NEW CREATION : Strawberry Apple Crumble Pie

Posted in Life, Recipes on March 22nd, 2011 by Natacha – 2 Comments

My husband wanted a crumble, i wanted an apple pie….I decided to make an “hybrid”. Definitely the best pie i have made so far…

Apple Strawberry Crumble pie

Pie crust :

  • 2  1/4 cups all purpose organic flour
  • 1/2 ground sea salt (regular is fine too)
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 Tbsp. organic butter
  • 5-6 Tbsp. water (as needed)

Stir flour and salt in stand mixer, add shortening and butter cut in small piecces, add water as needed, then wrap in saran wrap and chill in fridge, when needed, roll in between 2 sheets of parchment paper to 1/8 inch thickness, and then  lay in 9 inch pie plate.

Filling :

  • 3 organic apples peeled cored and sliced
  • About 8 organic sliced strawberries (half a package)
  • 1/4 cup of organic sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon of cinnamon

Lay apples and strawberries on top of pie crust, sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top

Crumble topping :

  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 6 TBsp. butter cut in pieces

Mix the crumble topping with your hand until crumbly then lay on top of pie.

Bake at 400 degrees  for 35-40 minutes or until top is browned and apples are soft.

It was so good, we did not even shared it with the kids !

Hubby's plate

My husband liked it with some caramel gelato he gets from the local store ( Brooklyn larder) !I loved the fact that everything was homemade and trust me – making your own pie crust – isn’t that hard or time consuming, it probably even freezes well !

I think that Crate and barrel giftcard I got for my birthday from my mother-in-law will go towards a nice ice cream maker !

Enjoy !





Happy Saint Patrick’s Day !

Posted in Cakes/Cupcakes/cookies, Life, Recipes on March 17th, 2011 by Natacha – 5 Comments

My husband recently blew my mind with all the nice things he did for me on my birthday (March 6th – mark it for next year…LOL).I wanted to thank him so I sent him off  to work with two dozens of “car bombs” cupcakes.

A car bomb is a drink he used to have with his friends at the local bar, it consists of dunking a shot of Bailey’s into a pint of Guinness. To recreate the effect i made Guinness Chocolate cupcakes with Bailey’s buttercream. I decorated them with some clovers made out of green dyed white chocolate piped onto a saran wrap film (easy to peel off once dry).

It was almost “easy” to make that many cupcakes thanks to my stand mixer who did all of the hard work !

The surprising thing i learnt was that Guinness really enhances the chocolate flavor in an amazing yet subtle way….

Happy Saint Patrick's day !

Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes with Bailey’s Buttercream
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes 24 cupcakes


1 Cup Guinness Beer
1 Cup Unsalted Butter
¾ Cup Quality Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 Cups Granulated Sugar
1½  Teaspoons Baking Soda
¾ Teaspoon Salt
2 Large Eggs
⅔ Cup Sour Cream

Bailey’s Buttercream:
4 to 5 Cups Confections Sugar
2 Cups Unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 to 5 Tablespoons Bailey’s

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake cups with paper liners.

Prepare the cupcakes: Put the butter with the stout beer in a sauce pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Whisk in cocoa powder until smooth. Cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In a mixer bowl, beat the eggs and the sour cream together. Add the beer/butter/cocoa mixture and beat to combine. Add the flour mixture and beat briefly just to combine. Using a rubber spatula, fold the batter until completely combined, making sure to incorporate little pockets of flour on the bottom so that the batter is of equal consistency everywhere.

Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 of the way if you want flatter cupcakes and 3/4 if you want domed. Bake for about 17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely to room temperature.

Prepare the frosting: In a large mixer bowl, whip the butter for several minutes until very light and fluffy. Slowly add about half of the powdered sugar a few spoonfuls at a time until incorporated. Slowly drizzle the Irish Cream and whip until combined. Add the rest of the powdered sugar until your desired consistency has been achieved.

Assemble: Fill a pastry bag and pipe buttercream on top of cooled cupcakes. Garnish with sprinkles or other adornments.

Yummy !


