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French paté en croute

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10273251_757577284264361_2289375245653466806_oPaté en croute is a sausage composed of a pastry pie, baked in puff pastry or in a pastry which has jelly at the top. In terms of legislation, for sale in the shop, a block must contain at least half of the meat that gives the name to the block.

In the Middle Ages, pies and terrines were one of the main bases of the medieval kitchen with respect to meat dishes. These two modes of preparation allowed to keep the meat longer. The crust of the pie was also initially not designed to be eaten but only to help with the cooking and preservation. Over time, bakers opted for edible crust. Today, more than 6531 tons of pies are consumed in France each year!

When I was in France (this summer) I realised that there existed many variations, including regional, which differed primarily in the type of block inside, usually was made ​​of veal and pork, but with many variants, including poultry. There is also a possibility of farce with game alone or with a fragrant mixture into the stuffing with mushrooms and pistachio for example. One of the most common variations is the pie crust Richelieu. It includes a foam chicken livers in the center. The pie is usually served as a starter. But in a smaller form, it can be served as an appetizer: it is then the pie cocktail!

Spain and France 2014 September 166Ingredients: 2 boneless skinless duck breasts, (each about 8 oz/250 g)

1 boneless pork loin centre chopped (about 6 oz/175 g)

3 tbsp (45 ml brandy)

1 tbsp (15 ml) chopped fresh thyme

3/4 tsp pepper

1 pinch ground allspice

2 tbsp (30 ml) unsalted butter

1 onion, finely diced

4 oz (113 g) duck or pork or chicken livers, finely chopped

2 bay leaves

3/4 tsp (4 ml) salt

1/4 tsp (1 ml nutmeg

1/4 cup (60 ml) dry white wine

1-1/2 lb (680 g) pork belly

2 eggs

1/4 cup (60 ml) whipping cream

1 egg yolk

2 tsp (10 ml water)


2-2/3 cups (650ml all-purpose flour)

1/2 tbsp salt

2/3 cup (150 ml) cold unsalted butter, cubed

2 egg yolks

1/4 cup (60 ml sour cream)

1/4 cup (60 ml) cold water


The pastry: In large bowl, whisk flour with salt. Using pastry blender cut in butter until in fine crumbs. Whisk together egg yolks, sour cream and cold water; drizzle over flour mixture, tossing with fork and pressing with hands to form ragged dough. Divide in half; press into squares. Wrap each and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes. (Make-ahead: Refrigerate for up to 24 hours.) Thinly slice 1 of the duck breasts across the grain; place in bowl. Slice pork thinly across the grain; add to duck. Stir in brandy, 2 tsp (10 ml) of the thyme, 1/4 tsp (1 ml) of the pepper and allspice; cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or for up to 1 hour. Meanwhile, in skillet, melt butter over medium heat; cook onion until softened, about 6 minutes. Add liver, bay leaves, salt, nutmeg, and remaining thyme and pepper; cook for 5 minutes. Stir in wine; cook until no liquid remains, about 2 minutes. Transfer to large bowl; let cool completely. Discard bay leaves. Cut pork belly and remaining duck breast into chunks; transfer to food processor and purée until smooth. Add to onion mixture. Stir in eggs and whipping cream until combined, using hands if necessary. On lightly floured surface, roll out 1 of the pastry squares to scant 1/4-inch (5 mm) thickness; cut into 14- x 5-inch (35 x 12 cm) rectangle. Place on parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Spread with half of the pâté mixture, leaving 1-inch (2.5 cm) border. Lay strips of marinated duck and pork lengthwise over pâté; spread with remaining pâté. Turn pastry border up sides. Whisk egg yolk with water; brush some of the egg wash over pastry. Roll out remaining pastry to 14- x 8-inch (35 x 20 cm) rectangle. Place over pâté, pressing to seal. Trim any excess. From pastry trimmings, cut out decorations for top. Using egg wash, stick onto pastry top. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Cut 2 circles in top. Insert rolled-up parchment paper “chimneys” into holes for steam vents. Brush with egg wash. Bake in 400°F (200°C) oven for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F (180°C); bake, covering with foil if necessary to prevent browning and removing any fat that seeps onto pan with a shallow spoon, until digital instant-read thermometer inserted into centre reads 170°F (77°C), about 50 minutes. Using 2 spatulas transfer to clean parchment paper–lined baking sheet; let cool.

