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Posts Tagged ‘Light’

Hi Everyone, hope all my lovely readers in the North East fared well through that huge storm the other day. I watched it on the Weather Network radar and it looked absolutely brutal.

I have one more thing to ask of you lovely readers (in fact, my friend Smidge from Just a Smidgen also requested it). Kindly link your Gravatar to your blog, otherwise we have no way of knowing where you came from and we cannot comment on your blog. It’s in Gravatar.com, you’ll have to sign in and Edit your Public Profile, update your link to your blog in My Links. Thank goodness Smidge asked me to do this because believe it or not mine WASN’T linked! Thanks Smidge!

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A friend dated a guy with whom we became close. They broke up, so we asked her if she would mind if we kept him; she said not at all. So we did. He came for dinner a few weeks ago and I made a Hungarian themed dinner party; Hungarian Cheese Sticks (Sajtos Rud), Celeriac Velouté with Caramelized Onion Focaccia Croutons (recipe to come), Chicken Paprikas with Nokedli (I updated the nokedli part as Barb mentioned to me that her’s didn’t turn out), a nice Hungarian Cucumber salad (recipe to come) and Krémes. I was looking for a new dessert that would finish off the evening in style so I ‘traveled’ all the way to British Columbia to my good Hungarian friend Zsuzsa’s blog and found these wonderfully delicious Custard Squares. She spoke very highly of the recipe so I knew they would not disappoint. They are labour intensive but well worth the effort. They totally remind me of Mille Feuille that was my favourite when I was a child. The pastry is fantastically flaky.

I divided the recipe into a third of the original as I didn’t need quite as many. JT said I should have made the entire batch (that’s a testament to how good they are!). Thank you Zsuzsa for a tremendous dessert. I turned the most of the measurements into weight because it was easier to divide into 3 that way! You should get yourself a digital kitchen scale (I have this one), it is essential for baking.

Although these squares sound rich, they really are not. Really.

Although these squares sound rich, they really are not. Really.

Hungarian Custard Squares (Krémes)

Makes 8 squares in a 5″ x 9″ loaf pan (if you want more, please see Zsuzsa’s original recipe, she has excellent photos on the process of making the pastry too).

Custard Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup skim milk
  • 1/3 vanilla pod
  • 3 eggs separated
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 6 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 pk gelatin
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • dash of lemon juice

Pastry Ingredients:

  • 72 g all purpose flour
  • 76 g butter
  • 1 tbsp and 1 tsp cold water
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • pinch of salt

Pastry Directions:

  1. Heat the milk in a saucepan or microwave, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk with a paring knife, and add the bean pod to the milk. Cover, remove from heat and allow the vanilla to infuse for one hour. Set aside.
  2. Next make the flaky pastry. In a food processor with metal blades, combine the flour and chilled butter until it resembles a fine crumble. Add the salt and pulse to distribute. Combine the vinegar and the water and stream into the processor until a dough ball forms.
  3. Generously flour a board and roll out the pastry into a rectangle and divide into 4 equal parts. Stack the four rectangles on top of one another and chill for twenty minutes.
  4. Once chilled, separate each part and roll the dough into 4 very thin rectangles, roughly bigger than your loaf pan. Place in the bottom of your loaf pan, allowing the dough to form creases to fit into the pan. Repeat for the second rectangle, this will be the top. Bake in a preheated 400° F oven for 14-18 minutes keeping watch as the pastry burns easily.
  5. When the pastry is golden brown, remove pan from the oven and immediately cut pastry into 8 squares (4 by 2). Wait a few minutes and carefully remove the squares and set them aside in the same order as they were in the pan, set aside.
  6. Repeat with the other two rectangles and bake, this is the bottom layer (do not cut this layer). Allow to cool, and remove from the pan, and put a good layer of plastic wrap into the pan with a generous amount coming up the side (this will help you lift it out). Return the bottom layer into the bottom of the pan, smoothing out the side of the plastic wrap.
  7. Next make the custard layer.
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It’s misleading because it has cream in the name, but there is no cream in the recipe.

