A Belated Anniversary with Vanilla Choux

Blogging is a great leisure that I can't afford much at the moment, not that I'm complaning, because I'm very busy these days doing things I enjoy a lot, but I do miss coming here, writing a few lines and sending it into the world wide web.
The funny thing is that I actually cook and bake quite a lot, but I just forget to take pictures, or tried recipes that I would like to improve, and I don't always find the time to give it a second go.

The belated birthday mentionned, is actually of this blog, which celebrated it's third birthday on the 1st of May. It didn't slip my mind, but it didn't fit into my schedule either. My pupp got neutered and I had to put her a pyjama on and feed her her medicine, which believe me, was no piece of cake! (no pun intended)

As my first love goes to baking, I prefer to celebrate anniversary with a dessert. I've been practising my choux pastry skills these days, and wanted to share this recipe with you.

Making choux pastry isn't that difficult, the difficult part is more about cooking them right. Haven't we all seen our choux rise in the oven beautifully, thinking they are done, taking them out of the oven, to see them crumble and flatten miserably (raise your hand if this sounds familiar *raising hand*).

The choux pastry really needs to dry out, to be able to hold well even out of the oven. The recommended cooking time on the recipes are never enough with my oven, I sometimes have to double it. So once again, know your oven!

Choux Pastry with Vanilla Filling (from chefsimon.com)

for about 40 choux

choux pastry

25cl Water
80gr Butter
3 Eggs
150gr Flour
A pinch of salt

In a sauce pan, on a medium heat, put the water and the butter with the pinch of salt. When the butter is melted, take the pan away from the fire and pour in the flour in one go. Using a wooden spoon, start combining both until you get a ball of dough. Put the pan with the dough back on the fire, and "dry" it out a little more, until it leaves some "traces" at the bottom of the pan.

Preheat your oven to 200°C (no fan).

Now starts the hard work if you don't have a standing mixer. You have to incorporate the egg, one by one, and wait until it's smooth again to add the next one. Normally 3 should do, but check by putting one finger on the dough, it should come out with some dough on it, with the shape of a beak.

Pipe your choux while the dough is still luke warm, don't place them to close to one another. You can press down the little beak you get from piping with a wet finger.

Place your choux in the oven for about 20 minutes (in my oven it's more 35) until they have risen nicely and have a golden color, at that point you can open the oven door (to let the steam out) lower the temperature to 170°C, close the oven door again and cook for 5 more minutes.
Check in the oven, I personnaly turn a choux up side down, to check if the bottom is dry, if so I take them out of the oven to let them cool.

Using a smal sharp knife, pierce a hole at the bottom of each choux to fill them more easily later.

Vanilla Cream (crème Diplomate)

1/2 Liter of Milk
1 Vanilla Bean
5 Egg Yolks
3 Sheets of Gelatin
50gr of Flour
20gr of Cornstarch
100gr Sugar
20cl of Cream

Heat up the milk with the vanilla bean split in half and its seeds scratched out into the milk.

In a bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until you have something smooth. Had the flour and cornstarch that you have sieved into this. Combine well, you don't want lumps.

In a bowl of cold water, place yout sheet of gelatin.

Add half of the milk (with the vanilla bean taken out) to the egg mixture and whisk together. You can pour that back into the sauce pan with the rest of the milk and place it on a medium heat and keep whisking. After a few minutes it's going to thicken to a consistant cream.
Add the soften sheet of gelatin that you have pressed in your hands to remove as much water as you can, keep stirring for the galetin to disolve and set aside.

In order not to have a "skin" on top of you cream, you butter the surface or put saran wrap right on top of it. Let it cool down a little.

In the mean time, take the cream out of the fridge (it has to be cold) and whisk it to whipped cream, that you can add carefully to the previous preparation, just be carefull that it's cool enough.

Using a pipping bag with a "seringue" nozzle, you can fill each choux individually and place them in the fridge a couple of hours to let the cream set.

As on the picture you can serve with a chocolate sauce, or a caramel one, depending on your taste.


