October 29, 2014

cream puff | café de paris.

give me a chou à la crème and i am a happy little camper. by the way...how do you call them? choux à la crème, profiteroles or cream puffs? [no, there is no typo - singular is chou à la crème and plural is choux à la crème.]

my mom used to make these when i was little and i loved loved loved them i kind of totally forgot about them and didn't have any in ages. i always thought they are tricky to make but then my mom taught me the art of making pâte à choux [choux pastry] and actually it is super fast and easy to make. seriously, if you would call me now and tell me you would come over in an hour, i could bake some and they would be done before you even had the chance to knock at the door.

so when i thought about which pasties to make for my birthday party these choux à la crème where the second things i thought of after the galettes aux pomme [apple galettes]. another plus besides super fast and simple was that i could make double the dough and make eclairs with the same dough but different filling.

choux à la crème

[makes about 16-20]

pâte à choux
75 g flour
15 g starch
125 ml water
25 g butter
1 pinch salt
about 3 eggs
1 level tsp baking powder

300 g heavy cream
2-3 tsp vanilla sugar

powdered sugar or chocolate ganache

preheat oven to 400°F | 200°C.

in a small bowl mix together flour and starch. 

in a small pot bring water, butter and salt to a boil. pull pot off the stove and add flour mixture at once and stir everything together with a wooden spoon until it forms a ball.

put pot back onto the stove and "cook" on medium-high heat while constantly stirring for 1 minute. take it off the heat and add dough into a mixing bowl.

let it cool for 1 minute. add one egg and work it in with the wooden spoon. that might seem impossible at first but keep stirring, it will come together. than add the second egg and stir that in as well. whisk the third egg in a little bowl and add just enough of the third egg until your dough is smooth, soft and shiny [it always depends on the size of the eggs. if using large eggs you might not need all 3.] your dough should form peaks when you pull out your spoon and be pipable.
last but not least stir in the baking powder and give your dough a good stir.

now fill dough into a piping bag fitted with a round tip or just snip the tip of a disposable one. pipe your dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. the easiest way to pipe is to hold the piping bag straight up [90° angle to baking sheet] and squeeze dough out until you have a little heap about 1.5 inches wide and 1 inch high, than stop squeezing and pull piping bag up. don't place them too close as they puff up quite a bit while baking. now dip your finger or a little spoon in some water and smooth down the tips and form smooth little heaps of dough.

bake them in the lower third of the preheated oven for about 20 minutes.

take them out and let them cool on a wire rack.

whip up the heavy cream and sweeten it with vanilla sugar. fill whipped cream into a piping bag fitted with a small round tip [like the wilton #230] or snip the tip of your disposable one. poke tip into the bottom of each puff and squeeze in some cream. you can also cut each puff into half and pipe or spoon whipped cream in and put the top back on.

sprinkle your choux à la crème with powdered sugar or dip the top into some ganache.

they are best the day they are baked and filled.

i know they sound a bit intimidating but trust me, they are not that hard and totally worth that elbow grease you need to stir in the eggs.

as i mentioned above, i also made eclairs with the same pâte à choux. i haven't had a chance to take pictures of them as they where all gone by the time i took the pictures of the rest of the pastries. but i will sure make them again and share the exact recipe on here some day soon. i already have requests from my little friends to make some for them.

until tomorrow with some details on how i made my decorations for the party.

October 28, 2014

mini apple galettes | café de paris.

when i planned the little pastries i wanted to serve my birthday guests to go with coffee and tea in the afternoon, i knew i wanted to make pastries that are easy to make and don't take too long to be done.
i also wanted to bake something with apples as we have so many in my grandpa's garden right now.

with that in mind i went through my recipe box and found an apple galette recipe. i have made this before ages ago. but as i wanted to serve small pastries so everyone can give everything a taste, i made individual petites galettes aux pomme. i made the dough the night before my birthday and baked them fresh the morning of the party. that worked out perfectly for me. but you could bake them the night before. 

