Thursday, January 26, 2012

Easy Breezy Pesto Sauce

My daughter's favorite Italian food is Spaghetti with Pesto.
I promised I would make her a Pesto dish for dinner tonight.
She loves great food, great restaurants (we take her to almost every restaurants we go to) and great company - YES, she does take after me!
She is very picky about what she eats. Of course, she loves Mac and Cheese once in a while - she's only a child. But hates those that come in little blue boxes.  
She is a very adventurous eater, more than I ever were at 10 years old.
I just wish she would eat more fruit - I am hoping she'll acquire a taste for it as she grows older.

Here's how I made the pesto sauce


Bunch of Basil, washed and dried
6 Tablespoons olive oil
4-5 cloves of garlic
3 Tablespoons Pine Nuts
4 Tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

In a food processor, pulse basil.
Slowly add oil, pulse further.
Add pine nuts, garlic, cheese, salt/pepper. Pulse further more.
Refrigerate until ready to use.
Easy - Breezy!

Gala Apple, Endive, & Arugula Salad with Fig Vinaigrette

While browsing the shelves of our local organic food market, I came upon THIS amazing fig vinegar.
I couldn't wait to get home to taste it and use it in a salad.
It has the most wonderful taste - sweet and tart. It is perfection!
Lately, I've been craving an apple salad. Luckily, I found couple of Gala apples in my refrigerator.
I also found some other ingredients to make a perfect, healthy and delicious salad.

Here's what I used ...

For 2 people

1 gala apple, sliced paper thin
2 radishes, sliced paper thin
1 endive, washed
1 cup Arugula
Goat cheese, crumbled
Pine nuts

Fig Vinaigrette:
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons Fig vinegar
4 Tablespoons olive oil

In a bowl, combine garlic and mustard.
Add vinegar and whisk.
Continue to whisk and slowly add oil.
Season with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, add arugula and slices of radishes.
Drizzle vinaigrette and toss to combine.
On a dinner plate, place arugula mix.
Arrange on top, 6 leaves of endive.
Arrange Apple slices on top of endive.
Add cheese.
Drizzle vinaigrette all over the salad.
Toss in some pine nuts. and Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Blueberry Tartelette with Frangipane

I love blueberries.
I actually love all kind of berries!

I found a box of fresh blueberries in the fridge that I desperately had to use today.
Decided to make a yummy and simple Blueberry tartelette with Frangipane for dessert.

So here's how I did it ...

4 large or 12 small tartelettes

1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
1 box of fresh blueberries, washed
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon corn starch
5-6 tablespoons Frangipane - can find recipe HERE
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 egg yolk plus 1 tablespoon milk, for egg wash
some crushed pistachios
confectionery sugar

In a small saucepan over medium heat, cook blueberries with sugar and corn starch.
Add zest and let simmer for 15 minutes - until sauce thickens.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Roll out puff pastry.
Cut out large or small circles- you'll need 2 circles to make one tartelette.
In the middle of half of the circles, place 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon Frangipane
Place 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon blueberry sauce.
Brush the edges with egg wash.
Cover with the other circle.
Press gently the edges with a fork - this will seal the pastry.
Brush pastry with egg wash.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden.
Cool on a baking rack.
Sprinkle with pistachio and confectionery sugar.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hachis Parmentier

I prefer to prepare dinner when kids are in school.
When I pick them up from school, the first thing they ask is
"Mommy, what are we having for dinner tonight?"

Well. tonight it's just me and the kids.
I decided to make them one of their favorite French dish - Hachis Parmentier.

Hachis Parmentier is truly a French classic.
It was named after Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, a French pharmacist, nutritionist, and inventor.
In the late 18th century, he was instrumental in the promotion of the potato as an edible crop.
The word "Hachis" means chopped or minced.

It's a wonderful, delicious and simple dish.
Every time I make it, it brings sweet childhood memories back.

 For 6 people

1.5 lbs ground beef
1 shallot, minced
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 to 1 cup water
1/2 cup gruyère cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper

4 potatoes
1 cup milk, warm
2 tablespoons butter

Heat oil in a skillet and brown beef, 5 to 7 minutes
Add shallot, parsley, bay leaf, nutmeg and salt/pepper. Cook another 5-7 minutes.
Add water and let meat cook until water has evaporated- about 30 minutes.
Remove bay leaf.

In a medium saucepan, bring some water to a boil.
Add potatoes and cook until tender.
Drain potatoes.
In the same saucepan, add milk and butter. Bring to a boil.
Add cooked potatoes and puree with a fork or a whisk - add more milk if necessary.
Season with salt and pepper.

