Monthly Archives: April 2010

Paris Macarons

Paris really does loves its macarons, almost every patiserrie I visited sold them (although I suspect some of the smaller cheaper ones buy them in) and I also saw them at supermarkets, department stores and even fastfood places. You could also buy them as keyrings, soaps, kitchen decorations and obviously as the subject of cookbooks (of which I counted over 20 in just one store). But im only really interested in the real thing so first off were they all good? No there were clearly places that were excellent and others that simply didn’t rate as high. But where to start, where should I visit. I wanted to try a broad range from all level of producers, unfortunately I forgot to buy any at the supermarket but I did manage to try some from McDonalds and tried many of the big names. Because I cant think of a great way of doing a comparison im just going to jump in and start. Continue reading

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Im Back…

Im back from Paris and am absolutely exhausted. I managed to pack an awful lot into a comparatively small amount of time so it will probably take me a week to fully recover but I have lots to share so this week ill post about my trip and all the patisseries I visited so if you will bear with me one more day ill get started but until then here are some pictures from the trip and a couple of tips I learnt whilst there.

In Paris if you are under 26 (like me) there are many discounts available including some cheaper metro tickets and reduced and free museum entry.

If your in Paris just for the weekend and are 26 and under from the EU then you can get a metro ticket for the day for only €3.30 for the metro, the buses and the RER (only available weekends). You can also benefit from free entry into a huge amount of museums, I took advantage and visited Sainte-Chapelle and the Pompidou Centre.

I forgot to book any restaurants because ive been very busy and it completely slipped my mind. As I decided to dine at lunch a fair bit of the time I thought it would be best to get there soon after opening. I was expecting busy restaurants but I needn’t have worried, every restaurant I visited was empty when I got there. Because of this I was always seated at the window table to make the restaurant seem busier, but I liked it for the natural light, but being in a restaurant alone is weird. At one I caught the chef starring at me from the door to the kitchen but thats what you get dinning alone I guess.

France is known as a country with its quirks and and I came across a few but the one thats relevant here is an employment law. When I visited the kitchens of Gerard Mulot the pastry chef was telling us why it was so quiet (and I may have misunderstood this a bit) but basically if the staff are not given holiday over Easter they have the week after off. At Gerard Mulot this meant there were very few staff around. It did explain why other places were closed. Berthillion was closed for the week as was Des Gateaux et du Pain and the Saint-Germain branch of Gerard Mulot. So if you think your being savvy by avoiding the school holidays bear in mind some patisseries etc might not be open.

coming up – a behind the tour visit to the kitchens of Gerard Mulot, the results of my macaron taste tests, the most adorable chocolate shop and lots more

Lemon Glazed Madeleines

Its time to say au revoir, I’m of to France, spending a week in the city of lights, old gay Paree. Yes im finally getting out of here for a bit of relaxation and more importantly food, specifically pastries. Im spending a week in Paris and its my plan to visit and sample as many patisseries as my stomach will humanly deem possible. By the time I come back I expect I will have put on countless pounds but I dont care, I plan to enjoy this trip to its fullest. I will hopefully have a post or two popping up whilst im away, if I ever get round to writing them, but I thought I would leave you with a little French treat, the Madeleine.  I have no Proustian (pretty sure thats not a word) connection to them, in fact before I made these I have never even tried one. I know its probably cliched but these would be perfect served with tea as they are not too sweet and just the right size, and if you find yourself eating more than one you can console yourself by pretending there small stature means the calories dont count. Continue reading

Sables

I was recently asked to show someone a cookie recipe that they could freeze and bake as needed. It needed to be easy and straightforward without taking too long to make. I wanted to provide a basic recipe that was easily adapted so that whatever flavour you fancied the recipe could still be used. I decided to go with sables the French “sandy” cookie, a wonderful buttery and crumbly little treat. You really can have endless variations, whether you want a sour cherry, cinnamon and pistachio or lemon poppy seed this recipe can be used as a base recipe. Of course you can just keep it simple and leave the sables plain, although there is nothing plain about them. I have made this recipe multiple times now but the pictures show my first couple of experiments and you can see an error. I was experimenting with flavours and splitting batches before adding the extras but inevitably this meant uneven amounts of ingredients and overmixed dough so some clearly were not the key texture so take it from me do not split batches and don’t mix past the sandy textured stage. Continue reading

Passion Fruit Meringue Tarts

Recently I have begun to really enjoy passion fruit, be it the passion fruit/chocolate macaron at Pierre Herme to the passion fruit tart I mentioned in my last post at Ottolenghi. After having the tart I immediately started thinking about trying to recreate it. I hoped the recipe would be in the Ottolenghi cookbook but alas it isn’t. It does includes a very similar lemon meringue recipe so I used that but substituted the lemon with my homemade passion fruit curd. I really enjoyed the result although they were maybe a little too sweet. Im not sure whether to put the blame on the curd or the meringue? When I make these next time I think I might fold the curd into some creme patisserie or whipped cream to lighten and tamper the sweetness a little or maybe even make a custard with the passion fruit. The lemon meringue recipe in the cookbook uses sugar heated in the oven for making the meringue but when I tried this it didn’t work. I like accuracy and this method didn’t give me the control over temperature to guarantee the egg whites being cooked so I prefer to cook the sugar and egg whites over a bain marie until it reaches 170F then whipped in a stand mixer, so thats the method I will provide. Continue reading

London Foodie Weekend Part 2

As I mentioned in my last post we had a really packed weekend, enough for a couple more posts but you know what? I can’t really be bothered reviewing them, it just isn’t my thing. Maybe its because I don’t eat out that often or maybe its just because I’m not that eloquent. In any case, rather than doing a full post on the restaurants we visited, I thought I would do a roundup post of pictures and quick thoughts. Continue reading