Monday, August 15, 2011

The Cake aux Olives, Jambon & Fromage ... is it a Cake or a Bread ?

The last time I was on TV for "CT Style" (WTNH Channel 8), I baked a "Cake aux Olives, Jambon et Fromage" ...

It was a B.I.G. debate : the question was "why French people call this "Bread" a "Cake" ??
But my question was : "why American people call this "Cake" a "Bread " ??
(see the answer below ;-)

So, what is a French "Cake aux Olives, Jambon et Fromage" or a US "Olives, Ham and Cheese Bread" ??

Here is the answer :
- In France, we use to call "Bread" the Baguette, the Ficelle, the Pain de Campagne ... which means the bread that comes with your dish (especially with cheese).
- In France, a "Cake" doesn't mean only dessert. It means everthing baked in a specific rectangular mold (cf. picture above).

So it can be a dessert like a "Vanilla Cake", a "Chocolate Cake", or an appetizer like a "Cheese & Ham Cake", a "Salmon & Feta & Spinach Cake" ... All are baked in this rectangular form and have a moist texture made with Flour, Eggs and Butter/Oil.

Anyway, a "Cake aux Olives & Jambon & Fromage" is the perfect comfort meal for dinner ... easy, quick, tasty, and light !!
Whatever you add in your Cake ... it is always a Piece of (French) Cake ;-)

A bientot & bon Appetit
Emilie your French Chef

La recette de Cake aux Olives, Jambon & Fromage (OLive Ham & Cheese Cake)

Ingredients for one pound Cake:
1 cups + 2 tbspoons (150 gr)  all purpose flour
3 eggs
½ cup olive oil
½ cup whole milk
1 pack of active dry yeast
1 cup of ham cubes
2 dozen pitted small green olives (you can add black olives if you prefer
1 cup of  grated Swiss Gruyère cheese (you can substitute with Emmental or Gouda)
Dry Herbs : 1 teaspoons of thyme or sage, or origan or a mix
Salt and pepper

Butter and flour a standard rectangular cake or loaf pan (you can skip this step if you have a non stick pan).
Preheat the oven to 360 F.
Drain and slice the olives. Cut the ham into rectangular cubes.

Pour the eggs into the flour + yeast in the bowl of your food processor. Mix on medium speed. Add the milk and oil and mix on high speed.

Add the ham, olives, herbs and cheese and mix slowly.
Keep the mixture in the fridge for 20mn.

Pour the mixture into the cake pan and bake about 45mn (check after 40mn) or until a knife comes clean when inserted into the middle, and the top and edges are golden.
Serve warm with a green salad for lunch, or let cool, slice into small squares, and serve as an appetizer with a glass of wine.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Cheese Gougeres ... open your favorite bottle of wine tonight !

Les Gougeres au Comte, or Cheese Gougeres, are probably one of the best Appetizer in the world ... so crispy, so warm, so cheesy ... everybody love them (I do recommend you to hide them from your kids ;-)

Believe me, Gougeres are one of the easiest thing to do ... and you can imagine plenty different tastes.

Even after the first batch, Cheese Gougeres will be a piece of cake and the perfect appetizer to go with a glass of wine.

In France, we use Comte Cheese for the Gougeres (here you can use Gruyere or you can also buy Comte at your favorite Cheese Market, or even at Trader Joe's).

If Comte is an essential ingredient for the original recipe, you can make many variations : use small dices of Ham, use Walnuts, use Herbs & Spices, use Blue Cheese, use Chorizo ...

Et voila, bon Appetit
Emilie, your French Chef

La recette des Gougeres au Comte (Comte Cheese Gougeres)

Ingredients for 20 gougeres:

• ½ cup whole milk
• ½ cup water
• 1 stick unsalted butter
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt + ½ teaspoon of ground pepper
• 1 cup of all-purpose flour
• 4 large eggs
• 1-1/4 cups grated Comte Cheese (or Gruyere or very good quality Swiss Cheese)
• Freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium saucepan, combine the water, milk, butter, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Add all the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium, and stir with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes, or until the mixture forms a ball and the excess moisture has evaporated (if the ball forms more quickly, continue to cook and stir for a full 2 minutes).
Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle and beat for about 30 seconds at medium speed to cool slightly. Add  the 4 eggs (one after the other) and continue to mix until completely combined and the batter has a smooth, silky texture.
 Stop the machine and mix in the Comte Cheese, using a spoon.
With a pastry bag or using 2 small spoons (of the same size), form the “balls”  (1 inch diameter) on the baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Leave about 2 inches between the gougères as the mixture will spread during baking.

Cook for 20 min without opening the oven door.  Shut down the oven when the gougere are brown . Then open the door and wait 5 mins before taking the gougeres out.
Let cool down on a rack and serve the Gougeres warm.
Above the texture of the dough after mixing in the 4 eggs, just before adding the cheese.