Sunday, March 25, 2007

Gâteau à l'orange et à l'huile d'olive

Un gâteau d'origine grecque, semble-t-il, à la page 100 du joli Apples for Jam de Tessa Kiros. Précédant de loin la tendance à mettre de l'huile d'olive partout, et surtout dans les desserts (n'est-ce pas, Pierre, dans ton macaron huile d'olive-vanille), une recette traditionnelle méconnue par ici, qui allie la bonne humeur de l'orange, avant que la saison ne se termine, la santé des olives pressées, et le croquant du pignon grillé.

Idéal avec le thé et pour le petit creux de l'après-midi, surtout avec le temps gris et frisquet qui perdure. La recette est pour deux petits gâteaux, mais on peut en réaliser un gros en laissant cuire plus longtemps, ou faire comme moi et diviser par deux.

Pour un petit gâteau (4-5), voici la recette adaptée :

Préchauffer le four à 180°C. Battre deux jaunes d'oeufs avec une demi cuillère à café d'extrait de vanille. Ajouter 125 g de sucre et 25g de cassonnade, puis 125ml d'huile d'olive légère versée peu à peu en battant bien à chaque fois, 125 ml de jus d'orange fraîchement pressées et le zeste râpé d'une demi-orange. Mesurer 200g de farine et une cc rase de levure et les incorporer. Battre deux blancs en neige avec une petite giclée de vinaigre, et ajouter cette mousse à la pâte délicatement. Verser dans un moule chemisé (20-22cm de diamètre) parsemer de pignons et faire curie 35 minutes environ. Le gâteu va dorer et un cure-dent en ressortira propre. Laisser refroidir dans le moule.
Sous la croûte craquante et les pignons dorés, le gâteau est moelleux, dense et très parfumé. Vraiment un bon gâteau pour le goûter, qui change du gâteau au yaourt et du quatre-quarts.

Sinon, j'ai plein d'autres choses à écrire, notamment sur des nouveaux livres...restez en ligne.

Pour d'autres recettes de Tessa, cliquez ici, , ceci, cela etc etc etc etc etc

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Les petites galettes de la maman de Martin Winckler

Normalement, je n'aime pas trop acheter des livres fraîchement publiés (hors ceux de cuisine) car je les trouve trop cher. Oui, je sais, ça fait de moi une radine, et ça ne soutient pas les auteurs, la créativité, l'art en général et "le livre" en particulier. Comme je ne fréquente pas beaucoup les bibliothèques non plus, mais ça va changer, j'achète donc soit des livres d'occasion, soit des poches, et puis de toute façon j'aime les livres en VO, et je ne lis pas ou peu de livres français.

Mais bon, là, j'ai eu un coup de coeur pour A ma bouche, de Martin Winckler, chez Nil, qui fait partie d'une petite collection intitulée "Exquis d'écrivains". Il y décrit des souvenirs culinaires, et ses mets préférés, y dévoile un peu sa vie de famille passée et présente et son amour des séries télé américaines, que je partage (euh, sauf Star Trek, sorry Martin). Je n'en dis pas plus si vous souhaitez le lire, c'est vraiment très agréable et il y a quelques recettes de sa maman, dont celle de ces petites galettes, sa madeleine à lui, en quelque sorte. Une recette qui lui tient tant à coeur qu'il invite ses lectrices à les confectionner et à lui en envoyer une boîte par la poste, car sa compagne n'en fait pas souvent, trop long, selon lui.
C'est sûr que la pâte colle, même Heidi (pas mon au pair autrichienne, mon KA) s'y fatigue. Mais sinon, rien de bien sorcier. Et puis qui n'aime pas les recettes familiales où tout se mesure à vue de nez au verre...

