Archive for November, 2008

the perfect mousse, now with even more details!

November 26, 2008

Lately, the stress of our impending move has been getting to me in ways that are less than funny for everyine involved. Meaning I am completing the transformation into a cross between a harpy a fury and a completely disoriented three year old – FUNTIMES!

I also feel like I am getting completeley cheated out of the normal advent (pre christmas) season, what with the decorating of apartments, the baking of cookies, getting of gifts and general cozyness generally associated with this time. And, to quote my four year old niece, J’adore Noel’, I love chrismas. fiercels. So, in short, I am a little bit meh around the edges here.

I managed to cop out on regular posting last week, when I gave you lots of details about me, but this week, I am here, and present and ready to share with you my views (opinionated, as always) and recipe (excellent, as always!) on the hot button issue that is mousse au chocolat. And ok, maybe it’s only a hot button issue for me (see opinionated, above) but I am sure my views and recipe will make you converts and crusaders on this topic as well.

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You see, chocolate mousses seem to come in all shapes ansd sizes, with any number of possible add-ons and fancy frills, when their actual truth and beauty really lie in the fact that they are chocolate, but in a mousse, billions of calories in guise of something airy and fluffy.
And so I say, down with the creamed up, brandyed and sugared beasts from hell, and up with the original true recipe, the one many a french persons still makes following the words on the packaging of this particular brand of chocolate . It only requires 200g of good chocolate and 6 eggs (preferably organic) and maybe 15 minutes of your time to achieve chocolate heaven. And I think that’s what makes it a perfect recipe, a keeper in times of stress and exigencies of perfection (way to sum up my life here, BTW!). And because I just shared this secret recipe, I can now confess to the secret behind the mousse pictured here.

I doctored it. Not a lot, but still. I needed to impress (I always do, see exigencies of perfection) and in order to impress and soothe the christmas spirit, I came up with the lovey idea to use this german favorite of mine, a dark christmas chocolate, flavored with a hint of coriander and cinnamon. And to melt my chocolate in the microwave, i didn’t use water, I used orange juice. There I said it.

But you know, since the chocolate rules are self imposed, I figured I might as well bend them at will, especially since I was in dire need of something to make me feel like I wasn’t loosing the christmas spirit inside of one of the boxes I was packing. In truth, followed the recipe to a tee: melting the chocolate (no ones says you can’t use flavoured chocolate) in a bit of liquid (no one says you can use orange juice for that, indeed, I did and used maybe 4 tablespoons) mixing in the 6 egg yolks and carefully folding in the 6 stiff beaten eggwhites. Chilled it for 3h (or overnight) and served it after a trully fantastic homecooked chinese meal at our friends d & a.

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You should try and do a mousse like that, I promise you’ll become as opinionated as me! And thus ends todays “posting in times of stress while revealing more details about ones character than possible possible”!

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November 15, 2008

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I got tagged by my friend d. over at alle meine ponies (don’t you just LOVE that blogname, btw?), and because I have been unable to pull my latest recipe post together due to some photo issues, I will now give you some

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Clothing

I have a very feminine obsession with shoes and an unexplicable one with grey t-shirts. I wish I could dress with a more definite or adventurous style, but the way we live (three small children and a lot of bike riding) often gives me an excuse for comfort over style. My favourite pieces this winter are a gorgeous leather jacket given to me by my mother and a lovely jeans blouse given to me by my sister, along with a handwoven and hand-dyed purple scarf from africa (my mother again).

Furniture

My ideal would be a mix of simple modern white and grey furniture, and a more flowery pink british style. My reality, sadly, is a few nice old pieces and a lot of budget-conscious ikea. On a side note, I am obsessively organised and forever putting things away and in their place.

Sweet

Chocolate. Hands down. I always joked that my ideal gift would be my weight in chocolate!

City

Berlin, Paris, Montpellier, Stuttgart. All sorts of homes.

Drink

Tea in the morning, water every other time. The occasional beer.

Music

I used to listen to music all the time; but sadly, I don’t have the time nor the mental space to really listen anymore. In the past couple of months I’ve liked port o brien, bon iver, mgmt, and alela diane. I also really like chamber music, especially the complete beethoven string quartets.

TV

American series mainly, lately enamored with gossip girl and mad men alike; but always tatort.

Film

No snobbery here: french films from the sixties, nostalgic films from growing up (stand by me, dead poets society, dirty dancing) and today, wes anderson, sofia coppola, south-american cinema but also big american productions.

Workout

Haaaahaaaaahaaaa. No.

Pastries

The first one that comes to my mind would be a proper, still warm pain au chocolat. After that, the list would be so long, one could make a blog out of it – oh wait…!

Coffee

Espresso, black, with added hot water.

I am tagging Cynthia, Berlin Reified and Tim.

edited to add: I am really happy to see that Anke Gröner kindly answered the meme as well, go read hers!

