Sunday, June 28, 2009


This week, Miz Mog and Kitties at "Mind of Mog" (USA) are happy to announce that they are hosting Weekend Cat Blogging #212...

To submit your kitty picture(s), you can either leave a message in their blog's comment section (with your permalinks) or contact them via e-mail without forgetting to give all the needed information.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Ladies and Gents, once again, it is time for me to reveal this month's "Daring Bakers" challenge. The June Daring Bakers' challenge is hosted by Jasmine of "Confessions Of A Cardamom Addict" (Canada) and Annemarie of "Ambrosia And Nectar" (UK). They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England...

Being half English and having visited the Derbyshire area in the East Midlands many times since I was born, I can say that I know quite well both versions of the "Bakewell Tart/Pudding" (the homemade "Bakewell Tart" and the original as well as unmatchable "Bakewell Pudding" baked by "The Old Original Pudding Company" from the small market town of Bakewell) and have eaten my share of that delicious speciality since I saw the light of day in the seventies. So, it is with much joy that I undertook to bake that wonderful dessert course which is indissociable from the English culinary patrimony and from my family's Derbyshire roots.

But before I start speaking about that great treat, I'd like to make light on the common misnaming of that speciality. It is to be said that the local confection "Bakewell Pudding" is often mistaken for the "Bakewell Tart" and people tend to be confused when it comes to differenciating them from one another.

Both patries are a little similar ingredients-wise (jam, pastry and almond filling), yet they are so different in flavor, texture and appearance. What demarcate a "Bakewell Pudding" from a "Bakewell Tart" is that the first is a puddingy jam pie (it somehow reminds me of clafoutis encased in pastry) with an egg and a ground almond enriched filling, encased in flaky pastry and the second is a straight-forward jam filled tart which is made with shortcrust pastry and a frangipane or a sponge topping.

While everybody can make a "Bakewell Tart" at home as the recipes abund on the net/in books and find it in bakeries all over the UK, you can't find the original "Bakewell Pudding" recipe anywhere and can only buy that special treat in Bakewell as the original 1820's recipe is kept secret and is known by only a few people who work in the both bakeries ("Bloomers Old and Only Original" and "The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop") situated in that very town of the Peak District National Park.

As you might have guessed by now, both pies just can't be compared. But, in my opinion both versions are exquisite, so I refuse to play the high-nosed traditionalist or food fascist who only swears in the ultra rare version and snobs the most spread one; I'll eat them both with much pleasure and gluttony!

Well, this is surely the very fist time that a Daring Bakers recipe hasn't made my adrenaline flow rise or stressed me. That is a good point as, for once, I could relax while baking and, as it is a tart that I have baked many times before, I knew that I could take that challenge easily...

Everything went well and the result was highly satisfying. According to my boyfriend, "It looked and tasted perfect. Just like a tart you'd find in a bakery or even better". Well, I must say that it was one of the best "Bakewell Tart" recipes I have made so far!

As I like sharp jams, I decided to use homemade blackcurrant jam in order to create an interesting contrast with the round sweetness of this tart's frangipane filling. That combo was absolutely luscious. The pastry was gorgeously flaky as well as buttery, yet not overly or sickeningly rich. The filling was smooth, luxurious and delightfully almondy. Terrific! What an ambrosial "Bakewell Tart" that was neither too cloying nor chockingly stuffy!

If you love English, old-fashioned teatime confections, then this luscious tart just what you are looking for!

I really want to thank Jasmine and Annemarie for having chosen that recipe dear to my little heart!

~ Bakewell Tart ~
Recipe by Jasmine and Annemarie.

