Category Archives: cookbook

Farewell 2012: my pick of cookbooks

First of all, I wish you a delicious new year with great, sustainable ingredients, fabulous ideas, great inspirations… speaking of which, as I find a lot of mine in various cookbooks, here are some I loved in 2012.

It’s a bit conventional to make this kind of recap, it’s very personal and subjectives but I love it (and dive back into the books, drooling at the recipes and pictures).

I chose those books because they’re beautiful in many ways: the design, the pictures, the writing, the recipes… I almost smell each plate by looking at them.

The order of presentation doesn’t matter. I couldn’t pick a favorite anyway!

So here it goes:

“Bouchon Bakery” T. Keller & S. Rouxel (Workman)

The techniques are well explained and you’ll need it to get to most of those recipes. Especially if you want to obtain the same result. What I love about this book is that it pushes you to go further, to get better. It’s motivating. It’s not easy but the result is worth every effort.

Although, if you’re already a cook and know a bit of pastry, you should get around many recipes. 

I can smell the butter cooking and mixing with the sugar. I can feel the crackling of the biscuits under my teeth…


“Japanese Farm Food” Nancy Singleton Hachisu (Andrews Mc Neel)

I guess that finding a book on Japanese cuisine is not a surprise as I really love it. I think Japanese food is not only tasteful, is delicate and healthy. This book is not only a cookbook. It’s the story of the writer who travel the world before marrying a Japanese and staying there. You discover a country to her eyes and her taste buds.

I only wish I could go there myself!

“Jerusalem – a cookbook” Y. Ottolenghi & S. Tamimi

The pictures are saturated in delicious colors, the recipes are easy and delicious, the text is interesting and personal… But what is really inspiring, is the cultural presentation of a country through food and the hope that those food traditions could make people come together instead of fighting each other. 


“What Katie ate” Katie Quinn Davies (Studio)

I liked this book because of it’s paper and layout. It is a joy to get through each page. But Katie can write and cook as well as taking pictures (so many talents!). Those are everyday recipes, easy to follow with available ingredients and it’s possible to get the same result at home without too much effort or fuss. 

“Rockpool” Neil Perry (New Holland)

I don’t know how I discovered Neil Perry. I have almost all his books and I’m happy with all of them! This one is a bit different then the previous one as it is more refine food, restaurant like. The only problem is I live in Belgium and can’t get the same ingredients used. Anyway, I still am inspired by the recipes and I love the tone used in the text. I’m a big fan of Mr Perry… Maybe some day, I’ll stop by one of his restaurant (on my way to Japan, maybe…!).

He has a new one coming in February or March and I’m already waiting for it!


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!

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:

lamb and eggplant crumble


 This recipe is inspired vy a new cookbook I got recently: La Tartine Gourmande. I will write about this book later, but first: the recipe! The quantities are for 8.

For the crumble:

170g flour of your choice (wheat, buckwheat, chestnut)

1 tsp caraway freshly grounded

80g walnuts

60g hazelnuts

20g pumpkin seeds

2 tbsp minced flat leaf parsley 

60g grated goat or sheep’s cheese

salt, pepper

170g butter or coconut oil at room temperature

Tchop the walnuts, hazelnuts and pumpkin seeds.



Mix all the crumble ingredients with your fingers or a pastry blender to get a sandy mix. Refrigerate.

The lamb and the aubergines / eggplants:

800g minced lamb (it works with beef, poultry, veal or pork but lamb has a special taste that comes greatly in this dish)

1 small minced peeled onion

2 stick of celeri, minced

2 tsp of reshly grounded caraway

2 garlic cloves peeled and minced

2 cans of tomatoes (cubes)

1 small can of tomato paste (about 3 tbsp)

4 eggplant, cleaned and cut in dices

10 minced sage leaves 

salt, pepper

Turn on the oven at 200°C.

Heat a little olive oil in a sauté pan on medium heat.

Cook the onion, the celeri and the caraway for about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, leave to melt for 2 minutes while mixing.

Add the grounded lamb and let it brown for about 5 minutes while turning so it’s not too chunky.

Add the tomatoes (cubes and paste) and leave on high heat for 3 minutes. Add the aubergines and the sage, lower the heat and leave to simmer 30 to 35 minutes.

Salt, pepper, taste.

Oil an oven-proof dish and pour the meat mix in then add the crumble on top.

 Cook in the oven for twenty minutes until the crumble is golden.

