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Ode to the French Macaroon – part 4

I was fortunate to attended a macaron demo by Lila Bultel, owner of Lila’s French Cooking. Lila has studied under some of France’s foremost experts in French pâtisserie and offers exclusive catering, as well as corporate and private training classes.  Lila is passionate about her work and she is committed to using only the finest ingredients.  After attending one of Lila’s macaron-making classes, you will be able to make macarons like a Frenchman!

During the demonstration Lila showed us step by step how to make these authentic French confections with three different fillings – pistachio, ganache and salted caramel (Caramel Beurre Salé). The latter was my favorite by far!  Each of us went home with a dozen macarons and recipes for macarons and the fillings.   Visit Lila’s website for info on her macaron making classes.

Lila sells a variety of products at her classes and on her website that will help you to master Parisian macarons.  From digital thermometers (to make the sugar syrup) to piping bag nozzles, aluminium perforated baking trays and non-stick baking mats – all imported from France!  You can also buy Lila’s home-made Pistachio Paste, Hazelnut Praline and caramel & salted butter spread to fill your macarons or to take ice cream or pancakes to a whole new level!  Visit Lila’s online shop at

Lila was so kind to help me navigate my way through a French website to get the templates she uses to make macarons.  There are four sizes – 2.5 cm, 3.5 cm, 5 cm and 8 cm.  The 3.5 cm template is most common to use. See the Ode to the French Macaroon – part 3 for more information.

See the Gallery page on Lila’s website for photo’s of the mouth-watering cakes and confections you can order from Lila for your next special occasion.

Lila Bultel
Lila busy piping macarons on Silicone Baking Mats with the aid of a macaron template
Macarons by Lila Bultel
Macarons by Lila Bultel
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Parisian Culinary Delights

While in Paris, I sampled macarons, pastries and bread, crepes and casseroles, chocolates and ice-cream at as many patisseries, boulangeries, glaceries, chocolatiers, bistro’s and restaurants as I could fit into one week!  I cannot wait to return to France to do it all over again!

Typical Parisian breakfast:  baguette served with butter and preserves.  And of course a cafe au lait too!

Torsade or Chocolate Twist – a pastry made from Croissants dough and filled with Chocolate and French pastry crème. My favorite by far!

Paris Brest – a choux pastry eclair filled with caramel cream and topped with toasted almonds.

A lamb casserole with seasonal vegetables (the best I had in my life!) and a dessert selection with coffee at Eric Kayser’s Bistro (Bercy Village, Paris).

Mushrooms stuffed with snails at Cafe Des Musees Bistro (Marais, Paris).

Chicken casserole with mushrooms and grenaille potatoes at Cafe Des Musees Bistro (Marais, Paris).

Pan-fried pork chop with roasted garlic and a side dish of potato au gratin at Cafe Des Musees Bistro (Marais, Paris).

Two different “shapes” of crepes or pancakes – gypsy ham and  gruyere cheese take-away crepe (left) and a bacon, gruyere cheese and basil pesto crepe (right) at Creperie Suzette (Marais, Paris).  The most popular sweet crepe is Crepe sucre beurre – pancake with butter and sugar.

Every Patisserie in Paris has a vast selection of pastries.  It is almost impossible to leave with only one!

Three scoops of ice-cream – stracciatella, chocolate and nougat from Pozetto (Marais, Paris).  They also have very good espresso.  The queue outside a glacerie will be an indication of how good the ice-cream is!

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A taste of Paris in Hyde Park

Visiting the new Tasha’s le Parc in Hyde Park Shopping Centre is probably the closest you’ll get to a restaurant with a Parisian sidewalk feel.  This is a great place to stock up on freshly baked bread, macarons, pastries and even ice-cream.  The menu is a combination of French and South African favorites.  The food is always of a high quality, service is good and ambiance is excellent.

A variety of macarons on display (read more about macarons here).

A variety of pastries – be sure to take some home too!

