When the dutch go orange, I go mango…

May 1st, 2010 § 2 comments § permalink

The last couple of days, the whole Netherlands turned into a huge orange flee market and music festival for the celebrations of Koninginnenach (Queen’s night in the forse Hague dialect) and Koninginnedag (Queen’s day), the national day over here. Crazy outfits, make up, hair, flags, food, tulips… Orange everywhere, and beer, and music, and kids running around and mary-go-rounds….

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A scent of ‘anisette’

February 22nd, 2010 § 1 comment § permalink

Last sunday it was snowing again and my dutchie and I didn’t find the courage to get out of our house. It’s still pretty cold outside and although the sun is shining from time to time, I am finding myself craving for the gentle warmth of the Mediterranean winters. Luckily I had Julia child and her culinary adventures in France* to keep me warm and jolly. She transported me right to the Cannebiere amidst the feverish air from Marseille in august. While she was experimenting the Provence cuisine, my stomach started aching for some of the fragrant and colorful dishes of the Provence, the peppery herbs, the fresh fish, the juicy oranges and lemons… She left me starving!

Winter Cake with candied fennel and orange zest

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When the gourmande dreams of Charlotte…

December 13th, 2009 § 1 comment § permalink

As you probably know by now, I have a thing for french pastry. I am particularly fond of brioche, ‘entremets’ and of Charlottes which remind me of my dad. Last year for Christmas, I spent weeks putting together cake recipes in my head for the ‘Grand Finale’ of the Christmas eve dinner. I wanted something seasonal and original that would change from the traditional Christmas cakes and that no one would resist too, even after a 5 course meal. Something I could prepare in advance too as there are usually enough things to prepare on the night itself. When I finally came up with the perfect desert, we decided to spend Christmas at my bro’s in France and I didn’t get the chance to prepare it…

Charlotte aux poires et marrons

I kept dreaming of this cake for a couple of months, until I finally found an occasion to prepare it for a family dinner… Won’t be modest on this one: It was amazing. So much better than I had dreamed off: an airy Charlotte with homemade biscuits a la cuillere soaked in smoky whiskey and a light pear/vanilla syrup and alternate layers of pear compote and airy chestnut mousse with small chunks of caramelized pears, topped with thin slices of poached pears. My Dad would have loved it!

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Chocolate crave remedy

December 8th, 2009 § 1 comment § permalink

After going public on my shopaholic and pumpkinaholic tendencies, it’s time to reveal you all about my chocolate craves… Yep, it seems that I’ve decided to indulge myself into a public mea culpa of my girly addictions before the end of this year.

Two weeks ago, while I was sharing with you the side effects of poached pears and warm chocolate sauce on my metabolism, I promised to come back to you with the recipe of a warm chocolate fondant. I know, the stakes are high: there are tons of delicious recipes out there for chocolate fondants (melt-in-your-mouth ), moelleux (moist, airy and tender), coulants (oozing lava cakes), macarons (I’ll come back on these ones soon enough) , cupcakes, muffins, cookies…. I must say, I’m not easy on the subject but given you come up to me with something very rich in high quality chocolate, not too sweet, and that will melt in my mouth, you might win my heart and stomach forever.

Chocolate addiction 1

The recipe I’m about to share with you is freely inspired from a french Elle A Table recipe. It won me over for the following reasons (apart from the above mentioned): it only takes a couple of ingredients, it’s ready in less than 15 minutes and it accommodates as well as a “fondant” or a “coulant”…. to sum up: the perfect chocolate crave remedy (and the perfect partner for poached pears).

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Le temps de quelques framboises…

July 16th, 2009 § 1 comment § permalink

A bite of summer, une gourmandise, a quickie, juste en passant.
Pour une gourmande en particulier… and all the sweet teeth around.

Mini raspberry/almond bites

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Retreat to the “back corner”

November 22nd, 2008 § 5 comments § permalink

Last weekend, after a week of sniffing and coughing under the blankets recovering from a bad cold (while I could have been in sunny Cadiz), I was in desperate need for a bowl of fresh air.
So, my dutchie and I decided to flee the city for a peaceful and revigorating weekend in the dutch countryside to boost our energy levels a little.


