A Teaser of my life in France

Just a few shots from the first two days from France to let you know that France is treating me well so far and I’ve finally got what I’d been missing.

To a forest for mushroom picking…champignon, cèpe!

My first French style picnic back in France…wow…the home-made foie greas pate was absolutely amazing! I had to close my eyes for a few seconds for a little pray of gratitude and tears of joy .

Here comes the endless supply of fromage! CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE! Make sure you click on each image for bigger and better images.

Camembert rôti

L’art du fromage….amazing collection of chevre at a local farmer’s market…I almost fainted at the stall, I couldn’t breathe.

Je suis dans le paradis du fromage

I got the skinkiest of all…wow…

I’ve been eating different kinds of cheese everyday. You can wait for the story told by this cheese addict.

COMING SOON!

But not so soon because I am going to indulge in my new life for a while, as long as I can and want. So when you hear from me, that will mean that I’m getting bored!

I have no time to sit in front of the computer doing tap, tap, tap; I’d much rather do other activities to make the most of my time here.

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Almond Citron Poppy Seed Cookies

It is really strange to post about this, which I made before I left Korea to come here, to France. These cookies were the last thing I made and I was planning to post as the last entry on my current blog, but I didn’t get around to doing it as I was busy organising my trip, well, not so much of organising to be honest, but more of saying goodbyes to people. My leaving was quite a compulsive last minute decision so everything was so rushed – I almost missed my flight because I got up late after drinking so much the night before – and I keep remembering all the things I left behind and forgot to do.

It’s been all done and there is no turning back.

Today I went to the supermarket to get some fruit as I realised that I hadn’t eaten any fruit since I arrived, but was annoyed to find that I bought the wrong clementine – mandarins.  Next time I will read the label more carefully for the origin. :(

Anyway, I’m not going to give away much of my French stories because I’m going to start a new blog about my French life, yes, brand new blog! So I will just focus on the cookies for now.

I’ve made similiar cookies before with Korean citron, yuja, but what I did differently this time was to use almond flour, poppy seeds, and again cardamom. I got very positive responses from people to whom I gave these cookies to try. I must say this is definitely a keep and a must-do again recipe. I loved the light and slight chewy texture as well as the nutty and citrusy flavour.

The trick to give a pattern on the cookies is to press the dough with a fork.

As I love the perfume of citrus fruit, I’m very generous with the amount of rind I add in. For this, I used sort of cyristalised citron peel my mum made, which gave the cookies a bit of chewiness.

My apology for this rushed post but I’d better leave it at this and move on. I’ve been in France for less than a week but I already have so many exciting stories to tell!

While tasting these, I was reminded of the cake I made years ago in Sydney for my flatemate, Maha. In that ill-equipped kitchen in the house I stay for only a short time, I baked this cake in a biscuit tin as there were no baking tools there. It was inspired by Iranian theme and Persian love cake and I remember feeling very proud after getting an approval from my Iranian flatmate.

I hope my intrepid spirits will guide me through this new adventure. I will come back with lots of exciting photos and stories soon. Till then….A bientot!

Almond Citron Poppy Seed Cookies

1 cup almond flour
1 cup all purpose flour
80g butter
1/3 cup citron marmalade
1 Tbsp water
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup baking soda
1 tsp cardamom
1 Tbsp citron peel

1.In a sauce pan, melt butter, water and marmalade and let it cool

2. Preheat the oven to 350’C and line the baking try

3.  In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients, pour in the butter mixture and mix the dough with a wooden sppon

4. Scoop the dough and roll it into a ball, then place on the tray and press the top with a fork to make a pattern

5. Bake for 12 mintutes and transfer to a rack to cool

SO EASY!

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Crunchy Oats Millet Cookies

How many times have I posted about something on my blog on the day I make it? It’s pretty rare, right? When it happens that I write about it on the day while the excitement is hot and rising like soufflé and finish it off in one go, it feels so…good like the cookies I’m eating right now while writing about them.

<Oats Millet Cookies>

As you’ve noticed, there aren’t many posts written during my stay in Korea that make you go “Hmm..that’s a cool recipe. Maybe I should give it a try some day.” For one, many of the ingredients I want to use aren’t available here, and for two, which might be more an honest answer, I don’t get the desire to make things that are, let’s say, not a general taste for people you’re going to share them with. The reason one puts hours into making something, thinking of the potential mouths it will end up in is to see faces of approval and delight, not the faces of confusion and disgust. So depending on who I cook for, I make compromises and adjustments to the original recipes, which isn’t always encouraging and rewarding. Koreans tend to have very limited palates and natural aversions to exotic spices, especially Indian, such as cumin, turmeric and fennel.

