Forget Grace Kelly, Jackie O. and Marilyn. No Hollywood diva can compete with the delicate and dainty appearance of the Millefeuille. Although I usually opt for the more robust cakes and pies with bold and rich flavours, today I felt like tackling the grandeur and grace of one of France’s greatest classics.
My version of the Millefeuille is –as always- a bit different from the original. Instead of thousand layers of puff pastry (which is what “millefeuille” literally means), I just had two. Admittedly, my version may not have the majestic luxury of the French classic, but I believe it still looks rather delicate and refined. (Just nod your head if you agree 😉 )
However, when it comes to flavour, my very own personalized rose and apricot Millefeuille far surpassed the rather boring flavour palette of the original. (no offence to all French pastry chefs) I went for a rose and honey flavoured custard topped with fresh apricot, dried cranberries and home-made meringues. It tasted so exquisite, it was almost impossible to believe I had made it myself! It would even make Michel Roux jealous!
Michel Who? Exactly. No one nails the essence of superior flavour better than I do. Me, pretentious? Just remember: if you want to be a good baker, you have to be a bit boastful! 😉
Rose and apricot Millefeuille
• One sheet of puff pastry
• 2,5 dl milk
• ½ tsp rose water
• 3 egg yolks, (you can save the egg whites for the meringues or use shop-bought meringues)
• 2 tbsp corn flour
• 2 tbsp caster sugar
• 3 tbsp runny honey
• Handful of dried cranberries
• 3 ripe apricots, peeled, stoned and halved
• Almond flakes
• Icing sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Cut out 6 rectangular pieces of puff pastry, brush them with some of the remaining egg white and sprinkle over some almond flakes. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Let them cool completely before cutting them in half horizontally.
2. To make the custard, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and corn flour until pale and fluffy.
3. Heat the milk, honey and rose water in a pan over medium heat until it starts to boil. (I also added a couple of drops of red food colouring to give the custard a beautiful pink hue.)
4. Add some of the hot milk to the egg mixture and mix well. Then pour the egg mixture back into the pan of milk and beat constantly on a low heat until the mixture starts to thicken. Pour the rose custard in a bowl and cover with cling film. Let it cool completely.
5. Cut the puff pastry cases in half and spread a thick layer of rose custard on the bottom layer.
6. Top with small chunks of apricot, dried cranberries and some crushed meringues.
7. Finish with the top layer of puff pastry and dust with icing sugar.
I know that there are a lot of people who still have an inexplicable lack of faith in vegetarian dishes. For some insane reason they seem to think that “no meat” equals “no flavour”. They worry about whether it will be nutritious or filling enough. If you so much as mention you’re going to cook vegan, you can see the look of pure horror on their faces. I think those people are idiots. Seriously, it really pisses me off how so many people can still be so ignorant! In sharp contrast to every carnivore’s assumption, vegetarian and vegan food equals versatility. You’re not bound by the “I have to use meat” rule, meaning that you can be as bold and as crazy in the kitchen as you like! You will discover a whole range of new ingredients and new flavour combinations that will simply blow your socks off. A marriage of tastes and textures you wouldn’t have thought possible…
The following two vegan dishes may sound very strange to carnivores (or as I like to cool them, ignorant morons 😉 ) But I can assure you, once they will have tasted this, they will be back for more! These recipes are so cool, interesting and –above all- delicious that they will absolutely forget meat ever existed!
However, let’s not be naïve. Serving these vegan dishes to your carnivore friends won’t suddenly turn them into vegetarians or vegans as well. But it will make them realize that they can indeed survive without their precious piece of meat or fish. They may even be willing to cut back on their meat consumption and be prepared to cook vegetarian dishes of their own!
More people eating less meat. That is the ultimate goal. And these vegan dishes will help us achieve it!
Oriental Seitan and Salsify Stir-fry with dried cranberries
I know this may sound like a really really really odd combination, but I am actually incredibly proud of this dish! I love salsify but I wanted to do something completely different with it ( so not the usual salsify in béchamel sauce). I wanted to create something new and vibrant. I honestly have NO idea why I suddenly thought dried cranberries would do the trick – but hey- who am I to question my own brilliance? This dish is packed full of flavour and all its different textures marry together like a culinary harmony. The juiciness of the seitan, the earthiness of the salsify, the sweet-sour fruitiness of the cranberries, the crunch of the nuts and seeds and that gorgeous blend of spices and fragrant coriander… it almost sounds poetic!
