Monday, January 23, 2012

Banana Bread

Homemade pita bread!!

Nothings like a homemade pita bread with all the accessories you´d like!

For the pita, I use:
- 1 dl water
- 1 teaspoon dry yeast
- A pinch of salt
- A teaspoon of sugar
- 1 spoon of olive oil
- 5.5 dl fine flour

Mix all the ingredients in the same order, let it rest for 45 min.
Divide in 3 pieces, flatten them out in a pita form and let it rest for 30 more minutes in a handkerchief.
Flatten them out once again, before putting them on baking paper and brushing the top with olive oil.

Yes, it takes some time to make it, but I can tell you that it´s worth it!!

Spinach/aubergine lasagna

This is a great dish that´ll last for day or two if you are lucky. Being students, this is a great way to spare money.

You only need:
- 500 g of spinach
- 300 g of ricotta cheese or 3 mozzarella
- 1 egg
- 50 g butter
- 2 aubergines
- half a pack of lasagna plates
- some parmesan and mozzarella for the topping

Add the spinach in boiling water for 4 minutes and take it out to rest. Set the spinach on some kitchen paper so that it dries a bit. In the mean time, fry the sliced aubergines in olive oil and garlic. Add some white wine if you have some, or just water to give it some moist. Fry till they are nice and soft.
Boil the lasagna plates, and begin making the cheese and spinach mix.
Mix the egg, ricotta cheese, butter and spinach together and wisp. Begin plating the lasagna by adding the aubergine mix first, then plates, then a big layer of spinach mix, and repeat it once more. Finish by adding lasagna plates on top and garnish with a good layer of cheese.

Begin by putting it in the oven at 180 degrees celsius for around 30 minutes covered by aluminum paper. Take the paper off and let it cook for 5-10 more minutes with only top heat to create the crust.

This is great with a salad. Do not underestimate a great lasagna!

Celery root soup

Hello People!
Some days ago I went to a chinese grocery store, and found lot of different interesting vegetables and spices i´ve never seen before! I do not think that i´ll use some of the weird yet extraordinary stuff right away, but they´ll come on this blogg some day.

I have had a lot of inspiration this week, and I have loved every second of it!
2 days ago I made a creamy celery root soupe with a poached egg. For this I used a little number of ingredients, but the taste is incredible. Follow these steps:
- 250 ml of chicken stock is a sauce pan
- 1 peeled and cut celery root
- 2 peeled potatoes
- salt and pepper
instead of having the lid over, put some aluminum paper right over the cubes. This will make them soft faster, and not crunchy or medium soft. Bring it to the boil. When it´s really soft, put it in the mixer and add 2 oz of cream and just a little fresh finely cut chili. Mix while it´s hot, or else the soup will get lumpy.

For the poached egg, bring some water to the boil, and lightly season it with salt and olive oil. Give the water a swirl, so that it looks like a tornado. This will make the egg white turn around the egg yolk and create a perfectly shaped poached egg. Plate, season, add some olive oil and serve.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Italian Challenge? Done!

Hey everyone! This is my answer to the Challenge n°3 posted by Alex. Unfortunately, I haven't been cooking in my very small kitchen and as I came back to my parents' house for the weekend, I cooked for them using this challenge for the recipe.

Yes! The first step was to go straight to the food market near my parents' village to find inspiration. Everything always looks so delicious, it was hard to decide what to do even if I had an idea in mind the day before. Finally, I decided to make Langoustine Raviolis.I bought everything fresh from the food market and headed back to the kitchen to prepare the dinner.

First, I made the pasta dough from which I cut my raviolis. I used 250gr of flour, 2 eggs and a little bit of water.  Made a ball shape with it and let it rest in the fridge for 15 minutes.
I took the raw langoustines (I had 20 langoustines for 4 persons) out of their shells and kept the heads and claws aside. I put these heads and claws in water with thyme, bay leaves and white wine (sauvignon sec) to make a reduction for the sauce. Let it boil until only few centimeters of liquid are left.

Take the raw langoustines meat and add it in a hot stove with olive oil for 2 minutes. Take the langoustines out and chop them into very small bits. Add 2 spoons of crème fraîche and a drop of white wine, mix it all together with your hands and let it rest.
Take your dough ball out of the fridge and flatten it. Add flour if the dough is sticky. When it is well flattened, take a glass a cut circles in it, this will be the raviolis. Add your preparation in the middle of the circles and close them by joining one side with the other, making half circles.

