Tag Archives: kitchen

What’s for dinner?

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Steak and potato wedges with wild asparagus

Bon appetit!

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Happy New Year! Chestnuts everywhere ( continued)

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Magic in the kitchen

Chapter three

Chestnut purée CAKES

It’s 1st of january 2013!

Last night we had our friends around for a New Year celebration !

As a tradition here at La Croix du Reh  the New Year’s night dinner is all russian cuisine!

however, we made a couple of french (foie gras) and british ( roast potatoes) additions to our table this year.

And as per russian tradition we had a assortment of winter salads for starters, the Beef Stroganoff with roasted potatoes, green beans and mushrooms à la Russe and of course 2 cakes “white” and “black”.

Both cakes were appreciated by our guests.

Little they know,  that both cakes were made with the same base recipe My chestnut purée cake and it was the filling that made both cakes so different one from the other.

So here there are.

Chestnut purée and chocolate cake.

Ingredients

For base:

  •   400 gr sweet chestnut purée
  •   5 medium eggs
  •   100 gr light brown  or white sugar
  •   100 gr  softened butter
  •   1 – 2 tbsp Rum
  •   300 gr Ground almonds
  •   1 1/2 ts baking powder

For filling:

  • 200 gr sweet chestnut purée
  • 4 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 100 gr soft butter
  • 100 gr crushed hazelnuts or walnuts

For chocolate frosting:

  • 300 ml double cream
  • 100 gr sugar
  • 200 gr dark chocolate

Method:

  1. Make a cake mixture as in the Chestnut purée cake recipe
  2. Divide the mixture into tree equal parts and bake in two separate  21cm -26cm buttered and lined tins and bake in preheated 170°C oven.
  3. Once the bases are ready, remove the tins from the oven, cover with a tea towel and leave to cool on the rack, without taking the cake bases out of the cake form.

* It is possible to bake the mixture in one tin and slice it into three after it’s cooled down.

4.  Prepare the filling by whisking sweet chestnut purée, cocoa and soft butter until light and fluffy.

5. Prepare the chocolate frosting.  Heat the cream and sugar to the boiling point .  Add the chocolate, broken into pieces and mix well until smooth glossy ganache achieved.

6. Set ganache aside to cool completely.

5. Arrange the first cake base on the plate , cover generously with prepared filling and sprinkle with  hazelnuts.

6. Repeat  with the second layer.

7. Arrange the third cake base on the top.

8. Whisk cold ganache until light and fluffy and pipe or smudge it all over the cake.

9.  Put cake into the fridge for at least couple of hours to set or until ready to serve.

And Voila!

Happy New Year, everybody!

I wish you all the best in 2013: good health, peace and love!

PS Find the White chestnut cake in my recipe section.

La Croix du Reh b&b Limousin France

Chesnuts here, chestnuts there, chestnuts everywhere!

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Magic in the kitchen

Chapter two

Chestnut puree cake

Limousin region, where  myself and my husband Peter are living  and running our wonderful Bed & Breakfast La Croix Du Reh now for nine years, is known for its meat production, especially the world-famous Limousin beef. It is the region of nature with plenty of forests, rivers and lakes. Hundreds of mushroom pickers come from other regions every autumn.

Also Limousin is one of the main producers of chestnuts in France. The chestnut tree is very symbolic for Limousin: the regional logo of Limousin is represented by a chestnut tree leaf and chestnut trees are also used as a building material with many old houses having been adorned with beautiful chestnut parquet floors and staircases.  chestnuts

Chestnut trees are called sometimes ” bread tree”, because chestnuts were a major, if not the only part, of a local diet during the hard times of food shortages. It is therefore no surprise that chestnuts are still widely used in the local cuisine.

Recently, I had an opportunity to attend a three day cookery course in Limoges. This was my first ever experience with a professional chef hand to hand on the other side of the counter, in a professional kitchen. And … I loved it! It was fabulous

The course was called “Cuisiner Limousin”. The idea is to get experience in cooking regional Limousin cuisine using as much local produce as possible. Of  course half of the dishes that we discovered used chestnuts. All this and pre-Christmas thinking about what to cook for Christmas or New Year celebration inspired me to come up with a Chestnut spread (puree) cake recipe.

What I have come up with is a gluten-free version, very much like my Tired Fruits Cake. But if you don’t want to use ground almonds, please feel free to substitute them with white all-purpose flour.

Ingredients

  •   400 gr sweet chestnut puree*
  •   5 medium eggs
  •   100 gr light brown  or white sugar **
  •   100 gr  softened butter
  •   1 – 2 tbs Rum
  •   300 gr Ground almonds
  •   1 1/2 ts baking powder
  •   marrons glacés (chestnuts candied in sugar syrup and glazed) – OPTIONAL

For cream Chantilly:

  • 300 ml whipping cream (or double cream)
  • 80 gr sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod (or 2-3 drops of liquid vanilla extract)

Note: * if  using unsweetened chestnut puree, increase the sugar quantity** to 200 gr

  

Method
1.   Preheat the oven to 170ºC.

