Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Raspberrry Financiers

One thing I have learned in France is, when invited to a dinner party you don't just graciously accept and then think about what to gift your hostess. Oh no! It seems the polite thing to do is to ask "what can I bring?" That doesn't always mean your offer is taken, but sometimes it is and so today I am preparing a little dessert for six people to take along to an invitation tonight. Crème de Citron and Financiers aux Framboises it will be, elegant bite sized (oaky, two bites) petit fours that, as long as you have some frozen raspberries at hand are a cinch to make.
All you need is 110 g powdered sugar, 3 eggwhites, 55 g almond flour (ground almonds), 35 g flour,  100 g butter and a handful of raspberries.
With a wodden spoon, stir all ingredients except for the butter together. Melt the butter and let cook for a few minutes so its color changes to a nutty light brown. Let the melted butter cool down, then mix into the batter. Fill into a financier baking form (you could also use a madeleine form or miniature cupcake forms), push two frozen rasperries into each financier and bake at 180C/350F for 20 minutes.
Rasperry financiers in their baking form

Tonight's Dessert

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Primeur Beaumes de Venise - the new wine of 2014

 Primeur 2014
Last night we were among the first to taste this year's "Primeur" - the new wine of the prestigious Beaumes de Venise wine cooperative. Beaumes de Venise is famous for its fortified sweet Muscat wine that often accompanies foie gras dishes. Although grown for more than 2000 years in and around Beaumes, Muscat only celebrated its 70 birthday as an AOC (controlled designation of origin) wine last year.
But Beaumes de Venise also produces wonderful red wines which became "cru" - the highest order of wines in the Rhone Valley in 2005.
Now you cannot just go and have a taste of a new AOC wine whenever you feel like it. There are strict rules and regulations to obey: the Primeurs, the new AOC wines, are only allowed to be sold after the third Thursday in November, which means this year from Thursday, November 20th after 12 am. So we were lucky to have a taste but also couldn't buy any. Too bad, because the red and the rosé are very nice even drunk this young and the vintners are more than  happy with their new vintage. Which means we better go back this Friday and stock up, not forgetting a bottle of Muscat or two!

But savour we could: the beautiful halls of the Beaumes de Venise Cave

and a scrumptious buffet the wine growers treated us to

 Great wine, delicious food

 The famous Muscat
Professional tasters: the owners of the Vaison restaurant "L'Epicurien"

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Saturday, October 4, 2014

I might become a baker yet...

Most people are either a cook or a baker, seldom both. I so do not care for baking that I am grateful for living where I do, as in France we are spoiled for our choice of  bakers and patissiers. I have yet to find a French housewife who bakes her own bread and even dinner party desserts are very unashamedly bought in, inspite of often totally absurd prices. Today at a not even fancy village bakery I saw an medium sized apricot tart that even I would whip up in five minutes for the royal sum of  € 25 ($ 31/£ 20) - highway robbery!
So what got me baking? Again - ridiculus pricing. What the Italians call Foccacia and in Provence is known as Fougasse is easily thrown together with ingredients that cost "trois fois rien" - three times nothing as we say in Provence: wholemeal flour, semolina, some salt, olive oil and warm water plus a few grams of yeast , some Herbes de Provence and about 4 or five chopped up sundried tomatoes. Lovingly kneaded, then left to prove for an hour et voilà! Fougasse! Next time to be varied with lardons (bacon bits) and caramelized onions.
 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Up to my Elbows in Tomatoes


Our kitchen garden is not exactly giving us much joy this year - the zucchini are flowering and flowering but have not produced one single fruit, our lovingly seeded butternut squash does the same, the peppers are probably proud to show one (in numbers: 1!) scrawny little pepper and the only tomatoes that grow are the cherry tomatoes we planted more or less for decoration purposes into pots against a sunny wall. So to our farmer's market I go. There, talk about adding insult to very much bruised gardener's pride, they are selling tomatoes cheaper than ever this summer since they have such a bountiful harvest....

Of course I can't resist and have been spending much time in the kitchen up to my elbows in tomatoes - coring and cutting then cooking them. Then passing them through my newest toy, the "Passatutto Master" that removes skins and pips (and no, unfortunately I don't get paid for this and even bought and paid for this tomato wonder machine myself).

 Tomato skin and pips remover

Once skinned and deseeded in went little chunks of carrots and zucchini, garlic and some onions, loads of basil, a bit of sugar and salt and pepper and lots of tender loving stirring care. Lots. For the best pasta sauce ever. Almost as good as the one a former colleague used to bring back from her Nonna when returning from her summer vacations in Sicily. But I can still practise - tomato season is still on and tomorrow is farmer's market day.
Homemade Pasta Sauce

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Almost Wordless Wednesday

 Lunch today: from here

and here

onto the table - Tarte Tatin aux Tomates