Sablés bretons – Breton shortbread biscuits

The sablé breton – literally “Breton sand biscuit” in reference to its short, crumbly, sand-like texture – is an old traditional biscuit from the French Brittany/Normandy region: the glorious land of salted butter! History teaches us that in 1341, King Philip VI of France introduced a national tax on salt, the “Gabelle of salt”, that suddenly made salt very expensive throughout the country. If salt remained used to conserve fresh ingredients, salted butter became a luxurious product that peasants could not longer afford to make… Brittany however was not only exempt from this tax, it was also a region producing its own salt. Quickly, salted butter became a regional speciality, sought after and sold in the rest of the country. Up until now, Breton salted butter is the best you can buy (along with Guerande sea-salted butter: with its natural sea salt flakes, I could eat the whole thing on fresh baguette in one seating).

The sablé breton  (also known as galette bretonne) is a simple and rustic biscuit that goes wonderfully well with a cup of tea or afternoon coffee. The salted butter balances the sugar, making the biscuit light but also very moorish – you’ve been warned!

This was my first attempt at making them and I must say I was very pleased with the finished product. They were delicious and their texture was perfect. *Patting myself on the back for resisting the temptation to keep kneading the dough past the stage where it forms a ball*. The only thing I might change in the future is the thickness: as they cooked, the biscuits expanded a little bit, which made them thinner than I would have wished. I might also try and be a little bit more creative with the top of the biscuit in the future: a criss-cross pattern would look good and rustic. Well, any good excuse to make them again!

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Recipe for +/- 30 biscuits
Ingredients
  • 320 gr. flour
  • 120 gr. caster sugar
  • 1 drop vanilla extract
  • 2 free range egg yolks
  • 200 gr. melted salted butter (ideally French or even Breton but I might be purist)
  • Optional: a lemon zest
  • Egg wash: 1 egg yolk + 1 tsp water
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
Method:
  1. Pre-heat a fan oven oven to 150 C. Line a large flat baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients (flour and caster sugar) in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Make a well in the centre and add the 2 egg yolks, the melted butter, the vanilla extract (and, if using, the lemon zest).
  4. Knead and form a ball. This is where you want to be extra careful not to overwork the dough: just gather it into a ball and put it down.
  5. Cover with clean cling film and place in the fridge to rest for an hour.
  6. Roll the cold dough between two sheets of baking paper to a thickness of about 3-5 mm. I did 5mm and it was a bit too thin to my taste, so I will probably go up to 6-8mm next time.
  7. Cut out circles with a cookie cutter (diam. 7 cm) and place on a baking tray, leaving enough room for the biscuits to expand a little bit.
  8. Brush the biscuits with the egg wash. Sprinkle iced sugar using a sieve.
  9. Bake for 25-30 minutes. You don’t want too much colour on these, sablés bretons are a very light golden colour.

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Cod with lettuce minty stew

Summer has had this effect on me that all I want to eat is fish, sea-food, seaweed and so on. I am craving the sea taste. If I could, I would just pour myself a large glass of sea water and drink it (not really, but you get the idea). I wonder if it my body’s way of telling me that I need iodine or my stress levels crying for a relaxing holiday by the sea? Probably a little bit of both I guess… Unfortunately, holidays are off the radar this year and the most I could indulge in is probably a day in Brighton, which – don’t get me wrong – would be amazing (shopping in The Lanes, strolling by the promenade, getting wind and sun burnt on the pier, and of course ending a perfect day with dinner at my favourite fish restaurant EVER Riddle & Finns!).

In the meantime, I can indulge in this fresh, light and summery stew. This version uses bacon, but for a no meat Monday recipe, replace them with thinly chopped anchovies – you can’t actually taste them but just like the bacon they bring a nice saltiness and richness to the dish.

