25 Aug 2012

We say "chocolate", you say "citrus" - Lemon Curd Recipe

We, French people, have a thing for chocolate.
Chocolate mousse, chocolate tart, chocolate fondant, chocolat éclair, opéra and royal cakes, Nutella, chocolate truffles, marshmallow and chocolate bears ...the range of chocolate delicacies one can find in France is endless.
(...God I miss France sometimes)

We often have animated debates with my British friends about what we respectively put in the " decent chocolate" category (in which I don't include Cadbury, Thorntons or supermarket chocolate). Here in the UK, good quality baking chocolate is a luxury. You can find some, but it's really expensive.

Message in a bottle : if you are a supporter of Pauline à la crème anglaise or if you have tears in your eyes when reading about my lack of good cooking chocolate, you can send me a Nestlé Dessert Chocolate bar. You'll make me the happiest woman in the world!

On the other hand, British people have a passion for citrus fruits.
Orange marmelade (x 10 variations depending on how thick and how much peels you like in your marmelade), orange peels, mixed citrus peels, lemon drizzle cake, lemon boiled pudding with a whole lemon in it, lemon posset, self-saucing lemon pudding, lemon tart...and lemon curd. La Révélation.

Few months ago, I brought back to France some lemon curd for my dad (it doesn't really exist in France).
He liked it so much that he ate it all directly from the pot with a teaspoon.
So I knew what I had to do for his birthday last week.

Lemon Curd

Traditional product, traditional recipe. I went for a sure ride, I borrowed this recipe from Delia Smith.

grated zest and juice 4 large juicy lemons

4 large eggs

350 g golden caster sugar

225 g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into dices
1 teaspoon of cornflour

Make the lemon curd:

1/ Lightly whisk the eggs in a medium-sized saucepan

2/ Add the rest of the ingredients and place the saucepan over a medium heat

3/ Whisk continuously until the mixture thickens for about 7-8 minutes. Next, lower the heat to its minimum setting and let the curd gently simmer for a further minute, continuing to whisk.

4/ Remove it from the heat, pour the lemon curd into the hot, sterilised jars, filling them as full as possible

5/ Cover straightaway with waxed discs, seal while it is still hot and label when it is cold.

It will keep for several weeks stored in a cool place

Thanks to the family Little Chefs for their hard work on zesting and juicing the lemons!

18 Aug 2012

Wagama'me, Homemade noodle soup

Detox : (medecine) treatment aiming at eliminating poison substances from a body
i.e. beer, cookies, burgers, 10 days of twix, snickers and crips’ based diet…

(This blog post is meant for educational purposes only. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental)

So this year, going back to school goes with DETOXING

Don’t worry, Pauline à la crème anglaise is not going to turn into Pauline a la Skinny Cucumber Sandwich.

Detox is actually just a magical word which implies a deep conviction that if you eat something “Detox”, your calorie counter deducts calories rather than adding them. (Yes, we are that bad)

In my case, it just means Detox + Cakes = 0.

(Let's be clear, diet or not diet, there is no way I’ll quit cakes)

With my girlfriends, we go out for dinner once a week. We often try new restaurants, but most of the time we do end up at our favourite place: Wagamama, South Bank, 3rd table on the left.
Ah!? Tofu? Vegetables? Don't worry, it's delicious and it's ...detox! ;-)

If you don’t know Wagamama yet… take a flight to London and I’ll take you there!

Wagamama is a kind of Asian fusion cantine which serves all variations of noodle soups, rice dishes and fried noodles. It’s good value for money and you can detox and “buy back” some calories from your week-ends (and Tuesdays….and actually, maybe Thursdays). 

Last week, we broke the tradition, we went shopping in Chinatown and I cooked us a homemade Wagamama noodle soup.

The Wagama’me Pho,
Über detox and über delicious noodle soup

Pho is an Asian noodle soup I ate a lot when I went to Vietnam few years ago. Pho can be cooked either vegetarian or with different kinds of meat – i.e. chicken (Pho Ga), beef (Pho Bo).
In Pho Ga, you get chicken meat pieces, bones, insides, everything. Yes, this is kind of scary but the chicken stock which has been simmered all day with a whole chicken in it really tastes like chicken and usually is divine.
The noodles used are usually rice noodles (thin and transparent)
A bowl of Pho eaten in the street is not only delicious but only costs 1US$
You can pretty much put whatever you want in noodle soups. I did improvise this Pho recipe as I was chitchatting with my friends. So please don’t be shy, let your Wagama’you express itself!
If you don’t have any Asian supermarket nearby, just buy similar ingredients from your usual shop, it works just as well!

Ingredients (for 3 bowls of soup):

1,5 L of chicken stock
3 small packs of noodles (I used Udon noodles, but you can use which ever noodles you like)
1 pack of firm tofu, thickly diced
1 spring oinion, finely chopped
1 thumb of fresh ginger, very finely chopped
1/2 small chilli  (red or green), seeded and very finely chopped
3 big handfuls of soya sprouts
2 tsp of sesame seeds, roasted if possible
3 tbsp of fish sauce
1 lime, quartered
Option : a bunch of fresh coriander
Side dish: a pack of edamame beans

Make the Pho:

1/ Split between three big bowls the fresh ginger, the spring onion, the soya sprouts, the sesame seeds, the cilli, the tofu dices (and whichever additional green vegetables you would like to add, raw and diced)

2/ Cook the noodles following the pack instructions in the chicken stock

3/ Fill the bowl to 2/3 with the stock, and then split the noodles between the bowls

4/ Add a tbsp of fish sauce in each bowl

5/ Serve your soups and put in the center of the table:

-       the lime quarters so each guest can season his soup to his taste
-       the edamame beans in a large bowl (that you will have boiled in very salty water for 4 min) so guests can just pick.