No fry doughnuts

Posted in Life, Recipes on February 22nd, 2011 by Natacha – Comments Off on No fry doughnuts

I’m always looking for healthier treats for my son and my husband. I cam across a recipe that sounded quite intriguing in this month’s issue of Food & Wine Magazine. “No fry sweet potatoe doughnuts” ??? I had to try them, they sounded quite light and healthier with a cup of mashed sweet potato in them… I even made a modified version for my son with sprinkles and those were a big hit !

Looks like the real thing !

Ingredients :


awesome healthy treat for my son !

  • One 12-ounce sweet potato
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 envelope instant dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3 1/4 cups bread flour, plus more for rolling


  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Or for the kid’s version : confectioner’s sugar and sprinkles


  1. Prick the sweet potato all over with a fork and cook it in a microwave at high power for 10 minutes, until tender. Let cool, then peel and puree the sweet potato; you should have about 1 cup.
  2. In a small skillet, cook the butter over moderate heat until nutty and lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Scrape the browned butter and solids into a small bowl and let cool.
  3. In the same skillet, heat the milk until just warm, about 105°. Pour the warm milk into the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the yeast and let stand for 5 minutes. Gently mix in the granulated sugar, light brown sugar, salt, vanilla seeds, nutmeg and rum. Add the sweet potato puree, browned butter and solids, egg and egg yolks and beat until combined. Add the 3 1/4 cups of bread flour and beat at medium speed until the dough is evenly moistened, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to moderately high and beat until a soft dough forms, about 5 minutes. Gather the dough into a ball and transfer to a buttered bowl. Cover and let rise in a draft-free place for 1 hour.
  4. Punch down the dough and let stand for 5 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough 1/2 inch thick. Using a 2 3/4-inch round cutter, stamp out as many rounds as possible. Using a smaller round cutter (1 inch), stamp out the centers. Transfer the doughnuts and holes to 2 parchment paper–lined baking sheets. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let the doughnuts and holes rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400° and position racks in the upper and lower thirds. Bake the holes for 10 minutes and the doughnuts for about 20 minutes, until risen and golden.
  6. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon. Put half of the hot doughnuts in a large bowl and drizzle with some of the melted butter; toss and turn to coat. Sprinkle with some of the cinnamon sugar and toss and turn until evenly coated. Repeat with the remaining doughnuts, butter and cinnamon sugar. Transfer the doughnuts to a platter; serve. For the kid’s version, make a frosting out of confectioner’s sugar and water, top the doughnut with it and then dip into platter containing sprinkles.

Looks like the real thing !

They were quite good, but let’s be honest, don’t expect them to taste like real deep fried doughnuts !

Recipes from “detox…but festive meal”

Posted in Recipes on February 11th, 2011 by Natacha – 3 Comments

Zucchini oven chips

  • 1/4  cup  dry breadcrumbs (whole wheat or regular)
  • 1/4  cup  (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4  teaspoon  seasoned salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  garlic powder
  • 1/8  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 2  tablespoons   milk
  • 2 1/2  cups  (1/4-inch-thick) slices zucchini (about 2 small)
  • Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 425°.

Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Place milk in a shallow bowl. Dip zucchini slices in milk, and dredge in breadcrumb mixture. Place coated slices on an ovenproof wire rack coated with cooking spray; place rack on a baking sheet. Bake at 425° for 30 minutes or until browned and crisp. Serve immediately.


  • 1 eggplant
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet.
  2. Place eggplant on baking sheet, and make holes in the skin with a fork. Roast it for 30 to 40 minutes, turning occasionally, or until soft. Remove from oven, and place into a large bowl of cold water. Remove from water, and peel skin off.
  3. Place eggplant, lemon juice, tahini, sesame seeds, and garlic in an electric blender, and puree. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer eggplant mixture to a medium size mixing bowl, and slowly mix in olive oil. Refrigerate for 3 hours before serving.

