C’est automne! Madeleines au citron (lemon-scented madeleines)

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Bonjour à tous!

It’s that time of year again – it’s Autumn in Melbourne, which means it’s time to curl up inside with some good books, a cosy fire et bièn sûr, some delicious treats.

These gorgeous little cakes carry fond memories for me. During my last stay in France I stayed with a family in a beautiful village outside of Grenoble, just at the foot of the French Alps. This is classic French countryside, with snow-capped mountains, ancient cathedrals and hidden chateaus.

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To my delight, the family I stayed with carried my passion for food, and were excited to show my friend and I dishes from all over the country. One morning, I wandered down from the little attic to the delicious smell of the buttery little cakes. Mais non – my host was very apologetic, she had overcooked the madeleines!

P1010201The French love their madeleines. Shaped like a cute little shell, they are a sort of hybrid between a cake and a biscuit, crunchy on the outside, and soft and moist in the middle. They are also extremely versatile, and could be flavoured with any citrus fruits, berries or cherries.

The madeleine is said to originate from Commercy and Liverdun, communes not far from the city of Nancy in the Lorraine region. A rather famous cake, the madeleine was chosen to represent France in Café Europe, a cultural initiative of the Austrian President of the EU on Europe Day 2006.

The madeleine will go well with cup of tea, or if you’re like me, will provide the much needed inspiration to get you through that large pile of work that’s been piling up.

A word of warning first though, the madeleine is delicate, so to avoid the same mistake as my host (quelle catastrophe! But really, they were still delicious…) make sure you have a timer on hand when baking them.

The following is a basic recipe for lemon-scented madeleines from Rachel Khoo’s beautiful “Little Paris Kitchen”:

Madeleines au citron:
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Makes about 15 madeleines

Baking time: Approx 40 mins prep + several hours to rest + 22 minutes to bake

-3 eggs

-130g sugar

-200g plain flour

-2 tsp baking powder

-Zest of 1 lemon

-20g honey

-60ml milk

-200 grams melted butter, cool

-Icing sugar to serve

 

Method

Beat eggs and sugar until pale and frothy. Mix flour and baking powder in separate bowl and add lemon zest. Mix honey, milk and butter then add to eggs. Very slowly add the flour. Cover mixture with cling-wrap and refrigerate for several hours to overnight.

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Preheat oven to 190 degrees celsius. Butter and flour a madeleine tin (the tin is important, you will see why when they are baked).

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Spoon batter into each madeleine shell until almost full. Bake for 5 minutes, then turn oven off for 1 minute to allow madeleines to form their peaks. Turn oven to 160 degrees celsius and bake for further 5 minutes. When cool enough, transfer madeleines to wire rack and repeat baking process with remaining batter. Dust madeleines with icing sugar and serve immediately.

photoglassMadeleines go perfectly with a cup of tea!

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Bon appétit!

 

Sophie

Tarte Tatin: Two ways

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Bonjour à tous!

Ça fait trop longtemps (it’s been too long!)

I have been busy finishing uni (yay!) and planning a very exciting trip to Europe in September. I’ll be flying to Paris for a week of delicious food and wine, before heading to Greece. Mais ne vous inquiétez pas, I’ll be sure to report back with photos of everything I eat while en France.

To make up for my absence I have a jam-packed post for you. Today, we’re talking tarte tatin – upside down tart for the uninitiated.

Trusty wiki claims that the tarte tatin was developed in the 1800’s about 100km south of Paris at the Hotel Tatin. One of the owners, Stephanie Tatin, was so run off her feet in the kitchen while making an apple pie that she forgot about leaving her apples, butter and sugar cooking on the stove. In a desperate attempt to save the tart, Stephanie quickly put the pastry on top of the apple mixture and baked it in the oven. After turning it out, Stephanie found the hotel guests were surprisingly impressed with the caramelised apple tart. And the tarte tatin was born.

While the apple tarte tatin is most common, many cooks have created their own (savoury and sweet) versions.

