Dine with people you don’t know and share a table for an unforgettable moment, that’s the purpose of VizEat. The Tinder for foodie friendship.
Internet changed the way we travel. Hospitality sector has dramatically transformed. It is now community-driven based on comments and ratings. Sharing services are exploding. For my next trip to Marseille, I book a room in a house of 4, share a car from my hometown to destination and have a meal with local inhabitants on site.
These new web communities are excellent opportunities to live unique experiences and meet with locals. And if you might be reluctant to improvise a homestay accommodation (no space/no extra-bed), hosting a brunch or diner could be much easier. “Table is the first social network” say in unison Jean-Michel Petit and Camille Rumani, the co-founders of the website. Whatever the meal you offer, you just need a table, little imagination and strong will to start.
Our VizEat experience
First excitement. For the foodie I am, sharing my table sounded instantly awesome. Then reluctance. My husband didn’t hear it the same way at first. “Isn’t it weird to welcome some strangers at home?” And perseverance. I did subscribe on the website and register my first meal. But then I freaked out. “Will they like our food? Will we be ready on time?” And in the end, VizEaters arrived and magic operated. We finished the meal with four new friends we felt we already knew. Will we repeat the experience? Certainly yes. Will we book a seat at someone else place ? Certainly yes again!
If you’re a pastry fan, you must certainly know about Philippe Conticini. He’s the star of the moment in the baking community. All his cooking books are best sellers. He’s the founder of the renown Patisserie des Rêves – the pastry shops where you can buy his creations including the Paris Brest that is said to be the best of Paris. This Conticini-like Paris Brest recipe is adapted by Mercotte – a famous cooking blogger – for The Best Pastry Chef TV show.
I confess I totally missed the first chou pastry batch that was all flat. This was because the dough wasn’t dry enough. I detail this important step in the following recipe. Also, note, it is easier making small chou pastry than big ones to begin. So I’ll recommend starting small :).
Paris Brest by Conticini
Ingredients (1 big crown of 8 chou pastry or 3-4 small crowns of 6)
40g/1,4oz butter at temperature
50g/1,8oz brown sugar
1 pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
60g/2,1oz of butter
Praline mousseline cream
1/4l/8,3fl.oz whole milk
1/2 vanilla pod
2 egg yolks
10g/0,35oz corn flour
Crust. In a robot or a bowl, mix all the ingredients. Spread it between two sheets of parchment paper to about 3-4mm/1/8 inch thickness. Cut 3-4cm/1 to 1 1/2 inch diameter circles for big choux and 1-2cm/1/2 to 3/4 inch for small ones. Store in the fridge.
Chou pastry. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Boil the water, butter, salt and sugar. Remove from heat and add the all the flour at once. Mix it well and heat again at low heat. Continue to heat while mixing with a spatula for few minutes until the dough is dry enough and forms like a ball – the recipe indicates 2 minutes, I did more like a 4-5 minutes the second time to get it right. Put the dough in a bowl. Leave to cool a bit. Add the beaten eggs (like for an omelette) and mix it well. Use a pastry bag fitted with a 1 to 1.5cm-diameter plain piping nozzle to pipe the chou pastry onto the baking tray. Pipe 4cm/1 1/2inch diameter balls for a big crown and 2cm/3/4inch for a small crowns leaving a half centimeter between big chou pastry and no space between small ones. Add the crust on top. Cook for 35-40 minutes without opening the oven. Leave to cool at room temperature.
Praline mousseline cream. In a bowl, mix the sugar and egg yolks. Add the flours. Boil the milk with grated vanilla pod. Pour half the milk on the egg yolks and mix. Pour again in the saucepan. Cook on low heat for few more minutes mixing continuously until it thickens. That is your pastry cream. Pour in a bowl and film. Keep to cool at room temperature. In a bowl or a robot, mix the butter at temperature and praline. Add the pastry cream little by little and mix gently.
Dressing. Cut the crown crosswise. Pipe some cream in each profiterole. Optional, pipe some pure praline in the middle for the gourmet. Close the crown with the top. Sprinkle some icing sugar on top.
Coconut bites (“Congolais”) The coconut bites were one of my favorite treat as a child. And I still think it’s really enjoyable. The recipe is extremely simple and quick. A homemade 4 o’clock in just a minute. I tried to use a pastry bag to shape the bites but the texture is really thick. It might work if you have a big tip. Otherwise, just have fun – with or without kids – shaping them with hands.
Ingredients (for 18 coconut bites):
150g/5,3oz grated coconut
3 egg whites
Directions: Preheat the oven to 200°C/390°F Mix all the ingredients together. – Optional: Christophe Felder, French pastry chef, recommends to cook the ingredients for 10 minutes in a bain-marie before cooking in the oven. It reduces the oven cooking time and help keeping the cake’s heart more tender. - Make some small pyramids and shape the bites as you like. Place them on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Cook for 15 minutes.
Fall rimes with pumpkin and chestnuts. And the Halloween star is also a cooking favorite. Sweet or savory, it is delightful. As the cold is back, this soup recipe is very comforting. Hope you’ll enjoy it!
Confit pumpkin and chestnut soup
450g/1lb pre-cooked chestnut
4 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper
1 pinch of nutmeg powder
roasted squash seeds
Preheat the oven to 150°C/350°F.
Remove the pumpkin skin if necessary (you don’t need to if it’s young and organic). Cut the pumpkin in half. Take the seeds out. Cut in thin slices. Peel and slice the garlic. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the pumpkin slices on it and insert the garlic. Spray the olive oil. Cook for 40 minutes, turning the pumpkin over halfway through.
Boil 1 liter/US liquid quart of water. In a bowl, mix the pumpkin, garlic, chestnuts and boiling water. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg powder.
Serve with a teaspoon of cream on top and sprinkle some roasted squash seeds.
Financier cakes are lovely little rectangular cakes for tea time. It’s usually made with whisked egg whites. But running out of eggs and having tofu, I tried this variation replacing the eggs by soft tofu and so reducing the fat too. Result : a good low-fat option for sweet spongy cakes with the inconvenient of having to be consumed quickly (within the day is better) to keep a nice texture. The ordinal recipe can be kept longer.
Green tea (matcha) financier cakes – egg-free
200g/7oz soft tofu
150g/5,3oz icing sugar
50g/1,8oz all-purpose flour
80g/2,8oz almond powder
1 teaspoon of green tea powder (matcha)
1 pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
In a robot, mix the soft tofu, almond powder , flour, tea matcha and salt. Melt the butter and add it to the preparation. Mix again.
Pour the preparation in financier mold – I use silicon mold so I don’t need to grease it.