December 31, 2011

2011 & Welcome 2012!

2011 Food and Places...

2011 started with a snowy winter and sad news as we said goodbye to Luke’s Nana.

We then took off for our travels staying in stunning New Zealand for a month.

This was followed by another month inter-railing through Europe, visiting beautiful cities and enjoying an amazing variety of foods.

We came back to England and our routines. My parents came from France to visit us and we made them discover our lovely region and food specialities.

At the end of summer, we moved home into a house we love and luckily a bigger and better equipped kitchen.

I started my yoga teacher training and started reflecting on my food habits and decided I wanted to opt for a healthier and more natural diet.

We got engaged and are so happy about it!

Finally, Christmas came and we celebrated it with Luke’s family and I had in my heart all my relatives from France.

I hope you have enjoyed 2011 as much as I have and I wish you all the best for 2012, another year to look forward to!

December 28, 2011

Sue's Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake

Hi folks, I hope you had a very good Christmas. We certainly did! I am now dreaming of eating healthy whole foods, but before that, I wanted to share a recipe I had promise would feature on my blog.

While travelling through New-Zealand a few months ago, our lovely tour guide Sue was cooking for us most nights. One evening she served her chocolate mousse cheesecake that all of us loved. I asked her if she would mind giving me the recipe and she said she would on the condition that I cook for the group on our last evening together. The deal was agreed, and I cooked tartiflette, a typical dish from Savoy. Sue gave me the recipe, and as our fellow travellers begged me to give them the recipe too, I had promised that I would put it on my blog.

However, weeks and months went along, and I still hadn’t made the cheesecake. You see, when I saw the list of ingredients, I wasn’t sure I wanted to make it or eat it again. Yes, it tasted good, but it is incredibly rich (and unhealthy), a heart attack in a plate type dish. Luke kept reminding me about it and I finally gave up. We cooked it for Boxing Day and everybody loved it. So here it is, as promised. Feel free to divide the proportions by 2 if you would like a smaller cake.

Sue’s Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake – serves 20

  • • 2 packs (250g each) mascarpone cheese
  • • 500g Toblerone
  • • 2 packs Oreo biscuits
  • • 40g butter, melted
  • • 300ml whipping cream

  • 1. Crush the biscuits with a rolling pin or pestle and mortar until you obtain fairly fine crumbs. Mix with the melted butter and press at the bottom of a rectangular cake dish.
  • 2. In a bowl placed over a pan of simmering water, melt the Toblerone along with the mascarpone. Mix well. Pour over the biscuit base and leave to cool down. Once cold, place in the fridge to set for a minimum of 3 hours.
  • 3. Just before serving, whip the cream until it forms soft peaks and pour over the cake. Enjoy reasonably.

    Cheesecake de Sue à la Mousse au Chocolat – pour 20 personnes

  • • 500g de mascarpone
  • • 500g de Toblerone
  • • 2 paquets de biscuits Oreo
  • • 40g de beurre fondu
  • • 300ml de crème fleurette

  • 1. Ecraser les biscuits au rouleau à pâtisserie ou à l’aide d’un pilon. Mélanger les miettes avec le beurre fondu et presser au fond d’un moule à gâteau rectangulaire.
  • 2. Au bain marie, faire fondre le Toblerone avec le mascarpone. Bien mélanger. Verser sur la base de biscuits et laisser refroidir. Une fois froid, mettre au réfrigérateur pendant au moins 3h.
  • 3. Juste avant de servir, battre la crème en Chantilly et verser sur le gâteau. Déguster.
  • December 22, 2011

    Stuffed Dates

    The winter solstice was yesterday and I am loving the idea that from now on the days are going to start getting longer!

    I hope you are having good times getting ready for Christmas. We are staying with Luke’s family this year. We’ve already been busy in the kitchen, cooking treats and preparing for the weekend. Food always seems to be at the centre of celebrations and important events. I find it is one of the most beautifully ways to create memories and share with the ones you love. Receiving and giving, around the table :)

    ‘Fruits déguisés’ are a treat we usually have in France around Christmas time, using dates or prunes and stuffing them traditionally with Marzipan. Even if we like to enjoy good food around Christmas time, this year I have tried to think about somewhat healthier things to cook. I have therefore replaced the Marzipan with a mix of nut butter and tahini – delicious.

    Stuffed Dates – makes 15

  • • 15 Medjool dates, pitted
  • • 2tbsp nut butter
  • • 1tsp tahini
  • • 1tsp rose or orange water
  • • 1tsp set honey

  • 1. In a bowl, mix together the nut butter, tahini, rose or orange water and honey until it comes together. Make a ball with the mixture and roll it into a long sausage about 2cm in diameter. Cut it every 3cm to have about 15 bits of dough.
  • 2. Stuff the dates with a bit of the mixture. Enjoy.

