Showing posts with label baking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label baking. Show all posts

26 March 2011

la pissaladière d’émilie

fri01a life without pajama days would not be much of a life.

not too many – but every now and then it is nice to wake up and have no reason to change into regular clothing.

so with a friday completely free, you decide to tackle some projects in your backlog of things to do. starting with a pissaladière.

fri01ba pissaladière? you’ve actually never heard of this either. but someone named émilie, someone you don’t know, emailed you the recipe more than a year ago. october 2009 to be exact. it’s now 2011, and how could you have forgotten to make her recipe? so on your pajama day, you bring out the onions, anchovies, and olives.

in short, a pissaladière is essentially a pizza… without cheese and without tomato sauce. from the south of france.

fri02first you will need to peel and slice onions. lots of them. get ready to wipe away those tears. caramelize them for about an hour over low heat. puree your anchovies over low heat as well, but definitely not for a whole hour. make your pizza dough and let it rest. then you just assemble them in layers.

fri03 roll out the dough.

spread the anchovy paste.

top with onions.

add olives.


fri04and eat.

you’re again reminded about how regional everything is in france, because when you ask your friends in normandy if they’ve ever tasted a pissaladière, all of them respond with a giant blank face. ? quoi? j’en connais pas, désolée.

emilie’s mother’s pissaladière, roughly translated

the dough
380 grams all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
15g buckwheat starter (? i couldn't find this so i used instant yeast and then 15g of buckwheat flour)
2 tbs olive oil
250 ml milk, room temperature

-mix the dry ingredients together, add the olive oil, and then the milk. use a food processor if you have one, but by hand works as well. let it rest, covered, for about an hour.

the onion topping
20 anchovy filets (save a few whole ones for decoration)
2.5 kg onions (i actually cut this down a lot. perhaps only 1 kg for me - i basically could only use an amount that would fit in my skillet. but then i also froze the leftover pizza dough.)
olive oil
black olives (to decorate)

-over low heat, heat the anchovies until you end up with an anchovy puree. set aside.
-peel and finely slice the onions.
-over low heat, slowly cook and caramelize the onions with the olive oil and a little bit of salt, but not too much as the anchovies are already salty. you should have another thick puree.

roll out the dough
cover with the anchovy puree
add the onions
then place the olives wherever you’d like. and even some whole anchovies for decoration if you remembered to save a few (i didn’)

bake in a 210C/410F oven for about 15-20 minutes

vachebut you don’t stay in your pajamas the whole day. once you’re finished with the pissaladière, you change, hop on your bike, and enjoy the signs of spring.

some bonus vocabulary:

vendredi / friday
vache / cow
vélo / bike
voie verte / literally "green lane,” any path or road dedicated to non-motorized vehicles only
vingt degrés / twenty degrees C, which is 68 F
vent / wind

16 March 2011

pink hands

pinkcaketoday you baked a pink cake. but you didn’t get to finish it until around midnight, where the sun was long gone and you didn’t want artificial lighting to ruin a photo of the cake.

you’re behind on the trends in the baking world, but apparently beets are the new carrots? better later than never.

right now you’re going to sleep.

tomorrow you’re going to eat the cake at work.

and then friday you’ll make another one – perhaps the same, perhaps not – earlier in the day so the sun will be around when you finish.

well, that’s the plan. but plans often change, don’t they?

14 December 2010


pearalmond01the photos are not-so-great.

but i don’t care because this dessert was genius.

it is pear bread and butter pudding.

however, the genius (and i wish i could take credit) is that you replace the bread with almond croissants from your favorite bakery.

so really it is pear and almond croissant pudding.

pearalmond02if you don’t feel like baking, you can stop here.

because placing a slice of a pear on top of an almond croissant is already very tasty.

pearalmond03however, if you want to have some more fun:

whisk together a mixture of 1 egg, 4 egg whites, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and 3 tablespoons of sugar.

bring 500ml of milk and 500ml of cream together to a boil and add it to the above mix.

pour it over a casserole filled with sliced almond croissants and pears.

bake in a 180C oven for about 45 min.

pearalmond04and eat. preferably hot from the oven. with vanilla ice cream. and lots of people to share it with. on a snowy and cold day.

source = niki segnit, the flavour thesaurus, page 273.

