favourites – foodbeam http://www.foodbeam.com pâtisserie & sweetness Sun, 02 Jan 2011 01:35:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.2 1397966 She fell in love with the seaside – A year has passed http://www.foodbeam.com/2010/12/31/she-fell-in-love-with-the-seaside-a-year-has-passed/ http://www.foodbeam.com/2010/12/31/she-fell-in-love-with-the-seaside-a-year-has-passed/#comments Fri, 31 Dec 2010 19:08:10 +0000 http://www.foodbeam.com/?p=2267 This past year was a tumble. A dive that started – what felt like – a few seconds ago. Possibly with a busy sunday lunch at the restaurant, with only Guillaume and I doing service.
And to be honest we had no clue about how this whole restaurant thing worked. I remember our first ice-cream quenelles. I remember making way too much mise-en-place because we were so terrified we would run out during service. I remember the long hours.

But mostly I remember how happy I was. And certainly, how happy I am when I realise that I can handle a busy service, or organise my section, or even when I highlight the words from my prep list – meaning it’s been made.

So yes, 2010 was a good year. With laughs and tears, and more laughs. With perfect quenelles, and trust me when I say it’s all about the quenelle. With delicious food and delicious people.

I fell in and out of love twice. I fell in love with my job. And I fell in love with the most amazing people who make my days seem like a dream.
Namely, head-chef Richard Hondier, sous-chef James Mitchell, and my very own petit-pois or ecureuil sauvage – depending on my mood – Jack Walker, the apprentice.

james and jack

Because in the end, there is no such thing as being surrounded by people who are passionate and push you out from your comfort zone, instead of being carrier-driven.

Now, I wish I had had the time to take more pictures of some of my very favourite desserts – mostly created for the set lunch menus – but service is fast and at times, brutal. A bit like being hit by a wave.

So instead, I’ll share my favourite experiments, because this is what I feel like doing at home now. Experiment, fail or not.

A beetroot cake. Possibly one of the best things that ever got out from oven. It was moist and fragrant. The perfect support of a rich cream-cheese frosting or a long afternoon of writing.

secret ingredient cake

The cocoa brownies. My favourite discovery of this past year. Brownies that are chewy all the way through. And so easy to make, you’ll be able to have them for breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner.

brownies

The avocado macarons. The recipe hasn’t been written yet, but those macarons were delicious. And not only because I’ve finally found the right settings on our oven for them to come out perfect, each and every time.

macaron pile

A rhubarb entremet. Made in early spring. With the people I care the most about. My grand-father went for a second serving and this, my friends, is a sign.

rhubarbe

The little matcha brioches. Matcha might be an acquired taste to some, but for me it is the absolute favourite. And those cute brioches were simply delicious.

brioche matcha

A lemon cake. This one was made and remade a greater number of times than I dare to admit. Everybody seems to love it. This is why I always have one in my freezer, just in case.

lemon cake sliced

Looking backs at my recipes inevitably brings back memories.

Hours spent sat at the brasserie just below my old flat, writing the very beginning of a pastry book, while the snow was on its way.

Hours spent at the restaurant, working hard and playing harder. Filling the pages of my moleskine notebook with ideas for the desserts and afternoon teas.

Hours spent chatting with my friends Violet and Janelle, whose support I cannot be thankful enough for.

Hours spent trying to understand how to set up a business in London. Saving every penny you very genereously gave me to, one day, make my dream come true. And trust me, you’ll be the first to know when that happens.

This year, I have few resolutions. The main one is to focus and unclustter.

resolutions

I will finish to write my book. I will learn ever and forever more. I will eat out as much as I possibly can afford it. I will learn Japanese. I will create a work portfolio. I will slow down at times.

And, because I feel like starting everything over again, I will stop writing here. Only to find a better place, which hopefully you will like as much as I do.

