Bitter Orange

One of our favourite dishes is Duck Breast with Orange Sauce. Not difficult to make and the result is always tasty. Use a combination of fresh orange juice, thyme, rosemary, butter, Mandarine Napoléon, Cointreau, chicken stock and/or orange peel to make a tasty, not to sweet sauce. Mandarine Napoléon is preferred because it gives bitterness and depth to the sauce. The juicy meat, the sweetness of the duck and the orange, the nice aromas, the herbs and the velvety mouthfeel of the sauce make this an excellent combination.

Last week we were lucky, very lucky when we spotted Orange Amère on our local market. Bitter Orange! Also known as Seville Orange, Bigarade Orange or Pomerans. Finally! The ideal ingredient to make Orange Curd, Marmalade and of course Orange Sauce.

We bought a handful and as soon as we were at home, we wanted to taste it. The Bitter Orange does not contain much juice, their seize is similar to that of a clementine and the seeds are relatively big. The taste is sweet and gentle at first, and then you have bitterness, some astringency and length. Wow! We rushed to our butcher, bought an excellent magret de canard and later enjoyed a perfect Duck Breast with Orange Sauce.

Bitter Oranges are normally available from late December until the end of February. Ask your greengrocer!

Our suggestions: Duck Breast with Orange Sauce and Orange Curd.

  • Bitter Orange ©cadwu
  • Duck Breast with Bitter Orange Sauce ©cadwu

Mousse au Chocolat

Crème Brulée, Ile Flottante, Crêpes Suzette and Mousse au Chocolat: four classic French desserts. It’s tempting to buy them ready-made, especially Mousse au Chocolat is popular in supermarkets, but why not make your own?

From 1992 until 2002 Belgian cook Herwig van Hove and host Dré Steemans (better known as Felice Damiano) had a weekly program on television called ‘1000 seconds’. In these 1000 seconds (just under 17 minutes) Herwig van Hove would prepare a three-course meal. Sometimes he took a short cut by serving cheese as dessert, but very often he would prepare three courses. His recipe for Mousse au Chocolat is quick and easy. The result is a delicious Mousse au Chocolat, one that will keep well for at least 24 hours.

What You Need (for 4)

  • 2 fresh organic Eggs
  • 35 grams of fine Sugar
  • 100 grams of Dark (Cooking) Chocolate
  • 165 grams of Cream
  • Raspberry (to decorate, optional)

What You Do

You will need 2 bowls plus one larger bowl. Start by separating the eggs. Beat the egg white until firm. In the larger bowl beat the egg yolks and the sugar until ‘ruban’ (meaning thick and pale). Whip the cream until firm. This order allows you to use one wire whisk for all three steps in the process.
Melt the chocolate with 65 grams of cream in your microwave on very low power. No rush, the result should be lukewarm. This will take 3 minutes or longer. Use a spoon to mix the cream and chocolate until smooth.
For the next steps you need a spatula. Add the chocolate mixture to the egg yolks and combine. Now fold in the cream using a spatula and then fold in the egg whites. Don’t stir or mix, just fold.
Fill four nice glasses with the mousse, cover with cling foil and transfer to the refrigerator. Just before serving decorate with raspberries and perhaps some freshly whipped cream.

  • Mousse au Chocolat ©cadwu
  • Mousse au Chocolat not decorated ©cadwu

Madeira Cake

A delicious cake that doesn’t contain Madeira, nor does it originate from the island. The idea is perhaps to serve the cake with a glass of Madeira. We tried it and yes, it works, but you could also serve the cake with a cup of tea or coffee. Let’s forget about the name and enjoy a relatively easy to make traditional British cake. It has a light structure, it is a touch moist and the flavours and aromas are citrusy.
We think it looks best when made in a round tin.

What You Need

  • 140 grams of Butter
  • 130 grams of fine Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 170 grams of Self-Raising Flour
  • 25 grams of Almond Flour
  • Zest of 1 Lemon
  • 1 slice of Candied Orange

What You Do

Melt the butter in the microwave until very soft but not warm. Line the bottom of a 16 cm (6 inch) round baking tin with parchment baking paper. Butter the inside. Sieve the self-raising flour into a bowl. Set your oven to Traditional (upper and lower heat, no fan), temperature 180 °C or 355 °F.
Mix the butter with the sugar until yellow and light. Add one egg, mix and add ⅓ of the flour. Mix until you have a smooth batter. Repeat this step twice. Now add the almond flour and the fine lemon zest. Mix. Add the batter to the tin, smooth the top and transfer to the oven.
It will probably take 45 minutes. Check with a metal pin if the cake is ready. Leave the cake in the tin for 10-15 minutes, then remove from the tin and let cool on a wire rack.
When cool, decorate with candied orange.

Madeira Cake ©cadwu
Madeira Cake ©cadwu

Tiramisù

Such a simple, tasty, fairly easy to make dessert. No oven needed and the result is always a pleasure to serve. We rely on the recipe of an expert, in our case Dutch pastry chef Cees Holtkamp. Renowned for his excellent patisserie and his truly delicious croquettes. If you ever have the opportunity to visit the shop in Amsterdam, please do so.

After his retirement he started working on his book Dutch Pastry (De Banketbakker in Dutch). The recipes are very clearly written and easy to follow. One of the remarkable aspects of this book is that he prepared all pies, cookies, doughs etcetera in his own home kitchen with basic home cook utensils.

If you want to see his amazing technique and his gently style of creating wonderful patisserie, then visit FoodTube and enjoy how chef Cees Holtkamp and his granddaughter Stella Meijles prepare Pavlova, Black Forest Cake, Lemon Meringue Pie, Saint Honoré, Cheese Butterflies, Tiramisù and many more.

