Monday, April 30, 2012


Nothing says Provence like "Ratatouille". And I do not meant the cute little rat from Disney! No...The dish, full of juicy, ripe, delicious and sunny vegetables. This can be made ahead and is as good hot as it is at room temperature or cold.


Serves 8

1 medium onion, sliced
2 red bell peppers, sliced
1 orange bell pepper, sliced
5 small to medium sized zucchini, sliced
2 small eggplants, sliced
6 plum tomatoes, cored and quartered
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp Herbes de Provence

Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan and add the onion. Cook for about 10 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to a large bowl.

Add more oil to the pan and add the peppers. Cook until soft and slightly colored. Add a pinch of Herbes de Provence and some garlic and salt and pepper to taste. When cooked, transfer to the bowl.

Repeat with the zucchini.

Add more oil to the pan and add the eggplants. cook for a few minutes, adding more oil if necessary (eggplant do absorb a lot of oil). Add the plum tomatoes and cook until eggplants are tender, lightly brown and the tomatoes have cooked. The juices in the pan should not be watery, but a bit thick. Add the seasoning and then return the previously cooked vegetables to the pan. Toss all vegetables together and adjust seasoning if necessary. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lemon Trifle

End of week two of Manager Training at the 99 Restaurant...and off for Easter! Just the five of us for Easter dinner and of course a roasted leg of lamb with a mint sauce. And dessert??? That... I had not managed, as of Sunday morning, to make a decision. Chocolate? Berries? Ideas???!!!
Well...As it turned out I made a Lemon Trifle, with fresh strawberries.

Lemon Trifle

Serves 10

1 doubled recipe for Lemon Curd

2 cups of water
1/2 cup sugar
Juice of 3 lemons
1/4 cup vodka (Had I had Lemoncello, I would have used that, but vodka works well)

3 cups heavy cream
3 Tbsp superfine sugar

2 pints fresh strawberries

30 Lady Finger cookies

Prepare the lemon curd and cool in an ice bath. Set aside.

Prepare the lemon syrup:
In a small saucepan, mix together the water and sugar. Bring to a boil and let reduce for about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the lemon juice and vodka. Set aside to cool.

In the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Gradually add the superfine sugar and keep whipping until stiff peaks form.

Gradually add the whipped cream to the cold lemon curd, incorporating delicately with a rubber spatula, until well blended.

Prepare the strawberries: 
Wash and dry.
Slice about 20 strawberries lengthwise and dice about another 10 to 15.

Line the bottom of a trifle dish with the Lady Finger cookies dipped in the lemon syrup.
Cover with a layer of lemon cream (about 1/3 of the cream) and dot with half the diced berries.
Place another layer of dipped cookies.
Line the sides of the dish with the sliced strawberries, one row only. Pour another layer of lemon cream  (another 1/3 of cream) and diced strawberries.
Cover again with dipped cookies and finish with the cream and diced berries. Finish with a decorative layer of sliced strawberries.
Refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.

When you are finished dipping the cookies in the syrup, replace the pan on the stove, medium-low heat, and let the syrup reduce even more, until thickened and shiny.

As soon as the syrup has cooled enough, brush it on top of the strawberries slices and replace the trifle in the fridge.

Bon appetit!!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Chocolate and Pear Charlotte

I invested last summer in a baking ring to make Charlottes like the pros! And I finally decided to use it! It did scare me a little but as it happens... It is really easy. And you can make any size dessert you want!

I am a chocolate fanatic... so it totally made sense that I make a chocolate dessert to celebrate my birthday!
This particular Charlotte should be started the day before, or at leats in the morning for an evening event as you want the chocolate mousse to harden before adding the chocolate sauce and the poached pears.

Chocolate and Pear Charlotte

Serves 10

One recipe Chocolate Mousse

60 Lady Fingers cookies
1 1/2 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Kahlua liquor (optional)

4 or 5 ripe (but firm) pears - I used Red Anjou and Bosc
2 cups water
3/4 cups sugar
1 Tbsp cardamom

50g (1.8 oz) unsweetened cocoa powder
100g (3.6 oz) sugar
5 Tbsp heavy cream

Chocolate shavings

First prepare the chocolate mousse. Set aside.

Peel and core 2 pears and dice them into 1/2-in cubes.
Add the diced pears to the chocolate mousse, incorporating them delicately with a rubber spatula.

Prepare  the syrup:
In a small saucepan, bring water and sugar to a boil. Cook for a few minutes until all the sugar has dissolved. Add the liquor and set aside.

Line a half sheet pan with either parchment paper or a silicone mat. Spray liner with baking spray. Place the baking ring on top of the liner.

Dip the Lady Fingers in the Kahlua syrup - one at a time - and line the sides and bottom of the baking ring.
Pour the chocolate and pear mousse inside the prepared baking ring and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Poach the pears:
Cut a circle of parchment paper the size of the saucepan you will use to poach the pears. Cut a small circle off the middle of it. Set aside.
Bring the water, sugar and cardamom to a simmer.
Peel and core the remaining two or 3 pears. Slice them into 1/4-in slices.
Add the pear slices to the cardamom syrup. Place the parchment paper circle on top of the pears. This will prevent the pears on the top to be out of the liquid and brown.
Poach the pears for about 10 to 12 minutes, until tender.
Remove the pears from the poaching liquid and set to cool in a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, on one layer.

Make the chocolate sauce:
In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup of water, the sugar and the cocoa powder to a soft boil. Whisk occasionally to avoid lumps.
In another small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil and add the the chocolate sauce. Bring to a boil again, whisking, and remove from the heat. Let cool.

When the sauce is completely cold, pour on top of the chocolate mousse. Refrigerate for at least one hour to allow the sauce to solidify. If you place the pears on top right away they will sink in.

When the sauce has hardened enough, place the slices of pear decoratively on top. Sprinkle with chocolate shavings (optional).

Transfer the Charlotte - still in the ring - from the liner to the serving platter. Remove the ring and enjoy!

Bon Appetit!