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INGREDIENTS (for 4 people)

  • 750 grams of frozen broad beans (or podded fresh ones)
  • 250 grams of smoked bacon, sliced into lardon-sized strips. No-meat option: 3-5 salted anchovies chopped very thinly.
  • 2 spring onions, chopped roughly
  • 2 baby gem lettuces, washed and chopped in 2 lengthways.
  • 30 grams of butter
  • 1 tbsp of caster sugar
  • A handful of fresh mint, chopped
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 large fillets of cod cut into 4 pieces, boneless but with skin left on.
  • 4-5 new potatoes per person, depending on size

 

METHOD

  • Cook your new potatoes skin-on in a large pan of salted water.
  • Soak your frozen beans in lukewarm water and pod them. If using fresh beans, here’s how to prepare them.
  • Saute your smoked bacon / anchovies in a casserole pan.
  • When the bacon / anchovies starts colouring, add the chopped onions, lettuce leaves, broad beans and sugar.
  • Add salt & pepper to taste.
  • Add a little bit of water if needed (you don’t want it to stick to the bottom of the pan) and adjust your seasoning before adding the mint.
  • Simmer on very low heat for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • While the stew is simmering, season your cod fillets with salt & pepper and cook skin side down on a frying pan. Keep the heat rather low as you want to cook the fish through slowly and without frying it. It should take about 10-12 minutes. You can also finish it up by placing your pan under the grill for a couple of minutes. I personally prefer to remove the skin for this recipe but I guess this is up to your taste!

Serve the stew in a deep plate with the fillet of cod placed on top and the potatoes on the side. This will be delicious accompanied with homemade mayonnaise, or just a squeeze of lemon juice!

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Blueberry muffins

Great news: our very dear friends Claire and Alex moved to our neighbourhood. Their (awesome) flat is literally 12 minutes from us. I’m very excited about them living so close and all that implies, especially impromptu get-togethers, unplanned weekend lunches, surprise afterwork drinks, etc! Chipmuncher is excited about having his best friend around and they have already organised a Saturday of football watching and crisps munching at our place… Sigh!

On the day they moved to the neighbourhood, Chipmuncher lent his strong arms and helped carry and install pieces of furniture, while I offered to meet everyone a little bit later and bring sweets to the brave. To each their strength, right? Everybody loves blueberry muffins, so I was certain not to go wrong with this one.

I think that most muffin recipes use buttermilk, but not this one. It’s still very soft and scrumptious though so give it a try!

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INGREDIENTS (for about 12 muffins)

  • 110 grams of butter (for a modern twist: try salted butter!)
  • 250 grams of plain flour
  • 250 grams of caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 125 ml of milk
  • 2 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp of salt (not if you are using salted butter)
  • 225 grams of fresh blueberries

 METHOD

  • Pre-heat oven to 180 C (gas 4) and line a muffin tin with paper cases.
  • Mix the flour, baking powder and salt (if using any) together in a bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs and beat until smooth, then the milk.
  • Add the flour mixture to your wet mix, little by little to avoid any lumps and beat well until all combined.
  • Stir in three quarters of the blueberries, taking care not to break them.
  • Fill your muffin tins 2/3 full (if you overfill them, the muffins won’t rise).
  • Place 2 of the remaining blueberries on top of the mix without pushing them in.
  • Bake at 180 C / gas 4 for 25-35 minutes depending on your oven.
  • When they are golden and a inserted skewer comes out clean, they’re ready! (even if the bottom feels a bit soft, it will all settle when cooled down).

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Miso glazed cod

Recently, I became absolutely obsessed with miso. I can’t remember how it started exactly. I believe I read an article about how good it is for you, then started ordering miso soup at Pret to accompany my lunch at work, then buying miso soup sachets to make my own soup anytime I wanted to… and last week I finally bought a jar of blond miso to add to my cooking. I’m hooked, and should probably now look for an article about the risk of too much miso.

