Monday, December 22, 2008

Apple-Cranberry Stuffed Pork Loin

The traditional Christmas dinner in France is a stuffed Turkey, or Capon, or any other kind of stuffed bird, served with chestnuts and a few other side dishes. But here in the United States, Christmas comes so quickly after Thanksgiving that we are ready for something different.

I found a really nice alternative to the bird: a stuffed pork loin. The ingredients are festive, it is relatively easy to make and tastes absolutely delicious!!

Apple-Cranberry Stuffed Pork Loin

one 4 lbs pork loin, butterflied
4 Macoun apples, chopped
1 medium-size onion, chopped
1 cup dried Cranberries, chopped
2 sprigs rosemary, chopped
2 cups seasoned croutons, or dried bread
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup Maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 450F.

Butterfly the pork loin or have your butcher do it for you.
Pat dry and season with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, soften the croutons with the chicken stock. And set aside.

In a medium size bowl, mix the apples, onion, dried cranberries, rosemary. Add the softened croutons and the maple syrup. Mix well to combine.

Spread the apple stuffing on the pork, patting it down tight. Roll the loin and secure by tying it with cooking twine. Transfer to the baking dish with any stuffing that may have fallen out of the roast and bake at 450F for about 15 minutes. Then reduce oven temperature to 350F for another hour or until temperature at the center of the roast reaches 145F.

When ready, take the roast out of the oven and let stand for 10 minutes to allow the juices to settle.

Cut into 3/4 inch slices and serve with rice and string beans.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Truffes au Chocolat - Chocolate Truffles

Now that we have taken care of Christmas dessert, let talk sweets!

My favorite this time of the year is the infamous Chocolate Truffle!! You may have guess, I love chocolate!

Truffles are a great gift to bring to a party, or for friends and school teachers...I know they are always appreciated!

These are relatively easy to make, and you may flavor them with your favorite liqueur, or coffee...

Truffes au Chocolat
Chocolate Truffles

1 cup heavy cream
4 Tbsp butter
2 Tsp light corn syrup
18 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 Tbsp Grand Marnier, or other liqueur
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

In a medium heavy saucepan, bring the cream, butter and corn syrup to a full boil over medium heat. Turn off the heat and add the chocolate. Gently swirl to cover the chocolate with the cream, but do not stir. Add the liqueur and let stand for 5 minutes.

Slowly whisk to combine. Refrigerate the mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon every 10 to 15 minutes. After about 45 minutes, the chocolate mixture will thicken and you'll have to stir more frequently, every 3 to 5 minutes.

When thick enough to scoop, use 2 small spoons and scrape the chocolate to form into a ball. Transfer balls to cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate again for at least 15 minutes. Then roll balls in the palm of your hand to shape and drop them in a bowl filled with cocoa powder. Roll into the bowl until Truffle is completely covered.

They keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks! Merry Christmas!!

You may forgo the liqueur: just reduce the chocolate quantities from 18 oz to 16 oz.

If you want white truffles, replace the cocoa powder by confectioner sugar.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Buche de Noel - Yule Log

This is my favorite time of the year! Everyone is in such good spirits, town squares and shops are decorated. It is getting cold and we are all waiting anxiously for snow, although here on Cape Cod there is seldom any snow for Christmas, but we keep hoping!

White or green, Christmas is a time for decorating the house, inside and out, a time for shopping and party-hopping!

Christmas is also a time when I spend many an hour in the kitchen!!

On Christmas Eve, we usually have a late light dinner of Smoked Salmon over Blinis.

The feast is on Christmas Day! We might have an appetizer of more smoked salmon, with blinis if there are any left, otherwise on pumpernickel bread. We then have Duck Breasts, also known as Magrets, with Pomegranate Sauce, and a side of Mushroom Risotto.

And for dessert, the famous French "Buche de Noel", or Yule Log. It is a cake shaped as a log, filled with a cream and covered in a chocolate ganache. The log is then decorated to look like a real wood log you'd find in the woods. I sift powdered sugar over it for snow and decorate with small meringue mushrooms to give it an authentic look!!!

