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

Ingredients:
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

Ingredients:
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.

Mandoline melody

September 18th, 2007 § 0 comments § permalink

Luckily for you, I am not in the mood to sing or exert any musical talent that I don’t have! Not that it would really matter for you anyway as I have not yet become acquainted with podcasts and other blog fancy tricks…

No, today, I would like to introduce you to one of my best friends in the kitchen: my mandoline…
[nb – can’t put my hands on my camera cable and the card transfer doesn’t work properly, so no paparazzi picture of my mandoline today, you’ll have to wait a bit…]

I love vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers, zucchinis, oignons, paprikas… well, to sum up: I love vegetables and I mostly like them cooked in thin slices, al dente or in salads. I also love to cook my fish on the grill or “en papillote” with a few extra thin slices of lemon that will caramelise impregneted with the fish juices, mmmm! Unfortunately, I do not yet fully master the art of handling a knife in the japanese style and there’s not a square centimeter left in my kitchen for a fancy food processor. Yet, I am blessed, I have my mandoline! I don’t really know what the exact term is in english or in dutch, if you know, feel free to let me know!

Now, if you’ve got one, wether it’s old and sentimental, inherited from your grandma or cheap, once bought on a small french market in the south of france during your holidays, or fancy, in shiny inox from your favourite cookshop, or asian style in a cheesy colour with a lot of chinese or japanese characters on the box (that’s mine)… here’s one great vegetable for you to try and play the mandoline….

zucchiniTagliatelles

Zucchini Tagliatelles
Tagiatelles de courgettes

serves 2. prep: 5 min cook: 5 min

Ingredients:
2 zucchinis (or if you live like me in the netherlands where they worship huge monster size vegetables… the smallest ‘monster courgette’ you can find… )
1 small clove of garlic

a handfull fresh basil
1 Tsp freshly grated parmeggiano
1 Tsp roasted pinenuts
2 Tsp fragrant virgin olive oil
sea salt, pepper

Wash the zucchinis and chop the ends. Take your magic mandoline, tune the spacing in order to obtain slices of ~2mm and use it to slice the zucchinis in the length (not your fingers!)… 30s later, rince the mandoline with fresh water, put it to dry, smile! you’re almost done. Now, if you have a little a bit of time before the dinner (this dish should be finalized just before serving), season the zucchini tagliatelles with sea salt and leave to drain in a clean cloth or some kitchen paper. If not, just go ahead with the recipe… In a large pan on high fire, add a Tsp of olive oil, add the zucchinis, season with salt (if not done already) and pepper, shake your pan a little, let’s say 2 to 3 minutes not more. Take out of the fire, add the basil pressed garlic clove, pinenuts, parmeggiano and one last tablespoon of olive oil, mix a bit. You’re done! Now hurry to the table, take a deep breath to enjoy the fragrances and … eat while it’s hot!

Bon appétit!

Nb. No need to mention that you can of course do this dish without a mandoline… Use a sharp knife, beware of your fingers.

Help! I burned my “cocotte”Staub

May 1st, 2006 § 0 comments § permalink

I am definitely new to food blogging! Since I started this blog a few weeks ago, my kitchen is undergoing a revolution…. and I am loosing control! Apart from the everlasting mess due to my numerous try-outs in my small dutch kitchen, and the eating cold due to the food photo sessions (ask my dutchie about that!), the worst has now happened…

Last week, I was enjoying the newly discovered joys of blogging while my stew was simmering quietly in the kitchen. Life was great! But then, I forgot about the time, and the stew… My dearest cooking friend, my beloved and beautiful cocotte burned! (and the stew with it). Here is a picture of the victim (sensitive minds: look away):

cocottecocotte_brulee

For the last week, I have desperately been trying to get it back. I have tried vinegar and other grandmother’s tricks… nothing does. Heeellllpppp! I need a magician. I am a food obssessed frenchy: I cannot live without my cocotte. Please, help me!

Help! I burned my "cocotte"Staub

May 1st, 2006 § 0 comments § permalink

I am definitely new to food blogging! Since I started this blog a few weeks ago, my kitchen is undergoing a revolution…. and I am loosing control! Apart from the everlasting mess due to my numerous try-outs in my small dutch kitchen, and the eating cold due to the food photo sessions (ask my dutchie about that!), the worst has now happened…

Last week, I was enjoying the newly discovered joys of blogging while my stew was simmering quietly in the kitchen. Life was great! But then, I forgot about the time, and the stew… My dearest cooking friend, my beloved and beautiful cocotte burned! (and the stew with it). Here is a picture of the victim (sensitive minds: look away):

cocottecocotte_brulee

For the last week, I have desperately been trying to get it back. I have tried vinegar and other grandmother’s tricks… nothing does. Heeellllpppp! I need a magician. I am a food obssessed frenchy: I cannot live without my cocotte. Please, help me!

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