petites galettes aux pomme

makes about 12

for the dough*:
375 g all purpose flour
3 tbsp sugar
1 pinch salt
180 g cold butter
4 tbsp cold water
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 egg yolk [keep the egg white, you'll need it white later]

for the apple filling:
1 egg white
1 tsp water
3 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp lemon juice 6 small apples
elderflower or apple jelly

to make the dough, add all dry ingredients into your food processor [or a big mixing bowl] and add the cold butter cut into small cubes. pulse until butter is cut into the flour and it looks like bread crumbs [use a pastry cutter or your fingers to cut the butter into flour mixture]. now add the wet ingredients and pulse a couple times until it forms into a dough. take it out of your food processor and quickly kneed it together - don't over knead it. press it into a disk and wrap it in plastic wrap. refrigerate dough for 1 hour.

preheat oven to 425°F | 220°C. line a cookie sheet with baking parchment.

roll out your dough and use a large circle cookie cutter or a small bowl to cut out twelve 5-inch circles. place them on baking sheet. you can place them pretty close as you will fold in the edges later.

whisk together egg white and water. brush each dough circle with egg mixture and sprinkle with some sugar.

add lemon juice to a small bowl. cut apples in half, peel [optional] and remove core. dip into lemon juice. cut it into thin slices and layer slices of half an apple in the center of each dough circle. fold the edges in and press them together. brush with the remaining egg white mixture and sprinkle with some more sugar. 

bake your galettes for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

warm up about a tablespoon or two of jelly and brush over the apples right when you take your galettes out of the oven. 

let them cool on a wire rack - serve warm or at room temperature. 

*you can also use your favorite pie dough recipe or even store bought pie dough for a double crusted pie.

adjustments for a full size galette aux pomme:
1/2 of the dough recipe - roll out to one big circle and place it on cookie sheet.
brush with egg white mixture and sprinkle with sugar. place the apple slices in circles in the center of the dough. fold in the edges. brush with egg white mixture and sprinkle with sugar again.
cover with foil and bake at 400°F | 200°C for 30 minutes. turn down temperature to 350°F | 175°C and bake for another 20-30 minutes or until golden brown - remove foil about 10-15 minutes before it's done baking. serve warm or at room temperature.

super simple but so good. and perfect for fall with all the apples fresh from the trees.

ps: i will share more of my french recipes tomorrow. hope to see you around here then.

café de paris birthday party decorations.

like i told you in my last post, today i am shaing how i made my simple café de paris party decorations for my birthday party.
as it was pretty much a last minute decision on the party theme, i didn't have much time to hunt for party decorations. which i don't usually do anyway because i don't want to spent a lot of money on stuff that i probably only use once. so i used what i had on hand. i kind of wanted to create a table that pretty much looked like if you are in a little café. with that in mind i went through my stuff and found that silver rectangular plate, some black little napkins, a candle jar with pretty black ornaments, some small vases/bottles that i recently got on sale, washi tape with black ornaments that match the candle jar... and of course my little glass cake stand with its lid and two étagères. oh and not to forget, i also borrowed my grandma's old gold rimmed china from my mom [not pictured].
i wanted to create a little logo for my café de paris. so i did and that's what i came up with. just a really simple circle with the eiffel tower and the name. by the way, the font name is parisienne, i just had to use it when i found it while scrolling through my font collection.


you need:

black dessert napkins
parchment paper
scotch tape
café de paris logos [download printable here]
white printer paper [160g/m2]
scissors, 2" circle punch or circle cutter*
roller adhesive

how to:

fold your little black napkins in half.

cut out some strips of parchment paper, wrap them around the napkins and fix them in the back with some scotch tape.

print out your logos on some white paper, cut them out and stick them on the parchment paper strip using some roller adhesive.


