Friday, May 30, 2008


Rainy Days

I do not like a rainy day.
The road is wet, the sky is gray.
They dress me up, from head to toes,
In lots and lots of rubber clothes.
I wish the sun would come and stay.
I do not like a rainy day.

~ William Wise ~

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


As it is the case at the end of each month, time has now come for me to once again blog about my recent "Daring Bakers" challenge taking and my experimentations as a member of this expanding community of passionate bakers... May's recipe was very promising as well as intriguing, but it held it's promises and turned out fantastically well!

This time around, Lis of the blog "La Mia Cucina", Ivonne of "Cream Puffs In Venice", Fran of "Apples Peaches Pumpkin Pie" and Shea of "Whiskful" have chosen to test our ability in the kitchen by asking us to make a classic French pastry called the "Opéra Cake" (not the traditional dark version, but the light one).

All four have dedicated this challenge to the courageous Barbara of "Winosandfoodies". While Barbara is no longer an active member of the "Daring Bakers", but who will always be an honourary Daring Baker for her bravery and character in the face of a challenge. As many of you may know Barbara is the force behind the food blog event called A Taste of Yellow that supports the LiveSTRONG foundation started by Lance Armstrong. This year's LiveStrong Day is in May so they decided that we could show our support by dedicating our respective challenge posts to Barbara...

Needless to say that, as usual, I was very stressed by the nature of this challenge and intimidated by the sheer length of the recipe. I thought to myself, "My Oh my, how on earth am I going to be able to bake that in my small kitchen when I drastically lack pans or meterial (I had only one jelly-roll pan and had to bake one joconde after another) and without cursing a whole load, getting too irritated, impatient and acting like a mad fury because of all the above-mentioned points?". At this stage, I felt totally demoralized and slightly panicky. I was ready to throw the towel...

Thankfully, I finally bucked up, decided to not be a chicken and not to get impressed by the task that lay in front of me. It was going to be tough, but I was going to fight and not let anything get into my way. I was determined to bake that cake no matter what it took. After all, aren't I a Daring Baker?!

Surprisingly, I came across no major problem while making that "Opéra Cake". It was a very time-consuming and finicky challenge, but, ultimately, it wasn't difficult at all. In fact, one just has to be very organized, to be in possession of the convenient material/ustensils/kitchen or to be inventive when the material/ustensils/kitchen aren't very appropriate, and to have a zen attitude during the creation of that cake. That's all!

I was (and still am) very pleased with my creation as it tasted perfect and it looked quite pretty. As a mater of fact, I'm really proud of myself for being able to go through such a fastidious process and for being capable of baking such an elaborate cake! Before joining the "Daring Bakers", I never trusted myself to have the capacity to take such audacious and enterprising challenges. Now, I know that I am a good and courageous enough baker who has the ability to face the difficulties. It is my 8th month as a Daring Baker and my skills never stop getting better as, every time, I gain more confidence in myself and get more experienced!

I made my cake by scrupulously following the rules, but, as we had the possibility to use another recipe for the buttercream, I decided to make it Dorie Greenspan's way (see her "Perfect Party Cake" recipe). Otherwise, I chose to give my "Opéra Cake" a subtle, orangy, exotic and spicy/tangy smack that would be reminiscent of the flavors of North Africa. I wanted my cake to be in the Moroccan spirit. So, I added some orange zest to the joconde batter, mixed some ground Indonesian long pepper and chopped Australian candied ginger into the buttercream, aromatised the syrup with some orange blossom water and honey, and aromatized the white chocolate mousse with whisky which I thought would pair well with the other ingredients.

My "Opéra Cake" was a real success. The combination of all those delicate, refined, fresh and spring-like flavors was perfect and interesting. This cake wasn't too sweet nor too sickly or heavy, although it was a deadly calorie bomb, the perfect artery-clogging ally . It was unexpectedly "light" texture- as well as taste-wise and didn't make you squeamish you after a slice or two... Absolutely gorgeous!

Thanks to Lis, Ivonne, Fran and Shea for having chosen that killer recipe!!!

~ Opéra Cake ~
This recipe is based on an Opéra Cake recipe found in Dorie Greenspan’s "Paris Sweets", and Tish Boyle & Timothy Moriarty’s "Chocolate Passion".

Makes 1 cake. This recipe will yield approximately 20 servings.

For the "Joconde".

