Monthly Archives: July 2013

Holidays

As you read this post, I will be away in Paris for some vacations. So while I’m away, I’ve compiled a little list of summer dishes I posted over the last 2 years to keep you busy…

Savoury dishes:

Stuffed tomatoes

Tomates Farcies

Ratatouille

Ratatouille_001

Strawberry and Halloumi salad

StrawberrySalad 001

Desserts:

Warm strawberry tart

TarteChaudeFrais_002

Apricot and white chocolate mousse cake

ChocApricotCake_003

Berry delight

DéliceFruitsRoug_002

Raspberry and tapioca verrine

VerrineTapioca_002

Cherry and apricot clafoutis

Clafoutis_003

Thyme and Apricot tart

Abricot et Guimauves 027

See you soon!

Milk chocolate parfait in a dark chocolate mirror glaze

I know what you’re thinking: yes it is yet again another very decadent dessert and no I am not trying to tease you out of healthy eating and diet! I happen to have a sweet tooth and I do indulge in very rich desserts once in a while but it is not the everyday fare and I believe that once you have a balanced diet, a little extravaganza here and there can’t do you any harm!

Now, here is a little bit of background about this dessert: I came across a great blog called “Passion Patisserie“. The author, Julie, only discovered her passion for patisserie 2 years ago and her creations are truly marvelous! She has a treasure trove of videos that explain some of the techniques she uses to produce magnificent desserts that wouldn’t look out of place in a Michelin star restaurant. This one uses a couple of great tips: the use of semi-sphere silicone moulds and a gorgeous glossy chocolate glaze. The result looks stunning and I will surely do this again the next time I have guests coming for dinner.

MirrorGlaze_004

Source: Passion Patisserie

Ingredients
Serves 4

Milk Chocolate Parfait
100g milk chocolate
200g cream
2 egg yolks
10g sugar
1.5 tbsp water
1 gelatine leaf (2g)

Mirror chocolate glaze
87g water
112g sugar
75g cream
15g unsweetened cocoa powder
2 gelatine leaves (2g each)

MirrorGlaze_002

Method

  1.  Make the parfait the day before: set aside 50g cream and whip the other 150g in the Thermomix with the butterfly whisk 40 sec/speed 3 measuring cup OFF or until soft peaks (watch it as cream can go overwhipped very quickly!). Set aside in a cold place or the fridge.MirrorGlazeSteps_001
  2. Place the gelatine leaf in a bowl of cold water to soak.
  3. Boil the sugar and water in a saucepan until the sugar is dissolved.
  4. Using a hand whisk, whisk in the boiled water syrup onto the egg yolks, little by little until all the syrup is whisked in and the egg yolks are pale and fluffy.
  5. Melt the milk chocolate and cream in the TM bowl 3 min/50C/speed 1 or until melted.
  6. Add the drained gelatine to the chocolate and mix 20 sec/speed 3.
  7. Pour the chocolate over the egg yolks and mix well with a spatula.
  8. Wait until the mix is at room temperature before folding in the whipped cream.
  9. Pour into the semi-spheres and make sure you scrape the excess with a spatula to level (I didn’t need to do it as my mix was quite liquid but it did set OK in the end).
  10. Freeze for 2 hours, then unmould half of the semi-spheres and place each on top of the ones still in the mould.MirrorGlazeSteps_002
  11. Place back in the freezer overnight.
  12. Two hours before ready to serve, make the chocolate glaze: weigh the water and sugar in a precision scale (if you don’t have any, just measure 85g water and 110g sugar in the TM bowl).
  13. Place in the TM bowl and cook for 3 min/100C/speed 1 measuring cup OFF or until it starts boiling.
  14. Add the cream and cook another 2 min/100C/speed 1 measuring cup OFF.
  15. Add the cocoa powder and cook for 20 min/80C/speed 2 measuring cup OFF.
  16. Meanwhile, soak the gelatine leaves in a bowl with cold water.
  17. Add the drained gelatine at the end of the cooking time and mix 10 sec/speed 2.
  18. Pour into a bowl and leave to cool in the fridge for 10 minutes.
  19. Check the consistency and put back in the fridge if it’s still too runny. The glaze must cover a spoon (see pictures). Be careful not to let it set for too long as if it’s too thick, it won’t cover your parfaits evenly.

