Friday, December 31, 2010


KikI New Year 1.2 bis
I wish to thank all of my readers for having followed me this year, for all the kind comments they left and for the undying support.
You are awesome!

Hope to see you again in 2011.

This week, Pam
at "Sidewalk Shoes" (USA) is happy to announce that he is hosting Weekend Cat Blogging #291...

To submit your kitty picture(s), you can either leave a message in her blog's comment section (with your permalinks) or contact her via e-mail without forgetting to give all the needed information.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Xmas snow 1.4 bis

Xmas snow 7.3 bis
The week that follows Xmas and precedes the New Year is always a little strange. It is a period during which one feels totally out of reality, displaced and so strange. There is a very good reason for that. According to our Georgian (Western world) calendar, those few days between the end of December and the beginning of January mark the closure of an event which most people have looked upon with too much expectation and hope, the conclusion of yet another year with it's ups and downs as well as a new fresh start that inspires people to feed out of reality dreams doomed to get shattered.

No wonder we are depressed and disappointed during the end of year celebrations! We put the bar far too high, have too many unfulfillable desires and aspire for things that we cannot get. Life is so deceptive if you don't keep your feet on the ground. Then it is impossible to suffer from the soufflé effect. Having no illusions ensures us to be happy with what we have and thankful for the little things.

Xmas snow 3.3 bis

Xmas snow 6.2 bis

Xmas snow 4.2 bis
Just take a look at the vast majority of the human beings around the planet who were frenetically getting ready for the festivities, stressing and even loosing sleep over the whole Christmas hype. Now that it's finished they are once more under extreme pressure at the approach of the 1st of January 2011. Another big decadent feast is soon going to take place and the circus kicks into full speed again.

All are exchanging their gifts, buying loads of unnecessary objects with the money they received and going apeshit trying to organize the big day that lies ahead. What a beserker world! We can never stop for a little while, breathe, take our time to enjoy the present moment and stop focusing on the future or what is out of reach and not under our control.

The past is gone and the future doesn't exist yet, so try to center all of your attention on what is happening pronto. You are living now and not yesterday or tomorrow. Today is the day. Everything else is built on fiction or memory!

Our lack of peace, perpetual quest for more, constant need to be busy and occupied has such a negative influence on us and is characteristic of our modern world, so in order to let you relax a bit and concentrate on what's important (youself and the present) I thought that you might like to enjoy the zen-like atmosphere of my wintery pictures.

Xmas snow 5.2 bis

Xmas Snow 2.1 bis

Friday, December 24, 2010


The end of the month is here again and the moment has come for all of us Daring Bakers devotees to uncover a secret we have kept well-hidden for a few weeks. Of course, contrarily to most of my zealous colleagues and as it is my habit, I made my challenge at the very last moment (a special wink goes to Jamie at "Life's A Feast"!). This time though I executed it without stress despite the fact that Xmas was getting closer every day and I still had a lot to prepare...

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of "Sweet Sadie’s Baking" who chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make a "Dresdner Chris
tstollen". She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

Stollen Picnik-Collage 3 bis
"Dresndner Christstollen" is a bread-like fruitcake made with yeast, water, milk, flour, butter, salt, eggs, rum, vanilla, orange essence, orange and lemon zests, candied orange peel, candied citrus peel, raisins, cinnamon and sometimes also cardamom as well as marzipan. This traditional German speciality which is a little similar to the Italian "Panettone" or the Dutch "Kerststol" can be traced back to 1474. It is usually eaten during the Christmas holidays, hence the religious-oriented name (it is also called "Weihnachtsstollen", meaning "Christmas Stollen" in English). Originally it was called "Dresdner Striezel" - "Striezel" coming from the word "Strüzel" or "Stroczel", meaning "awaken" because it was an early-baked loaf of bread. It's unique shape is meant to represent the baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes.

Germans baked "Stollen" loaves to honor princes and church dignitaries, and to sell at fairs and festivals. The very first of them were confectioned without milk or butter because the Catholic church didn't allow these ingredients during Advent. It was only until the mid 17th century that a papal proclamation allowed bakers to finally add milk and butter.

Nowadays it is still as popular as in the past. Although "Dresdner Christstollen" doesn't have roots in Switzerland we nontheless consume tons of that festive treat during the end of year festivities. It is so widely spread that you can buy it from every store and you'll find it on most tables. At home we always ate "Stollen", so now I cannot imagine celebrating Yuletide without serving that ambrosial goodie. It is so Xmas-like. Therefore, when I heard that we were asked to bake a "Stollen" for the December challenge I was really excited about that project and really looked forward to tasting the homemade version as until now I have never had the opportunity to make my own.

I more or less followed the recipe to the letter. I chose not to use candied cherries, but added a few more raisins. As I thought that almond flakes might totally disappear in the dough and would pass unnoticed if used in that form I decided to add slivered almond instead which I toasted. I also filled one of my loaves with some marzipan. Being a traditionalist, I absolutely wanted to shape my "Dresdner Christstollen" the classic way and didn't have the desire to give it the appearance of a wreath.

