Monday, August 31, 2009


In the past, I used to dislike tomatoes, unless a sauce was made out of them. I always found tomatoes bland and so uninteresting... Now that I'm an grownup person, I see that fruit in a very different light. Over the years, I have learned to like them and enjoy their delicate flavors.

With time, my love for tomatoes started to grow and thanks to "Heirloom Tomatoes" a whole new world has opened to me, revealing the most intriguing tomatoes I have ever come across.

"Heirloom Tomatoes", or heritage tomatoes come in so many shapes, tastes and colors that it is impossible not to fall in love with them all!

Until now, I've tested "Green Zebra
", "Kumato", "Golden Queen", "Yellow Jelly Bean", "Cherry" & "Beef Heart" tomatoes and I had much pleasure eating them.

"Heirloom" is the theme for the September CLICK photo event at Jugalbandi. I have submitted the fourth photo, so i'm crossing my fingers in order to be amongst the lucky winner...

Sunday, August 30, 2009


This week, Mr.Tigger at "Mr Tigger & The M-Cats Club" (USA) is happy to announce that he is hosting Weekend Cat Blogging #221...

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

"When you are looking, a cat acts like a princess,
but the minute they think you are not looking,
a cat acts like a fool."
~ KC Buffington ~

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Every 27th of the month is synonymous of challenge and baking for the famous Daring Bakers. On this very special date, members of that "bakers' club" are asked to blog about the latest recipe they had to test. For everyone who is part of this group, it is always a very special and exciting time of the month as we are finally able to reveal our creations and see those of our fellow bakers.

August's Daring Bakers' Challenge has been picked by Lorraine at "Not Quite Nigella" (Australia) and Angela at "Spoonful of Sugar" (UK) who have chosen the famous "Dobos Torta", a Hungarian speciality...
This Kaffeehaus (Viennese café) cake is very popular in Hungary, but also in Slovakia. It was named after it's creator József C. Dobos (1847-1924) in 1884. The "Dobos Torta or Torte" is a five-layer sponge cake, that contains Chocolate buttercream and is topped with thin caramel slices. The sides of the cake are sometimes coated with ground hazelnuts, chestnuts, walnuts or almonds.

Although I have been fantasizing about making this wonderful cake since very long, the choice of that recipe just fell at the worst time of the year. Imagine baking a cake with buttercream when it's 36.4° C (97.52° F) outside and the himidity level is of 73% and you apartment is like a furnace... Either you have to be stark raving mad or living in an air-conditioned house. So, when you are under the weather, very sane and you place is hotter than than the entrails of Hell, then let me tell you that it's absolutely suicidal, exhausting and it's a real pain in the neck to bake something fancy like that!!!

This sweltering heatwave made everything more complicated (even what wasn't at the origin - like this cake) and transformed every little task into a big one. Not only did I lose 10 pounds while baking, but my cake was also showing signs of tiredness and melting before my eyes. After spreading a first layer of buttercream, I had to put my cake in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before I could continue adding the next layer. My incessant ballet between the fridge and the working counter was time-consuming and fatiguing. And to crown it all, my caramel didn't want to harden rapidly and prefered to start liquifying (due to the high humidity). Really nerve-racking!

After hours of fighting against the elements, I finally got my cake together. My biggest concern then was focused on the next step: immortalizing the "Dobos Torte". How was I going to take pictures of it in that heat? After getting it in and out of the fridge at regular intervals in order to avoid a total disaster (melted buttercream and suffering cake), I was more or less able to take a few decent shots.

I can tell you that after having taken my last picture of this cake (or impending doom LOL), I felt kaput, as if I had run a marathon or crossed a desert by foot. The whole experience was so laborious and nearly traumatizing. Anyway, I ended up with a presentable "Dobos Torte" that tasted heavenly, so all that suffering was not in vain!

I must say that I was very proud of my accomplishment as I was not only able to beat the heat, but also it's devastating effects and learnt how to deal with it all. Those long hours of sweating, panicking and trying to find ways to overcome the difficulties linked to the scortching heat made me a stronger baker. My "Dobos Torte" still ended up looking and tasting great no matter the obstacles.