What you’ll need:
2x 31x39 cm (12½ x15½-inch) Jelly-roll pans
A few tablespoons of melted butter (in addition to what’s called for in the ingredients’ list)
A brush (to grease the pans)
Parchment paper
A whisk and a paddle attachment for a stand mixer or for a handheld mixer
2 Mixing bowls

6 Large egg whites, at room temperature

2 Tbs (30g) Granulated sugar
2 Cups (225g) Ground blanched almonds
2 Cups Icing sugar, sifted
6 Large eggs (~53g)

1/2 Cup (70g) All-purpose flour
3 Tbs (1 1/2 ounces or 45g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Method for the "Joconde":
1. Divide the oven into thirds by positioning a rack in the upper third of the oven and the lower third of the oven.
2. Preheat the oven to 220◦C (425° F).

3. Line two 31x39cm (12 1/2 x15 1/2 inch) jelly-roll pans with parchment paper and brush with melted butter.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (
or using a handheld mixer), beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar and beat until the peaks are stiff and glossy. If you do not have another mixer bowl, gently scrape the meringue into another bowl and set aside.
5. If you only have one bowl, wash it after removing the egg whites or if you have a second bowl, use that one. Attach the paddle attachment to the stand mixer (or using a handheld mixer again) and beat the almonds, icing sugar and eggs on medium speed until light and voluminous, about 3 minutes.
6. Add the flour and beat on low speed until the flour is just combined (be very careful not to overmix here!!!).
7. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the meringue into the almond mixture and then fold in the melted butter. Divide the batter between the pans and spread it evenly to cover the entire surface of each pan.
8. Bake the cake layers until they are lightly browned and just springy to the touch. This could take anywhere from 5 to 9 minutes depending on your oven. Place one jelly-roll pan in the middle of the oven and the second jelly-roll pan in the bottom third of the oven.
9. Put the pans on a heatproof counter and run a sharp knife along the e
dges of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Cover each with a sheet of parchment or wax paper, turn the pans over, and unmold.
10. Carefully peel away the parchment, then turn the parchment ove
r and use it to cover the cakes. Let the cakes cool to room temperature.

If you do not have jelly-roll pans of the size requested, do not fear! You can use different-sized jelly-roll pans like 26x38 cm (10 x 15-inches).
If you do not want to use almond meal, you can use another nut meal like hazelnut. You can buy almond meal in bulk food stores or health food stores, or you can make it at home by grinding almonds in the food processor with a tablespoon or two of the flour that you would use in the cake. The reason you need the flour is to prevent the almonds from turning oily or pasty in the processor. You will need about 2 cups of blanched almonds to create enough almond meal for this cake.
I flavored my joconde with the grated zest of 1- 1 1/2 orange.
The joconde can be made up to 1 day in advance and kept wrapped at room temperate.

For the "Syrup".

What you’ll need:
A small saucepan

1/2 Cup (125g) Water
1/3 Cup (65g) Granulated sugar

1 to 2 Tbs of the Flavouring of your choice (i.e., vanilla extract, almond extract, cognac, limoncello, coconut cream, honey etc.../see remarks)

Method for the "Syrup":
1. Stir all the syrup ingredients together in the saucepan and bring to a
2. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

The syrup can be made up to 1 week in advance and kept cover
ed in the refrigerator.
I added 2 tablespoons orange blossom water and 2 tablespoons light runny honey
to my syrup.

For the "Buttercream".

What you’ll need:
A small saucepan

A candy or instant-read thermometer
A stand mixer or handheld mixer

A bowl and a whisk attachment
A rubber spatula

Ingredients for the "Buttercream":

2 Cup (100g) Granulated sugar

1/2 Cup (60g) Water
Seeds of one vanilla bean or 1 tbs pure vanilla extract (optional/s
ee remarks)
1 Large egg (~53g)

1 Large egg yolk
1 3/4 Cups (7 ounces or 200g) Unsalted butter, at room temperature

Flavouring of your choice (a tablespoon of an extract, a few tablespoons of melted white chocolate, citrus zest, etc.../see remarks)

Method for the "Buttercream":
1. Combine the sugar, water and vanilla bean seeds or extract in a s
mall saucepan and warm over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves.
2. Continue to cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 225◦F (124◦C) on a candy or instant-read thermometer. Once it reaches that temperature, remove the syrup from the heat.
3. While the syrup is heating, begin whisking the egg and egg yolk at high speed in the bowl of your mixer using the whisk attachment. Whisk them until they are pale and foamy.

