Choux à la crème

Choux à la crème, which is the fancy way to say puff pastry in french, is very much self-explanatory, “Choux” is a pastry made with only butter, flour, egg and water with no rising agent, it uses its high moisture content to create steam during cooking to puff the pastry, and we all know what “crème” is. This makes about 8 puffs or choux

You’ll Nedd:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs

How to make this:

  1. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, add butter, sugar, salt and 1 cup water and bring it to a boil while quickly and gently fold in the flour with a spoon or silicone spatula, mix for about 2-3 min
  2. Let the mixture chill in a separate bowl, then add the 4 eggs, one at a time while stirring the mixture to incorporate egg
  3. Add the mixture to a pastry bag and pipe 2-inch wide circles onto a silicone mat or parchment paper, smooth the pointed peaks with a wet finger. Then bake it in a 190C or 375F oven until puffs rise and are golden brown, which takes about 30 mins.
  4. Let the puff chill completely before piping, you can add pastry cream to a pastry bag and insert the tip into the bottom of the pastry, or cut it in half like I did and pipe on the cream
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Blanquette de Veau

If there’s a dish that screams French, it’s the Blanquette, a white, creamy sauce made with veal broth and a range of classic French herbs. The creamy sauce is made with both a roux and using cream reduction technic, so, just be ready for the amount of fat that’s going to be in this dish. Also, since the blanquette is a ragout of white meat, so if you can’t find veal, you can also use lamb, chicken, and even fish. This recipe serves about 3-4.

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You’ll Need:

  • 2 lb veal shoulder
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 carrot
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 bouquet garni (4 stem thyme, 8 stem parsley and 1 bay leaf tied with twine)
  • 10-15 pearl onions
  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 lb white mushrooms
  • 1/2 tbsp white pepper
  • 3 large egg yolks

How to make this:

  1. Blanch the veal first to get rid of all blood, cut them into 1-inch cubes, then cover the veal with cold water, bring to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes, then drain the veal and rinse it under cold water
  2. Add the veal to a heavy duty pot with 8 the stock, then add the onion, carrot, garlic and bouquet garni and season with salt, bring to a simmer, cover partially and simmer over medium heat for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Save the veal and broth, you can save the aromatics, but they are usually discarded
  3. In a separate saucepan, blanch the pearl onions for 30 seconds. Drain and transfer to a bowl of ice water, then, trim the roots and peel the onions. Then, cook the onion in 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 tbsp butter for about 30 min
  4. Melt the butter over low heat, add the flour and whisk until bubbling. Then add the veal broth and bring to a simmer, whisking constantly until it thickens. Then add the mushrooms, season with salt and white pepper and simmer over low heat for another 10 minutes, add in the veal and cover
  5. Heat up the cream in a small saucepan over low heat, and stop heat right before it simmers, then whisk the yolks with 1/4 of the cream add to it every time. Stir the cream-yolk mixture into the stew and let it reach simmer, then stop heating
  6. Sprinkle with some chopped parsley, serve it with some potato, noodle, rice or bread

Chocolate Macarons

When you see these little almond cookies and how overpriced they are, you would think that they must be hard to make, but to be honest, they are not! And here’s how:

You’ll need: 100 g powdered sugar; 50 g super fine almond flour; 25 g cocoa powder; 2 egg’s whites; 65 g granulated sugar

How to make this:

  1. Mix the powdered sugar, almond flour, and cocoa powder, then sift them at least twice, you want them to be as fine as possible
  2. Whip the egg white into a meringue, add 1/4 of sugar for every 1 min of whipping, let the egg to reach room temp for easier whippingmeringue.gif
  3. Fold the powder mix into the meringue, careful, try not to push out the airwhip.gif
  4. Add the mixture into a piping bag, then pipe them into small circles over parchment paper or silicon sheet, then bake them in a 175C or 350F for 12 minPhoto Feb 24, 11 46 57 PM.jpg
  5. Let the cookies cool, the decorate any way you want, I use a basic vanilla pastry cream.

