Friday, April 17, 2015

French Fridays with Dorie - Pork Roast with Mangoes and Lychees

Today´s recipe for the French Fridays with Dorie group is Pork Roast with Mangoes and Lychees. A delicious treat on this lovely Spring day - with tons of flavor from the sauce and delightful sweetness from the fruits.

The recipe calls for pork loin roast but I opted for pork tenderloin instead. This is the eye fillet that comes from within the loin. It is a "lazy muscle" and as such is lean and very tender, It is very quick to cook but will soon dry out if overcooked. Remember to remove any tough white membrane or sinew from the outside of the loin before cooking. I browned the fillet first, then transferred it to a pre-heated oven for 15 minutes and then while the sauce reduced in the pan, let the meat rest, covered, then sliced thinly and served with the sauce and the fruit.

Dorie´s recipe call for two fruits to accompany the pork - lychees and mangoes. The lychee is a fruit that originated in China and is now grown in the Far East and the West Indies. In Europe, fresh lychees are only available from November to January, and they are most often sold canned, preserved in sugar syrup. So, although at this time of year no fresh lychees were to be found for this recipe, I used really good-quality, plump canned ones that Í drained prior to using.

Mangoes have a fragrant sweetness, rich flavor and succulent texture. The majority of Asian mangoes have a delicate skin and a short shelf life. They are at their best when enjoyed raw. For that reason, they are flown into Germany (mainly from India and Pakistan), so are more expensive. The thicker-skinned varieties are shipped in by sea year-round, they are more suitable for cooking and baking - and those are the ones I used in this recipe. They held their shape nicely, even in the sauce.

The sauce is a wonderful reduction of pan juices, onion, garlic, red wine vinegar, dry white wine, soy sauce, lime juice, local runny honey, piment d´Esplette (you can also use sweet Spanish smoked paprika here), bay leaf and thyme from the garden and then the added fruit - what a combination of bold flavors and what a success! Served with soba (buckwheat) noodles - this dish made us all very happy eaters!

To see whether the other members of the French Fridays with Dorie group enjoyed this week´s recipe, please go here.

For copyright reasons, we do not publish the recipes from the book. But you can find the recipe for the Pork Roast with Mangoes and Lychees on pages 278-9 in Dorie Greenspan´s cookbook "Around my French Table".

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Almond Cake with Fleur de Sel - Mandelkuchen mit Fleur de Sel

This is a recipe for an incredibly moist and nutty almond cake. If you are a devoted almond lover like me and appreciate the combination of sweet and salty in a dessert, this Almond Cake with Fleur de Sel is most definitely the right cake for you.
Hier mal ein Rezept für einen unglaublich saftigen, nussigen Mandelkuchen. Dieser Mandelkuchen mit Fleur de Sel ist für all diejenigen der richtige Kuchen, die nicht nur wie ich auch gerne Mandeln essen, aber auch die Kombination von süß und salzig schätzen.

The ground almonds in the batter as well as the coarsely chopped almonds in the topping lend a very agreeable sweetness to the cake. While, at the same time, the fine Fleur de Sel in the batter as well as the coarse Fleur de Sel in the topping lend a wonderful saltiness and crunch to the cake. The Ceylon cinnamon as well as the pure vanilla sugar harmonize so well with the taste of the almonds. And the light Muscovado sugar adds a taste of caramel. A memorable combination of flavors not to be missed! 
Die gemahlenen Mandeln im Teig und die gehackten Mandeln im Belag verleihen dem Kuchen eine angenehme Süße. Zugleich verleiht das feine Fleur de Sel im Teig und das grobe Fleur de Sel im Belag, dem Kuchen eine unvergleichlich angenehme salzige Note. Und der Ceylon Zimt und die Vanille harmonieren ganz wunderbar mit dem Geschmack der Mandeln. Und der helle Muscovado-Zucker hat eine leichte Karamellnote, die sich vorzüglich mit dem Fleur de Sel ergänzt. Geschmacklich einfach ein wunderbares Erlebnis.

If you need more convincing and to make things even more agreeable, you shoud know that this cake comes together in no time and requires a mere 45 minutes of baking time.
Zudem ist der Kuchenteig ist im Handumdrehen zusammengerührt und der Kuchen braucht weniger als eine Stunde Backzeit.

