BAKED APPLES

12 January 2010

Baked Apples

Baked Apples seemed to be an appropriate welcome back, New Years resolution, apple desert recipe.  What better way to satisfy your sweet tooth while watching your waist line. Plus baked apples are a cinch to make… core, stuff, bake. That’s it. No fuss no muss.

Olivier’s parents have an apple orchard in France and this year they were overwhelmed with the yield. There were enough apples for the Russian army I tell you. So each week we receive a top up, which means I continuously have a bag of these golden red globes in my fridge. I would be complaining except that they are absolutely delicious and make wonderful apple sauce, pies, cakes, muffins not to mention baked apples.

BAKED APPLES

BROCCOLI BASIL CREAM SOUP

29 September 2009

SP-Broccoli-basil-cream-sou

Broccoli soup

BROCCOLI SOUP with BASIL CREAM

I have been on a green theme lately, avocado, pesto, swiss chard…. it wasn’t conscious I tell you. I take inspiration as it comes. This time it was from the general direction of the fridge, where two broccoli’s & half of a cauliflower were staring me down. Add to that my lack of inspiration for dinner (happens to the best of us right), plus a lonely bouquet of basil and this soup was taking shape.

I have always felt that cream of broccoli soup was missing something, that it needed a little pick me up to tweak the taste buds. Here’s where the basil cream came in. It is not overpowering, in fact you may need a few spoonfuls to put your finger on just what makes this sumptuous soup so much better than the rest.

BROCCOLI SOUP

SP-Avocado-goats-cheese-sal

Avocado, goat cheese, red quinoa salad

Quinoa –  simply delicious, with a little crunch and nutty flavour, makes a nice change from eating rice and cous cous. Add to that chunks of ripe avocado, pieces of creamy goats cheese, some garlicky pesto + toasted pine nuts, and you have a great salad!

I often find myself stuck for inspiration when it comes to lunch and craving something different, but at the same time not having hours to spend in the kitchen. This recipe checks all the boxes. I even made the quinoa the nightbefore, so it was just a matter of quickly chopping up the avo, toasting the nuts and throwing the salad together.

Thank god my avocado was ripe this time, as I have been on streak of bad luck lately, to the point of having to return two to the grocerystore as they were completely uneatable.  I figure at CHF2.50 an avocado, you should have something good to show for it!

And for those vegetarians out there, quinoa is a great hidden secret, a fab grain-like, pseudo cereal, which are actually edible seeds.  It comes in red or white, and is a great source of protein, while being gluten-free and easy to digest. What more could you ask for!

O-Foods-Contest Also I just received a note from Michelle of Bleeding Espresso Blog who is hosting a great food contest for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, called O Foods, so take a look HERE!!!

RECIPE

TOFU & SWISS CHARD Recipe

21 September 2009

SP-Tofu-swiss-chard

Tofu & swiss chard

TOFU & SWISS CHARD

Who wants to eat tofu ???? I mean soya bean curd in a cube, the meat for the non-meat eaters. Appetising….. well actually yes ,very! I think the carnivores have seriously been missing out here – the herbivores are on to  a great thing, that is both nutritious and delicious.  Once you get over the stereotype of ‘tofu burgers’ and ‘tofu dogs’,  it adds great variety to the weekly menu and goes well with Asian inspired sauces and many vegetables, like Swiss chard.

In case you aren’t familiar with Swiss chard, here is a link and there is a photo with my recipe. I make large quantities of this dish which is a delicious blend of the white, crunchy, slightly sweet part of the Swiss chard, with the slightly more bitter leaves, and herb tofu sautéed with black sesame seeds and garlic!

TOFU SWISS CHARD RECIPE

CARROT CAKE

25 February 2009

sp-french-carrot-cake

FRENCH CARROT CAKE – a Journey

Can I tell you a secret?

I have always had a terrible weakness for American style carrot cake – the soft, moist slices, filled with spices and topped with thick cream cheese icing. However when it came to the subject of nuts – as far as I was concerned they had no business being in my carrot cake. That was until now.

It all started with my new French cook book, Des Recettes du Potager. On first glance this little green book is filled with savoury recipes for garden vegetables, but on closer inspection I found 1 or 2 sweet treats nestled inside. One of these was le carrot cake, made with ground toasted hazelnuts!

The French are famous for knowing a thing or two about baking, so why oh why did I have so much drama with this new recipe??? The first time I made this cake I followed the recipe to a T, and from an outsiders perspective I had triumphed – the cake rose well, had a nice crusty golden outside & soft moist inside. I especially like the small twist of flouring the cake pan with brown sugar (cassonade), which added a sweet caramel effect. But that’s where the joy ended. Taking a bit of this lovely looking cake, my 1st thought was, oh how delicious …., then wait, hold on, what’s that funny aftertaste, a sort of acidity that rests on your tongue, lingering in the background. Another bite confirmed that I was not hallucinating.

So it was back to the drawing board, for trail N°2. This time I replaced the ground toasted hazelnuts with almonds  & used chestnut flour instead of all-purpose white. The result was better, as the aftertaste was less noticeable, but it was still there, lingering, & I wasn’t happy.

You see – drama drama drama drama.

Story Continued + CARROT CAKE recipe

AMARETTI

4 December 2007

amaretti

AMARETTI These well known Italian almond cookies, get their name from the Italian word ‘amaro’ meaning ‘bitter’ as they are made with bitter almonds & ‘etti’ indicating that they are small. Don’t be scared off, as most of you know, these cookies are anything but bitter, and the ones I make are not small!

Though I have to say that the Nona’s out there must have a hidden family secret or simply a magic fairy in the pantry, that allows them to make this recipe perfectly every time. Let’s just say that I was a ‘virgin amaretti maker’ a ‘babe in the kitchen’ and was in serious need of 1. a pair of training wheels 2. a Nona with a black belt in Italian patisserie and 3. to “borrow” that little magic fairy….

As my 1st attempt produced a very sad, poor excuse for amaretti …. they were lifeless and flat, and while the exterior was shiny & crispy, the biggest disappointment was yet to come – as biting into the cookie you were to discover – NOTHING, AIR, VOID, HOLLOW SPACE…. oooh that cannot be good I though.

So I went back to the drawing board. After much reading & baking, I came accross Yvonne’s recipe for amaretti’s. For this I have to say ‘chapeau’, my hat goes off to her – so impressed was I with these cookies, that I was inspired to create my own version based on her recipe – omitting the cocoa powder & almond decoration,  and using pure almond essence. These amaretti cookies are easy to make, have a lovely almond taste and a wonderfully soft centre!

AMARETTI

CHOCOLATE CAKE

3 July 2007

Earl Grey Chocolate Cake

CHOCOLATE CAKE :

As the story goes… when my mother was pregnant with me, she used to crave chocolate so badly that she would eat several bars a day! Yet dispite this early training, I came into the world without the ‘chocolate gene‘, and therefore never truly understood what all the fuss was about when it came to desserts like chocolate cake (cries of NO & SHAME!!!)

This was until my friend Evelyn sent me her recipe for “Flourless Chocolate Brownies“. With my mother’s birthday approaching and knowing her weakness for anything chocolate, I thought what better an opportunity than to try out what Evelyn described as the most deliciously, delectable chocolate dessert she had ever tasted.

Being without a brownie pan, I decided to turn the recipe into a cake, and instead of using only plain 70% dark chocolate, I substitute 3/4 “DOLFIN” Earl Grey Tea 70% dark chocolate . The only thing left to say is that after some 20 odd years I have finally found …… chocolate cake!

RECIPE

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