mardi 22 octobre 2013

Agnes Obel, or the sweetest music to my ears

Agnes Obel - The Curse (Berlin Live Session)

Well my friends, maybe this will transport you to a different realm of reveries...

dimanche 20 octobre 2013

Quiche d'Automne with chanterelles

I really got into the home made puff pastry lately. Since the Backyard Dinner at least.

I made a large batch (so that I would have enough for an apple and pear pie façon Tatin as well as) for a savory dish.

Here is the best quiche I've made this fall,
The Chanterelles Quiche on a Crust of Puff Pastry

Oh the buttery fluffiness of this crust!
I had gorgeous locally harvested mushrooms from my food Co-op, so I came up with a Chanterelles quiche recipe that would carry the flavours of autumn.

It was so delicious that just writing down this recipe days later makes me drool.

To make this recipe you need to get approx. 250g of puff pastry.

I made mine from scratch following this recipe in french (enough for 2 pies)
You can use a store bought one or maybe your favourite artisan baker can make it for you on order.

Blind bake the rolled out puff pastry in a pie dish, with weight on it !!

(dry beans on parchment paper will do)
at 350F for 20 min.

Meanwhile, sauté in a pan with olive oil the following 4 ingredients:

  • 1 french shallot, thinly chopped, golden with a bit of salt
  • 2 cups of chanterelles washed (or dry brushed) and chopped roughly
  • a handful of fresh thyme, stemmed
  • 4 to 8 slices of smoked prosciutto, sliced roughly

When all is golden (10 to 15 minutes) add these 4 ingredients to the quiche batter below:

  • 4 organic free-range eggs
  • 2 tabsp of grated cheese of your choice (organic cheddar works well)
  • some soft goat cheese, crumbled

Pour the whole thing on the blind baked pastry (removing the beans & parchment paper) and bake for 20 to 25 min at 350F.


vendredi 18 octobre 2013

Cheesemaking : first camembert ever

On september 29th I made camembert for the first time.

These is the visual I made following the instructions from David Asher's workshop
and also from his blog, see my previous post here)


Using 4 litters of pasteurized (sigh...) but non homogenized & local (yeah!) milk,
I managed to pour 2 camemberts.

That's all I could fit in my largest pot.

The curds seemed so perfect.

I used plastic containers that I pierced to strains the water out.

 I calculated the percentage of salt (3%) needed per weight of each camembert,
and I rubbed them all around after 24 hours of drainage.
(see bottom right corner of my visuals)

Yes, after the first night, I got 2 very puffy camemberts.

2 things might have happened,
  • one is that the heater in the house was on all day (hubby stayed home)
  • second is that I threw a kefir grain in the milk because I was afraid that my whey would be too weak to curd the whole thing.
I figured I didn't need to panic because of this puffiness. After all, maybe it would create small holes inside the camembert, just slightly more than usual.

As for the aging process, I did an experiment:

I aged one camembert in a glass container in the fridge.
I aged the second camembert in a plastic salad spinner (because of the inner straining basket allowing air to circulate all around the cheese) in my basement.

Day 10:
The basement camembert is developing some lovely white mould.
The fridge one doesn't look like a camembert yet.

Day 17:
The fridge camembert is showing first signs of wonderful white mould on the surface.
The basement camembert is getting very smelly (did I mentioned that our laundry area is in the basement?) so I transferred it into a sealed big stainless steel container.

Day 19:
I decide to have both camemberts inside the fridge. I saw that Aaron Estes from Cave-Aged Blog, would "wrapped them in foil, put them in a freezer bag, and placed them in the bottom drawer of (his) refrigerator". So I'm going to do the same thing, except I'm adding a sushi mat under the camembert for it to have a sort of breathable mattress.

I shall wait another 4 to 6 weeks. I will check on them every 2 or 3 days.

jeudi 3 octobre 2013

Cheese making workshop

I had the opportunity to participate to a cheesemaking workshop this summer.

It was amazing. It all started with a lovely lady handing out poster for the workshop.

The poster had the picture of a was I suppose to resist?

One day here this blog will feature a picture of the goat that will live happily in our backyard.
But I digress.

Our cheese maker extraordinaire was David Asher.

Let me write this about David Asher of the Black Sheep School of Cheesemaking, he knows evertything about cheese.
Just check out David's website "The Way Of Cheese", it has all the info an aspiring cheese-maker could dream of.

I strongly recommend attending a workshop if you can, because nothing beats having visuals and feeling textures of proper curds.

I was baffled to learn that you don't need to buy cheese cultures nor special equipement to make artisanal cheeses.

All you need is:
_some whey
(see picture above)

_ a kefir grain

_spores from an existing cheese
(optional, can be obtained by grating off the skin of an existing cheese, really)

_a pot and some containers to strain your cheese
(totally easy to find in your house)

(We'll use something else instead...)

_Oh and for some types of cheese you need rennet ("présure" en français)

Here David is straining some soft cheese
in very special cheese cloth...

soft cheese taken out of its straining bag


spread on home made crackers!

... a "Do-Rag"
very usefull to drain your soft cheese

Our lunch was the yummiest potluck since participants
brought food that would pair well with cheese.

Seasosoning soft cheese
with endless possibilities

David also demonstrated
the art of
mozzarella making!

Even though this one seemed to me like the most tricky one,
I felt like Alpine cheese and camembert were at the tip of my fingers.

But first, I started by making soft cheese with a beautiful
organic caw milk yogurt.

After 2 days,
I got a nice rich creamy cheese that I seasoned with green onions and garlic.

