Archive for the ‘basics’ Category

My Grandmother’s Clafoutis

April 26, 2009

Uhm. Hi. Yeah… I know. But, let’s not talk about it, mkay?

Instead, let’s talk about SPRING! And Cake! and my Grandmother! This grandmother, to be exact. The one whose understanding of cooking and baking is close to mine, because it’s about making something very good very fast and with little effort. She is a true homecook and has herself spawned a few more homecooks in my mother and uncle and their children in turn aaaand before I scare you away with more genealogy, let’s get back to the mention of cake made at the beginning of the post.


One of the desserts my Grandmother used to make for us regularly, was a Clafoutis. The Clafoutis is a cross between a cake and a baked custard to which you add fresh fruits*. As a child we used to be a bit bummed when she made Clafoutis, because it seemed incredibly boring and plain, but now, come SPRING, I could practically make it all the time. It comes to together in seconds and bakes fast, too. You can eat it warm or cold. There really is nothing not to like about it!

My favourite way to make it is to use rhubarb (see also: SPRING!) and to add a teaspoonful of homemade vanilla extract**. The last time I made this, the five of us destroyed it in seconds: the two little ones were howling for more and J. just quietly ate one piece after another while L. and I tried hard to practice moderation. Our friend who was visiting was quickly given seconds before the whole thing vanished. That’s what it’s like at our house: eat it now or someone else will!


Rhubarb Clafoutis

Prep Time: 5 min cooking time: 35 min

4 stalks of rhubarb (just short of a kilo), peeled and chopped in trunks
3 eggs
6 Tbsp sugar
6 Tbsp flour
1 Tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1 tsp baking powder
200 ml cream
more sugar to sprinkle on the rhubarb

mixing bowl, wire whisk, 1 gratin dish (23 x 23 cm)


Preheat the oven to 190°.
Wash, peel and chop the rhubarb. Sprinkle with enough sugar to cover each stalk and set aside in the baking dish.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla. Add the flour, baking powder and cream whisking and mixing until well combined. Pour over the rhubarb and bake for 35 min or until set.
Enjoy warm or cold.

* Some fruits worth mentioning are cherries (please pit them, nothing more annoying than pits keeping you from scarfing down enjoying your delicious dessert), tiny yellow plums, apricots, anything really! Some people are partial to apples in a Clafoutis, personally i’m not a big fan but go ahead and try it out for yourself.

** go make this, right now. it’s really easy and the results are spectacular, especially if you use good vanilla, as I did. Come to think of it, I used vanilla sent to me by my grandmother!

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.


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.


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”!

A good soup

October 26, 2008

I was going to get all economic-crisis-y on you with this particular recipe, but then I realised that the only reason to post this recipe is because it’s damn good.

Let me take a few steps back to explain what this is all about:

The soup shown here is made from turnip greens — something you wouldn’t normally think of using in that way, since it’s what one would generally consider waste or would feed to rabbits (if you had one); but growing up, we often had a soup made with the greens from radishes, and it was one of my favourites. Also, with the whole economic crises thing, I was thinking waste-not-want-not kind of food — though I have sometimes bought radishes just for the purpose of making the soup, discarding the actual radishes in the process (humhum, waste not what?!).

Anyway this weekend was the first time I made this soup with this particular ingredient and I am happy to report that it was equally as delicious as my memory of it with radish greens. The flavor is really delicate, nutty, and somewhat green close in taste to watercress soup. Plus I find the color really refreshing and spring-like. So, go get yourselves some turnips w greens or some radished and give this a try!

P.S. I don’t plan to throw out the turnip tops, though, because I really like them steamed, or in a soup, or with chickpeas and raz-el-hanout in a couscous…


Turnip Green Soup

Prep Time: 5 min cooking time: 15 min
1 medium sized saucepan / stockpot, blender

1 bunch of turnip leaves (about 4 cups), washed
4 medium sized potatoes
1 bay leaf
about 4 cups water
salt and pepper, to taste

Peel and roughly chop the potatoes.
Put them in a saucepan together with the bayleave. Cover with cold water (2 cups should be enough),bring to a boil and cook on medium heat until just tender (about 10 min).
While the potatoes are cooking, wash the turnip greens in a lot of water. Add them, still wet, in to the saucepan with the now softened potatoes and leave the greens to wilt and slightly cook (5 more min).
Take the saucepan of the heat and thoroughly blend the whole thing together, making sure that there are no remaining chunks or stringy bits. You can add more water to adjust the consisteny, I ended up using about 4 cups. Season with salt an pepper and serve with toasted bread and creme fraiche.