I know, I know, that is two mirror posts in a row…plus 65 others out there in the blogosphere thanks to my beloved Daring Bakers. If you have followed what I did for our July challege, I made 4 mini ones out of a recipe written out for a 10 inch cake. What did I do with the leftover cake, bavarian cream and strawberry mirror?…throw them away?…Heck no! Not in this kitchen!
I had more guests coming during the week so I layered the cake components in pretty glasses and parked them in the fridge until dinner. It seems that my fridge had a never ending love story with Strawberry Mirror cake for a while but that is ok, it looked pretty that way.
I thought about waiting another week or so before posting this but some events have prompted me to do it tonight. See, my 18 year-old god-daughter, Sophie called me last friday saying she was coming to visit for a while. Arrival day: wednesday….August 1st. Arghhhh!! Well, that meant a little cleaning here and there, a little food shopping and meal planning and prep cooking so I could enjoy my time with her. Oh, and a while means that she is staying a whole month!
She has never been to the States so I am tickled pink, I get to be 18 again!! I plan on making sure she has a wonderful time here so forgive me if my posting is sort of heratic in the coming month. I want to make sure you get your sugar fix though so I enrolled her to fill some macarons with me tomorrow night.
You can find the recipe for the Strawberry Mirror here, and if you decide to give it a go and have leftovers, just take out your favorite glasses and layer away.
For those who have been following the monthly adventures of the Daring Bakers, you were maybe starting to wonder if we had drawn a blank on a recipe challenge for this month….Well, as you can see from the above picture, the answer is no….we are just sitting there…quietly reveling in the beauty of a refreshing and light Strawberry Mirror Cake.
Everything about the cake that Peabody had chosen this month had me excited for so many different reasons. The most obvious being that it seems like ages since I have made a mirror cake which is weird in my field since it is a very attractive cake, and has a perfect mix of light vanilla sponge cake and creamy bavarian cream, and travels and keeps well. Thus, having to make it for our challenge was a great way for me to reconnect with an old friend. As I was thinking about writing this very post I figured that you will have the chance to read about its making process, texture and taste and many other blogs (there are over 90 of us), and realized that for me this cake and its whole making experience was centered around friends. Building, sharing and entertaining friendships.
Soon after we were given the challenge, I started preparing for my trip to visit my new best girlfriend, Lisa. That was a big deal: the Queen of Dorkdom herself, co-founder with Ivonne of the Daring Bakers and accomplished Italian chef! Since we had decided to spend a good bit of time in the kitchen, I asked her if there were specific pastry items she wanted me to teach her, like macarons, caramel work and others. I also asked if she wanted to make the challenge cake that weekend. Her answer was "Oh my god, I am so glad you mentioned it. I was about to beg you to help me with it". Folks, although she feels quite nervous about pastry, Lisa rocked that challenge like a pro! I knew her back and feet were killing her we had done so much walking in the heat so I helped with little things like straining the fruit for the puree and juice, measuring little things and washing bowls and cups. Any nervousness about the cake were quickly dissipated, maybe by the fact that I could give her explanation on what the Bavarian should be like, how to decipher a pastry school recipe, giving her tricks like tapping the side of a pan with the back of a knife to get rid of air bubbles and so on. When other Daring Bakers started to ask how long it took to make certain parts of the recipe, I know we were giggling together, although miles away from each other, because we took the entire day and the next morning to make it. See, much like Tanna and Karen did in June with the bagel challenge, we truly shared a great moment of friendship making this one. The high point being when we sat down Sunday evening with her family and shared a great dinner ending with this gorgeous looking cake.
When I got back home, I tackled the cake challenge yet again but this time on a different feeling. I was by myself in the kitchen that Saturday afternoon, and after such a high friendly first time, I felt quite lonely making it. Instead of making one 10 inch cake like the recipe suggested I decided to make 4 individual ones (4 inches wide), kept one for us and brought the remaining three for our weekly cookout with the neighbors. At that point, the cake screamed friendship to me: sharing, laughing, eating…There was not one moment when I was making it that I did not think about Lisa and her family, the laughs and giggles we shared that weekend. Because I went with individual ones, I had quite a bit of cake and cram leftover so I layered them in glasses and we ate cake that week for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but we are up for that in this house, trust me on that! It is light and refreshing, not too sweet and filling enough in small quantities. I used Lemon Vodka instead of the kirsch and did not use any food coloring as B. is allergic and the strawberries were bright red enough.
Strawberry Mirror Cake
3 egg yolks
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 egg whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
2 TBSP sugar
2/3 cup sifted cake flour
½ cup water
1/3 cups sugar
2 TBSP kirsch or strawberry liqueur
Strawberry Bavarian Cream
2 ½ TBSP unflavored gelatin
1 ½ cups strained strawberry puree(1 ½ baskets)
5 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1 ½ cups milk
1 TBSP lemon juice
several drops of red food coloring
1 ¾ cups whipping cream
1 tsp lemon juice
1 TBSP kirsch
1 TBSP water
1 TBSP unflavored gelatin
Few drops of red food coloring
1 ½ pints of strawberries(18 oz)
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup water
1.Preheat oven to 450F. Butter and flour the sides of an 11-by-17 inch jelly roll pan(rimmed baking sheet). Line bottom of pan with a sheet of parchment paper cut to fit bottom pan exactly.