In the meantime, I have had time to try miso glazed cod and oh. my. lord. how good is this?! For those who live in London, Nobu is obviously *the* place to go to have miso glazed black cod (Black Cod Den Miso). It is one of the most expensive dishes on the menu (£42, no less) but I always say that there is almost no point going to Nobu at all if you are not ordering the black cod. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Nobu and there are many many good things on their menu that one should treat oneself to. But the black cod is and remains on top of the list. It is seriously one of the best things I have ever eaten in my life.

Well, good news, I can now make it at home!! For my first try, I cooked with regular white cod fillets (responsibly sourced, please, of course), just in case it didn’t turn out well – I didn’t want to risk waste expensive and rare black cod! It turned out delicious, definitely one of the finest mid-week dinners we had had in a while. Will make it again, and sooner rather than later.

Miso glazed cod and egg fried rice

 

INGREDIENTS – for 4 servings

  • 4 cod fillets (black or regular)
  • 80 ml of low-sodium blond miso
  • 50 grams of dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp of  sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp of mirin (Japanese cooking wine) I couldn’t find any so used white wine + a splash of rice vinegar.
  • Sesame seeds and spring onions (optional – to taste)

 

METHOD

  • Preheat your oven grill (or broiler)
  • In a bowl, combine the miso, brown sugar, sesame oil and wine. Stir until all of the sugar has fully dissolved and the mix is smooth and of a deep dark colour.
  • Brush about 2 tablespoons of this miso glaze on each fish fillet.
  • Marinate for 30min-1hr.
  • Place the fish fillets under the grill for a few minutes until the glaze has caramelised
  • Out of the oven, brush the fillets with the remaining miso glaze.
  • Return to grill and cook for an additional 10 minutes, so that the fish is flaky but not overcooked.

 

We served this with greens egg fried rice (in a wok: onions, garlic, 5-spice and chili in stir-fry oil. Once softened, add your vegetables to cook rapidly but remain crunchy. Then add cold white rice that you have cooked the day before with soy sauce. At the end, break an egg and mix well so it coats the rice. Adjust seasoning to taste).

This was a very very good surprise. It is very quick (the fish cooks in about 15 minutes max.), very tasty and, I’d say, rather healthy. It is already on this week’s menu!

Provence style chicken (poulet à la provençale)

The region of Provence is a historical area of the South-east of France that extends from the city of Avignon to the Italian border. It is also where my father’s family is from. Dad was born in Salon-de-Provence from a Corsican father and a French-Italian mother and he grew up between Marseille and Aix-en-Provence. As a kid, I spent most of my summers there and will never forget the smells of Provence. The sun, the holidays, the sea, the swimming pool and the fun we had, yes, but mostly the smells.

You see, Provence has a very typical and recognisable landscape: the “garrigue” – pronounced [gah-REEG]. It is a landscape of low and rather dry bushes that grow in the limestone soils around the Mediterranean basin. In this landscape, and thanks to a moderate climate, grow the most amazing and fragrant herbs, trees and flowers: lavender, sage, rosemary, wild thyme, etc. Walking through the garrigue is literally like taking a stroll through a bouquet garni! When we were little and on holiday with our grand-mother, to wash our hands she would make us rub fresh sprigs of lavender and rosemary in our palms under a tap of running cold water. And still nowadays, when she drives around the countryside, she always has a basket and a pair of scissors in the car boot in case she spots fennel plants that will be perfect to accompany a fish dish!

Chicken “à la provençale” is a dish that brings together all that Provence has to offer: sun ripened tomatoes and peppers, fragrant rosemary, wild thyme, spicy “piment d’espelette”… Every time I cook it, I feel like I’m on a holiday in the sun. It is also incredibly quick and easy and therefore perfect for a mid-week quick fix!