Dutch countryside in autumn


We didn’t have to look very far for the perfect retreat: my lovely parents in law (who are always so kind as to receive us with open arms, even on the shortest notice) live in the dutch countryside, in the region called Achterhoek (litterally the ‘back corner’), in the eastern part of the Netherlands… 
From the windows of their house, you can watch all kinds of birds happily flying around the garden, cows minding their business in the field nearby, and a bunch of golfers walking the green between the fields and the woods in the background. I love it there in automn: the countryside declines itself in shades of red, orange and gold. It smells of wild mushrooms and wood… Should I say more?




It was all and more I could hope for: walking the dog in the colorful woods; shopping for fresh meat, eggs, butter and cream at some farms in the neighbourhood; getting spoiled by my mother in law with all kind of little attentions; eating game for dinner; baking goodies and having a chat while drinking smoking hot tea with a piece of orange cake that literally melt in your mouth…   

Yep, all that! No need to say the bad cold is now nothing more than a bad dream, and well, Cadiz can wait a bit…

And because you too certainly deserve a little energy boost at this time of the year, I saved you some of that ‘melt-in-your-mouth’ orange cake …    


Fondant a l'Orange



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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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Chanterelle Mea Culpa

October 23rd, 2008 § 2 comments § permalink

Yep, the lazy gourmande is back. It’s been a long while. I missed you all.
I’ve been wondering how I could make it up to you…
And then, I was drooling in front of the mouthwatering automn specials of the duch cooking magazine Wining & dining when I found this little gem…  a tender mini-bite with chanterelles and old sheep cheese that will make you feel like going mushroom-picking next weekend.

Mini-cakes des sous-bois
Just for you… A personal interpretation of Wining and Dining automn proof mini-muffins*

Of course, I couldn’t help bringing in my personnal touch to the original recipe*, but that was mostly ’cause I missed part of the ingredients in my cupboards.


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Missing chocolate…

July 16th, 2008 § 3 comments § permalink

Les Chocolats d'Adrien 

I was updating my recipe index while regularly picking in the box of exquisite chocolates from Adrien et Chocolat that a friendly soul just brought me, when I was struck by a deranging reality…

There’s NO chocolate on my kitchen diaries!

Luckily enough, today is the perfect day to offer you my redemption: one of my dearest friends and accessorily a merciless chocolate addict (you know who you are) is having her birthday today. Plus, the recipe of the last minute chocolate cake I improvised a couple of days ago is still fresh in my mind: A fragile little thing that will melt in your mouth and bring you close to chocolate climax (at least it worked for me).

So here’s to the birthday girl (and to the friendly soul who introduced me to the chocolates of Adrien)!

Last minute chocolate cake
Hail the birthday girl: Gateau au chocolat de derniere minute

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When the Easter bunny turns into Santa…

March 18th, 2008 § 2 comments § permalink

Since I’ve moved to the Netherlands, the easter bunny has always spoiled me with one of the most precious gift ever (I see the smile on your faces already… Don’t get me wrong: the lazy gourmande is not talking chocolate today): for what I can remember, Easter weekends have counted in the warmest weekends of the year for the seven years I’ve lived around here. I had come to believe Easter to be the true beginning of spring, the celebration of life and renewal (ok, that’s a bit ‘mushi’ but yep, that ‘s how far the easter bunny fills me with joy): The first brunch on the terasse with dear friends, enjoying the morning sun while sipping tea and nibbling the first asparagus and strawberries… Searching the shadow of the first leaves of the lilac tree after running around the garden to find the last chocolate eggs in the garden before they melt under the strong easter weekend sun. The first sun bath in the garden or on the beach (no really, I’m not kidding, I do really live in the netherlands)… 

Knowing that, you can imagine how excited I was to take a peak at the weather forecast for the weekend. Let me put it like this: if you also live in the Netherlands and feel like me about easter, maybe you should just skip the weather forecast for this year. Maybe you should go to a last-minute website instead and book your tickets for somewhere sunny right away. It seems I must have been a very bad girl this year, because although the easter bunny will probably bring me some chocolates (not that I really need any with my winter protection layer)… It will also bring in SNOW!  Ok, I know easter is pretty early this year, but still this is just all wrong… Even the easter bunny starts to thinks he is Santa!