Almond Cake with Fleur de Sel

  • 75 grams unsalted butter, plus some for greasing the baking pan
  • 110 grams superfine baking sugar
  • 110 grams light Muscovado sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsps pure vanilla sugar
  • 3 eggs (M), free range or oragnic
  • 1 tbsp Amaretto or dark rum
  • 200 grams ground almonds, skins on or off*
  • 50 grams light spelt flour
  • 1 1/2 tsps  baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (preferably Ceylon cinnamon)
  • 1/2 tsp Fleur de Sel
  • 50 grams chopped natural almonds
  • 1/4 tsp Fleur de Sel
Mandelkuchen mit Fleur de Sel

  • 75 Gramm ungesalzene Butter, plus etwas für die Backform
  • 110 Gramm feinster Backzucker
  • 110 Gramm heller Muscovado Zucker
  • 1 ½  Bourbon Vanillezucker
  • 3 Eier (M), Freiland oder Bio
  • 1 EL Amaretto oder Rum
  • 200 Gramm gemahlene Mandeln, ohne Haut* oder mit
  • 50 Gramm helles Dinkelmehl (Type 630)
  • 1 ½ TL Backpulver
  • ½ TL Ceylon Zimt
  • ½  TL Fleur de Sel
  • 50 Gramm ganze Mandeln mit Haut, grob gehackt 
  • ¼  TL Fleur de Sel

In addition
  • a springform or round baking pan (24-26 cm)
  • baking parchment
  • Springform 24-26 cm
  • Backpapier

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180° Celsius or 365 ° Fahrenheit.
  2. Using a pastry brush, lightly butter the cake pan and line with baking parchment.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt the butter on medium heat, take off the heat.
  4. Add the melted butter to a mixing bowl, then add the baking sugar, Muscovado sugar and vanilla sugar to the same bowl and mix all the ingredients together.
  5. Add the eggs, one after the other, making sure to stir the batter after each egg.
  6. Then add the Amaretto or dark rum and stir again.
  7. In another mixing bowl, mix together the ground almonds, the spelt flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and the fine Fleur de Sel.
  8. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir everything together.
  9. Finally, add the batter to the prepared baking pan and top with the coarsely chopped almonds as well as the coarse Fleur de Sel.
  10. Bake the cake for about 45 minutes. The cake is done when a wooden skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out with no doughy crumbs attached.
  11. Take the cake out of the oven and let it rest for a few minutes, then with the help of the baking parchment, lift it out of the cake pan and transfer it to a cooling rack. *NOTE: To blanch the almonds and remove their skins, place the almonds in a bowl. Pour boiling water to barely cover the almonds. Let the almonds sit for about one minute. Drain, rinse under cold water, and drain again. Pat dry and using your fingers slip the skins off. If you would like to remove the skins from a whole bunch of almonds at the same time, you can also use a clean tea towel to rub the skins off the almonds after you blanched them and rinsed them under cold water.

  1. Den Backofen auf 180° Celsius vorheizen.
  2. Die Springform mit etwas Butter ausstreichen und mit Backpapier auslegen.
  3. In einem kleinen Topf auf mittlerer Hitze die Butter schmelzen, dann vom Herd nehmen.
  4. Die geschmolzene Butter in eine mittlere Rührschüssel geben und den Backzucker, Muscovado-Zucker und den Vanillezucker mit einrühren.
  5. Die Eier nacheinander ebenfalls unterrühren.
  6. Den Amaretto oder Rum unterrühren.
  7. In einer weiteren Schüssel die gemahlenen Mandeln, das Dinkelmehl, Backpulver, Zimt und das feine Fleur de Sel mischen.
  8. Die Mehlmischung auf die Eier-Zucker-Mischung geben und alles zu einem Teig verrühren.
  9. In die vorbereitete Backform füllen und mit den gehackten Mandeln sowie dem groben Fleur de Sel bestreuen.
  10. Den Kuchen in zirka 45 Minuten backen. Der Kuchen ist fertig, wenn an einem Holzstäbchen, das man in die Mitte des Kuchens sticht, keine klebrigen Teigrückstände mehr haften bleiben.
  11. Den Kuchen aus dem Ofen nehmen und einige Minuten ruhen lassen, dann aus der Form nehmen und auf einem Kuchengitter abkühlen lassen. *TIPP: Zum Mandeln häuten die Mandelkerne kurz in kochendem Wasser blanchieren. Die blanchierten Mandelkerne kalt abschrecken. Nach dem Blanchieren die Kerne mit den Fingern nun ganz einfach aus ihrer Haut drücken. Möchten man größere Mengen Mandeln häuten, gibt man die blanchierten und abgeschreckten Kerne in ein Küchentuch, dann zum Mandeln häuten im Tuch kräftig durchkneten und die Haut entfernen..

