only one! Therefore I haven't cooked much this year, yet. Basically, because I spend a lot of time reading cookbooks, that I enjoy very much and time just runs so fast. In fact, I wanted to serve my favourite coleslaw for dinner with some leftoever cold meat. But, then I opened the fridge and I discovered some forgetten vegetables that inspired me to use as many different ones as possible. That is how this salad was created.

150 g white cabbage
150 g red cabbage
3 carrots
1 fennel
1 red beet
1 piece of celery root

1 piece of black radish
1 onion
200 g kefir
juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 teaspoon mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt, pepper

Shred vegetables as fine as possbile and sprinkle with salt and pepper. For the sauce just whisk the kefir, mustard, olive oil and the lemon juice together, season and pour it over the salad. Add chervil and parsley leaves and serve.

January 11, 2010

Finally, the dessert!

The dessert, well, yeah! I was dreaming of chocolate, coffee and whiskey and if possible all in one! I decided to prepare a cake that is going to be served with ice cream, a warm chocolate and caramel sauce, of course everything home made. For the crunch I baked some pistachio sprinkled tuiles. As the basis I chose a sponge, but I didn't want the usual one, so I picked one by Gordon Ramsay. The next layer was an oven baked coffee créme - basically a not caramelised créme brulée flavoured with coffee. Above it a simple dark chocolate mousse by Pierre Hermé. And the whiskey? Well it came in form of a gorgeous ice cream and I also sprinkled the sponge with some whiskey syrup.


For the sponge:
130 g butter, room temperature
110 g icing sugar
6 eggs
130 g dark chocolate
200 g sugar

130 g flour
For the coffee créme:
15 g ground coffee
115g heavy cream (35% fat content)

115g whole milk
4 egg yolks
25g sugar

For the chocolate mousse:
170 g dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
80 ml milk

1 egg yolk
4 egg whites
20 g sugar

For the sponge preheat the oven to 160°C. Beat butter and icing sugar until creamy. Beat in the egg yolks and fold in the melted chocolate. Whisk egg whites to firm peaks and then slowly whisk in the sugar. Fold flour into the chocolate batter and fold in the beaten egg whites. Spread mixture in a prepared baking tin (30 cm square) and bake for 50-60 minutes. ( I only used half of the sponge for the cake.) For the coffee créme heat the milk, cream, and the coffee to just boiling. Remove and sieve. Whisk the sugar and the egg yolks and pour the milk over the mixture. Cover a baking mold with baking paper and pour the cream into the mold and bake for an hour or until firm on 100°C in a water bath. Let it cool and firm over night and place it the next day on the sponge. For the mousse melt chocolate over a water bath. Heat milk and pour it over the chocolate and mix well and stir in the egg yolk. Beat egg whites with the sugar and fold it to the chocolate mix. Pour it over the coffee layer and leave it at least for an hour in the fridge, or even better over night.

January 10, 2010

The result of inorganisation...

In the first post about my Christmas menu, I mentioned that I ended up in chaos! After the 3rd course, which was the most challenging to me, I was extremly exhausted.
Well, no wonder, after all I started the prepartions the day before, then I spent about 12 hours in the kitchen, it was loads of fun and I enjoyed every moment of it. I was quite happy and slept well. Actually the next day began pretty well (...except the spinach custard, that didn't set.), until I started the main course. I realised that I forgot to chop the vegetables in advance, but for God's sake I already reduced the red wine, so I only had to add the 2 liters of veal stock and reduce...I just thought oh gosh, that takes too long. Indeed it did! I only hoped
that the dessert is going to make them forget about the long waiting for the main course and the well done meat...I even forgot to serve the lime sorbet before the dessert! You can see how lost I have been, if you see how terrible the plate looks with the main course! Agree? Brrr! The only positive was that they loved the sauce and the though the meat was well done, it wasn't dry at all! Oh, I have even forget to mention what this course was: venison steak with dark chocolate sauce and root vegetables. Anyway, see you soon in my next post with the dessert!

