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!