The Butcher Week End

I could never be a butcher, a baker yes, very much. Covered with flour, icing sugar, whisking eggs, measuring, even the caramel burn, I'll take it all, it's fun, rewarding, some kind of therapy that works out for me perfectly.

I guess having been a vegetarian for years doesn't help, but trying to do a butcher's work just lacks of a "pretty" side. I also lack of the right knives i guess, but I'm telling you, washing natural casing is not something i want to do everyday. But i'm all for challenges, and i wanted to try out my kitchenaid sausage stuffer.

Merguez is a spicy northern african sausage, traditionally made out of lamb. Funnily enough, though it's strong tasted, this is the first meat i craved for after 3 years of having none, and a friend of mine who's mostly a vegetarian eats them too...

Apparently it's like couscous (which it is served with) every family has it's recipe. But it seems to be hard to find a place where you always get the same product. From what i read, the butcher tend to change their recipe proportions depending what they have at hand.

So this was a first, and with the help of my lovely mother we managed this with a good result. Being afraid there might be too much fat, i chose a lean cut of beef and cut some of the fat of the lamb, well turns out it could have been a bit fatter.
But still, it fed all the tribe on a sunday barbecue and i'm quite proud, i made my own sausages! How many people can say the same?

And for the lack of prettiness of this post, i felt the need to add some. Look, A pink daisy!


For about 50 Sausages

Natural Casing
1,3k of Lamb (shoulder or breast)
400gr of Beef (not too lean)
4 Tablespoons of Harissa
3 Cloves of Garlic
3 Teaspoons of Raz el Hanout
3 Teaspoons of Paprika
3 Teaspoons of Cumin
2 Teaspoons of Salt
2 Teaspoons of Pepper
2 Teaspoons of Cinnamon
2 Teaspoons of Grounded Coriander
3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons of Water

Keep the meat cold before grinding it, or only buy it shortly before using it. Mix the meat with all the spicies, mince the garlic in and add the olive oil aswell as the water.
I'd advice you to put on a ruber glove and just dig in, to mix evrything well together. Put a cling film on it and put it in the fridge for 2 hours.

Now comes the casing, it's kind of hard to get, i've ordered mine preserved in salt, over the internet. You need to wash it and put it in water for about half an hour. I've cut it in about 2 meters long sections. Before using it, run water from the tap inside of them to wash them out, than tie a knot on one end.

Slip a section of the casing on the sausage stuffer tub, that you have wetted a bit. This is were you need 4 hands: 2 hands to switch on the machine and put the stuffing into it, and 2 hands to hold the casing until it's filled up to the wished sized before letting it slide.

Make one whole section, than tie the knot in the end and twist the sausage carefully every 15cm. Once you are done with all the sausages, hang them in a cool and dry place for a few hours before getting them into the fridge.

Before putting them on the barbecue, prick them with the tip of a knife a few times, they will need only a few minutes on each side, don't let them get too dark or dry out.


The Perfect Cookie?

Yes, you have noticed the question mark. What defines perfection in the first place? Is there such a thing anyway? And if so, who decides what is? Maybe what is perfection to one, wouldn't be for an other, what is one day, won't be the next.

The perfect picture, the perfect song, the perfect diner, the perfect love... What if we ever have it? Would everything after look tamed, do we loose our ambitions and ideals? If things have been perfect and are not anymore, does it leave us unsatisfied forever?

If i sound less optimistical than usual, it's because i am these days. The good thing about that, is that it leads me to my kitchen, and to a book that inspired all that (2 cents) philosophical talk: "How to cook the perfect..." from Marcus Wareing.

Nothing coming out of my kitchen is perfect, i'm not a chef, i'm not trained for it. If i ever get to eat in a 3 michelin stars restaurant, i guess i'd expect perfection from that.
But here it's all about improving, learning from your mistakes and trying to do better next time. A life lesson that can be both applied inside and outside the kitchen.

And if those cookies are maybe not perfect, they worked perfectly alongside a glass of (soy) milk, watching the last episod of "sex and the city" to say goodbye to those gals, i know i'll see them around again sometime.