If you enjoy snacking on salted almonds, you can also substitute the coarsely chopped natural almonds that my recipe calls for in the topping with chopped salted almonds instead - just remember to omit the coarse Fleur de Sel from the topping then.
Wer gerne Salzmandeln mag, kann auch diese anstatt der herkömmlichen Mandeln grob hacken und vor dem Backen auf dem Kuchen verteilen. In diesem Fall sollte man dann allerdings das Fleur de Sel auf dem Belag weglassen.

This cake is a fabulous dessert cake, especially if you serve it while still slightly warm. Or enjoy it with a cup of tea or coffee in the afternoon. It is best eaten without whipped cream or ice cream on the side - just enjoy it plain - that´s when it is at its best, giving you a chance to truly savor the different components of this cake, the sweetness of the almonds, the warmth of the vanilla and the cinnamon and the hint of caramel from the Muscovado sugar.
Dieser Kuchen ist eine tolle Nachspeise, vor allem, wenn er noch leicht warm serviert wird. Oder man genießt ihn am Nachmittag mit einer Tasse Kaffee oder Tee. Am besten dann auch ohne Sahne oder Vanilleies, so schmeckt der Kuchen einfach am besten und man kann die einzelnen Geschmacks-Komponenten des Kuchens am besten genießen - die Süße der Mandeln, die Wärme des Zimts und der Vanille und die Karamel-Note des Muscovado Zuckers.

The combination of sweet and salty is unbeatable - this Almond Cake with Fleur de Sel is truly a must-bake recipe, you know that you can trust me on this one!
Die Kombination süß-salzig schmeckt einfach fantastisch. Diesen Mandelkuchen mit Fleur de Sel sollte man auf jeden Fall einmal ausprobieren.

Friday, April 3, 2015

French Fridays with Dorie - Waffles & Cream with Homemade Egg Liqueur

Today´s recipe for the French Fridays with Dorie group is Waffles & Cream – Dorie´s recipe is a really good recipe for delicious waffles, specially for one of those fancy waffle irons. You'll need a waffle iron to make these warm, crispy waffles.

If you wanted to describe a waffle, you could say that it is a „batter baked between two hot irons marked with indentations, producing a crisp plain cake or flatbread with deep ridges on each side and a soft aerated interior“ (DL) – sounds rather amusing but I love that description.

Waffles are typically served with butter, maple syrup or other sweet or even savory toppings. Typical ingredients for the waffle batter include wheat flour, butter, milk, salt, sugar and egg.

When making homemade waffles, it is always important to remember not to over-enrich the batter with too much fat, sugar or egg as the waffles can color too quickly and turn soft soon after baking. As a rule, you should use plain flour rather than bread flour to help produce a light and crisp result and keep egg, sugar and cream to a minimum. The toppings used will accentuate the sweet or savory characteristics of the waffle.

We live in a country of devoted waffle lovers. Therefore, I own serveral waffle irons, for very pretty heart-shaped or shell-shaped waffles. I also count a rather fancy Belgian waffle maker among my true kitchen treasures. I love my waffle irons – if you haven’t got one, put it on your birthday wishlist!

We usually eat waffles in the afternoon, dusted with confectioners´ sugar and may be some lightly whipped cream on the side. Never as a breakfast meal. When we visit the Netherlands or Belgium, there is always the aroma of freshly-baked waffles in the air – you can order them all day long at coffee shops and cafés and specialty food trucks and choose between plain ones or the ones with cream and fruits piled high, or warm chocolate or caramel sauce. Always such a treat.

