Truth to be told, this is far cry from the true chouquettes you can buy in Paris. The multicolour beads of sugar are missing, to start with, they are too big, they were not as airy as they should have been. But, also truth to be said, while these chouquetes are a travesty of the real ones, they were still delicious. They came out as small slightly sweet breads, ideal to eat with a little butter and ham or cheese. No complaints heard from the mobile calorie intake units, at least…
- 120mL all fat milk
- 120mL water
- 120g of butter without salt, cut in cubes
- 2 spoons of sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
- 120g all purpose flower
- 3 tablespoons of coloured sugar beads (or regular sugar)
Pre heat the stove to 220 oC.
Line two baking trays with parchment paper
In a large saucepan with a heavy bottom, combine the water, butter, sugar and salt on a low temperate. Once the it is well mixed, bring to a gently boil and remove immediately from the heat. Add the flour spoon by spoon dstir vigorously with a wooden spoon until a tight dough forms and pulls away from the side of the pan. It should feel like a tight dough, with a texture similar to marzipan.
Quickly add 2 eggs and mix until well incorporated. Add the remaining two eggs and mix until you have a sticky soft mixture.
Using two teaspoons, make small mounds of dough, leaving enough space between them (you can also use a piping bag with a plain tip). Sprinkle with the granulated sugar or the coloured beads.
Put the trays in the stove one at a time and let cook for about 12min at 220oC. Then lower the heat to 200oC and let the chouquettes bake with a the over door slightly open (using a wooden spoon to hold the door will do).
Nothing like a happy chocolate-y orange-y and super rich-y cake moment to cheer up the day. Never mind the calories – they are all worthwhile.
Chocolate Orange Loaf Cake (adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Nigella Kitchen)
- 160g of soft unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 250g raw cane sugar
- 120g of all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
- 2 eggs
- the zest of 2 regular orange and juice of 1 (1/3 cup)
Preheat the oven to 165oC.
Line the loaf pan with parchment paper and grease the sides.
Beat the already soft butter with the syrup and the sugar until you have a fairly smooth cream (you probably will still feel a bit of grit; should look like a large weak coffee with milk).
Mix the flour, baking soda, and cocoa powder together. Sift the equivalent of a 1 tablespoonful of these dry ingredients into the sugar and butter. Mix well before beating in 1 egg. Then add another couple of spoonfuls of the dry ingredients before beating in the second egg.
Carry on beating in the remaining dry ingredients and then add, still beating, the orange zest and finally, gradually, the orange juice. At this stage, the batter may suddenly look dimpled, as if slightly curdled – if this happens, do not worry.
Pour and scrape the batter into the load pan and put in the stove for 45 minute. Test with a knife before taking it out. A cake tester won’t come out entirely clean, as the point of this cake, light though it may be, is to have just a hint of inner stickiness. Let cool a little in its pan on a wire rack, then turn out with care and leave on the rack to cool.
To keep up with the spirit of seasonal cooking, a lemon pudding cake with raspberries… Only one word to describe this: yum. Too bad soon enough berries will be gone from the supermarket…
- Enough berries to cover the bottom of a tray (about 250g)
- 75g of plain flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- pinch sea salt
- 300mL buttermilk
- 125g unsalted butter (melted and cooled down)
- 3 eggs separated
- 150g caster sugar
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
Preheat the stove to 180oC
Grease a 750mL to 1L baking dish. Make sure this dish fit fits larger tray, so you can have a bain marie. Scatter the berries over the base of the greased dish, making sure the whole surface is covered
Combine in a large bowl the flour, baking powder and pinch of salt.
In another bowl, lightly whisk together the melted butter, the buttermilk, the yolks, the sugar and the lemon zest.
Stir into the flour mixtures
Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks forms
With a metal spoon, fold in the batter half of the egg whites until well incorporated. Then, fold in the remaining half.
Spread the batter over the berries in the baking dish.
Put the baking dish in the large baking tray. Poor boiling water in the larger dish until it reaches halfway up the sides, creating a main marie.
Transfer to the stove for about 45m to 1h, until it starts to get fluffy and golden (it should be cakey on the top and soft in the middle).
Let it cool for a bit and serve.