So i'll keep looking for perfection, hoping never to get there, but just close enough in order to make me want for more, keep me hungry for life, and food. And in the meantime, remember people, chocolate is still the answer.

Chocolate Chips Cookies (from "Cozinhar na Perfeição..." by Marcus Wareing)

For about 24 cookies

180gr of Flour
1 Teaspoon of Baking Powder
A Pinch of Salt
115gr of Butter, at room temperature
75gr of Sugar
75gr of Muscovado Sugar
1 Egg, lightly beaten
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
170gr of Chocolate Chips

Mix the flour, the salt and baking powder in a bowl.

Using a stand mixer, mix both sugar with the butter until it's light and well combined. Add the egg and the vanilla extract than stop the mixer.

With a plastic spatula add half the flour mixture and combine gently, than put in the second half and add the chocolate chips in the end.

Spread a bit of flour on your working surface, form a cylinder with the cookie dough of about 25 to 30 cm and put it into cling film for at least 2 hours in the fridge.

Preheat your oven to 170°C and lay 2 trays with baking paper.

Cut the cookies about half a centimeter thick, spread them on the trays with at least 5cm space. Put it in the oven for about 15 minutes, they should have a golden color around the edges.

Let them cool on a rack and keep them in an airtight jar.


This all leads to the burger

If i remember correctly, i have been to a fast food restaurant for the first time when i was about 14 years old. Which i believe to be a good thing, when i see all the little ones asking for it at a very young age, maybe more for the toy that comes with it.

But still, it might not be the best way to educate your taste, to learn how to balance food. Now i know that fast food chains are making an effort that way, bringing more "green" into the mix. But still, if you've ever seen "Super Size Me", you might not want to go back as often.

The fast food restaurants might be the most controlled ones, but i'm still not too found of not really knowing what i'm eating. Which you could argue is the same when you go to a restaurant, but i just don't think the people that work at McDonalds, do it out of love for food and care about what they serve you, like i'd expect a chef to.

Nevertheless, I do love a good hamburger. And now that i have a grinder, i can even choose which beef cut i want, instead of some undefined ground/minced beef, that should be cooked within 12 hours by the way.

So this isn't really a recipe per say, it's just how i like my burger. And making it from scratch is really worth the work, from the first to the last bite.


For one Burger

200gr of Beef (like sirloin)
1 Tablespoon of Mustard
1 Teaspoon of Worcester Sauce
Salt, Pepper
1 Hamburger Bun
2 Tablespoon of Homemade Ketchup
1 Tomato
50gr of Cheese (i like a middle-agged Comté)
1 Pickle
A Few Rings of Red Onion

Ground your meat shortly before using it and try to keep it cold. I know most hamburger patties are made ready with eggs and breadcrumbs, but here i just wanted something simple. It does make the burger harder to flip, so try to keep that to a minimum.

In the minced beef, add the mustard, the worcester sauce and the pepper, mix with a fork and than form your patty. Once the patty is formed you can salt it on both sides.

Put a griddle or a frying pan on a medium to high heat, wait for it to be hot. I like my meat well done, so i cook it about 4 to 5 minutes on each side. But that depends on the size of your patty.

Slice open your bun and grill the inside for about a minute, until it's lightly toasted.

Now it's just a mattter of piling things up. I spread ketchup on the bottom, followed by slices of tomato, than the hot beef patty with the cheese on top, so it melts a little, than the slices of pickle and the onions. It just needs the top of the bun, and Voilà!


Lucky Mistake

If someone tells you they never mess up in the kitchen, it's most likely because they are never in it. Things get out of hand every now and than, to turn into a total disaster or a wonderful mistake, just ask the Tatin sisters about it.

This saturday afternoon i have been a busy bee in my kitchen, still in my american mood, i had settled for homemade hamburgers to go with my "Sex and the city" evening. I have a bun recipe, but i wanted to try out something new.

I came across a recipe that seemed to be popular, something the New York Times claimed to be the best bun recipe, and it has taken over the blogosphere apparently.
It is thought out for 16 buns, which is wayyyy too much for me, so i decided to divide the measurements by 2.

