Easy French seasonal recipes including many traditional dishes from my travels. Includes a database of egg yolk recipes and many gluten-free dishes, cakes and desserts.

Stuffed Cabbage (Chou Farci): A Cheat’s French Classic Winter Recipe

A French Classic recipe of stuffed savoy cabbage made easy by using turkey stuffing leftovers.

Dark Chocolate Lava Cakes with Runny Hearts

How many times have you seen chocolate lava cakes on dessert menus? In Paris …

Chestnut, Pumpkin & Mushroom Tarts – and Beaujolais Nouveau!

The shock of the inhuman terrorist attacks in Paris last week have perhaps numbed us. But this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau Wine Day 2015 has never been so symbolic this Thursday 19 November. Beaujolais producers affirm that their “wines are to be celebrated” and “they represent French conviviality and culture.

The moment of sharing this year is a strong symbol to show that France still stands strong and is proud of its values.”

The French know how to continue their art de vivre and they need our support during this tough time – as locals and tourists alike are perhaps scared to venture out for a while in the Paris we love so much. After an exceptionally hot summer and a perfectly mature early harvest, the French have good reason to be proud. 2015 will apparently be an outstanding vintage and so it’s time to celebrate wine in France and around the world.

Beaujolais Nouveau Wine Day 2015 Paris

Today nearly a third of Beaujolais production is sold as Beaujolais Nouveau. It’s the first French wine to be released for each vintage year. Harvesting takes place late August to early September and the traditional Gamay Noir grapes (which make up 98% of Beaujolais wines) are fermented for only a few days then released on the third Thursday in November, a practise that has continued since 1985 by the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine (INAO).

Like Beaujolais Nouveau, Beaujolais basic reds are to be drunk within the year. They’re real bistro wines in Paris, served slightly chilled and slightly blueish-light-purple in colour due to the Gamay grape, known for being light, fruity and easy-drinking.

Pumpkin sage and mushroom tarts with Chestnut Flour

This week also marks 24 years ago since I met my Frenchman. Antoine had just returned from a student Beaujolais Nouveau evening and so we quickly found a mutual conversation starter – admittedly I made him do most of the talking just to listen to his endearing, oh-là-là accent. Having blind-tasted the Scottish Wine Society’s selection the previous evening – celebrated in true Frenchie style with the official jury arriving on bicycles, clad in onion-johnnys, berets, blue and white stripy nautical matelot jerseys – the best producer was unveiled with its pretty flowery label since it typically tasted of banana and bubble gum. Although my thoughts were leaning towards the highest category, the Beaujolais Cru wines.

When I explained to my new French-Corsican friend Antoine that evening about the 10 Crus (Brouilly, Régnié, Chiroubles; Côte de Brouilly, Fleurie, Saint-Amour; Chénas, Juliénas, Morgon, Moulin à Vent), and how some of them could keep up to 10 years in the bottle with no need to chill the red wine either – I’d somehow talked myself into a Frenchman’s heart. We had an excuse to meet again and thankfully, we’re still continuing the love of discovering of new wines together.

Chestnut Pumpkin Tarts

So to celebrate the perfect partner, here’s a delicious recipe for chestnut pumpkin tarts that match well with the basic Beaujolais or the lighter to medium bodied crus. Inspired by my Corsican family who use chestnut flour in their cooking, I’ve added it to the pastry; the roasted pumpkin and mushroom filling is also good with any turkey leftovers.

Chestnut flour pastry for pumpkin sage and mushroom tarts

Roasted Pumpkin, Mushroom and Chestnut Tart Recipe

You could also replace the mushrooms with left-over turkey, as the wines also partner very well with poultry.

Makes one large tart (28cm diameter) or 8 individual tartlets

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Resting Time: 2 hours
Cooking Time: 40 minutes

Chestnut Pastry

150g plain flour
100g chestnut flour
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp water

1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and mix until the dough forms a ball. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for an hour.  Remove the dough from the fridge and leave to stand until room temperature, to make it easy to roll it out.

2. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface then using the pastry roller, wrap around the pastry to transfer it to the tart tin.  Press it in to the sides then, again with the roller, roll over the top of the tin to clean up the edges.  Keep in the fridge while preparing the filling.

