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Plum mousse with dessert liqueur

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Plum mousse 019This is a delicious fruity mousse with a great plum tang, making good use of plums, especially handy at that time of year when you have too many plums! The preparation time is mostly waiting time for the mixture to chill sufficiently.

Ingredients: 1 (.25 ounce) package unflavored gelatin, 2 cups plums, pitted and sliced or 1 can of plum in syrup, 1/2 cup white sugar (optional), 1/2 cup hot water, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/2 cup evaporated milk, Cointreau or other dessert liqueur

Directions

If you choose the fresh fruit then place the pitted and sliced plums into a saucepan over medium-low heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the plums are soft, 5 to 10 minutes. If the mixture becomes too thick or starts to burn, add a tablespoon of water. Remove from heat, and allow to cool.

Dissolve the gelatin in 1/2 cup of hot water in a bowl, and stir in the cooled plums, sugar, and lemon juice. Mix until the gelatin and sugar have dissolved. Chill the plum mixture in refrigerator until it begins to thicken, about 30 minutes. Whip the evaporated milk with the sweet dessert liqueur in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer until thick, then gently spoon the whipped milk into the plum mixture. Beat again with electric mixer until the dessert is fluffy and well combined. Chill for at least 3 hours before serving.

If you use canned plums then you need: 1 jar or 1 can of plum, 1 egg white, 1/2 cup evaporated milk (without sugar) but you don’t need any additional sugar!

Directions

Whisk egg white until stiff. Place plums from the jar into an electric mixer without liquid and blend them with the stiff egg white together until mixture begins to ticken. Flavour with one teaspoon of cinnamon and with 1 spoon of sweet liqueur. Regfrigerate until serving. Decorate with mint leave.

The World 50 most delicious foods: The Hainanese chicken rice

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22250d8a64286340_Thumb_xxxlargeDo you know the TV show My Kitchen Rules? If not here is some information for you: The MKR is an Australian competitive cooking game show broadcast on the Seven Network since 2010. In the show they are teams of two contestants with pre-existing relationships—from New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, and Western Australia—competing against each other to “transform an ordinary home into an instant restaurant complete with theme and table decorations for one pressure-cooker night.”  Each episode focused on one team’s day of cooking, setting up their instant restaurant and serving a three-course dinner—(entrée, main, and dessert)—for the judges and their opposing teams. Teams could only start cooking three hours before the other teams and judges arrived at their house. After the team served all three meals to the judges and their opposition, each opposing team had to rate the total meal out of ten, then each main judge had to rate each of the three courses separately out of ten. The lowest scoring team would be then at risk of elimination. After the instant restaurant topic, the remaining teams compete in a four-round format such as: People’s choice challenge- Food truck- Rapid cook off- Show down- Sudden death. Then in the finals round consists of three rounds: two sets of semifinals, and a grand final. All follow a sudden death cook-off format where in teams will produce a three-course meal for the main judges and for the four guest judges. Teams will be scored their total meal out of ten by the judges and the lower scoring team will be eliminated.

The Hainanese chicken

In 2013 my fav cooking personalities were the childhood best friends Sophia Pou, 30, and Ashlee Pham 29, of Cabramatta, who made such a turbulence when they appeared in the first show saying that: we joined the cast as “gate crashers”, and we promise to take the cooking competition by storm”. And they did! But although their big egos and bitchiness had proven controversial, much of the entertainment of the fourth season had come from Sophia’s and Ashlee’s withering put downs. Pou, who was a communications student, had Cambodian heritage and Pham, a blogger and photographer, was of Vietnamese descent, but they said their cooking were “distinctly Australian”.

What I really enjoyed among the hot-tempered duo’s presented dishes were the number of Vietnamese-inspired meals: for instance the Hainanese chicken rice. And since my husband’s favorite soup is the Pho Bo I was really curious how would they prepare it. It was very useful that meanwhile they were cooking the Hainanese chicken with rice, Ashlee gave some explanation saying that that the Hainanese chicken is originated from the Hainan province in southern China. It is considered one of the national dishes of Singapore but very popular in Malaysian, Hainanese and Singaporean cuisines, although it is also the main dish in Thailand and Vietnam. It is based on a well-known Hainanese dish called Wenchang chicken, due to its adoption by the Hainanese overseas Chinese population in the Nanyang area (present-day Southeast Asia).

