Dessert

Mendiants à la fleur de sel..et l’ atelier chocolat.

Mendiants are so quick to make and over the festive times coming soon, are a handy snack to serve with coffee. IN France the habit in a bar, mostly, not everywhere, is to serve a petit biscuit or chocolat along with the coffee. Towards the end of the year it changes to something special, like a petit meringue, or une truffe au chocolat. Why not a mendiant, topped with dried fruit and nuts of your choice?

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Wikipedia says:  “A mendiant is a traditional French confection composed of a chocolate disk studded with nuts and dried fruits representing the four mendicant or monastic orders of the Dominicans, Augustinians, Franciscans and Carmelites. Each of the nuts and dried fruits used refer to the color of monastic robes with tradition dictating raisins for the Dominicans, hazelnuts for the Augustins, dried figs for Franciscans and almonds for Carmelites. Usually found during Christmas, recipes for this confection have veered away from the traditional combination of nuts and fruits to other combinations incorporating seeds, fruit peels and other items.”

Larousse says: The mendiant order imposed poverty on the the mendiants(beggars) and they were dependent on donations for their upkeep. They were allowed to get some kind of income as long as they abstained from any benefits from the church.

..mendiants à la fleur de sel..

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La recette:

  1. Break 400 g dark chocolate in pieces. Add to a bowl(or top part of double boiler) on a pot of hot water.
  2. Temper the chocolate ( see below under Tempering chocolate).
  3. Keeping the chocolate at 32° C, drop spoonfuls of chocolate onto a baking sheet covered with bakewell paper. Sprinkle very sparsely with some fleur de sel and leave aside for about 10 minutes for the chocolate to settle.
  4. Use dried fruit and nuts of your choice and top by gently pressing it onto the mendiants. (I used dried strawberries, almonds, pistachio nuts, dried papaya strips and hazelnuts).

..my all favorite eating chocolate is dark Lindt chocolate à fleur de sel(left) and in the kitchen I use Lindt dark cooking chocolate 70% cacao and mix it with a cheaper Lindt cooking chocolate(ratio 3/4 – 1/4)..

mendiants

1. Tempering chocolate:

Tempering chocolate gives you chocolate which is beautifully smooth with a gloss and is used when you are “decorating” with chocolate or florentines, or mendiants or making filled cups. When making truffles, it isn’t necessary, because truffles mostly get rolled in cacao afterwards.

  • Using a thermometer, melt the chocolate until  50 – 55°C, while stirring all the while with a spatula.
  • Remove from the heat and cool the chocolate to 28 – 29°C, stirring all the while.
  • Reheat again to 30-32°C and remove from the heat, taking care, because it heats very quick. If it heats above this temperature, it will make white streaks and you will have to start from the beginning.
  • Keep the temperature at 30 -32°C while working.
  • The left over chocolate can be stored and at a later time tempered again and reused.
  • The chocolate chips don’t give such a good result.

..tempered chocolate..

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In the top photograph,  the chocolate is tempered which shows the rich gloss and smoothness. The bottom photograph clearly shows the white, dull and milky appearance of untempered chocolate.

..untempered chocolate, simply melted..

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Whip some cream and serve it in the little cup along with a strawberry or raspberry or a fruit mousse or light chocolate mousse. Place it with your main dessert  on a dessert plate for some added interest. Or why not serve it with a late afternoon coffee as a “goutêr“? If it has a quaint rose pattern like in the photo, it can be turned over and your guests break through the chocolate to get to the surprise filling.

2. Chocolate decoration.

  • Use a home made cone – Place a piece of bakewell paper on a tray and draw your design on the paper. Fold a rectangle of bakewell paper into a cone, fill with melted chocolate and draw onto your design. Leave aside to cool completely of place in the fridge in warm weather. When the chocolate designs have settled, remove gently and store in an airtight container with bakewell paper between the chocolate decorations. Use of ice cream or whipped cream or serve on a hot chocolate topped with a thick layer of froth.
  • Making chocolate moulds/cups – use the brush shown below  and paint one layer of chocolate inside the moulds. Refrigerate and paint another. Continue until you have painted 3 coats. Remove gently and store in an airtight container.

..to make chocolate decorations, I use the home made paper cone(left,  line 1),  the little brown container is useless, for it sucks air and make spurts of chocolate as you can see (line 2), the spoons are very handy and make nice linework(3 & 4),  the only drawback is that they don’t take too much chocolate at a time so your designs have to be small, but they are excellent in making swoops of chocolate on the dessert plate.

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..This is a perfect brush to paint the cup moulds inside with chocolate…

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..To end this short atelier chocolat(to know more you’ll have to come to my cooking classes), voici la Tour Eiffel, all in tempered chocolate…will I eat it? Definitely not today!..

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I bought this cute little book in Paris called, Retour à Paris: les mêmes lieux photographiés d’un siècle à l’autre, by Daniél Quesney. So until next time I’m leaving you with this view of the Eiffel over the Seine, a 100 years apart. Isn’t it wonderful…how I would love to be able travel back to “La belle époque!

