Cannelés Bordelais

  

Cannelés are a pastry from Bordeaux, traditionally made with egg yolks, rum, and vanilla. The rum and vanilla came from the Caribbean, while the egg yolk as primary ingredient is said to have come from being leftover from the tradition of using egg whites in the clarification of wine (le collage) during winemaking in Bordeaux. What to do with all the leftover egg yolks? Dessert, of course! Hence, the Cannelé.

Here I present an alternative recipe (while also giving you instructions for the traditional ingredients): a grain-free, low-sweetener rendition of the Cannelé Bordelais, with rum as an option. First, some notes on the ingredients:

Milk

This recipe calls for whole milk. But you can also use a combination of whole milk, cream and water, instead of whole milk on its own. If you would like to use this combination of liquids, try the following proportions: 3.4 fl oz (100 ml) whole milk, 6.8 fl oz (200 ml) heavy cream, 6.8 fl oz (200 ml) water. I find it helpful to use a food thermometer when heating milk. Or else watch it closely, stirring often, until you see steam rising from the pot. Something else to note is that much like buttermilk scones, these cannelés can be made with raw whole milk that has “turned” (fermented, turned to buttermilk), which adds a slight tang but may also go unnoticed. No need to waste perfectly good whole milk that has gone a bit past its due date. Don’t cry over turned milk!

Vanilla

The most flavorful cannelés will have real vanilla bean, scraped from the inside of ½ a bean. (Cut in half crosswise, slice open one of the halves lengthwise and scrape out the tiny dark beads inside the half-pod.) Otherwise, use 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste.

Rum

As for the flavorful dark rum, which figures in traditional recipes for cannelés, you can use from one to four tablespoons. Cognac may also be used, or you may skip the alcohol altogether.

Almond Extract

I add almond extract to my cannelés, because I love the almond flavor, but it does add a tinge of bitterness and is not part of original cannelés recipes. You can leave it out if you choose.

Flour

In the photo at the end of this post with the red bowl and vanilla beans, the mini cannelés depicted are made with chestnut flour, from indigenous chestnut trees of the French Southwest, which is why they appear dark – chestnut is a dark flour. In the remaining photos above and throughout, the cannelés pictured are made using cassava flour, a grain-free root. Cassava flour performs most closely to regular white flour in baking but is gluten-free. Be warned, though, that it is highly palatable, meaning, you will want to eat more cannelés!

Sugar

I prefer not adding sugar when possible to recipes. But to sweeten the deal, I have replaced the 1 cup of white sugar otherwise called for in this recipe with ¼ cup of erythritol (use up to ¾ cup for a sweeter taste). Erythritol is a sweetener that does not interfere with blood glucose levels, nor does it cause digestive disruption, for me, at least. But note that this is a high carb treat, nevertheless. Luckily it has egg yolks!

Cannelés Molds

If you wanted to go the extra-traditional mile, you would use copper molds and grease them with 1/4 cup (50 g) of butter melted with 1/4 cup (50 g) beeswax. Other recipes say 3 parts butter to 2 parts beeswax, for example 60 g butter to 40 g beeswax to make this coating. You would heat the butter/beeswax coating saucepan or else a double boiler, or use a microwave. You would heat the molds in the oven until they are warm to the touch. You would then fill each mold with coating pour it into the next mold and so on. Or you could use a culinary paint brush with the heated butter/beeswax mixture and paint the insides of the heated molds. Coating the molds is what gives the canelés their shine and the typical hard-shelled crunch on the outside. The copper molds transfer the heat throughout the cannelé, but they are on the expensive side. I use silicone molds to make my cannelés, which I grease with butter only. I have written the recipe below largely for using silicone molds. They turn out less shiny and crunchy, but still yummy!

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Ingredients:

2.1 cups or 17 fl oz (500 ml) whole milk (or buttermilk)

1/4 cup (1.8 oz or 50 g) unsalted butter, plus 1 tsp to grease the mold

1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

½ tsp almond extract (optional)

2 whole eggs

2 egg yolks

3.5 oz (100 g) cassava or chestnut flour

Pinch of fine sea salt

1.8 oz (50 g) Erythritol

Instructions:

Combine the milk, butter, vanilla, and almond extract in a thick pot and bring to just under a boil (about 185˚F or 85˚C) over medium high heat. Remove from heat. While waiting for the milk to boil, mix the eggs and egg yolks in a large bowl with a whisk. (Use the leftover egg white to refine your wine in a barrel, or make macaroons!)

Mix the flour, salt, and sweetener together in a small bowl and whisk the egg mixture into the flour mixture.

