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Thursday, 5 December 2013

Cooking & Baking Challenge - Session 6 : The recipes!

Here I am, late again! Weekend away, children ill, myself not very well... three good-ish reasons to publish late... Sorry about that.

So let's see what do we have this month:

* Myself: Kugelhupf
* Steph: Sweet Bretzels
* Isabel: Green Bean Casserole

WARNING: With Christmas and New Year approaching, I will not have much time available for blogging, it will be the same for many other people. Therefore there will be not Challenge published in December, it will be instead published again on the 31st of January 2014!

Cooking & Baking Challenge - Session 5 : Kugelhupf

This month my husband and I tested a Kugelhupf recipe, from a German book on French cooking ;) Logical, isn't it?

1 dice of fresh yeast (42gr)
1/8 L lukewarm milk
150 gr sugar
500 gr flour
1/2 a lemon
125 gr soft butter + 2 tbsp additional for the mould
4 eggs (medium size)
1/2 tsp vanilla powder
1 big pinch of freshly grated nutmeg / salt
4 tbsp almonds (flakes)
350-400 gr seedless grapes [ I used raisins soaked in water - my afterthought was that it would have tasted even better soaked in rum!]
Icing sugar

1 - Crumble the yeast and mix it in a small bowl with 5-6 tbsp milk and 1 tsp of sugar. In another recipient, mix the remaining sugar with the flour and make a hole in the middle. There, pour the yeast and milk mixture and cover with a little bit of flour. Cover the bowl and leave it to rest for 15 min. 

2 - Wash well your lemon and grate finely half of it. Add the zest, the butter, the eggs, the vanilla, nutmeg and salt to the flour and with the dough hook mix for about 5 min. Cover again and leave to rest 1 to 2 hours until the dough has doubled in volume.

3 - Butter your form (if it's a metal form), sprinkle with the almonds everywhere. Wash and drain your grapes. Add them to the dough. Then place your dough in your form and leave it to rest another 15  min.
Pre-heat the oven at 180°C (or 160°C if you start from a cold oven with air circulation)

4 - Place the cake in the oven (in the middle) and leave it to bake for about an hour, until it looks nicely brown.
Leave the cake to cool down a bit before taking it out of its mould. Before serving, sprinke some icing sugar.


Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Cooking & Baking Challenge - Session 5 : Isabel


- 1 kg. green beans. I used string.

- 4 slices of bacon, cut into 1 cm. pieces (for these cases, I use bacon chunks, too).

- 1/2 large onion, chopped.

- 3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced.

- 1 red bell pepper (1/2 if it's too big).

- 4 Tbsp butter.

- 4 Tbsp all-purpose flour.

- 2 1/2 cups whole milk.

- 1/2 cup half-and-half.

- Salt.

- Pepper.

- Cayenne pepper.

- 1 cup grated cheese (I used white Cheddar).

- Breadcrumbs.

- Grated Parmesan cheese.


1. Blanch the green beans: Drop them into slightly salted boiling water and cook for 3-4 minutes, then rapidly remove from water and plunge into an ice-cold water bowl. Thus they keep a beautiful green color and are crisp. Drain and set aside.

2. Cook the bacon on medium heat for about two minutes. Then add the onion, garlic and bell pepper and cook 3-5 minutes or until bacon is done and onions are translucent (variant: you may cook the bacon, set aside, and then use the grease for the onion, so that it gets the flavor and has more time to brown and caramelize, then add the rest). Remove everything and set aside.

3. In a saucepan, make a light (at least a not-so-thick) white sauce: Melt the butter, add the flour and let it cook for 1-2 minutes, and then add the milk and the half-and-half, whisking until everything thickens. Season with salt, pepper, and ground cayenne. Add the cheese and stir until it melts.

4. Add to the onion-garlic-bacon-bell pepper mix, stirring to combine, and then incorporate the green beans.

5. Place on a baking dish and top with breadcrumbs (I usually put a bit of Parmesan, too).

6. Bake on a preheated oven (180ºC/350ºF) for about 30 minutes or until golden-brown.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Challenge : "Un mot, des titres" - Session 20

Ce mois-ci le mot du Challenge était "Amour". Quel vaste programme! Quel choix difficile! 