While you wait for everyone to set the table and start to get ready, I recommend that you enjoy fresh oysters bought at the food market  with a glass of this delicious Sauvignon gris that you've been using for your recipe:)

Time to finish! Boil water with salt and olive oil, turn down the temp control a little bit and add the raviolis in it. When they come up to the top of the water, they are ready.
For the sauce: take out the liquid from the reduction (the colour might be greyish, don't worry, it doesn't mean it isn't delicious), put 5 spoons of crème fraîche in a pan, add 3 small spoons of the reduction, the juice of one lemon, white wine and salt & pepper. To avoid damaging the raviolis by using a sieve when they are ready, I actually put them in a rag, very effective!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My chèvre!

A delicious and easy to make goat cheese salad. Watercress and roman salad is great for this dish because you get that crunchy feeling.

In the frying pan add:
- 1-2 whole cherry tomatoes
- 2 pieces of bread rubbed in with garlic and seasoned
- 1 slice of goat cheese
- Olive oil
- Fresh thyme
Do not use Butter, ore else the goat cheese won´t have a nice crust.

For the vinaigrette, mix:
- 2 parts Olive oil
- 1 part vinaigre
- Salt and pepper
- Juice of half an Orange
- 2-3 spoons of honey (depends on how sweet you want it, but I use 2)
Mix it roughly, so the texture is right. It should have a funny brown color, and slightly creamy...

Plate, add some walnuts and finish by adding the vinaigrette. The acidity and sweetness of the vinaigrette works perfectly with the goat cheese. Personally I could eat 2 plates and still want more! It´s that delicious...

Foie Gras

I made myself a great little appetizer a few days ago. Foie gras with romano salad, walnuts, extra Italian virgin oil and a home made pomegranate caramel. I first put some water in a saucepan with a lot of sugar (do not know the exact measurements, but approximately 100 ml of water and pour sugar at one place till it forms a large peak in the pan. Mix it with the water, juice and seeds from a fresh pomegranate and let it create itself. If you do not like the acidity of the seeds, sieve it... Plate and serve!!
A great french plate that´ll always make you smile.

Christmas Menu

I know, this post is late.

But I really wanted to share with you my Christmas menu between 2 challenges. My uncle & aunt cooked this delicious meal for all of us in their beautiful apartment in Paris, and of course I kept an eye in the kitchen to observe and learn.

  • Guacamole and Crab Verrines
  • Beet and Crème Fraîche Verrines
  • Roast Venison with chocolate and wine sauce
  • Potatoes Purée
  • Carrot Purée with cumin
Verrines worked really great together with the spice of the guacamole and the sweetness of the beet. The venison was cooked perfectly and I'll try as soon as possible to make this chocolate and wine sauce! A perfect dinner!

And to wish you an happy new year, here is a picture I took at Marès, a great restaurant in Oslo.

Professional Kitchen?

Not at all!

I recently moved back to France, more precisely to La Rochelle, in order to finish my Bachelor. As I'm a business student I travel quite a lot, I therefore haven´t got much money to rent a fancy apartment. So here I am in my small, but very cosy studio. There is however one major interesting point:

The kitchen!

Yeah... So I have this microwave/grill I still haven't used, 2 great hobs and a very small fridge. I haven´t got any good knives (except one I took with me) or stove! As you can see, I'm not quite equipped to create the greatest dishes, but to find a way to a woman's heart, creativity is all you need in the kitchen. I might not have all the usual equipment but this is a very good way to challenge myself and use my imagination to impress using all the great ingredients that La Rochelle has to offer.

So hopefully, Alex will take all this into account when he posts my next challenge!

Any thoughts about my new kitchen?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Tikka Tikka

Today my girlfriend felt like eating Indian food! I therefore made her a Tikka Masala. I used chicken, 1 big onion, some chili, ginger, garlic, fresh lime juice, a box of peeled and conserved tomatoes and a lot of different spices. This is a hot dish, and is great with sweet nan bread or yoghurt drink. For my dish i chose to prepare a fresh lime and mint drink that works as a mouth cooler.

First, throw the Onion in a frying pan with 4, 2 cm slices of ginger, half a red chili, 1 pressed garlic, Olive oil and 1 pressed lime juice. Cook till it´s soft and add the following spices:

  • turmeric
  • curry
  • cinnamon
  • chili flakes
  • gara masala
  • sugar
  • salt
  • pepper

You only need about 1,5 teaspoon of each spice and 2-3 tablespoons of sugar. After a minute or two, add the conserved peeled tomatoes and cook for another 2-3 minutes before blending it in the mixer. This will create a great tikka paste. I added a tablespoon of crème fraiche to lighten it up, but you can use natural yoghurt or nothing at all if you don´t want to. Begin frying the chicken and add the paste when it´s ready. Let the tikka cook for 10 minutes before serving with great rice and nan bread. How to make nan and great rice will come in a later recipe.