The chicken was prepared in traditional Hainanese methods which involved steeping the entire chicken at sub-boiling temperatures in a pork and chicken bone stock, reusing the broth over and over and only topping it up with water when needed, in accordance with the Chinese preferences for creating master stocks. This stock was not used for rice preparation, which instead involves chicken stock created specifically for that purpose, producing an oily, flavourful rice sometimes known as “oily rice” with Southeast Asian pandan leaves added sometimes. Some cooks may add coconut milk to the rice, reminiscent of the Malay dish nasi lemak-said Sophia but we didn’t.

The Hainanese prefers using older, plumper birds to maximize the amount of oil extracted, thus creating a more flavorful dish. Over time, however, the dish began adopting elements of Cantonese cooking styles, such as using younger birds to produce more tender meats. In another variation, the bird is dipped in ice after cooking to produce a jelly-like skin finishing, commonly referred to as Báijī for “white chicken”, in contrast to the more traditional Lǔjī (stock chicken) or Shāojī  (roasted chicken). In Singapore, the meat is cooked by steeping in water flavored with garlic and ginger instead, with the resulting stock used in the preparation of the rice and also in the accompanying soup.

They are authentically served with a hot chilli sauce dip (made up of freshly minced red chilli and garlic). The dip is usually topped with dark soy sauce and a heap of freshly pounded ginger. Fresh cucumber in chicken broth and light soy sauce are served with the chicken. They are now served mostly boneless in Singapore or Malaysia.

Catherine Ling of CNN described Hainanese chicken rice as one of the “40 Singapore foods we can’t live without” and it is also listed at number 45 on World’s 50 most delicious foods (complied by CNN Go in 2011)

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With minced meat stuffed endives

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Gap 037Ingredients: 300 gr of minced meat, 1 small onion, 1 teaspoon of thyme, 1 teaspoon of oregano, salt and pepper

for the roux: 2 tbsp of oil, 2 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons flour, 1 1/2 cups cream or milk, heated, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan,

4 small to medium Belgian endive, salt and freshly ground black pepper, vegetable cooking spray, chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Special equipment: small rectangular baking dish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray the baking dish with cooking spray

1. Prepare the roux: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add in the milk, whisking constantly. Allow the mixture to cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce begins to thicken, about 8 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the mustard, and 1/4 cup shredded cheese.

2. Prepare the minced meat: peel onion and chop finelly. Heat oil or butter and soaté the minced meat in it. Flavor the meat with salt and pepper and toss some thyme, and oregano. Steam it for 3-4 minutes. If you like you can add a tablespoon of ketchup or tomato from can. Put meat aside.

3. Meanwhile, cut off the woody stems of the endives (they are bitter) cut them in half and make a deep slit into them lengthwise. Place a small slice of Parmesan cheese and spoon on the top of each endives the minced meat. Scatter some bread crumbles on each then place the endives, seam-side down, in the prepared baking dish.

4. Stir the sauce to blend the cheese into the mixture and pour over the endives. Cover with foil and cook for 25 minutes. Uncover, and add the remaining 1/4 cup shredded cheese. Raise the heat to 400 degrees F and cook for 10 minutes more. Let cool a few minutes before serving. Sprinkle with parsley to garnish.

Cook’s Note: If Belgian endive is not available it can be substitute with small wedges of Chinese cabbage and increase the cooking time by 10 minutes.Gap 038

 

October fest in Münich in 2014

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P1000426Munich’s largest and most traditional festival, the October fest has come to the end on 6th of October. There were traditional beers (teetotallers did’t need to worry: sodas and water were also available), people could dive in the traditional Bavarian food such as pretzels (with a diameter of 15 inches) Scnitzels from pork and beef, saussages etc. They could enjoy to listen to live brass bands playing traditional Bavarian music as well as more up-to-date music, and had fun with hundreds of other people from all over the world, dancing and singing the hours away.

