Saturday, 28 January 2012
For this month's Random Recipes Challenge set by Dom at the idyllic Belleau Kitchen we were asked to randomly pick a recipe from a new cookbook. One of the books I received for Christmas was 80 Recipes Brasseries Bocuse. Paul Bocuse is a French chef based in Lyon where he has five brasseries as well as his famous restaurant L'Auberge du Pont de Collonges just outside the city. The author of the book, Jean Fleury, manages the brasseries and is a protege of the famous chef.
I spent a year living and working in Lyon where I had ample time to sample the amazing food this city has to offer. I left after 12 very well fed months and 1 stone heavier. This book was a very much appreciated Christmas gift from one of my Lyonnaise friends. It has been great flicking through it reminiscing about the city and its wonderful restaurants of which the Bouchons are the most famous. The tradition of bouchons came from small inns visited by silk workers who were passing through Lyon in the 17th and 18th centuries. A bouchon serves traditional Lyonnaise cuisine, such as sausages, duck pate or roast pork. The dishes are generally focused around meat and quite heavy (remember the 1 stone...). Nowadays there are around 20 officially certified traditional bouchons in Lyon.
While the five Bocuse brasseries span many different types of cuisine the Brasserie du Nord chapter of the book focuses on traditional Lyonnaise cooking served in the bouchons and it was from here that I chose my Hot Apple Flan recipe. For me, apple flan is a quintessentially French dessert yet is is something I've never previously made. The recipe itself was pretty simple although I struggled a bit with the Pate Brise pastry. In the end I changed the quantities slightly, reducing the amount of flour used, as I felt the one in the book wasn't working out. I definitely rolled the pastry out too thinly too meaning it burnt slightly during cooking. I've got a bit of a fear of pastry so that is something I need to work on this year. Despite a slighty burnt crust this flan was rather delicious - Mr CB and myself devoured it in about 10 minutes flat (I feel the 1 stone might be coming back to haunt me.....).
The Recipe (adapted from 80 Recipes Brasseries Bocuse)
6 apple, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
30g butter, diced
30g caster sugar
100g plain flour
50g soft butter
50g icing sugar
2 egg yolks
1. Start with the pastry. Cream the butter and icing sugar together in a food processor until pale and creamily. Add the egg yolks and flour and blend until it comes together into a ball. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for an hour.
2. Preheat the oven to 180c. Roll out the chilled pastry and lay it on a loose bottomed flan tin. Arrange the apples in layers over the pastry.
3. Sprinkle the top with caster sugar and the butter. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Once cooked, warm the apricot jam and brush over the tart.
Saturday, 21 January 2012
I love black beans, especially in home made soup with smoky bacon added to it. Knowing they are good for you is an extra bonus too. That is actually a bit of an understatement - they are seriously good for you - high in fibre, folate, protein, antioxidants and vitamin B, along with numerous other vitamins and minerals. In fact in Brazil, one of the world's key black bean producers, they have even been given an exclusive place on the Brazilian Food Pyramid, which means they are essentially recommended as their own unique food group.
But I digress and the aim of this blog isn't to sound like a public health broadcast! I am leading to the fact that I was intrigued to read about a chocolate cake containing black beans as one of the main ingredients on the blog A Hippie with a Minivan. I had been toying with what to make for the We Should Cocoa January Challenge where this month Chele at Chocolate Teapot has set us the task of making something 'healthy' with chocolate. Things such as relatively healthy flapjacks sprung to mind but when I saw this recipe I knew it would fit the bill nicely. While the cake does contain butter and sugar the black beans are the main ingredient, replacing flour, so also making it gluten free. The other bonus is this cake is so quick and easy to make. It is best served warm with a nice dollop of creme fraiche (low fat of course....).
The recipe can be found here on A Hippie with a Minivan blog.
Sunday, 15 January 2012
Whenever I am travelling somewhere by train and there is a Paul bakery I always buy one of their Escargot pastries. I love their buttery raisin filled flaky dough - especially that first bite. When I saw that this month's Teatime Treats challenge, hosted this month by the inspiring Karen at Lavender and Lovage, could include any sweet pastries and breads the Escargots immediately came to mind. The fact that I'm currently having a love in with all things Danish (The Killing, Borgen, Sarah Lund's jumper collection....) also persuaded me to give them a go. My parents bought me Bo Friberg's The Professional Pastry Chef for Christmas which has a whole section on Danish pastries. While I am most definitely no where near the standard of the book's title, I have picked up some good ideas already from this huge tome, one being the honey butter I've used in the filling.
