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The art of Easter. Chocolate egg design reaches new heights in Paris

8 Apr

Paris at Easter kind of reminds me of the characters in desperate housewives. Just as Gabrielle and Marcia would secretly aim to outdo each other with their good-willed neighbourly ‘bake-offs’, the designer chocolate boutiques in Paris launch full-scale campaigns to boast the most impressive designer Easter egg display in town. There is no mucking around in this city– ‘Haute chocolat’ at Easter in Paris is rather serious, not to mention – lucrative business.

This year’s designs are particularly extravagant and the window displays in every chocolate shop are filled with outrageously gigantic, painstakingly sculpted designer chocolate eggs and fantastical themed window displays as the stores are packed to the rafters with excited Parisian chocoholics purchasing designer eggs and gifts aimed to impress. So impressive in fact, I doubt many of these eggs ever actually get eaten. Here’s a selection of some of my favourite designs from this year, and some scenes from the streets of Paris this Easter.

2012 paris designer chocolate easter eggs

The Designer Dozen. Paris' most impressive designer chocolate eggs on display for Easter 2012. Clockwise from top left: Painting Pots by Jadis et Gourmande, Patrick Roger, Jean-Paul Hevin, Dalloyau, L’Avocat Surprise Des Gâteaux & Du Pain, La Duree Anniversary Limited Edition, Pollock framed by Jadis et Gourmande, Mazet flower egg, Marcolini "Chef d'Oeuf", L’Œuf de Tortue de Jean-Paul Hévin, Pollock egg by Monoprix, Hédiard Œuf Zèbre

chef-oeuf-marcolini-2012

One of my personal favorites. The Marcolini "Chef d'Oeuf" is made of dark chocolate with a pralinated puffed rice base. At 89€ a piece, it seems I have expensive taste...
Image © Pierre Marcolini

Patrickrogereaster-2

Simple elegance. Less is more with the class and style of Master chocolatier Patrick Roger. 
Image © Patrick Roger

jean paul hevin easter egg

Sculpture meets chocolate. The "Œuf de Tortue" (Turtle Rgg) by Jean-Paul Hévin.
Image © Jean-Paul Hévin

laduree oeuf petale

More than just macarons. Ladurée's anniversary limited edition celebrates 150 years. The stunning Oeuf Petale design is adorned with pralinated flower petals.
Image © Ladurée

oeuf_pollock_20_cm_avec_cadre_2012

Chocolate art. Literally. The Pollock framed collection by Jadis et Gourmande comes in small, medium and HUGE. Image © Jadis et Gourmande

Dalloyau easter egg

The intricate design by Dalloyau is complete with a tiny singing nightingale etched into pearly chocolate. It's very pretty, and very pricey. Starting at 70€.
Image © Dalloyau

Maison Mazet is first a confectionery that Leon Mazet bought 107 years ago. In their Easter window display are 3 giant "Prasline de Montargis" caramelised almond eggs. Image © Rachel Bajada

kids in paris shop window

The giant praline eggs at Mazet confectioners literally stop curious passers-by in their tracks. Image © Rachel Bajada

window display at maison la mère de famille

The 2012 Easter window display at la Maison la mère de famille - Paris' oldest chocolate shop.    Image © Rachel Bajada

Chocolate filled hens eggs

          The real deal. Chocolate praline filled hens eggs at Jadis et Gourmande, Paris.                                 Image © Rachel Bajada

Paris dog in chocolate shop

A parisien dog waits patiently at the door of the Mazet boutique as his owner buys him a fancy   Easter treat. Image © Rachel Bajada

Welcome to Paris, hello New York! The French obsession with American food

29 Mar

paris j'adore
It all started with a cupcake.

Then, before long a queue of New Yorkers appeared- lining up on a Manhattan street for cutsie iced cakes in a myriad of colours and flavours. The trend spread across the globe faster than a pandemic superbug. Australia, UK, Japan and Paris jumped on the cupcake bandwagon. Cupcakes became the new macaron – even in the city of macarons itself.

And so, the French love affair with American food began. In 2003, Starbucks introduced the French to the concept of coffee with milk. Lots of milk, and whipped cream, to wash down a nice big slice of raspberry swirl yew york cheesecake, a donut or a giant white chocolate and caramel muffin.

cupcake camp paris

Homemade cupcakes by participants, and the entry queue to Cupcake Camp, Paris 2011

It’s all rather ironic. The French, well-known for their own celebrated food culture and openly expressed abhorrence to what they have long called “La malbouffe aux États-Unis” (bad food of America) have developed quite a taste for good old American comfort food and it appears that the feelings are mutual. New Yorkers have always had a thing for Paris, but now Paris is becoming equally as fascinated and with New York style dining and the realm of American food.

starbucks paris

Starbucks on rue Montorgeuil, Paris

If you’re visiting Paris, don’t expect to see locals queuing up at cute little crêpe stands – instead you’ll find them lining up by the hundreds for Starbucks, American cocktails, gravlax and cream cheese bagels, pancakes with bacon, and big, beefy, cheesy, American BURGERS.

Au revoir Macarons: Make way for Cookies and Whoopie Pies

Whoopie Pies Grand epicerie paris

Whoopie Pies on display at La Grande Epicerie Paris.
Labelled as "The unmissable replacement for cupcakes this summer" Image snapped courtesy of Carol from parisbreakfasts.blogspot.com

18 months ago in an interview I was asked what I thought the next big food trend was in Paris. I said, “It’s going to be cookies. American-style cookies.” The journalist laughed and left it out of the article. Now they are springing up all over the place.

Move aside ‘Little Miss Combawa Sesame Crème Macaron’, your Grande Epicerie vitrine real estate has been taken over by its sweeter American sister to keep our trend happy Parisian clientele happy with what they want now: WHOOPIE PIES. And it’s only just the beginning. Dare I say it… the American products being made on French turf are possibly even better than what I have eaten when in America.

In Paris’ touristic Saint Germain, I never thought it was possible to have such a moment with a caramel fudge milk chocolate cookie. The tiny It Mylk boutique is now selling a range of handmade cookies, supplied daily. These things are really something else. Their creator rests the dough for up to two days and has cleverly engineered the chocolate chunks to be in a permanently semi-melted state. I don’t even want to think about how many sets of Parisian stairs I should have climbed after eating that.

It Mylk Cookies Paris

Semi melted chocolate fudge American comfort at It Mylk, Saint Germain

American expats Lindsay Tramuta and her business partner Chloe last year launched their own brand American cookies baked in Paris- Lola’s cookies. Lola’s delicious range includes all the classics from brownies and peanut butter and chocolate, through to white chocolate chunk with lemon and cashew. It’s not hard to imagine why they’re fast building a cookie-addicted following amongst hipster Parisians.

lolas cookies paris

Lolas Cookies, Paris. Image supplied

Ze Buerregeurre:

PDG has become a burger institution in Paris since it opened in the same year as Starbucks, back in 2003. The American style eatery serves what is claimed to be one of the best burgers in Paris, using bread rolls from top Parisian baker Eric Kayser. Manager Pierre Lannadere has become used to French customers requesting bizarre combinations such as fried eggs with pancakes and hash browns – knowing it’s merely the norm in the US.