2.Beat eggs, egg yolks and ¾ cup sugar together in a medium bowl until thick and light. Beat in the vanilla.
3.In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy, ad cream of tartar and beat until whites begin to form peaks. Add the 2 TBSP sugar and beat until the whites hold stiff, glossy peaks(do not over beat).
4.Sift flour over the egg yolk mixture and fold in . Stir in one fourth of the whites. Then carefully fold in the remaining whites.
5.Spread batter evenly in pan. Bake until light brown and springy to touch(7 to 10 minutes). Cool in pan 5 minutes. Run a knife along edge to loosen. Invert cake tin to cut out 8 ¼ inch circles of cake. Wrap the cake layers, separated with waxed paper, and set aside. Cake may be frozen at this point.
6.To make soaking syrup: Combine water and the 1/3 cup sugar in saucepan; bring to a boil to dissolve sugar. Cool to room temperature; flavor with liqueur. Set aside or refrigerate in glass jar until ready to use.
7.To assemble cake: Brush sides of 10-inch springform pan lightly with flavorless salad oil or almond oil. Cut out a cardboard circle that is exactly the same size as the bottom inside of the pan; cover cardboard with aluminum foil and fit into bottom of pan. Center one layer of the cake bottom of pan. Brush the cake with some of the soaking syrup to just moisten(not drench) the cake; set aside.
8.Prepare Strawberry Bavarian Cream. Immediately pour about half of the Bavarian Cream over the first layer of cake in the pan. Set the next layer of cake on top of the cream. Pour remaining Bavarian Cream over cake and smooth top of the cream with spatula. Refrigerate until the cream sets(1 to 2 hours).
9.Prepare the Strawberry Mirror.
10.To serve: Wrap a hot towel around the outside of springform pan for a few minutes. Run a small sharp knife tip around the edge of the Strawberry Mirror to separate it form the sides of pan. Mirror will tear when sides are unlatched if it is stuck at ANY point. Slowly unlatch the pan and slide it off the cake. Slice cake in wedges and serve in upright slices.
Prep Work Strawberry Bavarian Cream
1.Sprinkle the gelatin over the strawberry puree in a small bowl and set aside until spongy.
2.Combine egg yolks and sugar in a bowl' beat until light. Bring milk to a boil in sauce pan. Pour hot milk into yolk mixture ans stir with a wooden spoon(it doesn’t say so but I would temper the egg mixture first to be safe). Return this mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until your finger leaves a clear trail in sauce when drawn across the back of the spoon.(Do not boil or mixture will curdle.) Immediately remove from heat and stir in softened gelatin mixture. Pour into a stainless steel bowl places over a bowl of ice water. Stir in lemon juice and a few drops of red food coloring. Cool over ice water, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens to the consistency of softly whipped cream.
3.White gelatin mixture is cooling, whip the whipping cream until it holds soft peaks. When the gelatin mixture resembles softly whipped cream, fold the whipped cream into the gelatin mixture.
1.Prepare strawberry juice.
2.Place lemon juice, kirsch, and water in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over this mixture; set aside until spongy and soft.
3.Measure 1 ½ cups Strawberry juice into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer; pour over gelatin mixture and stir to dissolve gelatin. Tint to desired color with red food coloring. Place bowl over bowl of ice water and stir occasionally until the mixture is syrupy and just beings to thicken(do not let jell); remove from ice water.
4.When mixture is syrupy, pour a 1/16-inch layer over the top of cake. Refrigerate until set.
Strawberry JuiceWash and hull strawberries; coarsely chop. Place strawberries in saucepan; crush to start juices flowing. Place over low heat; add sugar and water; simmer slowly 10 minutes. Pour juice and pulp through damp jelly bag or cheesecloth-lined colander and drain into a bowl for 15 minutes(Do not press down on fruit).
Adapted from Cakes and Pastries At The Academy by the California Culinary Academy 1993
Want to know what everybody else has been up to with this challenge? Head over to my side bar under "Daring Bakers" and click on "Find Us Here" where you will be directed to our official blogroll and start clicking to your heart’s content!
Thanks Peabody for giving me the chance to share great moments both away and at home while making the challenge! Looking forward to August!
I had not even realised that my friend Hannah from Bittersweet had tagged me until I went to her site to get some links straight for our Traveling Egg Meme. The little eggs have left my house and are now on their way to….surprise!
Anyway, as I am (im)patiently waiting for monday to post our last Daring Baker Challenge, and it is raining cats and dogs preventing me to take picture of B’s killer birthday cake, I thought I would accept Hanna’s tags and let you in on this new and fun meme.