 Serve with a salad: young leaves mix + thinly sliced radishes + cherry tomatoes cut in half and this vinaigrette:

1 tsp mustard

1 tsp frehly ground caraway

1/2 garlic clove (peeled and crushed)

2 tbsp of vinegar

olive oil

Mix all of it except the oil that you’ll pour a little at a time while whisking.

This meal is great as you can prepare it in advance. you could even freeze it. It’s so delicious, it’s really comforting.

The book “La Tartine Gourmande” is written by a blogger: Béatrice Peltre. Béatrice is French but she lives in the US and wrote the book and the blog and English. She’s also the photographer.

I tested several of her recipes and there are still a lot that are waiting for some time to get tested!

The pictures, as the recipes, are very fresh.

I think anyone who loves cooking should have this book!

But you can start by visiting Béatrice’s blog:

sushi triangle to change

This is a recipe from a little French cookbook called “the gluten-free recipe bible”. I was attracted by the picture and I thought it would be interesting to eat sushi another way.

You need:

400g cooked sushi rice seasoned with mirin (rice vinegar)

4 nori sheets

100g smoked salmon (you can skip it if you’re vegan – but use the beetroot if you want taste!)

50g thin slices of cucumber (I chose beetroot as cucumber are not in season)

tamari (which is a gluten free soy sauce!)



Spread 1/4 of rice on a nori sheet

Cover with 2 slices of salmon (or not) then with the sliced beetroot.

You get a very good looking square that you could frame!


Cover another nori sheet with rice, and put it on the beetroot (rice side down) and press.

Do it once more with the remaining ingredients.

Cut in triangles.


 Or cut in squares. 

 The beetroot looks great in the composition! 

 Serve with tamari and wasabi. If you have preserved ginger, don’t hesitate to use some! 

 So, how was it ? It’s hard to cut and it is hard to eat… I’d rather stick with rolled sushi!

In that case, cut the beetroot in thin stripes.

In the next picture, in case you haven’t seen, it’s not salmon. I used cured cod in vodka and beetroot juice and that recipe should follow!

The taste of the beetroot is great in the sushi and it does look good too! 

20-minute meals

Here is, again, an appetizing book published by Octopus publishing.

It offers 200 recipes and its alternatives so you could eat different dishes for almost everyday of the year! 

The picture of the cover is in French but the title in English is “200 Twenty-Minutes Meals”.

Lots of recipes can be taken cold as a lunch like those recipes: rice with tomato, chickpea with chorizo, stir-fried rice with  spinach, or the express calzone. 

Recipes are inspired by all type of cuisine, from around the world so there is a bit of everything for everyone!

There are all easy to make and, as the title says, there are quick to make!

I tested the duck with honey sauce recipe. It’s ready in 20 minutes or even less.

The sauce is so good we could have drink it!

If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you can still make the sauce and serve it with steamed vegetables or marinate tofu in it a whole night. Of course you can use agave syrup instead of honey.

For 4 persons, you need:

2 duck magrets 

3 tbsp of honey

150ml de vin blancwhite wine

75ml of lime jiuce

100ml chicken or vegetable stock 

1 tbsp of minced ginger 

1/2 tsp of arrow root 

1 tbsp of water

salt, pepper

Turn on the oven at 200°C.

Cut the grease of each magret, season with salt and pepper.

Heat a frying pan, cook the duck’s skin for about 3 minutes or until golden.

Discard the grease from the pan.

Put the magret skin-side down in an oven-proof dish (or leave it in the pan if it goes in the oven).

Brush the meat with 1 tbsp of honey.

Cook in the oven for about 5 minutes then leave to rest for a few minutes before cutting slices.

During that time, bring to boil: white wine + lime juice + stock + ginger + 2 tbsp honey.

After 5 minutes, add the diluted arrow-root (in the tbsp of water) and bring back to boil.

Serve with the duck and steamed vegetables.

The book invites you to serve it with asparagus, carrots, and sugar-peas.

I only served the sugar-peas but I also made the sweet potato crumble that’s already posted on this blog.


pita bread with lamb kefta

This recipe comes from a book called “200 healthy feasts” written by Jo McAuley and published by Octopus Publishing Ltd.

This book could also be called «How to eat a balanced diet without starving yourself » !

The introduction includes a guide to 5 fruit & vegetables a day, informations about Glycaemic Index and about nutrients.

The advices are known and classic, not always from the last scientific researchs in the nutrition department but it’s a start and a good base for a good change.

About the recipes, there is various ideas from breakfast to dessert passing by some great soup that are really appealing in this weather!

