Choux and choux!

As we would say in French: “There are choux and choux”, as in : not two are necessarily the same, though they might be called the same…

I thought I knew all about choux, chouquettes, gougères and the lot…  I had even made my own overfilled éclairs a few Christmasses ago ( in my trusted Thermomix) and I have to admit I had felt quite pleased with myself. See below!

Hello Boys!

Boy I feel smug!

…That was before I met  “Maître Choux” in Harrington road, South Kensington, and a whole new level of Choux making appeared before me! Shaming my paltry efforts but titillating my taste buds so wildly that I can only forgive and not forget…

IMG_9969 IMG_9616 IMG_0255 “Maître Choux” is a brand new French pastry shop that has opened in the “French Quarter”, between a French Bookshop and a Saturday farmers market, in the most Parisian of London roads… And the mastery shines in a dazzling variety of “petits choux” and éclairs that can only have been dreamed up in a Palace of Dame Tartine or in some kind of foodie fantasy written up for Babette’s Feast! To try any flavour is to get hooked. My favourite is their lemon “petit chou” with a crispy craquelin covering a springy choux base and encasing a tangy  Greek yogurt and lemon filling.

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Me with Jérémie and Joackim at Maître Choux

Myself with Jérémie and Joakim at Maître Choux

“Maître Choux” concept is simple: Just choux, only choux and soon all of them choux! Chef Joakim is an “artiste pâtissier”, ex-Robuchon and The Greenhouse, and his precious little wonders are inspired by fashion, jewellery designers or or simply the London street. The flavours are bold but classic like an éclair in violet and blueberry presented in glorious purple livery or a choux filled with the finest Vanilla beans and topped with a smooth white disc. They use the very best ingredients in foundation flavours such are Vanilla, Pistachio or Salted caramel and hence their opening a few weeks ago was greeted by passer-bys who came to congratulate them, thank them and even bring gifts to celebrate! In an area spoilt with choice and home to some great food outlets, this says something about how different and innovative their offer looks and tastes like.

What do Jérémie and Joakim enjoy about being in London?

They love the creative energy of the city and reckon it is currently Europe’s food capital! So they are striving  to raise the standards for an equally artful and creative fine patisserie scene. No wonder they are busy!

Their little parcels of happiness, in their prettily dotted box,  do not come in cheap though, but believe me it is well worth the spend. Yet because this blog is about democratic cooking and baking, and especially affordable home cooking goodness, I have asked them for one of their best sellers recipe and here it is for you readers in all of its simplicity and perfection. I tried it last week in my kitchen (Thermomix at the ready) and served it to a posse of yummy mummy friends  and babies – verdict was unanimous and very appreciative ! Thank you all at Maître Choux for a very delicious (and affordable) treat.

JoackimTHIS IS THE RECIPE FOR THE LEMON ECLAIR – Kindly gifted by @chefjoakim:

We are listing all the ingredients in order of use during the recipes to give you a clearer view of the process from the start. In order to make things easier for yourself and minimize potential mistakes, weigh and prepare each ingredient in its own bowl before you begin.

Lemon Meringue Éclair

(20 pieces)

Choux Pastry

Before we start, please preheat your oven at 180 degrees, fan off, minimum humidity setting.

Ingredients list:

  • 200g whole milk
  • 300g water
  • 240g butter
  • 10g sugar
  • 8g salt
  • 375g Flour
  • 500g of eggs (approx. 10 eggs)

Bring to boil the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt and watch over the pan. AS SOON AS IT IS BOILING, add the flour and stir firmly with the spatula for one minute or so, until the mix doesn’t stick to the sides of the pan any more. When it does not stick to the sides of the pan any more it means it is ready.

Now take the pan off the heat and add the eggs little by little and one by one until the mix is smooth but not too runny. The hard part in making choux pastry for an untrained eye is in this step: if the mix is too thick it needs more eggs, however the eggs must be added slowly as if it becomes too runny then it will not raise in the oven.

Chef’s tip: Trace a deep line into the choux pastry with your spatula. If the line closes up slowly, then it’s ready!

Lemon Cream

Ingredients list:

  • 250g Lemon Juice (approx. 5 lemons)
  • 220g Sugar
  • Zest of 5 lemons
  • 270g Eggs
  • 300g Butter
  • 100g Greek Yogurt
  • 5g of soaked vegetable gelatin leaves

Before you start, soak the gelatin in cold water.