“I’m a Man I need Meat” variation: swap the tofu dices by cooked chicken pieces

Optional additional ingredients
Chopped chinese cabbage, chopped mushrooms, chopped asparagus, chopped courgettes, all added washed and raw to the soup. It’s a crunchy soup!
(And the uncooked vegetables give a low GI to the soup…But that’s another story that we’ll tackle another day)

noodle soup

Edamame with a bit of salt, so good!

I dedicate this recipe to you, my lovely Soizic, initiator of our Wagamama tradition. We miss you! I can’t wait for your next visit to London…shall we meet up Where You Know?

For all your favourite Wagamama recipes, get The Wagamama Cookbook. (available in Wagamama restaurants and from Amazon)

13 Aug 2012

White chocolate and berry cheesecake

I’ve always heard my dad saying that children need rituals in their lives. Rituals reassure them and give them points of reference. When I was a child, I used to love our family rituals indeed:
  • The Mini mice stories my dad used to invent and tell us at bedtime. I now listen to him telling them to his grandchildren, I love it!
  • The Pancake Dinners on Sundays, coming back from hiking in the nearby mountains.
  • Saturday lunches, when my dad would look at our school grades of the week and give us “Red coins” to reward us for our good grades
  • The strawberries we would have for dessert every single night in spring, and the cherries we would go and scab from the nearby cherry orchards in summer
Growing up, I have found my own rituals. 
Cooking on Sunday afternoons is one of my favourite rituals : I lock myself in the kitchen, I turn the music on and I cook for hours. This helps me overcome my usual Sunday Nights Blues (Sunday nights have always been my week point)
Fortunately for my colleagues : Sunday Afternoon Cooking usually involves Monday Cakes!
White chocolate and berry cheesecake 

It is sooo creamy, soo delicious. I can’t tell you anything else. Just do it, and be happy!
2 x 150g bars white chocolate
2 x 300g tubs soft cheese (we used Philadelphia)
284ml pot double cream
50g caster sugar
170g punnet raspberries
5 tbsp raspberry jam
85g amaretti biscuits
200g small strawberries
Make the cheesecake:
1/ Break the chocolate into a glass bowl, then put it over a pan of just simmering water to melt, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water. Line a lightly oiled 900g loaf tin with cling film.  
2/ Whisk the cheese, cream and sugar together, preferably with electric beaters, then stir into the almost-cool melted white chocolate until well combined.
3/ Stir 50g raspberries with 2 tbsp of the jam. Spoon half the cheese mixture into the loaf tin, then spoon the jammy raspberries down the centre. Top with the rest of the cheese mixture, level the top, then press in the biscuits. Cover and chill for 6 hrs or overnight.
Make the sauce and serve cheesecake:
1/ Set aside about 6 strawberries. Halve the rest, then warm in a pan with the remaining jam until soft. Whizz in a food processor or with a hand blender, then rub through a sieve to remove the seeds and make a sauce. Add a drop of water if the sauce is too thick.
2/ To serve, carefully turn the tin onto a plate, lift it away and strip off the cling film. Halve the remaining strawberries, then arrange on top of the cake with the remaining raspberries and blueberries (if using). Pour over a little sauce and serve the rest separately for drizzling over.

Oh, and I almost forgot to tell you : I met Jamie Oliver with when I was blogging for Samsung during the Games!
As you'll see on the pictures, it was as if I had met Leonardo Dicaprio when I was 15. The teenager who lies in me (not far from the surface as you've probably already guessed) was hysterical. It was short, but very nice. He is as cute and friendly as he is on TV.
The little bear with us is called Chocolat. He is my travelling bear, my mascot, who follows me everywhere. I had to get him on the pictures with Jamie!

10 Aug 2012

The wonders of Borough Market

Borough Market, a food paradise in the center of London.

Situated near London bridge, Borough market is one of my favourite places in London.

From fresh fruits and vegetables to ready-to-eat food, this amazing food market offers the best of British and international foods.
Should you wish to eat there or pick some products to cook at home later: you'll be overwelmed by the wide range of wonders this market has to offer.

German sausages, Paella, British beef, French cheeses, Cakes (look out for Ion Patisserie, who makes the best banoffee pie in the world), Empanadas, Pies, Sauces and Chutneys, chocolates,...You can go every week and never been finished trying new delicious foods.

And the best of all : if you come before the midday rush hour, have a chat with the stalls' holders. Passionate about their products, they are as lovely as interesting. 
Take the time to share a moment with them and you'll leave happy in your heart as much as in your belly!

I took my Samsung Global Blogger friends to Borough Market last week, and we had a deliiiicious time. I brought you back some pictures!

For more information on Borough Market, visit http://www.boroughmarket.org.uk/