Bastille Day Dessert: Grand Marnier Soufflé

Grand Marnier Soufflé serve 4

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What’s wonderful about the soufflé is that because the basic recipe can be adapted to include any flavour you like, sweet or savoury, you can really make the dish your own. I’ve chosen it as the dessert for my Bastille Day feast this year and because July is in Winter here in the southern hemisphere, I’m flavouring it with oranges, both the real stuff and a splash of Grand Marnier for good measure.

Soufflé had a reputation for intimidating the most avid cooks, due to the fact that you never know whether it’s going to be an epic success or failure until the moment you take it out the oven and gingerly place in onto the serving plate. But as they say you’ve got to risk it to get the biscuit (or the soufflé in this case), so role up your sleeves, take careful note of the instructions and you’ll be set for sweet success.

For the Crème Pâtissière:

Ingredients:

  • 3 egg yolk
  • 25g plain flour
  • 65g caster sugar
  • 250ml full fat milk
  • 2 orange zest
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeded
  • 5cl Grand Marnier

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Method:

  1. Bring the milk, orange zest and vanilla skin to the boil.
  2. Meanwhile whisk the yolk, sugar and vanilla seed together.
  3. Add the flour to the mix and whisk until combined.
  4. Pour the hot milk over the eggs and mix well so that all the ingredients are combined.
  5. Pour the mix back in the sauce pan and cook on medium heat while whisking until it start to thicken, then cook for a further 5 minutes while whisking.
  6. Pour the crème pâtissière in a clean bowl add the Grand Marnier and whisk until combined. Cover with cling film, make sure the film is in direct contact with the crème to prevent the formation of a skin, then put in the fridge to cool down.

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For the moulds:

  • Brush the moulds with soft unsalted butter, making sure to cover the entire surface. Place them in the fridge to set the butter.
  • Once the first layer has set repeat the process once more, then dust the moulds with caster sugar.

For the soufflé:

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Ingredients:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 55g caster sugar

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven a 240 degrees Celsius.
  2. Whisk the egg whites to soft peak in an electric blender, a good way to know if they’re ready is to tip the bowl upside down if it doesn’t fall off, it’s ready!
  3. Slowly add the sugar while whisking on medium speed and whisk for a couple of minutes or until the sugar is combined.
  4. Mix ¼ of the egg white with the crème pâtissière and whisk to loosen the mix.
  5. Add the rest of the egg whites and gently fold everything together.
  6. Gently spoon the soufflé mix in each mold, gently tap the mold on the bench to avoid leaving any air bubble and smooth the top of the soufflé with a palette knife.
  7. Bake the soufflé for 8-10 minutes at 240 degrees.
  8. Dust the top of the soufflé with icing sugar and serve straight away!

 

 

Back to Basics: Choux Pastry

Back to Basics: Choux Pastry

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As we know them today, Choux pastry was created by a pâtissier named Avice in the 18th century. They were named as such because they looked like little cabbages and the French word for cabbage is “choux”. The original recipe though is thought to have been created in the mid-sixteenth century by an Italian chef in the service of Catherine de Medici.

Choux pastry is one of the quintessential French recipes. The pastry itself is quite easy to make but it’s what you do with it that contains the ‘WOW’ factor. The show-stopping French wedding cake, the Croquembouche, is a tower made of choux pastries, covered with caramel and spun sugar. Profiteroles, éclairs and churros all use the same basic choux recipe and as well as gougères, which are a savoury option, filled with cheese.

For something simpler, why not try filling them with my delicious orange and vanilla crème pâtissière and coating them in a crunchy caramel topping. They will make the perfect dessert to share with friends or family after a delicious meal or to entertain guests at an afternoon tea party!