In short, this is such a good chicken pie, it is totally worthwhile to endure cooking process. It is arguably one of the best I have ever had. It is hard to believe this dish actually start from, God forgive, leftovers…
A few shortcuts, though: I used pre-made pastry. I know – home made pastry is not that hard to do. But, I didn’t feel brave enough for it… and, the one in the supermarket is also perfectly fine for this purpose… If you don’t have any chicken leftovers, and need to cook it from scratch, add some herbs and vegetables when boiling it (this recipe work just fine). Everything else is so tasty, it is a crying shame to put in some bland rubbery chicken.
2 sheets of basic pie pastry
Chicken Pie Filling
- 1 cup of potatoes cut in about 6cm pieces
- 1 1/4 of carrots cut diagonally in 6cm pieces
- 12 white pearl onions
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 thyme sprigs
- 24 black peppercorns
- 1 1/4 cups of 4-6cm of pieces of celery, cut on the diagonally
- 2 cups of shredded cooked chicken
- 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
- 3 cups of whole milk
- 1 salt and freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
- Pinch of cayenne
- 1 egg, beaten
Roll out the dough and line the baking tray with one of the sheets. Put the other one a plate. Refrigerate both.
Place the potatoes, carrots and onions in a saucepan with the bay, thyme and peppercorns. Top with cold water to cover. Gently bring to a simmer. Cook until just tender, about 8-10min (the original recipe asked for each vegetable to cooked in individual pans, but I just put everything together in the same one). Once cooked, drain the water and discard bay, thyme, and peppercorns. Cut the onions in 2 and set aside to cool.
Blanch the celery for just over a minute in a large pot of boiling salted water, until they are tender/crispy. Drain and let it cool in a bowl of iced water. Set aside with the other vegetables
You can now start the béchamel. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed so the mixture does not brown. Whisk in the milk, lower the heat to keep the bechamel at a gentle simmer, and cook, whisking ofter to ensure it doesn’t burn. It should take about 30-40minutes until the sauce has thickened and reduced to about 2 cups. Season to taste with salt, pepper, parsley, thyme, and cayenne.
Put the oven racks in the lower third and center of the oven and preheat the oven to 190 oC (about 375oF).
Remove the pastry sheets rom the refrigerator. Scatter the vegetables and chicken into the pie shell. Pour the béchamel over them. Moisten the rim of pie shell with some of the beaten egg. Cover the filling with the top crust and press the edges of the dough together to seal. Trim away the excess dough that overhangs the rim. Brush the top crust with the egg. Cut a small vent in the center of the dough with the tip of a paring knife to allow the steam to escape.
Bake on the lower oven rack until the crust is a rich golden brown, 50 minutes to 1 hour. If necessary, move the pie to the centre rack during the last 10 minutes of baking to brown the crust. On the other hand, if crust is browning too quickly, cover with aluminium foil.
Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 10 minutes.
Everyday food with low calories… Not sure why Hairy Dieters claim this is a Spanish style, though. Probably is the chorizo and the roasted garlic… In any case, it is cheap and cheerful with delicious flavours, from the sweetness of the baked onion to the spiciness of the chorizo.
Baked chicken with chorizo and roasted vegetables (adapted from Dave Myers and Si King’s The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight)
- 1 medium onion, cut in 8 wedges
- 1 medium red onion, cut in 8 wedges
- 500g new potatoes, quartered lenghways
- 8 whole garlic, unpeeled
- 8 medium tomatoes, quartered
- 75g chorizo, preferably hot and spicy
- 8 boneless, skinless chicken tights
- ½ teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 green pepper, deseed and cut into strips
- salt and pepper
Pre heat the oven to 200oC. Put the onions, potatoes, garlic and tomatoes in a large roasting tin and season with salt and lots of freshly grounded black pepper. Toss everything together lightly and roast for 20min
While the vegetables are roasting, skin the chorizo and cut the meat into thin slices. Put the chickens on a board and carefully slash each one 2 or 3 times with a knife. Season all over with black pepper. Mix the paprika and oregano together and set aside.
Take the roasting tin out of the oven, scatter the chorizo over the vegetables and turn everything a couple of times. Place the chicken on the top of the vegetables and chorizo and sprinkle with paprika and oregano. Return to the oven and adjust the temperature to 220oC. Leave in the oven for another 20min, or until the chicken is golden and crisp. Every now and again, take the tin out of the oven drizzle the juices over the chicken. As you eat, squeeze the garlic out of the skins.
