Sinful Chocolate Tarts


I had guests for dinner this week-end so I had to find something yummy to eat. The possibilities can be endless in the array of desserts. But since my children or husband do not care for fruit desserts, I had to find something to make. The problem was time again… Well, I did not really want to spend my day in the kitchen.  I wanted to find something good, but fast to make, and my children wanted chocolate so i decided to go for a bittersweet chocolate tart with a mixed berry salad.

Ingredients: 1 pie crust dough, 1 cup of heavy cream, 16 oz of chocolate chips ( bittersweet preferably), 1 cup of raspberry, 1 cup of blackberry, 4 tbsp of granulated sugar.

Materials: the 3 7/8 inch round cutter, the tart tray, the pastry bag, one of the fancy opening, the demarle whip, the demarle bowl, 1 medium sized bowl.

Spread the pie dough, and with the scalloped round cutter, cut the individuals tarts. Place them in the mold. Pierce the bottom of the pie with a fork. Bake in the oven at 325 for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place the heavy cream in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave for 2 minutes. Be careful that the cream does not boil over. Pour the cream over the chocolate.

Let it rest for a minute to let the chocolate melt. Stir and whip until the mixture is very smooth. Pour the chocolate mixture in the pastry bag, and fill up the individuals pies counterclockwise. Decorate as you wish.

Mixed berries salad: in a medium sized bowl, place the berries and the sugar and mix well.

To serve, place one tartlet on a dessert plate, place 2 tbsp of fruit salad in one corner, vanilla ice-cream or whipped cream in the other corner. Enjoy!!! you will…. I promise;-)

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

Want to add colors to your plate? Use Blue Potatoes….


If you have read my blog, you will know that I love to browse the grocery store aisles. I love to see what is new, and what is in season. As i was browsing, I saw those cute Blue potatoes amid the red, and the white ones and I thought: “How fun!!!”. They can really add color to your plate. Did you know that there are many varieties of potatoes that can be found these days in markets or online store. Blue potatoes have been popular in South America, but seem to have appear on the American Market only recently. Blue Potatoes are similar  to the average potato except in color which makes them excellent if you’re trying to make colorful chips, fancy mashed potatoes or multi-color French fries. But Blue potatoes are also much healthier than its white counterparts.  Most blue fleshed cultivars contain 90 times more antioxidants than white tubers … and the antioxidants in potato tubers are enhanced by cooking them (unlike green veggies that have more antioxidants when eaten raw). So why not add them to your plate?!?!

Today my recipe is quite simple, and is quite fast. It is sauteed potatoes with fresh garlic and fresh parsley.

Ingredients for 4: 1 small bag of potatoes, 1 garlic clove, 1 Tbsp of chopped fresh parsley, 1 tbsp of olive oil,  salt and pepper to taste.

Slice the potatoes thinly, and place them in the large round flexiform. Microwave for 5 minutes. Pour the olive oil in a frying pan, and turn to hot. When the oil starts sizzling, add the potatoes. Sautee the potatoes, stirring them frequently so that they won’t burn. When the potatoes are golden and getting crispy, add the garlic, chopped parsley, salt and pepper and mix well. Et voila! How easy was that?!?!

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

Roasted Garlic Leg of Lamb


Do you wake up at times with envy of eating certain things? I do. Sometimes I dream of those meals my mom used to fix, but I don’t get to prepare. I don’t because noone in my surrounding family like those dish, and when I invite, cautious to please my guest, I fix more generic food that are bound to please. This week I was dreaming of osso bucco and lamb roast. I did not want to go to a restaurant, I just wanted to prepare them. Food tastes so much better, I think, when you prepare it yourself. So I went to my nearby grocery store and bought a leg of lamb. There are two ways to prepare a leg of lamb. You can leave it as such and season it on the outside. It is very difficult to cut around when it is cooked, and the meat is not the best since you have all the nerves… Or you can debone it, trim the fat and the muscle inside and make a tenderloin, and the meat is much tender This is what i did. There are also several ways to cook a leg of lamb. I cook it the French way which involves searing the meat.

Ingredients: 1 leg of lamb, salt and pepper, 4 garlic cloves crushed, thyme or rosemary, olive oil.

First turn your oven to 500 F. Then debone the leg of lamb. Trim all the fat, muscles and nerves that you see in it, but DO NOT remove the layer of fat on the outside of the meat. You will know what I am talking about when you buy a leg of lamb. Once you have removed the bone and trim all the “bad stuffs”,  the meat should almost look like a flat rectangle. Rub the crushed garlic, and the chopped thyme all over the meat. Season with salt and pepper. Roll the meat onto itself to make a tenderloin. Keep the meat together by winding some cooking twine around the “tenderloin”. Rub the garlic and the thyme on the outside of the tenderloin, and season with salt and pepper by sprinkling salt and pepper all over the meat. Place the meat on a grande silform and place in the oven. Lower the temperature to 450. Cook the meat for 10 minutes at that temperature to burn that layer of fat on the outside of your “tenderloin”. Then reduce the temperature to 350 and cook for 10-12 minutes per pound for rare (130F), 12-14 for medium rare (140), 14-16 for medium (150-60), and 16-18 for well-done (160-65).

