Posts

Beetroot Horseradish Risotto – with Macarons

I’m often amazed how some of my recipes, like this Beetroot Horseradish Risotto, have been created to accompany a macaron!

The other day I was walking on the sweet side in Paris with a lovely group of Americans as part of my chocolate and pastry tour and, as you can imagine, I tend to become particularly passionate when somebody asks about macarons.

Beetroot & Horseradish macaron

Beetroot & Horseradish Macaron in Mad About Macarons

One question has remained with me this week: “Do you like savoury macarons – and when would you eat them?” Well, I love them – especially if they have a wee kick to them. Let me explain.

Beet and horseradish or wasabi macaron

By adding some heated spice to the filling, the intriguing sweetness of the macaron shell puts out the fire.  Have you tried these beetroot (or beet) and horseradish macarons? (The recipe  is in the book). They’re great with bubbles or red wine as an apéritif but they also go so well with one of my favourite risotto recipes, ideal as a starter.  It’s also a wonderful talking point at the table: once friends thought I was serving a steak tartare – as an ex-vegetarian, I was just as surprised as they were!

Normally you’d expect the beetroot to give the risotto or macarons an earthy taste but the result is instead ever so delicately sweet.  Try these beetroot and chocolate fondants – it’s not unlike the carrot cake idea or chocolate and zucchini/courgette cakes, where the vegetable just acts as a fun and extra squidgy ingredient.  But here, in a gluten-free macaron, it’s a colourful change!

beetroot horseradish risotto with savoury beet macaron

This light risotto blushes with the beetroot, taking on the most vibrant natural red colour.  The added touch of creamy horseradish just gives it that je ne sais quoi. It’s healthy, cheap to make, and ideal to serve at any time of year – and great fun for the holiday season.

Beetroot Horseradish Risotto

Serves 4 as a starter (or 2 as a main course)

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes (+ 45 minutes if using raw beetroots)

400g pre-cooked beetroot / beets (or 2 small raw beetroots)
1 tbsp olive oil
knob of unsalted butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
250g risotto rice (carnaroli)
150g ( or glass) white wine
800g vegetable or chicken stock
60g freshly grated parmesan
salt & pepper to taste
2 tbsps crème fraîche
2 tsps horseradish sauce

1.  Wearing rubber gloves to avoid staining your hands, peel and grate the beetroot. (If using raw beetroot, rub on coarse sea salt and wrap them up in aluminium foil and bake at 180°C for 40 minutes and leave to cool.)

2.  Fry the onion in the olive oil and butter over a medium heat until softened (do not brown) for about 5 minutes.  Add the chopped garlic and stir until softened for another couple of minutes.  Add the rice and stir until the grains are all coated and shiny.

3.  Add the wine until it has disappeared into the rice.  Gradually add the hot stock, a ladle at a time and stir continuously until each time the stock has soaked in.  Cook for 15-17 minutes.  After about 10 minutes, stir in the grated beetroot.

4.  When the rice is cooked, stir in the crème fraîche, parmesan and horseradish and take off the heat.  Add salt (fleur de sel) and pepper to taste.

Serve in small pasta bowls, decorate with fresh herbs and more parmesan shavings and a mini beetroot and horseradish macaron (recipe on page 103 of Mad About Macarons!)

Beetroot horseradish risotto with red wine and a savoury macaron

PIN me for later!

Beetroot Horseradish Risotto – Printable Recipe

Beetroot and Horseradish Risotto
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
If using raw beetroots, add
40 mins
Total Time
50 mins
 

A light risotto with beets and with a subtle kick of horseradish as a quirky twist to a classic Italian risotto - and served with mini savoury beetroot and horseradish macarons from my book, Mad About Macarons!

Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Starter
Cuisine: French, Italian
Keyword: beetroot, horseradish, beet, risotto, macarons,
Servings: 4 people (as a starter)
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 400 g (14oz) pre-cooked beetroot / beet or 2 small raw beetroots
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • knob of unsalted butter
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove finely chopped
  • 250 g (9oz) risotto rice carnaroli
  • 150 g (5.5oz) or glass white wine
  • 800 g (1.75 pints) vegetable or chicken stock
  • 60 g (2oz) freshly grated parmesan
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsps crème fraîche
  • 2 tsps horseradish sauce
Instructions
  1. Wearing rubber gloves to avoid staining your hands, peel and grate the beetroot. (If using raw beetroot, rub on coarse sea salt and wrap them up in aluminium foil and bake at 180°C for 45 minutes and leave to cool.)
  2. Fry the onion in the olive oil and butter over a medium heat until softened (do not brown) for about 5 minutes.  Add the chopped garlic and stir until softened for another couple of minutes.  Add the rice and stir until the grains are all coated and shiny.
  3. Add the wine until it has disappeared into the rice.  Gradually add the hot stock, a ladle at a time and stir continuously until each time the stock has soaked in.  Cook for 15-17 minutes.  After about 10 minutes, stir in the grated beetroot.
  4. When the rice is cooked, stir in the crème fraîche, parmesan and horseradish and take off the heat.  Add salt (fleur de sel) and pepper to taste.
Recipe Notes

Serve in small pasta bowls, decorate with fresh herbs, more parmesan shavings and a mini beetroot and horseradish macaron (recipe on page 103 of Mad About Macarons!)

 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

Pair with a fruity red wine with a hint of spice such as a Médoc, Pinot Noir from Alsace, Côte-du-Rhône – or a chilled rosé from Provence.

 

Bonbons! The Best French Sweet Shop in Paris

I literally stumbled into this sweet shop the other day in the 5th Arrondissement.  It was raining cats and dogs and, instead of taking the metro back to Châtelet, drifted with the howling wind as it directed me downhill like some kind of sweet calling. The sudden sight of glistening jars filled with chocolates and bright pastel confections halted my track and lured me indoors. I stepped back in time like a curious, mesmerised child into this haven in Paris. It’s le Bonbon au Palais.

Table of French regional confectionary at Le Bonbon au Palais, The best sweet shop in Paris

I remembered Carol Gillot of ParisBreakfasts talk about this sweet shop and its owner, ‘Professor’ Georges. Well, here he was in person, proudly presenting his range of the best regional and artisanal sweet delicacies from around France all under one roof. As he says on the giant blackboard, life is much more beautiful with sweets or candies. His shop resembles a classroom from yesterday, with Nicolas and Pimpranelle looking on (yet another story: Antoine and I dressed up in PJs as the children’s TV characters at a fancy dress party, only to discover that everyone else was in elaborate Carnaval of Venice costumes.)

Georges at Le Bonbon au Palais, specialist of French regional sweet candies in Paris

With Brassens (another Georges) singing and strumming his guitar on the vintage radio, Georges opened several giant apothecary lids as he explained some  delicacies while I tasted and relished in the jolly Georges ambience.

Pierrot Gourmand sucette artisanal lollies the oldest lollipops in France

The Pierrot Gourmand symbols of the Comedia dell’Arte displayed France’s oldest lollipop, or sucette.

Georges Evrard created the Pierrot Gourmand company in 1892 and invented the first lollipop in 1924.  It was also one of the first companies to envelope lollipops in printed paper. The milk caramel was the original flavour, nicknamed ‘Pégé’ for P.G.  Pierrot Gourmand now sells around 140 million lollipops each year.

Lyon sweet candy speciality les coussins de Lyon

I’d already fallen in love with le Coussin de Lyon (chocolate ganache perfumed with curaçao) during my gastronomic weekend in Lyon. Here, Georges also had framboise (raspberry) and myrtille (blueberry) versions plus the Coussin’s sweeter cousin in bright yellow (top right), Le Cocon de Lyon. The cocon resembles the silk worm’s cocoon, paying homage to the silk-weavers of Lyon.

apothecary jars of traditional sweets from all around France at the Bonbon au Palais

Barley sugars, jellies and fast emptying jars of salted caramels from Normandy and Brittany line the pristine, glossy white shelves.