So while I’m drifting ashore on my little boat, I wish you all a happy new year. See you soon, on a new island.

happy new year

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Le vingt-et-un – Fudge au beurre de cacahuètes http://www.foodbeam.com/2010/12/21/le-vingt-et-un-fudge-au-beurre-de-cacahuetes/ http://www.foodbeam.com/2010/12/21/le-vingt-et-un-fudge-au-beurre-de-cacahuetes/#comments Tue, 21 Dec 2010 22:58:06 +0000 http://www.foodbeam.com/?p=2231 [The twenty-first – Peanut butter fudge]

le-vingt-et-un

peanut butter fudge

It was a day before the winter solstice. The service finished late. But we quickly threw our whites to the piling laundry, only to venture into the real white.

The wild white.

Many glasses of champagne later, we went home. I slipped twice. He couldn’t stop laughing. He slipped once. I burst into tears; of the happy kind.

heart

Warm and scarfless. He took my hat off. My hair was electric.

We had a couple of peanut butter fudges. And had a race to bed. I won, because he always lets me to. We fell asleep without brushing our teeth.

And somehow, I’m still amazed about how it’s sometimes the smallest details that matter the most.

Those fudge squares, even if they’ve already been made three of four times in the past, will – from now on – remind me about that night. The night when autumn turned into winter. And the snow into rain.

winter love

And rather evidently, the night I forgot about my advent calendar. Blame the champagne for this.

But I’m making up for this. Today. With little squares so good that lovers would choose to eat them before they even got a chance to kiss.

peanut butter fudge top

Fudge au beurre de cacahuètes
Adapted from Sophie Dahl.

Those are sweet. Too sweet for some, perfect for the rest of us. I like to use crunchy peanut butter for the texture. And I’m almost certain they would make a lovely gift, if wrapped into pretty paper.

I cut mine into 4x4cm squares, but you could as well make smaller cubes for an guiltless treat.

Fudge au beurre de cacahuètes

makes 20 squares
125g butter
500g dark brown sugar
120g milk
250g crunchy peanut butter
seeds from one vanilla pod
300g icing sugar

Line a 20cm square tin with baking paper.
Melt the butter in a saucepan and mix in the brown sugar and milk. Bring to the boil, and simmer for 2-3 minutes, without stirring.
Remove from the heat, and add the peanut butter, vanilla seeds and icing sugar. Beat the mixture until smooth.
Pour into the prepared tin, and chill for an hour or two.
Remove from the tin by pulling the baking paper and cut into 4x4cm squares.

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Le seize – Des betteraves et un gâteau http://www.foodbeam.com/2010/12/16/le-seize-des-betteraves-et-un-gateau/ http://www.foodbeam.com/2010/12/16/le-seize-des-betteraves-et-un-gateau/#comments Thu, 16 Dec 2010 13:48:13 +0000 http://www.foodbeam.com/?p=2148 [The sixteenth – Beets and a cake]

le-seize

bonbon cake top

Two days, four bowls of Thai chicken soup, twenty hours of sleep, and a singing cab driver later, I’m finally emerging from the nightmare that flu is.

Only to let you know, I loved all of your ideas. Some made me laugh, some made me think.

The secret ingredient was beetroot.

beets

And believe me, this cake has become a number one favourite.

You see, when I first made it, I wanted to try two new things – because, after all, this little journal here is made for things that I can’t experiment with at work.

A beetroot cake.
And this lovely sprinkle and bonbons frosting.

bonbon cake

I had more eggs, butter, flour and sugar in my cupboard that I can admit; a couple of raw organic beets sitting in the fridge. And a major disappointment: every recipe I’d found called for cooked beetroots.

Now, I’m not saying I didn’t want to spend three hours waiting by the oven for the precious little rubies to become soft and sweet, but I knew – deep-inside – I could just grate them finely.

So I did.

Gâteau à la betterave

This recipe is a keeper. The texture is out of this world and the cake will keep moist for days. Here I made two small cakes, one for now, and one kept – tightly wrapped in clingfilm – in the freezer, for later.

But really you could bake it in a 24cm pan or in a loaf tin. Just make sure you adjust the baking time accordingly: a small knife, inserted in the middle of the cake should come out clean.

To grate the beets, I used my microplane grater and it did a wonderful job at it. If you don’t have one – and really you should – simply use the smallest grater you can find.

The fresh beets add so much more than just colour. They make the cake moist – the same way carrots do in a carrot cake – and bring a lovely yet subtle earthiness.

