dimanche 27 septembre 2009

Mediterranean Pizza

The Marché Saxe-Breteuil is my favourite marché in Paris. It is in the 7é arrondissement near UNESCO and l’école militaire. On my last trip there I bought tomates confits (sun-blushed tomatoes), artichoke and some of my favourite Kalamata olives. I also bought cheese, Pélardon des Cévennes aux garrigues chèvre fermier (AOC). This is a small soft-ripened goat’s cheese from the Languedoc region in the south of France.
These ingredients gave me the idea to throw together this Mediterranean Pizza.

I sliced the artichoke and sun blushed tomatoes, chopped the olives and scattered them over homemade dough (recipe can be found in Feb 2008 archive). I cut the cheese into small chunks and placed it on top with some fresh basil. Popped it into the preheated 200°C (390°F) oven for about 12 minutes.

dimanche 13 septembre 2009

Gâteau au chocolat

The temperatures over the last week have been crazy, the mornings started out with cool temperatures and by afternoon we were in sweltering ones. It is not easy to dress for days that start out at 11°C and end up at 30°C. Fall is here!!

I had a craving for chocolate cake and decided that since I had all the ingredients including some good quality chocolate, I would make this flourless version. My preference is for Valrhona chocolate but this time I used Côte d’Or Culinaire chocolate (there was a special deal on it at Delhaize recently) and found it to be an acceptable substitute. This cake is intense in chocolate flavour and using a good quality one is very important. The cake is rich and gooey like a fudge brownie. As I was making it, I thought about what possible additions I would make for future versions such as pears, raspberries, mango, star anise or red chile pepper. It is very tasty on its own but I think adding something would really enhance the flavour and make the cake more unique. It can be served with cream (either drizzled over or whipped), ice cream or sorbet.

Gâteau au Chocolat
Serves 6-8

125 g (4-1/2 oz) bittersweet Valrhona chocolate, chopped
125 mL (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
175 mL (3/4 cup) sugar
3 large eggs
125 mL (1/2 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

Preheat oven to 190°C (375°F). Line bottom of a 20 cm (8”) round spring-form pan with parchment paper; butter paper and ring of pan.

Melt chocolate and butter together in a double boiler, stirring, until smooth. Remove top pan of double boiler from heat, whisk in sugar; add eggs and whisk until well incorporated. Add cocoa powder and whisk until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake on middle rack of oven for 25 minutes, or until top has formed a thin crust. Remove from oven and let cool in pan on a rack for 5 minutes then transfer to a serving plate.
Serve warm or cold.

Completely cooled cake can be stored in an airtight container for 1 week.

mercredi 2 septembre 2009

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

When I was on vacation in Ontario, my friends Suzanne and Carol told me about eating oatmeal. Apparently while I had been in Europe breakfasting on croissants or pain au chocolat and café au lait (“le petit dejeuner français”), my friends have been eating oatmeal for breakfast. My Dad used to make us oatmeal for breakfast when we were kids (breakfast was his domain) and he still eats oatmeal. Back then we had instant Quaker Oats in the single serving packages – just add boiling water, stir and in 5 minutes – breakfast was served with a spoonful of sugar added. It seems that my friends have rediscovered oatmeal and are profiting from its many benefits. It keeps you going until lunchtime by giving you that feeling of fullness due to its high soluble fibre content and it prevents the sugar lows. It promotes weight loss. Oatmeal provides the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants we need. The debate seems to be over whether to use rolled oats or steel cut oats. In my search so far in Luxembourg I have only found rolled but I am sure the steel cut can be found somewhere now that I know what it looks like!

Regular rolled oatmeal takes about 15 minutes to cook on the stove and about 3 minutes in the microwave using 125 mL (1/2 cup) of oatmeal and 250 mL (1 cup) water. For variety, add extras like raisins, dried cranberries, brown sugar, honey, fresh fruit and berries.

In France I never found oatmeal in the grocery store, but then I never spent much time looking in the cereal aisle. But a couple of years ago, my lovely and talented young 9-year old friend, Natalie, came over for a visit armed with oatmeal so that we could make her family’s secret Oatmeal Cookie recipe together. Natalie added Smarties to some and white chocolate chunks to others as her own special twist to the family recipe. I would not have thought of that! The cookies were a hit but as they were from a secret recipe, I had to research my own to use for this blog. I hope that Natalie would like these ones just as much.

Dried cranberries can be substituted for the raisins. I added chunks of dark chocolate to half of the batch.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Makes approximately 2 dozen

125 mL (1/2 cup / 4 ounces) butter, softened

160 mL (2/3 cup) light brown sugar
1 egg

2.5 mL (1/2 tsp) pure vanilla extract

175 mL (3/4 cup) all-purpose flour

2.5 mL (1/2 tsp) baking soda

2.5 mL (1/2 tsp) ground cinnamon

1.25 mL (1/4 tsp) salt
375 mL (1-1/2 cups) rolled oats

175 mL (3/4 cup) raisins

Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F).

In a large bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar: beat in egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; stir into the creamed mixture. Stir in oats and raisins. Drop batter, 5 cm (2”) apart on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until cookies are golden at the edges but still just done on top. Let stand on the baking sheet for five minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.