Peachy Keen Frangipane Tart

Peach Frangipane Tart 7 arrWho doesn’t like fruit desserts? Obviously the French do, and who could blame them – can you say, ‘tarte tatin’, ‘galette’, and ‘clafoutis’, to name a few? Yes, indeed, and let’s not forget one more: sweet and creamy, say it is so, buttery almond ‘frangipane’ tart.

‘Berry’ interested in yet another baking adventure, this summer beckons a frangipane tart using summer’s best of seasonal fruits. Following Food and Wine Magazine’s take on a raspberry frangipane recipe, I choose to forgo the ruby jewels – this time – and swap them for peaches. Easy to follow, instructions are pretty straightforward. But to my fellow baking enthusiasts, take note: the ingredient list for the shell forgets – perhaps, ‘accidentally’ – to indicate the need for one egg yolk though, to be fair, it does outline this particular ‘necessity’ in the phrased steps. Averting any and all confusion, now you know!Peach Frangipane Tart 5 arr

As for the peaches, I suppose I could blanch and peel some fresh stone fruit. Wanting to enjoy the remaining days of summer, however, why bother? Honestly, I use a can of – conveniently sweet – already peeled and halved canned peaches, leaving me to slice and tastefully arrange these beauties in a neat row and spiral floral display. Before embellishing the tart with fruit, here’s a helpful heads up: the rich almond mixture may spill over the shell – and that’s not uncommon – but, frangipane is too good to waste. Clearly wanting to avoid loss of golden almond cream, you can choose to spread the filling over the blind-baked ‘pâte sucrée’ – sugar pastry – first, and then proceed to arrange the fruit. Truth be told, that’s what I did, and I yielded a fully intact tart with barely any spillage of frangipane. So, yes, I did ignore the recipe’s suggested order of fruit then batter process, but it worked for me – sorry not sorry, Food and Wine Magazine!Peach Frangipane Tart 28 arr

F.Y.I.: if you also find yourself with an abundance of fruit from the farmer’s market – or love to bake and share, like ‘moi’ – you can definitely double up on the recipe items to make two tarts. In this case, I use twice the amount of wet and dry ingredients in addition to two large tins of canned peaches – one can will suffice per tart – as well as two tart pans. Worth a mention, I used square and round pans with the removable bottoms, but found the round nonstick pan to release the completely baked and cooled pastry more easily than the ‘stickler’ square. Evidently, the baking struggle is real and lesson learned: instructed to do so or not, always line with parchment – done and done!Peach Frangipane Tart 2 arr

Content with the overall outcome, this sweet frangipane dessert is visually stunning and tastes equally fine. The buttery pastry slightly crumbles but still manages to hold the delicate custard-like almond and segmented ‘peach body’ center of fruit, pretty well. Successfully made, I’m feeling peachy keen about this recipe. Best part is: the same shell and batter can be used with various fruits to make all sorts of short crust frangipane treats – the possibilities are endless! So, there it is! You can have summer’s best and a portion of your daily dose of essential vitamins, all thanks to ‘tarte frangipane à la pêche’.

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2020. All Rights Reserved.

Persian Love Cake Demystified

What is Persian Love Cake?  New to me, is this cake originally derived from a Persian recipe?  Perhaps, it’s an edible love potion or both? Honestly, even I had to ask these questions, and I’m of Persian heritage. Seriously though, wanting to know the truth behind this Persian inspired treat, I go to the ‘one’ who knows all pertaining to Persian history and facts. The human encyclopedia, herself – ‘maman’ – my mother of course!

Persian Love Cake 4 arrRaised in a Persian househeld, I can attest that my family has had our fair share of Persian desserts. Anything and everything including: cream puffs, baklava, chickpea cookies, sponge cakes and ‘bastani sonnati’, to name a few. But, ‘love cake’? Equally unheard of to my ‘source,’ this ‘trending’ cake appears to be an innovative creation that incorporates traditional ingredients commonly mirroring the flavour profiles found in custom Persian sweets. In essence, Persian Love Cake sounds delicious and looks even more visually enticing to feed one’s senses.

