Autumn cooking extravaganza and wild mushrooms crostinis

November 12th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

What a great autumnal weekend! what have you guys been doing?

I just had the most perfect saturday with a group of friends… strolling on the market for mushrooms, old roots, game and orchard fruit before hitting the wine shop and getting back to the kitchen to cook and enjoy a lavish feast together!
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‘Lekker’* news and a sweet taste of Quirky Provence

August 17th, 2011 § 3 comments § permalink

Culi-shoot Margriet - Behind the scenes

So much things to share, so little time…

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Quirky Provence dinner by la gourmande

August 2nd, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

I’m so excited…

Guess who’s gonna be guest chef at the trendy Quirky cafe this friday in the Hague?

» Read the rest of this entry «

In the Bag: My mini halloween pumpkin puppets

October 31st, 2008 § 2 comments § permalink

Halloween hadn’t really reached France when I was a kid. That might explain that I never really got so enthusiastic about the whole thing even now that Halloween is taking over Europe. However, as a gourmande, there’s one thing I love about Halloween… 
I love pumpkin in all its edible forms (especially soup!) and thanks to Halloween I can indulge myself in a one month pumpkin cure every october!

Talking about pumpkin, it’s the main theme of Julia’s ‘In the Bag Event’ this month. It’s a long while since I had the occasion to participate, but I definitely cannot pass on this one. Unfortunately, I’m nothing of a pumpkin carver and there will be no scary carved pumpkin in my bag but I’m sure Julia won’t complain with what I made up instead.  

In honour of Julia’s In the Bag event and of those who brought Halloween and its pumpkins to me, I’ve improvised some mini-mini muffins with roasted pumpkin and hazelnuts and tiny little pieces of dried apricots. Now, I’m not sure they will scare many of you, but I doubt you can resist them…

My Halloween Pumpkin Puppets
And let me present you with my not so scary mini halloween pumpkin muffins puppets!

So, what will it be for you: trick or treat…

Happy Halloween to you all, happy pumpkin day!

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Tasty tools: my kitchen grater

March 16th, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink

I’m back from skiing! …in one piece, with a finally fading mustle ache, bruises on my sheens (damn ski shoes! why can’t we ski in slippers) and a lovely goggle-sun-tan. I loved it!
Yet, after one week in a foreign kitchen, it feels great to get back to my own kitchen with my sharp cooking knives, my fast heating oven, my well sized pans, my tons of spices, my home grown herbs… and my kitchen grater! Well, didn’t really missed that one as I took it with me skiing… and no, I’m not kidding. Next time I’ll also bring my vegetable peeler!

 Tarte au citron (2)
My favourite kitchen grater! not really a fancy microplane grater, but my best friend when it comes to grating lemon zest, nutmeg and parmeggiano without grating my nails along.
I use a small knife or a cocktail pricker to get out what’s left on the grater after hand. 

After 1 week skiing, après-skiing, cooking and feasting on local cheese, ham and potato dishes and local wines out Savoie, the holidays ended yesterday with two hours running around my favourite french supermarkt followed by 10 hours driving: I’m glad to have found my kitchen back, but I’m gonna take a short weekend break before I start cooking again. In the mean time, I’ve spent my sunday seeping tea in my pj’s, looking around what I missed on the foodblogging world last week and found out about Joelen’s ‘Tasty tools blogging event’ on her food blog Joelen’s culinary adventures.  The perfect occasion to praise my kitchen grater for supporting me bravely on my holidays and catch-up on my blogging delays with a ‘grown-up’ lemon tart I made for a dinner with friends about three weeks ago. I’ve promised my friends the recipe but couldn’t get to it before the holidays (Antonio, may I ask for the recipe of your delicious empanadas now?). For once, I had left aside my lazyness and my ready to use puff pastry rolls, made the dough from scratch (scroll down for the dough recipe and some insight on the baking blind technique) and used the classic french cuisine technique for the lemon tart (without the meringue though), hence the ‘grown-up’. Don’t be scared, it’s more easy than I make it sound… and so rewarding: the tingling of the lemon on your tongue, balanced with the sweet pastry, almost melting in your mouth.

