Cougnou (Belgian Christmas Pastry)

Imagine my deception at my first Californian Xmas when I realized I wouldn't get my typical Belgian "cougnou"*. Unthinkable! So I started looking for a recipe to bake my own. I found one on Marmiton (in French) and another one here (still in French). My final recipe is a mix of those two. Every year in December I bake these pastries for my family... but also for our friends. Everybody loves them, especially the kids.  I enjoy sharing my pastries and my traditions with them.
* It tastes a little like a French "brioche", but less buttery. 


Pear+Apple+Chocolate Crumble, with Pecans+Pistachios

That's the second recipe from the foodblog La Tartine Gourmande that I made. The first one was a Chocolate and Nut Cake. They are both excellent. What I like about this crumble is the combination pear+chocolate (one of my favorites) and the crunchy side brought by the nuts. I put only pecans because I didn't have any pistachios on hand. A good excuse to make this dessert again soon.


Arugula Pesto

I received a full bunch of Arugula in my CSA box this week. Since it's almost winter time, I'm more in the mood for pasta than for salad. This arugula pesto recipe with a hint of lemon inspired me. I like pesto over pasta but also over pizzas, crackers, soups, sandwiches or quiches... The uses are endless. 
Tip for kids: To reduce the bitterness of the arugula, mix the pesto with some roasted tomatoes (or basic tomato sauce) and a bit of cream. My daughters loved it this way.


Homemade Ricotta

After the homemade yogurt, the temptation to try making homemade ricotta was high! I know... I'm not original. The D.I.Y ("do it yourself") movement is really spreading out these days. But it's a good thing. So pass on the word and do it yourself!


Drinking Yogurt

... or "how-to-save-a-homemade-yogurt-that-didn't-end-up-the-way-it-was-supposed-to" : mix a quart of yogurt that didn't-end-up... (in other words: too liquid!) with 3 tbs of a good fruit syrup (in my case: D'ARBO raspberry syrup)*. Tastier, cheaper, and healthier than the storebought drinking yogurts full of sugar, food coloring, and preservatives. If you are interested in this matter, check out this comment about the yogurt Danimals.


Cranberry Upside Down Cake

The idea of baking this cake comes from a recipe published 10 days ago (here). I ended up choosing a slightly different one (here). Do not hesitate to bake this Cranberry Upside Down Cake for Thanksgiving, even it's your first try. You can trust this recipe 100%. I've used fresh cranberries from my C.S.A. box. It was a delight.


Spaghetti + Rapini + Toasted Garlic + Bread Crumbs

First time ever: I've cooked - and eaten! - rapini (or broccoli rabe). Thanks, CSA box of the week! I was inspired by a recipe in the NY Times but I have changed some proportions to better fit my taste.... and my diet! My version of the recipe is hereafter. You can also take a look at the original one, just in case.


Zuppa Inglese Veloce Veloce

The "Zuppa Inglese" is my husband's favorite dessert and is becoming my older daughter's too. I've found a way to speed up the recipe. Still delicious. That's a zuppa inglese "veloce, veloce" (very quick). 


Spinach Salad + Dried Cranberries + Pine Nuts

I discovered this salad about 3 years ago here. From then on, I have been making it regularly without getting tired of it. I love love love this salad!


Japanese Cheesecake

I'm not a huge fan of cheesecake. But this one, I can tell you, tastes like heaven! Maybe it's because it's a "Japanese" cheesecake and I like everything about Japan... No, seriously, it's damn good and much lighter than the American version. I've followed this recipe (in French). There is a similar one in English here.


Pumpkin + Feta Muffins

I baked these savory muffins today. Since I used the leftovers of a butternut squash roasted yesterday, it only took me 1/2 hour from the time I started to when they were on my plate. I ate them for lunch with soup and salad. Yummy! I've stolen the recipe here


Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

I received the book "Good to the Grain" by Kim Boyce in June. I really wanted that book. However I've never tried any of its recipes yet. I think I was intimidated. I wanted to pick the perfect recipe right away. Then the other day I've read a blog article about the whole wheat chocolate chip cookies from that book. I felt like I had to bake these cookies. So I did!