January 7, 2010

Deep fried quail eggs

No, of course I haven't only served the eggs as the 3rd course, but those were definitely the highlight. In fact this dish was the most complicated of all in this menu. I served fried quail breasts and legs on a potato millefeuille - based on Gordon Ramsay's recipe, but without artichoke, using normal and purple potatoes and instead truffle I flavoured it with porcini oil, though I had some truffle paste in the fridge, but I totally forgot about it, besides that wouldn't been the real stuff, if you know what I mean... - with ahorn syrup glazed parsnip and pecan nuts, a small salad with chive vinaigrette and a port wine reduction, among a fried and a deep fried quail egg.

So let's talk about the deep
fried quail eggs in macadamia nut and breadcrumbs on a spinach coulis. The spinach coulis is pretty simple, just boil spinach leaves for 2 minutes, refresh in iced water and drain. Bring some double cream to boil together with chopped shallot and smoked garlic, season and add some milk and puree all in a blender.

For the deep fried quail eggs boil eggs for 2 and a half minutes, then cool immediately in cold water and peel. Mix breadcrumbs and chopped macadamia nuts and coat the eggs using flour, eggs so the usual stuff. Heat a deep frier to 180°C and fry the eggs for 30 seconds. I think the result is just amazing! Ah and there was also some sauce, basically a reduced quail fond. Well that's it! Phew!

January 6, 2010

Warm Tomato Consommé

Well, nobody on Earth should prepare a tomato consommé in winter. One can discuss about using canned tomatoes, but I am not going to be part of that. So why did I serve it as the 2nd course? When I prepared last year my first tomato consommé, I told my mom about it. She was curious so, I thought to surprise her with it when they come to visit me the next time. Therefore I froze a portion enough for 4 persons as a starter or so. Of course I didn't want to serve a cold soup, therefore I warmed it and served among some ricotta-parmesan balls. She was thrilled and told me that this was the best soup she ever had.

(recipe adapted from kísérleti konyha)

100 g ricotta
30 g parmesan
1,5-2 tablespoons flour
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs

Grate parmesan and mix with the ricotta, flour, egg yolk and the breadcrumbs. Season with a touch of nutmeg and freshly ground pepper. Let it stand for a while, so that the breadcrumbs
can soak. With wet hands roll small balls and cook them in boiling water. They are ready when they swim on top.

January 5, 2010

Clarified butter poached rabbit

First of all, I must say that compared to the Christmas menu of the year 2008, this one was totally unorganised. I had no time to plan it, or rather I had time, but I overestimated and started it far too late. Until the day of cooking, I still didn't know how many courses I am actually going to serve, had also no idea of the order and so on and on. Pure chaos! And I can tell you, that nothing good may be the result of such an organisation or rather inorganisation! But post by post you will see what I am talking about. Now, let's see the first course: clarified butter poached rabbit with a "supposed to be" spinach custard and salad with walnut dressing. I haven't had rabbbit ever before, but I was very curious about it. I wanted to choose a very tender way of preparation for such a tender pieace of meat therefore I poached it.

The spinach custard simply didn't set, so it ended up as a "sauce" on the plate, I think I used too little agartine, but who knows. Ah! I almost forgot the best part of this dish, at least the best for me. I am talking about fried black radish flavoured with sumac. I love freshly garted black radish with some salt, okay, let's forget its smell, many people don't like it, but! If you haven't
had black radish yet, give it a go and fry it in some butter or olive oil!

4 rabbit fillets
250 g clarifed butter
3 garlic cloves
few thyme and rosemary sprigs
salt, pepper

Place the clarifed butter among the herbs and the garlic into a saucepan. Heat the butter, but do not let it boil, it should have a temperature around 70-80°C. Season the fillets with salt and pepper and place them to the warmed butter. Poach for about 35-45 minutes, depending on its size. When cooked, roll them in chopped herbs (like parsley, chervil) and serve.

January 4, 2010

A bit late...

...but Happy New Year to everyone who comes along my blog! I hope all of you had a wonderful time during the Holidays. I am feeling kind of "overcooked", but for this reason I have a lot of food to post about. For now, I only would like to share my favourite "not posted" photograph of last year. See you soon with the 1st course of my Christmas menu!

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