Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Apple Pudding

It's apple week in the Chocolate Shavings kitchen! For some odd reason, I had never really been apple picking. I have a distant memory of my parents taking me to this farm once outside of Paris and picking a couple apples and learning how to make bread, but it wasn't exactly the same adventure.
It was raining pretty heavily this weekend but we decided that apples would be picked, rain or shine. When we got to the farm, I was in awe. There's just something about picking the apple straight from the tree. It might seem like an obvious statement, but it's easy to disconnect yourself from where your food comes from, even at the farmer's market. Seeing this plump tree full of ruby red goodness made me giggle. Tugging at each apple to see if it was ready to leave its home, and tasting the different types of apples, their varying sweetness and tartness. It was a moment of pure bliss.

For my first recipe of apple week, I made apple pudding. I adapted the recipe from Delicious magazine, with a couple tweaks. I have about 60 apples calling my name in a big basket.. so be prepared for a lot more apple-themed recipes in the days to come!

Apple Pudding
Serves 4

2 big apples (I used Cortland), peeled, cored and roughly chopped
1/2 lemon, juice and zest
2 1/4 cup of brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/4 cup of self-rising flour
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
50 grams of room temperature butter
1 egg

Preheat your oven to 350F.
In a small bowl, combine the apple pieces, lemon juice and zest, cinnamon and half of the brown sugar. Set aside.

In a another bowl, using an electrical mixer, beat the butter and the rest of the sugar (about 2 minutes). Add the the egg and vanilla extract until just combined. Slowly add in the flour until just combined. Divide the apple mixture into 4 individual ramekins and add a spoonful of the flour mixture ontop. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Enjoy!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Citrus Cupcakes with Lemon Curd Icing

There's not a lot that a good cupcake can't cure. Let me tell you, cupcakes have often been my pick-me-up when the day hasn't been so sweet. Maybe it's a good thing that I no longer live close to NYC's Buttercup Bake shop! I am in cupcake testing madness (for a little project of mine that I'm thinking of getting together) and here is where I'm at. Citrus Cupcakes! Give them a try, and let me know what you think.

Citrus Cupcakes with Lemon Curd Icing
Makes 6 cupcakes
3/4 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 stick of room temperature butter
1/2 cup and 1 tablespoon of packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon of lemon curd
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1/4 cup of sour cream
3 tablespoons of lemon curd

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a small bowl, mix the flour, salt, lemon zest and baking powder.

In a separate bowl, add the sugar and butter. Using a mixer, beat the sugar and butter until the mixture is homogeneous (about 3 minutes). Add the eggs, one by one, beating until just incorporated. Add the lemon juice, vanilla extract and lemon curd and beat until just incorporated. Slowly add the flour mixture. Once the mixture is just homogeneous, scoop one ice cream scoop of batter into a cupcake-lined muffin time. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Leave to cool on a cooling rack while you make the icing.

Using a small whisk, whisk the lemon curd into the sour cream making sure to remove any lumps. Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, ice them. Enjoy!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Green Onion, Pancetta and Parmesan Rolls

So... I had promised myself I wouldn't do it and then I caved! The problem with me is that I've never really been a woman of measure and I tend to be pretty obsessed with things that I take a liking to. For those reasons, I had promised I wouldn't hop on the twitter train. After much restraint, I did, and I kind of love it. My only problem is that I sometimes have problems divulging and get twitter stage fright. Do people really care that I had the most flaky caramelized onion and roasted tomato tart last week? that I found a new bread that I can't live without? that my food magazine obsession is becoming a real design problem in my apartment? or that I've never been apple picking and that this year will be the year for homemade apple sauces/pies/tarts/compotes/jellies?

If you're on twitter, follow me here, I would love to keep up with all the food-lovers out there, and that seems like the perfect channel to do so!

And in the meantime, here is my new recipe for savory bread rolls/muffins. The combo of pancetta, green onions and cheese was perfect for the cooler fall weather coming our way. Give them a try, and let me know what you think!

Green Onion, Pancetta and Parmesan Rolls
Makes about 14 rolls

1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1.5 teaspoons of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 egg
3/4 cups of milk
1/4 cup of heavy cream
1/4 cup of vegetable oil
1 tbl of olive oil and extra to drizzle
4 green onions, finely sliced
1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
4 ounces of pancetta, diced

Preheat your oven 400F.

In a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt.

In a separate bowl, add the milk, cream, olive oil and vegetable oil. Beat in the egg. Once the mixture is homogenous, fold in the flour mixture until completely incorporated. Fold in the cheese, green onions and pancetta.