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I’ll show you a traditional and more modern version of the tart. You really can’t go wrong with this one so feel free to combine your favourite ingredients for the topping. Les fabuleuses tartes (the fabulous tarts) are sophisticated yet deceptively easy to make, making them perfect for your next dinner party. You could even have a French theme and cook one for dinner and dessert like I did here. Pourquoi pas?

For the sake of simplicity, I have used frozen puff pastry in both recipes below, but absolutely feel free to make your own if you have the time! The use of red and green apples makes for an interesting mix of sweet and slightly sour in the traditional tarte tatin.

NB: Both savoury and sweet recipes are my own take on ones from taste.com.au

Tarte tatin au potiron et aux oignons caramélisés (Pumpkin and caramelised onion upside-down tart):

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Serves 4-6

Cooking time: 20 mins to prep + about 1 hour 40 to bake

-1/2 butternut pumpkin, cut into 2.5cm wedges

-1 medium red onion, diced

-Garlic head, cloves separated and unpeeled

-1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

-2-3 sheets puff pastry, thawed

-Thyme, to serve

-Salad leaves, to serve

Method

Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius. Grease and line a tray with baking paper. Place pumpkin, onion and garlic cloves on tray and coat with good olive oil. Season well, then roast for about an hour or until tender. Leave aside to cool.

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Cook balsamic vinegar and sugar on low heat for about five minutes until sugar has dissolved. Pour the mixture into the bottom of a cake pan. It’s best to use a round cake pan, but if you don’t have one (like I didn’t on the day), a square or rectangle pan will be fine.

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Arrange the pumpkin and onion over base. Remove skin from garlic cloves and arrange over vegetables.

Turn oven up to 220 degrees celsius. Cut pastry into triangles (for a round dish) or rectangles (for square/rectangle dish) and arrange pastry over vegetables. Fold back any excess pastry and bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden. Leave to sit for several minutes, then turn out onto a plate. Sprinkle with thyme and remaining pan juices, then serve with salad greens.

Enjoy!

Now for something a little sweeter…

Tarte tarin aux pommes (apple upside-down tart):

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Serves 4-6

Cooking time: 20 to prep + about 25 to bake

-50g quality unsalted butter

-2 medium green apples

-2 medium red apples

-1/2 cup brown sugar

-2 Tbs cold water

-1-2 sheets puff pastry, thawed

-Cream or ice-cream, to serve

Method

Preheat oven to 220 degrees celsius. Grease and line a round cake pan.

Melt butter in large pan over medium heat. Add apple and cook for several minutes until golden. Add sugar and water then cook for 2 minutes or so until sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer for several minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly.

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Arrange apple in prepared pan and spoon over the caramel. Cut pastry into triangles and arrange over apple mixture, forming 2 layers of pastry. Tuck pastry in at edge, then bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden. Stand for 5 minutes, then turn onto plate. Serve with cream or ice-cream.

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I hope you enjoy this tarte tatin feast!

Bisous,

Sophie

P.S Happy Valentines to those who celebrate! What did you cook/bake for your lucky person on the weekend?

Snack time: Lemon yogurt muffins (muffins au citron et au yaourt)

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Bonjour mes amis!

Good news: Les printemps est arrivé (spring is here)!
The sun is out, my garden is bursting with citrus fruits (lemons, grapefruits, clementines) and I finally have some spare time to give Roquette et Noisettes a bit of love!

Lemons are practically coming out of our ears at the moment, so if you have any delicious lemon recipes please share them in the comment section below, I would love some suggestions! In fact, if there’s anything at all you’d like me cover, just let me know.

Alors, today’s topic is muffins. If you enjoy baking like I do and you haven’t tried baking with yogurt before, then you really should! Yaourt (yogurt) is an amazing addition to muffins and cakes as it keeps them light, fluffy and very moist, and often means you don’t need to add butter or milk. Great news if you’re health conscious.

The French are just as keen on their yogurt as us Aussies, and it can be bought in any supermarket en France. Les Français like their yaourt so much that it’s often served as a dessert in many restaurants along with fresh fruit. Not exactly gourmet, but it’s delicious and healthy, so who are we to judge?