The result was highly satisfying. The recipe gave me two mammoth loaves that looked perfect and tasted just out of this world. My "Dresdner Christstollen" had just the right texture too. It was neither too heavy nor too light, the inside was pleasantly moist and melt-in-the-mouth and and the crust was super soft (there was nearly no difference with the inside). Flavor-wise they were exactly the way they should be: intensely fragrant, with delicate boozy, buttery, orangy, lemony, cinnamony and nutty notes, not to forget that thanks to the overnight proofing they also had a slightly sourdoughy aroma that was extremely pleasurable. There is only one negative remark I'll make though. In my opinion, the "Stollen" could have contained more raisins and mixed peel as I found there were a tad not enough fruits...

This homemade "Dresdner Christstollen" is so much better than store-bought ones and a lot cheaper, so I highly recommend you to get off your asses and start baking if you love this European delicacy!

Stollen Picnik-Collage 4 bis
~ Christmas Stollen ~
Recipe adapted from Penny's German friend who bakes Stollen every year, Peter Reinhart's "Bread Baker’s Apprentice" and Martha Stewart.

Makes two traditional shaped Stollen loaves.
Serves 10-12 people

Preparation time:
The following times are approximate. I suggest you gat
her and scale/weigh/measure (mise en place) all your ingredients before you begin mixing.

• Approximately 1 hour first stage – then rest overnight or up to 3 days
• 2 hours to warm up after refrigeration
• 15 minutes shaping

• 2 hours proofing
• 30-45 minutes baking Equipment required:

• Mixer with dough hook or strong arms and hands
• Mixing bowl
• Bowl to soak raisins

• Small saucepan
• Sheet of plastic or plastic wrap to cover when proofing

• Bench or pastry scraper (very handy for cutting dough and also cleaning work surface)
• Rolling pin
• Dough whisk can be handy but not necessary
• Pastry Brush
• A scale is really important to have when making bread so I strongly advise you to get one. You do not have to have on
e though. (would make a good Christmas gift!)
• Sheet Pan or round Pizza pan
• Parchment Paper Stollen Wreath

1/4 Cup (60ml) Lukewarm water (110º F/43º C)
2 packages (4 1/2 Tsps/14 grams/1/2oz) Active dry yeast
1 Cup (240ml) Milk
10 Tbs (140g) Unsalted butter (can use salted butter)
5½ Cups (27oz/770g) All-purpose flour (Measure
flour first, then sift + extra for dusting)
½ Cup (115g) Castor sugar
¾ Tsp (4.5g) Sea salt (if using salted butter there is no need to alter this salt measurement)
1 Tsp (6g) Gropund cinnamon
3 Large eggs, lightly beaten
Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange

2 Tsps Pure vanilla extract
1 Tsp Lemon extract or orange extract
3/4 Cup (4 ¾oz/135g) Mixed peel
1 Cup (6oz/170g) Firmly packed raisins
3 Tbs (45ml) Dark rum
12 Red glacé cherries, roughly chopped (optional)
1 Cup (3.5oz/100g) Slivered almonds, lightly toasted

Melted unsalted butter for coating the wreath
Confectioners sugar for dusting wreath

If you don’t want to use alcohol, double the lemon or orange extract or you could use the juice
from the zested orange.

Stollen 3 bis
Method For Making The "Dough":
1. In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the rum (or in the orange juice from the zested orange) and set aside.

2. Pour 1/4 cup (60 ml) warm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely.
3. In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup (240 ml) milk and 10 tablespoons (150 ml) butter over medium - low heat until butter is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes.
4. Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon and vanilla extracts.
5. In a large mixing bowl (4 qt/4 liters or in the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment), stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zes
6. Then stir in (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) the yeast/wate
r mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/butter mixture (This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball).
7. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.
8. Add in the mixed peel, soaked fruit and almonds and mix with your hands o
r on low speed to incorporate. Here is where you can add the cherries if you would like (Be delicate with the cherries or all your dough will turn red!).
9. Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing with the dough hook) to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed (The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky). Knead for approximately 8 minutes/6 minutes by machine (The full six minutes of kneading is needed to distribute the dried fruit and other ingredients and to make the dough have a reasonable bread-dough consistency. You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough – a few raisins will start to fall off the dough onto the counter because at the beginning of the kneading process the dough is very sticky and the raisins will be held into the dough but when the dough is done it is tacky which isn't enough to bind the outside raisins onto the dough ball.).
10. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

11. Put it in the fridge overnight (The dough becomes very firm in the fridge since the butter goes firm, but it does rise slowly… The raw dough can be kept in the refriger ator up to a week and then baked on the day you want.).

