Sugar paste decorations

For the birthday of our chef, our beloved teacher of Aikido, I realized an experimental (at least in the decor) cake, with a sugar paste decoration.

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Yes, it is a bit a chemical bomb, a glucose overdose, but it is so nice. (Do not look at the composition…)
As with me, nothing is ever simple, I launched myself in Spring decoration, hand painted with food colors (just that…).
I begin by kneading, then lowering my sugar paste for the cut with cookie cutters.

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I then gives a shape to the leaves.

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Then I paint them with dyes.

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Same treatment for the small flowers and butterflies. The small sets have been prepared few days before and were slightly dried, which was easier for mounting.

For the embedding of the sugar paste on the cake, there are very good tutorials on YouTube. Personally, I have not quite yet the technique to have a harmonious frosting on the sides.

After gluing (with food glue, something that has no taste, but that is “suitable for vegetarians”) my small subjects, I’m pretty happy with the result.

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Even though my sugar dough does not stick enough to the cake. This is another mystery to solve.
I still have a week and a half for that…

A new field of experimentation: cooking

In the recent weeks, I am following an AFPA MOOC on the 100 basic techniques of the professional cooking. The MOOC is well designed, although I think there is a lot to digest in a short time.
In short, Xim thought it’s good that I follow cooking classes, but he would like to see the outcome as well…
(Of course I was a bit annoyed by the joke, because I do not think I am a bad cook from the start…)

So, ladies and gentlemen, here presented in your very eyes, my first Dubarry cream (yes ma’am).

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This is not complicated in itself but long to cook. If we remove the technical terms, it is a thickened soup of leeks and cauliflower and cream. With the technical term, we must sprinkle with flour (cfr: in French “singer“) the leeks after have them sweat.

I have some small regrets for this first preparation:
* Xim returned from work saying “I’m hungry” and there are 40 minutes of cooking.
* So, in panic, I forgot to add the salt… This is equivalent to a declaration of Franco-Italian war… Oops…
* The sprouts flowers for decoration, boiled in the English way, are bland (not only by lack of salt…) perhaps we should cook them in broth.
* Xim, who really was too hungry, did not leave me time to pass the veloute to the strainer, the consistency was not exactly that of true Dubarry cream.

Although I am quite satisfied with the result, it is perfectible.

Xim authorized me to redo it 🙂
This is a good sign.

Postscript: I realize that ther are many Dubarry cream recipe on the Internet. In the recipe proposed by the AFPA, there are leeks, but not necessarily in others. The one that most resembles it is the recipe from Chef Simon. I see that we should not have remorse, next time, to add some spice and some fantasy.

Crochet table runner

For Christmas, I made a crochet table runner for a friend. If its realization is relatively simple and is not particularly technical, yet it can takes some time. The final assembly is the operation that should take the most time.

The crochet rounds

Choose three colors of wool. I suggest taking a fairly fine wire, so that the final volume is not too thick. A cotton thread seems to be of right size, although you should then pick more elements to cover the same area.

Perform as many circles of different size that you want. For my part, I made 109 rounds, five sizes, taking care to make the same number in each color.

Remember to leave enough wire at the end of each round, to allow the final stitching.

Rounds repartition 1

Divide the rounds so as to vary the colors and shapes: avoid that too many rounds of the same color are contiguous or the same size. Start with the largest and arrange them in order of size.

Rounds repartition 2

Fix the rounds with pins, to avoid having trouble during the assembly. Obviously, you can give any desired shape to your work: round, square, triangular, oval, rectangular, etc…

The bubble effect is very nice, I think…

Now it remains the longest operation: sewing the rounds together. Each round is connected to one or more other by a few stitches. Develop the most appropriate strategy to optimize the assembly. I used the same yarn to make the most of sewing, concealing the passage from one point to another by passing the wire into the loops the round (I do not know if it is clear, those in need can ask for more explanation).

The beginning of the stitching of rounds

And after few hours of work, you’ll get a beautiful table runner.

The completed runner table 1

The completed runner table 2

The completed runner table details 1

The completed runner table details 2

Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year 2016 to all!
That it will be full of joy, happiness and sweetness.

We will start by the sweetness as a cheering crowd asked me the recipe for cinnamon stars, the unavoidable Christmas and year-end holidays cookies.

This recipe is taken from the excellent book “Petits fours et bredele” by Justine and Jean-Luc Syren, published by Delta 2000 Editions.