I’m giving you the recipe for the cream cheese frosting, because we all need a good reliable one in times of need. But keep in mind that the cake is equally delicious cold and frosted than it is slightly warm – from a short trip in the microwave from frozen – and naked.

Gâteau à la betterave

serves 8-10

for the beetroot cake
3 eggs
175g caster
seeds from one vanilla pod
2 medium beetroots, approximately 250g
175g flour
10g baking powder
one tsp ground cinnamon
120g butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 170°C and butter generously a 24cm-wide springform tin.
In the bowl of a stand-mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the eggs, sugar and vanilla seeds on medium speed until fluffy and double in size.
In the meantime, peel the beetroots and grate them straight into the bowl containing the eggs, gently folding as you go.
Add the flour, baking powder and cinnamon, and incorporate using a spatula.
Transfer a couple of spoonfuls of the batter into the melted – but cooled – butter and mix vigourously until smooth, then fold back into the remaining batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
Allow to cool on a wire rack before frosting it, or devour plain when still warm.

for the cream-cheese frosting
300g icing sugar
50g butter, at room temperature
125g cream-cheese, cold
sprinkles
liquorish candies

Beat the icing sugar and butter together in a stand-mixer with the paddle attachment until the mixture comes together. Add the cream cheese mix until smooth and fluffy.
Frost the sides of the cake and immediately sprinkle with the non-pareils of your choice. And pile some old-fashioned liquorish candies in the centre.

And just for the record – and for your personal enjoyment (read: burst into laughs with tears and all), when I say stand-mixer, I really mean mixer standing on a loaf of sliced bread.

Please don’t try this at home!

stand mixer

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Le douze – Une astuce pour foncer easy http://www.foodbeam.com/2010/12/12/le-douze-une-astuce-pour-foncer-easy/ http://www.foodbeam.com/2010/12/12/le-douze-une-astuce-pour-foncer-easy/#comments Sun, 12 Dec 2010 23:43:20 +0000 http://www.foodbeam.com/?p=2099 [The twelfth – A trick for an easy tart-ring lining]

le-douze

It sure sounds slightly awkward and long in English. I mean, line a tart ring with sweet pastry? Foncer seems so much easier.

And it is in fact. Especially when you know this one tip, given to me by a pastry chef friend.

Simply butter your ring before lining it with your rolled out dough.

slideshow-butter-ring

It will make the pastry slide more easily, to avoid it from tearing apart. And it makes sure the sides brown nicely during the baking process.

Easy peasy, right?

tart ring spectra

And for the record, foncer also means: rush and darken. So for those of you who are trying to learn French, I send you my warmest wishes.

And for the off-the-record, here are facts that possibly underline how random I feel right now.

I want pink hair. I could photograph the everyday with a mamiya universal. I love the smell of his skin, it’s like a drug. I miss my sister. I miss my bed. I drink one actimel and three lattes before 9am every morning. I could live in the short moment that follows the dawn. And I love you very very much.

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Le onze – Tarte surprise aux noix de pécans http://www.foodbeam.com/2010/12/11/le-onze-tarte-surprise-aux-noix-de-pecans/ http://www.foodbeam.com/2010/12/11/le-onze-tarte-surprise-aux-noix-de-pecans/#comments Sat, 11 Dec 2010 23:17:37 +0000 http://www.foodbeam.com/?p=2089 [The eleventh – Surprise pecan pie]

le-onze

pecan pie bitten

I wish I could talk about how much I love recreating classics or old favourites. I find it’s the perfect way to highlight the beauty of what was once created and eaten with great joy.

It’s a bit like being in love. For real. You get both the comfort of having someone so close and the excitement of discovering him everyday under a new light, which you happen to be completely crazy about.

Oh yeah, I wish I had the time to develop. But right now, my alarm is set in just a little over five hours. So it’s going to be brief.

An awaken dream before the actual ones start to take over.

pecan pie top

An idea. Just because I could have made it perfect, but was once again short of time, short of a good pecan pie recipe, and slightly short of rational thoughts after the bottles of wine we’d shared before I started plating the dessert for our very own little party.

Just the two of us.

