November 10, 2014

dairy free sweet potato tarte flambée | tpa.

i mentioned in my last post that i was and kind of still am on a dairy free diet. seriously, this is harder than i had ever imagined. i did it very strictly for a little over two weeks. now I am just trying to cut back on dairy and not have dairy products included in every meal or not even have dairy on a daily basis. when i was on those two weeks not having any dairy at all, i still wanted to have some "pizza". but pizza without any cheese? seriously? just didn't sound right! so i thought tarte flambée has no cheese and it kind of is like pizza. yeah! i started making some pizza dough or rather half of it as tarte flambée crust is much thinner. after waiting for the dough to rise i found the error in reasoning - tarte flambée has no cheese but a huge dollop of crème fraîche. shooooot! now i had my dough but what to top it with? so i just raided my pantry and fridge. i found a jar of ajvar - a relish made from roasted red bell peppers, eggplant and red chili peppers. so that's what i used as a spread/base/sauce for my tarte flambée. not the real deal but that stuff is good after all so why not give it a go. while looking for an alternative for the crème fraîche i also found half a sweet potato left over from last nights dinner. as i had potato on pizza before i thought why not try sweet potato as well. i got to say, it was delicious. it was so delicious that i made it again when i cooked for my parents. i made the dairy free version for myself and a dairy version for them. they told me it was great as well.

sweet potato tarte flambée

[makes one 12-inch | 30 cm pizza]

1/2 batch of basic pizza crust
2-3 heaping tbsp ajvar
1/2 small sweet potato, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 oz bacon, diced or sliced
some olive oil
1 tbs parsley, minced

preheat oven to 230°C | 450°F.

brush your pizza pan with a little olive oil and sprinkle it with some flour or prepare a baking sheet with some parchment paper.

roll out dough super thin and place it in prepared pan.

spread dough with ajvar.

place sweet potato slices on top, sprinkle with sliced onion and diced/sliced bacon. drizzle everything with some olive oil.

bake tarte on the lowest rack in the oven for about 10-12 minutes or until golden and sweet potatoes are cooked.

sprinkle with minced parsley and serve.


for all you dairy eating people out there...

dairy version

for the sauce: mix 2 heaping tbsp of crème fraîche with 1 tbsp ajvar and spread it on your dough.

have you ever tried to eat dairy free or do you even have to be on a dairy free diet because of allergies? in that case, what are your favorite dairy free pizza toppings?


this post is part of my the pizza adventures series. i want to try a new to me pizza topping  [almost] every week and share it with you.
come join the pizza adventures. let's travel the world - a slice at a time. 

November 06, 2014

currently | october.

oh boy, i seriously can't believe october is over and we are six days into november already. i don't know what it was this year. it seemed like it was only two weeks long and gone in a blink. how could that happen. anyway... i haven't posted me monthly currently post as i usually try to do at the end of the month. so here you go, that is what's currently going on around here/with me/on my mind/in my universe.

currently i am...

october was a pretty busy baking month. there were a whole lot of birthdays. i think i baked at least 14 different cakes/pastries including 6 birthday cakes, 1 baptism cake, 5 different french pastries and at least 2 sunday cakes.

way too much tea. due to being sick twice in the last couple of weeks, i was basically living on cool mint tea from higher living. i love that stuff but my abundance of cool mint tea went down to only two tea bags left and that's so not good. i need to restock but my whole foods store doesn't carry that brand and the other ones just ain't as good as that one.

oh, will you believe me if i told you that i had my first coffee today since 1.5 weeks? it's true. i was on a non dairy diet for 2 weeks [except for my birthday] and only could have soy milk or almond milk with my coffee. usually i don't mind either of these but when you are only allowed to have them it is just different. at least for me. it is different if you choose to have soy milk or if you have to have soy milk, trust me on that. all i wanted was regular cow milk ... well actually lactose free milk but still. so after a couple of days i didn't want my coffee in the morning anymore. i prefered tea - which does happen every once in a while but not on a daily basis. i am a latte macchiato girl. but latte didn't sound good with any other milk than regular milk.

