domingo, 3 de febrero de 2013

Poached Pears wrapped in puff pastry

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A quick post with pictures made on the moment about a dessert that caught my attention a few days ago (at Food Art).
It looked very pretty, yummy and easy to make. A classy version of the poached pear!

I prepared the pears the day before, they spent the night in the fridge and today I "dressed them up" with puff pastry.  
It's a really nice presentation, ideal for a Valentin's dessert (with a scoop of vanilla icecream on the side...even better no?!)    

I wanted to follow this recipe but I have to say that I did it my own way :)

Serving 4:
4 pears (not too ripe, not too hard)
1L water
250g sugar
5 cardamom pods (cut in half)
1 stick cinamon 
1 vanilla bean (cut in half)
1 roll of puff pastry 

For the syrup you could use sweet wine, lemon etc...whatever taste good to you. 

In a large pan pour the water, add the sugar, the cardamom, vanilla and the cinamon.  
Bring to the boil. 
Meanwhile, peal the pears and cut the base so they can stand straight. 
When the liquid is boiling plunge the pears and cook them on medium heat (water needs to simmer) until you can pearce them with a nice easily.

When ready, get them out of the pan and let them cool on a plate. Reserve the syrup.

Preheat the oven at 200ºC.

I think you can definitely stick the puff pastry to the pear straight afetr they've coolen down, in my case I did it the day after when they were cold from the fridge. 

So, once cool, cut some strips out of the puff pastry roll and apply on the pear wrapping and sticking them well tied up one against the other. (otherwise you'll have the same result as on the picture, you'll have some gaps between the strips.)

Place in an oven dish and cook for 15-20mn until golden brown. 

When I took them out of the oven I moisten them with some syrup.  
Serve not too warm with a nice icecream scoop! 

viernes, 1 de febrero de 2013

Carbonade Flamande or Meat & Beer Steew Part 2

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There we are!
I thought about it, I prepared it, I cooked it (a few hours...) and I ate it up! 

Now I can confirm that this carbonade is absolutely delicious! We need two essential ingredients here: the pain d'épices, and ...the casserole! 
Any dish always taste better if cooked in a good old casserole, one that has been used day after day, the one whith which used to cook your granny, the one that she passed to your mum. It might sound strange to inherit a casserole but that's not unusual to see that in France. And there I go, I want to talk to you about my casserole before getting started whith the receipe, because whitout her things wouldn't be the same.

I've always wanted a Le Creuset casserole (THE French casserole par excellence!) Le Creuset casseroles got quite famous for the last years, you can see them everywhere, in any color you like, they make an appearence in Julie & Julia for exemple(I recommend this film to any food lover or Julia Child's lover). 
Anyway... I've always wanted one of these...but not a brand new one, I wanted a casserole with "experience", used, that would have some years, a casserole in which would have simmered many stews and soups, and if possible a casserole that would be in the family.
That's why I was very jealous of my good friend Stéphanie who was the proud owner of her grandma's casserole from the 70's! 
I looked in Ebay, second hand adverts, etc…there were a lot but I never got to buy one. While searching I discover the "coquelle", a design launched by Le Creuset in 1958, created by Raymond Loewy called as well the Pope of industrial design here are some of his most famous logos and here a wikidescription about the gentleman. 

...anyway....I'm being carried away by my own story...I'm not going to bother you more....or just a little bit more. It's just that I haven't talked about my casserole yet!
Last year I was talking to my mother about my search for a second hand coquelle, and if possible the pale lilac one (they exist in different pastel colors)and she tells me on a natural tone: " but if grandma's got one in the cellar, she hasn't used it for years!" 
-“No! That can't be true. And what color is it?  
-“Like light grey almost lilac 
–“No way!

And when I asked my grandma about her casserole, she asked me why I was interested in such an old abandoned dish...? And if it would make me happy I could take it.
Of course I took it, to Spain, 13lb of cast iron in my suitcase! I couldn't be more happy!

Last but not least, the recipe for my mum's carbonade made in my grandma's casserole.

1 onion
3 carrots 
500g beef meat (ground chuck)cut for stew
70g lardons 
Olive oil
1 table spoon brown sugar 
1 table spoon plain flour 
40cl dark beer (for exemple Leffe Brune)
150ml beef stock (I used Knorr Beef Stock Pot) 
1 tea spoon balsamic vinegar
1 bouquet garni(bay leaf, thyme, celery...) 
2-3 slices of spice bread
Salt and pepper

The day before:

Peel and slice the carrots and the oignon. 
Sauté the lardons until they've given all their grease. Set aside. Add the olive oil (quantity is up to your taste) and fry gently until every sides get brown (more or less, most of the time I can't get the meat to go brown, it seeps water and go greyish, but it works anyway :) Set the meat aside.
Put the carrots and onion in the casserole (yes, where the meat was) and cook on low heat for 3 minutes.
Add the sugar and let it caramelize. 
Sprinkle with flour and give it a good twist. Soak with the beer and the stock. Bring to the boil, stir well so the flour can blend in perfectly. 
Add the vinegar, bouquet garni, the meat, the lardons, salt and pepper.  
Make sure the sauce is covering all the meat (if not, add a little more beer and water).  
Cover with the lid and cook on very low heat, it has to simmer gently for 3 hours (while cooking, if you find it too liquid just add some sift flour

The next day:

In the casserole, put the spice bread slices spread with mustard on top of the meat and bring back to very low heat for 1,5-2 hours.

Serve with potato chips or roasted parsnip, carrots, turnips, sweet potato* etc...and of course with a nice dark Belgian beer! 
*(cut the potato or any root vegetable in chunks. Pour over some olive or sunflower oil and salt, mix well. Spread on a baking sheet on the oven tray and cook for 40 minutes at 180ºC, move a little bit every 15 minutes to avoid the potato to stick).

I recommend you to eat on the third day, its even better! 
Bon Appétit!