Swiss Food: Tarte à la Raisinée – Apple & Pear Syrup Pie

By Sunday, March 30, 2014 Permalink 0

Swiss Food: Fribourg-style Tarte à la Raisinée – Apple and Pear Syrup Pie

 Inspired by Frédy Girardet’s recipe in La Cuisine Spontanée, published by Robert Laffont

What is Swiss Raisinée?

The Vaudois word raisinée refers to a syrup made of the must of apples and pears. It was originally cooked in grape juice, thus the name — raisin means grape in French. Often called vin cuit, or “cooked wine”, it is in the form of a dark brown, viscous liquid. In still other parts of Switzerland, another concoction similar in consistency to jam and using the same ingredients is called cougnarde and probably dates back to at least the Middle Ages. Raisinée was used as a sweetener in many regions in Europe, and the tradition has lingered in Switzerland, especially in the cantons of Vaud, Fribourg and Neuchâtel. Today, it is mainly used for cakes and pies, and is not fermented, so it not technically a wine.

PouringRaisinéeBWPhoto-240x300

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Food Art: Apple in a Cage, food photography by SandeeA

By Tuesday, January 14, 2014 Permalink 0

SandeeA is a top-notch food photographer and she runs the popular blog La Receta de la Felicidad, where you can find many of the recipes appearing in these photos.

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Switzerland: Fresh-fruit Marmalade and Meringue Recipe

By Sunday, August 18, 2013 Permalink 0

Switzerland: Fresh-fruit Marmalade and Meringue Recipe

Spontaneous Cuisine, by Jonell Galloway

From the archives

We often think of traditional Swiss meringue as winter food, but it can also be great with summer fruit, such as plums, berries, apricots, etc., either mixed or on their own.

This recipe can also be appropriate to make with children. They will especially love using the pastry sleeve to decorate the marmalade.

Recipe

Click here for metric recipe converter

Marmalade

1 kg fruit
Approx. 1 dl water
Sugar to taste
  1. Wash fruit. If it has stones, cut in half and remove stones.
  2. Place fruit in a saucepan, preferably copper or stainless steel.
  3. Add water. Cover.
  4. Cook on medium until the fruit starts to “melt” and lose its shape.
  5. Add sugar and mix well.
  6. Set aside to cool.

Note: If you want it to be smooth like a coulis, run it through a chinois or fine colander or sieve.

Meringues

3 egg whites (large free-range or organic eggs give a lot better taste and result)
100 g white castor sugar
  1. Put egg whites in a large mixing bowl. Beat until they form stiff peaks.
  2. Little by little, fold in sugar until the mixtures forms a very stiff paste.

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 175° C.
  2. Butter an oblong baking dish.
  3. Evenly spread marmalade in baking dish.
  4. Use a rubber spatula to spread egg white mixture evenly over marmalade or use a pastry bag to spread it in a decorative manner.
  5. Lightly sprinkle with sugar.
  6. Bake in oven for about 10 minutes or until lightly golden.

 

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Gluten-Free Recipe Conversions – Strategies for Substitutions

By Friday, August 9, 2013 Permalink 0

Jenn Oliver, Culinary Chemist, The Rambling EpicureCulinary Chemistry: Gluten-Free Recipe Conversions – Strategies for Substitutions

by Jenn Oliver

From the archives

When my husband and I first started cooking gluten free in our kitchen, we mainly focused on one type of meal — those that were naturally gluten free.

The naturally gluten-free foods were the easiest to cook from scratch because they required no substitutions at all — risottos, fresh fruit, vegetables, custards & puddings, stir fry, roasted potatoes, homemade “chips”, salads, fresh steamed fish, bean stews, meringues, and even a macaron attempt or two. As a beginner to the gluten-free world nearly five years ago, I was thrilled with how many foods we could make without ever having to worry about an ingredient on a package label that could be harmful to my husband’s health.  As long as we cooked from entirely fresh ingredients and avoided anything that came in a package or required flour, we were fine — and what a great variety we had to choose from!