The balance of the 181st Oktoberfest in 2014 was: 6,3 millions visitors, 6,5 millions mass beers. According to the police there were less reported crime acts than the previous year – nevertheless, there were some absurd cases. Mr Dieter Reiter, the new mere of Münich about evaluating the Wiesn said that: “It is a bad habit of the October fest that the big binge had to be finished urgently. -Heaping up one litre beer in 1 minute, it nuts don’t you think? -he joked on the last day of the closing ceremony of the fest. According to Mr Reiter and the organizer of the Wiesn-Chef Josef Schmid the October fest in 2014 was an exciting but calm, with non-stop celebrating of the hops and the beer with an extremely buzy second weekend”. In numbers: there were estimated 6,3 millions guests, 6,5 millions Mass (jars of) beers were drunken, 112 oxens were eaten up, plus 48 calves, and 112 000 jars were stolen.

Some details of the event

The metro station at Theresien wiese, near the October fest had to be closed down for 150 times, because of the huge traffic jam. Approximately 3,7 million additional foot gangers passed through there on the last Saturday. Just alone the last long weekend the station was closed 22 times. Moreover the Deutsche Bahn (metro) counted 100 000 extra passengers per day in the course of the 16 days maze and had to provide of 500 additional trains.

Until Sunday morning 3646 lost objects were delivered to the lost objects station. Among those 900 ID, 530 purse, 330 cell-phones, 31 photo cameras, 4 tickets of FC Bayern against Hannover, two wedding rings, one cat transporting box. As Josef Schmid’d observed the visitors were more alerted this year meant that less wallets and money were stolen than in the previous year.

“Breath taking singers ensured the good atmosphere such as Helene Fischer, whose song is the Breath-taking night was big hit. On the second place there was a tie because Andreas Bourani and Hubert von Goiserns, the latter with the funny song “Brenna tuats guat” in strong Bavarian accent-were equaly hilarious”-said Mr Schmid on Sunday with veiled voice.” Na ja! Everything was breath-taking, except the weather.P1000429dirndli 024

More than 2000, mostly volunteer from the Red Cross were in charge until Sunday and took care of 7914 patients (last year 7324) but only 3603 required doctor’s help (in 2013: 3536).

681 people were treated for “intoxication”, all due to too much alcohol consumption- but there were also cases of so called “mixed poisoning” (there were more than last year: 638). The first alcohol toxication was reported in the 125th minutes (next after the tapping of the first barrel which is a tradition of the October fest) and the first patient was taken immediatelly to the Wiesn paramedical station. In the previous year the same story happened already before the official grand opening of the festival. To sum up the October fest, the good news was that the number of intoxicated teens (under aged from 16) had decreased half of it compared to last year.

The police also lit a bonfire because of the less offenses on the biggest folk fest of the world. However 720 people were arrested which were 39 less than last year. Though there were some resistance; thereupon 13 officer were injured- ” from bite injuries to violations”,- told us the police representative, Wolfgang Wenger.

I can’t resist to tell you two funny cases of the Wiesn-operations: the first On the last weekend the police had to interfering in one quarrel at a Fish and bread stall about an arbitration. The client, appearantly by mistake, got a Deko-plastic sandwich instead of a real sandwich and therefore he became terribly upset.

The other case happened on the last Friday evening of the Fest at late night: a 44-years old man who participated on the Monster Ghoast train entertainment prostrated a monster. The man was so frightened by a ghost that he jumped out of the train (cab) and tore the “enemy” in pieces. Due to the attack the monster was completely destroyed so that the owner has claimed for compensation.P1000511

Another good news is that until the last day of the festival all lost items were found and ‘d been returned to the major Police Station. The bad news is for the beer garden and tent owners that they will never get back the stolen beer jars since hunting them has become a national sport, people take them as a souvenir. But considering that that one beer costs 10,50 Euros I don’t think that it is a crime! The successful hunters pilfered 112 000 “Maß” jars (1 liter last year only 81 000 were missing or stolen)

 