 

too late for Halloween …

November 4, 2008

Today marked the day of our oldest child’s first Hallowe’en party. It also marked what must be the fifth pumpking we’ve eaten in as many weeks. It also marks the day of the American elections, but that is so totally beside the point here, that I’ll just move on and back to Halowe’en.

My son’s halloween party. A party for which (so we heard YESTERDAY) there would be a costume required. Preferably a scary one. And possibly the bringing of some sort of celebratory food. Now. I am not saying this to blame our daycare, but these types of things are not exactly music to the ear of the working (outside the house, I got the pc-memo) parent (HINT; tell me maybe a week before?).
BUT: as luck would have it, early in the week is generally a good time to ask me for baked goods. In fact, I had just managed to do something about my near constant craving for cinnamon rolls* and had ended up with waaaay too many (which I otherwise totally wouldn’t have shared if I hadn’t have had to be the perfect mum bringing baked goods to daycare), and — luck was on my side again — because I had made those rolls not with a straight up cinnamon filing, nono, but instead with PUMPKIN. Due to the pumpkin abundance and my feeling that I will never find, nor make cinnamon rols as good as these. But the pumpkin, is what now gives me a beautifully easy segue back to halloween and then back to the recipe at hand. Bear with me.

I know exactly, why those last minute notes from school/daycare send me in a tizzy. It’s because growing up, my siblings and I often were the kids with no lunch money on a field trip, more often than not no snack for the break**, and definitely always the ones with the non-matching-non-mended-totally-not-cute socks. Meaning, I know what it’s like to be the kid who’s parents weren’t always prepared (and I have to add, lest my parents choose not to speak to me again, that this is the ONLY thing I would ever jokingly reproach them of. If ever. That, and the early curfew perhaps…).

Fast forward a few years later, and guess which parent I am? The one who isn’t always prepared. They get snacks for their day, but they are sensible snacks, no juice boxes and prepackaged cheese bits, and no nutella. Just boring stuff. Oh, and their socks are all way too small and non-matchey. But yesterday, as I was told there was a party, we should bring food and have a costume for the child. I felt super confident thanks to the delicious rolls (buns?) I had made; but there was a measure of discomfort there somewhere which I wasn’t able to pinpoint until…
11pm, deep into the last episodes of season 1 of Mad Men (are you watching? you should watch!), when I suddenly sat up and realised that we didn’t have a costume. And all I could think of was that he wanted to be a dog, because dogs are scary. And figuring out how to make that costme happen at 11pm was not an option. So we chose an easy out a perfectly acceptable solution combining mummy’s tshirt and daddy’s designs skills . The ‘blood stains’ are courtesy of jello and fruit punch.

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The pumpkin rolls however, were no cop out, those were truly good and I shall now, after this long-winded story, leave you with the recipe.

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Pumpkin rolls

Adapted from epicurious

prep time: 15min, rising time: 2h total, baking time 35 min
mixing bowl, dough hooks, rolling pin, 1 big square baking pans or 2-3 round small ones

for the Dough

1/2 cup warm water
5 teaspoons of active dry yeast
1/2 cup granulated sugar
5 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting (I used something like cups)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup warm milk
2 large eggs at room temperature
1/2 cup (115 g) butter, softened and cut up in chunks

for the Filling

400 g pumpkin puree (I made mine by steaming the pumpkin until tender and then leaving it to drain in a sieve)
1/2 cup (115 g) of butter
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
a dash of grated nutmeg
1 cup of chopped walnuts (expendable)

Mix the yeast into the warm water and add a pinch of sugar. Let rest until bubbles form at the surface (don’t go off to another room with a phonecall for 10 min. bad idea.).

Stir together all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and in a smaller one whisk together the milk and the eggs. By now, your yeast mixture should be bubbly. Add the liquid ingredients to the flour and beat until all is combined Add the softened butter and mix on medium speed until the dough comes together, about 4 minutes. It will stil be fairly sticky. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 1h).

In the meantime, make the filling by simply mixing together all the ingredients save for the nuts in a large bowl.

When the dough is doubled in size, punch it down and roll it out wth a rolling pin to a 40cm square. Spread the filling evenly and sprinkle with the nuts. Roll up the dough away from you and pinch the seams to close it. You will now have a giant doughy log. Cut it in 2 cm thick slices and arrange them in you baking pan(s). At this point, you can either freeze or refrigerate the individual rolls until further use or let them rise again right away. If you choose to freeze/refrigerate them, let them rise again after defrost until doubled in size.
Bake them in an oven preheated to 190° until golden, for about 30 min.

I chose not to ice them, because until I can find the recipe for these particular cinnamon buns, i will not take any icing. It’s a thing I have. You can of course ice them at your own discretion.

*or buns? I never know how to tell them apart!
** to my (working) parents defense, it wasn’t lunch, school only went ’til 1 om in Germany, so you would eat lunch at home).