miércoles, 5 de diciembre de 2012

Spice Bread or Carbonade Flamande Part 1!

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The temperature has drop dreadfully those days, my kitchen garden is putting on a white coat in the mornings here the video, we even had a hailstorm...and my good old Citroën AX finds it hard to start up!
Winter is here!

And what do we feel like when the weather is sooo cold? Well, we feel like being wrapped up in a warm and heavy duvet, watching a movie, having a hot chocolate or eating Mummy's home-made stew!!
Last week she told me how good was her carbonade flamande recipe. My aim for the week: get this carbonade on my plate! 
The carbonade flamande is a typical dish from the North of France (my birth place) and more particularly from Belgium. 
It is a beef stew, the meat is simmering for hours in dark beer with brown sugar, mustard and ....spice bread! 
That explains the title of my post. In order to make this dish I need pain d'épices, it is the only ingredient I can't replace. Unfortunately I can't find any in Spain, nowhere. So I have to make my own. 

The pain d’épices has its origin in China! In the 10th century Chinese use to eat an oven cooked bread flavored with many spices, the favorite of Gengis Khan's knights (founder of the Mongol Empire).It spreads to Arabian territories during the war. Then arrives to Europe with the ones who were lucky to come back home after the Crusades. 
It gets to be famous in Germany and Alsace and slowly arrives to Reims where it is introduced with a rye flour recipe. In the Middle Age, it got famous because of its spices that are able to hide the bad taste of the rancid flour! Times have changed, there a big difference between the spice bread that was eaten then and the one we use nowadays.

French eat it for the afternoon tea, children love it. Surprisingly it goes very well with foie gras. It is usual to find it on the table for Christmas Eve. The most famous pain d'épices in France is Prosper represented by a funny bear.

Anyway, let's go back to the recipe....here is a very good one, perfect for a soft and slightly sticky bread with a strong honey and spices taste. In the following post I will tell you all about how it went with the carbonade. I hope it will be up to my expectations.

300g of honey
40g brown sugar (ideally we should use the typical sugar from Belgium and North of France: cassonade/vergeoise, which is a kind of moist brown sugar, like muscovado sugar) or 60g of orange or apricot jam.  
200g of flour
50g of whole flour
1 sachet of baking powder
2 medium eggs
100ml whole milk
1 pinch of salt
1 tablespoon oil (olive or sunflower)
Spices: 2 teaspoons grounded cinnamon, 2 teaspoons grounded ginger, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon of grounded anise and 1 teaspoon of grounded cardamom or 2 table spoons of a special mix of spice for pain d'épices (if you know someone who can get it for you from France).
I always add more spices, that's how I like it. 

Preheat the oven on 180ºC.
Grease a rectangular tin with butter or line with baking paper.

In a small pan heat the honey, the sugar and the oil until liquid.  
In a bowl, mix the flour with the spices, salt and yeast. Stir in the eggs, the milk and the liquid mixture. Stir well. 

Pour in the mold until about 3/4 full. Put in the oven for 45-50 minutes. Cover with tin foil if it starts to burn a little bit on the top.  It is important not to overcook the bread, it can easily get dry and hard! Check with the point of a knife, if it comes out clean and dry of the bread, it is ready!  
Take the bread out of the oven, remove from the mold and let it cool on a rack.
Once completely cool, wrap it up in tinfoil or cling film and set aside for 24h before eating. That's how you it gets softer and tasty!

Savour with a nice cup of tea, a hot chocolate or why not use it to make some spice bread icecream or cupcakes frosting?  

I've already made my mind up, it will end in my carbonade (well, and the rest will go to Mon Chéri's stomach as I only need a few slices!).

To be continued! 

A good recipe from Palais des Délices  

viernes, 30 de noviembre de 2012

Nuts, Lentils and Roquefort Biscuits with a Silken Tofu and Nuts Sauce

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To my good friend Stèph ;)

Here is a recipe that I had already tried with my kitchen-mate Stéphanie. 

When I was living in Barcelona, we used to meet once or twice a month to have a cooking day: we would prepare recipes that caught our attention. And after a long day elaborating a menu, we would eat everything! such good memories, enjoyable moments. 
These recipe is from lovely Cléa's book: “Croquez salé".

Those biscuits are delicious, the lentils and nuts are softly crunchy on the tooth, then comes the roquefort strong but  delicate. We enjoyed so much discovering the recipe and eat the biscuits!
I am cooking these biscuits again as I take part in a contest Las Nueces de California, I have to propose a Christmas appetiser or a starter made with nuts (the winner gets a Kitchenaid !!!Oh yes!)
In order to look like an appetiser I decided to present the biscuits with a creamy sauce made with silken tofu...and nuts! Of course! This sauce is really tasty, it's pure pleasure and it's also so simple to prepare! It matches perfectly with the biscuits, but you could also serve it with many other things, with some vegetable dips for example. Yum!