But it didn’t take long before my husband would say, “You know, I really miss pizza,” or “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a thick creamy gravy to go on mashed potatoes sometime?” It was inevitable, really, that shunning all things flour-related was bound to cause waxing nostalgia for the meals we no longer ate. While it was great to get our feet wet by starting with the easy gluten-free meals that didn’t require any substitutions or extra thought, it seemed wrong to deprive ourselves completely of other foods that we enjoyed.

I set out on a mission of sorts to figure out how to convert our favorite foods to gluten free, where I found a veritable “Wild West” frontier land when it came to recipes — myriad flour blends and formulas either in packages on grocery store shelves or listed in books, none of which explained how they came to be or why they worked, often calling for expensive and elusive ingredients. It all seemed like some esoteric recipe voodoo.

I decided instead to create my own blends, first categorizing the various alternative flours and ingredients by texture and coarseness, and then quickly realizing that while those aspects do play a role in the end product, the key factor was in fact not the texture, but the starch, protein, and fat content, as these are the things that determine most how a flour will behave in a recipe. I can’t say I get a perfect product every single time on the first try, but the turning point in my success was when I started looking into exactly what I was replacing with my gluten-free flour blends.

Sometimes it really is the gluten that needs to be emulated, such as in a bread recipe, where the developed network of gluten in conventional breads actively works to trap the air pockets made by the yeast, allowing the bread to rise. Techniques for mimicking this include adding other leavening agents to help account for the fact that some of the air will indeed escape before the bread is done, or adding binding agents to help trap the air that is formed — and maybe even a combination of both of these techniques.

Often this is why one sees gluten-free recipes that include extra eggs, or gelling agents like ground flax or chia seeds, manufactured gums, or incorporation of starches into the GF blend, such as tapioca or arrowroot. Once we understand why these ingredients exist in a gluten-free recipe, we can better judge how to make substitutions to fit our needs – for example, don’t have ground chia seeds? Maybe adding an egg in its place will do the trick. The bread fell flat a bit and was too dense? We now have options. We consider the properties of the ingredients we are using, and this information can be used as tools for determining how to logically go about changing our recipes to improve them.

Other recipes that conventionally use flour don’t actually care about the gluten at all. Take, for example, a roux, essentially made up of a flour and a fat that are cooked together and then used as a thickening agent in soups and stews, such as gumbo. In the case of roux, there’s no elasticity needed, and no air to be trapped – all we are looking for is thickening, which occurs thanks to the starch components within wheat flour. This is great news for gluten-free cooks; there are lots of starchy gluten-free ingredients at our disposal that we can use to replace conventional wheat flour!

All-purpose wheat flour contains, along with gluten, a fair amount of starch. So to create a 1:1 substitution (by weight of course), one would just need to come up with a gluten-free flour blend that is also mostly (but not all) starch. This can be done either by using flours with similar starch content to wheat flour, or by supplementing the GF blend with a pure starch (cornstarch, tapioca, arrowroot, potato, glutinous rice flour, etc.). Each type of starch differs slightly in its chemistry, but for the most part they all have gelling and viscosity properties – i.e. they help food thicken and stick together. In something like our roux example, it’s not going to matter a whole lot what kind of starches we use, because the only aspect of the starch we are calling upon in this case is its thickening power.

Obviously, for baking, things get a little more complicated, but I’m convinced the overall strategy remains the same. The first thing I ask myself when converting a recipe is, “what in conventional wheat flour is doing the work? What traits do I need to make sure I replace with my gluten-free mix?” And then we can use our knowledge about the various gluten-free ingredients available to reproduce those properties. Actually, I think once one gets a bit more comfortable with gluten-free substitutions, there is even more freedom and more possibilities for “customizing” than when working with conventional all-purpose wheat flour. This is because one has the ability to pick and choose from amongst so many great ingredients — not just for certain properties, but also for flavors. For example, I often incorporate chestnut flour, because I just love the earthy rustic qualities it lends to baked goods.