Crème Brûlée

This is just the perfect dessert, silky & tender egg custard with a crunchy sugar shell. I am just going to stop talking and let’s make this. This recipe makes about 6 serving.

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You’ll need:

  • 1 qt heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean( or 3 tbsp vanilla extract)
  • 8 tbsp sugar
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp sugar (for serving)

How to make this:

  1. Halved the vanilla bean lengthwise, then scrape the seed, mix them with the heavy cream, they heat them in a saucepan on medium-low until it simmers
  2. Wisk together the egg yolks with the sugar, then slowly pour in the cream while whisking, 1/4 cup at a time, this is to prevent the cream from cooking the egg yolk
  3. Fill six 6 oz ramekins, the low & wide ones are better, then place them on a baking tray with some hot water, bake at 160C or 320F for 35 min
  4. Let them chill completely (about 2 hours), sprinkle with some sugar, then you can: 1. broil it in an oven or broiler for 3 min; or 2. Brûlée it with a torch, the tip of the flame should be about 2 inches away so the top won’t burn

Coquille Saint-Jacques

I know I been making a lot of recipes for brunch and desserts for the upcoming Valentine’s Day, but today, we will be doing one of my favorite side dishes/appetizers, the Coquille Saint-Jacques, or the classic gratinéed scallops. This classic French dish with scallops poached in white wine, covered with a sauce made with the poaching liquid, and gratinéed under a broiler, a perfect dish to start a lovely night

You’ll need: 2 tbsp butter; 1 shallot; 1/2 lb button mushrooms, sliced; 1 cup white wine; 1 pound sea scallops; 1/2 cup heavy cream; 1 egg yolk; 2 tsp minced tarragon; 1/4 cup grated Gruyère cheese

  1. Melt the butter in a medium-size skillet over medium heat, then dice a shallot and cook them in the melted butter for 3 min
  2. Slice the mushroom, then cook them with the butter and shallots for another 3 min, add the white wine (don’t use anything that’s too dry, sweeter wine like Riesling works, and yes, I know, that’s a German wine, but it’s good with this dish) and bring it to a simmer
  3. Place the scallops in the pan, poach them in the white wine sauce for about 2 min per side
  4. Move the poached scallops in a separate bowl, strain the sauce, save the mushroom and shallots, then pour the sauce back to the pan, start to reduce the sauce with heavy cream over medium-high heat
  5. Once the sauce thickens, turn off the heat, then quickly whisk the egg yolk into the sauce, then add minced tarragon
  6. Place the mushroom and shallots on top of a scallop shell or baking dish, then place the scallop on top, cover with the sauce, then sprinkle with Gruyère cheese
  7. Place then in a broiler for around 3 min, the time depends on the thickness of your sauce, so, don’t walk away, just stay there and watch when the top turns golden brown

Salmon en Croûte

I don’t remember when the first time I had this dish, but I do remember is how delicious this dish is, the soft & moist salmon wrapped by a flaky and crisp puff pastry shell, it is the perfect mix of texture. I’ll grantee you that with this recipe, you will not cook salmon any other way, it’s easy and hard to screw up, and no matter what you do, as long as you follow the instruction, you will get a perfectly cook salmon every time. This is because the moisture from the salmon is sealed inside of the puff pastry crust, and allow the fat within itself to slowly cook it to the perfect texture. I also just want to say that try to use salmon that are from a sustainable source, and you can always ask your local fishmonger the source of the fish, since I live in the U.S., I always use Pacific sockeye salmon, but there are many sources for high quality, sustainable salmon across the Atlantic ocean

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You’ll need: 1 tbsp olive oil; 2 shallots; 1/4 lb spinach; 2 tbsp butter; 200 g crème fraîche; 1 lb salmon fillet; 500 g puff pastry; 1 large egg; salt & black pepper