Makes one 23cm (9” tart)

Prep. time: Less than 10 minutes (plus time for the individual elements, see below)
Resting time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes

Equipment needed:
23cm (9”) tart pan or pie tin (preferably with ridged edges)
Rolling pin

One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)
Bench flour
250ml (1cup/250g) Jam or curd, warmed for spreadability
One quantity frangipane (recipe follows)
One handful blanched, flaked almonds (optional)


Shortcrust Pastry

Prep. time: 15-20 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes (minimum)

225g (8oz) All purpose flour
30g (1oz) Castor sugar

2.5ml (1/2 Tsp) Salt
110g (4oz) Unsalted butter, very cold (frozen is better)
2 Egg yolks
2.5ml (1/2 Tsp) Almond extract (optional/I didn't use any)
15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) Cold water


1. Sift together flour, sugar and salt.
2. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater.

3. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.
4. Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture.
5. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.
6. Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Jasmine's remarks:

I make this using vanilla salt and vanilla sugar.
If you wish, you can substitute the seeds of one vanilla bean, one teaspoon of vanilla paste or one teaspoon of vanilla extract for the almond extract.



Prep. time: 10-15 minutes

Equipment needed: bowls, hand mixer, rubber spatula

125g (4.5oz) Unsalted butter, softened

125g (4.5oz) Icing sugar
3 Large eggs
2.5ml (1/2 Tsp) Almond extract
125g (4.5oz) Ground almonds

30g (1oz) All purpose flour

1. Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute
or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy.

2. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition (The batter may appear to curdle. In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. Really. It’ll be fine).
3. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again.
4. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well (T
he mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look - mostly from the almonds - and retain its pallid yellow colour).

Annemarie’s remarks:
Add another five minutes or more if you're grinding your own almonds or if you're mixing by hand (heaven help you).


Assembling the tart

1. Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface (If it's overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out).
2. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll.
3. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough.
4. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits.
5. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.
6. Preheat oven to 200° C (400° F).

7. Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base.
8. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart.
9. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes.
10. Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish. Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking (The finished tart will have a golden crust a
nd the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking).
11. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter.

Jasmine’s & Annemarie's remarks:
If you cannot have nuts, you can try substituting Victoria sponge for the frangipane. It's a pretty popular popular cake, so you shouldn't have any troubles finding one in one of your cookbooks or through a Google search.
You can use whichever jam you wish, but if you choose something with a lot of seeds, such as raspberry or blackberry, you should sieve them out.
The jam quantity can be anywhere from 60ml (1/4 cup) to 250ml (1cup), depending upon how “damp” and strongly flavoured your preserves are. I made it with the lesser quantity of home made strawberry jam, while Annemarie made it with the greater quantity of cherry jam; we both had fabulous results. If in doubt, just split the difference and spread 150ml (2/3cup) on the crust.
The excess shortcrust can be rolled out and cut into cookie-shapes (heck, it’s pretty darned close to a shortbread dough).

Serving suggestions:
Serve warm or at room temperature, with crème fraîche, whipped cream, clotted cream or custard sauce, if you wish.


Etant donné la longueur du texte original, je n'ai malheureusement pas pu faire une traduction française de ce billet et je m'en excuse auprès de tous mes amis lecteurs et blogueurs francophones!

C'est pourquoi je vous suggère de vous rendre sur les blogs mentionnés ci-dessous. Vous y trouverez cette recette en version française.

Chez Vibi de "La Casserole Carrée" (Canada)
Chez Isa de "Les Gourmandises d'Isa" (Canada)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


You might wonder why I am sharing this today and not Friday, well the reason is that my Daring Bakers post is due on Saturday the 27th, so I had to make a few changes and reschedule things...

The following pictures were taken during my last holidays in May when we did a short trip to Hermance (see old post). There we had a coffee on a terrace facing the lake (Lake Geneva/Léman), lazily walked through that quaint village and relaxed.

On that day, the weather was really stuffy and hot, the air was sticky, the light was harsh and the visibility was bad (haze), so my pictures suffered a little from the lack of good photographic conditions. Anyway, I hope you'll enjoy them!

Monday, June 22, 2009


The apricot season has just started and beautiful ripe fruits are invading the stalls...

