Friday, December 30, 2011

Mille Feuille with Best wishes for New Year!

                                             5 Portions

600g Puff pastry, cold - store bought is ok if butter based
250g crème legère
Icing sugar


  • Preheat oven at 160C/320F. Roll puff pastry to a thickness of 3mm, place on a tray lined with parchment paper and bake for about an hour until crunchy and golden in color.
  • Take out of the oven, raise the oven temperature to 200C/390F and while you wait for the oven to reach the new temp dust the cooked puff pastry with plenty of icing sugar.
  • Bake again for about 5 minutes checking that the sugar caramelizes without burning. Remove, let cool. Cut into rectangles, chose 6 ones without any cracks, dust them with sugar on the flat side.
  • Heat up a knife that you will be using as a branding tool to mark the sugared pieces. Put creme legere in a pastry bag fitted with a round tip (a star tip is a nice alternative). 
  • Pipe a few dollops of cream on a rectangle of puff pastry, place a second rectangle, more cream and finally the last rectangle of puff pastry that has been branded on top.

Pastry Cream for Mille Feuille: 


450g whole milk (2 cups, 1lb)
50g heavy/whipping cream (about 2oz)
2 vanilla beans
4 egg yolks (should weigh 90g/3oz)
90g sugar (3oz)
25g corn starch/corn flour (about 1oz)
25g flour (about 1oz)
4 gelatin leaves or 8g of powdered gelatin dissolved in 40g of water. ( Forget ounces, here you are better off thinking in grams)
50g unsalted butter (about 2oz)
30g cocoa butter, optional (about 1oz)
30g mascarpone cheese,optional (about 1oz)

  • Sift together flour and starch, set aside. Place milk and cream in a sauce pot. Scrape vanilla beans, place seeds and scraped pods in the milk+cream pot.        
  • Bring to a boil, turn off, cover and let infuse for 20 minutes. Few minutes  before the infusion is ready place egg yolk and sugar in a bowl, start whisking  until the mixture is light in color, then gradually add flour and starch.  
  • Place gelatin leaves in cold water for a couple of minutes, when soft squeeze  well to remove excess water and keep aside (this step is called blooming).  
  • Remove scraped vanilla pods from infused milk (don’t discard them, you can use  them to make vanilla sugar by first washing them, then drying them well in a  low temp oven and finally grinding them with sugar in a food processor).  
  • Pour hot milk over the eggs, sugar and flours mixture while whisking. Return  mixture to the sauce pan and cook over low heat constantly whisking. When the  mixture starts to boil it will also start thickening.  
  • Keep whisking for about two minutes, the cream will be very thick. Take the pan  off the heat, add the bloomed gelatin and whisk well until completely dissolved.  
  • Add butter in three additions and then cocoa butter, if you have it. With an  immersion blender puree the mixture until very smooth, about 2 minutes.   
  • Place the cream in a shallow dish, cover with plastic film and place in the  freezer for about 15 minutes. In the refrigerator it will take almost an hour to  be completely cold.   
  • When the cream is cold, place it in the bowl of a stand mixer (if you don’t have one a  hand- held mixer will also work) and whisk at medium high speed for 5 minutes. 
  • Gently mix in the mascarpone cheese, if you have it. Place cream in a piping bag and keep refrigerated until ready to use. Shelf life is 2 days. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Season's Greetings

Special Strasbourg Bredele Cookies

This is is a traditional recipe from Chef Luc Dimnet, of Brasserie in New York City who was born in Strasbourg Alsace, where the Christmas traditions are alive and strong.

3 ¼ cups flour
18 tablespoons butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
1 ¼ cups sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Zest of 1 lemon
3 eggs
1 egg yolk


Place flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the center, and add the butter. With your fingers, mix the butter with flour until sandy. Add the sugar, cinnamon, lemon zest and the whole eggs. Mix well to obtain a smooth dough. If the dough seems too dry, add another egg.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and allow it to rest overnight, or for at least 6 hours.
When ready to bake the bredele, preheat oven to 355 degrees. Roll out dough on a floured surface to 3/16-inch thickness. Cut dough into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place cookies on a buttered cookie sheet.
Beat the egg yolk with a fork, and brush cookies with egg wash.
Bake for 15 minutes, then let the cookies cool.
Remove from cookie sheet and enjoy this Christmas!

Friday, December 16, 2011

VICHYSSOISE (French leek and potato soup)

Although there is some debate about who invented this famous soup, the story goes that French Chef Louis Diat invented it while working at the Ritz-Carlton New York in 1917.