Ingredients (serves 1):
• 100gr seitan, cut into small chunks
• 200gr salsify, I used the canned pre-cooked ones, but if you the courage to tackle that annoyingly sticky root vegetable by yourself, be my guest
• Handful of dried cranberries
• Handful of nuts and seeds
• Handful of chopped coriander
• Juice of half an orange
• 1 tsp turmeric
• 2tsp curry powder
• 3 pieces of candied ginger (in syrup) , finely chopped Method:
1. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a pan and fry the seitan chunks until they’re golden browns and crisp.
2. Add the drained salsify and the spices and stir-fry for a couple of minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Add the cranberries, ginger, nuts and seeds and the orange juice to create a wonderful sticky gravy.
4. Stir in the chopped coriander et voila! : A speedy, wonderfully nutritious and healthy dinner!
Tomato and pea curry with coconut and coriander risotto
This is fusion cooking at its best. Indian meets Italian, or as I like to call it: Italindian. The sharpness of the tomatoes blends incredibly well with the sweetness of the peas. The hot and spicy kick of the fragrant curry and the rich creaminess of the risotto create the perfect symphony of flavours. This is simply a must for everyone who loves a classic Indian curry or a traditional Italian risotto. It’s the best of both worlds, but with an edgy twist! Ingredients(serves 4) For the curry:
• 500gr cherry tomatoes, halved
• 500gr frozen peas
• 2 onions, finely sliced
• 2 cloves of garlic
• 500ml of passata
• 1tsp chilli powder
• 1 ½ tbsp garam massala
• 1 tsp ground ginger
• ½ tsp ground cinnamon
• ½ tsp ground cumin
• 2 tsp brown sugar
• 2 tsp turmeric For the risotto:
• 320gr risotto rice
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 400ml coconut milk
• 400ml vegetable stock
• Lots of fresh coriander Method
1. Heat one tablespoon of vegetable oil in a wide casserole or pan that comes with a lid, and add the chopped onions, garlic and all the spices, stirring frequently as you cook them over a low to medium heat for about 5 minutes.
2. Add the tomato passata and the brown sugar and cook on a low heat for 10 minutes so that all the spices can infuse the tomato sauce.
3. Add the peas and tomatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper if necessary and cook for a further 10 minutes.
4. For the risotto, sauté the onion in a tablespoon of oil for a couple of minutes. Add the rice and stir until all the grains of rice have a nice oily coating.
5. Add a ladle full of the stock to the pan and stir well. Cook until nearly all of the stock has been absorbed and then add another ladleful of the stock. Do the same with the coconut cream, this will give the risotto the most wonderfully rich texture.
6. When the rice is cooked, stir through the chopped coriander.
I can almost hear you trip over your tongue with all the P’s! Don’t let the pretty long title scare you, however, because these pancakes were delicious and deserve a place on your kitchen menu as well!
Everyone loves pancakes, but these cute pea pancakes are truly one of a kind. They are packed full of flavour and incredibly healthy, so don’t hesitate to double (or even triple) the ingredients below if you fancy a larger portion. 😉
The pancakes are super moist thanks to the cream cheese, and the madras curry powder gives them a very exotic flavour. I served them alongside some stir-fried vegetables and finished the dish with a creamy coconut curry sauce. Yum!
Easy peasy pleasing pea pancakes (serves one person):
1. Blanche the peas in boiling water for a couple of minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
2. Mix together the cream cheese, flour, egg, curry powder, salt and pepper until you get a smooth batter. Stir in the peas.
3. Heat a knob of butter in a non-sticking frying pan and spoon in tablespoonfuls of the pancake batter.( You can make them as large or as small as you like!)Cook the pancakes for 1-4 minutes on each side, depending their size.
4. Remove the pancakes from the pan and serve with whatever you prefer.
5. Dig in!