Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Laduree - a very elegant gift!

I have a friend visiting for a few days. He is being the perfect houseguest: cleaning up after himself, preparing food for dinner, and this morning even staggering out of bed at an ungodly hour to make me breakfast because he knew that I had to start the day super early.

Today when I got home from work, he had all the ingredients for dinner prepared and ready to cook, and a small but exquisite gift for me.

I don't know if you are familiar with Laduree - it is very famous company based in Paris that makes macaroons. In Geneva we are fortunate enough to have a Laduree shop, and my friend had bought me the elegant and colourful gift of a box of macaroons.

Opening the box was a ritual, slowly appreciating the beauty of the packaging, the elegant ribbons and then revealing the gem bright colours of the macaroons tucked within.

These lovely sweets inspired my friend and I to have a frenzy of photography, arranging and rearranging them. 100 photographs later, we were now faced with the challenge of trying to decide which photos to share with you!

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Christmas Pudding Truffles

It seems a bit late to post up this recipe now, maybe too late for the post-christmas left-overs frenzy. however, Christmas cake and christmas pudding sometimes (however delicious it may have been) hangs around for weeks, and you can be totally stumped as to what to do with it. In fact, as it keeps so well, there is a chance you will have a whole cake from the year before!

Well here is my suggestion as to what to do with it. These truffles are rich and wicked and look ever so pretty. Now the recipe is kinda loose, because I can't predict how much chrissy pud you will have left over, so just have a play and see!

Christmas pudding truffles (original recipe by Kiriel)

Left over Christmas pudding
Grand Marnier (a couple of tablespoons will usually do)
Cocoa powder
Icing sugar

To cover:
Dark chocolate
Green & red royal icing

Note: If you are using christmas pudding which has not yet been steamed, you should steam or microwave it to soften up the dried fruits before making this.

Place the cake/pudding and liqeuer in a mixer. Mix briefly - just enough to get the liquid and solid to combine. Sprinkle over 2 parts cocoa to 1 part icing sugar (try 2 spoons of cocoa & 1 part icing sugar to start) and mix until blended - its fine to keep the texture of the fruit, but the mix does need to be at the point of sticking together.

Now comes the messy part! Roll tablespoons of this mixture into small balls - dusting your hands with icing sugar may help to keep it from sticking to them, and place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Cool to firm up.

Melt the dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Using a fork, dip the truffles in melted chocolate - you will figure out the best method for you, but I found that the stickiness of the truffles meant that it was somewhat easier to bring the truffle to the bowl of melted chocolate on a fork, and then use a spoon to pour an initial coat of chocolate on top.

Let the excess drip off then place them on your lined baking tray. Cool in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes to set.

To decorate, pipe green royal icing holly leaves on to a sheet of baking paper and allow to set overnight (I advise doing heaps of them, as you will discard some as rejects and accidently break some - the more you do, the better they get too!). The next day, take a tiny batch of royal icing in dark red and use it to glue the holly leaves on to the truffles.

Don't they look darling?

Monday, 7 January 2008

Valencia - the eating continues

Wandering along the streets near the hotel we were staying in, we searched for eating options. We came across the "Taberna Hol". For the unbelievable price of 17 euro, they offered a 12 dish meal, including drinks. (a fact we didn't realise until the end when the bill came). Unbelievable.

Ok, so I guess you couldn't call it haut cuisine, but here is what we got for our 17 euros (thats 25 USD, or 28 AUD)

Salad:Bread, sprinkled with paprika:Exquisitely sticky chicken wings
Fluffy potato & ham croquettes:A sort of ham bake:
Crepes filled with gambas & mushrooms
Different sliced sausages & cheese
Rolled pork drizzled with lemon juice & olive oil:
Smooth pate with crisp toasts
Spinach stuffed ham:A country style terrine:Two desserts: a sponge cake soaked in sugar syrup, and a rich chocolate cake:

In fact there was also potatoes bravas, but I didn't get a snap shot of it.

So if you are ever in Valencia, look out for "Hol Taberna", avenida Aragon 14-18. I must warn you, there wasn't a choice - you just got what you got, and you had better like ham!