To watch the how to video on my YouTube channel, click Here

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Makes approx. 36 Choux

Ingredients:

  • 500ml water
  • 200g Butter (unsalted), diced
  • 300g Plain Flour
  • 8 Eggs

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Method:

  1. Bring the water and butter to the boil.
  2. Once the butter is completely melted, reduce the heat to medium, add the flour and stir well with a wooden spoon.
  3. Cook the dough for a few minutes to dry it a little bit, this process take should take about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Transfer the dough into an electric mixer bowl and mix on medium speed with the paddle attachment to cool it down. The dough should just warm before you add the eggs.
  5. Start adding the eggs one at a time while mixing.
  6. Once the eggs are all mixed through, transfer the mix into a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle.
  7. Line a couple of flat baking tray with greaseproof paper and pipe 2cm circle on the tray, make sure you leave about 1cm between each choux.
  8. Bake at 200 degrees for 20-25 minutes, the choux should sound hollow and feel a little hard when you press them between your fingers.
  9. Once cooked place them on a cooling rack and leave to cool.

Crème Patissière (French Custard)

Ingredients:

  • 40g Plain flour
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 500ml Full Fat milk
  • 4 free range egg yolks
  • 2 vanilla pods, seeds out
  • 2 orange zest
  • 20ml cointreau

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Method:

  1. Bring the milk, orange zest, Cointreau and vanilla pods to the boil.
  2. In the meantime, whisk the yolks, sugar and vanilla seeds together. Then add the flour and whisk until combined.
  3. Pour the milk over the egg mixture and whisk well until everything is mixed through.
  4. Return the pot to the stove and cook on medium heat while whisking until it thickens up. Once it starts boiling cook it for about 3 minutes more.
  5. Pour the crème patissière into a bowl, place a layer of glad wrap directly on top of it and leave to cool completely in the fridge.

Caramel:

Ingredients:

  • 125g caster sugar
  • 15cl water
  • 100g pearl or hail sugar (for the finishing)

Method:

  1. Mix the water and sugar together in small saucepan and cook the sugar until it becomes golden brown, and then take it off the heat.

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Finishing the choux:

  • Make a small hole in the bottom of each choux using the end a pen.
  • Pipe the custard in the choux using a piping bag fitted with a nozzle.
  • Dip the top of the choux in the caramel and the Pearl sugar.

 

 

 

 

 

Jean-François’s Mousse au Chocolat: Jean-François Chocolate Mousse

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This decadent dessert is a favourite among restaurant go-ers at the Restaurant de L’Abbaye and I’m thrilled to be able to share the chef’s recipe with you today. Once you taste the rich and creamy texture of this mousse you’ll be surprised at how straightforward it is to make, and because it will keep for a few days in the fridge, I think it’s the perfect ‘wow-factor’ dessert to make in advance when you’re entertaining guests.

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There’s no oven time required for this chocolate mousse, which has the added advantage of allowing you to be creative with your presentation. There are the usual ramekins or decorative bowls, but you could also set the mousse in vintage crystal glasses or teacups for an afternoon tea with a twist.

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The most important thing to keep in mind with this dish is the darker the chocolate you use, the richer the finished product; so don’t overdose on a good thing by serving your guests enormous portions! Less is always more when it comes to indulgence.

Ingredients:

  • 450g dark chocolate
  • 10 egg yolk
  • 10 egg whites
  • 200g caster sugar

Method:

  1. Break the chocolate into little pieces and place them into a stainless steel bowl. Place the bowl on a bain-marie, turn the heat to the lowest setting and leave the chocolate to melt slowly.
  2. In the meantime separate the egg whites and egg yolks. Place the yolks into an electric mixer bowl with the sugar and whisk at high speed until it becomes slightly white and fluffy or about double in size. Then pour the mixture in a large mixing bowl and keep aside.
  3. Whisk the egg whites with a tablespoon of sugar until the mixture forms soft peaks, i.e. until the mixture holds its shape for a little bit (or another way to know if it’s ready is to tip the bowl upside down and if the misture stays in!)
  4. Combine the melted chocolate and the yolk mixture and slowly fold them together using a spatula.
  5. Then add about a ¼ of the whites at a time and gently mix them with chocolate mixture.
  6. Portion the chocolate mousse into individual little bowl and leave to set in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
  7. Serve by itself or with some sable biscuit on the side!

Galettes des Rois

 

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We sing the song, and relish in raucously shouting the line “FIVE GOLD RINGS,” but many Australians would be surprised to learn that the classic Christmas carol “The 12 Days of Christmas” refers to the 12 days from Christmas Eve, not before it. What’s so special about the twelve days after? Well, this is the lead up a Christian holiday known as The Epiphany (6th January), which is still a public holiday in France and many other European countries.