Finalement j'ai jeté sur mon dévolu sur ce livre-là qui me passionne particulièrement:

Honni soit qui mal y pense : L'incroyable histoire d'amour entre le français et l'anglais, d' Henriette Walter

"À l'heure où certains se plaignent de l'envahissante progression de la langue anglaise et des menaces qu'elle fait peser sur nos exceptions culturelles, voici un ouvrage qui devrait balayer quelques idées reçues. On y apprend en effet que l'anglais s'est longtemps et abondamment abreuvé à notre source. Comme la tendance est aujourd'hui massivement inverse, il n'est pas rare que les mots fassent le trajet dans l'autre sens. Ainsi, si l'on peut paraître moderne en préférant "challenge" à "défi", il est amusant d'apprendre que ce mot vient de l'ancien français.

Honni soit qui mal y pense retrace l'histoire des rapports étroits entre les deux langues, et cette histoire est aussi celle des peuples. Accessible à tous, il fourmille d'anecdotes savoureuses, sans rien sacrifier de la rigueur scientifique. Henriette Walter, spécialiste reconnue de l'histoire du français, nous invite en douceur à une réflexion plus générale sur le destin des langues. --Guillaume Segerer "

Ce livre est particulièrement bien écrit et aussi amusant qu'agréable à lire. On y apprend beaucoup de choses. Régulièrement des petits bateaux dessinés nous indiquent que nous changeons de pays (en traversant la Manche bien entendu). Régulièrement des "colles" nous sont posées. La réponse est en dessous dans l'autre sens! Pour avoir la réponse  il faut savoir lire à l'envers ou bien retourner tout simplement son livre.

Je vous donne un exemple de question-réponse:

Bâtard ou Conquérant?
 Les Anglais appelaient naguère Guillaime de Normandie "le Bâtard" et les Français l'ont toujours appelé "le Conquérant".
Qui avait raison?

Réponse: Les deux. En effet, Guillaume de Normandie était bien le fils illégitime du duc de Normandie Robert le Diable et d'Arlette, fille d'un peaussier de Falaise (Calvados), ce qui donne raison aux anciens livres d'histoire en Angleterre. Mais Guillaume succédera tout de même à son père, qui l'avait fait reconnaître comme son héritier un an avant de mourir. Il fut ensuite vainqueur de Harold, son cousin, en 1066, et, en envahissant l'Angleterre, il deviendra effectivement "le Conquérant" 

Des cartes, des diagrammes, des encarts, il y a beaucoup d'informations dans ce livre qui semblent à première vue assez scientifiques mais que l'auteur a rendu parfaitement lisibles et compréhensibles pour le grand publique. 

Je recommande particulièrement ce livre à tous ceux que l'histoire des langues intéresse!

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Felt food and books

 I am finally taking the time to write a post! It feels like it has been ages since I last posted something. Here are the last things I made, received and also a small peek on what I will be making next. Hope you'll enjoy watching everything.

First of all, look at those books I got for my birthday!! (Well, one of them, the Star Wars Cookbook isn't technically for me birthday but I gave it to my husband for our anniversary... ^^ )
 I really can't wait to try out some recipes I've seen in those books! Candy bars! The pictures are lush! Spanish cooking looks great too! We will keep busy with that. It is good that I have my Cooking&Baking Challenge to "force" us to use a new recipe at least once a month ;)

We have a burner to melt the sugar on top of Crèmes brûlées. So a recipe to actually make the crèmes is perfect. There are some very interesting combination and a whole series of savoury crèmes to be tried out.

And finally I also got this book along with a set of hand-drills. Many great seasonal ideas which I have already started getting inspiration from that book. 

Thanks a thousand times again to those who gave me the books :)

Now, let's see what kept me busy in the last weeks - I could even say months!

And finally a preview of what I will be making next:
It doesn't tell you much I know ;) but I cannot tell you more and you will only see the result after the 25th of December I'm afraid! I have plans concerning those littles guys and I hope my niece will enjoy the company of four of those babies.

Many other things in progress at the moment, but they are all for Christmas. So don't be surprised if again I do not post very much in the next weeks. You will then get loads to see at the end of the year.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Cooking & Baking Challenge - Session 5 : The recipes!

I know I am late! Sorry about that but I was away a couple of days. For this 5th session, we only have 3 recipes, but delicious nevertheless!

* Ghyslaine's : Pain d'épices
* Isabel's : Stuffed Bell-peppers

Now the question is: who is in for session 6 finishing on November the 30th?

