Category Archives: alternatives

luxurious finger food (well, that you eat with your fingers)

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This recipe will demand some time to make but none of the step are complicated. You can prepare everything in advance and put everything together at the last minutes. If you do so, the avocado cream has to be covered with film  and you shoulf put the avocado stone in the cream until it’s time to serve. The stone is helping to keep the green colour. If you like fishy flavor, you can add a few salmon eggs on top.  The base will inflate while cooking but, like a soufflé, it will come down while it cools. Which is good as it leaves a little place to put the filling! Don’t over cook the base as it will be too dry and not as good wether for the texture or the taste.

Soft nibbles, avocado cream, grapefruit and fresh herbs 

For the base :

2 egg yolk + 2 whole eggs

salt and pepper

1 tsp of grounded cumin

100ml of sour cream

40g of grated parmesan

1 tbsp of freshly minced dill

To garnish :

2 pink grapefruit

1 avocado

1 tsp of minced mint

1 tsp of minced dill

a few very small leaves of mint

a few leaves of dill

some Espelette pepper

  • Turn on the oven at 180°C.
  • To make the base: Beat the eggs and the yolks, salt and pepper. Add the cumin, the sour cream, the grated parmesan, and the dill. Mix until it’s smooth. Cook a little tsp of the mix on a pan so you can taste and rectify the seasoning if necessary.
  • Pour the mix onto silicone mould (diameter of about 4 cm) and cook in the oven for 10 minutes without over cooking.
  • Leave the base to cool on a rack.
  • Press one of the pink grapefruit and mix part of this juice with the avocado. You should get a soft cream that holds. It shouldn’t “melt”. It’s better to have a too thick cream in which you can add more juice than the opposite (unless you have more avocado to rectify!). Add salt and the Espelette pepper to taste.
  • Peel the other grapefruit to get into the meat. Separate the segments and cut them in triangles.
  • On each base, place a small spoon of the avocado cream, a grapefruit triangle, a bit of Espelette pepper, a small mint leave and one of dill.
  • Serve and enjoy!

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fresh and crunchy raw vegetables for all next semester!

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When I think about it salad doesn’t appeal to me. I imagine somme watery and old lettuce or unrecognisable veggie under tons of mayonnaise. Of course nothing compares to a freshly picked lettuce with some great seasoning; not what you find in supermarkets! I’m more tempted by raw vegetables that would be crunchy and fresh. It always satisfy my appetite.

Today, two examples very simple to make and delicious right now that the days are beginning to shorten, the evening are becoming chilly and nights and mornings are getting cold.

But I’m not yet ready to dive into auutumn just yet, so to accompany a bowl of miso soup, a plate of steamy risotto or a slice of very good bread with a bit of salty butter, I choose those two ideas.

The first one is inspired by a friend from Chili. She makes it with white cabbage, lime and fresh coriander. Here is my version with what I had on hand!

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Press 1 pink grapefruit and keep the meat that detaches from it (although try to leave the little inside skin away) and press 2 lemons . Thinly cut 1 pointed cabbage, either with a mandoline (vegetable slicer) or a very good knife. Cut 2 avocados in half, take the pit out and peel the fruits as you would oranges. Cut the avocados in thin slices then in chunks.

In a salad bowl, put the grapefruit meat, the avocados, then pour a generous amount of the citrus juice. Add the cabbage, a bit of olive oil and some salt. Mix delicately.

It’s delicious with grilled meat on a BBQ, slow cooked fish, hot tofu… For the version from Chili, use lime instead of lemon and grapefruit and add minced fresh coriander.

The second recipe:

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I recieved about 2 kilos of beetroot from generous friends who have a very beautiful garden. Beetroot seem to have enjoy the summer weather, so there are a LOT af it! I need to find ways to cook them that won’t bore the family after two meals. I prefer raw beetroot as the cooked version (except in a red velvet chocolatey cake) as I find it less earthy and more sugary. besides I love the crunchy feel of beets under my teeth.

