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Baby food but not quite!

Being a mother is quite time consuming and the perfect test to see how you adapt to new situation! As soon as you get around to breast feeding or to organizing bottle schedule, you have to learn how to give real food to your, already, a few months old!
So, here are a few ideas of mix that you can actually use for adults too, mixed or not, to accompany some protein (vegan or vegetarian or meat) and, maybe a few raw veggies to get some crunch.

I cook everything in an electric steamer then I mix and I might add some water if the mix is too thick which can be the case with rice.

You'll have a few * to give you ideas to complete the mix to get an adult meal.

Until now, my baby has eaten all of it without spitting it out!
potatoes + beetroot*
rice + cherry tomatoes
cucumber + millet
parsnip + rice + basil**
quinoa + broccoli
sweet potatoes + mushrooms
turnip + millet
potatoes + parsnip + fresh coriander
fennel + rice***
pumpkin + cauliflower
potatoes + zucchini
celeriac + basmati rice
sweet potatoes + carrots

I either add some virgin olive oil or some organic butter.

It's so great to see my kid test new food and to see the promise of so many shared meals!

* The potatoes and beetroot purée is great and delicious. It would be perfect with some fresh ruccola and goat cheese. Why not a few chopped hazelnuts and for the meat eater, a nice steak.

**I also tried the parsnip and rice with fresh coriander. For adults, adding some freshly grounded coriander would be delicious. I would keep them unmixed and serve it with a curry made with coconut milk and lots of veggies. If you need protein, you can add some lentils or some chicken to the mix.
Don't hesitate to add heat!

***If you use some arborio rice (the round one for risotto), you could serve it with Italian sausage containing fennel seeds or heat some fennel seeds in a hot pan and add cubes of firm marinated tofu.
Marinate the tofu in a mix of olive oil, freshly grounded fennel seeds, salt and pepper.
Add some sauce made with a reduction of white wine, shallots, a little water and saffron. When the reduction is ready add either butter or olive oil to emulsify.


steamed matcha cake

 I do love green tea and I'm always ready to try dessert recipes containing matcha powder (matcha green tea is use in Japanese Tea ceremony).  This tea works beautifully with white chocolate and almond but this recipe makes steamed cake called Mushipan in Japan.

As I used whole sugar (I feel less guilty eating sweets made with whole sugar!), my cakes have kind of a look from the seventies!
But it's delicious!
You  have to eat them the day you made them as they won't be as good when they dry out.
It(s very good with sweet azukis purée but as it takes time to cook, I skipped it this time around.
Néanmoins ils sont délicieux!

For 6
125g flour
3 tsp matcha tea powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 egg lightly beaten
100 ml raw milk
4 tbsp rapadura, muscovado or whole cane sugar
4 tbsp of olive oil (choose a fruity one)

Line 6 round tin with papercups of use cupcake silicone mould.
Preheat your steamer (or the pan on which you'll add you steam basket). The water has to be really hot when you add the cakes in the basket.

In a bowl, mix the flour, the matcha tea, the baking  powder and a pinch of salt.
In another bowl, whisk the egg with the milk, the sugar and the olive oil.
Mix the dry ingredients with the wet ones but don't overwork the dough.
Divide the dough into the 6 papercups and put the tins in the basket of your steamer. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes.
Check if it's done with a skewer or a knife. The blade has to come out clean. 
Take the tin out and leave to cool for about 10 minutes before you eat it.

You can replace wheat flour with rice flour or almond meal.
You can replace cow milk with any vegan one but I love coconut and rice.

It's not possible to make green tea powder at home but for another tea cake, you can infuse green tea leaves in the milk warmed at 60°C for 10 minutes. Filter the milk before using.


savory butternut pie

Even if winter is weird here this year and that some trees are burgeoning, we should try to stick to seasonal food and use colorful squash!
My favorites are the ones I don't have to peel like butternut and potimarron. But you could use any squash to make this recipe if you have some from your garden or from a generous neighbour.

This pie can be eaten warm, thawed or cold. It could be made as a sweet pie like a pumpkin pie but it's another chapter!
You can use any non-animal milk and any spices you fancy.
I was going towards India with coconut milk and coriander seeds.

You could serve this pie with some winter salad like endives. The bitterness of the salad will balance greatly the sweetness of the pie.

Even though I gave you my pie dough recipe at least a thousand times, here is one of the many version I use and that I would eat even with nothing on it!

162g of butter in thin slices
500g of flour (I used T110 semi-whole grain but it would be great with whole grain or even with a gluten free flour like buckwheat)
175ml of water

Preheat the oven at 180°C.
Work the butter with the salt and the flour until sandy (use a pastry blender if you have one). Add the water and mix until the dough doesn't stick to the bowl anymore. Make a ball.
Put some flour on your tabletop and roll the dough to a few mm.
Line a pie tin with parchment paper then add the rolled dough. Prick it with a fork, cover with parchment paper and cooking pastry marbles or beans.
Put in the oven and cook for 10 minutes. take the marbles/beans and the paper away and cook 5 more minutes.