Dutch Pastry is available via the usual channels or via the publisher for 20 euro.

Liqueur

Let’s go back to the Tiramisù. It’s all about eggs, mascarpone, sugar, ladyfingers (savoiarde, sponge fingers or boudoirs) coffee and cocoa powder. Most recipes suggest adding a liqueur to the coffee, for instance rum, cognac, amaretto or marsala. Obviously, we want to add an Italian liqueur to our Tiramisù, so perhaps marsala? This is a fortified wine from Sicily, dry or sweet. A good choice but for some reason the idea of an almond based liqueur is tempting, perhaps because of its slight bitterness in combination with the coffee and the cocoa?

Unfortunately, most amaretto’s taste nasty and artificial. We decided to spend a bit more money and bought a bottle of amaretto produced by Lorenzo Inga. The distillery is located near Gavi, a city known for its amaretti cookies. They produce grappa, bitters and liqueurs such as sambuca and limoncello. Their amaretto is all about almonds. It has a soft structure with a sweet and full mouth feeling. We added it to our Tiramisù and the result was delicious.

Leftovers

The next day we noticed that we had some leftover ladyfingers and also some coffee-amaretto mixture. Why not combine them with whipped double cream and perhaps some vanilla sugar? Would that work? We followed the same approach and stored it in the refrigerator for half a day. We were pleasantly surprised!

  • Tiramisù ©cadwu
  • Amaretto Originale Lorenzo Inga
  • Cees Holtkamp

Macaron à l’Ancienne

A few weeks ago we stayed at the French city of Toulouse, a city on the banks of the river Garonne and well known for its impressive Place du Capitole and for the use of red bricks to construct houses and buildings. We walked through the old city centre, along the Canal du Midi, visited the beautiful Japanese garden and explored Carmes, a very nice neighbourhood with lots of small shops and restaurants. One day per week you’ll find a market with local products on the Place Du Salin. We saw very nice vegetables, dried sausages, cheese and Macaron a l’Ancienne, produced by Maison Boudiou from Saïx. The macarons came in various flavours, such as pistachio, orange, chocolate, natural and rose. All incredibly yummy.

The history of the macaron goes back a long time, perhaps to the 8th century. This kind of macaron, also known as TraditionnelAmaretties or Macaron Italien, is made with almonds, sugar and egg white. Indeed, exactly the same ingredients as today’s popular macaron. The main difference is that in case of the Macaron à l’Ancienne the egg white is only slightly beaten, and not turned into meringue. The egg white is used to connect the sugar and the grounded almonds.
Its taste made us think of marzipan, obviously, and a Dutch biscuit called bitterkoekje. No filling required and surprisingly simple to make.

What You Need

  • 150 Grams of Fine Granulated (or Caster) Sugar
  • 150 Grams of Almonds
  • 2 Egg Whites
  • 4-6 teaspoons of Orange Blossom Water

What You Do

This is a recipe for some 20 macarons. We use relatively little sugar; feel free to add more.
Preheat your oven to 180°C, upper and lower heat (the fan function will make the macarons dry and crunchy on the outside). Finely ground the almonds or (much quicker) use pure almond flour. In a bowl, mix the sugar and the almond powder. In another bowl, beat the egg whites until lightly foaming. Gently add the egg whites into the bowl and then fold them in until you have a batter. Add the orange blossom water, taste and if necessary, add some more. Make balls the size of a walnut. Place them on parchment paper and leave in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes, depending on the shape and color. Let cool on a rack.

Tartelette aux Framboises

A few weeks ago, we made lemon curd using kaffir limes. The curd is sweet, smooth, rich, tart and slightly floral. It made us think of tarte au citron, or even better of tartelette aux framboises. What a delicious idea! Lemon and raspberries are a match made in heaven.

However, we must admit, we’re not too familiar with patisserie. We searched the internet a bit, opened a few cookbooks and to our surprise we found a range of suggestions for the dough of the tartelette. Typical the moment to make life simple and rely on the choice of an expert. In our case Dutch patissier Cees Holtkamp. Renowned for his excellent patisserie and his truly delicious croquettes. If you ever have an opportunity to visit the shop in Amsterdam, please, please do so. His book (in English it’s called Dutch Pastry) is available via the well known channels.
You could of course also rely on a French classic, for instance Tarte Tatin by Ginette Mathiot.

Back to our plan: we made pâte sucrée for our tartelette with fresh raspberries. The result looks good and tastes even better.

What You Need

  • Pâte Sucrée
    • 125 grams of Butter
    • 125 grams of Flour
    • 40 grams of Sugar
    • Pinch of Salt
    • 1 Egg
  • Lemon Curd
  • Fresh Raspberries

What You Do

We use tartelette moulds with a diameter of approximately 7 centimetres (2,75 inches). The butter must be soft but not warm (18 °C or 65 °F). Beat the egg. Combine flour, sugar and salt. Dice the butter and knead with the mixture. When well mixed, add the egg and knead until you have a nice dough. Leave to rest in the refrigerator for at least two hours.

Coat the moulds with butter. Remove the pastry from the refrigerator. Place it on a floured surface and roll it out with a rolling pin. Perhaps dust the dough with flour. Divide the dough into 6 portions and make small circles. Press the pastry onto the bottom and to the sides. Cut of overhanging dough. Transfer to the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 175 °C or 350 °F.
Line with parchment paper and use dry beans to fill the moulds. Blind bake for 10 minutes. Remove the paper and the beans. Bake for another 10 minutes. When golden brown, remove the tartelette from the mould and let cool on a grid.
When cool, add the lemon curd and decorate with the raspberries.