INSTRUCTIONS: Remove the blog in the top spot from the following list and bump everyone up one place. Then add your blog to the bottom slot, like so:
What were you doing 10 years ago? B. was visiting me in France and we had just driven down to the Alps to meet up with my parents before going to London for a few days. B. and I had met mid-may, we were now at the end of july and he was telling my dad that he wanted to marry me while my mother and I were shelling peas on the back porch (!)
What were you doing 1 year ago? Cleaning my cubie at work without telling my area director. I was preparing myself to give my 2 weeks notice as manager of a gym, taking a pay cut and stopping the rollercoaster ride of membership sales and commissions. I wanted to go back to my first love, personal training. At the same time, I was receiving a phone call from a former chef I had worked with at a restaurant and he was asking me to come help him out with pastries and desserts. Finally I had found the perfect way to do two things I loved: 3 days baking, 3 days training. (I have had 6-7 days workweek for the past 10 years, I don’t know what a complete weekend off means).
Five snacks you enjoy: 1. Raspberries and whipped cream
Five things you would do if you were a millionaire: 1. Make sure that my in-laws are provided for until they are no longer with us.
2. Re-buy my husband all his photo equipment including his favorite Hasselblad. His first job with his first wife was to be a photographer and though they liquidated the business when they divorced 20 years ago, I know he misses it terribly.
3. Take a 6 months vacation to visit all my relatives back home.
4. Donate to a couple of organizations dear to my heart
5. Partner up with a very talented baker I know in town and open shop.
How much money were we talking about?…!!!
Five bad habits: 1. Staying up too late. I function very well on 5 hours of sleep, but I know that ultimately it’s not good for me.
2. Eating too fast. B. made me a queue card that he places next to my water at dinner: “slow down and chew”. Sorry, family habit.
3. Not having enough patience with my parents. Age makes me act better though.
4. Never screwing the tops or lids well enough on bottle, jars, boxes,…Ask Chef C. when an entire gallon of mango puree fell on his freshly starched uniform….delighted…never heard my name yelled so loud in my life!
5. Eating while reading blogs…I end up with sticky keys and bad typos!
Five things you like doing: 1. Baking. Whether for a customer or for us I MUST hold a whisk or a spatula at some point during the day. It is a no brainer for me, I just go ahead and do it. It is my element, the fuel that feeds my life.
2. Running and lifting weights. I hurt just about every disc in my spine lifting sacks of sugar and flour, pulling out sheet trays loaded with cake pans and ramequins. The doctor recommended weight lifting to strengthen my joints and bones and it really helped with the aches ad pains as well as the energy levels. Running allows me to clear my head, think about desserts I want to make and “line up” my schedule for the next day.
3.Crafting. I make my own greeting cards with collages, papers and decoupage. Decoupage on wood in another craft I love. From frames to boxes, if it is wood, it’s mine.
4.Reading books. I wish I had more time for it but I guess that’s what retirement is for!
5. Having diner with my husband. No TV, no radio. We just talk…We have very little time together, Sunday is “our” day even if we don’t do anything special so dinners are sacred. We light up a couple of candles, set the table and spend a good hour or more just connecting.
Five things you would never wear again: 1. my green leprechaun looking boots from when I was 12…awful….
2. Flat shoes. I need at least 3 inches or I feel like I stump like an elephant.
3. Large loop earrings….I got this close to having my ears lobes cut out by a baby pulling on my earrings while I was holding her.
4. Bright pink nail polish.
5. stir-ups pants…’nough said
Five favorite toys: 1. Stand Mixers. I have got 2 that are used everyday.
2. Camera. I just love playing with it and figuring out all its possibilities.
3. Laptop. Lisa likes to joke that it is hooked to my hip and she is not completely wrong.
4. My cross-stich. I know it’s more like a craft, but for me it is a toy. I play with it every other day. I am still working on the same project I have bee for the past 5 years, but playing with it relaxes me.
5. My fountain pen. I love writing…poems, lists, shorts, blurbs, diary, thoughts…I use it everyday. Cost 3 euros at Carrefour but I love the way it writes.
I was trying to think of a more elusive or more creative title but I always have a difficult time doing so with desserts that incorporate several elements from others I have made or admired through pastry shops front windows (my favorite past-time), but sometimes you have to call a cat a cat. Note for the future: if you are good at it, you are hired the day I publish a book!