4. When the sugar syrup reaches the correct temperature and you remove it from the heat, reduce the mixer speed to low speed and begin slowly (very slowly) pouring the syrup down the side of the bowl being very careful not to splatter the syrup into the path of the whisk attachment. Some of the syrup will spin onto the sides of the bowl but don’t worry about this and don’t try to stir it into the mixture as it will harden!
5. Raise the speed to medium-high and continue beating until the eggs are thick and satiny and the mixture is cool to the touch (about 5 minutes or so).
6. While the egg mixture is beating, place the softened butter in a bowl a
nd mash it with a spatula until you have a soft creamy mass.
7. With the mixer on medium speed, begin adding in two-tablespoon chunks. When all the butter has been incorporated, raise the mixer speed to high and beat until the buttercream is thick and shiny.
8. At this point add in your flavouring and beat for an additional minute or so.
9. Refrigerate the buttercream, stirring it often, until it’s set enough (firm enough) to spread when topped with a layer of cake (about 20 minutes).

If you are flavouring your buttercream and do not want to use the vanilla, you do not have to. Vanilla will often enhance other flavours but if you want an intens
e, one-flavoured buttercream, then by all means leave it out!
I made Dorie Greenspan's buttercream (see her "Perfect Party Cake" recipe) and flavored it with 1/4 orange juice, 2 1/2 tablespoons ground (mortar & pestle) long pepper and 5 tablespoons chopped candied ginger.
The buttercream can be made up to 1 month in advance and packed in an airtight container. If made way in advance, you can freeze the buttercream. Alternatively you can refrigerate it for up to 4 days after making it. To use the buttercream simply bring it to room temperature and then beat it briefly to restore its consistency.

For the "White chocolate ganache/mousse" (this step is optional).

What you’ll need:

A small saucepan
A mixer or handheld mixer

Ingredients for the "White Chocolate Ganache/Mousse:
7 Ounces (210g) White chocolate

1 Cup + 3 Tbs Heavy cream (35% fat)
1 Tbs Liquor of your choice (Bailey’s, Amaretto, etc...)

Method for the "White Chocolate Ganache/Mousse:
1. Melt the white chocolate and the 3 tbsp. of heavy cream in a smal
l saucepan.
2. Stir to ensure that it’s smooth and that the chocolate is melted. Add the tablespoon of liqueur to the chocolate and stir. Set aside to cool c
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream until soft peaks form.
4. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate to form a mousse.
5. If it’s too thin, refrigerate it for a bit until it’s spreadable.

6.If you’re not going to use it right away, refrigerate until you’re ready to use.

I added 1 1/2 tablespoons whisky to my mousse.
The mousse can be made ahead and refrigerated until you’re ready to use it.

For the "Glaze".

What you’ll need:

A small saucepan or double boiler

Ingredients for the "Glaze":
14 Ounces (420g) White chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/2 Cup Heavy cream (35% fat)

Method for the "Glaze":
1. Melt the white chocolate with the heavy cream. Whisk th
e mixture gently until smooth.
2. Let cool for 10 minutes and then pour over the chilled cake. Usin
g a long metal cake spatula, smooth out into an even layer.
3. Place the cake into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set.

It’s best to make the glaze right when you’re ready to finish the cake.

Assembling the Opéra Cake.

I. Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.
II. Working with one sheet of cake at a time, cut and trim each sheet so that you have two pieces (from each cake so you’ll have four pieces in total): one 10-inch (25-cm) square and one 25x12 1/2 cm (10x5 inch) rectangle.
III. Step A (if using buttercream only and not making the ganache/m

  • Place one square of cake on the baking sheet and moisten it gently with the flavoured syrup.
  • Spread about one-third of the buttercream over this layer.
  • Top with the two rectangular pieces of cake, placing them side by side to form a square. Moisten these pieces with the flavoured syrup.
  • Spread another third of the buttercream on the cake and then top with the third square of joconde (use the remaining syrup to wet the joconde).
  • Spread the remaining buttercream on top of the final layer of joconde and then refrigerate until very firm (at least half an hour).

IV. Make the glaze and after it has cooled, pour/spread it over the top of the chilled cake. V. Refrigerate the cake again to set the glaze.
V. Serve the cake slightly chilled.

III. Step B (if making the ganache/mousse):

  • Place one square of cake on the baking sheet and moisten it gently with the flavoured syrup.
  • Spread about three-quarters of the buttercream over this layer.
  • Top with the two rectangular pieces of cake, placing them side by side to form a square. Moisten these pieces with the flavoured syrup.
  • Spread the remaining buttercream on the cake and then top with the third square of joconde. Use the remaining syrup to wet the joconde and then refrigerate until very firm (at least half an hour).

IV. Prepare the ganache/mousse (if you haven’t already) and then spread it on the top of the last layer of the joconde.
Refrigerate for at least two to three hours to give the ganache/mousse the opportunity to firm up.
V. Make the glaze and after it has cooled, pour/spread it over the top of the chilled cake. Refrigerate the cake again to set the glaze.
VI. Serve the cake slightly chilled. This recipe will yield approximately 20 servings.

