Sunday, March 20, 2011

How to eat a croissant

People might think that since I live in Paris, I would be and should be eating croissants everyday. Wrong. I prefer the escargot (a rolled danish pastry usually with raisins) or the pain aux noix (walnut bread). I was reading David Lebovitz's blog the other day and if the sesame or cereal baguette was crack to him, these two breads are for me.

But on the occasion that I do eat croissants, I like to dress them up. 
Melted Comte, slice of prosciutto, poached egg, salt & pepper.

Honestly, this is one awesome combination. The layers of croissant pastry would soak up the runny egg yolk and the saltiness of the prosciutto and cheese flavors it. It also comes in pretty handy when you have guests or friends over in the morning. Parisians don't eat a lot for breakfast so it's difficult to find fried eggs and bacon around town at a reasonable price. This, you can whip up easily at home, at a friendly budget and impress your friends in the process. Otherwise, it's a good way to treat yourself and savour the beauty of a croissant.

How to Poach an Egg

  1. You'll need a frying pan that is quite deep. Fill it with enough water to cover an egg (about 2/3) and bring it to a simmering boil. It's when you can see bubbles on the base of the pan and some small ones are escaping to the surface. If the water's gone to a boil, don't worry. Lower the heat to bring it to a simmer. Meanwhile, crack an egg into a small bowl.
  2. When the water has reached a simmer, use a whisk and create a whirlpool.
  3. Quickly but gently (be as close to the surface of the water as possible), slide in the egg.
  4. For runny yolks, leave it to cook for 3 minutes. You can also use a wooden spoon to gently fold the edges of the egg whites over the egg. This makes the egg come out neater. 
  5. Take out using a slotted spoon and serve immediately :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


I didn't expect buying honey in the supermarket would be confusing.

There was honey in liquid form and there was honey that looked like...paste (okay, I must be the most clueless person around to be surprised that it's raw honey). Then there was honey in pale yellow, gold, brown and deep brown. The description didn't help either. Honey with orange, honey from flowers, mountain honey, natural, bio and honey from France, Spain and this other country I didn't know the translation for.

I guess I should be thankful to have a variety of choice. But what's the difference in taste? Honestly, I have not a clue. In the end, I just chose whichever looked the most familiar and 'reliable' to me. One thing I know, though, is that honey is delicious in both savory and sweet dishes. 

Remember cafe Le Loire from my previous post? When I went there, I also tried their emmenthal quiche with honey and pine nuts. It's been resonating in my mind ever since. Who would have thought of mixing cheese and honey? Yum! It's one of the best and most surprising combinations I've come across while in France (The first encounter was a baked camembert cheese drizzled with honey. That was amazing too!)

Honey and desserts are, of course, no strange territory. So is a honey pound cake. I found and adapted the recipe from Joy the Baker. A sweet finish to a sweet start.

Emmenthal Quiche
with honey & pine nuts
makes a 22cm tart 

Traditionally, a quiche egg mixture is fully cream with eggs, but mindful of my waistline, I've decided to sub 1/3 with milk. You can do half and half.

250g shortcrust pastry dough (pâte brisée)
3 eggs
200ml double cream
100ml milk
salt, pepper, nutmeg
1 cup grated emmenthal cheese
honey, for drizzle
pine nuts, toasted, for garnish

  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Roll out the pâte brisée and line a 22cm tart ring/pan.
  3. Prick with base with a fork and blind bake until light golden brown.
  4. While the shell is baking, whisk the eggs and cream in a medium bowl.
  5. Season to taste.
  6. Add 1/2 of the grated cheese to the mixture.
  7. After the shell is partially cooked, sprinkle 1/2 of the remaining cheese on the base of the tart.
  8. Fill the shell to the brim with the mixture.
  9. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
  10. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until the top is golden. (I read in a blog that it's good if the quiche is still jiggly but a knife inserted into 2.5cm from the edge comes out clean. If one tests the center, it would be too dry).
  11. Leave to cool in a wire rack.
  12. To serve, drizzle honey and several pine nuts on the individual slices.

Honey Pound Cake
makes 1 loaf
adapted from here

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup buckwheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg and all-spice
190g unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
3 eggs,
1 cup milk
100g walnuts, chopped finely (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Butter and flour a loaf pan.
  3. Whisk the flours, baking powder, salt and spices together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  4. In another medium bowl, beat the butter, sugar and honey until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
  5. Beat in the eggs one by one, beating well after each addition.
  6. Fold in the dry ingredients in 3 additions and alternate with the milk.
  7. Fold in the chopped walnuts.
  8. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and smoothen the top.
  9. Bake for 1 hour or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean (I had to bake it for another 10 minutes).
  10. Remove from oven and leave to rest for 30 minutes before unmolding and cooling it on a wire rack.
Whatever you do, don't start slicing the bread until it's cooled. Or if you must do so, do it carefully. Loaf cakes are fragile when still hot and at school the chef actually said quickbreads are better after a week. I'm not sure about a week...but the honey loaf sure tastes better after a day.


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