Camion qui fume

Burgers and menu at Paris' first food truck.
Image by William CHAN TAT CHUEN from Postive Eating Blog

More recently, Le Camion Qui Fume succeeded in overcoming French legislation and exhaustive red tape and paperwork, making them Paris’ first mobile food truck. Yes that’s right, American food trucks have made their way to the very city where spotting someone eating a meal, let alone a burger on the run is about as rare a sighting as a free seat on the line 1 metro at peak hour.

The food truck, run by a Californian native, moves about between locations, which are published via their twitter feed which on this day has close to 5,500 followers. Paris’ first food truck is drawing huge crowds of Parisians prepared to wait in extended queues to get their burger fix from a menu offering classics such as cheeseburgers with lettuce, pickles and ketchup, through to the more ‘Frenchiefied’ version of beef, Fourme d’Ambert blue cheese with caramelized onion and porto sauce.

The waiting line for burgers by The Camion Qui Fume. Personally, I don't have the patience. It's just a burger, right? Image by Donald Edwards. He has a cool Paris blog here

What else is cooking?

From the same group who revolutionised the Paris cocktail scene with establishments such as Prescription and Experimental Cocktails Clubs, having sister bars in London and New York, their next venture – the Beef Club Restaurant is about to open its doors (if they can fit you inside when they do). Yes, you guessed it- the concept is a full American-style beef BBQ menu with a basement level cocktail bar and club.

Scwhartz Deli represents a little corner of the NYC in the heart of the historic Marais. A brunch table there on a Sunday is a coveted spot where you will be competing with a horde of others, hungry to fill up on salmon gravlax cream cheese bagels, pastrami sandwiches, turkey sausage salad and matzos meatball soup.

RICCI Italian has opened in an upcoming pocket of the 17th arrondissement as a New York diner-style restaurant serving Italian American fare such as Charolais, speck and Gorgonzola burgers, fresh burrata, meatball pasta and gourmet pizzas to go.

RICCI Italian Paris

Goumet Pizza at RICCI American-Italian Restaurant, Paris. Image supplied

Breakfast in America now has two locations on both Paris’ left and right banks. Their no reservations policy means that you will have to wait (that’s what we do in Paris) in line, at cholesterol corner with the rest of them for your Connecticut omelette or ham steak and eggs, followed by Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, pecan pie and Dr Pepper soda.

Every time I walk into a bookstore, I am spotting more and more New York patisserie cookbooks. Recipe books featuring American desserts and New York street food are fast gaining centre stage. Forget mastering Boeuf Bourguignon- the remaining Parisians who do actually cook at home are now keener to perfect the art of Cheeseburgers and Brownies.

American patisserie cookbooks at La Librairie Gourmande

American patisserie cookbooks on feature display at
La Librairie Gourmande, Paris

On an end note, being a patriotic Aussie at heart, I’m still waiting for vegemite and cheese scrolls to take off in Paris. Something tells me I may be waiting a while for that one…

Sepia Sydney: A sublime performance of senses and recipe by Martin Benn

4 Feb sepia_thumb

Have you ever caught yourself starring unabashedly at someone you just met who was so strikingly beautiful, you were almost searching to find a single, reassuringly human sign of imperfection? Well that is kind of how I would describe my recent meal at Sepia.

sepia-sydney-degustation

Sepia Degustation: A sublime perfomance of senses

Being temporarily at home in Sydney, I have escaped the cold of Paris, minus 8 degree baguette queues and icy streets, happily swapping it for a bit of R&R with family and friends, and of course, a big list of new Australian restaurants to check out.

Whilst living in one of the gastronomic capitals of the world for the last 2 years, I have always maintained that Australia boasts some of the best food and finest restaurants in the world. Coming home with a more refined palette, a taste for boundary-pushing creativity and a love of French cuisine, I had high expectations from the talent in my hometown, and I was so happy to not be disappointed – in fact, I am proud to say that out of all the incredible meals I have eaten in Michelin star restaurants and home kitchens across France, my meal at Sepia Sydney was totally up there on the “unforgettable meals” list. Sepia is a 3-hatted restaurant. I’m not sure why the Michelin star system never reached Australian shores but to be honest I don’t think it matters, since in Paris for example, a lot of the best emerging chefs are not on the Michelin system by choice, and are producing by far some of the best food.

My dining companion and I were subject to what I could only describe as a beautifully executed performance of senses during the 4 course degustation menu. We ordered opposite dishes and shared everything. Normally there is at least one dish that lets the team down. We didn’t find one. And the service was so good the staff were practically psychic. The wine list was an absolute field day, and matched so well to each dish that flavours and senses were elevated on a whole other level. “Would you like a sneaky top up, an extra course snuck in there for good measure, and perhaps a seat that’s more suited to your petite stature?” Hell yes. God I love the service in this country. Sorry Paris, but no matter how damn good, sexy and elegant your food and restaurants are, the service only rarely meets up to the standards of us friendly Aussies. Ok maybe I’m bias, maybe it’s a cultural or language thing …

tuna and jamon iberica sashimi sepia sydney

Tuna and jamon iberica sashimi

scallop sushi sepia sydney

“Scallop sushi” Nori rolled scallop, pickled ginger, puffed sushi rice, avocado cream

panfried kingfish,  shellfish custard, New Zealand scampi, Kombu, sepia sydney

Panfried kingfish, shellfish custard, New Zealand scampi, Kombu,

Char grilled miso beef tenderloin, nameko mushroom, braised barley, smoked bone marrow miso mustard, white Barletta onions, garlic chips

Char grilled miso beef tenderloin, nameko mushroom, braised barley, smoked bone marrow miso mustard, white Barletta onions, garlic chips

Queensland spanner crab and buckwheat risotto, mustard butter, shellfish essence, sepia sydney

Queensland spanner crab and buckwheat risotto, mustard butter, shellfish essence

Roasted corn fed chicken breast, WA Marron tail, chestnut mushroom, dashi onion cream leek, wild rocket, puffed quinoa, nori salt sepia sydney

Thrown in for good measure: Roasted corn fed chicken breast, WA Marron tail, chestnut mushroom, dashi onion cream leek, wild rocket, puffed quinoa, nori salt

gin, cucumber watermelon pre dessert sepia sydney

Gin, cucumber watermelon pre dessert

Deconstructed Cheesecake: Goats milk fromage blanc and crème fraiche cheese cake, black sesame crumb, fresh strawberries geranium ice cream, caramel and shiso jellies

Goat milk fromage blanc and crème fraiche cheese cake, black sesame crumb, fresh strawberries geranium ice cream, caramel and shiso jellies

black forest dessert sepia sydney

The famous black forest dessert (and yes it's as incredible as it looks): “Summer Chocolate forest” Soft chocolate, chestnut, lavender cream, sour cherry sorbet, blackberry candy green tea, licorice, chocolate twigs, berries, crystallised fennel fronds

Sepia Signature Dish: Japanese stones.

