Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Quick and easy: Surprise Center Orange and Cinnamon Mini Cakes

What you need:

3 small eggs or two large ones
150 g of flour
150 g of sugar
150 g of melted butter
1 tsp of salt
cinnamon to taste (I used a good 2 tsp full)
A tablet of dark chocolatz
the rind of an untreated orange
powdered sugar

You will need silicon molds or cupcake moulds. I used a combination of two moulds here--pyramid ones and round ones. They come in all kinds of fun shapes now and are relatively inexpensive.

Blend the butter, eggs, flour and sugar together until smooth. Add the cinnamon and the orange rind. Fill the moulds a little more than halfway with the batter. Push squares of chocolat down the centers of each cake.

Bake in a warm oven (160°C) for about 15 minutes. Turn the cakes over onto a plate as soon as you take them out, sprinkle with the powdered sugar. These are excellent warm and can accompany a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a chocolat cream, or compote. They're also a favorite at snack time for children.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

3 Ideas to use leftover French bread

3 ways to use those hard leftover baguettes:

They go stale so quickly, and if you’re tired of tossing them at ducks, here are three ideas. You can also use leftover baguette in “Mini Light Pizzas” which is also on the blog.

Solution One: Garlic bread

This is rich, but so good you won’t care.

Melt about 100 gr of butter in a small casserole
Add 3-4 cloves of garlic (minced) and a couple of branches of finely chopped parsley.
Let the mixture cook a bit but only a minute or two.

Slice the baguettes in half and place them belly-side up on cookie sheets.
Pour the butter onto the bread generously, making sure equal amounts of garlic and parsley are on each slice. Place in the oven or under a broiler until golden brown a crispy. Be careful, they burn really quick if you don’t watch them.

Solution Two: Pesto Bread

Prepare the baguettes as above. Spoon pesto sauce generously on the bread and add shredded mozzarella cheese over the pesto.

Place in the oven or under the broiler until the cheese is melted and brown

Solution Three: Bread Pudding

Leftover baguette
1 L milk
3 eggs
½ cup of sugar
¼ tsp salt

One, two or three of the following:

Chocolate chips
Fresh diced fruit (cherries, strawberries, raspberries, apples, pears, bananas, oranges…whatever you have on hand)
Dried fruits (raisins, chopped dried apricots, dates, figs….)

Cut the baguette into thin slices and place a first layer in a buttered baking dish. Add whatever optional ingredients (fruit, chocolate, etc.) you are choosing, making sure to scatter them more or less evenly on top of the layer of bread. Add daps of butter here and there over the rest. Whisk the milk, eggs, sugar and salt together and add vanilla or cinnamon if you are using them. Pour the milk mixture on top of the rest in the dish. Cover with more bread slices, placing them over the top and pushing them down a bit so they absorb the liquid ingredients.

Place in the oven and cook until the top is brown and crispy. The center will be softer, creating a nice mixture of textures. Serve lukewarm or cold.

Mexican Night

Homemade Mexican Night

There’s something about watering down odd-colored powder and stirring it into chopped beef that bothers me. And yet, I (and my entire family) adore Mexican night. We place the tortillas on a dish and have small bowls of toppings (chopped tomatoes, lettuce, shredded cheese, diced red onions, salsa, sour cream, beans, and beef…) and everyone serves themselves to whatever tempts them. It’s messy, bothersome since everyone wants the toppings at the same time and great fun! Since I have more or less decided to ban industrial food and have set a goal that I would like to know exactly where my fruits, veggies, meat and dairy products come from (preferably having actually met the person responsible) I had to find a way to make the same fun dish from scratch. Here’s the recipe if you’d like to give it a go.

Tortillas: (for about 12 standard size tortillas)

Knead 300 grams of white flour, 300 grams of corn flour and 50 cl of warm water together for at least 10 minutes by hand or in a Kitchen aid or food processor equipped with a hook for bread (a marvellous investment if you want to make your own breads)

Heavily flour a countertop with a blend of corn flour and white flour. Tear bits of the mixture off and roll them into balls on the floured surface until they are easy to handle (slightly smaller than tennis balls). Then, roll them out with a heavily floured pin until they are the size of crêpes and as thin as possible.

Heat a crêpe pan (with no oil) and place your tortillas on the pan. They are done when they begin to rise and bubble here and there on the surface. Flip them and cook the other sides.

