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Palets Bretons

Yesterday, the Cookie Monster I married came down from his study and started looking for cookies. I usually try to keep a kind around but not this time. I had been working on some other projects and he knows that I don’t like buying store bought cookies, even in an emergency.
I usualyy keep the cookies, in a metal box that originally contained a cookie from Brittany: les galettes du Mont Saint Michel. I did not have chocolate chips of any kind, did not feel like chopping nuts anddid not feel like running to the store. Light bulb! I remembered a post by Ellie at Kitchen Wench about a friend of hers longing for homemade "palets Bretons". All you need for these cookies are the basics for baking: eggs, flour, sugar, butter. Looked like Mr. B was in luck!
The tin needed a proper companion and I could use some cookie TLC myself.

Here is the recipe, inspired by the one Ellie found, I made a couple of changes, just because I can’t help it!

Palets Bretons, adapted from Ellie
4 egg yolks ( I see macarons in the future with the whites)
240 gr. butter
120 gr. sugar
300 gr. flour, sifted
milk, for basting the cookies before they bake
I added 1 tsp. orange blossom flower water and one pack of vanilla sugar

In a mixing bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar until pale yellow. Add the butter and whisk (stand mixer of hand held) in the butter until well incorporated. Add the flower water and vanilla sugar if using. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Pat the dough into a rectangle on a piece of plastic paper or foil and refrigerate one hour.
Form the dough into 2 logs, about 3 inches in diameter and refrigerate another 30 minutes. Cut the dough into rounds, 1/2 inch wide. Place them on ungreased cookie sheet and baste them lightly with some milk. Bake art 375 for 12 to 15 minutes.

These were so good, took me right back home and satisfied the Monster’s cravings!

Five Things

What a cool project! Melissa at The Traveler’s Lunch Box found this list published by the BBC of 50 things one should/must eat before they die.
It was fun to pick out the things I had not tried yet: Moreton Bay bugs, kangaroo, reindeer, guinea pigs, barramundi, haggis. 44 out of 50. I don’t know about you but I don’t feel bad about the bugs.
Anyway, here is my list of five foods to try:

Morrocan Couscous: I am not talking about the pasta itself but about the whole stew, filled with lamb, merguez, chciken, turnips, chickpeas and enhanced with harissa. My grandparents were stationned in Morroco during WWII and my grandmother learned how to make a mean one!

Vacherin: I remember quite many parties around this cheese! Kinda like having a fondue but way much better when you get to sit and eat the original. Vacherin is rare and out of this world!

Cassoulet: This specialty of the south west fo France is to die for. Dive into pure buttery meats bite after bite. You can find many great cassoulet around the Toulouse area but I have to tell that the one they make around Carcassone rocks!

Flamekuche: not quite a pizza, not quite a tart, it is definetely a pie of its own. The best I have had were in Belgium and Belgian cafes in France. Creme fraiche, bacon (lardons), onions, rich, buttery, crusty all washed down with a good beer and it is heaven.

Calissons d' Aix: I used to find them allright when I was a kid, (it was more about the sugar high than anything else) but as I grew older my mouth finally discovered and understood all the intricate flavors of this almond confection. I remember sneaking into my parents' bedroom to find the box and eating a couple on their balcony looking right at Cezanne’s Mont Sainte Victoire. I hold them dear to my heart because they remind me of my childhood but also because they make excellent components for ice cream and other desserts.

So here is my list. What are your 5 things ?

Blame it on blogger

When I spot a yummy thing I just have to try it and when I read about these I immediately thought of the perfect snack bar to have around the house at the end of the summer.

Blogger has been playing tricks with me since last night so I am going to leave you with a "devinette". The game is to guess which other blogger provided this recipe and what it is.
I will come by this afternoon for a real post.
If you recognize your dessert, please don’t say a word.
There will be a goodie for the winner.

Well, since nobody wants to play the game … I am just going to continue with the post.
The answer was Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars.

