27 Jun 2014

French bite : Little Praline Tarts

These days I work, I work, I work, and I work. 
But it's time for a break. I'm going on holidays!
The Man is taking me to Cornwall, a place I've been dreaming to visit for a long time. 
I will bring you back lots of pictures and I hope some nice recipes!

In the meantime, a short pause for a French recipe!

Prink Praline Tart
and sweet pastry

Sweet pastry doesn't have to be difficult to make. this one isn't, and it's delicious!
For the praline filling, you can choose to add more or less cream to it. Mine was quite creamy and therefor not as sticky as a usual praline tart. 
If I do it again, I think I might put a little less cream, just because I like sticky tarts. But if you're a creamy type of person, the recipe as it is a perfect for you!
(PS: as the filling sets, the creamy colour appears, which is why the tarts look a bit different from picture to picture). 
Pink praline are a speciality from Lyon (France). In the UK, it can be bought online from Melbury and Appleton


For the sweet pastry: 
250 g flour
100g butter, cubed and slightly softened
100g confectioners' sugar, sifted
pinch of salt
2 medium eggs, at room temperature

For the praline filling:
1 cup praline, crushed
1/4cup double cream


Make the pastry:

1/ Put the flour in a mound on a counter (ideally marble) and make a well. Put in the butter, confectioners' sugar, and salt and mix together with your finger tips.

2/ Gradually draw in the flour into the center and mix with your finger tips until the dough becomes slightly grainy.

3/ Again, make a well and add the eggs. Work them into the flour mixture, using your fingertips, until the dough begins to hold together.

4/ When the dough is well amalgamated, knead it a few times with the palm of your hand until smooth. Roll the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and rest in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours before using.

Preheat the oven at 180deg C.

5/ When the dough is rested and you are ready to use it, unwrap and roll out on a lightly floured counter to a 2 - 3 mm thickness. Line small tart moulds or rings with the pastry, cut out the pieces hanging over, cover the pastry with baking parchment and dried beans or baking beans, and bake blind for 15min until golden.

Make the filling: 
1/ In a small pan, slowly melt the pralines until completely melted, adding the cream as you go along.

2/ Pour the praline filling over the pastry case and leave to cool for at least a couple of hours until set and hard. 

Pastry recipe adapted from Michel Roux's pâte sucrée by The Messy Baker
Praline tart recipe adapted from the Book Recette d'Antan, editions Stephane Baches 

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17 Jun 2014

Nigella's Guinness and Chocolate Cake

"Celebrity Chef" is a strange concept I discovered in the UK (Since I left France, this has also massively taken off in France). Over here, chefs are (almost) as much super stars as singers or actors. 
The press follows their private lives as much (if not more) as their cooking. 
Jamie Oliver shares photos of his kids and his private life everyday on Instagram, and we feel almost close to him for that. It's part of being a Celebrity Chef.
And it's not for her cooking skills that poor Nigella Lawson recently got even more famous.
Let me tell you; British people have a thing for their chefs, and I think I might be becoming like them.

One of my big dreams of the moment is to (finally) get a table at Le Gavroche and meet Michel Roux Jr. (I did get a chance to meet him briefly at a foodie festival last summer but I was so shy and impressed that I didn't even speak to him, when I'd normally have a million questions for the man!)

In the meantime, we should gossip less, and bake more!

Nigella's Guinness and Chocolate Cake

No, this cake doesn't taste of Guinness. It tastes of marvelous and deep dark chocolate, and it's moist and light.
And it's beautiful and delicious. 
And I find it so cool to bake a cake with Guinness in it.

for the cake
250 ml Guinness
250 grams unsalted butter
75 grams cocoa powder
400 grams caster sugar
142 ml sour cream
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
275 grams plain flour
2 ½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

for the topping
300 grams cream cheese
150 grams icing sugar
125 ml double cream (or whipping cream)

Method to make the Guinness and chocolate cake: 

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C/350ºF, and butter and line a 23cm / 9 inch springform tin.
  2. Pour the Guinness into a large wide saucepan, add the butter - in spoons or slices - and heat until the butter's melted, at which time you should whisk in the cocoa and sugar. Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into the brown, buttery, beery pan and finally whisk in the flour and bicarb.
  3. Pour the cake batter into the greased and lined tin and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Leave to cool completely in the tin on a cooling rack, as it is quite a damp cake.
  4. When the cake's cold, sit it on a flat platter or cake stand and get on with the icing. Lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth, sieve over the icing sugar and then beat them both together. Or do this in a processor, putting the unsifted icing sugar in first and blitz to remove lumps before adding the cheese.
  5. Add the cream and beat again until it makes a spreadable consistency. Ice the top of the black cake so that it resembles the frothy top of the famous pint.

 Recipe by Nigella Lawson

5 Jun 2014

Discovery of the Suffolk coast, home to Great British Seafood

In our quest to make the most the British countryside and driven by our common passion for food, the Man and I recently spent a long week end on the Suffolk Coast, which perfectly mixes seaside, countryside, tranquility and gastronomy.

Relatively easy to reach from London (we traveled a big hour on the train to Ipswich and then hired a car), the area is small but diverse enough to keep you busy for 3 or 4 days without having to travel too much once there.

Staying at the lovely Ship at Dunwich (the Inn offers comfortable rooms, delicious crafts beers and very good gastropub food, including the best sticky toffee pudding I've eaten so far, and god knows my standards are high!), we discovered the area by foot, doing 1-day walks along the seaside and in the nearby countryside. 
On our way there, we stopped at the Orford Ness national park, and paid a visit to the lovely Orford Castle
We also spend half a day in Aldeburgh, famous for its seafood restaurants and one of the best Fish and Chips shops in the country according to Nigel Slater (facing an hour queuing in the street, we finally gave up).

The area offers seafood lovers wonders to enjoy indeed, from chippies and dressed crabs to hot-smoked salmon and lobsters that you can buy fresh and ready to eat directly from the fishing boats on the beach.
A great corner of England no-so far from busy London.