Tarte au citron (1)

French style lemon tart
Tarte au citron

serves 4 to 6 pers.
prep: 20 min. cook: 15 min

250 g pate sucrée (see recipe below) or shortcrust dough,
2 1/5 lemons (juice and zest grated with your favourite kitchen grater),

1/2 tsp salt,
2 eggs,
70 g sugar (or more if you’d like it sweeter),
50 g butter, melted and slightly cooled,
1 tsp cornstarch (Maizena), diluted in 2 tsp water.

Preheat your oven at 180 deg C*. Prepare your tart shell in a buttered 22 cm tart mold and bake blind (see below the dough recipe for instructions) for 15 minutes at 180 deg C*. In the mean time, mix together the eggs, the sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, the maizena and the melted butter. Whisk well until all ingredients are well binded together. When the pie shell is ready, pour the mixture in the shell and bake for an additional 15 min at 180 deg C*. Leave to cool on on pastry rack. Keep in the refrigerator until service.

Bon appétit!

Pate sucrée (sweet dough) with hazelnuts
Pâte sucrée aux noisettes

makes 500g (enough for two 22 cm Æ tart shells).
prep: 15 min. rest: 1 hr

210g all purpose flour, sifted,
50g icing sugar, sifted,
25g finely ground hazelnuts (or almonds for a traditionnal pate sucrée)
1 egg,
1 vanilla pod or 1/2 tsp powdered vanilla,
125 g butter, at room temperature,

1/2 tsp salt,

In a large bowl, beat the butter with a wooden spoon until fluffy. Then incorporate one by one: the icing sugar, hazelnuts, salt and vanilla, the egg and finally the flour tossing well until each ingredient is incorporated but without overworking it. Gather the dough together in a ball shape and cover with plastic foil. Refrigerate for at least one hour before use. 

Bon appétit!

Baking technique: baking blind
Technique: cuire à blanc

for one 22 cm Æ tart shell.
prep: 10 min. rest. 15 to 30 min. bake: 15 min.

For one 22cm tart mold:
2 Tsp flour,
1 small knob of butter,
250 g dough (pate sucrée, brisée or puff pastry), chilled,
baking foil,
pastry weights (I use small stones I picked up on the beach, dried beans are an excellent alternative too)


Baking blind (1)Baking blind (2)Baking blind (3)Baking blind (4)

Preheat the oven at 180 degC*. Lightly dust a clean and flat working surface with flour. Place the chilled ball of dough in the middle and lightly dust with flour. Bang out the dough a couple of times with the pastry roll to flaten it a bit. Roll the dough working from the center towards the outside, dusting frequently with flour to prevent sticking. Roll the dough into a 25 cm diameter. Butter your tart mold and sprinkle it with flour. Carefully fold a third of the dough on your pastry roll and lift into the tart mold fitting it into the sides and bottom. Prick the dough with a fork to prevent raising, cover with plastic foil and refrigerate for 15 minutes to half an hour. Remove the plastic foil and line the tart shell with baking or aliminum  foil and fill with pastry weights. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes at 180 deg C*. If you want the crust to brown a little, remove the foil and weights for the last 5 minutes.

Bon appétit!

* I always use the hot air option from my oven,  you might want add 10 deg C for a normal oven or extend the baking for 5 to 10 min.

Stewed pears, candied lemon and almond tiles

February 3rd, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink

Pears are definitely my favourite fruit in the cold season. They are a dutch local too. Stewed pears are typical in holland, served warm, as a side dish with game or simply as a desert with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream… mmmmm. It’s been a while I’ve been willing to try cooking them by myself, but like many other dishes I never got to it.

When I came across Julia‘s inspiring bag of goodies for her monthly in the bag challenge, I had to sigh. Pears, lemon and nuts… It was the perfect occasion, yet I’d thought I’d never get to it on time before the deadline, and of course, I didn’t, it was just too busy last week… But anyway, this morning, while my dutchie was being grumpy about his cold and showed no sign of interest for anything else but catching up on his Prison Break DVD’s, I had all the time in the world to experiment in the kitchen…

stewed pears


Thanks to Julia, I finally made my own stewed pears poached with lemon peel and heartwarming spices. I topped them with a caramelized reduction of their cooking juices and served them slightly warm, with a spoon of whipped cream sprinkled with cinnamon and candied lemon peel. For the crunch and for the nut part, I added homemade almond tiles.