    Mirror glaze Thickness

    Left, it still too runny, right is the right consistency

  20. Take the parfaits out of the freezer and unmould 1 sphere. Use a palette knife to smooth the sphere where the 2 halves meet (I didn’t do it, hence the slight bulge in the middle).
  21. Place it carefully on a grid on top of a big bowl or plate.
  22. Spoon generously the glaze all over until it’s all covered.
  23. Use 2 forks to lift the parfait and place on the serving plate. You can sprinkle some chopped nuts or chocolate decorations on the plate and stick the parfait on top. Repeat for the other parfaits.
  24. Place in the fridge until ready to serve.
  25. Note that the leftover glaze keeps in the fridge and can be reused. Just reheat it gently over a bain-marie, then wait until it reaches the right consistency (see step 19) before using. It’s better to use over frozen desserts for a better coverage. If you want to only cover the top of a cake, use a pastry ring that fits the cake tightly and pour the glaze evenly over the cake top. Let it set in the fridge for at least 1 hours before removing the ring.

MirrorGlaze_003

MirrorGlaze_001

Lavender Shortbread

I had a few friends coming for dessert on Friday night and I had 2 hours to come up with something that suited the very hot weather we’re having at the moment.

I opted for a strawberry and banana milkshake but I wanted to have some biscuits to serve with. I tumbled upon a shortbread recipe and I decided to add some dried Lavender for a nice summery twist. It was a winner! The Lavender added a nice herbal more so than floral tone to the crisp and buttery biscuits. Everyone had second helping!

LavenderShortBr_001

Ingredients

165g salted butter
85g caster sugar
200g plain flour
15g cornflour
35g rice flour (make it yourself in Thermomix: blitz 1 min/speed 10)
1/4 tsp sea salt
Dried Lavender flowers

Method

  1.  Preheat the oven at 170C
  2. Cream the butter, sugar and salt 50 sec/speed 4.
  3. Place a sieve on the TM bowl and weigh in the flour, cornflour and rice flour.
  4. Sieve through and knead for 1 min.
  5. Tip out and roll to 1cm thick (if too soft to roll, place in the fridge for 20 minutes) and cut out shapes with a cookie cutter. Sprinkle with Lavender flowers and press them down on the dough. I used financier silicone moulds that I sprinkle with the Lavender first, then I spooned in the dough and pressed down with my fingers to fill the mould.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes (they should be golden) and leave to cool completely before serving. They will be still soft when out of the oven but will crisp up when cool.

Napolitain cake

The Napolitain is an industrial cake invented by LU, a French brand of ready-made cakes and biscuits. It has been part of a lot of French children afternoon snack or birthday party ever since. Personally, I am not a huge fan of industrial cakes so when I saw that Jennelly has proposed a recipe to reproduce this well known cake from scratch, I was quite happy to try it.

I have done her recipe to the letter (it was for the Supertoinette monthly challenge) but I would make some slight changes the next time as I found the whole thing a tad too dry and the chocolate cream way too thick to be able to spread easily on the sponge cake. Still, this has been a hit with kids and adult alike so will definitely do again.

I have clearly marked my suggested modifications to her recipe below.

Napolitain_004

Source: Jennelly’s blog Mes débuts

Ingredients

(serves 8 people)

Vanilla sponge (génoise)
25 g flour
25g cornflour
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
45g sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
A pinch of salt

Chocolate sponge
25 g flour
25g cornflour
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
45g sugar
15g unsweetened cocoa powder
A pinch of salt

Chocolate spread
150g sweetened condensed milk
5 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
I would use instead 100g dark chocolate and 100g cream melted together

Syrup (not on original recipe)
100g sugar
120g water
60g flavouring of your choice: rum, coffee, fruit juice (cherry would work really well here) or any flavoured water you see fit

Icing
110g icing sugar
2 tbsp hot water (start with those quantities but you might need to do some extra…)
Chocolate vermicelli

