My Food Bucket List

There are not many things that excite me more than food and travelling. I didn’t fully appreciate this until I tried to create a bucket list. Off I went jotting things down on the train one say into work, not thinking too much about it. It was only after I re-read my list that I couldn’t help but chuckle. So here I am, putting it out there into the universe (more like cyber space but I’ll take what I can get), in the hopes that in doing so at least one of them will come true.

 

  • Eat in a 3 michelin starred restaurant
  • Eat fresh beignets in New Orleans
  • Do a vinyard tour in Champagne, France
  • Try Southern Soul Food
  • Learn to play guitar
  • Eat pizza in Napoles
  • Visit New York
  • Visit Matchu Pitchu
  • Eat ceviche in Peru
  • Eat Sushi in Japan
  • Experience a street food market anywhere in Asia
  • Spend more time with my family
  • Spend the night in the savannah on a luxury safari camp
  • Visit a tea farm in Sri Lanka
  • See the Northern Lights
  • Run a Half Marathon without walking
  • Get fit and healthy again
  • Learn more about wine
  • Learn how to make chocolates
  • Own a tea set
  • Host a proper grown up tea party
  • Visit as many food markets as possible
  • Own my home
  • Share my passion about food with more people
  • Finish writing my book
  • Make a soufflé
  • Join a foodie club
  • Make as many of GBBO’s technical bakes as possible

 

Now let’s see how many I can accomplish before I turn 35! The problem is… the more I tick off… the more the list will grow I’m sure!

 

~ Dominique ~

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A Cake to Remember

Not so long ago we spent some time in the Tolouse area of France. So, for a week we indulged in foie gras, bread, eclairs, pastries and, generally speaking, good food and wine. But the one thing we ate that will forever remind me of our time there was this mini chocolate loaf called a Chocolate Moelleux.

It was the last day of our holiday and I walked into the little bakery in Lautrec, like we had done almost everyday that week, hoping to get some pasties for our last breakfast in France. I had already paid when a non descript chocolate cake caught my eye. So on a whim I bought it.

We only got the chance to eat it at the airport waiting for our plane. If we were still anywhere near that bakery I would have run up that hill to buy more!

Under the crispy top is cross between a chocolate fondant and moist fudge cake. The centre is not quite as running as a fondant but still quite wet and is by far the best chocolate cake I have ever eaten!

It has taken quite some time and quite a few tests but here is a recipe that I think comes quite close to that one.

Chocolate Moelleux

Makes one 20cm round cake.

Ingredients

  • 250g dark baking chocolate
  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 6 eggs
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 80g flour

Equipment

  • Cake Tin
  • Grease proof paper
  • Scale
  • Bowls
  • Whisk
  • Sieve
  • Spatula

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C fan, and line your cake tin with the grease proof paper.

Break the chocolate into pieces and melt along with the butter.

In a separate bowl whisk the eggs with the icing sugar until frothy. Add the melted chocolate and mix. Finally add the flour, mix well. Pour the mixture into your cake tin and bake for 20-25 minutes depending on your oven.

Once the cake is baked, let it cool inside the tin before removing. Once cooled, gently remove and place on a cake stand. 

If you aren’t serving right away wrap the cake in clingfilm and place in the fridge. Just remember to remove it about an hour before serving.

Sprinkle with icing sugar once you are ready to serve and enjoy.

Happy Baking!

~Dominique~

A French Christmas

Every Christmas Eve, or Reveillon de Noël, French families across the country gather to celebrate Christmas. And as is the case with many French traditions, food plays the starring role.
Their Christmas menu can vary from region to region and even family to family. There are, however, some staples which you will normally see in every household.
Christmas starts with a glass of champagne and a few amuse bouche (one of my favourite French creations). Anything from soup, tartlets and even snails are enjoyed.

For the starters, or l’entrée, a much loved French delicacy is served. Foie gras. It’s usually served with toast and enjoyed with a sweet wine; a very sweet Sauterne for example. Other favourites include oysters and smoked salmon.

Funnily enough the main dish, or Plat Principal, is the one that varies the most. The only commonality? It has to be roasted, whether it’s chapon (a castrated rooster), guinea fowl, turkey or lamb. The meat is usually stuffed with chestnuts (another French favourite) and served with vegetables. A glass of red wine rounds off this course nicely.

It wouldn’t be a French meal if there wasn’t a cheese course and of course, Christmas is no exception. A cheese board consists of 3 types of cheese: cow’s, sheep’s and goat’s. Keep your wine glass from the previous course to compliment the cheese.

And the pièce de résistance? A beautiful bûche de Noël to finish the meal. Accompanied, of course, by another glass of champagne.

Joyeux Noël!

~Dominique~

 

 

 

Petits Fours

When I think of petit four the first thing that comes to my mind are little cakes covered in icing. I never gave much thought to them until I discovered the world of fine dining…

The name “Petits Fours”, literally meaning small oven, comes from 19th century French bakers.

In the 1800’s, the bakers would have stone “cupboards” with a fire lit underneath. For obvious reasons there was only two heat settings; boiling hot known was “Grand Four” – or big oven – which was used to cook meats and vegetables, and cooling down known as “Petit Four”. This was when the fire was extinguished. As the ovens were made of stone they would retain the heat, at a lower temperature. This retained heat was used to cook more delicate pastries which then became known as petit four.