 A perfect sunday tea time!

stewed pears (2)

For the stewed pears, I used the most common stewing pears in the Netherlands, the Gieser Wilderman variety. As a basis for the recipe, I inspired myself from my favourite dutch cooking book “Dutch cooking – The new kitchen” from Manon Sikkel and Michiel Klonhammer, with a few adjustments in the spices and in the cooking time: traditional recipes call for cloves, vanilla and sometimes cinnamon, but I was not in the mood for cloves although I wanted to spice up my pears a bit. In addition to the vanilla and cinnamon, I used green cardamom, star anise and black pepper. In the book, they call for a cooking time of 1h30 on very low heat, but I guess I went to low on the heat and had to stew my pears for an extra half hour on medium heat before they were ready. They came out just fine, nicely coloured and delicately perfumed. For the final touch, I kept the lemon peel and half of the cooking liquids. I reduced a fourth of the liquids in a thick caramel syrup in which I candied the lemon peel cut in thin stripes.

For the almond tiles, after hesitating between the fancy recipe from my Larousse des Desserts and the minute made one from my french-cooking-made-simple bible “Francoise Bernard – Les recettes illustrées”, I chose for the second option so that I too could have a pick at the Prison Break grand final! I kind of missed the last stage which call fo curling the almond tiles on a pastry roll as soon as they are out of the oven. I was too slow on that one and my tiles remained depressingly flat. Nevermind, flat roofs are in fashion lately!

But, enough with the blabla, here’s for the result and the recipes:

stewed pears (3)
Here’s how my sunday tea time turned out.

Dutch style stewed pears
Poires pochées à la hollandaise

serves 6 pers.
prep: 10 min. cook: 2 hrs (+ 15 min for the caramelized syrup)

6 Gieser Wilderman pears (or any other stewing pears), peeled,
enough water to cover,
peel and juice of 1 lemon,

1 cinnamon stick,
1/2 vanilla pod,
3 green cardamom pods,
6 black peppercorns,
2 star anise parts,
5cl xeres vinegar,
10 cl red wine,
150 g sugar.

Bring the water to a boil in a large pot, add the vinegar, wine, spices and lemon peel. Put the pears in the water. They should be completely covered so that they can colour evenly. Lower the heat (low but not too low!) and leave to simmer for one hour. Add the sugar and simmer for half to one hour more or until a knife can enter the pears without resistance. Carefully remove the pears (not by the stalk!) and sprinkle them with the lemon juice. If you’re not planning to use them right away, keep them in the fridege, in a closed recipient, in the cooled stewing liquids.

To top the pears, you can reduce a quart of the stewing liquids with the spices and lemon peel into a thick caramelized syrup. Just reduce on high heat for about 15 minutes or until the syrup is thick and coloured. Remove the candied lemon peel and cut it into thin stripes. Use to decorate.

Bon appétit!

Almond tiles
Tuiles aux amandes

makes ~20.
prep: 10 min. cook: 5 min

2 egg whites,
30g butter, melted,
1 full Tsp flour,

2 full Tsp sugar,
a pinch of salt,
30 g of blanched almonds in thin slices
optionnal: a pinch of lavander flowers, crushed

Preheat the oven at 250 deg C. With a wooden spoon mix the eggwhites (not beaten), the flour, sugar, salt and melted butter until smooth. Add the almonds and lavander and toss gently. On a baking tray covered with baking foil (grease the foil with butter if you dont use silicon foil), pour well spaced (~2 fingers) small amounts of dough using a tea spoon. Flatened them slightly with the back of the spoon. Bake for 5 minutes in the warm oven or until the rands of the cookies start to colour (beware: it goes very quickly from golden to black!). Take out of the oven and immediately set the cookies to cool on top of a pastry roll (empty bottles will do to). Once completely cooled, store in air tight tin.

Bon appétit!