Napolitain_003

Method

  1. Preheat the oven at 180C.
  2. Prepare a  baking tray: trace a 30cm x 20cm rectangle on a greaseproof/parchment paper with a black pen. Butter and flour the other side of the baking paper and place on the tray.
  3. Prepare the syrup: boil the water, sugar and flavouring in a saucepan until the sugar is dissolved. Leave to cool.
  4. Make the vanilla sponge: place the eggs, sugar and vanilla in the TM bowl and add the butterfly whisk.
  5. Whisk 10 min/37C/speed 3, measuring cup OFF. The mixture should have tripled in volume.Napolitain_001
  6. Tip out into a bowl and sieve in the flour, cornflour, salt and baking powder. Fold in gently with a rubber spatula.
  7. Spread on the prepared tray withing the traced marking and bake for 10 minutes.
  8. Take out and place a cool tray on top of the biscuit and carefully flip it upside down. Peel out the baking paper (very slowly and carefully, use a knife to help you free the biscuit from the paper if needs be).
  9. Repeat steps 3 to 7 for the chocolate sponge (no need to wash the bowl), omitting the vanilla and adding the cocoa to the flour/cornflour mixture instead.
  10. When completely cool, cut both biscuits in half on the longer side.
  11. Place one half of the vanilla sponge on a serving plate. Brush liberally with syrup on the side of the biscuit that was in contact with the baking paper (for optimal absorption).
  12. Make the chocolate spread and spread 1/3 on the vanilla sponge using a palette knife or a butter knife.
  13. Place the 1/2 chocolate sponge on top, brush with syrup and spread the second 1/3 chocolate spread.
  14. Repeat with the other half vanilla sponge and the last third chocolate spread, brushing each time the biscuit with the syrup.
  15. Finally, place the last half chocolate sponge on top and make the icing.
  16. Spread the icing all over the chocolate sponge and sprinkle with chocolate vermicelli. Cut off the edges of the cake with a long serrated knife to have a neat look.
  17. Place in the fridge to set before serving.

Star of the day

Aoife from Australia has made my Passion fruit and Chocolate parfait. She sent me a picture so here is is, looks delicious doesn’t it? Well done Aoife!

photoMousse

If you have tried one of my recipes, why don’t you take a pic and send it to me? Your photo will be featured on the blog 🙂

Cherry berry cup

Last year, I gave a clafoutis recipe with cherries and apricots. I really love this dessert and I was about to make another cherry clafoutis when I saw this cherry sorbet recipe in J’en reprendrai bien un bout. We’ve enjoyed really hot weather in Ireland lately so what better than a sorbet to cool oneself down? Of course, with Thermomix making a sorbet is so easy! Just make sure that you don’t forget the lemon juice (unlike me!) as the cherries darken really fast once puréed…

CherryBerry_004

Ingredients

500g cherries, stoned
125g sugar
1 tsp Kirsh (cherry liquor), optional
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Method

  1. Place the sugar in the TM bowl and mix 5 sec/speed 10.
  2. Add the cherries, lemon juice and Kirsh and blitz for 30 sec/speed 7 or until puréed. You might need to scrape down the sides of the bowl half way through.
  3. Pour into a shallow container with lid or an ice cube tray and freeze overnight.
  4. Place frozen cubes (they should be able to go through the hole in the TM lid) in the bowl and mix a few seconds speed 6 until there is no more rattling noise.
  5. Use the spatula to pack into an ice cream scooper and serve at once (you can freeze the ready-made scoops into a freezer bag sitting on a tray and place back in the freezer, lying flat).
  6. I served with some of my raspberry and rose ganache and a few fresh strawberries. It’s also delicious with some mascarpone whipped with vanilla icing sugar, just like a Chantilly!

CherryBerry_002

 

Rhubarb Tart

It’s rhubarb season again and I love to find new ways of cooking it. I’ve done compotes, crumbles and cakes with I but never tried them in a tart. I looked at a few recipes on the net but couldn’t find one that I liked so I did a mix of a few recipes here and there and the result was a delicious almond and rhubarb tart.

