While the cat's away…

May 30th, 2010 § 6 comments § permalink

When one of us is away for dinner, ’cause on a business trip or going out with the guys/gals we indulge ourselves in these cherished gourmandises that the other half just won’t give into…. For my dutchie, his lonely orgies range from KFC (one of my worst food nightmares) to more chicken wings, pork chops and other preferably over-sized meat cuts with minimum-sized veggie portions. I give into cheese (his worst food nightmare), veggies, more cheese and veggies, salads, soups, risottos, a good plate of pasta alla carbonara, or a homemade quiche with plenty of veggies and cheese just like this one…

Leek and Tome de Savoie Quiche

What about you… What are your secret and cherished gourmandises that you keep for the days when the cat’s away?

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While the cat’s away…

May 30th, 2010 § 4 comments § permalink

When one of us is away for dinner, ’cause on a business trip or going out with the guys/gals we indulge ourselves in these cherished gourmandises that the other half just won’t give into…. For my dutchie, his lonely orgies range from KFC (one of my worst food nightmares) to more chicken wings, pork chops and other preferably over-sized meat cuts with minimum-sized veggie portions. I give into cheese (his worst food nightmare), veggies, more cheese and veggies, salads, soups, risottos, a good plate of pasta alla carbonara, or a homemade quiche with plenty of veggies and cheese just like this one…

Leek and Tome de Savoie Quiche

What about you… What are your secret and cherished gourmandises that you keep for the days when the cat’s away?

» Read the rest of this entry «

Bittersweet

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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Sunday morning gold

June 24th, 2008 § 1 comment § permalink

Let it be said… I’m not a morning person:
Take me out on saturday night, and you’ll find no one on sunday morning, and if you do, it will be a wining grumpy lazy gourmande! My dutchie found that out the hard way and after trying to wake me up tenderly a couple of times before sunrise (he is a morning person…).
We’ve reached a silent understanding: he escapes the bedroom at dawn and minds his own business, while I sink deeper into the blankets. Much later, when the sun is already up into the sky, he brings me coffee and orange juice and some time fresh croissants he bought on his way back from his morning cycling tour and magically, the grumpiness fades away like a charm, leaving place to a perfect sunday.

But sunday mornings don’t always start out so perfect: Sometimes, the phone rings too early, some friends or family is calling to know if they could pass by, let say in a couple of hours… Of course I want to see them, it’s been so long and I’ve missed them… Yet, the house is a mess, I am a mess and I’ve got nothing ready for lunch.

Sleepwalking through the house, after both the shower and morning coffee failed to wake me up, I finally dare to open my eyes… And sometimes I am just lucky: a bunch of white gold is just there in front of me! Thanks so much Harry, for the freshly picked white asparagus from Limburg… And hop, a roll of puff pastry out of the freezer, a zest of lemon and vanilla, a pinch of almond: I’ll finally give a try at the white asparagus tart I’ve put together in my dreams. Sunday is perfect again and so will be lunch!

 

 

WhiteAsparagusTart
White gold in a tart: Tarte aux asperges blanches

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The social ‘quiche’

April 17th, 2008 § 1 comment § permalink

 

My day job is taking over my life lately and I’m in survival mode.
So many treats I’d like to share with you and so little time on my hands…It’s seems it’s gonna last for a while, so don’t worry if it is a bit quiet the coming weeks. I’ll be back!

Anyway, here’s a short one for today, one of the little black dresses of my culinary repertoire, a ‘quiche’… Savoury tarts like salads are really just a no-fuss love story. Ready in no time, you can dress them up or down for about any occasion: mini fancy bites for a cocktail or chique apetizers, or warm with a salad or soup in almost any shape and you can fill it up with whatever you have at hand that day. 

 

Tonight I’ll be making one with spinach and ‘brandade’, a salted cod fish specialty out the city where I grew up, Nimes. Comforting and sunny, perfect for relaxing while catching up with my best friend. In the mean time, I’ve got another of my faves ready for you: a ‘tarte a l’oignon’ we feasted on while playing cards and drinking vin de savoie during my last ski holidays (ages ago… it seems).