I followed the recipe to the letter, but decided to make extra thin sponge cake layers and produced seven rounds instead of six. I also used half the quantity more buttercream that I flavored with tonka bean. All that resulted in a cake that was smooth like a pillow, ambrosially chocolatty (with a little twist of tonka) and to die for.

I really want to thank Lorraine and Angela for having chosen that long-craved Hungarian treat and helped me "master" the art of baking while going through a heatwave!!!

Recipe based
on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook "Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague".

2 baking sheets
9” (23cm) springform tin and 8” (21cm) cake tin, for templates
Mixing bowls (1 medium, 1 large)
A sieve
A double boiler (a large saucepan plus a large heat-proof mixing b
owl which fits snugly over the top of the pan)
A small saucepan
A whisk (you could use a balloon whisk for the entire cake, but an electric hand whisk or stand mixer will make life much easier)
A metal offset spatula
A sharp knife

A 7 1/2” cardboard cake round, or just build cake on the base of a sprinfrom tin.
A piping bag and tip, optional

Preparation times
Sponge layers: 20 mins prep, 40 mins co
oking total if baking each layer individually. Buttercream: 20 mins cooking. Cooling time for buttercream: about 1 hour plus 10 minutes after this to beat and divide.
Caramel layer: 10-15 minutes.
Assembly of whole cake: 20 minutes


6 Large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups (162g) Confectioner's (icing) sugar, divided
1 Tsp (5g) Pure vanilla extract

1 Cup plus 2 Tbs (112g) Sifted cake flour (substitute: 95g plain flour + 17g cornstarch sifted together)
A pinch of sea salt

1. Position the racks in the top and centre thirds of
the oven and heat to 400° F (200° C). 2. Cut six pieces of parchment paper to fit the baking sheets. Using the bottom of a 9" (23cm) springform tin as a template and a dark pencil or a pen, trace a circle on each of the papers, and turn them over (the circle should be visible from the other side, so that the graphite or ink doesn't touch the cake batter).
3. Beat the egg yolks, 2/3 cup (81g) of the confectioner's (icing) sugar, and the vanilla in a medium bowl with a mixer on high speed until the mixture is thick, pale yellow and forms a thick ribbon when the beaters are lifted a few inches above the batter, about 3 minutes. (You can do this step with a balloon whisk if you don't have a mixer.)
4. In another bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 2/3 cup (81g) of confectioner's (icing)sugar until the whites form stiff, shiny peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, stir about 1/4 of the beaten whites into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the remainder, leaving a few wisps of white visible. Combine the flour and salt. Sift half the flour over the eggs, and fold in; repeat with the remaining flour.
5. Line one of the baking sheets with a circle-marked paper. Using a small offset spatula, spread about 3/4cup of the batter in an even layer, filling in the traced circle on one baking sheet. Bake on the top rack for 5 minutes, until the cake springs back when pressed gently in the centre and the edges are lightly browned. While this cake bakes, repeat the process on the other baking sheet, placing it on the centre rack. When the first cake is done, move the second cake to the top rack. Invert the first cake onto a flat surface and carefully peel off the paper. Slide the cake layer back onto the paper and let stand until cool. Rinse the baking sheet under cold running water to cool, and dry it before lining with another parchment. Continue with the remaining papers and batter to make a total of six layers. Completely cool the layers. Using an 8" springform pan bottom or plate as a template, trim each cake layer into a neat round. (A small serrated knife is best for this task).

The sponge layers can be prepared in advance
and stored, interleaved with parchment paper and well-wrapped, in the fridge, overnight.



4 Large eggs, at room temperature
1 Cup (200g) Caster (ultrafine or superfine white) sug
4oz (110g) Bakers chocolate or your favourite dark chocolate, finely chopped
2 Sticks plus 2 Tbs (250g) Unsalted butter, at room tempe

1. Prepare a double-boiler: quarter-fill a large saucepan with water and bring it to a boil.
2. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with the sugar until pale a
nd thickened, about five minutes. You can use a balloon whisk or electric hand mixer for this.
3. Fit bowl over the boiling water in the saucepan (water should n
ot touch bowl) and lower the heat to a brisk simmer. Cook the egg mixture, whisking constantly, for 2-3 minutes until you see it starting to thicken a bit. Whisk in the finely chopped chocolate and cook, stirring, for a further 2-3 minutes.
4. Scrape the chocolate mixture into a medium bowl and leave to cool to room temperature. It should be quite thick and sticky in consist
5. When cool, beat in the soft butter, a small piece (ab
out 2 tablespoons/30g) at a time. An electric hand mixer is great here, but it is possible to beat the butter in with a spatula if it is soft enough. You should end up with a thick, velvety chocolate buttercream. Chill while you make the caramel topping.