(Make-ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature to serve.)

In the supermarkets (in France) you can get this variant of paté with crust!Spain and France 2014 September 195


Prune liqueur for Christmas

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Etter-Weihnachts-Pfluemli_b3About two years ago around Christmas time I discovered a plum liqueur called Christmas Pflümli. After studying the bottle carefully I had learned that it was from Switzerland. I have to confess since I consume very rarely any alcoholic beverage at first sight I was totally attracted by the bottle, but then tasting the liqueur I was also delighted with its excellent taste since the drop had a very diverse flavour which smelled primarily by coriander, cinnamon and cloves. However in the background, I felt subtle spices that softened the bouquet maybe to ensure a balanced harmony. Later on the palate, the Christmas Pflümli enchanted me with its very soft consistency and versatile marks that resembled the aromas in the nose. Liking it I decided to buy one bottle for the Christmas season and it would be just the thing!
Description of the prune liqueur

Tradition, quality and craftsmanship are in the Etter family for over 150 years. The secret of this divine liqueur the fruit which is a small variety of Swiss Loehr prunes and it is a specialty of central Switzerland. The ripe plums fall from the tree, are picked and carefully processed and distilled. This Etter Weihnachts (Christmas) pflümli (prune) is a very special liqueur and is prepared from ripe plums and fine spices such as cinnamon, clove and coriander in hand. Especially during the cold season brings this specialty festive heat into the glass. In the decorative glass bottle with star motifs, the Weihnachtspflümli is a lovely gift at Christmas time. (20 cl costs 15 euros)Etter-Weihnachts-Pfluemli_b2

Recipes with the Pflümli

Kir Noel:  fill your glass with champagne or sparkling wine and add 2-3 cl liqueur to pro-secco (don’t forget this apéritif is typically served in a flute glass)

Hot Shot: 2 cl hot coffée, 2 cl prune liqueur, 1 1/2 oz whipped cream

Pour hot coffée into a shot glass and gently add the liqueur, so it floats on the coffee. Then add some lightly whipped cream over it.
Tipsy plum compote: Add to 200 ml compote 1-2 tablespoons of liqueur.

Prune liqueur with vanilia flavour: Add to each portion of vanilla ice cream or pudding 2 tablespoons of liqueur.

Orange salad with liqueur: Slice peeled orange and arrange on a plate, pour over 2-3 tablespoons of prune liqueur. It goes also well with wild dear or games!

Plum Coffée: You need for one cup of coffée one tablespoon of liqueur. Add some whipped cream on top.

Pheasant for Xmas

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pheasant 006At this recipe I only used pheasant breasts and legs because the bird’s body has too many bones so it is not worth to deal with. The pheasant together with the mushroom and the Brussels sprouts with crispy bacon on the top are just perfect for a Christmas dinner. You just need 20 minutes preserving a moist tender touch in the pheasant’s breasts and legs but the cognac takes on the pheasant’s game flavour.

Ingredients for the pheasant:

1 pheasant leg and 1 breast/per person

2 carrots

2  stems of celery

1 onion

200 ml bouillon

1 dl cognac

200 ml cream


bay leaf




Brussels sprout

500 g sprouts

1 onion

200 g smoked ham


1 pinch of bicarbonaat




Braised champignon

250 g champignon (mixed)

1  red onion

2-3 cloves of garlic

1 butter




1.First start cooking the pheasant. Preheat oven to 220 or 425 F, season the birds with salt and pepper and butter the roasting tray. Roll over meats (legs and breasts) with bacon then put them into a big cast iron pan and fry over a moderate heat for 20 minutes. Then remove the meats from the pan and wrap them in alufolie and keep them warm for 10 minutes.

