Friday, December 2, 2011

Pear and Walnut Muffins

I guess I am in a Muffin phase! These little treats are absolutely delicious and present so well! Our kitchen has turned into a "test kitchen" as I try new recipes that I want to make and sell at the Hyannis Rink where I work now. So far so good!

Pear and Walnut Muffins

Makes 15 muffins

3 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

2 cups (315g) whole wheat flour
1/3 cup (100g) brown sugar
2 tsp ground cardamon
1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup safflower oil
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 or 5 ripe firm pears (I used Bosc), peeled, cored and chopped coarsely
1+ cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Line muffin pan with muffin cups and spray with baking spray (try to find one without silicon).

Stir together the topping ingredients and set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt, cardamon and nutmeg.

In a larger bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, yogurt and vanilla extract, until blended.
Add the dry ingredients and mix until just blended. Don't over mix; the batter will still be lumpy.
With a spatula, add the pears and walnuts. Again do over work the batter.

Transfer batter to prepared muffin cups, filling them to the top. Sprinkle the topping evenly on top of each muffin.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until dry on top and slightly springy. A tester should come out dry.

Remove from the oven and transfer to a rack. Let cool and enjoy!

The spray I like to use is Emeril's Creamery Butter, at your local supermarket

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Flaky Pie Crust

I use this crust recipe for the Orange Spice Pumpkin Pie, but feel free to use it for any other pie!

Flaky Pie Crust

Makes 1 crust

1 1/4 cup all purpose  flour
1/4 tsp salt
5 Tbsp butter, chilled and cut into pieces
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 Tbsp cold water

Whisk the flour and salt in a medium bowl.
Add the butter and shortening  and rub with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle with water and mix with your hands, being careful not to overwork the dough.
Gather the dough into a ball and flatten into a disk.
Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least one hour.

You can make it ahead and freeze.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Orange Spice Pumpkin Pie

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and it is time to think about the menu!! This year we are celebrating with the DeDeckos and the Marchals...or when America, France and Belgium come together!!!
Thanksgiving dinner would not be complete without this traditional dessert... The Pumpkin Pie!

I have actually made this pie every day for the past week and a half. I sell it for Ardeo at the Hyannis Skating Rink where i work for the winter! And it is a success!

Pumpkin Pie

Makes 6 to 8 servings

1 recipe Flaky Pie Dough

1 15-oz can pureed pumpkin
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp Captain Morgan rum
2 Tbsp crystallized ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp grated orange peel
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 375F.
Roll out the crust to a 12-in round and transfer to a buttered and floured 9-in pie dish. Fold overhang under and crimp decoratively.
Pierce the crust's bottom with a fork and freeze for about 10 minutes. Transfer to hot oven and bake for about 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool.

In a large bowl, whisk the pumpkin and brown sugar until well blended. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
Pour into the pie shell and bake until center is set, 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on your oven.

Take out of the oven and let cool. Chill uncovered at least 3 hours.

Serve with whipped cream.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

I know ice cream is more of a summer staple than a fall one, but there is no law against making and eating ice cream after Labor Day, is there?

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Serves 8

1 1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 fresh vanilla bean
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar

Place the milk and the cream in a medium saucepan. Add the vanilla bean, split lengthwise - scrape the seeds in the milk/cream mixture for added taste. Heat over medium low heat until it reaches boiling point. Turn the heat off and let stand for 30 minutes for the vanilla to infuse.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer, until thick and pale yellow. Add the hot milk/cream mixture, a little at a time and mix gently.

Return the cream mixture to the sauce pan and cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for about 15 minutes, or until the mixture is thick enough to coat the spoon.

Transfer to a bowl and set over ice to cool.

When completely cold, transfer to your ice cream maker - remove vanilla bean -  and follow instructions.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Profiteroles au Chocolat

I finally get to spend a little more time at home now that the season is slowing down, and I love it! My mother is visiting from France, as are my friend Isabelle's parents...and that is all we need for an excuse to organize dinner parties!
Sunday night was at the DeDeckos and Monday night at our house. Grilled leg of lamb with spice rub and a mint yogurt sauce, Bob's marinated chicken, couscous and roasted red peppers. All very delicious! And for dessert...Profiteroles au chocolat!!!

Profiteroles au Chocolat

Serves 8

24 puffs (see Pate a choux recipe)
Vanilla ice cream, preferably home made
2 cups chocolate sauce

Cut the top off the puffs and reserve.

Place one scoop of vanilla ice cream in the bottom part of the puff and place cover on top.

Transfer 3 filled puffs per plate and pour the hot chocolate sauce on top.


For faster last minute assembly, prepare the ice cream ahead: line a sheet pan with parchment paper and place the ice cream scoops on it. Keep in the freezer until ready to assemble the dessert.

Chocolate sauce

I use this recipe for the Profiteroles au chocolat, but it is also very good on vanilla ice cream alone!!! I usually make more than I need and freeze the rest. To use, simply scoop it out of the container and heat for a few seconds in the microwave.

Chocolate sauce

Makes about 2 cups

8 oz dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp butter

Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small sauce pan. When hot, pour over the chocolate and let stand for a few minutes. Mix gently to combine. Add the butter and mix again. If too thick, you can add more cream.

The sauce is ready to use.

You can also flavor it with a liquor of your choice, or coffee, vanilla...

