‘La Terrine de legumes’ – An Easter brunch favorite

March 17th, 2013 § 2 comments § permalink

Spring vegetable terrine | photo Geralda @ Spresso.nl
I’ve always loved Easter brunch.
And the egg hunt. Oh yes, the egg hunt… I still bother Dutchie and all my friends every year, begging for it like a 5 years old. Soon, it will be Petit Tom ūüėČ
And then there is la Brioche (de papa) , et la Terrine de legumes (de Maman)… It’s ok. I’ll bake them.
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Turnip greens… Bite the seasons!

March 10th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Turnip greens

Last week, I had stocked my kitchen with all the early spring greens I could find at the market to test recipes for my Spring cooking workshop on 20 March and for this post*: Turnip greens, belgian endive, leeks, radishes and rhubarb… A real spring burst in the kitchen!

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On clementine curd, design and letterpress…

February 25th, 2012 § 1 comment § permalink

An odd combi you might think. Anna wouldn’t.

She’d just wipe up some orange macarons and letterpress a cute card to go with it.

Clementine and vanilla curd

Anna is an ‘a la julia child’ food lover , a talented graphic designer and a charming entrepreneur who is going to revolution the letterpress market in NL.
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To a scrumptious new year!

January 2nd, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

I wish you and your dearest a very happy and scrumptious new year 2011!
May it bring you a whole lot of happiness, love, health and many dreams come true!

Leonie's hen egg

Thank you all so much for hanging out in my kitchen in 2010! It meant a lot to me.

I am looking forward to sharing with you many moments of gourmandise in 2011.

‘Til then here’s to a pristine new start with this pristine little egg and this scrumptious Sunny side up, parsley pesto and wild mushroom sandwich…

Mirror egg and wild mushroom sandwich

Happy new year and bon appétit on my kitchen diaries!
The gourmande, M.

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Not a cat person…

August 9th, 2009 § 4 comments § permalink

I thought I was.

You only get to know the truth about you being a catperson when you’ve gave a try at catsitting… and the truth is: I’m not!

Ok, It was a brave try: three cats at once that have just moved to a new three storey house and are not familiar with their new neighbourhood… So far so good for the cuddling. At least, I’ve done some exercise: playing hide and seek through the house and garden, running after them up and down the three flights of stairs a dozen time, crawling on the floor trying to get them out from under the sofa/bed and back into their dedicated room on the top floor… and finally falling asleep exhausted on the sofa at midnight while desperatly hoping that the damned adventurous one will finally deign coming back from his moonlight exploration of the neighbourhood rooftops and gardens so that I can finally go back to my own house and dive in my bed where my dutchie has long fallen into the arms of morpheus…

My friends are not due back before monday evening but luckily, this morning, there’s Louisa Carter, her fluffy comforting pancakes, and juicy blueberries to help me gather a little energy and comfort for my afternoon catsitting session!

Blueberry pancakes

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The almost grumpy, very sniffy, but lucky gourmande

May 1st, 2009 § 3 comments § permalink

After crying my eyes out for the last couple of weeks due to a newly declared hayfever (pfff… it seems that all they say it’s true: decline really starts after 30), I have caught my yearly spring cold, the one I catch every year after trying out the newest items of my summer garderobe on the first sunny days… Well, timing was far from ideal: with the swine flu spreading around the world and the newsreports , my colleagues started taking their distances, looking at me with a slightly suspicious look while innocently inquiring if I had by any chance been to Mexico lately…

Luckily, I’ve not! I won’t say that I didn’t kind of freaked out considering my red runny nose and feverish headache while watching the news… But well considering what hundreds of people are enduring around the world, I swallowed my grumpiness and spoiled kid complaints… I’m just a lucky bastard: It’s just my yearly spring cold, I’ve got a great new dress, and there’s plenty of spring greens full of vitamins around to pep me up. So, all feverish that I was, I got up from under the blankets and cooked myself a revigorating brunch: one “oeuf cocotte” with fresh herbs from my garden, my favourite eggs, and a silky peppery cress soup just like my mom used to do, with the leaves of the beautiful bunch of radish I got from the greengrocer. I feel better already!