Here’s an awesome video on how the stones are made:

Sepia Restaurant and Wine Bar: Japanese Stones from Trixie Barretto on Vimeo.

So, I’ve always maintained that I am not a food/ restaurant critic/reviewer. I write about the experience of food, the love of food, food as story, culture and passion. I always want to bring the experience to my readers. That’s why I unashamedly asked Martin Benn if he would be kind enough to share a recipe. Luckily, he willingly obliged. Not only is Martin Benn extremely talented, he’s also a super nice guy.

An English native, Martin picked up French techniques under Micheal Lorrain then worked with Marco Pierre White after which he became the head chef of Tetsuya’s – at the age of just 25. Sepia is the result of all those good things fused together- French technique, Japanese style, Nordic influence, matched with a supply of the best seafood in Sydney thanks to a partnership with Decosti’s seafood. On the subject of seafood, we’ve chosen the bonito sashimi with green apple and sheep yoghurt, sake and chive oil, as the feature recipe, as not only is it delicious but it’s also one of the few things easily executable at home, and something you can substitute the fish for depending on seasonality.

I am convinced Bonito is the next big thing. It’s tuna’s hot little sister. It’s mackerel’s sexier cousin. It’s amazing how much food supply and demand, not to mention market prices is based on food trends and what’s fashionable right now. I have seen Bonito springing up on menus across Paris – this fish is rapidly gaining popularity given the demise of tuna, boredom of salmon and perception of mackerel. Even Martin Benn admitted that shortly after featuring it on the menu at Sepia, the retail price had doubled overnight from $9 to $18 per kilo. Make the most of it now, before it meets the same fate as redfin tuna…

This recipe takes a bit of time and preparation but is well worth the effort. You can use any sashimi-grade fish for this great summer recipe supplied courtesy of Martin Benn.

Pickled summer bonito, green apple and sheep yoghurt, sake and chive oil, rosa radish, daikon, Tasmanian wasabi (Recipe below)


Recipe: Pickled summer bonito, green apple and sheep yoghurt, sake and chive oil, radish, daikon and wasabi.
By Martin Benn, Sepia Sydney

Serves 8

1 x Spring Bonito, filleted (700g to 900g whole weight fish)
500ml rice wine vinegar seasoned
140g caster sugar
10g sea salt
1000ml mineral water
1 tsp wasabi paste
½ daikon radish
100ml sake and chive oil (see below)
400g green apple and sheep yoghurt cream (see below)

For the pickled Bonito:
Cut the bonito fillet down each side of the centre bone.
This will produce two long strips, repeat this with the other fillet, discard the bones.
Place the 4 strip fillets into a deep tray and set aside.
Mix the vinegar, sugar and sea salt together until all the sugar has dissolved.
Add in the water to the vinegar and mix well.
Pour the pickling liquor over the fillets make sure that they are well covered.
Leave to marinate for 6 minutes and then turn the fillets over and continue to marinate for a further 6 minutes.
Remove from the picking liquor and pat dry with paper towel.
Remove the skin from each quarter fillet then cut the fillets in half length ways.
Leave on a tray with paper towel until required.

For the wasabi:
Add to a little light olive oil to loosen the wasabi paste then brush over the marinate bonito.

For the daikon radish:
Peel the radish and then using a mandolin thinly slice.
Place the strips on top of each other and using a knife cut into a julienne (thin strips) keeping them as long as possible.
Place into iced water for 2 hours before using:

Dress the plate:
Place a 6cm circle cutter on the centre of a plate.
Spoon into the cutter the apple and yoghurt cream then remove the cutter so you have a perfect circle
Brush the bonito with the wasabi oil.
Lay the pickled bonito onto the apple and yoghurt cream gently.
Drain the strips of daikon well on paper towel and then place on top of the bonito.
Garnish the top of the bonito with baby leaves and cress.
Finally spoon the sake and garlic oil around one side of the apple and yoghurt cream.

Green apple and sheep yoghurt cream
800g granny smith apples (skinned and diced in lemon juice water)
250g butter diced
10g malic acid
50g sugar
Salt

150g sheep milk yoghurt (drained over night in a sieve)

Method:
Drain the apples from the lemon juice water and pat dry with paper towel.
Dice the butter and place into a heavy based pan.
Place the butter over a low to medium heat until the butter is melted and begins to bubble.
Add the apples, sugar and salt and stir so that the apples are well coated in the butter.
Place a lid on the apples and cook gently over a low heat, stirring from time to time.
Once the apples are tender, remove from the heat and drain off the butter setting it aside for later.
Allow the apples to cool slightly.
Pour the apples into a food blender and begin to blend.
Whisk the drained butter from earlier to emulsify and then add back 50g to the apples.
Blend the apples on full until a smooth puree is obtained.
Pass the puree into a clean bowl and whisk through the sheep yoghurt.
Store in a refrigerator until required.

Chive and sake oil
150g thick green chives, cleaned (blanched weight 300g)
3g salt
150g grapeseed oil

Method:
Blanch the chives in boiling salted water and cook for about 3 minutes until the chives are tender.
Drain the chives and refresh in iced water and then squeeze out as much water as possible.
Place the chives into a blender and add in the grapeseed oil.
Turn on and blend on full.
The oil will heat up from the friction to around 60c.
Blend for 3-4 minutes
Pass the oil through a fine filter into a container over ice.
Leave to drain in the refrigerator overnight.

To finish the oil:
80ml Chive Oil (from above)
20ml Sake (good quality)

Place the chive oil into a bowl over iced water until it thickens.
Whisk in the sake until the oil begins to emulsify.


Sepia Restaurant

201 Sussex Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9283 1990

Opening hours:
Lunch Tuesday to Friday from 12 noon
Dinner Tuesday to Saturday from 6pm

Delicious Discoveries from the Gourmet Jury at Haute Cuisine Paris

7 Sep brioche_sml
Le Jury Gourmand gathers around Ibéric Jambon at Haute Cuisine Paris

Day 1 on the ‘Jury Gourmand’ This photo somehow resembles the last supper… slight difference though: we’re sharing ham, not bread… From left: Laura Annaert, Emmanuel Giraud, Mathilde Dewilde, Rachel Bajada, Laurent Cagna. Photo credit: Barbara Siegel

Recently I had the honour of being invited as guest on the “Gourmet Jury” at the First Haute Cuisine Paris gastronomy event in the gorgeous Palais Royale Gardens. Over two days I sat on a gourmet-jury style ‘tasting panel’ organised by Madeline Market, where I had the pleasure of discovering some of the finest, freshest and most innovative products on French gastronomy scene. (What a dreadful way to spend a weekend… ) These two days opened out a whole new world of flavours, products, cooking techniques, trends and personalities that I figured are best shared with other food lovers, rather than left as memories in the form of photos on my iPhone and jotted notes in my little black notebook.