* i designed the circular logo to fit my 2" circle cutter - unfortunately the little knife broke off so i had to cut it with scissors. note to myself: buy a 2" circle punch when at the craft store next time ;)

vases and jars

you need:

café de paris logos [download printable here]
white printer paper [160g/m2]
scissors, 2" circle punch or circle cutter
roller adhesive
washi tape
vases and jars
flowers and tea light candles

how to:

print and cut out your logos.

stick them to your vases and jars using some roller adhesive and washi tape.

cut and arrange your flowers in the vases and place your tea light candles in the jars.

big glass jar candle

you need:

printable parchment paper
café de paris logo [download printable here]
scissors or exacto knife and ruler
big weck or mason jars [or any other jar or glass you can find]
scotch tape
tea light candles [or any other little candle that is suitable to sit in there safe]

how to:

print out the logos on parchment paper [or regular printer paper] and cut into long strips.

wrap these strips around your jars and fix them in the back with some scotch tape.

fill the bottom of your jars with some sand and place a candle in each jar.

eiffel tower

you need:

printable from here
white printer paper [160g/m2]
scissors or exacto knife
roller adhesive

how to:

print template and cut out all 4 sides.

fold and assemble as directed on template.

i used the silver plate with an eiffel tower, a vase and some napkins as a center piece on my table and placed a little glass jar with a candle on each side. all the other jars [big ones and little ones], eiffel towers and vases with flowers where placed all over the room - on the side table, on the window sills, on the kitchen counter... everywhere.

it really looked like in a little french café with all the pastries on the étagères on the right and left of the center piece and candles.

you really don't need much to make a cute party table. just look around what you have.


October 27, 2014

café de paris birthday party.

it was my birthday on thursday and if you read my blog for a while now, you know that i always have a party theme for my birthday parties [every year but last year though]. this year i had a hard time deciding on one. i was thinking about it for a while and always said to myself there is plenty of time... don't stress about it... but then there were only a couple days left... why do birthdays and holidays always sneak up on you like that? suddenly they are here. sneaky little things. ha ha.

it actually didn't help much that i wasn't feeling well the week before and there where three more parties in my birthday week that i had to bake cakes for and that needed some attention as well. so anyway, i wasn't feeling myself and sipping on some tea and watching some episodes of rachel khoo's the little paris kitchen when it came to my mind... the party theme i mean. i love french pastries and they are perfect for a coffee party in the afternoon and to serve as desserts after dinner. if you know me, i am not one who just bakes one cake and is done. i always challenge myself to serve my guests a variety of different cakes. little french pastries are just perfect. so my party theme was born - café de paris.

after i had a party theme everything else pretty much just fell into place quickly.
recipes where found in no time - macarons, tartes au citron, galettes aux pomme, choux à la crème and eclairs. most of them i already had in my recipe box and have made before. i knew i could bake them in no time. well not no time but it only took me one evening and one morning. not like 12 hours without a break.
these two where the only challenges. macarons - they can be tricky and don't always turn out the way they are supposed to. you know i have a love/hate relationship with them. tartes au citron - i never made these before and didn't know if they'd turn out at all. but they came out great.
i kept the decorations pretty simple. i didn't have to buy anything but a bunch of yellow roses. everything else i had on hand or just had to print out.
i had flowers, candle jars and eiffel towers all around the room. it looked lovely.

unfortunately it was a dark and gloomy day and it was too dark to take any decent pictures from the actual decorated room. plus i was too busy having a good time with all the lovely people that came to celebrate with me anyway. everyone loved it. it made me really happy.

oh and for dinner i made some savory tarts/quiche - onion, ratatouille and spinach - and some salads to go with them. those tarts where so good especially the onion tart but i haven't snapped any pictures of them either. i found the onion tart recipe on the smitten kitchen blog. it is amazing you have to give it a try. for the spinach tart i made the same crust like for the onion tart and filled it with marta's simple popeye spinach quiche filling. the ratatouille tart i made up because i couldn't find a recipe that i totally liked. i might have to recreate it some day and post the recipe here.

alright that's it for now. i will be posting some details about the decorations and some pastry recipes over the next couple of days.