As other books in the same collection, the influences come from worldwide but the recipes are easy to realise and the ingredients can be found in any good supermarket.

The great thing is that those books are just a few euros so it’s a great way to get inspired without getting broke!


For the chosen recipe: Pita bread with lamb kefta

4 pita bread made with whole wheat*

for the kefta:

1 small minced onion

2 minced garlic cloves

400g of minced lamb

1 small beaten egg

1 small bunch of minced parsley

1 small bunch of minced fresh coriander

1/2 tsp of grounded cinnamon

1 tbsp of paprika

1/2 tbsp of caraway/cumin powder

salt and pepper

to serve with:

grated carrots

slices of radishes

a bit of cucumber

lemon juice

Mix the ingredients of the kefta then make balls that you’ll flatten a bit.

Heat a frying pan and cook the kefta about 7-8 minutes on each side.

Serve in the pita bread with the vegetables juiced with lemon.

*The book doesn’t give the pita recipe but here it is:

250g whole and organic wheat flour

10g fresh yeast

1/2 tsp of salt

15cl of lukewarm water

12g of olive oil

Mix and knead all the ingredients until it doesn’t stick on the side of the mixing bowl.

Leave to rest in a warm place covered with a clean towel.

Cut the dough in 4 and flatten each pieces until about 18 to 20 cm diameter.

Leave to rest 20 more minutes then cook in a frying pan 5 minutes each side.

 You could serve this recipe with a light sauce made with yogurt and fresh herbs.

tofu quenelles with tomatoes and zucchini

This recipe is inspired from a great book called “Veganomicon”. As you’ve seen on my blog, I’m not vegan but I think it’s healthy and wise not to eat too much meat. This recipe is great ’cause it’s really tasty and you don’t have the after taste tofu might leave some people indifferent… Try it, you’ll want more!

Preheat the ovent at 180°C.

In a blender, mix 500g of firm tofu, 1/2 cup of walnuts, 1 garlic clove (peeled), 3 tbsp of lemon juice (drink the rest, it’s good for you!), 2 tbsp of tomato purée, 1 tsp of dried oregano, 2 tsp of sea salt flakes, pepper to taste. Rectify the seasonning once mixed.

Add 1/2 cup of panko breadcrumb (it’s Japanese. You can make your own breadcrumb with some old dry bread or dry it in the oven and mix in a blender or food processor. I think sourdough breadcrumbs are the best). If you’re gluten intolerant, use poxdered almonds (or hazelnuts).

Add a small bunch of ciseled mint.

Grate one zucchini and press it to extract as much water as possible.

Deseed 450g of tomatoes and cut into cubes. Add those vegetables to the tofu mix.

With 2 tbsp, form quenelles and roll it in some more panko breadcrumbs or powdered nuts. Put the quenelle on an oven-proof tray covered with a silicone baking-sheet.

Put in the oven and cook for 35 minutes until golden.

Serve with spicy tomato salad (tomatoes, olive oil, deseeded and minced hot pepper, minced mint, sea salt flakes) and with bickwheat or soba noodles.

cookbooks to get inspired this summer

In search of ideas ? In want of a change in the kitchen ? In need of inspirations?

Here are a few books that I often consult.

Oh, and… it’s not in order of preference!

I have to say that, sometimes, I choose a cookbook from which I might not make any recipe but which is full of beautifful pictures, inspiring texts, or with ingredients mix I wouldn’t have thought of. It inspires me, it feeds me with new horizons, I can earn from them and expand my repertoire.

I always find something to feed my imagination!

Anyway… the books!

-Donna Hay has a way of preparing great food with a minimum of time and technique. She’s an inspiration for everyday cooking and last minute invitations! My favorites are “New Food Fast”, “Entertaining”, & “Modern Classics 2”.

-For great desserts: “Indulge” by Claire Clark. From my taste I put a little less sugar then she does but her recipes are really well explained whether it’s a classic or a more modern dessert. I also like to turn Thomas Keller’s books for inspiration especially “The French Laundry”. With the team I was working at my cooking exam we were inspired by one of his dessert (shortcake and strawberry) although we associated the shortcakes with mini pistachio crème brûlée, crusty strawberry tuiles filled with lemon espuma, a small daïquiri, and some homemade strawberry candy… Maybe I’ll post the recipes on this blog some day… although I’m not sure I have pictures… 

-One of the best cookbooks I ever read is “Maggie’s Harvest”. She made me want to cook things I don’t usually like which is, in my opinion, a great quality. Every story she tells makes you want to shop for the right ingredients and cook right away. It’s worth reading every line of this book as there are recipes in her text beside the actual illustrated recipe. Hope I can visit her some day!