The buttercream can be prepared in advance and stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.
If you're in Winter just now your butter might not soften enough at room temperature, which leads to lumps forming in the buttercream. Make
sure the butter is of a very soft texture I.e. running a knife through it will provide little resistance, before you try to beat it into the chocolate mixture. Also, if you beat the butter in while the chocolate mixture is hot you'll end up with more of a ganache than a buttercream!


1 cup (200g) Caster (superfine or ultrafine white) sugar
12 Tbs (180ml/g) water
8 Tsp (40g) Lemon juice

1 Tbs Neutral oil (e.g. grapeseed, rice bran, sunflower)

1. Choose the best-looking cake layer for the caramel top. To make the c
aramel topping: Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper and butter the paper. Place the reserved cake layer on the paper. Score the cake into 12 equal wedges. Lightly oil a thin, sharp knife and an offset metal spatula.
2. Stir the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over a medium heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved int
o a smooth syrup, turn the heat up to high and boil without stirring, swirling the pan by the handle occasionally and washing down any sugar crystals on the sides of the pan with a wet brush until the syrup has turned into an amber-coloured caramel.

3. The top layer is perhaps the hardest part of the whole cake so make sure you have a oiled, hot offset spatula ready. I also find it helps if the cake layer hasn't just been taken out of the refrigerator. I made mine ahead of time and the cake layer was cold and the toffee set very, very quickly—too quickly for me to spread it. Immediately pour all of the hot caramel over the cake layer. You will have some leftover most probably but more is better than less and you can always make nice toffee pattern using the extra to decorate. Using the offset spatula, quickly spread the caramel evenly to the edge of the cake layer. Let cool until beginning to set, about 30 seconds. Using the tip of the hot oiled knife (keep re-oiling this with a pastry brush between cutting), cut through the scored marks to divide the caramel layer into 12 equal wedges. Cool another minute or so, then use the edge of the knife to completely cut and separate the wedges using one firm slice movement (rather than rocking back and forth which may produce toffee strands). Cool completely.

I recommend cutting, rather than scoring, the cake layer into wedges before covering in caramel (reform them into a round). If you have an 8” silicon round form, then I highly recommend placing the wedges in that for easy removal later and it also ensures that the caramel stays on the cake layer. Once set, use a very sharp knife to separate the wedges.


1. Divide the buttercream into six equal parts.
2. Place a dab of chocolate buttercream on the middle of a 7 1/2” cardboard round and top with one cake layer. Spread the layer with one part of the chocolate icing. Repeat with 4 more cake layers. Spread the remaining icing on the sides of the cake.
3. Optional: press the finely chopped hazelnuts (1/2 Cup (50g) roasted, peeled and finely chopped hazelnuts) onto the sides of the cake.
4. Propping a hazelnut under each wedge so that it sits at an angle, arrange the wedges on top of the cake in a spoke pattern. If you have any leftover buttercream, you can pipe rosettes under each hazelnut or a large rosette in the centre of the cake.

Refrigerate the cake under a cake dome until the icing is set, about 2 hours. Let slices come to room temperature for the best possible flavour.
I should also note that the cake will cut more cleanly when chilled.


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 Jasmine de "Jasmine Cuisine" (Canada)
Chez Isa de "Les Gourmandises d'Isa" (Canada)

Sunday, August 23, 2009


This week, Salome at "Paulchens FoodBlog?!" (Austria) is happy to announce that he is hosting Weekend Cat Blogging #220...

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

"Are cats lazy?
Well, more power to them if they are.
Which one of us has not entertained the dream of doing just as he likes, when and how he likes, and as much as he likes?"
~ Fernand Mery ~

Friday, August 21, 2009


During our last holidays, we decided to visit the quaint little town of Annecy in Haute-Savoie. It is situated in the Rhône-Alpes region of France, 34 kilometers (a 40 minutes car ride) away from Geneva.