Friday, October 7, 2011

Arugula Salad with Pears and Dried Cranberries

I went for lunch with my friend Peggy the other day and had a great salad at Wicked! Of course theirs was a little more elaborate but this version is perfect to try at home.

Arugula Salad with Pears and Dried Cranberries

Serves 6

5 oz fresh Arugula salad
2 ripe pears, peeled and diced
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tsp balsamic cream

Salt and pepper

Place the arugula in a large salad bowl. Place the pears, dried cranberries and crumbled goat cheese on top.

Mix the ingredients for the dressing and pour on the salad. Mix well.

Enjoy as a light lunch or a side dish with pork or chicken.


You may add a little to the pears but poaching them in a ginger syrup:

2 pears peeled but whole
 2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 2-inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled  and cut into thin slices

In a small saucepan, stir the sugar into the water until dissolved. Add the ginger.

Place the pears standing upright into the saucepan. Liquid should just cover the pears.

Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat. Cover and simmer gently for about one hour, until the pears are soft.
Remove from the heat and let the pears stand in the ginger syrup until cool.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fresh Linguine with Clam Sauce

Bob tries to get a rest from cooking when I am home at night!...Not very often as I work at the restaurant at least 5 nights a week! So on the tow nights that I am home, I try new recipes... The Mango and Pineapple Salsa was one of them.
Last night, watching Julie's and Emilie's soccer game, I got inspired... Pasta with a light white sauce... A clam sauce was the recipe of choice! And since I did not have time to go and get fresh clams, cook them and collect the broth, I opted for canned clams, chopped, and bottled clam juice. A great way to have a seafood pasta dish during the week, ready in 20 minutes!

Of course, next time we will cook clams, I will make sure to keep the broth and freeze it for my next sauce!

Fresh Linguine with Clam Sauce

Serves 5

1 shallot, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cup white wine
1 lemon for zest
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 1/2 cup clam juice
3 cups chopped clams (fresh or canned)
2 Tbsp cornstarch

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil and add the shallots and half the garlic. When fragrant and lightly browned, add the white wine, the clams, the clam juice, half the parsley, the lemon zest and the rest of the garlic.

Let simmer to reduce for about 30 minutes.
Mix the cornstarch with a couple of tablespoons of the sauce, in a small bowl. Add to the sauce in small increment, until you have reached the desired consistency. Some people like it thicker, other lighter!!

Before serving, add the rest of the parsley and serve over fresh linguini.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mango Pineapple Salsa

I finally found a little time to try a new recipe. I knew I wanted some kind of fish for dinner and I wanted to try something new.

Again, I went to Roche Brother in Mashpee and got fresh scallops. Next was the side....I saw a very appealing display of mangoes and there was the inspiration. A fresh salsa!

The pan seared scallops with Bashmati rice and fresh salsa were a real hit at home. Very fresh!

Mango and Pineapple Salsa

Makes about 2 cups

1 ripe mango
5 slices fresh pineapple
1/2 red bell pepper
1 ripe plum tomato
1 shallot, minced
3 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped finely
1 lime
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp Cholula hot sauce (I used the Chipole one)

Dice the mango, pineapple, red bell pepper, plum tomato into small cubes. Transfer to a bowl.
Add the shallot, cilantro, lime juice and olive oil. Add the hot sauce and let stand for at least one hour to let the flavors develop.

Serve alongside seafood, chicken or pork!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Duck Brochettes with a Peach and White Wine Reduction

Busy...busy...busy summer at Ardeo King's Way!!! I have not been home a lot, and when I was, if the weather was nice...I went to the beach!!!

I did cook a couple of nights this past month...That is not a lot and thanks to Bob, the kids did not go hungry!!!

This dish was really easy, fast and very tasty! You can substitute the duck with chicken or pork...but duck was perfect for the peaches!

Duck Brochettes with a Peach and White Wine Reduction

Serves 5

2 peaches, ripe, peeled and diced
2 cups white wine
3 tbsp honey
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped

5 duck breasts, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes

Add the first 5 ingredients in a large saucepan and cook on medium heat for about 30 minutes, until sauce has reduced.

Skewer the duck on bamboo skewers and grill over medium heat.

Transfer to a serving platter and pour the peach reduction on the brochettes.

Serve with green beans and rice.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cod in a Spicy Tomato Saffron sauce

Have you noticed? it has been a month since my last posting...Been busy with my new job at Ardeo. I am Catering manager at our King's Way location, and I am also learning the restaurant managing side of the business. Long hours but i really enjoy it!

So, back to dinner tonight. I wanted something simple and light...Fish and a nice easy tomato sauce and here it is! Inspired by a recipe I found in this month's Food and Wine magazine, this recipe is easy and usually, most of us have all the ingredients at hand..except the fish!

Cod in a Spicy Tomato Saffron sauce

Serves 4

2 lbs cod (or haddock)
1 orange, sliced thin (after you took the zest)
A few sprigs oregano
Olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp crushed red pepper
3 lbs plum tomatoes
5 springs oregano
3 large stripes orange zest
1 tsp saffron threads, crushed
Olive oil

In a large saute pan, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add the garlic and red pepper and cook for about 3 minutes on medium heat.
Add the tomatoes and cook 5 more minutes.
Add the oregano, the saffron and the orange zest. 
Cook for about 1/2 hour on medium low.