RhubarbTart_004 RhubarbTart_003

Ingredients

1 sweet pastry (see recipe here)
2 eggs
100g cream
120g almond powder
120g sugar
A few drops of almond essence (optional)

For the rhubarb:
3 or 4 sticks rhubarb (about 500g)
150g sugar

RhubarbTart_005
Method

  1. Wash and cut the rhubarb in 3cm (2 inches) chunks and place in a sieve sitting on a bowl. Sprinkle with the 150g sugar and let it macerate for 2 hours so the water drains out.
  2. Meanwhile, make the pastry and refrigerate until ready to roll.
  3. Butter and flour a 23cm tart tin. Roll the pastry and place in the tin, cutting out the excess pastry around the rim.
  4. Preheat the oven at 180C
  5. Drain the rhubarb (reserve the juice.) and place in a fry pan and sauté on high heat for a few minutes until just softened.
  6. Tip them out at the bottom of the tart. RhubarbTart_001
  7. Mix the eggs, cream, sugar, ground almond and almond essence 20 sec/speed 3.
  8. Pour over the rhubarb chunks and bake for 30 minutes.RhubarbTart_002
  9. Reduce the reserved rhubarb juice in a small saucepan and brush over the tart while it’s still hot.
  10. Let the tart cool down before taking out of the tin.
  11. Serve with a berry coulis, a scoop of ice cream of freshly whipped cream.

RhubarbTart_006

 

Caviar d’aubergine (Aubergine dip)

I absolutely adore Caviar d’aubergines, the French name for the Middle Eastern dish called Baba Ganoush. I have tried many versions but they were all disappointments: either too bland or too garlicky, they lacked the smokey taste so particular to the real Baba Ganoush. But then, I read that one of my favourite French blogger: Valérie from C’est ma fournée has nailed it and delivers all her secrets to the perfect Baba Ganoush in her blog. As soon as I finished reading her recipe, I ran to the supermarket to get the aubergines and after an excruciating wait overnight to let the flavours infuse, I got to taste the most delightful aubergine dip I have ever made!

CaviarAubergine_001 CaviarAubergine_002

Source: C’est ma fournée

Ingredients
3 aubergines (or 4 small ones), choose the shiniest ones
5 garlic cloves, leave them in their skin and keep them together

Mayonnaise
1 egg yolk
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp mustard
100g neutral oil (sunflower, canola…) – you might not need the whole 100g!
Salt and pepper

Paprika and olive oil for decoration

Method

  1.  Preheat the oven at 250C conventional oven (no fan!)
  2. Line a metal baking tray with foil and place the whole aubergines on it (it’s important to use metal to conduct a maximum of heat)
  3. Bake on the middle shelf for 30 minutes.
  4. Turn the aubergines and bake for another 10 minutes
  5. Wrap the garlic cloves in foil and place on the tray with the aubergine and bake for a further 20 minutes (the recipe says 15 min but for me the garlic wasn’t quite confit enough so I’d say add 5 minutes, it’s no harm for the aubergine, which need to be nice and almost chargrilled). The garlic must be like puree inside the clove.
  6. Take out the aubergines and garlic from the oven. Using a spoon, scoop out the pulp from the garlic skin and set aside.
  7. Lift the foil with the aubergines on it and place away from the tray (careful, it’s very hot!). Turn the aubergine 1/4 to the right (or the left, it doesn’t matter) and cut lengthway with a sharp knife.
  8. Scoop out the flesh of the aubergine and place into a sieve sitting on a bowl. Now, the important bit here is to scrape the skin very well to get all the smokey flesh, be thorough, you should be left with the skin and only the skin!
  9. Add the confit garlic to the aubergine and let it drain for 2 hours at least. This is another very important step: we want to get rid of as much water as possible to concentrate the flavours.
  10. Meanwhile, make a mayonnaise: in the TM bowl, place the egg yolk, mustard, salt and pepper and the vinegar. Place the butterfly whisk on top of the blades, lock the lid and start mixing on speed 4 (don’t put any time as it varies…)
  11. Place the measuring cup upside-down (the bottom facing up) and slowly start pouring the oil over it. The measuring cup will help controlling the flow of oil going down. When about 1/4 of the oil has been absorbed, stop the speed and check the consistency of the mayonnaise, it should be thick but the mayonnaise is not quite there yet. If it’s not thick, continue whisking and add slowly more oil and check often until thickened.
  12. Once thickened, close the lid, and set the speed to 4 again and pour the oil a little faster this time above the measuring cup (still upside down).
  13. Now check every now and then for taste. You want to stop when it taste right to you: neither too mustardy nor too salty.
  14. Tip out and set aside.
  15. When the aubergines have drained for 2 hours, place them in the TM bowl with half the mayonnaise (take out the butterfly whisk)
  16. Mix for 30 sec/speed 4.
  17. Tip out into a bowl and cover with cling film. Refrigerate overnight to infuse the flavours. Also cover with cling film the other half of the mayonnaise (cling film must touch the surface of the mayo) and refrigerate. Keep up to 2 days max in the fridge.
  18. To serve, sprinkle with paprika, olive oil and serve with warm pitta bread. It’s heavenly!