La recette se trouve ici.
En fait, n'ayant presque plus de farine blanche, j'ai utilisé de la farine complète, ce qui change un peu la donne, et je ne me suis pas embêtée à les dorer à l'oeuf. Il faudra réessayer en faisant comme l'original pour voir, mais ces galettes sont délicieuses, peu sucrées, subtilement parfumées à l'orange. Les plus dorées croustillent, les moins dorées sont fondantes. Il faut veiller à utiliser une huile neutre. La prochaine fois je gratterai un peu de zeste d'orange en plus du jus pour accentuer le goût.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happy St Patrick's Day!

Ireland enjoys a favourable reputation worldwide and is a beloved spot for backpackers and lovers of green, if misty, landscapes. The Irish are generally hospitable and love a bit of craic (fun). The land has changed rather dramatically between my first and my last visits, respectively 1995 and 2004, benefiting from an economic boom and the wealth that goes with it. Hence there are more cars, modern houses and high prices for everything, but that's nothing new for the inhabitant of the Eurozone. Still, it's worth a visit as it still has lots of charm.

This chocolate Guinness cupcake is somewhat misleading in its Valentine's attire, but that is a long story. The recipe is here, or in Feast if you own it,and if you don't, you should. I halved the proportions and ended up with 12 medium-sized cupcakes. Didn't bother to ice them. They are nice little chocolate cakes, but I am afraid they are nothing special for the chocolate cake lover, but that may be because I used 60% fat trans-free marg and a little less sugar. Nigella says a whole big cake is damp, my cakes were not damp, they weren't really dense either.

Also make sure to check out last year's beef and Guinness stew and Irish stew, as well as my soda bread recipe.

And check out Zorra's gathering of recipes for St Paddy's.

On another note, Ireland has brought the world many fine writers, from Jonathan Swift (Gulliver's Travels) to James Joyce (Ulysses), and today's Marian Keyes and Roddy Doyle.
I have recently read Roddy Doyle's latest novel, Paula Spencer, given to me by The Daddy as a Christmas present, as we both enjoy his writing, and can only recommend it. It is the follow-up to a previous novel entitled The Woman who Walked into Doors. It features Paula, a middle-aged cleaning lady, recovering alcoholic and widow of a violent husband. She struggles with her addiction and feelings of guilt (she's had four children), but with the good sense and humour of someone who loves life and is starting anew.
You can read it without knowing the first one, which as I remember it, had more pathos in it. It reflects some of the changes in Irish society that I mentioned earlier.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Harrod's and Indian food

What's the missing link, I hear you ask. None. After going up and down Harrod's schlepping our rucksacks with us ( not on our backs, but at our hands, the Harrod's bouncers tell you that), and, to be fair, letting the Man schlep both bags (our overnight stuff plus some shopping done before in there), looking for elusive Nigella products and taking advantage of the grandly-named Luxury bathrooms, sparing a thought for Diana and Dodi as the lift soared, being very disappointed at the poor range of Living Kitchen items on display and drooling over Le Creuset ovenware that isn't commonly available here (the land of Le Creuset somehow) but way too heavy to add to the schlepping....well, after all that, and a visit to the Old Spitalfields Market beforehand, we were both starving. Craving Indian food.
So we crossed the street (that's where the photo was taken) and looked unexpectantly around until we stumbled on a signed that said, somewhat unappealingly and cheap-style "In Haandi the food is very good" .-I kid you NOT!- That was taken out of context from a restaurant review in a reputable paper. My first instinct was "No way!", but it was late already, there was no other sign of an Indian place around and I thought we might just strike lucky. The menu was posted behind a glass case and there was a sign for us to follow and enter a plain doorway. I looked up, saw nothing upstairs. We followed the signs downstairs, around nooks and finally found ourselves in an understated restaurant (the front was to a sidestreet).
No kitsch at all, not even a myriad-armed goddess on display, just good taste in beige and fresh flowers. The kitchen was for all to see behind a curved glass window in the middle of the room.

Well, that was Knightsbridge, after all, not a dodgy outpost in the 5th tube zone.