Vitamine shots

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April 6th, 2009 § 2 comments § permalink

I had plans to post my favourite egg dish for you to enjoy during the easter weekend but something got in the way¬†and I didn’t¬†find the 8 minutes¬†to prepare them nor the many more minutes for¬†the photo session… But anyway, there will be plenty more occasions for brunches and I’ve got something at least as appealing and slightly magical¬†under my sleeve for this weekend brunch.

Caramelised whilte loaf tatin

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Moroccan pancakes for a grumpy gourmande…

March 22nd, 2008 § 11 comments § permalink

I had a bad feeling for that weekend all along. And here we are: It’s cold, raining melted snow, I have a flu and I just lost the complete last post I’ve spent at least 3 hours writing (first time since I moved to wordpress)… So far so good for the first weekend of spring. I need something soothing if I want to make it through Easter!

M’semmen*: my favourite pancakes ever, soaked¬† in honey and butter… ¬†

In a last desperate attempt to save my mood for the weekend, I’ve turned to my favourite ever, the morrocan pancakes of my childhood… M’semmen: they are golden like the sun, flaky and buttery, soaked in honey (my throat’s gonna like that!). I had promised you the recipe some time ago but I wanted to bake them again to take a couple of pictures and the truth is taht although they are the most delicious pancakes ever… I don’t quite master the timing and hardly ever find the courage to get started (my mum hardly cook them either for the same reasons: we’re not very¬† patient in the family. The recipe is more than¬†largely inspired from Requia’s¬†authentic¬†recipe in french). But this weekend, I just wont do without them. So here’s my present to you (and to my throat and grumpy mood) for easter.

Happy Easter!

ps. For more heavenly morrocan pancakes out of my childhood also check out that post

M’semmen, moroccan pancakes
M’semmen, cr√®pes feuilet√©es marocaines

makes ~12.
prep: 15 + ~20/30 min; rest. 15 min; cook: ~ 20/30 min

200 g extra fine semolina (durum wheat flour),
200 g all purpose flour,
200 ml lukewarm water,

1 tsp salt,
5 cl. sunflower oil,
120 g. butter

msemen (1)

In a large bowl (ideally a large medium high earthware dish), mix in the semolina, flour and salt. Incorporate the lukewarm water slowly, kneading with your hands until the dough is homogenous. Dip your fingers in the oil regularly and knead the doug energetically for at least 5 minutes. Divide the dough into small balls the size of an egg or a small mandarine. Leave to rest covered with a clean cloth for 15 minutes.

msemen (2)msemen (3)

Oil a large clean working surface (I use a large wooden cutting board covered with plastic foil). Put a ball of dough in the middle. Roll it out as thin as you can (~20 to 30 cm diameter) using a pastry roll (in morocco, women usually do that with the palm of their¬†hands, but if like me you’re not experienced with that, it will take you double the time). Spread a small amount of butter evenly on the surface of the pancake and fold in three twice, to get a small square envelope shape. Put aside and repeat until you’ve worked out all the balls of dough. You should have around 1/3rd of the butter left.

msemen (4)

Heat up a greased¬†pancake or frying pan on medium heat. Put a square of dough on the oiled working surface and flatten it with your hands into a roughly 15×15 cm square. Butter each side of the pancake lightly ¬†and fry on both sides until golden. Set aside on a sheet of kitchen paper. Repeat for each pancake, greasing the pan again in between two panackes. Store in a cool place until service rolled in a clean towel or in aluminum foil. You can keep them a couple of days in the fridge or freeze them individually.

msemen (5)

Traditionally, m’semmen are heated in a mix of butter and honey (like my mom, I add a bit of water too to limit the amount of butter) and sserved hot with a fuming cup of mint tea for breakfast or tea-time. If you are more into savoury, you can heat them up in a bit of butter and serve them with fresh goat cheese, olives and fresh herbs. And one more tip: eat them with your fingers…

Bon appétit!

* When I first edited this post, I spelled these pancakes m’semen by mistake, with one m instead of two. Not a big mistake as it is just a phonetic translation of the arabic spelling… Yet, as someone remarked it, they¬†sound so much better with two m’s. So here it goes, I changed it. In my family’s region, we also call these pancakes Ghaif or Ghaifa.¬†

Brioche at last!