The dessert came about when Mary from Alpineberry announced that "Tropical" would be this month Sugar High Friday theme. Every single month, no fail, I am stuck with the same problem: my thoughts start racing and it takes me forever to make up my mind. I never thought I would say this concerning desserts, but in this case abundance is not great! Most of the produce I find here is what I would consider tropical, with plenty of papayas, limes, kiwis of different kinds, cactus pears and so forth but for me the little French alien, I still consider them exotic in some sort of way. For the event I chose to focus on mangoes, pistachios and pineapple. I knew I wanted a pistachio dacquoise at the base and a mango mousse on top, but that sounded kind of basic, so I added a layer of pinneapple preserve (store bought I confess) in between. I started to think about different design elements that would make it more interesting to the eye when I came to plate it for guests. At the restaurant I had those really nice flexible molds made specifically to give a form to a mousse or frozen custard. But I was at home, ready to get started on my dessert…and no desire to head downtown to borrow one (too hot outside!). I did not have those but I had a few sheets of large bubble wrap that would do the trick in a pinch. The honeycomb design echoes the honey in the mousse and creates little pockets very useful to prop up a few cut fresh fruit for plating and decorating.
Dacquoise (dah-kwaz) refers to both the cake it is named after composed of layers of nut meringue and buttercream, as well as one of the layers of meringue. It is used at the base of many cakes in French pastries and provides a nice change from a pastry or shortbread crust. A dacquoise is very close in texture to a macaron, with some recipes adding a touch of flour or cornstarch to the batter. I already like a dessert where the base is a big giant layer of macaron and who better fitted to provide me with a great recipe than the master of macaron himself? My sugar daddy, Pierre Herme. The mousse is one that I developped over the years from different sources making it safe to adapt with all sorts of fruits. This time I replace some of the sugar with wildflower honey and added some freshly grated ginger to perk it up a bit. The dessert looks a lot more intricate than it is. You can prepare the dacquoise a couple of days ahead, make the mousse and layer the rest of the dessert the day before you plan to serve it.
70 gr. finely ground pistachios
75 gr. powdered sugar
25 gr. granulated sugar
3 egg whites
In a large bowl, mix togther the nuts and powdered sugar. Beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Slowly incorporate the granulated sugar with the machine running, until you get nice glossy peaks. Delicately fold in the nut mixture. Spread on a parchment line 8×8 baking dish and bake at 340F for about 35 minutes.
For the mousse layer:
2 ripe mangoes, peeled, cut up and pureed
1/2 cup water
1 envelope unflavoured gelatin
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tb fresh grated ginger
1 cup whipping cream, whipped
Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let soften for about 10 minutes.
In a medium saucepan, combine the mango puree, sugar, ginger and honey. Heat until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the gelatin. Stir to dissolve and let cool to room temp, or until it starts to thicken a bit. Fold the whipped cream into the mango. Use it in the dessert assembly before it has time to thicken so it will be easier to pour.
Remove the dacquoise from the baking pan. Line the same pan with heavy duty plastic wrap. Cut a sheet of bubble wrap to fit and put it on top of the plastic, bubbles side up. Pour the mango mousse and freeze until set.
Spoon 1 cup pineapple preserves (or others of your choice) on top of the mango mousse. Press the sheet of dacquoise on top with a light pressure of your fingertips so all the elements adhere together. Freeze until ready to use.
To unmold, flip the pan over and remove the plastic and bubble wrap. Decorate and serve.
Under other circumstances I would have started this post with the title "Banana Crepes and Salted Butter Caramel Sauce", but Andrew wanted sauces to be the center of attention in this month "Waiter There Is Something In My…" so my favorite caramel sauce took center stage.
There are very few things I love more than crepes in the desser category. Summer or winter I do not mind standing in front of the cooktop and flipping a batch. Oh yeah, I am a flipper! As soon as that crepe is pulling out from the side and loose from the bottom, I will flip it. There is enough batter for a couple to end up on the floor (makes the dog happy) or stuck to the ceiling (makes the husband worried). I like them sweet with a spritz of lemon juice and sugar or filled with my mother’s strawberry jam. That’s when I am being good….When I am being bad, I will load them up with Nutella, bananas, drizzle some caramel sauce, a good amount of whipped cream and some chopped nuts. Maybe just some chocolate, coconut sorbet and again that awesome sauce.
Allright there is obviously something that I love as equally as my sweet crepes and it is that heavenly and damned salted butter caramel sauce. It is heaven on a spoon, soft and good, it is evil on your thighs, especially if you eat it at the rate we do! Try it once and there is no going back!! I noticed I always have jar of it in the fridge and it is one of the first things I put in goodie baskets for friends and family. It was not always so and I can’t believe I have let such a long time pass by before making it! I was first introduced to it while reading one of my favorite blogs, Chocolate and Caetera. Guillemette makes the most tempting creations and when I read her post about the sauce, I was hooked. I am sure that caramel sauce also helped win HHDD #10 Cheesecakes.
Now that everybody has been introduced, let’s proceed with the fun. If you read French, head over to Marmiton where you will find the crepe recipe under (I translated) "the best crepe batter in the world". Now if you post such a title, you’d better have some back up or a strong faith in your recipe! Well….It became "the best" I had made so far after I added 1/2 cup light beer to the batter. See, to me there is no crepe without beer or cider. It helps the dough relax better, it helps it become airy and light without adding too much butter or oil to the batter.