Whisk the heated milk mixture bit by bit into the flour and egg mixture, to temper the eggs, Mix until smooth. If you are adding rum, do so here. Allow to cool in refrigerator for one hour or up to 24 hours.

After the cooling step, preheat the oven to 410˚F (210˚C). Grease the cannelé molds with butter (or, the butter/beeswax combination, if you are using this method), and place the molds on an oven tray or cookie sheet. Silicone molds are wobbly and the tray will prevent spilling when you are moving the filled mold to the oven. Also, the tray will catch overflow as the cannelés rise like soufflés. (Don’t worry, they will recede again.)

Whisk the mixture one more time before filling the molds. Fill the molds to just below the surface, about 1/8 inch to ¼ inch (0.3 cm to 0.6 cm). This allows for a bit of room for the cannelés to rise.

Place the molds and tray into the oven and allow to cook for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 355˚F (180˚C) for about 60 minutes (shorter for copper molds, and temperatures can vary – you will have to experiment!)

Remove the tray from the oven and allow to cool for several minutes before unmolding the cannelés from a silicone mold. If you are using copper molds, use oven mitts to immediately tap each mold upside down to remove the cannelés while they are still hot. Cool on a wire rack or a plate.

Makes 11 cannelés of approximately 2 inches x 2 inches (5 cm x5 cm) each in height and diameter or about 24 mini cannelés in a smaller silicone mold. Serve the cannelés fresh, accompanied by a warm coffe or tea.

Happy Holidays!

Mini Cannelés with Chestnut Flour

No-Bake Date Bar Recipe

Why pay for industrially manufactured and marketed granola bars, when you can make these nut & seed date bars using only the ingredients your family trusts and loves?!

Use about a handful of pitted dates to about a handful of mixed (sprouted and dehydrated) nuts and seeds. You will have to experiment on the proportions.

You can also add some coconut flakes, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, chocolate chips, cacao nibs — these do not need to be chopped down to size.

Chop larger seeds/nuts in a mini-chopper (such as almonds, pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts, cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts…)

Chop pitted dates in a mini-chopper until they form a ball of little pieces stuck together — they they will be better at holding the other ingredients.

Mix all ingredients together by hand in a large mixing bowl until it makes a kind of maleable ball of goodies. (This is typically my daughter’s job, as she eats the chocolate chips as she mixes….)

Place the ball (or half of it if it is big) between two 10×10-inch sheets of parchment paper and roll flat using a rolling pin. Roll the mixture out into about a 1/3 inch thick (bar depth) block.

Cut with a long knife into rows and then into 1 or 1.5 inch squares/bars. Tip: Roll up the parchment paper over the edges and press flat with the rolling pin so as to get a smooth edge, “glued” together by the dates.

The bars are potent, and a little bar goes a long way! Allow the bars to firm up in the refrigerator or freezer. Store the bars in glass in the freezer for freshness. Take them with you on hikes, as snacks, or dessert!

And now a small plug for my back to school lip balms to make going “back to school” fun: RAINBOW UNICORN! Made from pastured tallow and other natural, whole ingredients, in support of apiaries and regenerative farmers!

Limited Edition of “Strawberry Peach” flavored Unicorn Rainbow Grass-fed Tallow Balm!

Road Tripping in the Time of Corona: Bring Your Own Food

Needing a summer break at the beach, despite media hype about dirty rest stops and potentially infectious hotel rooms along American highways, our family of four took a 48-hour (4-hour drive with mid-week traffic) trip to the beach in Virginia. As we usually do when we travel, we took all our food with us in the car. The readout: we stopped at several “clean looking” restaurants for bathroom pit stops and the hotel was as clean as could be expected, so, a non-issue. But we did bring all our own food and water. Here’s how we did it.

Example of how the French “Eat In” on the Mediterranean/Cote D’Azur

What To Bring For the Road: A Tale of Two Coolers

Pack a big cooler for the trunk with ice packs and a smaller cooler for the car with lunch and snacks. The small cooler goes between the kids in the back to maintain car seat real estate lines and proper physical distancing. As every mom knows, kids who are close enough to touch elbows don’t last long on car trips. A picnic lunch for a park bench at an outdoor rest stop might consist of already cubed cheese and sausage or ham and chopped raw vegetable sticks. Maybe some chips, if you don’t eat bread, but most chips are made with industrial vegetable seed oils, so read the label before you buy. Canola oil among the ingredients? No. Put it back on the shelf. Safflower oil? Nyet. Soybean or corn oil? Nein! Same goes for any bread you might consume. Check the label. Danke.