February 11th, 2008 § 2 comments § permalink

Brioche is one of the¬†things I miss from France. When you live abroad, there’s always things you miss about mom and dad’s home, the place where you grew up, the place where you lived and made your life for sometime or even for¬†just a couple of months. Being¬†a nostalgic and food addict at heart,¬†I’ve got a pretty long list.¬†¬†Brioche is on the top 10.

Aside from being typically french it’s also a family love story. My mum¬†has always loved brioche, especially the one we call¬†‘brioche parisienne’, you know the one that¬†has a¬†cupcake-like bottom¬†with a¬†round head on top… But my mum doesn’t have the patience for pastry and definitely¬†not for brioche. My father did.¬†¬†My father was great at pastry, maybe it was the chemist in him: unlike my mum he would almost always cook from cookbooks, with a lot of patience and accuracy. His brioche was superb,¬†airy, golden and buttery.¬†It would fill the house with a wonderful smell that would get the most lazy ones out of bed on sundays.

I’ m kind of a lazy cook: I avoid recipes involving long raising and kneading time… So, since I left the family nest, brioche has turned into a sweet memory that I revive once in a while on my trips back to France.¬†During the last christmas holidays, I¬†finally gave it a try: I used¬†a classic recipe out of my pastry bible, “Le Larousse des Desserts” from Pierre Herme¬†with a little¬†untraditionnal twist**¬†to make the recipe more acceptable for the late morning person that I am… Although it was not¬†my dad’s¬†brioche parisienne, my mum took some twice, with some of that spicy apple compote I made for the occasion.

There’s definitely¬†gonna be more sunday brioche around the house from now on!

brioche et compote épicée aux pommes
I saved you slice! … hurry before my friend Sophie¬†lays¬†her eyes¬†on it!

French brioche (from: Le Larousse des Desserts)

serves 6 to 8 pers.
prep: 20 min. raising: 4hrs + 1hr. cook: 30 min

5 g fresh yeast*, 
190 g flour,
2 Tsp sugar (~20g)

1 tsp salt (~4g),
3 eggs,
150 g butter at room temperature
3 Tsp cold milk or 1 egg, beaten

Crumble the yeast in a large bowl. Add the flour, sugar and salt and mix well using a wooden spoon. Incorporate the eggs one by one until you get a smooth and elastic dough (being lazy, I use the kneaders from my handmixer). Cut the butter in small pieces and incorporate in several times to the dough (I love my handmixer, wish I had a kitchen aid though!) until the dough detaches from the bowl (although it will remain sticky, very sticky).  Lay the dough in a terrine, cover with a clean cloth and leave to rest for 3 hours (or until it doubles volume) in a warm place (~22/23 deg.C). Punch down the dough and leave to rest for one more hour (or until it doubles volume).  Once it has doubled volume again, punch down the dough.

Shape the brioche and lay it in a buttered and flour-dusted mold**. Leave to rest once again until it doubles volume (~1hr) while you pre-heat the oven at 200 deg. C. Brush the top with cold milk or a beaten egg. Bake for 10 min. at 200 deg. C. Lower the heat to 180 deg. C. and bake for 20 more min. Unmold the brioche while it is still slightly warm. You have deserved your breakfast!

Bon appétit!

*  It took me a while before I found where to find fresh yeast in my area. I guess you could also use active dry yeast. Follow then the package directions.
** I am no morning person and although I love brioche, there’s no way I’m gonna get up 4 to 5 hours before breakfast. I found¬† a trick though: I prepare the dough and¬†¬†let it raise for the 1st 4hours whenever I have time ahead. After shaping my brioche in its mold, I¬† just freeze it¬† and forget it until my next crave for brioche. The¬†evening before, I take out the brioche of the freezer, put it back in its mold and leave it to slowly thaw in the fridge overnight.¬† When I first emerge of my bed, I get it out of the fridge, set it in a warm place to double volume while I go back to bed. One hour later it is ready to bake.