The banana filling pretty much came together as I was going along….can’t mess up too much cooking nanners in butter, sugar and rum now can you?!! Once the crepes were flipped and filled I tied them up in little bundles with cut strings of licorice. The sauce served alongside really gave them another dimension. Can’t you tell we enjoyed dessert that evening?!
Salted Butter Caramel Sauce
240 gr. sugar
80 ml water
115 gr salted butter
150 ml heavy whipping cream
In a heavy saucepan set over low heat, combine the sugar and water and heat just until the sugar is dissolved. Add the butter. Let it come to a boil and cook until it reaches a golden caramel color. Remove from the heat and add the cream ( it will splatter and get crazy, but do not fear and trust the recipe). Whisk to combine and put back on the stove. Let it come to a boil again over low heat and cook 10-15 minutes until you reach a nice creamy consistency. Pour into a jar and try to refrain yourself from drinking it!
Makes 12 crepes
250 g flour
2 cups milk
1 Tb. oil
pinch of salt
1/2 cup light beer
In a blender or food processor, combine all the igredients and pulse until fully incorporated and no lumps remain.
If you decide to do it by hand: combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the center and add the eggs, oil and a little bit of milk. Work the batter with a whisk, and slowly add the remaining milk, until the batter comes together and the lumps disappear. Add the beer.
No matter what method you used, strain the batter if necessary. Refrigerate, covered for an hour.
In a saute pan set over medium high heat, laddle 1/4 -1/3 cup batter (depending on the size of your pan) and cook 1-2 minutes on each side.
For the filling:
This is not a recipe per se because I only made enough for 4 crepes:
Cut 4 bananas into thin slices. In a pan, melt 4 Tb sugar with 4 TB butter, add 1/4 cup rum and cook until the sugar is melted. Add the bananas and cook them until soft. Remove them fom the pan. Let cool.
Melt 1/2 cup of dark chocolate with 1/4 cup heavy cream in the microwave.
Fill each crepe with about 2 Tb. melted chocolate and 14 cup bananas. Gather the edges of the crepe together and tie up with a string of licorice. Serve with plenty of caramel sauce.
One night that I was reading a post by my favorite Cream Puff about a beautiful dessert called Lucia’s Walnut Cake. Her post was a beautiful tribute to her grandmother as well as an introduction to a soon to be published cookbook, Adventures of an Italian Food Lover, by Faith Heller Willinger. Cath from A Blithe Palate had been given the opportunity to get a first look at the book before its release and had contacted Ivonne about it. Together they decided to create a blogging event of some sort around its release, sending copies to other bloggers with the sole instruction to make something from it and share their experience in a post, no book reviews necessary. I so wanted to be in the loop that I visited Cath’s site, left her a comment ( Did I beg? maybe…!) and a couple of weeks later I was sitting down on the back porch with an espresso and my own copy of the book.
This book represents everything cooking and baking is for me and my family. There is not a dish I make that does not have a story, a person or a name behind it. Some of the dishes I cook revolve around family holidays or special events, some remind me of the people who crossed my path and made me the person and baker I am today. Faith Willinger has the same approach in this book. All the recipes invite you to in somebody’s home, life and cooking. Little of the foods I make are Italian per se but they bear similarities having lived a good part of my life so close to the area, and I was very excited with the ability and ease this book provided me to broaden my horizons.
Out of all the recipes in the book, my thoughts came coming back to the Amaretti one. I have always admired this delicate cookie and yet, I probably only had it a couple of times in my life.Amaretti are cousins to the macarons in a way: same ingredients, different baking method and no filling. Their white and delicate appearance makes me think of weddings and summer days, long strolls on the beach and fragrant coffee. What can I say…I am a romantic.
The first time I had an Amaretti was during a memorable trip with my parents to Turino. Twenty eight years ago, my parents and grandparents bought a chalet in the southern Alps, a stone throw away from Italy. We would go across the border and get pancetta, coppa, pannetone, grappa and sometimes we would stay for lunch. On one occasion, over 20 years ago, we decided to have lunch at a tiny restaurant with one large dining area painted with a beautiful fresca of Italian coutrysides. It was late already, middle of the summer, hot outside. The chef was on his own, his aides and waiters gone on their daily siesta. We were starving, but well behaved, the chef was making everything from scratch, and plates were coming out one at a time. Our meal was a feast of ravioli, cold cuts, pizza, fish and other delicacies. We decided to make good fortune and the four of us shared each plate that was coming out of the kitchen when it was coming out. We slowed down after the first bites of ravioli filled our tummies with warm rich and cheesey tomato sauce. I don’t think my memories are failing me when I say that I truly believe we had the greatest time as a family that afternoon. The chef was kind and loved the way our little group chatted and feasted. Towards the end, we motionned for him to take a seat with us but he said he could not, he wanted to do the dishes and clean up before the Mrs. would come in and give him a hard time for serving "after hours"! He brought my parents espressos, spearmint syrup and water for us and a plate of amaretti. My first ones! I hesitated as they looked so delicate. My brother ignored his for a while…long enough for me to eat mine and half of his plate! I asked the chef how he made them and he said "I don’t make them, my mother does and she only told me the ingredients"….well, come on man! Dish it out!!! He hesitated for a second, then he replied "ok, well, it’s almonds, sugar, egg whites and a pinch of salt" That was it?!