I guess that instead of sunbathing on the terasse while refreshing myself with a taste of heaven: 

mousse au fromage blanc
Triffle with ‘fromage blanc’ mousse, rhubarb, raspberries, and biscuits roses de Rheims…

… I will be under my blanket watching Al Gore’s documentary one more time, with a fuming cup of tea and craving for a piece of that: 

Warm blueberry pudding (3)
When I tell you that something is wrong: It’s gonna snow but yet the market stalls ar full with blueberries… I got tricked last time (try this with rhubarb, I’m sure it will be at least as delicious and surely more seasonal).

Fresh and light triffle with ‘fromage blanc’ mousse, rhubarb and raspberries 
Triffle leger et frais à la mousse au fromage blanc, à la rhubarbe et aux framboises

serves 6 pers.
prep: 15 min. rest: 1/2 hour + 1hour 

For the mousse:
400 g fromage blanc at 0% fat* (or dutch kwark or a mix from cottage cheese and greek yoghurt),
20 cl whipping cream,

3 sheets of gelatin,
2 to 4 Tsp sugar (I use 2)
According to taste: vanilla extract, lavender, cardamom, lemon extract… (I use crushed lavender and vanilla seeds)

For the triffle:
6 to 8 of your favourite cookies (biscottis, lady fingers, speculoos… here, I used ‘biscuits roses de Rheims’),
2 handful of fresh berries marinated in sugar and lemon juice and/or shortly stewed or caramalised fruits (here I used, caramelised rhubarb compote and fresh raspberries).

For the mousse: At least half to one hour before hand, set the fromage blanc to drain in a clean towel or in kitchen paper.
Soften the gelatin in a bowl of cold water. Reserve one tsp whipping cream to melt the gelatin and whip the rest of the cream until stiff. Whip the drained fromage blanc with the sugar and spices until shiny and relatively stiff. In a small pan melt the drained gelatin with 1 tsp of cream. Immediately incorporate to the whipped fromage blanc. Incorporate the whipped cream delicately to the fromage blanc mixture.

For the triffle: Pour the mousse in individual glasses in alternate layers with roughly crushed biscuits and fresh and/or stewed fruits. Refrigerate for at least 1hour before serving.

Bon appétit!

Warm blueberry pudding (2)

Warm blueberry pudding
Petit gateau tiède aux myrtilles

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

250g + 50g blueberries (for Easter, I’ll try this again with rhubarb… much more seasonal!),
1 lemon (juice and zest),

70g sugar (preferably cane sugar),
100g butter at room temperature,
100g flour,
2 eggs,
1/2 pack raising powder,
1 pinch of salt.

Preheat the oven at 180 degC***
Clean the blueberries and marinate with 2 Tsp sugar and the juice of the lemon. Set 50g aside to garnish.
In a small pan on high fire, sauteed 250g of the marinated blueberries for a couple of minutes until their juices strat to form a lovely red syrup.

The pudding dough is inspired from a recipe in ‘Jamie’s dinners’**** from Jamie Oliver: In a bowl, beat the butter and the rest of the sugar with a wooden spoon until fluffy. Incorporate the eggs one by one. Then, mix in the flour, yeast, lemon zest and salt.

Divide the sauteed blueberries and their juices evenly in 6 buttered individuals baking dishes. Spoon over the pudding dough and bake for 20 min at 180 deg C***. Serve warm, sprinkled with icing sugar and a spoon of the reserved marinated berries.

Bon appétit!

* I use fromage blanc with 0% fat çause that’s mostly what I have around. Although I’m usually more for the real thing, I love it like that. Of course, whole fromage blanc can only be smoother and creamier.  It’s up to you!
** Biscuit rose de Rheims are derived from  ‘biscuit à la cuillère’ typically used for charlottes in french. They are a local produce from Rheims and fit particularly well with Champagne.
*** 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.
**** The oroginal recipe is an oldfashioned english pudding with automn fruits and Jersey cream with whisky. Last automn, I turned this recipe into a crumble while keeping the pudding dough in the back of my mind for further experiments… good idea: this airy and rich pudding married perfectly with the blueberries.

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