Saturday, July 11, 2015

Ottolenghi's Cauliflower Cake.

This is not a cake at all in the traditional sense. It is more like a frittata than a cake, but it is not a frittata either. It is delicious whether you eat it just after you have made it or the next day. Once you have made the original cauliflower version feel free to riff on it. You can make it with other vegetables and it will still be good. I have not had the chance to do that myself but a friend of mine has done so with very good results. I have only made one change to Yotam Ottolenghi's recipe from his book Plenty More, I roasted the cauliflower rather than simmer it in water.

Cauliflower Cake
serves 4 to 6

1 small cauliflower, outer leaves removed and broken into small florets. About 4 cups.
1 medium red onion, peeled
5 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
7 large eggs
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 tsp ground turmeric
1 1/2 cups coarsely grated Parmesan cheese or other aged cheese, about 6 ounces or more if you are feeling generous. The original recipe calls for 220 grams which translates to almost 8 ounces
melted unsalted butter for brushing the pan
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds (or 1 T sesame seeds and 1 tsp nigella seeds. I have never seen nigella seeds but that is what Ottolenghi calls for in his original recipe. They would be prettier.)
Salt and black pepper

Heat the oven to 425º.  Line the base and sides of a 9 1/2" springform pan with parchment and brush with melted butter. Cover the sides with the sesame seeds.
Toss the cauliflower florets with some of the olive oil and some salt and roast until tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Turn the oven down to 400º.
Cut 4 slices from one end of the red onion and separate the rings. Chop the rest of the onion and sauté until soft in the rest of the oil with the rosemary. Let the onion cool. Meanwhile whisk together the eggs and basil, then whisk in the flour, baking powder, turmeric, Parmesan, 1 tsp salt, and plenty of pepper. When smooth, stir in the onion and cauliflower. Pour the cauliflower mixture into the pan and lay the onion rings on top. Bake in the center of the 400º oven for about 45 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and set. A knife inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean. When the cake is done allow it to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving. It is best not to serve it hot. When it is completely cooled you can wrap it and refrigerate to serve the next day.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

My Revised Tartine Cherry Clafoutis

It is hard to believe that it has been 6 years since I first had cherry clafoutis. If you have never had clafoutis, it is not only delicious but extremely easy to make. Yes, cherries are a pain to pit, but you can do as the French do and leave the pits in or if you don't even want to think about pits, you can make it with another sort of fruit. Apricot clafoutis is very good and I think olallieberry would be outstanding.
The recipe I have used previously was straight from the Tartine dessert cookbook. I have now made a couple of changes and even so they deserve major credit for the recipe I now feel it is mine.

Cherry Clafoutis
2 cups whole milk (I used Jersey milk, which is richer than milk from other cows. You might want to add a bit of cream.)
2/3 cup sugar (I used organic)
1 vanilla bean, split
pinch salt
3 whole eggs
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons kirsch
2 cups cherries, pitted or not. If the cherries are pitted add a few finely chopped almonds
1/4 cup sugar for topping
Preheat oven to 425º. Butter a 10" ceramic quiche mold or pie dish.
In a small saucepan, combine milk, 2/3 cup sugar, vanilla bean, salt, and butter. Place over medium heat and stirring to dissolve the sugar, heat to just under a boil. While the milk mixture is heating, break 1 egg into a heatproof bowl, add the flour gradually and whisk until free of lumps. Add the remaining 2 eggs and whisk until smooth.
Remove the pan from the heat and slowly ladle the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean into the mixture and add the kirsch. Pour into the mold and add the fruit, making sure that it is evenly distributed. Place the pan on a shelf in the middle of the oven.
Bake the clafoutis until it is just set in the center and slightly puffed and browned around the edges, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove it from the oven, turn up the temperature to 500º. Evenly sprinkle the 1/4 cup sugar over the top. Return the clafoutis to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes to caramelize the sugar. Watch carefully as it will darken quickly. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before slicing. Serve the clafoutis warm or at room temperature.
The clafoutis is at it's best by far the day that it is made, but it still tastes great the next day. It makes a wonderful breakfast if you are the type of person who enjoys pie for breakfast.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Pupusa is Loose-a

I grabbed a pupusa recipe out of a stray NYTimes Magazine and made it for the second time last night. It's pretty easy, take two parts masa harina, mix with a bit of salt and one part (hot!) water. Mash it together, divide it into balls somewhat larger than a golf ball. Then somehow get cheese (about 6oz per cup of masa) inside of them and press them flat.

The last bit is perhaps the most tricky bit, and I haven't quite mastered it. The NYTimes has a technique that you can study more closely here. Mostly just mash the ball flat in your palm, insert the cheese, and then squeeze the masa around the cheese and seal in the cheese. Then squish the final result flat and cook it up on a griddle.

It's a nice Sunday recipe here because halloumi goes very nicely with these and can be found at the local place that is open on Sunday.

The NYTimes serves a curtido with them, but we're more likely to have sauerkraut around, so we use that instead.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Flour for European Bakers and a French Sugar to Search Out.