Nasu-Miso (Fried Eggplants with Miso)

Since I frequent Japanese restaurants, I always loved the way they cooked the eggplants. What I didn't know was that their "nasu-miso" (fried eggplants with miso sauce) was so easy to prepare. The recipe that I've followed is this one (in Italian though). There is a similar one here (in English).


Buttermilk Mini Scones

For those of you who have taken the habit to make the american pancakes (here), and don't know what else to bake with leftover buttermilk, here is a good recipe. It's also fast and easy. What more do you want?


Feta and Spinach Triangles

They are soooooo good. The recipe itself is pretty simple. The trickiest part is that the dough is so thin it dries quickly and sometimes breaks. To avoid this inconvenience put a damp cloth on them. There are endless possibilities for the filling. My favorites are the ones filled with spinach and feta. It's also a good way to make kids eat spinach.


Almond Brown Butter Cake with Plums

A cake "crunchy on the outside, moist and tender inside" (Everyday Greens Cookbook). And it really is! It is also a good recipe to use your spare egg whites.


Spicy Parmesan Green Beans + Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

My CSA box was great last week: lots of wonderful green beans, chards, and kale, tiny fingerling potatoes, juicy pears..... To enjoy their freshness right away, I went for a large casserole recipe (this one adapted from Giada Laurentiis is pretty good). I also added some roasted fingerling potatoes.


Homemade Yogurt (without a yogurt maker) - Greek Style

Same recipe as the one I've already written about (here) + one step: after the yogurt is done, let it drip on a fine sieve for 2 hours or so in the fridge. The yogurt becomes firmer, creamier, and smoother. Greek Style. I've stolen this trick on this lovely blog (written both in English and Italian).


Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi with Sage Butter

Finally a savory entree and not a dessert! Instead of being made of potatoes+egg+flour like the "regular" gnocchi, these "green" gnocchi are made of spinach+egg+ricotta+Parmesan. They can (should) be frozen. Be patient. The effort you spend doing the work is worth it. You will recover it later, when you will save time by having the gnocchi ready to eat out of the freezer.


Le Brioscine di Cristina

Cristina and Giuseppe came over this Sunday for lunch. It's a pleasure to invite them:  they always bring tons of delicious homemade food to share with us! That day in addition to 2 succulent "focaccie alla genovese" (one with cherry tomatoes and another with onions) and some "frittelle di fiori di zucchini" coming straight out of the Farmer's Market, they brought these "brioscine" filled with apricot jam. They were still warm and so good... It was such a big success that I've baked them today as an afterschool snack. Half of the pan disappeared in less than 5 minutes. I had to freeze the rest to make sure that there will be some leftovers for tomorrow's breakfast.


Chocolate and Nut Cake

This summer in Italy - Piemonte - I've eaten a cake made with nuts instead of flour. I really liked it. So when I saw the recipe of a chocolate and nut cake on the net (La Tartine Gourmande), I immediately wanted to try it. I must also say that the pictures from the blog were so inviting... Take a look.


Maple-glazed Nectarine and Almond Bread

Another recipe from the last Donna Hay Magazine (feb-march 2010). A base of the consistency of a sweet pizza/focaccia + a layer of  a melting almond crumble + a top of caramelized peaches. Ideal for picnics.


Figs + Mozzarella Salad

Figs season is at its top now. To change from the routine, go for this quick and easy figs and mozzarella salad. 

Homemade Yogurt (without a yogurt maker)

It has been a while since I have wanted to make my own yogurt. At first I looked at the various kinds of yogurt makers. I wasn't sure... It was not a good sign. Then I've learned that you can make it without a yogurt maker. Again I wasn't sure... Finally a friend of mine made it. Without a yogurt maker, I mean. She made me taste it: it was damn good. And here I am  making my own yogurt too. I can't believe it!


Heirloom Tomato Pizza

This summer in Italy I have eaten so many (too many?) pizza with fresh tomatoes that I've become addicted. So I decided to try to bake one in my own kitchen. The result was quite satisfying, even though not comparable to the Italian pizzerias'.