the bad news are that the non dairy diet might have helped but i just don't want to admit that right now. i need to figure it out though and maybe find a middle course. an all time non dairy diet is just not working for me. but let's ignore that right now. thank you.

is it weird to say that i am reading cookbooks? i got two of rachel khoo's cook books for my birthday - the little paris kitchen and my little french kitchen. i love rachel's recipes. she gives classic french recipes her own little twist and all of the pictures in these books are just mouthwatering. my little french kitchen is devided into chapters for the different regions in france and there is a little intro to each region and i love reading these and learning a bit about the country along with the recipes. i know, i am weird like that. 

while tied to bed i was re-watching the o.c. and catching up on once upon a time. both of them are just way too addicting. in fact as i am typing this, i am watching once upon a time too. i was actually never really into fairy tales but somehow i just love that show.
what are your favorite shows?

lots of catching up on my emails. they have been neglected due to sickness, being busy catching up on work stuff, birthday stuff and baking for a ton of birthdays. i am almost through and i hope i haven't missed anyone or anything important.

to see my friends newest addition to the family very soon. she has a little baby girl and i can't wait to see her. oh and of course i can't wait to catch up with friend either. we haven't seen each other in way way waaaaay too long. i can't even believe that we let it get that far. does that ever happen to you guys too? you always want to call or meet and somehow never actually get around to do so. i really hate when that happens. please tell me i am not the only one.  

working on...
some fun blog project/themed weeks. i loved doing the birthday recap week and now have a couple fun ideas for other themes. i hope they will all work out. also i am thinking about doing the xmas workshop again this year. it has always been one of my favorite blog projects to do.

thinking about...
xmas stuff already. like every year i want to start on xmas stuff early so there won't be any stress right around the holidays. but i already know now that this won't happen. those holidays always come sneaking up on you so quickly every year. i have no clue how they do it.

going to...
catch some sleep now. i have a busy and probably exhausting day ahead of me tomorrow and i still don't have all my energy back to normal.

night night.

ps: thanks danielle for the inspiration to these currently posts.  
picture - death to the stock photo 

November 03, 2014

pistachio macarons | café de paris.

oh macarons... aren't they just too good to be true? especially pistachio ones?! pistachios are my favorite nuts so i guess it is no surprise that i love pistachio macarons. they are my favorite macarons of all time. but making macarons for a party freaks me out though but i just had to take that risk and make some. they just fit the party theme perfectly. there just couldn't be a café de paris party without macarons. but even though i conquered the art of making macarons, there are still some failure batches every once in a while. good thing they turned out ok this time. i had a couple cracked shells but well - you win some, you lose some. i still had plenty to fill the top of my étagères with them.

there is one big rule about making macarons that i have learned about my macarons making journey - don't stress about them too much. i don't follow that rule all the time. specially not when the just have to turn out perfect. and that is the problem. anyway, like i said, they did turn out ok.

pistachio macarons

[makes about 12]

20 g pistachios [unsalted, no skin]
30 g almond flour
75 g confectioners' sugar
45 g egg white [aged in fridge for 3 days]
1 pinch salt
20 g caster sugar

measure out all ingredients and let them come to room temperature, especially the egg white. 

in a mini food processor, grind pistachios until fine, add almonds and confectioners' sugar and mix everything together until well combined and ground super fine. sift everything through a fine mash sieve.

whisk egg white and salt until stiff. add sugar little by little while whisking. continue whisking until stiff peaks form.*

add 1/2 of the almond mixture and slowly fold it into egg white using a spatula. add the rest of the almond mixture and fold it in too. don't over fold but don't under fold either - the batter should just fall off your spatula in ribbons.

pour batter into a piping bag fitted with a round tip. now pipe little equal rounds** onto a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. tap baking sheet onto counter or tap it with the balm of your hand to release any air bubbles that might have formed and to even out the macaron batter.

time to let the macaron shells rest. this might take 15 minutes up to 30 minutes depending on the humidity in your kitchen. they will form a little skin and shouldn't be very sticky anymore when you touch them. but don't wait too long either or they won't form any feet or even crack when baking. just touch them lightly and if they don't feel too sticky anymore they are good to go into the oven.

bake macaron shells in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes [depending on size] at 300°F | 150°C. they should not brown.

take them out of the oven and let them cool on baking sheet. when cool slowly peel them off the parchment paper.

