21 Dec 2012

The best is yet to come

So, how was 2012?

Did you get that big promotion you had been working so hard for?
Did you find the love of your life?
Did you get married and have a baby?
Did you go back to playing guitar?
Did you keep half of the good resolutions you wrote, tipsy, on the back of a pack of cigarettes last year on New Year's eve?

I didn't,  yet...

  • I went back to acting
  • I launched Pauline à la crème anglaise (with Ben, my angel designer and friend)
  • I put a lot into my life here in London, met amazing people and made incredible new friends
  • I got selected to be an official blogger for the Olympic Games
  • I made it through my dreaded 30th birthday with a large geniune smile on my face
  • I saw our Queen jump from a helicopter with James Bond and celebrated her Diamond Jubilee
  • I baked a million cakes and put on weight (Yuck, "Lose weight": definitely on my Good Resolutions list for 2013)
  • I went on my longest vacation ever and shared part of one of my best friends' "Trip around the world"

So here I am: it's been my best year in London so far, and I've never been happier.

I sometimes found it hard to trust Clem in the past when she kept telling me "The best is yet to come", yet she's been so right this year. 
And I hope she's been right for you too?!

No recipe published today.
If, like me, you've been partying and eating too much this December, before the Xmas food and booze marathon even gets started: take a break, have a pomegranate (on of my favourite autumn fruits)!

and Happy Christmas everyone!


17 Dec 2012

Xmas # 3: My fudgy toffee Brownies

My parents being divorced, I had two birthdays, two Christmasses, and two mummies when I was a kid, which was actually pretty cool.

My two mummies did both play a key role in building my early passion for cooking: 
- my mum, who would would let me cook whenever I wanted to try and cook (or experiment) on my own
- my step-mum, who is an amazing cook and who taught me many skills and inspired me so much

One of the first desserts I made all by myself was a chocolate mousse, one of my step-mum's speciality. Since then, I also think of her everytime I bake a chocolate dessert!

recipe dulce de leche

My super duper fudgy toffee
 chocolate brownies

Christmas can involve a hell of a lot of cooking. So a dessert which is both delicious and quick to make can prove very useful!
These brownies have a light but rich texture (how is that possible? I don't know, it's a miracle). My dulce de leche addition make them extra special. 

I was running late for the party I was bringing them to, so I could not work on a presentation, but why not cut them in squares, pile them in a pyramid shape, and add a fine dust of icing sugar and few raspberries on top to decorate? 
This will be a showstopper dessert for Christmas or Boxing day!

You can even make them 1 day early, they will be as good as new.

375g dark cooking chocolate
250g salted butter
3 tsp cocoa powder
3tbsp instant expresso powder
500g caster sugar
6 large eggs
110g self-raising flour
2 or 3 tbsp of dulce de leche, repostero (firm) if possible

Make the brownies: 
1/ Preheat the oven to 180deg C, and line a baking tin or roasting dish with baking parchment

2/ Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl in the microwave. Mix and add the expresso and cocoa powders, and mix again until combined

3/ Beat the sugar and eggs with a whisk until light and fluffy

4/ Add the chocolate mixture, stir. Sift in the flour, stir

5/ Pour into the dish, and dot the dough all over with thumb sized lumps of dulce de leche (it will sink slowly as it cooks) and cook for 30/35 min until just done (I left the center to be still gooey).

6/ Leave to cool completely before taking cutting and taking them out of the dish

recipe brownie dulce de leche

recipe fudgy brownies

brownies dulce de leche recipe

recipe chocolate brownies

fudge chocolate toffee brownies

recipe chocolate brownies

What's on the drinks menu Alex?
- a Muscat for the sweet taste, 
- a red fruit tea (not so sweet for a chocolate brownie), 
- a glass of hazelnut soy milk

Thanks Alex!

This recipe is dedicated to Cricri.

10 Dec 2012

Xmas # 2 : Spiced bread

One year, we decided with my family to make each other's Christmas gifts rather than buying them. 
Everybody put a lot of effort into it:
  • I wrote a book for my brother and sisters (yes, I had already a lot to say at that time),
  • My brother made me an amazing wooden mobile inspired by my favourite painter,
  • My sister printed pictures of our childhood....
We ended up making each other cry with our gifts packed with sentimental value.
Since then, we like teasing each other saying that if a gift doesn't make its recipient cry, that means that the gift wasn't great enough (Crazy family? Noooo). 