But this version tasted delicious. The creaminess and subtle floral flavour of the bavaroise stood against the sweet crunch of the nuts rather beautifully.

pecan pie

Tarte aux noix de pécans

I can’t really call this a recipe, but more a guideline to follow. I have no records of the proportions. But I can only urge you to try.

Or even better, come up with your very own twist on a favourite. Because, pastry should be fun and fearless.

And please, someone give me your absolute go-to pecan pie recipe. Please, please, please!
`

Tarte aux noix de pécans

for the pie
use your favourite recipe and make it into 75mm rings. allow to cool.

for the vanilla bavarois
use this recipe, then pipe it into silicon savarin mould, which happen to be roughly 75mm-wide. then freeze until needed.

for the sugar-coated pecans
150g pecan halves
100 caster sugar
30g water

Heat a pan over medium heat. And roast the the nuts, shaking as you go, for 3 minute, until you can smell a definite pecan aroma.
Set aside in a heatproof bowl.

Bring the sugar and water to the boil and cook the syrup to 120°C. Pour a third over the pecan halves. Then stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar cristallise and the nuts start to separate. Continue until you have used all the syrup.

for the montage
Place a ‘savarin’ of bavarois on top of a tart. Allow to come to temperature in the fridge. Repeat with the remaining tarts. Place a couple of sugar coated pecans in the hole of the ‘savarin’. Serve when the bavarois is completely thawed.

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Le huit – Obsessions culinaires, winter edition http://www.foodbeam.com/2010/12/08/le-huit-obsessions-culinaires-winter-edition/ http://www.foodbeam.com/2010/12/08/le-huit-obsessions-culinaires-winter-edition/#comments Wed, 08 Dec 2010 22:55:35 +0000 http://www.foodbeam.com/?p=2049 le-huit

Snow can fool us into believe winter is here. When really it’s not.

And even after it came and went, the sharp winds still  gives us goosebumps no matter how many layers of mittens, hats and scarves we’re wearing.

snow barely here anymore

I’ve found a relief in the shape of a hot bowl of soup.

Slightly spicy, full of flavour, and damn good.

So good in fact, that I’ve made it four times in just a short eight days. Just when the sun goes down, my flat starts to smell of ginger and lemongrass.

Evidently, it’s always too dark to take a picture. But, who needs it anyway. You have my promise.

Make this – or as a matter of fact, any of the listed things below (which I see as a winter edition of my culinary obsessions chronicle). And feel better. Warmer. And possibly, happier.

Oh and while I’m at it, I’m wondering what are the foods that help you make it through winter? Please tell me. We can never have enough comfort in our kitchens.

And for the record, I realise it’s technically still autumn, but my frozen cheeks tell me it feels like winter. Hope you stick with me on this one.

One. Thai chicken soup. Grab a couple of chicken thighs, with all the trimmings: bone, skin and organic. Pan fry the chicken, skin-side down until golden, flip around and deglaze with a litre of water and a mini-can of coconut cream.
Add two spoonful of sweet chilli sauce, a dash of toasted sesame oil, and soy sauce. Squeeze the juice from one lemon, and bring to the boil. In the meantime, roughly chop the soft end of a lemongrass stick and grate a fat piece of ginger. Add o the soup. Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the chicken thighs; then using two forks, shred the meat from the bones and skin. Place back into the pan and add a handful of each: frozen peas, rocket, and rice noodles. Divide in between two bowls, and top with chopped red chilli peppers, two sliced spring onions and fresh coriander. Eat with a spoon when still piping hot. Preferably with good company and a movie.

coconut-cream

Two. Eggnog lattes. Be lazy and go to the closest starbucks. Order a venti eggnog latte. And burn your tongue while drinking it. Or make it at home. Bring 250g of milk to the boil along with 2 cinnamon sticks, a couple of cardamom pods and a little grated nutmeg. Add a dash of vanilla extract, the one with the seeds. In a bowl, mix 2 eggs yolks with 50g of caster sugar. Strain the boiling milk onto the eggs, mixing as you do so. Then place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and cook, stiring all the time until the anglaise reaches 84°C. Add a double shot of espresso or a heaped teaspoon of your favourite instant coffee. Drink. From the comfort of your own home. And perhaps, with a dash or two of rhum.