almond marzipan calisson speciality French sweets from Provence

How many times have I visited family in Provence but I never knew about the Calisson de St. Rémy?  It’s not quite as sweet as it’s popular and brighter yellow oval Calisson cousin since it’s made with different almonds.

spicy sweet piments of Vaucluse, candy speciality in Provence

Mother-in-Law in the Vaucluse has certainly never introduced me to these spicy sweets, either. Instead she orders traditional candied fruits from Apt from the factory shop by the kilo.  I’ve still got two kilos of candied ginger and orange peel left to add to desserts and macarons.

french candy sticks and love heart lollipops at the best sweet shop in Paris

I’ll have to return with my girls and our pocket money. There’s so much more to learn about French candies. Meanwhile, I’m hiding my Bonbon au Palais bag under my desk like a naughty squirrel. Georges said these delicacies can keep for up to 6 months so all the more reason for me to keep them aside and savour them on the palate (notice the play of French words with palet/palate and palais/palace).

the best regional French sweet confiseries

These Tas de Sel from the Loire (literally translated as salt stacks) and Tétons de la Reine Margot from Pau in the Pyrénées-Atlantique, (meaning Queen Margot’s nipples) are definitely for secret, special, oh-là-là moments.

Queen Margot's nipples tetons de la reine chocolates

Like this wonderful moment.  I’ll tell you why next time, but meanwhile we’re finally off on that summer holiday we cancelled last year.  I just need to taste another téton de la Reine Margot, just to ensure my chocolate palate gets the taste of orange and the Cognac.

A bientôt!

Le Bonbon au Palais
19, rue Monge
75005 Paris

Metro: Cardinal Lemoine

 

How to Make Rice Pudding like the French – Riz au lait!

When my Frenchman asked me to make rice pudding years ago, it was a no-brainer. I remembered what my Scottish Granny and Mum had done: rained in some rice into a pint of milk, added sugar, cinnamon, sultanas and nutmeg, dotted it with butter and baked it slowly until a caramelised rice pudding emerged with a film of buttery, bubbled skin.

We ate it warm from the oven as the reassuring aromas of cinnamon wafted around the kitchen. This was comfort food at its best, my Madeleine de Proust; that feeling of drifting back for a fleeting moment, remembering Grandpa supping his rice pudding using an oversized spoon, as Agnes poured him more of the coveted extra cream from the top of the milk around the enormous bowl’s rim.

best baked rice pudding easy recipe

Carmelised rice pudding as Granny used to make in Scotland

Suddenly the bubble burst. “Your rice pudding is so different to my Mum’s. She didn’t have skin on it; I remember vanilla rather than cinnamon, and we didn’t eat it warm like this,” gently prodded my Frenchman. My baked rice pudding wasn’t sexy.

It was time to do some homework. I looked up Granny’s ‘Black Book’, full of her children’s scrawls, splatters and notes for different Scottish sweet recipes ranging from neighbours such as Mrs Patterson to the Jimmy Young Show’s dictations from the radio. Nothing. No rice pudding. As Grandpa ate it just about every third day there was no need for Agnes to write it down.

I did discover that, in the north, the French also bake their rice pudding. In Normandy they make a slow-baked Terrinée, Beurgoule or Teurgoule not unlike this, although they add another half litre of milk and bake at 80°C for 6 hours.

Baked Rice Pudding Recipe: In a buttered gratin dish, rain in 100g short grain rice into 1 litre whole milk, add 80g sugar, a cinnamon stick & 50g sultanas. Dot with 40g butter and top with freshly grated nutmeg. Bake uncovered at 110°C for 2 hours.

baked rice pudding with toasted skin from the oven

How do I look? Am I a skinny rice pudding, then?

It was time to make a different, extra creamy rice pudding or ‘riz au lait’ (reeh-oh-lay.) Bathed in a vanilla milk, showered with freshly grated nutmeg and eaten chilled. Personally, I prefer it at room temperature and can’t resist sneaking a bowl of it before placing the rest in the fridge once it’s cool. Initially inspired by Raymond Blanc’s recipe (well, his Mother’s recipe!) by adding 3 egg yolks at the end of cooking, after a few trials, here’s my riz au lait; tried, tested and approved by my adorable French hubby pampered person.
Just don’t tell his Mum.

