Friday, January 23, 2015

Îles Flottantes with Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream (& Crème anglaise)

Add crushed dentelle crepes or cookies for crunch and texture

We just returned from a three week trip to France and, although the weather was not great, the food, as usual, was terrific.

Our first stop upon arriving in Paris is our favourite little (very little) local restaurant, Le Hide.  It just seems to get more popular every time we have the chance to go.  We became friends with the chef, Koba, when we lived in this wonderful neighborhood and it is always a joy to see his business doing so well.

Every dish is wonderful but I wanted to share my version of one of the best Îles flottantes we ever had.   Koba's version is served with salted butter caramel ice cream - his take on the traditional caramel sauce.  

There are three parts to this dish and everything can be made ahead of time - the ice cream will keep, covered,  in the freezer for a long time - the creme anglaise will keep for 3-4 days and the meringue for 1 or 2 days , again covered, in the fridge.   Hope you enjoy.  

This is a wonderful alternative desert at this time of year.  It is light, cold, white and creamy - perfect!  The combination of textures and flavours is really really good!

Îles flottantes

You will need:
  • 4 egg whites
  • 3 tbsp of sugar
  • 1 tbsp of icing sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • few drop of pure vanilla extract (or vanilla paste)
  • few drops of fresh lemon juice
  1. Preheat oven to 300° F (150° C);
  2. Place the egg whites (4) in the bowl of a stand up mixer (or you can use a hand mixer) with a pinch of salt;
  3. Begin to whip the egg whites on medium speed.  Once they begin to foam add a few drops of lemon juice and continue to whip; (the acid of the lemon juice helps to fluff and stabilize the whites - you can also use 1/8 tsp of cream of tartar for the same effect);
  4. Increase the speed and as the whites begin to increase in size, add 1 tablespoon of sugar.  Add the second tablespoon of sugar after about 30 seconds and once the whites are almost ready, add the final tbsp of sugar and the few drops of pure vanilla extract (the whites are almost ready when you begin to notice the whisk leaving its markings in the meringue);
  5. Finish whipping on high speed until you have a glossy, dense, almost marshmallow consistency;
  6. Once the whites are ready remove the bowl from the stand mixer, sift in the tablespoon of icing sugar and fold gently into the meringue; 
  7. Oil a bread pan and gently scoop the meringue into it, pressing down to create a smooth finish;
  8. Cover with aluminium foil and set in hot water bath to cook (line a deep cake pan with a dish cloth and fill with hot water to 1/3 the way up the bread pan);
  9. Cook for 13 minutes (convection oven - regular oven may take one or two minutes more);
  10. Remove and allow to cool for 10 minutes;
  11. Run a knife along the sides of the pan to release the meringue, turnover onto a plate and remove the mold;
  12. Allow to cool completely, cover and keep in the refrigerator until ready to use (1 or 2 days).

Creme anglaise:
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/4 (50g) cup of sugar
  • 1 tbsp (15ml) of vanilla paste or vanilla extract
  •  1 1/2 (375ml) cups of milk
  1. Heat the milk (1 1/2 cups - 375ml)  and vanilla paste (1tbsp) in a saucepan over medium heat until small bubbles begin to form on the sides (do not boil);
  2. While the milk is heating, whisk the egg yolks (4) and sugar (1/4 cup - 50g) until the mixture lightens in colour;
  3. While continuing to whisk, slowly add the hot milk to the egg mixture;
  4. Return the cream to medium heat and continue to cook until the mixture begins to thicken, stiring constantly.  This should take about 5 minutes - it will coat the back of spoon. 
  5. Allow to cool and cover with plastic wrap - pressing down on the wrap so that it touches the surface of the creme anglaise (this prevents a crust from forming);
  6. Once cooled, keep covered in the refrigeratore for 4-5 days.
Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream (without an ice cream maker)