Three. Roast garlic. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a baking tray with foil. Take four heads of garlic and chop their top off by a centimetre or two. Place on the prepared baking tray. Drizzle with oil and season with Maldon sea salt. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Make sure you have some bread close by.

garlic

Four. Gü chocolate banoffee. Walk to your kitchen. Open the fridge and reach the black Gü chocolate banoffee package. Open with your hands. Grab a spoon, preferably small. Lift the foild cover away. Eat the chocolate layer first. Then sink your spoon into the goo. And wonder if they’re is anything sweeter – literally and figuratively – in this world. Don’t even think about having the second one.

Five. Molly’s waffles. Before you go to bed, visit Molly. Read her words. Fell in love and in hunger. Then make the recipe. The first one, Marion Cunningham’s raised waffles. Except, switch the dry yeast for 5g of fresh yeast. Because your heart tells you to. Sleep. Wake up half and hour before your alarm goes off. Cook the waffles. And eat plain, thinking about sending Molly a thank you note later.

Thank you Molly. x

levure

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Le quatre – Cupcakes au thé matcha http://www.foodbeam.com/2010/12/04/le-quatre-cupcakes-au-the-matcha/ http://www.foodbeam.com/2010/12/04/le-quatre-cupcakes-au-the-matcha/#comments Sat, 04 Dec 2010 18:35:02 +0000 http://www.foodbeam.com/?p=1977 le-quatre

matcha green tea cupcake

This cupcake and I, we had quite a day.

Everything felt just fine, until I grabbed the vintage container filled with flour wondering whether it was plain or strong. The lid was orange. And somehow, it seemed evident that this was the high-gluten stuff.
So I reached the other container at the back. The brown one.

I rubbed the sugar into the butter. Added seeds from one vanilla pod and one egg. Mixed a little. Folded the flour and baking powder in. And the final touch of milk.
A recipe I love and use everytime cupcakes are needed.

Seventeen minutes later, I was happily befriending with twelve cupcake-wannabe pancakes. They were cute. They tasted delicious. They were more than slightly gummy.

So here is a written note for myself, which should be read in case of doubt.
plain-strong-flour-vintage-container-colour-code

And then, I made it again. With the right flour. Plain, for the record. The batter was spooned – not piped – because it would later be baked in a tiny gas oven.

Home, my friends, the place where imperfection has a sole right – and possibly, obligation – to live and exist.
While we’re at it, I must show you the aftermath. I love green tea. Everywhere.

messy frosting

Eventually, I wiped the green off my counter. Warmed up a cup of milk. Put some music on. And sat with a book, a mug of hot matcha latte, and a cupcake.

It was still snowing outdoors. And the wind could be heard, with the sound of branches.

Yet another perfect winter moment.

matcha cupcake spectra

Cupcakes au thé matcha
Adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook.

There are many many things I like about those cupcakes. The fact that taste absolutely delicious definitely one of them. But to be honest, what I love the most is how easy they are to put together.

matcha green tea cupcake bitten

Five minutes of mixing. All in one bowl. Seventeen minutes of baking. Two minutes to make the frosting. A short pause for the cupcakes to cool down. And finally the frosting, perhaps ten minutes.

And while we’re at it, you should know I will explain you how to frost cupcakes quickly, without a piping bag, in tomorrow’s post. A simple palette knife or even a butter knife, are more than enough.

If your frosting feels a bit too thick, just add a tad more milk, until it has the perfect creamy texture – firm enough to hold, but smooth enough to be spread.

Cupcakes au thé matcha

makes 8

for the cupcakes
120g caster sugar
40g butter, at room temperature
seeds from half a vanilla bean
one egg
120g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
120g milk

Preheat the oven to 170°C. And line a muffin tin with 8 cases.
In a bowl, combine the sugar, butter and vanilla seeds. Mix in the egg. Then add the flour, baking powder and salt. Finish with the milk.
Divide in between the cases. And bake for 17 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the centre of one of the cake comes out clean.
Remove from the tin and allow to cool down on a wire rack.

for the frosting
500g icing sugar, sifted
one heaped tsp of matcha green tea
160g butter, at room temperature
60g milk
sprinkles, to decorate

Beat the icing sugar, matcha and butter together in a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until it comes together. You could also use your hands and a wooden spoon.
Mix in the milk, and keep on beating until light and fluffy.