Types of Petits Fours
Petits fours are traditionally categorized into the following four types:

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Petits fours secs: These are dry cookies baked at a low temperature for a long time. Popular examples include sable beurre, palmiers, duchesses and macarons.

Petits fours glaces: Tiny cakes that are topped with marzipan and then enrobed in either fondant or chocolate. This type of petit four is usually elaborately decorated with intricate piping.

Petits fours frais: These petits fours are any small pastries that must be eaten the same day they are made because they lose significant quality the longer they sit. Examples include sponge cakes such as madeleines and financiers as well as cream-filled pastries like eclairs and tartlets.

Petits fours deguises: Desserts in this category consist of fresh or dried fruit that is dipped in a sweet coating such as chocolate or cooked sugar.

Amuse Bouche

An amuse bouche, which literally means to please one’s mouth, is a small savoury item which is served as an appetizer before a meal. In many restaurants these are also starting to become known as Chef’s Greetings.

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An amuse bouche is there to wow you as it showcases the chef’s skills and creativity. They are usually bite sized and can take on many forms. They are usually served in small bowls or as a sharing plate in the middle of the table. Individual spoons, glasses or dishes are also becoming more popular. Much to my delight they are becoming ever more elaborate and can feel like a course all on their own!

A few years ago you could only find these delectable treats in top end restaurants, but luckily for us, any restaurant who are after the coveted Michelin star will offer an array of amuse bouche to tickle your taste buds. It has also evolved from a pre dinner delight to pallet cleansing sorbets and pre dessert wonders. Cocktails are also starting to make their way onto the ever expanding delight that is an amuse bouche!

What’s in Season Now – Autumn

Autum is a time to layer up and enjoy crisp days watching the leaves change while clutching a hot cup of tea munching on pumpkin pie. Thoughts of autumn conjure up images of roast turkey, every squash under the sun and, by far my favourite, chestnuts. With Game season in full swing, this is what I will be eating now:

Fruit:

Apples

Blackberries

Cranberries

Damsons

Figs

Pears

Plums

Quince

Raspberries

Redcurrants

Vegetables:

Artichokes

Beetroot

Broccoli

Brussel Sprouts

Carrots

Celeriac

Celery

Courgettes

Fennel

Kale

Leek

Parsnips

Squash (Butternut, Marrow, Pumpkin)

Sweet Potaot

Swiss Chard

Tomato

Turnips

Wild Mushrooms

Meat, Game, Fish & Seafood:

Clams

Cod

Crab

Duck

Grouse

Guinea Fowl

Halibut

Hake

Herring

Lamb

Mackerel

Mallard

Monkfish

Mullet

Mussels

Oysters

Partridge

Pheasant

Plaice

Prawns & Shrimp

Rabbit (and Hare)

Sea Bream

Sole

Squid

Turkey

Venison

Whelks

Wild Sea Bass

Winkles

Wood Pigeon

Others:

Chestnuts

Chives

Coriander

Garlic

Parsley

Rosemary

Sage

Thyme

Walnuts

 

 

Vitality Run Hackney Half Marathon

Last Sunday morning Claire and I bravely put on our trainers and made our way to Hackney Marshes. I can honestly say we were not at all prepared for this race. Since Claire had seriously injured her ankle at the end of last year we dragged our heels when it came to starting our training plan. We pushed at getting our training done in 8 weeks; in what felt like we starting from square one. I was nervous from the moment I woke… I couldn’t believe for a second that we were supposed to run 13.1 miles, on the streets of Hackney, East London, on what turned out to be the hottest day of the year so far.

The feeling when we arrived at the race village was incredible. It’s the first time I have ever done such a huge event and I can’t even begin to explain the butterflies fluttering furiously in my stomach. I looked around at what seemed like a sea of fit runners, in more ways than one, and felt a little out of place.

We made our way to the start line, where we still waited about 20 minutes in what already felt like baking heat, before setting off. There were whoops and cheers from both the runners and the crowd as we did. It was going to be a good day. We set off quite fast. I think I was a bit caught up in the amazing atmosphere. Who knew the people of Hackney would be so incredibly supportive? From the people who sat outside their house, for what must have felt for hours for them too, spraying us down with water. There was even one lady  who was spritzing our faces with a trigger bottle. To the eager little children who were dotted along the route happily feeding or sugar cravings by feeding us skittles, gummy bears, jelly beans and fruit pastilles. Crowds of East Londoners lined the streets cheering us on somehow managing to energise. The organisers did really well keeping us cool and hydrated along the route and the amazing atmosphere created in the race village was electric. To St John’s Ambulance service a huge thank you for the absolutely fantastic job you did helping those who pushed a little too hard. If I take one thing away from this race is to know your limits and to respect the heat by the end of the course we saw a lot of runners needing medical attention.

But by far the best thing about the Vitality Run Hackney Half Marathon 2016 was that it pushed me further than anything has ever pushed me before! I might not have run the whole course, but after the 8th of May 2016 I would most definitely consider  myself a runner!!!

~Dominique~