Creamy rice pudding with dried fruits and egg yolks

How can you make a rice pudding look sexy when it’s not even skinny?

Creamy Riz au Lait Rice Pudding Recipe

Serves 4

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes

100g pudding/short-grain rice
500ml whole milk
1 vanilla pod (or cinnamon stick)*
80g chopped dried fruit (sultanas, apricots)
50g (25+25) light brown sugar
2 egg yolks
20g butter (optional)
pinch of finely grated nutmeg

* or use 1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Fill a large saucepan with water. Add the rice and bring to the boil. Once boiling, cook for a couple of minutes then drain the rice in a sieve or colander.

2. Pour the milk (whole, full milk for best creaminess) into the large saucepan.  Split the vanilla pod down the middle,  scrape out the seeds and add to the milk (or add vanilla extract/cinnamon stick) with 25g of the sugar. Rain in the rice and simmer gently for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to that no skin forms on the milk.

3. Add the chopped fruits. Continue to stir now and again as it heats gently for about another 10 minutes. Check that the rice is cooked but not mushy.

4. In a bowl, whisk together the yolks with the rest of the sugar and grated nutmeg until it’s light and creamy. Add the hot rice (and butter, if using – this just adds a little extra creamy luxury) and mix well. Ensure you take this off the heat so not to overheat and curdle the yolks.

Serve at room temperature or once cool, chill in the fridge.  Grate a little nutmeg on top.

Mini French rice pudding creamy desserts

And a wee ‘riz au lait’ for baby bear

As my baby bear, Lucie, doesn’t like drinking milk, this is a great way for her to fill up on calcium. And as an obsessed macaron maker, macaronivores will love this recipe to use up more yolks!

creamy rice pudding

Speaking of macarons, I’ve been caught making them again in the reflection. Are you a macaron addict, too?

Macarons at the Club House with Speciality Teas

It has been over three years since I hit a golf ball. Blame it on back problems but now I’ve no excuse. As a Scot it should be in my blood but truth be told, I couldn’t even remember how to hold a club! So, this month I went looking for Eric, my patient golf teacher extraordinaire at the Ile Fleury Club. It’s a wonderfully friendly place that boasts a 9-hole course with the prettiest views on the Ile des Impressionists in Chatou, west of Paris, on the River Seine.

I must have driven Eric insane; ‘in-Seine’, more like. As the course is on an island, I’ve whacked so many balls in the River Seine that I’m sure its level rises when I’m around. Dangerous practise, indeed.

Indeed Mr. Bond. Pierce Brosnan was here recently filming his upcoming romantic movie, Love is All You Need. My good friend, Emmanuelle, confirmed what a gentleman he is – even if he did refuse to drink her coke. My friends at the club also had their photo taken with him.  I’m trying not to sound jealous but humph! ‘Pierce is all I need’ to discuss golf tactics, movies and macarons, peut-être.

Mamma Mia! Golf is starting to play in my mind. Are the colour of these lemon meringue macarons from the book fluorescent enough? My golf balls need to be bright in Autumn since I can never find them hidden under the leaves!

Why do my pink golf balls hide in the rough?

What about hitting goûter time or Quatre Heures at the 10th hole club house with some macarons? Ideally with speciality ‘tees’; of course.

macarons and different tees

And if you haven’t got the macaron book yet (update: there’s a new one, Teatime in Paris, with a chapter on macarons and the rest around easy patisserie recipes plus a walk around Paris thrown in!), you’ll be glad to know that speciality teas are suggested with each macaron flavour. Oo-long shot for a 7 iron! Get it?

Macarons and tea, Meester Bond?

Come back to the golf course, Pierce. You forgot your macarons at the club house! And there’s no need to do the course on macarons – it’s all mentioned clearly in the book.

Are you ready to hit goûter time with tea and macarons?

A Fruity Weekend at the King’s Vegetable Garden in Versailles

I lost the plot this weekend. Blame it on the persisting torrents of rain. So when the skies suddenly cleared on Sunday, my daughter and I escaped to the King’s Vegetable Garden (Potager du Roi) in Versailles.

