A typical French winter classic: leek pie from Picardy which uses 4 egg yolks! For National Pie Day.
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.
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.
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.
Alsatian Noodles – Egg Yolk Pasta Recipe
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
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp olive oil
Butter, olive oil & seasoning to serve
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.
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.
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!
After tasting the exquisite Pastéis de Nata from Comme à Lisbonne in Paris, I just had to make these delicious Portuguese custard tarts at home. Besides, it’s a great egg yolk recipe!
In true lazy gourmet style, I cheat and use ready-made puff pastry. There’s nothing wrong with that. Just remember to use a good quality all-butter puff pastry. I use either defrosted (here in France, Picard do a good frozen puff), or ready-rolled (these are in packets of 230g and so easy to use). If you can’t find ready-rolled, just roll out the pastry to 3-5mm thickness and cut out your circles according to the recipe below.
One factor that’s not easy to control is the traditional extra hot oven needed to make traditional sized custard tarts more genuine looking. As not all of our home kitchen ovens can go up as high as professional ovens to give them that beautifully scorched look, put it as high as you can – and keep an eye on them! I’d suggest 7-10 minutes if it’s very hot, otherwise for about 10-15 minutes.
PASTÉIS DE NATA RECIPE
Recipe inspired by Denise Browning at From Brazil to You, who adapted it from the cookbook, “Cozinha Tradicional Porguguesa”. Denise made mini tarts, whereas I made a slightly bigger, more traditional size like they serve at Comme à Lisbonne. So I used half quantity to fill regular muffin moulds, and cut down the sugar slightly, using a vanilla pod/bean instead of the extract.
Makes 12 tartlets (using 2x 6-cavity non-stick muffin moulds @ 7cm diameter)
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Baking Time: 8-15 minutes (depending on your oven)
4 egg yolks
15g cornflour/cornstarch (a lightly heaped tablespoon)
1 vanilla pod/bean, scraped of seeds*
250ml whole milk
230g puff pastry (1 pack of ready-rolled or a pack of frozen puff, defrosted)
Powdered cinnamon (to serve)
* 1 tbsp vanilla extract
1. Chill a bowl in the fridge. Put the egg yolks, sugar, cornflour and vanilla seeds (scraped from a pod cut in half down the middle horizontally) in a saucepan and mix well using a balloon whisk until you have a creamy paste. Gradually add the milk, whisking until mixed well together.
2. Put the pan on a medium heat and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens. Remove pan from the heat. (If you don’t use the vanilla pod, add the extract at this point). Transfer the custard to the chilled bowl and immediately cover it with cling film to prevent a skin from forming. Set aside to cool.
3. Lightly oil or butter the muffin moulds and preheat the oven preferably to the highest setting – I used 250°C/480°F/230°C mark 9.
4. On a lightly floured surface – roll the pastry if needed – using a cookie cutter or glass (about 9cm diameter, slightly bigger than the 7cm diameter muffin cavity), cut out discs and press them into each cavity. Spoon in the cooled custard about 3/4 to the top then bake for 7-10 minutes. Keep an eye on them!
5. Leave to cool in the moulds/tins for about 5 minutes then turn them out on to a wire rack.
Serve them slightly warm and lightly dusted with cinnamon.
P.S. As large quantities of egg whites were used for starching clothes in the monasteries and convents around the 18th Century, the monks discovered this delicious way of using up the egg yolks and so a legendary Portuguese pastry was born! And just for the record, I don’t starch hubby’s shirts with egg whites. Macarons are much better fun!
Click here for more about Pasteis de Nata and how popular they are!
This has been a fun and busy year and I am so relieved to have finally handed in the last proofs of my upcoming new book. Let’s hope Waverley Books are happy with it as it has been an absolute marathon!
I’ve been so lucky to have you popping in to say hello or sharing in the fun on Mad About Macarons, either here on le blog or on Facebook. And most of all, thank you for buying my book (I guess I can say it’s my first, can’t I?) I have loved hearing from you via book reviews and from the Readers’ Forum.
This is a good time to give a short round-up of desserts from le blog that are perfect for this time of year – and also ideal to serve with your macarons!
Whether it’s the most wicked of dark chocolate cakes, the tangiest of lemon tarts or the creamiest of riz au lait or rice pudding, desserts during the holiday season just love that extra je ne sais quoi: Parisian macarons!