October 13, 2014

pumpkin and ricotta stuffed shells | for one.

 it's pumpkin season and they can be found just about everywhere. so i couldn't resist to get some hokkaido pumpkins at the farmers market the other day. i had no idea what to cook with them but i was sure i will find something to go with pumpkin in my pantry. and so i did. my mom and dad gave me some conchiglioni pasta a while ago. i wanted to make some ricotta stuffed shells with these for ages but never got to it. so why not mix some pumpkin puree into that ricotta filling? i got to say it was really really good. it's for sure that i am going to make these again soon - i still have some conchiglioni left. i might even treat my family with some. they are perfect to prepare ahead and have them waiting in the fridge for a stress free dinner party. then you just pop them in the oven and 20 minutes later your guests can enjoy freshly baked stuffed shells. sounds good, right?

pumpkin & ricotta stuffed shells 

serves 1

4 conchiglioni [large pasta shells]
1/2 cup tomato sauce [i used my homemade one]
2 heaping tbsp ricotta cheese
2 heaping tbsp pumpkin puree*
2 + 2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan [grana padamo or parmigiano reggiano]
1 small egg
1 tsp minced parsley [+extra for garnish]
salt & pepper to taste

in a small pot bring water to a boil, add a hefty pinch of salt and cook pasta to just about al dente. [about a minute or two less then the directions on packaging suggests]. make sure they don't stick together while cooking. drain pasta and rinse with cold water. place them on a greased plate and set them aside.

preheat oven to 435°F | 225°C. grease a mini casserole. pour tomato sauce into casserole and set aside.

in a small bowl combine ricotta cheese, pumpkin puree, 2 tbsp parmesan, egg and parsley, whisk well until combined. season with salt and pepper. fill pasta shell with pumpkin-ricotta mixture and place in tomato sauce. sprinkle with 2 tbsp grated parmesan.

bake for 10-15 minutes until bubbly and golden. take out of the oven and let sit for about 5 minutes. sprinkle with extra minced parsley and maybe some extra parmesan.

*you know i love to make almost everything from scratch so of course i made my own pumpkin puree by roasting my two pumpkins in the oven. i put the rest in the freezer for later use.

how to roast a pumpkin

preheat oven to 400°F | 200°C. line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

cut pumpkin in half. remove seeds from each half. place cut side down on baking sheet. bake for 35-40 minutes or until soft.

remove from oven and let it cool a little while until you can handle it.

peel off pumpkin skin and discard. cut pumpkin flesh into cubes, throw them into your food processor and puree everything.

use immediately, store in an airtight container in your fridge for a couple days or freeze it until you need it. [i like to freeze mine in small batches of 1/4 to 1/2 of a cup because that's about what i usually need for single servings like soup, risotto, pasta, mini pies.]

now go ahead and make yourself some stuffed shells. they are really that good. trust me.

October 08, 2014

cozy day | wish list.

| created on polyvore |
now that fall is here and it gets chilly outside and rainy too, sometimes i just want to have a cozy day in. days where i just want to relax on the coach with a cozy blanket, a gazillion of pillows, a cup of tea, some yummy snacks, a good book or movie... i am sure you know what i am talking about. sundays are usually prone to be days like that.

here are my essentials for cozy days in.

a cozy blanket
there is no way to be cozy on a cold fall day without a snuggly blanket. the bigger the better. i love that plain grey one. definitely missing one of these in my collection.

a ton of pillows
i love throw pillows. i have a ton of them but there can never be enough. this white and rose gold one... omg, i need that one in my life. and the one with gherkin | london sky line. i need that one too.

a pair of fuzzy socks
there is just nothing better than putting some fuzzy socks on when it is getting chilly outside. warm feet - warm soul.

a mug and a spoon
i am a fan of glass mugs especially for tea. isn't it nice to see the color of your tea in it? ironically i don't own one anymore because i dropped mine last winter. love the shape of that one pictured. of course you need a favorite tea spoon to go with your mug, right?

a cup of yummy tea
i have said that a couple of times before: i love to have a good cup of tea. i wrote about two of my favorite organic tea brands higher living and clipper/cupper a while ago. i still love these and even had the chance to test a couple other flavors than the once i talked about in these posts. a friend of mine got me some in the uk. but recently i discovered another organic tea brand called Løv. another friend of mine made some blackcurrant-peach flavored white tea for me when i was over. it was so good. now i want to try some more of their flavors like the jasmine one pictured, some fruit infusions and of course their earl grey as it is my all time favorite tea ever. and seriously, aren't these metal tins the tea comes in just the cutest? i am a sucker for pretty packaging, you know that. 