Stollen Picnik-Collage 5 bis
Shaping the Dough and Baking the Wreath:
1. Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly.
2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
3. Punch dough down,
divide it into two pieces.
4. Pat into ovals.
5. For traditional stollen shape (video 1 & video 2),
on a floured working surface roll out the dough to an oblong shape about 3 cm (1 1/5 inch) thick (The long sides should be bulging.). Fold in the long sides of the dough on top of each other. Now push in the dough lengthwise with your hands forming a stollen shape. Place the Stollen on your baking sheet.
Brush the dough with melted butter and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
7. Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1 1/2 times its original size.
8. Preheat oven to moderate 180°C (350° F) with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
9. Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes (The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color, should register 190°F/88°C in the center of the loaf, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.). 10. Transfer to a cooling rack and brush the top with melted butter while still h ot.
11. Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter.
12. Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first (The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar.
Coat the stollen in butter and icing sugar three times, since this many coatings helps keeps the stollen fresh - especially if you intend on sending it in the mail as Christmas presents! The more rum and the more coatings of butter and sugar you use the longer it will store. The following is for the recipe as written and uses the 45 mls of rum and two coatings of butter and icing sugar.).
13. Let cool at least an hour before serving.

When completely cool, store in a plastic bag or leave it out uncovered overnight to dry out slightly, German style.
The stollen tastes even better in a couple of days.

Serving suggestions:
Stollen is delicious with butter and a cup of tea.

It toasts superbly and can be used to make bread pudding.

Stollen Picnik-Collage 1 bis


Etant donné que la recette est un peu longue, je n'ai malheureusement pas pu faire une traduction française de ce billet et je m'en excuse auprès de tous mes amis lecteurs et blogueurs francophones!

C'est pourquoi je vous suggère de vous rendre sur le blog mentionné ci-desso us. Vous y trouverez cette recette en version française.

Recette pour le "Dresdner Christstollen" sur les deux blogs canadiens suivants:
Chez Isa de "Les Gourmandises d'Isa" (Canada)
Chez Vibi de "La Casserole Carrée" (Canada)

Stollen Picnik-Collage 2 bis

Monday, December 20, 2010


Choco Mousse 1 bis
This time of the year is magical and we love to cook scrumptious meals as well as bake delicious treats. Everybody wants to have a pretty table with lots of beautiful festive foods and spend valuable moments with their loved ones...

Christmas and New Year are only a few days away and many of you must already have prepared most of the food that will be serve to your guests. Anyway, there are surely some of you who are still looking for ideas and who always do things at the last minute (me for example), so I thought that sharing my Christmas recipe roundup might can in handy.

If you want to have a stress-free holiday, please have a look at my recipes. You might find something interesting and will not lose any precious time thinking about your menus. Take it easy and don't wrack your brains as we foodbloggers are here to help you!

Apperitive Food & Starters:
Brazilian Toasts (see recipe)
Caribbean Banana Soup (see recipe)
Chopped Liver (see recipe)
Curried Parsnip And Apple Soup (see recipe)
Falafels (see recipe)
Foie Gras Terrine (see recipe)
Flammeküche Pizza (see recipe)
Fried Ricotta (see recipe)
Gravlax - Salt Cured Salmon (see recipe)
Ham And Parmesan Cake (see recipe)
Italian Wine Biscuits (see recipe)
Kipper Rillettes (see recipe)
Lavash Crackers (see recipe)
Lemon Parmesan Dip (see recipe)
Oat Cakes (see recipe)
Ostrich Steak Tartar (see recipe)
Parmesan And Gorgonzola Cheesecake (see recipe)
Parmesan And Italian Herbs Shortbread Cookies (see recipe)
Potato Chips/Crisps (see recipe)
Ricotta With Za'Atar (see recipe)
Smoked Haddock And Gruyère Tartlets (see recipe)
Smoked Salmon And Cream Cheese Bagels (see recipe)
Smoky Chili Crackers (see recipe)
Spicy Roasted Chickpeas (see recipe)
Spinach And Feta Strudel (see recipe)
Sweet And Savory Italian Meatballs (see recipe)
Tahitian Poisson Cru Made With Salmon (see recipe)
Tiny Curry Scones (see recipe)
Vietnamese Chicken And Grapefruit Salad (see recipe)

Chestnuts 1.4 bis
Main Courses:
Barberry Pilaf (see recipe)
Blueberry Pork Chops (see recipe)
Brazilian Xinxim De Galinha (see recipe)
Chicken And Mushrooms In Saint Marcellin Sauce (see recipe)
Chicken In Vanilla Sauce (see recipe)
Chinese Lemon Chicken (see recipe)
Cheese Fondue (see recipe)
Greek Pork Stew With Quinces (see recipe)
Lemony Beef And Potato Tajine (see recipe)
Lump Egg Pasta With Saffron Sauce (see recipe)
Meatballs Brazilian Style (see recipe)
Pulled Pork (see recipe)
Raclette (see recipe)
Stuffed Quinces (see recipe)
Swiss Fondue (see recipe)