16 September 2010

les macawrongs

i am back. there is news. but let me first get these macawrongs from two weeks ago out of the way. what are macawrongs, you ask? simply, macarons that go wrong.

i finally decided to visit some the books i bought while in france, and decided to try the macarons from amiens.

macaron is basically any cookie that is meringue based. while the hamburger shaped ones from paris are the most famous, there are tons and tons of variations scattered throughout france that don’t resemble their parisian relative. one case is the one from amiens, which is a hockey puck shaped sticky goody.

mac01a simple recipe, from les <<ficelles>> de la cuisine picardie by michel françois.


150g powdered almonds

250g sugar

50g honey

3-4 drops vanilla extract

2 egg whites

1 tbs apricot or apple jam

Begin by mixing the almonds, sugar, honey, and vanilla. Add the egg whites. Add the jam, and let the mixture rest about 6 hours in the refrigerator.

mac02 roll out the dough to a 5cm diameter log, then slice them about 2cm thick.

as you can see i didn’t do that, because i just rolled them by hand.

mac03after that, you bake them in a 180C/350F oven.

and to my sadness, my macarons deflated. they became cookie shaped instead of macaron d’amiens shaped.

perhaps i should have chilled the dough. or maybe i really should have rolled out a log and sliced. or maybe i did something wrong with those egg whites. i really won’t know the exact reason until i try again.

mac06but, regardless of shape, i did do the last step correctly: wrap them in foil. i’m not sure if the foil is tradition or if there is a reason why they conserve better in foil… but in any case, this step is hard to mess up!

15 June 2010

my summer in texas

hose01i’ve got a 9-5 office job. (don’t worry, it’s temporary and only until the end of august.) you might think that is the reason why it’s been a bit empty here recently. but that would be the last reason.

here are some reasons. definitely not all.

clafoutis as normal, i’ve been baking and and cooking as crazy. at least 2 loaves of bread each week, and 2 types of dessert, a different lunch salad each day, farmer’s market experimentations… i just do it so often that it’s become a daily habit instead of a special occasion where i’d document all the steps and write detailed notes and then blog about it.

i’m very happy that cooking/baking is now a natural thing that just happens rather than my old style of studying a recipe for hours and making sure all the ingredients are correct and all the steps are followed and then writing detailed notes and blogging about it later. i just go with how i feel. and eat. and enjoy. and blogging is the last thing on my mind. don’t worry, there will be some exceptions later on. for the more special stuff :)

roadalso lots of roadtripping. to visit people i like very much in various texas cities. as well as exploring the best swimming spots in texas.

and i’ve begun rock climbing. but no photos of that. yet.

typeanother reason why there might be less activity here is because i’ve been typing with a typewriter that i saved from a mountain of dust buried in my house. typing letters to friends. and then squeezing as many stamps as possible onto an envelope and mailing them. so the typewriter has reduced my urge to use the laptop keyboard.

hose02and then i watched atonement. which features heavily a typewriter. perfect timing. but even more perfect, i found a rumor in imdb that they used a piece of pantyhose stretched over the camera lens to give the film a hazy look. bingo. i dig up an old pair – and it’s giving me some dreamy photos. and it’s spinning off: i want to try lace and tuile, ribbons and buttons – there’s all sorts of things one can stick in front of a lens.

reminds me of when i tried making photos with a sheet of gelatin or when i played with some 3d glasses. unfortunately i lost that precious little sheet.

gotti was very close to buying a holga or diana or blackbird fly toy plastic camera. but something just felt very wrong. and i didn’t know why. for weeks i wondered what was stopping me from clicking on “buy” on amazon.

then i realized it: for the amount of money i spent on a remake of a toy camera, i could get original vintage cameras instead. it just didn’t feel right for spending more on something that wasn’t even the original.

and so with craigslist, i found a collector downsizing his collection. and now i’ve got three new toys. a gorgeous fold out camera. a british viewfinder. and the most important: a twins reflex. but not just any twins reflex. one that was made for sears in america, but made in göttingen in germany.

and you’ll find out why that is important later.