Custard Directions:

  1. In a medium sized bowl beat the egg yolks and 2 tbsp sugar for 8 minutes (they will become thick and pale). Add the vanilla
  2. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour and gelatine. Gradually add the flour mixture to the beaten egg yolks and continue to beat until smooth.
  3. Remove the vanilla pods from the vanilla infused milk and gradually add the vanilla infused milk to the bowl with the eggs and the flour.
  4. Over a simmering bain-marie cook the custard stirring it constantly until it reaches 80°C or 176° F with a candy thermometer (be careful as it can burn easily). As soon as it reaches 80° C remove immediately from the heat stir in the butter and set aside to cool.
  5. While the custard is cooling whip the egg whites until soft peaks form, add the lemon juice and continue beating until almost stiff. Add 2 tbsp sugar and beat until shiny and stiff. You are trying to beat the sugar into the egg whites so they are no longer grainy (this takes several minutes).
  6. Once the custard has cooled, press it through a fine sieve (my custard got a bit lumpy because I didn’t stir well enough as it was cooking)
  7. Take about 1/3 of the egg whites and fold it into the custard to loosen it up. Then fold the remaining egg whites into the custard very slowly
  8. Pour this custard onto the bottom layer of the pastry and even out using a spatula, pushing it into the corners and sides. Add the top layer of pastry in the same order that you removed it from the pan, leaving a little space between each one to allow your knife to slide through to make the squares. Refrigerate until the custard has set.
  9. Once set, using the plastic wrap, lift the pastry dessert out of the pan onto a cutting board. Generously sprinkle with icing sugar. Using a wet knife, slice the custard into 8 equal squares, using your top pastry as your guide.
  10. Serve cold, perhaps with a dollop of whipping cream.
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Those little dots are from the vanilla bean that was infused in the milk

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A little fresh raspberries would have looked awesome in this photo. The forks are from Hungary, my Mom bought them for me.

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We’re off on a little break, so if I don’t comment on your blog right away, please know I still love reading your blog and will be back as soon as I can.
Inspiration comes from anywhere but the places I seem to be getting my inspiration are the wonderful blogs I read. Liz over at That Skinny Chick can Bake made this incredibly beautiful Lemon Cream Dessert with the Secret Recipe Club; I was immediately smitten. Plus I needed a nice light dessert for the finalé of our Indian Feast. Now we’d all like to eat like Liz and look like her, but sadly, that is not my world, so I had to take her beautiful dessert as inspiration and find a ‘lighter’ version and I found it at Serious Eats — It’s a Greek Yogurt Lemon Mousse!

It’s an easy dessert to make and the egg whites are cooked over a bain marie, as if you were making Italian Meringue! I didn’t change a thing!

Now you’ll see in the last picture that the texture was described as spray foam insulation, but tasting way better. It’s definitely a firm mousse with very good lemon flavour! I will book mark this recipe for the future!

We got these adorable little pots in Paris; yogurt came in them, the company was celebrating their anniversary and packaged their product in these gorgeous pots

You see, I wasn’t fibbing! This is one of our breakfasts in our Paris apartment

The texture was described as resembling spray foam insulation, but tasting WAY better! Thx Gordon P XO

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The weather in Toronto is warm and crisp this week, the humidity is all but gone, which is a lovely change to the close weather we were having over the last couple of weeks (sadly, it will turn ‘oven-hot’ again tonight). We turned the A/C off and opened windows, taking full advantage of all the fresh air, but someone forgot to tell the birds that 3:30am is far too early to get up and start chirping. Did they not get them memo?

Here is one of the culprits, I’m sure (I didn’t want to scare him so I took the photo through the screened window). This Blue Jay (not to be confused with our team*)  and his partner were at the feeder by the kitchen window the other day — the small bird feeder. The partner was smart and was picking up the seeds from the ground. Can you see how ridiculously he is balancing to get to the seeds (his feet are hanging onto the feeder just below his neck and he is balancing with his tail); clearly this feeder is not his size!