Here I am again, after a long and wonderful summer.... And with the end of the summer vacation comes back to school. And with the back to school come the homemade baked goods to enjoy right after the bell rings.  To start with: these "kolaches" filled with a homemade raspberry jam.


Tartine Bakery & Cafe

bakery. A cookbook. In San Francisco. Everything seemed to be made to please me. However Tartine does not live up fully to the expectations: no real atmosphere, busy street, no charm. The food was good though, especially the pastries. You can tell the high quality ingredients in the hands of talented people. Better "to go" than "for here". Still, it was a precious moment spent with a very good friend for a special occasion...


Fava Bean Spread

I've found this recipe in today's newsletter from Farm Fresh to You. I happened to have arugula and lots of fava beans that needed to be taken care of. I didn't need more than that to get started!


Edamame and Chicken Pasta Salad

Quick pasta salad with leftovers of farfalle + edamame + chicken. Stir-fry everything over medium heat for 2 minutes or so, with a bit of sesame oil and soj sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Eat warm or cold. It is that easy!


Broccoli Crunch Salad

What I like about this recipe by Heidi Swanson is the combination of veggies + 1)  sweet (coming from the apples + the honey/lemony/almond butter dressing) and 2) crunchy (coming from the almonds + the pan-fried shallots). The only ingredients I'll avoid next time are the raw shallots and red onions. But it's a question of taste.


Roasted Beets with Beet Greens and Goat Cheese Crostini

Do you know that you can cook the beet greens as well? For example in this recipe which uses the beets in the salad and the beet greens over the crostini. 


Belgian Tart with Fresh Summer Fruit

While hanging around at the Mountain View library last week, my eyes were caught by this book: "Everybody Eats Well in Belgium", by Ruth Van Waerebeek and Maria Robbins. That's the book I've  always wanted without knowing it. When I lived in Belgium, I didn't particularly look for Belgian food. I didn't do any Belgian recipes either. But since I've been living in California, I miss some of them, especially the baked goods... So I immediately borrowed the book, went home, and tried a recipe. I chose to bake a fresh fruit tart like the one I used to buy at my favorite bakery on Sundays, back in Belgium. The crust is unlike any other pastries I've ever eaten. I do not mean better, nor worse: just different. It's my "Madeleine de Proust". Sort of.


Tofu Smoothie

Another easy and delightful way to use tofu. I'll give you the basic recipe. You can add any fruit you'd like to that base. Here, I've added 2 peaches (the first of the season!).


Mushrooms with Bok Choy

This recipe immediately took my attention because: 1) I never know what to do with bok choy (except to put them in miso soups) and 2) the bok choy was prepared with a mixture of ginger/soy sauce/Balsamic vinegar, which seemed very appealing to me. I was right. It was good.


Whole Wheat Muffins

While I was preparing these muffins, I was doubtful. The batter was so dark (whole wheat flour+molasses) that I was wondering if they would turn out good ...The answer to my anguish came from my daughter Adele: she ate 2 muffins right from the oven and asked for a 3rd. 


Linguine with Fava Beans, Goat Cheese, and Fresh Garlic

Initially, I wanted to try this recipe : pasta with cream of fava beans, feta, and wild garlic. But I ended up doing a slightly different one. First, because my fava beans were so tiny, I did not have enough to make a "cream" out of them. Secondly, I forgot to buy feta cheese. Third, I couldn't find wild garlic. So here is my version:


Almond Lemon Cake

If you like the combination almond + lemon, you'll love this cake. Delicious at tea time or even for breakfast. Its texture is very soft and spongy. Very close to the angel cake's. I've made this cake twice. The first try was disappointing because I used a baking pan that was too wide (9''). For the second try, I've used a 6''. Much better.


Wheat and Oat Tart Shell

My sister is here! What a pleasure to have her over, spend some time together, talk, laugh, and ... eat.   My sister asked me to prepare some of the recipes she read about in my blog. So I haven't tried any new one, except for this Wheat and Oat Tart Shell, adapted from a book I just received from ... my sister: Mes recettes bio et saines au son d'avoine, by Alice Hart. I particularly like this recipe because the dough is quick to do and easy to roll out. You just have to spread it with a spoon on the baking pan.  Needless to say it is also very good.