While the sauce is simmering, prepare the cod. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the orange slices and oregano on top of the fish and transfer to hot grill. Cook for about 7 minutes and place in a serving dish.
Pour the sauce on top and serve with rice or quinoa.

Friday, July 8, 2011


Forth of July weekend!!! Well, not here in France, but most definitely back home in the US!
Nonetheless, it is summer here and everyone is having parties! Tonight I am going to a party at my friends Philippe and Ingrid, with whom I grew up. And there will be other childhood friend. Some I have not seen in ...20 years!!!
As I often do when invited somewhere, I bring a dessert. Today being Independence Day weekend, what better dessert that an all American brownie? This one is so chocolaty!!! And decadent with twirls of cream cheese!

Cream Cheese Brownie

Makes about 16 squares

1/2 cup butter (1 stick) + 2 Tbsp
10 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 cup sugar + 2 Tbsp
4 eggs
1 cup flour + 2 Tbsp
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 pinch of salt
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature

Prepare a 9 inch square pan: butter and line with parchment paper, leaving a 2 inch overhang. Butter the paper and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350F.

Place the stick of butter and the chocolate in a small saucepan over simmering water (do not let saucepan touch the water). When melted, add the sugar. When cooled a bit, add the 3 eggs and mix to combine.

In a small bowl, mix together the 1 cup of flour with the cocoa, baking powder and salt. Add to the butter/chocolate mixture and mix only to combine.

In another small bowl, combine the cream cheese, with the remaining 2 Tbsp of butter and 2 Tbsp of sugar, one egg and 2 Tbsp of flour. Whisk to combine.

Pour the chocolate batter in the baking dish and spread evenly. Pour the cream cheese mixture on top and twirl to marble with a knife.

Bake for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cut into squares to serve.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Rum Marinade

There are rarely less than 10 people at the dinner table during our French summers! Most of them teenagers that inhale their food and are always hungry!
Chicken breast are a nice choice...quick to grill, great with just about any marinade...For this homemade marinade, I just opened a few cabinets, and the "bar" and went to the garden.

Rum Marinade

Makes 2 cups

1 cup Amber Rum
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 orange
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup chopped fresh mint
2 cloves garlic, minced

Mix all the ingredients and marinade the meat (chicken or pork) in it for at least 2 hours.
Grill the meat as usual.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Zucchini and Tomato au Gratin

Not only does this dish look really good, it tastes great too. It is very easy to prepare, but requires the patience to alternate the slices of red and green. Perfect side dish for a summer dinner.

Zucchini and Tomato au Gratin

Serves 6

5 zucchini, washed, dried and sliced thin
10 plum tomatoes, washed, dried and sliced thin
1/3 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp Herbes de Provence
1 cup grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large baking dish, arrange the slices of zucchini and tomato, alternating each time. Slices should be fairly close together.
Once the dish is full, sprinkle the olive oil. Sprinkle the Herbes de Provence on top. Season with salt and pepper.
Bake at 375F for about 45 minutes. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top of the vegetables. Return to the oven to let the cheese melt.

Serve hot.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Ratatouille is a great dish. Perfect for the summer, served hot or at room temperature, or even cold! Great hot during the winter! And it goes with everything, and stands alone really well too!
It takes a little time to make, as I do not just throw all the ingredients together. I cook each separately and then finish them all together. They all taste great and we do not have a soupy ratatouille.
Ratatouille is a dish from Provence, southern France, where in the summer, the tomatoes, eggplants and zucchini are plentiful. A mix of Herbes de Provence add the final touch to the dish.


Serves 8

3 medium eggplants, cut crosswise in 1/2-in. slices
7 small zucchini, cut crosswise in 1/2-in. slices
2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into strips
1 orange or yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
1 medium onion, sliced
8 plum tomatoes, quartered
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp Herbes de Provence
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy bottom saute pan, heat the olive oil. Add the eggplants and saute until soften and lightly golden. Transfer to a salad bowl.
In the same pan, add more olive oil and add the zucchini when hot. Cook for about 8  to 10 minutes, until soften and golden. Transfer to the bowl.
Repeat with the bell peppers.
Saute the onions until golden and add the garlic.
Return the other vegetables to the pan. Add the Herbes de Provence and salt and pepper. Mix the vegetables well and let cook together for about 5 to 10 minutes.
The ratatouille should not get soupy.
Serve hot as a side dish or at room temperature as a salad.

Melon Salad

There is nothing like a "lazy" Sunday lunch with friends! We went to our friends Patricia and Philippe today and had lunch outside under the wisteria. Of course we drank more rosé wine and had a BBQ!! With the Merguez and Chipolatas (French sausages), Patricia had made a melon salad that was absolutely delicious and refreshing! And she shared the recipe with me!!

Melon Salad

Serves 8

3 ripe melons
6 oz feta cheese, cut into small cubes
1 branch rosemary, leafed
2 Tbsp Xeres vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the melons in half and take the seeds out. Scoop out small balls of melon and place in a large salad bowl.
Add the other ingredients and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serve with a chilled rosé wine from Provence.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Grilled Pork Tenderloin

Summer has begun and for annual trip to France with the kids. My as little as possible and spend as much time as possible at the pool! I am proud to tell....I succeeded very well today!
But with a house full, there still are meals to be prepared. stay as close to my goal as possible, the BBQ is my best friend!
Today, pork tenderloins marinated in mustard and herbs from the garden.