Gluten-free substitutions don’t have to involve some mysterious wizardry in order to have success. Sometimes it’s just a bit of recipe tweaking, and other times, a little knowledge about the science behind why a recipe works goes a long way.

 

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What to do with the last apricots of the season: jam, coulis, baked, purée

By Friday, August 9, 2013 Permalink 0

Jonell Galloway, Spontaneous Cuisine, Mindful Eating, Slow Food, Editor of The Rambling EpicureWhat to do with the last apricots of the season: jam, coulis, baked, purée

by Jonell Galloway

From the archives

How to Choose Apricots

apricots_valais_tree_switzerland_suisse_geneva

Photo courtesy of Ellen Wallace.

 

The first and most important thing is to buy tree-ripened apricots. By definition, this means local ones, since ripe apricots are soft to the touch and do not travel well.

If you plan to eat them fresh, they should be soft, but not blemished or bruised. The riper they are, the more flavorful they are.

If you are using them for cooking, the riper the better, and you can even get by with blemishes as long as they are not rotten-looking. As a general rule, the softer the sweeter.

You will often see crates of extra-ripe apricots discounted in farmers markets. Look them over, and if there are not too many black or rotting ones, they are actually the best for cooking purposes, especially for jams, cakes and sauces.

Recipe Ideas for Apricots

Note: With all apricot recipes, the amount of sugar used depends on the acidity of the apricots. The acidity depends on the ripeness, origin and variety. With so many factors coming into play, taste tests are indispensable and the quantity of sugar should be determined by taste, using the quantities given here as a guideline.

Apricot Jam Recipe

The basic formula is 900 grams/2 lbs of sugar for every 2 kilograms/4 1/2 lbs of fruit used. This holds true for apricots, apples, cherries, nectarines and plums. If you like your jam really sweet, you can put equal weights of fruit and sugar.

Use cane sugar for more taste. I often halve the quantity of sugar in dessert recipes, but with jams this can be tricky, since sugar is what makes the jam set. It also serves as a preservative. If your fruit is extra-sweet, you might try cutting the quantity of sugar a tad.

apricot_raspberry_jam_valais-switzerland_suisse_recipe_geneva
Photo courtesy of Ellen Wallace.

 

Wash and rub apricots until perfectly clean. Remove any rotten spots with a paring knife. Dry well. Cut in half and remove stones. Save about half of the stones for later use.

Place apricots in a copper confiturier or a large stock pot. Add sugar. Let it sit overnight.

If the apricots are not ripe enough, they will not render any natural juices. If there are no juices, add 500 ml/1 pint of water to the pan.

Slowly bring to a boil on low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. This can take anywhere from 1 hour to 2 1/2 hours, depending on the water content of the apricots and the type of pan and stove or cooker you are using. Scrape the sides of the pan from time to time so that the mixture doesn’t crystallize.

The jam is set when you can dip a wooden spoon in it and it completely coats the spoon. Let jam settle for about 15 minutes before putting it into jars.

Pour jam into sterilized glass jars. Leave to cool. If you see the jam hasn’t set properly, you can put it back into the pan and boil it again, adding a little lemon juice.

Add two stones to each jar. Cool. Seal jars.

Apricot Purée or Coulis

Once again, the amount of sugar you use depends on whether you want it to have a tart flavor or a sweet flavor. If you’re going to pour it onto a very sweet cake or pie, opt for a more acidic taste. If you’re eating with something that is itself a little acidic, you might want to make your sauce sweeter. And once again, the sweetness will always depend on the ripeness of your apricots, so you’ll have to do a taste test in any case.

Wash apricots. Remove stones.

Put 300 grams/10 ounces of cane sugar (labeled sucre de canne roux or cassonade in Swiss and French supermarkets) and a vanilla bean (cut open in the lengthwise direction) into a saucepan. Slowly bring to a boil over medium heat until it begins to thicken and sugar has completely dissolved, i.e. until it forms a syrup.