As we don't have a car and there are regular bus lines from Geneva to Annecy, we thought that it would be a great idea to spend the day there and play tourists. What a lovely way to spend our day!

So, we arrived quite early in the morning, walked around the pretty old town and the stunning lakeside, enjoyed the beautiful landscapes and architecture, went to the fruit & veggie market (phew, the crowd is extreme during the holiday time), bought lots of goodies (dried Savoie sausages, spices, wine, oils, etc...), ate a delicious Reblochon Quiche and a slice of Opera Cake at "Le Péché Mignon" (highly recommended), refreshed ourselves with passionfruit, violet & raspberry and cherry sorbet ice creams that we bought from a little chocolate/candy store situated in the Passage de la Cathédrale and had a jolly good time.

I hope that you'll enjoy the pictures I took. I really had fun shooting them!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Nature, in August, is particularly plentiful and offers so many wonderful goodies. For a foodie like me who loves seasonal produces, this period of the year is paradisiac and highly exciting!

When the stalls of (food)markets abund with all those precious greengroceries, I cannot moderate my veget
able and fruit consumption and tend to compulsively buy everything (well not exactly) that makes me salivate.

It is a fact that every time I go shopping, I come back home with to
ns of fresh and local produces from the Geneva area. My fridge literally explodes and cannot even "swallow" the tiniest cherry tomato anymore...

During this plentiful period, One of my alltime favorite stone fruit is fresh Swiss prunes (also known as "Quetsches" in France and "Zwetschge" in Swiss Germany/Germany). Those lovely violet little plums are so pretty, addictive, delicate-tasting and versatile (tarts, pies, compote, crumbles, ice creams, savory dishes, etc...) that I can never get enough of them.

The people who know me well and read this blog regularly must have noticed that dessert bars rule my world and that I will never tire of them (the same goes for prunes). So, It was very naturally that I decided upon baking that treat and using prune "jam" as a filling, thus combinung two of my favorite things.

After having searched the net for slices recipe
s which would enlist prunes as an ingredient, I came to the conclusion that I wasn't going to find any recipe of that kind and that I would have to invent one for the occasion...

So, I opted for a zesty and slightly smok
y lemon-scented crust with cocoa nibs (that were given to me by the kind and generous Mamina, a French foodblogger at "Et Si C'était Bon?" - merci beaucoup!!!), a tangy and fragrantly spicy 5 spice prune filling and a coconutty and almondy crumble topping.

As you can imagine, those "Prune Bars" were fantastic and so enjoya
ble with their layers of refined flavors that blend equisitely together.

~ Prune Bars ~
Recipe by Rosa @ Rosa's Yummy Yums 2009.

Makes about 16 bars.

Ingredients for the "Prune Filling":
2 Cups (~ 250g) Fresh prunes/plums, cut in cubes
2 Tbs (30g) Castor sugar
2 Tbs (30g/ml) Lime juice
1/2 Tsp (2.5g) Five spice powder
1 Tsp (5g) Cornstarch
Ingredients for the "Crust":

1 1/4 Cups (160g) Plain white flour
1/3 Cup (70g) Castor sugar
1/2 Tsp (2.5g) Sea salt
1/2 Cup (120g) Unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
The zest of 1/2 organic lemon, finely grated
1/2 Tsp (2.5g) Vanilla extract
2-3 Tsps (10-15g) Cocoa nibs (optional)
Ingredients for the "Crumb Topping":
4 Tbs of the Crust mixture

1/4 Cup (22g) Almond sliced
1/3 Cup (30g) Sweetened coconut

Method for the "Plum Filling:
1. In a non-reactive saucepan, sprinkle the sugar and spice over the plums and let the fruit macerate for about 20 - 30 minutes.
2. Add the lime juice and cook the plums until the liquid has evaporated and the fruit is thick and chunky. You can mash some of them if you prefer.
3. Let cool and then incorporate the cornstarch.
Method for the "Crust":
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 180° C (350° F).
5. Grease the bottom and sides of a 13 x 13cm (9 by 9-inch) baking p
6. In a small bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Set aside.
7. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter, vanilla, lemon and sugar at medium speed until combined, about 1 minute.
8. At low speed, add the flour mixture and mix just until crumbly.
9. Set aside 4 tbs of this mixture for the crumb topping.
10. Mix 2 tsps cocoa nibs to the rest of the dough and turn out into the prepared pan.
11. With floured fingertips, press the dough evenly into the bottom of the pan.
Using a spatula or the back of the spoon, spread the plum filling evenly over the dough.
Method for the "Crumb Topping":
13. Mix all ingredients for the crumb topping and spread evenly over the prune jam.
14. Bake on the middle of the oven, until golden brown 30 to 40 min
15. Cool the bars completely before cutting them into squares or rectangles.