How to make this:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 205C/400F degrees
  2. Peel and finely mince the shallot, wash & roughly chop the spinach. Then heat up a pan with olive oil & butter on medium heat, then cook the shallots and spinach until the shallots softens, the turn off the heat and mix the crème fraîche into the cooked spinach
  3. Skin the salmon fillet with a sharp knife, if you don’t know how to skin it, ask your local fishmonger to skin it for you, then sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of the salmon
  4. Roll the puff pastry into a square about 3mm or 1/8-inch thick, then spread a layer of the spinach mix, then place the top of the salmon down, brush the sides with the beaten egg, then wrap the fish with the pastry
  5. Flip the wrapped pastry, then score the surface, then brush on another layer of egg wash, place it in the oven for 20-25 min, and let it rest for 5 min (at least)

Pain Perdu (French Toast) + Brioche Bread

This is going to be one of the heaviest recipes featured here, there’s going to be lots of sugar, butter & cream, and that usually results in a very, very high-calorie count. But don’t be afraid, we are going to do this properly, from scratch.

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First, the bread. Yes, you can just use normal sandwich bread, but those bread are bland & textureless, so, instead of that, we are going to use Brioche. It’s light and slightly puffy with a dark, golden, and flaky crust, which makes it perfect for this recipe, a bread that’s not too chewy, but can still hold its shape. I know that Brioche is often made with fruit or chocolate chip and served on its own, or served as a base for canapés, or soak it in syrup, and bake into a Bostock (which some claims to be better than French toast and they have a point), but trust me on this one, the result is worth the effort.

You’ll need these for the Brioche bread:

  • 500g flour
  • 3 eggs (2 eggs for bread & 1 egg for the egg wash)
  • 50g sugar
  • 5g salt
  • 10g dry active yeast
  • 100g butter
  • 200mL milk

How to make this:

  1. Sift the flour into a large bowl, stir in the sugar & salt, then cut the butter into small cubes & rub them into the flour, this will create the flaky crust on the outside
  2. In another bowl, whisk together the 2 eggs, room temp milk, and yeast, then gradually add the liquid into the dry mixture, about 1/4 at a time. Then place the dough on a well-floured surface and knead the dough until it’s smooth, which takes about 5 to 7 min
  3. Place the dough in a sealed container and let it proof for about 2 hours or until it doubles in size, then punch it down, cut it into 3 equal portions, stretch them out and braid, and place it into a loaf tray. Cover it and let it proof again for another 45 min, or until the dough reaches the surface of the tray
  4. Brush on a layer of egg wash, then place it in a pre-heated 200C/390F degree oven for 20ish min, then let it cool for at least 20 min

 

So, 4 hours later, you have a loaf of the most beautiful bread among the 100+ types of bread out there, and your kitchen smells like what I imagine “happiness” is like, what are you going to do next? Well, the unfortunate truth is that you have to wait, about 6 hours to be exact. The reason why the French calls it “pain perdu” or “lost bread”, it’s because they used it as a way to reclaim stale or “lost” bread, let it absorb the egg and cream, pan-fried it in butter until it turns golden. So, just be patient, and wait until the loaf to slowly dry. And after 10 hours, let’s make some French toasts!

You’ll need these for the French Toasts:

  • about 10 slices 1-inch thick brioche bread
  • 2 whole eggs + 1 egg yolk
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cream
  • pinch of cinnamon & a tiny pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp butter

How to make this:

  1. Whisk together the eggs & egg yolk with the sugar, vanilla extract, cream, cinnamon, and a tiny pinch of salt
  2. Place a butter in a pan over medium-low heat, soak the bread for about 2 sec then flip it and soak for another 2 sec
  3. Place the soaked bread on the pan, cook for about 2 min, flip and cook for another 2 min, sprinkle with some sugar, then repeat and cook each side for another 2 min, the total cook time should be around 8 to 10 min over medium-low heat
  4.  Serve it with powdered sugar, syrup or some fresh fruits

 

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(Brioche Bread)