I would place a meat thermometer inside the meat to keep track of the cooking. Since all oven cook differently, you want to be sure to cook the meat perfectly. Thermometer help you with that! Once the meat is cooked, let it rest outside of the oven for at least 10 minutes for the meat to reabsorb its juices,  and stay tender.

I would serve the meat medium rare. It is the best that way.

You can accompany the meat with a horseradish sauce or a mint sauce. I like the meat sauce the best!

I ate the lamb with sauteed blue potatoes, and thyme lima beans. The meat was perfect!!!

What do you think? I hope you will give it a try!

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

Peach Tart


I love fruits, and I will eat them a plenty during the day, but for dessert, I don’t want fruit. I want a real dessert. Something that is yummy, and delicate…Well right now the best thing to eat or to add to your menu is Peaches. They are so flavorful…

In France, there are many fruit desserts. You can have charlotte, bavarois, napoleon, mousse and of course tartes. Today I will offer you the recipe of a peach tart, and its espuma. Both are very easy to make again, but so delicate and so light. Not heavy at all, and not too sweet… the way fruit desserts should be!

Ingredients for 4 tarts:

  • 1/2 peach per person, so 2 peaches.
  • 1 puff pastry dough,
  • 1/4 cup of almond flour or mill
  • sugar.

Materials:

  • 1 medium saucepan,
  • 1 small frying pan,
  • measuring cups,
  • spatula,
  • dough cutter of 3 7/8 and 3 1/16,
  • deep  flexipan tray with its perforated sheet, round bowl.
  1. To make the tart: roll out the puff pastry dough with a rolling pin to thin it out a bit.
  2. With the larger dough cutter, cut a circle in your dough to make it the bottom of your pie.
  3. With the 3 7/8 and the 31/16, make a ring that you will place on top of your circle that will become the sides of your tart.
  4. Repeat this process for each individual tart you need to make. Set the empty tarts on a flexipan tray.
  5. Sprinkle some almond flour on each tart ( about 1 tbsp per each tart.)This is done so that the almond mill will absorb the moisture o the peach and will not make the dough soaggy.
  6. Slice your peaches in half and cut those halves in the length to make 6 slices.
  7. Place all of them in a large bowl, and sprinkle with sugar ( 1 Tbsp per peach), and lemon juice ( 2 to 3 drops per peach).
  8. Mix well to coat the peaches slices with the sugar.
  9. Rearrange the slices on the tart to remake the half of the peach.
  10. Sprinkle more sugar and lemon juice.
  11. You may add 1 tsp of butter on top of each tart to help the dough become golden. Bake in warm oven at 400 for 15 minutes.
  12. Serve with Espuma and Vanilla Ice Cream. YUM!!!

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

The Healthy Chicken Tenders…


Do you have children? What do they like to eat? if your children are like mine, they probably like to eat pizzas, hamburgers, chicken, and pasta … basically everything that is not good for them…

Since I am a bit of healthy freak, I try to find ways to prepare food that is closed to what they want to eat, and chicken tenders is one of those food;-)

Since I was having lamb myself, and it wasn’t anything they wanted to eat, I had to come up with an alternative for them so I thought why not fix that healthy recipe of chicken tender I had seen in the “eat clean diet magazine”. This recipe is super easy, and I am certain your children would love it.

Ingredients: 3 chicken tenderloins per person, or one chicken breast per person cut in thin strips, 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of bread crumbs ( flavored or not), 2 eggs, 1/2 cup of parmesan, salt and pepper to taste, 1 tbsp of olive oil, 1 small onion diced thinly, 1 garlic clove crushed, 1 can of diced tomatoes, 1/2 tsp of italian seasoning.

First prepare the sauce that will accompany the chicken. In a medium saucepan, add the olive oil and turn the heat to medium. Add the onion, and sizzle them until they become golden. Then add the garlic and stir. Add the italian seasoning, salt and pepper to taste,  and stir again. Add the tomatoes, stir well and bring to boil. After it boiled, reduce the temperature to low heat and let the sauce simmer. If you think the sauce is too tart, add 1 tbsp of granulated sugar.

While the sauce is simmering, prepare the chicken. Take all 3 bowls. In one bowl, place the flour, in another one the eggs that you would have beaten, and in another one the parmesan and the breadcrumbs. Dip each strip of chicken first in the flour, then in the eggs, and finally in the bread/ parmesan mixture, and lay each strip on the silpat.