This dish is great on cold winter evenings with a light beer or a mango/lime yoghurt drink. I hope you enjoy this post, because there´s more to come!!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mushroom risotto

I´ve always wanted to prepare a perfect risotto dish, and after a few attempts I finally made it! for this recipe you need:

  • Risotto (I use organic because of the rice quality)
  • Olive oil
  • Onion or 2 garlic sticks
  • Chicken stock
  • Mushroom (but you can use a large number of fresh vegetables or plants)
  • Parmesan
  • Crème fraiche
  • Butter
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Chives if you want...

First of all get the ingredients and tools ready. Mix 1/4 of an onion and olive oil in a sauce pan and add some heat to it. You do not want to color the onions, just make them softer and heat them up. For my dish, I used 2 fine chopped garlic sticks in stead of onion. This gives the risotto a little garlic taste and a beautiful appearance.

When the chopped onion is ready, add the risotto. Immediately add blended chicken stock so that it covers the risotto and mix. Cook at moderate heat (if you see that it begins to boil, turn the heat down). When the risotto is creamy, add some more stock and continue turning the risotto. To be more specific, I used more or less 50g of risotto and 160 ml of blended stock. But for this dish I used my eyes and food knowledge: there´s a little secret. After 10 minutes, if you pick out a risotto corn, you can see that it´s white in the middle and transparent on the outside. If you serve a risotto that is very white in the middle, it´s undercooked, and the opposite is doomed to be thrown away! The secret is then to always watch the core!

When you clearly see the white middle of the risotto, add 40-45g of parmesan (this is also a matter of taste... if you like distinct parmesan taste you can add another 5 g). Mix it together and add the mushrooms. The mushrooms will give the risotto a great and pure wild mushroom taste. While the corn still has a white core, take it of the heat, season it and blend in a teaspoon of crème fraiche and 2 small pieces of butter: serve at once!! Personally, i like to add a little bit of mushrooms on top to enhance the wild taste, but again it´s a personal preference.

If you have any questions about this recipe, do not hesitate to ask! I know it´s a bit difficult to prepare, but it´s very possible!!

And the Challenged becomes Challenger

My friend, I´ve prepared a few plates now, and for your challenge i choose to present a great risotto. To obtain a perfect risotto, you have to be awake! You have to be careful not to boil it to death, and at the same time not fry it to the underworld. Add stock little by little so you know when it´s almost ready. Never let it stick to the saucepan sides, and always keep it moving. I choose not to describe my risotto making in this presentation, because I´m presenting it in another recipe.

I have to say that I think the challenge was a bit hard. Creating a creative dish with fish and mushroom as a main ingredient (the mushroom season ended a long time ago) is hard. But since I got challenged, I did my best and made something great anyway!

I used Organic risotto, chicken stock, parmesan, mushrooms, crème fraiche and butter to create a perfect risotto. For the fish I used skate-fish wings that I covered with a little flour and fried in a pan with olive oil, lime juice and garlic at high heat. Cook the fish for about 3 minutes and leave it to rest before you serve. The Risotto recipe will be posted in a few moments.

If anyone wonders what the the black edge is, I can answer that. The black edge you see on the photo is concentrated balsamic. This sharpens the taste and gives the risotto an even better taste. This wasn´t allowed in the challenge, and isn´t needed for the recipe.

I hope your satisfied with my creation, and that you´ll try to make a perfect risotto too :)

Challenge 2

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My answer to Challenge n°1

I had lot of fun with this challenge. I don't usually cook with fruits and having the opportunity to try it was.. well, interesting! I made it as an everyday dinner with my girlfriend. So Alex, here is my answer to the Challenge n°1:

Based on the ingredients list you gave me, I decided to make a Wok. First, I heated up some olive oil with garlic and red chili. Then, I added onions to the wok and as soon as they took a brown colour, I placed the cubes I made from chicken filets and in the same time, few small bits of ginger. After few minutes, I put some soy sauce and oyster sauce in the preparation and let it cook for few minutes at med temp control. I cut the mango in small cubes and placed it in the Wok only 5 minutes before the end, so the fruit doesn't loose its sweet taste.
I advice to be careful with the ginger as it will easily become the only taste in your Wok if you add too much of it.

