November 27, 2011

Orange Rice Pudding Tartelettes

Orange is the color that always makes me dream about autumn. And it’s a color that you either love or hate. Like autumn.  A very moody season that some people love and others hate. I personally love autumn, because it’s a season of contrasts.  Autumn makes nature’s heart beat slower and slower until it numbs her, but it does it in a very joyful and colorful way. You cannot really get upset with autumn when you think about all the wonderful colored leaves, the tasty pumpkins, the nice sunny days that make you still hope and dream about the lost summer and in my case, all the orange things by definition.  

Beside autumn and its beautiful colors, I also love rice pudding. A lot. But because it’s a quite dull recipe to be posted on a blog, I took my magic wand, said abracadabra twice, put it nicely in some tart dough, added two oranges and voila! Nothing really special about it, but it’s a comfort food that also looks nice on top of everything.

250 g pâte brisé
125 g rice
400 ml milk
3 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or one vanilla pod)
Orange juice (from one orange)
Raisins (optional)
1 orange for decorating

First, you will need to bake the tart shells until done (around 35 min) at 190°C.
Meanwhile, put the orange juice, the sugar and the vanilla extract in a saucepan with thick bottom at medium heat and bring it to the boiling point. Then add the rice and stir for a couple of minutes. Start adding the milk little by little, so that the rice is always covered by milk and cannot burn. Don’t forget to stir from time to time. You have to repeat this operation until the rice is ready. You can always add raisins or other dry fruits and leave it boil for another 5-10 minutes.

After filling the tart shells with the rice pudding, you can either leave them like this or bake them for another 15-20 minutes. This time I preferred to not bake them again, so I jumped directly to the final step: decorating. The orange slices should be peeled in order to handle them easier. You just have to be creative and use your imagination.

Now I have to admit this is by far the simplest and easiest recipe I’ve ever posted. But it can definitely still impress! So I finish my orange feast with a beautiful song and a video that always reminded me of autumn. Enjoy!

October 30, 2011

Caramelized Fruits and Blueberry Crumble

It is always hard to restart an activity after a long pause. You keep on saying to yourself that you ‘’ought to do it’’, you are mentally analyzing all the little details, you're planning to ‘’go and do it’’ and still, you end up finding more excuses and not do anything. And paradoxically, this frustrates you even more. But let’s be honest about it and admit that everyone can go through these phases and the thing that matters in the end is to at least restart that activity at some point, better later than never. Now of course, all this has nothing to do with me ;)
Maybe I should just say that I had good reasons not to post anything in the last months. I was not in the necessary mood for it, I could not find inspiration and peace, which are all key elements when you write, do photography and when you want to do anything that goes out of the daily routine.  To keep the story short, I packed my stuff and left Cluj in July (unfortunately without my cat!), I moved into a new apartment, started to work in a new environment, I took new job responsibilities, left for one month in the US, painted my new home, realized how lucky I was to have some close friends around (while so far away from home), started to discover Belgium and its surroundings (and a unique form of sarcasm), deeply regretted I have not had the chance to meet the burglar who broke into my apartment (wanted to tell him that he had been a very naughty boy) and worked a lot.  So, let’s return to our sheep (although I am not sure this expression can be actually translated into English): Caramelized Fruits and Blueberry Crumble it is!
Ingredients (for 4 persons if they had already eaten something before)
2 apples
2 pears
100 g blueberry (either fresh or frozen)
150 g sugar
140 g butter
100 g flower
60 g cereals
50 g nuts (chopped)

Preheat the oven to 200° and find a heat resistant loaf pan. I used two ceramic smaller ones.
Peel the apples and the pears, cut them in small pieces and put them in a small saucepan over medium heat, with two spoons of sugar and a bit of cinnamon (in order to lose their juice). They are always more savory if you leave the apples and the pears for half an hour in lemon juice.  After 10 minutes, remove the saucepan from heat and put them in a strainer.

Meanwhile, put 60 g of sugar in a frying pan over medium heat. When it has melted completely, add 60 g of butter and stir until you obtain a nice creamy caramel (don’t you think caramel is one of the most amazing inventions ever?).  Then add the apples and the pears, 50 g of chopped nuts and keep stirring until all the fruits are mixed with the caramel sauce. Transfer the caramelized fruits immediately to the loaf pan and add a layer of blueberries (I used frozen ones).

In a separate bowl, mix the flower with 80 g of sugar, the cereals and a bit of cinnamon. Then melt the rest of the butter in a saucepan until it is liquid. Let it chill for a couple of minutes.  Start pouring very slowly the butter into the bowl of flower, while using your fingertips to mix everything together. Remember you don’t want to form a dough, but keep the crumbly texture.  Add the crumble over the layer of fruits in the loaf pan and bake it for approximately 35 minutes until the topping is golden brown and crisp.  

Smakelijk! (As my imaginary friend Hugo would say).

And talking about how difficult can be to start things and projects sometimes, I find this animation the perfect illustration for it.