Put 500 grams/18 ounces of apricots into a food processor, or run them through a food mill or chinois. Add apricots to the liquid sugar mixture and mix with a wooden spoon. Heat mixture until it is thick enough to completely coat a wooden spoon.

This apricot sauce can be eaten warm or cold, depending on what you are using it with. It keeps for several days in the refrigerator.

Apricot coulis is a perfect accompaniment to a dark chocolate cake, but can be used to make ice cream sundaes or parfaits just as easily.

It can also be used in savory dishes, for example with cold chicken breasts or cold pork roast. In this case, you would of course considerably reduce the amount of sugar.

Roasted Apricots

Preheat oven to 250° C or French mark 8. Wash apricots. Cut in half. Remove stone.

Lay apricot halves out on a roasting tin or broiler pan, or in a large casserole dish. Sprinkle lightly with brown cane sugar and just a tad of butter, distributed evenly in small bits, so that it will form a natural sauce.  (This can also be done on a barbecue grill, but you’d lose the juices.) Put in oven, and immediately turn temperature down to 220° C or French mark 7. Turn when top side is browned. If butter starts to burn, add a few drops of water.

When soft and slightly browned and caramelized, remove from oven or grill.

Distribute on individual plates. Serve with a scoop of salt caramel, coffee or walnut ice cream. Lightly sprinkle with vanilla powder (labeled poudre vanille or vanille en poudre in supermarket; easy to find in France, but difficult to find in Switzerland), cinnamon and a high-quality chocolate or cocoa powder. Drizzle a little maple syrup over it. It is now ready to serve.

Sugar-free Apricot Purée or Coulis

The great French chef Michel Guérard, who started the Cuisine Minceur movement in 1974, has a recipe for a sugar-free version of a coulis. This is adapted from the 1976 edition of Michel Guérard’s Cuisine Minceur, now out of print:

Wash, halve and pit 12 ripe fresh apricots. In a saucepan, add apricots, 1/2 cup of water, 1 vanilla bean (cut open in the lengthwise direction, down the middle) and artificial sweetener to taste, the equivalent of about 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar. Simmer for 10 or 15 minutes, until mixture is reduced by about one third.

Remove vanilla bean. Put mixture in a food processor to make a purée.

This sugar-free sauce can be served in the same manner as the traditional apricot purée or coulis recipe above.

 

Related articles

This article was originally published on GenevaLunch.

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Recipes: Dairy-Free Switzerland

By Saturday, July 27, 2013 Permalink 0

Recipes: Dairy-Free Switzerland

I’ve just discovered , dedicated to making traditional Swiss and other recipes dairy-free.

Dairy Free Symbol, image by http://www.americaseatingstrategist.com/2013/04/10/gone-dairy-free-here-are-some-ways-to-optimize-your-diet/

 

Heddi started her site in 2012 to face up to the daily task of cooking for her son, who has multiple allergies, including milk allergies.

A dairy-free version of many traditional Swiss recipes for lactose-intolerant people. Switzerland is a land of milk and cheese, so this is a difficult task. Bravo for her efforts.

 

 

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Switzerland: Valais Apricots and 10 Things You Can Do with Them

By Friday, July 19, 2013 Permalink 0

Switzerland: Valais Apricots and 10 Things You Can Do with ThemJonell Galloway, Spontaneous Cuisine, Mindful Eating, Slow Food, Editor of The Rambling Epicure

by Jonell Galloway

Height of season for Valais apricots, considered best in Switzerland

It is the height of the Valais apricot season, I thought it timely to offer you a few ideas for using them while they’re ripe and ready.

Choosing your apricots

apricots_valais_tree_switzerland_suisse_geneva
Photo courtesy of Ellen Wallace.

The first and most important thing is to buy tree-ripened apricots. By definition, this means local ones, since ripe apricots are soft to the touch and do not travel well.

If you plan to eat them fresh, they should be soft, but not blemished or bruised. The riper they are, the more flavorful they are.