It’s like he sitting at the ‘kids table’

This incredible weather also means that we can enjoy our meals al fresco under the canopy of the arbor in our garden. Our lives are a little topsy turvy as JT recently started a new job that has him working some nights until 8:30 which leaves me to prepare ‘dinners’ that will mainly be used as lunches for us both the following day. I guess this forces me to eat, because I can get caught up in various chores around the house or blogging and simply forget to eat (I can be pretty focused). In general, I come home, cook ‘dinner’ eat it and prepare our lunches for the following day. Then I sit and blog. Sometimes I cook something I can blog about, this is one of those times.

Would you say this is a 3 dressed up as a 9?

Sissi at With a Glass reminded me of Surimi Crab (yes, fake crab) and that it does have a place on the luncheon menu, as long as you buy good quality brand and pair it with a tasty side or salad (Sissi and Maria at A-Boleyn made fresh rolls out of them which for me ended up to be rather unattractive when I tried to make them, practice makes perfect!) So an Asian inspired Surimi ‘crab’ salad was to be on the menu on this day. Surimi ‘crab’ is low in fat, contains some omega-3 so it is a good low fat dinner/lunch option.

Incidentally, we are presently redesigning the packaging for Clover Leaf Surimi (we do all of their packaging, the photos in the link are NOT our’s, they were provided) so it’s apt that I post a recipe for it. Sadly, my photography skills do not compare to the skills at our studio, but then again, nor does my camera! The plate, however, is a hand-me-down from the studio!

We are heading out to Illinois and Wisconsin this weekend (it’s a long weekend for us too, in Canada we celebrate Canada Day on July 1) to visit our friends Paul and T, so I want to use up the fresh goods in the fridge so I don’t have to toss them (or worse yet, so they don’t walk out on their own!). Much of this recipe is what’s in my fridge right now, I was trying to go without purchasing new produce. The measures are eyeballed, go with your tastebuds. The trick to this salad (or slaw) is to cut all of the vegetables uniformly so you can get a little bite of everything. To keep this salad over a few days, separate the wet (cucumber and mango) from the rest and mix as required. The ratio should be about 1/3 wet to 2/3 dry.

Surimi “Crab” Salad

Serves 4 (2 for lunch and 2 for dinner, 100 g protein portions each)

Ingredients:

  • 4oo g Surimi Crab, flake style
  • 1./2 Jicama or Yambean, finely grated on  a mandolin
  • 1/2 celeriac or celery root, finely grated on  a mandolin
  • 6 radishes, finely grated on  a mandolin
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 5 mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 10-20 Thai basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 regular basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 English cucumber, finely grated on  a mandolin
  • 1 slightly unripened mango, finely grated on  a mandolin

Directions:

  1. Combine the Jicama to the basil leaves and mix well. I use my hands so all the ingredients are evenly distributed in the salad.
  2. Combine the cucumber and mango. Keep the wet from the rest so that the salad doesn’t wilt in the fridge. Mix only as required.

Dressing Ingredients:

This is just eyeballing, make the dressing to your own taste.

  • Trim off bits of mango from the stone (keeping away from the stone) that you weren’t able to grate with the mandolin (you’ll be surprised how much fruit is left over).
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 lime cordial
  • 1-2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1-2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes (or to taste)

Dressing Instructions:

  1. Add all the ingredients to your immersion blender container and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust as required.

Assemble Instructions:

  1. Combine 1/3 wet ingredients with 2/3 dry and mix well. Add a few tablespoons of the dressing and mix again.
  2. Plate, adding about 100 g surimi crab.
  3. Garish with sesame seeds, if desired, I forgot.

What ever it is, it sure is tasty

Notes:

  • I use Rose’s Lime Cordial as a short cut for lime juice and honey. I find it has the right balance for sweet and sour for my taste buds.
  • About a 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro is a wonderful addition. I didn’t have cilantro at home (my plant died) and in order not to buy anything new to make this meal, I omitted it.
  • Red cabbage also makes a great addition to this salad (see above for why it’s not in the recipe)
  • Mango has the same toxic ingredient as does poison ivy, therefore you want to ensure you remove ALL of the skin and stay about 0.5 cm from the stone. This ingredient causes stomach upset.
  • If you run out of mango, I have successfully substituted dried apricot (reconstituted with a little water) or even tamarind paste, both make exceptional dressings but you will need to adjust the salty and sour bits to taste.