With a mandoline (vegetable slicer), I make very thin and supple slices of beetroot. I sesaon it simply:                                         2-3 tbsp of olive oil                                                                                                                                                                     1 tbsp of apple vinegar                                                                                                                                                               a dozen roughly minced hazelnut                                                                                                                                                some salt 

Yesterday that salad accompanied some patties made with tuna, goat cheese and oat flakes. It’s great with a piece of cheese like Comté or with quinoa mixed with fresh herbs such as young spinach, parsley and chervil. You can replace half the olive oil with hazelnut oil.

May those two easy recipes accompany you through autumn and winter!

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Spring rolls

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SPRING ROLLS WITH CUCUMBER

This fresh recipe is also crunchy and full of layers of flavors that awakens the taste buds. You can change it to make it a salad. 

The sauce works on steamed vegetables, slow cooked poultry, white fish or silken tofu… You can prepare a lot of the sauce and keep it in the fridge for a few days. Take those rolls for a pic-nic or lunch but wrap them separately so they don’t stick together and stay humid. 

For 12

Sauce & marinade :

150ml soy sauce

120ml lemon juice

4 tbsp fresh peeled and grated ginger

1 peeled, minced garlic clove

1 deseeded Thaï red pepper, thinly minced (use gloves while working with hot peppers)

2 tsp of sugar

freshly ground pepper

  • Put everything in a bowl, mix well and put aside.

The rolls :

2 cucumbers, peeled to makes stripes, deseeded and cut in thin julienne

1 avocado cut in thin stripes

1 carrot, peeled and cut in julienne about  7,5 to 10cm long

1 red pepper, deseeded and cut in thin stripes

200g thin rice noodles (prepared as said on the package)

1 dozen fresh coriander branches, minced

2 tbsp of sesame oil

12 rice paper sheets

  • First marinate the cucumber. Prepare all the other ingredients then sieve the cucumber but keep the sauce for service.
  • Put the rice sheets, one by one, in warm (but not hot) water so it softens.
  • Garnish the soften sheets with the noodles, then with a little of each ingredients. Roll, folowing the instructions on the rice paper package.

Garnish :

1 small handful of grilled and salted peanuts, coarsely minced

To serve:

  • Cut each roll in two, put on a plate, pour some sauce and sprinkle with the peanuts.
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This is a recipe that makes me travel. I also forget the weather, if it’s a bit too warm to be comfortable or a bit cold for the season. There is some sweetness, some acidity, some salt, a bit of umami. It’s quite balanced and the meat eater won’t miss the meat here although you can add some chicken or shrimp in each roll. Actually, I find it more whole when prepared this way. I guess I could add some crunchy onions but I don’t really miss it here.

I think spring rolls are a great way to eat lots of veggie and to adapt to each season although you might want to change the name then!

What is your favorite spring roll recipe?

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eggs and breakfast

Sometimes, simplicity is all that the body and mind are asking for. When it’s cold and I have to get away from a warm and comfy bed, my taste buds are asking for something warm and comfy!

Like everybody else, I don’t have hours ahead of me in the morning.

 I love a simple egg with some melted cheddar cheese, espelette hot red pepper, sprouts and fresh basil.

It’s quick and nourishing. It’s filling and the colours are helping to start the day!

So it’s not always necessary to spen hours in the kitchen in order to eat well and you don’t need a cupboard or a fridge full of fancy stuffs.

Sometimes I skip the cheese and the green but the only thing I can’t do without is the espelette red hot pepper.

It comes from some part of France (pays Basque in the South East near Spain) and for me it’s like a magic powder that brings some depth to a simple meal.

Try it next time you taste like the sauce is missing something. Often, it’s either a few drops of lemon juice or a pinch of red hot pepper. It’s a light red pepper, not too hot but subtle in flavor. But if you like it spicy, don’t hesitate to use another one!

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vegetables stew with lentils, coriander and spices

 

This a nourishing meal, easy to prepare un advance. Rich in vitamins and minerals, it can be adapted to all seasons…

I like my vegetable cooked al dente but you can leave it to cook longer, until melted.

Cover 1/2 a cup of green lentils in water and leave to rest overnight. The next morning, drain and rince well. Leave in a colander over a bowl. Before preparing your meal, rince well again and cook in a steamer, covered in water for about 25 minutes.