Beet salad with goat cheese mousse and walnut vinaigrette
  • 1 1/2 lbs beets, skin on, scrubbed
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup (4 oz) fresh goat cheese, room temp
  • 1 tsp walnut oil
  • Black pepper in a mill
  • 2 oz arugula, tough stems discarded, well washed
  • 2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp finely sliced shallots
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Bundle and wrap the beets in aluminum foil, rubbing each first in olive oil. Bake on a sheetpan until a knife pierces easily into the center, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Set aside to cool, then peel and cut into a 3/4 inch dice.
2. Toast the walnuts in a sauté pan over medium heat, shaking constantly, until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
3. Put the goat cheese and walnut oil in a bowl and stir vigorously until the cheese is whipped a mousse-like consistency. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
4. Combine the vinegar and shallots in a mixing bowl and slowly whisk in the oil. Add the salt and pepper and whisk until thoroughly combined.
5. Combine the beets, endive, arugula, and walnuts in a bowl and drizzle with walnut vinaigrette.
6. Divide the salad evenly among 4 plates. Top with a tablespoon of goat cheese before serving.

Celery root puree

Steam one celery rot (peeled and cubed ) with one large potatoe (peeled and cubed). Puree with stick blender, add some heavy cream, salt, pepper to taste.

Mango sorbet

  • 4 mangos – peeled, seeded, and cubed (must be very ripe)
  • 1 cup agave syrup or evaporated cane juice or brown rice syrup or simple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  1. Place cubed mango in a food processor, and puree. Pour in simple syrup and lime juice, and puree until smooth.
  2. Place in an ice cream maker. Freeze thoroughly.
Strawberry Kefir smoothie
Blend strawberries, Kefir and honey (to taste)  with ice in blender.

The secrets of Macarons

Posted in Cakes/Cupcakes/cookies, Recipes, Techniques on January 17th, 2011 by Natacha – 3 Comments

I always loved French macarons (not to be confused with coconut laden macaroons). I had a discussion with my friend Muriel and she asked me if I ever tried to make any…That’s where the idea of making some stemmed from.

As I looked for recipes, I realized there was many tricks to it and also that it would take me several days…

Secret #1 :

The egg whites needs to be “aged”…YES “aged ! I had never heard of such things but basically you need to separate whites from yolks 2 or 3 days before baking, loosely covered in the refrigerator (but watch out – they need to be taken out 2 hours before starting to make teh recipe so they end up at room temperature). Also depending of the humidity you may need to add powdered egg whites to them when you make your recipe. If you are not yet scared of the process, continue to secret #2…

Secret #2 :

Choose superfine sugar because it’s the easiest to incorporate.

Secret #3 :

The almond flour needs to be fresh and slightly dried in the oven before use and it also needs to be superfine !

Secret #4 :

I was shocked to find out that the color of the shell came from food coloring….Yes I must be living in La-La land.

Now the shell recipe :

Ingredients :

  • 2 3/4 cups almond flour
  • 2 3/4 powdered sugar
  • 1 cup aged egg whites at room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp. powdered egg whites
  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar
  • gel paste food coloring (liquid would be compromise the shells)

Mix almond flour and powdered sugar (if you feel brave : blend and then sift together – i didn’t). Beat egg whites + egg white powder and salt and when they start to rise, add sugar and food coloring. Then incorporate almond mixture with egg whites mixture by hand until the batter falls in a wide ribbon when you raise the spatula. Then you are ready to start piping (tip#8) 2 1/2 inch shells separated by 1 inch on a parchment lined baking sheet.

And then let it sit for 15 minutes (that’s the secret to make them develop “feet”) then bake in a convection oven at 300 degrees – bake for 14 minutes exactly (after the first 5 minutes, open the door briefly to let the steam out – yet another secret).

Let the shells cool completely before taking them off the parchment paper.

Now for the filling : possibilities are endless, i decided to go with a chocolate ganache :

  • 7 ounces dark chocolate (65% to 70% cocoa content)
  • 1 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter (preferable european style – Yes I’m that much of a snob)

In a saucepan over low heat, stir chocolate, cream and honey until melted. Remove from heat and stir in teh butter.

Let cool for at least 30 minutes, until thick enouh to spread or pipe.