Side Dishes & Accompaniments:
Almond And Curry Bread (see recipe)
Greek Lemon Roasted Potatoes (see recipe)
Homemade Orecchiette Pasta (see recipe)
Hot Italian-Style Tagliatelle (see recipe)
Jerusalem Artichoke Gratins (see recipe)
Maluns (see recipe)
Maple Glazed Brussel Sprouts And Potatoes (see recipe)
Homemade Orechiette (see recipe)
Parsnip Puree (see recipe)
Potato Kugel (see recipe)
Potatoes Baked With Parmiggiano (see recipe)
Pumpkin Latkes (see recipe)
Spätzlis (see recipe)
Toad In The Hole (see recipe)
Warm Beetroot With Sour Cream (see recipe)

Coffee Kisses 3 bis
Festive Desserts, Cakes, Breads & Cookies:
Almond Cake From Reims (see recipe)
Alsatian New Year Chocolate Chip Brioche (see recipe)
Amaretti, Apricot Jam & Coconut Bars (see recipe)
Apple Challah (see recipe)
Apple Latkes (see recipe)
Apple Tart With Hazelnut Frangipani (see recipe)
Bakewell Tart (see recipe)
Banana Bread Pudding (see recipe)
Banana Walnut Bread (see recipe)
Basboussa - Egyptian Syrup Cake (see recipe)
Basler Brunsli Cookies (see recipe)
Birnenbrot (see recipe)
Bostoni Cream Pie (see recipe)
Brazilian Coffee Cookies (see recipe)
Canoli (see recipe)
Cantuccini - Biscotti Cookies (see recipe)
Caramel Cake With Caramelized Butter Fosting (see recipe)
Caraway Seed Cake (see recipe)
Cardamom Crumb Cake (see recipe)
Carrot Bundt Cake (see recipe)
Challah Bread (see recipe 1 & recipe 2)
Cheesecake & Jelly (see recipe)
Cheesecake Marbled Brownies (see recipe)
Chestnut Bites (see recipe)
Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies (see recipe)
Chocolate Cinnamon Bundt Cake (see recipe)
Chocolate Eclairs (see recipe)
Chocolate Intensity Cake (see recipe)
Chocolate Mousse/Delight (see recipe 1 & recipe 2)
Chocolate Pavlovas (see recipe) Chocolate Valentino (see recipe)
Chocolate Walnut Fudge (see recipe)
Cinnamon Chestnut Persimmon Muffins (see recipe)
Cinnamon Granola (see recipe)
Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts (see recipe)
Coffee Kisses Cookies (see recipe)
Croquembouche (see recipe)
Cuchaule (see recipe)
Danish Braid (see recipe)
Dark Chocolate & Peanut Butter Cupcakes (see recipe)
Dark Chocolate Tart (see recipe) Date Bars (see recipe)
Deadly Blondies (see recipe)
Decorated Cookies (see recipe)
Dobos Torte (see recipe)
Dream Bars (see recipe)
Earl Grey Chocolate Mousse (see recipe)
Eggnog Mousse (see recipe)
Festive Winter Challah (see recipe)
Filbert Cake (see recipe)
Five Spice Ice Cream petits Fours (see recipe)
Fragrant Swedish Rye Bread (see recipe)
Frosted Spicy Rock Cakes (see recipe)
Fudgy Low-Fat Cocoa Cookies (see recipe)
Ginger Flavored Banana Cake (see recipe)
Gingerbread House (see recipe)
Gingered Carrot Cake Cookies (see recipe)
Grittibänz Breads (see recipe)
Hazelnut Nougatine (see recipe)
Honey Cinnamon Graham Cookies (see recipe)
Ice Cream Cake (see recipe)
Italian Ricotta Cookies (see recipe)

