Friday, December 31, 2010

Pear and Frangipane Tart

Will this be my last post of 2010??? Probably! Unless I have more time today...

Happy New Year!!!!
Bonne Annee 2011!!!

The reason I can put up a post today is because we are not hosting a New Year's Eve Party... Festivities are taking place at the Cicalis...!

My contribution? Brie in Puff Pastry, a Chocolate Vanilla Charlotte and Emilie is making New Year's cupcakes!
We will also have oysters with a Sauce Mignonette and Champagne of course!

My blog resolution for the New Year is to keep up with the postings! I did fairly well this year, but my goal is to post at least once a week! Time will tell.

Pear and Frangipane Tart

Serves 10

7 oz almond cream (198g)
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
2 eggs
1/3 cup flour

8 ripe pears, peeled and cored, cut in 8

2 sticks of butter. at room temperature
1 cup flour
1/4 cup warm water

Preheat the oven to 400F
Beat together the butter and almond paste on medium high until well blended. Add the eggs and mix. Add the flour and mix well until smooth. Set aside.

Make the crust:
In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix together the flour and the butter until blended. Add the water until the dough comes together, remains soft but not wet. Add flour if necessary.

Butter and flour an pie dish. I like the metal pan with removable bottom. The crust cooks better than in a ceramic or porcelain pie dish.

Roll out the dough on a well floured surface. Don't hesitate to add flour to prevent the dough from sticking to the counter. With the help of the rolling pin, transfer th dough to the prepared pie dish.

Spread the Frangipane evenly on the crust. Arrange the slices of pears on the cream and brush them with melted butter.
Bake at 400F for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350F and bake for another 45 minutes, or until the cream has become puffy and golden.

Serve at room temperature!


I used Odense pure almond paste. The taste is great and natural.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Buche de Noel

I love the time between Christmas and New Year...Everything seems to slow down a bit...And if you throw a snow storm on top of it... Everything stalls!

It was a wonderful Christmas here in Mashpee. My mother managed to get here with only a minor delay - she could have been stranded like so many other travelers! It was the first time in 13 years that we spent the Holidays together...happy and sad - our first Christmas without my father, but also the first one for Emilie with Grand-Maman.

A huge part of these Holidays is the food...of course. Christmas Eve menu was quite traditional for us...Salmon Gravlax with Blinis, and Bob made his famous clam chowder.
Christmas day...Champagne to start, Breasts of Duck (magrets de canard) and a Mushroom Risotto, and the infamous Buche de Noel (Yule Log).

This year I changed the recipe a little...and the new Log was delicious! The cake is a chocolate base cake, the filling a light vanilla butter cream and the bark...a classic ganache flavored with Glenfiddish whiskey.

Buche de Noel

Serves 10

1 cup sugar, divided
3/4 cup cake flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder + 2 Tbsp for dusting
1 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
4 large eggs, separated
2 Tbsp vegetable oil (I used safflower oil)
2 Tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp cream of tartar

Vanilla Buttercream:
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup water
1 1/3 cup sugar, + 2Tbsp
2 cups butter (4 sticks), cut into large pieces, softened (not melted)
2 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate ganache:

8 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
300 g heavy cream (1 1/4 cup)
50 g butter (1/2 stick)
5 cl liqueur (your choice!) - I used Glenfiddish whiskey for this recipe

Prepare the cake:

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Line a 15x10x1-inch sheet pan with parchment paper. Brush with vegetable oil or melted butter. Dust with cocoa powder and set aside.

Sift 1/2 cup sugar, the cake flour, baking powder, the cocoa powder and salt into a small bowl.

Beat the egg yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer until thick. Beat the oil in, the water and the vanilla.
Gradually add the dry ingredients, beating until just blended. The batter will be very thick.

In another bowl, beat the egg whites and the cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Slowly ad the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. Beat until stiff peaks but not dry.

Fold a quarter of the whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Fold in the remaining whites in two or three additions, being careful not to deflate the batter.

Spread the batter on the sheet pan, evenly.

Bake for about 12 minutes, until puffed and tester comes out clean.
Cool the cake for 10 minutes and unmold on a slightly damp kitchen towel dusted with cocoa powder.
Using the cloth, roll the long side of the cake (the kitchen towel will end up inside the cake!) and place seam side down on work surface to cool completely.

Prepare the Vanilla Buttercream:

In a bowl, combine the egg whites and the salt.

Place the water and 1 1/3 cup of sugar in a heavy saucepan. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar has dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil over moderate heat, brushing the sides of the saucepan with a pastry brush dipped in water. Do not stir.

When the syrup starts to boil, begin beating the whites on medium-high speed. Gradually add 2 Tbsp of sugar and beat until soft peaks form - do not beat again until syrup is ready.

Return to the syrup and boil until a candy thermometer reaches 240F. Remove from the heat at once and, with the mixer on high speed, add to the whites, pouring it slowly down the side of the bowl. Keep beating, scrapping the sides occasionally with a rubber spatula, until the meringue has cooled, about 10 minutes.