Last weekend, I attempted to make camembert for the first time.
Stay posted for some updates about this adventure.

I found usefull cheesemaking infos as well on:

Androuet (both english & french)

vendredi 13 septembre 2013

Local Honey

It's always a joy to get together with friends
to either visit a new place, listen to someone's story or face a new challenge,

it''s always an exploration
of a new territory that gets me excited and leaves me inspired!

One of my friend recently became a beekeeper and invited a bunch of us to watch hime assess the hives and taste his honey.

First we had to get equipped, this is Hazel getting bee-proof.

Here's a type of hat that you might want to wear if you're going to be near disturbed bees...
...or at least that what we thought.
As for the scenery, these bees are pollinating in paradise.

Their hives are situated in a garden where chicken peck away under abundance of flowers, where ponds are creating a cool contrast against the heat of greenhouses.
It's an amazing gardener's self sufficient wonderland.

Ok so there were a lot of informations
and I forgot the name of this plant,
but bees love it.

So our bee-keeper checked his hives, all went farely well until some bees got under his hat!
he got stung a few times on his face (brave, right?) !!!
and then it was time to finish the harvest.

When he came back
he cut chunks of freshly harvested combs
and dropped huge chunks in our hands,
for us to eat.

Wait. What?

That's right,
we ate it straight from the hive
where a few seconds ago the honey was being kept at a perfect temperature
by some seriously busy bees.

I will never forget this moment.

The honey was still warm, exploding with flavours and sweetness.

I felt connected to the bear within me,
who just found a hive and tasted raw honey for the first time in her bear life.
Thinking : "this is worth all the hibernations in the world"

I didn't even want to spit out the wax, really.
There was also some darker part in the hives, where the bees store some pollen.

I popped one pollen bead right out:

It tasted good too.

Christoph kept cutting through the buttery textured honey comb,
Filling up a mason jar with chunks.

Then he screened it and tapped another mason jar on top of the first one.

Flip the whole thing upside down to let the honey drip through the screen.

Then a Bear grabbed it!

Only to take it outside and let it do its magic in the warm sunlight.
Then it was time for our brunch
Crêpes, blueberries and whipped cream with tons of honey all over it.
That's when I got so overwhelmed with happiness that I actually stopped taking pictures.

Thanks you for this experience Christoph, it was incredible!
Your patience, calm and wise bee education are unforgettable.

Thank you Hazel & Toumbi for lending me some beekeeping gear
and helping me to feel brave enough to get close to the bees.

Thanks Bear for not running away with the honey jackpot.

dimanche 8 septembre 2013

Sumac, goat cheese and other dairy bliss

A few weeks ago, I was thinking about appetizers
to make for a catering gig.

How about some goat cheese marbles?
with some kind of flavourful surprise inside
and looking cute too.

Ok so let's try this at home first, it would go well with figs, nuts...maybe some fresh herbs...

First I re-hydrated some dry figs in a jar with water, red and white balsamic vinegar, added some dried basil.

1 to 2 days later, I got everything ready to make the goat cheese balls.

I crushed some walnuts,

I crumbled some goat cheese into 10g portions.

I cut the figs into pieces
(I also tried it with re-hydrated raisins, but the figs-marbles were better)

Then I put a small piece of fig into a portion of cheese and rolled it
until it would form a nice & innocent looking marble.

Then I would fill 2 bowls
one with:
crushed nuts + nettles + salt & pepper
green mix

Another one with:
crushed nuts + sumac + beet powder
red mix

I rolled half of the marbles in the green mix, the other half in the red mix
Planted some toothpicks in it...


You guys! I'm so going to replicate the recipe with chèvre made from scratch since I've been to an amazing CHEESE MAKING WORKSHOP !!

The other blissful moment of my summer 
involving dairy
was eating making cheese cake.

It all started with the savoury cheese cake recipe that called for agar-agar.
With that one being so yummy,
I was only one step away from making its sweet counterpart.

Crust = gluten free graham crumbs + butter + almond meal for the crust.

Cheese cake mix = cream cheese + yogurt (in which a pinch of agar-agar is dissolved, then bring to a boil for 30") + fair trade 55% chocolate, melted

No added sugar! Cause the chocolate adds enough sweetness for our taste.

Let it set for 2 to 3 hours in the fridge.

Serve topped with wild strawberries from the garden
(love the tangy/ sweet contrast in flavour)


jeudi 5 septembre 2013

Backyard dinner

Take 2 friends who are excited about food and other things aesthetically pleasing,

Let them live next door to eachother for a while so that they can share ideas
about food all the time,

wait until it's summer,

and you have the right conditions to organize a fabulous Backyard Dinner!

That's how Kalika and made it happen, with the help of the talented Marnie for
the beautiful invitations & menu:

I wanted to make so many things, Kalika too, she helped me organize it all so that it would look like this:

For the roasted red veggies tartines,
Kalika made the Sourdough bread and I used her recipe.

Then I made aubergines Tatins

(aka : upside-down pie)
 with puff pastry made from scratch, please.
Inspired by my Mum's melting eggplant recipe.

(it was my first time making this pastry dough and I have to say it was amazing)

It puffed!

then there was the dolce vita savory cheese cakes!!!
with tapenade!!!

then toped with golden zucchini slices.

We served all appetizers on one board, in small portions so that guest would feel good about it all.

Then I ran out of time to take pictures of everything
but here are a few more, including the strawberry tart
made by Kalika and served with her homemade cookies.

Salmon Wreath
(recipe from my Mum)

Dessert anyone?

I might post recipes in details in upcoming articles,
stay posted.