There were Indian families sitting around their Sunday dinner, which was a good sign. Our waiter, on the other hand, was only brisk efficiency, no smile except to ask us to move over to another table when a larger group turned up.
But the food, ah, luverly!He had lamb with spinach, accompanied by dhal. I had prawns Kerala-style, with Masala potatoes. Instead of the announced poppadums and pickles, we were served plain naans, but that was for the best. All washed down with Tiger beer. Somewhere recently I read that Indian food goes best with beer (was it in Cupboard Love?). Not untrue. Anyway, I had enough cheap overpriced wine for the weekend on Friday already.

Everything was fantastic, freshly prepared. The potatoes were just perfectly cooked, still had some bite but with melt-in-the-mouth goodness and delicate whole spices, the prawns were, I'd say, fresh (ie not frozen), but the downside was their number (4). They lay in a sauce that was fragrant and spicy. The naans has a sleek ghee finish.
The Daddy's food was equally delicious.

So that sentence was true, the food was very good. Even if the service was a bit curt (though the other waiter was friendlier).

After that, I couldn't manage the sweet I had in mind (gulab jamun), so we left and had time to venture a little farther along the road, faced another disappointment at Divertimenti, a cookshop, regarding Nigella objects. Then we caught a bus and made our way to Waterloo.

I went home with none of Nigella's expensive kitchenware. How do I feel now? Not the worse for it. I am pretty heavy-handed with my stuff, I once let fall and broke a beautifully ornate Tunisian casserole dish only two weeks after I came home with it. It had survived the flight but not my clumsiness. So I guess what I'm trying to say is, I have no regrets. I'll go back to London and buy some of her more klutz-proof gadgets, that is, if I ever track them down...

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

London -dinner at Porter's

Porter's -English restaurant and bar, Covent Garden, London.

The Daddy and I were faced with a challenge : where to dine in London? Before we left, we had booked a table at a posh English restaurant (Rules, also in Cvt Gadn), but finally decided to leave that aside and decide spur-of-the-momentish, whether to go for Indian food, or to a pub, or somewhere else. We did head for Covent Garden, as we hoped to have a drink in a bar afterwards, and there are many possibilities there, not to mention that it's a very lively area, not like our dull residential town. So it'd be a nice change.

I strongly believe that you can only plan so far and you must eventually let the odds decide for you, especially in a strange city (though I must say I used to know London like the back of my hand, but then again, Paris too and things change so fast when you've turned your back for like ten minutes...). The night before that, I had hoped for dinner at Chartier in Paris, but we arrived too late and so missed our chance. We ended up in a funky-looking bar/restaurant around the corner (Le Brebant) having a mediocre meal and worse Bourgogne, being only rescued from annoyance by the conversation of friends long unseen.

Well, back to Porter's, which is done up to look like an Victorian place, but is only dating back to the 1980s. The staff is young and friendly, and the punters are quite varied in age and status. The menu is solid English fare at affordable prices, but surprisingly good. OK, that salad looked a tiny bit frayed at the edges, but everything else was tasty. Fishcakes with spicy tomato relish and fried button mushrooms with a cheese dip.
Real, fresh mushrooms hiding underneath what may have looked like frozen stuff.

The steak, ale and mushroom pie was fantastic, the crust really fluffed up high and the stew underneath had perfectly tenderized meat. The Daddy had shepherd's Pie that was fine too.
The chocolate pudding, which was ordered with two spoons just for a taste of tradition, was sadly kind of a let down. The "chocolate" custard was only spiked with cocoa, and bland as hell, without a trace of sugar, or salt for that matter! The sponge was dryish, with only a couple of chocolate chips in it.

But, hey! It happens! Perhaps that's supposed to be like this? This wasn't a fondant after all.

The guy behind me was boring the hell out of his mum and two kids. I hoped that one of the twins falling asleep on the dining table would have been enough to send him on his way home but he had to entertain the waitress with some obscure story of his own before he paid.

We went for a drink later, at a bar/club drinking hole right in the midle of the theater area. Felt very old and tired all of a sudden. Rode the tube back to the hotel. Fell asleep as my head hit the pillow. Never happens to me usually.

Monday, March 05, 2007