I don’t know if it is because of my European background but I am not a big fan of peanut butter. Well, let me rephrase that, I am not a big fan of peanut butter straight out of the jar and I’d rather have it in a cookie or a confection. On the other hand, Mr. B. really does not care what form it takes as long ther is some around the house!
These bars were made yesterday and as of today they are gone. No, we did not eat the whole pan! My friend S. called with an emergency: she needed to bring a cookie bar type snack for a potluck and the girl can’t cook to save her life. Could I help? "Well, let me cut some and take a picture and there, you can have the rest." I saved the sample and now I have got to make another batch tomorrow or Mr. B. will never let her step foot in the house again. The sounds coming out of our mouths were something like "Hmmm…wahhh…dang…hmmm", you get the picture.

Now for the reveal: you can find the recipe for Mary on her fantastic blog Alpine Berry, here.
Thank you dear for such a good recipe.

"Zee" Lemon Meringue Pie

I am not the one saying this but over 400 people at Marmiton, a French recipe site much like the Food Network TV one. Now that’s some feedback.
We were invited to Sunday night supper and a game of Scrabble at my in-laws with T & D, and somehow the prospect of leftover banana pudding for dessert did not appeal to me. Being the dessert freak that I am, I volunteered to bring something. I must be completely hormonal or seasonal, but I am craving lemons again, and I wanted to try something different.
The last time I made Lemon Meringue Pie, I was probably 12 or 14 and I remember vividly looking at a gorgeous picture in one of my mother’s magazine. It was my first attempt at meringue on a pie, and if I remember correctly, I did a fair job.
I had forgotten how comforting Lemon Meringue Pie can be. This particular recipe gives a very tangy filling, a not too sweet meringue in a nice shortcrust bottom. Perfect to mark the end of summer (although here it is year round, but we like to pretend we have seasons).
You can find the original recipe here, but here is a translation:

Lemon Meringue Pie

For the crust
25o gr. flour
125 gr. butter
70 gr. sugar
2 egg yolks
5 cl water (1/4 cup)
In a bowl, mix the egg yolks and the sugar until pale, add 2 Tb. water.
In a separate bowl, mix te flour and butter until ressembles coarse crumbs. Add the egg/sugar batter and mix quickly until the dough forms into a soft ball. Add a couple extra Tbs. water if necessary while you incorporate the ingredients.
Refrigerate 30 minutes, roll the dough out and fit it into 10 or 12 inch pie plate. Prick with a fork, cover with foil and pie weights (I use dry beans) and cook at 350 until the dough is completely cooked through.

Lemon Fillling:
4 lemons, zested and juiced
150 gr. sugar
3 eggs.
1 tbs. cornstarch
Mix sugar and eggs into a bowl, add the cornstarch and mix well.. In a saucepan, heat up the lemon juice and zest. When it is hot, slowly pour over the eggs and sugar to temper them and return to the saucepan, let it thicken over low heat, stirring constantly until the consistency is like mayonnaise.
Pour into the cooled pie crust and refrigerate.

For the meringue:
3 egg whites
100 gr. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
With an electric miser, beat the egg whites to a foam, slowly incorporate the sugar and baking powder, one Tb. at a time, until the egg whites are stiff.
Arrange the meringue on top of the lemon filling and bake at 290 for about 30 minutes.

So good, light and tart. My kind of comfort food.

My First Sugar High Friday

Well, it’s about time a blogging pastry chef decides to participate in this great event better known as SHF. I was inspired by its very own creator, the Domestic Goddess, to start a blog but always seemed to miss the call for entries deadline. Not this time!
The theme this month is "Can You Can?", and is hosted by Nicky at Delicious Days.
I’ve always felt inspired by the other SHF themes because they often pushed me to look at an ingredient in a different manner or to open a cookbook I had forgotten was on my bookshelves or even to come up with something completely ad lib.
I never thought of jam as anything other than a topping, a common ingredient for breakfast.
I make jams and preserves on a regular basis but they only seem to be either topping our sunday scones or being given away to friends or family.