This way you get sprouted lentils which are easier to digest in richer in many good nutrients. 

Once cooked, drain the lentils if necessary.

 1 tbsp of coconut oil or olive oil

1 peeled and minced onion

2 peeled and minced garlic cloves

2 tbsp of minced fresh ginger

1/2 tsp of strong paprika or mild chili flakes

1 tsp of grounded fennel seeds

tsp of grounded coriander seeds

1 tsp og grounded cumin

1/2 washed brocoli cut into florets

2 washed, peeled and diced carrots

1 small fennel, washed and minced

1 small zucchini, washed and cut in thick dices

2 cans of tomatoes

1 bouquet de coriandre fraîche lavée et émincée

Heat the oil in a cast iron pan or in a wok. Add the onion and the garlic. Once melted, add the spices (cumin, coriander, fennel seeds and paprika) and the ginger. When you can smell the spices, add the brocoli, the carrots, the fennel and the zucchini. Cook over warm heat for about 5 minutes then add the tomatoes and the lentils. Leave to cook 5 to 10 more minutes.

Salt in the end.

Serve with the fresh coriandre.

For a more whole meal, serve with a bowl of steamed rice. 

Adapt the vegetables to the season (replace zucchini for squash, use fresh tomatoes…). Vary the spices, the fresh herb, replace the lentils for garbanzo beans or quinoa…

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chestnut financiers

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What to do with egg white when you make cannelés or crème brûlée? Here is a great idea that everyone will enjoy!
I love financiers!
It’s soft and delicious especially when you take time to brown the butter as it should be!
It’s easy to make and to take for a pic nic if you can resist eating them all at once!

For this recipe, I chose a mix of almond and chestnut but you can make it 100% almond or replace the chestnut by pistachio.
Because I’m crazy about matcha green tea, I can’t resist adding a spoon of the emerald powder to the mix when it’s all almond.

I use whole sugar as it has a caramel like taste that goes really well with chestnut.

140g of salted butter
3 eggs’ whites
100g whole sugar
60g powdered almonds
20g powdered chestnuts
50g flour

Turn the oven on at 160°C.
You can mix whole chestnuts and almonds in a blender if you can’t find grounded nuts.
Melt the butter in a pan until golden brown (beurre noisette pr chestnut butter!)
Leave to cool a little.
Grill the chestnut powder at 160°C for 10 minutes. Leave to cool and turn the oven up at 220°C.
Mix the flour + sugar + almond and chestnut powders.
Add the whites while whisking.
Add the butter also while whisking.
When the mix is smooth, pour into financier molds (about 8 mm deep rectangles)and cook in the oven for 7-8 minutes. Leave to cook on a cooling rack.

You can replace the flour by the same amount of almond powder. It works really well and suits the gluten sensitive while everyone can enjoy it.
If you want to avoid lactose, you can replace the butter with the coconut oil. You can’t brown the coconut oil so it’s important to use the whole sugar.
I choose rapadura or muscovado or any whole sugar.
Sometimes this sugar is a bit “thick” so you can mix it to get a finer sugar.

One bite, hold by the finger tips, to eat with tea, coffee or hot chocolate. A golden bite like gold!

  • steamed matcha cake

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     I do love green tea and I’m always ready to try dessert recipes containing matcha powder (matcha green tea is use in Japanese Tea ceremony).  This tea works beautifully with white chocolate and almond but this recipe makes steamed cake called Mushipan in Japan.

     As I used whole sugar (I feel less guilty eating sweets made with whole sugar!), my cakes have kind of a look from the seventies!

    But it’s delicious!

    You  have to eat them the day you made them as they won’t be as good when they dry out.

    It(s very good with sweet azukis purée but as it takes time to cook, I skipped it this time around.DSC00214b

    For 6

    125g flour

    3 tsp matcha tea powder

    2 tsp baking powder

    1 egg lightly beaten

    100 ml raw milk

    4 tbsp rapadura, muscovado or whole cane sugar

    4 tbsp of olive oil (choose a fruity one)

     Line 6 round tin with papercups of use cupcake silicone mould.