I found the recipe for the actual pastry online but combined it with this gorgeous honey butter. I also took Bo's tip of soaking the raisins in water beforehand to make them plumper. I'm glad I've made these but boy they took some work. The kneading, the rolling, the chilling, the rerolling, the rechilling ... And did I mention THE BUTTER!! There are some things in life it's best not to know and the amount of butter in these is as obscene as a Bunga Bunga party's guest list. But like Berlusconi himself probably thought, life's short so you have to have a few indulgences. Would I make them again? I'm glad I've made them once but unlikely to again - see life's too short point, especially when Paul can do all the hard work.
For the pastry:
450g plain flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp ground cardamom
50 g fresh yeast
250 ml milk
1 egg, beaten
300g butter, sliced (I used 250g as I just couldn't bring myself to use more than one packet!)
a few handfuls of raisins soaked in water
For the honey butter:
170g unsalted butter
55g light brown sugar
120ml half and half (I forgot to buy cream so I missed out this ingredient) and added a splash of milk instead.
To make the pastry:
1. Preheat the oven to 230c/gas mark 8. Sift together the flour, salt, sugar and cardamom. Mix the yeast with a little of the milk until it is creamy and stir into the flour with the remaining milk and the egg. Mix to a dough and knead until smooth and shiny.
2. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a rectangle about 60cm x 30cmx 1 cm thick. Place the sliced butter over the centre strip of the dough, leaving a gap around the edges. Fold over one side of the dough to cover the butter, then fold over the other side. Chill the dough for 15 minutes. Roll out to the same size again, repeat the folding and chill for another 15 mins. Repeat the process once more. Finally put the dough in a floured plastic bag and leave to rest for 15 minutes before using.
3. Roll out the pastry to a rectangle about 40 x 15 cm. Spread with the honey butter filling (to make the honey butter just melt all ingredients together in a small pan until they come to the boil, then remove from heat) and sprinkle over the raisins. Press raisins in with a rolling pin. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the butter.
4. Roll up from the short end to make a swiss roll shape. Cut into 14 slices and place on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper. Leave in a warm place for 15 minutes. Bake for about 10—15 minutes until golden.
5. Brush the cooked pastries with more honey butter.
Sunday, 8 January 2012
Happy New Year! With January comes resolutions of healthy eating, more exercise etc etc. I don't generally believe in diets - I think life is all about balance - balancing on your toes on the edge of the scales generally gives you a lower weight reading.
That of course isn't what I really mean. I generally watch what I eat in the week, trying to err on the side of healthy, while indulging more at the weekend. However after Christmas I did feel I wanted to kick start myself back into a healthy eating mode so I dug out an old book about GI recipes. I don't really see GI food as a diet as such but a general way of eating quite healthily. Since first reading the book several years ago I've probably adopted some GI ways of eating without even realising, such as always buying brown rice and occasionally using wholewheat pasta (it just doesn't taste as good though) among other things.
So this week I'll be cooking recipes from this book and I thought I'd start it with these delicious pancakes. I was surprised to find the recipe on which I've based them in amongst the others but apparently buttermilk is low in fat and the rest of the ingredients are pretty healthily. I even swapped the sweetener listed in the ingredients for Agave Nectar so it contains even less sugar than listed. I did use less buttermilk than in the recipe so I didn't have to buy 2 tubs. I made up the difference with normal milk. I also added some raspberries into the mixture which gave a lovely fruity hit when eating them.
This is my entry into this month's Breakfast Club Challenge which is being hosted this month by Food, Je t'aimee. The theme this month is January Detox and in light of the fact these pancakes are a pretty healthy option I thought they would fit nicely.
The Repice (Adapted from Living the GI Diet)
240g wholemeal flour
1 tbpn baking powder
1 tspn agave nectar
2 tbspns rapeseed oil
1. Mix together the flour and baking powder. In a separate bowl whisk together all the other ingredients except the raspberries. Then whisk into the dry ingredients. Fold in the raspberries, saving a few to add to the cooked pancakes.
2. Heat a little rapeseed oil in a frying pan. Add dollops of the mixture. Wait until bubbles appear on the surface of the pancakes then turn over and cook for another couple of minutes.
3. Serve with the remaining fresh raspberries and a drizzle of honey.