In this post I summarise and feature the highlights and most noteworthy of my delicious discoveries, from the finest Ibéric Jambon with a nutritional lipid profile comparable to olive oil, through to an exotic Japanese Turnip, exceptional Italian Carnaroli Rice and incredible micro-herbs that literally explode on your tastebuds. Here I aim to be your ‘French Food Correspondent’ in sharing these delicious discoveries.

This is the part where I add my little disclaimer to confirm that none of the references in this post, (or on my blog for that matter) are of a commercial nature. I like to promote people and products simply becasue I think they’re great, not because I’m paid to do so. Voila!

Plate of Jamon by Origine Gourmet

‘Jamon’ variety Ibéric Jambon from Origine Gourmet (Patte arriere du cochon).
Photo credit: Barbara Siegel

Day one was all about Jambon. I must say, when I was first asked to sit on a panel purely involving the degustation and discussion of Ibéric Jambon, I was admittedly a little intimidated. For someone who had spent a large portion of her adult life as a vegetarian, the invitation was both exciting and slightly daunting at the same time. My former choice to lead a vegetarian lifestyle was what I believe originally contributed to my passion and curiosity for food from an early age; but the main drivers were the ethical, animal rights and environmental sustainability issues linked to the meat industry.

Little did I know, man did not make all Jambon equal. Many of my generalised preconceptions of this product were dispelled through the discovery of this premium, artisanal Ibéric Jambon. Meeting Pierre-André, founder of Origine Gourmet was a big eye opener. This man is on a mission to source and distribute the finest range of gourmet delicacies produced with the greatest respect for terroir, tradition, quality, and artisanal farming techniques and methodologies.

We sampled four kinds of Ibéric Jambon on the jury, each was a unique discovery in itself- exhibiting its own distinct personality and flavour profile. Tasting a fine jambon of this quality is a sensory experience on so many levels. On the palate, it not only apports an incredible array of subtle flavours ranging from red fruits, vanilla and cinnamon to hazelnut, wood and truffle, but it brings one of the strongest sensations connected to ‘terroir’. At the moment of tasting this jambon- you really get this feeling of being magically transported to the place of its origin. An unexplainable connection between the product and the land, was produced from becomes evident through the aroma of earth, truffle, soil, wood, and fruit. I’m also convinced that the strict production methods employed in producing these special products is at the heart of this. The ‘Jamon’ variety for example, (pictured) requires up to four years of careful treatment, processing and ageing following strict traditional and artisanal methods, before the product is finally ready for the market.

A Labour of Love:

Salted for up to 15 days at a constant 5 degrees, then temperature controlled for a further 60 days at 80-90% humidity, the Jamon is then matured during a careful drying process which ensures the gradual and uniform diffusion of fats into the fibrous tissues. The maturation process lasts up to 9 months at 30-35 degrees at 70% humidity with the entire process controlled daily by a “Maesto Jamonero”. Finally the maturation is completed in special ageing caves which allow a natural constant temperature of 10-20 degrees at lower humidty, where the Jamon matures for 20 to 30 months when finally, at the end of the long process, the moment arrives when the Jambon becomes “Jamon”.

Aside from the slow, strict artisanal maturation and treatment process, almost more importantly is the story behind the original product- the actual animal that was raised under the most ideal of living conditions and with great respect for the health, well-being, happiness and physical state of the creature during its lifetime. The ‘Ibérico’ Cochon is a specific breed perfectly adapted to allow for cohabitation with other species- usually impossible with other varieties.

Honestly, these animals have a pretty awesome lifestyle. For the first year and a half, they are raised in vast open enclosures that permit the farmers to have a greater degree of control over their diet. Come October, they are released completely into the wild where they graze at full liberty in oak forests and dramatically increase their body weight until 60% of their body fat percentage is composed of fat tissue. Roaming and grazing with reckless abandon in bountiful open spaces sounds pretty good to me.

The ‘sacrifice’ of the animal is obviously an important part of the process and is carried out in a manner observing the utmost respect for the creature, and in the most humane way possible. Finally, each portion of the cochon is used to produce one of four uniquely different types of Jambon: Paletta, Jamon, Lomito and Lomo.

Furthermore, all of these utopic conditions bring specific health benefits to the product: Nutritional profiling studies on this Ibéric Jambon reveal large antioxidant properties and very high levels of Vitamis B1, B6, B12 and Oleic acid (Omega 9)- the cholesterol-lowering substance normally found in olive oil. Pas mal.

And the price, you may ask? Naturally, due to the highly idyllic conditions involved in all of the above, the Ibéric Jambon is sold for between 180 € and 450 € per kilo. It recently became available for order online with international shipping on Madeline Market where you can buy it in 100 gram packs staring from 18 €.

Rachel Bajada- Degustation de Jambon Iberic, Jury Gourmand Paris

Passion for quality- Pierre André Rouard and Jean Bernard Magescas. Trying to explain the subtleties of terroir and Ibéric Jambon... in French.. not easy!
Photo credit: Barbara Siegel

Extra-ordinary Vegetables:

During day 2 on the Gourmet Jury I discovered the fine, exotic Japanese vegetables of Asafumi Yamashita. I never imagined myself getting so excited by a pretty plate of diced raw vegetables, but the result was what I imagine would occur if Monet, Marimekko and Louis Vuitton threw a party in a veggie garden. Yamashita could honesty transform a hairy celeriac root into a plate of art with a few simple flicks of his Samurai grade vegetable knife and the elegant gestures of a skilled calligraphist.

Assiette des Legumes cru par Yamashita

Beauty in simplicity. Seasonal vegetable tasting plate by Yamashita and Sylvian Sendra, Chef chez Itineraires

Yamashita – a Japanese expat who moved to Paris more than 36 years ago to study French at La Sorbonne; through a turn of fate, fortune and pure talent has become somewhat of a French celebrity gardener. His story is both fascinating and inspiring.

Originally Yamashita was a practicing Bonsai artist when he first set himself up in Paris, until one fateful day when nearly all but two or three of his Bonsai trees were stolen. Unsure of what to do next, he turned to his other passion and natural talent- growing vegetables. Notably, there is one thing these two beautiful artisanal crafts have in common – the artful gesture (which really does sound much nicer when the French say it as “le beau geste”).