Tarte à l'oignon (2)

Onion tart
Tarte à l’oignon

serves 4 to 8 pers.
prep: 10 min. cook: 20 min + 20 min

Ingredients:
350 g puff pastry (I used 1 ready to use roll)
600 g onions, cleaned, peeled and cut into thin slices,
200 g shallots, cleaned, peeled and cut into thin slices,
30 g butter,
1 tsp brown sugar,
3 eggs,
20 cl whipping cream,
5 cl milk, (you can use more milk and less cream if you wish)

salt and pepper to taste,
nutmeg to taste,

Pre-heat the oven at 180 deg C. Line the dough in a tart mold and bake blind for 15 minutes. In the meantime, melt the butter in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the onions and shallots and toss to coat in butter, season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss gently from time to time for 10 to 15 minutes or until the onions juices are reduced. Sprinkle the sugar and raise the heat from medium to medium high heat.  Toss regularly for 5 to 10 minutes, until the onions and shallots turn a nice golden caramel colour. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

In a bowl, beat the eggs with a fork, beat in the whipping cream, season to taste with sea salt, pepper and grated nutmeg. Spread the cooled onions and shallots in the tart shell and pour in the eggs and cream mixture. Bake for 20 minutes at 180 deg C or until nicely golden. Serve hot for lunch or dinner with a salade, warm cut into bites as an appetizer or cold in slices for a picknick.

Bon appétit!

morning sun in val tho

 

 

The social 'quiche'

April 17th, 2008 § 1 comment § permalink

 

My day job is taking over my life lately and I’m in survival mode.
So many treats I’d like to share with you and so little time on my hands…It’s seems it’s gonna last for a while, so don’t worry if it is a bit quiet the coming weeks. I’ll be back!

Anyway, here’s a short one for today, one of the little black dresses of my culinary repertoire, a ‘quiche’… Savoury tarts like salads are really just a no-fuss love story. Ready in no time, you can dress them up or down for about any occasion: mini fancy bites for a cocktail or chique apetizers, or warm with a salad or soup in almost any shape and you can fill it up with whatever you have at hand that day. 

 

Tonight I’ll be making one with spinach and ‘brandade’, a salted cod fish specialty out the city where I grew up, Nimes. Comforting and sunny, perfect for relaxing while catching up with my best friend. In the mean time, I’ve got another of my faves ready for you: a ‘tarte a l’oignon’ we feasted on while playing cards and drinking vin de savoie during my last ski holidays (ages ago… it seems).


Tarte à l'oignon (2)

Onion tart
Tarte à l’oignon

serves 4 to 8 pers.
prep: 10 min. cook: 20 min + 20 min

Ingredients:
350 g puff pastry (I used 1 ready to use roll)
600 g onions, cleaned, peeled and cut into thin slices,
200 g shallots, cleaned, peeled and cut into thin slices,
30 g butter,
1 tsp brown sugar,
3 eggs,
20 cl whipping cream,
5 cl milk, (you can use more milk and less cream if you wish)

salt and pepper to taste,
nutmeg to taste,

Pre-heat the oven at 180 deg C. Line the dough in a tart mold and bake blind for 15 minutes. In the meantime, melt the butter in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the onions and shallots and toss to coat in butter, season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss gently from time to time for 10 to 15 minutes or until the onions juices are reduced. Sprinkle the sugar and raise the heat from medium to medium high heat.  Toss regularly for 5 to 10 minutes, until the onions and shallots turn a nice golden caramel colour. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

In a bowl, beat the eggs with a fork, beat in the whipping cream, season to taste with sea salt, pepper and grated nutmeg. Spread the cooled onions and shallots in the tart shell and pour in the eggs and cream mixture. Bake for 20 minutes at 180 deg C or until nicely golden. Serve hot for lunch or dinner with a salade, warm cut into bites as an appetizer or cold in slices for a picknick.

