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Posts Tagged ‘caramel’

MagicalCustardCake_FIRST

Yesterday, December 6th was Hungarian Mikulásnap (Santa’s Day). This date was very important in our house because it was the date that Mikulás visited our home to pick up the letters we would write to him…the Christmas wish list! It was always our tradition to put the letters into freshly polished, shiny boots on the windowsill just before we went to bed. In the morning, we would find our boots filled with European chocolates (if we were good) or the dreaded virgács (thin branches that our parents could use to slap our bottoms with, if we were bad). To the best of my memory, we only received the virgács once; that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I am always nostalgic this time of year, particularly in my neighbourhood of European delis that stock the same delicious chocolates we used to receive as kids.

Although chocolate treats in the form of Santa (or Mikulás) would be a lovely dessert, recently I decided to make an unusual cake that has been making the rounds on the blog-o-sphere for some time. Surprisingly, there is nothing unusual about the ingredients and the recipe is pretty much like a jelly roll or genoise sponge, but what’s really unusual is that the cake separates into a custard portion and a cake portion during baking. I suspect this recipe came about as a mistake someone made a long time ago and it baked into this amazing and delicious surprise (like so many recipes out there). The history really doesn’t matter, it is a delicious cake that is a cross between a custard and a cake and I think you should try it.

Since I’m not much of Pinterest person, I only saw this cake on the blogs I follow and the very first one was Bizzy Lizzy, my Hungarian bogging friend down under and then Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella made a pumpkin version — I knew I had to make this unusual dessert. We loved the Hungarian Custard Squares (Krémes Szelet) so I suspected that this recipe would be a winner too. I used Liz’s recipe but I halved it because there were only four of us for brunch; I topped it with baked pears (I scored the pears at $1.96 for 10 because they were not perfect specimens!) and a drizzle of coconut sugar caramel sauce. The dessert received rave reviews and as a bonus, it stores well in the fridge for a couple of days (unassembled). It’s definitely going into my dessert repertoire…now to figure out a gluten free version!

What Christmas/holiday traditions do you have?

MagicalCustardCake_7587

Soft custard, baked pears, fluffy cake and sweet earthy caramel sauce garnished with a toasted walnut. May I cut you a slice?

Magical Custard Cake with Baked Pears and Coconut Caramel Sauce

Original Recipe from Bizzy Lizzy’s Good Things

Serves 4

Ingredients for the Magical Custard Cake:

  • 60 g unsalted butter
  • 240 mL low fat milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs, room temperature, separated
  • 60 g icing sugar, sifted
  • pinch, cream of tartar
  • 57 g unbleached AP flour, sifted
  • 4 walnut halves for garnish, toasted

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 330° F (165° C).
  2. Prepare a 21 cm x 11 cm(4″ x 8″) loaf pan by lining it with parchment paper.
  3. Melt the butter and cool to room temperature.
  4. Warm the milk combined with vanilla until lukewarm (should not be hot).
  5. Beat the egg whites with a pinch of cream of tartar until stiff but not dry, set aside.
  6. Beat the egg yolks with the icing sugar until light and fluffy (about 5 – 7 minutes). Set the mixer speed to the lowest and slowly drizzle in the melted butter until entirely combined.
  7. Slowly fold in the flour alternating with the warm milk until it is fully combined.
  8. Fold in the beaten egg whites a spoon at a time until fully incorporated but not deflated. This is quite a runny batter, so don’t worry.
  9. Bake for 40 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Allow to cool completely and then refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

Ingredients for the baked pears:

  • 10 small pears, peeled, cored and cut into cubes
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

Directions for the baked pears:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350° F (171° C).
  2. Toss cubed pears with sugar, cinnamon and salt and pour into a casserole dish. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until soft. Set aside.

Ingredients for Coconut Sugar Caramel Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup Grace coconut sugar (or regular granulated sugar)
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1/8 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup hot cream
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter

Directions for Coconut Sugar Caramel Sauce:

  1. Heat cream in a microwave proof container until very hot but not boiling, set aside.
  2. Mix sugar, water and lemon juice in a 2 cup pyrex measuring cup.
  3. Microwave for 15-60 seconds (note that in 2016 I doubled the recipe and it took 3 minutes 25 seconds of microwaving to get the amber colour I was looking for), until sugar bubbles up but does NOT BURN, sugar crystals should be completely dissolved and you should begin to see it turn to a light amber colour. Remove and set on a dishcloth for 30 seconds and slowly pour in the hot cream, being careful as this will bubble up.
  4. Stir well and then add the butter  and stir until completely incorporated. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Assembly Directions:

  1. Remove cold ‘cake’ from the fridge and set on a cutting board. Cut into 4 slices and set each slice on the centre of a plate.
  2. Reheat the baked pear cubes until steamy (microwave for a minute or so on high).
  3. Spoon equal amounts of the pears onto each slice, then drizzle with the coconut caramel. Garnish with a toasted walnut half.