Pear Almond Tart, a come back to blogging

Yes, I'm still alive (in case you were wondering) and I'm sorry I've been quiet for so long. A lot a things have been happening since the end of last year, some include me moving boxes, painting walls and building up swedish furniture. Normally this shouldn't prevent me from blogging, but there's been an additional factor: I've got a new partner in crime, let me introduce you to Einstein, my lovely, very fast growing girl puppy.

To anyone who has ever got a puppy, you know how it is: getting up at night, cleaning up a lot of mess and trying to teach the little one a few things as she grows. Don't worry this blog is not going to be about all the cute stories about my dog (though you might get to hear a few) or recipe of what to cook to your dog. This is still a cooking blog, and I did spend only little time cooking, but I'm still in charge of sunday's dessert, so there's been some (easy) baking going on.

This recipe has been done once before and works really well, it has a funny name in french "tarte bourdaloue" (based on the name of the street where a baker created this recipe in Paris, apparently) and it's a pear pie with an almond cream called "frangipane", you can serve it just like that, but I'm sure a version "à la mode" (with ice cream) would be lovely too.

Pear and Almond Cream Tart

For a 27cm pie dish

Pie dough

200gr of Butter at room temperature
300gr of Flour
A pinch of Salt
4 Tablespoons of Sugar
Cold Water

Almond Cream

120gr of Butter at room temperature
2 Eggs
120gr of Sugar
160gr of Ground Almonds

1 Can of Pears

In a bowl, place the flour and make a well in the middle, add the sugar, salt and cut the butter in little cubes and place it in the well aswell. Start rubbing the flour with the butter together to combime them, add the cold water slowly to make a dough. Place on your working surface with a bit of flour and work quickly to combine and set aside for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190°C.

To make the almond cream, in a bowl combine the eggs and the butter, beat with the sugar to make it smooth and than add the ground almonds. Set side.

Roll out the dough (you will have some extra left) and place it in your pie dish. Spread out the almond cream evenly on top. Cut the pears in slices, but not all the way to the top to fan them out on the almond cream.

Place in the oven for 30 minutes. Leave it to cool before serving.


Pasta e Ceci, a hearty soup with chickpeas

Today I bought thermal underwear, got domestic heating fuel delivered, switch to my winter tires and we had the first snow of the season, can you all sense a theme here? Though it is not technically winter yet, it really does feel like it!
I've have been running around Europe a lot lately, which has been an absolut blast aswell as a tiring time, with very little time to blog. There will be a final trip next week, to Scotland (hence the thermal underwear) before enjoying the end of the year at home.

Though I'm over the board happy to finally go to Scotland, I'm slightly worried about the food. Their national dish, the Haggis, is served in a sheep's stomack, not to mentionned that they invented the "deep-fried Mars bar"... Uhmm, let's see how that will turn out, I'll keep you posted. On that subject I had a great fish and chip in London last week at the Blue Anchor, thanks to my friend Mieke for finding that one! ;)

Let's go back to cooking, tonight was all about feeling a bit warm, and this italian dish works amazingly well. It's a very hearty and thick soup with pastas and chickpeas, I used the recipe from the blog Tasca da Elvira, but did a vegetarian version of it. Like all good recipes, this one can be adapted to your taste, and warm you up from the inside out!

Pasta e Ceci

Serves 2

1 Onion
3 Cloves of Garlic
1 Carrot
1/4 of Celery Root
400gr of Chickpeas (I used canned ones)
1 Liter of Vegetable Broth
2 Tablespoons of Tomato Paste
2 Bay Leaves
100gr of Pasta (I used Macaroni)
Rosmarin and Thym
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil
Fresh Parsley
Freshly Gratted Parmegiano

Diced the onion and garlic, heat up a big pan with some olive oil and add the onion and garlic. Stir for a couple of minutes until soft.

Clean, peel and dice the carrot and celery (you should have the same amount of both) and add them in the pan, keep stiring, at this point you can add the thym, rosmarin and the 2 bay leaves.

In an other pan, heat up the vegetable broth, while you wash the chickpeas thoroughly (again I used canned one, if you use fresh one you'll need to soak them overnight and cook them longer). Add the chickpeas to the big pan with the other vegetables and add half of the broth with the tomato paste, let it cook slowly for 30 minutes.

