Monthly Archives: March 2010

>Mascarpone and praline chocolate cake

>Mascarpone and praline chocolate cake

Ingredients list:
200g of “Pralinoise” by Nestlé or any other chocolate with praline
Mascarpone 280g
Sugar 50g
4 eggs (2 yolks and 4 whites)
Flour 80g
Cocoa 1 spoonful

This special milk-chocolate lovers indulgence was inspired by a mascarpone chocolate recipe I found on the delightful blog “Le plaisir de gourmandise” but I decided to make my version with whipped egg whites for lightness and praline based chocolate because it is about pure indulgence and the mascarpone already reminded me of Italian ice creams and sweets so the jump to praline (or Gianduja in Italy) did seem quite natural!

So here it is: a recipe I’ve fooled around with as you should with a lover after a plentiful, satisfying Italian feast! Appetite is a good, sensible thing when it comes to life’s best moments!..

Melt the chocolate with a spoonful of water but be careful to do it quickly as milk and almond-based chocolates tend to burn rather fast.

Add the mascarpone and sugar; then beat to melt it all. Beat the egg yolks with a fork and add them in. Whisk the whites until they form soft peaks and add this to the mix, alternating with spoonfuls of flour.

You should have a smooth and light, pale coloured batter. Add the cocoa to strengthen the praline taste- you don’t have too if you are a milk chocolate fan but I like my emotions a bit stronger…

Pour into a cake tin: I use flexipans for this because it is very moist and anything else seems to destroy it by attaching the sides…
Bake it in a hot oven (190 degree C.) for a maximum of 20mn. Take it out when the middle is still wobbly so you get a creamy, slightly runny centre of milk ganache with a light, spongy surround.

Enjoy with a cup of strong coffee – to choose as carefully as the male companion you’ll share this with… He has to be very special- Or you won’t share at all! 

>Forever London


I love living in London because..
…I can walk into a Michelin starred restaurant for lunch and get an unforgettable meal for under £35 !
…I can dress up one morning in a black bin bag and high heels and nobody will bat an eyelid (witnessed recently!)
….I can grab designer clothes for the price of a croissant at DWS sales or TKMaxx
…I can browse the best cookery books from all over the world at Books for Cooks in Portobello,
…I can pick unusual presents in silverware at Bermondsey square any Friday morn,
…I can travel from China to India or Japan just by changing postcode,
…I can walk with the squirrels at Kew garden tree top walkway and admire the giant sequoia from above!
…I can enjoy Lord Leighton’s moorish patio at Leighton House near Holland Park,
…I can have a cocktail in summer on the Roof Garden over Kensington High street,
…I can sunbathe (wishing…) in the Lido deck over the Serpentine,
…I can pop in to Borough market great food stalls and sample the best and the rarest!
…I can loose myself in Daunt Books panelled rooms in Marylebone…
…Or find a gem of a heirloom in the vintage stalls in camden market.
…I can gasp at Harrods Food halls as if I was still discovering them aged 13,
…I can climb on a horse to try and touch “Napoleon’s nose” under the archway of Pall Mall,
…I can go to the theatre on a whim and have to choose from 50 west end shows and 70 Fringe plays!
…I can hear Shakespeare outdoor in the original roof-less Globe theatre,
…I see the oldest door in England, next to the entrance to the Chapter house at Westminster Abbey,
…I can enjoy the beautiful solitude of the Ironwork gallery first floor of the V&A,
…I can meet a friend for high tea at Browns by the cosy fireplace on a cold day,
…I can enjoy boating on one of the most famous river in the world and moor on a heron infested island,
…I can go all emotional, coming across Lawrence of Arabia unassuming town house in Cowley street, Westminter,
…I can go back and again to feast my eyes on Velazquez Rockeby Venus in the National Gallery,
…I can watch “Bright Star” then plan to visit Keats and Fanny’s house in Hampstead next week-end!
…I can shiver in the War room Cabinet in St James, imagining London under the Blitz,
…I can have a movie star moment having tea in the grand William Morris period rooms of the V&A canteen,
…I can picnic on the lawns at Bishop Park (or anywhere else) and nobody kicks me out,
…I can decide to stay in and do nothing of the above : “because it’ll all still be there tomorrow”…

…I can do … pretty much anything I please! …That’s why I LOVE London

I am in a chocolate kind of mood!