Persian Love Cake 12 arrCurrently popularized or not, this must-indulge item is a sign of the ‘foodie’ times. And, the novice baker-blogger-foodie – and Persian – in me is highly intrigued, and wants to try this cake recipe. Already familiar with and loving the floral notes of cardamom and rosewater, the addition of lemon zest, almond flour and pistachios are other ingredients that will certainly make for a tasty teatime cake. Best of all, the aforementioned ‘necessities’ for this cake venture are already staples in my Persian kitchen. Wasting no time, then, I rely on Food and Wine Magazine’s recipe for Persian Love Cake and get to work. Following simple instructions, this cake is as easy to prepare and assemble as it is to enjoy.

Persian Love Cake 7 arrA true ‘beauty’ to behold, the finished cake adorned with dried edible roses and chopped pistachios is not only soft on the eyes but, too, easy on the palette. Rich in butter and almond flour, it is moist in texture, and yields a delicately nutty yet sweet flavour due to a light dousing of simple syrup. Doing things ‘my way’, however, my interpretation of simple syrup is slightly elevated due to the infusion of finely ground saffron. Indeed luxurious, who wouldn’t want a bountiful Persian floral paradise for their love cake?  Needless to say, bring on the flower power – rosewater, dried roses, crocus stems and all!

Exceeding expectations in stunning appearance and taste, I’m pleased with the overall result of this recipe by Food and Wine Magazine. Tried and true, Persian Love Cake has clearly won the heart and appetite of my entire family. As for my final verdict: the fact that I can smell the roses and eat them, too, is enough for me to fall in love with this dessert.  So, yes! Past or recent tradition, Persian Love Cake is worth making, delighting, and sharing with the ones you love.

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2020. All Rights Reserved.

Quarantine Days & Chocolate Babka

Food & Wine Chocolate Babka 5 arrLike many, this Coronavirus-induced quarantine has inspired me to bake some homemade comfort. Loving all things chocolate, I thought I would give chocolate babka a go. A mission definitely possible, it almost wasn’t so. Again, like the masses, many had the same idea in mind leaving grocery shelves void of yeast, of all things. Though it took a few visits, I’m happy to say I got my hands on a jar of this very necessary ingredient for the making of the best chocolaty bread indulgence, courtesy of Eastern European baking tradition.

Food & Wine Chocolate Babka 3 arrIngredients measured and ready to use, I followed Food & Wine Magazine’s recipe and straightforward instructions for a very successful outcome: two baked loaves of babka with a soft interior yet crispy outer shell embedded with a generous mixture of bittersweet and milk chocolates. Not shying away from simple pleasures, this recipe loves chocolate as much as I do and welcomes a final pouring of chocolate glaze to satisfy any sweet tooth for days. Pleasantly filling my kitchen with tantalizing aromas of heavenly baked buttery and cocoa-infused goodness, who wouldn’t want to bake during a pandemic? I know I do! And, as for those yeast hoarders: all is forgiven.

For novice bakers, I must say: making babka appears daunting at first, but don’t be intimidated. Simply familiarize yourself with the listed steps and watch Youtube demos, as necessary. Truth be told: there really is no shortage of online babka recipes. This one – for me – however, takes the prize! A few glances at Food & Wine Magazine’s still shots of glistening sweet bread where chocolate to bread ratio is superior, was enough to lure me into this delicious endeavour as I’m sure other chocophiles can relate – gimme more cho-co-la-te! All in all, chocolate babka is a welcoming afternoon treat to make, enjoy and share. On that note, stay safely quarantined and happy baking!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2020. All Rights Reserved.

The Royal Treatment

Afternoons are made for teatime and sweets. Fortunately allergy-free of tree nuts and hungry for more than Planter’s, I find myself in a haven of ‘royal’ pastries at Toronto’s very own, Crown Pastry.Crown Pastries 2 arr

Befitting for all foodie queens and kings, this Middle Eastern bakery is the place for your heart’s desire of crunch-worthy ‘edible jewels’. From almonds, pistachios, cashews, walnuts, coconut, dates and more traditional ingredients, be sure to find them all. What’s better, these two-bite glistening bundles of pastry heaven not only look and taste good, but they do so in great part to being generously encrusted with premium fresh nuts.

Crown Pastries 5 arrDecidedly, for me, it’s not a question of ‘if,’ but ‘what’ shall I choose? When faced with options, indecision may follow. But, worry not! Choosing from an assortment need not take long or be a chore. In this case, here’s what to order: “One of everything, please!”