Using a palette knife, stack the frosting in the shape of a cone, on top of the cooled cupcakes, then twist around to get rid of the excess frosting and create a swirl. Immediately sprinkle with the decoration of your choice as the frosting tends to form a slight crust quite quickly.

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Le trois – Un livre: Quay, Peter Gilmore http://www.foodbeam.com/2010/12/03/le-trois-un-livre-quay-peter-gilmore/ http://www.foodbeam.com/2010/12/03/le-trois-un-livre-quay-peter-gilmore/#comments Fri, 03 Dec 2010 22:04:38 +0000 http://www.foodbeam.com/?p=1967 le-trois

quay cover sx70

“Nature has provided me with a large palette to work from and, in turn, my presentation has become far more organic in an attempt to represent the natural world.”

Seasons – and more generally, nature – are something we should all be thankful for, so when I read Peter Gilmore’s words, they make me warm inside.
The beautiful approach he has with food is perfectly rendered in his book Quay.

beet quay

In fact, I’ve noticed that there is something about restaurant desserts that feels right. The creativity, the seasonality, the freshness.
Something that connects me with the reasons why I’m doing all of this.

And this book – like many others that I will share during the upcoming weeks – seems to be the perfect reflection of my feelings.

The words are limited, but always tasteful. The pictures are breath-taking. And the recipes exhibit everything I love about modern Australian cuisine.

A gorgeous lesson on how produce should be treated.

And just for the record, you’ll find a eight-texture chocolate cake, which happens to be number one on my to-make list, on page 218.

Just like the caviar pearl with scallop, pearl oyster and white tea jelly, on page 119. Or the crisp pressed suckling pig with prunes, sherry vinegar, black pudding and cauliflower cream, on page 153.

eight texture choc cake quay

(All images taken from Quay).

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Night seems to talk to every wall – Chocolate chip cookies, like muffins http://www.foodbeam.com/2010/11/12/night-seems-to-talk-to-every-wall-chocolate-chip-cookies-like-muffins/ http://www.foodbeam.com/2010/11/12/night-seems-to-talk-to-every-wall-chocolate-chip-cookies-like-muffins/#comments Fri, 12 Nov 2010 19:49:23 +0000 http://www.foodbeam.com/?p=1907 cookies like muffins

There is something about early nights that feels like magic.

It can be the glimmer of cheap ikea candles that smell of vanilla. Or the warmth of a pair of chunky mittens.

Or perhaps for you, it’s the cosiness of the blanket you’re wrapped in, while reading a book to your favourite animal; mine currently being a Portuguese-speaking guinea pig called Joseph – which I would have never thought as plausible, the liking a guinea pig that is, not the whole language compatibility issue.

joseph

I love early nights because they ooze comfort, and at times, if I’m in the mood for baking, they ooze chocolate as well.

Tonight, the house is empty and quiet. I can hear the rain hit the roof and the heater roar.

The sunset happened just three short hours after I woke up, but it feels like the day has just begun.
In short, the perfect background for the slow-motion day I have been dreaming of.

With no plan, but an empty stomach, I put some music on, preferably something by girls in Hawaii. I light up our gas oven, and mix butter with muscovado sugar, add flour and a touch of baking powder. I chop some valrhona chocolate into chunks.
Getting my hands dirty, I form little pats, put them into a muffin pan and bake.

chopped chocolate

Yes, there is something magic about early nights. It can be anything you want; wherever and whenever, as long as it’s after the dusk.

For me, it was as easy as soaking a thick and chewy cookie into a cup of hot matcha latte. The photographing part was obviously slightly more difficult, but well, no apologies needed, it’s dark outside.

cookies pola dirty

Chocolate chip cookies
I think I already have more recipes for chocolate chip cookies than needed. I went through different phases, each more successful than the previous one.

And no matter how much I digressed, I always find myself going back to this one recipe that has been sitting in my notebook for years and that somehow never appeared here.