Place cupcake liners in a muffin pan. Add one ice cream scoop of batter into each and bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Lightly drizzle the muffins with olive oil and place your oven on broil. Bake them for 2-3 minutes or until the rolls are just golden brown.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fleur de Sel Chocolate Bark with Hazelnuts and Almonds

I've been meaning to write about chocolate bark for a little while now. It's really a fun, and easy dessert to make and you can switch it up with so many different things. I especially like using fleur de sel because it really brings out the flavor of the chocolate. I was reading one of Ina Garten's cookbooks the other day and I couldn't agree more with her view on how to use different flavors when coming up with recipes. Ina chosses what flavor to add to roast chicken by figuring out what ingredients really boosts the chicken flavor. I think it's the same with the use of salt in certain sweet recipes. It's not so much that you taste a lovely contrast between salty and sweet flavors (although you do) but mostly that the salt helps brings out the complex flavor of good dark chocolate and make it taste that much more chocolatey and intense.

This is the kind of recipe where the type of chocolate you use really makes all the difference. There are so few ingredients, that a mediocre chocolate can render the dessert rather bland whereas a good chocolate will make you go for seconds.. and thirds.

Fleur de Sel Chocolate Bark with Hazelnuts and Almonds
7 ½ oz bittersweet chocolate
4 ½ oz semisweet chocolate
¼ cup of roasted hazelnuts
2 tablespoons of slivered almonds
¼ teaspoon of fleur de sel, and a small pinch for sprinkling
Chop the chocolates into small pieces and place to melt in a double boiler. Once the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat and fold in the ¼ teaspoon of fleur de sel.
Coarsely chop the roasted hazelnuts and fold half of them into the chocolate mixture. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper. Gently pour the chocolate mixture onto the paper to form ¼ inch thick rectangle. Top the chocolate with the rest of the hazelnuts and the almonds. Add a small pinch of fleur de sel over the surface of the chocolate.
Let the chocolate harden on the kitchen counter (about 2 hours). Once the chocolate has completely hardened, place it on a chopping board using the parchment paper, and cut into small triangles.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

White Chocolate Mousse with Pomegranate Seeds and Gingersnap Cookies

Cooking with pomegranate can be a little bit of a challenge to those who don't like to get messy in the kitchen. Personally, that's never been an issue of mine. The messier things are, the better the result! These red jewels can really be a tad messy to free, but once out they are sweet, crunchy and absolutely delicious. And don't they add something special to anything they touch?

This is a really, really simple dessert to put together but looks great when it comes out to the table. I like these kind of desserts that you can whip up really fast, and serve for a casual family dinner as well as a fancier affair.

White Chocolate Mousse with Pomegranate Seeds and Gingersnap Cookies

Serves 4

2 cups of whipping cream
1 tablespoon of granulated sugar
4 ounces of white chocolate
2 egg whites
1 pomegranate, seeded
6 ginger snaps cookies

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Once melted, leave to cool down in a bowl.
Take a cold stainless steal bowl and pour in the cold whipping cream (placed for 30 minutes in the fridge). Using a hand mixer, whip the cream for 2-3 minutes. Add the granulated sugar and whip until the cream has the consistency of light whipped cream. Place in the fridge.

Beat the egg whites (with a pinch of salt) to firm peaks. Gently fold the egg whites with the cream and add the cooled white chocolate. Take your glass serving bowls to start building the dessert. Add a dozen pomegranate seeds at the bottom of each bowl, top with few ginger snaps pieces and top with a generous ladle of the whipped cream mixture. Add another layer of pomegranate seeds and ginger snaps to decorate.
Tip: If preparing in advance, leave the whipped cream mixture in separate bowl. Do not put the ginger snaps in the fridge or they will become soggy. Build the desserts just before serving. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Chocolate-Dipped Ginger Poached Pears

I saw Julie & Julia a couple nights ago and it left me with a myriad of reflections about the food world. First of all, let me be honest: I only heard about Julia Child a handful of years ago. Growing up in Paris, as you can imagine, Julia Child was not a renowned name and her legacy had never made it to my though curious Parisian ears. A couple years after I moved to Montreal, Oliver came back from one of his second-hand book hunts with a grin and a copy of Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". It had cost him 10 dollars, was in mint condition and just asking to be used. I flipped through the pages of this brick of a book (a masterpiece alright!) and recognized all the recipes that make up classic French cuisine. Julia Child's explanations of how to make each dish was the most entertaining and valuable part, and it did make me think that no matter your lack of knowledge on the matter, you could probably whip up a boeuf bourgignon or the perfect onion soup on any given day.

