Roasted Nectarines & Lemon Verbena Ice Cream

A perfectly light dessert that celebrates summer in France.

Asparagus, Mint & Pea Clafoutis (Gluten Free)

A delicious dose of asparagus for vegetarian week and Celiac Awareness month.

Drambuie Ice Cream (No-Churn)

This Scottish whisky liqueur, honey and herb ice cream will liven up any dinner party when it’s served with dessert! Strictly for adults only…

Orange Blossom and Pomegranate Rice Pudding

Orange Blossom Pomegranate Rice Pudding with macarons from Teatime in Paris!

Passion Fruit and Raspberry Macaron Filling

Standing in the buzzing queue of many of Paris’s best pâtisseries, I often realise that decision-making has never been one of my strong points. Well, how can you blame me? With such sumptuous choices to ponder over, there are a number of pastry classics that look up from the shiny museum-like glass counters, saying “Go on – don’t forget me! Pick me!”

raspberry giant macarons with passion fruit cream

Admittedly, picking one or two out has become quicker, thanks to taking around eager testers in the  chocolate and pastry groups with Context Paris. What a responsibility it can be to choose a wide enough variety of fabulous samples without them all floating off into a sugar coma.

One of the lighter popular classics is a giant pink macaron garnished with pastry cream and surrounded with fresh raspberries. What’s more, it’s gluten-free. However, it’s not that easy to cut up into sample pieces!

macarons ispahan style in local patisseries

Pierre Hermé, dubbed by Vogue Magazine as the Picasso of Pastry, christened the most famous of giant raspberry macarons the Ispahan, named after a tender, fragrant Iranian rose. The giant pink macaron is filled with a rose and lychee cream and finished off with beautiful fresh raspberries.

So many pastry shops in Paris have drawn on his inspiration with their own take on it. Even our local pâtisserie had their version (above) with the bottom macaron shell upside down…

Raspberry passion fruit giant macaron

As you can imagine, such Parisian pâtisserie temptations are a constant source of exciting inspiration.  For this dessert classic I replaced the lychee and rose with a zingy passion fruit filling, adding that extra acidic touch to the raspberries.

Truth be told, I ran out of passion fruits as I thought two would be enough. But after tasting the cream, I felt it needed another passion fruit for that extra fruity punch.  So instead I added some extra passion fruit purée as an emergency back-up. I use an excellent passion fruit purée from Monin. Incidentally, I also love their floral syrups to quickly and easily add that delicious fragrant touch to pâtisserie recipes such as rose, elderflower and violet for a summery Teatime in Paris.

Giant raspberry macaron with passion fruit cream

Passion Fruit Cream Filling for Giant Raspberry Macarons

I used the basic macaron recipe in “Teatime in Paris” adding a pinch of deep raspberry pink powdered colouring (if using “Mad About Macarons”, use the measurements specified in the Annex of the book, under “Egg White Reference Chart” based on 100g egg whites).  This will make 12 large macarons.  The filling is based on a classic pastry cream (recipe also in “Teatime in Paris”) but I’ve adapted it here based on the liquid of the passion fruit.  Don’t forget that macaron shells can be frozen, so I often prepare them in advance and defrost them the day of a dinner party and the rest is easy to put together.

Serves 6

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: about 15 minutes
Chilling Time: 1 hour (minimum)

250 ml full-cream milk
1 vanilla pod/bean, seeds scraped out (optional)
3 egg yolks
50 g sugar
30 g cornflour
juice of 3 passion fruits (the equivalent of 4 tbsp once seeds removed)
2 punnets of fresh raspberries

1. In a medium saucepan, gently heat the milk with the vanilla seeds, if using. Meanwhile, using a balloon whisk, mix the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl until creamy, then whisk in the cornflour until smooth.  When the milk is hot (but not boiling), add half of the hot milk to the beaten egg yolk mixture. Whisk vigorously then quickly add the mix to the rest of the milk in the saucepan while whisking continuously.

2. Continue to whisk over the heat until the mixture thickens. Cover with cling film so that no skin forms on the surface and leave to cool for about 10 minutes then chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

3. Meanwhile, using a sieve, strain the juice and remove the seeds.

4. When chilled, whisk in the juice of the strained passion fruits and continue to chill until closer to serving time.

Spoon or pipe out the filling into the middle of 6 giant macaron bases and arrange about 8-10 raspberries (according to size) on the outside and finish off by topping with a macaron shell.

passion fruit cream

Speaking of passion fruit, have you tried the passion fruit and lemon meringue tartlet recipe from Teatime in Paris yet? My lovely friend, Christina, of Christina’s Cucina has just made them and posted the sample recipe!  You must pop in for a Parisian teatime in California – and please say hello from me.

The French’s Favourite Casserole: Blanquette de Veau

With the Charlie Hebdo event in Paris still shocking us all profoundly, we’re definitely turning to comfort food – and this Blanquette de Veau is a real French classic at this time of year.

In the Annex of Mad About Macarons, I have suggested recipes for using up egg yolks before saving the whites for your macarons. This is one of them. Blanquette de Veau is most often translated as Veal Casserole in White Sauce.

