Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pear and Chocolate Loaf

This recipe came about when I realized I had a few leftover pears that I wanted to put to good use. I wanted to make an easy dessert that would combine both pears and chocolate -a heavenly combination! Pear pieces, when baked in this type of loaf, soften and meld beautifully with the other flavours to create an airy yet incredibly tasty treat. A little orange zest really boosts the flavours and lightens the cake and the simple citrus icing makes the loaf that much more special.

This loaf could also be served at breakfast, in which case I would suggest omitting the icing. The loaf is incredibly versatile: it's perfect as the first sweet bite of the day, as well as for an afternoon snack or for dessert, anytime. And, the best part? It takes minutes to put together!

Pear and Chocolate Loaf

40 grams of bittersweet chocolate
140 grams of butter, softened to room temperature
150 grams of granulated sugar
2 eggs
160 grams of all purpose flour
1 tsp of baking powder
2 pears (not too ripe)
1 orange, zested
40 grams of cocoa

1 cup of confectioner's sugar
2 tsps of lemon juice

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler and reserve. In a mixer bowl, add the softened butter and sugar. Beat until the mixture is pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until just combined. Fold in the cooled melted chocolate.

In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 3 batches, beating the mixture until just homogeneous. Add the orange zest.

Peel and core the pears and cut them into small bite-size pieces. Add the pear to the batter and fold until the pear is evenly distributed throughout the batter.

Place the batter to set in the fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 425F. Remove the batter from the fridge and pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake at 425F for 15 minutes, and lower the temperature to 350F. Bake for an additional 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out just clean.

Let the loaf cool for a few minutes and gently unmold onto a cooling rack.

While the cake is cooling, make the icing. Add the confectioner's sugar and lemon juice to a bowl and whisk. The consistency of the icing must be thin enough to spread on top of the cake, but thick enough to be opaque. Add a few drizzles of water until you reach the perfect consistency. Once the loaf has completely cooled down, drizzle the icing on top of the loaf and carefully even out using an offset spatula or flat butter knife. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hot Cross Buns

With the Easter long weekend just around the corner, it's the perfect time to make a warm batch of Hot Cross Buns! Check out my full post for these delicious treats on Style at Home. What will you be making this Easter?

Hot Cross Buns
Makes 12 buns

1 cup of whole milk
1 package of active dry yeast (1/4 ounce)
1/2 cup of sugar
1 1/4 sticks of unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs
2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 cups of bread flour
1/2 tsp of grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp of kosher salt
1/2 cup of golden raisins
1/4 cup of chopped candied lemon peel
1 egg white, beaten with 1 tsp of water

1 1/4cup of sifted confectioner’s sugar
2 tbl of milk
1 tsp of lemon juice

Heat the milk in a small saucepan until it reaches 100-110 degrees. Remove from the heat immediately and pour into a mixer bowl. Add the yeast, sugar and butter. Fit the mixer with a dough hook and mix on medium speed until the mixture is homogenous. Add the eggs, one by one, and mix until just incorporated. In a separate bowl, mix the flours, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the dough. Knead until the mixture starts to form a sticky dough (4-5 minutes).
Add the golden raisins and candied peel and knead until the fruit is evenly distributed throughout the dough. Pour the dough into a lightly greased bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Leave to rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours. Once the dough has about doubled in size, shape the dough into small tight balls (each should hold in the palm of your hand). Lay them out on a parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing them about 1 1/2 inches apart. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm place for 45 minutes or until the balls of dough have expanded and are touching.
Preheat your oven to 400F. Using the beaten egg white and water mixture, brush a light coating of egg onto each bun. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden. Let the buns cool completely before glazing.
In a small bowl, whisk all the ingredients to make the glaze. Place the glaze in a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4 inch tip and make a cross design on each bun. Using scissors or a knife separate the buns and serve.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Creamy Mustardy Chicken with Haricots Verts and Red Onions (and a Giveaway!)

First of all, here is one of my recipes for the ultimate one-pot meal. It's perfect for any weeknight when you're looking for something comforting and nutritious without spending hours in the kitchen. I love using creme fraiche and mustard to give flavour to the chicken. It's such an easy marinade and really helps to keep the chicken tender. Haricots verts also work wonderfully with this combination. I have a soft spot for haricots verts as they were one of the vegetables I ate the most growing up in Paris. My mom boils them in salted water and tosses them with minced garlic, good olive oil and sea salt. If you can't find haricots verts, you can definitely make this dish with regular green beans but I love the more delicate flavour and thin texture of haricots verts.

I also bring you a fabulous giveaway this week. Sterling Publishing is giving away a copy of Cristina Ferrare's Big Bowl of Love to one lucky Chocolate Shavings reader. Cristina Ferrare hosts a cooking show on Oprah's OWN network and is a New York Times best-selling author. Her cookbook includes many mouth-watering recipes like Short Ribs with Creamy Polenta, Mustard-crusted Salmon and Peach Crumble.