Cook the chicken tenders in a warm oven of 375 for 10 minutes.

To eat, serve the tomato sauce in individual bowls, and let your guest dip their chicken in the sauce.

You may serve this meal with any sides. My chidren had raviolis…

I hope you will give it a try…

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!

Mexican Shrimp Ceviche


This week, I had the privilege and the opportunity to be in the beautiful state of California  to attend a cooking conference in Newport, California. Since my husband and I had never traveled to this state, we decided to come two days earlier to try to see a bit of this amazing state before the conference started. And I will have to tell you that I have fallen in love with this part of the world. The weather is so mild and the scenery is so amazing!!! So in those two days, we raced to see as much as we could in that short period of time. We saw Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, Malibu Beach, Beverly Hills, San Diego and of course New Port Beach since it is where we stayed. I loved every single places we visited. They were all so beautiful!

But I really like San Diego. I wanted to go there because it was recommended by a friend of mine. But the distance to get there really limited our time to see the whole San Diego. Since we were only able to spend a few hours in San Diego, we chose to go to the Old Town since it is said to be “ the birthplace of California”.

“San Diego is the site of the first permanent Spanish settlement in California. It was here in 1769, that Father Junipero Serra came to establish the very first mission in a chain of 21 missions that were to be the cornerstone of California’s colonization. Father Serra’s mission and Presidio were built on a hillside overlooking what is currently known as Old Town San Diego. At the base of the hill in 1820’s, a small Mexican community of adobe buildings was formed and by 1835 had attained the status of El Pueblo de San Diego. In 1846, a U.S. Navy Lieutenant and a Marine Lieutenant, raised the American flag in the Old Town San Diego Plaza”. http://www.oldtownsandiegoguide.com/history.html
Most buildings are original, and the village is set as in the past so you really feel like you are going back in time of American Colonization. Among the many buildings, you can find shops and restaurants, and of course Mexican restaurants.

We chose to have lunch at “La Casa de Rey” since it was suggested as one of the best in the area. I am not fond of Mexican food, but was looking forward sitting and enjoying a nice lunch in this colorful place. While my husband chose a traditional mexican dish, I chose to eat something much lighter and much healthier …Shrimp Ceviche.
I had already presented the Ceviche in one of my previous post so you should know that  it is orginary from Peru, but also found in many hispanic restaurants.

It is really easy to make. So if you are at loss of finding a refreshing dish in the hot summer, I highly advise you to fix this instead of what we know in the South as Shrimp Salad.
Obviously I did not make this Ceviche, but this is the recipe I make when i do…

Ingredients:
3lbs of small raw shrimps deveined and peeled and diced, 4 large Roma tomatoes, diced, 2 cucumber peeled and diced, 6 limes juiced, 4 lemons juiced, 1 cup of chopped cilantro, 1 small red onion diced,  1 tsp of tabasco sauce ( or more if you like spicy), salt and pepper to taste.
In a large bowl, mix together the lime and the lemon juice, salt and pepper and tabasco sauce. Add the shrimps, toss well and let it rest for about 3 hours. Then add everything else: diced tomatoes, diced cucumber, finely diced red onion, chopped cilantro, and mix well. Place in the refrigerator for another hour. To serve, place the ceviche in a large bowl or in individual bowls and serve with tortillas…

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

The Right Meal for YOU!!!!


Wouldn’t you like to learn to cook a quick, and easy meal that is also delicious and beautiful in appearance. Well, I hope your answer is “YES!!!!”.

So I invite you all to come to my cooking class this Thursday night to learn to cook:

  • Mozzarella and Tomato Caprese
  • Delight Ginger chicken
  • Rice Pilaf
  • Dill  Green Beans
  • and Summer Fruit Tartlets…
Doesn’t it sound amazing?! Now, what if I told you that preparing such a gourmet dinner would not take you more than 30 minutes… Are you sold yet?
So come on to my house this Thursday to learn to prepare such a delicious meal. Just let me know so I will know how much to prepare for at 864-494-4494 or e-mail me at Cecile.cuisine@yahoo.com
BYOB
Free for first time attendees ( $25 otherwise. Fee will be waived if an order is placed)

A Different Salad: Mushroom Salad


Is it hot yet?! … I don’t know if you are like me, but with this weather and this heat, I am really not hungry… And if I eat, I want to eat refreshing salads. One of the salad we fix regularly in France is ” Salade de Champigons de Paris”: Button Mushroom Salad.

It is so easy, and really good if you like mushrooms…..

Ingredients: 2 packs of very fresh button mushrooms, red wine vinegar, olive oil, 2 tbsp of fresh parsley chopped thinly, salt and pepper to taste.