  • 250g of sugar (divided 200g or 1 cup+ 50g or 1/4 cup)
  • 2 tbsp of water
  • 30g (2 tbsps) of salted butter
  • pinch of fleur de sel
  • 500ml of whipping cream, divided equally
  • 250ml (1 cup) of whole milk
  • 1tsp of vanilla paste or extract
  • 6 egg yolks
  1. Start by making the caramel:  put 200g (1 cup) of sugar and 2 tbsps of water in a small saucepan;
  2. Heat over medium high heat.  Do not stir,  you can swirl the pan gently over the heat in a circular motion to ensure an even colouring of the caramel; stirring will add air and crystallize the caramel;
  3. While the caramel is cooking, put the whipping cream (1 cup - 250ml), whole milk (1 cup - 250ml) and vanilla paste/extract (1 tsp) into another saucepan and heat gently until small bubbles begin to form on the edges;
  4. Cook  the caramel until it is an even golden colour. Remove from heat and add the butter (30g - 2 tbsps).  Continue to swirl until the butter is blended (adding the butter will help stop the cooking process and prevent the caramel from burning).
  5. Return the caramel to the heat and add the hot milk and cream mixture, string to combine well, keep warm;
  6. In a bowl, combine the egg yolks (6) and the remaining sugar (1/4 cup - 50g) and whisk until the yolks lighten in colour (1 or 2 minutes);
  7. Slowly add the hot cream/milk/caramel mixture whisking constantly;
  8. Once combined, return to the saucepan and continue to cook, over medium heat, stirring continuously until the custard begins to thicken and coats the back of a spoon - about 5 minutes (it is important to do this slowly and not bring the custard to a boil - it should reach 170°F or     85° C);
  9. Transfer to a bowl, placed in an ice bath to cool and cover, surface contact, with plastic wrap;
  10. Once cooled, place in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight (overnight is better);
  11. Whip the remaining cream (250ml - 1 cup) until firm and gently fold into the cooled caramel custard;
  12. Place in a covered container and freeze.  You can keep this ice cream covered for several weeks (if it lasts that long).

This is so good - I hope you enjoy and have as much success with it as I did!

Thought and smile of the day:

Monday, September 15, 2014

Lime and Black Pepper Spaghetti Squash

Serve with roasted cherry tomatoes, parmesan, rosemary nuts and fresh basil

This recipe was inspired by a bag of chips I bought recently that were lime and black pepper flavoured. They were delicious and I quickly decided that I love anything with lime and black pepper.

My initial idea was to create a lime and black pepper risotto or pasta dish but the wonderful maintenance man in our condo left me a beautiful basket of fresh produce from his garden.  This offering included two huge spaghetti squash and so I thought I would try this idea with the squash.  This is really easy to make and the result was delicious.  This would make an excellent side dish for fish or meat as well as a surprising appetizer.  This dish is also completely vegan (without the parmesan cheese) and is loaded with lots of flavour.  Enjoy!

You will need:  for 4 - 6 servings

  • 1 medium - large spaghetti squash, halved and seeded (use a spoon to scrape out the centre flesh and seeds)
  • Olive oil
  • zest of 2 fresh limes
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) of hazelnut oil
  • fresh black pepper
  • salt
  • flavoured nuts of your choice, parmesan shavings and fresh basil as garnish

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C);
  2. Drizzle olive oil over the flesh of the squash and place, cut side down, on a parchment lined baking sheet;
  3. Cook in the centre of the oven until the flesh is tender when pierced with a sharp knife (about 30 - 40 minutes);
  4. While the squash is cooking, mix the lime zest (2 limes), hazelnut oil (1/4 cup - 60ml) and freshly ground black pepper (to taste, but be generous as it should have a little kick) together in a small bowl;
  5. Once the squash is cooked, remove from oven and, using a fork, scrape out the flesh (it will resemble short strands of spaghetti).  Place it is a sieve and allow to strain for 5 minutes;
  6. Place the cooked squash in a bowl and gently mix in the lime, hazelnut oil and black pepper mixture;
  7. Season generously with salt.
  8. Serve with your choice of spiced nuts (I used the rosemary nuts from Noix du marché at the Atwater Market), fresh basil and parmesan shavings.

Thought and smile of the day:

Friday, September 12, 2014

Deep Dish Salted Butter Caramel Apple Pie

These are Cortland apples -very crunchy and not too sweet

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to teach a cooking class to two wonderful little girls.  They wanted to learn the technique for making one of their favourite deserts - apple pie.  

This worked out perfectly because apples are now in season.  They are plentiful at the market and we are very lucky to be able to select from a great variety of locally grown apples here in Quebec.   My preference is for the very hard (crunchy) apples that are not too sweet with Spartan, Cortland and Macintosh as my favourites.  For apple pie, I prefer the harder varieties as I like the fruit to still have a bit of texture once cooked. 

This pie is wonderful served warm with some good vanilla ice cream.  Enjoy!