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For 4 people.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 big chicken breasts
  • 3 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 25 cl of creme fraiche
  • 1 (chicken) stock cube
  • butter
  • 2 shallots
  • fresh rosemary and whild thyme
  • 1 tsp of paprika
  • 1 pinch of espelette chili
  • salt and pepper to taste

METHOD

  • Season your chicken breasts on both sides with salt, pepper and paprika and cut into 1cm 1/2 cubes.
  • Melt butter in a heavy-bottom pan or skillet and cook your chicken until golden.
  • Then add in the tomatoes and peppers cut into big chunks, the thinly sliced shallots, the espelette and a stock cube, crumbled.
  • Cover with 1 litre of water, and drop 1 branch of rosemary and 1 branch of thyme (whole) on top of the preparation. Turn the hob to a low flame and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes, take the chicken out of the sauce and keep warm.
  • Discard the rosemary and thyme branches; then add the creme fraiche to the sauce.
  • Bring to a boil until the sauce has reached a silky consistency.
  • Put the chicken back in and simmer for an extra 2-3 minutes.

Serve with white rice or – highly recommended! – fresh tagliatelles. And please no parmesan, we’re in French Provence, not in Italy 😉

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Carrot cupcakes with lemon soft cheese icing

Come here…

Come closer, shhhhhhh, no one can hear us, I’m going to tell you a secret… I’m going to tell you how I make the softest moistest most delicious carrot cupcakes. It’s a secret, you must keep it to yourself. I’m going to tell you everything but you must promise not to repeat it to anyone, it will be our secret. Shhhhhhhhh…..

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INGREDIENTS

For 12 cupcakes

  • 175 grams of brown muscovado sugar
  • 100 grams of wholemeal self-raising flour
  • 100 grams of self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp of mixed spice
  • the zest of 1 orange
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 150 ml of sunflower oil
  • 200 grams of carrots, grated
  • sprinkles, etc. to decorate to taste
  • 50-100 grams of ground almonds (not powdered; and chunky rather than fine)
  • 50-80 grams of chopped pecans

For the icing

  • 50 grams of butter, at room temperature, cut into small cubes
  • 150 grams of full-fat soft cheese
  • 50 grams of icing sugar
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • the zest of 1/2 lemon

Carrots

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METHOD

  • Pre-heat your oven to gas mark 5 (190C). Line a cupcake baking tin with paper cases.
  • In a large mixing bowl combine the flours, sugar, bicarbonate of soda, mixed spice, and orange zest.
  • Add the eggs and sunflower oil and mix well until all combined.
  • Grate your carrots and squeeze out most of the juices (90%), then add to the bowl. Mix well and leave to rest for 5 minutes, allow the carrots to release all their moisture.
  • Finally, add the chopped nuts, adjusting the quantity depending on the texture and wetness of your mix. You want it to be rather wet but thick enough so that it sticks on the back of a spoon.
  • Pour the mix into the baking tin, up to 2 third up the paper case (Note: don’t over-fill the cases, or the cupcakes will not rise)
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out dry. 
  • When baked, take the cupcakes out of the baking tin (or they will keep cooking) and leave on a cooling rack.
  • In the meantime, place the butter cubes in a clean mixing bowl and, using a sharp knife, shred it into pieces as small as possible.
  • Add the soft cheese to the butter and whisk until smooth. You can pour a little bit of the soft cheese water if it helps with the whisking.
  • Add the icing sugar, lemon zest and vanilla extract and whisk until smooth and creamy.
  • Once they’re completely cooled down, ice your cupcakes. I like the icing to be thick and generous, as it balances well against the spices of the cake.
  • If there is any icing left, stick your finger in that bowl and eat it before someone else does.

There you have it. Guaranteed to please everyone; and not too long nor messy as cupcakes can sometimes be. Hope you enjoy it and, remember, this is just between you and me…

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Pecans and raisins bread and butter pudding

Some weeks ago, I enrolled a course to become an independent art curator (exciting!). It’s keeping me very busy, with classes all Saturdays and research and homework during the week. I’m loving it. And, bizarrely (or not), because I have less free time, I organise it way better! As a result, I have been cooking and baking much more than previously.

Last Sunday, for example, our dear friends visited us one last time before moving out of London and down to the seaside. These two like their food so we wanted to make something extra special for them. Special but unfussy – some honest, homemade, no-nonsense winter comfort food. So I made my pecan and raisins bread & butter pudding!