Ingredients:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 270 gr of icing sugar
  • 1.5 tablespoon of kirsch
  • 330g almonds powder
  • 1.5 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • powdered sugar

How to proceed:

  1. beat the egg whites. Add the icing sugar and 1/2 tablespoon of kirsch. Reserve 1/3 of the preparation for the icing.
  2. In the remaining 2/3, add the almonds, cinnamon and kirsch.
  3. Spread (1/2 cm thick) the batter on a surface covered with powdered sugar (brown sugar is ideal). Cut with cookie cutter. Place on a tray lined with baking paper. Frost with the reserved egg white and let dry overnight.
  4. Bake 5 minutes in the oven at 200 ° C (th. 6-7)

And beautiful and happy new year to all gourmands!

What about the nativity?

Not being believers, we do not do the Nativity…

But, we have some Lego!

This year, Santa comeback to feast on the buffet.

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The elves’s toys workshop found a very nice place.

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And we had the joy of building the Winter Toy store and the Christmas decor.

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And here we completed with the house of gingerbread (the gingerbread man comes from our own collection, because it is not part of the original set).

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Until Christmas, we play a lot 🙂

Waiting for Star Wars…

…This is the time of cinnamon stars.

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And of the croquettes with hazelnuts, of the pepper walnuts, and of the half-moon shaped like stars and little hearts, and of the orange galettes.

Sweetness before Christmas, created with love by listening “a Charlie Brown Christmas” by Vince Guaraldi Trio. There are candles and we smells cinnamon 🙂

We’re very fortunate.

[Wedding – backstage] Tea bar and muffins

Dear All,

To remember our handyman wedding, we wanted to share with you these days small moments that occupied us for… a year (yes, indeed).

Xim’s fad was the photobooth; mine was the tea bar.

Why a tea bar? Because we got married in early October and we had no certainty about the weather. We had hoped for a radiant day (as was the case the day after…) but we had the storm, rain, cold, lightning and all the rest… In case of good weather, the tea keeps cool. In case of rain, the tea keeps warm. So, no, this is not at all paradoxical.

I also wished that the guests had “something to do” during the photo session, which can take long time, and it was also a way to do a little something awaiting the start of the aperitif (which began later than expected).

To make a beautiful tea bar, you need:

  • tea services , because tea is good, but in paper cups or plastic, it is a lot less friendly. I found few services at a quite acceptable price on leboncoin.fr website (where you will find them very soon). I also want to thank my mom and Lô, who helped in research and acquisitions. For the deployment on site, after a thorough cleaning on the dishwasher, everything was packed in all we had about tablecloths and napkins, then transported in plastic boxes. Avoid any break during travel was essential…

Beware about the services, be sure to have several teapots. With the number of teapots and coffee pots, we could offer our guests five flavored teas at the same time.

Nice tea cup

  • You need some tea, obviously. I usually buy mine at Vert-Tige, tea specialists in Normandy, which makes beautiful and, above all, delicious things (I know that the thé Ô Citron had its little success). I took the opportunity to buy paper filters.
  • You need some kettles! Because you need hot water. It’s silly, but it would be a shame to forget. You should habe at least two kettles for 80 people, but three is better. A small fairy of the tea bar told me she had some difficulty with only two kettles.
  • Also you need the sugar and honey, for those who prefer a touch of sweetness in tea (I had thought about, and then totally forgot, the milk but I think it was not missed by anyone).
  • For those who do not drink tea (those who do not like it, do not want or the children), I planned some syrups and organic fruit juice. You must therefore also have water, bottled or tap water.
  • The disposable tableware (the base for biscuits, cups and spoons, and paper surrounding the muffins) was biodegradable and compostable, hence our regret is that everything has been thrown into the “normal” trash, but we could not control everything. Eventually, we should have given precise instructions, thing we have not done, but the helping hands of tea bar have done a tremendous job, including about the storage: make a dirty dishes box separate from the clean dishes one is one thing that facilitated cleaning.
  • About the cookies, I opted for something simple and traditional, the small Lu and classic biscuits.
  • Some chocolate muffins.

My chocolate muffins

The adventure of chocolate muffins

Originally, only the biscuits were expected. Then, Duchess Sophie showed me some pictures of muffins with small leaves and a pop cake Totoro. That was in our theme: “Autumn / nature and Lego”. I shown these to Xim who responded with small stars in his eyes “I want them all”. Good. I ignored the pop cake, because it was quite unreasonable, but the muffins were quite feasible. And so cute too.

It had to be competitive and muffins there to be also for vegans who hide among our friends. I made a hundred, so it really was an adventure.

The “classic”

After some experimentation, I found a great recipe on the site AZ Kitchen: Chocolate Muffins of Magali from Avignon, which I copy / paste and comments here:

Ingredients

200 g of white flour
175 g of sugar
150 g of dessert chocolate
150 ml milk (honestly, I had to put 3 tablespoons maximum, so that the dough keeps the holding – in fact, I put oat milk and not cow’s milk)
2 eggs
180 g of butter
100 g of white chocolate chips (or black) (if you want)
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 pinch of salt

Preparation

STEP 1: Preheat the oven (200 ° C).