Asafumi Yamashita and Sylvian Sendra Cutting Vegetabes

Asafumi Yamashita and Sylvian Sendra

Before long, Paris’s top Michelin-starred restaurants were practically fighting over access to his limited supply of rare and exotic vegetables; all carefully cultivated personally by Yamashita on his own farm and hand delivered in person twice a week to a very select number of top restaurants and hotels. Today Yamashita’s impressive clientele list includes le George V, l’Astrance, Ze Kitchen Galerie and Restaurant Itinéraries (one of my favourite tables in Paris).

Yamashita and Sylvain Sendra- head chef of restaurant Itinéraires, united produce and passion to prepare a selection of vegetable assiettes for the Gourmet Jury. The simple manner of preparation, cutting techniques and insanely fresh, quality nature of the produce itself created sheer delight. I have never tasted fresh corn so sweet, crisp and starch-less in my life… special varieties of fresh Broccoli, cut separately to distinguish the flavour and texture of the stem, leaves and florets… rare Caviar Tomatoes, Red Carrots, Kabodjian Pumpkin, Japanese Herbs and one star vegetable that stole the show: “Le Kabu”.

Brioche with Kabu (Japanese Turnip) et confiture

A surprisingly delightful combination. Brioche au 'Kabu' (Yamashita's special Japanese Turnip variety) and confiture

The Nobel Prize of Root Vegetables goes to this incredible variety of white Japanese turnip (pictured on brioche and jam above). We tasted this impressive variety both simply sliced raw (visible on the base of the vegetable assiette on right) and also whipped up by chef Sendra in a surprisingly delicious combo with Brioche and confiture (fruit jam).

Let’s face it… turnips are normally such an unsexy vegetable. But the Kabu is no ordinary turnip. Unlike the turnips I am accustomed to (and generally not a fan of), the Kabu does not exhibit bitterness, starchy character or a dense fibrous texture. Its exterior is soft and slightly spongy, the interior flesh is delicate and refined with a slight apple-ish sweetness and the density is somewhere between the crunchiness of carrot and soft sponginess of a raw zucchini. When in season, Yamahita produces up to just 300 per month. Unfortunately, supply of Yamashita’s exotic delights is not available to the general public, so if would like to sample Yamashita’s produce, you have one of two options: either dine at one of the restaurants he supplies, or reserve well in advance for the real deal- a long lunch in his very own on-site garden restaurant where you can visit the farm and sample his produce over a delightful ‘discovery degustation menu’.

La table d’hôte de Naomi et Asafumi Yamashita, 35 € per person for lunch and 50 € for dinner. Reservations a must. +33(0)1 30 91 98 75

Incredible Cress:

Have you ever wondered how many of today’s top chefs manage to pack so much flavour and subtlety in their creations whilst keeping them perfectly well garnished and stunningly presented? Slowly I am discovering some of their tricks, and one of the secrets lies in their access to and clever usage of a commercial range of micro-herbs and specialty ‘Cresses’ – fast becoming big business in this industry.

Paris Restaurnant dishes from Kei and MaSa using Specialty Cress

Decorative Dishes: Kei Restuarant Paris using flowers and microherbs,
MaSa Restaurant Paris using Scarlett Cress

On the Gourmet Jury we tasted a wide range of these tiny, delicate ‘mini cresses’, flowers and micro-herbs supplied by Koppert Cress. The range across these special products is just overwhelming. I had never been exposed to such a diverse array of products like this in Australian restaurants to my memory, so for me it was a real eye-opener.

Here are some of the most interesting products I tried:

Dushi Buttons – (pictured) These tiny white flower buds burst with sweetness and minty, chlorophyll-like flavours; it’s most often seen used by chefs in desserts, with marshmallow, or to compliment goats cheese

Scarlet Cress – A deep red, decorative cress with earthy spinach and beetroot flavours. Often served with fish, meat and game. (Pictured in photo from dish at MaSa)

Limon Cress – (Pictured) From the basil family, this powerful leaf has strong aniseed and lemon character. I have seen it used in restaurants to flavour sorbets and garnish fish.

Honny Cress – An amazing leaf with neutral sweetening properties. Similar to Stevia, this product will no doubt soon be widely used as a natural sugar alternative

Elephant Garlic flower (buds) – Tiny purple flower buds from the Elephant Garlic plant. Packed with aroma and sweet garlic flavour

Salty Fingers– A plant grown along the coasts of tropical America and Asia. It’s crispy, salty, slightly bitter with a cactus-like texture.

Sechuan Buttons
– These inconspicuous little yellow flowers are seriously feisty and create more of a ‘sensation’ rather than flavour experience. Thank goodness that was the last one we tried- my tastebuds were on fire and completely out of action for a good 20 minutes after that little piece of dynamite landed on my tongue!

Plate of Scarlet Cress

Scarlet Cress - exhibits the delicate, earthy flavour of beetroot

Limon Cress and Dushi Buttons

Incredible Cress: Limon Cress (left) is packed with aniseed and lemon flavour.
Dushi buttons explode with sweet mint-cholorphyll flavour

The Italians:

Now, what food event is complete without something fine and Italian? No, I’m not talking pasta, or cheese, or Italian dolci- this time it’s Italian rice.

I have the lovely Sophie from Gourmetise to thank for this little discovery. Sophie is the ultimate specialty food hunter. When she told me “You simply must try this Italian rice” my response was something along the lines of “It’s rice, Sophie. Rice is rice, what’s honestly so special about it?”

In the end, I did try this rice, and really, I was blown away. I love it when something so simple is just so darn good. This special variety of Italian-grown and produced rice grain called “Carnaroli” by Acquerello was cooked using the absorption method, with a little olive oil and sea salt for good measure- and that was it. I would have been happy to eat that as my lunch for a week straight- honestly.

This special rice is grown, aged and processed on the 16th Century Colombara farm by the Rondolino family in northern Italy. They use a patented whitening process whereby the unhusked whole rice grain is aged for at least one year then slowly and gently whitened using a helix then restored with it’s original rice germ. The end result is this superior product that retains the nutritional profile of brown rice but cooks similarly to Arborio – staying perfectly intact without losing starch or vitamins.

I made a risotto with it recently (guided by the expert instruction of an Italian friend of course) just to test it out myself, and the results were superb. (Check out the risotto we made here).

Photo of Acquerello Rice

Acquerello Rice. Not just ordinary rice.


The Art of Eating:

Now finally, you have probably noticed by now how much I love CHEESE so I just couldn’t go past this gorgeous creation by designer Sebastian Bergne who exhibited his “Eat & Drink” table-wear range at Haute Cuisine Paris. No kitchen is complete without a good cheese board, and besides, you need to order one to go with the cheeses you can smuggle through the French border, next time you’re in town.

Cheese Board by Sebastian Bergne

Coup de Coeur - Beechwood 'Jerry' cheeseboard.
The understated elegance of Sebastian Bergne design.

