Bûche de Noël meringuée choco/framboise // Choc-raspberry Yule Log with meringue

Final Yule log

Final Yule log

This year, for the first time ever, I decided to try my hand at a yule log to take to Christmas lunch. The bûches de Noël I’m familiar with, however, tend to be a bit heavy for an Australian Christmas: lots of heavy chocolate and creamy mousse. Neither of which sounded particularly appealing in the middle of a warm summer.

The hunt was on, therefore, for a light, summer-appropriate recipe. Inspired by Evasion culinaire’s excellent-sounding bûche chocolat framboisesI decided to try my hand at the biscuit cuillère/chocolate/raspberry combination. Loving the look of meringue logs, I was keen to incorporate that element, too, particularly since the biscuit cuillère called for nearly twice as many egg yolks as whites. It would have the added advantage of cutting down on the ganache, which I tend to find overpowering at the best of times.

We had a few oven mishaps on the day, so this is my best approximation of the recipe. A friend has already put in an order for one as a birthday cake so I’ll have to revise as appropriate at a later date.

Ingredients

For the biscuit cuillère (d’après Evasion culinaire at the link above):

  • 9 egg yolks
  • 5 egg whites
  • 85 g flour (plain)
  • 130 g caster sugar

For the ganache:

  • 180g dark cooking chocolate
  • 100ml pure cream
  • 20g butter

For the meringue:

  • 4 egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 150g-250g caster sugar

For syrup, filling and decoration:

  • Crushed frozen raspberries
  • 8 or so whole rapsberries
  • 40g raspberry jam
  • 2 tbsp water
  • Mint leaves
  1. Biscuit cuillère: Preheat the oven to 220 degrees celsius. Beat the (5) egg whites into stiff peaks. As soon as they begin to seize, add the sugar in small quantities until you obtain a stiff, glossy meringue. Add the egg yolks while continuing to beat for about 20 seconds. Sift in the flour, gently mixing it in with a spatula to avoid deflating the mixture. Spread the mixture onto a baking tray (I recommend the use of greased baking paper or a silicone baking sheet) and bake for no more than 12 minutes or until set. Be careful not to overcook the biscuit – you’ll need to roll it later. (This step was difficult for me, as the oven died in the first minute so I had to finish it with a grill, fan & blowtorch combo. Will revise with working oven.) When you remove it from the oven, cover with a clean teatowel to avoid too much drying out.
  2. Ganache: Heat the cream in a small – medium saucepan. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate, broken into chunks. Whisk until completely incorporated, then add the butter, whisking again until you get a smooth mixture. Reserve. (If you’d like to skip the meringue and cover with ganache, use the recipe at Evasion Culinaire instead. In that case, half of the ganache should be used for filling, the rest to cover in lieu of the meringue.)
  3. Syrup: Heat the jam & water in a small saucepan until fully dissolved.
  4. Preliminary assembly: Turn the cake out onto a generous amount of baking paper or a silicone baking sheet. Coat one side generously with the syrup, using a pastry brush. Spread evenly with ganache (reserving just a little for final assembly), then cover with the crushed raspberries. Roll the cake gently along the length, using the paper or baking sheet to hold. (If you’ve ever made sushi, this technique should be fairly familiar to you.) You should obtain a long, thin log. Wrap the log in baking paper, twisting the ends to secure. Chill in a fridge to set.  (This video shows the assembly technique well.)
  5. Meringue: [Start the final assembly before the meringue, so that you can use the meringue straight away.] Add a pinch of salt to (4) egg whites at room temperature. Beat until peaks form, then slowly add the sugar in small quantities (while still beating). Continue beating until you have a stiff, glossy mixture that will hold its shape well. Use immediately.
  6. Final assembly: Unwrap the chilled log and slice the ends off diagonally, reattaching one at the side and one on top to resemble a log. Use the ganache you reserved from the preliminary assembly to “glue” the pieces in position.

    Assembled ready for meringue

    Assembled ready for meringue

  7. Spoon the meringue into a piping bag with a star nozzle. Pipe meringue over the entire log, swirling at the ends to resemble natural wood. Once the entire log is covered, use a creme brulee torch/cooking torch to crisp the meringue to golden brown. Don’t be concerned if it singes: the taste will be reminiscent of campfire marshmallows. SAMSUNG
  8. Dress with the mint leaves and whole raspberries.