Challenge made on time, a tasty Chili Chicken Wok with Mango and Ginger.

By the way, this is Alex's turn now!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Year's eve

This year I got some real help from my fellow kitchen partner Camille! Therefore, I could finally make a mixture of tastes on one single plate. My goal was for everyone to experience the power of food. Considering the goal and what we had in the fridge, we had no choice but to assemble a mixed plate for everyone.

For our first course we had five different appetizers:
First of all we decided to have the classic french “foie gras” on a french toast. Everyone appreciates a great “foie gras” with some sweet white wine (Sauterne).
Then we had to come up with something more exiting for the “foie gras”. For this, I used 5-6 really sweet “Pink Lady” apples, sweet french white wine, cassis and a little bit of water. First cut out the heart of the apple, then cut the apple in small cubes. Throw them in a saucepan, add 100 ml of white wine and 6 tablespoons of cassis. Cook at a medium heat and put on a lid. Cook until the liquid is almost gone, and then taste if you need to add some more cassis for stronger taste or not. If you need to prepare the main dish before you serve, add 50 ml of water into the saucepan and repeat the same steps before serving.
This was followed by cherry tomatoes filled with ricotta, chives, olive oil, salt and pepper.

To continue, the norwegian salmon was prepared with an Asian twist. I put the salmon in aluminum paper, poor some olive oil on it, add a pinch of salt and pepper, add 50 g of peeled and cut ginger, add 3 tablespoons of soya sauce, half a chopped chili, 1 pressed lime juice and some coriander for the taste. Put it in the oven at 180 degrees for approximately 40 min. Check after 20 min and be careful to not overcook the fish. With this I made a blue cheese, natural yoghurt and roquette salad. just mix 250 g of blue cheese into a lot of salad, then add 3-4 tablespoons of yoghurt, a pinch of salt and pepper and Olive oil. Be careful not to choose a too strong blue cheese (it will kill the great salmon taste). This dish was greatly appreciated by everyone.
Before we began with our appetizers we made a chili, garlic and pepper infused sunflower oil for the shrimps. Before serving, we fried the delicious shrimps in our oil and served it with a little bit of fresh chili, lime juice and coriander.
Everyone loved the different tastes, and I believe that the quietness spoke for itself.

For the main dish we used 3 kinds of meat. Chicken, beef and duck.

Camille is a master at preparing chicken. First we stuffed the chicken with butter, honey, laurel leaves, provincial spices salt and pepper. Then we massaged it with olive oil, butter and honey to give it a great golden color. We then put it in the oven at 190 degrees for 1,5 hours. Remember to always moist the chicken so that it stays tender. With this we made provincial spiced, oven baked, sliced potatoes and dijon sauce. For the sauce I used 500 g of crème fraiche, 2-4 tablespoons of dijon mustard, chives to give a little extra taste, salt and pepper. Taste your way to the perfect combination. The potatoes are just peeled, sliced, spiced and put in the oven for 1 hour depending on the type of potato.
Secondly we cut the 2 Kg beef into smaller portions and fried them to medium rare. While it was still hot, I put a piece of french blue cheese on top to create a creamy textured sauce. With this we had fried potatoes in olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic. For bigger portions, use blue cheese mixed with crème fraiche, salt and pepper in a saucepan to create a real creamy sauce.
Finally, for the duck, I pre-heated the frying pan and began to fry the ducks fat side first. Some of the duck fat will then melt and create a great frying oil. Duck meat does not have to fry long at all, so be careful! With this I prepared conserved peaches with white wine and star anis. You need 150 ml of white wine and 8 pieces of star anis in a saucepan to cook the conserved peaches. For the best results, the meat has to be medium rare, the sauce caramelized (the secret is to add a little bit of white sugar) and the peaches hot.
For Desert we made a Mousse au chocolat. For this you need 250 g of dark chocolate (70% cacao), 20 g of butter to get a silky texture, 4 eggs and a little bit of salt. First melt the chocolate in a “bain marie”, then add the butter. Let the chocolate cool a bit while you whip your egg whites! Add the egg yolks into the chocolate mix, then slowly add the chocolate mix into the whipped egg whites. This will create a great mousse. Let the mousse cool off in the fridge for 2 hours minimum, and it's ready to be served.

During this dinner, the only thing we could hear was the sound of cutlery touching plates. For amateur cooks, that was the greatest compliment of all. For the record we also got a funny one: “this is like a orgasm in my mouth... damn!”
I would like to thank Camille for his great work, Christophe for his great help and everyone else for their compliments!