Archive for June, 2012

June 29, 2012

Kristin’s Honey & Pepper Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese

My sisters were recently visiting Strasbourg and a miracle occurred.  Kristin suggested that she cook us dinner.  I thought I should get my ears checked!  Because Kristin rarely takes to the kitchen in such a manner, I made sure to carefully observe every move she made while whipping up her and Michael’s “secret” creation.  Her recipe is simple but with an extra twist that makes all of the difference.  And when I am homesick, I plan on making this comfort dish in order to feel like I’m with my sisters once again getting a little “taste” of home.

The problem with my version of her recipe was that I didn’t use a strong enough cheese. I made the mistake of buying my cheese in Germany.  Why on Earth would I do such a thing when I live in France, a country where cheese flows freely and stinks strongly? Next time feel free to replace the taleggio with gouda, fontina or even munster and keep in mind that using raclette cheese is not nearly strong enough.  Though even with a mild cheese, the French roommates who generally scoff at all savory American dishes served themselves twice.

Kristin’s Honey & Pepper Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 6 very hungry people or 8 French people (less hungry. All the time.) What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb macaroni (shells are good, think oozy cheese macaroni)
  • 2/3 lb taleggio cheese, cut into small pieces
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • grated parmesan cheese
  • honey
  • salt
  • black pepper

Now what?

1)   The first thing you have to do is roast your cauliflower.  To do so, mix it with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.  Spread out the florets on an aluminum lined baking sheet and roast in the oven at 400 f until it is crispy (20-30 minutes.)  In the meanwhile, cook your pasta in salted water according to the obvious pasta cooking directions.

2)   Next you need to make a roux.  Roux are one of my biggest enemies. In order not to “roux”in your roux (get it?), you just need to go slowly.  Melt butter in a pot on medium heat.  Add flour and whisk until the mixture thickens.  Once thickened, add the milk slowly (in several intervals) continuously whisking.  It is always easier to thin it out (by adding more milk) than to thicken it up (by adding more flour), so going slowly is very key.  Should something go wrong, you might end up ruing the day you ruined your roux.

3)   Once your roux has a nice consistent texture, dump the taleggio and parmesan into the pot and stir until you’ve got a nice, thick cheese sauce that far surpasses any velveeta box you’ve ever eaten.

4)   Combine your roasted cauliflower, cooked pasta and cheese sauce in a baking or serving dish.

5)   Many people prefer a baked macaroni and cheese and so if you’d like, now you can top it with breadcrumbs and broil in the oven until crispy.

6)   If you choose not to broil, now freely add honey and tons of black pepper to take this macaroni and cheese from comfortably familiar to comfortably amazing!

“cheesus christ this is good!”- Kristin

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June 26, 2012

Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting | Gâteau aux carottes

I would be lying if I told you that this cake was low fat.  I would be a big liar.  Yes, I know that you must be saying to yourself “but if there are 3 cups of carrots inside, that’s 3 servings of vegetables per cake! ” Though I wouldn’t condone eating the whole cake just to get your daily 5, I would suggest that you take a walk on the wild side and make this not so low fat cake. And I have two very strong French arguments as to why.

A French grandma might tell you that carrots:

  1. make you likeable (les carottes rendent aimable!)
  2. make your butt pink and rosy! (les carottes donnent les fesses roses!)

I think that in this day and age, we could all stand to be a little more likeable (though I plead the fifth on the necessity of pink and rosy butts across the world.)  And since I prefer not to lie, I guess I should come out with the honest truth.  Not only will you be likeable and rosy butted, but you also seriously enjoy the smell wafting through your apartment as these little puppies bake and the familiar taste of all things fallish (poor seasonal timing for me, but alas…)  It doesn’t hurt to have a maple syrup cream cheese frosting to boot.  I must conclude by saying that if you ever find yourself missing the infamous Starbucks carrot cake, this guy will be the perfect home made antidote!

Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting | Gâteau aux carottes

(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

This could either make a two-layer cake OR 2 loaves OR 24 cupcakes OR 48 mini cupcakes (depending on your mood.) What you’ll need:

  • 2 cups (260 g)  flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 cups (400 g) sugar
  • 1 cup (230 ml) canola oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups (270 g) grated peeled carrots
  • 1 cup (100 g) coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 16 ounces (454 g) cream cheese softened (Philadelphia)
  • 1 stick (113 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups (250g) powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60 g) pure maple syrup

1)   Preheat oven to 180 c / 350 f.

2)   Make your cream cheese frosting by blending all of the ingredients with an electric mixer for about 5 minutes and then allowing the frosting to chill in the refrigerator.

3)   Whisk together dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.)

4)   In a separate bowl, mix together sugar and oil, adding eggs one at a time.

5)   Incorporate dry ingredients into wet ingredients in several parts, mixing well.

6)   Add grated carrots, walnuts and raisins if you’re feeling extremely adventurous (or want to get another fruit/vegetable in your cake!)

7)   Divide your batter accordingly.  If you are making a two-layer cake, you must use two buttered and floured molds of approximately the same size (9-in cake pans will do.)

8)   Bake for approximately 20 minutes (mini cupcakes / cupcakes) or 45 minutes (loaves/cakes.)  You will know your cake is done once a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cakes cool on a wire rack and frost only once they are completely cooked.  Be wary not to have a “frost one, eat one” policy like I do, but taste them a little warm just the same.  Set frosted cakes in the refrigerator to set for 30 minutes.

9) Withhold all desires to dive head first in the remaining cream cheese frosting.

June 25, 2012

Strawberry Tarte with Mascarpone Cream | Tartelette aux fraises

While I was looking for inspiration for my very first blog post, I knew that it had to have something to do with strawberries.  It seemed that it would be most fitting.  Staring around my kitchen, something small and red caught my eye in one of those true light-bulb moments.  But of course!  In October I received 4 small, red tartelette molds for my birthday and have not even used them yet! What better dessert on a hot June afternoon than a cool, light strawberry tartelette?  The ingredient list is feasible and not at all daunting. And in terms of portion control, well, four molds and 3 roommates means that I wouldn’t find myself devouring an entire tarte in one sitting (these are the important questions to ask oneself when baking!) And to top it all off, the 3 aforementioned roommates gave these mini tartelettes a big thumbs up! À l’aise!

Strawberry Tarte with Mascarpone Cream

(Adapted from Homebound the heart of life)

This could either make 4 tartelettes (mini human sized tartes) or 1 large tarte! What you’ll need:

Poppy Seed Pie Crust:

  • 200 g flour
  • 80 g powdered sugar
  • 20 g poppy seeds
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 120 g butter cut into small cubes and very cold
  • 1 whole egg, beaten

Filling:

  • 250 g mascarpone
  • 80 g brown sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Topping:

  • 500 g strawberries
  • powdered sugar, for dusting

Now what?

  1. Mix the flour, powdered sugar, poppy seeds and salt in a bowl.
  2. Add the butter and crumble it with the tip of your fingers into the flour mixture.  Work into a homogenous mixture (basically until you can no longer see any clumps of butter.)  Be careful not to heat the butter too much with your fingers.
  3. Add the egg to the crumble mixture and press together with the palm of your hand until it is fully mixed.  At this point in time, you must hope that the tip of your nose doesn’t itch because your hands will be covered in dough!
  4. Shape the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic foil.  Put in the refrigerator for an hour, minimum.
  5. Roll out your dough on a floured surface and cut out circles that are slightly bigger than your molds.  Press the dough into the molds, trim the edges evenly and prick holes in the base.
  6. Cook in a preheated oven at 180 c / 350 f for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on wire racks.
  7. In the meanwhile, combine mascarpone, brown sugar and vanilla and spoon the mixture into the piecrusts, leaving as much space for strawberries as your heart desires.
  8. Place the cut-up strawberries on top and dust with powdered sugar.
  9. Enjoy thoroughly in front of the overpriced bakery beneath your apartment that will no longer be getting your business.

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