Saturday, 31 March 2007

A potent experience... Potence

On Friday night a bunch of us got together for a very interesting dinner. Potence. What on earth is Potence I hear you ask? Well here is the hot story. Potence is french for "Gallows", and consists of a fascinating blackened iron contraption, spiked with long narrow spikes, and hanging from a chain. Meat is skewered onto the spikes (the contraption is pre heated in a fashion I have yet to ascertain) and then once at the table, set over a bowl of rice, and flaming brandy poured over the top. Spectacular and, I can testify, delicious.

Apparently it is a dish originally Hungarian in origin, but I have yet to find anymore details.

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

What to do with leftovers?

On Saturday I made a batch of white chocolate mousse. I had bumped into a friend the day before and we had discussed meeting up, he, his daughter, and I. So when I made mousse, I made a reasonably big batch.

In the end I didn't get together with my friend, so had a mound of mousse... and one can only eat so much mousse!

So what to do with it? Well today I was in the shops and they had shortbread biscuits on sale, and strawberries for just 4 francs for a half kilo. And so, a white chocolate strawberry...umm... thing... was born. Strawberry short bread cake mousse...?

Saturday, 17 March 2007

Chocoholics dream

I met up with some of my GOL friends at the train station and we headed off. There were some 20 stands, each of them offering free tastings of some of their produce. There were some spectacular looking eggs for easter, sculptures of chocolate and some local specialities "paves". There were some people making chocolates, so we could taste a crisp wafer dipped in chocolate warm from the pot. There were fountains of chocolate, and little cups of fresh fruit with chocolate fondue.

I had given myself a pretty generous budget, and bought this array of goodies....

So... what did I buy and why?

I didn't get to taste this one, but I thought it looked rather interesting and has layers of apricot with dark chocolate. Artisan: Wenger

This chocolate is made by a local chocolate making school "Ecole du Chocolat Prangins". I liked the slightly plummy tone to the chocolate, and its chunky artisanal look.

There were a few places selling "Paves" - I am not sure what exactly Pave translates as, but I think it might be something like "tablet". In general they seem to have the similarity of being quite buttery in texture and coated in cocoa. I chose these in particular, because they seemed to be almost crisp to the bite. Artisan: Jean Claude Hochstrasser.

I couldn't resist these slim chocolates; dark (70%) with red peppercorns. Artisan: Nicolas Noz

The simple elegance of the packaging of these chocolates made them irresistable. But horror of horrors, my bottle of orange juice leaked and ruined the card packaging. But the elegant tablets remain untouched. Artisan: Nicolas Noz

The other thing of interest about these chocolates is their provenance. These are made from wild cocoa from Bolivia. I dont know what the difference will be, but look forward to finding out!

I also just HAD to buy this strip of 70% cocoa chocolate, with crushed cocoa nibs. Not too sweet with a delightful crunch. Artisan: M A Cartier for "O'Saveurs"

Last but not least - something very interesting indeed - cocoa mustard. There were two kinds for sale, one which had orange and one just cocoa. I preferred the plain cocoa one as I thought that the orange overpowered the cocoa. Artisan: Celine Ammann (made using organic mustard honey, oranges and vinegar)

Friday, 16 March 2007

Baked Ricotta

500g ricotta cheese
2 small eggs
1 tsp high quality vanilla paste (or 1 vanilla bean)
120g caster (fine-crystal) sugar
1/2 cup of pistachio kernels (unsalted) *

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Beat ricotta and eggs in a large bowl until smooth. Add vanilla paste (or split vanilla pod and scrape seeds), sugar and nuts and combine together well.

Very lightly grease a cupcake tin. Fill with ricotta mixture (I advise trying to make sure that the first spoonful has fewer nuts; just helps later when removing from pan), cover in foil and then place in a shallow oven dish. Fill half way up the sides of the cupcake tin with water, making a sort of bain-marie. Bake for 50 minutes until firm. Cool thoroughly before attempting to remove.

Serve as individual 'cheeses' with a fruit based coulis. The first time I did this I used my mango and pineapple confiture. The second a ginger syrup, which I think would have benefited from a dash of lemon juice.

*I used half pistachios and half slivered almonds as pistachio kernals were brutally expensive

Sunday, 4 March 2007

I am totally inspired by people like Nordjus and Kuidaore, who are awesome.

Speaking of cooking though; a group of friends here in Geneva have started doing challenge dinner parties like we used to back home. Tonight's challenge was aphrodisiacs. I did a ginger fish recipe (my first experimentation with a bamboo steamer; hard to believe that I haven't owned one before!) and a dessert of baked ricotta with a ginger glaze. I was moderately happy with the fish; the fish itself wasn't all that fantastic, but the sauce tasted very good. The ginger glaze was very tasty and I think sat pretty well with the creaminess of the ricotta. The winner of the night for me though, was a wicked chicken 'jerk' dish made by Rosa. Mind you, her chocolate obsession dessert was also very impressive, and Rai whipped up a batch of home-made raspberry lemonade, which was very tasty and also attractive. Actually, really, all of the food was super. Gee I love having foodie friends.

Photos to follow

Next challenge... 'hidden secrets'.

Saturday, 3 March 2007

Dinner with friends

Tonight I had two friends over for dinner. I whipped up a pasta dish - slow roasted baby tomatoes, drizzled with garlic olive oil and fresh basil on fettucine with slivers of parmesan on top. It didn't work as well as I had hoped but was ok.

Dessert was a bit more elegant; a bit of a training exercise for tomorrow night's dinner party.

What is it? Baked ricotta topped with a glaze made of... can you guess pineapple and mango confiture!