If it’s lighter desserts you’re looking for, what about this roasted caramelised pineapple with vanilla and passion fruit recipe. Serve with exotic fruit macarons or what about chocolate, coconut and passion fruit macarons? All from the book.
If you don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen but fancy some quick and tasty no-bake chocolate desserts, then what about some black forest chocolate puddings, chocolate orange creams or chocolate & candied chestnut cups? What’s more, they are handy egg yolk recipes, so that you can save your egg whites for making macarons a few days later.
Since it’s perfect pear season, why not poach some firm, comice pears in coffee and serve with chocolate-moka macarons? Here’s the recipe for vanilla and coffee poached pears.
Like Amelie Poulin, for crème brûlée dessert lovers who are addicted to cracking the ice-rink of sugar with your spoon, any chocolate – or chocolate-whisky – macarons are happy holiday partners. Try chocolate-passion fruit crème brûlées or whisky toffee frozen crème brûlées.
Funnily enough, Antoine seems to eat more ice cream when it’s cold outside than any other time of year. I don’t think that’s completely French somehow, but a lemon ice cream (served with lemon macarons or tutti-frutti, for example), candied fruit or Plombières (no churn) ice cream, or pistachio-vanilla-wasabi ice cream (served with pistachio macarons) can certainly be a refreshing end to any festive meal. My favourite at this time of year has to be the vanilla and chestnut ice cream, served with vanilla macarons or coffee macarons.
I couldn’t talk about desserts without mentioning one of our favourite macarons: rose. These are delicious served with a white chocolate mousse with orange blossom and rose, pistachio panna cottas, or red fruit bavarois desserts. Before we know it, Valentine’s Day will be upon us!
And don’t forget the savoury macarons that have their very own chapter in the book!
Here are some suggested festive starters or appetisers that can give your guests the oh-la-la with some mini mad macs!
Recipe for Spiced Pumpkin and Leek Soup.
Before you go, let me show you some peppermint creams I made this week – quite by accident!
As you’ve noticed on le blog, I’ve been rolling rather a lot of snowballs and mini Christmas puddings lately. Well, as I was making more Scottish Macaroon Bar Snowballs, I ran out of coconut. As the fondant centres were just looking up at me, saying ‘Cover me!’, I quickly added a few drops of peppermint essence (or oil) to the melted chocolate and as soon as the chocolate hardened, these peppermint creams just vanished! I guess Julie and Lucie liked them…
I shall definitely be making more of these soon. Homemade peppermint creams are super – none of these E numbers in the ingredients – just sugar, potato (yes, you heard me right), good dark chocolate and peppermint!
A huge thank you et merci beaucoup to all of you for following and sharing in the fun on le blog. Have a wonderful festive season and I so look forward to sharing many more treats – and big news – on the blog in 2015! I’m off to get packed. Exceptionally, I’ve closed comments since I won’t have access to the website or emails but I’ll be hanging out as usual on Instagram and Facebook, my lovelies. See you soon x
In the meantime, wishing you all the happiest and healthiest 2015!
Do you really think a sweet tooth determines our family holiday destinations? Well, perhaps it does. It has been 30 years since I last visited Germany and the same, ridiculous amount of time since I practised my rusty high school German. Mein Deutsch ist nicht gut! It was high time to visit.
We headed to the medieval town of Staufen, south of the Black Forest, a jewel nestled in between lush mountaineous forests, vines, cafés and bakeries.
What amazed us most about the region, is how clean and tidy the towns are. Everything is immaculate, even down to the neat stacks of wood piled outside geranium window-boxed freshly painted houses. It’s also the first time I’ve seen kids paddling about in the gutters! (Well, one of them was mine – was ist das?) The Germans seem particularly eco-friendly: bikes are the norm, an impressive amount of houses have flashy solar panels and their signposting is nothing short of perfection.
We stayed at the Gasthaus Krone (meaning ‘crown’), which is an excellent address in Staufen – including their Michelin ‘Bib Gourmand’ restaurant. Luckily the friendly owner spoke some French, since my painful phrases embarrassingly resembled a mix of German vocabulary, French grammar and stuttering English fillers-in. I am determined to return after doing some homework next time, but at least communication through food is easier!
Meandering down the main cobbled street, serenaded by a solo oboist trying to compete with the local brass quintet oompa-ing around the fountain, the castle ruins and vineyards majestically tower over the local wineries. The city crest is a shield with 3 wine glasses so when in Staufen, it would be rude not to taste; their welcoming barrels proudly strut their tasting offerings.