Ligurian Artichoke Frittata

The first time I have eaten these tiny artichokes was when I met my in-laws in their hometown in Liguria, Italy. It was one of the first local food that Alberto's mom prepared for me. I was used to the big artichokes you need to steam or boil, and I was surprised to discover this variety that Alberto's mom cut in slices and stir-fried before adding it to different dishes: frittata, pasta, risotto and such. Unfortunately, my mother-in-law never follows any recipe. It took me a while to find one that gives me a frittata as good as hers.


Fried Rice

Quick lunch with rice leftovers. 
1. Put 1/2 tbs (or less) cooking oil in a pan
2. Scramble 1 egg
3. Add the rice (+/- 10 oz; 300 gr)  to the pan and stir fry, breaking up the egg
4. Add 2 ts soy sauce+1 ts sake

Carrot-Parsnip Soup

I've gotten lots of parsnips this week. The girls don't like them that much. I guess it's because of their strong flavor. So I've looked up a recipe that uses parsnip together with another vegetable with a sweeter taste. I've ended up with this carrot-parsnip soup from the Everyday Greens Cookbook. They've loved it.


Strawberry Jam (with Agar-Agar)

For me,  the strawberry jam with agar-agar (from the blog http://www.cleacuisine.fr/) presents 2 main advantages: 1. it is very easy to do (no need for pectin, nor gelatin), and 2. it requires less sugar. However, this second advantage is annihilated by the fact that since it has less sugar, I have a tendency to put way too much jam on my slice of bread...
P.S.: The recipe is written in French. If somebody is interested in getting it in English or Italian, let me know. I'll be pleased to translate the recipe for you. 


Breakfast Bread

The recipe of this breakfast bread is the same as the recipe of the cinnamon's rolls' dough. No filling here, no powdered sugar glaze either, and a different shape. After the dough has risen once, punch it down and let it rise again. Then divide into as many pieces as you would like to braid, roll out each piece into a strand, and braid. Place the dough on a greased cookie sheet and let it rise for 20 to 30 minutes until doubled. Brush with egg wash (1 egg+ 2tbs water or milk). Bake at 350F for 40 minutes or until golden brown. (The Tassajara Bread Book, p. 59)


Kara's Cupcakes

I didn't particularly like cupcakes, until I tasted Kara's. The only ones that I like so far. Maybe because they are so pretty. Who knows?


Farina is our favorite Italian restaurant in San Francisco. Not only Italian, but also Ligurian... They will open a pizzeria this summer. Can't wait!


Miso Soup with Soba and Veggies

Miso soup is quick and easy to prepare. You only need to boil some water and stir in some miso paste. That's it! If you add some noodles (here: soba), some veggies, and some tofu, you obtain a wholesome dish. My reference recipe comes from the blog 101cookbooks, by Heidi Swanson. But there are tons of them on the web. A lot of variations exist according to your taste or to what you have in your fridge. This time, in addition to the soba noodles and the tofu, I've used green onions, broccoli florets (steamed), and zucchini (diced and cooked in the microwave oven with a little bit of water for 2 to 3 minutes). Make your own.


Green Pea Risotto

I love risottos. So does my family. The following recipe is very basic; nothing really fancy about it, but that's the way I like it. It's in french, but there is a similar one in English here. For the Italians, no need for a recipe... Right?


Salad with Roasted Beets and Fennel

I've made this salad a lot this winter. It will take you only a few minutes to prepare (if you roast the vegetables ahead of time). Salad + roasted beets + roasted fennel + balsamic vinegar dressing (or Meyer lemon dressinggoat cheese + sunflower seeds (or walnuts).


Cinnamon Rolls

When I arrived in the US, I could smell cinnamon everywhere. Back then, I was not particularly a big fan... Same thing - even worse - for Alberto and the girls. Four years later, I've found myself baking cinnamon rolls! For me, cinnamon rolls are often too greasy and sweet. So I've reduced the quantities of butter and sugar.  Eighteen cinnamon rolls disappeared in less than 24 hours: apparently I am not the only one in the family who has changed opinion about cinnamon....