..”voies George Pompidou, 16eme arrondissement. On quai du Pont du Jour, the Eiffel tower still carves out its slice of the sky, but the riverboat concertzs of old have have now given way to expressway automobile traffic”..

2013-10-161..à la prochaine..

Ronelle


Summer peach soup with red berries..and Provence

In midsummer, when the sun is blazing hot and the cigales are singing away, we don’t have much desire for eating, except for indulging in ice cream. A cold simmer peach soup is perfect for those days and brings a bit of welcome change to the ice cream menu.

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La recette:

  1. Bring to the boil 1 liter of water with 1 vanilla pod, 200 g sugar and the rind of 1 lemon. Remove from the heat, add a handful of fresh mint leaves and set aside to cool.
  2. Peel and cut 6 peaches of your choice into slices.
  3. Add to the warm syrup and leave to cool down completely before storing in the fridge for about 4 hours to infuse.
  4. Serve cold in glasses or bowls and add a handful of fresh red berries of your choice to the soup(optional).
  5. Decorate with fresh mint leaves and serve with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

Serves 6 people.

Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • I used a mixture of white and yellow peaches.
  • Macerate the berries with some sugar before adding to the soup, since they may be too sour for the soup.
  • Add the berries on a little kebab/cocktail stick and stick into the soup, to eat separately.
  • Leave the berries if so desired.
  • Replace the mint with lemon verbena for something different.
  • Serve in frozen glasses for an icy effect.

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The signature of Provence is its white limestone..in the countryside, the hills,  in the built walls, the drywalls, the houses, the pavings ,  the flowerbeds, the villages… Some of them new and some weathered handsomely by the mistral  and rains of centuries.

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I love an atmospheric window..

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Clearly seen in this image below, is the different types of stone used, maybe at different times by different craftsmen.

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Just look at that stone…beautiful non?..

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A  stone staircase between these beautiful stone walls, going up and up and up…

Provence 2013 27-06-2013 18-27-23 3139x4349A typical Provencal door..

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A flowerbed by a front door, typical in the small villages with no gardens..

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Lovely shutters and vigne vierge creeper..

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Sedum growing on the rooftiles..totally content in the heat, like me…

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Holly hocks…an old world flower and one of my favorites..

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Gay colour in an ochre coloured flower container..

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Bonnieux is known for its brocantes..

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..which overlooks the valley..

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A window peeking from above a fig tree..Provence 2013 29-06-2013 11-30-09 3212x4619

Lavenders on the windowsill..

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A cloche against a perfect Provencal sky…Provence 2013 29-06-2013 11-46-17 3238x3877And lastly,  a sunset goodbye …

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So, with these images it is back to reality here at Coin Perdu, where summer is in full swing..and I don’t want it to end!

à la prochaine

Ronelle


Basil stuffed strawberries..and bubbles at la fête de la fraise.

In the spirit of the fraise season and it being the fruit of our region, I trumped up these little strawberry helpings. Very versatile, they can be served as part of a buffet, or an ending to a meal as dessert, or with a cheese platter, or even an apéritif  for an al fresco dinner. Won’t hurt to try them, non?

Basil stuffed strawberries

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Recette:

  1. Rinse and dry a handful of large strawberries.
  2. Cut the stem side off each strawberry to form a lid and keep aside. Cut the tip off to make the strawberry stand up straight.
  3. Use a small melon scoop and hollow out the inside to form a little cup.
  4. Cut the remove strawberry flesh into small pieces.
  5. Add to the chopped strawberry flesh: Some chopped  berries of your choice(blueberries, blackberries, mulberries…), a few drops of balsamic vinegar, a few drops of a fruit coulis of your choice, a few shredded fresh basil leaves. Mix together gently and spoon into the empty strawberry cups.
  6. Sprinkle some chopped pistachio nuts over the tops and replace the strawberry lids.
  7. Serve individually on a plate or on a large platter for a buffet and accompany with fruit coulis(which you have used in the strawberry cups)
  8. Decorate with berries and sifted icing sugar, basil leaves..

Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • I used blueberries and raspberries with a raspberry coulis.
  • If the berries aren’t in season yet, combine with another fruit like kiwi, which will also see to a nice filling.
  • Remember that the bigger the strawberries, the less flavor and sweetness they have, So choose youraccompanying fruit accordingly.
  • Pomegranate can make for a nice crunchy filling.
  • For an sweet/salty apéro(amuse bouche), try a filling of quinoa, chopped spring onion and chervil with a drizzling of lemon juice, olive oi, and serve on some salad leaves..mmm, superb! Serve with a cold rosé wine by the barbeque fire..
  • Don’t serve directly from the fridge..too cold temperatures kill the strawberry taste..in facet, I never serve anything, except ice cream and the likes, directly from the fridge. The fridge kills all flavours.
  • Serve as part of a cheese platter..fill with a small cube of feta cheese, a shredding of dill and add a little piment d’espelette jelly(or another piquant jelly) and a drop of olive oil.
  • Play around with your own preferences.