To assemble
Preheat oven to 375 Degrees
In an oven proof dish (or 4 individual dishes), arrange a layer of mashed potato, then a layer of meat, and finish with a layer of mashed potato.
Sprinkle cheese.
Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes.
Serve warm. Enjoy!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Roasted Potato Soup

Here's a roasted potato soup for you to enjoy.
It's not difficult to make and it tastes really nice.
Perfect for a cold wintery day!

6 people


Potato Soup
5 large potatoes
2 large onions
2 cloves of garlic
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
4 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup light cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon chopped thyme
6 teaspoons crème fraîche (or sour cream)
Minced Chives, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 Degrees
Dice potatoes and onion.
On a baking sheet toss potatoes, onion, garlic, thyme, salt/pepper with olive oil.
Toss to combine.
Cook in the oven for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan bring chicken broth and water to a boil.
Add potatoes/onion mixture and cook over medium heat for another 30 minutes.
In small batches, liquify in a food processor.
Return to pot. Add cream. Simmer 10 minutes longer.
Serve in individual bowls.
Add 1 teaspoon crème Fraîche (or sour ceam).
Garnish with chives


Apple Tartelette with Frangipane

I love recipe.
It is so simple.
End result is an amazing dessert. 

Makes 4-6 Tartelettes.
Adapted from Baking by James Peterson


1 sheet puff pastry sheet
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and sliced paper thin (I used a mandoline)
1 egg plus 1 teaspoon milk (for egg wash)
Confectionery sugar

Preheat oven to 375 Degrees
Peel and slice the apple.
Cut puff pastry into rectangles.
Cut another rectangle from inside of each square, leaving 1/2 border.
Brush the outer squares with water.
Lift the upper right corner of the outer square and press it against the lower left corner of the inner square.
Lift the upper left corner of the outer square and press it against the lower right corner of the inner square.
Prick several times the inner square with a fork.  
Brush the outer corners with egg wash.
Place 1 teaspoon Frangipane in the middle square.
Place the some sliced apples on top.
Bake for 20-30 minutes.
Cool on a baking rack and sprinkle with confectionery sugar.


1 1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon Almond extract

Cream butter and sugar.
Add egg and egg yolk, mix well.
Add almond flour, mix well.
Add Almond extract.
Refrigerate 1 hour.

Absolutely delicious!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Pancake with Berries

It's Sunday morning.
"Mommy, what's for breakfast?" asks my daughter.
"Mommy, I'm hungry! I want breakfast!" demands my son.

So I decided to make them their favorite pancake.

1 cup flour, sifted
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel (or regular salt)
1 cup milk
2 Tablespoons butter, melted in the microwave
1 egg
Some strawberries
Some blueberries
Maple syrup
Confectionery sugar

Wash and cut your strawberries and blueberries. Set aside.
In a bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
In a medium bowl, whisk milk, butter, and egg. 
Add the dry ingredients to it and mix well.
Heat a skillet over medium heat. 
Spray oil and spoon batter. 
Cook until you see bubbles form on the surface of the pancakes - about 2 minutes.
Flip carefully, cook 1 to 2 minutes longer. 
Arrange 2 or 3 pancakes on a plate.
Add strawberries and blueberries.
Drizzle maple syrup.
Sprinkle confectionery sugar.
and Enjoy!

Saturday, January 21, 2012


Paris-Brest is a dessert made of Choux Pastry and a Praline flavoured cream with a circular shape representing a wheel.
It was created in 1891 to commemorate the Paris-Brest bicycle race - a 1200 Km race from Paris to Brest and back to Paris.

According to Le Figaro, La Pâtisserie des Rêves is known to make the best Paris-Brest in Paris!


Pâte à Choux:
1 cup water
1 cup milk
8 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup flour
5 large eggs

Cookie Top:
3 Tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel

Crème Pâtissière:
2 1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup flour, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup sugar
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt

Praline Buttercream:
2/3 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons water
1 cup crushed hazelnut
3 large eggs
2/3 cup suger
1 cup butter, softened

Praline Buttercream:
In  a small suacepan, over medium heat combine sugar and water.
cook until a pale caramel is formed.
Add the hazelnut, mix well, cook longer until hazelnut is toasted.
Pour mixture onto a baking sheet.
When cold, reduce to fine powder using a food processor.

In a heatproof bowl over simmering water, whisk eggs and sugar until volume is tripled and color turns pale. See below for color.
Continue beating until slightly cool.
Add butter and continue to whisk.
Combine the hazelnut powder, mix well to combine and refrigerate.

Pâte à choux:
Preheat oven to 350 degree.
In a medium saucepan combine water, milk, butter, sugar and salt.
Bring to a boil, add flour all at once and whisk with a wooden spoon until a dough is formed, 5-6 minutes.
Remove from heat, let the pate cool down a little and add one by one the eggs, beating vigorously until well combine.
Place dough in a piping bag with a round tip. Pipe in a form of a circle.
To make things easier, draw your circles on a parchment paper, then flip the paper and pipe your circles.
Bake for 35-45 minutes.
Cool on a baking rack.
Carefully, split in half the cake with a sharp knife.