It took me all this time and this book to finally make them. I don’t know the name of the restaurant that day many moons ago, and I surely do not know the name of the man who cooked us that fabulous meal, but the cookies were just as I remembered. Crisp and delicate, perfect with coffee or mint tea.
Thank you Ivonne and Cath for the opportunity. There are many pages of the book already bookmarked and other recipes already tried like the olive oil brownies that are out of this world. If you would like the recipe for the amaretti, contact me via email(marinette1ATcomcastDOTnet) and I’ll be happy to send it to you.
About a month ago, I started a funny email exchange with Hannah of Bittersweet. I left a comment on her blog after seeing the cutest box of eggs…Eh? Allright, Tartelette has gone off the deep end…now she gets all excited “looking” at eggs. Hear me out: Hannah makes the most precious crochet items (seriously girl, set up shop already!!), and once my eyes settled on these I started to covet them (familiar Lis?!). I even entertained the idea of learning how to crochet so I could duplicate them, or bribe my mom to teach me or make them for me. A few days later I received an email from Hannah, offering to make another carton for me for a bargain or a swap. I think they are priceless, but we agreed on swaping the eggs for a few jars of homemade preserves.
I was so excited to get Hanah’s packagage! The eggs look so much cuter in person than through the monitor. Such talent…and they are funny….but there started my “problem”.
Once I had the box in my hands, I was not sure where to display it. The kitchen? It would get dirty. The window sill? Not enough of a showcase. The dining room or living room? Neither are really a good spot but the eggs would be a good conversation piece or ice breaker, and yet they were still out of place. I was holding the box in my hands thinking: “Now what?” I was getting ready to go visit Lisa in Ohio and thought they would make a nice present. But then, same thing would happen again: she’ll admire them, look at them and then say “Now what?” That’s when the solution to the whole thing came to my mind: these eggs need to see the world, they have the traveling bug! Lisa and I did not have our stuff together yet to send them off on their merry little way, so they came back to South Carolina with me…and now they are off to greener pasture!
So here is how the Traveling Egg Meme works:
One day, you might be the lucky recipient of a half dozen hand crocheted eggs, made by Hannah of Bittersweet. The eggs have the traveling bug and need to see the world. To help them on their mission, here are the directives you must follow:
1/ When you unpack them, enjoy them or a few days. Sign your name or your blog name on the carton (anywhere). If by the time the eggs reach you, the carton is full of names, sign on a small card and put it inside the box.
2/ Take a picture of the eggs with you or something representing your blog, city or state, and write a short post including that picture and a link back to Hannah’s and Tartelette’s blogs.
3/ Send them to somebody with a food related blog, but do not reveal their identity. Include the enclosed card with a permalink to this post in case more info are necessary. If you do not know an address, ask around, beg, plea or lie! There are a lot of packages being exchanged between us these days so I have no fear the eggs will find a temporary home!
4/ If for any reason you do not wish to participate, email Tartelette (marinette1ATcomcastDOTnet) to send them back to her so she can set them off somewhere again.
B. and I celebrated our ninth year anniversary July 11….well, when I say celebrated it’s not exactly true. Oh yes, there were cards and smoochies, but he left flowers in the car that night not expecting temperatures in the high 80s by six o’clock in the morning. He woke me up with a bunch of pretty but yet wilted flowers, that was comical and it reminded of the way I felt on my wedding day…wilting and melting back in 1998 under the hot sun of Charleston. I am surprised that nobody back then tried to dissuade me from a July wedding. What was I thinking? Well, I had no idea it was going to be over 100F that day, much like our anniversary day last week.
Anyway, back to our celebration. We both worked late night so we decided to stay home, grill some seafood, drink some Champagne and relax on the porch. We were so tired that we barely drank one glass each and crashed into bed. Oops!
We felt a little strange the day after: should we have made more of a production out of it? Should we make up for it and go out somewhere fancy? Any of our friends would tell you that it would not be like us. We do things everyday to show our love and respect for each other. They are not grand gestures but they truly come from the heart. Oh sure, I am not going to play it all cool, we do have fancier celebrations but I’d choose a picnic on the beach under a full moon over a formal restaurant dining room. Those evenings are usually spent with my parents when they come visit. Going out with them is a rare treat so then we make a big deal out of it, plus ordering with my dad around is an adventure in itself (I’d better savethat for another post).