I think Indian cuisine is so vibrant and exciting as is its culture. It’s a synonym for life; life should be like the sensation you feel through the whole of your body while eating Indian food. I love the various aromas infused in each dish, though some Koreans call them “revolting smells” – my apology for their ignorance and lack of experience. Every time I meet Koreans who haven’t tried Indian food because of the smell, I urge them to try, explaining to them, often frantically, how wonderful and addictive the flavours are and also how they shouldn’t get put off by the first experience and should give it a few tries.    I think it’d be a real tragedy should one die without knowing so many other flavours from all around the world.

So due to the absence of spice-smitten audience, I haven’t really used the spices I got delivered from overseas almost a year ago like nutmeg, cloves, star anise and cardamom. Then I didn’t know I could get those spices here, but now I see more and more spices appear on the supermarket shelve. Still I think it’d be years before the names of more unusual spices like smoked paprika, targine and cardamom make sense. The spices I’ve used the most besides Italian herbs are smoked paprika, turmeric, cinnamon, and Moroccan mix, and today, digging in the box of my spice provision, I found an unopened packet of cardamom. Incidentally, I was led to this fascinating site, Season with Spice, which instantly became my absolute favourite, while searching for millet recipes.

My mum sent me a package of home-grown sweet potatoes, persimmons and millet grains three days ago. As she always cooks rice with mixed grains, plain white rice feels like something of forbidden fruit to me, so when I’d run out of grains I rang her to ask whether I should buy them from the local weekly farmers market, she said she’d just got a big bag of home-harvested millets from my auntie so she sent me some of that.

Knowing the growers of the produces I buy or being connected to them somehow takes away my anxiety of whether they are safe to eat, so when I cook with them, I pay extra care to get the best out of them and to not waste much. The experience is so wonderful that supermarket-bought groceries don’t give me the same joy and sense of being nourished, and to be honest, they taste like plastic, missing the essence of flavour.

Reading the stories of spices and looking at the colourful foods, I tried to trace my memory back for all the scents described there. My nose and tongue had been missing being stimulated and inspired by various smells and tastes. So I immediately deserted my plan to make more Anzac biscuits for my friend and reprogrammed my brain for a recipe that has millets and cardamom.

<Millet flour>

I revised her recipe to make non-vegan and crispier by adding butter and egg. I also threw in some dried cranberries for a tangy bite to give these otherwise macho cookies a bit of feminine taste and some coconuts to balance the earthy cardamom flavour, but I think it’s not necessary as it was too subtle to be tasted. At first, I was going to cook the millets thinking they might result in too crunchy texture instead of grinding them, but I opted for grinding, leaving a tablespoonful to thrown in raw. I need to advise you, however, to cook millets before using if you’re going to do that as I found raw millets, though perfectly safe to eat, a bit too crunchy.

Where the pumkin seeds? You might wonder. I decided that they would just complicate the already wonderful flavours so I left them out, and when I tasted the result, I was glad I did.

<Crunchy Oats Millet Cookies>

I waited nervously while they were cooking and I became relieved to see them forming a nice shape and was very curious how they would taste. So I couldn’t help but to grab one on its way onto the rack to be cooled and took a bite. It was so…good, and I felt the imminent danger of making a new record of finishing half the batch in one sitting.

Millet Oats Cookies

- potentially gluten-free and vegan friendly

Yield: Two dozen medium to large cookies

1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup oat flour (ground in a blender)
1 cup millet flour (ground in a blender)
1/4 cup millet
1/4 cup all purpose flour (optional – I add it for a lighter texture but skip it for a gluten free diet – just increase the amount of oat or millet flour)
1/3 cup desiccated coconut
½ cup butter, melted
¾ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup cranberries, chopped into small pieces
1 egg
1 tsp cardamom
½ tsp baking soda

1. Preheat the oven to 350’C and line the baking tray

2. In a large bowl, combine all the flours, oats, coconut, baking soda, cranberries and cardamom, and toss well.

3. In another bowl, mix butter, sugar and egg

4. Mix the dry and wet mixture together with a wooden spoon

5. Spoon onto the prepared cookie sheet and flatten slightly and bake for 12-15 min.

6. Transfer to a rack and wait for them to cool – don’t surrender to the temptation of grabbing one right off the tray and burn your finger tips, wait and enjoy the crispy and cruncy texture.

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