Delicious chocolate alternative

Sometimes, I feel like eating healthy but I never want to compromise on taste. I don’t particularly find munching on nuts and seeds very exciting or satisfying but I don’t want to rush to the chocolate bar either. So, I have been looking for a nice healthy snack that I could make easily without ever finding what I was looking for. That is until I flicked through the Taste of Vegetarian cookbook and found this gem of a recipe! The title got my attention: chocolate alternative, well I love chocolate so that’s a good start. Then I read through the list of ingredients and luckily enough, I had everything in my cupboards. So I made the first batch and waited patiently a few hours for it to set and had a taste. Love at first bite! The chewiness of the date, the slight crunch of the nuts and the wonderful taste of coconut and cocoa is a winner. I have made 2 batches already and I think it will be a regular feature at my house…

ChocAlternative_001_01

Source: Taste of vegetarian, Thermomix cookbook available in the UK and Ireland

Ingredients

130g almonds
75g cashews
50g pitted dries dates
65g desiccated coconut (I don’t put it)
25g unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
20g honey
70-80g 100% coconut oil (I put 50g and it’s plenty)

ChocAlternative_002_01

Method

  1. Line a square biscuit tin with cling film.
  2. Place nuts into TM bowl and grind for 8 sec/speed 7. Set aside.ChocAlternative_001
  3. Add dates, desiccated coconut, cocoa, salt and honey into bowl and chop 30 sec/speed 7.ChocAlternative_002
  4. Return the nut meal to the bowl, adding the coconut oil and mix 20 sec/speed 5 or until the mixture has a shiny appearance. If the coconut oil is hard due to cold weather, mix first 4 sec/speed 6 and then continue on speed 5.ChocAlternative_003
  5. Empty mixture into the prepared tin (you might need to remove the blades to help you get most of it) and press down with the back of a spoon to create a flat surface.
  6. Using a spatula, score lines one way and then the other to create squares. Refrigerate and when solid, remove from the tin and break into squares. Store in the fridge.

Gazpacho

Now that the summer has finally set in and the temperatures are soaring, what would be more tempting than a tasty and refreshing Gazpacho soup? Gazpacho originated from the southern Spanish region of Andalucia where it is regularly consumed during the hot summer months and is usually made of fresh tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, stale bread, garlic, water and vinegar. In the traditional method, all the ingredients are pounded using a pestle and mortar but with powerful blenders nowadays, it is made much easier and quicker.

Gaspacho_001

Source: Les soupes en quatre saisons – Vorwerk recipe book for Thermomix France

Ingredients
Serves 4 to 6 people

1kg fresh tomatoes
1 red pepper
1 garlic clove
1 onion
1 piece of cucumber (about 6cm in length)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 slice of stale bread
1 measuring cup full of Extra virgin olive oil
Salt, pepper and vinegar to taste
6 ice cubes
For the garnish:
2 ripe tomatoes, deseeded and diced finely
1 red pepper, deseeded and diced finely
1/2 cucumber, deseeded and diced finely
Slices of toasted bread
Method
  1. Place all the gaspacho ingredients in the bowl and mix 2min from speed 5 to speed 9 progressively.
  2. Add more water and ice cubes if it’s too thick and mix until you reach the desired consistency. Taste for seasoning.
  3. Serve cold with the garnish on top and a few slices of toasted bread.