Spicy apple compote
Compotée de pommes épicée

serves 6 to 8 pers.
prep: 10 min. cook: 20 min

1kg apples*, peeled and coarsely chopped, 
30g butter,
4 Tsp brown sugar,
zest and juice of half a lemon,
Spices to taste: vanilla, cinnamon, star anise seeds, green cardamon pods, pepper,…
A pinch of salt,
5cl calvados (optionnal)

Melt the butter in a large pan on high heat. Add the apples, sugar, spices and lemon zest. Toss well. Pour the calvados and lemon juice. After a couple of minutes lower the heat and leave to simmer uncovered (toss from time to time) for about 20 min or until the juices have reduced and the apples start to caramelize. Leave to cool. You can remove the seeds, zest and pods if you like, although I prefer to leave them in. This compote will keep for at least a week in the fridge and will be great with brioche but will also do miracles as a filling for sweet and savoury tartlets for apetizers or as a side dish to game or a pot roast. 

Bon appétit!

*  I like to use firm and juicy apples like Elstar for example, but really: anything you fancy will do.

The "1001 nights" breakfasts of my childhood

November 6th, 2007 § 3 comments § permalink

Moroccan pancakes have the taste of my childhood. It tastes of my summer holidays in moroccan paradise, at my lovely aunt Mina, my mum’s little sister. The whole summer, she would spoil us like kings…¬† Her modest house was our palace.

That’s me, a long time ago: a little gourmande in moroccan paradise…

Among all, the gourmande that I have always been can’t help but remember the breakfasts and tea-time, back then…¬† True feasts of the 1001 nights. There were fountains of mint tea, fresh orange juice and milk, croissants, fresh bread, almond cookies, homemade jams, and so many more treats.¬† I had only eyes for the pancakes! The flaky Msemen* and the airy Baghrir** were my favourites.¬† My grandma or my aunt would wake up before sunrise to prepare them so that they would be just ready and warm, bathed in honey and butter sauce, when the little princess girl that I was would dare to get up for breakfast. Burning the tips of my fingers in the warm honey when reaching for my favourite treats was my only worry…


When nostalgy catch me off guards, I search my all house for the little piece of paper torn out from an old agenda where my mum lovingly wrote the family baghrir recipe when I left home to live my grown-up life. Yet, it is always a disappointment. After all these years of trying, I never managed to reach the perfectness of my grandma’s, aunt’s and mum’s heavenly pancakes. Mine are always desperately compact.

Lately, after yet another heartbreaking and disappointing attempt, I sinned (please don’t ever tell my mum about it): I drooled in front of the photo of Requia’s baghrir. Shameless, I put aside the precious piece of paper and adapted the sacred recipe inspiring myself from Requia’s delicious french blog. It was like my childhood’s breakfasts all over again… Everything had just became clear: in her emotion, my mum had forgotten one of the ingredients when writing down the recipe… the flour!

Thank you so much, Requia, for bringing back the taste of my childhood on my breakfast table!

Raising dough,  and bubbling pancake

Crêpes milles trous**

~18 pancakes
prep: 10 min + 1 hour raising. cook: 30 min

1.5 package active dry yeast (or 5g fresh yeast if you have more luck than me in finding some),
500 ml lukewarm water,
250 ml lukewarm milk,
1 egg, beaten,

300 ml all-purpose flour, sieved,
300 ml thin semolina,
1/2 tsp salt
To serve:
50g butter,
15 cl honey,
2 Tsp water

Read the instructions on the yeast package: if it needs to be delayed, delay it with a little bit of the lukewarm milk (do so if you use fresh yeast).
In a large bowl, pour the lukewarm milk, water and the salt. Then pour the beaten egg, add the yeast, the flour and semolina. Mix until smooth (as a lazy gourmande I use an electric blender or mixer).
Cover with a clean cloth and leave to raise at room temperature for about 1 hour. The dough should almost double volume and start bubbling.Cook the pancakes a couple of minutes on one side only, on low heat in a warm pancake pan. Holes will form at the top. They shouldn’t colour. Leave the pancakes to cool on a dry cloth, smooth part under (and not on top of each other if you don’t want them to stick together). To serve, warm up in a frying pan with a mix of butter and honey.

Eat them right away, with your fingers…

Bon appétit!

* Msemen are actually my true favourites. They are a work of art and patience… I’ll tell you more about them soon. If you can’t wait and want to practise your french have a look in Requia‘s kitchen, you’ll fall for them too!
** As you can see from the pictures and recipe, the yeast give Baghrir it’s airy texture: thousands of bubbles form during baking, hence their french name: the thousand holes pancakes or “cr√™pes milles trous”¬† ¬†

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