Palais Royale Gardens, Paris

One of my favorite city havens. The gorgeous gardens at Palais Royale, Paris.
Photo credit: Barbara Siegel

Food trends: Cooking with Agave Syrup Recipes – Baked Ricotta, ‘Bananatella’

10 Feb featured_image_bananatella
Toast with coffee and chocolate spread

Bananatella, toast and coffee

Recently I was designated cook and hostess for a group of friends at Sunday brunch. Somehow I found myself cooking for one diabetic, one person on the Dukan diet, one health food junkie, three normal (habitually black coffee drinking, pain au chocolate munching) French people, and of course, me- a kind of confused mix of the all the above!

So… instead of breaking into a cold sweat and ranting that it was bound to become a “catastrophe” I decided to have fun with the challenge by attempting a few recipes that would hopefully satisfy the sweet tooth, whilst being suitable for those unable to consume, or choosing to limit/avoid sugar.

Here is what landed on the brunch menu:

• Scrambled free range eggs with fresh goats cheese and chives
• Smoked Salmon with fresh lemon and dill
• Traditional English scones with butter and jam (I love cooking English food for my French friends as it’s so amusing to me when they say things directly comparing it back to French food, such as: “Oooh… la scone.. it kind of feels like a brioche and tastes like a crepe” LOL)
• Sweet Baked Vanilla Ricotta with fresh Orange and Mint Fruit Salad
• Bananatella Chocolate Spread/Pâte à Tartiner

• Traditional baguettes and country sourdough from the local Jacob’s boulangerie

Outdoor oven

No, unfortunately that's not a pizza oven

Kids playing in the garden

Winter in the south

I’m happy to report back that the Light Bananatella and Sweet Baked Vanilla Ricotta were successfully pulled off without adding any sugar, or artificial sweeteners. Instead, I used my new favorite and most indispensable ingredient: Agave syrup, also commonly called Agave Nectar. Known to the Aztecs as the “Nectar of Gods”, this product really is a God-send.

In France, Syrop d’Agave is now so popular that you can find it in nearly all major supermarkets, either next to honey (and it’s often cheaper than honey) or in the health food isle. It’s widely available in Canada and the US, but in many other regions it can still be either impossible to find, or hiding on a back shelf wearing a huge price tag in an organic food store. Either way, you should be able to source it for a good price and easily buy it online, regardless of where you’re located.

If you don’t yet know what all the rage is about, here’s what you need to know. Agave syrup is made from… you guessed it- the agave plant. That’s right, the cactus grown in Mexico that’s also used to make tequila. Now here’s the catch. It’s not exactly calorie-free, but it’s so low ‘GI’ that it does not provoke the insulin reaction in your body that sugar does. This is very good news for diabetics, dieters, or anyone like me who loves to cook sweet yummy treats but likes to “have her cake and eat it too.”

Agave syrup has a very high proportion (around 90%) of Fructose, which in isolation has a very low glycemic index. Agave syrup is also approximately 1.5 times sweeter than sugar or honey and is perfectly suitable for baking and cooking at high temperatures.

To put things into perspective, any food with a GI rating of 55 or less is considered ‘Low GI’. Table sugar has a GI of 68, honey is approx 55, raw apples have a GI of 40 and Agave Syrup ranges between 11 and 19. Very sweet numbers, I must say.

Anyway, that’s enough about the numbers… let’s move on to the fun part- sharing the recipes! Below you will find photos and recipes for the sugar-free Baked Ricotta and the homemade Low-fat, Sugar-free Nutella Substitute I have aptly named “Bananatella”. I know, I know, nothing can ever truly replace Nutella, let’s be honest, but this recipe which uses agave syrup and naturally caramelized bananas to give it texture and sweetness is smooth, rich, satisfying and delicious- also great when served on toast for kids at breakfast.

Do you have any experiences or tips cooking with sugar alternatives? Have you already cooked with Agave syrup? Feel free to join the conversation by using the comments box at the bottom of this post.

Recipe: Sugar-free Sweet Baked Vanilla Ricotta with Orange & Mint Fruit Salad

Baked Ricotta with Orange and Pistachio

Sweet Baked Vanilla Ricotta with Orange and Pistachio

Serves 8-10 and keeps for over a week refrigerated.
This baked cheesecake is easier to turn out and slice when it is cold, so you can bake it the day before you wish to serve it, slice it when it is cold and then let it come to room temperature. It is best made in a nonstick loaf tin, 25 cm (10 in) long, 5 cm (2 in) wide and 7.5 cm (3 in) deep, or a round, hollow cake tin (as pictured).

You can also substitute the vanilla bean for lemon zest, or add cinnamon and nutmeg to the vanilla version. Use the firmest, freshest ricotta you can find. The pre-packaged product in the supermarket is far inferior to deli-fresh ricotta. If you don’t have the choice, you can use the softer, packaged cheese but strain it for an hour in a fine sieve to reduce the water content. It’s near impossible to find fresh ricotta in France, so I now substitute with a fresh cheese from the south of France called Brousse and I use the low fat (3%) variety.

Ingredients:
3 cups (800 g/1-3/4 lb) fresh ricotta cheese (low fat or regular)
2 free-range eggs
1 vanilla bean pod
4 tbsp agave syrup (or sweetened to taste)
2 oranges (optional for decoration)
Handful of chopped pistachios (optional for serving)

Fresh Orange and Mint Fruit Salad:

4 oranges
3 cups fresh orange juice
½ tsp cinnamon (optional)
½ bunch fresh chopped mint

Directions:
To bake the ricotta, preheat the oven to 150 degrees C (300 degrees F). In a large bowl, whisk together the ricotta and the eggs. Split the vanilla bean and scrape in the seeds. Add the agave syrup.

To decorate the cake, peel 2 whole oranges and remove all rind. Slice the oranges finely and place them around the sides of the tin. Pour the ricotta mixture into the tin and cover with aluminum kitchen foil. Prepare a bain-marie by placing the tin into a slightly larger baking pan and pouring in enough hot water to come about half-way up the side of the tin. Carefully place the baking pan in the oven. Bake the ricotta for 40-60 minutes, until the top is slightly golden and the cake feels firm.

When the ricotta is ready, remove the loaf tin from the bain-marie and remove the foil. Let the ricotta cool, then cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate. When it is cold you can gently turn it out of the tin and slice it as required.
To make the fresh orange salad, peel 5 whole oranges and cut into round slices. Transfer to a large serving bowl and add orange juice, fresh mint leaves and cinnamon (optional).

