Petits pains au lait

Little breads made with milk. They taste like a child’s dream…

My aunt used to make them in the summer in Morocco, and they were our goûter (snack) after a day at the beach, with melted salted butter and jam. They can also be made with raisins or chocolate. In the latter case, simply slip a few squares of chocolate inside the dough.

As with all the breads I make, I used my hands to mix and knead the dough. It is a wonderful meditation exercise.

IMG_8275

For about 16 petits pains (half the proportion if you want eight to ten)
1- Start by mixing an envelope of dried baker’s yeast with 25 cl of whole milk. Mix well until the yeast has dissolved. You can heat up the milk slightly in bain-marie if the kitchen is cold as during winter.
2- In a large bowl, mix with your fingers 500 gr of flour (you can use whole or white or a mixture of both), 50 gr of brown sugar (you can replace it with a generous tablespoon of honey), a tablespoon of olive oil (10 cl) and a teaspoon of salt. Mix well running the flour through your fingers to make sure the salt is properly mixed in.
3- Slowly add the milk and yeast mixture and keep kneading until the dough no longer sticks to your fingers. Keep kneading for another 10 to 15 minutes.
4- Shape the dough into a large ball and leave in the big bowl covered with a humid towel. Place in a warm place in the kitchen. I simply leave it under a lamp.
5- Let the dough rise for at least one hour.
6- Take the dough out the bowl and place it on a floured surface. Punch it so that the air comes out and shape it into petits pains. You can make them either long shaped or like little balls. At this point mix in additional ingredients such raisins or chocolate.

IMG_8259

7- Place in a baking pan and cover. Let it stand for at least 30 minutes. (I like to leave it another full hour).
8- Heat up the oven to 180º c and place a container with water inside so that some humidity builds up. Make sure the oven has reached that temperature before placing the petits pains.
9- Brush the petits pains with egg yolk and place the baking pan in the oven. Take out the water container and sprinkle the bottom of the oven with water so as to create some steam.
10- Bake for 15 minutes. Ten minutes into the process open the oven and sprinkle the bottom part of the oven with water to create more steam.

IMG_8262

Take out and enjoy!

Book: “The goodness of olive oil”

Whenever there is book fair, I irremediably go to the art, poetry and cooking sections. I like cooking books that are beautiful and simple, and where I may learn a thing or two. And if a book can bring together cooking, poetry and art, well all the better!

IMG_8224

Today, I found this little gem of a book at a secondhand bookstore. I am delighted. The text is an enchantment to read and the watercolour illustrations a delight. Some nice recipes are included as well.

IMG_8226

ref: “The Goodness of Olive Oil,” by John Midgley, illustrated by Ian Sidaway (Random House, 1992) [link to Amazon – here]

Sardines with peaches and a saffron, ginger and lime sauce

I eat Sardines regularly. They say it’s good for the brain… That is one reason, the other is its wonderful taste. Here is a lovely recipe with a delightful sauce.

IMG_8214

For one can of plain sardines
1- Open the can of sardines and let the oil out.
2- Place the sardines in a bowl and sprinkle with a generous amount of lime juice. Let them soak for about 20 minutes.
3- Take the sardines out of the bowl and in the remaining liquid add some fresh ginger root grated, freshly crushed pepper and a tablespoon of saffron liquid (recipe here).

IMG_8209

To serve, place some fresh baby arugula on a plate, top with the sardines and some fresh peaches cut in cubes. Pour the sauce on top of it all and sprinkle with fresh min leaves. I served it accompanied with a good “pain de campagne.”

Confiture d’abricot et verneine – Apricot and verbena jam

Verveine, known in English as Verbena or Verbena Citronella, is a delicate herb used mainly for tea and as a digestive all around the Mediterranean. It is not readily available in Mexico except if grown in a private garden. So the last time I was in Paris, I bought boxes and boxes of it. I grew up drinking it in the evening, and to this day, I do the same.

Verbena has a lovely minty fragrance and a slightly citrus like taste, making it a wonderful match with many jams such as apricot, peach or raspberries. To use it in jam, the best would be to use loose fresh leaves. But if you do not have any at hand, as in my case, simply prepare a infusion as indicated in this recipe.

IMG_8208

For one kilogram of fresh apricots
1- First, make the verbena infusion. It should be concentrated. Place one teabag in 100 ml of boiling water and let it sit until the water becomes dark gold.

IMG_8047

2- Wash the apricots, cut in half, take out the pits and cut again in quarters if the apricots are large.

IMG_8066

3- In a large cooking pan, place the apricots, the verbena infusion and a mix of 550 gr of white granulated sugar and 250 gr of brown sugar (sugar should total 800 gr).
4- Place on medium heat until it starts to boil. During that time, mix gently so that the sugar does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
5- Bring down the heat to low and let it simmer for about 25 minutes. Stir every five minutes or so during the process, do it gently so as not to break the fruits.
6- You know the jam is done once you place a drop of the liquid on a cold plate and it does not run when you tilt the plate. Once it is done, immediately place the jam in tightly closed glass containers previously sterilized with boiling water.
7- Let it cool down then place in the fridge. The jam is ready 24 hours later.

Enjoy as you would enjoy any jam!

Asperges au safran et au chutney de mangue – Saffron asparagus with mango chutney

A delicious side dish with asparagus cooked in saffron scented water topped with mango chutney. I served it with warm boiled eggs on a bed of baby arugula. Perfect for a warm summer’s lunch.

IMG_8103

1- Wash and cut the asparagus at about a third of its length.
2- Boil water and add a generous amount of saffron liquid (recipe here ). Place the asparagus gently and let it cook until it is al dente.

IMG_8080

3- Take the asparagus out of the boiling water and place them in a sieve to get rid of the excess water.

IMG_8083

To serve simply place it on a plate and top with mango chutney (recipe here). It can accompany any dish that does not have many spices since the chutney provides a lot of taste, such as eggs as here or broiled fish. Enjoy!