I guess I am out of competition for this month in the bag challenge, but anyway, it was fun and it was good!  
For more recipes with pears, lemon and nuts, check out Julia’s A slice of cherry pie next week, I’m sure there will be plenty of tempting recipes (with her delicious pear and cheddar salad to start with)…

 stewed pears

Dutch comfy food for a monthly mingle

January 27th, 2008 § 5 comments § permalink

In the heart of the dutch winter, when it’s freezing cold outside, dark and rainy, when my stomach crave for some comfort food that will warm me up from head to toe… I cook dutch! When it comes to winter comfort food, dutch know their way in the kitchen: steaming hot erwtensoup (pea soup) with smoked sausage, creamy potato hutspot* or stamppot* with chicory or boerenkool, served with meatballs, sausages or bacon and a rich flavoured gravy… Might not sound like michelin star gastronomy to you, but I assure you, once you have tried the real homemade stuff, you’ll ask for more. 

I’ve been willing to post about my weakness for dutch winter food since the beginning of the winter season but didn’t come to it yet. Then last week, I stumbled over the theme of the Monthly Mingle event organised by Meetah from What’s for lunch honey? : comfort food! What a perfect occasion. Further, some days ago,  while having dinner in a dutch “Eetcafé”, I couldn’t help overhearing some expats at a table next to me complaining of the lack of culinary traditions in Holland….

So, to lovely Meetah and to all the too many expats in the Netherlands who cannot stop complaining about the lack of culinary culture in this country… Here’s one of my dutch winter favourite comfort food, the dutch ‘boeuf bourguignon’, the king of dutch stews, the ‘Hachee’.  Lean stewing steak, a lot of shallots and oignons, browned in butter and delicately flavoured with juniper berries, bay leaves and cloves, simmered slowly in a lot of beer until the meat falls apart… Lekker**!

The king of dutch stews

My recipe is probably far from the traditionnal one but has been approved by many dutch so far. It is inspired from my favourite dutch cookbook (in english! …didn’t speak dutch at the time I got it): “Dutch cooking – The new kitchen” from Manon Sikkel and Michiel Klonhammer.
Just like boeuf bourguignon, in private, I love to have my Hachee with macaroni. When I have guests, I’ll serve it with a celeriac mash. Always a success. 

Dutch hash stew – Boeuf mijoté à la hollandaise

serves 6 pers.
prep: 30 min. cook: 2 hrs

1.5 kg lean stewing steak, diced in chunks fom ~3×3 cm
1 handful flour,
60g butter,
200g shallots, peeled and chopped
500g onions, peeled and sliced thinly
500 ml beer,
1 Tsp sugar

2 bay leaves,
3 cloves,
6 juniper berries,
sea salt and pepper to taste,
optionnal: 2 slices of bread generously spread with mustard

Hachee ingredients

Put the pieces of meat in a plastic bac with a handful of flour and shake to coat the meat. Melt the 2 thirds of the butter (40g) in a cocotte or heavy casserole and sear the meat on high heat (proceed in two batches to get the meat nicely brown). Reserve the meat, add the remaining butter and sauteed the onions (reserve ~100 g for later) and shallots over a low to medium heat until transparent. Pour back the meat, season to taste with sea salt and pepper and add the sugar, the cloves, bay leaves and juniper berries. — At that moment, the original recipe calls for two slices of bread crust removed, spread with mustard and added in chunks to the cocotte which should help thicken the stew (use then 750ml beer). Somehow, I have always inadvertantly missed that step without consequences, but will surely try it next time. — Then cover with beer and leave to simmer covered for about 2 hours. Serve hot with macaroni al dente or mashed celeriac or potatoes. 

Eet smakkelijk!
My dutch potato “stampper”

Mashed Celeriac
Purée de Céleri rave

serves 6 pers.
prep: 10 + 5 min. cook: 20 min
1 celeriac (~800g), cleaned, peeled and diced in 2 cm x 2 cm chunks***
4 potatoes (~300g), cleaned, peeled and diced
30g butter,
10cl liquid cream,

1 Tsp coarse sea salt,
pepper to taste,

Put a large amount of water to boil together with 1 Tsp of sea salt. When the water is boiling, add the celeriac and potatoes and cook for 15 to 20 min on medium heat or until the celeriac and potato are tender. Drain. Add half of the liquid cream, slightly warmed,  and mash using a fork or a dutch “stampper”  (don’t blend, the mash should be coarse). Add the butter and eventually add some more liquid cream to adjust the texture to your taste. Season with freshly crushed pepper. Serve hot!
If you wish, the vegetables can be boiled in advance, don’t drain and reserve covered until 15min before serving. Then reheat on low-fire, mash and season at the last moment.