Croque Madame and Omelette with goat’s cheese, peas and  herbs

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No need to fret over frog legs!

Although frog legs are traditionally associated with French cuisine, frog legs are also eaten in some of the regions in Thailand, Vietnam, Portugal, Spain, Slovenia, Greece and Italy. In France alone around 160 million legs are consumed per year. Interestingly enough, most of France’s supply of frogs comes from Indonesia.   This amounts to roughly 80 million frogs!  

Frog legs are rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin A and potassium.  They are said to taste like chicken because of their mild flavor, with a texture most similar to that of a chicken wing.  It apparently also has a fishy aftertaste.  I wouldn’t know – I haven’t been brave enough to try them.  

Frog legs are mostly boiled in a broth and sometimes breaded and deep-fried but can also be baked or sautéed.  If you are worried about ordering frog legs from a French menu by accident, just avoid any item containing the words “cuisses de grenouilles”.

Fresh frog legs on display at a fish monger and Frog Legs Provencal

There is an easy recipe for Kung Pao Frog Legs with step by step instructions and photo’s on the Eat What Tonight website.

Photo credit:

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Patisserie Par Excellence!

My favorite pastry shop in Paris, France is that of pastry chef and chocolatier Christophe Roussel. After tasting the macarons, pastries and chocolates of other master pastry chefs like Pierre Hermes and Gerard Mulot, Christophe’s were some of the best!  Christophe and his wife Julie were both in the shop when we arrived and they gladly answered our questions and made recommendations on which macarons, pastries and chocolates we should buy.

Continue reading Patisserie Par Excellence!

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Easter ‘eggs’ with a difference

Parisian master chocolatier Jean-Paul Hévin (pronounced “heaven” in French, which I think is a perfect name for the creator of such delectable delights!) created the unusual easter “eggs” below for Easter 2012.  The limited edition Chocorico! henhouse is made entirely of chocolate and has been meticulously crafted by hand by chocolatier-artists. It features dark, milk and white chocolate pieces, including no less than 30 crunchy praliné eggs, large smooth praliné-filled eggs, seven “sunny side up” chocolate eggs as well as dozens of smaller eggs with either almond or praliné fillings. It is 56 cm tall and weighs 5.1 kg!).

Chocorico! henhouse made entirely of chocolate:

A chocolate hen with zebra stripes (Poule drôle de zèbre):

A skeletal chocolate fish (Poisson X-ray), and a voracious fish filled with tiny chocolate life forms (Poisson vorace):

There are more chocolate shops in Paris – a whopping 300! – than in any other city in the world. From high-end, “designer” artisan-chocolatiers to well-known chains and smaller independent chocolatiers, chocolate shops are found in almost every neighbourhood in the city  (there are 20!). The first chocolate shop in Paris was opened in the 17th century.  The chocolate creations of Paris’s master artisan chocolatiers continue to amaze and delight us – no wonder they’re famous around the world.

Content adapted from



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Cool Easter Kitchen Gadgets

Eggs always plays a lead roll in Easter breakfast or brunch menu’s. Have a look at the cool egg-related gadgets you can buy from (delivery is free!). The heart and car egg shapers are sure to wow kids! Simply boil the egg, peel it and place it into the mould. Compression changes the shape of the egg, fitting it into the mould. All you need to do is to pop it out, slice for sandwiches and salads, or eat whole.


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Feedback – Whisky Tasting @ Clover Aardklop

The whisky tasting was enlightening and the food that accompanied each of the single malt whisky’s were to die for!  My favorite out of the 5 whisky’s we tasted was Singleton, a 10 year old single malt Scotch whisky.  Here are some of the facts we learnt during the presentation:

Whisky (Scottish English) or whiskey (Irish English) is a type of distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash.

Different grains are used for different varieties, including barley, malted barley, rye, malted rye, wheat, and maize (corn).

Whisky is aged in wooden casks, made generally of white oak, except that in the United States corn whiskey need not be aged.

