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

Midweek meals: Soufflé

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Soufflé. The thought of making it is enough to instil fear in some of the bravest of cooks. The soufflé has got a bad rep over the years due to its delicacy. Yes, there are plenty of things that can go wrong: it doesn’t rise, it rises but collapses, it’s over-cooked, the eggs are over-whisked – but with a bit of love a good soufflé really isn’t hard to make. Read on, my friends…  

As mentioned in an earlier post, the word soufflé comes from the verb souffler, meaning to blow. Un bon soufflé should be crispy on top, and light and fluffy in the middle – like a breath of air. 

Mum’s cheese and sweet corn soufflé was my favourite dinner growing up (yes I know, quite the gourmet child), and I’d request it every birthday. I’ve only recently found out that my sister never liked it, so these requests only brought her sadness and misery. Sorry Anna.  

The secret to easily whipping your egg whites is to place the eggs in a bowl of luke-warm water beforehand. Fridge-temperature eggs aren’t going to do you any favours. 

The recipe below is for a cheese and sweet-corn soufflé, but the corn is just an option. You could add capsicum, ham, mushrooms – really whatever you feel like. If you want to achieve a perfect flat-topped soufflé, simply run a knife over the mixture just before putting it in the oven to smooth it out et voila – just like in a Michelin-starred restaurant!

Soufflé au fromage et au maïs:

Serves: 4

Cooking time: Approx. 20 mins prep + 45 mins to cook

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4 eggs

1 cup milk

1 tbsp butter

Approx 1 tbsp plain flour

1 cup cheese (tasty or gruyère would work best)

1 can corn kernels, drained (or fresh sweetcorn if you have it)

Salt + pepper, to taste

Method:

Place whole eggs in bowl of luke warm water and set aside. Grease a ramekin or round casserole dish. 

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 Make basic white sauce: melt butter over low heat and stir in flour until thick paste, then very slowly add milk, whisking to avoid any lumps. Continue to stir until sauce thickens. Set aside.

Add cheese and corn.

Separate eggs and lightly beat egg yolks in one bowl. Beat egg whites until peaks form, taking care not to over-beat.

This is how you want your whites to look

This is how you want your whites to look

Fold yolks into white sauce mixture, then carefully fold in the whites until just mixed. Over-folding can beat the air out of your perfect eggs.

Don't over-fold your mixture

Don’t over-fold your mixture

Pour mixture into ramekin. If desired, run a knife over the top to achieve the perfect flat-topped look.

Bake for approx. 45 minutes or until golden.

 

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Serve with baked potatoes, or potato gratin. 

 

Bon appétit et bonne chance!

 

Bisous, 

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

 

 

 

Dessert: Bastille Day Puddings (Soufflés chocolat noisette)

 

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Joyeux 14 Juillet!

For the uninitiated, Bastille day is the celebration of the storming of the infamous Bastille prison in Paris at the start of the French revolution in 1789. It was a reaction against the oppression of the Monarchy and the ancien regime. An enormous gap between the rich and poor in France saw most of France crippled by famine and disease, while the royalty and aristocracy enjoyed a lavish life of luxury.

In the lead up to the revolution, those who did not resign themselves to the absolute power of the King (Louis XVI) were incarcerated in the Bastille prison in Paris. The storming of the Bastille was therefore a momentous occasion for la liberté (freedom) of the French. However, it also officially marked the beginning of a very turbulent time for France. The French revolution did not end until 1799.

 

Visiting Versailles in winter, the Palace of Louis XVI before he was fled

Visiting Versailles in winter, the Palace of Louis XVI before he fled

The legacy of the revolution continues in France today. La révolution française established the motto of France: liberté, fraternité (brotherhood), égalité (equality) which still underlies French culture. Today, many French people are passionate about fighting perceived inequalities, and fervently stand up for their rights. You don’t need to visit Paris (or any other French city) very long to witness a French protest. Whether it’s about racial diversity, train drivers’ working conditions (you’re almost guaranteed train delays while you’re visiting), or right-wing politician Marine Le Pen’s latest crazy idea, the French sure do love a good strike, and it’s this passion, evident in almost every aspect of la vie française, that draws me to their culture.

So to celebrate the glorious fête nationale, I have baked rich, fluffy soufflés which I think would please even the fussiest eater. As usual, they are vraiment façile (really easy)! This is a great recipe, the soufflés are gooey in the middle and crispy, almost meringue-like on top.

On an interesting language note, the term soufflé comes from the verb souffler which means to blow, and is a testament to the airiness of the soufflé, and the way it very quickly puffs up when it is in the oven.

Soufflé au chocolat noir et aux noisettes (Dark chocolate and hazelnut puddings)

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Recipe from Gourmet Traveller 

Serves 4

Cooking time: 20 minutes prep + Approx. 20 minutes to bake

55g butter

265g quality dark chocolate (at least 53% cocoa), chopped

3 eggs, separated

2 Tbs caster sugar

35g roasted hazelnuts (or roast yourself on low heat until golden), peeled and chopped

Cream or ice-cream to serve

Method:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsuis. Very slowly melt butter and sugar, preferably over a double boiler to ensure they don’t burn.

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Once chocolate is melted and glossy remove from stove and stir in chopped hazelnuts, egg yolks and sugar. Beat egg whites until they form soft peaks and gently fold through chocolate mixture.

