Brioche with honey and nuts/Mucenici

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On March 9th, we are commemorating the holy forty martyrs of Sebaste.

In Romania, every 9th of March we prepare this kind of pastry, with honey and nuts, an 8 shape, called “mucenici”.

  • 500 g flour
  • 200 g milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 75 g sugar
  • 30 g fresh yeast
  • 10 g salt
  • 200 g butter (divided)

Prepare all the ingredients. Mix them all, except 100 g butter. Knead a soft and smooth dough and add the remaining softened butter.

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Allow to rise 2 hours, covered.

Divide dough in 100 g pieces, roll balls and let them proof 30 minutes, covered.

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Roll each ball into a 45 cm and shape an 8

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or:

Divide each ball into 2 and roll a 55cm rope, then braid them and shape the 8.

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Allow to proof 1,5 hours.

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Bake them for 20 minutes at 175°C.

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Syrup:

  • 250 g sugar
  • 250 g water
  • 200 g honey
  • 2 Tbs rose water

In a saucepan, mix the water and sugar and bring to a boil. Add rose water and honey and set aside.

Soak each hot pastry into cold syrup, for few seconds (do not let them too much, they will fall apart), then sprinkle nuts or pistachio on top.

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Apple tart tatin/Tarte tatin de Christophe Michalak

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  • 500 ml water
  • 500 g butter
  • 500 g sugar
  • 10 apples
  • 200 g sugar (for caramel)
  • ~200 g puff pastry
  • 250 g sweetened whipped cream
  • 150 g apricot/apple glaze

Using a rolling pin roll the puff pastry out to an circle, about 20 cm in diameter (or 26cm), the same size with your tart tin. Transfer to a cookie sheet lined with baking paper, dock it with a fork and refrigerate.

Put 1/3 of sugar into a saucepan, over a medium heat and leave it till the edges start to liquefy. Molten sugar is seriously hot!

Do not stir. Once there are larger patches of molten sugar, just swirl the pan, dragging the dry sugar into the wet, until even. Add again 1/3 of sugar and just swirl. Once melted, add the remaining sugar. Once you obtain a nice color, remove from heat. It will quickly turn darker, so pay attention. Burnt caramel is bitter.

Pour the caramel into your 20 cm tart tatin mold ( I used a 26 cm one) and coat it. Allow to cool.

Peel and core the apples. Cut into quarters.

Bring to a boil the water, sugar and butter. Add apples and poach them for 10 minutes. Remove them using a slotted spoon.

Arrange apples into your tart tatin mold, on top of caramel.

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Retrieve the chilled pastry from the refrigerator and place it on top of the apples, pinch the edges and lift the pastry up a bit, on the edges of the mold (this prevents it from shrinking when baked).

Bake for 30 minutes at 220℃, or until the dough is golden brown and crispy.

Place a serving platter upside down on top of the pastry and carefully flip the platter and the pan over. Let the tart fall gently out of the pan.
Slice tart into individual pieces and garnish with a dollop of Chantilly.

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Glaze it if you want.

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Delicious!

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Halloween ghosts and spiders – pumpkin, cranberries and pecan muffins

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Pumpkin muffins:

  • 150 g flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 100 g demerara sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 175 g pumpkin puree
  • 110 g butter
  • 50 g dried cranberries
  • 75 g chopped pecan

Directions:

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.

In another large bowl whisk melted butter, sugar, eggs, pumpkin.

Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and stir until completely combined.

Stir in chopped pecans and cranberries.

Scoop batter into cupcake pan, lined with paper liners.  Fill cups about 3/4 full.  (This batter perfectly makes 24 cupcakes).

Bake in a preheated oven at 180 C for 20- 25 minutes.

Let the cupcakes cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes.  Then transfer cupcakes to the wire rack and let cool completely.

Frost with chocolate ganache.

Chocolate ganache:

  • 500ml cream
  • 500g best quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped

Pour the cream into a medium pot and heat it until it is almost but not quite boiling. You’ll know it’s ready when bubbles start to form around the edge of the pot. Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is fully melted into the cream. Let cool.

Whisk forms peaks. Pipe on cupcakes.

You still need:

  • chocolate sprinkles/ vermicelli
  • liquorice
  • eyes
  • sugar paste

Ghosts: Let stand until ganache is set and decorate with sugar paste.

Spiders: Sprinkle chocolate on top.

Add the liquorice for the legs and the white frosting or jelly beans for the eyes.