Bon appétit!

morning sun in val tho

 

 

Running late for Christmas?

December 21st, 2007 § 1 comment § permalink

Eid, Christmas and Hanoeka are coming close…

christmas2

Are you all set? … I am not: the house is a mess, haven’t had one minut yet to think of my christmas dinner, still got to get the christmas tree, the presents… and my family will be at the door two days from now for a whole week of festivities! Sounds desperate… Well, nevermind! I’ve decided to (try to) keep cool this year. *deep breath*.  

In case some of you out there can recognise themselves, I thought I could share my christmas race with you (If I manage to fit posting in the program). 

First, I’ve got one tip for your christmas presents: Have you heard of the Menu for Hope raffle yet? If not, have a look… you’ve got until tonight to get a chance of winning amazing food related prizes worldwide (meals in world famous restaurants, culinary tours of your favourite cities, cooking equipment, signed cookbooks, cooking workshops…) while helping children in Lesotho getting food for lunch! Don’t miss it… I got tickets for the guided tour of El Bulli of course, a culinary tour of Barcelona and a lovely vintage print.

For the rest, my moto this year is: get organised and go simple!
(I know that my friends will no doubt get tears of laughter reading this…)

So in that spirit, here are a couple of tips for great homemade appetizers that will impress your guests while being so simple and easy to prepare…

apetizers
Asparagus mousse, cheese sablés* and candied tomato tartlets

Mousse or soup shots always make a great impression, while they can be pretty easy and prepared in advance. The asparagus and vanilla mousse on the picture is based on the recipe I cooked for Blog Appétit quite a while ago. This time I used canned asparagus, and I baked the mousse in shot glasses for 20min. They can be prepared a couple of days in advance and kept in the refrigerator. For the decoration, I used green aspasragus tips blanched for a couple of minnutes an strips of smoked salmon. For Christmas, I am thinking of trying this with artichoke hearts instead of asparagus, with seared slices of scallops on top maybe.

pumpkin_cappucino
You can also think of shots with a celeriac or pumpkin cappuccino or creamy jerusalem artichokes soup topped wth scallops or langoustines.

For the celeriac, cook in half water, half milk until soft (~15min) and mix. For jerusalem artichokes, sauteed them with a small shallot before adding the liquids, spice to your taste. You can prepare and freeze these soups well in advance. Take out of the freezer the night before. On the day itself, mix with liquid cream and warm up before serving. Top with whipped cream, seared scallops, truffles, langoustines, crushed hazelnuts, nutmeg, sechuan pepper… whatever fit your mood that day.

mini candied tomato tartlet
And what about homemade mini savoury tartlets? sounds to complicated…

The trick is to prepare a savoury shortcrust well in advance (70g flour, 30g powdered almonds, 60g butter, 1 Tsp milk, salt, pepper and any spices or herbs you fill like). Bake in mini silicon molds and freeze the tartlet bottoms. You’ll only need to take them out of the freezer a couple of hours in advance, garnish when thawed and warm up in the oven.
I like to garnish them with homemade candied tomatoes, or spicy apple compote topped with ‘magret de canard’ (smoked duck breast), sauteed spinach and goat cheese or smoked trout… but really the possibilities are endless!

asperge_stJacques
And then, there’s the scallops… I love scallops, just seared served with a drop of argan or hazelnut oil, spiced with sechuan pepper, or with a strawberry coulis. Or mini blinis or baghrir (prepared in advanced and frozen), just warmed up, topped with creme fraiche with a touch of lemon or wasabi and garnished with salmon or fish eggs.

I could go on for hours, but I’ve got to seriously get started, so I’ll finish with dried fruits… Prunes rolled in bacon and baked until crispy in the oven, dates filled with foie gras topped with sea salt and pepper. So easy!

Bon appétit and merry christmas!

*I’ll post the recipe later, I’ve got to run to the market…

 

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