Gateau Saint Honore

Time: Approx. 2-3 hours
Effort: Difficult (Only because there are alot of steps)
Serves: 6

Before I write the ingredients, I think it's important to understand the various steps involved in making this amazingly delicious cake. The first steps are to have puff pastry on hand, I rarely make my own, but you can if you want. Then one has to make the "Choux" pastry and set it aside to cool. Meanwhile you need to roll the puff pastry into a 1/8" round, about 10" in diameter and prick all around with a fork (you can use a plate or a cake pan as a template)...heat your oven to 400oF, place the pastry round on a cookie sheet lined with parchment, then using a pastry or icing bag, without a tip or a large tip, pipe a thick circle of choux pastry along the edge of the pastry circle. On another cookie sheet lined with parchment, pipe out approximately 20-25 little mounds of the choux pastry (approx. 3/4" each). Bake the base (puff pastry round) and the little mounds until puffed and quite browned...this takes about 15-20 minutes..set aside to cool thoroughly. Meanwhile make the pastry cream, which also needs to cool.  Once all is cooled, using a pastry bag with a fine tip, filled with pastry cream, insert the tip into each choux round (or little ball) and fill with cream..Then you need to make the toffee....and the whipped cream... The toffee is used as a glue to hold the little balls of choux onto the base of the pastry and to make a double wall around it, then you drizzle the rest all around and fill the center of the cake with mounds of whipped cream. I also used chocolate to decorate the sides, and with the extra toffee made some decorations to put in the center. So, you see it's not that difficult to make, just takes a lot of time and patience ! So, here we go with the recipe:

1. Choux Pastry
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
3 1/2 oz butter
5 1/2 oz sifted flour
4 eggs

In a medium saucepan heat the milk, water and butter until the butter is melted. Sift in the flour and stir constantly over the heat (on medium) until it forms a smooth ball and is no longer sticking on the sides. Remove from heat, and add the eggs, one at a time, blending well each time. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to cool. (Note, choux pastry keeps for several days in the fridge, so if you have extra, keep it to make profiteroles!)

2. Other Ingredients
150 gm puff pastry
2 cups whipping cream
2 tbsp fine sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Whip the cream with sugar until it forms stiff peaks. Set aside to cool.

3. Pastry Cream
2 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
4 egg yolks
2 oz sifted flour
3-4 oz fine sugar

In a medium saucepan combine the eggs with the sugar, then gradually add in the milk until well incorporated. Add the vanilla essence and the flour then on low heat, bring to a boil, stirring constantly until thickened. Set aside to cool - stirring from time to time so that it doesn't form a film on the top.

4. Toffee
8 oz cane sugar
4 oz water
Candy thermometer if you have one

In a small saucepan, melt the sugar with the water on medium/high heat. Once bubbling, allow it to bubble until it reaches 280o on the candy thermometer. If you don't have one, this should take about 15-20 minutes or until it's a dark amber colour and when you take a metal spoon it coats the spoon almost without dripping off. Turn the heat to very low, just enough to keep warm.

So now you need to follow the steps in the first paragraph, carefully ! Assembling it all at the end using the toffee as your glue.

Gateau Saint Honore Assembly 1

Gateau Saint Honore Assembly 2

Hungarian Red Cabbage (My Way)

Time: 1 1/2 hours
Effort: Easy
Serves: 4-6

1 medium sized red cabbage, shredded like coleslaw
1 cup white wine vinegar
2 tbsp caraway seeds
2 tbsp sea salt (fine)
1 large onion, sliced thin
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup cane sugar

Soak the shredded cabbage with the salt, vinegar and caraway seeds in a large glass bowl for approximately 30 minutes. (I don't recommend using a plastic bowl as red cabbage will leave it stained). Using a strainer, strain off the excess vinegar. In a large saucepan, saute the onion in the olive oil until transparent, then add the sugar and stir constantly until melted - careful not to burn it ! Add the cabbage and mix vigorously to coat with the sugar mixtrure, then add a little water, cover and simmer on low for approximately one hour, stirring from time to time, until the cabbage is tender. The taste should be  sweet-sour, so at this point you may adjust the sugar/ salt to your liking, even adding a little more vinegar if you wish.