Take out about 2/3 of the vegetables and set them aside, using a plunging mixer, turn the rest into a creamy soup. Pour the vegetables back into the soup and add the pasta at this point.

Now, like with a risotto, you'll need to stir all the time, adding the broth as you go. The pasta should take a bit longer to cook than what's written on the box, but try and keep them a bit "al dente". Taste for seasoning, add salt and pepper if needed.

Serve immediatly with some fresh parsley and sprinkle some parmegiano on top, enjoy!


Daring Baker - October 2013: Savory Pot Pies

Hannah of Rise and Shine was our October 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she challenged us to bake our own double crusted savory pot pies. Using any from-scratch crust and filling we choose, we were allowed to get completely creative with our recipe, showing off the savory flavors and fillings from our own home or region.

Some food is really delicious, though not "pretty", which doesn't always make it the first choice when you have a food blog, unfortunatly I would said, because I love stews for instance, but you can't really make it look gorgeous, unless you're a professional, which I'm not.

This pot pie, kind of belongs to that category, it was scrumptious, tasty, great to warm you up on a colder evening, but I couldn't make it look as good as it tasted. Nevertheless you should try this one, it has been a big hit around here.

I but down the original recipe, mine was slighty adapted, I didn't have any chicken, but I used mushroom instead (in the quattro stagioni spirit) aswell as a bit of salami/pepperoni, just because I like it! Substituted the spinach with basil and provolone with gorgonzola. The dough got a bit too thin in some places and opened up during cooking, it was still delicious!

Mediterranean Pizza Pot Pie:

Servings: about 8 (one 10 inch (25 cm) pie)

Tender Pizza Pot Pie Crust:
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (¾ oz) (21 gm) active dry yeast
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) sugar
3/4 cup (180 ml) warm water
1/2 teaspoon (3 gm) salt
1 tablespoon (15 ml) oil
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) (7 ½ oz) (210 gm) bread flour, plus more for dusting

Creamy Garlic Gravy:
3 tablespoons (45 ml) (1-2/3 oz) (45 ml) butter
3 tablespoons (45 ml) (1 oz) (26 gm) flour
1 cup (240 ml) milk (I use 2 percent)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup (120 ml) (1½ oz) (45 gm) shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

2 cups (500 ml) (280gm) (10 oz) cooked chicken, chopped
1 small onion, sliced into thin wedges
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 cup (120 ml) (2 oz) (60 gm) shredded provolone cheese
1/2 cup (120 ml) (2 oz) (60 gm) crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup (120 ml) (½ oz) (15 gm) tightly packed fresh spinach leaves, slivered
4 medium-large artichoke hearts, diced
1/3 cup (80 ml) (2 oz) (60 gm) kalamata olives, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon (5 ml) fresh oregano leaves
Pinch of salt, black pepper, dried oregano (for topping)


1. Mix together yeast, sugar and warm water in a medium bowl. Let it rest several minutes until foamy.
2. Add salt, oil and up to 1 1/2 cups of bread flour, one half cup at a time, mixing with a wooden spoon until the dough picks up most of the flour and pulls together in a wad around the spoon. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface.
3. Sprinkle the dough with flour and knead for several minutes or until the dough is smooth and not sticking badly to clean hands as you knead (add sprinkles of flour as you knead until the stickiness subsides).
4. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with lightly greased plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator overnight or prepare dough in the morning and leave it in the fridge until dinner. An hour before you start prepping the pizza, punch down the dough in the bowl. Leave it in the bowl to rest at room temperature for an hour.
5. Melt your butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Sprinkle flour over the butter and whisk together. Cook for a short minute as it bubbles, then pour in the milk. Whisk and bring it to boil, then stir in salt, pepper and garlic. Whisk until it’s as thick as honey, which should take about a minute. Remove from the heat and stir in cheese. Set aside while you prepare the components for your filling.
6. Preheat the oven to hot 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7.
7. Lightly grease a 10-inch (25-cm) cast iron skillet or similar sized baking dish. Roll out your pizza dough on a floured surface with flour sprinkled on the top of the dough, so it spreads six inches beyond the edges of your pan on all sides. You will need plenty of flour under the dough and on the top surface to keep it from sticking to itself and the counter. Lay the dough into your pan, without pulling it, so it fits into the pan with the extra dough hanging over the edges. Repair any holes that may have appeared.
8. In a large bowl, stir together the garlic sauce and filling, reserving the salt, pepper and dried oregano for the top of the crust. Pile all of the filling into your pan.
9. Wrap the dough up over the top of the filling. Seal tightly in the middle by pinching the dough together. Using kitchen scissors, snip away any large sections of excess dough. Sprinkle a bit of salt, pepper and dried oregano onto the top of the dough.
10. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the lower third of your oven, until the crust is golden brown. Serve immediately while warm.