    Decoration complete

    Decoration complete

Spiced Cauliflower velouté

After a spate of parties (sprinkled amongst lots of work) recently, I’ve been craving vegetable soups. And not just any soups, either – the thick, silky vegetable veloutés that were so easy to come by when I was living in France. In particular, I’ve missed the ease of having pre-made vegetable purées frozen in small blocks – if only we had that in Australia!

 

In any case, my particular yearnings of late have tended towards broccoli and cauliflower. A quick google search led me to one particularly excellent recipe from Lorette (http://alatabledel.canalblog.com/): her Soupe de chou-fleur aux épices.

 

Since I’m quite a cauliflower fan and didn’t wish to tone the flavour down, I’ve made a few small changes (in both ingredients and method) while translating. For the real deal, please head over to the link above!

 

Spiced cauliflower soup

  • 1 cauliflower, crumbled for speedier cooking
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • several cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon cream (optional)
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 litre of vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • a sprinkle of paprika for final decoration (optional)

 

  1. Crumble the cauliflower into small florets, wash and cook in a large pot for 10 minutes in enough boiling water to cover (approx 1.5L).
  2. In a small saucepan, saute onions, garlic and ginger in olive oil. Then, on low heat, add turmeric, cumin and coriander and mix well.
  3. Add to garlic/onion/ginger/spice mix to the cauliflower, add 500ml vegetable stock, salt lightly (if desired, I find the stock salty enough) and bring to a boil. Simmer for ten minutes.
  4. Blend the soup in with a stick blender, add the cream (if desired) and blend again. OR add the cream in a swirl just before serving. Enjoy hot or cold.

 

 

Foodie finds: Braidwood

Things have been a bit hectic recently, so I’ve been on a blogging hiatus. However, last weekend Phoenix and I went on a road trip and in the process  made a few delicious discoveries.

 

The first stop on our food journey (and the first “Foodie find” post): the historic town of Braidwood.

Braidwood View

 

Braidwood is a haven of historic buildings and colonial-era charm. Being situated half-way between Canberra and the NSW South Coast, it’s long been a favourite driver reviver stop for Canberra locals.  In particular, Canberrans are keen on the Braidwood Bakery, a large and affordable country bakery in the middle of town with friendly service, handy bathrooms (for that break in travel) and all your country bakery favourites.

Needing a rest stop, and keen on some breakfast, Phoenix and I made sure to stop in on the way to the coast last weekend. Since it was a long weekend, the bakery was packed with out-of-towners. (Given the number of staff on hand, this is a usual occurence.) We stocked up on coffee and baked goods with the rest of the throng. Refreshed, we were ready to continue our journey when we made an excellent discovery.

 

Dojo Bread is located in an old cottage tucked around the corner from the better-known Braidwood bakery. We wouldn’t have noticed it but for the constant stream of locals heading in, and packing out the small space. We simply had to investigate, and found a paradise of artisanal breads, with sourdough, rye and spelt in abundance. The range wasn’t big, but it was clear from both the crowd and the smells that we were in the presence of true quality bread.

The Bakery

Worth more than a look

 

 

Despite our full belies, we purchased two golden pies for a later lunch – without so much as asking what was in them. When we finally had the chance to consume them some hours later, they were revealed to contain a delicious beef and red wine casserole, still delicious despite several hours in the back of the car. We resolved to return.

 

Sadly, on our return we’d missed the bakery’s opening hours. However, on our way through town I’d noticed a very sweet-looking cottage advertising itself as a restaurant and bar. We wandered down the main street to investigate and found it open, warm and welcoming. TorPeas (next to Torpy’s Guesthouse) turned out to be a real gem. A roaring wood fire kept things toasty, while the friendly yet unassuming waiter/owner recommended wines and brewed coffee. His wife, the outstanding chef, brought us our hearty Sunday roast and rich stew, all affordable yet delicious. Another unmissable Braidwood food spot.

Warm, welcoming and worth a detour.

 

Porc aux lentilles

Phoenix’ family visited recently for a BBQ, and left most of a bottle of white wine. What else to do than cook up a lovely dish of porc aux lentilles, with guest stars mustard and white wine? For me, it reminds me of France, and the recipe I use is from Marmiton. A translation – with modifications – follows.

