Pear Charlotte and Raspberry Coulis

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Pear Charlotte and Raspberry Coulis

I have had that recipe in my head for a while now, I mean we are talking obsession here, a tale Herman Melville would have been able to narrate much better than me; I needed to put this baby to bed, finally park it somewhere or simply just do it… “Go on lad jump!”. You see, I have never made a Charlotte before, a dessert that I particularly fancy for special occasions, it was my birthday cake, nearly always, a synonym of celebrations. We used to order it at the Patisserie, leaving it to the expert hands of the “artisan” tradesman. We went to collect it, it came with a little container of raspberry coulis that I thought would never be enough for the four of us, especially knowing how fond my father was of the red juicy sauce… This week, as I turned a new leaf and saw myself becoming wiser and older again (yeah right) it was now or never, “it’s my birthday and the Spring is here”, I felt lucky!

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Lucky Ladybird

What was holding me back is that I wanted to recreate the flavours of my childhood, the lovely texture and freshness of the dessert, but I didn’t want to use gelatin. I have a problem with it, I know it’s great, but there, that is how I feel. So how? I remembered a recipe of Tiramisu I used to make in an Italian restaurant twenty years ago ( did I just say that?), it used to set nicely without any other weird interventions, apart from eggs and mascarpone.  What about the booze? I am pretty sure that Kirsch liquor played a role in the dessert, it gives it an explosion of freshness… I didn’t fancy driving possibly for an hour in the unlikely hope to find it, so I opted for a dessert wine we sell at work, from Spain, white Grenache ( Garnatxa)… Deep, classy and elegant, a bit like me really.

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Garnatxa Dessert Wine

You’ll need:

  • 3 firm organic pears
  • 500g of Mascarpone
  • 4 medium happy eggs
  • 1 packet of Lady Fingers or Savoiardy biscuit
  • 220g of organic unrefined sugar ( only 120 for the mix, the rest for the pears)
  • 20cl of dessert wine
  • 250g of organic Raspberries
  • 5 cl of Vanilla essence
  • 1 organic orange
  • 1 leveled tbsp of honey

How To?

First of all, allow yourself plenty of space and start peeling the pears that you are going to poach. I picked pears that were still quite firm so they can hold better. I mixed a litre of water with 100g of sugar, the peel of an orange, its juice and a splash of dessert wine. Heat up and place the halved pears in the pan. Let it simmer gently until the knife go through easily…

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Poaching the pears

Ok, for the mix, whisk 4 egg yolks with 120g of sugar. Keep the whites in another bowl as they will be used. Once the mix has whitened, add the mascarpone and whisk well. Add a bit of vanilla essence at that stage and a little splash of the dessert wine…

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Mascarpone mix

Whisk the egg whites, on their own, until a really thick like foam forms. Use half of it, the rest can be used for baby meringues if you wish; fold it gently with a spatula into the mascarpone mix…

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Egg whites

I used a rectangle cake tin ( well two in fact) and laid them with cling film. It will help when you’ll serve the dish. I first put the biscuits at the bottom and with a tbsp and a steady hand, I soaked them with the dessert wine. This might be a little tricky, don’t over do it, but make sure they get evenly covered. with a spatula, spread them generously with the egg and mascarpone mix, a few slices of poached pears, a few raspberries and repeat the operation until you get to the top. Fold the cling film over, give it a gentle press and store in the fridge for 24 h… Let me tell you, this was a happy moment!

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Charlotte ready to serve

For the raspberry coulis, heat up a pan with 10cl of water, a tbsp of honey and 150 to 200g of raspberries. Simmer until the fruits are all broken down, sieve the juice in another pan and reduce a bit on a gentle heat. Serve cold with a few raspberries and I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as myself and my work colleagues did!

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Pear Charlotte and Raspberry Coulis

Keep Well and Eat Happy

Slán Tamall

Franck

 

Harvey’s Borscht Ballad

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Borscht and Gort na mona goat’s cheese with buckwheat honey

I could start this little story – listening to the news I have now decided to turn off- with the words of Bob Dylan “Hard Rain”, how appropriate as another year is about to roll over this week for me, “The same old story” Billie would whisper, so hell with that I say, and decided to pay a little tribute to an old friend of mine, and how we ended up, my Mother, sister, Harvey his brother and I in a Russian restaurant on my last birthday in my “cosy-cushy” hometown of Vannes…

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“March of all Weathers” Roasties