Wash and cut the butternut in half, take the seed away and cut in cubes.
Cook in a steamer for 25 to 30 minutes until completely soft.
I use a blender to mix the butternut with 5 eggs, salt, coriander seeds (about 1 teaspoon) and 400ml of coconut milk (1 can).
With the use of coriander seeds, you get some bites that are more subtle other that are stronger in coriander taste. If you want something more consistent trough the whole tasting, mix the coriander seeds before adding it to the butternut.

Pour the mixture in the cooked pie dough and cook in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes until the custard is completely set.

As said, enjoy warm, thawed or cold!


Tapioca pearls

Hello everyone!

I've been resting at home with a strict diet (last trimester of pregnancy) so I read more cookbooks then made recipes although I fond simple and easy meals to make compatible with the said diet.
As I had to rest and as standing up became harder, I had to find ways to cook quickly. I had fun but I was often frustrated not to be able to do more. Tha's why I've been away for so long! And also because my had is elsewhere, I can't help it!

I did test an ingredient that was in my cupboard for some time. I had read about it but never found the time to make anything with it. Until my mother-in-law came back with an easy recipe and praise about the thing.

I had all the ingredients needed to make an easy dessert. And a way to use those tapioca pearls, at last! Tapioca pearls can also be called Japanese's pearls. It's really pretty! Uncooked, the pearl are very small and white. It looks a bit like some washing powder but a bit larger. When there are in contact with water and heat, it becomes translucent and bigger. It doesn't taste much but it give a good texture to the cream made with it and it's filling (so you can also serve it in the middle of the afternoon if supper will be late!).

Some people use it to thicken soup when there's no time for a real meal (or when our great-grand-mothers wanted everyone to feel full and they hadn't much else to fill everyone's stomach).

And the great thing about it it's that it suits every diet (vegan or not, gluten-free or not, lactose-free or not...)!

Here is the easy and delicious way to use tapioca pearls:
Coco and pineapple tapioca cream for 4: 

60g of tapioca pearls
30cl water
30g rapadura or muscovado sugar (unrefine sugar)
25cl coconut cream or milk
1 pinch of salt
4 unsweetened pineapple slices with the juice
 Rince the tapioca pearl in a sieve and leave to rest for 5 minutes in the said sieve. 
Bring the water to boil and add the pearls. As soon as it boils again, add sugar and salt. Lower the heat, mix and leave to cook for 5 minutes.
Then, add the coconut milk or cream, mix and wait for the next boiling bubble. 
Cover and leave to cool for an hour. Pour into individual bowls and leave in the fridge arount 45 to 60 minutes.
 Mix the pineapple to get a thick coulis, add the juice as you like it. Serve over the pearls just before eating! 

 If you prepare it the day before, you'll need to add more liquid as it tends to thickens with time.

 As said before, it is a filling dessert so serve it after a light meal.

It works really well with any vegan milk (almond, coco+rice, chestnut...) and with any other fruit especially the tangy type like citrus, mango and raspberries. 


White chocolate and matcha tea fondant

Often, I find white chocolate to be too sugary but if you can find the Valhrona kind, you'll have more chocolate butter then sugar. The association of white chocolate and matcha tea, though, is delicious!
Unfortunately, I never found dairy free/vegan white chocolate to sale around here but you can make your own, using chocolate butter, coconut oil and coconut sugar as well as vanilla extract (there are a lot of recipes on the net).
You can use rice flour which is really thin and rice milk instead of cow milk.
For the vegan, I'm sure you know how to replace the eggs either with an egg replacer or apple purée (though you'll find different solutions on the internet, again!)

100g of white chocolate

50g of flour
14g powdered green matcha tea
100g of sugar (it can be less, just taste it)
4 eggs  (white and yolk separated)
40ml of milk (about 3 tbsp)

Turn the oven on at 170°C.
Place cooking paper in muffins tin or use silicone.
Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler.
Whip the egg yolks with the sugar until it whitens.
Add the milk to the yolks then the melted white chocolate.
Beat the whites and add 1/3 to the previous mix. Incorporate delicately before adding the last 2/3.
Pour into the muffin tins, leaving them half empty.
Cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes. But be sure to check after 10 minutes. You don't want your fondant to be too dry.
Leave to cool then put in the fridge until the next day.
Serve cold.

If you use 400ml of milk instead of the 40ml, you'll have something softer which suits summer better. The original ones are great to take away in a school bag or any bag for that matter. SO don't hesitate to bring it to your next pic-nic. 


a summer menu

It has been a while that I didn't share my cooking trials. Don't worry, I haven't stop cooking! But time flew by without me noticing!
So to get your taste buds excited again, here is a seasonal menu (here, we've welcomed summer with open arms; too much rain gets on everyone's temper!).
Of course, nothing's better than a meal shared with good company, a light wind to cool down the atmosphere when the sun goes down, some fireflies to reflect the stars when it's time for dessert...