I started preparing the ingredients, and in the middle of it, got interrupted by my nieces and a non cooperating modem. When i went back to my recipe, i forgot to divide the last ingredients by 2, and realised it once done.

Well it worked out great! Those buns actually bounce back at you, they are light, airy, and i don't know if the original recipe works the same way, but this one definetly goes into my book! Because if this is wrong, i don't want to be right ;)

Hamburger Buns

For 8 Big Buns

500gr of Flour
15gr of Fresh Yeast
10gr of Salt
25gr of Sugar
200ml of Tepid Water
75ml of Soy Milk
2 Eggs
60gr of Butter, at room temperature
1 Egg to glaze
Sesame seeds

I used the kitchenaid with the dough hook. Mix the flour, the sugar and the salt in the bowl.

Dissolve the yeast in the teppid water and pour it in the flour, start mixing slowly. Add the soy milk, and both eggs that are slightly beaten. Mix it for about 3-4 minutes until it's well combined.

Add the butter in little cubes, wait for each to be combined before adding the next one. Beat it for an other 5 minutes until it's shiny and elastic.

Put a cling film on it, and let it raise for about 1h30 to 2 hours, until it doubled in size.

Put flour on your worksurface, invert the dough on it and spread some more flour on it to work it a little bit. Separate it in 8 equal size part. Leave it for 5 minutes.

Put baking sheets on your tray, and form your buns. Leave them to raise for an hour, an hour and a half under a clean cloth.

Preheat your oven to 200°C. When the buns are about one and half time bigger, glaze them with egg wash and spread sesame seeds on them.

Place in the oven for about 15 minutes, they should be a nice golden brown color.


In an American mood

Since the beginning of the week, i've been watching episods of "Sex and the city" one after the other. It is not a first, i've been thru all the seasons (and movies) a few times before, but i just enjoy to watch the tv shows i like again, everynow and than.

Being slightly compulsive, i tend to "marathon" thru the seasons once i've started. And i do have a thing for american tv shows: Buffy, Scrubs, Friends, Fringe, How i met your mother, The X-files, Gilmore Girls, The big bang theory, The L word, Ally Mc Beal, Will & Grace, Grey's Amatomy... The list goes on and on.

I didn't except to like "Sex and the city", i thought i wouldn't relate to the story of four straight single women living in manhattan. But point is, women's problem are universal, and we all feel close to them at some point during the show.
It's smartly written, unapologetic, and with some majorly funny quotes, that i won't write here or this blog might move to be r-rated.

Now how does this relate to food? Well it actually doesn't, they are mostly just drinking cosmopolitans and having chinese take out. But all those sights of New York just got me into an american mood, so this might turn into a few different posts.
Let's start with a basic: ketchup sauce. It's true that there's a brand out there that does a good job, but in my book doing things yourself is just more fun.

Homemade Ketchup

For 2 Jars

700gr of Tomatoes
1 Carott
1 Stick of Celery
1 Small Red Onion
3 Cloves
3 Cardomom Seeds
1 Teaspoon of Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon of 4 Spicies
1 Teaspoon of Chili Powder
1 Teaspoon of Salt
1 Tablespoon of Honey
50gr of Muscovado Sugar
50gr of Demarara Sugar
150ml of Cider Vinegar

Cut the tomatoes into cubes, peel the carott and chop it finely aswell as the celery stick and the red onion. Put everything in a big pan and add the spicies.

Put it on a medium flame and let it bubble for about 30 minutes, stir every now and them and mush the tomatoes a little.

Add the honey, the sugars and the vinegar. At this point, i used a hand blender and gave it a blitz to combine everything well, and let it bubble down to the wished consistency.


Rainy Sunday Breakfast

I don't mind rainy sundays, they just give me an excuse to stay inside. I believe i have an above average cave woman chromosome that survived thru generations. Or in the words of Joey Tribbiani "inside good, outside bad".

But if the sun is not outside in the sky, we should have it on our plates instead. Now eggs sunny side up could be an option, but i'm just not a savory breakfast kinda girl, mine needs to be sweet.

As you may have read already, i love apricots! Their season being quite short (june to august), i tend to have them as often as possible for the time being. I've already made jam for the winter, baked cake, clafoutis or just enjoyed them like that.