Cookie dough:
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.
Work well with your fingers to form a dough.
Roll into a ball and refrigerate to 30 minutes.
Roll out and using a cookie cutter cut circles.
Put one circle on top of the pâte à choux.

Crème Pâtissière:
In a medium saucepan, slowly bring milk, and vanilla to boil.
In a bowl, beat eggs, sugar, salt.
Pour the boiling milk over the egg mixture, a little at a time.
Pour back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring continuously until mixture thickens.
Remove from heat.
Let it cool down slightly.
Add the Praline Buttercream and mix well.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before piping.

To assemble:
With a piping bag, fill the choux with buttercream.
Dust with Confectionery sugar and serve.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

La Pâtisserie des Rêves

THAT'S IT! I know exactly what this town needs ....

Une Påtisserie exactly like "La Pâtisserie des Rêves" in Paris!

Pastry Chef Philippe Conticini opened the first store in the 7th arrondissement on Rue du Bac in 2009.
A second store followed in the 16th arrondissement on Rue de Longchamp.

He displays his marvelous creations throughout the entire store, creating a gallery-like ambiance.
Many of the items are self-serve but a central island showcases glass domes containing his desserts.
All you have to do is choose then one(s) you want and it comes fresh from the back kitchen!

Merci, Monsieur Conticini for the vision!
One more reason why I absolutely need to go to Le Cordon Bleu!
Bien sûr, I would name it "Caramel et Fleur de Sel".

Apparently, his specialty is the mouth-watering Paris-Brest.

Stay tuned ... Paris-Brest coming your way tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Chicken Nuggets & Chips

My children are so hungry when they come home from school.
They usually have a little snack and relax, do homework then it's time for dinner.

Tonight, I made them their favorite Chicken Nuggets and Chips.

For 4 people

1.5 lbs chicken breast, cut into strips
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup bread crumb mixed with 1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup flour
3 - 4 Tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt & Pepper

Heat oil in a skillet.
Season chicken with salt & pepper, 
Place chicken first in flour, then in egg, then in bread crumb mixture.
Cook chicken in skillet until crisp and well done - about 10 minutes

2 Potatoes peeled and sliced paper thin- I used a mandoline slicer
3 cups Vegetable oil
Sea salt

Heat oil in a medium saucepan.
Cook potatoes until they turn golden brown.
Remove and drain on paper towels.
Season with salt.



Once a week I make little Madeleines for my children.
They absolutely love them!

Here's a very easy recipe of Madeleine.
I've made my own adjustments from Lenôtre recipe.

18 - 20 Madeleines
3 Eggs
130 grams Sugar
1 Tablespoon Honey
Pinch of Salt - I use Fleur de Sel

150 grams Flour, sifted
5 grams Baking Powder
Grated zest of 1 Lemon
1 teaspoon of Vanilla extract
125 grams Butter, melted

9 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1 cup Heavy cream

For the Ganache:
Place the chocolate in a heat proof bowl. Bring the cream to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat.
Pour the cream over chocolate and stir with a rubber spatula. Let the Ganache rest at room temperature for 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter and flour Madeleine pan. Set aside.
With an electric mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, honey and salt until volume doubles in size - about 3-5 minutes.
Carefully add flour, baking powder, lemon zest and vanilla extract.
Gradually add butter and mix well.
Chill the batter for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator.
Using a piping bag, pipe the batter into the madeleine molds 3/4 full.
Bake for 4- 5 minutes.
Reduce temperature to 350 degrees, bake for another 3-4 minutes.
This process will create the domes on the Madeleines.
Remove and cool on a baking rack.
Dip the bottom side of the Madeleines in the Ganache.

Très simple et vraiment délicieux!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Avocado-Tomato-cucumber Salad

This is a very simple and versatile recipe.

It tastes wonderful and looks beautiful!.

Serves 2
2 tomatoes, seeds removed and finely diced
1 cucumber, seeds removed and finely diced
1 avocado, finely diced

La Vinaigrette:
1/2  shallot, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1 teaspoon Honey
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper 

To Finish:
Some Goat Cheese, crumbled
Some pine nuts
Mâche or Arugula

In a bowl, combine tomato, cucumber and avocado.
In a separate bowl, combine shallot, mustard, honey, lemon and salt/pepper.
Slowly add oil and whisk. Make sure to taste and adjust salt/pepper accordingly.
Drizzle a little vinaigrette over the tomatoes, cucumber, avocado. Toss well.
Place a mold ring in the middle of a plate. Spoon in the salad then remove the ring.
Drizzle with a little vinaigrette, add some pine nuts, goat cheese and mâche or arugula.
Et Voîla! Bon Appetit!

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