Bon appétit!

* stamppot is a typical winter dutch dish calling for boiled potatoes coarsely mashed with roughly chopped season vegetables (raw or cooked) such as chicory, white loaf, carrots and oignons (this latest version being called hutspot)
** Lekker is dutch for yummy!
***  To avoid browning, keep covered in cold water seasoned with lemon juice

Speculaas for Sinterklaas

December 5th, 2007 § 2 comments § permalink

Tonight is the night from Sinterklaas,
For you, I have baked some speculaas!

Tonight, all over the Netherlands, everyone is celebrating Sinterklaas, patron saint of all children (Santa’s ‘older brother’). The little ones have put their shoes in front of the chimney awaiting for Sinterklaas and his Zwarte Piet to fill them with presents, while “older children” write funny poems to each other and exchange small surprises. It’s Pakjesavond.

Sinterklaas celebrations are definitely the most popular tradition in the Netherlands. It took me some time to understand the subtilities around Sinterklaas, yet I love him: when he arrives from spain on his steaming boat with his horse and his Zwarte Piets, he brings colour and warmth (and candy, and presents too… ) into the cold dutch winter. It’s the start of the winter celebrations… It’s time to bake cookies, and think about how you will spoil your loved ones.

My present for you tonight are my very first Speculaas… those spicy, crunchy cookies, shaped in wooden molds, typical in the Netherlands and Belgium, and originally baked for Sinterklaas.


I will definitely be baking more of those: I loved making my own spice mix in my stone mortar (though there is a wide choice of pre-made spice mixes ready for use in every shop),  and the kid in me had so much fun playing with the traditional wooden molds, shaping windmills, sailing boats and other hens and squirrels! 
For the recipe, I inspired myself from my new mouthwatering dutch cookies cookbook Koekjes from the famous dutch bakers Cees Holtkamp and Kees Raat  and from the beautiful speculaasjes from the blog Trifles.

making speculaas


Makes ~50.
prep: 15 min (24 hrs ahead) + 1hr to 1h30 min. 
bake: 20 min to 35 min per batch (count 2 to 3 batches)

~For the speculaas spice mix:
6 pods green cardamom,
6 cloves,
4 star anisseeds,
1/4 tsp white pepper corns (~1g),
1/4 tsp coriander seeds (~1g),
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (~1g),
1 tsp ground ginger (~2.5 g),
2.5 tsp ground cinnamon (~6g)
For the dough:
225 g soft butter,
200 g cane sugar,
50 g dark bastard sugar,
50 to 70* g (5 to 7 cl) whipping cream (or buttermilk if you have some),
5 g sea salt,
500 g flour, sieved,
20 g baking powder, sieved,
12g speculaas spice mix, sieved,
flour or rice flour to sprinkle the molds.

For the spices: crush all the seeds and pods thinly in a mortar. Add the cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, mix well, take a deep breath to enjoy the fragrances and reserve.

For the dough**:
Beat the softened butter with the sugar and salt. Pour in the cream or buttermilk and mix again until the dough is shiny and homogeneous. Add the sieved flour, baking powder and the spices and kneed into a sort of shortcrust dough. Pack the dough into a plastic bag and forget it in the fridge for 1 or 2 days so that the fragrances can fully develop.

Now’s the fun part:
If you have (wooden) speculaas molds, sprinkle them with flour or rice flour (make sure you spinkle well otherwise you might end up with your dough sticking to the mold which you definitely don’t want to happen). Then press some dough into the mold, cut off the excess dough with a sharp knife, turn the molds around and tap with more or less energy depending on how well you sprinkled the molds and set the shaped dough on a baking tray covered with baking paper.


