Something sweet for the weekend: rhubarb tart

March 1st, 2013 § 2 comments § permalink

201302_sweetsunday_1695

201302_sweetsunday_1695
Le gateau du dimanche… that (homemade) sunday sweet treat. It’s a family institution (my side. Dutchie… not a sweet tooth)

Last weekend, I found the first rhubarb stalks of the season at the market. I just could not resist making rhubarb tart. Took my chance during dutchie’s sunday ‘I-m-watching-cycling-on-tv’ naptime…
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A cookie for the snow

January 19th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Crunchy hazelnut cookies

crunchy hazelnut cookies [dairy & gluten free

Winter.

We didn’t really expect it anymore around here.

Even the roses were starting to get ready for spring.

Thought Petit Tom would not see his first snow this year.

And then, one morning, it just started to snow.

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Post Christmas goodies and a piece of lemon cake

December 28th, 2012 § 1 comment § permalink

Be merry!
So, we’ve made it past Christmas and the world is still turning around.
I hope you had a grand time.
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End of summer blues and plum nibbling

September 13th, 2010 § 9 comments § permalink

It’s almost two weeks already since we’re back from our holiday road tripping through France and somehow, we can’t seem to see an end of the unpacking, laundry making, house cleaning, photo sorting, and mostly getting back to the it-s-not-holiday-anymore-there-s-work-to-do mode… You’ve got it, I’m suffering of an end-of-summer-blues, my ‘gourmande-proof’ remedy: nibbling plums while dreaming of an Indian summer.

Plum and hazelnut crumble [1]
Plum and hazelnut crumble [2]

Plums, lovely plums, all of them (mirabelles, reine-claude, quetsches, hollandse pruimen and s many more)… Did I tell you how luscious the dutch plums are? did I tell you how plums, cognac and hazelnuts are a marriage made in heaven? Of course I did… a couple of years ago already, my addiction had the shape of a tart then. This year my plum addiction has turned into a sexy crumble. Imagine the juicy plums, the warm and spicy cognac, the crunchy hazelnuts, a hint of cinnamon and vanilla… My 2010 Indian summer.

Plum and hazelnut crumble [3]

And you… What are your remedies against the end of summer blues?

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To blog or not to blog…

August 13th, 2010 § 3 comments § permalink

I’ve had this conversation with my good friend, sexy blogger and peppy designer ‘A’ lately: Should you or should you not blog on your crappy days ?… these days when you feel bad and ugly and gloomy and you feel that maybe you shouldn’t just spill your guts on your readers who most probably have nothing to do with it???

I can’t or at least rarely. Not really out of noble consideration for you guys I must admit, but mostly ’cause on those crappy days, I do not feel like anything and certainly not like writing and if I try, it feels all I get out of me is so sad and bad and depressing and boooring. ‘A’ thinks it’s ok to share a couple of bad days and out your gloom on the web once in a while… It’s not as if only the good days make who you are, after all. Maybe ‘A’ is right… Maybe it’s only fair not to be happily cheesy all the time.

Blurred London Eye

What do you think… Is a little gloomy prose OK once in a while? If you won’t handle it, that’s ok too: you could skip the sad boring part and head straight down for the recipe and I can assure you, these sweet bites have cheered me up on many crappy days (at least those when the fridge was not empty!).

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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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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

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.

A bit of sweetness for a cold sunday afternoon

January 13th, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink

Ahhh… winter! It’s cold outside and already dark… I miss the sunday sweets that we would share all together for tea time when I was a child. Mostly homemade, sometimes chosen with care at our favourite pastryshop, served with a steaming cup of tea or cocoa, to warm us up after a reviving walk in the guarrigue or along the beach…
Feeling for something sweet too on this sunday afternoon? Here’s the apple tart of my childhood with a hazelnut twist for a bit of crunch.

appeltaart1
sorry, couldn’t wait!

Apple tart with hazelnuts
Tarte aux pommes et aux noisettes

serves 8 pers.
prep: 25 min. cook: 10 +20 min

Ingredients:
1 roll of puff pastry (~350g),
7 apples (~1.5 kg), peeled,

80 g hazelnuts rougly crushed and toasted,
1/4 tsp vanilla powdered,
40 g butter,
5 Tsp cane sugar,
a drop of calvados

Preheat the oven at 180 deg C. Fit the pastry in a tart mold (I used a 32 cm diameter). Bake blind: Prick with a fork and line the pastry with baking foil and dry beans to prevent it from shrinking. Bake for 10min and reserve.

Meanwhile, chop three of the apples. Pour the apples in a smal pan together with 2 Tsp cane sugar, half of the vanilla and a drop of calvados. Toss and simmer covered on medium heat for 10 minutes or until the apples are soft. Mash and leave to cool.

Combine the crushed and toasted hazelnuts with 1 Tsp cane sugar and line the mixture on on the cooled pastry. Cover evenly with the apple compote. Slice the remaining apples very thin using a mandoline or a sharp knife and arrange the apple slices on top of the tart. Sprinkle with the rest of the sugar and vanilla, and add little bits of butter, evenly on top of the apples. Bake for 20 min. 

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

Ingredients:
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.

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