And classically, Belgian-style waffles are yeasted waffles, they are crispy on the outside and soft and light on the inside. We love the yeasty flavors and aroma.

Dorie´s recipe also hails from a Belgian chef living in Paris. This is a recipe with only a few ingredients, namely butter, milk, flour, sugar, salt, vanilla and egg whites – alas, no yeast in sight. Still delicious and very easy to whip up.

And even more wonderful when served with softly-whipped cream as well as some Homemade Egg Liqueur (Eierlikör) that I made this morning. In Germany, egg liqueur is mostly consumed during Easter and Christmas, but available year-round.  It has a rich, creamy, custard-like flavor and makes a great topping for everything from ice cream to rice puddings, vanilla custards and can also be used in preparing cakes. Eierlikör tastes best right out of the fridge and when kept there, stays good for a few weeks.

Vanilla Egg Liqueur – Vanille-Eierlikör
(for all those adult taste testers)

(Makes 500 ml)
  • 5 very fresh egg yolks, use M or L (buy the very best organic eggs you can find) 
  • 125 gram confectioners´ sugar (sifted)
  • a pinch of fine sea salt
  • one fresh vanilla bean (preferably a Madagascar vanilla bean)
  • 100 ml vodka (or rum)
  • 200 grams cream or half-and-half 

  1. Sterilize the bottle that you are using to store the egg liqueur.
  2. In the bowl of your mixer add the egg yolks, the confectioners´sugar and the salt and mix on high speed for about ten minutes. - NOTE: you can use the egg whites to bake my Coconut Easter Lamb Cake, for my recipe, please go here.
  3. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add the scraped seeds to the egg mixture together with the vodka (or rum) and cream.- NOTE: make sure to keep the scraped vanilla bean to make Homemade Vanilla Sugar, for my recipe, please go here.
  4. Mix for another ten minutes and laddle into to prepared bottle (or use a suitable funnel).
  5. Refrigerate overnight for best taste - NOTE: Egg liqueur doesn’t keep as well as most other liqueurs do. Keep an unopened bottle no longer than a few months and make sure to consume an opened bottle as quickly as possible. Once opened, store in the fridge.

Waffles are always a huge hit at our house - these were no exception - served dusted with confectioners´ sugar and whipped cream to the younger and very eager taste testers and for the adult ones with a bit of that Homemade Egg Liqueur. What a treat on a Friday afternoon during Easter vacation. In general, frozen waffles are easy to use as they can be placed in the toaster and simply reheated (unless, of course, they come with a wooden stick attached and unless, of course, you never ever have leftover waffles).

I wish to take this opportunity to wish all my readers a Very Happy Easter! - Frohe Ostern! - Joyeuses Pâques!

To see whether the other members of the French Fridays with Dorie group enjoyed this week´s recipe, please go here.

For copyright reasons, we do not publish the recipes from the book. But you can find the recipe for the Waffles & Cream on pages 416-17 in Dorie Greenspan´s cookbook "Around my French Table".

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Cottage Cooking Club - Three Green March Recipes

March marks the eleventh month of our international online cooking group, The Cottage Cooking Club. As a group, recipe by recipe, we are cooking and learning our way through a wonderful vegetable cookbook written in 2011 by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, called „River Cottage Everyday Veg“.

The Cottage Cooking Club is meant to be a project aimed at incorporating more vegetable dishes into our everyday cooking, learning about less known, forgotten or heritage vegetables, trying out  new ways to prepare tasty and healthy dishes, and sharing them with family and friends.

The month of March was our Make-up Month, giving all the members of The Cottage Cooking Club the opportunity to re-visit one or more recipes that they truly enjoyed preparing in the past, as well as, or, to prepare some of the dishes that they meant to prepare in the months before but did not get a chance to do so. - This is my small selection of green dishes for the month of March!

There are not a lot of dishes that I did not make before and some of the vegetables are not seasonal right now, so for my first of the three green recipes, I took the opportunity to prepare something that the kids fell head-over-heels for when I made it for the first time last month, the Cheesy peasy puff turnover (page 220) from the chapter „Store-Cupboard Suppers“ with peas and grated and melted cheese. Ever since I made some of the recipes from this wonderful book that call for ready-made puff pastry, I always make sure to have some in the fridge, always.