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Roasties with eggs and Goat’s cheese

St Patrick’s Day came and went, like every year. A day I used to look forward to, especially when I still lived in Brittany, filling my dreams to be with Celtic romanticism, a  session of music in the “Glasgow Pub” on Verdun Avenue, around a pint of Coreff beer from Morlaix… We did craft beers before it was cool. But the Irish National Day is now an event I tend to shy away from, not in a bad way, it is simply a case of “been there, done that and got the kiss-me-I am- Irish T-shirt”. From Sligo, under the “Free our political prisoners” banner, to Galway and the colourful and pride of the the city of tribes “Macnas”, street performers and their inimitable drum rhythms, to the Dublin parade followed by a few quiet pints before night sets… Yes, done all that, and the memory I have kept from them all apart from my Armorican “joie de vivre”, is that it seems to be always “bleeding cold!” …

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Frozen Blood Orange Creamy Sorbet

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Creamy blood orange sorbet

Well, it didn’t fail to come, to the joy of small and big kids ( like me), we got a full week full of snow. Not that little fluffy dandruff , no, no, I mean knees deep stuff, blizzard and drifts, enough to be marooned in my little cottage, with 12 cats, a dog and plenty of food and water. This Breton takes no chances; I knew what was coming and “be careful what you are wishing for” kept on ringing in my head… My, my, this was a first for me, full of drama and wasn’t it just beautiful?

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Vegetarian Cottage Pie

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Vegetarian Cottage Pie

There has been another weather alert issued for the isle of Ireland, this time it is for cold and snow. I am pretty sure someone on the radio mentioned the words “blizzard” and “accumulations”. Some people are getting a bit edgy, stocking up on water and food, just in case, all the weather drama queens out there… uh? Ok, I must admit, I get pretty excited too and yesterday, I did chop a bit more wood than usual but hey, I really don’t fancy doing all this on Wednesday, snow up to my knees and in -7c winds, or at least according to the gospel of Saint Evelyn from Met Eireann, our weather forecasters ( the new Rock’n’Roll stars in Ireland since hurricane Ophelia, you should see them walking down Grafton street, with their confident swag and dark sunglasses, shooting from the hip at every steps), our shepherds… Some even say that it could be – at least for a while-  like the winter of 2010!!! Ta-Ta-Ta… Yes, you read well, 2010 was bad, it was the year the lakes froze solid…

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Busted…

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Banana, Comté, toastie…

Rennes, Capital of Brittany, February 1992. For the last year or so, I found myself crossing the city, heading towards my favourite hitchhiking spot on National 24, just outside the Citroën car assembly point; yes, plenty of room there, nice and safe for the generous soul that would bring me closer to Vannes and my Rock’n’Roll mates from the Cactus bar and like the chorus of a song I once wrote, looking forward to “ walk down Butcher Street, with my black leather jacket”; I was just 20, leaving behind for a couple of days my life as a musician for the “Smoking Dogs” theater company, swimming in a pool of doubt and uncertainty like most of my peers, dark, fun and life loving, hopeful. I am always hopeful, even in my most pessimistic days. The anxiety of a young adult then, now and to be… I don’t really know why I was making that weekly journey, partly because I wanted to see some of my friends who weren’t really friends, partly feeling guilty for moving to “The Big City”, afraid of being judged and secretly weaning myself off the provincial town that saw me grow, unfriendly to our lost kinds, “them Rockers”with long hair and short ideas, guys and gals who had to hide in the back streets of this self proclaimed pseudo bourgeois town,  to entertain our love and hunger for rebellion, music, identity and art… We were beautiful, we didn’t care… Rennes fed us and nurtured us in a way our home towns and villages couldn’t anymore.

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Breton Cranberry Cookies

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Breton Cake Cookies with Cranberries

I traveled a bit today, while staying in the comfort of the cottage; that said, it wasn’t that far either. I rang my friend Gráinne, a girl from Connemara; some call it Furbo, I call it Na Forbacha as it should be, and I don’t say Connemara either, just Conamara, the folks of the sea… Rebel from a battered land, a beacon of love when all you have left is a phone number you can call at anytime, when all is lost, when all seems dark. She would give everything to you, before herself; I felt ashamed to share or even compare my hardship and problems to hers, but it was good; good to hear that western accent, the humour smiling at the face of destiny. I feel quite blessed to know her and having shared those precious moments that makes our special selves “philanthropists”  … This one is for you mo chara…

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