Grilled Pork Tenderloins

Serves 8

3 Tbsp mustard
1 lemon for juice
5 sprigs tarragon chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
4 pork tenderloins, butterflied and cut in thirds

Mix together, with a wooden fork or a whisk, the mustard, lemon juice, tarragon, garlic and olive oil.
Pour over the prepared pork and marinate for at least 2 hours.

Grill about 8 minutes on each side. Serve with a salad or a ratatouille.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Potato Salad

Memorial weekend call for potato salad. This is a classic recipe, with may be a French twist...Tarragon! The French love tarragon and we do put it in a lot of dishes...including potato salad. In this recipe, the tarragon I used comes from our garden. I have to admit that this year it is particularly beautiful!

Potato Salad

Serves 10

6 lbs small red potatoes
2 Tbsp coarse salt
1/2 lb pancetta, cut into 1/4 inch strips
2 cups homemade mayonnaise
3/4 cup fresh tarragon leaves
4 shallots, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Wash the potatoes and transfer to a large sauce pan filled with cold water. Add the coarse salt and bring to a boil. When the water is boiling, reduce the heat and cook until a knife goes through the potato smoothly, about 20 minutes.
Remove from the heat and cool with cold water.

Cut the potatoes in half, or any size you like. Transfer to a large salad bowl.

While the potatoes are cooking, saute the pancetta until golden. Transfer to a plate lined with taper towel to absorb the grease. Set aside.

Add the tarragon, shallots, pancetta to the potatoes. Add the mayonnaise, a little at a time (it is easier to add than remove!) and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

The salad is better if prepared the day before. It allows the flavors to blend. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Berry Tart

Nicole organized a last minute dinner party at her house, with the usual suspects. They know who they are!!
I only had about two and a half hours to come up with a dessert and make it too!!
I went to the store and as it happens most of the time, I found my inspiration there.

A berry pie!
You already know my strawberry pie, so this time I changed the fruit, got a new crust recipe and with the help of a quickly prepared pastry cream, and ... voila!

Berry Tart

Serves 8

Recipe for one Sugar Crust (the recipe is for two crusts)

One Vanilla Pastry Cream recipe


1/3 cup raspberry jam, or other berry jam
2 Tbsp raspberry liquor (or any liquor of your choice)

Bake the crust according to directions. Let cool
Spread the pastry cream on the crust.
Place the berries in circles on top of the cream.

In a small saucepan, heat the jam. When hot, pass through a sieve to remove the seeds. Add a the raspberry liquor.

Brush the top of the berries with the jam mixture.
Reserve in a cool place, but you do not need to refrigerate before serving.

Should you have leftover (and I seriously doubt you will!), you may keep the pie in the fridge. The crust should stay dry and crunchy!

Summer Pasta Salad

Field day at Sturgis, Julie and Dylan's school. I do not have much time to volunteer my time there, between school, Ardeo, soccer and everything else...! But I always have time to cook.

A pasta salad seemed like the perfect choice for a group of hungry teenagers on Field Day!!!

Summer Pasta Salad

Serves 15

2 lbs dry Farfalle (I love Barilla!)
1 orange bell pepper, diced really small
1 yellow bell pepper, diced really small
1/2 red onion, minced
1 bunch chive minced
5 garlic cloves, minced finely
1/2 bunch fresh basil (about 1/2 cup packed leaves), chopped finely
1 small cucumber, seeded and diced small
1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil
Juice of 2 lemons
about 20 cherry tomatoes, halved
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to box direction, al dente.
When cooked, drizzle about 1/4 cup olive oil and mix well. It should prevent the pasta from sticking.

When fully cooled, add the bell peppers, red onion, the chive (but reserve about 2 tbsp for presentation), the diced cucumber, and about half the cherry tomatoes (reserve the rest for presentation).
Mix well.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the basil, garlic and olive oil until it forms a thick sauce. Add the lemon juice and pulse to mix.

Add the sauce to the pasta salad and mix well.
Season with salt and pepper.

Before serving, sprinkle the remaining chive on to of the salad and place the cherry tomatoes too.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Homemade Mayonnaise

I do not like mayonnaise! Anyone in our family knows that.
Well, let's rephrase ...I do not like store bought mayonnaise! But I do love a creamy homemade mayo!!
I do use this recipe, with flavor variations, for a "Fondue Bourguignonne", and of course, as I did this Memorial weekend, for the classic potato salad.


Makes about 1 1/2 cups

2 egg yolks
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup olive oil
1 lime for juice, or 1/2 lemon

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the mustard until well blended. Add the salt.
Add the oils, alternating vegetable and olive, in a thin but steady stream, whisking constantly.
The mayonnaise will start to shape. Keep adding the oils until you have the desired quantity of mayonnaise. It is possible to add more than on cup of oil total.
Toward the end, add the lime juice for a little "tang".

Keep refrigerated.

For a "Fondue Bourguignonne", or meat fondue, do not add any lemon.
You then need to divide the mayonnaise in smaller bowls and season each with different flavors.
Aioli: Add pressed garlic to the mayonnaise.
Curry: add a pinch of curry powder, according to your tastes.
You can add Ketchup, or paprika, lemon and any other spice you like. Have fun!!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Sugar Crust

This is a great base for berry pies and any fruit pie with a layer of pastry cream. The crust does not get soggy and it feels like you are eating a cookie!