Sighting pastry for days, there’s truly no shortage of baklava and other sweets including: swar, assabeh, karabiges madd, wardeh, harrisa, knafeh, mammouls and MORE! Visual feasting complete, sampling is long overdue.  Pastry box in hand, who wouldn’t leave this bakery content? As for my overall first impression, Crown Pastries undoubtedly delivers on providing quality products and superb customer service – clearly, the ‘royal’ treatment! Getting my foodie-stamp of approval, catering to your royally sweet baklava cravings is majestically possible at none other than Crown Pastries.

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2020. All Rights Reserved.

Our Lady, Notre-Dame

Paris Notre Dame 9 arrEngulfed by live-streamed media, how can anyone not be affected by the horrific reality of Paris’ beloved Notre-Dame Cathedral? I, like much of the world, knowingly have been moved. Feeling nothing short of shock, disbelief and utter heartbreak, I can’t even imagine how witnesses on-scene had felt, watching everything from the envelope of smoke hovering this national treasure to the final fall of the iconic towering spire, too aflame to withstand the heat.

Paris Notre Dame 6 arrIn great thanks to over 400 firefighters, however, good news is: the fire has been put out, much of the ornate exterior structure still stands, and the global community is stronger than before, ready to co-operate, rebuild and revitalize ‘Our Lady, Notre-Dame.’

Paris Notre Dame 7 arrWanting not to dwell on the devastation that is still all too real, the Francophile – in me – would love to share glimpses of the beauty of this gothic-inspired edifice, as I had once seen through my camera lens. Documenting my travels with images, as many do, I’m happy to have captured Parisian landmarks including the aforementioned heritage site. Clearly, this truth is evident more so now than before, and is undoubtedly worth revisiting in timeless photographs.Paris Notre Dame 1 arr

In rememberance, then, of the glory that was, and in hopes of all that remains to be restored in years to come, I hope lovers of all things French, culture, architecture, and history can appreciate the greatness of the Notre-Dame – Vive la France, vive la Dame!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2019. All Rights Reserved. 

Breakfast by the Waterfront

Wake up and get going! But wait, whilst on vacay? That’s right! It’s time to rise and shine, and get a move on for breakfast. Already in love with the fresh San Francisco air, here are two more sunny reasons to adore this golden state: Eight AM and the Waterfront Bakery.

Taking a leisurely exursion to appease caffeine pangs, I cut through the brisk morning fog in search of aromatic, hyptonic, and my morning “must-have”: COFFEE! Freshly brewed, French pressed or dripped espresso topped with steamy yet frothy milk, yes and yes – serve me my morning cup of java!

the waterfront bakery 3 arrHeading left and right – separate days, mind you – 1323 Columbus Avenue and 2801 Leavenworth Street is where you’ll find the aforementioned ‘wake-up’ worthy venues. Spotlighting the Waterfront Bakery, here you’ll find a taste of ‘joie de vivre,’ in a quaint Parisian-inspired pâtisserie. Best of all, step inside to behold an artisan display of crusty French breads ready to be admired and enjoyed as the ideal edible souvenir. Between laminated or sour dough selections, I forgo croissants and baguettes for tender flaked chocolate-filled buttery pastry – a delectable mouthful in utterance and consumption. Equally eyeing danishes and slices of heavenly cake, these gorgeous pastries are all so tempting. Where a little goes a long way, my morning is decidedly complete with a pairing of a ‘pain au chocolat’ and café latté. Above all, good coffee makes for a ‘good’ morning! Already gaining my patronage with pleasant service and quality indulgences, the Waterfront Bakery does not disappoint.

For foodies wanting a heartier start to the day, Eight AM fits the bill. Catering to all things variety – eggs, waffles, coffee, tea, juices and the like – it’s definitely one of those venues where you’ll arrive for one dish, and will return the next day wanting more.  Hearts everyhere, order’s up and includes: a classic American-style trio of eggs, sausage and hash in addition to a vanilla yoghurt and granola fruit parfait, and – what else – a couple of latté beverages. Promptly seated and served generous portions, this eatery clearly knows how to whip up and dish out the “most important meal of the day.” As for a final insider’s tip, attention to all ‘sleepy’ folk: if you snooze, you’ll really lose out on priority seating and will have to wait in queue. And if that doesn’t sound bad, now imagine waiting while the intoxicating aroma of pancakes, waffles and bacon give you a few hintful reminders of why it’s better to avoid tardiness.

Leaving happy, both restos are worth venturing at daybreak. Gaining prime meals and friendly service, this is exactly how you want to kick start the day. Going coastal, scheduling time to break the midnight fast with good eats is always a bright idea – over-easy!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2019. All Rights Reserved.

