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 1397966 Comme un lait fraise http://www.foodbeam.com/2011/01/02/comme-un-lait-fraise/ http://www.foodbeam.com/2011/01/02/comme-un-lait-fraise/#comments Sun, 02 Jan 2011 01:30:54 +0000 http://www.foodbeam.com/?p=2280 comme un lait fraise

As I mentionned yesterday, I will now be writing somewhere else. Not because I’m not in like with foodbeam anymore, but because it feels right. Just like the moment I share with the coolest kid on the planet this morning.

Quite obviously, foodbeam will stay forever in my heart and on the internet.

For now, comme un lait fraise – or like a strawberry milk, you choose – is not yet the cosy place I had dreamt about, but I’m hoping it will eventually.

A place to share precious recipes, moments and places. A place that smells like rain and feels like being wrapped up in a blanket.

I will be honest with you and say how terrified I am with the thought of starting all over again. But it makes sense.

So join the party. And follow me across the pond! xx

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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-trois – Dans la cuisine http://www.foodbeam.com/2010/12/24/le-vingt-trois-dans-la-cuisine/ http://www.foodbeam.com/2010/12/24/le-vingt-trois-dans-la-cuisine/#comments Fri, 24 Dec 2010 00:50:59 +0000 http://www.foodbeam.com/?p=2260 [The twenty-third – In the kitchen]

le-vingt-trois

Twenty-three days after I started writing here daily to celebrate the upcoming holiday, I have a confession to make.

A lot of words have been left unspoken, a lot of pictures have been left unseen, a lot of recipes have been left unshared. Mostly because life, love and kitchens have gotten in the way.

And yes, I will admit it, the occasional champagne glass too.

As you may know, I will be spend my Christmas day feeding other people. From the kitchen. In quite a traditional way, with Christmas pudding and all the trimmings, and mince pies.

kitchen love

And I will spend my nights are the hotel, because London likes to stop time – and transport – on this very special day.

So I won’t be able to talk to you before a few days.

In the meantime, I wish all of you the best Christmas ever. With your loved ones, good food, and fairy-lights. x

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Le vingt-deux – Quand bûche de Noël rime avec FAIL http://www.foodbeam.com/2010/12/23/le-vingt-deux-quand-buche-de-noel-rime-avec-fail/ http://www.foodbeam.com/2010/12/23/le-vingt-deux-quand-buche-de-noel-rime-avec-fail/#comments Thu, 23 Dec 2010 02:27:22 +0000 http://www.foodbeam.com/?p=2250 [The twenty-second – When Christmas log rhymes with FAIL]

le-vingt-deux

buche banana caramel choc

I believe that some things are bound to happen. Things like a major failure.

A failure that shows that wine might be good in your risotto, but not in your glass when baking.

A failure that makes those red macarons – kept in the freezer for a couple of weeks – quite helpful. Even though they don’t really belong here, on a taste point of view.

fail

But as my Pentax taught me, failures can be good. Because we shared the trimmings, but also because it involves mascarpone, Tahitian vanilla, confiture de lait, roast banana, and milk chocolate.

fail pentax multi exposure

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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 dix-neuf – Through the viewfinder of a Pentax ME Super http://www.foodbeam.com/2010/12/20/le-dix-neuf-through-the-viewfinder-of-a-pentax-me-super/ http://www.foodbeam.com/2010/12/20/le-dix-neuf-through-the-viewfinder-of-a-pentax-me-super/#comments Mon, 20 Dec 2010 02:54:29 +0000 http://www.foodbeam.com/?p=2212 le-dix-neuf

I thought I would go straight to bed today. Without dropping by to say hello. Oh yes, I thought of my very favourite blanket and the quietness of the snow-coated night ahead.

What I didn’t think about was that, no matter how long was my day or how tired I feel, the cab driver who is, more or less, safely taking me home will always make me smile. He will sing like there was no tomorrow, he will rant about the latest game of his favourite team, or he will make me swear three times that – no – I am not Billie Piper.

So well, since today started with a picture of the smallest apples covered by snow taken with my beloved Pentax ME Super, it seems evident to end the day with a special feature about this special camera.

pentax me super

I got it back in 2008. Another summer day. A lovely vide-grenier [garage sale] in Fouras. After a difficult start – and by difficult, I really mean a blank first roll – I started to fall in love with it.

This camera might be my favourite. And it shows. Just a short year later, it’s spent so much time in my bag or around my hand that I’ve had to tape it up together.

It’s the perfect camera when I want to slow down and take the time to see – or more accurately, notice – the beautiful things that surround me.

Especially with the 50mm f/1.7 lens. A gem. Or perhaps, even more fitting a description, a dimestore diamond.

At the moment, I’m only using Kodak Gold film and I became best-friends with my picture-developer-boy. But things I’m really hoping for are trying new films and developing myself.