It seems like a lot of work and I will not lie, it does take some time to put it together. But the result is really worth it!!

Buche de Noel
Yule Log

Cake (Genoise):
6 large eggs, separated
1/4 tsp Cream of Tartar
12 Tbsp sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder + 1 Tbsp

Vanilla Mousse:
3 dl milk
3 dl heavy cream, or whipping cream
100 g sugar
5 large egg yolks
1 vanilla bean
2 tsp gelatin powder (10g)

Chocolate ganache:
8 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
300 g heavy cream
50 g butter
5 cl liqueur (your choice!)

Make the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 15x10x1 - inch jelly roll pan, or a cookie sheet. Line the bottom with parchment paper, allowing a 1-inch overhang on the short sides. Butter and flour the paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the Cream of Tartar and whisk until soft peaks form. Add 6 Tbsp of sugar and whisk until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat the egg yolks with 1/3 cup cocoa powder and the remaining 6 Tbsp of sugar until thick, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1/4 of the egg whites to lighten the batter. Fold in the remaining whites. Gently spread the batter in the prepared pan.

Bake the Genoise until the cake springs back when you press the center, about 15 minutes. Transfer pan the rack and let cool completely.

Unmold on a slightly humid kitchen towel. Peel off the parchment paper.
Sift remaining cocoa powder over the cake and roll tightly, lenghtwise. Set aside.

Make the vanilla mousse:
We start by making a "Creme Anglaise", or vanilla custard.

In a heavy medium saucepan, heat the milk with the vanilla (cut lenghtwise and scraped), and half the sugar. Stir frequently to prevent the milk from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

In a small bowl, mix the gelatin with a couple of tablespoons of the warmed milk. Stir to dissolve.

Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk, mix the remaining sugar and the egg yolks until light and fluffy. Add half the warm milk mixture; stir and return to saucepan.
Cook over medium low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until thickened, or temperature reaches 85 degrees Celsius.
Remove the vanilla bean, add the gelatin, making sure there are no clumps. Let cool.

Finishing the mousse:
In the chilled bowl of an electric mixer - whisk should be chilled as well - whip the cream until stiff peaks form (you have now mastered a Chantilly!). Add it delicately to the custard.
Set aside while you get back to the cake!

Slowly unroll the cake and spread delicately the vanilla mousse on top. Roll the cake back. Cut a piece of the roll at an angle, about 3 inches. Place the bigger cake on a serving plate and place the short piece angle side touching the big cake. It should look like a real log. Set aside in a cool place.

Now prepare the ganache:
In a medium heavy saucepan, heat the cream. Add the chocolate, butter and liqueur. Whisk and remove from the stove. Let cool, whisking regularly. The chocolate mixture should thicken.

Finish the Buche de Noel:
Spread the chocolate ganache over the cake. With a fork, draw lines lenghtwise to make it look like a log.

It is ready and just needs decorations!!!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Apple Crumble

It has been a long time since I have been able to get to Charlotte & Spice! The culprit?!! Home improvement! It all started Labor Day weekend when I painted the kitchen. We are now in the middle of installing hardwood floors throughout the first included! Needless to say that the house has been totally disorganized since we have started this project!

Instead of thinking out meals, I was scheming to get dinner at friends!!! Thanks you guys! And when dinner was at home anyways, it was ordered in or frozen pizza, or pasta with store bought sauces! Lame!!!

It seems though that life at the Steven's is getting back to normal and I have resumed cooking.

Fall is here with its temperamental weather, its incredible colors, especially here in New England, the World Series, Football and indoors! Now is time for stews, crumbles, roasted meats and vegetables, soups...

And I am going to start with dessert!

Fall is Apple Season. Had we not been so taken by the wood floors, we would have gone apple picking. So many varieties are grown around here. My favorite apple is the MacIntosh, firm and juicy. I use it in most desserts as it cooks without getting mushy. I often mix it with the Macoun, a bit sweeter.

A wonderful pairing for the apple is the Cranberry, widely available on the Cape, as it is produced here. Its tartness balances the sweetness of the apples and they look like red jewels hidden in the crumble!