As the harvest period is quite limited and we only get to enjoy apricots for a very short lapse of time (June - August), it is better to start cooking and baking with them as early as possible. Nothing quite compares to a juicy and fragrant apricot which has been freshly picked from the tree.

It is for that reason that I've decided to compile my apricot-based recipes as well as a few of them I have found while surfing on the internet. So don't forget to buy regional (or as sustainably as possible) as well as seasonal products, run to the kitchen and enjoy what nature offers plentifully!

Isn't life beautiful?

My apricot recipes:
Amaretti, Apricot Jam & Coconut Bars (see recipe)
Apricot Clafoutis (see recipe)
Apricot Muffins (see recipe)
Beer & Apricot Clafoutis (see recipe)
Cinnamon & Apricot Flan Tart (see recipe)
Lemon Chestnut Cake & apricot Coulis (see recipe)
Tatsch With Apricot Compote (see recipe)

Apricot recipes from the net:
All Recipes (see link)
Apricot Almond Cofee Cake (see recipe)
Apricot Jam (see recipe)
Apricot Scones (see recipe)

Epicurious recipes (see link)
Rice Pudding Cake & Apricot Compote (see recipe)
Tagine-Style Moroccan Lamb (see recipe)

Sunday, June 21, 2009


This week, Mr. Tigger and The M-Cats Club "M-Cats Club" (USA) are happy to announce that they are hosting Weekend Cat Blogging #211...

To submit your kitty picture(s), you can either leave a message in their blog's comment section (with your permalinks) or contact them via e-mail without forgetting to give all the needed information.

"Each one of our cats is a distinct,
four-footed little person with an individual personality."

~ Ira B. Rubin ~

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I cannot emphasize enough on how the Geneva countryside is beautiful! It's serene atmosphere, smooth and welcoming landscapes make it a great place to walks and ride a bike...

One of my favorite tours consists of walking up the flanks of the Salève mountain in France (pic 8), going down towards Switzerland and crossing the border in Troinex (pic 7), then walking back through the fields in the direction of Veyrier (pics 1, 2 & 10).

I hope that those pics will give you a glimpse of my 2 hours journey through the back-roads that surround my village.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Judging by the quantity of sweet recipes I post, some of you might think that I am only passionate about desserts and such kinds of sweet food. That isn't quite true. Although I must confess to having developped a sweet tooth over the years, I still very much love savory food. The truth is I can't live without one or the other! Just like Yin and Yang, they are indispensable, inseparable, complementary and very important to me...

So, this Wednesday, instead of sharing with you a recipe that'll cause your blood sugar to rise, I've decided to blog about a gourmet and terribly addictive appetizer which might effect your cholesterol level instead!

Homemade appetizer cookies are fantastic as they can be made sing a variety of flavors/ingredients and are generally more scrumptious as well as healthier than the store-bought ones. Not forgetting that summer is the perfect season for outdoor happy hours and picnics, so it is for that reason that I thought you'd like to discover a wonderful Barefoot Contessa recipe for "Parmesan & Italian Herbs Shortbread Cookies" (free adaptation), which I came across while surfing on a blog called "64 Sq ft Kitchen" (USA).

Those "Parmesan & Italian Herbs Shortbread Cookies" are some of the best savory crackers I've made so far as they are irresistibly rich, mouthwateringly cheesy, delightfully herby and incredibly flaky. Not only are do they have a lot of character and a hooking flavor, but they also look really cute and classy with their black and white sesame seed decorations.

Be assured that once you have baked a batch of those delicate savory shortbreads, you'll never go back to buying those, dry, cardboard-tasting, bland, transfat and terrifyingly noxious industrial crackers again!

~ Parmesan, Italian Herbs & Sesame Seed Shorbread Cookies"
Recipe freely adapted from Barefoot Contessa.

Yields about 25-30 shortbread cookies.