    Preheat your steamer (or the pan on which you’ll add you steam basket). The water has to be really hot when you add the cakes in the basket.

     

    In a bowl, mix the flour, the matcha tea, the baking  powder and a pinch of salt.

    In another bowl, whisk the egg with the milk, the sugar and the olive oil.

    Mix the dry ingredients with the wet ones but don’t overwork the dough.

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    Divide the dough into the 6 papercups and put the tins in the basket of your steamer. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes.

    Check if it’s done with a skewer or a knife. The blade has to come out clean. 

    Take the tin out and leave to cool for about 10 minutes before you eat it.

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    You can replace wheat flour with rice flour or almond meal.

    You can replace cow milk with any vegan one but I love coconut and rice.

     It’s not possible to make green tea powder at home but for another tea cake, you can infuse green tea leaves in the milk warmed at 60°C for 10 minutes. Filter the milk before using.

     

    savory butternut pie

    Even if winter is weird here this year and that some trees are burgeoning, we should try to stick to seasonal food and use colorful squash!

    My favorites are the ones I don’t have to peel like butternut and potimarron. But you could use any squash to make this recipe if you have some from your garden or from a generous neighbour.

     This pie can be eaten warm, thawed or cold. It could be made as a sweet pie like a pumpkin pie but it’s another chapter! You can use any non-animal milk and any spices you fancy. I was going towards India with coconut milk and coriander seeds.

     You could serve this pie with some winter salad like endives. The bitterness of the salad will balance greatly the sweetness of the pie.

     Even though I gave you my pie dough recipe at least a thousand times, here is one of the many version I use and that I would eat even with nothing on it!

     162g of butter in thin slices

    500g of flour (I used T110 semi-whole grain but it would be great with whole grain or even with a gluten free flour like buckwheat)

    salt

    175ml of water

     Preheat the oven at 180°C.

    Work the butter with the salt and the flour until sandy (use a pastry blender if you have one). Add the water and mix until the dough doesn’t stick to the bowl anymore. Make a ball.

    Put some flour on your tabletop and roll the dough to a few mm.

    Line a pie tin with parchment paper then add the rolled dough. Prick it with a fork, cover with parchment paper and cooking pastry marbles or beans.

    Put in the oven and cook for 10 minutes. take the marbles/beans and the paper away and cook 5 more minutes.

     Wash and cut the butternut in half, take the seed away and cut in cubes.

    Cook in a steamer for 25 to 30 minutes until completely soft.

    I use a blender to mix the butternut with 5 eggs, salt, coriander seeds (about 1 teaspoon) and 400ml of coconut milk (1 can).

    With the use of coriander seeds, you get some bites that are more subtle other that are stronger in coriander taste. If you want something more consistent trough the whole tasting, mix the coriander seeds before adding it to the butternut.

     Pour the mixture in the cooked pie dough and cook in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes until the custard is completely set.

     As said, enjoy warm, thawed or cold!

     

    Tapioca pearls

    Hello everyone!

    I’ve been resting at home with a strict diet (last trimester of pregnancy) so I read more cookbooks then made recipes although I fond simple and easy meals to make compatible with the said diet.

    As I had to rest and as standing up became harder, I had to find ways to cook quickly. I had fun but I was often frustrated not to be able to do more. Tha’s why I’ve been away for so long! And also because my had is elsewhere, I can’t help it!

    I did test an ingredient that was in my cupboard for some time. I had read about it but never found the time to make anything with it. Until my mother-in-law came back with an easy recipe and praise about the thing.

    I had all the ingredients needed to make an easy dessert. And a way to use those tapioca pearls, at last! Tapioca pearls can also be called Japanese’s pearls. It’s really pretty! Uncooked, the pearl are very small and white. It looks a bit like some washing powder but a bit larger. When there are in contact with water and heat, it becomes translucent and bigger. It doesn’t taste much but it give a good texture to the cream made with it and it’s filling (so you can also serve it in the middle of the afternoon if supper will be late!).

