French-style Hors Doeuvre with Toasted Baguette and Tapenade Spread


24 thin baguette slices
nonstick olive-oil cooking spray or olive oil
sweet pepper strips for garnish (optional)


1-1/2 cups pitted mild brine-cured green olives such as Luques or picholines, black Niqoise olives, or a combination of several kinds
3 anchovy fillets, rinsed and patted dry
3 tablespoons capers, rinsed
1-1/2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1-1/2 tablespoons Cognac or brandy
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
freshly ground white pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil


  1. To make the tapenade, combine the olives, anchovies, capers, parsley, garlic, Cognac, lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon white pepper in a food processor. Pulse once or twice to combine roughly, then add the olive oil and pulse briefly, stopping to scrape down the bowl sides once or twice. The texture should be chunky, rather than a smooth puree. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  3. Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet and coat them lightly with the olive oil spray, or brush lightly with olive oil. Bake until golden, 10-15 minutes.
  4. Transfer the toasted baguette slices to a serving platter. Spread each one with about 1 tablespoon of the tapenade, then, if desired, crisscross 2 small strips of sweet pepper on top. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 24 bites.

Source: Hors Doeuvre


Soup with Apple and Pumpkin Puree


2 slices bacon, diced
2 tbsp. butter
4 large tart apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 leek, white part only, cleaned and chopped
1 stalk celery, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
a few gratings of nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup apple cider
2 tbsp brandy, apple brandy or Calvados
8 cups vegetable stock (water or chicken stock may be substituted)
herb sachet with 1 tbsp black peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, 1/2 tsp dried thyme, 4 cloves and small bunch parsley
1 smoked ham hock (for extra flavor)
2 cups canned pumpkin puree
salt and freshly ground pepper


6 slices white bread, crusts removed
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp sugar
chopped parsley


  1. In a heavy-bottomed soup pot, render the bacon over medium heat.
  2. Add butter, apples and chopped vegetables and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are lightly cooked, 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, and stir for a minute or two.
  4. Add wine, cider and brandy and reduce until almost dry.
  5. Pour in stock, add herb sachet (tie ingredients in cheesecloth) and ham hock, and stir in pumpkin puree. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer gently, with lid ajar, for about 1 hour, until all vegetables are soft.
  6. Remove sachet and ham hock. Take meat off the bone of ham hock, and reserve.
  7. Put soup through a food mill or process with a hand blender. Season with salt and pepper and adjust the consistency, if necessary, with additional stock.
  8. Chop reserved ham and add to soup. Let cool, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  9. To prepare croutons, preheat the oven to 350ºF Stack bread and cut into 1/2-inch cubes.
  10. Melt butter in a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, and toss croutons with the butter, cinnamon and sugar. Toast in oven, about 20 minutes, shaking pan once or twice so croutons brown evenly.
  11. To serve, reheat soup, season with salt and pepper. Garnish with cinnamon croutons and chopped parsley.

Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Source: Met Home magazine

Luscious Toast with Macerated Berries


1 cup strawberries, hulled, about 4 oz
1/3 cup blueberries, about 2 oz
1 teaspoon sugar
2-1/2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
3 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
2 thick slices of brioche
fresh mint leaves, to serve


  1. Cut the strawberries in half, if large, and put in a bowl with the blueberries. Sprinkle with the sugar, then add the Grand Marnier and let macerate for at least 1 hour.
  2. Just before serving, put the mascarpone and confectioners’ sugar in a bowl and stir in 2-3 teaspoons of the macerating juices from the berries.
  3. Lightly toast the brioche on both sides, then spread with a thick layer of mascarpone and spoon the macerated berries and all the juices on top.
  4. Top with fresh mint leaves before serving.

Makes 2 servings.

