Monthly Archives: September 2012

the flavour thesaurus: a book to have on your night table

I guess you know how a thesaurus works. 

You transform words into ideas and ideas into words, you find the exact expression of what you want to say, you explore words attached to an idea…

For those who love to write and/or read, a thesaurus is a great tool in which you can easily lose yourself as one word leads to an idea that leads to some many other words and so on. It’s hard to stop!

“The Flavour Thesaurus”, edited at Bloomsbury, is based on the same principle. Flavours are divided into categories: roasted, meaty, cheesy, earthy, … There are 16 categories, each made of several ingredients. Each ingredient is introduced then combined with other ingredients, associations described, commented, eventualy illustrated with recipes… The author, Niki Segnit, has a great way to take you inside her book. It’s fun and easy to read as well as insightful and smart. You could read the book from start to finish without pain!

This book is inspiring for whomever likes to cook and it’s one where to return often to open our cooking and flavouring worlds!

Leave it on your bedtime table and dive into it here and then. You’ll surely dream about a great combination to try the next day!

 

Here is an example of a small journey inside the book:

1st category : roasted

1st ingredient : chocolate

Niki Segnit proposes, among others, the next associations (her comment are her own and we don’t discuss taste!): apricot, almond, ananas, aniseed, avocado, banana, beetroot, black pudding, peanut, coffee, cinnamon, cardamom… 

So now, I’m going to see what she has to offer for cardamom found in the citrus section and associated with: vanilla, saffron, rose, pear, coconut, mango, lard (bacon), coriander seeds, ginger, carrot…

And so on until you’re so hungry you have to make something, anything, to bite, to devour, to taste!

This is a book to have, to give, to go back to often!

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a good brioche

 

 I don’t know why but I’ve been a bit obsessed with brioche. I always wanted to try and I never did until yesterday… I received a French book called “un croissant à Paris” written by Keda Black and edited by Marabout. What I like about this book is that the pictures are great but the result look like something I can make at home and not like the too beautiful result of a well trained and well equipped professional! 

 

Brioche does smell great to cook and once made. It’s not hard to make (a bit like bread but with more ingredients).

So here is Keda Black’s recipe (although I didn’t use as much salt as her – 1 tbsp seems too much to me).

 500g flour (I use semi-whole wheat)

1 tsp of salt 

2 tbsp sugar

5 eggs

25 ml luke warm milk

15g fresh yeast 

250g butter

Cut the butter in small pieces.

Mix the yeast in the luke warm milk.

Mix the flour with the salt and the sugar. In the middle of the flour, add the milk and the egg.

Start kneading and add the butter little by little.

Knead for 8 minutes if by hand or 3 minutes if using a stand-mixer.

Leave to rest for 2 hours covered in plastic wrap.

Spread butter on a brioche mould (or any other mould), pour the dough in, brush the top with some beaten egg, and leave to rest for 2 more hours.

 

Heat the oven at 190°C and brush some more beaten egg on top of the brioche then cook for about 45 to 50 minutes. To be sure the brioche is cook, prick a knife inside: if the blade is greasy but neat, it’s cooked. If the dough sticks to the blade, it’s not!

Leave to cool on a cooling rack and eat with

-just some great farm butter

-a zesty jam like raspberry or blackcurrant

-some goose rillettes

-a few mashed sardines with chervil

>The result ? the recipe is easy to follow and the brioche was really convincing!

 

 Here’s the book, in case you understand French:

little buns with flakes and hazelnut

You can decline bread as much as you’d like… As I had some flakes left in my cupboards, just before the “best before” date, I decided to add it to my dough. I was convince by the result.

While I was kneading the dough, I was eating hazelnut and I decided to add what was left over in the little bag to the dough as well. Second good idea!

100g of flakes (I mixed quinoa and buckwheat flakes)

400g semi-whole organic flour 

6g sea salt flakes 

300ml luke warm water 

1 bag of dry yeast(11g)

1 handfull of hazelnuts 

 Dilute the yeast in the luke warm water.