It’s basically a one-bowl recipe that can provide perfect cookies in a matter of minutes.

You can bake them as soon as the dough is made in a muffin pan like I did here for instant gratification. But if you choose to roll them into a log, you’ll be able to freeze them for a later slice-and-bake kind of thing.

Rather evidently, you could use a little whole-wheat flour and I cannot recommend it enough. It gives the cookies a lovely earthy flavour that matches the chocolate and sea salt perfectly.

Chocolate chip cookies

180g butter, soft
80g caster sugar
260g muscovado sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
200g plain flour
200g strong flour
4g baking powder
6g Maldon sea salt
150g dark chocolate, chopped into chunks
Maldon sea salt, extra

In a bowl, cream the butter and sugars. Add the vanilla extract and the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Mix in the flours, baking powder and salt until just combined. Add the chocolate chunks and knead with your hand until there is no more floury patches.
If you’re going to bake them in a muffin pan, preheat the oven to 180°C and form dough balls roughly the size of a Clementine, which you then press into the holes of your pan and sprinkle with a little sea salt. Bake for 12 minutes.
You can shape the rest into 5cm-wide logs which can be frozen for up to 3 months.
When you crave some cookies, simply cut the log into 2cm slices. Arrange on a lined baking tray and bake at 180°C for 8 to 10 minutes, depending on how you like your cookies.

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An everyday-kind of happiness – Spinach and cheddar muffins http://www.foodbeam.com/2010/10/27/an-everyday-kind-of-happiness-spinach-and-cheddar-muffins/ http://www.foodbeam.com/2010/10/27/an-everyday-kind-of-happiness-spinach-and-cheddar-muffins/#comments Tue, 26 Oct 2010 22:13:51 +0000 http://www.foodbeam.com/?p=1890 spinach and cheddar muffin

There are things you can never ignore.

At times, you wish you’d forgotten; crab hunting, kissing in the wind, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, drinking beer by the bottle, killing flies, licking icy popsicles.

Other times, you’re simply happy to remember; stepping into Pierre Hermé’s kitchen, signing my apprenticeship contract, taking a plane to a new life, biting into a perfectly chewy spinach and cheddar muffin.

spinach and cheddar muffins

It was a Saturday or Sunday – the day does not matter – of an early autumn morning.

I had just arrived to London.

The air was crisp and the sky just turning blue after a night made of blankets and raindrops hitting the windows.

autumn

Somehow, those pretty rustic muffins felt fitting. Right that second, I could smell vanilla frosting and feel the warmth from a just-opened oven door. And by all means, I could hear words from happy people.

I remember how the first bite burnt my tongue. I remember the heat of pepper, the flavour of onion, spinach, cheddar and perhaps even Portobello mushrooms. And the crumb.

muffin bite

And then, in between creating desserts and reading books, I forgot about this moment. You know, that everyday-kind of happiness. But as autumn sneaked on us – in a rather unexpected manner – the frosty mornings and dark evenings made our house feel like home.

A home with soft lights, throws on the sofa, a whistling kettle, and muffins in the oven.

muffin batter

Spinach and cheddar muffins
Adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery.

I could express my love for these muffins through an extended description of their qualities. The bold flavours, the perfect chewy crumb.

But the fact that they are equally delicious for breakfast, lunch or dinner – preferably with a side of piping hot soup, makes them my favourite in the world.

Spinach and cheddar muffins

makes 12

30g butter
one small onion, finely sliced
one fat clove of garlic
one chili pepper, finely chopped
350g plain flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
a good grind of black pepper
200g cheddar, grated
250g milk
one egg
130g spinach

Preheat the oven to 170°C. In a pan, melt the butter over medium heat and cook the sliced onion until soft. At the end, grate the garlic and throw the chili into the pan and give a good stir to combine the flavours.
In a bowl stir the flour, baking powder, pepper and cheddar. In another bowl, whisk the milk and egg together, then pour onto the flour mixture using a wooden spoon to fold.
The batter will be quite thick, and I must admit I like to use my hands to incorporate the cooled onions and spinach.
Divide into twelve muffin-cases and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the muffins from the tin and allow to cool on a rack.

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