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CrackPie_Blog1

I forgot to take powdered sugar to the cottage to decorate the top.

It’s not what you think. At the very least, it’s not the crack that Toronto has become famous for (didn’t you know?). It’s the other crack that Chef David Chang and Christina Tosi’s Milkbar in NYC that has this crack elevated to the highest of honors, it’s Crack Pie. If you have never heard of Crack Pie, it’s a decadent combination of butter, sugars (brown and white), eggs and oats. It’s incredibly rich and moreish. But I warn you, a slice of this pie will cost you dearly (and I’m not even going to talk about the $44 price tag for whole pie sold at Milkbar in NYC). Is it worth it? The calories and the time to make it? I’ll let you be the judge. If you ask me if I’ll make it again, I’m going to say probably not. It’s not that it wasn’t good, that it was, but there are a lot of other desserts that are equally as good without being as caloric (Bon Appetite’s recipe details the nutritional facts as: 1 slice (a pie serves 12 people) 350.8 Calories,  53.8 g Fat (21.0 g Saturated Fat)). Some of my dear readers will swoon over this recipe and some will be appalled because it’s not something that generally fits into this blog. To those who are appalled I apologize, it’s not often I make something so outlandishly bad for you. To those who swoon, tread lightly, it is as dangerous as the illegal kind (crack, that is!)

I cannot take credit for this pie on my radar because it was my dear fellow blogger Lorraine, over at Not Quite Nigella who introduced me to it in June last year. It was part of the Daring Bakers Challenge (I do not participate) but I saw it pop up all over the place in the blogs I follow. I filed this recipe in a spot I file many recipes that are not as healthy, most likely never to be made, but we were at a fund raiser for one of the Photographer’s wives who was doing a hike to Machu Picchu to raise money for breast cancer research and awareness and one of the food stylists made Crack Pie (she made it in a slab and cut it into tiny squares). I knew I had to try it. JT loved it, so when we had my nephew over for dinner in late August, I took the plunge and made it.

CrackPie_Blog2

If I had to describe this pie, it’s like a decadent blondie.

Momofuku’s Crack Pie

Makes 1 pie about 25 cm diameter

Ingredients for Oat Cookie Crust:

  • 9 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature, divided (6 & 3 tbsp)
  • 5 1/2 tbsp packed light brown sugar, divided (4 & 1½ tbsp)
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Directions for oatmeal cookie crust:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350° F (180° C). Line a 13″ x 9″ sheet with parchment and spray lightly with cooking spray.
  2. Using a mixer, beat  6 tbsp butter with 4 tbsp brown sugar and white sugar until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes).
  3. Add the egg and beat again until pale and fluffy, about 1 minute.
  4. Fold in the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and stir until well blended.
  5. Turn out the oat mixture into prepared baking pan and press out evenly to edges of pan or close enough.
  6. Bake until lightly golden about 18 minutes.
  7. Lift parchment with cookie onto a wire rack and cool completely, about an hour.
  8. Once cool, crumble the cookie into a large bowl and add the remaining 3 tbsp (45 gm) butter and 1-1/2 tbsp brown sugar and mix well until the mixture is moist and will stick together when pressed between your fingers (think graham cracker crust).
  9. Pour the cookie crust mixture to a 25 cm spring-form pan and press into the bottom and sides using your fingers and/or anything that will press it firmly. Set aside.

Ingredients for filling:

  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp dry milk powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 6 1/2 tbsp table cream (recipe called for whipping cream but I had table cream on hand so I used it instead)
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • (Powdered sugar for dusting) – I forgot

Directions for filling:

  1. Preheat to  350° F (180° C). Spray a 25 cm spring-form pan with baking spray.
  2. Whisk sugars, milk powder, and salt together in a medium bowl and add melted butter and whisk until blended.
  3. Add the cream, egg yolks and vanilla and whisk until well blended.
  4. Pour the filling into the crust.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes (filling might bubble up) then reduce oven temperature to 325° F (160°C) and continue to bake until filling is golden on top and set around edges (20 minutes longer).
  6. Cool pie completely on a wire rack. Chill uncovered overnight. Carefully glide a knife around the edges to loosen and remove the sides of the spring-form pan and slide the sides off. Position on a serving plate.
  7. Sift powdered sugar lightly over top of pie. Cut pie into thin wedges. Serve cold with a drizzle of caramel and a dollop of whipped cream.
CrackPie_Blog3

Would you like some crack with that?

