Madeleine Kamman — French chef, author and cookery teacher — is acclaimed for her superb recipes, many of which you won’t find elsewhere, and for her beautiful prose. Both celebrate the food French women have cooked in the home, giving it due recognition in a culture and profession that tends to privilege the French haute cuisine cooked by mostly male chefs in fine restaurants.
This profiterole recipe of hers is a stunner, achievable with excellent results at home while being worthy of a special occasion or especially good establishment. I’ve made these for many years from Kamman’s superbly useful and inspiring The Making of a Cook, and they get rave reviews every time. What makes them is the combination of praline crème chantilly filling, and a fine milk chocolate glaze. Madeleine Kamman developed the recipe, she says, to recreate the tastes remembered from a ski holiday in the Swiss alpine region of Pontresina. I’m usually disappointed when choux buns are filled with whipped cream instead of crème pâtissière, but I make an exception for the sweet roasted-nut and creamy hot-chocolate dreaminess of these. They’re in a different league.
There are a few steps to making them, but the praline can be made ahead and kept in a jar for some time, with the fortunate result that these delicious mouthfuls are no more effort than profiteroles filled with plain whipped cream.
If your thoughts turn to lamb this spring, consider chops, if you are feeding one to four people. A slow-cooked shoulder, or a roast leg, is a better buy and more manageable when feeding four-plus, but chops are great when you don’t want to cook a joint or make gravy and manage all the rest of the roast dinner production. Good loin chops are fast and delicious, and you can grill the season’s local asparagus at the same time for a perfectly partnered, low-maintenance meal. The mint and parsley pesto makes this a triumvirate of lip-smacking flavours and fills the gravy niche nicely, making for one less last-minute effort as it can be done ahead.