Ingredients:

  • 2 nice pork filets mignons
  • 125g diced bacon (or 1-2 rashers)
  • 3 French shallots (or one large brown onion, if relatively sweet)
  • 2 carrots (or 4 baby carrots)
  • 1 celery branch (or 3, if you’d like to up the vege content – I do!)
  • 1 leek
  • 4-6 button mushrooms (optional)
  • 400g lentils
  • 2 dessert spoons flour
  • 1 dessert spoon mustard
  • 400ml dry white wine
  • bouquet garni or stock cube

Directions:

  1. Finely chop the vegetables, keeping the shallots to one side. Brown the pork, bacon and shallots, cooking for 5-10 mins.
  2. Add the vegetables, white wine and herbs/stock. Cover and simmer for approximately 35 mins.
  3. Reserve the pork fillets, then drain the lentils and add them to the vegetable mix. Mix the flour, mustard, and a little water, and add it to the mix. Simmer, uncovered, to thicken.
  4. Slice the pork fillets and serve on a bed of the vegetables.

Shirtdress samples!

One of my fashionable girlfriends is living overseas and thus isolated from her usual fashion sources. So, she’s been watching new TV shows for the fashion, and has picked shirtdresses to be big for spring/summer. I hope she’s right, as I love a good shirtdress. Spring is upon us, too: cherry blossoms are out and Floriade is approaching. So, a few quick shirtdresses to sample for spring/summer!

https://i1.wp.com/shop.herringbone.com/SiteContent/ProductImages1/Large/Womens/LSShirtAndDressDrop11_WomensDress_YellowPrinceofWalesShirtdress_20_Large_1.jpg

Herringbone, AUD$299

My favourite for spring/summer is the beautiful yellow Prince of Wales shirtdress from Herringbone, in Egyptian cotton. I adore the flared skirt!

David Lawrence, AUD$179

In my current obsession, cobalt, I spotted this crisp number. A work possibility, perhaps?

ASOS, approx AUD$78

This one looks lovely & light for summer: perfect with some strappy sandals.

ASOS, AUD$48

This blend of two trends is pitch-perfect: lace and shirtdress combined. Very tempted!

Another work-appropriate piece is this navy linen dress from Sportscraft. AUD $229.
Another workplace-appropriate shirtdress. Here, I’m a fan of the twisted draping & hidden buttons.

Nearly nautical

When combining existing households, it’s always a challenge to mix the contributors’ styles into a harmonious whole.

In a recent move, I brought with me my beloved Delta Storage sofa (with ottoman) in deep heathery grey. The carpet in the property was new and lush, but it too was dark – this time a chocolatey grey. At the same time, my housemate’s parents were keen to redecorate their own home, and sent us their large, ornate mahogany sideboard, dining table and coffee table.   All of it was lovely, but incoherent in combination. Worse still, with so many large, dark, imposing pieces in a relatively small apartment, the only logical furniture setup in the lounge made the room dark, dreary and uninviting.

A new colourscheme was necessary to lift the tone and mood.

The throw cushions I’d had on the couch in a previous home were teal with silver, but well overdue for an update. The easiest way to lift the room would be to replace them, and with something warm and/or vibrant.

Red to the rescue! Or more precisely, a modern almost-nautical look with lashings of red (throw, small cushions), navy & white, and white & taupe. I avoided ropes, anchors and waves – while fun, we’re a long way from the beach and it would only appear kitsch so far out of context. A few candles and other spots of light around the room, and it went from dreary and mismatched to modern, cosy and inviting.

Watch list

Jacqui E “Kristen Colour Block Dress” AUD $149.95

After the other day’s posts on spring brights, particularly emerald and cobalt, I’ve been seeing lovely blues, greens, yellows and fuschias everywhere. (As well as pastels, which I mostly find pretty on other people.) However, I have a holiday coming up and am being all fiscally responsible by refusing to buy anything non-holiday essential. For me this month, insect repellent is in, and pretty new clothes are out.

Which was all well and good until I tried on this dress. It fit to a tee (not my usual experience at Jacqui E, their usual fit model must be differently-proportioned to me), looks to be good as both workwear and casual attire, and has all my favourite shades of blue. Sure, prints are being touted as overtaking colourblocking this season, but I’m one for the classic, non-fussy look.

So this one’s on my watch list. If it’s still around after my trip, it may well be mine. (And perhaps on sale by then, too?)