Now, the French aren’t known for being particularly devout, but we do love a public holiday, and especially one with a special dish attached. For The Epiphany, it’s the “Galette” (or Gateau) des Rois, which translates to “Kings Cake”, in reference to the Three Wise Men who are believed to have visited the baby Jesus on this day.

I seriously doubt the Three Kings presented Jesus, along with their more famous gifts, a brioche-style, over-grown doughnut all those years ago, so I don’t quite know why we make “Galette Des Rois” in celebration of this event. What I do know is that it’s delicious and I’m sure Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus would have loved it as much then as I do today.

Galette des Rois are eaten from the 6th January until Mardi Gras (the Christian one marking the day before Lent fasting begins, as opposed to the Sydney version), and each one will often hide a little porcelain or plastic figurine somewhere in the dough. Whoever finds the figurine in their slice has certain privileges and responsibilities, which differ from country to country. Between countries there are also vastly different names and recipes for the Galette des Rois, even within France itself.

Today, I’ve chosen to share the recipe my Mum used to make for my brothers, and me, which is known as a “Gateau des Rois”.

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Ingredients:

  • 300g strong plain flour
  • 10g fresh yeast
  • 20g caster sugar
  • 6 pinch table salt
  • 100g mixed peels
  • 4 free range eggs
  • 170g unsalted butter (soft)
  • 2cl orange blossom water
  • 2cl dark rum
  • 1 lemon zest
  • 30g glace fruit
  • 30g orange marmalade
  • 20 pearl sugar
  • Tiny porcelain or plastic figurine of your choice (optional)

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Method:

  1. Mix the flour, sugar and salt in an electric mixing bowl, like a Kitchen Aid for example. Mix the ingredients for a couple of minutes with the paddle attachment (the yeast can never be in direct contact with the salt as this would ‘kill’ it). Crumble the yeast and add it to the flour.
  2. Add the eggs, orange blossom water, rum, 80g of mixed peels and lemon zest and knead until you have a firm and elastic dough (about 5 minutes).
  3. Add the soft butter a little bit at a time and knead for a further 5 minutes. The sides of the bowl should be clean and the dough should be quiet soft.
  4. Cover the dough with cling film and leave to rest at room temperature for an hour or until it is doubled in size.
  5. “Knock back” the dough, that is, knead it for about 30 seconds and then cover it with cling film and place it in the fridge overnight.
  6. Place the dough on a floured surface and spread it using a rolling pin, just as you would do for normal dough. Fold it in 4 and repeat the process twice.
  7. Form a ball and place it on a flat baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Dip 2 of your finger in the flour and stick in the center of the dough all the way down to the tray to create a hole. Carefully widen the hole using your hands. Reform the dough so it has a circular shape (a bit like a giant doughnut!).
  8. Wrap a pastry cutter or a stainless steel ring a little bit smaller than the hole in greaseproof paper, and place it in the center. That way the hole won’t close as the dough proofs. If you want to place a figurine into your “Galette”, now if the time by simply pushing it into the dough. Make sure you let people know what they may find in their slice before they tuck in!
  9. Cover with cling film and leave to proof for 1 hour.
  10. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
  11. Brush the dough with egg wash (1 egg yolk mixed with 2 Tbsp water).
  12. Bake for 30 minutes. Then cover it with foil and bake for a further 15 minutes.
  13. Cool the “Galette” on a cooling rack until warm.
  14. Meanwhile, mix 2 tablespoon of marmalade with water and keep aside.
  15. Brush the “Galette” with the marmalade and sprinkle the pearl sugar and the remaining mixed peel on top.
  16. This delicious treat is now ready to eat for breakfast or for dessert. In French tradition, whoever finds the figurine in their slice has to make the next “Galette” to share!

 

Duck and Cèpe Mushroom Terrine

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It’s summer here in Oz. And to me, as a Frenchman summer means one thing – the season of outdoor aperitif. There are few things I relish more than basking in long, hazy, afternoon shadows cast by the summer sun, sipping on an ice-cold drink and grazing a selection of culinary accoutrements.