Choco Mousse bis 1.1
Koulourakia - Greek Cookies (see recipe)
Kriegskuchen/War Cake (see recipe) Lamingtons (see recipe)
Lemon Buttermilk Tart (see recipe)
Lemon Curd (see recipe)
Lemon Honey Cookies (see recipe)
Lemon Mousse Verrines (see recipe)
Luscious Lemon Bars (see recipe)
Luscious Pumpkin Jam (see recipe)
Macadamia Nut Cookies (see recipe)
Macarons With Chocolate & Peanut Better Ganache (see recipe)
Magenbrot Cookies (see recipe)
Mallows (see recipe)
Melting Moments Cookies (see recipe)
Milanais/Mailänderli Cookies (see recipe)
Milk Chocolate And Caramel Tart (see recipe)
Mincemeat For mince Pies (see recipe)
Moist Orange Syrup Cake (see recipe)
Moroccan-Jewish Truffles (see recipe)
Mouhalabieh (see recipe)
Namoura (see recipe)
Nanaimo Bars (see recipe)
Nian-Gao (see recipe)
Norwegian Mountain Bread (see recipe)
Opéra Cake (see recipe)
Orange Cornmeal Cake (see recipe)
Panettone (see recipe)
Perfect Party Cake (see recipe)
Pfeffernüsse Cookies (see recipe)
Portuguese Sweet Bread/Massa Sovada (see recipe)
Profiteroles (see recipe)
Pumpkin Apple Bread (see recipe)
Pumpkin Bread Pudding With Caramel Sauce (see recipe)
Pumpkin Challah (see recipe)
Oatmeal Coconut Cookies (see recipe)
Opéra Cake (see recipe)
Orange Cornmeal Cake (see recipe)
Orange Tian (see recipe)
Peanut Butter & Tonka Ice Cream (see recipe)
Pecan Sandies (see recipe)
Pfeffernüsse Cookies (see recipe)
Profiteroles (see recipe)
Quarktorte With Raisins (see recipe)
Rose And Honey Madeleines (see recipe)
Rosemary And Vinefruit Bloomer (see recipe)
Salée A La crème (see recipe)
Scones (see recipe)
Sesame Cookies (see recipe)
Sienese Panforte (see recipe)
Suet Pudding (see recipe)
Swiss Brunslis (see recipe)
Swiss Mailänderli - Milan Cookies (see recipe)
Swiss Saffron Bread (see recipe)
Swiss Zimsterne (see recipe)
Tahinopitta - Tahini Cake (see recipe)
Tiramisù (see recipe)
Tiramisù Mousse & Lemon Curd Tart (see recipe)
Tiramisù Mousse & Lemon Curd Verrine (see recipe)
Triflemisù (see recipe)
Tuiles With Orange Praline Filling (see recipe)
Upside-Down Honey Cheescakes (see recipe)
Vanilla And Lemon Cupcakes With Buttercream Frosting (see recipe)
Vols-Au-Vent (see recipe)
Walnut Ma'amouls (see recipe)
Walnut Tart (see recipe)
Wicked Bacon And Turkish Coffee Brownies (see recipe)
Yule Log (see recipe)
Zesty Ricotta Tart (see recipe)

Cemetery G2Kitchen bis bis

Friday, December 17, 2010


eggnog Mousse Picnik collage 3 bis
I must say that although I love the Yule-tide (Christmas in a non-Christian way - I prefer to celebrate it the "pagan" way) atmosphere, I am really not a big fan of this mercantile Christmas craze that already starts when the summer has just ended. All I see when I open magazines or newspapers, put on my TV and look at the robotically busy crowds running from one store to another is consumption, consumption and consumption. In our modern world, Xmas is deprived of all it's meaning and spiritual aspect.

The real signification of sharing and giving has been lost. Most people buy things because they have to make gifts no matter if they have enough money or not (some ever make debts in order to buy them). It is a social obligation. The worst is that because of the way things are in our modern times, the act of offering is made without pleasure or deep purpose (I am not speaking about calculated acts of offering here, but about the meaningful ones). So that leads some persons
to offer impersonal presents that are not to the taste of the receivers and will be recycled, given away, exchanged or even thrown away. Not forgetting that many already have everything and need nothing more. This accumulation of goods can be quite pornographic, especially when you think of those that are in need.

Too many of us are stressed by those festivities,
feel pressurized by their family who sets the bar far too high and cannot bear the weight which is put on their shoulders as not only do they have to purchase loads of useless paraphernalia, but they also have to get together with people they dislike just for the sake of that "holy day", play the perfect family although hate, jealousy and adversity is in the air (so fake - love and friendship is not something you show only once a year and it cannot be commanded!) and slave in the kitchen all day to prepare a expensive as well as gargantuesque feast. What a comedy!

Everything has to be big, expensive, shiny, artificial, pompous, over the top, burden-like and imposed. In such suffocating circumstances celebrating Xmas is far from being cheery. It is more like a torture or traumatizing nightmare that never ends! I'm sure if you asked people wether they'd prefer to go through the pain of organizing the "perfect" Christmas and lose their sanity or would rather do some cocooning I'm sure 70% would choose the latter (the 30% percent who will claim the contrary are those who are blessed with kind and lovable relatives - something quite rare).

Of course, some of you are lucky to not fall easily into the commercial spiral/trap, have another vision of things and can be proud of having a normal family. In such conditions Christmas is not hollow and it is an event you can look forward to ...

I am fortunate enough to commemorate Christmas in my own way (it also happens to be my birthday on the 25th of December). We try tribute to this day in a very heathen, nature-oriented and non-confomist fashion. We don't go crazy when it comes to spending money, but we exchange humble yet wonderful gifts, value true relationships and eat a 100% homemade meal (cooked by "moi") that is rich in it's simplicity (no 5 hour sessions at the table - we prefer to eat less and to make the fancy food last a few days instead of gulping all of it on the same day). My family being plagued by petty fights, I happen to spend the holidays at home with my boyfriend and our two kitties (Maruschka & Fridolin - my babies LOL). Straight-forward, refined, authentic and humble just like me. Very romantic, laid-back and cozy!

I particularly enjoy the weeks that preceed Xmas as it is a foodlover's and baker
's paradize. There are so many cookies to bake, countless magazines to leaf through, tons of gleeful blog post to admires and heaps of wonderful food displayed on markets or in stores to drool over. When you are an epicurean like me, then you cherish this awesome period that is the Advent even more than the 25th of December itself.