In 1950, Diat told the New Yorker magazine:

     "During the summer of 1917, when I was seven years at the Ritz, I thought about the soup with leeks and potatoes from my childhood that my mother and my grandmother would always make. I remembered how, in the summer, my older brother and I put cold milk in to cool it and how delicious it was. I decided to do something similar for patrons of the hotel Ritz. "

Traditionally, vichyssoise is served cold but many people find it enjoyable served hot as well as cold


2 large leeks, trimmed, chopped and washed 
2 T. butter 
7 small Charlotte potatoes, peeled and chopped, or equivalent non-waxy potato 
4 C. whole milk 
4 C. water 
1 carrot, whole 
1 stalk celery, 
finely chopped 2 bay leaves, 
2 sprigs thyme, or 1⁄2 t. dried 
1⁄2 C. fresh chopped chives and/or parsley 
Salt and pepper


Heat soup pot and melt butter, then add leeks, celery, bay leaf and thyme. 
Sweat covered over medium heat about 10 minutes without browning. 
Add carrot, chopped potatoes, and cook covered another 5 minutes. 
Add water, 2 t. salt and bring to simmer. 

Simmer lid on till vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes, then add milk and wait just till it returns to simmer. Remove carrot and bay leaf and purée with hand blender, or transfer to food processor to purée. 

Add more salt and pepper to taste, then fresh herbs just before serving. Adjust amounts of liquid to obtain the consistency of soup you prefer, either thicker or thinner. For a richer soup, replace some of the milk with cream.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Crispy Pecan and Cocoa Nib Cookies


12  oz (360 gr) pecans
 4   oz (120gr) cocoa nibs
 6   oz 180gr) all purpose flour
 1   oz (30gr)  cocoa powder
 8   oz (240gr) butter
 3   oz (90gr)  honey
10 oz (280gr) sugar
 2  pinches salt
 2  tsp espresso powder
 1 Tbsp vanilla extract

Have 2 parchment paper sheets ready on 2 baking pans.
(You can also use 2 silicon-baking sheets)
1 large round cookie cutter


Making the dough
Chop the pecans and cocoa nibs until no large pieces remain, don’t make powder... Alternately, you can do this in a food processor. In either event, toss the chopped pecans and nibs with the flour and cocoa and set aside.
In a medium pot, melt the butter and honey together. When they’ve liquefied, add the sugar, salt, and espresso powder. Bring this mixture to a boil; stir occasionally to insure the sugar dissolves completely. Once is begins to boil, turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla extract and dry ingredients. Stir well, reserve for one hour at room temp.

Preheat the oven to 350° (180°c)
Use a small ice cream scoop or Tablespoon to measure out even, rounded portions of dough. Drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet, bearing in mind they will spread considerably; leave about 4 centimeters between each cookie. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until they have spread thinly and turned uniformly dark and lacy. You may find some of the cookies spread enough to assimilate their neighbors. Don’t Worry. You can cut them free later. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool on the pan for about a minute before trying to cut them out with the cookie cutter.

Cutting the cookies
To cut the irregularly shaped cookies into clean rounds, you’ll need to use the largest round cookie cutter you have. The goal here is not to “cut out” the cookies like you would with an unbaked cookie dough, but rather to stamp “perforations lines” onto each soft, semi-molten cookie. Don’t worry about trimming away the excess. Just stamp.
Once the cookies have cooled completely, simply pick up each cookie and snap off the ragged edges. The excess will break away cleanly, leaving you with a perfectly round cookie. (Do not, under any circumstance throw away the scrappy crumb type bits! You must save them, in a zippy bag, to sprinkle over ice cream or possibly breakfast cereal. You will thank me for this reminder someday.) If at any stage in the game, the cookies become too hard to stamp, just pop them back in the oven for 30 seconds or so, then try again. You can keep these cookies in a glass jar or in a metallic box for a few days.

Nota Bene:
Cocoa nibs are basically raw chocolate, pieces of cacao beans that have been roasted, hulled and prepped to the point where all that there is left to do is process them into bars. Nibs, on their own, taste vaguely similar to roasted coffee beans. Nibs are a bit crunchier than coffee beans, since some coffee beans can become quite delicate after roasting, but give primarily the same textural effect when covered in chocolate. Cocoa nibs are always found in small pieces, rather than coffee bean-sized pieces. The flavor is slightly nutty and, while there are definitely some chocolate notes in there, they are primarily going to contribute texture and a hint of bitterness (the same as raw cocoa powder).

Friday, December 2, 2011

Fig Financier

Financier is a delicious, buttery cake, a lovely Dessert with tea or coffee. History tells us they were created by pastry Chef Lasne in 1890 to feed his clients working at the Paris stock exchange. Lasne had the idea (marketing ahead of time) to change the oval shape of the original cake to evoke that of a gold bullion and so the financier was born!

 6 portions


187g / 6.5 Oz butter
187g / 6.5 Oz egg white
63g/2.25 Oz flour
125g/ 4.5 Oz almond powder
212g/ 14 Oz icing sugar
2 boxes or 1/2 pound Figs
The juice of 1 lemon


  • Put the butter in a sauce pan and let it melt till it turns brown.
  • Meanwhile mix all the ingredients together in a bowl (the flour, the almond powder, the icing sugar and the egg white ).
  • When the butter is brown let it cool down, then add it in the bowl. 
  • Fill the batter into your molds such as financier or muffin molds. Add 3 fig quarters on top of each cake.
  • Cook in molds at 190°C/350 F for 15 minutes.   
  • In a bowl blend the figs left with lemon juice and caster sugar to make the coulis.   

 Tips: You can also make with other fruits you like.