To make the lemon cream, bring to boil together the lemon juice the sugar and the lemon zests. Once it is boiling, add the eggs and cook for 3 minutes until boiling while mixing sharply with a whisk.

Once it is cooked and still hot, add the gelatin and the butter, then use your hand blender until the mixture is soft

Once it is cold, add the Greek yogurt to the mix and stir with the spatula. It is now ready to use.

Lemon Meringue (optional)

  • 100g Egg White
  • 180g Sugar (divided in 3 portions of 60 g)
  • 10g Lemon Juice
  • Zest of 2 Lemons

Whisk the egg whites then add the sugar. Carry on whisking until the texture is thick then add the lemon juice and the lemon zests.

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Choux Pastry

 Before we start, please preheat your oven at 180 degrees, fan off, minimum humidity setting.

Ingredients list:

  • 200g whole milk
  • 300g water
  • 240g butter
  • 10g sugar
  • 8g salt
  • 375g Flour
  • 500g of eggs (approx. 10 eggs)

Personally, I halved the quantities and so the list looked like this:

Ingredients list B:

  • 100g whole milk
  • 150ml water
  • 120g butter
  • 5g sugar
  • 4g salt
  • 190g Flour
  • 6 medium eggs

Bring to boil the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt and watch over the pan. AS SOON AS IT IS BOILING, add the flour and stir firmly with the spatula for one minute or so, until the mix doesn’t stick to the sides of the pan any more. When it does not stick to the sides of the pan any more it means it is ready. Note : make sure the mix is not too runny or it will not raise but also not too dry or it will collapse soon after! This is where experience comes into… Dry it in the pan or add a bit of water until you get it right.

Now take the pan off the heat and add the eggs little by little and one by one until the mix is smooth but not too runny. The hard part in making choux pastry for an untrained eye is in this step: if the mix is too thick it needs more eggs, however the eggs must be added slowly as if it becomes too runny then it will not raise in the oven.

Chef’s tip: Trace a deep line into the choux pastry with your spatula. If the line closes up slowly, then it’s ready!

Transfer the choux pastry into your pastry bag and pipe into an éclair shape. Do not pipe them too close together as they need space to rise Then keep inside the oven at 180c for 35 minutes until golden.

Have a lovely sunny week!

Goat milk yogurt with orange blossom – not just for kids!

Recently, I have been switching to goat milk for my family yogurt making and here it is, a very easy treat!

Ingredients list:

  • Fresh full fat goat milk 1L
  • Live unsweetened yogurt 1 pot
  • Powder semi skimmed milk 1 potful (use the empty pot above!)
  • Orange blossom water 2 Tbsp

Use the milk at room temperature. If it is fresh and pasteurised, there is no need to heat it.

Add the live yogurt, the powdered milk and the orange blossom water. Mix it all in, avoiding all lumps, and pour in one large pot or individual terracotta or glass jars.

Leave overnight into a warm oven on lowest setting (usually 40 degrees) or use a steamer with a yogurt setting and leave for 8 hours. I use the Magimix steamer and leave it overnight to wake up to deliciously creamy  set yogurt.

You can add berries, jam or honey to this but I just prefer it straight with nothing added, just the freshness of the milk and the orange blossom water.

Obviously, you can do the same recipe still with organic whole cows milk.

 

Mix and pour

Mix and pour

Sark island kid goats

Sark island kid goats

Nutrition notes: Goat milk is generally better digested than cows milk and is part of a traditional Mediterranean diet in the shape of both cheese and yogurt. Try and choose organic milk for it contains less antibiotics and hormones than non-organic ones.

Warm crumble of apples and pears

A beautiful still life!

A beautiful still life!

A new Wild Food Market has blossomed in our neighbourhood and I got these apples and pears from one of the producers’ stalls. It was such a beautiful feature on my dining table I could hardly decide what to do with it!

Knowing that the beautiful Bramley apples turn into a light, soft snow once cooked, I decided to turn my display into a crumble once again…

Ingredients list:

  • 3 Bramley apples
  • 3 or four pears
  • Same amount of Flour, brown sugar and butter (150g)
  • Oatmeal or plain oats, 100g
  • Cinnamon, 1 Tbsp
  • ginger, 1 Tbsp
  • One capful of Orange blossom water
  • Cornflour, 1 tsp
  • A few blackberries (optional)

Butter up a deep dish  – terracotta or oven proof glass is best.