Dessert BYOF Ideas

For dessert we travel with chopped fruit (and picks or forks), raisins, peanuts,  and dried prunes, apples, oranges, and homemade date bars (chopped dates, chocolate, nuts and seeds flattened with a rolling pin and cut into squares – no expensive packaging or industry messaging needed.) Pack napkins or paper towels, cutlery, either plastic or real, and an extra trash bag or two. We pack individual water bottles and large refill water bottles, no soda. Ever. Remember your wallet? What about your blood sugar levels? And let’s not kid ourselves about “diet,” sugar-free chemical sodas.

Fruit bouquet received as a gift the day before our road trip

Okay, So Let’s Get To The Meat Of The Meals!

Pack that big cooler with prepared food from home as well as raw and frozen ingredients, preferably organic where possible, voting with your dollar for food and soil not treated with synthetic, hormone-disrupting chemicals. Here are some ideas and what I packed on our trip, besides what I have already mentioned above: Frozen Russian ravioli (pilmeni), grass-fed beef hot dogs, frozen grass-fed ground beef, frozen homemade broth, pork and duck leftovers from various meals (packed in glass Pyrex bowls), along with a small container of duck fat, three cans of tuna, Kerrygold butter, Polyface Farms pastured eggs in the carton, small bottles of avocado oil and olive oil, salt and pepper shakers, half a bulb of garlic, sour cream, macaroni noodles, small container of homemade sauerkraut, several organic tea bags, organic ketchup, in-season cherries, a box of organic mixed greens, whole mushrooms, ice cream (which inevitably melted in the cooler by dinner time), grass-fed milk, and cream (for my tea!)

What?! No Mayo?!

Most store-bought mayonnaise is made with industrial seed oils. So I make my own! It’s so easy you’ll cry: Separate one egg, use the white for scrambled with the other eggs you brought, and whisk the yolk in a measuring cup (which was packed along with the whisk), while slowly adding a third of a cup of avocado oil. Presto! No industrial seed oils here, either. And just enough for those three cans of tuna. (Yes, the eggs are raw. If you are sourcing your eggs from a trusted farmer, you will not get salmonella. Instead, you will be supporting a small farmer while nourishing yourself with real, whole food. A win-win.)

Hello, How Am I Going to Cook All These Meats and Eggs in a Hotel Room?

Easy: Pack a good quality Cuisinart hot plate, the answer to all your eating in problems. Plus, call ahead to get a room with a refrigerator, or else make sure the ice machines are working in the hotel to refill you cooler! We used the hotel microwave only once – to heat up a pork chop because we had run out of pans and to save time. Other items you will need: A small pot and a medium pot, a medium frying pan, one or two small cutting boards, several good cutting knives of different sizes for slicing and paring, four real (unbreakable Corelle-style) plates and bowls, three kitchen towels, a wooden spatula, a small bottle of dish liquid, and a sponge.

Eating In

By eating in, BYOF traveling or not, corona or not, you are saving money, saving time, and eating when and where you want to without making others “serve” you. (Yes, the restaurant industry is huge, but it is overfed, so to speak, while the concept of cooking at home is disproportionately underrated in the US, in my opinion.) Eating in also produces much less waste of resources. Think about carbon footprints of the restaurant supply chain versus a family meal at home. By eating in you are also avoiding the involuntary consumption of inflammatory industrial vegetable seed oils (you know the kind – canola or safflower oil, with the halo around their necks), ubiquitously used in restaurants, from cheapest to glamorous. (Dr. Catherine Shanahan, who wrote the foreword to my book, The Bordeaux Kitchen, goes into the biology of the century-long damage these oils have incurred on Americans in her books, so I won’t go into it here. Look up The Fatburn Fix and Deep Nutrition.) Restaurants rely on cheap oils to remain profitable. The consumer is the one who pays the price in health bills after eating the cheap food. Granted, our family doesn’t eat out (pretty much ever), and I cook daily, even on vacation, but taking your food with you on vacation is doable and definitely healthier (for you and your wallet) than eating out.

But Yes, We Ate Out

The hotel served breakfast: terrible scrambled eggs and alluring, extreme-sugar sausages, along with waffles, bagels, cereal, and OJ, which my kids loaded up on because they don’t get much of these at home. (Sue me.) I made eggs in our frying pan in the room on the second morning. And on the way out of town we stopped for lunch under an outdoor tent to taste the local broiled seafood (no industrial oils, hopefully, in the broiling process). It was mostly worth the wait, though the waitress was stressed with all the tables of tourists like us she had to serve. We thanked her effusively. We had also stopped for Mr. Whippy’s soft serve once or twice and again on the way out of town. It was July, after all.