-This book has very inspiring recipes for when you have guests. The associations, the presentations, everything’s inspiring. I already tried a few recipes and it all came greatly so it’s also well written! It’s “Maze” by Jason Atherton. And the great thing is that I bought it by chance in a second hand book shop! I guess the one who sold it wasn’t really a cook!

-“Great Food for Busy Lives” from Annabelle Langbein : It’s my first cookbook. I have followed lots of her recipes but I remember 2 particularly delicious ones: potatoes rösti with smoked salmon and a super fresh herb green sauce and some tender beef served with ratatouille!

-By René Loux, I especially like “The Balanced Plates”. The informations are great, and the ideas for lentils, millet, quinoa, and any other grains are great!

If you read French and like to travel, try these: 

-“Le vrai goût du…” at Aubanel (The title means “The real taste of” and you can choose different countries. My favorites are Japan and Viêtnam but I also have Morocco, Mali, and Lebanon).

The pictures are beautifful, so much so that it feels like you can smell the aromas from the pages! It’s not just cookbook it’s also a travelling book talking about food and cooking habits from the people the writers met. The recipes are not always the one we would expect from each country.

-“Vitalité Gourmande” from Pol Grégoire and Françoise De Keuleneer. It’s raw food or cooked really slowly. It emphasizes the quality and the taste of each ingredients and the textures are stunning.

-Pierre Hermé for pastry but maybe he’s been translated in English.

Just for your eyes only (I mean the pictures are great, the techniques are difficult, and the ingredients not so easy to find just everywhere): “Noma” by René Redzepi, “A Day at El Bulli” by Ferran Adria, and “Bras” by Michel Bras.

English speaking authors I also turn to: Neil Perry, Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero (great vegan recipes and the tone is fun), Thomas Keller, Jamie Oliver, Nigel Slater, Yotam Ottolenghi

Have a great summer and Bon Appétit!

tea time in London and the recipe of one blondie

 Aaaaah, small English patries served with tea… it’s too cute to be ignored! 

Before I go on further, I would like to wink to my friends Angélique & Jonathan. They love London and not only because of Harry Potter or Peter Pan. Jonathan asked Angélique to marry him in London (how romantic is that!).

Anyway, I found a small book celebrating tea time! Pictures are fun and there is a few cute drawings around the recipes.

After going through the pages several times in search of THE recipe to try, I put aside the Christmas cake type (not in season) and the brownies or scones I already posted on this blog although I was mouthwatering in front of the scones recipes. After all, strawberries are in season! 

Anyway, my love for rock n’ roll and of “caramel au beurre salé” has won the recipe game.

My blondie is a bit tanned ’cause I use whole sugar instead of white sugar. You do as you like but whole sugar is super good! 

Oh, and yes, as usual, I put a third less of the sugar quantity advised in the book. I could have divided it by 2 (for the blondie, not for the caramel… a sugar free caramel is just not meant to be!).

You need:

For the caramel:

100ml sour cream

1 tbsp maple syrup

75g sugar

25g butter in cubes

1/2 tsp salt

60g salted peanuts (chop them roughly)

For the blondie:

220g melted butter

200g sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

200g flour (I used 150g buckwheat flour and 50g whole wheat flour T110 – for the gluten-free version, mix buckwheat and rice or buckwheat and chestnut flours)

And now, to the stove:

Thee caramel:

Bring the cream and mapple syrup to boil. Set aside.

In a pre-heated pan, add 1 tbsp of sugar. When it’s melted, add the rest of the sugar a little at a time. Turn the heat down and when all is melted, add the cream (still warm). Mix, add the butter while mixing. When the butter has melted add the salt and pour in a bowl. Mix in the peanuts and set aside.

Salted peanuts are IN-DIS-PEN-SA-BLES. This blondie wouldn’t be as charming without them.

For the blondie dough: preheat the oven at 180°C. Add the sugar to the melted butter and whisk. Add the vanilla extract then one egg at a time until incorporated.

Add the flour and the salt. When the mix is smooth, pour in a 33 x 23 cm or 24 cm diametre mould.

Pour the caramel mix here and there over the blondie mix and, with a knife, push the caramel in the dough. It has to be irregular.

Cook in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Don’t overcook.

 Delicious! I recommand this to everyone even if you’re not Angélique or Jonathan, even if you don’t like London.

God save the Queen! and it’s her Jubilee… things are just at the right place at the right time!

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