2.   Whisk softened butter and sugar, then add all the other ingredients  and mix well.

* You don’t have to use a food processor. I use it because I have one and it makes the preparation quicker.

3.    Butter and line a 21cm 26cm springform tin. I use silicone cake 26cm form, that does not need neither greasing nor lining.

4.  Pour the cake mixture into it. Bake the cake for an hour to an hour and a half, or until it feels more or less firm to touch. If it starts burning on the top, cover with foil or greaseproof paper.

5.    Remove cake from the oven, cover with a tea towel and leave to cool on the rack, without taking it out of the cake form. If preparing in advance, you can leave the cake to cool down over night in the oven after switching the power off. In the morning put it in the fridge without removing it from the form until you want to decorate it.

6 Whip the cream with sugar and vanilla and decorate the cake to your taste with a few candied chestnuts scattered on the top. BON APPETITE!

Noel! Noel! Noel!

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Noel! Noel! Noel!

I love Christmas! Everything changes for a few weeks and becomes prettier, glitterier, tinselly….. I know, I know, these words probably don’t exist in the dictionary. But that is the point: it’s Christmas! Everything is possible! Magic? Magic as well! If anybody says to me that they don’t like Christmas, I simply don’t believe them. But if people like this exist and they read this blog, please stop reading: this is not for you! This is for the ones who love magic!

Christmas Magic in the kitchen

Chapter one

Foie gras with Port jelly.

Alongside oysters, smoked salmon, langoustines, prawns etc… foie gras is one of the most traditional hors-d’œuvres or starters on the French tables at Christmas.

Of course it would be nice to prepare foie gras from scratch. But why make it more difficult for yourself at an already stressful time like Christmas, when you can pick up a perfect ready-to-cut bloc of foie gras in the shop? Of course, when  I first saw how many varieties of foie gras are on offer, I was more than a little daunted and entirely lost. Fortunately in our local supermarket we have very helpful staff who will give you advice and so far, in nine years of our being here in a rural south-west central France village, they have never let us down. Oh, yes, supermarket, nothing wrong with them! (But that is a subject for another blog post). The price range of a good foie gras is between 28€ and 40€ per kilogram. Sounds expensive, but not if you serve just 30gr per portion, which is quite enough for a starter. After all, you don’t want to eat too much of it when there other yummies waiting to come to the table. Traditionally the French eat foie gras with toast and confit d’oignon, echalotte or figue (onion, shallot, fig) or any other chutney. And, of course, there is plenty of all sorts in the shops. I also make my own “not quite chutney” that I had in mind for my starter.

Somewhere on the internet I came across a menu where foie gras was served with a port jelly, and I thought: “What a good idea!” I found a few recipes, but none of them tickled my taste buds, so I decided to make up one.

Here it is:

50gr – frozen red berries (raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, red currents etc…)

80gr – sugar

50ml – water

50ml – port

3 tsp – powdered gelatin (or 2,5 sheets)

Optional: to “christmasize” it a bit more, add a couple of cloves, 1 cinnamon stick, star anise or any other festive spices. 

Bring water, spices (if using), sugar and berries to boil and simmer for 10  – 15 minutes. Take the mixture off the heat and drain the liquid into a pan. Let it cool down for 15 – 20 minutes. Do not squeeze the fruit, as it can make the jelly cloudy, but keep it aside.

After about 20 minutes, add gelatin into the pan with the warm juice from the berries and, stirring with a whisk, bring it gently to the boil. Then add the port , simmer for 1 minute and take it off the heat. If using leaf gelatin, soak the gelatin sheets in plenty of cold water for 5 – 8 minutes, then squeeze them to get the excess water out and add to the fruit juice.

Leave the mixture to cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, slightly oil the shallow tray (or jelly moulds, if using) with a little sunflower oil or any other neutral (no flavor or odors) oil. I use silicon moulds for chocolates or mini-cakes.

Pour the warm jelly into the moulds or into the tray, so the jelly would be about 1 to 1.5 cm deep and put to cool in the fridge. Once cold, and just before serving, turn the tray over onto the board covered with clingfilm and cut the jelly into squares, or any desired shapes, or, if using moulds, simply turn them over straight onto the plates. Serve as needed as an accompaniment and decoration with a slice of foie gras and a couple of slices of fresh toast.

Bon appetite!

Notes:

*If you don’t have any frozen red berries, a good black cherry jam like would do a great job. In that case, add only 50 gr of sugar, taste it and, if it is not sweet enough add some more sugar.

*If jelly did not set well and is too wobbly to take out of the moulds, you can re-heat it and add some more gelatin.