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chocolate friands – rich, mini chocolate cakes

mini french chocolate cakes

I’m not sure why, but I am always drawn to the most pretentious sounding recipes.  Who in their right mind makes cupcakes when they could be making chocolate friands dipped in chocolate ganache?  Technically they are both mini versions of a rich chocolate cake.  Socially – well let’s just say everyone thinks I’m part wizard for actually pulling these off.  Instead of trying to fancify your cakes by jabbing them with popsicle sticks just make something that everyone feels uncomfortable pronouncing.  Simple comme bonjour!

 

chocolate friands

 

The other reason I’m drawn to French baking it is reminds me of the four months I spent eating everything in sight in Paris.  I have never really had much of a sweet tooth, but then again I had never been confronted with 5 different types of flan on such a regular basis.  The part of French baking that really amazes me is that almost everything is made from some combination of butter, sugar, flour, eggs, chocolate & cream.  No smoke and mirrors – only traditional recipes perfected over decades.  And if you follow the recipes it really can be that easy.

 

small french cakes

 

I whipped these chocolate friands in less than 2 hours – for real.  All these years of eating chocolate ganache I really expected it to be highly technical.  Nope.  Now I have to live in a world where covering things in chocolate ganache is actually an option, which honestly thrills/scares me equally.

 

chocolate friands
chocolate friands (from my favourite recipe book, Tartine)

- ingredients -

for the batter

6 0z chopped bittersweet chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp sugar
3/4 cup flour
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
4 eggs

for the chocolate ganache

4 oz chopped bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream

- directions -

  1. preheat oven to 350 degrees.  line up 30 mini muffin cup paper liners on a baking sheet.
  2. put chocolate in a large mixing bowl. on the stove, melt butter over medium until hot. pour butter over chocolate and stir with wooden spoon until smooth.
  3. in a seperate bowl combine sugar, flour, cornstarch & salt.  slowly add the flour mixture to the melted chocolate in three batches.  once fully mixed, add 2 eggs and stir until combined.  add the remaining 2 eggs and mix until just incorporated – do not over mix.
  4. using a spoon or piping bag fill paper cups 3/4 full with batter.  bake 12-15 minutes or until they start to crack on top.  let cool  completely.
  5. for the ganache – put chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. bring cream to just under a boil and pour it over the chocolate. let it sit for a couple minutes before stirring. gently stir until chocolate is fully melted.
  6. once the friands are cool hold the edges and dip the top into the ganache.  let excess drip off before putting them on a cooling rack. let them rest in a cool place (not in the fridge) for at least one hour while the ganache sets.
  7. try not to eat all of them in one sitting.
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starting fresh – home made cashew milk & blueberry smoothie

Life, laziness & the flu.  Seperately they are hard enough to deal with.  The combination – deadly.  As in no-posts-for-over-a-month deadly.  But let’s put that behind us and start fresh – say with some home made cashew milk and super simple smoothie?

home made cashew milk, banana. frozen blueberries & maple syrup smoothie

As a hard core carnivore I always feel a little awkward trespassing on vegan territory.  But you know what – screw that!  Who says I can’t enjoy a juicy, rare steak and still love cashew milk?  Plus home made cashew milk is a million times better than regular milk and whips up in less than a minute.

home made cashew milk

The first thing to do is soak your raw cashews for at least a couple hours – I usually like to leave mine overnight.  Soaking the nuts helps with digestion and makes the cashew milk uber creamy.  All that’s left to do is drain, rinse, add water & blend – seriously it’s that easy.  You don’t even have to strain it!  The standard ratio for nuts:water is 1:4, but you can make it thicker by reducing the water.

vegan blueberry smoothie

You can either drink the cashew milk straight up or whizz it together with a few simple ingredients to make an effortless smoothie.  I tend to favour frozen blueberries, but pretty much any fresh or frozen fruit would taste amazing.

home made cashew milk & blueberry smoothie

- ingredients –

1/2 cup raw cashews
2 cups water
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 banana
1 tbsp maple syrup (or any other sweetener you prefer)

- directions -

  1. soak the cashews in water overnight. drain & rinse. add to blender along with water and blend until smooth.
  2. add blueberries, banana & maple syrup and continue blending. add water if needed. makes 2 servings
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quebecois tourtiere with a simple green salad

Pork, potato & pastry – the Quebecois know a thing or two about cold weather eating.  Heavily spiced with clove & nutmeg this traditional meat pie is like a cozy sweater for your stomach.  All though French Canadian dishes are typically 50 shades of brown I like to add a West Coast flair by pairing the tourtiere with a fresh mixed green salad.

 

quebecois meat pie

 

If you are against the taste of cloves, tourtiere is not the meat pie for you.  As the filling simmers on your stove the entire house fills with the smell of winter.  But this isn’t a dish that can be rushed – I usually like to let the filling cook for 90 minutes to make sure all those delicious flavours have melded together.

 

tourtiere & a light, acidic green salad

 

While I love this rich meat pie I think it definitely needs a light salad on the side.  Dressed simply with lemon juice & some good quality Italian olive oil, the salad’s acidic zing really cuts through the spices.

 

simple green salad

 

Instead of making one large tourtiere I made 4 small individual pies.  Bad idea – they disappeared in less than 12 hours.  I had one for dinner and then another one for lunch the next day!

 

delicious tourtiere

 

You can make this recipe using any combination pork, beef or veal.  I prefer straight pork but feel free to change it up if you like.

 

quebecois tourtiere recipe

- ingredients -

500g ground pork
1 large onion, diced
2 russet/baker potatoes
1 knob butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 – 1 tbsp ground cloves (depending on taste)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
splash of red wine
pastry dough (recipe)

- directions -

  1. peel/cut/boil potatoes until soft.  reserve 2 cups of water used to boil potatoes.  strain & mash potatoes and put aside.
  2. heat large frying pan – add butter & onions.  cook until translucent.  add pork and cook until cooked.
  3. to the pork add salt, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, mashed potatoes & red wine.  cook on stove for approx. 90 minutes adding the reserve potato water when pork mixture starts sticking to the pan.  add little bits of water at a time.  you can use tap water also if you run out of reserve potato water.
  4. while mixture is cooking make pastry dough and line 4 individual pie pans or one large pie pan.  pre-heat oven to 350.
  5. once pork mixture is nice and thick take it off heat.  carefully spoon mixture into prepared pie pans and cover with a top crust.  use a fork to pinch the edges and trim excess dough. (*you can brush the crust with an egg wash & spices if you’d like – I never do)
  6. put in oven and bake 40 minutes for individual pies or 50 minutes for large pie or until top crust is golden.
  7. remove from oven & let cool for 10 minutes.
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