Thursday, August 28, 2008

Salmon & Black Sesame

I had been wanting to cook a salmon dinner for quite a while. In fact, I'll admit that I had never cooked fish before and was yearning for a nice salmon steak with some vegetables, but was slightly afraid. I wanted the fish to be cooked but not burnt, tasty but not fish-tasty, basically delicious.

Armed with high hopes, I marched to the supermarket and bought two salmon steaks. The rest was waiting at home: fresh green beans from my uncle's garden, and crushed black sesame seeds from my trip to the Japanese grocery store a while ago.

After putting the green beans in the steam-cooker, I proceeded to think about a tasty sauce that would go well with salmon. As you may have guessed, I am absolutely not a fish guru and have actually only been eating it for the past three years or so. I won't get into how I developed a hatred for fish (it involves a particularly traumatizing experience when I was six years old), but anyway, I couldn't eat it. 
Consequently, I don't posses innate knowledge of which sauce goes best with which fish, and simply decided to throw everything I had together. That almost always works right?

This time it definitely DID!

I made up a black sesame sauce by mixing the said ground sesame, soy sauce, sugar, and rice vinegar. The result was a syrupy sauce that tasted great with the salmon. 

And, to my surprise, the salmon was seared just fine. I coated the two steaks in normal sesame seeds beforehand to add a little crunch, which didn't really change anything in the end.

Only problem is, it was all ready for 9:30 and my doorbell didn't ring before 10... I should have entitled my post "COLD Salmon & Black Sesame", but oh well. At least I'm now reassured as to my fish-cooking skills, and am proud to say I am no longer traumatized! (by fish, at least--don't get me started on other phobias)

Black Sesame Sauce

30 gr ground black sesame seeds
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons soy sauce

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


What do monkeys and pâte à choux have in common?

Not so much, I'll admit, besides the fact that they were both part of my week-long no-blogging stay back in Saint Dié. There's a mountain filled with monkeys and you can feed them and watch them jump around in the woods--really entertaining even though I'm no longer 10.

Back to my dough.

I was having a bit of a dough dilemma last week, when Maman reminded me that Mimi, my aunt, is pretty much a pâte à choux expert. When she got home from work, I asked her for a helping hand and watched the magic unfold.

The recipe is truly very simple, and the prospect of making chouquettes was pretty much all I needed to get all excited.

Chouquettes are a snack that you like when you're a child but love just as much when you get older. They're light, tiny puffs sprinkled with coarse sugar. You can eat one if you want, but you'll probably end up eating ten--at least.

Anyway, I can't say that I really did anything apart from piping the dough onto a baking sheet, putting sugar on the puffs, and eating handfulls of coarse sugar while doing all this. But I did acquire a recipe that will stay in my book for a long time, because I really don't know anyone who doesn't appreciate a few cute chouquettes when they're handed to you in a bowl.

I used to buy some once in a while from the boulangerie across the street from my school before my 5 o'clock class; now I think I should start selling them in the courtyard and making multicolored chouquettes. It's a really cheap snack to make and people get giddy when they see a chouquette.

I think they're sort of an excuse to eat all the coarse sugar that has dropped off the chouquettes and into the bottom of the paper bag you buy them in, but that doesn't keep them from being really delicious.


1 cup water
1/3 cup (80g) butter
1 1/4 cup (125g) flour
4 eggs
1 tbsp. sugar
coarse sugar

Preheat oven to 200°C / 400°F.

Bring water to a boil, add salt and sugar, then add butter.

Once the butter has melted, add all the flour at once and stir until you get a dry dough.

Remove the saucepan from heat, and add eggs one at a time, stirring (your arms might hurt a little) until you end up with a nice dough that's not too liquid.

Pipe dough onto a baking sheet, making little pyramids/cones for each. Sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake until golden--now they're all yours.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Raspberry-Ginger-Chocolate Sprinkle Cupcake

I guess I could also call these my everything-but-the-kitchen-sink cupcakes.

I finally decided to get back to baking this weekend. There's a recipe I've been wanting to try for a while for poppy-seed cakes, but I didn't have all the ingredients needed.

That's when I thought I would just make cupcakes. I didn't want to make plain vanilla cupcakes, although they sure are good, so I ended up using pretty much anything I could find. I had some fresh ginger root left, and the bottom of a small box of dehydrated raspberries. The chocolate sprinkles come from a very special "delivery" by my maman of cooking utensils: knives, graters, zesters, sprinkles, ice cream toppings, and...chocolate chips! So I'm all set now. I didn't feel like using my chocolate chips in cupcakes though, and would rather save them for cookies, brownies of blondies.

I also wanted to try my new heart-shaped cupcake molds, so I was all set with my new gear. I prepared a simple vanilla cupcake batter, and added everything I had to it at the end. That's when I realized that I had forgotten to add baking powder (I admit I wasn't at my peak of concentration yesterday)... Realizing my étourderie, I proceeded to add the baking powder without a teaspoon and I think I may have added a bit much. 

Anyway, they came out looking more like muffins than cupcakes, and basically made me forget about wanting to frost them at all--yesterday was a lazy day! They make a nice breakfast cupcake, because the ginger and raspberries make them slightly tangy and not overly sweet. And the chocolate sprinkles, well, I don't really know what they add. But who doesn't enjoy hearing about chocolate sprinkles?

Notice my new heart-shaped sprinkles! 

Raspberry-Ginger-Chocolate Sprinkle Cupcakes (makes 12)

1 stick (115g) butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup self-rising flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp fresh ginger
dehydrated raspberries (I added around 2 tbsp)
chocolate sprinkles (why not?)

Cream butter and sugars, add eggs one at a time. Add flour, vanilla extract, and milk. Add the rest of the ingredients, and scoop into cupcake cups. Bake for around 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.