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Thank you all for your generous and kind comments, I may just take you up on your lovely offers to be my assistant!

Last week we went out for dinner in our hood to Bloom, a really great restaurant serving what they call “Nuevo Latino Cuisine”.  Every second Thursday they feature live jazz musicians and as luck would have it, we usually choose the off Thursday, as was the case last week. There is nothing I enjoy more than live music during dinner, particularly in a venue whose patrons appreciate the talent and don’t make noise over the performance, so to say I was disappointed would have been an understatement. But our evening ended up being even more exciting than I expected because as soon as we walked in I noticed a gentleman with an uncanny resemblance to Tiggy from the remarkably successful HBO series called Sons of Anarchy (I bin-watched all six seasons in a very short month)! As soon as we were seated we googled the show and it turns out that it WAS Kim Coates from the famous show! Imagine my excitement. I’m fairly conservative about approaching famous people so I was not about to intrude on his dinner. We had a lovely meal (which I will review next time we go when I don’t forget to take photos) as did Kim Coates and I persevered not to disturb him. Unfortunately the table next to our’s heard me ask the waiter if he was indeed Kim Coates and they approached him for photos. He was extremely generous and kind and took several photos and chatted with them. JT decided it was our turn (he doesn’t watch the show but knows how much I enjoy it) and Kim very kindly came over to our table for photos and a chat. He is Canadian (born in Saskatoon) and is an actual rider (coincidentally one of the few of the cast who didn’t need to be taught how to ride a hog!) It was very exciting and I was instantly taken back at his generosity with his precious personal time. I do, however regret not apologizing to his dinner partner for usurping his guest. So that’s my brush with fame in Bloor West Village.

For those of you in "The Know" that's a photo of Tiggy and I!

For those of you in “The Know” that’s a photo of Tiggy and I!

Mmmm. Peaches.

Mmmm. Peaches.

 

Onto the recipe. Today I’m sharing not so much a recipe but more of a serving suggestion for Ontario Peaches (of course, you may use any old peaches, but we’re pretty pumped here in Ontario because Peaches are in season right now)! We’ve grilled them for a little contrast in hot and cold and of course, texture. Plus it looks and sounds cool! The Ricotta is delicately flavoured with some lemon zest, a little icing sugar and a pinch of pure vanilla extract (though, not enough to discolour it). I made it for my GF BFF and she said it reminded her of German Cheese Cake! I left the peach skin on and it softened up beautifully with the grilling. The dish was sweet enough, but I wanted a little pizzaz for plating so I made a simple caramel sauce and I toasted a few walnuts and coated them with some Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar that my dear friend Kristy (from Eat, Play, Love, Our Family Food Adventures) gave me last year when we met in Toronto. All in all, the dish is a winner and will be served again this summer before the peaches are out of season.

This is not a well styled photo. I took it rushed just before I served it.

This is not a well styled photo. I took it rushed just before I served it.

Grilled Ontario Peaches with Lightly Sweetened, Lemon-zest Scented Ricotta

An original Kitcheninspirations recipe

Serves 4-8

Ingredients:

  • 4 ripe peaches
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 250 mL ricotta cheese
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • Caramel Sauce
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1 tbsp chocolate balsamic vinegar
  • finely sliced mint

Directions:

  1. Heat grill to 450°F. Cut peaches in half and remove the stones. Lay face up on a baking sheet and sprinkle gently with cinnamon (you may also bake the peaches at 450°F for about 10-15 minutes or try broiling them, but I have not experimented with this). Grill cut side first for about 2-4 minutes and flip for another minute or so. Set aside.
  2. Combine ricotta cheese with the icing sugar, vanilla extract and lemon zest and mix well. Taste and adjust as required.
  3. Serve 1-2 peach halves per plate. Cut peaches into thin-ish slices and lay in a semi-circle on the plate. Add a quenelle or scoop of the ricotta in the centre of the plate. Drizzle with caramel sauce, finely sliced mint and walnuts. Serve immediately.
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Can you just taste them?

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A wonderful combination of flavours.

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Happy Valentines Day! I can’t believe it’s the middle of February! And on top of it, it’s Valentine’s Day — do you have something wonderful planned for your partner? Or do you wait for the weekend?