In a medium size bowl, prepare the vinaigrette by mixing 2 Tbsp of red wine vinegar, 4 Tbsp of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Slice the mushrooms very very thinly, and add to the vinaigrette. Sprinkle the fresh chopped parsley, and mix well. Et voila! How easy was that;-)

I hope that you will give it a try. It is really good!

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!!

Strawberry Napoleon



I love desserts… and I love chocolate but I try not to eat too many so as to not negate the workout I do everyday. But sometimes, the temptation is too grand like today. As I was browsing through one of my latest acquisition, I just could not resist those recipes I was seeing. So instead of drulling about them, I just decided to pick one, and make it into reality. The recipe is called Harmonie in “La Duree”book, but since I altered it quite a bit I will call it strawberry napoleon. It is fairly easy I think, though the macarons may give some problems to a few people.

For this recipe you will need: 6 oz. of almond mill, 8 oz. of powdered sugar, 5 egg whites, 10 oz. of granulated sugar, fresh strawberries, 3 oz. of butter, 2 cups of milk, 4 egg yolks, 1 Tbsp. of corn starch, seedless strawberry jam, strawberry flavoring, food coloring.

Place the milk into a middle-sized saucepan, and cook the milk until it boils. In a large bowl, beat the 4 egg yolks with 4 oz. of sugar, and beat until it doubles in volume and changes color. Add the cornstarch and mix well. Pour in the warm milk and blend well. Place the content in a saucepan and bring to boil until the milk is becoming a cream, a pudding. Add 2 Tbsp of strawberry jam, the butter, 2 drops of red food coloring, and 1 tsp of strawberry flavoring. Mix well, and set aside.

While the cream is cooling, fix the base of the cake: The Macarons. This recipe yields about 12-14  big size macarons.

First turn your oven to 320. In the bowl of your mixer, put the 5 egg whites and turn your mixer to high speed. When the egg whites start foaming, slowly add the 7 oz of granulated sugar. Keep beating the egg whites until they start making stiff peaks.  In another bowl, mix the powdered sugar and the almond mill until it is well blended. Slowly add this mixture to the egg whites dusting it a bit at a time and mixing. Be careful not to overmix so that the egg whites won’t deflate. Add 2 drops of red food coloring, and mix.

Draw 12 to 14 circles of 3 inches on a parchment paper. Place that paper on a baking sheet. Fill up a pastry bag with  the egg whites mixture, and pipe the meringue onto those circles. Bake in warm oven between 15 to 20 minutes. The macarons should not be sticking to the paper when you lift them. If they do, cook them a little longer.

To assemble, place one macaron upside down on a small plate, pipe the cream in it, cover with another macaron, pipe more cream and lay your strawberry slices on top to your liking. Yum Yum!!

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

White wine and Thyme Marinated Shrimps


Summer is a great time to entertain. You can receive your guests outside and you can use your grill instead of using your oven or your stove. But what to cook? “Hamburger, steaks and brats…” would be what my husband wish to eat every time. But I like variety so this is not what we had last Sunday when my brother-in-law came for dinner. I had purchased those jumbo shrimps at the beach, and this is what we were going to have  as well as brats for you know who;-)

The menu was fairly easy and really quick to fix:

White wine and thyme marinated shrimps on the grill with fingerling potatoes, tomates provencales, grilled asparagus, and corn on the cobb.

Ingredients for 8: 2 lbs of jumbo or large shrimps deveined and peeled, 2 bags of fingerling potatoes, 8 kernels of corns, 1 cup of white wine, 4 Tbsp of fresh thyme chopped, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

First you want to marinate the shrimps for a few hours. Place the shrimps in a ziploc bag, and add 2 tbsp of chopped thyme, 1 cup of white wine, 2-3 Tbsp of olive oil. Set aside.

When your quests have arrived and you are ready to eat. Turn on your grill to high heat . While the grill is reaching its temperature. You will cook the fingerling potatoes. We want to cut down the cooking time so we will microwave the potatoes so as to cook them before roasting them. Place the potatoes in the large round flexipan, cover with the octogonal silpat and microwave for 5 minutes. When it is done, place the potatoes in a large bowl, and add 3 tbsp of olive oil and thyme. Mix well so that the potatoes are well coated with the oil and  herbs. Empty the potatoes on a large silform, add  salt and pepper on them, and cook in oven for 15-20 minutes in a warm oven at 425. While the potatoes are cooking, stir them every 5 to 8 minutes to make sure they roast evenly.

While the potatoes are cooking in the oven, skewer the shrimps onto a wooden stick that you would have previously soaked in water. Sprinkle salt and pepper and set aside.

Then prepare the corn. Cook the corn  in the round flexiform also for 5 minutes in the microwave and set aside until you are ready to cook the shrimps.

When the grill has reached its temperature and the potatoes are about done, cook the shrimps and the corn on the grill for 2-4  minutes on each side on high heat. Et voila!!!

I hope you will try! It is yummy and effortless!

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!