You can replace the castor sugar by brown (light or dark) sugar.
If you have no prunes at hand, try this recipe with plums, peaches, nectarines, apricots or evn bananas.
Those bars can be stored in an airtight container in
the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Serving suggestions:
Serve those bars with whipped cream, clotted cream, mascarpone, ice cream or just a glass of ice cold milk.


~ Carrés Aux Quetshes/Pruneaux ~
Recette par Rosa @ Rosa's Yummy Yums 2009.

Pour environ 16 carrés.

Ingrédients pour la "Garniture Aux Quetsches":
2 Tasses (~ 250g) de Quetsches/pruneaux, coupés en morceaux

2 CS (30g) de Sucre cristallisé
2 CS (30g/ml) de Jus de lime
1/2 CC (2.5g) de 5 épices

1 CC (15g) de Maizena
Ingrédients pour la "Croûte":
1 1/4 Tasses (160g) de Farine blanche

1/3 de Tasse (70g) de Sucre cristallisé
1/2 CC (2.5g) de Sel de mer

120g de Beurre non-salé, coupé en petits cubes
Le zeste d'un 1/2 citron bio, finement rapé
1/2 CC 82.5g) d'Extrait de vanille pure
2-3 CC (10-15g) d'Eclats de cacao (en option)
Ingrédients pour le "Streusel":
4 CS du Mélange pour la croûte

1/4 de Tasse (22g) d'Amandes éffilées
1/3 de Tasses (30g) de Noix de coco rapée, sucrée

Méthode pour la "Garniture Aux Quetsches":
1. Dans une casserole, mélanger le sucre et les épices avec les quetsches en cubes, puis laisser macérer pendant 20 à 30 minutes.
2. Ajouter le jus de lime et cuire jusqu'à ce que le liquide se soit évaporé, que la garniture soit épaisse et que les fruits aient "fondu".
3. Laisser refroidir puis incorporer la maizena.
Méthode pour la "Croûte":
Préchauffer le four à 180° C et positionner la grille au milieu du four.
2. Beurrer un moule à Brownies de 13 x 13cm.

3. Dans un petit bol, mélanger la farine avec le sel et mettre de côté.
4. Mettre le beurre, la vanille, le zeste et le sucre dans le bol d'un mixer afin que le mélange blanchisse, environ 1 minute.
5. Ajouter le mélange farine/sel et pulser suffisamment afin que le mélange soit sabloneux et grossier.
6. Mettre de côté 4 CS de ce mélange (pour le "streusel").
7. Mélanger 2 CC d'éclats de cacao avec le reste du mélang
e pour la croûte, puis étaler dans le moule.
8. Avec vos doigts (enfarinés) presser le mélange afin d'obtenir une croûte lisse et uniforme.
A l'aide d'une spatule, étaler la garniture aux quetsches sur la croûte.
Méthode pour le "Streusel":
10. Mélanger tous les ingrédients pour le streusel et saupoudrer le dessus des carrés avec.
11. Cuire pendant 30 à 40 minutes, jusqu'à ce que le de
ssus des carrés soit doré.
12. Laisser refroidir sur une grille et couper en carrés seulemen
t une fois que les barres sont complétement refroidies.

Vous pouvez remplacer le sucre cristallisé par du sucre brun (clair ou foncé).
Si vous n'avez pas de quetsches à la maison, vous pouvez faire ces carrés avec des prunes, pêches, nectarines, abricots ou même des bananes.
Ces carrés peuvent être conservés au frigo pendant en
viron 3 jours.

Idées de présentation:
Servir ces carrés avec de la crème fouettée, de la "clotted cream", du mascarpone, de la glace ou simplement avec un verre de lait très froid.