Lately, I have been bustling in my kitchen, overusing my oven and baking all kinds of treats that disappear within a few hours or days (a Sisyphus job). In my house delicious things don't last long and it w
as also the case with my "Eggnog Mousse" which was so good that it was impossible to stop gobbling it.

I found the original recipe in my December issue of
"Delicious" magazine (once again!) which is a big source of inspiration and my latest culinary crush . At the origin this pudding was called "Eggnog Creams", but since I adapted it by spicing it up a little more, adding ingredients or substituting others and incorporating more gelatine, I decided to change it's title since this dessert is more like a mousse than a cream.

This "Eggnog Mousse" is a dessert that fits perfectly the Christmas d
ay dinner party menu as it is light, fresh and so festive. It is totally irresistible with it's intense spiciness, fabulous heady notes of whiskey (just perceptible), creamy full-bodiness, delicate vanilla aroma, slight custardy/eggy flavor and dreamlike fluffiness as well as lovely jelly texture. A treat that will charm your guests and conclude the meal ethereally!


I have participated in the elaboration of this issue, so if you want to learn everything about my Christmases and see my pictures then please do check out that online magazine.

Eggnog Mousse 4 bis
~Eggnog Mousse ~
Recipe adapted from "Delicious", December 2010.

Serves 8.

500ml Milk (3.5% fat)
1 1/2 Tsp Pure vanilla paste
2 Sticks Cinnamon
1 1/2 Tsp Freshly grated nutmeg (+ a little more to dust)
A pinch Ground cloves
4 Large egg yolks (free-range or organic)
110g Castor sugar
60ml Whiskey
1/2 Tsp Pure vanilla extract
1/2 Tsp Fine sea salt
8 Sheets gelatine
320ml Double cream (35% fat)

1. Pour the milk into a medium pan and add the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Over medium heat stir continuously and bring to a slight boil. Remove from the heat and let infuse for about an hour.
2. In a medium bowl, put the egg yolks, sugar, whiskey, vanilla and salt. Whisk until thick and pale yellow.
3. Over low heat, reheat the infused milk and slowly strain it over the egg mixture. Mix well.
4. Pour back into the pan and cook over low heat while continuously stiring until the mixture becomes thickish and covers the back of a spoon.

Eggnog Mousse Picnik collage 4 bis
5. Soak the gelatine in bowl of cold water for about 5 minutes, until the sheets get soft. Discard the water and squeeze in order to remove all excess water.
6. Add to the custard and stir well until completely dissolved and incorporated.
7. Pour into a bowl and place it in a sink filled with ice cold water.
8. Let cool completely and stir every now and then. The mixture should get thick, but should not be set.
9. Meanwhile whisk the cream until you obtain soft peaks.
10 Fold delicately into the custard until the mixture is homogenous.
11. Pour into 150ml transparent verrines or glasses.
12. Chill for about 4 hours or overnight.

You can replace the whiskey by brandy, sherry or rum.

Serving suggestions:
Serve cold for dessert and decorate with the cookies of your choice (speculoos, shortbread, macaron, etc...), some grated dark chocolate or broken praline.


Eggnog Mousse Picnik collage 2 bis
~ Mousse Au Lait De Poule ~
Recette adaptée du magazine "Delicious", Décembre 2010.

500ml de Lai (3.5% de mat. grasses)
1 1/2 CC de Pâte de vanille pure
2 Bâtons de Cannelle
1 1/2 CC De Noix de muscade fraîchement moulue (+ un petit peu pour saupoudrer)
Une pincée de Clous de girofles en poudre
4 Gros jaunes d'oeufs (air libre ou bio)
110g de Sucre cristallisé
60ml de Whisky
1/2 CC d'Extrait de vanille pure
1/2 CC de Sel de mer fin
8 Feuilles de gélatine
320ml de Crème double (35% de mat. grasses)

1. Verser le lait dans une casserole moyenne et y ajouter la pâte de vanille, la cannelle, la noix de muscade et le clou de girofle. A feu moyen, chauffer et mélanger continuellement jusqu'à légère ébullition. Retirer du feu et laisser infuser pendant 1 heure .
2. Dans un bol moyen mettre les jaunes d'oeufs, le sucre, le whisky, l'extrait de vanille et le sel. Fouetter jusqu'à obtention d'un mélange mousseux et pâle.
3. Réchauffer le lait infusé à feu moyen et le filtrer tout en versant dans le bol où se trouve le mélange aux jaunes d'oeufs. Bien mélanger.
4. Transvaser dans la casserole puis faire cuire à feu doux tout en remuant jusqu'à obtention d'un custard assez épais (il doit recouvrir le dos d'une cuillère).