Then, I did what any normal product of the 21 st century would do: I googled. I googled Julia Child's photo, extracts of her cooking show and read up on her biography. I already felt like I knew who she was. Better still was the particular ring of her tone of voice, and the awkward yet charming way she had of carrying herself while showing you how to truss a chicken or make the perfect omelet. I was sold. Since that moment, I've heard her name over and over and over again and can only give her my blessing for what she was able to do for Americans. I don't believe these recipes were anything of a creative breakthrough - these are, after all not Julia Child's recipes, but rather the classic recipes found in most old school restaurants in France - but Julia Child made it possible for the housewife of her time, wherever she might be, to bring a taste of France to her family. Julia Child was, in effect, the one who made it possible for home cooks to buy raw ingredients and turn them into a real show piece at the dinner table.

Seeing Julie & Julia made me think about the essential role of transmission in the food world. Our grandmother's recipe has special importance to us because it was passed down from generation to generation and making it in our kitchen makes that tradition live on. Julia transformed these French recipes into understandable terms and allowed that transmission to occur for Americans. She took her immense love of French food and transferred it to all those who wanted to learn about it like she did.

The movie touched me. To think that someone like Julie Powell felt empowered because of Julia's recipes truly hit a soft spot for me. I think, secretly, when you write a recipe, you're always trying to bring a feeling of empowerment for people who try it. You want them to succeed. The power of food really does go beyond the wonderful taste in your mouth.
Sure, the Julie in the movie did seem rather self-indulgent and sulky, but who am I to talk? Aren't we all a little? I started reading Julie's blog (I had only read excerpts as of now) and maybe I will come back to you with a stronger opinion on the matter after I'm done.

Now.. for today's recipe. Poached Pears. Dipped in Chocolate. Need I say more? That pretty much did it for me!

Chocolate-Dipped Ginger Poached Pears

Recipe (for 4 smalls pears)
4 small pears
1 cup of water
Juice of 1/2 lemon, with 1 lemon zest
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 inch piece of ginger, finely sliced
6 ounces of good quality bittersweet chocolate

In a small saucepan, add the water, ginger, lemon and sugar and bring to a simmer. In the meantime, gently peel the pears (leaving the stem intact). Once the liquid comes to a simmer, add the pears. Turn them often to make sure every side is in contact with the poaching liquid. Poach for 15-20 minutes or until the pears are fork-tender. If the pears start to change color, and a little lemon juice.

Once the pears are ready, remove from the liquid, dry them and place in the fridge (at least one hour). Slowly melt the chocolate in a double boiler, and place the chocolate in a small bowl. Drizzle the melted chocolate on the pears, starting where the stem touches the fruit. Leave to harden and serve. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Blue Cheese, Tomato and Steak Sandwich

I don't know about you, but I'm always looking for the perfect lunch. For me, it's always a tight balance between not going overboard (no one wants to fall asleep after too big a lunch) but still finding that perfect satisfying boost of energy for the afternoon to come. As all good Parisians, I have a special soft spot for baguette. You may see it in movies (with the added beret and the red wine bottle) but it doesn't make it any less true. The french need their espresso and their baguette to even begin to think that's it's a decent food day. The only problem with baguettes is that they don't last very long. The best is to eat it the day it was made. You might be able to get a second day out of it, but the first is really the better option. However, the good news is that the bread freezes amazingly well. Cut the baguette into smaller sections, tightly wrap in aluminum foil and freeze. The day you want fresh tasting bread, let the baguette come back to room temperature in the oven and you're good to go.

This sandwich could very well be my new favorite lunch. It's simple, lighter than your regular steak sandwich (no mayo) and absolutely delicious.

Blue Cheese, Tomato and Steak Sandwich
Recipe (for 2)
1/2 baguette
1 clove of garlic
1 medium-sized steak
6 yellow cherry tomatoes
1 small handful of baby arugula
1/4 cup of crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoon of grainy mustard
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil

Cut the baguette in half and cut again lengthwise. Drizzle with olive oil and set on the grill for a few minutes, until just crisp. Remove from the heat and rub each side with the peeled garlic clove. Reserve.

Bring the steak to room temperature, pat dry with paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper. Set on a grill on medium high heat. Cook for 3-5 minutes on each side or until the steak is just medium rare. Set to rest to let the juices in the meat redistribute. Once the meat has rested (about 10 minutes), slice the meat on the bias.

Cut the tomatoes into thin slices. Spread the mustard on each sides of the baguette. Add the slices of steak to the bottom side of each piece of bread. Top with the crumbled blue cheese, a few slices of tomato, some arugula and press with the top slice of bread to close. Enjoy!
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