Fig brioche and petit four of violet in Toulouse

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Spain and France 2014 September 361Toulouse in South of France, with its rich French culinary history, is a perfect destination for foodies -but I didn’t know that until during my three weeks holiday in France and Spain- I could manage to visit the city and had a chance to sample a vast array of hearty dishes in some local restaurants, cafes and market places. There’s no shortage of wonderful things to sample and places to dine, such as the

Foie gras

Which is made from the liver of a specially-fattened goose or duck, and has a smooth, rich texture to it. Usually available as a starter or as an accompaniment to a main meal, but foie gras is also eaten on special occasions, such as New Year’s Eve and during the Yule tide season. However, it can be found in restaurants throughout Toulouse all year round, with the Cordon Rose on rue Valade among the establishments to offer it as a starter dish.

Cassoulet

When I worked up my appetite seeing the various sights of the city, I felt like I need to recharge my battery so I satisfied my hunger with a cassoulet which I have eaten once in Paris and liked it. The dish named after the casserole – the traditional earthenware pot it is cooked in – and this slow-cooked dish contains typically pork sausages, goose, duck and sometimes mutton, pork skin (couennes), white haricot beans, vegetables and herbs. The particular meats found in a cassoulet tend to differ depending on where in France you are, but trying this in Toulouse means you’re likely to get pork sausages and goose or duck confit. The locals drink a hearty glass of red wine –to accompany this dish – such as one from the Collioure region of France. The best Toulouse cassoulet can be find at the Le Colombier, an establishment that has served homemade traditional French cuisine since 1873. In the restaurant’s wine cellar consisting of vintages from Bordeaux and Burgundy – among other regions – there is plenty of scope to find a bottle that complements the cassoulet perfectly.

Garbure

Garbure is the perfect thick French soup or stew of ham with cabbage and other vegetables, usually with cheese and stale bread added. The name derives from the use of the term garb to describe sheaves of grain depicted on a heraldic shield or coat of arms. Thus the name of garbure, which is eaten with a fork, is a reference to the use of pitchforks to pick up sheaves of grain. The dish is often served during the winter months, because it is thick, and hearty. Although the specific ingredients vary depending on the restaurant – in the past it was traditionally made by peasants and contained meat and cabbage. The speciality of this meal is that it is cooked in a toupin, an earthenware round-bellied casserole dish, and the sign you can be sure you’re tucking into authentic garbure is if the spoon can stand up straight in the bowl without falling over.

Spain and France 2014 September 341Toulouse sausage

The saussage is simply made for the lovers of rustic cuisine. Whether eaten grilled or in a confit (preserved in fat), in a cassoulet or with haricot beans, Toulouse sausage retains its unique flavour and reveals the authentic taste of the South-West of France. It will be even more enjoyable served with a regional wine. Consisting of diced pork that has been flavoured with wine, smoked bacon and garlic, this tastes great when fried or braised.

Violet ice cream, violet petit four

Toulouse and the violet-they are items! The hardy winter bloom- the Violet of Toulouse-, was introduced into the city under Napoleon the IIId, and since it has had a place of glory and economic importance. For here, in France’s fourth largest city the violet is the basis of a whole craft-based range of foodstuffs, recipes, perfumes, beauty products, small shops, romantic stories, a barge on the Canal du Midi. In the early 19th century, more than 600 small farming families lived off the winter cultivation of this plant, making very fashionable bouquets exported to the UK, Germany, Russia, Morocco and elsewhere. The city held Violet Tea Dances, there was the annual election of Miss Violet and personalised bouquets were delivered by romantic young blades wooing their belles. Peak production of the Violet of Toulouse came in the last century when apart from bouquets, the flowers were also dusted with sugar and used for decorating cakes, opening up an entire new industry. So I was curious of its taste and I tried the violet ice cream and the petit four of violet and believe me that they had strong violet flavors! The other favorit sweet in Toulouse was a fairly simple to bake croquant. It was a savoury dessert consists of crisp biscuits that are made from almonds and caramelised sugar and are the perfect way to finish off a traditional Toulouse meal. You can eat them on their own, although pairing them with chocolate or fruit – such as raspberries – is sure to bring out their flavour even more!Spain and France 2014 September 089

