Parmesan Biscuits

25 August 2010

Parmesan Biscuits

Canapes / hors d’oeurves to serve with drinks…. Delicious, bite sized morsels that go well with drinks and don’t turn you into a kitchen slave – translation, they take 15 minutes to make!

Perfect for a summer‘s evening, sitting on a terrace, sipping cocktails with friends while the sun sets, I do paint a pretty picture now don’t I.

These Parmesan Biscuits are perfect as they are a little salty and have a kick of black pepper which nicely offsets the sweetness of a drink.

This is a slight adaptation of The Cook’s Companion recipe, I have reduced the salt by 1/4 and the cooking time by 3 minutes.

PARMESAN BISCUITS

Gougères - French Cheese Puffs

Gougères – French Cheese Puffs

Gougères are classic French cheese puffs made with choux pastry and grated cheese (Gruyère / Comté). French they may be but it was in Russia that I really took a liking to them.

I blame it on the French bakery Volkonsky‘s, which was in dangerous proximity to Katya’s Moscow appt. A small bakery / café selling delicious pastries, sandwiches, breads and coffee not to mention gougères.

It was a lesson in how something so innocent can be so addictive … I could have eaten them by the handful.

In memory of  Volkonsky’s gougères, here is  my recipe (see link Gougères below):

Gougères Cheese Puffs

rotterdam

My NEW Dutch FOOD ADDICTION….  

ROAD TRIP - ok that’s not 100% true as I took a plane, so it’s PLANE trip…  and that just doesn’t have the same ring now does it. Oh well.  

Point being, I went to visit my brother in Holland this past weekend. Didn’t really know what to expect – outside the lovely architecture, Dutch paintings & Amsterdam’s claims to fame (wacky tabcky & the dancing shows…) But I was really there to see him so the rest was just details.  

Despite being warned that Holland was not one of the top 10 ten gastronomic heavens of this world,  (there was mention of much frying, mayonnaise & starchy carbs ), I still managed to followed my stomach around like a blood hound on the scent…

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A MAN OF 300 CHEESE: In my ever growing pursuit to support & promote our local specialty food shops & producers, those who sweat & toil to bring us superior quality, hand made produce direct from the source, I recently organised an interview with Dominique Ryser, current owner of the Fromagerie Bruand in Geneva.

This was a great opportunity to meeting the man behind the cheese !!!  I have often passed his store, and each time la gourmandise (love of food) takes over my senses – no longer am I the self composed, rational shopper with list – no, I have become a mouse… and a large drooling one at that. Completely mesmerized by his cheese display, I forget where I am walking, thinking only of the endless choices infront of me  … salty Gruyere, soft tomme, nippy cheddar, crumbly sbrinz, creamy vacherin, velvety chevre…. and all the wonderful recipes that I could make with these. It is truly a sight to hold.

HISTORY: The Fromagerie Bruand was started in 1982 by Mr. & Mrs Bruand, mother & step-father to Dominique Ryser. In 1998 they decided to turn their attention to other pastures, these being outside of Geneva, in the Swiss town of Ovronnaz - Valais. It was here that they opened the Chalet Gourmand, a fine food store offering cheeses (fromages), dried meats (charcuterie), wine (vinothéque) and other local specialty products. The silver lining of this move was that it left room for Dominique, a chef by trade, and his wife Carole to take over the family business that same year.

TODAY: Today they are the proud owners of this flourishing local cheese shop, located in the heart of Geneva’s most prominent food hall, Halle de Rive (the same location of my recent on Pain d’épice (spice bread). Their shop is well lay out and boast a superb collection of over 300 types of cheeses, of which 60% are Swiss, 30% European and 10% coming from abroad. It comes as no surprise that with Dominique’s welcoming attitude, extensive knowledge of cheese and wide selection of quality produce, that the Fromagerie Bruand  has build up a loyal clientele and a name of excellence in the industry.

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This summer has been busier than normal with all the wedding planning. However, as part of the festivities, my girlfriends got together to organise a surprise hen-weekend (bachelorette) & to my delight, they booked an afternoon cooking course at Scook, the new cooking school of Anne Sophie Pic - 4th generation head chef of the French 3 star Micheline restaurant, Maison Pic.

The course was well planned, orchestrated and adapted to our large group, which included people with different levels of cooking experience. In a modern, luminous kitchen, each student was given an apron, copy of the recipes to be cooked and access to fresh seasonal ingredients. We then worked through the dishes step by step, with the added chef’s perks of being able to eat what we made. This hands on approach, with direct interaction with the chef, left you feeling confident, with a broader knowledge of the culinary arts.

Out of the things we learned that day, there was one idea that I felt would make an excellent base for other dishes. This was the unpuffed puff pastry rounds - a contradictory idea I know, but ever so good. Thus I have borrowed this idea to build the dish above - a sumptuous tower of soft grilled aubergines (eggplant), caramelised tomatoes and fresh goats cheese, with a hint of black olive tapenade & rosemary.

RECIPE

Sweet Pea Blog Recipe

There comes a time in every girls life where she has to face facts – that if ones beloved husband, boyfriend, fiancé (mine very much included in this list…) brother, partner, father, the list is long but distinguished here, has become an official OFFICE MOLE – one of those very dedicated, over achieving, hard workers, who should basically set up camp under their desk, you are going to have to join the ranks of those who triumphed over the work pile! It will not take an army, nor a city wide power shortage, you loosing your mind, or having a shout, all you need is your OVEN and a couple of ingredients.

Now the saying goes that you may be able to bring a horse to water but you can’t make it drink, but I can tell you – you can bring a hungry overworked man to the table and believe me he will eat!! The story is the same if the roles of the sexes are reversed. So if you are going to lure them out of their den, you need to make it worth their while. Which got me to thinking about an Italian dish my colleague Melissa made last year – one that had so much success that no sooner had she placed the platter on the table but the dish was clean. I figured that this would do the trick.

My first attempt at RICOTTA STUFFED PASTA SHELLS,produced a dish that while savoury, was a little dry for my liking and lack that unctuous creamy quality Italian cooking is so famous for. Melissa’s shells however are filled with three types of cheese which solves this problem. Like many cooks who are comfortable in the kitchen, she cooks by her nose and not necessarily by the book, so I had to invent my own proportions etc based on the ingredients she normally uses. Half the fun of cooking is the art of improvisation & personalisation!

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RECIPE

BURRATA

4 June 2007

This is my fist SWEET PEA blog post!

I will begin with a story of my dear friend Eliane, who came to visit last week. During the course of our dinner, while chatting about cooking she mentioned that life would not be the same without trying the sumptuous ‘BURRATA’.

This for me was like a carrot to a rabbit. So with great enthusiasm I set off Saturday morning to the Cavalieri & Fils cheese stall in www.halle-de-rive.ch , an indoor food market in Geneva. To my delight, there was the sign marked ‘Burrata’ and the owner had one left!

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