If you don’t have speculaas molds, you can roll out the dough with a thickness of a few milimeters and cut out square or rectangle shaped cookies (then sprinkle them with chopped almonds if you like). You can also make ‘kruidnootjes’, rolling the dough into little balls, the size of a cherry. Bake in a preheated oven at 150 deg. C for 35 minutes***. Do not worry if the Speculaas do not look golden and if they are not yet hard when you take them out of the oven. They will gain in colour and harden when cooling down. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack and store in air tight cookie tins.

Eet Smakkelijk!****

*  The original recipe mentions 50 g and it’s what I use. However, last time I baked Speculaas, I used flour from the mill, and maybe the absorption is different but the dough was difficult to pack together (the dough sshould be sandy but still) and to shape. In that case, you might want to add a little bit more cream/buttermilk.
**  I’m lazy, so I use my kitchen aid to do all that….
***  After several try outs, here are the cooking times I recommend: When using medium size speculaas molds (about 8cmx5cm), the cookies are usually quite thick (5 to 8 mm), then 35 min is fine; for about 4cmx4cm squares with a thickness of less than 5mm, 20 min. is plenty.
**** Bon appétit!

In the bag: Chestnut and hazelnut cake

November 30th, 2007 § 2 comments § permalink

Food blogging events is what brought me to food blogging. I love the challenge of creating a dish out of a theme or selected seasonal ingredients. It is such a creative process where I can let my inspiration work freely. I love it.
Last week, I was browsing through “Is my blog burning“, looking for cooking challenges to tingle the cook in me, when I tumbled on the november “In the Bag” challenge from  Julia and  her A Slice of Cherry Pie … Chestnut, chocolate and sugar! Yummy.

 In the Bag November Logo
In Julia’s cooking bag this month!

This was perfect timing: Since a week or two, I was submerged with a sudden chestnut crave. This usually happens to me a couple of times in the automn and winter season. Probably something left fom my childhood near the mountain regions from the Cévennes and Ardèche where chestnut trees are everywhere. When the first cold days arrive, the sweet and smoky smell of roasted chestnuts invades the streets of the city centre: during weekends, on every square, children gather around mini roasting stalls, awaiting the grey, wise and smiley elder in charge to provide them with a precious newspaper cornet filled with fuming roasted chestnuts. Aah! The smell of roasted chestnuts… It’s the smell of christmas at the door.

At home, children (and grown-ups) are happily fed with local “Crème de marrons”* (chestnut spread), topped with crème fraiche or whipped cream for desert. My father loved it. Strangely, I was not such a fan of chestnut spread as a child, but now that I’ve left home for some time… Once in a while, I have an urge for it and make sure to always bring back a couple of cans with me whenever I go back to France. I could eat it directly from the can! but mostly, I love to use it in cakes and deserts.

Crème de marrons
La crème de marrons de mon enfance

All that to say that I couldn’t miss that invitation to chestnut childhood memories… Yet, being overwhelmed with all the work involved with my “changing blogs platform mission”, I almost missed the posting deadline.
Hopefully, I’ll be just on time with my chestnut and hazelnut cake. Already for sometime, I had my eye on a beautiful chestnut cake with candied chestnuts from the talented french blogger Anne on her “Station Gourmande“… Yet, I was missing a good part of the ingredients. For the best, as I wanted to create my own recipe for this challenge and always like to add my personal touch anyway.

chestnut and hazelnut cake
A piece of cake?

We had the cake for sunday brunch with a couple of friends. The cake was tender, nutty with a little crunch from the hazelnuts and chocolate bits. It was a success!

I am looking forward to the round up from Julia now… I guess I’ll have a new chestnut crave very soon!