Apple Crumble

8 Macoun apples
8 MacIntosh apples
1 tsp ground Jamaica Allspice
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 cups fresh Cranberries

1 1/2 cup all wheat flour
2 sticks butter, room temperature
2 Tbsp brown sugar
3/4 cup oats
1 cup walnuts, crushed

Preheat the oven at 320F.

For the crumble, mix together the butter, flour and sugar until blended. Add the oats and the walnuts. Set aside.

Peel and core the apples. Cut them in small pieces. Sprinkle with the brown sugar, the cornstarch and the Allspice. Mix well. Add the cranberries and mix.

Transfer the apples in baking dish, sprinkle the crumble over the apples and bake for about 1 hour, or until bubbly.

Serve warm or at room temperature, by itself or with Vanilla ice cream!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes

As we do every year with our friends John and Peggy, and their children, we are going camping this weekend! Not very far from home...This way, if it rains, we can just pack up and go!! No!! We are not wimps, but we had a bad experience before !!!

We go to Nickerson State Park, on Cape Cod. And this time it will be three families joining efforts around the fire. We go biking, hiking, sightseeing...and we eat! Not just mere camping food - although what that is I do not know - but gourmet! One of my favorite is the butterflied pork tenderloin marinated in mustard and lemon. But that will be in another post!

Breakfast is a big moment...Barely awake you have to earn your coffee...No fire...No breakfast!

My italian coffee percolator is perfect for this first morning cup without which I would be totally useless!! And I also bring our double sided cast iron griddle for pancakes! This recipe is also great for home!!!

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes

3 cups Whole Wheat Flour
6 tsp Baking Powder
3 large Eggs
2 1/2 cups Buttermilk
6 Tbsp Salted Butter (do not add salt), melted
2 tsp Vanilla Extract

Fresh (or frozen) Blueberries
Maple Syrup

Sift together the flour and baking powder.
Beat the eggs, buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla until blended.
Pour the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients and stir only enough to moisten the batter. Do not beat or your pancakes will be tough.

Bake on the griddle: butter the griddle and pour dollops of batter on the hot griddle. Place the Blueberries on top of the pancakes and once the batter bubbles, flip the pancakes over.
Put a small piece of butter on each pancake and serve with warmed Maple Syrup!

Instead of Blueberries you can try Chocolate Chips! The kids favorite!!!

When outdoors camping or on the beach for a BBQ, the easiest dessert is grilled Bananas with Dark Chocolate. Try it!

Grilled Bananas with Dark Chocolate

1 ripe Banana per person
3 Squares of Dark Chocolate per Banana

Place the bananas with their skin on the grill and cover until bottom is brow/black. Turn the bananas over nad cover again until the skin is dark and begins to split open.

With a knife open each banana, one at a time, and push the 3 squares of chocolate inside the hot Banana. The chocolate will start melting the dessert is ready to be served!

Don't stress with the chocolate. Some love it really dark (for this recipe I use at least 85% cocoa, sometimes even 99% cocoa!) but some prefer lighter shade of it! Try to use at least 64% cocoa as it really brings the flavors together better.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Lemon Cheesecake

Who ever said that Labor Day marked the end of Summer??? As Tropical Storm Hannah was passing through New England, the heat and the humidity reminded me of a hot Summer day in Naples, Florida. The rain too, of course, but I actually welcomed it as I had had no time to water the yard.

The storm also brought strong winds that brought down the dead tips of the oak trees, damage caused by the infamous Cicadas. Time for clean up!

For us on Cape Cod, Labor Day means another BBQ on the beach!!! Everyone brings something, wether you get to the said beach by boat or Kayak. I kayaked with Nicole, but was smart enough to send everything on the boat!!!

My collaboration to this dinner was a Lemon Cheesecake. Easy to transport, stays cool on the ice and perfect ending to the weekend!

Lemon Cheesecake

15 Graham Crakers, crushed
1/4 cup sugar
8 Tbsp butter, melted

Lemon Curd:
1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup water
2 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 Tbsp lemon zest

Cream cheese filling:
3 8-oz package cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tsp Vanilla extract

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Press to the bottom of a spring-form pie dish. Bake at 350 F for 10-12 minutes.
Take out of the oven and let stand.
Reduce oven heat to 325 F.

