I woke up this morning startled by what sounded like a waterfall right outside my window. They had warned us for heavy rains and thunder yesterday, but nothing could have prepared me for the tropical rainstorm that yanked me out of my sleep, turning the skies black and the streets unfriendly. I have the luxury of working from home, but hubby has an hour trip to his office and my teen bikes to school. I was worried silly, though luckily it cleared up on time for them to make their journeys dry. Now I’m only hoping that will also be the case when they return this afternoon. It’s almost July for crying out loud! Someone bring back the summer!
In the meantime, I try to fool myself into believing it’s sunny and warm by cooking ‘summery’ food. Like the delicious potato salad I made yesterday to go with lemon-thyme pork chops and a tomato-basil salad.
Salads are one of my favorite lunch choices. Most of the time, I make my lunch salads with whatever I have in the fridge. Though to be fair, my fridge is always stocked with fresh organic vegetables and healthy proteins such as pulses and fish.
A few years ago, a trend swept through France. Everyone (in the food blogging world, that is) was talking about the delectable ‘Gâteau Magique’, a cake very much deserving of that name because it truly is pure magic! Why, you ask? Well, because with one batter made with a few simple ingredients (which everyone probably has in their pantry right now), you can make a beautiful cake with three different textures! The bottom layer is dense and rich, pretty much like a flan. The second layer is smooth and velvety like custard, and the top layer is airy and spongy like a génoise. Together, the three layers form a smooth, creamy union — which, I warn you — is very hard to resist. Because the cake is so light, you may just be tempted to reach for seconds!
The cake is lightly scented with a touch of vanilla and not too sweet. Because of its simplicity, I highly recommend that you use the best ingredients.
It is said that the cake is a cousin of a traditional cake from the South-West of France (my favorite part of France, as you all know!) called ‘Gâteau Millasson’. The Gascon cake was originally made with cornflour, though there are a few very traditional French grannies who could care less and make it with normal flour!
The most important element of this cake is the slow cooking in a low-moderate oven. After baking, let the cake cool at room temperature and then refrigerate for at least half an hour. Serve the cake in all its naked beauty, with only the lightest dusting of powdered sugar. If you want, a few ripe red summer fruits on the side would also complement it well.
Note: you will need a round 26-cm Pyrex oven dish.
- 100g butter
- 4 medium eggs
- 150g powdered sugar
- ½ tsp pure vanilla seeds (or the seeds of one vanilla pod)
- 1 tbsp water
- 120g all-purpose flour
- 500ml whole milk
Preheat oven to 150C. Butter and flour a 26-cm round Pyrex dish. Melt the butter and leave to cool. Warm the milk. Separate the eggs, and in a large bowl lightly whisk the yolks with the powdered sugar, vanilla seeds and water. You don’t want to add volume, just make sure the mixture is nice and creamy. In another large bowl, preferably using an electric mixer, whisk the whites until soft peaks form. Pour the melted butter into the yolk mixture, whisking as you go. Then do the same with the flour. Pour a little of the warm milk into the mixture while whisking and then proceed to add the rest of the milk, whisking the entire time. Now fold in the egg whites in three batches. Do this until they are just combined. A smooth batter is not what you want, in fact, the mixture should look lumpy and somewhat curdled! Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes. Allow to cool at room temperature and refrigerate for at least half an hour before serving. Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!
I have a huge jar of ras el hanout — the well-known North African spice blend – which has been sitting in my cupboard for a little too long. I sometimes use it in couscous and quinoa salads, but for some reason, I always forget it’s a fantastic spice for marinating meat.
When I was planning my weekly menu this Sunday, however, I made a note which read: “make chicken kebabs with ras el hanout (!!!) and serve with couscous”.