In the mean time, as I only used half of my 500g can of “Crème de marrons” for this cake, there’s a bonus: With the remaining spread, I indulged myself in one of my favourite chestnut treats: the “bouchons aux marrons de Céline“…

chestnut bites

Chestnut and hazelnut cake
Cake aux marrons et noisettes

serves 8 to 10 pers.
prep: 15 min. cook: 50 min

3 eggs,
50g sugar,
160g whole wheat flour,
25g salted butter melted,
1/2 tsp baking soda,
1/2 tsp salt,
1/2 tsp vanilla, powdered

10 cl hazelnut oil,

1/2 tsp salt,
250g chestnut spread (I use crème de marrons* from ardèche)
50 g hazelnuts, toasted and roughly crushed,
40 g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven at 180 deg C.
In a bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar until the mixture doubles volume. Incorporate the flour, salt, baking soda and vanilla extract until smooth. Pour the butter and hazelnut oil, slowly, while mixing until homogeneous.  Incorporate the chestnut cream. Toss in the crushed hazelnuts and chocolate. Pour into a greased cake tin and bake for 50 min at 180 deg C or until the point of a mess comes out moist but clean. You might want to cover the cake with aluminium foil after about 20 min, when the cake is nicely golden to prevent it from burning. Unmold, ignore the delicious nutty exhalations and leave to cool on a metal grid. Enjoy with a strong dark expresso or your favourite tea.

Bon appétit!

* chestnut spread is a traditional recipe from the french cévennes and ardèche mountain regions. It’s made of pureed chestnut, slowly cooked with sugar syrup and flavoured with vanilla.

Blog appetit #9: Tartelettes croustillantes aux sardines et tomates confites

August 23rd, 2006 § 0 comments § permalink

Today is the latest “Blog appetit” contest in the french culinary blogweb. This edition’s ingredients will probably seem less startling than the strawberries and asperges from the last edition (I had a lot of fun with them though), but they are worth a detour: Our stars of this month are sardines and tomatoes. I hope you will excuse me if the rest of this post is in french. I promise the translation will follow soon.


Lors de la derniere edition de Blog apetit, je me suis drolement amusee a concocter ma recette et je me suis promise de recommencer. Cependant, lorsque les ingredients de cette edition ont ete publies, j’ai d’abord penser a faire l’impasse… J’etais en pleine flemingite aigue apres un mois de travaux intenses a la maison. De plus, je n’avais jamais prepare de sardines fraiches et malgre mon amour du poisson, l’idee du nettoyage et de l’odeur de ces petites sirenes argentees ne m’ont guere enchantees… Et puis finalement, samedi dernier je me suis decidee d’un coup en faisant le marche: sur les etals, des petites sardines fraiches (J’ai fait du charme a tous les poissoniers du marche… mais j’ai finalement du les nettoyer moi meme. A ces hollandais!), des mini tomates roma bien rouges et parfumees. Pour ce qui est de la recette, j’ai improvise sur place, tout en arpentant les allees du marche:

Les sardines fraiches me rappellent le Maroc: Les sardines fraichement pechees degustees grillees sur le petit port d’Essaouira, ou marinees a la  chermoula (comme chez Requia) puis frites degustees chez une tante avec toute une flopee de cousins entre deux eclats de rire, ou crues, justes marinees preparees par ma maman et degustees sur la terasse avec un petit verre de rose. J’ai voulu reproduire ces saveurs dans ma recette et mettre les sardines en valeur, sans trop de fioritures.  Pour les tomates, ca faisait longtemps que j’avais envie de tenter de confire des tomates, l’association m’a tout de suite titille l’esprit et ma recette etait nee: Pour ce qui est de la touche “sardines grillees sur le port d’Essaouira”, j’ai decide de faire griller mes petites sardines tres brievement apres les avoir fait mariner dans une sorte de Chermoula simplifiee. Puis de les deposer sur un lit de tomates confites, le tout dans une petite fleur en feuilles de brick pour le cote croustillant….

Un samedi apres midi dans ma cuisine plus tard, voila le resultat:


J’etais invitee a une soiree le soir meme, mes tartelettes n’y ont pas fait long feu…

Tartelettes croustillantes aux sardines fraiches et tomates confites 
(Cracky tartlets with moroccan style sardines and candied tomatoes)

pour 12 tartelettes.

pour les tomates confites:
prep. 5min. cuisson 1h35.