Swiss Apple Pie

They say "time flies when you're having fun", well apparently it also rushes by when you're really busy. I can't believe we're in October already, that I'm getting christmas toys catalogues in the mail and the annual letter for paying the rest of my taxes (yeah, it's all about the fun, isn't it). I feel like I'm talking like my grandma, complaining about the world spinning around way too fast.

So let's dig into on of my grandma's book for the sunday family lunch, maybe it will help us slow down things a bit, or take us back in time. This is a swiss apple pie, original name: Zürcher Pfarrhaustorte (gesundheit!) for those of you who want to practise some swiss-german food vocabulary. The picture in the book looked good, the pie tasted even better, what else do we need. Let's go for a slice of old-fashioned apple pie.

Swiss Apple Pie (From Betti Bossi)

For a 27cm pie dish

for the crust
250gr Flour
25gr Sugar
1 Teaspoon of Salt
125gr Butter
1 Egg
2-3 Tablespoon Cream

for the filling
150gr Ground Almonds
2 Eggs
1 Teaspoon of Cinnamon
100gr Sugar
5-6 Apples
1 Lemon, juiced
2 Tablespoon of Jam (Raspberry)

Start with the pie crust: In bowl, mix the flour, the sugar and the salt. Cut the butter into little cubes and add to the bowl. Using your hand rub the butter into the flour mixture.

When well combined, add the egg and the cream. Using a wooden spoon try to make it into a dough without working it too much. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 220°C.

Now we can work on the filling: in a large bowl, pour the ground almonds, the egg yolks (save the whites for after), the cinnamon and the sugar and combine.
Take 1 of the apple, peal it and using a cheese grater, grate it into the almonds mixture with the lemon juice.
Beat the 2 egg whites to a soft peak and add gently to the rest of the mixture.

Take you pie dough out of the fridge and roll it out to fit your pan. With a spoon, make a layer of your almond mixture on top of the pie crust.
Now clean, peal, cut in half and core your apples. Before placing them on top of the almond mixture, slice the top carefully (not all the way thru, see picture).

Heat up the jam for a couple of minutes, than brush the apples with the jam. Place it in the oven for about 35minutes.

This can made a day in advance and you can sprinkle some icing sugar on top before serving it.


Daring Baker - September 2013: Pastel de Tres Leches

Inma of la Galletika was our Sept. 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and WOW did she bring us something decadent and delicious! Pastel de Tres Leches or Three Milk Cake, creamy yet airy, super moist but not soggy.. just plain delish!

Another baking travel thanks to the daring baker, this time to south America, with the Pastel de Tres Leches. I never heard of it and at first I thought it might have something to do with the dolce de leches.
The sponge cake recipe is great, and will be used again, as many I was worried the cake might be soggy but it turned out great (ok, I admit I didn't use the whole syrup, because it seemed an awfull lot).
I matched this cake with my smallest niece's birthday, hence the colored chocolate chips decoration, and I choose to go with pears in the filling. It's nice and fresh with the whipped cream and is always a good match with chocolate.