Since I make danishes about every weekend and use diffrent kinds of fillings or toppings, I thought I could use some of my recently made Fig and Hibiscus Jam.
A few years ago, Mr. B brought back from a trip to Egypt a pack of loose Hibiscus tea leaves and we have become in love with the slightly tart taste and flowery fragrance.
I had promised Danielle at Habeas Brulee a jar of Fig and Lemongrass jam but decided for hibiscus instead. After browsing online I finally decided upon this recipe for the jam. I cut the figs, mixed them up with the sugar and put a hibiscus tea bag in the pot and let it steep overnight. The result is incredibly fragrant and light.
The danish were wonderful with it.
You can find the recipe for the danishes in a previous post, and the recipe for the fig jam here.

The best part about this jam? It was great to use as a filling for some rose macarons I made yesterday! But that’s another post.

I am taking another poll though. I am thinking of dropping the "aux USA" (in USA) for a more casual "Tartelette" as a blog title. What do you think?

8/23/06 Update: I have to add that the labels are made out of a picture of the jams I made a couple months back, printed on cardstock and glued on the jars.

Starting the Day…

…like this is not too bad according to Mr. B and the neighbors. The recipe for the Cinnamon Rolls makes 2 pans so I took some to the 2 houses next door. I make these about every weekend and I always forget to take a picture before they are all gone. They are that good!

I had already posted the recipe a while back without pictures here, so no need to repeat (plus I have issues with my copy/paste right now).

On another note: as you can see, I have changed the template of my blog and I still hesitate between the 2 so I am taking votes (for the very readers that I have). Which one to keep?

Camille’s Banana Muffins

No, this is not the name of another pastry but the name of my new niece, born on August 14th. She does not look anything like a wrinkly banana, but she sure is cute as a muffin. So these are for you little one.
I got the recipe from Cooking Light for their banana bread and baked these in muffin tins, added some brown sugar and chopped pecans to the tops and voila.
You can find the original recipe here.


Chou who? Chouquettes I tell you. Little rounds of Choux Pastry, crisp on the outside and moist on the inside. In France they are a common afternoon snacks and mom used to buy them fresh at the bakery quite often since they were the only pastries my brother enjoyed eating. There was never enough of them!
Mr. B asked me to make something typically French that he could take to his students for their last day of class and I thought these were the perfect ambassadors. Choux are at the base of many a French specialties: Paris Brest, Religieuse, Saint Honore, Piece Montee (traditional wedding cake), Gougeres. They are used sweet or salty, filled, caramelized or left hollow.

I have one prefered recipe for chouquettes but it makes a giant amount (I use it for catering) and a big stand mixer, even a full class a hungry students did not justify it so I visited one of my favorite blogs, Cindy’s kitchen and found an excellent one. Never fails.

Chouquettes (makes about 36 small ones). Start with a basic choux pastry.
Here is her original and here is my version:

1 cup water
5 Tbs. butter
1/2 oz sugar
4 eggs
4 1/2 oz all purpose flour
pinch of salt

Boil water, sugar and butter. Remove from heat and add flour at once, return to heat and stir continuousl with a wooden spoon to make a smooth shiny paste. Cool a few minutes. Beat the eggs in one at a time until shiny and smooth ( about the consistency of thick mayonnaise).

Form the choux on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, sprinkle with some coarse sugar (I did not have any but I had some coarse brown sugar crystals). Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

Mr. B. only brought 6 back so guess what we are having tonigh for dessert? Profiteroles! Choux , ice cream and chocolate sauce…we are truly lucky!

Weekend Dog Blogging

We are spending a lovely lazy sunday, enjoying a cool breeze but Tippy is sending me a message: "Time to put on your running shoes girlfriend!".
Not food post today, the dog needs my undivided attention.

Head over to Sweetnicks to see this weekend’s roundup.

Another Little Secret

It’s summer, it’s hot, I live in my underwear, I read Epicurus, and I swoon over fresh cherries. If you already know me, you already know that, if not…welcome to my food world. The way I eat is the way I love, the way I love is the way I eat: fresh, honest, bold and in abundance.
Here is an other secret of mine: you can "have" me with a bowl of fresh dark red cherries.