What about the Champagne Sorbet? (good you’re still reading) Well, we had most of the bottle left and still some fizz in it but no real urge or desire to drink it right away. What to do? Cocktails, vinegars, sauces,….Sorbet!!! Since it was still scorching hot outside I figured it would be a great way to end dinner that night.
The recipe could not be any simpler and if you do not have an ice cream maker, do not worry. Once you are ready to freeze the sorbet mixture, pour it into a glass container and freeze for a couple of hours. With an handheld immersion blender, Kitchen Aid or hand mixer, whisk the dough for a miute or so. Return the dish to the freezer and repeat a couple more times. Et Voila!
500 ml water
250 ml good quality Champagne
50 ml lemon juice
Bring the water to a boil and stir in the sugar, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Let cool completely.
Stir in the champagne and lemon juice.
Process in your ice cream machine following the manufacturer’s instructions or use the method described above.
It is 1.35am here and I am wide awake….and I just half of one of these babies. For some of you it is the middle of the night, for others, mid-morning, or later somewhere somehow…so enjoy the pictures while I slowly slip into bed. Recipe later on today…
Looking at your comments I can tell that cheesecakes stimulate your appetites. I also feel the need to explain that I bake "constantly": sometimes for us or the neighbors, and a lot for special orders. I "rescued" the cheesecake in the picture from a larger order for a friend’s dinner party with her in-laws. I bake at odd times, whenever I get the chance, and I have a whole shelf of the fridge reserved for prep work full batters, baked sheet cakes, genoises, dacquoise, egg whites, creams and all the tralalas…There is no telling when Old Chef is going to call me or when stangers email me for cakes. My job at the gym is only part time so I can keep practicing my first job. This said back to the cheesecakes…
My friend C. has her in-laws visiting and they love cheesecakes and she loves mini-everything. She has a whole array of molds, pans, serving dishes ready to satisfy the most avid baker and yet, she hates anything that has to do with putting on an apron and spending time in the kitchen. She usually calls me to the rescue and I always love to oblige. A visit to her house is always a treat as she is the most perfect host, Martha has nothing on her, believe me, and I spend quite a bit of time admiring her designer’s eye an skills at the same time I deliver my baked goods.
Her requests for the cheesecake flavors were minimal: light an airy, no chocolate, maybe some citrus…needs to go well with vodka cocktails an margaritas….Hmmm…I think I can manage that!
I did not have to look deep into the pantry or the fridge for what I wanted the cheesecakes to be. While visiting Lisa a couple of weeks ago, I begged her to take me to Trader Joes (why we don’t have one here is beyond my understanding!) and picked up a jar of their ginger spread (like a thick ginger jam) as well as a jar of Yuzu marmelade.
After a successful first run with Yuzu curd, I knew C. would love a thin glaze of the marmelade on the cheesecakes. I made a couple of extras the day before her dinner so that we could try them out….you know…for safety purposes!!! Before I could get my spoon into one of them, she had already made her way through 3/4 of it, so I packed one up to share with B. later on. Well, later on was last night and he went to bed as soon as he got home from a music gig. I, on the other hand was all revved up from chatting with a friend….And why oh why was this cheesecake strategically positioned in the fridge that everytime I’d open the door for water, there it was, sending me subliminal messages. After a 30 minutes dance between my fork and the water, the fork won and I sat outside with half of it. Needless to say, I fell asleep like a baby!!!
Ginger Cheesecakes With Yuzu Glaze:
Makes 2 41/2 inch cheesecakes
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1 Tb. butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tb ginger spread (you can sub 1 Tb fresh grated ginger)
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 Tb melted butter
1/2 cup yuzu marmelade ( you can sub. lemon curd or orange marmelade)
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a medium side bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and the melted butter. Divide among 2 4 1/2 inch mini springform pans and pat with your fingers until evenly distributed. Bake 10 minutes. Lower temperature to 325.
In a large bowl, with the electric mixer or by hand , mix the cream cheese, butter and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time until well incorporated. Add the vanilla and ginger spread. Divide betwee the springform pans. Wrap each pan with heavy duty foil. Set them in a roasting pan, fill with water and bake at 325 for about 40 minutes, or until they wiggle just a tiny bit in the middle. They will set more after an overnight trip in the fridge. Remove the foil, let cool, and refrigerate.
When ready to serve, run a hot knife on the inside of the pan and release the cheesecakes. Heat up the marmelade in the microwave until of spreadable consistency and spoon on top of each cake….you are ready to go!
Provencal apron is Grandma’s, the pinkish one is mine.
No recipe today but a little story or two. The weather is so bad I have been struggling with my photo session this morning so I gave up and give you a little post about a couple of things: aprons and your own Italian Chef.
Ilva, from Lucullian Delights asked food bloggers everywhere to show her their apron. When I was taking picutres of mine and explained to B. what I was doing, he had that look on his face "Weirdos…" Well, at least she did not ask us to show our feet or naked selves….!
I could not post about just one apron. There is the one I use almost everyday and the one that I keep in a kitchen drawer, much like a good luck charm.
