Category Archives: French

Elizabeth David’s Lamb Boulangère

Lamb Boulangere | Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder with Potatoes | Gather and Graze

I must admit to being quite smitten by this particular lamb dish… only quite recently plucked from the pages of Elizabeth David’s fabulous book, ‘French Provincial Cooking’. My copy is a fairly cheap Penguin-published paperback, which I’ve flicked through occasionally over the years, but in fact, have never really made anything substantial from. Happy to say that this was put to rights about a month ago. Continue reading

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Crème Brûlée (and what to do with all those leftover egg whites!)

Crème Brûlée | Gather and Graze

A few weeks ago, I paid good money to eat the worst Crème Brûlée in my life. In retrospect, I should never have ordered it… should have known that it would be ‘average’ at best! Continue reading

Chocolate Eclairs (Éclairs au Chocolat)

Chocolate Eclairs | gatherandgraze.com

For almost a year, I indulged in French patisserie like there was going to be no tomorrow. Picture… my 20 year old self… living far from home and family… working in a high school (lycée) in the South of France… feeling homesick at times… often frustrated by the antics of my puberty-stricken students… but thankfully, more often than not, delighting in the company that I kept, along with the food, wine and lifestyle of my beautiful adopted country. I really must confess that I must have been in complete denial that so many ‘tartes aux framboises’, ‘croques-monsieurs’, ‘poulet-frites’ and ‘ficelles’ slathered with Nutella could possibly cause a transformation of my general body shape. Oh dear… the wine and beer as well! My wage while working as an English ‘Assistante’ was certainly not a grand one, so I hate to now think how much of it I invested in the local patisserie/boulangerie and inevitably in that burgeoning waist-line.

Alas, the days of over-indulging in the richest of French food are over. Moderation is most certainly the key my friends! So despite my story of weight-gain through patisserie, I ask you to ignore all that I’ve said above and please join me in partaking of this absolutely delicious afternoon treat… just be sure not to eat them all in one sitting! Eclairs are fun and easy (yes… EASY!) to make. Give them a go!

Chocolate Eclairs (Éclairs au Chocolat) | Gather and Graze

  • Servings: About 10-12 Eclairs
  • Print

  • ½ Quantity Choux Pastry (Recipe Here)
  • 300ml/1¼ Cups Heavy Cream
  • ½ Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 115g/½ Cup (Raw) Caster Sugar
  • 125ml/½ Cup Water
  • 60g/⅓ Cup (70% Cocoa) Dark Chocolate (Chopped)
  • 30g/2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter (Chopped)

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Line 2 baking trays with baking/parchment paper.

Prepare the Choux pastry dough as per the recipe for Profitéroles (in the link above), but instead of piping round puffs onto the baking trays, pipe long sausage shapes instead.

Choux Pastry for Chocolate Eclairs | gatherandgraze.com

Bake for about 35-40 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and crisp all over. As soon as they are out of the oven, move them onto a cooling rack and place a little slit in the side of each one to allow any steam to escape from the middle. Allow to cool completely.

Choux Pastry for Chocolate Eclairs | Gather and Graze

Whip the cream and vanilla extract to medium peaks, then set aside in the fridge until the chocolate glaze is ready to go.

Whipped Cream for Chocolate Eclairs | gatherandgraze.com

To make the chocolate glaze, combine the caster sugar and water in a small saucepan and place over a low heat. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon, until the sugar has dissolved completely. Bring to a boil and allow to boil rapidly for about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool down a little, before adding in the chocolate and butter. Stir again until completely melted and combined. As it cools a little more it will start to thicken.

Using a piping bag, pipe the whipped cream into the middle of the eclairs through the same slit that was cut to allow any steam out.

Now spoon over the still slightly warm chocolate glaze. Place back on the cooling rack and allow the glaze to set for a minutes, before serving.

Chocolate Eclairs | gatherandgraze.com

  • The method for making the chocolate glaze was adapted from that of a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe.

French Apple Frangipane Tart

French Apple Frangipane Tart | Gather and Graze

It has been said that ‘the apple does not fall far from the tree’. My love of baking (and of course eating) cakes, biscuits, desserts and sweets is shared equally by my mother. When I baked this particular dessert a couple of days ago it made me think of her. I know for sure that she would enjoy it… this classic French tart, with perhaps a spoonful of double cream on the side. Continue reading

Profiteroles (Fit for a Fiesta!)

Profiteroles | Gather and Graze

As some of you may well know, I’m a little on the quiet side. On occasions I require varying degrees of gentle coercion to prise me from the house, to be social. I always have a fabulous time when I get there, but given the choice I would almost certainly opt for a calming cup of tea and a good book.