(but if you’d like a hint, you can go here.)

05 June 2010

europain & intersuc - le salon mondial de la boulangerie, pâtisserie, glacerie, chocolaterie, confiserie

europain01it certainly looks delicious, doesn’t it? but you can’t eat it. not even if you could afford it – because it’s display only! for europain 2010, an international gathering of all things bakery, pastry, ice-cream, and confectionary related. in other words, things i love.

five days, eighty thousand square meters of space, six hundred and fifty exhibitors… and two very happy north americans.

being that it was held in paris, and that i lived one hour away from paris, there was no possible way i was not going to go. so with a pass given to me from a certain boulangerie in evreux, i was able to enter and look at the other side of the bakery world. not for the consumer, but for the professional.

europain08there was bread. bread demonstrations. bread baskets. mostly from flour companies.

europain09chocolate products for chocolatiers of all sorts. the usual demonstration as well as all sorts of materials and products being showcased. the mysteries of how chocolatiers get that “ooooo” response from customers was all unlocked here. i saw their secrets!

a fun subtle detail: for the uniform of a chef/patissier/boulanger/etc, the collar is usually white. but sometimes, it will have stripes with the colors of france. the only people who can wear those stripes are people who have been awarded the meilleur ouvrier title, which is a stringent competition for a wide range of skilled crafts held each year. and the prestige that comes with it is high high high! so when you see that striped collar, you know that person has made something of impeccable quality.

europain11pastry making on an industrial scale. and the equipment used to do it. an interesting contrast from the salon de l’agriculture a week earlier, where the goal was to promote the artisanal handmade local product.

speaking of contrast – i noticed a lot of vendors for frozen products touting how they were as good as fresh. so keep in mind that unless a bakery or shop you’re visiting has the actual word “boulangerie,” chances are it might be frozen… something we don’t like to believe when we’re buying food, but it’s definitely a common practice.

europain10and why weren’t any of these pastries for sale? i took me a few minutes as well. because what’s being sold isn’t the pastry – but the display case/refrigeration system. and obviously if they are empty then they don’t look as nice.

europain02a display stand of bread. but again, that isn’t the real product. the real product is the flour used to make the bread – note the little wheat stalks. after all, bags of flour aren’t very attractive – actual loaves of bread are what really draw people in.

europain03and… empty tables. with bottles of water. and country flags. and placeholders. hmm… logic tells me… it’s the judge’s table!

europain04competition time. not only was europain a gathering of people in the industry, it was also the site of a bread baking, patisserie, and sugar art competition.

europaintablettefor the artistic piece part of the bread competition, competitors had to create bread tablets representing 12 months of their country. the other two divisions were bread and viennese pastries.

europain05that is a face of concentration.

europain13once finished, they have to present their breads to the judges. as well as decorate one side of an eiffel tower. so by the time europain is over, there will be a mini tower of bread from all the competitors.

this is the best part because they take it so seriously – olympic opening ceremony style music  blaring , trilingual announcements, and people crowding the ropes to support their favorite baker as well as hoping for a taste, if you can imagine.

(in case you’re curious, for the bread part of the competition, they had to make a baguette, a sandwich loaf, a loaf typical of their country, some more types of loaves, as well as an improved bread from a basket of random ingredients. in only one day.)

europain06judges over at the dessert competition waiting to start

europain07a judge being served. they just nibble, write down some comments, and the dessert is whisked away… to the trash? to the servers? who knows! and then a new dessert is quickly brought out for them to nibble and repeat.

europain12you also have packaging vendors. ribbons, boxes, stickers, etc. because presentation is key when you have a lovely dessert!

europain15a sugar fish demo was also going on.  

europain14and at the end of it all, back on the RER, back on the corail, and then back in evreux.

i saw a lot. learned a lot. ate a lot, as usual. but the most striking thing to me was simply seeing the commercial side. before, i was a bit naive and really did believe all the romantic notions of the baker and his bread…. but after seeing frozen doughs, mixes, premade fillings, etc., i definitely have a more realistic view of how the bakery world functions.

but regardless, i’m even more in love with bread and pastries after this show.