    Fruits Déguisés (Dattes) – pour environ 15 dattes

  • • 15 dattes Medjool, dénoyautées
  • • 2cs de beurre de fruits à coque
  • • 1cc de tahini
  • • 1cc d’eau de rose ou d’eau de fleur d’oranger
  • • 1cc de miel épais

  • 1. Dans un bol, mélanger le beurre de fruits à coque, tahini, eau de rose ou de fleur d’orange et miel jusqu’à l’obtention d’un mélange homogène. Former une boule avec le mélange et la rouler en un long rouleau. Le découper en tronçons d’environ 3cm de long.
  • 2. Farcir les dattes avec les petits tronçons de pate. Déguster.
  • December 18, 2011

    Mulled Ginger Apple Juice

    Starting the holiday...

    ...with a walk on the beach in the winter sun

    and a warm spicy apple juice (for an alcoholic version, use cider in place of apple juice and ginger wine in place of ginger beer)

    Mulled Ginger Apple Juice – for 2 large glasses

  • • 50cl cloudy apple juice
  • • 10cl ginger beer (non alcoholic)
  • • ½ apple, sliced
  • • 1 clementine, peeled
  • • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • • 2 aniseed stars
  • • 4 cloves
  • • A small bit of fresh ginger sliced
  • • Orange peel

  • 1. Put all the ingredients in a saucepan and heat on a medium heat. Leave to simmer for 5min, swirling every so often.
  • 2. Serve the juice and fruits in 2 large glasses and enjoy.
  • Jus de Pomme Chaud au Gingembre – pour 2 grand verres

  • • 50cl de jus de pomme
  • • 10cl de ginger beer (sans alcool)
  • • ½ pomme, tranchée
  • • 1 clémentine, pelée
  • • 2 bâtons de cannelle
  • • 2 étoiles de badiane
  • • 4 clous de girofle
  • • Un petit morceau de gingembre frais, coupé en lamelles
  • • Zest d’1 orange

  • 1. Mettre tous les ingrédients dans une casserole et faire chauffer à feu moyen. Laisser frémir pendant environ 5 min, en remuant de temps à autre.
  • 2. Servir le jus et les fruits dans 2 grands verres et déguster.
  • December 09, 2011

    Mince Meat Apple Tarts

    After a very mild autumn, temperatures have finally dropped and it is starting to feel Christmassy. Time to put the tree up, decorate the house and wrap presents -with no stress and no ridiculous amounts of money spent in shops. I like very much offering home-made presents, especially food gifts, prepared with love and patience.

    These days, our kitchen smells of orange, vanilla and cinnamon as I prepare all sorts of treats and delicious dishes while listening to Christmas songs.

    Mince pies are probably foreign to most French people. The first time I had some in the UK, I was worried somebody was trying to make me eat meat in a pudding! Ahah, I quickly realised what they were and became very fond of them. I made a big batch of mince meat last week, and although I will probably make pies at some point, I started with these tasty apple tarts. Happy Friday everyone!

    Mince Meat Apple Tarts (gluten-free) – makes 6

  • • Mince Meat (recipe from Good Housekeeping Christmas Cookbook 2010):
  • o 150g sultanas
  • o 25g dried prunes, chopped
  • o 50g dried cranberries
  • o 1 small apple, grated
  • o Zest & juice of 1 orange
  • o 25g walnuts, chopped
  • o 25g unrefined golden caster sugar
  • o 50ml Calvados
  • o 1/2tsp all spice
  • • Pastry:
  • o 80g wholemeal rice flour
  • o 80g millet flour
  • o 80g quinoa flour
  • o 1tbsp xantham gum
  • o 1tsp all spice
  • o 100g cold butter, diced
  • o 1 large egg, beaten
  • o 4-5tbsp cold water
  • • 5 small apples, peeled and finely sliced
  • • 1tsp cinnamon

  • 1. Start by preparing the mince meat a few days ahead. Put all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well, cover and leave in the fridge for at least 24h.
  • 2. Make the pastry by mixing the flours, xantham gum and all spice in a large bowl. Add the diced butter and make rough crumbs using your fingertips. Add the egg and start bringing the dough together. Add water 1 tbsp at a time until the dough has all come together and you can form a ball. Wrap it in cling film and leave in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  • 3. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • 4. Divide the dough in 7 small balls and flatten them in circles with a rolling pin. Place 6 of them in 6 individual tart dishes. Prick the bottom with a fork. Cut Christmassy shapes with a cookie cutter in the leftover dough circle.
  • 5. Add 1 or 2 tbsp of mince meat on the pastry and arrange the apple slices on top. Sprinkle with the cinnamon and top them up with a dough shape.
  • 6. Cook in the oven for about 25min until the dough is cooked through.

