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Madeleines: a French classic

Madeleines: a French classic

These little morsels will always take me back to my childhood. They were the kind of things we used to have after school. Madeleines are easy to make and the mixture itself can keep for a week in the fridge. So you can bake them fresh everyday. At this time of year, they are the perfect comfort treat with a cup of tea or coffee.

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Ingredients:

125 g melted butter

125 g flour

A pinch of salt

4 g baking powder

3 small eggs

125 g sugar

You will need a mould for madeleines, if you don’t have one you can use, a traditional cupcake tray, both need to be well buttered.

This recipe should allow you to make 20 to 24 madeleines.

Preparation:

  • Melt the butter
  • Sift flour, salt and baking powder
  • Whisk eggs and sugar for a minute or two, until your mixture is nice and fluffy, then slowly fold the sifted flour and slowly add the melted butter.
  • Once all is mixed, cover with cling film and leave it in the fridge for at least 2 hours. After that time, you will see some little bubbles on top of your mixture. This mixture will actually keep in the fridge for a week, so you can bake the madeleines fresh everyday.
  • Butter your madeleines tray and fill them with a teaspoon of your mixture. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 190ºC for 10 minutes until golden brown.
  • Turn them out of the tray as soon as they come out of the oven

You can enjoy them warm or cold. To keep them fresh store them in a tupperware box, best to eat them within two to three days.

Et voilà!

Chef’s tip: to your sifted flour add the zest of a lemon and orange. Once the madeleines have cooled, dip them into dark chocolate or white chocolate if you prefer.

Bon appétit!

Posh-up your dinner party for Christmas

On Saturday 23rd November, I will be showing you how to bake a perfect Charlotte.Come along for what promises to be a very friendly afternoon at the Alliance Francaise with a selection of Gourmandises pastries of course!

Spaces are limited, so book early to avoid disappointment.

SUNSHINE IN MIDWINTER

In Réunion, food is a real feast, any occasions quickly becomes a pretext for a big party. I remember as a child going to my cousins birthday and being surrounded by 50 sometimes more people, with tones of delicious food of course.

So, when I was approached by Ophelia Redpath to run a “creole soirée”, I couldn’t resist. Close to Christmas, I’d like to put you all in a very festive mood.

As mentioned before, Réunion creole cuisine is fusion food. So on 30th November, I will do exactly that and  bring you a 4 course fusion feast. But I shan’t say no more…

 

The food that made me

A lot of you have asked me, where did it all start? Where do I get my inspiration? How did I get the cooking bug? Plus with my frizzy hairdo, I don’t come across as the typical French woman! So you’ll have to travel very, very, far…..

The story starts in the middle of the Indian Ocean, 200 km away south west of Mauritius, on the lovely island of Réunion where I was born. Although first discovered by the Portuguese, Réunion  is now part of France like Martinique and Guadeloupe. Historically, the island was on the East Indies and slave trade route, and its population today is in fact a melting pot of nationalities, Chinese, Indian, African, Creole, French, that happily live together. The food has been enriched and influenced by all these different cultures, Réunion creole cuisine is a fusion of all these different food, it’s like travelling around the world in one plate, yet managing to create a style of its own!

 

The Island traditional and most popular dish is the “cari de poulet”, you can already predict the origins of the dish. Although extremely similar to an Indian curry, the cari, that can be made with chicken, pork, beef or fish, uses three key and simple ingredients, turmeric, black pepper, thyme, onion and garlic. It is served with plain rice, beans and a spicy side salsa called “rougail”.

 

The rougail always contains chillies, but can be made with tomatoes, lemons, green mangoes and other local vegetables. 

 

 

 

Fusion food is the best way to describe Réunion cuisine. For example, like the French, we like a good apéritif, but ours will be served with spicy nibbles, the most popular one is “bouchons” it is basically our version of the Chinese dumpling, but ours is traditionally spiced with “combava” kaffir lime and filled with either pork, chicken or prawns. We also serve samosas and “bonbons piments (spicy fritters)”, following the Indian influence.

 

A good apéritif will always come with a good “rum arangé”. As many tropical islands, Réunion grows sugar cane, and produces its own rum, the most popular brand is “le Rhum Charette”. The “réunionnais” people flavour their rum, depending on the season, the Rhum Charette will contain mango, lychee, pineapple, vanilla or even local herbs, it is this flavoured rum that we call “arangé”.

 

 

Dessert is not as formal as in France, there are so many varieties of tropical fruits on the island, they are very fragrant and this is what people will have at the end of their meal. Mango, lychee, pineapple, goyaviers, bananas and many more…

 

 

Saying that, we do like a bit of cake, again, nothing as involved as French Patisserie, more baked cakes, we use coconut “bonbons coco”, manioc and other root vegetables “gateau patate”, we flavour the cakes of course with our vanilla and rum.

 

 

So, now you know, this is where my cooking bug comes from, this is why I like using fresh ingredients in my baking, why I love working with the seasons, why I love my vanilla and my rum!

 

 

Tarte Tatin

Tarte Tatin

This is surely one of my winters favourite. The dish gets its name from the sisters Tatin (les soeurs Tatin) who were the first to make it. The story goes that on a very busy day in their restaurant, they had in mind to make an apple pie, but things went a bit wrong and they forgot the pastry, so they just decided to add it anyway and place it on the top of the apples, their customers just loved it and this is apparently how this famous Tarte was born. I love it, but I’m naughty because I use puff pastry instead of short crust pastry and a slight bit of cinnamon towards the end of the cooking.

Ingredients

One block of  puff pastry or short crust pastry

6 to 8 golden delicious (depending on how big they are)

150g unsalted butter

300g golden caster sugar

A vanilla pod or vanilla paste

The juice of half a lemon

A touch of cinnamon (only if you like it, I love it)

For this recipe, you will need a 10″ dish that can go onto the hob.

Melt the butter in a pan on a very low heat and then add  the sugar and place the apples on the top, add the lemon juice and the vanilla, live this to cook for at least 20 to 25 mns on a low heat, as you don’t want your sugar to burn or cristalise, this is an important process, if you get this right, your tatin will get nicely caramelised and not burnt, from time to time you can shake your pan so the apples don’t stick.

Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 220°C. After 25 minutes the sugar should reach a rich amber colour and, by that time, the apples should be soft but still retain their shape. When that has happened, remove the pan from the heat, sprinckle your apples with cinnamon at this point. Then, remove the pastry from the fridge, transfer it to a flat, lightly floured surface and roll it out to a circle slightly larger than your pan. Fit it over the top of the pan, allowing some to tuck down at the edge, it doesn’t have to be neat. Prick the pastry base all over with a fork so the steam is released when it’s cooking and the pastry doesn’t go soggy. Because I use puff pastry, I don’t bother with pricking, as the pie will be turned up side down once cooked.

Next, place the pan on the centre shelf of the oven and bake the tart for 20-25 minutes, or until the pastry is crisp and golden brown. Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool for about 5 minutes. This is the technical bit!!! Take a plate larger than the pan and place it over the top. Then, using an oven glove, invert the pan on to the plate, giving it a little shake before you do. Serve the tart warm, with double cream or a lovely vanilla ice cream.

Enjoy with a glass of crisp cider or a mulled wine at this time of year!!!