Anyway, bonne chançe with your baking and I hope you’re all enjoying this sweet sunshine as much as I am.

Disclaimer: In the photos you’ll see I used a silicone muffin tray. Unfortunately I didn’t have a choice at the time, but please do NOT use these for your own sake. The silicone means they are very wobbly and difficult to take in and out of the oven, and you will probably spill your mixture everywhere. They are my pet hate. Go the old-school tin, you won’t regret it.

NB: This is a recipe I derived from one on Taste.com.au

Muffins au citron et au yaourt
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Makes 12 medium muffins

Cooking time: 15 mins to prep + about 20 mins to bake

-2 1/2 cups self-raising flour
-3/4 cup caster sugar
-1 cup vanilla yogurt (I used low fat, but don’t have to)
-1/2 cup vegetable oil
-1 egg, lightly beaten
-1 Tbs lemon rind
-1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Grease two 6-cup regular muffin pans.

Mix flour and sugar together, forming a well in the centre of the bowl. Add egg, oil, yogurt, lemon juice and rind. Mix until just combined.

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Using a tablespoon, spoon the mix into muffin pan.

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Bake for about 20 minutes (the original recipe said about 12 minutes, I found this not to be nearly enough). Always keep an eye on your muffins as every oven is different. Bake until just golden.

Et c’est tout! Ils sont délicieux!

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A bientôt!

Sophie

Using leftovers: Soupe au pistou (Pesto Minestrone Soup)

In 2011 I decided to take the year off uni and spend four months gallivanting around Europe with one of my closest friends. We had barely any plans, aside from that we wanted to go to La Tomatina (the tomato throwing festival just outside of Valencia, Spain), meet up with a friend in Paris, and just spend a lot of time seeing the sites, partying, eating and meeting other travellers.

Meeting up in Bangkok to break up the 20-something hour flight, we sat on Khao San Road with dozens of other tourists, sipping what we were told was vodka but tasted suspiciously of terrible local spirits and pouring over our Lonely Planet guide. Our plan was this: We wanted to go to Spain, I wanted to go back to France and we both had a mild interest in Italy. From there, we had no idea.

The first pizza in Rome

Our first pizza in Rome!

In the end we saw Italy, Austria, Germany, The Netherlands (well, Amsterdam), France, Belgium, Spain, England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. We saw The Colosseum, Pompeii, Brandenburg Gate, Dachau Concentration Camp, the town of Salzburg, the Danube river, Viennese coffee houses, the Eiffel Tower, Sacré Coeur, the canals of Amsterdam AND Bruges, The Alhambra in Granada, all of the Gaudi buildings in Barcelona, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, a dozen English markets, Loch Ness, Edinburgh Castle, the Cliffs of Moher, the Guinness Brewery in Dublin, a proper student house party in Cardiff and the list goes on and on and on…

About half-way through the trip, exhausted from not staying in the same place for more than a few days, sleeping only in hostels and on trains, and a few too many late nights with other travellers, we both got the flu. It was inevitable really, apart from the exhaustion, our diet mainly consisted of free hostel breakfasts, our regular picnics of just baguette and cheese (which were an excuse to explore local parks), and two-minute noodles (to save funds, obviously). We were both very sick for about a week, but by the end of it came to one conclusion: we had to change our eating habits. We shopped at local markets, cooked for ourselves in the communal hostel kitchens, and found the easiest (and cheapest) recipes we could possibly make with the highest nutritional value.

Wandering through Nice’s old town

The recipe below is one of our saviour recipes. It’s really easy, doesn’t take long to cook and is bursting with veggies and nutrition. This Minestrone is my Mum’s really easy take on a traditional Italian one (although is also considered to be Provencal recipe, as seen in Rachel Khoo’s book The Little Paris Kitchen). You can have it with or without the pesto, but the pesto really adds a kick. Buy a jar from the supermarket, or make your own a la Rachel Khoo.