Reduce speed to medium and add the softened butter one piece at a time. When all the butter has been added, add the vanilla and beat for a little bit longer until the buttercream is smooth.

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, but not become too hard. 

Assemble the Yule Log:

Unroll the cake and dust with cocoa powder. Spread the vanilla buttercream evenly on the cake and, using the towel as an aid, roll the cake lengthwise (this time the towel should not be inside the cake!!).
When rolled, cut about 2 1/2 inches off both sides, diagonally, and place one piece on top of the cake, slanted side down, and the other on the side, slanted side against the main body of the cake. This should look like a wood log!

Spread the ganache on the cake, in an irregular fashion, and decorate with meringue mushrooms and other Christmas decorations.

For the buttercream, if the meringue has not cooled enough, the cream will become runny. Place the bowl on a bag of ice cubes and whisk; it should regain proper consistency.

It is a good idea if you like the biscuit a little more moist to brush it with an aromatic syrup (sugar and water and a liquor) before spreading the filling.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Last year I gave you the recipe for the Salmon Gravlax, which I serve on Blinis, a Russian pancake. Toast works well, but the Blinis really is the perfect vessel for the salmon!
This is my father's recipe that I use every year.


Makes....a lot!

2 1/2 cup buckwheat flour (you can use whole wheat too)
1 cup all purpose flour
a pinch of salt
3/4 stick butter (6 Tbsp), melted and cooled
1 1/2 Cups Greek Yogurt (16oz)
1/4 cup beer
6 eggs (2 whole and 4 yolks) - reserve the whites
1 1/2 cup whole milk
2 Tbsp baking powder

Combine the two flours and the salt in a large bowl.

In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, the butter and the yogurt.

Heat the milk to lukewarm and add the baking powder. Mix.

Add the egg mixture to the flours and mix. Add the beer, using more if needed. At this point, the batter should be moist all over.

Add the milk and combine to obtain a batter similar to a pancake batter, just a bit thicker.

Let rest for 2 hours.

Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add to the batter, careful not to deflate it.

Let batter rest another 20 minutes.

Cook the blinis on the stove top as you would pancakes, about 3 minutes per side. You can make them 4 to 5 inches in diameter, or make mini ones for fancy appetizers! 

Serve with the Gravlax or smoked salmon! 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Turkey Potpie with Cheddar Biscuit Crust

Winter in New England can be pretty brutal. One way the New Englanders have to cope with the bitter cold is food! Comfort food. Pasta, soups, stews...all these are comfort foods. But nothing is more warming that a pot pie.
That was a totally new concept for me, coming from France, and with an Italian father. Yes we do cook soups and pasta, and we do serve the stews with bread. But we have not yet put the bread on top of the stew! Comfort food at its best!

Turkey Potpie with Cheddar Biscuit Crust

Serves 8

2 Large turkey breasts, boneless and skinless, cut into 1/2-in pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
2 celery ribs, sliced
2 parsnips, sliced
8 oz baby bella mushrooms, cleaned and cut in half
4 oz shiitake mushrooms, stems cut, and cut in half
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 cup all purpose flour
4 Tbsp olive oil
4 Tbsp butter
2 cups chicken broth or stock

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/4 cup extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
3/4 cup butter, cold, cut into 1/2-in pieces
1 1/4 cup buttermilk

Prepare the filling:
Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsp butter in a large saute pan, or Dutch oven. Add the onion, carrots, celery, parsnips and thyme and saute for about 3 minutes. Cover and cook until just tender, about 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, uncovered, for another 5 minutes.
Remove the vegetables from the pan and set aside. Deglaze the juices with 1/2 cup chicken broth.

Heat the remaining oil and butter in the same pan and add the turkey. Let brown on all sides, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the vegetables to the pan and sprinkle with the flour. Add the stock  and let simmer until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Prepare the biscuit:
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper in a bowl. Add the cheeses and toss. Add the butter and work the mixture with your fingers, until it resembles coarse meal. Add the buttermilk and mix just until a dough forms.

Transfer the turkey filling, still warm, to a baking dish. Cover with dollops of biscuit dough. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the biscuit is puffy and golden, and the filling is bubbling.
Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Roast Pork with Pears and Cranberries

Another favorite! Perfect for the season...A little sweet with the pears and cranberries, and savory with the thyme and garlic. The preparation is very easy as this roast isn't stuffed. Great for a special occasion or a quick dinner!

Roast Pork with Pears and Cranberries

Serves 8

One 3lb loin of pork
Zest of 2 oranges
5 cloves of garlic, grated
3 twigs of fresh thyme
1 tsp ground pepper
1 Tbsp coarse salt
5 pears quartered
3 carrots, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup white wine

In a bowl, combine the orange zest, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Rub the pork with the rub until well coated.

Place the roast in a large baking pan and surround with the pears, onion and carrots and cranberries. Pour the wine at the bottom of the pan.

Bake at 450F for about 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350F for another 45 minutes.

Remove from oven and let stand, covered with aluminum foil, for about 10 minutes.

Slice and serve with wild rice or root vegetables.