Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sachertorte, Café Sacher, Innsbruck

 English in italics!

La Sachertorte est le gâteau culte de l'Autriche. La recette est jalousement gardée par la maison Sacher mais bien sûr les variations sur son thème sont nombreuses. Intrigués par ce pseudo mystère, et passant devant le Café Sacher lors de notre visite à Innsbruck (l'original se trouvant à Vienne), nous avons décidé d'y faire une halte.

Sachertorte is Austria's cult cake. The recipe is kept secret by the Sacher house but of course, numerous variations of the recipe circulate. Intrigued by this pseudo mystery, and walking by the Café Sacher during our visit to Innsbruck (the original one is in Vienna), we decided to stop by for refreshments, as it were.

Le cadre luxueux prout-prout traditionnel ne se prête pas forcément à une visite avec des enfants et avec un blouson de ski sur le dos, mais comme dans toutes les bonnes maisons, on vous reçoit comme si vous portiez du Chanel -ils sont habitués aux touristes.

The luxurious uptight traditional surroundings do not necessarily lend themselves to a visit with children and while wearing a ski jacket, but as in all good houses, they welcome you as if you were wearing Chanel -they are, of course, used to tourists.

Les prix sont à la mesure de la renommée du gâteau, mais je dirais, pas plus chers qu'au bon vieux Grand-Duché : 4,90 pour une part du célèbre gâteau accompagné de Schlagobers, la chantilly locale. 3,80 pour le strudel encore tiède.

The prices are proportional to the cake's fame, but I'd say, not higher than in the Grand Duchy  : €4.90 for a slice of the famous cake with a side od Schlagobers, ie whipped cream. 3.80 for the apple strudel still slightly warm.

Alors, le verdict? Eh bien, à mon goût, la hype autour du Sacher est exagérée. Le gâteau, sans être sec, n'est pas du tout moelleux, la couverture au chocolat est hyper sucrée, et le fourrage de confiture en rajoute encore une couche. Certes, il est bon, mais pas renversant. Le strudel m'a plu davantage, bien que par la suite j'en ai mangé un meilleur.

My humble opinion? I think the hype surrounding the Sacher is exaggerated. The sponge, while not dry, wasn't moist at all, the chocolate icing is overly sugary and the jam filling adds another level of sweetness. It was good but not overwhelmingly so. I liked the strudel better, but had better ones afterwards.

Le chocolat chaud était excellent! Avec Schlagobers, natürlich!

The hot chocolate was excellent! With Schlagobers, natürlich!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Austria 1

We spent the past week in Austria, gratefully eating up what others cooked and trying to burn off calories by sliding down snowy mountains on sleighs and doing  a bit of nordic skiing. I do hope to learn how to ski in the future, but for now I am quite content keeping things low-key.

It's not the first time I've been to Austria. When I lived in Munich I went a couple of times to Salzburg because of its proximity, and spent another winter holiday in Schladming, which is a breathtaking resort but better suited to downhill skiing -although they do have a fantastic sleighing track.

This time we went to a tiny resort called Obsteig. What I most appreciated is the small scale of the place and the absolute quiet we found there. No queues for the lift, no one on the nordic tracks, it was very calming. The hotel had a great kindergarten-type place and it meant we could leave the kids there and go do some sport or just relax in the whirlpool. Bliss!

The hotel cooked great food, it was like eating in a restaurant every evening, and on the few opccasions we ate out, nothing disappointed. I even remarked that although the food culture is very similar to the Bavarian one, I found it was better in Austria. Maybe that was just luck. Who knows?

The strudel variation (apple and topfenstrudel (topfen is quark, or curd cheese)

Austrian food is very stick-to-your-ribs (potato and black pudding hash, wiener schnitzel...), and therefore I chose to eat dessert instead of lunch, knowing that I'd have a proper meal in the evening anyway. Can you blame me? I don't think it was super wise as far as calories are concerned, but I sampled a few strudels and kaiserschmarrns for the sake of comparison. I even ate the official Sachertorte at the Innsbruck branch of the Sacher hotel! (More of that later)

Kaiserschmarrn, a sort of big dense eggy pancake with raisins, mashed up served here with apple sauce

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sauce rose framboises-érable

 Cette sauce framboises-sirop d'érable égaye les gaufres, crêpes ou transforme un simple yaourt en dessert de presque luxe. Elle a le mérite d'être rose -ce qui plaît aux (petites) filles et vraiment délicieuse. Elle est prête en 5 minutes et ne coûte pas trop cher (framboises surgelées!) Le sirop d'érable lui donne un petit goût boisé bien ahgréable. Parfait pour mettre un peu de couleur et de vitamines dans l'assiette, et une dessert express pour vos dîners d'amoureux, St-Valentin oblige!