I could be writing about lovely Spring dishes, with plenty of asparagus, rhubarb and green stuff all around. But not – cottage pie it is. No Spring, no Spring food. Anyway, it is either this or start a monumental rant about the weather on Facebook… The pie itself, is delicious, warming and comforting.
Cottage pie (adapted from Dave Myers and Si King’s The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight)
- 400g of lean minced beef
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 2 celery sticks, finely sliced
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 400g can of chopped tomatoes
- 2 tablespoon of tomato purée
- 500mL beefstock, made with 1 beef stock cube
- 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
- 1 teaspoon cornflour
- 1 tablespoon cold water
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
Leeky potato topping
- 750g of floury potatoes
- 2 teaspoons of olive oil
- 2 slender leeks, timed and cut into 1cm slices
- 150mL of low fat milk
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place a large non stick sauce pan or casserole dish over a medium heat. No need to add olive oil – it is a non stick pan, after all. Put in the minced meat and cook it together with the onions, celery and carrots for about 10min, until lightly coloured. Use a couple of wooden spoons to break up the meat as it cooks
Stir in the tomatoes, the tomato purée, the beef stock, the Worcestershire sauce and the mixed herbs. Season with a generous pinch of salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat. Cover loosely and simmer gently for about 40min, stirring occasionally until the meat is tender.
You can start preparing the potato topping. Peel the potatoes and cut them into rough 4cm chunks. Put them in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then down the heat slightly and simmer for 18-20min or until the potatoes are very tender. Heat the oil in a non stick frying pan and fry the leeks for 5min until softened but not coloured, stirring often. Drain the potatoes, then tip them back into the pan, season to taste and mash with the milk (and a little butter) until smooth. Stir in the sautéed leeks and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 220oC. When the beef has been simmering for 40min, mix the cornflour with the cold flour to make a smooth paste. Stir this into the beef and cook for another 1-2min or until the sauce is thickened, stirring often.
Poor the beef mixture into a 2-liter shallow ovenproof dish. Using a large spoon, top the beef with the mash potatoes and leeks. Spoon the mixture all around the edge of the dish before heading into the middle, then fluff it up with a fork.
Bake for 30min until the topping is golden and the filling is bubbling.
A Food&Travel dish I found on tram 11, back by popular demand. And, again, many happy testers….
As I was in a bit of a hurry, I used pre-made pastry.
Pear and almond tart
For the pastry
- 200g plain flour
- 2 table spoons caster sugar
- 100g cold unsalted butter cut into pieces
- a pinch of salt
For the almond cream
- 100g unsalted butter
- 100g sugar
- 2 eggs
- 100g ground almonds
- 2 table spoons flour
- 3-4 ripe pears
To make the pastry, put the flour, sugar, butter and salt in a food processor, and, using the pulse button, process until the butter is broken down (about 5-10 pulses). Add 3 tablespoons of cold water, and pulse just until the dough forms coarse crumbs; add one more tablespoon of water if necessary, but do not do more than 10 pulses. Transfer the pastry to a sheet of backing parchment, form into a ball and flatten to a disk. Wrap in the paper and let stand for 30-60 minutes.
Roll out the pastry to the diameter of the baking tin (a tarte tatin or other round flame proof baking dish). Turn the tin upside down and on the rolled out pastry and press down and trace around the edge with a sharp knife.
Alternatively, just use pre made pastry. It might not be so good, but it does the trick.
Preheat the oven the 200oC. Prick the pastry all over, line with baking parchment, and fill with baking weights. Bake for 15min, then remove the paper and weights (I used beans), and bake for 10-15min more, until just golden. Let the tart shell cool slightly before filling.
To make the almond cream, put the butter and sugar in a bowl and mix with the electric mixer, until fluffy and lemon coloured (it takes some time and patience. I start with melted butter). Beat in the eggs one at a time. Using a spatula, fold in the almonds and flour until well mixed.
Preheat the oven to 190oC. Spread the almond cream evenly in the tart shell. Peel and core the pears, and slice into 8-12 pieces, depending on the size of the fruit. Arrange the pear slices on top of the almond cream. Bake for about 20-30min, until puff and golden. Serve warm.