Christmas in San Fran!

Festive tidings to all, from – where else – golden San Francisco! Taking in all the sights, from downtown to oceanside, this city is truly a beauty to behold. Clearly loving the car chasing streets once idolized by McQueen – think Bullitt – archicture is rampant and beyond compare.

Time fleeting, however, venturing to the Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito, the Painted Ladies, Chinatown and more, reign top on my list. Equally, there’s a particular cardio-induced feat that I must share and one that leaves me wanting more – food, that is! Seriously building an appetite, post an uphill climb to Lombard Street, you must not rush your departure from up here. Truly breathtaking, be sure to soak up the marvel that is synonymous with the spectacular city view of Russian Hill’s zigzag streets. Doing just that, I catch my breath and capture a few “Kodak Moments” prior to heading back toward Fisherman’s Wharf.

Lovely weather, we’re having? Yes, indeed! Fresh air galore and barking abound, the famous sea lions of Pier 39 are beckoning. Playful, noisy, and sometimes more concerned with relaxing by the harbour, than anything else, it’s not everyday I get to watch sea mammals, so catching a glimpse is an adventure in of itself. Best of all, Pier 39 is not too far of a stretch from the Christmas Market or Boudin, ‘the place’ for fresh sour dough bowls filled with hot clam chowder – need I say more?

Spirits high with good sights and feasts, San Francisco has easily become one of my new faovurite North American destinations. From exploring rich history to food, natural forests and engineered wonders, there’s a little bit of everything for all that excites your senses. From Dishful to you and yours, Happy Holdays!!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2018. All Rights Reserved.

© DISHFUL. All Rights Reserved.

Valerie’s Rockin’ Cinnamon Rolls

Valerie Bertinelli's Cinnamon Rolls 4 arrCinnamon rolls, anyone? Surely, many love a well-made cinnamon bun, and there’s good reason why: the soft pull apart dough, that signature spice swirl, and let’s not forget its distinctly sweet and hynotic aroma – the perfect indulgence.

Valerie Bertinelli's Cinnamon Rolls 5 arrCleary, stating the obvious, cinnamon rolls are everything you would want a carb-loaded treat to be. But, the real question remains: to buy or to make? Attempting a first – myself – homemade cinnamon rolls are pleasantly achievable thanks to our celebrity friend Valerie. That’s right, Valerie Bertinelli’s recipe for cinnamon buns are a hit! So much so, in fact, anyone can be rocking and rolling this dough recipe.

Following easy to master instructions, I heed Valerie’s steps – click link – and ultimately see myself creating cinnamon rolls in no time. Using precise measurements, as with any dessert recipe, first prepare the dough and allow ample time for it to rise. Once ready to use, roll out the dough and layer the rectangualar surface with some butter and filling. Adding suggested ‘extras’ including pecans and raisins, I begin to tightly roll, cut and arrange the 12 bundles for a second rising. Now ready to bake, I leave the rolls in the oven for the required time of 25 minutes, and then some – mine needed about 12 minutes more, of additional baking time. Needless to say, every oven is different. So use your judgment and bake the rolls until they’re golden brown. Valerie Bertinelli's Cinnamon Rolls 6 arr

End result is nothing short of magic! Drizzling icing over my baked batch of success, these warm homemade rolls are reminders of the fall season, the holidays, and all things warm and cozy. Seriously good, this recipe is worth keeping and will easily become the “must-have” item for breakfast, brunch or any excuse to simply having bites of delicious around the kitchen. So while I begin to tear into a freshly baked cinnamon roll, here’s to happy baking and VALERIE – THANK YOU!!!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Shuck It to Me

Seaside escapes are all well-known for their seafood offerings. Whilst in New Orleans, be sure to find po’ boys filled with scrumptious shrimp, lobster, crawfish, and even crab. Sometimes, however, you’re in the mood for a slightly more formal dining affair.IMG_7366

Already raving about soft shell crabs – think, Deanie’s Seafood – here are two other establishments worth mention: Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House and Galatoire’s 33 Bar & Steak. Finding both restaurants tucked in pockets of the French Quarter, selection of oysters and the daily catch are – as expected – on the menu. Despite other patron-pleasing dishes, however, oysters are just one of those special must-indulge treats that cannot be missed, especially when someone’s willing to prepare them for you.