1 Stick (120g) Unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 Tbs Olive oil
3 Oz (90g) Freshly grated Parmesan

1 1/4 Cups (160g) All-purpose flour
1/4 Tsp Sea salt
1 Tbs Dried Italian herbs (mix)

1/2 Tsp garlic powder (optional)
1/2 Tsp Freshly ground black pepper
Enough Black and white sesame seeds for garnishing the cookies

1. In a bowl, mix the butter and olive oil until creamy.
2. Add the Parmesan, flour, salt, herbs, garlic powder and black pepper and mix to combine in order to get a dough.
3. Put the dough into a floured surface and shape it into a 13-inch long log.

4. Wrap the dough, roll the log in the sesame seeds and freeze it for 30min (or until needed/you will still be able to slice it).
5. Using a sharp knife, slice the log into ½ inch thick discs.
6. Arrange the cookies on a sheet pan, lined with parchment pape
r. Bake at 180° C (350° F) oven for about 20 minutes or until the edges start to brown.
7. Let cool on a rack.

If you don't have any Parmiggiano Reggiano, then you can use Grana Padano, pecorino or cheddar.

Serving suggestions:
Serve as an apetizer with artisan bier, white wine, cherry tomatoes and grapes.


~ Sablés aux Parmesan, Herbes Italiennes & Graines De Sésame ~
Adaptée librement de Barefoot Contessa.

Pour 25-30 biscuits.

120g de Beurre non-salé, à température ambiante
2 CS d'Huile d'Olive
90g de Parmesan fraîchement rapé
1 1/4 Tasses (160g) de Farine blanche/fleur
1/4 de CC de Sel de mer
1 CS d'Herbes Italiennes
1/2 CS d'Ail en poudre (en option)
1/2 CC de Poivre noir fraîchement moulu
Sufisemment de graines de sésame noir et blanche pour la garniture

1. Dans un bol, mélanger le beurre mou jusqu’à ce qu’il devienne crémeux.
2. Ajouter l'huile d'olive, le parmesan, le sel, la farine, le poivre noir, les herbes et l'ail.
3. Mélanger le tout jusqu’à obtention d’une pâte.
4. Mettre la pâte sur une surface légèrement farinée et former en boudin d’une longeur de 33 centimètres, puis le rouler dans les grain
es de sésame.
5. Mettre la pâte dans un film plastique et l'entreposer au congelateur pendant 30 minutes ou jusqu’à ce que vous en ayez besoin.

6. A l’aide d’un couteau bien éguisé, couper le boudin en disques d’un centimètre et demi d’épaisseur.
7. Arranger les biscuits sur une plaque recouverte de papier sulfurisé.
8. Faites cuire dans un four préchauffé à 180° C pendant 20 minutes ou jusqu’à ce que les bords des biscuits deviennent légèrement dorés.

9. Laisser refroidir sur une grille.

Si vous n'avez pas de Parmesan, vous pouvez utiliser du Grana Padano, du pecorino ou du cheddar.

Idées de présentation:
A servir lors de l'apéritif avec de la bonne bière artisanale, du vin et du raisin.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


This week, Breadchick and LB at "The Sour Dough" (USA) are happy to announce that they are hosting Weekend Cat Blogging #210...

To submit your kitty picture(s), you can either leave a message in their blog's comment section (with your permalinks) or contact them via e-mail without forgetting to give all the needed information.

"Thou art the Great Cat, the avenger of the Gods, and the judge of words, and the president of the sovereign chiefs and the governor of the holy Circle; thou art indeed...the Great Cat."
~ Inscription on the Royal Tombs at Thebes ~

Friday, June 12, 2009


As the days are getting longer and the sun shines until late in the evening (21h30), I love to go out for walks around the neighboring countryside and fields....

At that time of the day, the light is particularly ideal to take pictures as everything is bathed in golden hues, nature's colors are stronger and the atmosphere is dramatic.

Here are a few shots that I took last week. May you enjoy the scenery and sense the magic in the air!