Now here's a combination that works very well: apricot and rosemary. Like pineapple and mint or peaches and pepper, unusual matches can bring good surprises.
So here are some poached apricots with a rosemary and vanilla syrup, this is all you need on a grey sunday morning.

Poached Apricots with Rosemary and Vanilla Syrup

Serves 1

350gr of Apricots
200ml of Water
150gr of Sugar
1 Pod of Vanilla
1 Tablespoon of Fresh Rosemary, chopped
1 Tablespoon of Lemon Juice

In a big pan, off the flame for the moment, put the water and the sugar and try to disolve most of it. Add the rosemary and the lemon juice. Cut the vanilla pod in half and scratch the inside to put it in the water, you can put the half of vanilla pod in the syrup aswell.

Place the pan on a high flame, and let it bubble down for about 5 minutes. Cut the apricots in half, and pit them. Place them carefully in the syrup for about 5 minutes, until they are coated and soft.

Take the apricots out and set them aside, let the syrup on the flame for about 5 more minutes, until it has a honey like consistency.

To serve, i put some yoghourt on top of the apricots, and than pour the syrup on it. I believe you could trade the yoghourt for some mascarpone, which would make it richer, or also add some toasted almonds on top.


A Fruitful Week-End

Life is full of misconceptions, like the water flushes down in different direction depending on which hemisphere you're in, Ostriches hide their heads in the sand when they are scared, Mac computers get no viruses, all Parisian waiters are rude (wait... that might be true), and tomatoes are vegetables...

Well no: tomatoes are, botanically at least, fruits. The way we tend to cook them, confuses them with vegetables for most of us, as they have a low level of sugar.
They are not the only one that are wrongly called vegetables: eggplants, pumpkins or zucchini are part of that family too.

As the summer is now offering us all kinds of ripe fruits, it's the perfect time to make jam. My last week-end was almost entirely dedicated to it.
Apricot being my favorit one, it's always the one i like to start with. But my all tomato speech had point.

"Doce de tomate", tomato jam, is something i tasted for the first time years back in Lisbon, i was intrigued by it, but point is, it's really good. It is a bit time consuming to make, but you do have something original for a change in the end.

I'm no expert in jam making, i keep on using the "cold plate" trick to see when it's done, because to the naked eye, it can be difficult depending on the fruit you're cooking.
I sometimes have to cook it again, to have to right texture or I overcook it in the first place and end up with a bit of jelly. But it's all worth it, specially when you'll get to enjoy it during colder days.

Doce de Tomate, Tomato Jam

For about 2 Jars

1 Kilo of Tomatoes
500gr of Sugar
Juice of one Lemon
1 Stick of Cinnamon

Place a plate into the fridge or freezer.

You need to peel and take the seeds out of the tomatoes, that's the long part. Put water in a large pan, and place it on a high flame to bring it to the boil.
Prepare a bowl with cold water and ice cubes. Cut a cross into each tomato, and when the water boils, plunge them in for about 1 minute. Take them out (carefully) and put them in the cold water.

This should allow you to peel them easily, and after remove the seeds. Weight how much tomato flesh you get. I ended up with 700gr of flesh, therefor i used 500gr of sugar.
Chop the flesh up roughly, place it into a large pan and add the lemon juice, the cinnamon stick aswell as the sugar.

This goes now on a medium to high flame to bring it to bubble. Afterwards, timewise it's hard to tell, you have to check it's consistency: place a drop of jam on the cold plate you had in the fridge and put it back in the fridge for about a minute to see if it's taken.

If so, pour it carefully into jars you have sterilized before, with boiling water for instance. Put the lid on, i turn them upside down so the hot jam is in contact of the lid and i let them cool over night, before placing them in my pantry.


Something new: a Turkey Terrine

Today i realised i haven't made any recipe with meat yet. Not that i'm a big fan actually, i have been a vegetarian for a few years as a young adult, and now it's just not on top of my shopping list most of the time. I tend to eat meat mostly at my parents, where i have lunch a few times a week.

I turned vegetarian during the whole "mad cow" crisis. And if anything good came out of it, it has been the transparency of producers, aswell as the will to propose better quality product. I look for labels, organic production, and here more than ever i go for quality over quantity.

