A delicious dose of asparagus for vegetarian week and Celiac Awareness month.
Yolk recipes that require 2 yolks
A rather Franglais-style cheesecake & ranting over Brexit
Orange Blossom Pomegranate Rice Pudding with macarons from Teatime in Paris!
Honey Lemon Sablé Biscuits were just asking to be baked. It was a sign: Corsican lemons poking out from an oversized basket, stuck to their prickly leaves. I filled a large bag and, dreaming at the Monoprix checkout, thought about my favourite lemon and passion fruit meringue tart I could make with them. Corsican hubby would be pleased.
Then Lucie suddenly came down with a virus all last week while Mummy bear tried to calm her scratchy throat and racking cough with hot lemon and honey drinks. Finally when the fever subsided after a few days, it was my turn for the symptoms; then Antoine; like crashing dominoes, we were. The lemons didn’t make it to dessert mode – instead these easy Honey Lemon Sablé Biscuits.
The oversized jar of honey, bought from the market at Apt last summer, was also our best medicine. Miel de Garrigues, or honey from the Mediterranean coastal regions from such typical wild shrubs as lavender, thyme, sage, rosemary was the perfect soothing addition to drinks, yoghurts and to coat our favourite weekend brioche (thank you, freezer!).
Feeling sorry for myself (I’m a typical Aries – I’d hate to live with me), I felt the love circulating via friends with hints on the best remedies on Facebook – thank you! Now I’ve discovered Rooibos, that has really helped.
However, I’ve also been thinking about the new website, and so Jérôme’s suggestion, “More egg yolk recipes?” was also welcome. I’ve gradually been building up a list of yolk recipes and you’ll be happy to hear there are plenty more waiting for you in my forthcoming book, Teatime in Paris. Meanwhile I’m adding more to the list here on le blog. After all, we are mad about macarons, and we need to use up these yolks tout de suite.
Luckily I hadn’t lost my appetite. Come teatime this weekend, the end of the honeypot was looking rather concrete and unappetising. With only a few seconds in the microwave, the last of the liquid nectar was just too good to down all in one go, so I found these biscuits on the internet.
I say biscuits with my Scottish accent, my American friends call them cookies, the French call them sablés, so what on earth was I supposed to write as a title? Incidentally, the French refer to them as sablés since as you mix the butter and flour together with your fingertips, it resembles sand (our breadcrumbs reference). Crumbs; isn’t that fascinating?
Honey Lemon Sablé Biscuits
Recipe slightly adapted from 750 grammes French website for Petits délices au miel. I reduced the sugar slightly and added a pinch of salt. I used a stronger honey (like mountain honey) which flavours the biscuits beautifully.
Makes about 40 sablés (depending on the size of your cookie cutters)
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Resting Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
250g / 9oz plain flour
60g / 2.5oz sugar
130g /4.5oz softened butter (unsalted/doux)
2 egg yolks
2 tsps lemon zest (unwaxed)
3 tbsp runny honey (Accacia)
1. Measure the flour in a large bowl. In the centre, add the sugar, softened butter, lemon zest, honey and salt. Mix all together well with the tips of your fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs (or sand – sable – as the French say) then add the egg yolks.
Alternatively, if you have a stand mixer, mix all the ingredients together for a couple of minutes maximum until well blended together.
2. Split the dough into 2, cover with cling film and set aside in the fridge for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan. Remove the dough from the fridge and film and roll out with a rolling pin to about 5mm thickness. Cut the dough using your favourite cookie cutters. Put the biscuits on a baking tray covered with parchment paper or a Silpat mat. Bake for 10 minutes.
4. Leave the cookies to cool on the tray for a couple of minutes (this will make it easier to remove them) then cool on a wire rack.
I was planning on coating them with a ginger and lemon glaze but after having tried the first ones, I can honestly say they don’t need any fancy toppings. They are delicious and tasty enough on their own. Although don’t forget the tea! Serve with lemon tea – or why not a warming pot of Ginger Rooibos tea?
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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.
‘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.
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…
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.
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
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)
24 small pickling onions (or use frozen)
24 small button mushrooms (Champignons de Paris)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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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You can tell that chocolate has been quite prominent in our diets these last couple of weeks. How could I talk about the 20th Salon du Chocolat in Paris without having some kind of a chocolate treat for you? I also need to write up about the Paris Gourmet Chocolate Museum from the mid-term school holidays but right now, work on the new book is hotting up and I need to focus. I’m off to pick up, Eleanor, the Editor at the airport and we have a busy few days ahead of us…
Blustery showers, soggy leaves and chilly fingers calls for warming chocolate, doesn’t it? Let’s face it, dark chocolate is good for you, a mood enhancer and cooked together with egg yolks filled with iron, we need a good dose to stay healthy during the winter months.
And, with the simplest presentation in little cups, it’s the easiest of desserts to whip up at the last minute for the holiday season with friends and family. It’s also perfect served with macarons. Either made earlier and still in the fridge or from your freezer bank!
Chocolate and Chestnut Pudding
Recipe of Budino di Cioccolato adapted from Nigella Express Cookbook by Nigella Lawson.
350ml full-fat milk
50g caster sugar
1 tbsp cornflour/cornstarch
35g cocoa powder
2 tbsps boiling water
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g candied chestnut purée (Clément Faugier)
60g dark chocolate (min 70% cocoa solids), finely chopped
1. Put the kettle on, and warm the milk/cream together in a saucepan or in a bowl in the microwave.
2. Put the sugar and cornflour into another saucepan and sieve in the cocoa powder. Add the 2 tbsps of boiling water and whisk to a paste.
3. Whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time, followed by the warmed milk and cream, then the vanilla extract.
4. Scrape down the sides of the pan and put it on lowish heat, cooking and whisking for about 3-4 minutes until the mixture thickens to a mayonnaise-like consistency.
5. Take off the heat and whisk in the finely chopped chocolate and candied chestnut purée, before pouring into 4 small cups or glasses, each with a capacity of about 150ml.
6. Cover the tops of the cups or glasses with cling film, letting the cling-film rest on the chocolate surface, to stop a skin forming, and refrigerate once they are cooler.
Serve at room temperature, adding a blob of cream or top. I topped it with a marron glacé, a sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg and cinnamon and served with chocolate macarons.
Don’t forget there are many more egg yolk recipes on le blog for all you macaron-making lovers.
Store your egg whites in a jam jar with a closed lid and keep in the fridge for 4-5 days – then you’re ready to make Parisian macarons!