Whisky is a strictly regulated spirit worldwide with many competing denominations of origin and many classes and types. The unifying characteristics of the different classes and types are the fermentation of grains, distillation to less than 95% alcohol, and aging in wood.”

Click on the link below to see photo’s taken at the tasting (it was taken with my I-phone in bad lighting, so please excuse the quality of the photo’s!)

Whisky Tasting – Clover Aardklop 2011

If you want to read articles about whisky or other alcoholic beverages, or get recipes with alcohol as an ingredient, be sure to visit

Happy cooking (with or without alcohol!)


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Goodbye to Carolié de Koster

I am very sad to announce that Carolié and her husband Adri left for New-Zealand two weeks ago. Carolié has been a mentor and friend to me for the past 7 years and I am extremely grateful to her for her generosity in sharing her knowledge and experience with me and consequently playing an enormous role in helping me to establish Cooking Up A Storm.

Carolié has been a source of inspiration for thousands of people for more than 30 years, whether through her cooking demonstrations, consulting services or recipe books. Although Carolié will be sorely missed by family, friends, colleagues and clients, she promised to keep in touch by way of regular updates of her new life in New-Zealand. She will also continue to contribute to the content of the Cooking Up A Storm website.

Please click on the links below to see Carolié’s CV, her “Goodbye Letter” with her new contact details, recipes from her “Bon Apetit & Goodbye” demonstrations as well as photo’s taken at Carolié’s courses over the past few months.

Goodbye Letter
Bon Apetit & Goodbye Recipes

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Clover Aardklop – 4 to 9 October 2012

Anton and I will be attending 2012 Aardklop festival for our yearly cultural fix.   Instead of just seeing shows, this year we will also be attending:

“Whisky en kos:  Lip-lek-lekker” with Chris Koch, the popular  “Skotse boer” and whisky-guru.  Chris will host a tasting of five single malt whisky’s which will be combined with delectable canapes.

I can’t wait!  See the link below for more details on Aardklop.

Aardklop 2012

Hope to see your in Potch this weekend!


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Good Food & Wine Show Feedback

I hope you had a great Heritage Weekend.  I once again had a ball at this year’s JHB Good Food & Wine Show. Here are a few of the items I came across and loved:

  • Nicoletta ( or 021 932 6092). They have an exclusive range of confectionary, including cake decorations (cake confetti & crystals in a variety of colours and shapes, glitter writing icing, heavenly hearts, angel drops, etc.), sugar almonds and chocolate dagrees.  My favorite:  edible markers in a variety of colours.  The markers are one of the latest additions to the Nicoletta range. It is a full food grade marker containing approximately 1000 meters of edible ink. This marker can be bought in conjunction with the larger wafer hearts and used to write messages to your loved ones (slipped into their lunch boxes as a cool edible surprise) or a “Happy Birthday” message for a friend to stand in their cake or cupcake. The marker can be used on any surface that is hard enough to write on – for example royal or plastic icing, biscuits etc. Nicoletta products are available from Pick n Pay, Checkers, Spar and Woolworths or online.
  • Daniela’s ( or 0860 266 266).  Their macaroon’s are delectable!  They have shops in Green Point, Cape Town and Hillcrest, Durban, so Gautengers will have to order online!
  • Vergezocht HO ( – Vergezocht High Oleic Sunflower Oil is approved by the Heart and Stroke Foundation.  Available from Pick n Pay, Checkers, Spar and Woolworths or online.
  • The Cooking Club For Kids ( or 021 850 0102.  The kits are designed with little hands in mind and quality is second to none, with heat resistant and cool to touch silicone used as the core material. Each cooking kit contains a number of essential tools that can be used for both role-play and real-play, and 4 various recipe cards per kit to put the tools to good use.  The Cooking Club for Kids cooking kits target children aged 3-15 and capitalise on the world’s obsession with cooking shows and competitions.  Choose from Cupcake Kit, Cake Kit, Pizza Kit, Cookie Kit, Burger Kit, Ice Cream Kit – to name a few!
  • Lattemento Cordless Milk Frother ( – It makes perfectly textured froth for that perfect Cappuccino, Latte or hot chocolate in a matter of seconds (70 seconds to be precise). With a filling capacity of 150ml for frothing and 250ml for heating, this stainless steel and double-walled frother will be a hit in your kitchen. It features a non-stick coating for easy cleaning as well as an automatic switch-off function.
  • Pronto Mama Slow Roasted Cherry Tomatoes ( or 021 762 0320) – Use as relish, garnish, as part of a tapas platter or as a topping for omelet or pizza or a stuffing for meat.  Available in JHB at Cheese Cafe in Linden (011 888 5384).
  • Purelast Mixing Bowls ( or 012 653 7911) – Made from all-natural, plant based, zero-plastic material and and dishwasher safe!
  • Wellos O2 Ion Wash Ball ( – Cleans and removes dirt from your washing without washing powders and softeners.  A must for people with skin allergies!

