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Chili Prawn linguine and vintage cookbooks

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This summer, it seems that I cook more than I can reasonably eat and write about.
But this matter fact has shown me something: food and cooking hold a major place in my life.

I can’t spend a day without:
1) cooking
2) thinking of interesting food / combination / recipe
3) buying things related to food (read: cookbooks, plates, placemats…)

However something quite strange is happening. I am literally bored of cookbooks. It seems I can’t find one that really stands out.
For example, I love the design of Apples for Jam, but do I really need another recipe for beef pasta? I know I’ll end buying this book because Tessa Kiros is such a great writer and inspiration, but what a strange feeling!
I tend to lean towards pastry chef cookbooks – such as my new favourite PH10.

Though, when I cook for myself I like to keep it simple and fresh.
I love clean Asian flavours: lemongrass, soy sauce, coriander are high among my everyday favourites.

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These chili prawn linguine are a winner. A simple comfort dish that I’ve made at least once – if not twice – a week during the last few weeks.
It’s pretty straightforward (as most of Bill Granger’s recipes) but has that wow-factor that makes everyone sited at the table go wild.
I like to replace the linguine by egg-noodles, which adds a nice touch.

Anyway, I’d love to hear how you feel about recent cookbooks? What are your favourites and why?
Just a little parenthèse [parenthesis]: I’d like to buy some vintage cookbooks but I don’t know where to start. So any suggestions would be appreciated!

Un diner à la Colombe d’Or

[A dinner at la Colombe d’Or]

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When I was offered a dinner at La Colombe d’Or I could help but accept. I mean, who would have preferred to stay at home with a bowl of pasta when you can visit one of the most beautiful restaurants of the French Riviera.
La Colombe d’Or is an auberge created in 1932 by a lovely couple that made it famous for both the art and the food.
And indeed, the place is gorgeous: from the beautiful white and blue themed terrace to the house – filled with thousands of stunning pieces of art.

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But the greatest surprise was certainly what you could find behind the door at the back: the swimming pool, a hidden treasure somewhere between relaxation and luxury. There, I fell in love with the coloured tiles.

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The food was unpretentious yet excellent. It was certainly no Ferran Adria or Hervé This but the simplicity made it spectacular.
What you could call cuisine provençale et familiale in French.

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I had a lovely starter called Hors d’oeuvre – an assortment of dozens of ramequins: haricots, marinated red peppers, garlic beetroots, herring, couscous, Puy lentil salad, sardines… My favourites being: the delicious boudin noir [black pudding], the saffron rice and the tian de légumes.

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The main course menu is well furnished – from lamb racks to quenelles de saumon. Simple and scrumptious!
A great selection of lovely dessert will please everyone; my little guilty pleasure being crème caramel. Yum, so good!

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La Colombe d’Or is a great place to visit either to discover a haut-lieu of the post-world-war French art or simply to enjoy a glass of good wine, delicious provençal food and the beauty of the house and have an innoubliable [unforgettable] time.

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Mirror mirror on the wall … does my blog look good in this? – The gallery

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One thing I love about Does my blog look good in this? is discovering new blogs and lots of talented people.
So if you feel the same as I do, check the gallery.
You can leave comments – I am sure both the judges and participants will appreciate it.

information2.jpgIf you wish to participate it’s not too late.
Please check the guidelines before submitting your entry.

Il fait chaud! – Brioches au coeur de chocolat

[It’s hot! – Chocolate-hearted brioches]

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Despite allowing you to go to the swimming pool/beach instead of doing the really-urgent-things-to-do, the heat wave that hit the south of France has few advantages.
Though, I try to remain as optimistic as possible.
OK it’s deadly hot. But yeast is active at high temperatures, isn’t it?

I really love to work with fresh yeast: its strong peppery smell; its lovely soft-rubber texture that’s transformed in an airy mousse with hydration-warming.
However I always find it a bit difficult to get dough to rise properly during cold winters. Thus summer is, for me, the perfect time for a bit of yeast action: from chocolate soft rolls to bread; from cinnamon rolls to foccacia.I do think that yeasted goods are highly rewarding for some reasons. One of them might be the scrumptious smell of freshly baked bread/rolls that fills the entire house or the delightful relation between the dough and you during the kneading-part of the job (once I start kneading the dough and feel it becoming warmer and softer it would be hard to stop me).

La brioche
Brioches are the typical pastry French children are served for breakfast or for le goûter and I was no exception.
I remember waiting endlessly for my dad to bring me to the boulangerie les mercredis [Wednesdays] where I would always have une brioche au sucre s’il-vous-plait [a sugar brioche, please]. These brioches were special in two ways, the first one being the ritual and the second one being the hidden surprise inside the brioche.
Because surprise there was! The first bite wouldn’t tell you anything, but from the second bite you’d discover a melting chocolate heart.

Brioches au coeur de chocolat

makes 24 small brioches

500ml warm milk + extra milk
42g fresh yeast
1kg flour
200g caster sugar
a pinch of salt
2 large eggs
160g melted butter
24 milk or dark chocolate squares

Combine the milk, yeast and a teaspoon of the sugar in a bowl. Stir once or twice and allow rising for at least 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, mix the flour, remaining sugar and salt. Make a well in the centre and pour the yeast mixture on top of it.
Add the eggs and melted butter and mix, first with a round knife and then with your hands – until it forms a ball.
Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes. It should be soft and not sticky.
Butter generously a large bowl. Place the dough in the buttered bowl and let rise overnight in the fridge.
The next morning, allow the dough to come at room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Knead the dough and form small 90g balls and insert a chocolate square in the centre of each ball.
Fill two 12-bun muffin tin with the dough balls and let rise for 20 minutes. Brush with a little milk, then bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.
If the tops get too brown loosely cover with foil.

Mirror mirror on the wall … does my blog look good in this? – Call for entries

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foodbeam is the proud host for this month ‘Does my blog look good in this?‘.
This event, created by Ronald from LoveSicily, is a food photography challenge.

Who can participate?
Anyone with a blog (at least one month-old as you have to choose a picture posted during July), a camera and good food to be photographed.

How can I participate?
It is simple, just:
choose a gorgeous food/drink picture posted on your blog during July
email it to foodbeam with the subject heading DMBLGIT
+ tell me about you (name, location, name)
+ about your picture (what is it, which camera, permalink)
But do all this before the 24th of August!

Hey! It’s bloody hard to choose THE picture, could you help me?
1. It must have been taken by you.
2. It must have been posted on your blog during July.
3. It must be food/drink related.
4. A panel of five judges will rate the pictures on:
eatability – do i want to stuff my face with it?
originality – is it out of the ordinary (composition, styling)?
aesthetics – is the focus/light/set-up gorgeous?
5. Want to make sure you’re picture should be sent or not? Just check last month’s DMBLGIT entries and winners.

I’m completely lost… Je suis perdu(e)…
You need help? I’m here to rescue you. Just send me an email and I’ll do my best to answer all your questions.
Besoin d’aide? Je suis là pour ça. Envoyez moi un email et je ferais de mon mieux pour répondre à toutes vos questions.

information2.jpgOnly one entry per person is allowed.
Judges can’t enter the challenge.

Good luck to everyone!