Mr. Whippy (that’s not my cone…)

Had I Overpacked?

Yes. We did not use the garlic, ground beef, or bit of duck fat, but I used them for a quick dinner upon arrival at home.

Am I Crazy?

No. Well, maybe a little. But this is what we do. (And I am talking about taking pork roasts and containers of fruit on international travel! We learned our lesson with broth, though. TSA will confiscate it.) Yes, there is clean up. Yes, my husband kindly did the dishes in the hotel bathroom sink. Nevertheless, we found we had more good, high quality food, more time to play and read and argue and discuss things, and more time to generally be “on vacation,” rather than having to go out and spend money on low quality, expensive food at every meal. We went home with empty coolers, two souvenir t-shirts, and slight sunburns from all the extra time we had to play in the sun! BYOF!

(These are my own opinions, which is why I am posting them here on my own blog. You may disagree, and that’s okay! Thanks for taking the time to read!)

…And now a little plug for my Etsy store of handmade pastured tallow and lard soaps and creams…

Kitchen Sink Borsch

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Kitchen Sink Borsch

First and foremost, I hope you and your family are well and able to cope in these uncertain times of La Corona.

While on a recent “stocking up” grocery run, I picked up a nice plump red beet that was calling to me from the produce shelves. The beet is mostly what makes the borsch a borsch, as opposed to another kind of soup.

Because it may not be possible to obtain certain ingredients at the moment, I’m calling this version Kitchen Sink Borsch, as you could really put whatever you have into a big pot and boil it. This is much like the French pot au feu – a soup containing all the vegetable, meat and bone remnants from the week, stewed continuously during the week, so as to not waste a single ingredient or leftover: #nowaste !

 

A little side note: I concentrated on Russian Studies at my university and studied Russian in the US, Russia, German, and France, and lived in Kazakhstan for two years. But it wasn’t until I visited a friend in Ukraine while living in Moscow around 2012 that I learned from her lovely mother – a doctor treating and following Chernobyl victims – how to cook Ukrainian borsch. Notice I have not spelled it with a “t” at the end (not sure why this is usually done in English?), because the Cyrillic word borsch – борщ – ends with a kind of “w” looking letter with a tail, making the sound “shch,” as in “fresh cheese.” If a Russian-style soup has potato and cabbage, and no beet, my understanding is that it is usually called “schi.” – щи. (Both words in Russian end in this same letter, but in English, you would not want to put a “t” on the end of the cabbage soup name…!)

 

The ingredients below go into the traditional borsch, and I may have missed a few, but you will get the general idea. I used what we had in the refrigerator at this particular point in time. I used ground beef because that is what we had, but you can use steak or chuck “stew” beef. Chuck cuts from the front quarters of the animal require longer cooking times because they tend to be tougher. Why? From my butcher apprenticeship I learned that since herbivores spend their time bending down eating grass, much of their weight is on the forequarters, building stronger muscles in the front, while loin and steak come from more tender parts of the animal.) That is why stew meat is called stew meat – it needs more time to stew. Chopped small enough, though, you may be able to get away with a shorter cooking time. You can substitute some of the water with bone broth, especially if you do not have a marrow bone. Like butter, lard, tallow and duck fat, I try to keep a few marrow bones in my freezer for uses like this. People joke about how creative the Russians and Ukrainians are with using dill in a dish. I had none available, so I used fresh chopped green onion, but dill really makes your borsch the real deal.

 

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil (or butter)

½ red onion, chopped

½ white onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

3 pinches coarse sea salt

1.5 to 2 pounds ground or chopped beef (80-85% lean, grassfed if possible)

¼ red cabbage, chopped

1 medium carrot, diced

1 large beet, diced

14.5 ounce (115 g) diced tomatoes

6 to 7 cups water (or combination of water and broth)

1 large bay leaf

6 small potatoes, chopped (about 1/2 pound)

1 beef marrow bone

Salt and pepper to taste

Sour cream (called Smetana in Russian), for garnish

Dill or parsley, and/or green onion, chopped, for garnish

 

Instructions

Heat the olive oil or butter and salt in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat, add the salt, and sauté the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent. Add the meat and brown it, stirring frequently. Add the carrot and stir for a few more minutes. Then add the cabbage, beet, tomatoes, potatoes, marrow bone, bay leaf and water.

Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Cook until the potatoes are soft, at least 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with sour cream, dill, parsley, and/or green onion. To your health — Na zdorovie!

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