If you are using them for cooking, the riper the better, and you can even get by with blemishes as long as they are not rotten-looking. As a general rule, the softer the sweeter.

You will often see crates of extra-ripe apricots discounted in farmers markets. Look them over, and if there are not too many black or rotting ones, they are actually the best for cooking purposes, especially for jams, cakes and sauces.

Recipe ideas for apricots

Note: With all apricot recipes, the amount of sugar used depends on the acidity of the apricots. The acidity depends on the ripeness, origin and variety. With so many factors coming into play, taste tests are indispensable and the quantity of sugar should be determined by taste, using the quantities given here as a guideline.

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Gareth Jones: Memories of Old Belgium & Malmedy’s Gooey Kisses

By Wednesday, July 3, 2013 Permalink 0


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ID photo of Gareth Jones, food writer and consultantMemories of Old Belgium and Malmedy’s Gooey Kisses, including Recipe

by Gareth Jones

IMG_0047 (250x188)

When two chewy, gooey meringues come stuck together either side of a slather of butter cream or crême chantilly, the pâtissiers of Malmédy call this a ‘kiss’. Their description is obvious – it’s a fond embrace. Such is its fame, the Baiser had a place in the original Larousse Gastronomique compiled by Prosper Montagné in 1938.

The story goes that the Baiser de Malmédy started life in the late 19th century in this region of the Eastern Ardennes that many still prefer to call ‘Old Belgium’. The name appreciates that here, in the small towns like Malmédy, Stavelot, Bastogne, Spa and Francorchamps, the old ways continue and courtesy comes before all else – much as continues in Norfolk and Suffolk, Dorset and Somerset, where people living here still have time for each other.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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David Downie: Artful Parisian Pastry, Part 2: Paris Present

By Wednesday, June 19, 2013 Permalink 0

Parisian Artful Pastry, Part 2: Paris Present

by David Downie

The minimalism of contemporary pastry art can be spectacular. A Paris-trained American pastry chef friend of mine from New York came to dinner carrying a hatbox. She lifted the lid and everyone gasped. “It’s a pastry radiator,” I couldn’t help exclaiming. The “radiator’s” buttery pastry fins were filled with ethereal cream, shielded by dark chocolate plates and mounted on a hard nougatine U-shaped base reminiscent of Bakelite.

Classic chocolates from Jean-Paul Hévin ©Alison Harris

“Actually it’s a vertical millefeuille,” my friend explained as she heated the blade of a long knife—the only way to slice this incredible, gorgeous delicacy without destroying it.

The “radiator” turned out to be the conceptual-art brainchild of culinary designer Marc Brétillot, whose creations have often been spotted in the pastry department at the Bon Marché’s Grande Épicerie.

“Pastry is art,” Philippe Muzé, for a decade the wonder-worker at Paris’s bastion of traditionalism, Dalloyau, told me (he has since moved on and on and won many awards). “It’s poetry,” he added. “You can turn sugar, chocolate, herbs, spices and fruit into a million flavors and colors.” I hesitated before deconstructing his green Gâteau Vert, discovering a raspberry-colored biscuit, pear mousse, hot Szechwan pepper, cardamom, thyme and paprika.

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Apollonia Poilâne and the Making of the Paris Poilâne Bread “Empire”

By Saturday, June 1, 2013 Permalink 0

by Jonell Galloway

Did the French Bread Revolution start with Poilâne Bread?

The familiar French word for friend, “copain,” means “to share bread with each other.”–Apollonia Poilâne, now head of the Poilâne bread “empire”

A humble baker called Pierre Poilâne started a bakery on the rue du Cherche-Midi in Paris in 1932. The 6th arrondissement was not a chic neighborhood at the time; penniless artists lived there, and often paid Poilâne in paintings. We might ask, did the French Bread Revolution start here at 8 rue du Cherche-Midi?