Lemon curd:
In a small bowl, disolve the cornstarch in the water.
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks, the sugar and the lemon juice. Whisk in the cornstarch mixture and cook over medium heat whisking gently for about 4 minutes, until hot, thick and glossy.
Add the lemon zest and let cool. Set aside.

Cream cheese filling:
In the bowl od an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese with the sugar until smooth.
Beat in the flour, mixing well, until blended.
Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition.
Add the sour cream, and the vanilla. Mix well until the batter is smooth.
Pour the batter over the crust and smooth the top with a spatula. Dollop the lemon curd on the batter and carefully twirl it into the batter, with a knife. Be careful not to cut the crust.
Bake for about 40 minutes, until golden aroud t he edges and just set.
Refrigerate until thouroughly chilled.
Run the tip of a knife around the edges of the cake to loosen it and place on a serving dish.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Dinner on the beach!

Summer really goes by fast, especially if you are enjoying it!!! And I am! Our Cape Cod home is full with visitors and every day is filled with visits to the local beach, our friend's pool and some shopping!

And of course we do spend a lot of time planning for the next meal!

One of the summer's highlight is a barbecue on the beach. Of course we build a bonefire, bring salads, desserts, wines and softdrinks for the kids, candles...Well, a real gourmet dinner on the beach!

My contribution was a Lebanese Tabouleh. This Tabouleh's main ingredient is not Couscous, as the more well known Northern African Tabouleh, but Parsley, making it a light side dish or buffet component that even the hard dieting women can enjoy!!!

Lebanese Tabouleh

3 bunches of Parsley (I mixed flat and curly!)
1 bunch fresh mint
1 onion
4 tomatoes
Juice of 1 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup olive oil1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup Bulgur (crushed wheat; if you can't find it use couscous)

Put the bulgur in a bowl.

Wash and dry the parsley and the mint. Chop finely and set aside in a salad bowl.
Mix the lemon juice, olive oil, hot sauce, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Verify that there is enough lemon juice; some people like it more or less "zesty". Also adjust the hot sauce according to your tastes.

Add the lemon mixture to the bulgur and let stand for about half an hour. The grain should absorb the liquids.

Chop the onions and tomatoes and add to the parsley. Mix well. Add the bulgur to the salad and mix again. Taste to adjust seasonings. Let stand to allow the flavors to develop.

Should be served the day it is prepared.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Linguini al Pomodoro

Where is the heat that is, in France, supposed to accompany summer?

I had a really nice dinner last night with some of my childhood friends near Paris and we had to turn the patio heater on. And of course the conversation at this point focused on the ugly summer (?) weather the region had been plagued with. As it turns out, this is all because of last year's 13 moons.

If you check your calendars from 2007, you will notice that there actually were 13 full moons. And according to the local beliefs, we are doomed for the next three to four years... nothing but mediocre and gloomy summers.

But let it not darken our spirits and let summer meals brighten our evenings!!!

This pasta recipe is just what you need.

Linguini al Pomodoro

15 ripe Tomatoes
3 Limes
1 bunch Cilantro, chopped
3 cloves Garlic, chopped very fine
1/2 cup Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Hot Sauce
Salt to taste
2 lbs of fresh linguini, or other long pasta

In a medium saucepan, bring some water to boil. Dip the tomatoes, a few at a time, into the water for about 15 seconds, to blanch them. Then peel of the skin and, with a sharp knife, chop the tomatoes into real small chunks.

Combine the chopped tomatoes, the juice of the limes, the chopped garlic, the chopped cilantro, the olive oil and the hot sauce in a salad bowl. Season with salt to taste. Refrigerate for a few hours to let the flavors develop.

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Serve the sauce over the hot pasta and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Diner Provençal

Any occasion is good to get together for a meal. I have had another terrific experience when an old friend, Delphine, came for dinner.

Weather was nice and called for a sunny menu!