In order to change things up, this time I made the turnovers with spinach, ramson aka wild garlic (we even have some growing in our garden) and locally produced goat´s  cheese. I came across this amazing cheesemaker who produces artisan, fresh goat cheese a while back and have been going to the cute goat farm ever since. The kids visit the goats while I shop. Who could ask for more.

This version was delicious and it was liked even a bit better by all my devoted taste testers including myself – just showing how versatile the recipes from this book are.

My second recipe was our very favorite salad recipe from the book, the Broccoli salad with asian-style dressing page 316) from the chapter "Mezze & Tapas".

This is broccoli served at its best. With a delightfully fresh dressing of freshly grated ginger, young garlic, rice vinegar, soy sauce and toasted sesame oil, sesame seeds and fresh chives - plus the very first fresh peas of the season (that I steamed together with the broccoli florets) - this was a true spring time treat - we love, love this salad with variations as well. And who could resist adding those sweet fresh peas to the mix - they harmonize so well with the broccoli.

One of the dishes that I am particularly fond of, is also the third one I made again now, the Pasta with greens, garlic and chilli (page 261) from the chapter "Pasta & Rice". I keep repeating that any student should know how to make this. Toss in some slightly wilted spring arugula instead of the winter kale or Savoy cabbage and you will effortlessly have turned a winter pasta dish into a springtime pasta. Such a breeze to prepare with shallots, garlic chilli, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Finish with shaving of your favorite hard cheese to add saltiness. And do not forget to use a fun-shaped pasta, such as the so-called ufo pasta that I used this time. Using different shapes of pasta for the same recipes is always a good idea - keeps all those hungry eateres interested and curious.

Many, many other recipes have become regulars (if I may say so) at our lunches and dinners -  the Spelt salad with squash and fennel (page 72), the Fennel and goat´s cheese (page 102), the Puy lentil and spinach soup (page 162), the Magic bread dough (pages 172-74), the Tomato, thyme and goat´s cheese tart (page 216), the Mushroom risoniotto (page 258), and the Stir-fried cauliflower (page 376) - also top the list – to name but a few.

Please note, that for copyright reasons, we do NOT publish the recipes. If you enjoy the recipes in our series, hopefully, the wonderfully talented and enthusiastic members of The Cottage Cooking Club and their wonderful posts can convince you to get a copy of this lovely book. Better yet, do make sure to join us in this cooking adventure! There is still time, we are „only“ half-way through this amazing book!

For more information on the participation rules, please go here.

To see which wonderful dishes the other members of The Cottage Cooking Club prepared during the month of March, please go here.

Friday, March 20, 2015

French Fridays with Dorie - Côte d`Azur Cure-all Soup

Today´s recipe for the French Fridays with Dorie group is Côte d`Azur Cure-all Soup, a classic Southern-French healing dish, a soup with egg yolks and lots of garlic. According to Dorie, the basis for this soup is either water or chicken broth. I chose to make a chicken broth. The secret to good chicken soup is oftentimes fiercely guarded, and everyone has their own version. It has a smell that gives us a hit of nostalgia and makes us feel instantly comforted. But there is more to it than nostalgia, though. Broths made from bones are a good source of amino acids, important for bosting our immune systems.

The second step in this recipe is to toss a whole head of garlic (cut into very thin slices) into your stock pot, then add a bouquet garni (fresh sage, bay leaf and thyme) and the chicken soup and let everything simmer along for a good thirty minutes. Then stir together farm fresh egg yolks (about five or six of them) as well as finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano and gradually whisk the egg mixture into your soup.

Everybody loves a warming bowl of soup to pick you up in winter or early spring and, speaking of nostalgia, this soup definitely reminds me of one of my favorite soups of my childhood – sans the garlic though. As a child, I loved to eat chicken soup with an egg yolk – it would always be served piping hot and with the yolk still intact and I loved stirring the yolk into the soup and enjoying the delicious results.