When it comes to my favourite nibbles, the Italians get full marks for simplistic perfection with their claim to the melon and prosciutto combo and the Caprese salad. But if you’re looking for something a little heartier but no heavy, the French terrine is an ideal solution.

Yes, they do take more preparation, but your usual terrine mold will make enough that you can eat it over a few days or feed a lot of people at once with impressive flair. Serve it cold from the fridge, sliced, with a side of cornichons and your preferred crusty bread. Parfait!

Duck and Cèpe Mushroom Terrine

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Ingredients:

  • 200g cepe mushroom (You can find these dried at good continental providores)
  • 800g duck meat
  • 2 deboned quails
  • 400g pork shoulder
  • 300g streaky bacon
  • 4 shallots
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 50ml port
  • 50ml brandy
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 2 Tablespoon green pepper (in brine)
  • ½ jar of cornichons (baby cucumbers)

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Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Dice the shallots, crush the garlic, chop the thyme and keep aside.
  3. Soak the mushroom in warm water for 10 minutes then strain them.
  4. Heat a large frying pan with olive oil. Cut the quail in 4 pieces and season with salt and pepper. Seal the quail in the pan on all sides for a few seconds, until slightly golden. Take the quail out of the frying pan and keep aside.
  5. Then, in the same pan cook the shallots, garlic and thyme for a couple of minutes on medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the port, brandy and flambé it. Put the mushroom mix in the fridge to completely cool it down.
  6. Mince the pork, bacon and duck meat with the coarse grind attachment on your kitchen aid (or other mixer). If you do not have a mincer you can ask your butcher to mince it for you.
  7. In a terrine mold start with a layer of minced meat, press it down, then add the quail, another layer of meat, the mushroom and finish off with meat.
  8. Place the terrine mold in a deep roasting tray and pour hot water into the tray until it sits halfway up the outside of the terrine mold.
  9. Cook the terrine for 2 hours then cool the terrine down in the mold in the fridge overnight.
  10. When ready to serve, remove from the mold and slice into 2cm (or ½ inch) thick pieces.Duc

Christmas Day Lunch “Aussie Style”: Part 3

Christmas Triffle:

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Ingredients for the custard:

  •  1 L full fat milk
  • 250 g Caster sugar
  • 55 g plain flour
  • 6 free range eggs

Method:

  1.  Bring the milk to the boil in a medium saucepan.
  2. Meanwhile whisk together the eggs and sugar. Sieve the flour and add it to the egg mix. Whisk until combined.
  3. Add the hot milk to the egg mix and whisk until dissolved.
  4. Pour the mix back in the saucepan and cook on medium heat, while whisking. The custard will start to thicken up when it get close to the boil. Once it starts boiling cook it for about 3 minute on medium heat while whisking.
  5. Pour the custard in clean bowl and leave to cool.

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Ingredient for the jelly:

  •  1 L water
  • 200 ml black currant cordial
  • 7 Teaspoon gelatin powder

 

Method:

  1. Combine the cordial and water.
  2. Bring the water to the boil, then slowly sprinkle the gelatin on the water while whisking.
  3. Make sure all the gelatin has dissolved, and then divide the gelatin mix in two trays, and place in the fridge to set.

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Ingredients for the Triffle:

  •  1 sponge roll
  • ½ cup port
  • 2 nectarine
  • 1 punnet blueberries
  • 1 punnet strawberries
  • 1 punnet raspberries
  • 1 punnet blackberries
  • 1 tin peach in syrup

Method:

  1. Thickly slice the sponge and arrange it at the bottom of the triffle bowl.
  2. Drizzle the sponge with the port and 1/3 of the half set jelly. The sponge will soak the jelly giving it an even better texture.
  3. Arrange the custard over the sponge, you want your custard to be a little looser than usual to keep the trifle saucy and not dry.
  4. Then dispose the fruit on top of the custard and finish by adding the jelly for the last layer!

I recommend a Chateau Coutet 2006 (Sauternes) available from www.airoldifinewines.com.au