My friend Angie, over at The Novice Gardener must have sensed this when she sent out the invitations to come along to ‘Fiesta Friday’ (an online party!) which she holds each week with inimitable style. Her somewhat subtle reminders to join in have recently been playing on my mind… so here I am, ready (with bells on!) for my first Fiesta Friday!

Funnily enough though, due to the time-zone difference between Australia and the USA, it looks like I might be partying on my own for about 16 hours, until midnight ticks over in America! Hmmm, perhaps I’ll make myself a cuppa and sit down with a good book while I wait. 😉

My sweet offering for Fiesta Friday is a rather indulgent French dessert, that needs little by way of introduction. Classic Profiteroles! The recipe I use and adore comes from the cookbook of a stunning French restaurant in New York City called Balthazar. A few years ago a friend and I had breakfast there while on a girl’s weekend in NYC and I’ve been dreaming of going back for dinner ever since!

Wishing you all a fun Fiesta Friday, a Happy Valentine’s Day and a very relaxing weekend!

Profitéroles | Gather and Graze

  • Servings: 40 Choux Puffs
  • Print

  • 125ml/½ Cup Whole Milk
  • 125ml/½ Cup Water
  • 130g/½ Cup Unsalted Butter
  • ¼ Teaspoon Salt
  • 150g/1 Cup Plain Flour (sifted)
  • 5 Large Free-Range Eggs

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.

In a medium saucepan, heat the milk, water, butter and salt until it just comes to the boil. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until it all comes together into a dough. Continue to stir over medium heat for about 3 minutes (being careful that nothing starts burning on the base of the saucepan).

Place the hot dough into an electric mixer and mix at low speed for a few minutes to allow the dough to cool down a little. Then one at a time, add the eggs, mixing on medium speed between each addition to ensure they’ve been incorporated well. After the last egg goes in, mix for about 4 more minutes until a smooth dough forms.

Use either a piping bag, or a soup spoon to form small puffs on the baking trays. Each should be approximately 5 cm in diameter.

Place the trays into the oven and bake for about 35 – 40 minutes or until golden brown. If you are placing 2 trays in at once, remember to swap them around at the halfway mark.

Allow the choux puffs to cool on a wire rack.

When you are ready to serve, slice each profiterole in half with a serrated knife (like a hamburger bun), place a scoop of vanilla bean ice-cream on each base and place the tops back on. Drizzle with chocolate sauce (recipe to be found here…), decorate with berries/fruit if you wish and serve without delay.

Profiteroles | Gather and Graze

Cooking Notes:

  • If you make the choux pastry without an electric mixer, be sure to allow the hot dough from the saucepan to cool down enough in a mixing bowl before you begin to beat in the eggs. This will avoid a nasty case of scrambled egg choux puffs…
  • The choux puffs can be made in advance and kept for a day or two in an airtight container. Re-crisp them a little before serving, in a 180°C oven for approx 5 minutes.
  • I’ve decided to try freezing a batch to see how they fare… I’ll let you know in the next week or two if they still taste great.

* Recipe from “Balthazar” cookbook

Moelleux au Chocolat | Chocolate Lava Cakes

Moelleux Chocolat | Chocolate Lava Cakes | Rachel Khoo Recipe | Gather and Graze

A life has not truly been lived, without experiencing a dessert such as the ‘Moelleux au Chocolat’. Every now and then, you hit upon something that makes your eyes light up and leaves you completely and utterly speechless… Continue reading

Candid about Cumquat(s)

Perfect Cumquat | Gather and Graze

For a little while there, it was like having a third child… I gazed upon it, protected it, nurtured it and when it was fully grown and ready, I eased it out gently into the real world. Surely, there has been no other cumquat as well-loved and as well-photographed as this one here. You can more than likely tell that we don’t have many other fruit trees supplying us with nature’s bounty.

So, what did I end up doing with my one little cumquat? After requesting (and gratefully receiving… thanks girls!) advice on my previous post, thumbing through cookbooks and perusing numerous online images and recipes, a decision was finally made. Candied Cumquat was the unanimous consensus. A dear friend of mine mused that dark chocolate would be the perfect base… and as much as I knew that the flavours would work brilliantly together, I was unsure of the visual aspect in placing caramel-coloured candied cumquat atop the darkest of chocolate. I was picturing brown upon brown and felt that the cumquat might get a little lost. Lemon or orange syrup cake had entered my mind, but no amount of searching for attractive images online could confirm that this idea would create the beautiful result I was after. I searched and searched, but was surprisingly nonplussed by all that I came across.