Instead of adding all the thinly sliced garlic to the simmering stock, though, I decided to fry some of the slices in a mild olive oil and added the Garlic Chips with Sea Salt as the garnish to the finished soup – made the soup look nice and added a welcome bit of crunch.

To make this a delicious as well as a satisfying lunch, I also decided to bake some Ramson-Potato-Buns. The dough is made with baked potatoes, farm fresh, thick buttermilk and fresh yeast. I found the first ramson (also known as wild garlic) this week and every year I use as much of it as reasonably possible in my recipes. This seasonal ingredient gives off an incredibly pungent smell in the wild. Unlike common cultivated garlic, it's the leaves that are eaten rather than the bulbs. The taste is more delicate too, similar to the flavor of chives. My favorite dish to create with those lovely dark green leaves is a Ramson and Spring Herb Salad. But I also love to use ransom in my baking and those rolls harmonized so well with this Côte d`Azur Cure-all Soup

There is definitely something restorative and satisfying about this Côte d`Azur Cure-all Soup. It is like nostalgia in a bowl and magic medicine at the same time and we all enjoyed it.

To see whether the other members of the French Fridays with Dorie group enjoyed this week´s recipe, please go here.

For copyright reasons, we do not publish the recipes from the book. But you can find the recipe for this Côte d`Azur Cure-all Soup on pages 70-71 in Dorie Greenspan´s cookbook "Around my French Table".

Ramson-Potato Buns

Ingredients for the Dough

250 grams potatoes (about 2 medium)
250 grams AP (plain) flour, plus some for the work surface
a pinch of fine sea salt
1 tsp sugar
20 grams fresh yeast (or 2 1/2 tsp dry yeast)*
100 ml buttermilk

*2+1/2 tsp (one package) active dry yeast = 18 gm cake fresh yeast
-Carol Field, "The Italian Baker"

Ingredients for the Ramson Butter Filling

100 grams fresh ramson leaves, washed and dried
80 grams soft, unsalted butter
a pinch of fine sea salt

For the glaze

1 egg (M), free range or organic


a muffin tray for 12 muffins
12 paper liners


1. Wrap two potatoes in baking paper, then in aluminium foil and then bake in a pre-heated oven at 160 degrees Celsius/320 degrees Fahrenheit until tender when pierced with a fork (depending on the size of the potatoes, this can take up to one hour). Peel the potatoes while still hot and using a potato ricer (or simply a fork) mash them.
2. In a bowl, mix together the 250 grams flour, salt and sugar. Add the crumbled yeast (or the dry yeast) and the buttermilk and stir well. Add the mashed potatoes to the flour mixture and using the dough hooks of your stand mixer, mix the dough until it comes together. If the dough is extremely sticky, add a bit of flour. Then cover the dough with saran wrap while preparing the ramson butter.
3. Take the stems off the ramson and chop. Mix together the chopped ramson, butter and salt.
4. Line the muffin tray with the paper liners. Knead the dough on your well-floured work surface and roll out to about 30 x 40 cm (11.8 x 15.7 inches). Using an offset spatula, spread the ramson butter across the dough, leaving a border. Roll the dough up from the long side facing you. Cut into 12 slices. Add the slices to the muffin liners. Cover with saran wrap and let rest for about 25 minutes in a warm spot.
5. Using a fork, mix the egg and using a soft pastry brush, brush the buns with the egg.
6. Bake the buns in a pre-heated oven (220 degrees Celsius/425 degrees Fahrenheit) for about 15 to 18 minutes.
7. Cool for a few minutes on a wire rack and enjoy while still warm.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Vanilla Bean Petticoat Tails Shortbread

This rather dainty looking Shortbread is called Petticoat Tails Shortbread, a large disc of shortbread with a decorated edge and cut into elegant triangles. The texture is rich and buttery with a distinct vanilla flavor. It is not too sweet and has the most delightful pale yellow hue from the cornmeal that is used for making the dough. Let us not forget that it is ideal for sharing and perfect to compliment tea, whether you enjoy black, green or herbal tea.