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Immediately divide among four small ramekins and bake for about 15 minutes or until the soufflés have puffed up and just set. Serve with cream or ice-cream.

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Bonne journée et bon appétit!

 

Mid-week meal: Boeuf Bourguignon (Beef Burgundy)

"Burgundy, France" by Megan Mallen. CC licence 2.0.

“Burgundy, France” by Megan Mallen. CC licence 2.0.

Today is about debunking some common myths about shared living.

1. Living in a share house means living off pizza and instant noodles.

Wrong. I live in a share house. Four out of six of us are foodies. We go to markets, check out interesting new cafés that have just opened up and cook interesting things together. I haven’t eaten instant noodles in years.

2. Eating cheaply means eating junk food. 

Wrong again (see above). It’s possible to cook interesting and healthy meals with the cheapest ingredients. Buy produce that’s in-season, pick the time you go to the supermarket (there are often lots of reduced items if you go later in the evening) and shop at markets.

3. Cooking for one of two people = food wastage, and eating the same meal for a week.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. That’s what freezers are made for. Freezing food is also handy if you’re getting home from work or uni late and don’t have the time or energy to cook. I love cooking on Sundays because I usually have all the time in the world.

Boeuf Bourguignon (Beef Burgundy, or Beef in Red Wine):

Serves 4

Cooking Time: 5 mins prep + Approx 30 minutes to cook

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This is a cheats take on a classic French dish. It’s one that my Mum used to make when she lived in a share house, and has made ever since. I imagine the addition of soy sauce would enrage the French, but it’s simple and delicious, and can be whipped up after work with little effort. For best results though, slow cook it for as long as you can to make the meat extra tender.

Historically, this meal was considered a peasant dish, but over time it has been accepted as a classic.

Slow cooking the meat ensures even the worst cuts of meat become tender and delicious. The question of whether it should include bacon or not is somewhat controversial, but I think it adds a nice saltiness to the dish. You could serve it with mashed potato, brown rice, pasta, or crusty bread.

Ingredients:

-500g diced beef (the quality depends on how long you are prepared to cook it for)

-4 rashers bacon, chopped

-1 cup red wine

-1 small can tinned mushrooms in butter sauce

-1 green capsicum, chopped

-1 tsp dried or fresh thyme

-2 cloves garlic

-1 Tbs tomato paste

-2 Tbs soy sauce

-1 brown onion

Fry bacon, onion and garlic together. Brown beef, then add capsicum, tomato paste, wine, soy sauce, thyme and mushrooms. Cover and cook on medium heat until meat is tender and sauce has thickened (about 15 minutes depending on your cut).

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While it cooks, enjoy un verre du vin  (a glass of wine). I usually serve it with brown rice, as the nutty flavour compliments the stew – c’est magnifique!

 

 

 

 

Mon salade d’hiver: My winter salad

 

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The Louvre under snow

France is divided up into 22 metropolitan regions, most of which boast their own culture, dialect, and of course plats (dishes). When Napoleon became emperor in 1804 he tried to bring an end to the emphasis on regionalism and establish a unified France, promoting one language (French), civil law (or “The Napoleonic Code”) and a centralised education system.

Although France is now unified around its administrative departments, a strong sense of regionalism prevails. Many French people still speak their regional dialect (Corsican, Occitan, Bourbonnais etc.) and lay claim to certain regional dishes. A common regional dish is the region’s own take on a salad, and salads such as the Lyonnaise, Niçoise and Alsacienne still make a popular menu item today.

Admittedly, salads are not the most appetising thing on a cold, wintery day. However my winter salad is warm and nutritious – perfect for whenever you’re feeling a bit run down and need some nourishment. In France, salads are usually eaten as a first course, not as a side, but this salad can easily be eaten on its own as a plat principal (main course). The split peas and root vegetables make it hearty and healthy. Above all though, it’s super façile (easy) and quick. You could also use whatever vegetables you like, but I like to make it as colourful as I can.

Mon Salade d’Hiver de Légumes, Roquette et Pois Cassés:

Serves 3-4

Cooking Time: 10 mins prep + Approx. two hours to roast vegetables 

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-Approx. 2 Tbs olive oil

-Half a pumpkin (I like butternut), chopped into bite size pieces

-2-3 medium sized tomatos, chopped

-1 green capsicum, chopped

-1 red onion, chopped

-Approx. 4 cloves garlic (more if you like)

-Approx. 1 cup split peas or puy lentils

-100g feta cheese

-Rocket to serve

Vinaigrette:

-4 Tbs olive oil

-Splash white wine vinegar

-Splash lemon juice

-Herbs as desired (I like to use fresh basil or dill)

-Salt and pepper

Method:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Chop up vegetables. Place pumpkin in oven tray and cover with olive oil. Toss to make sure the pumpkin is coated. Bake for about an hour. Add other vegetables and toss in the remaining olive oil. photoSeason with salt and pepper and put back in oven. About half an hour later fill small saucepan with water until one third full. Once water is boiled, add split peas and cook for 10-15 minutes or until peas are soft, but not mushy and over-cooked. Take vegetables out of oven once crispy. Make bed with split peas then add vegetables on top (keeping garlic cloves aside).photo copy 2 Chop up garlic cloves and sprinkle, or squeeze the flesh out of the cloves across the salad. Add feta, then finish with a good handful of rocket. Combine vinaigrette ingredients in a small jug and dress each salad.

Voila!

Bonne chance!

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