Eggnog Mousse Picnik collage 1 bis
5. Faire tremper la gélatine dans un bol d'eau froide pendant 5 minutes, jusqu'à ce qu'elle ait ramolli complètement. Enlever l'eau et la presser afin d'en extraire toute l'eau superflue.
6. Ajouter au custard et mélanger afin que la gélatine soit complètement dissoute et incorporée.
7. Verser dans un bol. Le placer dans de l'eau très froide.
8. Faire refroidir complètement le custard et mélanger de temps en temps. Le mélange ne doit pas prendre, mais doit s'épaissir.
9. Pendant ce temps, foutter la crème jusqu'à formation de pics.
10 Incorporer délicatement au custard afin d'obtenir un mélange homogène.
11. Verser dans des verres ou verrines de 150ml.
12. Mettre au frigo au moins pendant 4 heures ou toute une nuit.

Le whisky peut être remplacé par du brandy, sherry ou du rhum.

Idées de présentation:

Servir froid pour le dessert et décorer avec des biscuits (speculoos, shortbread, macaron, etc...), du chocolat râpé (ou des copeaux de chocolat) ou du praline.

Eggnog Mousse Picnik collage 5 bis

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Snow Veyrier 1.3 bis

Snow Veyrier 2.2 bis
A few days after the big snowstorms we had, the weather got a little calmer. Although the temperatures were well under 0° C (32° F) the sun came out and we found ourselves immersed in it's wonderful rays. The sky was duck blue, the sun shining bright and the snow was scintillating -I must say that, lately, we have been very lucky to enjoy many splendid winter sunsets...

Then, a week ago, the weather changed radically. The thermometer rose (12° C/54° F), the foehn (a warm wind from the West) started blowing and unfortunately it started raining buckets. Within one day we switched from polar to Mediterranean temperatures. No need to tell you that all the snow melted away in no time.

Now, the landscapes have lost their coat of white. Anyw
ay, it seems that we will get more snow this week as it's going to get a lot colder. Anyway, while waiting for the next snowfall, I still have many pictures to share with you, so I hope they'll give you much pleasure...


Snow Veyrier  18.2 bis

Snow Veyrier 17.1 bis
On another note, I just wanted to let you know that:

. My article, pictures and "Chocolate Delight" have been featured in G2Kitchen's "Holiday Special". You'll learn some things on myself and will discover what Xmas represents for me.

. I have also taken part in Love Feast Table's "Cookie Exchange" by submitting my English "Coffee Kisses" recipe, a few photos and writing an article (regarding one special christmas holiday I spent in England).

. And least, but not last, you'll also find me talking about my Yule-tide and New Year feasts in an article on the French Larousse Cuisine site (in French only, but use Google Translate to read it in your own language).

I hope you'll enjoy my work!

Snow Veyrier 16.2 bis

Snow Veyrier 15.3 bis

Friday, December 10, 2010


Mincemeat Picnik collage 3 bis 
Christmas (or Yule-tide) is getting closer everyday and although this year it falls on a Saturday meaning that some of us might not have a longer weekend, most people will want to celebrate this day in a very festive way. No matter if you are not Christian or if the commercial misuse of this event disgust you or puts you off, I guess that like me, you'll nonetheless want to cook or bake something fine for the occasion and will want to do some extreme cocooning...

As I miss England and feel awfully nostalgic when thinking about my second country (I am lucky and proud to have dual nationality and beserker ancestors - Swiss and English) I thought that it would be a great idea to make it a british Xmas this year and eat foods that would remind me of my beloved roots. So in 2010, I will be serving turkey with stuffing (sage & onion) and it's accompaniment (Brussel sprouts with chestnuts & bacon, buttery mashed tatties and gravy). To make it even the more British than it is already, we'll have "Mince Pies" for dessert - an exquisite treat that I have alaways loved as a kid and have been craving since a while.

After having received my Christmas issues of Delicious, Good Food and Jamie Magazine there was no reason I was not going to make my own "Mincemeat". All three magazines offer wonderful recipes for this amazing speciality which originates from Great Britain and can be traced back to the end of Middle Ages (circa the 15th century).

During this epoch finding a method of storing food was of the highest importance and many ways had been developped (pickling, jarring, curing, spicing, etc...). So, initially "Mincemeat" began as a way to preserve food therefore that paste-like mixture can be kept for quite a while (1 month and depending on the kind of fat used, for up to a year).

This brown colored, fruity (apple, rai
sins, currants, sultanas, candied peel, oranges & lemons), richly spiced ( mixed spice, cinnamon, ginger & nutmeg), boozy (rum) filling enriched with fat (lard, suet or butter) is used in the confection of "Mince Pies" that are traditionally baked for Christmas or Easter (eaten all year long too).

It is very interesting to note that our modern era "Mincemeat" is quite different from the one which was prepared until the 19th century. The original preparation was made with beef, lamb, venison or heart which was finely minced and mixed to suet, dried fruits, citrus peel, alcohol and spices, hence the name it carries. Although this version is now unusual and quite rare to find, some families still perpetuate the tradition.

Although I've eaten my share of "Mince Pies" in the past, this is my first homemade "Mincemeat" and I must say that the result surpasses my expectations by far. Without trying to boast too much, I must recognize that mine is exactly the way it should be and tastes perfect. It has a fresh, tangy, frangrant, fruity, heady, delicately nutty, divinely spicy, well-balanced flavor and isn't too sweet nor sickly. Very Xmassy and so festive.