Now, I say *MY* bread & butter pudding and this is not entirely true. I actually based it on a recipe from Lucy’s Food recipe book and adapted it to our taste. The original recipe has dried apricot and an apricot coulis, but I like my bread & butter pudding a little bit more traditional.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 12 slices of brioche
  • 60 grams of unsalted butter, at room temperature (spreading cold butter on brioche proved nearly impossible and extremely frustrating for short-tempered me 🙂 )
  • 60 grams of pecan nuts, roughly chopped
  • 60 grams of raisins
  • 150 ml of double cream
  • 150 ml of semi-skimmed milk
  • 4 free-range eggs
  • 30 grams of caster sugar
  • 30 grams of cane sugar (or light brown sugar)
  • fresh nutmeg, or cinnamon, or cardamon to taste.

METHOD

  • Pre-heat oven to 190C (gas mark 5).
  • Spread the brioche slices with butter.
  • Layer into an ovenproof dish with the pecans and raisins.
  • In a bowl, mix the cream, milk, eggs, caster sugar and grate a little fresh nutmeg. Depending on the mood and season, you can also add a little cinnamon and cardamon to the eggy cream mixture.
  • Pour the mixture over the brioche.
  • Sprinkle evenly with the cane sugar.
  • Bake in the oven for 40-45 min, or until the pudding has puffed up and the eggs are cooked through (you can check with a knife)

Serve warm with a little double cream.

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Yes, it’s that easy and that tasty!

I like this recipe because I find the brioche makes it a little bit less stodgy than regular bread and butter pudding, and the crunchy pecans give the pudding a nice contrast of textures. I wouldn’t go as far as to pretend it is a light pudding, but definitely lighter than bread and butter puddings I have had before! 😀

Red lentil soup with curry roasted cauliflower topping

I know… I’m bad, bad, bad. I don’t bake anymore. I haven’t baked in months. I just don’t have time… I need to make time. I am going to make time. Don’t go just yet, I will bake again! Now, what’s that for a New Year’s resolution?

After all the food in the Christmas and New Year festive season, we are trying to be good and eat healthy food. We’re nowhere close to a proper detox (I had a glass of wine no later than last night), but we’re not eating meat and have loads of soups. But, as you may know if you’re trying to be healthy too, soups can quickly become boring. I mean, I love a bowl of stilton & broccoli soup; peas & ham; carrot & coriander; etc. but.. you know… after a while I need something a little more tasty, with a little more “hoompf” like they say on telly.

Yesterday I was therefore looking for a tasty-looking but healthy soup to make. And I came across a recipe of red lentil lemon soup by chefmo73 at http://mobitesfood.com/ Red lentils, cumin, chili, now that’s what I’m talking about! It became obvious that this was going to be last night’s dinner.

I was also looking for something else to serve along the soup (notably because we have 2 boys at home and a big chocolate stash; and if I want the latter to survive the night, I need to ensure the boys are full). And this is when I came across a second gem: So Hungry I Could Blog‘s recipe for curry roasted cauliflower.

I put the two recipes together, and this is how this red lentil soup with curry roasted cauliflower topping was born. Tadam! This is truly the perfect January dinner: tasty, warm and hearty, no meat (well, if you don’t count in the chicken stock), cheap ingredients, incredibly easy.

Red lentil soup

Here’s how to proceed.

Curry roasted cauliflower topping (serves 4)

  • 1 cauliflower cut into bite-size florets
  • 3 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp of lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp of curry powder
  • 2 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 1/2 tsp of turmeric
  • salt and black pepper

In a bowl, mix together the olive oil, lemon zest, crushed garlic, spices, salt and pepper. Add the cauliflower florets and toss so that it os well-coated in the curry mixture. Spread the florets on a baking dish and roast at 375c (gas mark 5) for about 1 hour (or when the cauliflower have crisped up and the smell in your house is to die for). Reserve on kitchen paper to drain any remaining oil.