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on this post or write a comment on Chocolate Shaving's facebook page and let me know what dishes you are most looking forward to trying this spring. You can write a comment on both and your name will be entered in the contest twice. The contest ends on April 28th at midnight and you must be a Canadian or American resident to enter. I will draw the winner at random. Good luck!

Creamy Mustardy Chicken with Haricots Verts and Red Onions
Serves 3-4

6 chicken drumsticks
1/2 large red onion cut into bite size pieces
200 grams of haricots verts
1/2 cup of creme fraiche
2 heaping tablespoons of grainy mustard
1/2 large lemon, juiced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat your oven to 375F. Heat a large cast iron pan on medium high heat. Pat the drumsticks dry and generously season with salt and pepper. Add a drizzle of vegetable oil to the pan and place the chicken, skin side down once the oil is hot. Leave the chicken to brown, untouched for 2-3 minutes. Turn the chicken skin-side up and remove the pan from the heat. Scatter the haricots verts and red onion around the chicken.

In a small bowl add the creme fraiche, grainy mustard, lemon and minced garlic. Stir and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle the sauce over the chicken and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are just tender. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Kitchen Favourites

I often get asked what kitchen accessories I couldn’t live without. For me, it’s often the small things that make cooking a smooth and fun process. I’ve compiled some of my favourites kitchen items to share with you. They are all pretty inexpensive items that make cooking and baking as easy as pie. What are some of your favourites? To read my full post, visit Style at Home.

1 Stainless steel knife rack
This is really the most efficient way to store knives. In a minute, knives are safely put away and readily accessible.

2 Kuhn knives
Paring knifes are one of the most useful tools to perform small tasks in the kitchen. I love the range of colours Kuhn offers. They are also made with a carbon steel blade which helps keep them sharp.

3 Apple tea towel
The designs at Ferm Living are absolutely stunning. I love their organic cotton kitchen towels — they have the perfect pop of colour for any kitchen space.
4 Silicone tongs
Most chefs do not use tongs in professional kitchens but I find them to be one of the most useful tools in a home kitchen. The silicone ensures you won’t scratch the surface of your pans.

5 Garlic press
This incredibly inexpensive tool is ideal for mincing garlic in seconds.

6 Mixing bowls
I use mixing bowls for seasonings, marinades and garnishes. I love these bowls from Anthropologie. Stacked on a shelf in different colours, they are beautifully functional.

7 Silicone baking mat
This silicone mat does not need to be greased and is completely non-stick. It’s perfect for making any type of cookie and replaces parchment paper.

8 Microplane
This is my absolute favourite! You can use it to grate zests, chocolate and parmesan cheese.

9 White silicone cookie spatula
This silicone spatula is slanted to make it easy to move cookies from a baking mat to a cooling rack. It’s also a practical tool for other tasks in the kitchen.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Roasted Tomatoes with Garlic-Infused Oil and Goat Cheese

I often get asked where I find my inspiration in the kitchen. A lot of recipes I develop come from dishes I have sampled while traveling and from tasting a delicious meal at a restaurant. Every once in a while, I taste a dish that I know I should try to make at home. This tomato recipe is inspired from one of my favourite restaurants in Montreal, Tapeo. This restaurant serves a myriad of tapas-inspired dishes, all using crisp, simple ingredients. There is one dish that I always order there, the roasted cherry tomatoes - the tomatoes are slowly roasted until soft, and cooked in a garlic-infused oil with herbs and soft, velvety goat cheese.

After living in Montreal for the past few years, I am in the process of packing up the Chocolate Shavings kitchen and moving to Toronto. This recipe is a nice homage to some of the best food I have enjoyed in Montreal. My cooking philosophy has always been that simple ingredients, cooked to perfection make the best meals. This dish exemplifies this and is a wonderful way to use tomatoes in the summertime. I like to serve it alongside a crusty piece of bread and a green salad for lunch, and as a side dish to roasted fish or grilled chicken for dinner. Tomatoes are really one of the best fruits to roast. They release all of their naturally sweet juices and burst with flavor as soon as they are cut open.

Roasted Tomatoes with Garlic-Infused Oil and Goat Cheese
Serves 2

3 tablespoons of olive oil
3 medium-sized cloves of garlic, crushed
5 sprigs of thyme
A dozen vine-ripened cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup of coarsely crumbled soft goat cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Remove the thyme leaves from their stem and finely chop. Reserve.

Preheat your oven to 350°F. In a small saucepan on low heat add the olive oil, thyme and crushed garlic. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes to the saucepan (leaving the stems on) and cook for 5 minutes, on low heat, until the tomatoes just start to soften. Place the tomatoes in a casserole and drizzle with the garlic-infused oil and thyme. Top with the crumbled goat cheese and season with salt and pepper.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the tomatoes are softened. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
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