The blue and yellow provencal inspired apron in the picture above belonged to my Grandmother Paulette. If you have been reading this site for some time, you know how important she was to me. I credit my love of anything sweet and kitchen related to my grandmother. Her kitchen was constantly in action and very much the place where all of us would gather and chat. She had a collection of aprons that would make any women jealous, rugged or pristine, lived in or barely worn. When she passed away, my mom and aunt were in charge of organizing her closets and going through all of her little things (gosh, the woman kept everything). They were going through piles and piles of clothes and other utilitary items that my grandfather could not bear to see anymore and that would be of better use to other women. I know how hard it had to be for them to do this, but there was no point in keeping all that stuff in closets and boxes. They aked my two cousins and me (we are just months apart) if there was anything of Grandma that we wanted as a souvenir, like a scarf or a handkerchief.
We all replied at the same time: "one of her aprons!" This is how we knew and remember her, presiding the kitchen, making things happen behind the scene. I don’t even know if she enjoyed cooking that much, we never talked about it, she was just good at it.
That provencal apron is interesting to me for a couple of reasons. No matter what I cook in the kitchen, everytime I take it out to look at it, I can’t help but smell it….and even if I am making a curry or a tagine, it still smells like her, even after all these years. On one of the pictures you can notice a safety pin, close to the top. This is quite funny to me because she would use a safety pins on the ones that were broken at the neck part and kept using them like that. This one, although worn and faded, is not broken, yet she had attached a safety pin to it, as if she knew it would break eventually. Can’t really tell how long she had it before she passed away, but from the look of the other ones, this one was either relatively new or well taken care of for unknown reasons. I can’t wear it though. I am afraid of messing it up and it is hers. It’s got her fit, her smell, her touch, safety pin and all.
The other apron is mine. I don’t do full length aprons like Grandma. As soon as I started working in a restaurant, I did what 99% of the other chefs did, wear mine as a half apron. Top part folded underneath, ties wrapped around twice and knotted in the front, knot folded on itself so it does not catch on anything you are working on. At the house I do the same with the few aprons that I have. Recenty I started looking into making my own with large kitchen towels, that I would turn into half aprons. I had seen a couple of crafting sites withe the project explained, seemed easy enough, but what can I say…after work, baking, and playing I don’t have much time left for sewing. I turned to my trusted Etsy site and found a great gal, Rebecca, who was making fabulous ones, exactly like I wanted, with great colors and patterns. Just a few days after ordering I was able to play it very mod in my own kitchen. I only have this one from her, but believe me, she has not heard the last of me!!
As for the Italian Chef? Lisa posted her account of the fabulous 5 days we spent together. I just want to add a few things, or at least my own memory of it!
– the look at the airport: I was just amazed they were pulling in as soon as I had gotten my luggage. Perfect timing, and less time to spend outside with weirdos!
– the dogs: I did not want Chloe to smell my dog and bark at me. Lisa’s pupps are just adorable, loving and all over the place!
– friday night liquor consumption: well, that was pretty much Hubbs and sister. I went to bed shortly after Lisa, but kept hearing them laughing so I went back to the kitchen and talked while they were getting cozy with the booze…I had water…really.
– I had only one s’mores,(but plenty of roasted marshmallows) I coud have had 3 but I was trying to behave and not show the glutton in me!!
– Sur La Table: I agree that store is evil….everytime I was picking somethig up I was thinking B. would have a fit…except for the glasses, he had "ordered" me to get her something nice and if a woman says "I covet them", well, you just got to get it!!
– cooking: oh yeah, we took our time but when I think of all the stuff we did in 2 days, I am very happy! And that tomato sauce….I am having it everyday, with everything! No more jarred!! The meatballs, well, let’s just say I scored really high with B….!!
– her husband is the sweetest man ever. He adores her and clearly worships the ground she walks on….now, if he could only teach mine how to cook!!
– she learned that keeping me up late at night meant feeding me more and more and more….!
– do not believe her about the macarons: I only helped with the piping, the rest is hers!
– if I could I would find a way for us to be neighbors. From the moment we met, there was no awckard silence, no strange moment of adjustment. We trusted each other and showed good, the bad and the ugly. Lisa has the biggest heart ever, and the knack for saying the right things at the right time. Her patience is beyond words and her 'joie de vivre' is contagious!
Stay tuned as we planned a little guest posts on our blogs. I’ll visit hers for a ratatouille dish, and she’ll come over here for her macaron adventure. If only we could do it again soon. Hopefully they can visit here soon! Thanks Lisa for everything. I was able to relax, take some time to reflect on the past few months and really have a good time. You are the most gracious host.
Lisa’s little family: Chloe the Australian Shepherd (my dog would totally make out with her), Nigel the Lhassa Apso (reminded me so much of my previous dog a black Lhassa ), and Wicked the Cat of more than 9 lives, and the pond where we relaxed a lot.