Sunday, January 31, 2010

Fondue Bourguignonne

I went skiing this weekend and hadn't gone for almost 6 years. The last time I went I was an innocent high school student and had never lived anywhere else but in France. A lot, a lot has changed since then, although hitting the Quebec slopes again brought back some of those memories. I used to ski in Switzerland for a week a year, take in the nice fresh air and indulge in the outdoor sports I had very little of during the year in Paris. It was total bliss. Skiing, of course, was always rewarded by our favorite ski foods. Raclette has to be my ultimate favorite (amazing gooey cheese served over potatoes, cured meats and cornichons) and the best way to spend a cold night in the mountains. A close second has to be Fondue Bourguignon, an easy dish to make at home during the year.

Here is my basic recipe along with two sauce ideas (that I should thank my mother for!). My mother is the queen of homemade mayonnaise. She has been whipping up homemade mayonnaise for years and has never even thought of having a jarred mayonnaise in the house. Neither have I, I must add! It is so easy to make and the end result is really worth those extra minutes in the kitchen. Here are two of the recipes my mother and I usually make for fondue, as well as adding a few flavored mustards and aioli.

Fondue Bourguignonne

Serves 6-8 people
3 pound piece boneless beef sirloin or tenderloin, cut into bite-size cubes
4 cups of canola oil
Place the oil into the fondue pot on medium heat. Make sure the fondue is never more than 2/3 full. Serve with the cubed meat and dipping sauces.

Herbed Mayonnaise

1/2 cup of mayonnaise (my recipe for homemade mayonnaise found here)
1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
1 tablespoon of grainy mustard
1 tablespoon of drained capers, roughly chopped
5-6 cornichons (French pickles) finely diced
2 teaspoons of lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Place the mayonnaise in a small bowl. Fold in the parsley, mustard, capers, cornichons and lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Marie Rose Sauce

1/2 cup of mayonnaise
3 tablespoons of ketchup
Place the mayonnaise in a small bowl. Fold in the ketchup. Adjust with extra ketchup if needed.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Orange-Infused Cake with Candied Oranges

I've been meaning to blog about this cake for quite a while, but, as a lot of good food, it seems that as soon as it comes out of the oven it's off to a friend's house or half finished before I have time to take my camera equipment out. I love this cake because it really does bring out the intense taste of oranges, inside and out. The secret to this cake is to pour an orange juice based syrup on the cake just as it comes out of the oven, so that the orange juice can make its way through the just-baked cake batter and infuse every inch of the cake with delicious, sweet, orangey goodness.

Making candied oranges is optional here but it's really a nice touch to finish off the cake. I would suggest trying to make them if you never have, because the results always look impressive and they're such a nice treat to have around the house. You can also use leftover slices and dip them in melted chocolate which really brings them over the top! They're easy to put together (although a little time consuming)and they really taste amazing. You can apply this method to all citrus - the key being to simmer the fruit slices in water 3 different times, discarding the water after each use. Citrus rind, because of its bitterness, needs to be boiled in this way in order for the end result to be nothing else but candied deliciousness!

Orange-Infused Cake with Candied Oranges

Serves 6-8 people

4 eggs
180 grams of butter at room temperature
150 grams of sugar
200 grams of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
A pinch of salt
Juice and zest of 1 orange
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

50 grams of confectioner's sugar
1 orange, juice and zest

Preheat your oven to 350F.
In a medium-sized bowl, add the egg yolks reserving the whites in a separate bowl. Add the sugar to the yolks and mix until homogeneous. Add the room temperature butter and beat using a mixer until creamy (about 3 minutes). Add the orange juice, zest and the vanilla extract and mix until just combined. Add the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until the mixture is homogeneous.

Beat the egg whites (with a pinch of salt) to hard peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the flour mixture into the mixture is just combined. Pour the batter in a cake mold and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, make the glaze. In a small bowl, whisk the confectioner's sugar, orange juice and zest making sure there is are no lumps.

Once the cake is cooked, let cool for a couple minutes and un-mold on a cooling rack. Place an sheet of aluminum foil underneath the cooking rack. Using a spoon, pour the glaze over the cake, making sure to cover every surface of the cake. Fold the foil to recuperate the glaze the poured off of the cake and re-pour it on the cake. Adorn with the candied oranges and serve.

Candied Oranges

3 oranges
1 1/2 cups of sugar

Thinly slice the oranges. Fill a medium-sized pot with water. Once the water reaches a simmer, carefully add the orange slices. Blanch the orange slices for about 5 minutes, discard the water and blanch them again with a new pot of water. Repeat the process 3 times. Re-Fill the pot with 1 1/2 cups of water and 1 1/2 cups of sugar and place on medium heat. Once the sugar has completely dissolved into the water, add the orange slices and leave them to simmer in the syrup for 45 minutes. Using a flat spatula, turn the oranges a couple times during that time. Gently remove the oranges from the pot and place them on a wax paper lined cookie-sheet to dry out.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Apple, Raisin, Cranberry and Hazelnut-Chocolate Cake

One of the things I love the most about the food blog world is feeling that you get that that glimpse into someone else's kitchen when you read one of their posts. As an editor for that moment happens multiple, multiple times a day. Just this morning, I found myself craving Chocolate Cloud Cake, Maple Bacon Pancakes and Lamingtons before the clock hit noon. This weekend, I published a Apple Praline Cake recipe from Passionate About Baking to Tastespotting and knew, immediately, that that cake was calling my name. I love that reading someone's take on a recipe can make you want to get in the kitchen, at the other side of the world, and try it for yourself.