Source: On Toast

Rum Balls


3/4 cup crumbs of plain genoise (see recipe below)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup ground almonds
2 teaspoons dark rum
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1-1/2 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons whipping cream
chocolate sprinkles to decorate


1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons butter, chopped
1 oz semisweet chocolate, grated
2 teaspoons dark rum
warm water


  1. In a medium bowl, combine cake crumbs, sugar, almonds, rum and lemon juice.
  2. Melt chocolate in a bowl or top of a double boiler set over a pan of simmering water.
  3. Add to rum mixture with sufficient cream for mixture to hold together when pressed between fingers.
  4. Form teaspoonfuls of mixture into 18 small balls. Refrigerate on a baking sheet 4 hours or until firm.
  5. To make icing, combine and warm sugar, butter, chocolate and rum in a small saucepan. When chocolate and butter softens, add a tablespoon of water.
  6. Warm again and add sufficient water to liquify.
  7. To coat rum balls, insert a poultry skewer in center of a rum ball. Tilt pan of icing and dip each ball. Let excess drip.
  8. To decorate, roll in chocolate sprinkles to coat completely. Refrigerate in a covered container with waxed paper between layers up to 10 days.

Makes 18 rum balls.

Plain Genoise

3 eggs
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Grease and flour bottom and sides of a 14″ x 10″ baking pan. Shake out excess flour.
  2. Combine eggs and sugar in a medium mixing bowl.
  3. Place bowl in a pan of hot water. Beat until mixture is very thick and just warm. Mixture should form a ribbon when beaters are lifted.
  4. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Continue beating until mixture is almost cool.
  5. Fold flour into egg and sugar mixture. Mix in butter.
  6. Pour batter into prepared greased pan; level top. Bake in a preheated oven 20-25 minutes or until set on top.
  7. Cool pan on a wire rack 10 minutes. Run a knife carefully around the edge. Remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. Use within 36 hours or wrap and freeze up to 6 weeks.

Source: Chocolates & Petits Fours

French-style Braised Beef in Red Wine


1 bottle of red Burgundy wine
1-1/2 lb braising beef (chuck is good but cheek is best )
all-purpose flour, for dusting
vegetable oil
1 onion, peeled and sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1/4 cup brandy
1 bouquet garni, made up of thyme, bay leaf, and parsley stalks
1-2/3cup beef or veal stock
2 tbsp cold unsalted butter salt
black pepper


3 tbsp unsalted butter
12 brown-skinned pearl onions (or small shallot), peeled
12 young carrots, peeled
4 oz smoked bacon, cut into thin strips
12 button mushrooms, wiped
juice of 1/2 lemon


  1. Pour the wine into a saucepan and boil until reduced by half.
  2. Trim the beef and cut it into 1-1/4-inch cubes, then dust with flour.
  3. Heat a frying pan until very hot, add a dash of oil, and brown the beef well on all sides. Do this in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan.
  4. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  5. Once all the beef has been browned and set aside, discard the oil and add a tablespoon of clean oil, the sliced onion, and crushed garlic. Cook until the onion is brown and caramelized, then put the meat back in the pan. Add the brandy, followed by the reduced wine, and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Pour everything into a cast-iron casserole dish, then season and add the bouquet garni and stock. Bring to a simmer, skim well to remove any surface scum, and cover loosely with a lid or parchment paper. Place in the oven and cook until the meat is tender – this should take 1-1/2 to 2 hours, depending on the cut.
  7. Let cool, then take the meat out of the dish and set aside. Skim to remove any fat, then pass the liquid through a sieve into a pan. Boil until it thickens to a sauce, then add the meat. Cover and chill until needed.
  8. To prepare the garnish, melt a tablespoon of butter in a saucepan and add the onions, seasoning, 2 tablespoons of the sauce from the beef, and 1/4 cup water. Braise the onions until they are shiny and cooked through.
  9. Put the carrots in a pan with just enough water to cover and most of the rest of the butter. Season and bring to a gentle boil, then cook until almost all the liquid has evaporated and the carrots are tender and shiny with butter.
  10. Brown the strips of bacon in a frying pan. Sweat the mushrooms in a little butter over medium heat until cooked but still firm, then add seasoning and lemon juice.
  11. To serve, gently reheat the braise on the stove top while you prepare the garnish. Add a couple of knobs of cold butter to enrich and add shine to the sauce, then garnish with the onions, carrots, bacon, and mushrooms.
  12. Take the dish to the table for everyone to admire, then serve in wide bowls.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: The French Kitchen