Braised Lamb Shanks in Red Wine and Porto Sauce

Time: 3-4 hours
Effort: Easy
Serves: 6

6 lamb shanks
6 celery stalks cut into chunks
6 carrots cut into chunks
1 large onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, whole
3 tbsp olive oil
3 cups dry red wine (of course I use Portuguese wine from the Douro region)
2 cups Tawny Port
1/2 cup heavy cooking cream
1 tbsp dried Thyme
Salt & pepper to taste
1-2 tbsp quick dissolving flour

Heat oven to 375oF. In a large dutch oven or roasting pan with lid, add all the ingredients except the Port and cream. Cover and roast for approximately 2 hours. Remove from oven and turn the shanks, basting them with the wine before returning them into the oven. Roast covered for another hour. Remove from oven and add the port and cream. Stir, then baste the shanks again. Using a large spoon or sauce dripper, remove most of the sauce into a small saucepan. Cover the shanks and return to the oven for another half hour or so, until the meat is almost falling off the bones. Meanwhile, simmer the sauce on low and gradually blend in the flour, stirring constantly until thickened. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Roast Asparagus with Bacon Crumble

Time:  40 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves: 4

2 bunches of green asparagus ( about 20 stalks), ends trimmed
3 slices thick bacon
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt to taste

Heat oven to 375oF. Steam asparagus until tender but still crisp. Set aside. Cut bacon slices into small pieces and saute until golden and crisp. Lay asparagus in a neat row in a shallow oven dish, drizzle with cream and sprinkle with a little salt (not too much as the bacon is salty), then top with the bacon. Bake for approx. 20 minutes or until the cream is bubbly and browned on the edges.

Tiger Shrimp Feuillete with Tarragon Cream Sauce

Time: 1 hour (approx.)
Effort: Medium
Serves: 4

12 Tiger Shrimp, peeled, uncooked
1 tbsp butter
1 cup heavy cooking cream
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp fresh tarragon, chopped
1 tbsp sifted all-purpose flour
1 tbsp Porto (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 package puff pastry (400 g)
Warm water
1 egg yolk and 2 tbsp water for brushing the pastry

Heat Oven to 400oF. In a medium saucepan melt the butter then add the tiger shrimp and saute until pink but not fully cooked. Add the lemon juice, Porto, tarragon and salt and pepper. Simmer for about 2 minutes, then slowly add the flour stirring constantly until thickened. Remove from heat and let cool. Roll the pastry on  a floured board into a large square about 1/8" thick (large enough to make 4 squares). Cut the rolled pastry into 4 even squares. Spoon in 4 shrimp with a bit of sauce into the center of each square(not too much!). Keep the remaining sauce.With your fingers, moisten the edges of each pastry square, then pull up one of the corners to the opposite corner to form a triangle. Firmly press the edges together to ensure they are sealed, and repeat with the remaining squares. Lay them on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Beat the egg yolk with the water and brush the tops of the triangles using a pastry brush (you can also use a bristle paint brush, it works just as well). Bake for approx. 40 minutes or until puffed and dark golden. Serve with warmed remaining sauce.

Spinach Potage with Cream Mousse and Spicy Cheese Sticks

Time: 20 mins
Effort: Easy
Serves: 4

Soup & Cream Mousse
2 large bags of leaf spinach
2 cups water
1 beef or chicken bouillon cube
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp butter
1/2 whipping cream
Salt and pepper

Spicy Cheese Sticks
1/2 package of puff pastry
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh ground black pepper
Warm water

To Make Soup:
Bring the water to a rolling boil in a medium sized saucepan, gradually add the leaf spinach a few bunches at a time, pressing them into the water with a spoon. Boil for approx. 3 minutes and remove from heat, strain, keeping the liquid. Turn the spinach into a food processor and blend until it forms a smooth puree. While blending, gradually pour in the remaining liquid from the boiled spinach until well incorporated. Return the whole mixture to the pot, add the bouillon cube, butter and lemon juice (you probably won't need any more salt) and some pepper, then simmer for 2-3 minutes. Serve hot or cold with cream mousse.