  • Tartes Pomme – Mincemeat (sans gluten) – pour 6 tartes

  • • Mincemeat (recette de Good Housekeeping Christmas Cookbook 2010):
  • o 150g de raisins secs
  • o 25g de pruneaux, émincés
  • o 50g de canneberges séchées
  • o 1 petite pomme, râpée
  • o Zeste et jus d’1 orange
  • o 25g de noix
  • o 25g de sucre cristallisé non raffiné
  • o 50ml de Calvados
  • o 1/2cc de 4 épices
  • • Pâte à tarte :
  • o 80g de farine de riz complète
  • o 80g de farine de millet
  • o 80g de farine de quinoa
  • o 1cs de gomme xantham
  • o 1cc de 4 épices
  • o 100g de beurre froid, en dés
  • o 1 œuf battu
  • o 4-5cs d’eau froide
  • • 5 petites pommes, pelées et coupées en lamelles
  • • 1cs de cannelle moulue

  • 1. Préparer le mincemeat quelques jours à l’avance. Mettre tous les ingrédients dans un grand bol, bien mélanger, couvrir et mettre au frais pendant au moins 1 nuit.
  • 2. Préparer la pâte à tarte en mélangeant les farines, la gomme xantham et le 4 épices. Ajouter le beurre et mélanger du bout des doigts jusqu’à l’obtention de miettes grossières. Ajouter l’œuf et commencer à rassembler la pâte. Ajouter l’eau une cuillère à la fois jusqu’à ce que vous puissiez faire une boule de pâte. L’envelopper dans du film alimentaire et mettre au frais pendant au moins 1h.
  • 3. Préchauffer le four à 180°C.
  • 4. Diviser la boule de pâte en 7 portions. Les étaler en cercle à l’aide d’un rouleau à pâtisserie. Chemiser 6 moules à tarte individuels avec la pâte et piquer les fonds à la fourchette. Découper 6 formes à l’emporte-pièce dans le cercle de pâte restant.
  • 5. Mettre 1 ou 2 cs de mincemeat sur chaque fond de tarte, puis disposer les lamelles de pomme. Parsemer de cannelle et ajouter une forme de pâte sur le dessus.
  • 6. Enfourner pour environ 25min jusqu’à ce que la pâte à tarte soit bien cuite.
  • December 02, 2011

    Pistachio & Seeds Crakers

    I am glad November is out of the way. To me, it has always been probably the dullest month of the year. I don’t know if it’s related to the fact that nothing very exciting is happening or the hours of daylight being incredibly shorter – this left me with low energy levels and a gloomy mood.

    In the kitchen however, I have carried on experimenting (my latest experimentation was sprouting seeds and it worked wonderfully well) and this at least has kept me going. Before I share with you some ideas for the festive season, I wanted to give you a crackers recipe which we REALLY liked. I came up with the recipe last weekend, did it, and in no time they were gone – they were that good. We had them with nut pulp hummus (made with leftover pulp from nut milk) and some of my pretty alfalfa sprouts which were finally ready to eat. I wanted to call the recipe ‘green crackers’, because they looked green before I cooked them, but once cooked they had lost their green colour so I decided to leave the green crackers idea behind. Have a lovely weekend!

    Pistachio & Seeds Crackers – makes about 10-15 crackers

  • • 70g cashew nuts
  • • 40g pistachio
  • • 2tbsp linseeds
  • • 2tbsp hemp seeds
  • • 55g wholemeal rice flour
  • • 1tsp salt
  • • 1 egg, beaten

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • 2. Blend the cashew nuts, pistachio, linseeds, hemps seeds and salt until finely ground.
  • 3. In a bowl, mix with the flour and the egg.
  • 4. With a rolling pin, spread the mixture on a lightly floured surface to make a rectangle.
  • 5. Place on a baking sheet covered with baking paper. Pre-cut the crackers in rectangles.
  • 6. Cook in the oven for 15min. Leave to cool down before eating.
  • Crackers aux Pistaches et Graines – pour environ 10 à 15 crackers

  • • 70g de noix de cajou
  • • 40g de pistaches
  • • 2cs de graines de lin
  • • 2cs de graines de chanvre
  • • 55g de farine de riz complète
  • • 1cc de sel
  • • 1 œuf, battu

  • 1. Préchauffer le four à 180°C.
  • 2. Mixer les noix de cajou avec les pistaches, les graines de lin et de chanvre et le sel jusqu’à obtenir une poudre.
  • 3. Mélanger dans un bol avec la farine et l’œuf.
  • 4. A l’aide d’un rouleau à pâtisserie, étaler la préparation en forme de rectangle sur un plan de travail légèrement fariné.
  • 5. Transférer sur une plaque à four recouverte de papier cuisson. Prédécouper les crackers en forme de rectangles.
  • 6. Faire cuire pendant 15min. Laisser refroidir avant de déguster.