Sugar Crust/Pate sablee

Makes 2 crusts

8 oz butter (2 1/2 sticks or 300g), at room temperature
6 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
a pinch of salt
2 eggs
3 cups flour

Cream the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle. Add the sugar, confectioners sugar and the salt.
Add the eggs, one at a time and mix well. Add the flour and mix on low speed until combined.

Transfer the dough on a sheet of plastic film and form into a ball. Refrigerate.

If you are making only one pie, or tart, you can freeze the remaining dough, either wrapped in plastic film, or in the metal pie dish, ready to use!

Most recipes will ask you to bake the crust alone. You may use pie weights, but I simply freeze it for about 15 minutes before baking, and check it often when in the oven. If bubbles form, pop them with a fork!
Baking time for a berry pie, about 20 minutes. It should turn golden, but not burnt!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Quiche with Mushrooms and Cherry Tomatoes

May is going by very fast, also I am really counting the days until school ends!
I have been very busy, between school, soccer and ...a new job! I am back into the catering business! Ardeo, The Fire of the Mediterranean. I am no at a yacht club anymore, but a golf club!! Funny when you know i refuse to touch a club since I threw my back on my first try!!!
But the job is what I love to do, staff is nice and the food is good!

Since starting this new position, I have neglected Charlotte and Spice, but I am getting back on tracks! And today, I am serving a savory tart, recipe inspired by Eric Kayser, THE baker of Paris!

Quiche aux Champignons et Tomates Cerises

Serves 8

One Whole Wheat Pie Crust with chopped mint (see notes on the recipe )

1 bunch fresh mint, finely chopped
4 large eggs
1 cup milk (25cl)
1/2 lb creme fraiche (250g)
5 oz feta cheese (150g), crumbled
1 lb (500g) Cremini mushrooms
1 lb (500g) cherry tomatoes, halved
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Roll out the crust and line a buttered and floured pie dish. I like to use the metal dish with removable bottom.
Bake the crust for about 20 minutes. Check it regularly to see if bubbles form. If so, poke them with a fork. You can also use pie weighs when baking the crust. When baked, let cool.

In a bowl, whisk the eggs, the milk and creme fraiche. Add the feta cheese and about 1/2 cup finely chopped mint. Cover and refrigerate. May be prepared the day before.

Wipe the mushrooms clean and cut into fourths. Saute the mushrooms in a pan, with a little olive oil, until slightly browned. Let cool.

Add the mushrooms to the cream mixture and pour into the crust. Add the halved cherry tomaotes on top and bake for about 25 minutes.

Serve hot with a salad (I love arugula with a quiche!).

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Whole Wheat Pie Crust

16 Tbsp (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup water, warm

In food processor, pluse the flour and butter until it resembles coarse meal. Add water, a little at a time, until the dough is moist.
Make a ball of the dough and let rest for one hour.

Roll and use as a regular pie crust.

For the Quiche with Mushrooms and Cherry Tomatoes, you will add 1/3 cup of chopped fresh mint in the food processor with the flour.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Berry Tiramisu

I had a really lovely Mother's Day! Great breakfast and awesome dinner.
For dessert, Emilie wanted to make her classic Frozen Key Lime Pie, which I love, but I wanted to try something different. And it was all about me, right?!
I looked at a few magazines, on line...And opted for a berry dessert. Tiramisu with berries...! Here is my version of it. Emilie and I made it together and next time she will be able to make it on her own!

Berry Tiramisu

Serves 10

24 oz fresh blueberries (can be frozen)
18 oz fresh raspberries (can be frozen)
1/3 cup sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup rum (or other liqueur)
About 40 Lady Finger (dry, not soft)

1 16-17.5 oz container Mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 1/2 cup heavy cream (cold)

6 oz fresh blueberries
6 oz fresh raspberries

In a medium saucepan, bring the blueberries, sugar and lemon juice to a boil, on medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the raspberries and cook for another 2 minutes, until they are heated through.
Remove from the heat and let cool a little.
Add the rum. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream until stiff peaks form.

In another bowl, mix together the Mascarpone and the confectioner's sugar until smooth.

Combine the whipped cream with the sweetened Mascarpone delicately adding the cream to the cheese little by little.

Line the bottom of a dish with the Lady Fingers. Ladle about 1/3 of the fruit mixture on the Lady Fingers. Spread the cream/Mascarpone mixture on the fruits.
Repeat two more times, ending with the cream.

Refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Before serving, top with the fresh berries.

Can be prepared one day ahead.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Baked Chocolate Alaska

I promised it and here it is!! A great dessert!!! Stressful the first time you make it.... How is it that the ice cream doesn't melt in a 500F oven??? The answer is quite simple. The piped meringue serves as insulation against the heat.

The traditional Alaska is ice cream on top of a cake base, covered with a meringue. You then have two choices...The 500F oven or the culinary torch. I picked the oven, and changed the base for the dessert. I replaced the cake base by my usual Chocolate Crust. It is faster to prepare and adds a nice crunchiness to the dessert.

I love chocolate, so of course I chose chocolate ice cream. Home made chocolate ice cream (you'll find the link to that recipe below). But you may change the flavors, choose two different flavors...It is all up to you!

