Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ile Flottante - So delicious and potentially so light

One of the first "fancy" desserts that I was introduced to in France was the Ile Flottante or Floating Island. I had had many pastries before that, but it was when I went out to a restaurant somewhere and someone else was paying so I got a dessert (I was 18, that's how it was.) They are so fun looking, with the mountain of egg white on top of the sea of creme anglaise. How can you resist??

Ten years later and I still enjoy it. The egg whites let me pretend it has some redeeming nutritional value, and the caramel and cream are delicious and rich. I even got one on Friday when I had a lunch so big, all I wanted was salad and a thin soup for dinner. Would you like to see it? Let's go through the whole thing, shall we?

First, Foie Gras with Ris de Veau en Croute. (Foie Gras [goose liver paté] surrounded by veal sweet breads, all in a pastry crust.) On the side is some fig spread that made it awesome and a sneeze of salad.

Then Cod with a super tasty sauce and what I think is a beet chip. It was tasty. So was the fried onion. Like an onion ring without the breading. Oh, and the fish was quite nice, too.

I thought our wine glass line-up was pretty. Red, water, water, rosé.

And the sides, to be shared for the table. Fried slices of potato and a macaroni gratin (i.e. fancy french fries in a different shape and extra super fancy mac n cheese.)

And finally, our desserts. We shared 2 between four people. The star of the post is in the front.

You could also try Barefoot Contessa's version, I trust her with desserts:

However, if you want to go the easy route (as I fully intend when I get home) then I would buy some tasty caramel topping and some good vanilla ice cream. I'll probably pick a lite one or a coconut-based one. The you'd make just the island, and melt the ice cream to be your "sea." If you are cautious about the egg whites, just buy the pasteurized stuff.

Time for dinner here, bon appetit!!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tartelette au Crumble: The best of two cuisines

If you couldn't tell, I am now in France, enjoying all the progress that French gastronomy has made in however many thousand years. I am also in a city that claims to be the capital of gastronomy - not too bad! So I will share some things with you, even if I haven't tried them yet. I have discovered a brilliant little pastry shop and bakery just 2 blocks away from my house. French people eat dinner relatively late (7:30 is when my family eats, and they consider that quite early!) so I need a snack somewhere between my lunch at 12:30 and dinner time.

Today when I stopped in, there was a beautiful tartelette (small tart) au crumble. Yes, crumble is a totally English word. American even, I think. This one was made of "fruits rouges" or fruits of the forest. Here that means blueberries, red currant, blackberries, sometimes raspberries and black currant. A nice mix of flavors to make you want to savor every bite. The tart has a typical tart crust, then the fruit, with an American style crumble on top - you know, sugar, butter and flour. I was going to eat just half, so as to not spoil my dinner, but suddenly realized I was 2/3 of the way through it. Haha, just less for tomorrow!

Fruits of the forest Crumble Tart

I took this picture and then went searching for a good looking recipe and stumbled on one right away. And even more amazing? She posted it IN ENGLISH, too!! Check it out at her blog directly, since I haven't tried it myself yet:

You'll still need to convert measurements unless you are using a scale. Remember that the equivalent for dry ingredients is ingredient-specfic! Put a cup of powdered sugar in one bowl and a cup of butter in the other and you can feel the weight for yourself. I often use this site, but some ingredients need a bit more searching:

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Strawberry Mousse Sorbet

I am now in France, enjoying all kinds of delicious foods, and staying with a host family. My host mom has a magic machine that you can't buy in the US (yet) called a Thermomix. It mixes, it heats, it weighs, it times, it chops, it kneads. So you can see why it's magic. Today we made a Strawberry Sorbet that was extra  magical. It was just strawberries, sugar and an egg white but it had an incredible texture. I'm sure it's due in part to the special whisk attachment of the Thermomix, but I bet you could do it with a VitaMix, too. I shall charge my little sister with making it and reporting back.

I did the nutrition info to post it, and I am stunned at how decent it is! It was so rich and creamy!

Strawberry Mousse Sorbet 

Prep time: 10 min     Servings: 3-6

250 grams frozen strawberries (8.8 ounces, just over half a pound)
40 grams granulated white sugar (1.75 ounces, or 1/4 cup minus 1 Tbs)
1 egg white (you can buy pasteurized egg white in most grocery stores if the truly raw ones worry you.)

- Put the sugar in your mega strong blender and blend until fine.

- Add strawberries (however many your machine recommends at a time) and blend until they are all basically chopped. Hers took 5-6 pulses. You'll mix it more, but this gets it started. Use a spatula to push down the parts on the walls of the blender.

- Blend strawberries with sugar for 1 and a half minutes on high.

- Add egg white and blend on medium for 1 minute. You could also pour it into a bowl and use an electric hand mixed to incorporate more air.

A view through the top of the magic machine as it spun:

Nutrition info for 1/4th of recipe: Cal - 26     Fat: 0g     Carbs: 5.8g     Protein: 0.9g