Happy Birthday!

January 6, 2009
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Happy new year, gentle readers I know it’s been awfully quiet here in the past little while and I know you are all tired of hearing my lame excuses (but, I’ve moved houses, with three kids and also I’m tired and I work full-time and did I mention the three kids?) and sorry offers of I-O-U’s(uhm, a recipe? for christmas? Who was I kidding really?).
So this is why today, despite of the cold weather and all the other lame excuses (tired – check, three kids – check, cold – check) I am making a special effort to not be lame and not complain because today, you see, is my grandmother’s birthday and the 1st anniversary of this little blog.

And to celebrate my grandmothers birthday, the one year of my blog and the return of my eldest who spent 10 days in France with his grandparents (must.not.complain.about.how.hard.that.was.), I went and whipped up a batch of puff pastry / pâte feuilletée over the weekend, while following the fabulous tutorial by the lovely Ashley over at Artisan Sweets, complete with a supercool video.
I had it in mind to make a galettes des rois, the traditional french desserts eaten on the 6th of January, the day of the Epiphany, which is the day the three kings (les rois mages, one of which my son is named after) came to pay their dues to the child born a few weeks earlier. I was also hoping that posting a proper recipe would induce an epiphany of my own, bloggingwise, but that remains to be seen.

This particular traditional dessert (Us French seem to have a traditional dessert for pretty much any occasion, or is it just me?) is a puff pastry ‘pie’, as my husband would say, he who calls everything a pie, that is filled with a buttery almond cream in which you hide a porcelain token. The person who gets the token is named the queen or king of the night. The slices are given out at random by the youngest child who sits under the table and tells whoever is serving the cake whom to give each slice to. Our son had a ball sitting under the table and was slightly disappointed that the token didn’t appear until his father and I had eaten our way into the second round.

We had made just enough for a small galette for the three of us and it’s only after I ate the greater part of it that I realised that today marks one year of 13desserts. It’s been a great year for me and I really enjoy posting here (despite evidence to the contrary in the past months!) as well as being more than a mere spectator on the other blogs I read. Comments always make me happy, so don’t feel shy, tell me what you think! Here’s to my grandmother’s health and another year of this!

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Galette des Rois

Adapted from ELLE à table

prep time: 45min, rising time: 2h total, baking time 25 min
mixing bowl, dough hooks, rolling pin, parchment paper

for the pâte feuilletée

390 g flour
1-1/2 tsp salt
90 g unsalted butter, cold
210 ml cold water
300 g unsalted butter, softened

for the filling

60 g softened butter
60 g of confectioners sugar
60 g blanched, ground almond (you could substitute pistachios or hazelnuts if you realy wanted)
2 eggs, lightly beaten

I wouldn’t really like to paraphrase Ashleys tutorial, so please go check out the post and the video on how to make puff pastry. I made mine up to the last turn, divided it into three equal parts, wrapped those tightly in clingfoil and stuck them in the freezer. One of these parts (each weight about 300 g) was enough to make a galette for 4 -6 people.

When your puff pastry is done and waiting for you to use it, preheat your oven to 190° and make the filling.

In a mxing bowl (or, say, your brand new kitchenaid fitted with the paddle attachment), cream together the butter, almonds and sugar.
Whisk the eggs together. Reserve a generous tablespoon of the eggmix to brush onto the galette and incorporate the rest to the butter-almond cream.

Roll out your dough into two circles of equal size. Spread the almond cream onto one, leaving a 1 cm edge. Brush this edge with water, place the token (you can use an almond or a button instead of the porcelain figurine) inside and cover with the second dough-circle. Press down and slightly crimp the edges to seal. Poke a little hole in the top to allow the steam to escape and make pretty patterns with your knife to decorate ( I obviously skipped the part about the patterns having to be pretty). Brush with the reserved tablespoon of eggwash.

Bake until golden, for about 20 min, serve warm or cold.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes!

December 20, 2008

People, since I have last spoken, a number of things have changed in my life. Within the last 10 days, I have turned 30, changed apartment (bigger, so much better and incredibly located) and acquired something I never dreamed I would own.

The move was ridiculously awful, and if you ever find yourself in a position to wonder wether you should move before or after you have three children, I urge you to do it before! Our kitchen ended up not being done on time, so we ate pasta pretty much everyday for about a week, until my sister came and saved us with champagne, good spirits and delicious sushis.

My birthday itself was not so fun, despite the fact that I absolutely don’t mind being thirty. In fact I have to admit I find it very chic (not sure when the novelty will wear off, though!). On the actual day, we went to ikea, a big box hardware store and took a stressful trip to our new local supermarket which is packed, this time of year and sells food at prices that boggle the mind. So it was a pretty normal day for a move but rather not so cool as a birthday.
The evening got better, as we had a dinner amidst boxes with some delicious cakes, our friend brought some candles for me to blow out, and I got some lovely gifts – one mostly, gifted by my parents who took their cue from my obsession of wanting a gift that would last and mark the birthday:

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And isn’t the color gorgeous? It looks so pretty in my shiny new white kitchen, I keep wanting to touch it and turn on the motor just to hear the lovely purring-sound it makes! I haven’t yet gotten around to using it, nor have I tried my shiny new oven. In fact, right now is the first ‘free time’ I have in about a month and I’ve felt so bad about neglecting the blog, that i thought I ought to give some news.
The stressful times are mostly behind us now, and we can focus on the good parts about moving, explore our new neighbourhood, enjoy our big and beautiful new kitchen and it’s shiny appliances and enjoy the view from our balcony.

Tomorrow we leave for my parents house were we will be celebrating Christmas. I’m pretty sure there will be cooking and baking, and I promise the next post will be a bona fide recipe+photo post.
For now, I will leave you with my best wishes for Christmas, I hope your year ends with as many great changes as mine did!

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”!