For the biscuits (around 20):
60 gr of nuts

60 gr of flour

50 gr of green lentils flour (if you can't find the flour just make it yourself from whole lentils using a grinder, if you can't find green lentils just use normal ones. That's what I did actually, here in Spain they've never seen a green lentil...) 
100 gr of Roquefort cheese

Pre-heat the oven on 180°C. Put the nuts in the oven 4-5 minutes in order to roast them. (you can use a pan as well). Crush them finally. Add the two flours and mix thoroughly. Blend in the crumbled up cheese. Carry on mixing so to obtain a kind of homogeneous mixture. Add a little water to make a ball.  
Spread the doe on 3-5 mm and cut with a cookie cutter or simply with a knife. 
Place in the baking tray on a baking paper, cook for 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown. Let them cool on a rack.

For the sauce (Fingers in the nose!):
75g of nuts
100g of silken tofu (it's softer than the tofu we all know, it's a great product, a good substitute for butter, cream, cheese etc..).
A pinch of salt (if you have some "interesting" salt such as pink salt from Himalaya or black salt...it's even better!) 
The day before soak the nuts in water in order to rehydrate them.
The day after, drain them and mix them with the tofu and the salt. Ready!

Dollop on a biscuit and straight to your mouth! Enjoy!!!!  

miércoles, 28 de noviembre de 2012

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Pumpkin time! Great!

I love pumpkin, I usually cook it in a creamy soup with a hint of cumin. But this is the "classical" option...it's amazing what you can do with a pumpkin: ice cream, cookies, cakes etc... Today I'm sharing a cupcakes recipe. They're so cute those little chaps, and they don't last much, the cake is soooo smooth and soft, just delicious!

Alejandro a friend from the kitchen garden gave me two huge pieces of pumpkin. But this is no ordinary pumpkin, Alejandro won the pumpkin contest 2012!! He definitely knows how to grow the thing! ...I wish I will be able to get the same result next year. 
To have a look at our kitchen garden to rent (Ciudad Real, Spain):

for 12 cupcakes:

For the cupcakes: 
200g plain flour
1,5 tea spoon baking powder
150g sugar
100ml soft olive oil (not too strong in taste)
180ml(or 250g) mashed pumpkin
2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
1/4 teaspoon clove powder

For the frosting:
120g Philadelphia cheese or similar,cold.
120g butter at room temperature
300g icing sugar
1 tablespoon of milk 
Preheat the oven to 160ºC.
Sift the flour with the spices and the baking powder. Set aside.
In another bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar and the olive oil. Blend with the pumpkin mash.  
When the mixture looks smooth, blend in the flour.
Line a muffin tin with paper cases (it helps to maintain the cupcake in it place while cooking :)).  
Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until about two-third full (it's important not to "over-fill" the cases).
Bake for 20-22 minutes or until the top is springy to the touch. The cooking time is very important, if you leave them 2 extra minutes in the oven they won't be as soft and smooth as wanted).  
Remove from the oven, let them cool 5mn in the tin on the oven tray. Then remove them from the tin and place on a cooling rack.


For the frosting, mix the butter with icing sugar et the tablespoon of milk with an electric mixer in a bowl until smooth. Cover the bowl with a cloth if you don't want your kitchen to look like a Christmas landscape!) Then, beat in the cold cheese. Beat for a few minutes until light and creamy.  
To decorate the cupcakes, dollop on some frosting and swirl it with a knife or a spoon, or use a piping bag with a star nozzle.  
You can sprinkle with nuts splinters. 

It's killer!!! :)

Recipe from Objetivo Cupcake Perfecto, the best blog ever for cupcakes and bakery. Thanks Alma!

lunes, 26 de noviembre de 2012

Home Made Rocket & Nuts Pesto

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There we are! The first post of my whole life! How exciting! We're gonna have a simple start with a quick and simple recipe but always nice to spread on your spaghetti! :) With this blog I'll try to share with you what comes out of my small kitchen.

I'm quite privileged to have a small kitchen garden from which I get my rocket. Its flavour is quite strong and a bit bitter, but that's how I like it! 
I spread it on a recently baked pizza, mixed with a salad to give it more strength or I make some pesto!

Homemade Rocket Pesto

Serve 4:
60 g fresh rocket
50 g walnuts and nuts 

20 g parmesan
50 g olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Wash and drain the rocket. Mix all the ingredients together, you'll get a non homogeneous green paste. When serving with pasta, we mix the pesto with a little bit of the water we used to cooked the pasta. Serve and eat without waiting!
The pesto can be kept 2-3 days in the fridge, not more. Very suitable for freezing.

Recipe inspired by Cléa

Bon appétit!