Orange and Mint Salad

Orange and Mint Fruit Salad

Recipe: Sugar-free ‘Bananatella’ Chocolate Spread / Pâte à Tartiner

Nutella toast dipped in coffee

Coffee dunking- the French way


Ingredients:

2 overripe bananas
4 tbsp quality cocoa powder
3 tbsp hazelnut oil
2 tbsp skim milk powder
3 tbps hot water
5 tbsp agave syrup
1 tbsp fromage blanc or thick greek yoghurt

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C. Pierce a small hole the skins of the bananas with a knife and wrap them in foil. Bake slowly till they caramelize in their own juices for approx 1 hour. Once cooled, scoop out the flesh from the skins into a mixing bowl and mash the bananas with a fork. In a small, heavy based saucepan on low heat, combine the hazelnut oil, half the agave syrup and slowly sift in the cocoa powder till combined into a thick paste.

Add the hot water and skim milk powder and whisk. Transfer the chocolate paste and banana to a food processor (or you can use a hand blender in one bowl) and process all the ingredients together on high speed. Add the remaining agave syrup and the fromage blanc. Pour into clean and dry glass jam jar or conserve pot, seal and refrigerate. Keep refrigerated and well sealed after serving. Enjoy!

Dunking toast in coffee

Toasties dipped in chocolate spread

Blue french shutters

The light wasn't quite right the day they painted the left panel ...

How to stay thin in France: The gourmet Dukan recipe edition!

1 Nov thumb_thininfrance

Dukan Gourmet Recipes

Ok, I admit- I have been quiet these last few weeks, but there is a good reason- I have been on the dreaded D word. Yes, a DIET- but not just any diet… the Dukan Diet.

If you’re not already familiar, it’s the diet developed by a French Doctor by the name of Pierre Dukan which until early this year was well known to the French but only available in the French language. Now that the book, and his online program have been published in English, the diet’s popularity has exploded. All four of Dukan’s print titles are currently in Amazon’s France’s top 100 bestsellers, and the Dukan regime even has it’s own product line in French supermarkets.

In Paris, I’m surprised that café’s haven’t already started offering an entire Dukan menu since it’s becoming hard walk into a café without noticing someone ordering a plain steak or piece of grilled fish- no sauce, no oil, no accompaniments. Sounds boring? Only if you let it be. Bottom line is, this diet is becoming super popular because it actually works. Firstly, you will never feel deprived or hungry since portions are not limited on a key range of protein-based foods, and if you can get creative in the kitchen, it’s possible to eat deliciously well on Dukan.

So, in tribute to the Dukan diet, this post is dedicated to sharing the best six recipes I developed or adapted from the program, all of them based on Pure Proteins since these are by far the most difficult to adapt. All the recipes are one-bowl wonders (except the tiramisu and scallops), easy to prepare, and will keep in the fridge for up to a week. And for the non Dukanese among you, a Baked New York Lemon Cheesecake with 1% fat, next to no carbs and zero sugar that tastes just as good as the real thing can’t really do any harm!

… Note that the title of this post is not “How the French stay thin”- (that I am still trying to work out), because by no means am I suggesting this diet is a key reason for the visibly svelte and seemingly effortlessly slim French population. Oh and by the way- the belief that French woman do not diet, I can assure you, is also a complete myth!

A Savourer!

*A few things to note on ingredients

Sugar substitutes

All the dessert recipes require a non-caloric sugar substitute. Depending on what country you’re in, there are numerous options, some better than others. Ideally, if you can get it, Stevia is the way to go since it’s a natural plant extract and you can consume it with the confidence that it won’t contribute to cancer or memory loss somewhere down the line (which is a potential and debatable risk factor with aspartame, and saccharin based sweeteners).

If you are baking, the trick will be to find a product that keeps its molecular structure and thus sweetening properties above 100 degrees celsius. In Australia there is a great product called Natvia – anything Erythritol and/or stevia based is ideal.

Fromage Blanc

Widely available in France, and a few other European countries, this dairy product is indispensable for Dukan recipes. The 0% version is what I use in all of the recipes. If you can’t source this product, you can try 0% natural or Greek yoghurt, however the or Fromage Blanc or Fromage Frais has the benefit of being much thicker, heavier and creamier thus making a great substitute for mascarpone or sour cream. Bio/organic brands or dairy products are always preferable if you can find them and of course don’t mind paying a bit extra.

Low fat cheeses:

Cottage Cheese. A traditional English cheese which has a creamy, curd-like texture. If  you can’t find it, any textured low fat curd cheese like farm cheese is a good substitute for the rice pudding recipe.

Ricotta. In France, low fat ricotta is non-existent. If you can source this, it’s a much better option to replace the whipped cottage cheese in the New York baked cheesecake recipe.

0% cream cheese. In France you can use Carre Nature by Elle & Vire 0% fromage frais which is a delicious fat free spreadable cream cheese. Otherwise, Philadelphia brand is widely available

Recipe

Mimosa Egg Verrines / Dukan œufs mimosa en verrine

Mimosa egg verinnes

Curry, Mustard and chives egg verrines- delicious!

(Makes 2 verrines)

Cooking time: 10 mins. Total preparation time: 20 mins.

This recipe is an adaptation of œufs mimosa en verrine from the September issue No, 135 from Cuisine et Vins de France Magazine

Ingredients:

3 large free range eggs
½ tsp curry powder
1 heaped teaspoon medium Dijon mustard
1 tbsp fromage blanc/frais
½ tsp wholegrain seeded mustard
1 tsp lemon juice
3 tsp finely diced chives
Sea salt
Fresh cracked black pepper

Directions:

Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil.  Hard boil whole eggs (in shell) for ten minutes and then remove from boiling water. Place eggs into a bowl of iced water and leave for 10 minutes. Drain water then gently peel away and discard the egg shells.

Delicately slice open the 3 eggs and separate the yolks, placing the yolks in a small separate bowl. Finely chop the egg whites into small, even squares using an egg slicer if you have one. Separate the chopped egg whites into two small bowls. In one bowl, add to the egg whites  the chopped chives. To the other whites mix in the seeded mustard, fromage blanc, lemon juice, sea salt to taste. Gently crush the egg yolks with a fork and mix in the curry powder and Dijon mustard.

Arrange evenly in a verrine starting with the chive mix, then the egg yolk, then the egg white with mustard. Top with cracked pepper and chives to serve.

Dukan egg verrines

Mimosa egg verrines

Recipe

Smoked cod, green pepper and dill terrine / Terrine de cabillaud fumé, à l’aneth et au poivre vert (façon Dukan)

smoked fish terrine

Smoked cod terrine with green peppers and dill

Preparation time: 15 mins. Cooking Time: approx 45 mins.

This dish is really easy to throw together and will keep for up to a week in the fridge. No bowls, minimal mess. All you need is blender/food processor and a bread loaf tin or pyrex baking dish.