Curry roasted cauliflowers

Spicy red lentil soup (serves 4-5)

  • 3 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 white onion, chopped roughly
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1 tsp of ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 1/4 tsp of black pepper
  • Ground chili powder to taste
  • 1 litre of chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup of red lentils (I did half red lentils and half green lentils, only because I didn’t have enough red lentils. It was still delicious, but I’m guessing the colour wasn’t as attractive as 100% red lentils would have been.)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced roughly
  • The juice of 1/2 lemon

In a stock pot, heat the olive oil and cook the onion and garlic until soft and golden. Stir in the tomato paste, cumin, salt, pepper and chili powder and sauté for 2 minutes longer.

Add the stock with an extra 2 cups of water, the lentils and the chopped carrots. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to medium-low and simmer until the lentils are soft (about 40 minutes). Taste and adjust seasoning.

Using an immersion blender, partly purée the soup: you want the lentils to be smooth, but to keep some chunks of carrots. Stir in the lemon juice.

Serve the soup drizzled with a little olive oil and topped with the curry roasted cauliflower. I guarantee that if you make that soup once, you will be making it again.

Pumpkin blondies

I have been off the web for months now, can’t believe it’s gone by so quickly! Let me explain: I went on holiday for 2 weeks in the South of France (had amazing food there, especially in a lovely Bed&Breakfast in Nice where we were served 100% homemade breakfast every morning: from yoghurt, to jam, bread, croissants, everything! An amazing place I will probably write about at some point because I couldn’t recommend it enough). Then I moved houses right when we returned from holiday, before having the most manic of times at work at the end of October… To be honest I barely had time to bake / cook at all, let alone write about it! It’s crazy to think it’s November now and I haven’t written a thing since August.

But we are  finally all settled down in the new house. It’s gorgeous and I’m getting to know our new oven little by little. Isn’t it weird that it always takes weeks to get used to a new oven? This one is a gas one, like before, but fan assisted which my old one wasn’t; I am still working around it and trying to adapt cooking times from recipes… I had a few catastrophes with a cranberry frangipane tart that I burnt; and a bread a butter pudding that the boyfriend just managed to save (by scraping the black bits off the top!).

The Pumpkin blondies are ready

The Pumpkin blondies are ready

Last weekend, I decided to try my luck again and somehow celebrate the halloween season with some pumpkin blondies. I used a recipe from Table for Two and adapted it to the ingredients I could find. It was the first time ever I used (and even came across) pumpkin puree. Obviously, before putting it in anything I was going to bake, I tasted the pumpkin puree on its own and out of the can. Errrrrr can’t say I thoroughly enjoyed it, it tasted of something somewhere between baby food and overcooked mash. I know you are not supposed to eat it out of the can; and once baked I did enjoy it, but I thought you should know my feelings about it 🙂

Ingredients

  • 320 grams of plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1 tbsp of cinnamon powder
  • 225g of unsalted butter, melted
  • 220g of dark brown sugar
  • 100g of caster sugar
  • 1 free-range egg
  • 1 tbsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 can of pumpkin puree (Table for Two says not to use pumpkin pie filling, but in the UK I could only find a single sort of pumpkin puree anyway – Libby’s – so decided to worry about the subtlety)
  • 100 grams of fudge chunks
  • 100 grams of white chocolate, roughly cut into chunks
  • 100 grams of unsalted toasted peanuts, chopped roughly

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Preparation

Preheat oven to gaz 4 (around 175c) and line a baking tray with baking paper.

In a bowl, mix together the flour, cinnamon powder and salt. You can sift it if you’re a sifter (I’m not!).

In a separate bowl, combine the butter (cooled down to room temperature) and both types of sugar and whisk until smooth. Add the egg, vanilla extract and pumpkin puree. Stir until well combined.

Slowly add in the flour mixture and mix until fully incorporated and your mix is thick and smooth.

Finally, fold in the fudge and white chocolate chunks and the chopped peanuts.