In the end, flavour took priority and I decided on making some ‘Pots de Crème au Chocolat’ with a spot of cream to both highlight the cumquat and cut through the richness of the chocolate. I particularly thought to use a mixture of milk and dark chocolate in the Crèmes, to soften the flavour somewhat for my children’s palates… others may choose to work with purely dark.

I have a little confession to make though my friends… I have come to comprehend why our cumquat tree has hesitated in producing fruit for us before. It’s now really quite clear! Our family… all four of us it seems… DON’T actually like cumquats! Their appearance – yes! – by all means, what could be better than a fruiting ornamental cumquat to sit and admire? The candied cumquat that I made was all too reminiscent of the cloyingly tart marmalades I’ve tasted in the past. I ate it, but regret to say that it wasn’t altogether enjoyable. My youngest child passed his nibbled-at slice of cumquat to me, to finish on his behalf, while the others chewed furiously fast, just to make the taste go away… Thankfully the dessert sitting underneath was there and waiting. Within a moment the decadent taste of chocolate had wiped away the bitter ending to our prized cumquat.

This really wasn’t the outcome I’d hoped to be sharing with you today, but unfortunately it is the simple and honest truth. If we are graced by any more cumquats in the future, I will certainly try to find another way of enjoying them through cooking, in a savoury dish next time… like a tagine perhaps. Or maybe even amongst a salad…

The Pots de Crème au Chocolat that I prepared are adapted slightly from a recipe I found, by The Plantation House Restaurant in Hawaii (which looks an idyllic location!). Being way too generous and enthusiastic in my portion sizes of these, I’ll know now for future reference, that this quantity will provide dessert for six to eight people, instead of a greedy four. They are lusciously creamy in texture, rich in chocolatey goodness and go beautifully with a scoop of chantilly cream on top. An adornment of fruit is still I think required, though depending on what’s in season, perhaps the likes of raspberries (or any berry for that matter), kiwi or banana. A sprinkling of chopped toasted nuts would also be fabulous…

Pots de Creme au Chocolat | Cumquat | Gather and Graze

Pots de Creme au Chocolat (with Candied Cumquat)

For the Pots de Crème:

  • 100g Dark Chocolate
  • 100g Milk Chocolate
  • 4 Tablespoons Raw Sugar
  • 375mls/1½ Cups Thick/Heavy Cream
  • 4 Free-Range Egg Yolks
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • Pinch of Salt

Gently melt the two types of chocolate over a double boiler. At the same time, warm up the cream in a saucepan, until it almost comes to a boil (do not let it boil). Add the sugar and heated cream to the chocolate, stirring carefully until smooth. Whisk the egg yolks in a separate bowl, then add a spoonful of the chocolate mixture and whisk to combine (this will hopefully help to avoid having scrambled eggs in the next stage!) Now add the egg yolks, vanilla extract and salt to the chocolate and again stir carefully until silky and smooth. If you feel at all that your mixture is a little lumpy, strain it through a sieve before it cools down.

Allow to cool a little before pouring into your chosen pots/glasses/ramekins. Refrigerate for about 3 hours, before serving with whipped (Chantilly) cream and a slice of candied cumquat.

For the Candied Cumquat: Cumquat | Gather and Graze

  • 2 – 3 Fresh Cumquats (if you happen to have that many…)
  • 125mls/½ Cup Water
  • 110g/½ Cup Sugar
  • 1 Star Anise (optional)

In a small saucepan, stir the water, sugar and star anise (if using) over medium heat until it comes to a gentle boil, allow the syrup to simmer for a minute or two. Slice the cumquats thinly and add them to the syrup. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring gently every now and then.

Candied Cumquat | Gather and Graze

Remove cumquat slices (and a little of the syrup) to a bowl to cool down, ready to garnish the Pots de Crèmes…

Pots Creme Chocolat Cumquat Gather and Graze

Gougères | Cheese Puffs

Gougeres Cheese Puffs Gather and Graze

For years I avoided any recipe that involved the making of choux pastry.  It always seemed like it had ‘catastrophe’ written all over it.  Eclairs and profiteroles were to be enjoyed fresh from authentic French patisseries… Continue reading

Zesty Madeleines

Lime Madeleines, Gather and Graze

In it’s ideal state, food should be a feast for all of the senses.  Taste is almost always at the core and rightly so, as it is usually the flavour of things that keeps us coming back for more.  The visual, aromatic and textural side of food serves more to transform what could be just fuel for the body into an actual experience to be savoured.  For me, this sensory awakening often begins way before the food reaches the table. Continue reading