For my birthday, i got some accessories for Nigella, my Kitchenaid. Including a food grinder and something i will be using in a futur post: a sausage stuffer kit. But now is the food grinder's turn to be used. If you have a kitchenaid, it's really an accessory i'd advice you to get, it turned out to be handy and easy to clean.

Now for the recipe, it's a tad too hot for a lamb stew, which i like very much too. So this is what is called "terrine" in french, it's eaten cold and i like it in the summer next to a salad. I choose turkey, but chicken would do the trick too.

Turkey Terrine with chive and Hazelnuts

For 2 individuals portions

200gr of Turkey
100gr of Bread
100ml of Milk
8 Slices of Bacon
1 Egg
1 Tablespoon of Fresh Chive, chopped
1 Tablespoon of Hazelnuts, chopped and roasted
1 Tablespoon of Porto Wine
1 Teaspoon of Paprika
1 Teaspoon of Cumin
Salt, Pepper
2 Bay Leaves

Cut the bread (i choose rustic bread leftover) into cubes, and let it soak into the milk for about 5 minutes.

Slice about 6 stripes of the turkey breast, that will be put in the middle of the terrine. Put the rest of the meat thru the grinder.

Press the milk out of the bread a little, and put it thru the grinder aswell. Mix those two together.

Now add one egg, the chopped chive, the hazelnuts, the spicies and Porto wine. Season with salt and pepper. Combine everything well together.

Preheat your oven to 180°C.

Lay the bacon stripes into your oven form, in a star shape pattern so it covers it all (as shown on the picture above). Fill the first half with the turkey mixture, and lay the turkey stripes you've cut in the beginning on it.

Now fill the form up with some more mixture, and fold the bacon stripes on top of it to "close" it. Put one bay leaf on top of each terrine.

Place the two forms in a bigger tray, and fill it halfway up with water. Put in the oven for 1 hour. Let it cool completly before serving.

You can switch hazelnuts for pistachios, used other spicies like curry or nutmeg depending on your taste, or switch Porto wine for a different alcohol.

Bacon aside, this is actually quite on the healthy side, served with a mixed green salad, some good mustard and a couple of pickles.


Upside Down Apples and Figues Cake

I go thru life as a clutz, i can stumble on my own two feet on flat ground, i managed to get toothpaste in my eye one time (which is a painfull experience, believe me!) or bump into a furniture for the 10th time, though it hasn't moved in years.

It is no different in my kitchen, even if i know it and try to be carefull, i'm clumsy and that's the way it is. When doing the carrot cake recipe for instance, i ended up grating a bit of my thumb while grating the carrots.

I don't count the cuts and burns anymore, and just try to have band-aid and cream nearby. But there is one burn on my forearm that i remember, although it's a couple of years old: it's my caramel burn. Not only did it really hurt, but it still shows. I guess it's my amateur baker's scar.

Ever since, i really dislike making caramel, but sometimes, we just have to face our fears. Some recipes require the extra carefullness needed, this one is part of it. In the spirit of the "tarte tatin", this cake is done in reverse.
What's good about it is that you can choose the fruits you like, do your own caramel version, aswell as the cake batter that can be a different one if you prefer.

Now i managed to do this one without any injuries, which is quite an achievement! I felt so confident about myself, that i ended up ordering something for my kitchen, that i wanted for a long time: a mandoline. Now this will hopefully be part of the future recipes posted here, but not part of my future injuries.

Upside Down Apples and Figues Cake

For one 35x25cm cake tin

2 Apples
2 Figues
3 Eggs
150gr of Flour
200gr of Sugar
150gr of Butter, room temperatured
2 Teaspoon of Backing Powder
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180°C

Mix all the flour with the backing powder and 100gr of the sugar in a bowl, add the eggs one after the other and whisk them in.
Add 100gr of the butter and if possible, use an electric whisk to combine it well and in the end add the vanilla extract.

In the tray that will go into the oven, give the rest of the sugar (100gr) and of the butter (50gr). Put that on a medium flame to make it into a caramel, stay around it can change very fast. Set aside when it's done.