Beef and Beans:

1 or 2 chopped onions
2 chopped cloves of garlic
500 grams of minced beef (cut into small bits rather than chopped) but you may use ground beef as well.
A cup of kidney (red) beans
Chili powder
Salt and pepper

Heat some oil in a skillet and cook the onions and garlic until soft and transparent. Add the beef and cook (making sure to break up the larger chunks) until it is no longer pink. Add the spices and beans when the meat is about half-way cooked. Start with 2 tablespoons of chilli powder and add more if you like things spicy.

Fresh Salsa:

This is excellent but it can be watering when using garden tomatoes. Place the chopped tomatoes on some paper towels for about a quarter of an hour if this is the case.

500 gr of fresh tomatoes diced
1 or 2 onions, diced
2 cloves of chopped garlic
Chopped fresh peppers or a small can of hot chilli peppers
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons of vinegar
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Fresh chopped cilantro (I grow it in the garden but you can find it in most supermarkets in the produce section now or at the marché where it sold by North Africans in bouquets)

Combine all the ingredients and refrigerate.


Chopped red onions
Chopped fresh tomatoes
Shredded cheddar cheese (or mimolette vieillie)
Lettuce (preferably iceberg for its crunch)
Fresh sour cream (I buy mine from a local dairy producer and it is not comparable to anything you can find in a supermarket)

The above are standard, but you can vary these by using

Zucchini squash (shredded raw or cooked and diced)
Fresh diced peppers (I like to have a bit of green, red and yellow to make it look more intriguing)
Chopped peppers

You can also replace the beef with chopped chicken breasts or even fish, but in this case I leave out the beans.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pesto And Tomato Pasta

No time to cook tonight? This only takes as long as it takes to cook the pasta!

A jar of pesto sauce
A few tablespoons of crème fraîche or half and half or ricotta cheese (optional)
Three fresh tomatoes
A package of pasta
Pepper, freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Dice the tomatoes. Heat the pesto sauce in a saucepan, add the diced tomatoes, cream or cheese and heat for about five minutes. When the pasta is al dente, drain it and serve the pasta topped with the sauce, freshly ground pepper and Parmesan cheese.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Light Mini Pizzas

Here's a great idea to use up some bits of baguette that's going stale and also a last-minute easy recipe for an apéritif:

What you need:

Baguette slices (about 1 cm thick and cut as rounds)
tomatoes sliced thin
fresh basil leaves
mozzerrella cheese
olive oil or pesto sauce

Place the slices of baguette on a baking sheet. Place a slice of tomato on each, then the cheese (just enough to cover when it melts) and finish with a dab of pesto sauce (optional) or just a basil leaf each and a drop of olive oil. Place in a hot oven until toasted. Serve warm.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Fruit Chunks Dipped in Chocolate

This is a great dessert for an "apératif dinatoire" (cocktail dinner). It's easy and beautiful.

What you need:

Dark chocolate which is low in sugar (10 grams per person)
Speculos (2 per person)
Cream (1/2 teaspoon per person)

What to do:

Cut the fruit into thick chunks (except the strawberries which you leave whole, cutting off the greens)

Melt the chocolate with enough cream to make it smooth on low heat.

Crush the speculos in a shallow bowl.

Poke a toothpick into each chunk of fruit then dip them halfway into the melted chocolate and dip again into the crushed speculos cookies.

Arrange them on a platter and cool in the refrigerator for about half an hour.

If you are following the Weight Watchers program, this counts as only 2 points!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Ginger Pork Filets

Here's a quick and economical recipe.

What you'll need:

1 pork filet
1 pink grapefruit
1 red apple
1 green apple
Ground ginger
Olive Oil or butter (2 teaspoons for a non-stick pan)
A teaspoon of honey


Peel and cut the grapefruit into slices, removing all the white parts. Cut the apples in quarters. Heat half the oil or butter in a deep dish frying pan on medium heat. Add the fruit and toss until the pieces just start to brown and soften. Remove onto a plate and whipe the frying pan off to eliminate the moisture. Heat the rest of the oil or butter. Slice the pork filet then cook them in the pan making sure not to overcook. Brush on the honey and powder the meat with the ground ginger just before the meat is cooked. Add salt and pepper.


Arrange the grapefruit slices on one side of the platter, the apple slices on the other, alternating green/red. Arrange the pork slices down the center and serve with a potato side dish.