The finished cake should be served slightly chilled.

It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 day, but is better eaten within 1-2 days.

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!!!

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)

Sunday, May 25, 2008


This week, Kate and the beautiful Puddy at "A Byootaful Life" (AUS) are happy to announce that they are hosting Weekend Cat Blogging #155...

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.

Today, Maruschka is proud to present a quilt-loving guest named Remi.
He hails from the US (See blog "Razor Family Farms")...
She particularly loves his beautiful coat and cute face.
A gorgeous kitty!


Rest In Peace beautiful Bonnie!
All my thoughts go to her family...

Friday, May 23, 2008


Once again, this entire week was glum, grey, cold, uninteresting and rainy. Last week's joy and happiness had been washed away, thus leaving us with a depressing feeling induced by the crappy weather we had to go through...

Thankfully, today seems to be more promising and now, I might be able to enjoy some fat, puffy and fluffy clouds and to admire azure horizons as well as to profit of the healing brightness ever so typical of sunny days!

Have fun looking at my cloud pictures (click on the photos to enlarge)...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


When spring arrives, I am always very impatient and excited at the prospect of, once again, being able to eat rhubarb. This vegetable is so unique that it is impossible for me not to love it's singular flavor, luscious tanginess and beautiful color...

Rhubarb is a multifaceted delicacy and a gift of nature which is delicious when used to make exquisite desserts, but also to prepare certain savory dishes. Unfortunately, it is only available from April 'til June, so there is no time to lose!

This plant originates from China. It's name was mentioned for the very first time in a 5000 year old book about plants and medicinal herbs. In the 16th century, it was imported into Europe from Asia via Russia. Rome nourished an undeniable interest for rhubarb, but England was the very first country to actually cultivate it widely and massively. In the 19th century, it is said that a gardener from Hamburg brought some plants back from one of the trips to England and that's how it appeared on our latitudes. From this time on, rhubarb has never ceased to grace our gardens and to hold a special place in our hearts as it one of our favorite garden plants.

There are three varieties of rhubarb:
  • One with green stems, green flesh and a lot of acidity.
  • One with reddish pink stems, green flesh and less acidity (the favorite kind).
  • One with reddish pink stems, red flesh and a sweet taste of strawberries (the most sought for).
Rhubarb is good for the health and is a precious source of potassium, calcium, phosphor, iron and many other important mineral substances. It is also rich in vitamine C, E, K and B. Rhubarb is poor in calories as it's mainly composed of water (95%). On the other side, this plant contains oxalic acid, therefore it is better to avoid eating it raw.

Apart from making tarts with rhubarb, one of the best ways to prepare it is to make clafoutis. So, today, I decided to blog about my "Fluffy Rhubarb & Quark Clafoutis" which
I have invented on the spur of the moment, using what I had on stock in my fridge and cupboards.

This "free jazz creation" is very similar to a traditional clafoutis, but it is also quite close to a omelet texture-wise as it is somehow fluffy and light. It combines perfectly the sweetness of the batter together with the tartness of the rhubarb, and it is delicately spicy and fragrant thanks to the interesting combination of ginger, cinnamon and long pepper. In one word, this pseudo clafoutis is very pleasant and highly enjoyable!

I hope that you'll like that recipe as much as me and my personal tester did...

~ Fluffy Rhubarb & Quark Clafoutis ~
Recipe by
Rosa @ Rosa's Yummy Yums

Serves 3-4.

500g Rhubarb, sliced into 2.5cm (1 inch) piece/cubes
1 Cup (128g) Plain white flour (unbleached all-purpose flour)
1/4 (37g) Cup Cornmeal
1/2 Tsp Baking powder

3/4 Cup (180g) Light brown sugar
1/2 Tsp Salt
3 Large eggs (~53g)
1 Cup (250g) Quark (0% fat)
1 1/4 Cups (300g/ml) Milk
1 Tbs Butter, melted
1 Tbs Porto (Port Wine)

1 Tsp Vanilla extract
1/4 Tsp Ground long pepper
1/2 Tsp Ground ginger
3/4 Tsp Ground cinnamon
3 Tbs Light runny honey (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F).
2. Thouroughly butter a 25-28cm (10-11 inches) round pan or ovenproof skillet and cover the bottom of the pan with the rhubarb pieces.
3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar and salt.
4. In a separate small bowl or large mixing cup, combine the eggs, quark, milk, melted butter, Porto, vanilla extract and spices. Whisk well.