One thing is for sure, the attention put into a gift is definitely more valuable to me than its actual cost!

recipe christmas gift

Spiced bread

Spiced bread (or pain d'épice in French) is baked a lot in France, particularly around Christmas time. It's usually a very dark and dense sweet cake, served as a starter with foie gras, or as a dessert, snack or even breakfast. 
I like it on its own or spread with homemade orange marmelade or Nutella!

This spiced bread can be beautifully wrapped in plastic paper, or sliced and stored in a jar to be offered as a Christmas gift, maybe alongside homemade jam?

250g honey
100g single cream
30g demerara sugar
250g flour
11g baking powder
mixed peels : a small handful
Spices: pepper and cinnamon (I put 2 tbsp but could have put twice as much if I wanted to make a more spiced and darker bread)

Make the spiced bread: 

Preheat the oven at 160deg C
1/ In a bowl, mix the honey, the cream and sugar, and melt all together in the microwave for 2mins
2/ In another bowl, mix the flour, the spices, the baking powder and mixed peels
3/ Mix the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients until well combined
4/ Pour the cake mix into a buttered cake tin or a silicone cake mould and cook for approx 30-35 min

Option : I added pieces of amaretto biscuits in the bread mix just before cooking it, to add another texture to the bread. Completely optional and random (you can have fun and add pretty much whatever you like, may it be candied fruits, nuts, etc)

recipe christmas gift

recipe christmas bread
recipe spiced bread

What on the drinks menu Alex?
- On its own, our spiced bread will go well with champagne or sparkling wine
- Matched with chicken in a spiced bread sauce, you might want to try an off-dry Gewurztraminer from Alsace or a Vouvray (French Loire valley)
- If you're going to enjoy this spiced bread with foie gras, you can go for a sweeter wine like a Gewurztraminer or Pinot Grigio, Jurançon or Sauternes (from South West France)

Thanks Alex!

3 Dec 2012

Xmas # 1: Peanut Butter Biscuits

Baking is like making love.

Sometimes, you want to take your time, make sophisticated moves, take great care of every single detail...
and sometimes, you just feel like something quick, good and easy.

Easy peasy. Minimum effort, maximum pleasure.
I wouldn't give you love advice, but I can certainly give a tip if you're up for an easy baking ride: Peanut Butter, always a winner.

You know what they say: sometimes, less is more! :-)

christmas gift homemade

Gluten free peanut butter biscuits

Flour free biscuits? Just peanut butter and sugar...naughty indeed!

These biscuits are very easy and quick to make and will keep for few weeks in a metal tin. So why don't you make a batch, wack them in a nice vintage metal tin and offer them as a Christmas gift?

They would also be perfect on your Christmas table served with a chocolate mousse.

Ingredients : 

510g creamy peanut butter

100g brown sugar
200  caster sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp vanilla extract (I used Nielsen and Massen)
1/2 tsp salt

Make the biscuits

1/ Preheat your oven at 180deg C
2/ Beat the peanut butter, brown sugar and 150g of the caster sugar  with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. 
3/ Reduce the speed to low and beat in the eggs, bicarbonate of soda, vanilla and salt.
4/ Make tablespoon sized balls of the dough and roll them in the remaining caster sugar.
5/ Place them on baking sheets (or silicone mat), spacing them 5cm apart. With a fork, make criss cross pattern on top of each biscuit
6/ Bake for 10-12 min in batches until golden on the sides. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely before taking them of from the sheet (or they'll break)

christmas gift recipe

christmas biscuits recipe

christmas biscuits recipe

What's on the drinks menu Alex?
- an earl grey tea from Yunnan (Yunnan and fresh bergamot)
- a hot chocolate flavoured with cinnamon and muscovado sugar
- a vanilla coffee with whipped cream on top
- a latte macchiato

Thanks Alex!

I dedicate this recipe to my friend Lisou, my fellow peanut butter addict.
I keep faith. One day, they'll import peanut butter M&Ms over here!