Pour the preparation into your lined baking tray and bake for 55-60 minutes (the original recipe said 40-45 minutes, but I had to put it back for an extra 15 minutes). It is actually a bit difficult to check the cooking of this brownie with a skewer as the fudge chunks and chocolate chips make it look wet. Trust your guts and remember it is better to take it out too early and put it back in for a while; rather than risk overcooking it!

When you take it out of the oven, leave to cool fully in the baking tray (as it will be soft before that and you’d risk breaking it if you handling it too much).

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Once cooled down completely, cut it into (generously big) square; pour yourself a cuppa coffee and eat as many as you can before the rest of your household’s inhabitants storm into the kitchen.

 

 

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Spinach and cheese tart

In France, spinach and goat’s cheese is a classical combination. The “chèvre-épinards” can be declined in tarts, lasagne, layered savoury pastries (“feuilletés”), flans, muffins and much more. The combination is tested and widely approved.

But I  know that in the UK some people find the taste of goat’s cheese too strong (not me, I once ate a whole goat’s cheese log on my own and without a piece of bread. I know, I’m not proud of myself either), therefore I thought that using mozzarella instead would be a safe option, one that everyone would enjoy. And it is delicious indeed.

Yet, I couldn’t bring myself to leave the goat’s cheese out… So I opted for a tart that is half topped with mozzarella and half with goat’s cheese. Genius, now people can chose what cheese they want!

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Spinach tart topped with goats cheese / mozzarella6

As usual, the recipe is very easy, hence perfect for a weekday dinner. It’s also ideal for picnics, barbecues, summer lunch, whenever.

INGREDIENTS

  • Puff pastry
  • 400 grams of fresh spinach
  • 70 grams of grated cheese (my mum would have used gruyère, but cheddar is just as good)
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 tbsp of crème fraîche
  • For the topping: mozzarella and goat’s cheese (if you want to make it 50/50 like I did: 90 grams of goat’s cheese; 1 ball of mozzarella)
  • Salt and pepper

PUFF PASTRY

Ok, I’ll admit, I bought ready-made puff pastry because, as mentioned before, this was on a school night and I just didn’t have the time – nor will – to make pastry. Also, puff pastry is SO difficult that I don’t really bother, and the ones you buy are good so I don’t even feel bad about it. But if you want to make yours, here’s a good recipe!

Roll your pastry onto a lined tart/quiche/flan baking dish, pick with a fork, cover with baking paper and ceramic balls and blind bake for 10 minutes on the middle shelf of a pre-heated oven (210C). After 5 minutes, remove the ceramic balls and top paper and put back in the oven until slightly golden and the pastry is almost fully cooked. Leave out to cool while you make the filling.

The reason we blind-bake the pastry fully is that spinach is a very wet vegetable, and if we were to put straight onto raw pastry, there’s a chance that the pastry wouldn’t cook thoroughly.

Spinach

FILLING

Cook your spinach covered in a large saucepan (no oil, no water) on very low heat. When raw, 400 grams looks like it’s loads. But by the time it’s cooked, you’ll think it’s a joke, there’s just enough left to cover the base of the tart. Once cooked, put the spinach in a colander and press it down to get as much water out as possible. If you don’t get the water out, the bottom of your tart will be soggy. And we don’t like soggy bottoms (Mary Berry, if you read this!)

Next, in a bowl, mix the creme fraîche, eggs, grated cheese, salt, pepper and whisk until all blended. Don’t hesitate to taste and season, and remember that the spinach have not been seasoned, so feel free to add a little more salt to the mix.

Spinach base

MOUNTING

In the pastry case, place all the spinach making sure it’s spread everywhere. Pour the eggy mixture on top, then top with thick slices of goat’s cheese and/or mozzarella.

Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden and the cheese has melted.

Serve warm with a salad on the side. Bon appétit!

Spinach tart topped with goats cheese / mozzarella3

Slice of Spinach tart topped with goats cheese / mozzarella