Cut your apples and figues into slices and place them on the caramel. Spread the cake batter on top of that evenly.
Put into the oven for about 30 minutes, the cake should be golden and you might see the caramel bubbling on the edges.

When you take it out of the oven, i'd advice you to invert on your serving plate immediatly, because if you wait a little too long it will be hard to get it out of the tin.

Serve just like that or with vanilla ice cream for instance.


Wrap 'n' Roll, The Swedish Way

Let me state something: I love IKEA! Everytime i plan a shopping trip to the nearest one in my area, it's like a little holiday, going around in all the fake living rooms and kitchens, seeing what is new.

I come prepared with a list of all i want to get, but once i'm there i'm already starting a new one with all the things i'll have to get, next time around.
The downstairs shopping area specially is a place of doom for anyone who likes to cook: all the pretty plates, the kitchen ustensils, the baking tray...

I know it's not very original, and we all end up having the same stuff at home, so whether that guy is a genius, or there are millions of idiots out there... hmmm... let's not give that too much thoughts ;-)

Now they have a swedish food shop, it's getting even better, i don't need to go to the restaurant, i can take sweden back home. On my last trip i got a dill mustard, and some sort of flat swedish bread that i enjoyed big time, so much i looked for the recipe.

Summer calls for light and cold meals, and i do have a thing for wraps theses days, so after being mexican, let's try to be swedish. I believe those are very nice, the little sweetness and fennel taste they have makes them original, and i believe it goes well with fish.

Tunnbröd: Flat Swedish Bread (base on the recipe from Le Petrin)

For about 10 Flat Breads

50gr of Butter
250ml of Milk
10gr of Fresh Baker Yeast
30gr of Sugar
2 Tablespoon of Honey
1/2 Teaspoon of Yeast
300gr of Flour
75gr of Rye Flour
50gr of Whole-Wheat Flour
1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
1 Tablespoon of Fennel Seeds (optional)

Melt the butter and the milk together, and let i cool down to a tepid tempature before mixing in the fresh yeast.

If you have a standmixer i'd advice you to use it: pour the butter/milk in the bowl of the mixer, and add the ingredients in the same order as listed above. Work it for a good 5 minutes until you have a ball of dough forming.

Cover it and let it rest for 45 minutes.

Separate the dough into same sized balls. Using flour on your working surface, roll them out to the size of the pan you're going to use. Prick the bread with a fork.

Put an anti-adhesive frying pan on a medium flame, when it's hot, place the bread in it, little bubbles will start to appear, and after a minute of so you'll need to turn it around.

Once cooked, you can keep them in an airtight bag, and pop them in the microwave for about 30 seconds to get them soft and warm again.


It's not all about words

I love foreign languages, but i wouldn't want to learn one, just to "learn it". I have a bound or a soft spot for every language i can speak, and all for different reasons. Because learning a language is so much more than rules and grammar, to me it's to embrace a culture, understanding it's references and trying to see things from a different point of view.

One day, in a distant future, i'll hopefully be able to speak portuguese fluently. I hope to loose, what i suppose to be a puzzled look on my face, when people talk to me in Lisbon, because it takes me time to proceed the information first, and then come up with an answer. After what, people tend to speak to me in french or even italian lately, which might be a sign of progress, but i'm not quite sure of that yet.

I will keep on going to classes, dive into my books every now and then, read the paper daily, watch a portuguese cable channel or put on a DVD. And like it did in english at some point, i won't remember any of the rules anymore, things will just start making sense, i will know it's right because it will "sound" right. Granted it took me about 15 years of english to get to this point, i still have a long way to go.

Still, some words just can't be translated properly, like the german "Heimweh" or the french "raison d'être". Portuguese has it's share of it too, the most emblematic one being Saudade. I must have learned it when i first got to Lisbon, trying to understand it's meaning: some kind of nostalgy, a longing for something or someone... It was a bit vague.

But then life kept me away from the city for a while, and i got to really understand what it is. No dictionnary can teach you that feeling. Even if i don't have a drop of portuguese blood in my veins, i feel like one everytime i leave Lisbon.
Saudade gets me as soon as the plane takes off from the ground and the city gets out of sight. The only cure to it i found so far, is to keep coming back.