29 Nov 2012

My cherry twisted Bakewell tart

Last Saturday night, a "pancake party" at one of my friends' place (when French Londoners gather, they eat French food).
We’ve all beeing stuffing ourselves with savoury and sweet “crêpes” – including the mandatory "Crêpe au Nutella" (pancake with Nutella), widely acclaimed as the best pancake in the universe – when I notice one of my friends is stuck on the "Mushroom and Cheese Crêpe" round.

“Aren't you eating any sweet crêpes?” I ask, suspicious
“No, I actually don’t like sweet dishes too much”

I stare at him, mouth wide open, as if struck by lightning.
While I can spend days designing cake recipes in my head or dreaming about a cake I’ve seen on a market, some people actually don’t like sweet food. 
Suddenly, I tried to imagine my house without chocolate mousse, New York cheesecake, sticky toffee pudding and Bakewell tart…but I couldn’t. 

This is when I realised that my Mr. Right will have to like cakes, cause he's not gonna be able to get away from them!

bakewell recipe
Bakewell tart
The Bakewell Tart is one of my favourite British desserts, because I love everything that’s made with almonds.
The traditional recipe calls for raspberry jam, but I used the sublime Comtes de Provence black cherry jam instead, to make it extra special. 
(I didn’t ice the tart because I don’t like sugar icing, but you can put some on top of if you like it!)

1 shortcrust pastry
2 or 3 big tbsp of raspberry or cherry jam (I used black cherry jam from Comtés de Provence)
60g softened butter(at room temperature)
60g caster sugar
1 egg
30g plain flour
¾ tsp baking powder
50g ground almonds
a few drops of Nielsen and Massey almond essence
a small handful of flaked almonds

Make the Bakewell tart: 
1/ Heat the oven at 180deg C
2/ Roll out the pastry onto a pie/tart/flan dish. Prick all over with a fork, and spread 2 or 3 tbsp jam evenly on top of it. Pop in the fridge until the filling is ready.
3/ Make the filling: cream (beat together until white and fluffy) the butter and the sugar with an electric whish or a wooden spoon. Add the egg, the flour, the baking powder, the ground almond and the almond essence, and beat until combined. (as always when we use baking powder, try not to over beat of the baking powder will dry the filling out)
4/ Spread the filling on top of the jam layer, scatter the flaked almonds on top of the tart and bake the tart in the oven for approx. 30min until golden.
5/ Serve lukewarm or cold, on its own or with a dollop of custard

Recipe adapted from the Great British Book of Baking.

Big thanks to the lovely people at Baking Mad (bakingmad.com) for giving me the opportunity to try the Nielsen and Massey almond essence, once of the best I’ve baked with so far!

What's on the Drinks Menu Alex?

- A sweet red wine like a Port (Portugal) or Banyuls (France), 
- a sweet white wine like Sauternes (France) or Muscat, 
- a glass of milk
Thank you Alex!  

And a big hug to my housemate Jed for modeling for me! You can follow Jed's amazing talent for landscape design on his blog here

22 Nov 2012

Double coconut rice pudding

Usual Saturday morning (3pm), it's 2002, my friends and I are sitting in the ugly burger place in Grenoble central station for our traditional "party debrief", trying to drown our hangover and shame of last night in litres of frying oil and mayonnaise.
We call it the "Hangover Burger"

(Dear mum and dad, I'd be much grateful if you could forget to read my blog this week)

My student card entitles us to a second burger for free (Yeah!), we order diet cokes to wash them down (well, real coke is full of sugar, really bad for you, you know?!)

"Hangover calories don't count"
"Calories eaten out of someone else's plate only half count"
"Cakes don't count either if they are homemade"

Dishonnesty doesn't taste bad at all, you just need to cover it up with whipped cream and caramel sauce! 