You will need:  for one deep dish double crust pie


  • 2 cups (300g) of white flour
  • 1/4 (55g) cup of sugar
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla powder (optional)
  • 1/2 cup + 3tbsp (150g) of cold salted butter (=1 1/2 sticks)
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) of cold milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  1. In a large bowl, mix together flour (300gr - 2 cups), sugar (1/4 cup - 55g ), cinnamon (1/2 tsp) and vanilla powder (1/4 tsp);
  2. Cut cold butter (1/2 cup + 3 tbsp or 150g) into small pieces and mix into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter until mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs (a food processor, using the pulse option, works also very well to do this);
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the cold milk (1/4 cup - 60ml ) and beaten egg (you can also add 1/2 tsp of liquid vanilla here if you do not have the powdered vanilla) and stir into the flour, butter mixture with a fork.  
  4. When dough comes together, knead a few times (not too much) to create a smooth round dough - flatten it into a disk, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

For the apple filling:
  • 8 large apples
  • 1/4 cup (65g) of salted butter
  • 3 tbsp (23g) of flour
  • 1 tsp of pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup (90g) of brown sugar
  • 1/4 (60ml) cup of water
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 1 tsp of milk or cream (for egg wash)
  • granulated sugar to sprinkle over the top crust

  1. Melt the butter (1/4 cup - 60g)  in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Once the butter is melted, add the flour (3 tbsp - 23g) and whisk to combine and create a paste (roux).  Cook for about one minute to remove the flour taste;
  2. Add the brown sugar (1/2 cup - 90g), water (1/4 cup- 60ml), cinnamon (1 tsp) and vanilla extract (1 tsp)  and whisk to combine.  Whisk until the carmel thickens (about 2 minutes).  Remove from heat.
  3. Once the caramel is ready, you can begin to peel and slice the apples individually into the caramel mixture (avoid peeling and slicing the apples before as they will turn brown).  Once the apple is sliced, stir it gently into the caramel until it is well covered (this will also prevent the apples from browning).  Repeat this with all 8 apples.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C);
  5. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and separate into a piece that represents 2/3 of the dough for the bottom crust and 1/3 of the dough for the top crust;
  6. Roll out the dough into a circle that will fit into the bottom of the pie plate with a 1/2 inch (13mm) overlap;
  7. Separate the egg and brush the bottom dough with egg white to form a barrier that will help prevent the crust from getting soggy once the apples are cooked and have released their juice.  Return to the fridge while you are rolling out the top crust.
  8. Roll out the top crust into a circle that will cover the pie plate, cut shapes or designs (your choice) that will allow the steam to escape while the pie is cooking;
  9. Fill the bottom crust with the apple caramel mixture and brush the edge with the egg white to help seal it to the top crust;
  10. Fold the top crust in half and lift over the apples to cover one half of the pie.  Unfold to cover the apples completely and press the edges together to form a seal.  Trim the edge so that it is even all around and crimp to create the desired design (here is a wonderful video from Fine Cooking showing how to create a decorative edge).
  11. Mix the egg yolk and milk (1 tsp) together with a fork to create an egg wash and brush evenly over the top crust of the pie.  Sprinkle with the sugar and bake for 35 - 40 minutes in the bottom section of your oven.  Turn the pie around a few times to ensure an even golden crust.

Smile and thought of the day:

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Smoked Trout Rillettes

Serve with a little spicy red pepper jelly

Following our wonderful road trip - we decided to buy a smoker!

The goal of our trip to Gaspésie was to rediscover what our wonderful province and its people have to offer in the way of food, beauty and inspiration.

We were not disappointed and find ourselves now richer with a knowledge and better understanding of a simple rural way of life that in no way limits, but rather inspires, great food and products.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Vegan Bridal Shower: Plum Tomato and Watermelon Bites, Fig and Mixed Olive Tapenade, Fennel and Basil Veganaise Dip, Carrot Cake, Mixed Berries with Vanilla Sugar

Plum tomato and Watermelon bites
As the big day approaches for Sarah and Kevin , it is time to begin the celebrations.  

One of the greatest things about an upcoming wedding is the opportunities it affords us to reconnect and catch up with people who have been and important part of Sarah and Kevin's lives.   Last weekend, my mother-in-law,  and Kat hosted a wonderful bridal shower for the future bride.  It was a beautiful event held on a beautiful day.  The theme was a traditional tea party and the ladies wore hats!