Buckwheat Crêpes (or Galettes)

Buckwheat crêpe

Galettes de sarrasin

Tomorrow is Mardi-Gras, the last day before Lent begins. The Mardi-Gras tradition in France, amongst other things, is to gorge on crepes, supposedly to use up the eggs and butter that you won’t be allowed to eat until Easter. I am not religious and so I don’t observe Lent, but I will gladly take any opportunity to eat crepes. And last Friday, when my friends Marie-Laure and Laurence came over for dinner, I decided to make us crepes, using farine de sarrasin (buckwheat flour) like they do in Brittany, in the West of France.

Brittany is a fantasy land of wonderful crepes. We would spend a week of vacation there every year (often in Carnac) with my parents when I was younger. We would eat crepes every single night, to the sparkly-eyed delight of my sister and myself, and over time we had built quite a little itinerary of favorite crêperies to visit. In Brittany, savory crepes are made with buckwheat flour and are called “galettes“, whereas sweet crepes are made with wheat flour and are called “crêpes”.

And so it is that I can share with you my recipe for galettes de sarrasin, just in time for Mardi-Gras. You can use whatever filling suits your fancy, but the most traditional galette is probably the “complète“, filled with an egg (“mirroir”, sunny-side-up, or “brouillé”, scrambled) ham and cheese (usually gruyère or comté). But you can also use vegetables, goat cheese, tuna, bacon… This past Friday, I made a batch of galettes filled with egg (sunny side up), ham and cheese, and another of caramelized leeks and shallots with goat cheese.

The only downside of making galettes is that they’re in fact a little more work than I had foreseen, as I had to juggle two skillets, the fillings, and the keeping warm of the galettes that were ready. But we all enjoyed them very much, the taste of buckwheat flour is really special, nice and nutty ; the crêpe was just the way we like it, pliable in the middle and a little crunchy on the edges ; and the fillings were excellent.

Continue reading »

Galette Essenienne

Galette Essenienne

I bought this at Pousse-Pousse, the little boutique where I buy my sprouting seeds and where I collect my weekly Campanier baskets. It is a sort of thin flatbread, made with sprouted seeds that have been ground and dehydrated. There are different flavors, depending on the seeds that have been used, and I chose the leek one (well, of course). The galettes (or rather randomly broken pieces of it) are packaged up in little trays wrapped in plastic.

It’s called Essenian because recent research seems to indicate that two millenia ago, the members of the Essenian brotherhood (to which some claim Jesus may have belonged) followed a diet very similar to today’s “live food” eating guidelines, in which you mainly eat raw food, sprouted seeds, and food cooked at an extremely low temperature to preserve the nutrients and vitamins. And those guys made the same kind of sprouted seeds galette, which they let dry under the blazing Palestinian sun. Fascinating.

Continue reading »

Apple and Date Crumble

Crumble Pommes Dattes

[Apple and Date Crumble]

And this is the third (and final) item I baked for last Sunday’s Goûter de Cousins, thinking it would be nice to make an apple crumble in addition to the two cakes.

The idea was to serve something a little lighter and fruit-based for those of us who may have a small appetite, or may want to go the healthier route, or may be on a diet, or may dislike both chocolate and orange. As it turned out, nobody fit in either of these categories (or hid it well) but the crumble, to which I decided to add dates for a little twist to keep myself interested, was a very nice addition to the menu nonetheless. It was enthusiastically wolfed down.

As it happens, my darling sister Céline assisted me in the making of this. She has just moved into her new apartment, a luminous and spacious affair just a ten-minute walk from my apartment <overjoyous whoop>, and this is the first time she has her own “real” kitchen. What I mean by “real” is, in which you actually have room to take more than one step at a time, which boasts more than three square-inches of counter space, has an actual oven, and more than one and a half cooking ranges – one of them being half covered by the unavoidable clutter. So she has a great kitchen now, but what she doesn’t have (yet) is… baking tools! cooking paraphernalia! kitchen toys! ten years’ worth of gift ideas!

She still wanted to take part in the preparation though, and she offered to come and help : so while she efficiently peeled the apples I whizzed the topping, and we chatted while the crumble baked

Continue reading »

Flourless Orange and Ginger Cake

Flourless Orange and Ginger Cake

Gâteau à l’orange et au gingembre

This is another cake I baked for our Goûter de Cousins last Sunday. I tasted my first flourless orange cake about a year ago at Rose Bakery, and absolutely loved it. I had tried to reproduce it then, and had made an Orange and Poppyseed version, adapting a recipe found on the web. It was really good — the orange and poppyseed pairing was great — but the texture wasn’t quite what I was looking for.

This time, I drew inspiration from Trish Deseine‘s book Mes petits plats préférés. Her recipe for “Gâteau de clémentines pochées” (Poached Clementine Cake) is pretty similar to the one I used a year ago — and one that appears in a Nigella Lawson cookbook as well — with just a little more almonds and a little more sugar.

As you know, following a recipe without throwing in my two cents just isn’t as much fun, so I decided to make an orange and ginger version of this cake, adding fresh ginger and candied ginger to the batter. The oranges I used were three of the small blood oranges from my last Campanier basket. I also lowered the amount of sugar, used baking soda in place of baking powder, shortened the baking time, and added an icing with pearl sugar.

This cake was a real hit and I received lots of compliments about it. Incredibly moist and flavorful, with the wonderful taste of orange marmalade, the subtle kick of ginger and a delicious sugar crust, it also looks beautiful. I will definitely make this again while the orange season lasts.

Flourless orange cake

Continue reading »

Chocolate Cake with Caramelized Hazelnuts

Gâteau Fondant au Chocolat et Noisettes Caramélisées

[Chocolate Cake with Caramelized Hazelnuts]

Last Sunday afternoon, my sister Céline and I organized a “Goûter de Cousins” at my place. We invited those of our cousins who live in Paris, which amounts to about a dozen. Most of them we only see once a year at family holiday parties – some a little more, some way less – and we thought it would be nice to start a little tradition of same-generation gathering.

The added bonus of this very friendly goûter party was, of course, that I had the perfect excuse for some serious baking : you have to feed all those guys, right?

One of the things I made was this luscious chocolate cake. I was trying to reproduce the Petit Gâteau Chocolat Noisette I had tasted and enjoyed so much back in December. Derrick had made his own attempt, had emailed me about it, and we had discussed what the best approach was.

I followed his advice and used his favorite brownie recipe from Cook’s Illustrated (if there’s one guy out there who knows what he’s talking about, it’s definitely Derrick, so I felt pretty confident about it). The only modifications I made were to use just one kind of chocolate instead of two, and to add a little amount of ground hazelnuts to the batter. Then I toasted and caramelized some hazelnuts, sprinkled them on top of the brownie before baking, and added some confectioner’s sugar after the cake had baked and cooled.

The result is very close to what I was looking for, and absolutely delicious. The cake has a rich chocolate taste with an excellent texture, dense and chewey – but not excessively so, and the topping of caramelized hazelnuts is perfect.

I think the main difference was that the Petit Gâteau, being Petit and individual, included slightly more cakey edges : mine was a big cake cut into squares, which necessarily changes the texture somewhat.

I’ll also have to remember that making caramelized hazelnuts is extremely easy, and they would make for a great food gift, golden and crunchy and tasty and sweet, packaged up in a pretty crystal bag.

Continue reading »

Get the newsletter

Receive FREE email updates with all the latest recipes, plus exclusive inspiration and Paris tips. You can also choose to be notified when a new post is published.

View the latest edition of the newsletter.