Fig brioche

On the very last day of my staying in Toulouse- in the neighbourhood of my hotel- I discovered a sensational baker shop where I popped in for breakfast, and I chose a brioche which was riched with figs! I enjoyed the pastry so much that I even brought one home yet. The baker-seeing my great enthusiasm-, told me that the normal method is to make the dough that let it rise to double its volume at room temperature and then punch it down and let it rise again in the refrigerator for varying periods (according to the recipe), retarding the dough to develop the flavour. Refrigeration also stiffens the dough, which still rises, albeit slowly, making it easier to form. The dough is then shaped, placed in containers for the final rise (proof), and the tops are generally brushed with an egg wash just before baking to give the top a burnished sheen during baking, and then baked at 230 °C (446 °F) until the crust browns and the interior is done (reaches at least 90 °C). The first rise time for small rolls is 1 to 1½ hours, for larger brioche the time is lengthened until the loaves double. If you happened to want to bake it here are the ingredients for the brioche with fig:

500 g flour – 10 g salt – 25 cl milk – 4 eggs – 200 g butter – 70 ml water – 20 g gist- 200 g figs stemmed and roughly chopped dried, zest, water, juice, salt, and a few grinds of black peper

 

Go for Basque pinchos

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Spain and France 2014 September 213A pinchos ( “thorn” or “spike”) or pintxos are small snacks, and they are very common to eat in northern Spain. They are especially adored in the Basque country and Navarre -(San Sebastian, Pamplona, Bilbao, Cantabria, La Rioja, northern Burgos)-, where the variety of pinchos are usually served on a tray at the bars or taverns. In those cities the pinchos have a strong socializing component so that they are usually regarded as a cornerstone of local culture and society. It is obvious that they are related to tapas but the main difference is that the pinchos are usually ‘spiked’ with a skewer or toothpick, often to a piece of bread. They are served in individual portions and always ordered and paid for independently from the drinks. (It can happen that the same item called “pincho” in one bar and “tapas” in another).

Basque pinchos

San Sebastian is the cradle of the famous Basque cuisine, and in the last ten years the city has become the Pinxto capital with its 16 Michelin stars restaurants. But going out for “pinchos” seemed to me more fun than to sit in a restaurant because meanwhile I was tasting them I was not only in constant action but I could also discover the Spanish culture. I arrived around 3pm at San Sebastian. First I checked in my hotel and then around 7pm I met my Spanish friend, Ruben, who suggested to visit at least 4-6 bars in one night and in order to try 1 or 2 pintxos with a drink in each establishment. So we hit the old town -the Parte Vieja-after half an hour walking and in the busy restaurant area I found cold and hot pintxos, which were placed on the bars so I could take them directly from there but the hot pintxos were displayed on the blackboards.

Every one of the pinchos consisted of small slices of bread upon which an ingredient or mixture of ingredients were fastened with a toothpick (you got it”pincho”, means “spike) Ruben told me that pinchos are usually eaten as an appetizer in Spain, accompanied by a small glass of young, fruity white wine called Txikit, or Txakoli, or with a beer the zurito, which means quarter of a pint (but I could also accompanied with a rosé or red wine, Sangria). Almost any ingredient were put on the bread, but the most commons included fish such as hake, cod, anchovy; or tortilla de patatas(potato-egg); stuffed peppers; and croquettes. There were also very sophisticated pinchos among the simply ones, consisted of very elaborate expensive seafoods and meats such as the foie gras sandwiches. During my pincho routes we met group of peoples- probably friends who were going from one tavern to another, were drinking small glasses of Sangria and beer and were eating pinchos.

From my pincho tasting routes I could recommend the next pinchos to everyone

Spain and France 2014 September 218Route A

La Cepa: Tenderloin brochette with Gernika peppers and chips there I tasted the finest ham and Jabugo pork!

Casa Gandarias: Beef cheek and mouth

Dakara Bi: taco of sirloin steak with foie gras and reduction of forest fruits

Fuego Negro: Olives with wermouth, queen olives stuffed with it

Casa Vergara: Habanito: It was the best exhibitor of both the traditional pinxto and its modern alternativeSpain and France 2014 September 222

Route B

La Vina bar: Cylindrical water filled cheese and anchovy

Bar Bartolo: Grilled foie gras

Izkina: Galician octopus

Haizea: Cod brick (it was hot!)