I have to start this post with a big thank you to David Leibovitz and his blog for providing me with the information I needed to bake a good pie crust in France. The first time I made a pie there, last Christmas, I had no idea that the standard all-purpose flour in French supermarkets was not basically the same as American all-purpose flour. Boy was I in for a surprise. When I made a pie crust with my standard recipe it was soft and super sticky. It ended up baking up better than I expected but I knew that I wanted to educate myself about finding an equivalent flour to American AP in France before I baked another pie there. I now know French AP flour is milled more finely and has less gluten. If you read the package label it is type 55 or type 45. The French flour that is equivalent to American AP flour is the organic flour type 65. I found it at an organic chain called Naturalia. DL says that organic type 65 can be found at supermarkets but I did not find it at the store near my son's home in Lyon.
I tried making rolls with type 55 flour because I was curious how it would be for bread. The dough was soft and sticky and I ended up having to knead in more flour to get the proper texture. In France at least when you are working from an American recipe for baking you will have to search out type 65 flour or plan on adjusting the recipe.
One of the pies I made for Thanksgiving in Lyon was pumpkin using the recipe I posted in January 2012. It was the best pumpkin pie I have ever made. Because I was in France I had to use a different sugar and couldn't use canned American pumpkin. Instead of the dark brown sugar found in the US, I used a very dark sugar labeled Daddy Poudre a Maurice Cassonade Coursée. If you should search for it, it comes in a yellow plastic bag. There is another sugar from Maurice sold by Daddy that is in a blue bag which is not as dark. The pumpkin I used was a potimarron which is called a kuri squash in the US. I wanted to bring some of the dark sugar home with me but when I returned to the store they were out of it. I looked for it at a couple of other stores and they didn't have it either. I could only find the lighter sugar in the yellow bag. That means I won't be able to figure out if the better pie was a result of the sugar, the squash, or the combination of the two. Quel dommage!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Banana Bread

My favorite way of using up overripe bananas is to bake banana bread and this is the recipe that I have come up with. If you are baking this in France, like my son who requested the recipe, my favorite food blogger, David Lebovitz, has sources for the buttermilk and baking soda:  He also tells you which French flour will give you the best results when baking from an American recipe.

Banana Bread 
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed banana
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
butter and flour a 9"x5" loaf pan
Cream the butter and sugar. Sift and measure the flour. Measure all the dry ingredients into a bowl and whisk until mixed. Add the eggs one at a time to the butter mixture, beating well after each. Add the buttermilk, vanilla, and banana to the butter, sugar, and eggs. fold in the dry ingredients until just combined. Place the batter in the prepared loaf pan and bake in a preheated 350º F oven for about 1 hour, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan 10 minutes and then remove from the pan.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Peppers hanging to dry on a house in Espelette which is in the Basque region of France.

Piperade is a traditional Basque dish made with sweet peppers, onions, tomatoes, garlic, herbs, and seasoned with piment d'Espelette, a pepper grown around the French town of Espelette. Piment d'Espelette has a mild heat and is delicious on a variety of foods from vegetables to popcorn, one of my husbands favorite ways to use it. Piperade is traditionally served with chicken or eggs but is excellent with most any meat that you would enjoy with red sweet peppers alongside. Leftover piperade is great and we love it with spätzle which makes for a German-Basque fusion meal. Our first introduction to piperade was when our French daughter-in-law made it for us and the recipe I use is based on her recipe. Though it is best made with pimento d'Espelette, and I have always made it with the Basque pepper, it is not easy to find in the U.S. You will likely have to order it online. I have read that you can substitute hot paprika or mild New Mexico chile powder.

1.25 lb tomatoes
3 large red sweet peppers, seeded and cut in julienne
2 large yellow onions, peeled and cut in julienne
6 slices thick cut bacon, the best you can find, cut in lardons
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 bay leaf
a few sprigs of thyme
salt to taste
2 tsp piment d'Espelette
1 tblsp honey
Brown the bacon in a deep heavy pan, I use my le Creuset Dutch oven. When the bacon is cooked remove it and put it aside until the dish is finished, leaving the fat in the pot. Peel and cut the onions into julienne. Add the onions to the pot with the bacon fat and let them cook over medium low heat while you prepare the other vegetables. Give them a stir from time to time. Remove the seeds from the peppers and cut them into julienne. Add them to the pot with the onions. My daughter-in-law removes the skins from the tomatoes, but I don't. So it is your option whether to do it or not. If you choose to, cut an x into the end opposite the core and dip in boiling water for about 1 minute. Place in cold water. The skin should come right off. Core the tomatoes, slice them in half across the equator and gently squeeze out the seeds into a bowl. Cut the tomatoes into large dice and add them to the pot. Put the tomato seeds and any juice with them into a food mill. Put all the juice recovered from the seeds into the pot. Add the herbs, honey, and piment d'Esplette. Bring the heat under the pot up to medium high, when the contents just come to a low boil, cover the pot and lower the heat so that the piperade will just simmer. Simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Piperade is one of those dishes that is better the next day. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Quick and easy ways to enjoy funny looking root vegetables

We signed up for a weekly delivery of fresh locally grown vegetables. Given the time of year and climate, this means lots of root vegetables.

As a Finn, it's hard to think of kohlrabi as anything other than a classic Christmas casserole dish. Turns out that peeled, raw and sliced appropriately, it is a delicious dipped in hummus (and presumably anything else you may enjoy dipping, say, a carrot, in). So easy and so yummy.

Once I google imaged 'root vegetable that looks like ginger' (and yes, google auto filled this search about half way through) we determined that we had received a Jerusalem artichoke. I'd feel a little rude posting the recipe we ended up using in full here, so I'm going to link to the delicious recipe for oven caramelized Jerusalem artichokes instead. It was unbelievably tasty. We dipped in clarified butter.