Crêpes pour la Chandeleur

The second of February is “la fête de la Chandeleur,” and on this day in our house, we follow the French tradition and eat crêpes. The Mexican tradition is to eat Tamales, but we definitely prefer crêpes.

La Chandeleur has its origins in Roman times when the God of Bread was commemorated, and on that day people walked in the streets with candles (hence “Chandeleur” from the Latin word for candles “Candelis”). It was later “Christianised” and is now celebrated 40 days after Christmas. The day now celebrates the presentation of Christ at the temple.

So why eat crêpes? The idea is that the crêpes can be made with ingredients available during winter (flour, eggs and milk) and it has the shape and the colour of the Sun. The tradition is to flip the crêpes so as to bring good luck for the year and call on Spring to come.

Here is a nice recipe that will sure bring sunshine to your table!

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For 20 crêpes
1- In a large bowl mix first the dry ingredients: 220 gr of sifted flour, half a teaspoon of salt and one generous tables spoon of brown sugar.
2- Then add three whole eggs plus the yolk of one egg, a mix of 30 cl of milk with 30 cl of water and at the end, 60 gr of melted butter.
3- Mix well and when the liquid has an even consistency, let it stand in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour.
4- Pour on a hot non stick pan (no need to add anything given that the mixture has melted butter), and turn over.

Serve with jam (here a recipe for strawberry jam), honey or a homemade chocolate spread, and some fresh fruits. 

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Moelleux fraise, framboise & chocolat

A marvellous cake to bake on a cold January afternoon. It is wonderful to eat it while still warm. Don’t worry, it remains delicious when cold.

The “moelleux” or “soft” in French, is a variation of the “fondant” in that the center of the cake remains moist and almost melting. In this recipe, I used a mix of fresh strawberries and raspberries, and you can use any berries you want.

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1- First, cook on low fire 250 gr of fresh berries (here strawberries and raspberries) with two tablespoons of brown sugar. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the mixture has released some liquid. Set aside and let it cool. It will smell delicious in the kitchen!
2- Melt 150 gr of high quality dark chocolate (70% cacao content or more) with 80 gr of butter in bain-marie.
3- Meanwhile, whisk with an electric beater four organic eggs with 70 of brown sugar. Whisk for at least 10 minutes. You want to make a “sabayon” which is simply whole eggs beaten at high speed. The consistency should be bubbly and thick, with double the volume and a light colour.
4- Add two tablespoons of flour and mix again.
5- Add the chocolate and butter mixture and mix until obtaining an even consistency.
6- Finally, in a buttered and floured baking dish, place the berry mixture then the chocolate one on top.
7- Bake for 15 minutes in a 180º c oven.

Enjoy warm and the next day at room temperature. Pure delight! 

Gâteau pomme & citron vert

A lovely cake for the season. The taste is wonderful blending the sweetness of the apple and brown sugar with the slight tanginess of the lime. If you do not have a small lime at hand, you can try it with a regular lemon; I am certain it will be as good.

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1- Melt 40 gr of butter.
2- Meanwhile in a large bowl, mix two organic eggs with 60 gr of brown sugar. Make sure the sugar is all diluted.
3- Add 120 gr of sifted flour in small batches and mix.
4- Add 80 mil of milk and mix thoroughly.
5- Finally mix in the zest of a small lime (or lemon) and four apples cut in very thin slices. Make sure you wash the lime thoroughly, then either peel it and cut the peel in very small strips or simply grate it.
6- In a prepared baking pan (buttered and floured), place half of the apple mixture. Sprinkle about half a tablespoon of brown sugar on top. Then add the other half of the mixture and again sprinkle with about half a tablespoon of brown sugar.
7- Place in an oven at 180ºc and bake for 45 minutes. Serve at room temperature or cold.

Gâteau chocolat fondant à la framboise

A chocolate delight with raspberries.

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1- Cook 150 gr of fresh raspberries (you can use any kind of berries actually and mix them if you choose) with 100 gr of brown sugar. Mix on low fire making sure it does not burn. When the mixture is a little liquid remove from the fire and place in a bowl for it to cool.
2- Melt in bain-marie 100 gr of high quality butter with 140 gr of dark chocolate (70% cacao content or more).

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3- Meanwhile mix the dry ingredients: 60 gr of brown sugar, 20 gr of Maïzena, 40 gr of flour and 20 gr of high quality 100% cacao powder. Set aside.
4- In a large bowl, whisk four organic eggs thoroughly. There should be a little bit of foam.
5- Add the dry mixture little by little and continue whisking. When it is very well blended, add the chocolate mixture.
6- In a prepared baking dish (buttered and floured) place the raspberry mixture at the bottom and cover with the chocolate one.
7- Place the baking dish in a pie baking dish –this is to avoid any of the raspberry mixture to splash on the oven and burn. Bake for 15 minutes in a 200º c. oven.

Let it cool thoroughly before serving. It is exquisite as well. after a few hours in the fridge. 

Pâté de foie gras et confiture de figues

Happy New Year!

Pâté de foie gras is a typical French treat often served to celebrate the New Year. Personally, I actually like it any time of the year. The best way to prepare is simply to place it on toast and add something sweet on the side. It helps attenuate its strong taste.