01 April 2010

what’s your favorite fruit?

if i ever ask you this question:

what’s your favorite fruit?

you can be pretty sure something this will soon follow:latartesuch as a: chocolate passion fruit ganache tart topped with pineapples roasted in a banana caramel sauce as well as roasted strawberries in balsamic vinegar

i just love finding out what people love, and then making something derived from what they tell me.

as for the french title…

my translation attempt: pâte sucrée avec une ganache à la fruit de la passion, des ananas rôtis au sauce caramel banane, et des fraises rôtis à la vinaigre balsamique

translation correction #1 by a french friend: OMGWTFBBQ AWESOME PIE

translation correction #2 by same french friend: pâte sucrée garnie d'une ganache aux fruits de la passion, d'ananas rôtis à la sauce caramel banane, et de fraises rôties au vinaigre balsamique

my oral skills may have sky rocketed (although that pesky french r still trips me up), but my writing has remained stagnant, as seen by the correction.

tart the recipe is adapted from foodbeam.

You’ll have to decide what order to do things. For me, it was best to line the tart pans and bake them. Then make the caramel sauce for the pineapples. Then roast the pineapples. Then make the ganache. Then roast the strawberries. But everything was a blur, because perhaps i was slicing strawberries when i was waiting for the chocolate to melt, or dicing butter as the sugar was melting into a thick caramel… you’ll find your rhythm, no worries.


1 sweet tart crust

roasted pineapples

  • 125g sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 220ml water
  • 1/2 mashed banana
  • 1 pineapple, peeled and diced

passion fruit ganache

  • 10 passion fruits
  • 400g milk chocolate, melted
  • 80g butter, diced and at room temperature
  • 300g heavy cream

roasted strawberries

  • 1000g strawberries
  • 4tbs raw sugar
  • 2tbs balsamic vinegar

for the pineapples: caramelize the sugar in a pan over medium heat. then slice open the vanilla bean, scrape out the seeds and dump the entire thing into the caramel. make sure to keep stirring so nothing burns. then quickly add your 220ml of water and step back as quickly as possible so hot caramel doesn’t splash onto you. bring it to a boil, remove it from the heat, and then add in your mashed banana. mix it all together, pour it into a container, let it cool, and dip your pinky in for a quick taste. you can make it a day ahead and store it in your fridge. or use it right away. in any case, when you’re ready, roast your diced pineapple pieces with this caramel banana sauce in a 350F/180C oven for about 40 minutes. once that’s done, let it cool in a container in your fridge.

for the ganache: cut open your passion fruits and scrape out the insides over a sieve and press out as much juice as possible. but don’t trash the pulp. you can eat it, seeds and all, or you can save it for something else. place it into a saucepan, bring it to a boil, and then pour it over your melted chocolate. once the mixture has reached 40C, stir in your diced butter until it has all melted and there are no more butter chunks. then pour in your heavy cream and stir it together. then pour this tangy chocolate mixture into your tart shells and let them set up in the fridge.

for the strawberries:  slice your strawberries in half. in a large bowl, toss them with raw sugar and the balsamic vinegar. spread this mixture out in a cake pan (make sure there are walls!) and roast in a 350F/180C oven for about 40 minutes. it will be quite juicy so strain the juice out from the solids. don’t trash the juice – you can easily make anything with it, or if you are lazy like me, add in the passion fruit pulp that wasn’t used, buy some vanilla ice cream, and pour the strawberry balsamic vinegar passion fruit sauce over it for a simple but tasty dessert.

tart2the last step is just bringing it all together. arrange the pineapples and strawberries on top of your passion fruit ganache filled tart shells right before serving. and eat.

so in conclusion, if i am asking you for your favorite fruit… or favorite cheese… or favorite anything, there’s usually a very tasty motive not too far behind.