Poilâne used stoneground, unprocessed, whole-grain flour and sourdough starter, baking his bread in a wood oven — then unheard of in Paris, the capital of the baguette. It was unfashionable to eat anything other than white bread. This way of thinking was further reinforced by WWII, during which the French had no choice but to eat heavy, dark bread. He continued making it nonetheless, says France Today, and today, Apollonia Poilâne, Pierre’s granddaughter, runs the bakery.

Until 2007, she studied at Harvard and ran the bakery at the same time, having her personal supply of bread sent to her every week in Boston.

Note the elegant “P” carved into the top of each loaf.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This now-classic Poilâne loaf has a hard, crusty outside and a firm, dense crumb on the inside. It can keep be eaten fresh for up to 5 days after baking, after which it can be toasted.

Inside Pain Poilane bread creative common license http://www.thefreshloaf.com/keyword/pointeacalliere

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pain Poilâne or miche, meaning “round loaf,” weighs in at around 2 kg / 4.4 lb. The recipe is secret, and it is not a whole-grain bread in the traditional sense of the word. Environmentally correct, pesticide-free varieties of wheat are grown and stored. They are then stone-ground, thus preserving the wheat germ. Stone grinding makes it possible to eliminate any coarse bran that might contain impurities.

Poilâne flour is what is called in French farine biseor wheatmeal — a brown flour intermediate between white flour and wholemeal flour — which maintains a higher nutritional value than white flour. Levain or sourdough starter and salt from the salterns of Guérande, a swamp of salt water in Brittany.

Pierre brought this type of bread with him from his native Normandy, where loaves were large and round, in the style of what the French now call “country bread.” Today, it is distributed all over the world.

Apollonia Poilâne, current owner of Poilâne bread bakeries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pierre’s sons Lionel and Max took over the bakery in 1970. Just like Apollonia, they had learned bread baking by working right alongside their father, and continued the tradition of the original round loaf marked with the signature “P.” They eventually took separate paths, with Lionel keeping the original bakery started by his father, and Max going off on his own to start a bakery under his own name, Max Poilâne. In Paris, people have long discussions over which of the brothers makes/made the better bread, since both have continued to bake their father’s signature recipe.

Lionel Poilâne is better known outside France, since he grew the original family business, making it into an international name. This growth was made possible by his excellent teaching skills and his embracing of modern developments in the industry, such as the use of machine kneading, while at the same time maintaining his father’s philosophy of each baker following and taking responsibility for his or her loaves from start to finish. He referred to his concept as “retro-innovation.”

Lionel and his wife died when their helicopter, piloted by Lionel, crashed in 2002, leaving behind daughters Athena and Apollonia, the latter who is now following in her father’s footsteps. She started running the bakery on graduation from high school.

In this video, Martha Stewart visits the Poilâne bakery in Paris and learns about the bread making process in an interview with 22-year-old Apollonia Poilâne when she was still at Harvard. Click here to watch the video interview of Apollonia by Martha Stewart herself.

 

Martha Stewart

The offiical Poilâne site lists a number of recipes, for making and using some of the Poilâne bread and pastries.

 

Poilâne Bakeries

8 rue du Cherche-Midi, Paris 6th arrondissement
Tel. +33 (0) 1 45 48 42 59
 
49 bld de Grenelle, Paris 15th arrondissement
Tel. +33 (0) 1 45 79 11 49
Open on Sundays
 
38 rue Debelleyme, Paris 3rd arrondissement
Tel. +33 (0) 1 44 61 83 39
Open on Sundays
 
46 Elizabeth Street, London SW1W
Tel. +44 (0) 207 808 4910

 

 

To read more about the French Bread Revolution, see also (bilingual in French and English):

The Revolution of French Bread Baking (part 1), by Jean-Philippe de Tonnac

The Revolution of French Bread Baking (part 2), by Jean-Philippe de Tonnac

Book Review: Jean-Philippe de Tonnac’s “Dictionnaire Universel du Pain” or Universal Dictionary of Bread, by Jean-Philippe de Tonnac

The 7 Lives of Bread: Pascal Auriac, master bread baker in Laguiole, a hidden corner of France, by Jean-Philippe de Tonnac

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