2.Meanwhile soaté some butter in a frying pan, add shallot, onions, carrot, celery stems. Flavor with thyme, bay leaves and fry for a few minutes until they are softening. Wrap out and put pheasant stuffs to that pan and let them roast with the vegetables for 15-20 more minutes. At this stage pour over the cognac, flambé the breasts and legs. When it has been done pour over vegetable or chicken stock and let it cook.

3.While the bird legs and breast roast prepare Brussels sprouts and bacon. Trim the stalk and untidy tops from each, removing the outing layer and wash well. Cut each of them half.

Set a large sauté pan over medium heat and add butter. Cut bacon into long strips and add to pan together with some oregano. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes to render the fat then strain and set aside. Remove bacon slices and put aside. Add Brussels sprouts into that liquid. Season with salt and pepper and cook until slightly browned. Add chicken stock and steam for 3 to 5 minutes until liquid has evaporated and vegetables are tender. Add balsamic vinegar and toss to coat. Cook until balsamic has reduced then fold in fresh parsley and bacon.

4.Remove pheasant from the pan and their cooking liquor and leave the rest in a warm place. Return to the pan bring the liquid to the boil. Remove the sprig thyme from the liquor, add cream and simmer for few minutes until the sauce is tickening. Season with salt and pepper skimming away any impurities. This becomes your sauce (and what a wonderful sauce!).

5.While the sauce is simmering prepare mushrooms: Melt the butter in a pan, add chopped or pressed garlic flesh then mushrooms. Salt and pepper and let it simmer for 4-5 minutes until mushrooms are tender.

6. Break Brussels sprouts with a fork into rough.

7. Heat arachide oil to 170-180°C and fry the croquettes.

8. In a warm serving plate mix the Brussels sprouts with the vegetables, and spoon over any buttery liquor from the pheasant. Place the bird legs and breasts (Pheasants can be quickly rewarmed in the preheated oven) onto each plates, spoon the sauce over the meat and the vegetables and serve alongside with the croquettes and the crispy bacon slices on the top of the Brussels sprouts!



Lemon cake from Sicily

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Lemon cake 011In winter the lemon orchards in southeastern Sicily are a sight to behold, with trees so full of beautiful lemons that you can barely see the leaves. And while you’ll find lemons just about all year ’round, this is truly the perfect lemon moment, when the lemons are plump with the winter rain, bursting with juice and so fragrant that it’s hard to resist the urge to just bite into one. Just recently looking for some photos in my albums, I came across with my Sicilian holiday’s pictures and among a delicious lemon cake, what I ate in a small cafe in a little village. So yesterday I came into the mood for making that Sicilian tart lemon cake, here is the result!

Ingredients for my Sicilian lemon cake with lemon glaze

112 g butter at room temp

1 ½ cups (300 gr) sugar

3 eggs

1 ½ cups (325 gr) flour

1 tsp (5 gr) baking soda

½ tsp salt

2/3 cup (150 ml) milk

1/3 cup (75 ml) yoghurt

1 TB grated lemon peel

2 TB (30 ml) lemon juice

4 TB (60 ml) lemon juice

½ cup (100 g) sugar

2 tsp lemon zest

For The Lemon Glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice


  1. Grease and flour a 12-cup (3 liter) tube pan, and preheat oven to 325° F (180° C).
  2. Mix the milk and yoghurt together and set aside (use 1 cup-220 ml of milk with 2 tsp of lemon juice or freshly squashed lemon juice, and let sit 15 minutes).
  3. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together and set aside
  4. With an electric mixer, beat the butter until it is soft and fluffy, then beat in the sugar until light.
  5. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
  6. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk until well blended.
  7. Stir in the lemon peel and lemon juice.
  8. Spread the batter evenly in the pan.
  9. Bake for 50-55 minutes until a toothpick inserted in cake is clean.
  10. While cake is baking, make the Lemon Glaze by heating the lemon juice in a small saucepan and stirring in the sugar, and keep warm (or whisk together powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth and thick).
  11. Remove the cake from the oven and immediately poke several holes in the top of the cake with a long skewer or toothpick.
  12. Pour a bit more than 1/2 of the Lemon Glaze over the cake.
  13. Let cake cool in pan for 20 minutes then turn out onto rack.
  14. Mix 1 tsp of lemon zest into the remaining lemon glaze and brush or spoon it over the top and sides of the cake.
  15. Sprinkle the remaining lemon zest over the top of the cake.
  16. Let the glaze set for 30 minutes and then cut the cake into wedges and serve.