IMG_7381Singing praises to both chefs, “Aw, shucks!” Indeed, these oysters are made right! At the Bourbon House, oysters are the prime starter to the contrastingly rich main course. Modestly seasoned and perfectly broiled, oysters are fresh tasting and made vibrant with a splash of zingy lemon. Far from overbearing, a couple of these buttered mollusks are enough to keep you satisfied in anticipation of signature entrées. Ordering shrimp étouffée and Bourbon House barbeque shrimp – straight from the Louisiana Gulf – I see food for days. Notably eyeing added touches of sweet yet smoky roux, my plateful of JUMBO shrimp is nothing short of succulent and generous in portion. Equally served alongside of one’s choice of potato mash or grilled greens, find no regrets in eating this oxymoron. Clearly enjoying the candlelit ambiance as much as the meal, Bourbon House knows how to prepare delicate seafood: they keep things on the sweet side.

IMG_7370Moving on to another great, Galatoire’s 33, this is the place for your choice of oysters prepared à la Rockefeller or Casino. Opting for both, a sample of baked oysters topped with creamed spinach and sizzling bacon delivers on big taste. Unique in their own right, the classic Rockefeller is lighter in taste whereas the Casino style oysters are veiled with buttery goodness and its cured ‘better half’ – the ‘other’ white meat – bacon, resulting in an overall rich and salty flavour profile. Loving oysters, particularly in NOLA, other seafood delights await.

IMG_7368Having a little bit of this and that, I have no complaints whatsoever. Take the crab ‘au gratins’, for instance, this bubbly hot dish comes fully-loaded with lumps of crab meat embedded in a creamy cheese sauce. And, for those after lighter fare, salads like the lobster chop are made extraordinary by ingredients like beets, avocado and, of course, the Maine shelled star.IMG_7384 Cooking up variations of delicious, Galatoire’s 33 undeniably uses fresh product for an ultimate seafood experience. Fortunate to have tasted oysters, crab cake, lobster, and then some, find no Little Miss Crabby here. But if you’re not into seafood, meaty offerings like burgers and steaks run plenty, too. Whatever your appetite’s desire, then, Galatoire’s 33 reigns top in quality and variety. That’s all!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Southern Candymakers & Praline Charms

Southern Candymakers Praline Shop 1 arrNew Orleans is a city full of charm and tradition. With gems to be found at pretty much every corner, Decatur Street is no different. Sighting one sweets boutique, in particular, I find ‘tortue’ central at none other than Southern Candymakers.Southern Candymakers Praline Shop 8 arr

Making pralines on the spot, this boutique candy shop is where I get my taste of the pecan classic, and some more! Between the left-side aisle of souvenir items and showcased individual treats to the right, I pick up an assortment of chocolate-covered caramel pecans – inclusive of milk, white and dark chocolate – a container of red beans and rice that’s truly candy-coated sunflower seeds and peanuts, in addition to old-fashioned salt water taffy. Southern Candymakers Praline Shop 9 arr

Bonbons selected and collected for later enjoyment, now would be a good time to beat the heat with scoops of ice box refreshers – homemade vanilla, pralines ‘n’ cream, and banana pudding ice creams – also, allowing for more time to peruse the delectable interior candy quarters. Glad to have done so, the atmosphere beckons little reminders of NOLA from Café Du Monde coffee and ‘beignet’ mix to fashionable yet functional alligator-motif oven mitts. Southern Candymakers Praline Shop 4 arrClearly appealing to all tourists at heart, the real treat – for me – was eyeing a batch of freshly made pralines being prepared and proportioned on a marble surface, and all done so right on-site. Watching candy being made in action plus the sweet aroma of caramelized sugar in the air, there’s just one thought that comes to mind: “Oh, how sweet it is!”

Southern Candymakers Praline Shop 2 arrLeaving content with an undeniable sugar rush, Southern Candymakers know how to appease to the senses. Likewise, and given the multitude of selection, a fun-filled discovery of sweets are to be anticipated. Among my handful of treats, here’s the ‘one’ I highly rate: chocolate-covered pecan ‘tortue’ that are – honest to goodness – divine. Evasive of hard candy bits, you can taste all three layers of this nutty yet sweet praline that is the culmination of crunchy pecans, melt-in-your-mouth buttery caramel, and chocolate coating. Authentic, to say the least, these little charmers are soft and chewy morsels of “must-indulge” temptation. A turtle in name, not inception, these delightful clusters are too good to savour slowly – C’est si bon!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2018. All Rights Reserved.