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You can place anything sweet like a chutney, preserves. jam or something simple like dates or raisin. Here, I served it on toasted baguette slices with fig jam on the side (recipe here). And avocado salad completed it.

Gâteau au chocolat pour Noël

A light and delicious chocolate cake for Christmas! Perfect with a deep dark expreso and a few raspberries, at the end of a joyful meal.

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1- In bain-marie, melt 150 gr of high quality chocolate (70% cacao or more) with 100 gr of high quality butter.
2- Meanwhile, mix at high speed four eggs with 75 gr of brown sugar. The volume should double and have a lot of froth.
3- Mix the chocolate with the egg mixture gently with a spatula, and pour it in a prepared baking dish (buttered and floured).
4- Bake for 20 minutes at 180º c.

Serve lukewarm with red fruits on the side. It goes wonderfully well with ice-cream as well!

Chicken in the oven with prunes, apples and lime

To be totally honest, I have rarely tasted such a delicious and buttery like chicken. The recipe is easy, trust me, it just takes a little bit of patience and it is all worth it.

This recipe is actually a little invention of mine inspired by an old French recipe for a traditional “Pintade de Noël” cooked in cider. I find that adding the lime was a perfect fit, and I avoided the cider completely. I also replaced the onions with garlic, and the thyme with rosemary since I have some growing at home.

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For one two-kg farm raised chicken:
1- Place the chicken in a baking dish and make a few openings with the point of a knife. Make them deep but not wide.
2- Sprinkle with olive oil, some butter, fresh rosemary, salt and pepper. Then work the chicken with that mix. Do not forget the inside.
3- Peel and slice four garlic cloves. Place the pieces in the openings you have made in the chicken and some inside of it.
4- Place in a oven cold, then light the oven at 220º c. Leave the chicken uncovered. Let it cook for 30 minutes.

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5- In the meantime, in a large bowl, mix six small organic apples peeled and cut in chunks, twelve prunes without the pit and cut roughly, one lime sliced (take out the seeds), one generous tablespoon of organic honey, and about 150 ml of water. Mix.

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6- Take the chicken out of the oven after 30 minutes and poor the apple mix on top. Cover with aluminium foil. Make sure to make a few holes in the foil so that the steam is let out while the chicken cooks.
7- Place back in the oven and cook for another hour and 15 minutes or so. (Should you be using a bigger chicken just calculate about 20 minutes per half a kilogram.)
8- After 30 minutes, take out the chicken and poor some water while basking the chicken with the apple mixture.
9- What I like to do, and that is optional, is after one hour cut the chicken in pieces (legs, wings, breasts) and return the chicken for another 15 minutes covered with the foil.
10- If you want to leave the chicken whole, just let it cook.

Serve immediately. I simply served it with white Basmati rice. Enjoy!

Pâte à tartiner chocolat maison

An easy to make and wonderfully delicious chocolate spread!

This is the first time I make it, and it came out delicious. Make sure you use high quality butter, and high quality chocolate. I used dark chocolate with a 70% cacao content. I did not use any hazelnuts, but you can add three tablespoons of hazelnut paste at the end to make the spread similar to Nutella.

I am so happy I made it as I can finally say goodbye to all the chocolate spreads filled with palm oil available in the market, and satisfy my eight year old’s son craving for chocolate to spread on crêpes, waffles, pancakes and bread at breakfast and sometimes… at dinner!

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1- Melt in bain-marie, 250 gr of chocolate with 150 gr of butter. Make sure the mix has an even consistency.

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2- Pour the chocolate mixture into 300 ml of sweet condensed milk. Mix thoroughly.
3- Place in a jar and close once it has cooled slightly. It’s ready!

Note: It stays up to three weeks. No need to place it in the fridge unless you make a lot. 

Apple and blueberry cake

What you prepare when you have a special friend coming over. It is delicious and the aroma while it bakes is simply delightful!

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1- Melt 40 gr of high quality butter and set aside.
2- Wash, peel and cut in very thin slices four large apples (I like to use golden apples).
3- In a large bowl, whisk two eggs with 90 gr of brown sugar.
4- Once it is all incorporated and the colour slightly lighter, incorporate the melted butter. Whisk and then add 120 gr of sifted flour, and finally 80 ml of cold whole milk. Mix well.
5- With a spatula, mix in the apple slices.

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6- In a prepared baking pan (lined with butter and flour), place half the apple mix, top with a cup of blueberries, then add the rest of the apple mix.
7- Sprinkle with brown sugar and bake for 40 minutes in a 180º c. oven.

Enjoy!

Chocolat chaud – le vrai!

How to make a real hot chocolate according to my eight year old son.

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For one bowl – Always use a bowl if you want the real thing!
1- First, melt in bain marie six squares of high quality dark chocolate (70% cacao or more). Use a nice serving jar.

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2- Then, heat up a cup of milk and take it off the fire just as it starts boiling. Do not let it boil.
3- Place the heated milk in the bowl and pour gently the melted chocolate.

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Stir and enjoy! He does not add sugar, but some may want to.