Mushroom parmentier with red chard

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Parmentier 009I am sure everybody knows that Parmentier is a dish made with mashed, baked potato, combined with diced meat and sauce lyonnaise and served in the potato shells. The dish was named after Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, a French pharmacist, nutritionist, and inventor who, in the late 18th century, was instrumental in the promotion of the potato as an edible crop. Some historians claim that any dish containing potatoes can be called “Parmentier”! In Belgium and in France the most popular version is the hachis parmentier (“hachis” means a dish in which the ingredients are chopped or minced, from the same root as the English word “hatchet”) My godfather, who lives in Belgium, really loves the hachis parmentier so I decided to prepare a new version for his 61th birthday.

In my recipe version instead of meat I added mushroom and according to my godfather it worked very well with the potato purée. And one more special feature of my dish was the Swiss chard, flavoured with Japanese mirin (vinaigrette). It’s made ​​the dish just perfect.


2 pounds/ 1 kg mushrooms

3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil, more as needed

1 large red onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic

1/2 cup/125 ml red wine

1/2 cup/125 ml vegetable stock or water

fresh thyme leaves, chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon flour

1 bunch of fresh parsley, chopped

Cheese potato top:

1/4 cup/60 ml milk

2 to 4 tablespoons butter

salt and freshly ground pepper

4 ounces/110 g Comte, Gruyere or Grana Padano cheese, cut into very fine dice

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

For the chard:

3 1/2 pounds Swiss chard (preferably red; about 4 bunches), washed

1/4 cup olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup water and 2 tbsp of mirin Japanese vinegar

1 teaspoon of honey or agave  maple syrup

sesame seeds


For the potatoes: Steam the potatoes in a covered saucepan with about 1 inch/2.5 cm water in the bottom, until very tender, about 30 minutes. For the mushrooms: Clean and quarter the mushrooms. Heat just 2 tablespoons of the butter with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and sauté the mushrooms until cooked and golden. Remove from the pan. Heat the other spoonful of olive oil and sauté the onion until soft. Add the garlic for 1 minute. Deglaze with the wine and reduce to no more than a spoonful. Add the stock, thyme and mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook until the stock has reduced by half. Knead together the flour with the last tablespoon of butter and stir it in. Cook until the liquid has thickened to a sauce, a matter of minutes. Stir in the parsley. Spoon the mixture into a gratin dish. For the cheese potato top: Heat the oven to 425 degrees F/220 degrees C. Mash the potatoes with the milk and butter until smooth, adding more milk if needed. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the diced cheese. Distribute evenly over the mushroom mixture, and smooth with the back of the spoon (if you want to be very retro-housewife, make patterns with the tines of a fork or make waves with a spoon). Sprinkle over the Parmesan. Bake the gratin until bubbling hot and golden on top, about 15 minutes.

Prep of the chard:

Swiss chard is not only one of the most popular vegetables along the Mediterranean but it is one of the most nutritious one around and ranks second only to spinach following of the so called total nutrient-richness of the World’s Healthiest vegetables. It is also one of only three vegetables that boiling to help reduce its concentration of oxalic acid.

Cut stems and center ribs away from Swiss chard leaves. Slice stems and center ribs thin and reserve. Chop leaves coarsely and reserve separately. In a 10 to 12 quart heavy kettle heat oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and sauté reserved stems and ribs, stirring, until crisp-tender. Add garlic and sauté, stirring, until garlic is fragrant. Add reserved leaves with water clinging to them and cook, turning with tongs, until wilted. Add 1/2 cup water and mirin and cook, covered, over moderate heat until leaves are tender, about 4 minutes. Season the chard with salt and pepper. Spoon the honey over and toss the sesame seeds to dish and cook everything together for one more minute. Chard may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.