Fill the macarons and cover in airtight container, in the fridge for 12 hours to let the aroma of the filling develop into the shells – I warned you – several day process).

So good !!!

Those macarons were AMAZING, it was a great way to end our Holiday meals. And now I understand why people charge up to 3$ a piece for those puppies….They are indeed very labor intensive.

Christmas cookies

Posted in Cakes/Cupcakes/cookies, Life, Recipes on December 19th, 2010 by Natacha – 1 Comment

At my son’s school, only homemade presents were authorized for the teachers. So my son and I picked a few recipes and started baking for his teachers. He wanted to make “snail” looking cookies and stars. We were very proud of ourselves when we were done and a nice packaging made the gift even more appealing.

Gifts for the preschool teachers

Lemon Ginger pinwheels :

Ginger dough:

  • 1/4  cup  unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3  cup  packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4  cup  molasses
  • 1  large egg yolk
  • 6  ounces  all-purpose flour (about 1 1/3 cups)
  • 3/4  teaspoon  ground ginger
  • 3/4  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/8  teaspoon  ground nutmeg
  • Dash of ground allspice

Lemon dough:

  • 5  tablespoons  unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3  cup  granulated sugar
  • 1  large egg white
  • 2  teaspoons  grated lemon rind
  • 3/4  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 6  ounces  all-purpose flour (about 1 1/3 cups)
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt

1. To prepare ginger dough, place 1/4 cup butter and brown sugar in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well combined (about 3 minutes). Add molasses and egg yolk; beat until well blended. Weigh or lightly spoon 6 ounces (about 1 1/3 cups) flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 6 ounces flour, ginger, and next 4 ingredients (through allspice); stir with a whisk. Add flour mixture to butter mixture; beat at low speed just until combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap; chill 30 minutes.

2. To prepare lemon dough, place 5 tablespoons butter and granulated sugar in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until blended (about 3 minutes). Add egg white; beat until blended. Beat in rind and vanilla. Weigh or lightly spoon 6 ounces (about 1 1/3 cups) flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 6 ounces flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture; beat at low speed just until combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap; chill 30 minutes.

3. Unwrap ginger dough. Roll ginger dough between sheets of plastic wrap into a 13 x 8 1/2–inch rectangle (3/16 inch thick); chill 10 minutes. Unwrap lemon dough. Roll lemon dough between sheets of plastic wrap into a 13 x 9–inch rectangle (3/16 inch thick); chill 10 minutes. Carefully stack ginger dough on top of lemon dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border along one long edge. Starting with the long side without a border, roll up dough, jelly-roll fashion. Seal edges (do not seal ends of roll). Cover with plastic wrap; freeze 30 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 350°.

5. Unwrap dough. Cut with a sharp knife into 40 slices (about 1/4 inch thick). Reshape rounds, if necessary. Arrange slices 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake, 1 batch at a time, at 350° for 8 to 9 minutes or until set and lightly browned. Cool on wire racks.

Ready to go into the oven !

Brown butter sugar cookies :

  • 9  tablespoons  unsalted butter
  • 1  cup  granulated sugar
  • 1/2  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 3  large egg yolks
  • 8  ounces  all-purpose flour (about 1 3/4 cups)
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  baking powder
  • 1  cup  powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2  tablespoons  half-and-half
  • 1/4  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 1/3  cup  pearlized sugar or turbinado sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat; cook 6 minutes or until dark brown. Pour butter into a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Add granulated sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 2 minutes). Add egg yolks, and beat at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute).

3. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, salt, and baking powder; stir with a whisk. Add flour mixture to butter mixture; beat at low speed just until combined. Turn dough out onto a sheet of wax paper; knead gently 7 times. Roll dough to a 1/4-inch thickness. Cut with a 2 1/2-inch star-shaped cookie cutter into 32 cookies; reroll scraps as necessary. Arrange cookies 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake, 1 batch at a time, at 350° for 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool cookies completely on wire racks.