>Manille’s melt-in-the-mouth chocolate cake
Ingredients list:
Eggs 6 (whites whisked separately)
Sugar 150g
Vanilla sugar 2 paquets
Dark chocolate 200g ( no less than 70% cocoa)
Butter 125g
Pinch of bicarbonate
One spoonful of cornflour (optional)
One thimble of good dark rum

One very important point when baking is to take all the ingredients out of the fridge at least 30mn beforehand.

When ready to bake, set your oven to 180 degrees. Melt the chocolate and butter on low heat then set aside. In a large bowl, vigorously beat the yolks with the sugar and the vanilla sugar until the mix turns paler and fluffier. Vanilla sugar is sold in small individual portions in France and is an ingredient I have always seen my grand mother make an ample use of! But it can easily be homemade by putting a split vanilla bean into a jar of caster sugar and forgetting it for a little while in your cupboard.

Now whisk the egg whites with a tiny pinch of bicarbonate. At that point I add a thimble of dark rum so the eggs are flavoured and increase in volume due to the added liquid! According to scientist Hervé This you can make up to one cubic metre of snow with one single egg white! But don’t attempt this now… Click and see the video later if you want to know more! Science is amazing when taught like this: I could even see some poetry in chemistry…

Mix the chocolate and the yolk mixture, add the cornflour (not in the original but I find it a good addition), then gently fold in the whites until you have a light, blended mix.

Pour into a deep, lined cake tin and into the oven for 30mn. The cake is ready when the first cracks form on the surface. Do not overcook it – this is truly scrumptious when still moist and creamy inside.

I shared a bite of this cake yesterday with a few good friends and with a second thimble of rum before heading home in the rain! My thank yous to everybody who came.

>Love your Iphone? Then read this!

>For fellows Iphone addicts, you can now swim in an ocean of new wine and food obsessed apps : I need the one where you can play xylophone on half-full glasses of wine! Totally useless and therefore indispensable…

Vin et Internet : les applications iPhone liées au vin se multiplient | 18/03/2010

>Soba salad with king prawns

>Soba salad with king prawns

Ingredients list:
Soba noodles (1 bunch for each guest- love the way they’re tied with a paper ring…)
A few handfuls of baby spinach
3 or 4 sliced Parisian mushrooms
2 shredded spring onions (I have a great little Japanese tool for that with tiny blades that do the job itself very quickly)
1 handful of frozen peas
1 handful of king prawns (frozen or fresh)
1 handful of frozen pacific scallops
1 dash of soya sauce
1 crushed bite-size chunk of fresh ginger
1 dash of rapeseed oil
A few cashew nuts

Oyster sauce , Japanese pickled ginger and wasabi to serve.

This I made twice today for lunch (for me) and for my daughter after school so this recipe is twice tried and tested! Soba is made with buckwheat and a very healthy alternative to wheat pasta.

Put the soba noodles 4 min in boiling water. Drain and rinse under a cold tap. Put aside.

Put some oil in a thick-bottomed pan and quickly fry the parsley and shallots. Turn down the hob and add the other ingredients. Cover and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes on slow heat. The natural juice of the spinach will be released and the other ingredients will be steamed in the pan. All the flavours mingle at once and the slow cooking keeping all the goodness of the food inside the pot. I am a big fan of slow cooking and I need to write about it soon as it is so good for the health as well.

Serve the salad at room temperature with the pickled ginger and the oyster sauce on the side. A pinch of wasabi will make it more real but it is up to your own taste. I love its bite and freshness and would put it on every single seafood if I let myself!

This was fresh and healthy and delicious, hence perfect to open the new season with, in the first days of spring. And to celebrate the first camellia bloom in my garden! Rather later than usual…
Wine note: Riesling, I am told, goes beautifully with exotic food… Any other suggestion welcome, please!