Happy cooking!


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Good Food & Wine Show 2011

Hi there

The 2011 Good Food and Wine Show started today!   In a nutshell:

Dates:  Thursday 22 to Sunday 25 September 2011

Venue:  Coca-Cola Dome, Northgate

Hours:  10h00-21h00 (except Sunday 10h00-18h00).

Cost for entry ticket:  R80 per person.

Tickets are available at the door, or in advance at  Search on Good Food & Wine Show and select Good Food & Wine Show Entry Ticket.

See for more details.

See you there!

P.S.  My October newsletter will be filled with lots of exciting news and will be posted by the end of September!


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Chicken à la King Revisited

With the Royal Wedding just over 24 hours away, I decided to revisit and old classic:  Chicken à la King.  Also see the posts on the Groom’s Cake and The Royal Reception.

Chicken à la King is not only quick and easy, it is also comfort food at its best with the wet weather we have been experiencing lately and perfect to have in front of the TV while watching the Royal Wedding.

There are several competing accounts about the origin of Chicken à la King, but I prefer the account that it was created in the 1890’s by a cook by the name of William “Bill” King of the Bellevue Hotel in Philadelphia.  When King died in March 1915, a New York Tribune editorial stated:   “The name of William King is not listed among the great ones of the earth. No monuments will ever be erected to his memory, for he was only a cook. Yet what a cook! In him blazed the fire of genius which, at the white heat of inspiration, drove him one day, in the old Bellevue, in Philadelphia, to combine bits of chicken, mushrooms, truffles (mushrooms), red and green peppers and cream in that delightful mixture which ever after has been known as “Chicken a la King.”

Chicken A La King

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Royal Reception Menu: 10 000 Canapés

With 650 guests invited to celebrate the Royal Wedding tomorrow, and the Buckingham Palace kitchens only equipped for formal dinner service for around 150, the menu will apparently not exactly be a five-course meal.  It will consist only of canapés and wedding cake due to the fact that the Buckingham Palace kitchens are only equipped to do a formal dinner service for 150 guests.  The 21 Palace chefs will therefore have to prepare 10 000 canapés – about 15 canapés per guest.

The French started offering canapés to their guests in the 18th century, and the English adopted the practice at the end of the 19th century.  A canapé is a small, prepared and usually decorative food, held in the fingers and often eaten in one bite.  A canapé may also be referred to as finger food, although not all finger foods are canapés. Crackers, puff pastry, thin slices of bread or toast cut into various shapes, e.g. circles, rings, squares, strips or triangles, serve as the base for savory butters or pastes, often topped with a “canopy” of savoury food such as meat, cheese, fish, purees or relish.  Decorative garnishes are then applied and can range from finely chopped vegetables, herbs and caviar.  The canapés are usually served on a canapé tray and eaten from small canapé plates.

Because they are often served during cocktail hours, canapés are often either salty or spicy in order to encourage guests to drink more.