4. Combine powdered sugar, half-and-half, and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, stirring with a whisk until icing is smooth. Spoon about 3/4 teaspoon icing onto each cookie; spread to edges. While icing is wet, sprinkle each cookie with 1/2 teaspoon pearlized sugar. Dry on wire racks.

Recipes from Cooking Light (December 2009).

I love simplicity / Mushrooms stories

Posted in Life, Recipes on December 15th, 2010 by Natacha – 5 Comments

I went with my son to the farmer’s market last week and there was a lady selling mushrooms, all sorts of mushrooms. I asked her for an assortment and here’s what I got for 10$ :

I agree 10$ is a lot…But they were so  fragrant it was unbelievable. I’m going to look like an idiot but i m not even sure of all the ones I got, i know I got shitake and oyster mushrooms, but i have no idea what the third kind is.

I had to come up with a basic dish to reveal their flavors and i decided to go with “oeuf cocotte” a basic French egg dish.

First I brushed them to clean them up, cut them up and sauteed the mushrooms in butter in a pan :

The smells were unbelievable !

I divided the mushroom mix into 6 ramekins, added a dollop of creme fraiche et topped with shredded gruyere cheese.

Then put the ramekins in a bain-marie for about 12 minutes in a 350 degrees oven.

Ready to go in the oven !

To add some crunch i made croutons with stale bread, in a pot with butter and a crushed garlic clove and added them when the dish came out of the oven…

Topped with garlic croutons !

Probably the best dish we ate this month ! And it made the 10$ bill much easier to swallow!

New dessert creation : Buttermilk Chocolate cake with Tiramisu frosting.

Posted in Recipes on December 12th, 2010 by Natacha – Comments Off on New dessert creation : Buttermilk Chocolate cake with Tiramisu frosting.

Chocolate buttermilk cake :

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven at 350 degrees. Flour + butter your cake mold or prepare cupcake baking cups.

In your mixer bowl, mix dry ingredients, then ad liquid ingredients and beat until smooth.

Bake until the cake test is done (about 15-20 minutes for cupcakes, longer for a cake).

Frosting :

  • mascarpone cheese (1 container)
  • 1 strong  espresso
  • 3 egg whites
  • confectioner sugar to taste

Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt and fold mascarpone + cold espresso + sugar.

Frost your cake and there you go, I added chocolate shavings on top for decoration…

Chcolate cake with tiramisu frosting

For winter nights : Butternut squash risotto with fennel sausage

Posted in Recipes on December 6th, 2010 by Natacha – Comments Off on For winter nights : Butternut squash risotto with fennel sausage

One of our favorite Winter dinner.

Ingredients :

  • Fennel pork sausage
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 butternut squash
  • Thyme
  • Arborio rice
  • Parmesan cheese freshly grated
  • White wine (one you would actually drink too!)

First steam the butternut squash and puree it.

Then brown the sausage, add onion + rice + thyme, sautee for a few minutes in sausage fat and then wet with white wine little by little, mix non stop (can take a while – about 20 minutes). Add the butternut squash puree and parmesan cheese to taste and there you go !

Pizza Night

Posted in Recipes on December 6th, 2010 by Natacha – Comments Off on Pizza Night

My husband decided he wanted to order pizza one night but I offered to make him one from scratch. He loved the idea and so did my son.

Dough :

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (warm like a baby bottle)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tsp. olive oil (homemade by my friend Justine)
  • 3 cup all purpose organic flour

Toppings :

  • whatever you like on your pizza !

Dissolve yeast in water in mixer bowl. Add salt, oil and 2 1/2 cups of flour, attach dough hook and mix 1 minute on speed 2.

Then add some more flour until dough clings to hook and clean sides of the bowl, about 2 minutes, knead 2 minutes longer. Place dough in greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

I used a pizza stone, press dough flat and then added my toppings : tomato sauce, cherry tomatoes, herbes de provence, salt/pepper, ham and gruyere + parmeggiano cheeses.

I baked it in the hottest setting of my oven (450-500 degrees) until cheese bubbled.

Ready to get in the oven !

Pizza's ready !