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Cooking&Baking Session 5 - Roast Dinner

We've made several nice things this month, but only one following a recipe book: A Roast-dinner! We used to enjoy those meals during our time in England, but had not got round to making a roast for ourselves since (that was four and a half year ago!). So we took out our Jamie Oliver's book "Jamie's Ministry of Food" and prepared:

- Roasted vegs
- Roasted meat
- Yorkshire puddings

 Today I am sharing the pictures of the whole meal preparations, but only the recipe for the Yorkshire puddings. I think they are my favourite bit in a roast dinner!

Yorkshire Puddings

Makes 12
  • vegetable oil
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 100 g plain flour
  • 100 ml milk
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 225°C/425°F/gas 9. Get yourself a cupcake tin and add a tiny splash of vegetable oil into each of the 12 compartments. Pop into the oven for 10 to 15 minutes so the oil gets really hot.
Meanwhile, beat the eggs, flour, milk and a pinch of salt and pepper together in a jug until light and smooth.
Carefully remove the tray from the oven, then confidently pour the batter evenly into the compartments. Pop the tray back in the oven to cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until risen and golden.
Roasting the veggies
Making the gravy

The apple sauce

Bon Appétit!
In case you are wondering, we used carrots, potatoes and parsnips to accompany our pork roast.

Cooking&Baking Challenge - Session 5: Ghyslaine

Pain d'épices


500 gr de farine
1 sachet de levure chimique
180 gr de sucre en poudre
1 bonne cuillère à café de cannelle
1 bonne cuillère à café de gingembre en poudre
1 cuillère à café d'arôme liquide de vanille
400 ml de lait tiède
200 gr de miel

Mélanger le tout
Verser dans un moule à cake beurré avec du beurre demi-sel
Placer au four à 170°C pendant 1h

Cooking&Baking Challenge - Session 5: Isabel

 Stuffed Bell-peppers

- 2 tablespoons extra virgin oil.
- 3/4 medium onion, finely chopped.
- 3 garlic cloves, minced.
- 1 can of 800 g whole tomatoes, drained (but keeping the juice inside them).
- 2 tablespoons basil.
- 3 teaspoons sugar.
- Salt to taste.
(I didn't add any pepper, but feel free.)

1. Put the oil in a pot at medium heat. Add the onion and a little bit of salt (it helps release the juices, so is done more quickly).
2. After about five minutes, add the garlic and let everything cook until transparent.
3. Add the tomatoes (minus the liquid, if you use a can) and, once in the pot, squeeze them with a wooden spoon in small chunks.
4. Add a bit of salt, sugar, the basil (and pepper, if you wish).
5. Let it cook for at least 25 minutes, at medium-low heat.

- 2 bell peppers. (I prefer the red ones, but I guess green would also be good; make sure they are bell peppers, not Italian, whose skin is much thinner.)
- 1 medium onion, chopped.
- 3 garlic cloves, minced.
- 2 + 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil.
- 1/2 chicken breast (I usually call it 1 breast, and have to remember that chickens have two each), in small chunks.
- 50 g Scaramorza cheese, grated (I used it because that's what I had, but I guess it would be great with dry mozzarella, or even white Cheddar).
- 100 ml cooking cream (not whipping; about 18% fat).
- 8 tablespoons marinara sauce.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Breadcrumbs.
- Parmesan cheese.

1. In a skillet, put 2 tbs olive oil at medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic, with a bit of salt. Let them cook for about 5-7 minutes, until transparent, or even a bit more done, half caramelized, if you please. Set aside in a bowl.
2. In the same skillet, put another 2 tbs olive oil and cook the chicken with a bit of salt and pepper until no longer pink (consider that it will be introduced in the oven later, so it's not necessary that it is fully done). Put it in the bowl and mix.
3.  In the bowl, add the Scaramorza, the cream, and the marinara sauce.
4. Stuff the peppers with the mix and cover with breadcrumbs (mine are home-made, with bread, garlic and Italian parsley) and a bit of Parmesan cheese.
5. Cook in the oven (preheated, 190ºC, with air, and heat up and down) for about  30-35 minutes.

Let it cool for about 5 minutes before eating. It's really hot... :)

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Autumn - Home fun

The weather is autumn does sometimes confine us to our flat. We keep as busy as we can though to prevent from feeling moody and depressed. And what is best than a little bit of baking and craft with N. ?

Redcurrant muffins with Fennel herbal tea
Learning to keep her balance
Making animals with stickers and pots
Different sizes of pompons
Brownies in a cup

 Still many possibilities of what one can do at home. What do you do with your children? Any tips, fun activities to share?