a cookie jar full of homemade cookies
in my ideal world there would always be a pretty cookie jar filled with homemade cookies on the counter in my kitchen. so everyone can just grab a little sugary treat whenever they feel like. but to be honest, it is better if there isn't... 
but i can't wait for christmas time as that is the best excuse to always have a full cookie jar of all kinds of different christmas cookies. i wish i had that cookie jar to store them in.

some scented candles
candles and cozy days just go together like peanut butter and jelly. snuggling on the coach with candles burning... yes, please. good scent is one thing, but if they are as pretty as these white and rose gold ones... just perfect. and yes, you got that right, i do have a weakness for rose gold these days. 

a movie, a book or some music
all these three things are essentials for cozy days. all these three things can be enjoyed on an ipad. even with those oh so pretty head phones. oh and i could also facetime or skype with my favorite people all the way across the ocean. so i guess i need to add the ipad to my wish list. and the headphones too. well, not that i do all these things already. just not with a handy dandy ipad. can you tell that i am trying to justify why i need one in my life anyway?! haha.

pretty nail polish
while listening to music, watching a movie or talking to my loved ones and sipping on some tea, there is always a little time to do my nails. sometimes i am too lazy to do so. but it is the best time of the week because it is the only time where there actually is enough time to let them try properly without messing everything up. i am just the queen of trying to do something right after painting my nails and smudging it all over the place. even if i am trying to be extra extra careful. 

oh and i guess it goes without saying... it is a must to stay in PJs all day on cozy days. 


October 06, 2014

baked chicken parmesan | for one.

spaghetti of any kind is one of my all time comfort foods - no matter if it is spaghetti with meatballs, bolognese sauce, alfredo sauce, pesto or just a simple marinara sauce. there is just something about these skinny long noodles... the way you roll them up on the fork... it's just comforting. it's kind of hard to explain.

anyway if you'd ask me how i like my spaghetti best tough, i'd probably tell you "to go with piccata alla milanese or chicken parmesan". my mom used to make piccata alla milanese a lot when i was little and i loved it. then i found out about chicken parmesan and now i can't decide which one i like more. i just have a week spot for cheesy breaded meat i guess.

so when i thought about what to make with this one chicken breast i had in the freezer the other day, the only thing that came to my mind was chicken parmesan. but instead of frying it in a pan with lots and lots of oil to prevent it from sticking to the pan and losing all its cheesy breading, i just spritzed it with a tiny bit of oil and baked it in the oven until it was done and watched some pretty little liars instead of the meat in the pan. haha.

baked chicken parmesan 

serves 1

3 tbsp bread crumbs
1 tbsp freshly grated parmesan
1 small egg
1 small chicken breast*
salt & pepper
a little flour
2 tbsp + extra marinara sauce [i always use my homemade salsa pizzaiola
3 tbsp shredded mozzarella or 2 slices of fresh mozzarella*
1 serving of spaghetti

preheat oven to 400°F | 200°C. slightly grease a small baking dish with oil. 
combine bread crumbs and parmesan on a small plate. whisk egg in a small bowl.
salt and pepper chicken breast and sprinkle it with some flour. now dip chicken breast in egg first, than bread it with the bread crumbs and parmesan mixture. place breaded chicken breast in baking dish, spritz it with a little oil [optional] and bake it for 15-20* minutes. flip it over and top it with 2 tbsp marinara sauce and sprinkle it with shredded mozzarella or place mozzarella slices on top. bake it for another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden brown. 
serve it with spaghetti and some extra marinara sauce.

*chicken breast: i usually by my chicken breast at the farmer's market and they are rather small ones that are perfect for single serving dishes. if i get bigger ones that are too big for one serving, i like to slice them in half horizontally and freeze half of it. this way i can defrost single serving portions.
fresh mozzarella: if i used fresh mozzarella and just need a couple slices of it, i safe the brine it comes with and store it in a little tupperware container in it's brine until the next day so it won't dry out.
baking time: adjust baking time to thickness of your chicken breasts. the thinner, sliced in half chicken needs about 15 minutes in my oven. always make sure it is thoroughly cooked.

what is your favorite spaghetti recipe?