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Gourmet Chocolate Mousse Cake

This decadent cake is ideal to make for a special occasion.  Chocolate Sponge Layers are filled with mousse and set.  The filling may be made with any flavour of chocolate – dark, milk, white or caramel – for  white or caramel, use only baking chocolate.  The sizes and shapes of the cakes as well as the kinds of finishes (glazes, icings, vermicelli, chocolate shavings, nuts, nut filled chocolates, fancy chocolate shapes, chocolate curls, chocolate honeycomb) are highly variable.

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Raspberry Clafoutis

Clafoutis (pronounced kla-foo-tee), is a classic French dessert and is quick, easy and simply delicious!  It is France’s best kept secret. Clafoutis recipes call for nothing more than what most of us have on hand in the kitchen, plus some fresh fruit. The clafoutis comes from the Limousin region of France, and while black cherries are traditionally used, there are numerous variations using other fruits, including red cherries, plums, raspberries or blackberries.  When other kinds of fruit are used instead of cherries, the dish is properly called a flaugnarde.

300 g fresh cherries, pitted
1 medium lemon, zest only, finely chopped
100 ml cake flour
45 ml castor sugar
3 large eggs
450 ml milk
5 ml vanilla essence
icing sugar to dust

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 190 º C.
  2. Combine the flour and sugar in a medium mixing bowl and stir in a little of the milk to prevent lumps.
  3. Add the rest of the milk, the eggs and the vanilla essence and beat by hand until well blended. Grease a 20 cm square oven-proof dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  4. Spoon the cherries into the bottom of the dish and sprinkle with the lemon zest.
  5. Gently pour the batter into the dish.
  6. Bake for about 40 minutes or until firm and golden brown on top and a metal skewer or toothpick inserted into the middle of the Clafoutis comes out clean.
  7. Dust with icing sugar and serve hot, at room temperature or cold.

6 to 8 servings.

Variation
If fresh raspberries, blueberries or cherries are not available, use sour cherries.  I have used Goldcrest with great success.  Drain the juice and reduce it to make a sauce.

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Raspberry Clafouti

 

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Chicken Liver Mousse

I just had to include Julia Child’s chicken liver mousse which I adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  Be sure to also try Carolié de Koster’s Chicken Liver Pâté With Bacon & Port from her Art Of Cooking recipe book.

500 g chicken livers
30 ml minced shallots or spring onion
30 g butter
80 ml cognac
60 ml whipping cream
2.5 ml salt
1 ml allspice
1 ml white pepper
1 ml dried thyme
125 g butter, melted

  1. Remove any greenish or blackish spots from the livers, as well as any sinew. Cut the livers into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Pat the livers dry, then place in a large mixing bowl and cover with milk. Cover and let sit in a refrigerator for at least two hours, or overnight.
  3. Melt butter over medium heat in a sauté pan until foam has subsided.
  4. Sauté the livers with the shallots in butter for 2 to 3 minutes, until the livers are just stiffened, but still rosy inside. Scrape into the blender jug.
  5. Pour the cognac into the pan and boil it down rapidly until it has reduced to about 50 ml. Scrape it into the blender jug.
  6. Add the cream and seasonings to the blender jug, cover and blend at top speed for several seconds until the liver is a smooth paste.
  7. Add the melted butter and blend several seconds more. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  8. Pack into a jar, seal and chill for 2 to 3 hours.
  9. Serve with fresh bread.

Makes about 500 ml.

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Beef Bourguignonne

The unequalled classic, rich beef stew is known as “Boeuf Bourguignonne” means “beef in burgundy” or good red wine.  The dish originates from the Burgundy region in France.  The amount of wine added may be adjusted or even omitted to suit personal preference. The success of the dish depends on the quality of the meat and correct cooking methods.

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Poached Meringue on Golden Gooseberry Custard

A divinely-textured creation which will leave guests speechless and eyes firmly focussed on the dessert!  Also see my recipe for Floating Islands.

Meringue
3 large egg whites
pinch cream of tartar
125 ml   castor sugar
400 ml milk
1 ml  vanilla essence

Gooseberry custard
1 x 410g tin gooseberries
50 ml cornflour (Maizena)
30 ml white sugar
pinch salt
350 ml milk, reserved from poaching, made up with additional milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
250 ml cream
30 ml white sugar
toasted flaked almonds
additional gooseberries (optional)

  1. Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until peaks form and gradually beat in the castor sugar to form a very stiff meringue.
  2. Use two spoons to scoop out neat egg-shaped portions of meringue and place a few at a time onto the hot milk to poach.
  3. Turn over after 2 minutes and take care that the milk does not boil.
  4. Leave 2 minutes more and lift out with a perforated spoon.  Place into a large colander to drain while poaching the remaining meringue.
  5. Refrigerate in a covered container for a few hours or until required.
  6. Liquidise the gooseberries with syrup until smooth and strain into a saucepan through a fine sieve, rubbing with the back of a spoon until only the seeds remain.  Bring to boil.
  7. Combine the cornflour, sugar, salt and milk and stir into the boiling mixture.
  8. Bring to boil while stirring. Add a little of the hot mixture to the eggs and mix well.
  9. Stir into the saucepan and cook over low heat while stirring continuously until the sauce starts to thicken. Remove from heat and stir a while longer.
  10. Cool and refrigerate.
  11. Beat the cream and sugar until stiff and spoon about 1/2 of the whipped cream into a piping bag to make rosettes.
  12. Add the remaining cream to the gooseberry custard and fold together until evenly blended.
  13. To serve, pour the gooseberry custard into a large wide glass bowl of a suitable size or onto individual serving plates.
  14. Spoon the drained poached meringues onto the custard, garnish with cream rosettes and sprinkle with a few flaked almonds and gooseberries if used.

6 to 8 servings.

Recipe by Carolié de Koster from Art Of Cooking p. 560.

Floating Islands

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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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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: https://eatwhattonight.com.