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This year’s fête de la fraise happened in the rain. Although the number of visitors were lower than previous years, there were still many brave ones..like mon chéri and me. The fraises were as usually in abundance, but I missed the taste of sunshine..it is clear that our fruit and vegetables aren’t what they usually are. All the rains and grey and rainy days are taking its toll. But nonetheless, going to la fête de la fraise is what we just do and we  strolled the streets and nibbled on strawberries all day long.

..a cool fête de la fraise

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..This was my attraction all day long..

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..Strawberries, smoothies, meringues, crèpes..it was all there..

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..just a few names under so many varieties..

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..and the traditional giant tarte aux fraises, a combined effort by the patissiers of Beaulieu..

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..I was as as fascinated by the bubbles as the kiddies were..

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..How I wish we could hang on to that uninhibited spontaneity..

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..just like the strawberries, bubbles of all sizes and shapes..

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..and this is where the bubbles originated from..a complicated vintage machine..

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..As usual, mon chéri had to discuss  the engineering principles behind the bubbles with Monsieur bubble machine..

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..And..forgive me..more bubbles!..

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..such a pity I have no more daughters; musicians and bands galore throughout the day…

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..and with this last image I want to say:

“Gros bisous à toutes les mamans et à ceux et celles qui les entourent..

bonne fête des mamans!!”

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**Note: the washing day post is postponed to later date due to loss of images(total computer clumsiness on my part!!)..I have to await a sunny day to redo it all…my apologies!

à la prochaine fois,

Ronelle


La madeleine de Marcel Proust

Who doesn’t know les madeleines de Marcel Proust..? Those well-known shell shaped petits gateaux with their particular little hump on the one side and the ribbed shell opposite side.

Recipe translation:

  1. 90g butter and a little more for the pans
  2. 90g flour
  3. 75g sugar
  4. 10g honey
  5. pinch of salt
  6. 2 eggs

*Melt the butter. In a bowl, whisk  the eggs,  sugar and salt for 5 minutes. Add the flour. Stir in with a wooden spoon. Add the cooled off melted butter and the honey. Leave to rest in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C. Remove the dough from the fridge and leave at room temperature for 30 minutes. Melt the extra butter and brush the insides of madeleine pans. Fill the pans with the dough, about 1 tsp into each cavity. Bake for 10 minutes(5 minutes for the mini madeleines). Remove from the pans before completely cooled.

Extract from Proust, la cuisine retrouvé, Le Chêne, 1991. the recipe is created by Alain Senderens, who was inspired by the cooking of Proust.

Suggestions:

  • Add the lemon zest of 1/2 lemon
  • To get the nice hump on your madeleine, it is necessary to have the dough cool and the oven temperature high.
  • Bake the mini Madeleines only 5 minutes.
  • I prefer the real old fashioned metal pans. The ribbed shell effect is much more pronounced than when using the silicone pans.

******************************************************************************

-My chickens produce small eggs with large egg yolks and I have to use 2 of them to replace 1 normal egg-

-Zest from a lemon to flavor les madeleines-

***********************************************************************************************

Il etait une fois…La madeleine, histoires et recettes d’un produit d’exeption lorrain – Michel Caffier

(book to be found at Amazon.fr)

Marcel Proust said: (roughly translated from below) “One winter’s day, when I came home; my mother saw how cold I was and offered me a cup of tea. I didn’t usually drink tea and I refused, but then I changed my mind. she brought me some small cakes called madeleines which seemed to be molded in a scallop shell. Still overwhelmed by the sad day I had and the sad day that lay ahead , I mechanically brought a teaspoon of tea, in which I softened a piece of madeleine, to my lips. At that moment, when it touched my palate, I trembled, suddenly very aware of something extraordinary happening to me. I was overcome with  a deilcious pleasure; isolated, without notion of its cause..I ceased feeling mediocre, ordinary, mortal. Where could this powerful joy have come from? I sensed it had something to do with the tasting of this tea and cake.”

This wonderful little book is all about la madelene, how this delicious French petit gateau was born, how it got its name, how it is labelled;, sold at the stations by young maidens, the influence of St Jacques de Compostelle and it ends with the traditional recipe, which is the ones I used, and a list of additions to change the madeleine with some chocolate, hone,  lemon and more.

Legend has it that one day, at the chateau de Commercy of Stanislas, in the middle of a beautiful meal, the maître d’hotel reported an incident to the prince: out of anger towards his chef, the assistant chef took out his anger on the serving of the dessert. It is unsure in which form this revenge was, but the fact was, that there was no dessert to be served. A maidservant, witnessing the distress of the maître d’hotel, offered him a solution.Tender petits gateaux, the way her grandmother made it. Necessity reigns and Madeleine Paulmier was given permission to present her little cakes for dessert. Of course it was a huge success and so la Madeleine was born.

A typical scene at the station of Commercy: young women selling madeleines to travelers. In a poem, Jacques Prévert  recalls these little cakes so often bought by the soldiers of Verdun with their last trip. (postcard dated beginning XXth century).

At Commercy, the sign the bell ringer was created by the Colombe family, a line of bakers for over 150 years.From the 1780’s, Claude Colombe used the secret recipe of Madeleine Paulmier.

à la prochaine

Ronelle


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