01 March 2010

a glimpse into my checklist

my to do list

find a good bakery

write a french cv

write a french cover letter


earlywake up at 5:45am and go into town when it’s empty

make pastries in a french bakery

i’m not getting paid, nor do i care to. just being able to be in a french bakery and getting hands on experience is good enough. so far this is just a two day thing, but that’s more than enough for me. i’m so happy to be on the other side of the beautiful bakery windows in france – the side where all the magic happens!

25 January 2010


quichei love the idea of 3x1. as in, three things, but one of each.

for example, this quiche:

one meat (chicken). one vegetable (mâche). one cheese (brebis)

mix01or this granola:

one nut (cashew). one fruit (raisins). one sweetener (maple syrup)

it keeps me from going overboard. otherwise, i just want to add and mix everything because i love it all. but this way, your taste buds aren’t overwhelmed and you can really appreciate the combinations.

also, i am somewhat forced to keep things simple. not having a kitchen changed my relationship with food. before i’d do things that were complicated, took tons of space, required lots of equipment, and were time intensive… but now, i aim for the easiest but also tastiest. and versatile. but don’t you worry, i’ll go back to making puff pastry and layered cakes and macarons and other things like that this summer!


For the quiche, it’s my usual recipe of a 1 egg : 100ml heavy cream ratio poured over ingredients scattered on a prebaked savory crust, then put back in a 180C/350F oven for 50ish minutes until done.


For the granola, i used a recipe inspired from here:

300g oats / flocons d’avoine

100g wheat flakes/ pétales au son de blé

320g cashews / noix de cajou

75g brown sugar / cassonade

50g sunflower oil / huile de tournesol

200g maple syrup / sirop d’erable

400g raisins / raisin sec

1. in a large bowl, mix together the oats, wheat flakes, cashews, and sugar.

2. then pour the sunflower oil and maple syrup into the mixture and stir it all together.

3. spread the mixture out on a lined baking sheet and bake at 150C/300F for about 40 minutes. stir it occasionally so it bakes evenly.

4. remove from the oven, let it cool, and mix in your raisins.

voila! simple. but vanishes quickly… very quickly.

18 December 2009

pear and speculoos tart

peartart01mmmm. hello there. in october i bought a cooking magazine, saveurs. it wasn’t until december that i finally made something from it.

so, i’d like you to meet tarte aux poires et speculoos.

peartart03this tart was supposed to have mirabelles (the little yellow plums) in it, but since i live in a place where things out of season are actually difficult to find, i decided to go with what was in season and plentiful: the pear.

and speculoos? what’s that? up here in france and belgium, it’s a thin and crispy spice cookie (usually embossed with gorgeous designs from a wooden mold) that is traditionally eaten for st. nicholas on dec 6th. but due to its tastiness you can find variations of it all year round by different manufactures. the key thing about this cookie is cinnamon and brown sugar. more info about this cookie, its origins, and recipes can be found here and here and here.

then you take this delicious cookie and you mix it with some creamy goodness known as ricotta cheese to form a heavenly base for your pears.

peartart07 ingredients:

1 sweet tart dough

100g speculoos cookies, crushed*

100g ricotta cheese

1 egg

4 pears, or however many you need

40g sugar

*and if you don’t live in europe, just use any cinnamon or spiced cookie that you like.

recipe by delphine brunet, adapted from p. 43 of the october 2009 issue of saveurs

peartart04preheat your oven to 190C/375F

line your tart pan with the dough.

peel your pears. cut them in half. sprinkle them with the sugar in a bowl and set them aside.

mix the crushed speculoos cookies with the ricotta. then add the egg and keep on mixing. spread this mixture on top of the dough in the tart pan to form a nice even layer.

peartart05arrange the pears on your tart however you like so it visually pleases you.

bake for about 40 minutes, then eat away!

peartart06 just leaving you with the lovely profile view!