Gaspacho_002

 

Duck with redcurrant sauce and crispy duck crackling

This recipe comes from Felicity Raines, head demonstrator in the UK, and it is wonderful for a dinner party. The duck cooks in the Varoma first, then the sauce is reduced in the bowl while the veg are steaming and the duck is resting. This dish can be doubled easily and be made in advance (see tips at the end of the recipe). It is so flavourful and delicious, you will be making this again and again!

DuckVaroma_004

Source: UK Thermomix

Ingredients

2 duck breasts, skin reserved (see step 9)
2 shallots, peeled and halved
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 good pinch fresh thyme leaves
20 g olive oil
5 cherry tomatoes, chopped in half
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
50 g red wine
½ tsp sea salt
freshly ground pepper
2 small or large duck breasts, skin removed (to serve 2 or 4 respectively)
30 g butter
60 g redcurrants if available plus a few sprigs for garnish (I didn’t have so used 2 apricots instead)
2 Tbsp redcurrant jelly

Method

  1.  Chop the shallots, garlic and thyme with the oil for a 2 sec/Speed 7.
  2. Add the tomatoes and cook 5 minutes/100°C/Speed 1.
  3. Mix in the vinegar, red wine, salt and pepper 10 seconds/Speed 3.
  4. Cut some baking parchment (not greaseproof or silicone paper) to fit the Varoma tray and up the sides, wet it and wring it out, and line the Varoma tray. Put in the duck breasts and pour the sauce mixture over them.DuckVaroma_001DuckVaroma_002
  5. Without washing the TM bowl, add a litre of water to it, place the covered Varoma on top and cook about 15 to 20 minutes/Varoma Temperature/Speed 2 until the middle of the breasts are pink but not raw. This timing is usually fine for small duck breasts; allow 30 to 35 minutes for large duck breasts and much more time for larger quantities – at least 40 minutes and keep checking them – you may also need to top up the steaming water with boiling water for steaming times longer than 40 minutes.
  6. Discard the steaming water and carefully pour all the sauce and duck juices into the TM bowl, leaving the duck to rest.
  7. Add the butter, redcurrants and jelly and reduce by cooking 10 to 20 minutes/Varoma/Speed Spoon/ Reverse Blade Direction. It should be concentrated and unctuous. Taste and add a little honey or sugar if you wish. If steaming vegetables at that stage, only do it for 5 or 7 minutes for asparagus/green beans as they take no time to cook.

    Sauce before reducing

    Sauce before reducing

  8. Purée on Speed 8 until desired consistency. The sauce can be sieved and returned to the TM bowl to heat through. Slice the duck diagonally and serve with the sauce. Decorate with small sprigs of redcurrants if you have them.
  9. I have reserved the duck skin and rubbed them with some salt and Chinese 5 spice, scored them on both sides with a sharp knife and pan fried them until crisp. I then cut into strips and served on the side. It adds a nice crispy texture to the dish and also a lovely Asian tone to the flavours.

Felicity’s Tip: If doing this recipe for a dinner party, it can all be done in advance. For 6 to 8 people use 6 to 8 small duck breasts and use 3 times the sauce ingredients. To reheat, pour a little red wine into a flat pan and very gently steam the duck breasts until warmed through but do not over cook. Slice the duck and serve with the sauce reheated in the TM.

Felicity’s Serving Suggestions: Serve with potato purée with chives, steamed asparagus, spinach with sultanas and pinenuts.

Janie’s Tip: When I make this recipe for 4 people, I use 2 large duck breasts and steam 800 g diced potatoes in the internal steaming basket while the duck is steaming. The potatoes will be cooked and tender after 15 to 20 minutes, then I remove them and set them aside while finishing off steaming the duck (usually another 10 to 15 minutes for 2 large duck breasts). Before Step 5 making the sauce, I quickly mash the potatoes using the TM recipe in Fast and Easy Cooking, then set them aside to keep warm (or you can do this and leave them in your second TM bowl if you have one). Steam some vegetables in the Varoma while you make the sauce Steps 5 and 6, then serve – a delicious meal, all done in your Thermomix!