Sunday, July 28, 2013

Honey Madeleines with Chocolate Coating

Those who started worrying that I would keep walking the savoury road for too long, here you go with a new lovely sweet recipe. This time, changing the usual vanilla madeleine into a honey madeleine with chocolate coating. The idea came yesterday night when I was walking in town and came across the tiny little madeleine shop of Lea Linster. Some of my compatriots  might be shocked hearing that I never ever tried the original Lea Linster Madeleine. They're said the best in the country. I should go and find out. My friend Anne, who also prepared the Homemade Eclairs with me once succeeded in preparing them, and they were delicious.

My personal madeleine-baking experience is already much fun. When the little madeleines were in the oven I didn't stop looking at them and when the little top started crackling a bit, just like the originals, I felt an enormous success. You see, I don't need much to be happy. The reason I was so impressed is because madeleines are always said to be difficult to bake. Not in terms of preparation and not in terms of complicated dough, but more in terms of taste. That you have the right vanilla note, a nice texture etc...

I have some memories of grand-dad making madeleines but unfortunately I don't remember the taste anymore. Proust would be disappointed! I don't know how much you like literature, and most of you are more here for the recipe than for the story, but I still want to place the extract of the book :

"No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory – this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me. ... Whence did it come? What did it mean? How could I seize and apprehend it? ... And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before mass), when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom, my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane. The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it. And all from my cup of tea."

For 20 Madeleines you need:

90g butter
2 large eggs
125g honey
170g flour
4cl milk
1tsp baking powder
200 dark chocolate

Melt the butter in a saucepan in order to get a more intense flavor.

In a large bowl whisk together the honey and the eggs, then add the milk. In a much smaller bowl mix the flour and the baking powder then add the dry mix to the liquid one. Now add stepwise the liquid butter until you get a foamy mixture.

Preparing your madeleines you have two choices. Either you keep the batter one night in the fridge, or if you're impatient like me, immediately pour the dough into the little madeleines' molds. I tried the two versions and I must admit that I don't really taste the difference. Maybe the latter version is a little less compact.

In any case preheat the oven to 200°. Bake the madeleines for 5 minutes than switch the oven to 180° and bake for another 5-7 minutes. Get the madeleines out of the oven and place them on a cooling tray.

While the madeleines are cooling down, prepare the chocolate coating. Melt the chocolate bain-marie style and coat the little madeleines afterwards. This is a much trickier duty. Be careful that your madeleines don't fall into your bowl full of melted chocolate.  Quickly dip the madeleine into the chocolate. Then with a knife spread the chocolate regularly over the bottom.

Let the chocolate coat dry for one or two hours in a cold room before serving.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Italian Pasta Salad

Summer has arrived and seems to stay for a bit. Summertime is Picnic-time and in this spirit I prepared an Italian pasta salad last Saturday. I love picnicking. Last weekend, when we organised an excursion to the north of the country -  and yes, even in a tiny country like Luxembourg we plan our excursions to the north of the country - I had this pasta salad in mind I ate around 5 years ago. This seems to happen to me more and more. I feel like getting old. Every time I have an idea, I have childhood or teenage memories coming along, and then I think - well you're not that old. 

Back to the pasta salad. I was once invited to a barbecue party, and someone, I don't even remember who, prepared that brilliant Italian pasta salad. What I most remember was the combination of dried tomatoes, basil and mozzarella and of course the coppa. Usually I am a huge fan of salad dressings, but for this salad, I preferred to only use best quality olive oil. I always have a good bottle of olive oil in my cupboard. Sometimes I would just dip my fresh baguette into some olive oil and enjoy it as one served me a delicious meal. 

With some of my friends we are currently planning another picnic session in the upcoming weeks. My decision has already been taken. I will bring the pasta salad. Even if most of my friends will rather expect me to bring a nice desert, my preference is definitely lying in bringing this salad. I hope this won't be too much of a disappointment. 