    Some people use it to thicken soup when there’s no time for a real meal (or when our great-grand-mothers wanted everyone to feel full and they hadn’t much else to fill everyone’s stomach).

    And the great thing about it it’s that it suits every diet (vegan or not, gluten-free or not, lactose-free or not…)!

    Here is the easy and delicious way to use tapioca pearls:

    Coco and pineapple tapioca cream for 4: 

    60g of tapioca pearls

    30cl water

    30g rapadura or muscovado sugar (unrefine sugar)

    25cl coconut cream or milk

    1 pinch of salt

    4 unsweetened pineapple slices with the juice

     Rince the tapioca pearl in a sieve and leave to rest for 5 minutes in the said sieve. 

    Bring the water to boil and add the pearls. As soon as it boils again, add sugar and salt. Lower the heat, mix and leave to cook for 5 minutes.

    Then, add the coconut milk or cream, mix and wait for the next boiling bubble. 

    Cover and leave to cool for an hour. Pour into individual bowls and leave in the fridge arount 45 to 60 minutes.

     Mix the pineapple to get a thick coulis, add the juice as you like it. Serve over the pearls just before eating! 

     If you prepare it the day before, you’ll need to add more liquid as it tends to thickens with time.

     As said before, it is a filling dessert so serve it after a light meal.

    It works really well with any vegan milk (almond, coco+rice, chestnut…) and with any other fruit especially the tangy type like citrus, mango and raspberries. 

     

     

    a summer’s menu

    It has been a while that I didn’t share my cooking trials. Don’t worry, I haven’t stop cooking! But time flew by without me noticing!

    So to get your taste buds excited again, here is a seasonal menu (here, we’ve welcomed summer with open arms; too much rain gets on everyone’s temper!).

    Of course, nothing’s better than a meal shared with good company, a light wind to cool down the atmosphere when the sun goes down, some fireflies to reflect the stars when it’s time for dessert…

    For the amuse-bouche, I made maki sushi with mango and cod liver, served with wasabi and tamari.

    I don’t say that the sushi contain cod liver as some had the terrible experience to have to drink cod liver oil to prevent any winter diseases (I was one of them!). But even those with this memory love these sushi!

    Then I served tomato and espelette hot pepper custard.

    To serve really cold!

     For me, the tomato lover, this custard is perfect! 

    Here is the recipe:

    Mix 100g of tomato purée with 40 to 50g of tomato paste. Add 1/4 tsp of baking soda if some are sensitive to tomato’s acidity.

    Add 2 eggs, 5 tbsp of milk (I chose rice milk but do as you like), a good 1 tbsp of espelette hot pepper, salt and minced fresh basil.

    Pour into container and cook at 200°C for 10 minutes.

    Well if you make bigger portion then me, adjust the time!

    Leave to cool then place in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

    To accompany the rest of the meal, I made my classic bread cooked in a cast iron pot but I added a goof quantity of butter (coconut will work greatly). As the pot was a bit too big, the bread spread and we had a great golden crust. It reminded me of the ciabatta we used to buy by my grand-father’s place but I’m sure they used olive oil instead of butter!

    The first course was a tatin pie with caramelized tomatoes and eggplants, served with fresh cheese mixed with honey and thyme. The crust contained parmesan.

    The eggplants are ready to be caramelized!

    And the result:

    The second course was a mix of France and Japan. I make it often with salmon but this time I used colley. Cooked at low temperature, covered with white miso and sake, I served the fish on top of rice paper rolls, minced snow peas and I poured some homemade dashi kombu broth on top then sprinkle the plate with basil, fresh chives onions, and some espelette hot pepper.

    Eat it with a fork, grabing the fish with the dashi broth. The white miso will mix with the dashi and the combination will be delicious.

    For dessert: the acidity of mango and passion fruit cur, the freshness of mint cream and… 

     … the crustiness of coconut sablés!

    Serve bubbles for the starters, some fresh white French wine (Loire or Languedoc) for the courses and coffe, tea or infusion with the dessert.

    It had been a while sinds I last made such a meal but I had great fun!

    I hope you have a delicious and fragrant summer!