Baked Chocolate Alaska


1 package Nabisco Chocolate wafers
1/2 cup butter, melted

One recipe Chocolate Ice Cream (may be prepared ahead)

Swiss Meringue:
8 large egg whites
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Prepare the crust:
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Place the chocolate wafers in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until fine crumb.
Transfer to a medium bowl and add the melted butter. Mix well until butter is sompletely incorporated.
Transfer to the bottom of a metal pie dish with removable bottom. Press hard until crust is compact.
Bake for about 8 minutes, until fragrant.
Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Chocolate ice Cream:
Prepare the chocolate ice cream according to recipe directions and churn. After churning, transfer to a round bowl lined with plastic wrap and freeze. When frozen, cover top with plastic wrap as well.

Swiss meringue:
Fill the bottom of a medium saucepan with water and bring to a simmer.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the egg whites with the sugar and the cream of tartar. Place over the saucepan and whisk constantly until the sugar is dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch, about 3 minutes. To check if the sugar is completely dissolved, rub the whites between your fingers.
Transfer the bowl to the electric mixer stand  fitted with the whisk attachment, and whip on low speed. Increase the speed gradually to high and keep whipping until the whites are shiny and form stiff peaks, about 10 minutes.
Add the vanilla and mix until combined.
Use immediately.

Turn the ice cream over on the pie crust, round side up.
Using a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip, pipe the meringue on the ice cream, starting at the base. You really have to make sure that you seal the ice cream in, first at the base and then all around. Remember...It will go in a really hot oven!!
Sprinkle a tablespoon of cocoa through a sieve on top of the meringue.
Once you are done with the meringue, place the Alaska in the freezer until ready to serve.

Before serving, heat the oven to 500F.
Place the frozen Alaska in the oven and bake for about 3 to 5 minutes, until meringue is golden.
You may achieve the same result with a culinary torch instead of baking the dessert.

You can also make individual desserts following the same steps. I would definitely use a torch tough to brown the meringue!

Swiss meringue

And here is another basic for baking. The quantities below are for a Baked Alaska. Feel free to divide it in half for smaller endeavors!

8 large egg whites
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Fill the bottom of a medium saucepan with water and bring to a simmer.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the egg whites with the sugar and the cream of tartar. Place over the saucepan and whisk constantly until the sugar is dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch, about 3 minutes. To check if the sugar is completely dissolved, rub the whites between your fingers.
Transfer the bowl to the electric mixer stand  fitted with the whisk attachment, and whip on low speed. Increase the speed gradually to high and keep whipping until the whites are shiny and form stiff peaks, about 10 minutes.
Add the vanilla and mix until combined.
Use immediately.

Chocolate pie crust

I have used this crust for years, from the Frozen Chocolate Pie to the Chocolate Baked Alaska, even as a base for the Raspberry Tartlets.
You may either use it as one regular pie crust or divide it equally among several smaller dishes for individual desserts.

Chocolate Pie Crust

1 package Nabisco Chocolate wafers
1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Place the chocolate wafers in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until fine crumb.
Transfer to a medium bowl and add the melted butter. Mix well until butter is sompletely incorporated.
Transfer to the bottom of a metal pie dish with removable bottom. Press hard until crust is compact.
Bake for about 8 minutes, until fragrant.
Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Lemon Beurre Blanc

Lemon Beurre Blanc

1/2 cup white wine
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup lemon juice

In a medium saucepan, bring the wine and garlic to a boil.

Add the cream.

Add the butter, one piece at a time, whisking constantly. Each piece must have completely melted before you add the next one. 

Whisk in the lemon juice.

The sauce is ready to serve.

If you want to make the Beurre Blanc ahead, you may refrigerate it and reheat on really low heat, whisking all the time.

Panko Crusted Salmon with a Lemon Beurre Blanc

What better excuse than Good Friday to eat fish?
As we were driving back from a really nice visit with Bob's parents - and including a couple of college visits for Julie - we had plenty of time to figure out what kind of fish we wanted and how to prepare it...We just wanted something different.
Salmon was our choice...but "how?" was still being debated as we approached the Cape!
I have made salmon with seasoned butters, grilled salmon...but had never tried a crusted fish. There it was...Salmon in a seasoned Panko crust.

Panko Crusted Salmon 
with a Lemon Beurre Blanc

Serves 6

1 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup regular breadcrumbs
Zest of 2 lemons (reserve the juices)
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
2 Tbsp finely chopped garlic
1/4 cup olive oil

1/3 cup Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp white wine

One 2.5 Lbs Salmon fillet, preferably wild, skin on, cut into 6 pieces

One recipe Lemon Beurre Blanc

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Mix in a bowl the first 5 ingredients with a fork. Drizzle the olive oil, still mixing well with the fork, until breadcrumbs are well coated.

Mix the mustard and white wine together in a small bowl.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and coat with 1 Tbsp olive oil.

Place the pieces of salmon on the prepared sheet pan, skin side down. Brush the top with the mustard mixture. Top with the prepared breadcrumbs.

Bake for 10 minutes and serve immediately with either rice or quinoa and a Lemon Beurre Blanc, on the side (if you serve the sauce on top of the fish, the crumbs will be less crunchy).

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chocolate Ice Cream

This year for Easter I want to try a new dessert...Chocolate Baked Alaska...And the first step to the ice cream. And I love a dark chocolaty it is!

Chocolate Ice Cream

Makes 1 1/2 quarts

3 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cup milk
8 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
12 oz bittersweet chocolate

Melt the chocolate in a small sauce pan over hot water. When melted, set aside.