*if you want them to be a more vibrant green, you can add some green gel food color. just add a tiny bit to the stiff egg whites and whisk it in. i personally prefere the natural light green color with these ones.

**i like mine not too big so i pipe mine about 3 cm in diameter. i made myself a little template by drawing little circles on a big sheet of paper using a small cookie cutter and a sharpie. i slip it under my baking parchment to pipe even circles every time. after i am done piping i carefully pull it out from underneath. 

pistachio butter cream filling

[for 12 small macarons]

2 tbs butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1-2 tbs ground/chopped pistachios

in a small high mixing cup cream butter, add 1/4 c conf. sugar and beat for about 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy. add rest of the conf. sugar and beat for another 3-4 minutes. add pistachios and mix until combined.

fill pistachio butter cream into a piping bag fitted with a round tip. pipe some butter cream onto 12 macaron shells. top each one with another shell pressing them together lightly in a twisting motion.

store them in an airtight container in the fridge in a single layer [or with parchment paper in between each layer] for a couple hours or over night. take them out of the fridge about 30 minutes before serving. they keep well in the airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

i know they are not the easiest but the cutest little things to make.
give them a go and don't give up after the first time. it takes a couple tries to get them right. but don't stress about them too much. follow your instincts and it'll work best - at least that is what works best for me.

alright, this is the last of my birthday series for this year. hope you enjoyed it.

October 31, 2014

mini tarte au citron | café de paris.

i always wanted to try tarte au citron but somehow never made it before. i usually preferred making key lime pie because it is my favorite citrus-y pie. so when i picked the pastries for my birthday party i took this as the one opportunity to finally bake tarte au citron - or actually 24 mini ones. so i should call these tartlettes au citron. they are so cute and so delicious.

tartlettes au citron

[makes 24]

for the dough
200 g all purpose flour
1 pinch salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
115 g softened butter
100 g caster sugar
1 egg

for the filling
2 eggs
2 egg yolks [safe the whites for making macarons or meringues]
4 tbs sugar
4 tbsp heavy cream
1 lemon, juiced

for decorations
heavy cream
chopped pistachios

to make the dough, combine flour, salt and baking powder, whisk together and set aside. in a mixing bowl beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. add egg and mix until well incorporated. now add the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. wrap dough with some plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. 

preheat oven to 350°F | 175°C.
prepare a mini muffin tin [24 molds] by spraying it with some baking spray or grease it with a light coating of butter.

divide dough into 24 equal pieces and roll each piece into a small ball and drop one ball into each mold of your muffin tin. now use a mini tart shaper* to press dough into the tin so it goes up the sides and it creates an even "cup" to hold the filling. for an even rim use a knife to cut off any excess dough. place muffin tin in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.

for the filling, whisk together all ingredients and fill the mixture into a jug or a measuring cup with a mouth for easy pouring. pour filling into each "dough cup" to just below the rim.

bake tartlettes in preheated oven for about 10-12 minutes or until filling is just set and the crust turns golden. take them out of the oven and let them cool completely on a wire rack before removing them from the tin carefully by slowly twisting them out of the molds.

whip some heavy cream, sweeten it to your liking with some sugar and pipe it onto each tartlette au citron. for the final touch, sprinkle some chopped pistachios on top. refrigerate until ready to serve.

* if you don't have a mini tart shaper you can also a shot glass, your thumb, the side of a small rolling pin, a cork, etc. use whatever you can find and fits the size of your muffin tin. dip it into some flour each time so the dough won't stick to whatever you are using.

you can easily bake these tartlettes au citron the day before. if you do so, refrigerate them over night and decorate them just before serving.

i am glad i tried these. and i will definitely make these again.

October 30, 2014

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 29, 2014

cream puff | café de paris.

give me a chou à la crème and i am a happy little camper. by the 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.