Mix the flakes with the flour and the salt.

Add the liquid to the flour and knead until the dough comes easily of the bowl. The dough should be supple and elastic. Add the hazelnuts and keep kneading to incorporate them. Form a nice ball and cover with a wet towel. leave to rest for about 2 hours or even overnight.

Knead the dough again and form small balls. Make an incision on each bun and powder with a small amount of flour. 

I put the dough on a cast iron skillet and covered it with an upside-down cast iron pot (I don’t have a pot big enough for 6 small buns!).

Put in the cold oven and turn the temperature to 240°C.

Leave to cook for 40 minutes at the bottom of the oven.

For the last 5 minutes, take the lid off and spread a little water on each bun. Place them in the top part of the oven so it goldens them.

Leave them to cool on a cooling rack then enjoy with some great farm butter!

The crust is crusty (lucky me!), the hazelnut are hidden in the dough and make a great tasty surprise, the falkes add depth to the taste of those buns. And I can’t get enough of the cooking smell!

 I think it’s soothing to make my own bread, to feel the dough form under my fingers, to develop the elasticity of the dough, to wait for it to rest, and to discover the cooked buns, everytime a little different then previously. I like to “knock”on the bread to hear the hollowed noise and to feel the crust.

Nothing is as simple as bread where the list of ingredients are concerned and yet… Bread making needs experience.

To eat it I wait for the bread to cool a little and I feel nourished by it. Nothing like the boring breaqd from supermarkets or even from some bakers.

And did I mention the great smell ?!

curried shrimp with salad and fruits

This dish (could be first or main course) is full of flavours and can quickly be made if all the ingredients are ready.

You can adapt it to all season, choosing seasonal fruits and salad.

Be careful not to overcook the shrimp or it’ll be dry and sandy. The shrimp should be translucent and firm to the teeth. 

INGREDIENTS:

Flavored oil for the marinade:

-125 ml olive oil

-1/2 vanilla pod

-1 organic lemon, washed 

-about 20 shrimps

-some curry (either a homemade mix or a great quality powder curry – hot or not depending of your taste)

Salad:

-young leaves (salad, spinach,…) washed or any seasonal leaves 

-3 tbsp olive oil

-1 lemon juice

-sea salt flakes

-freshly grounded black pepper

Marinated fruits:

-seasonal fruits, washed: nectarine, peaches, pears, apples, mango…

-1/2 vanilla pod

-2 washed organic lemon

-3 cm fresh washed ginger

PREP:

Fruits:

With a fine grater, grate the zest then juice the lemons. Pour in a bowl (a container with a lid would be perfect). Add the ginger roughly minced and the half grated vanilla pod (pod and grains).

Slice the fruits (no need to peel them on if they’re organic). Add them to the bowl/container and add water to cover.

Leave to marinate in the fridge for a night, a day or, at least, 2 hours.

Marinade:

Grate the vanilla pod and put the grains and the grated pod in the olive oil. Thinly grate the lemon zest and add to the oil.

Skin the shrimp, rinse and drain them then add to the oil. Leave to marinade for at least 30 minutes.

Vinaigrette:

Mix the lemon juice with sea salt flakes, pepper and olive oil.

Cooking and dressing:

Drain the shrimp.

Heat a pan with some olive oil. Cook the shrimp with a bit of curry powder. Don’t overcook!

Mix the salad with the vinaigrette and put a handful on each plate. Add the some drained fruits then the shrimp and serve right away.

NOTES:

You can prepare more flavored oil as it keeps for a dozen days. Use it on fish (steamed or in papillote), with fruits for desserts, in a cake dough or as a bas to a vinaigrette…

You can use dry vanilla pod from a previous recipe (be sure it still full of flavors).

You can add a more covering curry sauce made with coconut milk and curry paste but I don’t think it’s necessary as long as the ingredients are of great quality!