Double coconut rice pudding

Rice pudding made with vegetable milk doesn't count either ;-)


1 can coconut milk, well shaken (approx 400ml)
1 small glass of pudding rice or risotto rice
4 to 5 tbsp caster sugar (I used Sweet Freedom for baking)
2 heaped tbsp shredded coconut

Make the rice pudding: 

1/ Rince your pudding rice under running cold water and drain
2/ In a medium saucepan : pour coconut milk, sugar, rice, and cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes (until the rice is cooked), mixing from time to time
3/ Once cooked, add the shredded coconut, add some sugar to taste if need be, and store in a airtight container (or a jam pot) for up to a week in the fridge

Option : You can serve it with a splash of dulce de leche, or chocolate sauce, or why not a tsp of Malibu

What's on the Drinks Menu Alex?
On the wine side: 
- Beaumes de Venise, 
- Muscat de rivesaltes,
- Cabernet d'anjou rosé 

Soft drinks: 
- vanilla soja milk
- coconut water
- and for a pinacolada spirit : a pineapple juice

Thanks Alex!   

14 Nov 2012

My banoffee pie

Cakes can be devided into  two categories, like girls' hair:

- Cakes that require much talent and effort, but which unfortunately still don't guarantee that the end result will be faboulous. 
ie : my damn hair, french macarons.

- Cakes which only need 10 min preparation with your eyes closed to make any boy fall in love on the spot.
ie: my best friend's hair which looks perfectly unperfect when she wakes up and has never been touched by a comb, banoffee pie.

I'll purposely omit here the third category of girls who spend 30 min everyday carefully messing their hair up and pretend "Oh, I just had time to jump into my jeans, I must look like a mess", because even if boys are naive little things, we can't be fooled Ladies.

In any cases, Mother nature is unfair, and if the banoffee pie wasn't so amazing, we would hate it for being so easy to make.

banana tart recipe

Banoffee pie

1 pack of digestive biscuits (approx 12 biscuit)
50g unsalted butter
2/3 of a can of Nestle carnation caramel or dulce de leche (see below how to make dulce de leche)
2 bananas
1 pot (approx 350ml) whipping cream

Make the banoffee pie:
1/ Preheat the oven at 180°C
2/ Crush the biscuits (in a food processor – or place them in a plastic bag and crush them with beat them with a rolling pin)
3/ To make the biscuit base: Melt the butter in a bowl in the microwave, and mix with the crushed biscuits until well combined. Press firmly the biscuit mixture onto a lose-bottom cake tin, and cook for 10 min until golden. Leave to cool completely. 
At this stage, you can remove the base from the cake tin if you wish (or at least remove the sides, I wouldn't dare transfering it onto a different place because it could break)
4/ Spread the caramel on top of the biscuit base.  Refrigerate until set.
5/ Cut the bananas in 1cm thick slices and spread them evenly on top of the caramel
6/ Whip the cream with a hand whisk or an electric hand mixer until it forms soft peaks, and spread on top of the bananas. Refrigerate for at least 3hours (for the whipped cream to have time to set)
banana toffee recipe

banana pie recipe

carnation caramel recipe

banoffee pie recipe

banoffee recipe

carnation caramel

How to make Dulce de leche?

Empty the content of a can of concentrated milk in a small saucepan and cook it on medium heat until it gets a toffee colour (this will take approx 50 min). Be aware that it will become thicker and harder as it cools down. This will be perfect for millionaire shortbreads.
To keep it very soft, ideal scenario for a banofee pie, add 20g butter to the concentrated milk when you start cooking it.Again, stop the cooking when you get a golden coffee colour.

9 Nov 2012

Patagonian souvenirs

- How was it?
- My holidays in Patagonia? Cold, magnificient, delicious

I saw stunning landscapes, hiked a lot, met lovely people, had my lips cracked by the cold, saw whales and pinguins, crossed a giant country by bus, took millions of pictures of my teddy bear Chocolat, and... ate delicious food!

Argentinians master the arts of producing and cooking meat, and baking.
There are completely obsessed with dulce de leche (dense caramel sauce made from condensed milk) that they feature in every single baked good. 
But they also know how to bake really good cheesecakes (ricotta tart) and brownies (with dulce de leche, of course). 
I also fell in love for their empanadas. 

"Were your holidays about sport or food?" asked my dad. At Pauline a la crème anglaise, it's always a bit of both!

I can't wait to share some of the recipes I've brought back with you. In the meantime, here are some pictures!