Delphine came with a magnum of Rosé wine, Côtes de provence Château Cavalier, which was crisp and refreshing, perfect for what was to follow: Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb and Aubergines Provençales

Of course we sat around the table for a great deal of the evening, France oblige, and talked about all that happened since the last time we were together. A fine evening!

Aubergines Provençales

5 eggplants
18 plum tomatoes (also called Roma)
2 medium onions, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
6 sprigs of fresh basil
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Wash and dry the eggplants, tomatoes and basil.
Quarter the tomatoes lenghtwise.

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil and saute the onions. When golden and soft, add half the garlic and then the tomatoes. Cook until most of the water has evaporated and the sauce has thickened.

While the tomatoes are cooking, cut the eggplants: first cut them lengthwise into 5 slices, then cut each slice lenghtwise again in about 5 strips, and finally cut each strips into smaller strips, about 2 inches long.

When the tomatoes have reached sauce consistency, add the eggplants and half the basil and toss. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until the eggplants are soft, but not mushy.

When cooked, add the remaining garlic and stir to mix. Drizzle with olive oil and the remaining basil before serving.

This dish can be served either hot or at room temperature. Leftovers are to be kept in the fridge, and can be served cold also!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Clafouti aux Cerises - Cheery Clafouti

School is over and as we do every summer, we flew to France for a month. The whole family gathers at my parent's house, coming from all regions of the country, for a huge dinner.

Planning the meal requires patience! The choice of the main dish will dictate what the appetizer, side dish and dessert will be. We will then build the wine list according to each part of the menu. A staple of the summer table is the Rosé wine. It is served chilled and is light and refreshing. French rosé are not sweet nor heavy and the choices are endless.

Meals in France are a big deal. Unlike a typical dinner in an American family, which usually lasts no more than half an hour, dinner in France can last for hours. We start with the aperitive: wines, whisky, gin or Campari, olives, peanuts and canapes.

Dinner follows with appetizer (traditionally not a salad), the entree (or main dish), one or two side dishes, a salad, a selection of cheeses, and dessert.

This is the time to savour every flavor, enjoy good company and animated discussions... for a couple of hours!!!

For dessert, since there were so many of us, we had to make a few. A raspberry trifle and the traditional Clafouti aux Cerise were among the sweets.

Clafouti aux Cerises

2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp butter

3 lbs cherries, pitted

1/2 cup sugar
1 cup flour
a pinch of salt
6 eggs
1 cup of light cream
2 cups of milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Butter the baking dish and sprinkle with the 2 tbsp of sugar. Transfer the cherries to the dish.

In a small bowl, combine the sugar, flour and salt.

In a larger bowl, mix the eggs, the light cream and the milk. Add the vanilla and almond extracts.
When well blended, add the dry ingredients to the egg bowl and mix well. Pour over the cherries.
Put some small pieces of butter on the top of the dish and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for about one hour, until golden. serve at room temperature or cold.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Tuna Tartare

This weekend, Bob and I helped John and Peggy move. Not only was it a really hot day, it was also Cicada time!

Cicada??? These are really big bugs, about 2 inches long, that look like flies with red eyes. The particularity for these bugs is that they only come up every 17 years. As soon as it gets warm, the Cicadas come out of the ground were they have leaved for 17 years, climb on branches, get out of their shell and start flying around. Then they start the mating sounds...loud like a store alarm ringing all day long.

Why am I writing about Cicadas in a foood blog??? Well it seems that a group of people think they are a culinary treat. So of course, when the usual suspects came for dinner I was tempted to tell them Cicadas were on the menu!

Instead I decided to prepare Mike's feshly caught tuna as an appetizer. The quality of the fish was such that it would have been a shame to cook it. Raw tuna it is.

Tuna Tartare

1 lb sushi grade Tuna
10 Sundried Tomatoes
1 bunch of fresh Mint
3 tbsp Sesame seeds, toasted
1 1/2 tsp Wasabi powder
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Clean and dry the mint leaves and place in a food processor with the sundried tomatoes, the wasabi powder and about 1/3 cup oil, salt and pepper. Pulse to chop, but do not puree.

Chop the tuna with a really sharp knife. Pieces should be no more than 4mm. Again you do not want to puree the fish.