And in the meantime, i give myself sweet "portuguese fix" in the form of desserts. This one is very old, so old that its name is written differently and nobody can tell what's the real one. It's a Sericá or Sericaia, or Cericá or even Cericaia... It's apparently served with prunes for some, and not for others...
It's hard to define too, it's not a cake, also not a soufflé, but something in between, very airy. Which ever you want to name it, it's good. That's the whole point!

Sericá (from "Doce Vida" by Luís Baena)

For one "cake"

6 Eggs
125gr of Flour
1/2 liter of Milk
250gr Sugar
1 Stick of Cinnamon
2 Tablespoon of Grounded Cinnamon
The Zest of One Lemon

In a pan off the flame, mix the egg yolk with the sugar, add the flour and combine well.

Heat the milk up with the lemon zest and the cinnamon stick. When it comes to a boil, pour it in the egg sugar mixture while whisking it constantly. When it's not too hot, remove the cinnamon stick.

Put that on a low flame, and keep mixing, it needs to get a creamy consistency. When it's done take it off the flame.

Preheat your oven to 180°C

Now beat the egg whites to a medium stiff peak, and add them carefully to the creamy egg yolk mixture.

Pour that into a clay or ceramic dish that you have buttered and floured, and powder the cake with the grounded cinnamon.

Put in into the oven for about 30 minutes. Like a soufflé it will rise and fall back a little when you take it out of the oven, it will have cracks, that's when it's done.

When it's cooled, you can serve it just like that, but it does go when with fresh fruits or marmelade for instance.


An Unexpected Muffin

Should we judge a book by it's cover? The rational answer to this question has to be no. But literally, when i go to a library, i tend to pick up the books where the cover is appealing, or where the title sounds interesting to me.

This is even more true with cookbooks. A clear theme, a nice picture on it and i will browse thru the pages, sometimes for a very big dissapointment. I do prefer my cookbooks with pictures, but if the pictures takes up more space than the recipe, than i'm suspicious too... I know, i'm a picky girl :-)

Most of the time, the best surprises come from a book you didn't expect to like at first sight. Discovering thru the pages original recipes, or a coherent point of view, something with a "soul" instead of a serie of unrelated recipes put together.

So now i also pick out books randomly on the shelves, to see what's behind that cover. Just like i would expect people to behave with me in real life, not the picking me up on shelves part ;) but not judging me by my "cover".

All this rambling to bring us to a muffin, but maybe not what you expected from a muffin, specially coming out of my oven: it's not sweet but savory, it's pretty healthy and never the less very tasty. It's not what it seems to be, and that is also what's interesting about it .

Muffins with Courgettes and Goat Cheese

For 8 muffins

1 Big Courgette or 2 Medium Ones
100gr of Goat Cheese (preferably a fresh one)
50gr of Emmental or Gruyère Cheese, grated
100gr of Flour
2 Eggs
4 Tablespoon of Milk
1 Teaspoon of Baking Powder
2 Tablespoon of Oil (a neutral one, like sunflower)
1 Lemon, zested and 1 Tablespoon of Juice
1 Teaspoon of Cumin
Salt, Pepper

Preheat your oven to 180°C

Wash your courgette, keep its skin on and grate it, but not too small. Before using them in the recipe, press them between your hands, to take the excess water out of them.

In one bowl, mix the flour and the baking powder.

In a bigger bowl, beat the 2 eggs with the milk and the oil. Add the lemon zest, the cumin, salt and pepper.

Now add carefully the flour and baking powder mix. When it's roughly combined, add the courgettes and the Gruyère cheese. Break the goat cheese in little chunks, add them to the mixture, but keep a few bits for after. Finish with the tablespoon of lemon juice.

Grease your muffin tray or use little paper cups, feel them to about 3/4 of the height and sprinkle a bit of goat cheese on top.

Place in the oven for about 30 minutes, they should be a golden color or use a toothpick to check if they're cooked.

Courgettes don't have a strong taste, that's why they go well together with goat cheese, but you could substitute it with smoked salmon for instance, it works very well too.