I also really want to use it more for food photography because the results always feel so right.

food pentax me super

And yet, I somehow, almost exclusively use it for often-overlooked everyday-details. I remember a movie where the girl would pretend to take pictures to lock memories somewhere safe. Well, this is my very own memory catcher.

memory

Good night my little monsters.

little monster pentax me super

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Le dix-huit – Through the viewfinder of a Minolta Instant Pro http://www.foodbeam.com/2010/12/18/le-dix-huit-through-the-viewfinder-of-a-minolta-instant-pro/ http://www.foodbeam.com/2010/12/18/le-dix-huit-through-the-viewfinder-of-a-minolta-instant-pro/#comments Sat, 18 Dec 2010 23:46:57 +0000 http://www.foodbeam.com/?p=2191 le-dix-huit

minolta instant pro

This Minolta Instant Pro is the latest camera I got. Another day of summer. This one, three years later and a thousand of kilometres away.

It landed in London after a night made of biding on ebay. Which happened after a night made of words from Molly. Which happened after a night made of the pictures she took.

At the time, I already had a Polaroid SX70. My love. And yet, the rectangular format of the 1200 film felt so right.

And indeed it was. In just a short four months, more than ninety of the so-peculiar-sound produced by instant cameras have been heard.

Ninety pictures. Some of them blurry, some of them with flaws, some of them sharp. All of them perfect.

spectra almost perfect

This camera is matchless when I need instant pictures that illustrate, not what I see, but what I want to see. I find it to be the most amazing thing for journalling and food photography.

Especially with this film and a close-up lens, also purchased from ebay.
And, even though, it is sometimes difficult to judge the right distance between the object and the camera, it is – and I’m certain, it will stay as such – a process I love.

tirer-la-ficelle

Until today, I thought you had to pull the little cord in order to enable close-up. And a friend pointed out that it might be a way to measure the right distance. No more out of focus.

Until today, I had never seen so much snow in a city. Whether I see the world through a close-up lens or not, it is here. On my window – one foot away – or on the pavement.

snow minolta instant pro

The diptych above might be a bit blurry, because I went sans-flash – as always – and my whole body was shaking from the cold wind sneaking its way to my bedroom, but it shows quite nicely the role of the close-up lens.
Everything one-feet-far will be in focus and surrounded by a gorgeous haze. Just like it would if I forgot to put my glasses on.

And for the little monster du jour.

little monster spectra

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Le dix-sept – Through the viewfinder of a Canon 400D http://www.foodbeam.com/2010/12/17/le-dix-sept-through-the-viewfinder-of-a-canon-400d/ http://www.foodbeam.com/2010/12/17/le-dix-sept-through-the-viewfinder-of-a-canon-400d/#comments Fri, 17 Dec 2010 18:49:42 +0000 http://www.foodbeam.com/?p=2163 le-dix-sept

canon 400D

I got the Canon 400D during a perfect day of summer, back on the cote d’azur – la cote or le sud, as we call it, us expats.
It was around July 2007.

I bought it new, with the kit lens – a 18-55mm, which is still used when pictures of polaroids are needed – and the 50mm f/1.8.
A few months later, the macro 100mm f/2.8 followed.

It feels like a long time ago. And I still love this camera endlessly. It might not be my favourite or the most practical for travels, but it’s perfect when I want immediate pictures that capture or, even, enhance the reality.

before after editing

In fact, when day-light becomes what should be called day-darkness, my Canon is priceless for all the photography your eyes can see around here.

The proof is this picture taken today at five pm, when all I could gaze at through my window was the rain turning into snowflakes. And really, it might be five pm, but it’s been dark ever since I woke up at ten am. Fact.

day dark

For this same reason, I shoot everything in RAW mode. A RAW image is just like JPEG, except that when I click on the vignette of my Adobe Bridge (which is my photo management application), the Camera RAW software launches.
And just like I would do it in Photoshop, I can tweak the settings – colour, exposition, contrast, saturation, luminosity – until I reach the desired state. At which point, I open it in Photoshop to resize, crop, and save into a JPEG file.

camera-raw

One thing that particularly makes me feel in love with this camera is the ability to shoot in continuous mode.

It’s very nifty to create the animated gifs I like so much.

For example, this one, created after Anna-Sarah and I made an apple and cinnamon strudel.

And because this little monster is possibly the one thing I photographed with all my cameras, it will make the perfect reference.

little monster canon

For the record, here are some of my favourites for the year that has passed. As you can see, they aren’t too many.

In fact, over the last months, I’ve been using my film cameras more than ever.

But more to come on this tomorrow…

fave canon

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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 treize – Bonbons, sprinkles et un gâteau secret http://www.foodbeam.com/2010/12/13/le-treize-bonbons-sprinkles-et-un-gateau-secret/ http://www.foodbeam.com/2010/12/13/le-treize-bonbons-sprinkles-et-un-gateau-secret/#comments Mon, 13 Dec 2010 23:28:12 +0000 http://www.foodbeam.com/?p=2102 [The thirteenth – Candy, sprinkles and a secret cake]

le-treize

bonbon cake slice

At times, things seem a little less easy. An unheard alarm. A lost friend. A worrying thought.

But we adapt. Not because we have to, but because we believe in what we do.

Right this second, my very own form of adaptation will materialise into laughs that bring tears and a good night of sleep.

The perfect cure. For almost everything.

So instead of the plan, which was to show you this rather delicious bonbon cake, I will now ask you a question.

What do you think is the secret ingredient for this moist and delicate sponge?

secret ingredient cake

And evidently, the recipe will come soon.

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