Classic Three Milks Cake

Servings: 12

Ingredients for the vanilla sponge cake
5 large eggs (separated)
½ cup (120 ml) (4 oz) (125 gm) sugar
2 teaspoons (10 ml) of vanilla extract
1 cup (240 ml) (5 oz) (140gm) all-purpose (plain) flour (sifted)

For three milks syrup
1 can (14 oz) (400 gm) sweetened condensed milk
1 can (12 oz) (340 gm) evaporated milk
1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream (about 35% fat) or 1 cup of half & half or 1 cup milk
1 cinnamon stick
2 teaspoons (10 ml) rum (or other flavoring)

Topping and filling
2 cups (500 ml) of whipping cream (about 30% fat)
½ cup (120 ml) (4 oz) (125 gm) sugar
Canned or fresh fruit (to fill and decorate the cake)

Directions For the Sponge Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to moderate 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Prepare a square 9”x9” (23cmx23 cm) pan or 9” (23 cm) round cake pan
  2. Separate the egg whites from the yolks.
  3. Beat the egg whites on medium speed, 3 - 5 minutes.
  4. When soft peaks form slowly add the sugar in small batches.
  5. Whip until stiff peaks form about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  6. In a medium bowl beat egg yolks at medium-high speed for about 5 to 6 minutes, or until the egg yolks become pale colored, creamy and puffy. Stir in vanilla.
  7. Pour the egg yolks over the egg whites, gently fold until just combined trying not to lose any volume from the mixture.
  8. Fold in the flour little by little in the form of rain. Mix until just combined (over-beating will result in a denser, flatter cake).
  9. Pour the batter into the prepared 9”x9” (23cmx23 cm) square cake pan or 9” (23 cm) round cake pan.
  10. Bake in the preheated moderate oven for 25 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean
  11. Let it cool
  12. Once cool, split the cake in half, flip the top of the cake and place it on a base. Poke using a fork holes all over the cake to better absorb the three milk soaking liquid.
Three milks syrup

  1. In a saucepan add the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, heavy cream and cinnamon stick, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and continue boiling for 5 minutes. Remove it and let it cool.
  2. Once it is cool, add the rum or any other flavoring you are using
  3. Gradually brush all the milk soaking liquid into all sides of the cake (including the cut surfaces) until all absorbed. Best to rest the cake in the fridge overnight to complete the soaking process.
  1. Layer some whipped cream on the bottom layer and cover with canned or fresh fruit and decorate the top layer with whipped cream and the fresh or canned fruit.


Cocotte Egg with Mushroom

So let's check: 3 layers of clothes, a big blanket on the bed, temperatures below 10°C at night, yeap, it looks like autumn is coming in early this year. Not that I mind, it's one of my favorit time of the year, but it always takes some adjustement, because I'm a girl and I'm almost always cold, so bring on the big socks, polar jacket and blankets to watch TV.

Because of the (too) many concerts booked, the travels that are planned and some upcoming expenses I know I will have until the the end of the year, I'm mostly cooking out of my pantry these days. Which, once again, proves that it is important to have a well stocked pantry.
This simple recipe is done under 30 minutes (even if you are slow like me) and fits perfectly these early autumn days, for a decent budget.

The mushroom are still from last year's hunting, dried up and stored properly, you can keep them easily. Onions and garlic have to be in every house, I used dried up parsley (obviously fresh would be better, but as said, I'm cooking out of the pantry), a small piece of speck leftover, some cream or soja cream and you're good to go. Enjoy your autumn!

Cocotte Egg with Mushroom

for 2 Cocottes

1 Handfull of dried up Mushrooms (I used trumpets of death)
1 Onion
1 Clove of Garlic
1 Tablespoon of Parsley (dried)
10cl of Cream
50gr of Speck
2 Eggs
Olive Oil
Salt, Pepper

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Put the dried up mushroom in some hot water and let them sit there for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, peel and dice the onion aswell as the garlic clove.

In a non sticky frying pan, heat up some olive oil and add the onions with a bit of salt and cook them for about 5 minutes. Add the dried up parsley, the garlic and the diced speck, lower the heat.

Drain the mushroom (but keep some of the water aside) and add them to the onion and garlic mixture.
Pour the water you kept in the sauce pan and reduce it on a high heat, when there is about 3 or 4 spoonfull left, add those spoonfull to the cream, it will add a nice mushroom flavor to it, add a bit of pepper.

In your cocotte, place the mushroom, onion and garlic mixture first, than poor over the cream/mushroom sauce on it and top it with a raw egg. Place in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, depending how you like your yolk to be.

Serve with some toasted bread if you want, but if you have a nice fresh loaf of good bread no need to toast it first.