Soupe au pistou:

 

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Serves: 6-8

Cooking time: 15 minutes prep + about an hour to cook

2 cloves garlic

1.25 litre bottle of V8 (vegetable) juice

1 can borlotti (Roman) beans

1 cup pasta (conchiglie – the shell pasta – works best)

2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

Pesto to garnish

Parmesan cheese to garnish

Leftover veggies (you can use almost anything but I generally use onion, celery, broccoli, beans, carrots, potatoes, parsnips etc.) – just make sure you have at least a few different types

Method:

Chop veggies, making sure they are roughly the same size. Fry garlic and onion (if using), then add other veggies and top with V8.

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Add stock and bring to boil.

 

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Add borlotti beans, cover the soup and leave to simmer for about 40 minutes, or until all of the vegetables are cooked. Cook pasta separately and add just before serving.

Garnish with pesto and parmesan cheese and serve!

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If you want to make your own pesto:

Rachel Khoo‘s Provencal Pesto:

1 bunch basil

3 cloves garlic

3-4 tablespoons good olive oil

Method:

Pound to a smooth paste, or whizz up the pesto in a blender.

Note: Unlike Italian pesto, French pesto doesn’t contain pine nuts or Parmesan, but you can add them if you like.

A small town just outside of Grenoble, France

Backpacking through a small town just outside of Grenoble, France

 

Bon appétit!

Sophie

 

 

 

Sunday dinner: Jerusalem Artichoke (Sunchoke) Soup and Pears in Red Wine

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I love markets. There’s something about the combination of fresh produce, crazy vendors and strange fruits and veggies that inspires me to cook with rare and interesting ingredients. Le français agree with me. Paris alone has several major food markets (namely marchés Bastille, Mouffetard, Saxe-Breteuil and the one on Rue Montorgueil). Parisians of all walks of life flock to them for fresh meat and fish, fruit and veg, and great cooking advice.

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This week I went to South Melbourne market. In Melbourne we have a couple of nice food markets: the famous Queen Victoria Market in the CBD, Prahran market with all of its cheese, but my favourite is South Melbourne for its lively atmosphere and excellent range of everything from high-range olive oil, to fresh produce, to the perfect coffee. This week I resisted the huge salted caramel macarons and fresh seafood and instead went for the Jerusalem artichokes (topinambour) and beautiful fresh pears (poires) with the perfect easy Sunday meal in mind.

Jerusalem artichokes are funny looking things. They look a little bit like ginger root: very knobbly and beige in colour. Inside they are a creamy colour, and have a delicious buttery flavour. Apparently, they are not related to the artichoke at all.  In fact the Jerusalem artichoke plant highly resembles a sunflower plant. The part you eat are the tubers. French explorer Samuel de Champlain sent the first samples of Jerusalem artichoke to France, describing them as similar in taste to artichoke. You could really do anything with them: fry them, put them in a salad; but today I’m making a soup.

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This is a slight variation of a soup my Mum makes at home. It’s creamy, buttery and perfect on wintery days.

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup:

Cooking time: 20 mins prep + About an hour to cook

-750 grams Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes), scrubbed and cut into chunks

-2 Tbs unsalted butter

-2 celery sticks, chopped

-2 garlic cloves, chopped

-1 cup milk (slight variation from linked recipe)

-1 Bay leaf (also slight variation)

-4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock

-Salt and pepper

Method:

Scrub artichokes well. There’s a common misconception that they must be peeled, however so long as you scrub them well with a hard brush this can be avoided. Melt butter in soup pot and cook onions and celery until soft. Add garlic and fry until fragrant. celery Add a pinch of salt. Add  Jerusalem artichokes, bayleaf and cover with stock. Bring the pot to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for about an hour until artichokes start to break down and are soft. Remove the bay leaf and puree the soup using stick blender or food mill, adding the milk as you blend it. bayleaf Add salt and pepper to taste.

NOTE: I felt a little strange not adding many herbs to this soup, however it’s important to remember that the taste of Jerusalem artichokes is very subtle, and can be easily overpowered. My addition of a bay leaf enhanced the flavours, but I would avoid adding other herbs. If you wish to bring out the flavour more, you could add less celery, or avoid it all together. For extra creaminess, you could add cream too. Serve with crusty bread or my rainy day muffins.