STEP 2: If necessary, butter the molds.

STEP 3: In a bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until the mixture whitens. The lazy ones like me will use as a mixer for the whole recipe.

STEP 4: Then, melt the chocolate and butter, then add them to the preparation and mix.

STEP 5: Add in, progressively while mixing, the flour and the yeast.

STEP 6: Pour in the milk (not too much, just like I said) to obtain a smooth consistency. Cut your white chocolate (or black) into small nuggets and pour them into the dough.

STEP 7: In your molds, pour the preparation near to the top and bake for 20 minutes.

STEP 8: Wait a few minutes before turning out

Vegan muffins (gluten free)

I found also this recipe on the Internet, on the website Antigone XXI.

Ingredients:
75 g [1/2 cup] chickpea flour
50 g [1/3 cup] almonds flour
60 g [1/2 cup] cornstarch
70 g [3 beautiful case] agave syrup
45 g [1 curved case] puree of almond
7 g [1 teaspoon bulged] baking powder
5 g [1 teaspoon] apple vinegar
125 ml [1/2 cup] vegetable milk
1 large pinch of salt
1 large pinch of vanilla
Optional: chocolate, cocoa nibs, raisins, orange zest or lemon…

Preparation:
Preheat your oven to 220 °C.
In a bowl, mix the flour, the almond flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and vanilla.
Add the almond puree, agave syrup and gradually, stirring, the vegetable milk and vinegar. Add the seasoning and leave to thicken for 5 minutes.
Lower the oven to 180 °C, divide the batter into the muffin cups and bake for 17 minutes.

What about the small marzipan leaves?

I spent hours preparing the small leaves marzipan. I put some green marzipan on a board to cut on a film. I also put plastic wrap over the almond paste to prevent sticking to my rolling pin.

At first I was very stupid: I cut one sheet at a knife point (!!!). Then I thought about it and I remembered that at one time I was a crazy cook I was doing home calissons (I was influenced by my friend Antoine) and I had perfect cookie cutters to make small leaves.

Right away, it goes much faster…

Marzipan leaves

Then just make a small hole in the center of muffin, with a stick for example, and put the small marzipan foliage.

I said that I did the leaves few days before making muffins to let the almond paste to dry a little. On second thought, the foliage is more spring/y, but they it went very well with our guest gifts. It is possible to make decorations with any sort of creation in marzipan or sugar: flowers, foliage, little subjects.

Small funny notes:

There were no break during the tea bar. Everyone was very careful. Neither during the two transports. Obviously, I dropped two cups while exiting them from the dishwasher, back to home…

The tea bar was one of the best, if not the best, idea I had for the organization of marriage. It had two little fairies of tea bar to look after it. I think it saved the rainy and cold afternoon of our marriage.

It’s (almost) Christmas!

For us, Santa Claus arrived this morning (too early) disguised as postman.
Now is the time for Christmas special Lego boxes!

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Winter Toy Shop

And we have to wait one month before getting them all…
And we also need to sort out our Lego used for the marriage to rebuild Santa’s home and the workshop of elves.

Many construction joy “en vue”!

Totoro Garland

I am still in the manufacture of Totoro en crochet, but this time smaller version, to make a garland.
Everything starts with the realization of small subjects.

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Subjets of Totoro en crochet

I made Totoro, but also “small” acorns and a swarthy, wearing a sheet.
It’s quite long and detailed, but the most difficult part was the installation: made with uncut wire, I had to pass the thread, the whole ball, in every little subject, and return, otherwise it is not funny.
I alternated subject and wooden beads. Initially, the assembly was done by a chain, coupled with the return of the single flange.
I’m pretty happy with the result.

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The completed garland

The different subjects:

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A detail of the garland
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Un mini Totoro en crochet
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Mini Totoro en crochet, with his round belly
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A nice little swarthy

I think doing another one and soon offer my creations on Etsy.
Anyway, here’s something to beautifully decorate a child’s room.

“Corporate” Picnic

Last week we went to the picnic of the company where Xim works. Well, it was just the picnic department, since the beach was too small…
I was thrilled to meet Xim’s colleagues, put a face to the N+1 and N+2, and especially on the cubicle’s neighboours and partners of table football.
One thing, however, was very curious: there was almost no forties… Three babies per square meter with their thirties parents, but no one, except a few department’s heads, above 40 years.
So either they stayed at home, because this stuff on the beach, it is not their age (and it’s sad that they think so), or – and this is my favorite theory – the department’s heads eat them!