Well, from our side, my lovely kitchen assistant and myself were happy about the result but we were not the only ones. I mean I am usually preparing things that I like, but it's difficult to judge if it's a real success. So I always seek feedback. This time, I offered 4 portions to my parents and after having a first try, my mother invited the neighbors over for lunch. According to their comments, they would like to be invited again, for the same salad. I think - this is a satisfying statement.

For 4 servings you need:

350g pasta of your choice
300g cherry tomatoes
1 big red onion
12 dried tomatoes
5 slices coppa
120g mini mozzarella balls
50 g Parmesan
25g rocket salad
4 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper


Boil the pasta al dente.

Wash the cherry tomatoes and cut them into quarters. Peel and cut the onion into little cubes, cut the coppa and the dried tomatoes into thin slices. Then wash the rocket & the basil leaves.

Once your pasta is al dente, let it cool down. If you want to fasten the process just pour cold water on it. 

Now you can add all the ingredients into a large bowl. Add the 4 tbsp of olive oil and add the shavings of the Parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper according to your needs.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Onion Mustard Tart

I am back in the kitchen and this time with a savory tart. Those who are following me on Facebook, read about my little onion tart experience a while ago. I really do love onions and this tart definitely made my day. It is not too much work and you can play with the taste as much as you like. For instance the recipe indicates to use mustard. I used the standard mustard, but I have already decided that next time I’ll use a much spicier version. Because the sweetness of the onions combined with the spiciness of the mustard make a perfect match.

 What I especially like about this tart is that even it contains liquid cream and onions; it’s still not too heavy for a summer day. I was not sure if I shouldn’t go for a tomato mozzarella quiche or a tomato pesto pie, but in the end, my love for onions pushed me to give it a try. The little amount of cheese allows you to eat the tart cold as well.
For those who like to eat spicy, I suggest to use wasabi paste instead of mustard. I will definitely try this version as well. The wasabi paste is not a substitute for standard mustard, but for those who like it hot, they should try this version as well. I recently transformed an ordinary recipe with a wasabi touch, and the outcome was perfect. I will investigate on this part a little more, and come back to you with more options.

I was lucky; I had a great kitchen assistant this time. While I was taking care of the dough, my boyfriend was cutting the onions. The preparation of the tart/quiche is not that challenging, but I find it’s always more fun to cook together. So for the future, when I need a fast and efficient vegetable cutter I might ask for help again.

When it comes to preparing savory dishes I realized that I am much less patient before tasting, and this makes the whole food photography part much more difficult. Looking at a nice smelling treat and not being allowed to touch until the shooting is finished almost makes a torture out of the whole process. I figured that I should rather shoot what I will have for dinner straight after lunch, so the temptation is much smaller and the result of the photography obviously much better.

For around 6 servings you need:

For the dough:
150g flour
100g cold butter
4 tbsp cold water

For the filling:
25g butter
800g onions
3 tbsp mustard
3 eggs
125g sour cream
30g grated Parmesan


In order to prepare the dough, pour the flour   and a pinch of salt on the countertop. Cut the butter into little cubes and add it to the flour. Then start kneading it with your fingertips until you get crumbly dough. Dump the crumbs back on the countertop, mounded high like a mountain. Then at the top push and scrape out the flout until it looks like a volcano. Add the water to this well and knead the dough fairly quickly before forming a ball out of it. Wrap it into cling film and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes take the dough out of the refrigerator and roll it out. Shape it depending your base and transfer it to it. Now you shall cover the dough with baking paper and refrigerate it once more for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°

Take the base out of the fridge and bake for 10 minutes. Take the baking paper off the dough and bake again for 10 minutes until it gets golden brown.

Now you can start preparing the filling by chopping the onions first. Put the butter in your pan. Add the onions and cover them for 10 minutes. Uncover them and cook for another 10 minutes
Spread the baked dough with mustard. Add the onions.  In a middle-sized bowl whisk together the eggs and the cream. Pour this mix over the onions. Finally scatter the tart with the Parmesan.

Bake the tart for 40 minutes


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