Monday, 27 April 2009

The proof is in the eating

Well - as they say - the proof IS in the eating. And what did the jury say?  They loved it! No sacrilege committed and the surprised worked a treat. Dad-in-law was suitable speechless when we knocked on the door at 11.30pm Friday night.  We had a great weekend with the family and came back to Paris feeling rejuvenated ready for another week at near break-neck speed. But that's why we love our life in a big city. Take a break and make some of these for yourself. 

Tiramisu Bars (adapted from Cookie Magic by Kate Shirazi)
200g crushed amaretto biscuits
2 tsp instant coffee granules
80g butter melted
Mix the biscuit crumbs with the dry coffee granules and the melted butter. Press the mixture firmly into a lined 23cm square tin.

250g cream cheese
50g sugar
2 large eggs
60ml cream
55ml rum
1 tsp vanilla
In a large bowl beat together the cream cheese, sugar, eggs, cream, rum and vanilla. Pour the mixture over the biscuits base and back for 20-25mins at 180° C or until the centre is set. Leave to cool in the tin.
Make the topping by heating
100ml cream until nearly boiling point. Add
100gr dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids).
Stir until chocolate is melted and pour over the cheescake.
Leave to set for 30 minutes. Cut into squares and eat!

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Late night baking

It's 10.40pm and the oven has just turned off. Sitting on the bench top, filling the apartment with warm rum scented smells, is my latest discovery. Tiramisu bars. Imagine a coffee biscuit base layered with rum and vanilla cheesecake, baked until just set in the middle, finished off with a layer of 72% dark chocolate. I'm so excited I haven't even taken photos of it yet. Literally - it's just out of the oven.
My mother-in-law is famous for her Tiramisu. My husband talks about it almost non-stop in the lead up to a visit. She makes it without fail each time we visit and it's revered as some sort of holy grail moment when we eat it on the last night of each visit. 
We're going to visit them tomorrow for the weekend. But's a surprise! For their birthdays. I can't wait to share this variation of their family favourite with them. I only hope they don't think I've sacrileged their holy grail of Tiramisu.

I keep dabbing my finger on the top to taste the cheesecake layer, addicted already but knowing full well that my fingerprints will be covered up with a layer of  chocolate in the morning.

But shhhh...don't tell anyone it was me.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Without (much) thinking...

I am normally the kind of person who takes a long time to make decisions. It's not that I don't like making decisions. Some decisions I like. I like to decide who I listen to, I like to decide between action or romantic comedy, for example. It's just that sometimes I like to take my time to make decisions; to know what I am buying, to what I am agreeing to. Réfléchir, the french say.

The gem of our Parisian quartier is the pedestrian zone. It's where bicycles, people, push-chairs and dogs mix on the street and attempt to do daily life - be it eating in a sidewalk restaurant, taking clothes to the drycleaners, shoes to the cobbler, buying a wine for dinner or picking up their daily bread at the boulangerie. Sometimes it's orderly, sometimes it's an urban obstacle course. 

I was walking past the gorgeously decadant moorish inspired salon du thé when I spied the window display. The épicerie was half price - everything was half or less the original price. How could I not go in and check it out? Everything tempted me. Everything seduced me. There were spices that I knew and bags of powders I had never heard of.  Everything went to my head and before I knew it...
...I was walking out of the salon du thé with two generously sized bags that I had very little idea what to do with. No consideration, (well not too much) and no matter that I didn't have a recipe in mind. 

Spices for vegetable couscous and zaatar. I've seen and/or heard about both of them before but they've never made an appearance in my cooking.

Well, I've started looking for some delicious ways to use my new spice mix and herbs. If you stick around, I'll share what I discover.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Croquettes de crabe

What better way to end the week than having good friends over for dinner. 
Wine, laughter, a bit of serious conversation and bit of not so serious conversation to balance out the evening. 
I have not cooked with crab with very often. In fact, never. Despite growing up on an island nation surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea, it never did feature on our childhood menu. 
I bought a tin of crab meat one day; I was having an adventurous moment at the supermarket!
And then I made these.

I think I'll buy crab meat again.

Croquettes de crabe
makes 12

200g crab meat
1 bunch of parsley
3 slices of bread
100 ml milk
3 tbsp mayonnaise
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp self raising flour
salt and pepper

for the dipping sauce
1 lime
3 tbsp creme fraîche

Dipping Sauce
1. Add the zest of the lime to the creme fraîche and mix well
2. Juice the lime and reserve for the croquettes

1. Drain the crab meat. Wash and dry the parsley and chop finely.
2. Remove the crusts from the bread and soak in the milk.
3. In a bowl, mix the crab meat with the mayonnaise, parsley, and lime juice.
4. Squeeze the milk from the bread with your hands and mix into the crab meat mixture along with the flour.
5. Season the mixture
6. Heat the oil in a fry pan. Drop teaspoonful lots into the pan and  cook for 2 minutes on each side.

Serve hot with the dipping sauce