In a large bowl, place ice cubes and water to make an ice water bath. Set a smaller bowl on the water.

Mix the cream and milk in a large saucepan. Heat until hot but not boiling, about 2-3 minutes.
Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the egg yolks, sugar and salt on high speed until light an fluffy and tripled in volume.
Reduce the speed to medium and pour about 1/2 cup of the hot cream/milk mixture to temper the eggs. When well combined, transfer back to the cream/milk saucepan and cook until an instant-read thermometer reads 180F. The mixture should have thickened and will coat the back of a wooden spoon.
Stir in the melted chocolate. Mix it in well...slowly.

Pour the custard through a sieve into the top bowl of the ice water bath. Let cool, stirring often.

When completely cooled and cold, transfer to your ice cream maker and follow manufacturer's instructions.

You can keep in an airtight container in the freezer for a couple of weeks. Remove from freezer 15 minutes before using.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Charlotte au Chocolat et a la Vanille

I started this post a while ago, but only managed to finish it today!!!
This is a perfect dessert for Easter! Enjoy.


It was a good thing that I had so much free time in early February that I could and did post a few recipes!!! I certainly rested after that!!!

I met with friends today to talk about blogs...! And of course it did come up that my last post was on February 5th........

Well, it was not entirely my fault!
First I had to get ready for my mother, my sister and her three dear children's arrival...That meant cleaning the house entirely (or to be true, supervise my three children clean their side of the house!), getting all the beds ready...
Then I had to get ready for our awesome cruise! Yes!! For the first time in my life I went on the cruise! Not alone of course, but with the entire Steven clan! All 16 of us!
It was incredible! From San Juan, PR, to St. George's, Grenada. Weather, food, cocktails and of course company were wonderful!
We are back to New England now, in the cold, but luckily no more snow!!!

You will certainly enjoy this recipe...a chocolate mousse topped by a vanilla a Charlotte!!!Impressive looking, delicious tasting and a lot easier to make that it sounds...or is it? You tell me! The inspiration for this dessert is a Charlotte I bought in Paris at LeNotre bakery on the Avenue de la Grande Armee...This is my adaptation of it!

Chocolate and Vanilla Charlotte

Serves 8

Half a recipe for Chocolate mousse

Vanilla Mousse:
One recipe for Vanilla Pastry cream
2 cups heavy cream
2 1/2 gelatin sheets

24 dry Lady finger cookies (I like the ones from Trader Joe's)
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 Tbsp liqueur

In a small saucepan, combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil. Cook for about 10-15 minutes, until syrupy. Add the liqueur.

Line the bottom and sides of the charlotte mold with parchment paper. Dip the lady fingers in the syrup and line the bottom and sides of the prepared mold.

Pour the chocolate mousse in the pan, half way up. Refrigerate for about one hour, until it sets.

Remove charlotte from the fridge and add the vanilla mousse. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

* You may add a layer of Chocolate sauce between the chocolate and vanilla mousses:

70 g Sugar (2.5oz)
25 g cocoa powder (1oz)
3 Tbsp heavy cream

In a small saucepan, bring 4 Tbsp water to a boil, with the sugar and cocoa powder. 
In another small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Add to the chocolate saucepan and bring the mixture back to a boil, mixing. Remove from the heat and let cool. When cooled, pour over chocolate mousse. Let set in fridge before adding the vanilla mousse.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Chocolate mousse

This is another recipe that I use a lot as base for other desserts. It is also great alone!!!

2 cups whipping cream, very cold
10 oz bittersweet chocolate

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk, whip the cream until firm, but still soft (do not over beat it).
In a bowl, melt the chocolate on top of a double boiler.
When melted, add to the whipped cream and mix well.
Set aside.

Vanilla Pastry Cream

This pastry cream is the base of a lot of my desserts. 

2 cups of milk
6 large egg yolks
1/3 cup of sugar
1/3 cup corn starch
1 vanilla bean (or 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
3 Tbsp butter

Boil the milk with the vanilla bean (cut lengthwise and scraped).

In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix the eggs with the sugar and the cornstarch until light and fluffy.
Add about 1/2 cup of hot milk to temper the yolks and prevent them from cooking. Add the remaining of the milk. Transfer back to saucepan and cook until thickened, whisking constantly. Turn the heat off.
Add the butter. When it has melted, set aside and refrigerate.

You can flavor this cream with chocolate (see Chocolate Pastry Cream recipe), or with orange blossom flavor, or any liquor you like!

For the Piece Montee (125 puffs), I made the recipe with 12 cups of milk. I had a cup for cream left, so don't be shy whem filling the puffs. For Emilie's Graduation, I flavored the cream with Cognac.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Strawberry and Rhubarb Crisp

We are in April and I just got back from soccer practice..... It is still so cold that I was wearing my big winter puffy down jacket and my winter hat with the ear things ...!?!
All that made me think of a real spring...with temps in the 70s and the flowers blooming... and the first strawberries...Like when I was growing up in France. And rhubarb.

Our friend Marie-Anne used to grow rhubarb in her yard...or should I say on her farm!!! The kids always called "Le Pic", the name of the estate, the Farm! There were rabbits, hens and roosters, even a horse and donkeys! And the rhubarbs that transformed pies into something Marie-Anne would make simple pies with a crust and the rhubarb on top, with sugar of course! Simple and so very delicious! I tried to make it... but unsuccessfully.