Tranfer the tuna in a medium bowl with the sundried tomatoes mixture and combine carefully. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

When ready, mold the Tuna Tartare in a ramequin, or very small bowl, and turn onto a plate. Decorate with a couple of mint leaves and the toasted sesame seeds.

Serve cold.
Serves 4.

I did not have any sundried tomatoes in my pantry but had some tomato Tapenade, which is pureed sundried tomatoes. It worked really well as I did not have to use the food processor. I chopped the mint with a knife and mixed everything together.
You may also adjust the quantities of wasabi according to taste. Remember, thought, that too much heat can be overpowering and kill the taste of the fish.

Bon appetit!!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Skewered Shrimp with Fennel and Orange

Another occasion t cook a special meal! Bob decided on Shrimps Kebabs with Fennel and Orange. This is a meal that we used to prepare often when we lived in Naples, Florida. It is acutally quite easy to make, but a bit labor intensive! I would suggest that you make the marinade the night before to let all the flavors develop.

For dessert... Our daughter Julie took charge. She made a Lemon Pie out of a recipe book (from Parisian pie expert Eric Kayser) French. She of course speaks it fluently and reads and writes it, but some culinary terms were quite foreign to her and since both Bob and I were spending yet another morning on the soccer field (our son's Dylan team was in a playoff), she had no one to turn to and improvised! The term was "Bain-marie" which is a cooking method most of us know: double boiler. To make a long story short, when we got back from the game, she had the pie in the freezer, and the custard was quite liquidy. We fixed it by baking the pie. She then put on the candied slices of lemon she had prepared, refrigerated it, and the result was excellent!

Skewered Shrimp with Fennel and Orange

1/2 cup Olive oil
2 Tbsp ground fennel
Zest of 3 oranges
Zest of 2 lemons
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
35 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 fennel bulbs cut into 1 inch pieces
2 red onions, pelled and cut into 1 inch pieces
3 oranges, quartered

In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, both zests, the ground fennel seeds and crushed red pepper.

Pour the marinade over the shrimp and refrigerate for about 4 hours.

Thread the orange pieces, fennel, red onion and shrimp onto skewers.

Grill a few minutes on each side, until shrimps are cooked.

Serve with rice or grilled polenta.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Raspberry Trifle

Summer has finally arrived and we are celebrating with another dinner with friends! Weather on the Cape has been absolutely dreadful and I was ready Friday night to start a fire in the fireplace. And Saturday morning...80 degrees!!! Cape Cod as always unpredictable.

Dinner was at our friend's house, here in Mashpee. Like me, Nicole is french, her husband, Mike, is american, and our children are a little of both! Our other friends, Peggy and John, were there of course!

As the self proclaimed "Dessert Lady", I brought dessert! Something fresh and light, with seasonal fruits...Raspberry trifle sounded perfect! The best part? It is better made the day before!

Raspberry Trifle

2/3 cups dry white wine
2 Tbsp sherry
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup superfine sugar

Sponge Cake:
4 eggs, separated
3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp superfine sugar
3/4 cup flour
4 Tbsp butter, melted

Vanilla Custard:
4 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 1/3 cup milk
1 vanilla bean, split lenghtwise
1 1/3 cup chilled whipping cream

9 cups raspberries

First prepare the syrup:

Put all the ingredients in a bowl, mix, cover and reserve in the fridge, overnight or at least 4 hours.

Now prepare the sponge cake:

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer whisk the egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy.
In another bowl beat the egg whites until stiff pick form. Add remaining 2 Tbsp of sugar and wisk again until stiff. Add one third of the egg whites, one third of the flour and one third of the butter to the egg yolk mixture. Gently fold together. Repeat two more times.
Spoon batter onto the baking sheets, two circles on each.
Bake until golden and springs back to touch, about 14 minutes. Transfer to rack and let cool.

Prepare the Custard:

In the bowl on an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks to blend. Add the sugar and beat on high speed until thick and pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add the cornstach.

Heat the milk in heavy medium saucepan. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean and put it all in the milk. Bring to boil.