Cream Mousse:
In a medium bowl whisk the cream until it forms a thick mousse - be careful not to turn it into whipped cream!

Spicy Cheese Sticks:
Heat oven to 400oF. On a large board, roll out pastry to 1/8" thick oblong. Remove the pastry from the board and sprinkle the board with half the cheese and a generous amount of pepper. Brush one side of the pastry with warm water and place water side down onto the cheesed board. Press firmly down with your fingers or rolling pin. Brush the top of the pastry with warm water and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese and pepper. Roll the rolling pin over it firmly then cut long thin strips. Place the strips on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake until dark golden and puffed. Set aside to cool.

Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese and Cucumber Rolls

Time: 15-20 minutes
Effort: Medium
Serves: 6

1 English Cucmber (seedless)
250 gr Light Cream Cheese, or Cream Cheese with Salmon - at room temperature
5-6 slices Smoked Salmon (or Lox) - Cut lengthwise in half to make 10-12 lengths
A few sprigs of fresh parsley or dill for garnish

Cut the cucumber into 1 1/2" pieces, crosswise so that you end up with about 10 pieces. (If you make them any bigger it will be too difficult to cut off the skin.) Using a sharp paring knife, in circular motion cut off the skin in one whole piece - it will almost look like a curled piece of paper. Repeat with all the cucumber pieces. (Go slow so the knife doesn't slip!). Spread and even amount of cream cheese on the inside of each cucumber. Lay a strip of salmon on a large board so that it's facing you lengthwise, and lay one of the cucumber pieces at the end nearest you, with the cucumber and salmon ends lined up. Carefully start rolling the salmon and cucumber in a tight roll, ending with some extra salmon to close the roll. With a sharp, wet knife, slice the roll in two and lay them on a serving platter with the sliced side up. Repeat with the rest of the cucumber, salmon and cream cheese. Garnish with parsley or fresh dill.

Ham & Cream Cheese Spread on Rye

Time: 10 mins
Effort: Very Easy
Serves: 4-6

1 250g pkg light cream cheese
1/2 lb sliced ham (I use the cooked prosciutto type)
1/2 red or orange pepper, sliced into small thin strips
3-4 slices European rye bread (this is a dry bread, in thin slices available at most grocery stores in the specialty section)

Using a food processor, chop the ham until it is a fine crumble, then add the cream cheese and blend until the ham is well incorporated into the cheese. Please the rye slices on a large board and generously spread with the cream cheese-ham mixture. Cut them into even 1 1/2 inch squares and decorate with a strip of pepper.

Christmas Menu Changes

We made changes to our menus, so I will re-post, then add the recipes !
Unfortunately we did not take photos of all the recipes, but we did for the most important ones.
Enjoy !

~ Christmas Day Menu ~

Hors D'Oeuvres
Ham & Cream Cheese Spread on Rye 
Mini Sausages wrapped in Puff Pastry with Dipping Sauce

Coquilles Saint-Jacques

Braised Lamb Shanks in Red Wine and Porto 
Steamed Baby Potatoes with Parsley Butter
Hungarian Braised Red Cabbage

Gateau Saint-Honore 
and Caramel-Chocolate Drizzle

Have a Safe and Happy Holiday !

Christmas Eve Menu ....