5. Beat until thouroughly combined, then whisk into the flour mixture, smoothing out the lumps.
6. Pour the batter over the fruit in the prepared baking pan.
7. Bake for 35 minutes, then brush the top with the runny honey and continue baking for about 10 more minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean and the clafoutis is puffy looking.
8. Serve.

You can easily replace the rhubarb by any other seasonal fruit of your choice.
I used a 0% fat Quark, but you can use a less light version or the same quantity of cream cheese.

Serving suggestions:
Eat warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with extra sugar or with some whipped cream, condensed milk, marple syrup or a ball of the ice cream of your choice (vanilla, strawberry, raspberry, orange, pecan nut, marple, etc...).


~ Clafoutis Léger A La Rhubarbe Et Au Séré ~
Recette par Rosa @ Rosa's Yummy Yums

Pour 3 à 4 personnes.

500g de Rhubarbe, coupée en dés de 2.5cm
1 Tasse (128g) de Farine blanche/fleur
1/4 Tasse (37g) de Semoule de maïs fine
1/2 CC de Poudre à pâte/lever
3/4 Tasse de Sucre brun clair
1/2 CC de Sel
3 Oeufs larges (~53g)
1 Tasse (250g) de Quark/séré (0% de matières grasses)
1 1/4 de Tasses (300g/ml) de Lait
1 CS de Beurre non-salé, fondu

1 CS de Porto
1 CC d'Extrait de vanille
1/4 de CC de Poivre long moulu

1/2 CC de Gingembre en poudre
3/4 de CC de Cannelle en poudre
3 CS de Miel clair liquide (en option)

1. Préchauffer le four à 190°C.
2. Beurrer un moule rond de 25-28cm de diamètre ou un plat à gratin de dimension similaire et couvrir le fond de dés de rhubarbe.
3. Dans un grand bol, mélanger ensemble la farine, la semoule de maïs, la poudre à lever/pâte, le sucre et le sel.
4. Dans un bol moyen, battre/fouetter ensemble les oeufs, le quark/séré, le lait, le beurre fondu, le Porto, l'extrait de vanille et les épices.

5. Bien mélanger jusqu'à ce que la pâte soit homogène et qu'il ne reste plus de grumeaux.
6. Verser ce mélange sur la rhubarbe, dans le moule/plat à gratin.
7. Cuire pendant 35 minutes, puis sortir du four et bien répartir le miel (sur tout la surface du clafoutis) à l'aide d'un pinceau et remettre au four pour 10 minutes ou jusqu'à ce que la pointe d'un couteau insérée au milieu du clafoutis en ressorte nette de toute trace et que le clafoutis ait gonflé tel un soufflé.
8. Servir.

Vous pouvez tout à fait remplacer la rhubarbe par n'importe quel fruit de saison de votre choix.
J'ai utilisé du Quark/séré à 0%, mais vous pouvez très bien utiliser une version moins light ou du Cream Cheese/fromage frais.

Idées de présentation:
Mangez ce clafoutis chaud ou à température ambiante, saupoudrer de sucre ou accompagné de crème fouettée, de lait condensé non-sucré, de sirop d'érable ou de la glace de votre choix (vanille, fraise, framboise, orange, noix de pécan, sirop d'érable, etc...).

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Due to a last-minute contretemps (work), I will not be able to blog on Monday... So, my recipe will be posted on Wednesday morning. Anyway, I invite you to browse through my recipes (see blogroll).

I'm sorry for that!

A cause d'un contretemps de dernière minute (travail), je ne pourrais pas bloguer ce lundi... De ce fait, ma recette sera en ligne seulement mercredi matin. Je vous invite donc à surfer sur mon blog et à jetter un coup d'oeil à mes recettes passées (voir marge).

Je suis désolée!


This time, Weekend Cat Blogging #154 is being hosted by "Chey's Place" (USA) ...

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.

If I could describe Fridolin's attitude at the moment, I would say that he is like a hormone-fuelled bad little monster kitty.
In one word, he is terribly irritating!
This cat is extremely "evil" and "stupid" and can't stop looking for problems.
He constantly attacks Maruschka with whom he fights on a daily basis...

Friday, May 16, 2008


Spring, with autumn, is one of my favorite seasons as everything looks so fresh, green and joyful. Nature is just awakening from it's long sleep and we, humans, are also getting less lethargic and more lively...

It that time of the year during which you start positivizing, making plans, you want to enjoy life, be on the move and see things. I always tend to feel extremely twittery, active and bursting with energy like the birds outside!

The following pictures (click to enlarge) translate very well the way I feel...