Tag Archives: interview

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.

IMG_0289

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!

>My finger on the pulse! An interview with Books for Cooks owner Eric Treuillé

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Thousands of references line the walls of the space-challenged shop and you can have a delicious and great value lunch every day from the tiny open plan kitchen.
When I discovered it some years ago, tucked away from Portobello market, I could not quite believe my eyes: A whole bookshop dedicated to cooking?! When England’s restaurateurs were still offering bland, ersatz food and the British culinary scene was a no man’s land… Coming from France, as Eric did then, to join a cook’s bookshop in run-down Notting Hill took quite a bit of guts – and plenty of foresight!
We both agree that if London had no food worth talking about back then, it had great atmosphere, brilliant live music and an exciting, promising outlook! But I remember becoming so obsessed in my first college exchanges that I spent an awful lot of my free time translating cookery books found on my English family’s bookshelf. They were dusty, had drab technicolor pictures and it was clear from their covers that they had never been used… But they suggested to me a wealth of local culinary tradition that was so achingly absent from my visits…
Here the books are fingered, glanced through and read by lots of customers, either lounging on the sofa or just standing in the aisle.
If elsewhere in the UK newspapers claim that three independent bookstores are going under every week, Eric thinks the future of the book is bright! His confident smile and charming restaurant trained manners are clearly a hoot with the local Notting Hill clients – but when some Spanish tourists arrive for lunch he greets them with a few words in their mother tongue and they are beaming in seconds.
“Sure, less people are buying books but they are buying more books and quite rightly because the offer now is sensational: The books are getting better each time with incredible photography and the recipes themselves are better written, better designed”.
He does not get involved in Supermarket style price war: “Pleasure before profit!”, he muses. Neither does he worry too much about the competition from the Web: “People might grab a recipe off the Internet but they won’t cook from the Net, they’ll still want a book : they want the whole story!”
We sit down to have a cup of tea near the kitchen where the cook is busy putting the last touches on today’s dishes. Two books have been chosen this morning, Eric or his team then go and buy the ingredients from the beautiful fresh stalls of Portobello market right next door and the menu is worked out around what is in season. The wine is organic and comes from Eric and Rosie’s own vineyards, the meat is sourced from their parents organic farm in England and all the rest is fresh from the market stalls. By now, two beautiful homemade cakes already adorn the counter, waiting for the first punters.
       What are the new trends? I ask. Are cupcakes really out?! 
–   Yes, comes the reply: People are into macaroons right now and not just eating them but making them!
Eric clearly enjoys buying books: a big part of his selection is chosen from publishing houses abroad and some are even on sale in the Spanish or French original version. He sources books out of the beaten track and sometimes picks self-published authors who come to him with a new concept or attractive recipes. This is part of Books for Cooks’ appeal and he is proud of his eclectic tastes.
Eric recommended new books are: Ottolenghi’s “Plenty”- the delicatessen itself is just 10 minutes walk away – and “Meals in Heels” by Jennifer Joyce ; Donna Hay and Skye Gillenghal are both firm favourites too. But his secret love is for a 70s series by Richard Olney called “Time Life, The good cook”: That he is also a book collector comes as no surprise to me! I myself would probably want to own a copy of each book on offer before selling any…
Spending your time surrounded by books and gorgeous food is certainly a dream job and Eric looks like a very happy and contented shop owner: The fact he has just recently become a dad for the second time can only add to his glow! No bleary eyes for lack of sleep there as Baby is already having full nights- I told you some have all the luck!
If I had myself some childless time in London this July I would love to join some of the workshops on offer: Summer entertaining, Flavours of Tuscany or Big flavour barbecue food are on the menu for this month. The upstairs workshop cum kitchen is famous for its great roll of chefs and food writers.
Before leaving, I ask Eric for his favourite addresses in the area:
The spice shop, 1 Blenheim Crescent
Mr Christians’, 11 Elgin Crescent
Ottolenghi, 63 Ledbury road
R Garcia and Sons, 246-250 Portobello road
– I love it too and go for the churros con chocolate on Friday mornings…
Books for Cooks, 4 Blenheim Crescent, Notting Hill W11 1NN
Tues to sat, 10am to 6pm.