I have however made this dessert with strawberries and rhubarb...the two flavors just compliment each other... the delicate sweetness of the berry and the rustic tartness of the rhubarb...

But did you know??? Rhubarb can be poisonous!!  ... only if eaten uncooked!!! No danger here though!

Strawberry and Rhubarb Crisp

serves 10

3/4 cup pecan halves
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 1/2 tsp grated orange zest
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature

1/1/2 lb rhubarb
2 cups strawberries, stemmed
3 tbsp flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Spread the pecan halves on a baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted and fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Set aside.
Raise oven temperature to 375 F (190C).
Place the cooled nuts in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse until nuts are chopped into medium bits, but not powdered. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
In another bowl, stir together the whole wheat flour, brown sugar, orange zest and nutmeg.
Transfer this mixture and the butter to the food processor and pulse until it starts to come together. Add the nuts and pulse 3 or 4 more times to distribute evenly. Set aside.

Trim the tough end and leaves from the rhubarb stalks and cut into 1-inch pieces. Place in a bowl with the strawberries, the flour, the sugar and the vanilla. Toss until well mixed.
Place the fruits in a baking dish and sprinkle with the topping.

Bake for about 35 minutes, until bubbling around the edges.
Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tomatoes Provençales

The best tomatoes I have ever had were the ones we used to buy in Naples, Florida. We used to live not far  from this incredible farm stand that sold homegrown produce. They even had an iguana in a cage, a sure hit with our three then very young children!
Back to the tomatoes...As soon as you arrive inside the small market, you could smell them. They were displayed as a pretty!
And back home, we would serve them in a salad...often with mozzarella and basil. The taste was so incredible...a real tomato taste!!! 
Nowadays I am always disappointed in the tomatoes we buy...They do look good, but have little or no taste at all...
But if you bake them at low heat for a long time, after seasoning them, they do become sweet and melt in your mouth!

Tomatoes Provençales

Serves 8

12 ripe tomatoes
6 cloves garlic, chopped really fine
1 1/2 Tbsp herbes de Provence*
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Wash the tomatoes and take the core out. Be careful not to take too much out! Then cut them in half and place in a baking dish (or two).

Mix together the olive oil and the herbes de Provence.

Brush the mixture on top of the tomatoes, generously.

Sprinkle the garlic on the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.

Bake for at least one hour. The longer they bake, the better they are...

* You will find herbes de Provence in practically any supermarket!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pollo alla Fiorentina

The weekend on cape Cod, if cold, was a nice one! We got a lot done in the yard...Bob took the "Wild Thing" out (aka. the chain saw) and cut down some trees and branches. I was at the pit burning all the debris! And on Sunday, more raking! Yard work never ends! But we are now ready for spring, if it ever shows up!...Yes we had snow on Monday!
After the weekend's labor came time for Sunday night dinner. I tried something I had never made before...Chicken Florentine! Dylan helped me make the oven roasted tomatoes voila!!!

Chicken Florentine

Serves 8

4 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
8 slices of prosciutto
1 lb fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1/2 bag fresh baby spinach
Salt, pepper
Olive oil

Slice the chicken breasts horizontally. Pound each cutlet until thin (about 1/8th of an inch).
Place the cutlets flat on a board. Place a slice of prosciutto on top of it, then cover with the mozzarella and finish with a handful of spinach. Season with pepper (hold on on the salt as the prosciutto and the mozzarella may already be salty).

Roll the chicken on itself. Transfer on an oiled sheet pan, or other baking dish. Brush the "roulades" with olive oil and bake at 375F for about 20 minutes.

Serve with Tomatoes Provencales.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Paupiettes de Veau aux Champignons

Paupiettes de Veau are veal pockets filled with just about anything you wish. I always like to try something new and this was a perfect weekend recipe. A real success too! The challenge here was that the veal cutlets were too skinny. The solution? Place two cutlets next to each other to make a wider area, and fold the sides like you would do with a regular larger cutlet.
I served this dish with a white rice and the extra filling I reheated.

Veal Bundles with a Mushroom Filling

Serves 6

6 veal cutlets, about 5 1/2 oz each
12 oz fresh assorted mushrooms, chopped finely
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 medium onion, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 tsp Piment d'Espelete + 1 tsp to sprinkle
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup white wine

Cooking string

Gently pound the cutlets until thin (about 0.2 inch). Set aside.

In a heavy pan, melt the butter. Add the mushrooms and cook on high heat until they render water. Cook for another couple of minutes to allow the water to evaporate. Add the onion, garlic and walnuts. Cool for another 3 minutes. Add 3/4 of the cilantro and the Piment d'Espelette. Season with salt and pepper. Stir and set aside.

Cut 24 pieces of string, about 8 inches each.
Count on using 3 per bundle: Take 3 strings and tie them in the middle with a knot.
Place the knotted strings flat on a working surface and place the cutlet in the center. Place about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of mushroom filling in the center of the cutlet and fold the cutlet on itself. Tie opposite strings together on top of the bundle. Repeat until all the "Paupiettes" are made.

Heat the oven to 350F.
Place the paupiettes in a baking dish. Pour the white wine in the dish. Add the bay leaf.
Sprinkle the paupiettes with the remaining 1 tsp Piment d'Espelette. Drizzle with the olive oil.

Bake for about 25 minutes.

Serve with rice.