Filling

350g pumpkin, roughly chopped into small chunks
3 tbsp olive oil
1 leek, white part, sliced finely
350g mushrooms, cut into big pieces
1 tbsp sage leaves, finely chopped
3 eggs
250g crème fraîche
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
salt & pepper
Parmesan shavings to serve (optional)

3. Preheat the oven to 180°C/360°F (gas 4). Place the pumpkin with half of the oil and sage in a roasting tin and roast in the oven for 20 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, over medium heat, cook the leeks in the rest of the oil until translucent.  Add the mushrooms and continue to cook.  There’s no need to add any more oil.  Wait until the mushrooms give off their liquid and then set aside to cool slightly.

5. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, crème fraîche, nutmeg then season with salt and pepper.

6. Sprinkle the roasted pumpkin and sage over the tart base, top with the leek and mushrooms and pour over the creamy egg mix.  Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes for a large tart (30 minutes if making tartlets).

Chestnut pumpkin tarts

So cheers to this year’s vintage! Serve with this year’s jam-packed Beaujolais Nouveau (apparently it’s full of forest fruits on the nose!) or enjoy it at any time of year with a medium-bodied Cru: a Saint-Amour, a Fleurie, or a Côte de Brouilly and let’s raise a toast to the French.

To show your support for our local bistros, restaurants and wine bars in France, see the
List of Beaujolais Programme throughout France.

Pumpkin, Sage and Parmesan Financiers

Today the sun is shining again on the city we love so much.  While France is in shock and mourning, some Parisian shops opened this weekend, not giving in to being terrorised.

Paris view from Montmartre by Jill Colonna

Yesterday the skies were grey and all around was so desperately quiet. We stayed indoors, stunned, numbed by such violence, trying to digest what happened in Paris on Friday night. Our thoughts and sincere sympathies are with all those who have lost their precious loved ones.

We can’t even begin to imagine how it must feel. Paris needs our solidarity and support. As we get on with our lives in hope of peace, let’s not give in to fear by continuing to enjoy its beauty, its history, and its culture.

Pumpkin financiers, French savoury cakes

We lost our appetite but somehow steaming hot pumpkin and leek soup were comforting hugs in a bowl. With a bit of pumpkin left roasting in the pan, I rustled up some light, savoury cakes to accompany it.

A Bit of Parisian History – Financiers

I’ve called them Financiers but the only resemblance to the sweet, traditional almond teacake is the oblong moulds used, which are also used by Ladurée in Paris for their financiers. These were the original shape of the teacake before Monsieur Lasne, a rather enterprising pastry chef in the Stock Exchange (la Bourse) area, had the gem of an idea by changing them to gold bar shapes in 1890 for his financial clientele. Recipes for financiers, including a chocolate-hazelnut one, are in Teatime in Paris!

Silicone moulds are my favourite, as there’s no need to grease them before baking and the cakes just fall out on to the cooling rack. They’re best in these financier moulds but you can use any little cake moulds that you have. The pumpkin parmesan financiers are a delicious change to holiday apéritif pre-dinner drinks and, even if they’re quick to make, they also freeze well so ideal for planning ahead.

pumpkin parmesan financiers recipe

Pumpkin Parmesan Financiers

Makes approx. 20 cakes

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 20+15 minutes

150g pumpkin, roughly chopped into small chunks
1 tbsp sage, finely chopped
100g olive oil
200g plain (all-purpose) flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
100g semi-skimmed milk
50g block parmesan, freshly grated
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
20g chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/360°F (gas 4). Put the pumpkin in a roasting tin with half of the sage and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.  Roast for 20 minutes then remove from oven to cool.

2. Mix the flour and baking powder in a bowl then, using a balloon whisk, beat in the eggs, olive oil and milk until you have a smooth paste. Add the parmesan, nutmeg, the rest of the sage then gradually whisk in the pumpkin (it will break up with the whisk which is just perfect as it won’t be a purée but tiny bits) and walnuts, if using.

3. Pour into financier silicone moulds (here I used traditional oblong shapes but you can use rectangular financier moulds – or madeleine moulds too) and bake for about 20 minutes until the cakes are golden brown.

Best served on the day but can also be frozen for up to a month to help you plan ahead for your holiday baking. Or prepare the batter the day before and bake when needed.

pumpkin parmesan financiers

To all my American friends – wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving from Paris!