Peel and chop the fruit and squeeze some lemon juice over so as not to oxidise too rapidly.

With your fingers tips, rub the butter into the flour and sugar until it has the consistency of sifted sand. Leaving some bits and lumps is fine too. Mix the oatmeal in.

Add the cinnamon and ginger.

Spread the fruit into the dish.

Drip the capful of orange blossom water. Sprinkle with the cornflour and toss it all together.

Now sprinkle the flour mix over all of the surface, trying to cover it completely.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes at 180 degrees.

Serve warm with cream or ice-cream.

For a slightly different but equally delicious version, check out here my Blackberry and Apple Crumble or a GF version here.

An apple crumble is the very best of classical English baking! Never tire of it.

Have a beautiful week-end everyone.

Almond milk and orange blossom non-dairy yogurt

All the flowers of the Mediterranean shores in one gulp!

A yogurt with aga agar

A yogurt with aga agar

I present you one gorgeously velvety yogurt : sugar free and (almost )dairy-free!

Ingredients list ( for 5 yogurt pots)

  • Almond milk, 700ml
  • Greek yogurt 2 percent fat, 80g
  • Agar agar flakes, 3 tsp (levelled) or 4g
  • Orange blossom water, 2 tbsp

Boil a small cup of almond milk: dust the agar agar over the surface and bring to a slow boil for 3/4 minutes, turning all the time.

Mix it back into the rest of the milk and beat the Greek yogurt into it. You can take this ingredient out if you are lactose intolerant or vegan – it is really there for yogurty flavour in the mix so not essential but groovy.

Add the Orange blossom water (not extract!) or any favoured flavouring (vanilla extract, sugar, honey or anything else).

Pour into small jars, cover with foil and put in the fridge overnight.

You will have a very low-dairy, skinny yogurt that tastes like a dream. The agar agar is a bit tricky to use at first so experiment for the ideal consistency but it is a great help to create creamy dairy free and sugar light puddings…

I ate this straight, as I do yogurts, but feel free to add orange blossom honey or sugar if you like.

The beach is near...

The beach is near…

When I tasted this I felt immediately transported into a mediterranean grove crowned with almond and orange blossom… I love this oh-so fresh combination of tastes: it is super dreamy and makes you feel like you are about to go on holiday! Reach for a picnic blanket and go for a nap in the orange grove…

Darkest Peru magic bullets!

Raw balls of pure energy

Do you feel sometime that you need a break from your daily life? That you are up for a different kind of challenge?! That you are hungry for new views, new flavours, new emotions? Last week, this blog was travelling to Galicia in Northern Spain. You might know that already if you follow me on FB or Instagram… I was walking the millennia old Pilgrim’s Way and feeling way out of my comfort zone…  But loving every minute…

The Way of St James

The Way of St James

Here are some of the items I carry in my backpack :

Energy balls ready to pack!

Energy balls ready to pack!

Lucuma fruity energy balls to sustain my companion and I through the long daily walks! This is a new version of my Energy Balls– this time flavoured with orange , chocolate and Lucuma – a protein packed Aztec powder that a Peruvian friend introduced to me this year. To say my walking companion is addicted is an understatement: I have promised the recipe and here it is.

Lucuma Cocoa and Orange Energy Balls or Darkest Peru magic bullets!
Ingredients list:

  • Cup of almond(soaked)
  • Cup of dates
  • Handful of raisins
  • Zest of one small orange
  • 1 tbsp lucuma powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tbsp linseeds
  • 1 handful sunflower seeds
  • 2 or three squares of very dark chocolate (I use 100% cocoa sans sugar)
  • Cocoa powder and more Lucuma powder to roll in

Mix it all in a grinder /blender until it makes a sticky paste.
Roll each bite into a mix of cocoa and lucuma, as you would for a chocolate truffle! Those healthy chocolatey truffle melt in the mouth and done in the Thermomix, they are smooth and fudgey… Plus super packed with everything you need to walk all day with 8 kg of back-pack!
Store in a metal box. They can keep for weeks but they will not last that long.

We were walking from Santiago de Compostella to Finisterre, the “end of the world” – or at least the extreme western point of Europe!

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 Postscript: You can find Lucuma powder in Peru -but also at your nearest Wholefoods store. It is rich in B vitamins and has a high protein content. It tastes a bit sweet and chocolatey so goes really well with cocoa and orange!