The Petticoat Tails Shortbread is said to gain its distinctive shape and name by resembling the pieces of fabric used to create the elaborate petticoats of the 12th century – including that of Mary Queen of Scots. Other sources suggest that the name could derive from the French petits cotés, a type of pointed biscuit that was eaten dipped in sweet wine, or the old French term for little cakes, petites gastelles. Personally, I prefer the more romantic idea of the petticoats and the lacy fabric they were made of.

Whatever the real source of the name, they are definitely a perennial favorite and Mary, Queen of Scots was reputed to have been particularly fond of these buttery cookies.

The Petticoat Tails Shortbread is very easy to make. I decided to add a nice dose of pure vanilla flavor to the dough. To give your shortbread that extra bit of wonderful flavor, you can either use the scraped seeds of a vanilla bean or you use that wonderful vanilla bean paste – it works equally well. Other than that, all you need is caster sugar, real good quality butter (use either unsalted or salted butter. If you chose to use salted butter, then you have to skip the salt in the dough) and flour (I like to use white spelt flour for these but you can use regular wheat flour). All that is left to do after making the easy dough is to roll it out, trim it and shape it. The only other important thing to remember is to make sure that once the dough is cut and shaped, it should be chilled for about thirty minutes before you bake it, that way, it will keep its distincive pattern and shape.

Having made this Shortbread more times than I care to remember, I know that the shaped dough can easily be kept in the fridge for a day or two – just make sure to cover it well with cling wrap. Then, it can be baked fresh on the day you plan to serve it – pretty convenient if you ask me.

Vanilla Bean Petticoat Tails Shortbread

  • 250 grams really good quality unsalted butter, softened (OR use salted butter, then skip the additonal salt)
  • 100 grams caster (superfine baking) sugar
  • scraped seeds from a vanilla bean from Madagascar or Hawaii, if possible
    (keep the pod for making vanilla sugar*) OR you could use 1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste instead
  • 250 grams white spelt flour (OR use regular wheat flour), plus a little extra for rolling out the dough
  • 100 grams fine corn flour (not corn starch and not polenta), also know as corn meal (finely ground)
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • icing sugar, for dusting

Equipment needed
  • baking sheet
  • baking parchment 
  • wooden skewer or fork
  • lace doily
  • small sieve

  1. Scrape the insides from a vanilla bean into a large mixing bowl.
  2. In same bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. OR put the butter, sugar and scraped seeds of a vanilla bean in a food processor and whizz until pale and creamy OR rub the butter and sugar by hand, then add the seeds of the vanilla bean.
  3. Add the flour, corn flour and salt, and beat until mixture is well combined. OR pulse until the mixture clumps together into small pieces.
  4. Tip onto a lightly floured work surface and bring the dough together as a ball – take care not to overwork the dough.
  5. Roll the dough to a 25cm circle, about 1cm thick. Trim around a large plate to give a really neat edge.
  6. Transfer to a large baking sheet lined with baking parchment.
  7. Use two fingers to crimp all the way around the edge of the dough then, using a fork or wooden skewer, mark dotted lines to portion the shortbread into 8 wedges.
  8. Cover the prepared dough loosely with cling wrap.
  9. Place the baking sheet in the fridge and chill for at least thirty minutes and up to a day.
  10. When you are ready to bake the shortbread, pre-heat your oven to 180° Celsius (160° Celsius for convection ovens).
  11. Bake the shortbread for about 25 minutes or until golden and cooked through.
  12. Leave to cool completely on the baking sheet or the shortbread will break.
  13. To decorate, place a lace doily over the shortbread and using a small sieve, dust with a generous layer of icing sugar. Pull the doily away to reveal the beautiful lacy pattern. Keep in a cookie tin or glass container for up to five days (after a few days, the vanilla taste will lessen but I seriously doubt, that it will last for a few days anyways.)

I truly love the smart decoration technique for this classic tea time treat, namely to use a doily to dust on a pretty lace pattern in icing sugar.

This rich home-baked treat is a real crowd-pleaser. It is a not too sweet, melt in the mouth shortbread that goes perfectly with that cup of tea in the afternoon. Or maybe serve it with fresh seasonal fruits and berries or that homemade ice cream.

I always have a soft spot for baked goods that have a bit of a story to them. It is lovely to think that there is tradition and history in what we are eating and sharing with our family and friends.

