Bilby Bites - the food blog from Bilby Marketing

In Praise of Clotilde

Stumbling around the web is a daily event for myself, like millions of others on the planet. Not only do I work in online marketing, I write this blog, I have a Facebook page, I have a very neglected Twitter account, I am on LinkedIn and ... you get the picture. One of my favourite things to do is to read other food blogs with two of my favourites being Not Quite Nigella and Chocolate & Zucchini. These must be two of the most visited food blogs in the world, so not exactly a pioneering discovery, but I am more than happy to while away a few hours at the weekend reading either one of these. Not Quite Nigella satisfies my need to keep in touch with all things food & Sydney, whilst Chocolate & Zucchini satiates the Francophile in me.

Clotilde Dusoulier, the lovely Parisian lady blogger behind Chocolate & Zucchini, has both of her books gracing my shelves at the moment. Recently a friend of mine was visiting from France and it inspired me to crack open Clotilde's Chocolate & Zucchini cookbook and find some recipes for a Saturday lunchtime cooking fest whilst she was staying. Another French friend also came along and we spent a wonderful day cooking, eating, drinking (just a little!) and chatting. I started out at around 10am, by making the pastry for my two planned quiches and fig tartlets and had this covered pretty quickly. There was a lot of preparation and I am not listing the full recipes here, but the fact that the pastry turned out perfectly for all three recipes is a big thumbs up for Clotilde's instructions. The book gives a detailed and (almost) foolproof recipe for Pâte Sablée (sweet short pastry) as well as one for Pâte Brisée (savoury short pastry) and I steamed through these. The most tricky bit was getting the sweet short pastry into the individual tartlet tins which took some patience in order to get the thickness consistent across the entire tartlet base and around the edges. I also struggled a little with the crème pâtissière which didn't quite set perfectly although it was tasty and perfectly edible. You can see from the photos that it was just about there. I will be tweaking my methods next time around and making sure I leave the mixture to thicken more on the hotplate before pouring it into the tartlet shells.

Overall, I found the whole day incredibly enjoyable. The fillings for each quiche were very easy to make although I wouldn't advise making two in one day plus the tartlets unless you were truly in the mood for cooking, which I was. I served the cumin and onion quiche for our lunch with a salad. My French companions had brought mushrooms which were baked in the oven with Boisin cheese for about 20 minutes and these were served as starters. We also had a bottle of Sauternes to top things off beautifully. I had enjoyed myself so much that I didn't finish the other quiche and tartlets until after my guests had left and it was 6pm before I sat down with another glass of wine. I had cooked on and off for 8 hours and I couldn't believe how blissfully happy I was. The wonderful company of a couple of friends combined with some great food had once again proved a fabulous way to pass the time of day.

If you feel inspired to try a little French baking yourself, then I would advise buying Chocolate & Zucchini. No daunting French recipes here - these are easy to follow and very rewarding. Below is a link through to Amazon where you can buy the book and get started. Amusez-vous bien!!

Buy from Amazon