Hors D'Oeuvres
Chorizo, Goat Cheese & Cherry Tomatos
Smoked Salmon, Cucumber & Cream Cheese Rolls

Spinach Potage with Creamy Mousse
Spicy Cheese Twists
Mixed Green Salad

Tiger Shrimp Feuillete & Tarragon Cream Sauce
Red Rice
Roast Asparagus & Bacon Crumble

Individual Spice Trifles 
with Caramelized Orange Peel

Grean Bean and Tomato Soup

A delightfully light yet heartwarming soup, great in winter or summer !

Time: 20 minutes
Effort: Easy
Serves: 4

1 1/2 lb fresh green beans, ends and string trimmed, cut into pieces
2 large ripe tomatoes, skinned and diced
1/2 cup heavy cream or coffee cream
1 tsp butter
1 cup beef or chicken stock (or 1 beef or chicken bouillon cube)
Salt & ground pepper to taste

Clean green beans by trimming off the ends, then cut them into pieces. (Doesn't matter what size). Using a steamer basket, and large saucepan, steam the beans until very tender. Remove the steamer basket leaving the beans in it, and set aside. Using the same saucepan, with the leftover water from steaming, add a little more and bring it to a boil, then place the whole tomatoes in the boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Remove the tomatoes from the water, (keeping the water) and with a sharp paring knife gently lift off the skin and slice off the top. Dice the tomatoes and set aside. If you are using a bouillon cube, add it to the remaining hot water in the saucepan. Using a food processor, puree the beans until there are no lumps, gradually add in the tomatoes and puree again. Slowly add in the beef stock and the cream, salt and pepper to taste. Note: The puree (soup) should not be too watery, so be careful on the amount of stock you add). Discard any remaining water in the saucepan, and add the puree, along with the butter and simmer gently. This soup is great served hot or cold in the summer.

Update !

10 plus recipes will be posted shortly !
Plus of course great and EASY recipes for the holidays !

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A great and growing website where you can make lists of your favorite restaurants AND, help you discover restaurants you've never tried - in almost every city in the WORLD ! 
This great tool will soon have an iPhone app which will make it even handier, whether in your home town
or while travelling !

Check it out !

Asparagus and Spinach In Bed

Time: 40 mins
Effort: Easy
Serves: 4

1 lb fresh leaf spinach, washed & drained
1 lb Green asparagus washed, ends trimmed off
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large ripe tomato, sliced and then halved
1 cup toasted breadcrumbs
Salt & Pepper

Heat oven to 375oF.

Shrimp Tempura in Verrines

Time: 25 mins
Effort: Easy
Serves 4

4 raw Jumbo shrimp, peeled & deveined, tail on
1/2 cup tempura batter (purchased at most food stores) prepared as per package
1 egg white & tbsp cold water whisked well
1 cup oil for frying (such as Canola)
10 medium sized shrimp, peeled and cooked and chopped
3 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 cup Asian sweet chili sauce
2 spring onions cut in two lengthwise for garnish

In a small bowl combine mayonnaise with hoisin and soy sauce then blend in the shrimp. Divide evenly into 4 verrines (small glasses) and refrigerate. Mix the tempura batter as per package instructions, using only half the mixture (you can refrigerate the mixture for later use). In a small bowl whisk the egg white and water well. In a deep skillet, heat the oil to very hot, then dip each jumbo shrimp first in egg white then in the tempura batter and fry until light golden - about 2-3 minutes on either side. Set on paper towels and repeat with the rest of the shrimp. Remove verrines from fridge and pour 1/8th cup (about 1 tbsp) Asian sweet chili sauce in each, then top with one jumbo shrimp tempura and garnish with 2 strips of spring onion.

Edition 3 Now Available !

Our THIRD EDITION is now available !
Only $5.95

Why not purchase an annual subscription ? 
(Third Edition includes all our recipes from October and November in a PDF version.)

Third Edition (Oct/Nov) will be available later today!

Once again, we have removed all the recipes from October and November and will be available in a PDF book (Third Edition) later today.

It's only $5.95 for each book !