*Sports reference provided for my friend Jed, the Sportsglutton

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JT has asked me to thank everyone for their lovely birthday wishes; thank you!

I have some exciting news to share with you today! I was approached by Daniel Maxian, a contributor at MyCityCuisine.org, a wiki project providing travelers with information on local cuisine in cities around the world. He said he was working on an article about Lemon Tarts and came across the recipe you have posted for the same dish.
“I think your recipe would be a great addition to the MyCityCuisine wiki resource, so I highly recommend that you have it added to the Featured Recipe section on the Lemon Viennese Tarts page.” Woohoo! I’m really pumped over this! Thank you for allowing me to share my excitement with you. Here is the link for the page.

I spotted this recipe for Strawberry Souffés with Fresh Berries on my friend Liz’s blog a couple of weeks ago (That Skinny Chick can Bake) and I knew I had to try it. It fit right into my healthy cooking and I was having a gluten intolerant friend over for brunch…perfect timing!

But I first made the ‘test’ dessert for my nephew Brian (Ceement Boy) who was over for dinner a couple of weeks ago. It was a great success and I’ll be making it again on the weekend for my gluten intolerant friend.

Now you must be wondering why I have lovingly named my nephew Ceement Boy? I’m more than certain he is wondering too, as he is one of my lurkers (one who reads the blog but never comments; that’s OK, I’m just pleased that he cares enough to read about my mundane life, thanks Brian, I mean Ceement Boy).

The story goes like this: JT and I are NYC; it’s late one evening and I’m blogging, updating or just responding to comments on my blog using my iPhone 3Gs. Ding Ding, my phone pings. Hmmm, there is a text. It’s from Brian. That’s a bit odd in in itself as we are not texting buddies. He says “Be on vacation!!! Don’t blog!” Many of you will be able to relate to this, but blogging is part of you. You just can’t stop! You are either in the act of blogging, or preparing to blog or thinking about a story to blog about. It’s innate. So Brian, it just isn’t possible, sorry. (As I’m typing this, I wonder where all the words went before blogging?)

Upon our return from the Big Apple, we had Brian over for dinner; the night before we were coordinating our timing and JT gets a text from Brian referring to me as Princess Blogalot. Hmmmm. Did someone have a few cocktails? In retaliation (yes, I can be vindictive that way) I thought I would come up with a nick-name for Brian. Brian is a structural engineer specializing in cement, hence Ceement Boy. I like to draw out the Ceeee really long. Country and western-style ;-). Somehow I don’t even mind Princess Blogalot. Not too much, anyway.

Since we’re all trying to watch our waistlines, this dessert was a perfect intensely flavoured ending to our delicious meal. Our in-season Ontario strawberries really popped with flavour and the aged balsamic reduction drizzled over top added that wonderful tartness that the strawberries craved. The toasted slivered almonds were for texture as the egg white souffé is light, airy, full of flavour and needed a bit of crunch.

I snapped this pic with my crappy iPhone 3Gs. When will they release the 5???? I can’t wait forever.

Please head over to Liz’s blog to see her recipe. I have altered the recipe to our taste and requirements.

Strawberry Soufflés with Fresh Berries

Serves 4, 200 mL ramekins

Ingredients:

  • Butter, to grease ramekins
  • 340g fresh strawberries, divided
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 6 tbsp sugar, divided, or to taste
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tbsp Grand Marnier, optional
  • 4 tbsp toasted almonds slices
  • 4 tbsp balsamic reduction for garnish

Directions:

  1. Butter four 200 mL ramekins and dust with sugar. Set aside. May be prepared in advance and refrigerated.
  2. Purée half the berries with 2 tablespoons of sugar (or to taste), lemon juice and cornstarch. Pour into small sauce pan and cook on medium till puree boils and thickens. Cool completely. May be prepared in advance and refrigerated.
  3. Slice remaining berries and add 1 tablespoon of sugar (or to taste) and 1 tablespoon of Grand Marnier. Mix and taste for sweetness. Set aside. May be prepared in advance and refrigerated.
  4. Just before serving, pre heat oven to 400°F.
  5. Beat egg whites till foamy. Slowly add in remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar and whip till stiff peaks form. Slowly fold purée into egg whites, one third at a time. Divide between the four ramekins and smooth tops with offset spatula. Run finger around perimeter of each soufflé to make a slight indentation in soufflé. Slide tray of ramekins into oven and bake 14-17 minutes or till soufflés are puffed and golden.
  6. Serve immediately garnished with sliced berries, toasted almonds and drizzled with balsamic reduction.

Another dark and dreary photo with my iPhone 3Gs.

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My friend Kelly, from Inspired Edibles (an Ontario girl!) inspired me with her wonderful Flourless Salmon Dill Bites for breakfast this past Good Friday morning; thank you Kelly.

I had a bit of the smoked salmon mousse left over from the appi’s I put together on Thursday for cocktails and instead of tossing it, I used it as a base for this tasty egg dish. Kelly, I hope you don’t mind, but I changed the recipe a bit as JT and I don’t need the calories that your growing boys need.

Beating the egg whites adds just the fluffiness you need for a filling breakfast while watching your girlish figure!

Smoked Salmon Breakfast Egg Puffs

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • 1/4 cup non fat Greek yogurt
  • 4 tbsp smoked salmon mousse (you don’t need to add this if you don’t have it, I was just using it up)
  • 2 slices of smoked salmon, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tsp dill
  • salt

Directions:

  1. Pre heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Add whole egg, yogurt, smoked salmon mousse, smoked salmon, onion and dill into a bowl and whisk until well mixed. Set aside.
  3. Whip egg whites until stiff peaks form but not dry. Fold into egg mixture.
  4. Prepare 200 mL ramekins with non-stick spray and pour the egg mixture evenly into each ramekin, leaving about 2 cm of space at the top (you need this because they puff up like a souflée) Bake for about 20-25 minutes, top should be golden and the insides should test clean with a cake tester. Serve immediately (or after photo) on a bed of baby arugula dressed with a drizzle of balsamic and garnished with something red (tomatoes would have been perfect, but I didn’t have any so I used diced red peppers)

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The sun is setting earlier and the temperatures are not reaching the highs that July gifted us. A tree in my neighbourhood has already begun to change colour which means the evening temperatures are dipping lower and lower. The Canadian National Exhibition has been in full swing for a 9 days already. And with that Autumn is fast approaching on Summer’s heals. Sadness at the loss of yet another year pokes at my heart, but as soon as my feet grow accustomed to wearing full shoes and socks, I become excited to dive into my fall wardrobe and of course, my wonderful collection of boots. BBQs, chilled soups and refreshing salads are soon to be replaced by warmer, heartier foods and with that, the house becomes alive again with the wonderful aromas of autumn foods. But I digress. I still have time for one more salad!

A couple of bloggers I follow were recently on the East Coast enjoying the plentiful sea foods offered out there, so I began hankering for a simple shrimp salad. Of course, I’ll make enough to have for lunch at work tomorrow.  And as usual, I’ll take my inspiration from Epicurious, but adding my own twist.

Spicy Shrimp Salad

Spicy Shrimp Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound cooked medium shrimp, peeled, de-veined, tail off (I hate messing with my fingers when there is a dressing or sauce all over them)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2-4tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, diced
  • 1 avocado diced (lightly sprinkled with the lemon juice so it doesn’t turn brown)
  • 1/2 cup mini tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 garlic clove finely chopped
  • 2 garlic scapes, finely chopped
  • Handful of baby arugula, per person

Directions:

  1. Combine mayonnaise and seasonings in large bowl, add shrimp and avocado and gently mix well to coat.
  2. Create a bed of arugula and add the vegetables in the centre. Spoon on top the shrimp avocado mix. Garnish with green onions and chopped scapes.

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