500g  de mini tomates roma bien charnues (des tomates cerises c’est bien aussi)
1/2 cc de paprika
1 Cs de sucre roux
2 Cs d’huile d’olive

fleur de sel, poivre du moulin

Prechauffer le four a 150 deg. Lavez les tomates et faite une incision a la base de chaque tomate. Disposez les dans un large plat a four anti-adhesif. Rajouter 1Cs d’huile, secouer legerement pour huiler les tomates. Enfournez pour 20min. En dehors du four, rajouter le paprika, le sel, le poivre, la moitie du sucre et le reste de l’huile d’olive. Secouer a nouveau le plat pour bien repartir l’huile et les epices sur les tomates. saupoudrer du reste de sucre et oubliez au four.  Au bout d’une heure, retourner les tomates delicatement une a une et remettre au four pour 15 min.  A la sortie du four, laisser refroidir dans le plat a temperature ambiante.

pour les sardines:
prep. 5min (+ 30 min  pour le nettoyage) cuisson. 6 min

500g de petites sardines bien fraiches (~ 15 pieces)
1 cc de paprika
1 petit piment fort,
4 ou 5 graines de cumin,
4 ou 5 grains de poivre,
1 petite poignee de coriandre fraiche
1 trait de jus de citron
5 Cs d’huile d’olive
fleur de sel

Pendant que vos tomates ce dorent la pilule, vous avez tout le temps de vous occuper de la cure thermale de vos princesses argentees… laver ces demoiselles a grande eau en les brossant avec les mains, des pieds a la tete pour eliminer les ecailles. Retirer la nageoire dorsale d’un coup sec. Inciser les au niveau du ventre, dans toute la longueur et vider les. Enfin, couper la tete, enlever l’arete centrale et ouvrez les comme des papillons. Sechez  vos papillons  d’argent du papier alu et disposez les dans un tupperware. Vous avez fait le plus dur!

Dans un mortier, pilez toutes les epices, le sel et le poivre. Melangez les dans un petit bol avec le jus de citron, l’huile d’olive, la coriandre fraiche hachee et la demi gousse d’ail pressee. Verser le melange sur les sardines. Melangez et laisser mariner pendant au moins 30 min.


pour les fonds de tartelettes qui croustillent:
prep. 10 min. cuisson. 5 a 10 min

6 grandes feuilles de brick (ou 12 petites)… histoire de faire 12 x 6 ronds
20 g de beurre
1 Cs d’huile d’olive
moules a tartelettes (J’ai utilise une plaque de 6 empreintes en silicone)

Une fois vos tomates confites, prechauffez le four a 200 deg. Decoupez 12 x 6 rondelles de feuille de brick a l’aide d’un emporte piece legerement plus large que vos moules a tartelettes. Faites fondre le beurre et y rajouter l’huile d’olive. A l’aide d’un pinceau trempe dans le melange, beurrer tous les ronds de pates, puis les empiler 6 par 6. Garnir les moules a tartelettes beurres de ces piles de feuilles de brick en froncant bien chaque moule. Haricots secs ou autres galets sont les bienvenus pour empecher les fonds de tartes de gonfer a la cuisson. Faire cuire en une a deux fournees de 5 min suivant le nombre de moules a votre disposition.  Surveiller bien la cuisson… 1 minute de trop et pfft vous aurez du charbon! Demouler et disposer sur un plat de service.

Dressage des tartelettes:
prechauffez le four au maximum, position grill. Disposer vos sardines recomposees (refermer les papillons!)  sur une grille allant au four. Les faire griller 3 a 4 minutes de chaque cote puis les mettre de cote. Pendant ce temps, couper vos tomates en 2 dans la longueur et garnir chaque fond de tartes de 4 a 6 demi tomates. Avec un pinceau, vous pouvez ajoutez un peu de leur jus de cuisson. Deposer une sardine grillee sur le dessus, et ainsi de suite… Saupoudrer l’ensemble des tartelettes avec un peu de paprika. Vous pouvez servir de suite voir quelques heures apres le dressage en les rechauffant legerement avant de servir. Vous pouvez aussi preparer tous les elements a l’avance et faire le dressage au dernier moment (faites griller les sardines au moment du dressage)

Blog appétit!

Allez, une petite derniere pour la route:


Ah et puis j’ai failli oublie, la suggestion vin de mon dutchie: un pouilly fume, ou pour les indecrotables du rouge un brouilly leger legerement frais!

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