Spicy cranberry jam

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Bibi simi 034

  • These shiny scarlet berries are grown in huge, sandy bogs on low, trailing vines. They’re also called bounce berries, because ripe ones bounce, and crane berries, after the shape of the shrub’s pale pink blossoms, which resemble the heads of the cranes often seen wading through the cranberry bogs. Cranberries grow wild in northern Europe and in the northern climes of North America, where they are also extensively cultivated — mainly in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Washington and Oregon. Harvested between Labor Day and Halloween, the peak market period for cranberries is from October through December.Any cranberries that are discolored or shriveled should be discarded. Cranberries can be refrigerated, tightly wrapped, for at least two months or frozen up to a year. Besides the traditional cranberry sauce, this fruit also makes delicious chutneys, pies, cobblers and other desserts. Because of their extreme tartness, cranberries are best combined with other fruits, such as apples or dried apricots. Canned cranberry sauce — jelled and whole-berry — is available year-round, as are frozen cranberries in some markets. Sweetened dried cranberries, which can be used like raisins in baked goods or as snacks, are also available in most supermarkets. Fresh cranberries are very high in vitamin C.


  • 3 pounds fresh cranberries (about 12-14 cups)
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 cups apple cider
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves


  1. Methods: Prepare a boiling water bath and necessary jars. Place lids in a small saucepan and bring to a bare simmer.
  2. Combine all the ingredients such as the cranberries, sugar, cider, and orange and lemon juice and zest in a large pot (use a big one, this jam will bubble) or a non-reactive saucepan over high heat.
  3. Bring to a boil, skimming off the foam that develops on the top of the fruit. Bring to a simmer and reduce by two-thirds or until the mixture has thickened to the consistency of a loose jam. Remember to keep the heat low to prevent the jam from burning (aproximitely cook for 10-15 minutes, until the cranberries pop).
  4. Add the ginger, cinnamon, and cloves and stir to combine.
  5. Continue to cook, stirring regularly, until the jam looks quite thick. If it appears to be thickening too much before all the cranberries are popped, add a splash of water to loosen.
  6. Ladle jam into jars. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath for ten minutes.

Bibi simi 036

German cinnamon stars cookies

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blutenburg 221These are classic German Christmas cookies; you’ll find them in most every household at Advent time but on St. Nicholas’ Day (December 6) they roll around. These cookies are kind of like a cross between a macaroon and a meringue, with a hint of nutty spiciness. My family finds them truly addictive. They’re designed to keep for a long time, but they’ll get chewier as time passes


3 large eggs

350 g icing sugar, for the dough (powdered sugar, and some more icing or regular white sugar to sprinkle the surface you work on with,)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2-3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

400 g ground almonds

baking paper or parchment paper

Directions: Separate egg yolks from whites and beat whites until stiff peaks form. Slowly sift in the sugar and lemon juice then beat some more for about 8 minutes.

Put aside 4 heaped tablespoons of the meringue – this will be used to top the cookies later on.

Add ground almonds and cinnamon to the remaining meringue and mix well. You might want to add a dash of rum or Amaretto.

Cover the dough and let it rest in the fridge for about an hour.

After an hour fetch the dough from the fridge.

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 3/160C/320°F.

Sprinkle a surface with confectioners’ or regular white sugar and roll the dough to approximately 5 mm.

Cut the stars with a star shaped cookie cutter.

Put the stars on the lined baking sheet.

Now get the reserved meringue from earlier. You might have to stir it a bit so it becomes a smooth mix. You also might want to add some more lemon juice. It’s a matter of taste.

Now brush the cookies with the topping and bake them for about 8 minutes.

Cool on the baking sheet. Store them in an air-tight tin. The cookies should keep for about three weeks!!