Gradually add milk to eggyolk mixture. Return mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat until very thick and center of mixture is bubling, whisking constantly, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk for another minute. Let cool. Place plastic sheet over surface and chill for at least 3 hours. Can be made the day before! Keep refrigerated.

Whik the cream until stiff peaks form. Whisk the custard to loosen and fold in 1 cup of whipped cream into it. When well blended, add the remaining whipped cream. Cover and refrigerate.


Gently fold all but 2 cups of the raspberries in the custard.

Place two of the spongecake circles in a 10-cup triffle dish. Pour about half of the strained syrup on it, a little at a time, pressing the cakes to make sure they absorb the liquid.

Pour half the custard-raspberry mixture on top of the cakes. Cover with the two remaining circles, pour the rest of the syrup, pressing lightly, and pour the rest of the custard.

Cover with the remaining fresh raspberries. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

I made it one whole day ahead and the flavors really blended well together.

Friday, June 6, 2008


I have always enjoyed cooking for my family and friends and my last experience was just experience!

For some years now, I had in mind to make a Paella, a typical Spanish dish. Typical yes, but there seems to be as many ways to make it as there are cooks...I went online, checked the usual culinary websites, some blogs and finally decided to get my aunt's recipe. She makes it for me every so often when I go back home for a month in the summer...home in France that is!!

Her recipe was good but there was no food amounts...I resorted to my father's recipe which had lots of amounts!!!! And then decided to make my own... and it was a success!

I made it for Memorial weekend... not very orthodox I agree, but paired with the smoked ribs my husband prepared, our sixty and some guests were happy!

To prepare this Paella, I used my parents 27-inch Paella pan, which I had brought back from one of my trips home, a tripod and a special burner I got online. I set it all up outside (did I mention that it is best prepared outdoors?!), and spent the next hour or so finding a spot protected from the wind and leveling the apparatus!

I was finally ready to start cooking.


20 pieces of chicken, thighs and drumsticks
5 lb calamari
5 lb mussels
3 lb clams (Little Necks)
3 lb large shrimps, peeled and deveined
3 lb monkfish (if available)
2 lb Chorizo

5 big tomatoes, chopped into large chunks
4 onions, chopped
1 head of garlic, chopped
5 red bell peppers, cut into 3/4-inch pieces

1.5 bag of frozen peas

2 gallons chicken stock, or broth
Saffron (I get 2 small jars at Trader Joe's)
Piment d'Espelette

Olive oil

4 lb round rice (Spanish is best, but I used Arborio and it worked fine)

Ahead preparation:

Start by cooking the mussels in a separate pan, on the stove, with white wine and garlic. When open, set the mussels aside and repeat with the clams.

Also cook the calamari and shrimps ahead. You want to cook them either really fast or really long. Anywhere inbetween they become chewy. Saute the calamari in pan (outside) in olive oil and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Repeat with the shrimps.

Prepare the stock: heat with the saffron, Paprika and piment d'Espelette. You want the stock to be hot when you add it to the rice later.

Now let's get to the dish:

In the Paella pan, saute the chicken with olive oil ad garlic. When browned on all sides, push to the outside of the pan. Turn the meat regularly to avoid burning it.

In center of the pan, add oil if needed. Add red peppers, onions and more garlic. Saute until tender. Add tomatoes. Let cook a few more minutes and push to the side, in front of the chicken.

In center, add the chorizo. Saute for a few minutes and set to the side of the pan, with the red peppers.
Now to the rice: Add some oil and the rice, all at once. Saute the rice until it becomes transluscent. Add the hot stock, 2 cups at a time, and mix. Keep the rice in the center of the pan, and mix well. Stir often, making sure the rice does not stick too much to the bottom of the pan. When all the liquid has been absorbed, add more stock.

The whole process of cooking the rice takes between 30 and 45 minutes.

After the 2nd addition of stock, add the calamari, shrimps, mussels and clams on top of the chicken and vegetables. Don't mix them to the rice as it still needs work. The seafood needs heating, not cooking anymore.

You can also add the peas to the rice about 10 minutes before end of cooking time. This is for color! Finish with the stock. When the rice is cooked, serve!

This serves about 20 people.