 

 

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Homemade burger (buns & patties)

 

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HAMBURGER BUNS
Ingredients:

  • 70g butter
  • 70g powdered milk
  • 40g sugar
  • 42g fresh yeast
  • 350ml. water
  • 1egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 800g flour
  • 1,5 tsp salt
  • egg wash & sesame seeds

 

In a bowl mix powdered milk with sugar, warm water, yeast and melted butter and let it sit 10 minutes.

Add in flour, eggs and salt and knead a smooth and soft dough. Cover and let the dough rise in a warm spot until doubled in bulk, about an hour.

Dust your work surface with a little flour and turn out the risen dough on top. Then roll it out to a thickness of about 1 cm. Cut the dough, dipping the cutter (9,5 cm diameter) into flour as you go, and place the buns apart on 2 parchment lined baking sheets and let rise until they look puffy (20 minutes).

Brush with egg wash, sprinkle sesame seeds and bake them at 200°C, about 15 minutes.

 

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Grilled beef burger patties:

  • 500g beef mince
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • chopped fresh parsley
  • 50g breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan grated
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked
  • Salt & ground black pepper, to taste

Knead all the ingredients into meat to mix thoroughly.

Divide into portions, make patties.

Place each burger on fairly hot griddle and cook for 2-3min on each side, turning once.

 

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  •  hamburger buns, halved
  • cheddar cheese, thinly sliced, to serve
  •  ripe tomatoes, sliced, to serve
  • lettuce leaves
  • red onion, sliced

To serve, top the bottom halves of the toasted hamburger buns with the patties and then the cheese slices. Return the bottom bun halves under the grill for 1 minute or until the cheese is just melted. Top each with the sliced tomato, onion, and shredded lettuce, sprinkle with salt and pepper and then cover with the hamburger bun tops.

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Cookie crusted pistachio profiteroles/Choux sicilienne

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Short dough (to cover the choux):

  • 40g butter, softened
  • 50g sugar/cassonade
  • 50g flour
  • green food coloring

Mix well to combine.

Roll the dough out very thin, about 2mm. Let it set on the freezer.

 

Choux pastry/ pâte à choux:

  • 125 ml milk
  • 125 ml water
  • pinch of salt
  • 115g  butter, cubed
  • 175 g flour
  • ~ 5-6 eggs

Bring the water, cubed butter, sugar and salt to a boil in a saucepan, then add the flour all at once. Cook and dry the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly for about 30 seconds, until a tight dough forms and pulls away from the pan.

Change to another saucepan. When the dough is lukewarm, add the eggs, one at a time, stirring vigorously between additions. The dough should be thick, but should fall slowly and steadily from the beaters when you lift them out of the bowl. If the dough is still clinging to the beaters, add more egg and mix until incorporated. When the paddle is lifted the dough should form a bird’s beak.

Transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with an open star tip. Start piping on parchment paper,  well spaced, they grow. Keep the piping bag near vertical and just squeeze (~4,5 cm ).

With a small cookie cutter, about 3,5 cm, cut the short dough and top each chou.

Bake in the preheated 230-240°C oven for about 20 minutes,until they are well puffed and a deep golden colour. Do not open the oven the first 15 minutes while the dough puff up!

Cool completely.

I made 10 eclairs and 10 profiteroles with this choux pastry.

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Pistachio Chantilly cream (for 10 choux, about 7 cm ):

  • 320 g cream 35%
  • 160 g mascarpone
  • 80 g pistachio paste
  • 85 g caster sugar

To prepare pistachio Chantilly cream, mix heavy cream, mascarpone, pistachio paste and sugar and beat until stiff.

I prepared myself pistachio paste, grinding pistachio for a relatively long time, until become oily.

First they were reduced into crumbs, then a powder, then into a thick paste. (I did not previously coat them with caramel.)

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We still need:

  • 150 g raspberry jam, seedless
  • 50 raspberry (~5 raspberry for each chou)
  • 50 g crushed pistachio

 

Cut each chou at 3/4, spoon some jam on the bottom, arrange raspberries on the edge, pipe pistachio Chantilly cream, sprinkle some pistachio and top with the other part. (I cut the top using a 4 cm cookie cutter).

Dust with icing sugar.

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And here plain, with Chantilly cream:

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Mini Black forest cakes/Demis-gâteaux forêt-noire

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Cake ingredients:

  • 3x (28×24 cm) chocolate sponge cake
  • 750 g Chantilly cream
  • 500 g chocolate Chantilly cream
  • 350 g pitted sour cherries, morello
  • soaking syrup
  • dark chocolate shavings
  • spiral of dark chocolate
  • maraschino cherry

 

Sponge cake ingredients ( for 2  28×36 cm  sheet pans):

  • 280 g egg yolks (18 egg yolks)
  • 250 g egg whites (7-8)
  • 260 g sugar (200 g + 60 g)
  • 50 g flour
  • 50 g cornstarch
  • 50 g cocoa
  • 100 g butter

Beat yolks with 200 g of sugar until the mixture becomes significantly lighter in colour.