 

Caramel and Jasmine Macarons and Tea-Infused Recipes

Apparently 9 November is International Tea Day.  When I saw this over the weekend on Instagram, excitement set in as it was the perfect excuse to put the kettle on and infuse some tea into more teatime treats. I don’t normally keep up with national or international food days but Tea Day made me think about how tea and teatime have been top for Mad About Macarons this year. And to celebrate, let’s enjoy one of the recipes from Teatime in Paris!

Adding tea to baking and cooking is such an easy touch to make certain simple recipes sophisticated.  As ever, Paris has been my inspiration, as many fancy pâtisseries and tearooms offer tea-infused pastries for that extra chic Parisian teatime.

Some tea-infused recipes on le blog have not been confined to teatime. One of my favourite main dishes is this easy yet elegant fish recipe with a beurre blanc sauce infused with Lapsang Souchong smoked tea.  Try it and you’ll see how it takes a simple John Dory fish dish to another level. I love the crispy topping but the sauce is the always the winner of compliments at dinner parties – so thank you Chef Vincent David for this one!

Cooking with tea recipes

Top: Herb-hugging John Dory with Smoked Tea Beurre Blanc;  Below: Tea-infused chocolate macarons; Green Tea Rice Pudding

I was in shock yesterday when I remembered these One Night in Paris-Bangkok (Mariages Frères) tea-infused chocolate macarons and partying with a wig. Moving on to more recent comfort food was this rice pudding recipe infused with Theodor’s latest aromatic green tea called Little Bear, with notes of ginger and mandarine. I see the Insolent Parisian has yet another delicious tea-infused vanilla cream recipe.

Tea-infused recipes are also included in my new book, Teatime in Paris, such as these Honey, Rose and Green Tea Madeleines from the first chapter – and ending with the final Tea Party recipes, made to mix-and-match, including this Chocolate-Earl Grey Tart with Cointreau Crumble Puffs.

tea infused recipes in Teatime in Paris

Now, thanks to Waverley Books, I can share the recipe for the salted caramel cream filling from the new book – although instead I infused jasmine tea into the cream and omitted the salt to let the tea shine through.

caramel and jasmine macarons

Caramel and Jasmine macarons – with a cup of Jasmine tea …

CARAMEL AND JASMINE MACARON FILLING RECIPE

Recipe adapted from Teatime in Paris – the salt has been omitted and the cream is slightly increased to allow for the infusion with the Jasmine tea. First, follow the basic macaron recipe (pages 146-150 in Teatime in Paris – or from Mad About Macarons) and add caramel colouring.

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Resting time: 20+30 minutes
Cooking time: 12 minutes

Caramel & Jasmine filling:

110g cream, warmed
12g jasmine tea
1 x 2g sheet gelatine
100g sugar
60g butter
150g mascarpone

Heat the cream in a small saucepan and add the jasmine tea.  As soon as the cream boils, take off the heat, put a lid on and leave to infuse for 20 minutes. Filter out the tea, pushing as much of the cream out of the tea as possible using a wooden spoon. Set aside.

Soak the gelatine in cold water for 10 minutes and reheat the cream.

Heat the sugar with a tablespoon of water over medium heat in a small saucepan until a golden, syrupy caramel forms. Stir only when it starts to change colour and watch that it doesn’t colour too much (i.e. it can burn quickly – and there’s nothing worse than bitter burnt caramel, so keep you’re eye on it!). This should take no more than 10 minutes in total. Turn down the heat and add the warmed cream gradually (ensure it’s warm, otherwise you’ll have the boiling caramel spitting at you!)

Take off the heat and melt in the butter, stirring the tea-infused caramel with a wooden spoon.

Add the gelatine (squeezed of excess water) and stir. Leave to cool on the counter for 15 minutes.

Whisk in the mascarpone vigorously (or use an electric whisk) until you have a smooth texture.

Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Transfer the caramel cream to a piping bag, pipe on the filling to each macaron couple, topping off with the other macaron shell to assemble.

Caramel and jasmine tart with Parisian macarons

I’ll leave you with this Caramel, Walnut and Maple tart, another of the recipes from Teatime in Paris I made this weekend to accompany the macarons (I did say I was looking for excuses to bake!).  Here I also infused Jasmine tea into the cream before pouring into the caramel. I also infused the tea into the melted butter for these almond tuiles, another of the recipes. It’s easy to adapt so many varieties of your best recipes to celebrate your favourite teas.

caramel jasmine macarons with caramel-maple and walnut tart from Teatime in Paris

All that’s missing is a cup of tea and some company. So, what’s your favourite tea and do you bake or cook with it?  Please feel free to share a tea recipe with us in the comments and I’ll add it to this post.