For the amuse-bouche, I made maki sushi with mango and cod liver, served with wasabi and tamari.
I don't say that the sushi contain cod liver as some had the terrible experience to have to drink cod liver oil to prevent any winter diseases (I was one of them!). But even those with this memory love these sushi!
Then I served tomato and espelette hot pepper custard.
To serve really cold!
 For me, the tomato lover, this custard is perfect! 
Here is the recipe:
Mix 100g of tomato purée with 40 to 50g of tomato paste. Add 1/4 tsp of baking soda if some are sensitive to tomato's acidity.
Add 2 eggs, 5 tbsp of milk (I chose rice milk but do as you like), a good 1 tbsp of espelette hot pepper, salt and minced fresh basil.
Pour into container and cook at 200°C for 10 minutes.
Well if you make bigger portion then me, adjust the time!
Leave to cool then place in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

To accompany the rest of the meal, I made my classic bread cooked in a cast iron pot but I added a goof quantity of butter (coconut will work greatly). As the pot was a bit too big, the bread spread and we had a great golden crust. It reminded me of the ciabatta we used to buy by my grand-father's place but I'm sure they used olive oil instead of butter!

The first course was a tatin pie with caramelized tomatoes and eggplants, served with fresh cheese mixed with honey and thyme. The crust contained parmesan.
The eggplants are ready to be caramelized!
And the result:

The second course was a mix of France and Japan. I make it often with salmon but this time I used colley. Cooked at low temperature, covered with white miso and sake, I served the fish on top of rice paper rolls, minced snow peas and I poured some homemade dashi kombu broth on top then sprinkle the plate with basil, fresh chives onions, and some espelette hot pepper.
Eat it with a fork, grabing the fish with the dashi broth. The white miso will mix with the dashi and the combination will be delicious.

For dessert: the acidity of mango and passion fruit cur, the freshness of mint cream and... 
 ... the crustiness of coconut sablés!
Serve bubbles for the starters, some fresh white French wine (Loire or Languedoc) for the courses and coffe, tea or infusion with the dessert.

It had been a while sinds I last made such a meal but I had great fun!

I hope you have a delicious and fragrant summer!


zucchini sheets pie

The more time passes, the more the process of making pies please me. Don't get me wrong, I've always loved eating blueberry or cherry pies but making them seemed boring.
Now I'm enjoying it more.
Even though I've started with the salty stuff, I'm growing founder of the sweet homemade pies!
So here is a savory pie. I find ti delicious, cheap, easy to make and nourishing. And super easy to adapt to all seasons.
I'm imagining this pie with sheets of butternut instead of zucchini!
When I say sheets I mean really thin slices of the vegetable cut with a mandolin.
You can decline this recipe with any vegetable coming your way: fennel, tomatoes, parsnip, turnip, carrot,...

Usually, I make pies with a gluten free crust. Why? I find it more interesting for my taste buds, it varies my diet and it suits this kind of recipe really well. You get more flavor from one simple dish.

Ingredients for a 24cm pie:
100g buckwheat flour
50g rice flour
30g quinoa flour
1/2 tsp sea salt flakes
85g cold butter cut in cubes or thin slices*
1 small egg (optional)
3 tbsp of cold water or 4,5 tbsp if not using the egg 
1 firm zucchini
1 fresh goat cheese or 200g of ewe ricotta
2 tbsp of mustard

With a pastry blender or with your hand, mix the flours with the butter. When the mix is sandy, add the egg and/or the water.
Add the water little by little to get the right consistency. You need to form a ball.
Wrap the dough in plastic film and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Turn the oven on at 180°C.
Roll the dough on parchment paper and transfer in your pie tin.
You can skip the parchment paper by oiling the tin then cover the bottom with flour.
Prick the dough with a fork and cut as is in the oven for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, cut thin slices of zucchini (almost translucent slices). The best way to do it is to use a mandolin: the slices will have the same thickness and you'll gain time. Watch your fingers though!
On the precooked dough, spread the mustard with the back of a spoon then crumble the cheese on top. Add the zucchini slices. I add them in spiral starting from the outside and I make several layers until all the slices are on the pie. Add salt and pepper. Be careful with the salt as there are some in the cheese already.

Cook the pie in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes. The more the pie cooks the dryer it will be. To get a softer texture, cut the slices a bit thicker or cook for a shorter time.
Don't hesitate to add basil, mint, rosemary, thyme or any fresh herbs you have in your garden.
You have the base, you can have fun now.

* For the vegan and lactose intolerant, replace butter with coconut or olive oil. 
Replace the cheese with:
1,5 cup of cashew nuts: soaked 12 hours in fresh water, rinsed and drained 
1 organic and cleaned lemon: finely grate the zest and juice the fruit
2-3 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp sea salt flakes
Mix the cashew nuts. Add the zest and lemon juice, the nutritional yeast and the salt. Mix for one more minute and taste to rectify seasoning. Use as you would the cheese.