We had our good friends Rae and Mon over for dinner a couple of weeks ago and I made this new rendition of the clafoutis we made in Lyon; I dare say I like this one a touch more, or at least it hit my taste buds perfectly. The warming spices of the cinnamon go well with the apple and the pudding. I will surely make this again.

Apple Cinnamon Clafoutis

Makes 6 Claffoutis about 10cm or 4 inches in diametre

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 80 g granulated sugar
  • 40 g all purposes unbleached white flour
  • 100 mL Carnation Evaporated Milk (or cream)
  • 150 mL milk (I used skim)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp lemon jest
  • 2 ripe sugar crisp apples

Cinnamon Slurry:

  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 175° C (350° F).
  2. Butter the pans and dust with sugar until sides and bottom are totally coated.
  3. Combine the melted butter, cinnamon and brown sugar into a slurry. Pour into a squeeze container like this. Set aside.
  4. In a bowl, mix the sugar and flour well. Make a well in the centre and slowly pour the cream with the vanilla and lemon zest combined into the flour and then add the milk. Add the lightly beaten whole eggs and yolk and mix delicately until all of the flour and sugar are combined.
  5. Peel and cut up the apples into smallish cubes (1 cm or 0.5 inch), divide evenly in the 6 pans. Pour the pudding mix in about 1/2 way into each cavity and squeeze a pattern of the brown sugar cinnamon slurry on top; add the remaining pudding mix and squeeze a bit more of the slurry onto each one.
  6. Bake for about 45-60 minutes or until firmly set. Cool in pans and remove carefully.
    Set aside.
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Pipe the Slurry over each pudding (I actually snuck a layer in between)

This time I made the microwave caramel sauce, if you want more, follow Tracey’s recipe.

Salted Caramel Sauce:

Makes just enough sauce to scantly decorate the clafoutis (there is enough sugar in the clafoutis without the sauce, it’s just lovely to decorate)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp corn syrup
  • 1 tbsp water
  • splash of lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup hot heavy cream
  • 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Directions:

  1. Combine the sugar, corn syrup, water and lemon juice together in a 2-cup microwave-safe measuring cup.
  2. Microwave until the caramel is just barely starting to take on some color, 4-6 minutes (depending on your microwave).
  3. Remove from the microwave and allow to sit. Don’t be tempted to keep reheating the caramel in the microwave until it is darker, it will become darker on its own.
  4. Combine the warm cream/milk with the salt.
  5. Slowly add the warm cream/milk and stir until well combined (be careful, it’s very hot still). Add the butter and stir until melted. Cool completely.

Assembly:

  1. Warm the clafoutis in the oven for about 10 minutes.
  2. On a large rimmed plate, pour the caramel sauce into the centre and spread out evenly.
  3. Carefully place one clafoutis into the centre of the sauce and serve warm.
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There is a similar ratio of apples to pudding in this romantic dessert. The caramel was meant for the dessert, not your partner’s…

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The slurry caramelizes within the clafoutis in the pan and the incredible flavour of cinnamon and brown sugar are woven throughout the pudding. Oh my.

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We’re celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend and JT and I traditionally head up to my brother’s cottage in the Muskoka’s. We’ve had all sorts of weather during this weekend over the years, from swimming in Lake Rosseau to a little snow. But what ever the weather, there is always lots of food, reconnecting with family and lots of wine. We wish you all a very happy Canadian Thanksgiving and safe travels. Remember, it’s never smart to drink and drive (Hungary has a Zero tolerance rate and France is 0.5!) Just choose a DD and give them lots of dessert instead! Happy holidays friends.

For this post, I’ve had to change my plan and divide Lyon and Paris into two posts so that I don’t bore you too much. I also figured out how to add a slide show (boy, that was painful!) but it’s done. So if you have a moment, please visit with us in Lyon.