Happy Tea Celebration Day!

Egg Pasta Recipe: Alsatian Noodles

You know how I love sharing egg yolk recipes with you – especially if you’re mad about macarons, financiers, meringue and such likes that use egg whites. But just because the blog’s name has the word macaron in it, I realise now that I shouldn’t shy away from posting my favourite savoury recipes here too.

egg yolk recipes homemade pasta noodles

When the girls were younger, one of their best party souvenirs was based on a homemade pasta theme. They adored dusting the strands of pasta with flour, as well as on themselves, flour-dusting the kitchen floor as everyone took turns to rotate the pasta-maker’s handle and watch the strands appear for the grand finale like a beaded curtain found in Mediterranean yesteryear groceries.

The best part was at the end, watching them all tuck in around the table, tongues twisting with concentration as they twirled their lovingly homemade noodles around giant forks as they lapped it all up just tossed in butter with a few fresh herbs from the garden. Suddenly last week, Lucie asked to make homemade pasta again during the school holidays. And I’m so glad she did, even if this time it was just a party for two.

egg yolk recipes homemade pasta

This egg pasta is extra special as it uses so many egg yolks. I first discovered the classic recipe for them as Alsatian Noodles (Nouilles à l’Alsacienne) by the late Chef Bernard Loiseau, who loosely called for 8-10 yolks, or 5 whole eggs but over the years I’ve used a couple of eggs in there with 6 yolks and find it so easy to work with.

Normally the beautifully rich noodles are simply tossed in good butter, a little olive oil, freshly cracked pepper and often served with slow-cooked stews such as Lapin Chasseur, a right old French grandmother’s rabbit dish.

Homemade egg pasta

Alsatian Noodles – Egg Yolk Pasta Recipe

Serves 4

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Resting Time: 30 minutes + 1 hour
Cooking Time: 3-5 minutes (depending on the thickness of the noodles)

To make noodles, this recipe is so much easier using a pasta machine, although it’s not completely necessary.

500g plain flour + extra for dusting
6 egg yolks
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp olive oil

Butter, olive oil & seasoning to serve

how to make homemade pasta noodles

1. Ideally, using a food mixer, mix all the ingredients at low speed until well mixed.  (If you make this by hand, make a large well in the flour, add the salt and crack the eggs and oil into it. Gradually mix in the flour with the hands until you have a non-sticky dough). Divide the pasta dough into 4, cover each with cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. Lightly flour the working surface. Taking each ball of pasta at a time, flatten the dough with the palm of your hand and press into the first and largest setting to flatten it out.  Repeat each step a couple of times with each of the 4 balls until the dough runs through easily.  Continue the process on setting 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 until the pasta elongates into beautifully long sheets. Sprinkle with flour, then pass through each sheet through the noodle attachment. (If making by hand, flatten to 2mm using a rolling pin, sprinkle with flour, then roll the dough into a spiral and cut into thin strips using a sharp knife).

3. Spread out the long noodles, coating them with some flour so that they don’t stick together and leave to dry for about an hour.

4. Place a large pot of water to the boil with a couple of tablespoons of salt and plunge in the pasta, stirring immediately to prevent any noodles from initially sticking to each other.  The noodles are ready as soon as they remount to the surface, after about 3-5 minutes (depending on thickness).

Serve tossed in butter and olive oil and season to taste.

egg yolk pasta recipe

This is also delicious served with my favourite dinner party recipe for Autumn-Winter, which is slow-cooked pigs’ cheeks. I must post it for you soon since when you try it, you’ll be asking for seconds!

In the meantime (don’t tell the lovely French from Alsace!), I mixed Alsace with Italy and tossed the noodles in a most deliciously easy sauce, thanks to my lovely Scottish-Italian friend, Christina Conte of Christina’s Cucina (you heard me rave about our escapade together in Bordeaux and then in Charentes-Maritime, where we took part in Karen’s Lavender & Lovage Cookery School).  You must watch Christina’s Dad making this anchovy sauce recipe!  Although it’s not traditional with these noodles, we thought it was fantastic.

French egg pasta noodles Alsace

Now you’ve used 6 egg yolks for the pasta, leave the egg whites in a clean jam jar with lid on for up to 5 days and enjoy making macarons, financiers and meringue-topped French tarts from Teatime in Paris!