Blanquette de beau French casserole recipe

‘White sauce’ doesn’t sound too sexy, does it?  Blanquette sounds fancier in French but the English translation just doesn’t give it justice.  It even sounds a bit bland.  To me, white sauce conjures up dull images of a plain béchamel sauce with flour, milk and butter.  This casserole couldn’t be further from plain!  For a start, there is no flour in the sauce; instead, the casserole is simply thickened by reducing the natural stock at the end and whisking in egg yolks and cream with a flourish of nutmeg and lemon juice.

Why Blanquette de Veau?

Veal Blanquette is a pure and simple French Grandmother’s dish which is passed on from family generation to generation.  It’s a casserole that’s so simple to prepare. “Blanquette” refers to the way it’s cooked: there’s no need to brown the meat beforehand; instead the veal is just placed in a large pot together with its partners in taste and, as it bubbles away merrily, you can get on with other things.

 

French blanquette de veau casserole

It’s also Antoine’s favourite casserole – as long as it’s full of flavour.  It has a rich, creamy fragrant sauce with a hint of lemon and, for me, the touch of cloves just gives it that extra touch of warmth.  When it’s packed with comfort and flavour, you can see why the French consider it their favourite national stew!  It may be seen as family fare but serve this version at a dinner party and it works – ça marche!

It only really works, however, if you carry out the necessary extra steps at the end, otherwise the taste is nothing like the real thing.  I’ve seen recipes that just use crème fraîche and don’t take the time to whisk up the classic sauce using egg yolks to complete the dish. I’ve tried them and the resulting taste is well, bland. Let’s say it’s like making a curry without any spices…

My favourite French butcher in Le Vésinet near Paris

Blanquette de Veau is from our Ile-de-France region around Paris.  My local butcher, Monsieur Le Corre, is passionate about hunting and takes great pride in his best quality meats, often showing me the simplest way to prepare some classic cuts with a different twist (I’ll post on this later).  He’s also partial to showing off his latest catch, too!  For a blanquette, ideally you’ll need a mixture of best quality veal: mainly breast and shoulder. If you can’t get good veal, then chicken will also work well (use free-range, if possible) – and I’ve also seen many fish blanquette versions too.

Take the time in the last couple of steps to thicken the sauce.  Have I stressed enough how important this is? In true lazy gourmet style, however, I cheat a bit in the recipe by using frozen pickling onions from Picard, our favourite French frozen store.

creamy veal casserole made like the French

Blanquette de Veau Recipe

Recipe slightly adapted from one of my all-time favourite cookbooks, France: The Beautiful Cookbook – Authentic Recipes from the Regions of France by The Scotto Sisters and Gilles Pudlowski.  This book is full of the French classic dishes – I’ve particularly found that the savoury dishes are spot-on each time.

Preparation Time: 35 minutes
Cooking Time: 2.5 3 hours

1.5kg veal (mixture of breast & shoulder), cut into chunks
1 onion
3 cloves
bouquet garni (1 bay leaf, 4 sprigs thyme, 3 sprigs parsley)
1 leek (white part only), sliced
2 carrots, cut into chunks
250ml white wine
150g crème fraîche
2 large egg yolks (or 3 medium)
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
grated zest of half lemon (unwaxed)

Garnish:
24 small pickling onions (or use frozen)
24 small button mushrooms (Champignons de Paris)
30g butter
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1. Stud the onion with the cloves.  Place the veal in a casserole dish and add the carrots, onion, leek and bouquet garni.  Pour in the wine and add just enough water to cover the meat and vegetables.  Bring to the boil, skimming the surface for the first 10 minutes of any scum.  Cover and simmer gently for 2.5 hours. 

ingredients for blanquette de beau French casserole recipe

No need to brown the meat – just place the ingredients in a pot!

2. About 45 minutes before the end of cooking, prepare the garnish.  Wash mushrooms, pat dry and cut into halves or quarters, depending on their size.  Fry them at first without any oil or butter (my tip – not in the original recipe!) in a non-stick pan until they have given out all of their juices.  This concentrates their flavour.  THEN add 25g of the butter and the lemon juice to them and set aside. Sauté the onions in a small pan with the rest of the butter until golden.

vegetable garnish for blanquette de veau

3. Lift the lid of the casserole dish and smell these flavours!  Discard the bay leaf and thyme stalks. Remove the meat and vegetables with a slotted spoon and transfer to a large serving dish, adding the mushrooms and pickling onions.  Set aside and keep warm in a cool-moderate oven.

Blanquette de Veau French veal pot casserole

4. Boil the cooking liquid over a high heat until reduced.  Meanwhile, in a bowl, hand-whisk the crème fraîche, lemon zest, yolks, grated nutmeg, and season with salt and pepper.  Blend in 3 tablespoons of the hot stock then quickly whisk in the yolk mixture back into the stock.  Stir constantly until thickened but do not boil (it will reduce its subtle flavours). Whisk until the sauce is smooth and velvety.

how to reduce sauce for a blanquette casserole

Pour the sauce over the meat and serve with basmati or Thai rice.  This dish is also lovely reheated the next day.  For busy gourmets, this dish can be prepared the day before a dinner party.  Just prepare steps one and two in advance then chill in the fridge.  Make the sauce on the day of serving and voilà!

classic blanquette de veau or French veal casserole recipe

Antoine loves to serve this with a delicate white wine, such as an Alsace Riesling or Pinot Gris, otherwise a St. Véran, Marsannay or other Burgundy will be fabulous.

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