Floating Island (Oeufs A La Neige)

In this case a dessert, not a real ocean island. I had this dessert one night in Paris( sounds so nice just to say it, this Paris thing!) at the Le Montparnasse 1900 Restaurant. Art Noveau everything in all it’s glory. Big names and painters were hanging out there at the turn of the century and today it is a monument to that era.  Dinner was fantastic(thank you Dirk and Odette!) to say the least but the brain-stopping moment came with dessert. It was just so damn good and one of those ones where every morsel just tasted perfect. Don’t know if it was the place or the good company or just the dish or all of the above, it just worked for me and of course I had to make it and had the same experience again! Clearly my kind of food.

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A floating island is a French dessert consisting of meringue floating on crème anglaise (a vanilla custard).There is some confusion about the name. In French cuisine, the terms œufs à la neige (“eggs in snow”) and île flottante (floating island) are sometimes used interchangeably; the latter is the source of the English name. The difference between the two dishes is that île flottante sometimes contains islands made of “alternate layers of alcohol-soaked dessert biscuits and jam but generally speaking the dessert is just called floating island.

Herewith the recipe for my little islands of wonder as I found it on Allrecipes.com and it tastes perfect, just like in Paris!

3 eggs
1/2 cup white sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Toasted almond flakes to spinkle just before serving
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 Separate two of the eggs. In top of double boiler, combine 1 whole egg and 2 yolks with 1/4 cup sugar and the salt, whisking until smooth. Whisk in the milk and cook over simmering water, stirring constantly with a spatula or wooden spoon. When the custard thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, remove it from the heat. (Do not boil. If custard should start to curdle, remove from heat and beat vigorously until smooth.) Pour the custard through a strainer into a bowl and stir in the vanilla extract. Cool and refrigerate.(i did not strain the custard and it was perfect).
In a heat-proof bowl, lightly whisk the 2 egg whites with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, just enough to dissolve the sugar. Place the bowl on top of a pot of simmering water and stir constantly until the temperature of the whites reaches 145 degrees F (63 C) or hotter. (I did not have a thermometer and it just tested the heat on my hand, luke warm is the right moment to take the next step).
Immediately remove the bowl from the heat, and use an electric mixer to beat the warm egg whites until they form stiff, glossy peaks.
Pour the chilled custard into a serving dish. Drop the meringue by heaping tablespoons onto the custard to make islands. Chill before serving.
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Sprinkle with toasted almon flakes before serving. It is so easy and can be made the night before a dinner party to save time on the day.
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I found these translations on the interwebs
Afrikaans: drywende eilande/ sneeu eiers
French : île flottante, œufs à la neige
German : Schnee-Eier (“snow eggs”)
Polish : zupa nic
Austrian : Kanarimilch
Hungarian : madártej (“bird’s milk”)
Croatian : schneenockerln, šnenokle
Romanian : lapte de pasăre (“bird’s milk”)
Italian : uova alla neve, uova di neve
Spanish : isla flotante
Portuguese: forofa
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Picnic at the Eiffel

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Oh boy, I visited Paris again and need I say more…. It truly was the perfect holiday and the tastes, sounds and beauty will linger on for life. On a perfect Sunday I went for a picnic in the Champ de Mars with my friend Odette who lives is Paris( yeah, I have a friend living in Paris!) and together with a few of her friends we whiled away the afternoon with picnic food, French baguettes and the Eiffel as a backdrop. To die for and I even took a nap on the picnic blanket as one does. I will in the comming weeks blog about my experiences, and post a few of the recipies I enjoyed the most and also the authentic Racklette we had in the town of Annecy in the Alps. First need to unpack and unravel the contents of way too heavy suitcases and find space for things that used to have spaces before I left but now seems to fit nowhere- the usual unpacking schlep.

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All excursions were started, interrupted and/ or ended with coffee at street cafes and I may or may not have tried just a few macaroons here and there…imageimage