14 December 2009

i went to lyon for the lights but i came back with something sugary and red.

rosethis past weekend, i spent some good quality time with my best friend: the oven. we hadn’t hung out in over a month and i was just not feeling right.

soon, you’ll be able to meet all the new friends i made:

mango avocado pizza

pear and speculoos tart

cashew maple syrup golden raisin granola

spiced trail mix

but for right now, you get to meet tarte aux pralines roses.

lyon06 it started with my trip to lyon. i was enamored with all the specks of red i was seeing everywhere. the bikes, the flag, the lights, but most of all… the pralines roses that were in all the tarts, croissants, brioches, madeleines… every patisserie in lyon had something with these pralines, and i was on a tasting mission.

praline01a praline is simply a nut coated in sugar. and according to this blog, there are 3 types of pralines. 1. the brown one that is the most common. 2. the filling used in belgian chocolates. and last but not least 3. the pink praline, which unlike the brown, does not have the sugar caramelized* and has a very bumpy appearance. and while we’re at it, we can also add 4. american southern praline, which has cream added, and usually features pecans rather than almonds.

*but i am a little confused, because the book i have says the sugar is caramelized… so i don’t know who to believe… ?

rose02my original idea was to buy a pink praline tart to bring back and share with my friends, but:

1. that’s expensive

2. it wouldn’t be fresh since i’d have bought it the morning before.

3. the idea of navigating a 5 hour car ride + paris + train with a delicate tart terrifies me.

4. i could just buy the pralines in a pretty sachet and make it myself.

5. and that would give me an excuse to buy a book…

leshallwhich is exactly what i did. say hello to les halles de lyon by sonia ezgulian, jean-françois mesplède, and emmanuel auger.  i fell in love with a book that collected recipes from people who work in a market devoted only to regional and local products. and there are hints of their handwriting which makes the book so much more personal.

and on page 99, i found my recipe – with no photo, so the form was up to my imagination.

let’s get baking, shall we?

praline02 Ingredients:

1 sweet pie/tart dough

Part 1:

80g heavy cream

80g crushed pralines roses

Part 2:

50g soft butter

50g powdered sugar

2 egg yolks

125g all-purpose flour

pinch of salt

Part 3:

200g heavy cream

Part 4:

some more crushed pralines to decorate

Recipe from Bernard Mariller from les halles de lyon p. 99

praline03line your tart pan with your tart dough.

for part 1, bring 80g of heavy cream to a boil and then stir in 80g of the crushed pralines. stir vigorously so it doesn’t burn, and continue for a few minutes so it’s a bit thicker and not too runny. then set it aside and let it cool. (and worse to worse, if it is too thick, just reheat and add more cream, or if its too runny, just reheat and stir a bit longer to let the liquid evaporate. in the end you’ll be mixing this with some whipped cream.)

for part 2, cream your 50g of softened butter and then mix in 50g of powdered sugar as well as your 2 egg yolks. once all together, add in your 125g of flour and the pinch of salt. for me, the mixture was very crumbly, and i have no idea if that’s the way it was supposed to be, but it tasted fine so oh well! line your tart pan with this mixture, and bake in a 200C oven for 15 minutes.

for part 3, whisk your heavy cream into some thick whipped cream and then gently add in the cooked praline cream mix from part 1. you’ll have a most delicious whipped cream that will be hard to stop stealing licks from…

once your tart has spent 15 minutes in the oven for part 2, take it out and let it cool for a bit, then spread the whipped cream mix on top.

put the almost finished tart in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to let it cool.

and finally, for part 4, sprinkle with the crushed pralines and eat!

praline04mmm. if i don’t bake, i feel very unbalanced. so now, i’m back to normal!

ps, i can’t even buy those pralines here in normandy… i have to go to lyon. so i can’t even imagine how i would get them in america. it’s amazing how truly regional things are here in france. which only makes them more special!