Mincemeat 2 bis
~Mincemeat ~
Recipe adapted from "Delicious" magazine, December 2010.

Enough to fill 4 jam jars.

Finely grated zest and juice of 2 large organic lemons
Finely grated zest and juice of 2 large organic oranges
1 Large (about 300g) Boskoop apple (or Bramley apple)
80g Unsalted butter
20g Lard
70ml Dark rum
200g Raisins
150g Sultanas
150g Currants
100g Candied Orange peel, chopped
50g Candied lemon peel, chopped
1 1/2 Tsp Ground cinnamon
1 Tsp Ground ginger
1/2 Tsp Freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 Tsp Mixed spice
175g Light muscovado sugar
60g Lightly toasted almonds, chopped

Mincemeat Picnik collage 2 bis
1. Put the orange and lemon zest and juices into a biggish pan.
2. Peel, quarter and core the apple. Grate it and add it to the pan. Stir into the juices so that it doesn’t discolour.
3. Add the butter, lard, rum, dried fruits, candied peels and spices. Cook over a low heat, stirring frequently, for 1 hour until the apple has broken down, the dried fruits are plump and all the liquid has evaporated.
4. Let cool, then add the sugar and the toasted almonds. Mix well.
5. Spoon into cool, sterilised jam jars, press a waxed disc firmly onto the surface of the mixture and seal.
6. Put in the refrigerator and use within 1 month.

Instead of using dark rum, you can use calvados, sherry, brandy or whisky.
You can replace the almonds by hazelnuts or any other roasted nut of your choice (not traditional but ok).
Mincemeat flavors develop over time, so make in several weeks in advance of the holidays.
If you want you mincemeat to have a longer shelf life, then omit the butter and stir in 100g shredded suet at the end (don't add 20g lard at the beginning), along with the sugar and almonds. In that way your mincemeat will keep for up to a year in a cool dark place.
It freezes well too – for up to 6 months.

Serving suggestions:
Make "Mince Pies" using your homemade "Mincemeat".


MIncemeat Picnik collage 1 bis
~Mincemeat ~
Recette adaptée du magazine "Delicious", Décembre 2010.

Pour 4 pots à confiture.

Le zeste et jus de 2 citrons bio
Le zeste et jus de 2 oranges bio
1 Grosse (300g) Pomme boskoop (pomme goûteuse pour compote)
80g de Beurre non-salé
20g de Saindoux
70ml de Rhum foncé
200g de Raisins
150g de Sultanines
150g de Raisins blonds
100g d'Orangeat en cube
100g de Citronnat en cubes
1 1/2 CC de Cannelle en poudre
1 CC de Gingembre en poudre
1/2 CC de Noix de muscade fraîchement moulue
3/4 CC de Mixed spice (voir remarques pour recette)
175g de Sucre "muscovado"
60g d'Amandes torréfiées et hachées

Mincemeat Picnik collage 4 bis
1. Mettre les zestes et jus d'orange et de citron dans une assez grande casserole.
2. Peler, nettoyer et couper en quartiers la pomme, puis la râper et la mélanger au jus dans la casserole.
3. Ajouter le beurre, le saindoux, le rhum, les fruits secs, l'orangeat, le citronnat et les épices, puis cuire (avec couvercle) endant 1 heure à basse température en mélangeant régulièrement jusqu'à ce que la pomme se soit désintégrée, que les raisins soient imbibés et que le jus se soit évaporé.
4. Laisser refroidir, puis ajouter les amandes et le sucre.
5. Remplir des pots à confiture stérilisés et recouvrir le mincemeat avec un rond de papier sulfurisé. Fermer les pots.
6. Conserver le mincemeat au frigo pendant 1 mois maximum.

Au lieu d'utiliser du rhum, vous pouvez prendre du calvados, du whisky, du sherry ou du brandy.
Les amandes peuvent être remplacées par des noisettes ou les noix de votre choix - au préalable torréfiées (pas traditionnel mais ok).
Le mincemeat développe toute sa saveur avec le temps, alors prenez bien soin de le confectionner quelques semaines avant les fêtes.
Si vous voulez garder votre mincemeat encore plus longtemps, alors omettez le beurre et remplacez-le par du saindoux râpé que vous ajouterez à la fin avec le sucre et les amandes. De cette manière vous pourrez le conserver une année au frais et dans un lieu sombre.
Il se congèle aussi très bien – 6 mois maximum.
Pour obtenir le mélange d'épices "Mixed Spice", mélanger ensemble 1 CS de tout épice en poudre, 1 CS de cannellle en poudre 1 CS de noix de muscade moulue,
2 CC de macis en poudre, 1 CC de clous de girofles moulus, 1 CC de Coriandre en poudre et 1 CC de gingembre en poudre.

Idées de présentation:
Confectionner des "Mince Pies" avec votre "Mincemeat".

Mincemeat Picnik collage 5 bis