Pour environ 250 ml de sauce :

4 cs de sirop d'érable (un peu plus si vous êtes moins radin!)
un demi-verre de jus de pomme
250 g de framboises surgelées
optionnel : une demi-gousse de vanille fendue et grattée

Mettre le tout dans une petite casserole et laisser compoter à petits bouillons en écrasant un peu les fruits de temps en temps (si vous les laissez entiers, voyez la première photo). Voilà! Servir en retirant la gousse de vanille si vous l'utilisez.

Sur du Nutella, c'est presque trop décadent :

Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentine's Day custard cream chocolate hearts

Valentine's Day. Love? Hate? Indifferent?

I thought we'd celebrate at home then changed my mind only to find out that our baby-sitter is unavailable tomorrow.
Bah, nevermind. I baked biscuits.
This is an adaptation of Nigella's custard cream hearts recipe in Feast. You just substitute 25g of cocoa for the same amount of flour. Eva has the recipe posted here. If you were to eat the biscuits on their own, they are nice and crumbly and not very sweet. Once they are sandwiched with the custard cream, it becomes difficult to stop eating them.

They look a bit rustic, which I like. I tried to make them look fancier using photo applications but that proved too much trouble to upload. I find they are a more realistic representation of love in daily life. Not photoshop perfect!

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Momofuku Milk Bar bagel bombs

In the Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook, there are a couple of savoury recipes that have caught my eye. One of them is the kimchi blue cheese croissant, but it requires a lot of commitment, to quote Chritina Tosi, it's not for softbodies. I'm pretty sure it's delicious, since I love blue cheese and I like kimchi. I recently bought a jar of it, probably because in a corner of my mind, I am planning to make the recipe soon.

Another one is this bagel bomb recipe, because 1) it's relatively easy and 2) it involves cream cheese, scallions and bacon. What more do you need? It makes a great snack or savoury breakfast, it's great as an accompaniment to soup or salad, you could even make it with kids.

To start, you need two things : the "mother dough", the basic bread dough used for all the other recipes in the book (croissants, bun pie, etc.) and the cream cheese plugs, which are the frozen centers of the buns. For the mother dough recipe click here and scroll down. It yields a very soft and sticky dough so be prepared to use flour or oil to avoid a sticky mess.

The plugs are just cream cheese, a bit of scallion or spring onion green, fried bacon and its juice, a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of sugar. I made a vegetarian version using bits of gouda in place of bacon. I also used bacon fillet so one bagel bomb comes at about 6 propoints each. I used spring onion tops that I regrew thanks to something I saw on Pinterest!

After you have shaped all the buns, you brush some eggwash on top and sprinkle a mix of  white and black sesame seeds, onion and garlic powder and salt.

ALL of my bagel bombs lived up to their name and exploded in the oven (not all over the place, but the filling spilled out and they looked more like volcanoes, btw there's another recipe called volcanoes in the book...). I think it's because something is wrong with my freezer and the plugs weren't frozen solid, they were just cold. I also made two plain buns with sesame on top for the kids and those split as well, so perhaps I did something wrong with the dough? In any case, they weren't the perfectly round little buns sold in Momofuku, but they tasted awesome just the same!

You can watch Tosi make them here.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Rouleaux de printemps

Chose promise, chose due, une recette "chinoise" pour fêter en retard le Nouvel An. On a tout de même mangé ces rouleaux de printemps lundi 23 au soir, et j'en ai refait avec les restes le lendemain à midi. Mais de l'assiette au blog, il y a parfois délai.

En fait, les rouleaux de printemps sont davantage une spécialité vietnamienne. Ils sont d'une simplicité déconcertante à réaliser, ils sont très nourrissants et toutes  ces saveurs qui explosent en bouche donnent l'impression d'être un(e) pro de la cuisine asiatique, sans trop d'efforts.

Le blog des 3 soeurs illustre parfaitement le processus de fabrication -et j'aime beaucoup leur blog et leur livre. Pour ma part, j'avais choisi des pousses de soja fraîches que j'ai ébouillantées, du poivron jaune en lamelles, des vermicelles de riz (finalement appréciés de personne, mais ils permettent de gonfler le contenu si vous êtes nombreux), des carottes râpées, des oignons verts ciselés, des crevettes cuites et du jambon pour les gosses. Ce qui donnent vraiment un goût extra, ce sont les feuilles de menthe fraîche ou de coriandre.

Pour la sauce, j'en ai raté une, trop acide (sauce soja-vinaigre de riz) et j'aime beaucoup l'autre, un mélange de beurre de cacahuètes et de sauce soja allongé à l'eau, sinon, la sauce traditionnelle des nems, nuoc mam-carottes et cachuètes pilées ira très bien, et on la trouve parfois toute prête au rayon suziwan.


Alors que l'année précédente fût assez mitigée pour moi, j'ai bon espoir que 2012, l'année du Dragon, mon année, et une année propice dans l'horoscope chinois, sera plus positive pour tout le monde. Après tout, il y aura les élections au printemps, le temps des cerises ...