The recipe was initially from La Tartine Gourmande which further shows how much sharing is a part of the blog community. After going through both recipes, I tweaked it to suit my mood of the day and the result was delicious! It was easy to make, not to sweet, fruity and moist. For me, cooking has always been about sharing and passing on recipe ideas and food bloggers make it that much easier for that process to take place. So.. here it is!

Apple, Raisin, Cranberry and Hazelnut-Chocolate Cake
(Serves 6)
2 large apples
2 oz dried cranberries (soaked in hot water for 20 min)
3 eggs
7 Tbsp butter, melted (1/2 cup)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
75 grams of plain flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons of golden raisins
1/4 cup Hazelnut-Chocolate spread (I used "Crema alle Nocciole", from Barratti & Milano but any chocolate-hazelnut spread will work here)

Sift the flour with the baking powder and set aside.
Soak the cranberries in hot water for 20 min, then drain.
In the meantime, peel your apples, remove the core and slice them thinly.
Preheat your oven to 350F.
Beat the eggs with the sugar and salt until the the mixture is homogeneous, about 2 minutes. Add the cooled melted butter, hazelnut-chocolate spread and raisins and mix. Fold in the flour mixture. Mix until just incorporated. Fold in the apple slices.
Butter a round 9.5″ mold and pour in the apple batter.
Evenly top with the cranberries.
Bake in the oven for 30 to 35 min. Remove and let cool for a few min before unmolding. The cake is delicious warm and at room temperature. Enjoy!

Tip: I made the cake in smaller molds. In that case, the cakes cook for about 15 minutes (depending on the size of the mold) or until they are just set in the center.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Chocolate Banana Bread

I just came back from a few blissful days in New York City which always remind me of the time when I actually was a New Yorker. When I was living in New York (and was a student at the French Culinary Institute) I found myself a little overwhelmed by the city at times. The funny thing is that New York is actually a lot more brash and chaotic when you're visiting the city than when you live in it. I don't think I went to Times Square once when I lived in New York, and I got to appreciate the calm, often incredibly empty streets of the lower East side later in the evening and discover small neighborhoods you just don't have the time to go to when you're only in New York for a couple days. That being said though, what I thought I would love about New York was the one thing that pushed me away from it. New York is one of the only places in the world where you can find close to anything you want at almost anytime of the day - or night. That's especially true for food. I found myself missing the closed shops on Sundays in Paris and those times where the city really shuts up and you're forced to wait for things a little. New York was the beautiful, diverse city of the everything-available, and I realized that sometimes not having what you want when you want it is a precious thing in everyday life.

That being said, I think I will always have a long-distance love affair with New York - and that I did, for a few days at least. Memorable moments were a dinner at Mario Batali's Otto, where Oliver and I indulged in multiple antipasti dishes including grilled octopus, eggplant caponata and pesto caprese as well as one of the best goat cheese and caramelized onion pizzas I've ever had. The restaurant also bottles its own carbonated water and sells it for a reasonable restaurant price which is always a nice touch in my book. It's one those nice casual dining settings where you can over-order but still come out with a decently-priced bill which is not always that easy to do in NY!

I am now back in Montreal and wanted to welcome the new year with this recipe for Banana Bread. This is the Baked bakery recipe for banana chocolate muffins which I now make mostly use for banana loafs. I catch myself secretly coming up with devices for Oliver not to remember about the bananas we just bought at the market. The truth is, bananas take a while to be very, very ripe. In my experience, the best banana loafs - the really moist ones you can't stop eating - are made with incredibly mushy bananas. Even when the skin of bananas are completely brown, the banana inside is sometimes still not completely mushy. And, as much as I hate the word 'mushy' in the food-world, mushy is really the key to banana bread. The mushier the banana the more sweet it is, hence the better the loaf - you get the point!

Chocolate Banana Bread
Serves 8

1 1/2 cups of mashed ripe bananas (about 4 medium-sized bananas)
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup of whole milk
1 large egg
1 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon of strong espresso
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon of salt
5 ounces of bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a medium bowl, stir in the banana, sugars, butter, espresso, milk and egg.
In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the middle of the bowl and gently add in the banana mixture. Stir into just combined. Gently fold in the chocolate.

Fill a greased loaf pan with the batter and bake for about 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out just clean. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Best of 2009

I hope all of you spent fun-filled holidays with family and good friends- my holidays were relaxing, full of good food and great company. Today will be a short post, I just got back from a trip to New York city and have a zillion errands to run to be ready for a busy week starting tomorrow. I leave you with my favorite posts of 2009, and to plenty more in 2010!

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