Viento sur bar: grilled foie gras with red pepper confit, fried almonds and porto wine reduction sauce (with an Andalusian twist)Spain and France 2014 September 261

Route C

Meson Martin: Trainera: grilled squid and shrimp over a bed of ham

Antonio bar: Cantabrian sea anchovies in salt with hot pepper and green pepper confit

Rojo Y Negro: prawn broshette with Emmental cheese in tempura

Iturrioz: In low temperature baked cod confit

Cafeteria Lombi: Lombi egg and meat and saussage

 

 

Goat cheese cake from France

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Spain and France 2014 September 145I have just come back from my holiday (from France and Spain) with many new culinary buzzes. My first memorable one happened in Poitiér, in Southwest France where I ate a miraculous Goat’s Cheese Cake for breakfast. Later on it became a wonderful experiment in making it since it’s been one of my favorite pastries.

But what is that round black Tourteau Fromagé?

The Tourteau Fromagé is a cheese-based pastry, a special cake of Poitou-Charente région of Southwest France. First it surprises everyone with its appearance. Traditionally was served at wedding receptions but it is still highly appreciated till today. It is usually found in cheese shops or in market places such as in Poitiér’s and in La Rochelle’s. But why I became addicted to it? Because of its lightness, fluffiness andits  barely sweet flavour. When I returned home from my “vacance”-holiday I decided to test the recipe with some of the fresh goat cheese what was available in my habitat (in Münich/Germany) and I could only obtained the classic ‘type 55′ all purpose flour what I’ve always used for most of my bakings and it did the job very well. In France in addition they use the extreme yellow eggs which makes of the interior of the cake just as the extra-high temperature of the oven produces the traditional blackened crust. I tried to buy the yellowest eggs whatever have existed. And my first attempt was very successful. The contrast of the soft tender cake and charcoaled top crust was part of the charm of my cake. See the recipe below:

I prepared three cakes from the following recipe that I made in small, very deep mini-cassoles, each holding about 12fl oz or 300ml.

Tourteau de Chèvre or a goatcheese cake

Preheat oven to 380’C or 530’F.

For the pastry:

  • 100 gr butter- unsalted
  • 200 gr flour- all purpose unbleached
  • Salt- pinch
  • 1 egg
  • water- as needed

Cut butter into flour and salt with fingertips. Add egg and water. Gather pastry crust into ball. Divide into three. Roll out each third, place into deep rounded molds. Trim. Prick.

Batter:

  • 250 gr fresh goats cheese (after draining)
  • 175 gr white sugar (125gr for yolks- 50gr for whites)
  • 50 ml milk (about a tablespoon)
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 60 gr flour
  • Splash of vanilla/rum/Armagnac
  1. Pass goat cheese through a food mill or ricer.
  2. Beat in 125 gr sugar, milk and flour. (I used a whisk.)
  3. Whisk egg whites with 50 gr sugar until stiff peaks. (we use a copper bowl and hand whisk in the Gascon Kitchen.)
  4. Fold in a large spoonful of whites into the cheese/yolk mixture. Stir well.
  5. Fold remaining whites into cheese/yolk batter.
  6. Pour into unbaked pastry shells.
  7. Place into HOT oven (280’C/530’F) for 10 minutes. The tops will puff up round and start to brown and blacken immediately. Don’t panic!
  8. Then turn oven down to 220′C or 425′F for 40 minutes. remove from oven and let cool.

The forward one we slid in 4 minutes after the first two, and it was indeed underdone but delicious. The tops popped up while baking but resettled once they were removed from the oven. The pastry adheres to the batter and shrinks away from the sides making it easy to remove from the glazed bowls. The finished cake has a light and rich texture, akin to a rich golden angel food cake, barely sweet and scented of fresh cheese. Although commercially made with fresh cow’s cheese, the goat’s cheese tang makes a delicious difference. When you are in France make sure to try one from a fromager or make your own version like I did at home.Spain and France 2014 September 164