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A little history of why we chose Lyon; it is said to the Gastronomic Capital of France. I’ve read that there are over 30 Michelin star restaurants in the city. The people clearly love food and since we do too we thought it would be a perfect match. And it was…for the most part. We had read that we must experience the traditional Bouchon in Lyon and I’ve read many blogs advising that, so it seemed like a good idea at the time. Unfortunately Bouchon’s are generally small places and serve only a fixed menu of three to four courses, and unless you reserve well in advance you simply cannot get in (they only cook for the number of seats in the restaurant, and there is only one seating!). I simply cannot eat three to four courses and feel good, so we decided to just go to a bistro specializing in the cuisine of Lyon and order one course. We did this on night one, the day before our trip to Geneva to meet our friend Ted and his partner Ji. I ordered the andouillette of Lyon (warning…this may be offensive to the ultra sensitive) it is a ‘sausage’ of various ofal particularly some kind of tripe. Now I can eat practically anything, but this dish had an odor (Charles described his experience that he thought someone left the W/C door open, but now I’m getting ahead of myself) I thought it smelled of barn yard, very earthy and very strong. I didn’t take a photo as the lighting was really bad (and I’d rather not be reminded of the experience). It was served in a cream sauce (very rich) and a gratin of potatoes (quite yummy). I could barely eat it, but I persevered and had about a quarter (JT finished the rest). I did not have a good night that night and didn’t recover until lunch the following day! JT had smaller, more traditional sausages that reminded me of bratwurst, without a heavy sauce. Neither were high on my favourite list. But we were entertained for the most part by a street entertainer who was quite funny mimicking people and making rude balloon objects! We figured he could take 100E per set, and given an evening, he probably does 3-4 sets in different neighbourhoods.

Also, you can bet a tomato will taste like a tomato in France. They still care.

Note: if you click on the first photo in the gallery below, it will enlarge and you can click through them like a gallery!
Sorry, but it doesn’t work on your iPhone.

Geneva trip 1:

We made arrangements to meet up with our good friend Ted whom we haven’t seen for at least 10 years. He and his partner Ji traveled by train from outside Zurich to make this possible. We enjoyed a wonderful lunch in Geneva’s oldest restaurant/hotel in the historic district. I may have even sat in the same chair as George Clooney; check out their guest book. Geneva is a beautiful city whose population is manly made up of people from somewhere else; there are many company head offices in Geneva as well. We had hoped to meet up with other blogger in Geneva too, but sadly she had to travel for work on the date we could make it. We shall have to return one day.

Geneva trips 2:

We had booked a tour at C.E.R.N laboratories so that we could see what all the fuss was about. This was a very bad weather day; traveling on the highways, it rained so heavily that at times we were unable to see the hood of the car! The tour itself was lead by a physicist and was interesting but we both felt that since we were in Lyon for such a short time, this little side trip could have been avoided without much loss. Plus it was a gorgeous day in Lyon which we missed entirely! And we had to rush back for our cooking class! Not-withstanding the tolls which over the two days were in excess of 100E! Oh well. Live and learn.

Upon our return to Lyon we tried to return the car with the tank empty but they would have charged us 175E to fill it themselves so we opted to find a station and fill it ourselves for 52E. It took over an hour (mainly waiting for people to fill their cars) and return…only minutes to spare for our cooking class. Chef Villard was ready for us waiting in the lobby of our hotel! I barely had time to change and freshen up!

Cooking Class with Chef Jean-Marc Villard

Winemakers notes: “The color is a brilliant light straw. Aromas of intense acacia, yellow peaches and exotic fruits. On the palate the wine is very elegant and harmonious. Its freshness allows the fruit to fully develop. A seductive wine to be enjoyed with appetizers and hors d’oeuvres”.

Our cooking class was amazing and I would definitely recommend it. Chef Villard is fluent in English and is a kind instructor. His kitchen in tidy and calm, but then again there were only two of us. I shall list the menu, but as you can well imagine, I shall be blogging about it in future blog posts! Chef Villard kindly created a little hors d’œuvres of sausages wrapped in home-made brioche (he served the meal with a lovely local wine made with a Viognier grape), we then had a wonderful creamed pumpkin soup fragranced with vanilla bean, drizzled with hazelnut oil (OMG, you MUST smell this!) and served with three seared scallops. Chef Villard mentioned that it depends where you are in France with the fat is that they use…not everyone cooks with butter! Our main course was a Monkfish wrapped in bacon with a delightful veal sauce with green olives (the sweetness of the veal stock and the saltiness of the olives really went well with the fish, and the bacon wrapping was not too salty at all), with olive oil sautéed fingerling potatoes and some lovely snap peas with an arugula (rocket) pesto. For dessert we made a pear and chocolate clafoutis with a glorious caramel sauce. Yes, this will be a dinner for several friends over the next month or so. Of course, I will try to make it marginally healthier (although for a French Chef, he didn’t use as much cream as I thought he might!). This was a very enjoyable dinner. If you are in Lyon, you must try to get into one of his classes, you will not be disappointed. We ate with Chef and Mme Villard and chatted as if we were long-time friends. It was a very enjoyable evening.

We’re off to Paris next on the TGV! See you soon.

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