One of the most well-known canapés, is Vol-au-vent, which is a small, hollow case of puff pastry. A round opening is cut in the top and the pastry cut out for the opening is replaced as a lid after the case is filled. Vol-au-vents can accommodate various fillings, such as mushrooms, prawns, fruit or cheese.  The French name translates to “fly with the wind” which alludes to their light and airy nature.  Very small versions of vol au vent which are served as canapés are called Bouchées.  See the recipe below.

Creamy Prawn Bouchees/Mini Vol-au-vents

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Easter Recipes

Whether you are celebrating the Easter or Passover holidays, or just celebrating the season, the recipes below should inspire you to serve home-cooked food over the long weekend.

Spiced Fruit Buns –  a variation on the traditional Hot Cross Buns.  You have the option to make the dough from scratch or buy ready-prepared dough at a bakery and just add the spices, dried fruit and glaze.  Also see  Spices for more information on the spices used in this recipe.

Creamy Hot Cross Bun & Dried Fruit Pudding – a great way to put stale hot cross buns to good use.

Quick Savoury Pie (Souttert) – an excellent way to use up leftovers.  Can be served as breakfast, brunch or as a light meal with salad.

Wheat-Free Maize Meal Bread – you can substitute the corn kernels and diced sweet peppers in this recipe with chopped peppadews, chopped sun dried tomatoes, pitted olives, chopped bacon or your choice of chopped fresh herbs.  Serve as is with butter or toasted with preserves or scrambled eggs. (More wheat-free recipes to follow soon!)


Jeanri & Carolie

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Are you wheat or gluten intolerant?

Carolie will be doing a Winning Ways Without Wheat & Gluten cooking demonstration on the 19th of March. This event is not to be missed if anyone in your family is wheat or gluten intolerant!   See Events for more details.

What is wheat allergies?
Most people eat wheat so often their bodies adapt and cope and so they experience mild forms of the symptoms (known as wheat intolerance) without ever really being aware of where the problem lies. Withdrawing wheat from the diet and therefore ridding the body of wheat can lead to immense improvements in health and wellbeing.  A few of the symptoms of wheat allergies are:

  • Headaches
  • Bloated stomach
  • Diarrhoea
  • Tiredness
  • Skin rash

What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein occurring naturally in wheat, barley, rye and oats (although some debate is held on the gluten levels of oats). When these grains are milled the gluten is released and it’s this that gives grain flours their strength and elasticity, something that is noticeably missing from gluten free breads.

What is gluten intolerance?
Also called celiac disease.  People with healthy digestive systems can eat gluten without any problems. The food is broken down in the stomach and passes through the small intestine where projections called villi absorb nutrients. These villi provide a large surface area (20-40 metres squared), which is used for the absorption of the nutrients from the food.  When a celiac eats gluten in foods their intestine thinks it’s under attack from a foreign body and creates an immune response to the invader. The lining of the intestine becomes inflamed and the villi flatten. The flattening of the villi means that their surface area is reduced and the nutrients vital to health therefore aren’t absorbed, which over time leads to weight loss, wasting and malnutrition. Symptoms of celiac disease are:

  • Anaemia
  • Bloating
  • Chronic tiredness
  • Constipation
  • Dermatitis herpetiformis
  • Diarrhea (aka diarrhoea)
  • Irritable bowel
  • Migraines
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Psychological issues (stress, nerves, depression etc)
  • Severe weight loss
  • Vomiting

The above lists of symptoms associated with wheat allergies, celiac disease or gluten intolerance is by no means exhaustive, other symptoms may present themselves in different people. (source: www.wheat-free-org).

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Travel Cost Calculation

The travel cost can be worked out in 4 easy steps:

  • Step 1: Go to Google Maps.  
  • Step 2: Type John Adamson Drive, Franklin Roosevelt Park, Randburg in the search field.
  • Step 3: Click on the “directions” button and type your own street address.
  • Step 4: multiply the kilometers by 2 and then by 8 to get to the travel cost amount per lesson.