*Homemade Vanilla Sugar

Since Pure Vanilla Sugar can be a bit difficult to find in stores it might be best to make your own and keep it in a jar. It has an almost indefinite shelf life and the taste is worth the little effort it takes to make your own. You can add it to your baked goods by simply substituting vanilla extract by vanilla sugar.

  • caster (superfine baking) sugar - you can use one cup or more
  • one vanilla bean (from Madagascar or Hawaii)

Put the sugar in a glass jar and split the length of the vanilla bean and cut into sections (leave the seeds in OR use scraped vanilla beans for baking these lovely Vanilla Bean Petticaot Tails). Place the sections into the sugar. Shake, cover and store in a cool and dark place for about two weeks before using.


Friday, March 13, 2015

French Fridays with Dorie - Veal Marengo

Today´s recipe for the French Fridays with Dorie group is Veal Marengo, a hearty veal stew from Provence with tomatoes, mushrooms, olive oil and herbs.

Oftentimes, French cuisine is full of myths and fables. Classic recipes frequently have disputed origins, as with this dish, named „Marengo“, after the June 14, 1800, Battle of Marengo in northern Italy between French forces under Napoleon Bonaparte and Austrian forces. Napoleon wanted a celebratory meal and legend has it that Napoleon’s cook, a Swiss chef named Dunand, the son of a chef for the Prince of Condé in France, assembled some meagre provisions available to him in his battlefield kitchen. Blessed with boundless talent, the cook created a dish of chicken, tomatoes, craw fish, eggs and water and presented it to the famous Commander after the decisive clash. Napoleon liked it so much that he demanded to eat the dish after each and every victory.

Some writers suggest that over the years, Chef Dunand replaced the chicken with veal, dropped the crayfish, fried eggs and toasted bread and added mushrooms and wine. Be that as it may, Dorie´s recipe which is based on a recipe from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, calls for veal shoulder, onions, tomatoes, white wine, bouquet garni, cipolline, mushrooms and baby potatoes to serve.

For today´s recipe you have to toss cubed boneless veal shoulder in well-seasoned flour to coat. Then in a lovely cocotte, heat oil over medium-high heat and brown the veal cubes. Transfer the browned veal to a plate. In the same cocotte, over medium-high heat, cook onion, tomato paste and tomatoes. Add white wine and a nice bouquet garni (fresh thyme, parsley, rosemary and and a bay leaf). Add the veal back to the cocotte, season with freshly ground black pepper and some sea salt, cover and cook on low for about 30 minutes. In the meantime you cook the pearl onions (since I could not find those, I used French shallots instead  and mushroms (I used baby portabellas) separately. Do not forget to boil some nice, small potatoes in the meantime. To serve, add all the cooked components to your plate and serve the boiled potatoes alongside.

Instead of adding the chopped Italian parsley to the veal stew, I tossed the small potaoes in parsley-chive butter – my grand-mother used to serve potatoes this way and I have a soft spot for serving spuds prepared the same way she did as these simple potatoes are a delicious accompaniment to hearty stews like this Veal Marengo.

For Parsley-Chive-Potatoes you simply put the unpeeled potatoes in a large pot and add water to cover the potatoes by 2 inches. Season the water with salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the potatoes are tender when pierced, about 10 to 12 minutes, depending on their size and weight. Drain the potatoes well, peel and transfer to a serving bowl. Add the butter, chopped parsley as well as chives and carefully toss to coat. Serve immediately while still nice and hot.

We all loved, loved this stew and the kids could not get enough of it – absolutely delicious. Tender meat, very tasty sauce with lots of mushrooms and shallots, just the way we like it. A celebratory dish indeed, it is rich and tasty and would also be perfect for a dinner party.

And what better recipe than this one to show off my new, absolutely beautiful, show-stopper of a bright red cocotte from Staub Germany that I just received last week!!! Thanks so much to the kind folks at Staub!!!

To see whether the other members of the French Fridays with Dorie group enjoyed this week´s recipe, please go here.

For copyright reasons, we do not publish the recipes from the book. But you can find the recipe for “Veal Marengo “ on pages 264-66 in Dorie Greenspan´s cookbook "Around my French Table".