Whisk egg whites , fold in the remaining 60 g of sugar to stiffen.

Sift together the flour, cornstarch and cocoa powder. Melt the butter.

Add a part of egg whites into egg yolk mixture, as well as the flour mixture.

Gently fold in all the egg whites and the butter.

Pour the batter evenly into prepared pan sheets (or one 40×60 cm sheet pan), and bake at 180°C for about 10 minutes.
Flip onto a wire rack and cool completely.
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Chantilly cream ingredients:

  • 750 g heavy cream ( cream min 35%)
  • 120 g icing sugar
  • vanilla

Chill the cream, bowl and beaters in the freezer before starting.

Whisk the cream until soft peaks begin to form, add vanilla and icing sugar.

 

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Soaking syrup:
  • 1/2 cup sour cherry juice
  • 2 tablespoons kirsch
Drain sour cherries, reserving 1/2 cup juice.
Mix with kirsch.
Chocolate Chantilly cream:
  • 425g heavy cream
  • 75 g chocolate 53%
  • 1 Tbs sugar
Melt the chocolate with heavy cream, add sugar and mix very well to combine.
Refrigerate the mixture for about 5 hours or overnight. ( The cream should be cooled to 5 ° C. )
Just before using it, whip to soft peaks.
How to assemble the cake:
Cut away 1/3 of each sheet cake. Set aside.
To assemble, place one cake layer on cake plate. Brush  syrup (on each layer of your cake).  Spread with 1/3 of Chantilly cream, spread the  pitted sour cherry, top with 1/3 of Chantilly cream.  Top with second cake layer (the 2 pieces of 1/3), spread chocolate Chantilly cream.  Top with third cake layer. Refrigerate 2-3 hours.
Cut into rectangles.  Frost side of cake. Pat dark chocolate shavings onto Chantilly cream on side of cake. Spoon reserved Chantilly cream into pastry bag fitted with large round tip. Pipe the Chantilly cream on the top of cake.

Decorate with a maraschino cherry and a dark chocolate spiral.

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Chocolate tiramisù

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Happy children’s day!!!!

I indulged my kids today with this rich and delicious cake.

I wanted to try it from the moment I saw it at my dear Any.  Thank you Any!

There was no other better time than today to make it.

 

For a 23cm round cake:

Chocolate cream ingredients:

  • 45 g cocoa powder
  • 45 g caster sugar
  • 150 g milk
  • 100 g chocolate, min 60%
  • 50 g butter

Mix cocoa with sugar, add milk and boil in a small saucepan until thickens. Add in the chocolate and cubed butter.

Allow to cool.

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Mascarpone cream ingredients:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 15 g caster sugar
  • 120 g sugar syrup (85 g sugar+35 g water)
  • 500 g mascarpone
  • 175 g italian meringue

Mix egg yolks with sugar untill doubled in volume, add boiled syrup at 120C. Continue mixing until cools.

Add the creamed mascarpone and the chocolate cream cooled.

At the end, fold in the meringue.

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Italian meringue ingredients:

  • 2 egg whites
  •  175 g+ 15 g caster sugar
  • 50 g water

Bring the water and 175 g sugar to boil. When the syrup reach 110C, start beating whites with the remaining 15 g sugar.

Pour boiling syrup at 120C in a fine stream over whites, beating constantly. Continue beating until completely cool.

You still need:

  • 3-400 ml strong espresso, cooled (you can add also Marsala or any liquor you prefer)
  • 40 packaged ladyfingers
  • cocoa for dusting

Assembling :

In a small shallow dish, add espresso and Marsala if you are using.
Dip each ladyfinger into espresso for only 5 seconds. Letting the ladyfingers soak too long will cause them to fall apart. Place the soaked ladyfinger to form the first layer, breaking them in half if necessary in order to fit the bottom.
Reserve 1/4 cream in a piping bag.Spread evenly 1/2 of remaining mascarpone mixture over the ladyfingers.Arrange another layer of soaked ladyfingers and top with remaining mascarpone mixture. Arrange the third layer, spread a thin layer of mascarpone and pipe the rest of mixture on top.

Refrigerate overnight.
Before serving, dust with cocoa or chocolate shavings.
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This is really… pick me up…(italian tirami sù).