(Makes 1 large terrine loaf)

Ingredients:

1 whole side fillet smoked cod (approx 500 g). You could also substitute for smoked mackrel, trout or herring
6 medium free range eggs (5 large)
3 tbsp fresh dill
2 tsp green peppers (preserved in brine)
½ tsp grated lemon zest
250 grams firm tofu
250 grams silken tofu
1 tbsp cornflour
2 tranches sliced smoked salmon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 180 C. Remove skin from cod fillet and slice fillet width ways into 1 cm slices. Put aside.  Put off-cuts of fish into food processor. Into processor bowl, add eggs, tofu, lemon, 2 tbsp dill, 1 tsp green peppers and cornflour. Pulse all ingredients until just combined.

Pour mixture to 3 cm depth in tin and then arrange a layer of smoked cod slices. Add another 3 cm layer of mixture and layer on top with remaining smoked cod slices. Add remaining mixture to tin until 3 cm from rim. Arrange smoked cod slices, remaining fresh dill and green peppers on top. Bake in preheated fan-forced oven for approx 45 mins or until browned and cooked through. Cover with foil if necessary to protect top from over-browning.  Serve with lemon wedges, cornichons and Dijon mustard.

Smoked cod terrine

Smoked cod terrine served with fresh dill, cornichons and smoked salmon

Recipe

Soy Seared Scallops with wasabi sour cream / Noix de Saint-Jacques à la plancha, à la sauce soja et à la crème de wasabi (façon Dukan)

Scallops with wasabi cream

Seared soy scallops with wasabi sour cream

Super simple. Super delicious. You need a good quality non-stick frying pan for this to work as there is no oil used.
Preparation time: 10 mins Cooking time: 10 mins

(Serves 1)

Ingredients

5 fresh scallops
1.5 tsp low salt soy sauce
2 tbsp 0% fromage blanc*
1 pea sized portion wasabi paste

To serve:

Sea salt
Fresh black pepper
1/4 lemon
1 tsp fresh coriander leaves
Finely diced red pepper/capsicum
½ tsp fish eggs/salmon roe to garnish

Directions

Pour soy sauce over fresh scallops and leave to marinate refrigerated for 30 mins. In a small ramekin, mix fromage blanc, wasabi and a squeeze of lemon juice. Finely dice red capsicum to prepare garnish.

On a heated non stick frying pan or bbq plate, place scallops and soy sauce and sear until browned on each side. Spread wasabi cream on platter and arrange scallops in a row with coriander between pieces. Top with fish eggs, sea salt and black pepper and garnish plate with lemon wedges and red pepper to serve.

Seared Scallops

Recipe

Dukan Tiramisu / Tiramisu (façon Dukan)

Dukan Tiramisu

The Dukan Tiramisu- didn't last long!

This recipe is made in two parts. The sponge cake base is an original Dukan recipe which is then layered with espresso coffee, low fat cocoa powder and sweetened fromage blanc.

Serves 4-5 (can be portioned individually or arranged in one large dish)

Ingredients: Sponge cake base

3 eggs- separated
4 tbsp natural sugar substitute (e.g Natvia)
2/3 cup cornflour
2 tsp baking powder
400 grams fromage frais/blanc*
Dash of vanilla essence

Combine egg yolks, splenda,  baking powder, fromage blanc and vanilla in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until stiff and gradually beat in the cornflour. Fold the egg white mix into the other mixing bowl gently to combine.

Line a flat, lipped tray (round or rectangular) with baking paper, keeping an overhand on the edges. Pour the mix into the tray and spread out evenly. Bake at 180 degrees until cooked through and golden brown on top. Allow cake to cool in tray.

Dukan sponge roll cake

The Dukan sponge roll cake base for Tiramisu recipe

Ingredients: Tiramisu layers

3 tbsp low fat cocoa powder
Approx 400 g 0% fromage blanc
Stevia powder or liquid, to taste
300 mls (or to taste) brewed espresso coffee

Brew espresso coffee and sweeten with stevia. Mix in 1 tbsp low fat cocoa powder whilst coffee is hot (optional).

Pour a layer of coffee in dish of choice. Arrange a layer of cake on top of the coffee. Coat cake with coffee, sprinkle with cocoa powder and then add a layer of fromage blanc- sweetened with stevia to taste.

Arrange remaining layers in the same order until serving dish is full, with the top layer being fromage blanc. Dust top with a thick layer of cocoa powder.

Place and leave to sit in refrigerator for at least 3 hours before serving. The dukan cake is not as moist as a normal cake so the result is better when the coffee has soaked through.

Dukan Tiramisu

Dukan Tiramisu

Dukan Tiramisu

Dukan Tiramisu and coffee

Recipe

No rice vanilla rice pudding / Pudding au riz à la vanille (sans riz, façon Dukan)

Dukan Baked Cheesecake

The Dukan vanilla Rice Pudding ( New York baked lemon cheesecake variation available)

This recipe was a happy accident. It’s a slight variation on the Dukan “Corsican Cheesecake” recipe and the great thing is that when you bake with cottage cheese, the curd of the cheese hardens and forms slightly in the oven giving the same texture as soft rice in a rice pudding. To serve it as rice pudding just put this in a bowl and top with sweetened fromage frais or custard. Otherwise serve sliced like a cheesecake.

Prep time: 15 mins. Cooking time: Approx 40 mins

Ingredients:

5 eggs
600 grams low fat cottage cheese*
fresh vanilla bean powder or vanilla essence
25 grams natural sugar substitute (e.g Natvia)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 160 C. Beat the eggs with a hand held whisk. Add the cottage cheese, Splenda and vanilla. Carefully stir to combine. Transfer to a flan style baking tin and bake for approx 45 minutes. Keep a close eye on the cake while it is in the oven, making sure it does not over cook or brown too quickly- cover top with foil if necessary. Remove from oven when cooked and allow to cool. Serve with custard, yoghurt or sweetened fromage blanc topped with cinnamon and nutmeg.

Dukan cheesecake

Dukan vanilla rice pudding or lemon cheesecake

Recipe

New York Baked Lemon Cheesecake / Dukan New York Cheesecake au citron

This is a further variation on the above which really turns out like a Classic Baked New York Lemon Cheesecake- this one literally takes the cake as my favorite.

Prep time: 15 mins. Cooking time: Approx 40 mins

Ingredients:

2 eggs- separated
4 heaped tbsp fromage blanc*
200 grams low fat ricotta or cottage cheese*
300 gms fat free spreadable cream cheese*
2 tbsp cornflour
½ cup natural sugar substitute (e.g Natvia)
Finely grated zest 1 lemon

Directions

Preheat oven to 160 C. Combine all ingredients except egg whites in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric hand blender until smooth, thick and silky in appearance. If using cottage cheese, beat mixture until the texture smooths out. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff, then beat in cornflour. Slowly fold in egg white mixture to large bowl until combined. Transfer mixture to a ceramic baking dish (as pictured or similar) ans bake for approximately 40 mins or until risen and  golden  brown. Allow to cool completely in fridge before serving.

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