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Le Dessert: Poires pochées au Vin Rouge (Poached Pears in Red Wine)

Makes 4 Pears

Cooking time: 10 mins prep + 1 hour and 15 mins to cook + at least four hours in fridge (if you prefer chilled)

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It’s always nice to celebrate (or mourn) the end of the weekend with a dessert. This is a really easy one that’s both foolproof, and elegant enough to pull of for a dinner party or social event.

My favourite part about Paris in winter is the Christmas markets. Tiny little cubby-house like shacks are draped in Christmas lights and sell everything from gorgeous gifts, to buttery crêpes and spiced vin chaud (mulled wine). They’re especially charmant (charming) when the city is under snow and you get a sense of a true white Christmas, something that we miss out on in Australia.

A Christmas market on Les Champs Elysées

A Christmas market on Les Champs Elysées

These pears could be done the night before a party or event, making them the perfect winter dessert. They are my homage to Parisian Christmas markets.

Ingredients:

-4 peeled pears (Packhams work best, just-ripe)

-2 cinnamon sticks

-2 whole star anise

-2 cups dry red wine

-1/3 cup caster sugar

-1 vanilla bean, split

Method:

Combine wine, sugar and spices in saucepan big enough to fit pears. Over a low heat, stir until the sugar dissolves. Add pears and bring to the boil, then reduce heat and cook for an hour, turning occasionally to ensure the pear soaks up the wine.wine Once tender, put the pears in a heatproof bowl.

Increase heat to high and bring the wine to a boil. Stir for around 10 minutes or until the wine has thickened slightly into a syrup. Serve pears individually and pour over syrup. Serve with cream or ice-cream. Alternatively, you could make this rosewater-infused mascarpone from Taste.com.

If  you’re after a more summery dessert, cover pears in syrup. Cover heatproof bowl in cling wrap and place in fridge for about four hours.

C’est tous! An easy two-course Sunday dinner that is très deliceux!

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À bientôt!

Sophie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rainy Day Savoury Muffins

Winter morning

It was freezing when I woke up this morning. My window was fogged and it was pouring with rain outside (or in French: il pleuvait des cordes). I’m not a winter person, but I find a little winter baking is the perfect way to cheer up on a miserable day. These easy and delicious muffins made the house smell delicious, and drew all of my housemates out of their rooms!

The French love their cakes. According to my Rachel Khoo book, the French are modernising their traditional cake recipes with savoury versions – perfect for a summer picnic, or to curl up to with a cup of tea in winter. While this recipe isn’t explicitly French, I’ll claim it!

This is a recipe I derived from my favourite website Taste.com. These muffins are a vessel: you could really add whatever you like (different cheeses, capsicum, mushrooms, or whatever takes your fancy). I omitted the ham and was glad I did: the feta and olives provided enough salt. These muffins are delicious hot and straight from the oven, but I’ve kept a few to take to work later in the week. They would be great in any lunchbox, for a meeting or just to warm up on a chilly day!Savoury Muffins

 

SAVOURY MUFFINS:

Makes 12 muffins

Cooking time: 15mins prep + Approx. 25 mins to cook

 Ingredients:

-2 cups self-raising flour

-80g melted butter, cool

-1 cup milk

-1 lightly beaten egg

-100g feta (I like the Danish variety)

-Small handful of pitted olives (I used kalamata), chopped

-Small handful of semi-dried tomatoes, chopped

-Salt and pepper to season

-Rosemary to garnish (fresh if you have it)

Method:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Grease and/or line 12 cup muffin tin (average size).

Mixing the Muffins

Sift flour into mixing bowl and form a well. Mix together milk, egg and butter, then pour mixture into well. Fold through flour in a figure-8 motion, to make sure the flour is mixed in. Then, fold through feta, tomatoes and olives. Season.

 

Spoon mix into muffin tin, checking the muffins are approximately the same size to ensure even cooking. Sprinkle with rosemary. Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden. Once cooked, place on wire rack to cool.

 

C’est simple!

Bisous,

Sophie