Eggs Benedict

This is Gordon’s recipe.

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Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 4 fresh eggs
  • 2 toasting muffins
  • 4 slices Parma/Serrano ham
  • hollandaise sauce

Hollandaise sauce ingredients:

  • 500ml white wine vinegar
  • peppercorn, ~1 tbsp
  •  tarragon
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 200ml melted and skimmed unsalted butter (from 250g butter)
  • squeeze lemon juice

Boil the vinegar together with peppercorns and tarragon, reduce by half. Strain and reserve. (Store in a bottle for next uses.)

Beat the egg yolks with 2 tsp reduced vinegar on bain-marie to get a sabayon (forms ribbons when the whisk is lifted).

Melt 250 g butter, remove the foam and separate from the liquid. Whisk the butter in the yolks, a little at a time, you’ll have a texture as thick as mayonnaise. Finally, whisk in lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste plus a little warm water from the pan if the mixture is too thick.

If the sauce mixture starts to ‘split’ or curdle, immediately scrape the mixture into a clean bowl and whisk in 1 tbsp ice-cold water, then continue whisking in the remaining butter just a ladleful at a time.

Reserve the sauce over bain-marie to keep it warm.

 

Split the muffins and toast them.

Bring the water to boil with vinegar in a deep saucepan.

Break the eggs into 4 separate small bowls.

Swirl the vinegared water briskly to form a vortex and slide in an egg (one at a time). It will curl round and set to a neat round shape. Cook for 3 mins, then remove with a slotted spoon.

Spread some sauce on each muffin, scrunch a slice of ham on top, then top with an egg. Spoon over the remaining hollandaise and serve at once.

They are absolutely delicious.

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How we celebrate Easter

Christ is Risen!

We usually celebrate each Easter with red dyed eggs, pascha- a traditional tart made in Eastern Orthodox countries, and sweet bread.

Each year I am trying something new…

This year: the Italian almond paste Easter lamb, the one of Favara, the belgian Craquelin, brioche Easter bunnies…

During the Easter festivities, in Puglia, almond paste takes the shape of lambs, a tradition that derives from Christian religion.

The use of the lamb as a paschal symbol is particularly widespread in the south of Italy. The most famous is that of Favara, in the province of Agrigento, Sicily, with its pistachio paste heart.

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Appetizers and finger-food buffet: cucumber & salmon mousse, rambol, grapes & pistachio truffles, Opera foie gras, porcini & chestnut soup, meatballs with pickled onions sauce, dyed Easter eggs:

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Tomato and mozzarella bites:

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Mini bavarese roquefort on dacquoise, Wiliams pear jam & pine nuts:

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Breadsticks with tuna sauce & prosciutto crudo:

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Artisan cheese platter:

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Focaccia-colomba salata:

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Snails in garlic-herb butter/Escargots à la Bourguignonne:

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Lemony lamb chops:

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Roast rack of lamb with apricot, pistachio and pecan:

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Easter nest bread and challah bread:

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Chocolate twist brioche:

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Craquelin with pearl sugar:

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Brioche Easter bunnies:

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Heavy cream pascha:

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Chocolate pascha:

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And our guest brought cheese pascha:

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Almond paste Easter lamb of Favara:

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Birds’ nest moka & vanilla cakes:

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Manon chocolates:

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Almond cookies:

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Easter nest bread/swallows’ nests/Nids d’hirondelles

 

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Ingredients:

  • 20 g fresh yeast (7 g dry yeast)
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 lg honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 6-8 painted eggs (boiled)
  • egg wash for brushing
  • salt
  • almonds/walnuts/sugar grains for decoration

Preferment:

Mix yeast, sugar, 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup warm milk, allow to rise 30 minutes.

Combine 3,5 cups flour, honey, the egg, melted butter and salt. Add preferment and 0,5 cup milk. Knead a smooth dough and let rise 1-2 hours, until doubled in bulk.

Knead again, cut in 6 pieces. Divide each piece in 6 or 3 strands and braid them, then form a wreath of each.

Arrange them in a baking sheet, on parchment. Brush the wreaths with egg-wash, sprinkle some almonds, or sugar grains, or any nuts.

Place a dyed Easter egg in the center of each wreath; or just a boiled egg and let the children to have fun painting them, when are ready.
Bake at 180°C for 30 minutes.
Or you can choose to bake the wreaths, then to place an Easter egg in the center of each wreath.

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Or you can shape each piece into a long strand, braid in two, without cutting the strand in 2, just form a loop. Pass the ends of the braided strand into the loop to form the nest.

 

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