This is what holidays are made of: sitting back, people-watching, contemplating family postcards, nibbling on a salted bretzel and sipping at the local traditional grape varieties – including the oldest, Gutedel. Personally, I preferred the dry Muscat for white wines but their red wines shone high above the rest with some stunning Pinot Noirs, bursting with jam-like cherry fruits.
Staufen Castle, although now a ruin (built in 850), can be visited to admire the breathtaking vista of the Black Forest and Rhine Valley. Looking out the arched window, we’re reminded by such an enormous tree that we’re in black cherry country.
After such a climb during the heatwave, it was time to follow the tempting signs dotted around the town to the nearest cake shop. It didn’t take us long to discover the Café Decker, undoubtedly the best cake shop and tea salon in Staufen. It was so decadently, deliciously decked in cakes that we admittedly returned three times.
Black Forest Cakes, küchen, more chocolate cakes, redcurrant meringue pies and macarons were just some of the treats that would make anyone go off their sweet trolley. I think I put on three kilos during the week! So, switching to ice cream seemed a lighter idea: wouah! Teasingly steeped in Kirsch liqueur, it made an ideal excuse for an afternoon nap by the snoring river.
Back home, the Black Forest provided inspiration for a gluten free dessert back home: ideal for using up egg yolks and for serving with your chocolate macarons. What’s more, it’s holiday style: quick, easy, tasty and no bake!
Black Forest Chocolate Cherry Cream Desserts
Serves 8 (mini pots) or 4 (in wine glasses)
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Chilling Time: 2 hours
1 gelatine sheet (@2 g)
200ml whole milk
300ml single cream
3 egg yolks
150g dark cooking chocolate, broken into small chunks
1 tbsp Kirsch liqueur (optional)
16 fresh cherries (or Griottine cherries, soaked in Kirsch)
1. Soak the gelatine in cold water. Meanwhile break up the chocolate into pieces in a large bowl. In a saucepan, boil the milk and cream.
2. In another bowl, whisk together the yolks and sugar until light and creamy. Pour over the hot milky cream, mix and transfer back to the saucepan.
3. Whisk vigorously over a medium heat until the cream thickens. Take off the heat then pour over half of this hot cream on to the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate melts, add Kirsch (if using), the gelatine (squeezed of any excess water) and then whisk in the rest of the hot cream.
4. Transfer to 8 mini serving dishes (or 4 if you’re greedy like us), cool and chill for at least an hour. Decorate with fresh dark cherries and/or Griottine cherries soaked in Kirsch and a scoosh of Chantilly cream*. (Or why not roast cherries with a splash of Kirsch as Jamie Schler does at Life’s a Feast?)
* If you have a siphon, fill it up half way with chilled cream (no less than 30% fat) and splash in a couple of tablespoons of Kirsch or cherry syrup, fit with the gas canister, shake and chill for a few minutes. Instant, homemade lighter-than-light cream!
This time last year I had a wonderful surprise on my return from holiday. Maureen, aka The Orgasmic Chef, was cheering and doing the macaron dance with her chocolate macarons. She’d perfected making them from the book. It was one of these proud, Auntie Mac Jill moments to hear that she’d made picture perfect macarons and they were delicious to boot (or should I say, foot?)
Today, she came up trumps and surprised me again with her other dynamic project as a natural interviewer for Food Writer Friday and I’ve made a creamy lemon ice cream for her.
Lemon Ice Cream (Egg Yolk Recipe)
300ml whole milk
200ml whipping cream
zest of 2 lemons (untreated)
100g caster sugar
8 egg yolks (organic)
1 tbsp dried milk
1 tbsp Limoncello
few drops of yellow food colouring (optional)
- Cool a bowl in the fridge until step 5.
- In a medium saucepan, heat together the milk and cream with the lemon zest and yellow colouring, if using.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, dried milk and yolks until pale and creamy.
- Pour the warmed cream over the mix and return to the pan over a medium heat, whisking constantly until the cream thickens. It’s ready when it can coat a spoon.
- Pour the mixture into the cooled bowl and leave to cool in the fridge for at least a couple of hours.
- Once chilled, transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and churn until ready. Spoon in to an ice cream carton and freeze for at least a couple of hours.
That’s the yolk recipe but the really fun part is my interview with Maureen (The Orgasmic Chef herself!) over at Food Writer Friday.