Their gates have been open to the public since 1991 but this October weekend was a special Saveurs du Potager, an annual culinary festival to showcase the diversity of the 300-or-so varieties of fruits and vegetables that are grown here.

Classed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, 30 tons of fruit and 20 tons of vegetables are produced each year at the Potager du Roi, thanks to the horticultural school’s students next door. While Le Notre was responsible for the gardens at Versailles, Jean-Baptiste La Quintinie was responsible for building the potager-fruitier over five years (1678-1683) and ensuring the best quality fruit and vegetables on the royal table. La Quintinie’s statue surveys the daily pickings plus the continuation of experiments and new gardening techniques.

Louis XIV was so proud of this garden that he loved to bring visitors such as the Doge of Venice on a tour here, passing the exotic Orangerie en route. The King could show off his own pruning techniques and explain how his talented gardener managed to ensure that asparagus or strawberries could arrive 3 weeks before season by using different manures.

potager du roi Versailles

My eye was drawn to the aromatic part of the garden since I love decorating dishes with edible flowers.  Bourrache or borage is popular here but I can tell you – I made a mistake the other day, decorating a chocolate mousse with one of these flowers.  Tasting one of these flowers was like eating a light fishy cucumber.  Not quite the best chocolate partner. I would suggest adding borage flowers to savoury fish dishes!

Nasturtiums were growing in all their glory.  Claude Monet adored eating them in peppery salads from his garden at Giverny. Personally on a cool, October day I was craving these beautiful parsnip plants for a comforting parsnip, round carrot and coriander soup. With a mini curry mad mac… Speaking of spice, ginger plants were also proudly on show in the gardens.

edible flowers King's Vegetable garden Versailles

Nasturtiums, parsnips and a parsnip and Parisian carrot soup & mac

As Lucie and I were completely lost just trying to find the stand to buy produce from the garden, we literally stumbled into the most amazing man-made grotto. Lucie being the adventurer, ran up some crooked, mossy steps and discovered a secret passage below a rickety bridge linking up to a round outlook tower.  As we gingerly descended into the creepy darkness below, this enormous grotto was waiting to surprise us. Just as well we didn’t come in the other way: that middle photo is a whopping great hole that we luckily missed on the roof!

caves in the king's vegetable garden Versailles France

Inside the long-corridored building, various gardening clubs were showing visitors how to create compost, how to create a shelter for ladybirds, make your own apple juice using a press plus how to construct a ‘hotel’ for insects.

I even discovered that Alkekenge is the real name for physalis cages d’amour (love cages – trust the French to be so romantic) that are taking over our garden. Hm. Shall we just stick with love cages? Grrrrr. Much that I love the name, ‘Reine des Reinettes’, they’re not my favourite apples since they’re far too sweet. Floury apples don’t do it for me. Call me boring, but comfort me with Pink Lady or Braeburns any day.  Beurré Hardy, on the other hand, is one of my favourite pear varieties.  So good you just eat them on their own but if you want to make a gluten free dessert, then why not try some chocolate macarons with poached coffee-vanilla pears?

apple harvest King's Vegetable Garden Versailles

The theme of culinary demonstrations for the afternoon was Italian cooking. Lucie and I watched Venetian cookbook author, Adriana Cardin, in admiration as she managed to show us how to make pasta in front of such a fidgety, noisy audience. OK, so she said to make pasta by hand and forget your pasta machine. What more do you want? She gave us all tastings of homemade (albeit thicker than I’m used to) pasta triangles with her cavroman sauce. Did you know that poor man’s tortellini has no filling? I also didn’t realise that the famous Italian ’00’ flour, difficult to find in Paris, is simply “Farine Type 55”. When I think I carted flour in my suitcase back from our last Italian holiday. Duh.

cookery demonstrations King's Vegetable Garden October Festival Versailles

The last room for us to visit was les épluchures or peelings. Can you see these peeling-inspired chapeaux hats taking off?

Instead the red onion peelings inspired me to make a caramelised red onion tarte tatin, accompanied with a perfectly mineral Sauvignon blanc wine from the Loire Valley to bring out the honey flavours – a simple yet delicious feast to finish off the royal weekend.

Potager du Roi (King’s Vegetable Garden)
10 Rue du Maréchal Joffre
78000 Versailles

January – March: Tues & Thurs 10am-6pm
April-October: Tues-Sun 10am-6pm
du mardi au dimanche de 10h à 18h
November-December: Tues & Thurs 10am-6pm; Sat 10am-1pm

French Mushroom Truffle Macarons

There has been a definite change in the air over the past 10 days around Paris.  The first sign of autumnal golden leaves are appearing. Slowly but surely.

first sign of Autumn trees

The sun has been shining but jings, the wind has had more of a mistral effect from the French South than anything else. When that strikes, a 20°C sunny day can feel like you’re in the north of Scotland. And I know what that feels like.

Mornings are becoming chilly; it’s time to put on that coat and admire the colourful scarves making their first fashionable autumnal appearances on the sidewalk. I’m not so sure it’s that fashionable: they’re covering up the first signs of a sore throat. The French always wear scarves to accompany throat infections. It’s vraiment cute.

wild mushrooms in the garden - not for eating

first mushroom in the garden – but not for eating!

When Jamie and Deeba posted the MacTweets Mac Attack #23 Challenge for September, it was something that brought back the warm to the cockles.  After 4 months of summer dilly-dallying, it was high time I joined in some seasonal fun.  The challenge was to celebrate the change of seasons through our passion de macarons.

giant tiramisu macarons with marsala figs

 

This past couple of weeks, we’ve been enjoying the brief period of French figs with a quick and easy fig tart (this recipe is now in my 2nd book, Teatime in Paris!) and roasted marsala figs with giant coffee macarons and tiramisu cream.

Equinox last week seemed to have an affect on my baking habits this time, however…

… Which axis were my macarons headed for MacTweets?

French mushroom truffle macarons

French Mushroom Truffle Macarons

Pumpkins are gradually appearing but they are not quite there yet.  Right now the French markets are proudly displaying mountains of marvellous mushrooms in all shapes and sizes, to herald the start of Autumn.  Cèpes, trompettes, pieds de mouton, girolles, champignons de Paris and chestnut mushrooms are displayed in all their glory.

We even discovered more (this time edible) mushrooms dans le jardin.

French Mushroom Truffle Macarons

French Mushroom Truffle Macarons

 

Let’s take that one again…

from another angle…

French Mushroom Truffle Macarons

A macaron mushroom!

You guessed right.  Well, I am officially Mad about Macarons, n’est-ce pas?  You are looking at cepes, chestnut mushroom and truffle macarons, inspired by the earth and its axis at this time of year en France.

I followed the same principle as the other savoury mad macs in my Mad About Macarons book regarding ratio of liquid and cornflour in the filling. I fried some chestnut and cepes mushrooms until they sweated off all their liquid and infused them into the cream, finally blitzing the whole lot and adding a dash of good quality truffle oil.  The chocolate dusting on the shells is 100% Belgian chocolate without any sugar. Don’t forget to dust the shells after airing, just before they go in the oven.

French Mushroom Truffle Macarons

French Mushroom Truffle Macarons

Et voilà.  I also added just a touch of cayenne in there to give it a kick. We all love macarons with feet but why not give a bit of a kick to them, too? 😉

They are great on their own served as an apéritif with hazelnuts and with a chilled white wine from the Jura, for example.  I tried this – especially as it’s the Foire aux Vins just now so need to taste if wines are any good or not before buying more – and they got the thumbs up.

Alternatively, serve them along with this Cremini Mushroom Cappuccino Recipe? That certainly gets the conversation going at the dinner table.  In any case, you’ll find yourself on another axis when sharing this with friends.

mini mad mac mushroom

Life is too short to stuff a mushroom – make a mini mad mac

Thanks again to Jamie and Deeba of MacTweets for providing us macaronivores with yet another month of macaron inspiration!

Enjoy the new season!