Off to Work We Go!

MendiantAngle arr“Diamonds are forever!”  Timeless treasure that it is, anyone who has a keen eye for all that sparkles is certain to learn the “4 C’s” – cut, clarity, carat and colour – and quickly, myself included.  Even if you’re already feeling fabulous, wearing blinding pieces of lustrous carbon unquestionably illuminates one’s natural glow.

Like a good friend, ‘Diamant’ always encourages one to shine bright.  It’s no wonder the brilliant appeal of this lump of coal lures one to befriend its companions, ruby and emerald.  Highly captivating, my attraction to the elegance and beauty of these earthly gems has inspired me to excavate my own precious stones.  Upon laborious execution of deshelling and the “4 S’s” – soaking, segmenting, separating and studding – I formerly present the result of my hulled efforts, in a holiday collection:  pomegranate and pistachio ‘mendiant’ (chocolate disc). MendiantIngredients arr

Traditionally, dried fruits and nuts are used to bedazzle this French confection.  Entering the chocolate business – for a day – I, however, chose to pass on the passé.  Getting my hands dirty with more than tempered chocolate, I take chocolate rounds to new heights.  Out with old and wrinkly, the arduous task of mining through pith and peel is worth the sought-after prized reveal – rubies in the rough.  Unlike readily dehydrated specimens, my adaption and use of Persia’s finest – edible red and green cultivations – does require extra heavy lifting.

MendiantCloseup arrBefore you divide and conquer, however, remember:  input is equal to output!  Preparation, then, is the key to achieving success!  My advice, handle pomegranate seeds with care – a “Gusher” fruit burst effect is not the aim.  Though amicable, I also suggest avoiding Lucille-type mis-haps by creating an organized and efficient work station; arrange desired toppings in separate bowls, place a parchment-lined baking sheet aside, and leave melting of premium quality chocolate for last.  All ingredients ready-to-go, spoon tempered chocolate onto parchment, decorate the discs, and leave sufficient time for the ‘rocks’ to set.

Work hard, eat well and be amazed!  Post-cooling, it’s time to reap the fruits of your labour.  One bite, and there’s no comparison – fresh is best!  Though time-consuming, you can’t deny the depth in vibrant taste; sweet, tart and rich flavours are no match to dull and unpolished dried alternatives.  Ultimate reward for the day:  dripping in mineral-rich jewels with the latest hand accessory – adornment via ‘mendiant.’

© DISHFUL, 2013.  All Rights Reserved.

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You’ve Been Served…

AGteamenu arrBundle up because “Baby, it’s cold outside…!” Facing December chills, and seasonal expectations – do’s and don’ts of winter weather – is no news to Canadians.  Even so, some snow bunnies need more than the usual – mitts, scarf, boots – to keep warm.

The good news is, where there is a wilful appetite there is a way!  Making cold days tolerable, crackling fire-roasted chestnuts sound delightful.  Delivering equal parts warmth and pleasure, my ideal escape and answer to combatting cold months is found indoors, reserved tableside, and in a hot ceramic pot.  Quenching one’s thirst for all things liquid hot, I retreat to Angus Glen Golf Club for “Festive Afternoon Tea.”AGteafood arr

White, green or tisane, the list of tea options is vast and continues to the second page.  They don’t call this an “afternoon” affair for no reason – decisions, decisions!  Given the predetermined three-tier array of finger foods – sandwiches, tartlets, and sweet/savoury scones – I was fortunate to allot ample time to thoughtfully select this Sunday’s swimming highlight – synchronized aromatic loose leaf blends.

AGtea arrScanning dessert-inspired recipes, “Tiramisu” and “Crème Brûlée Chai” immediately caught my eye.  Consistent with the menu’s listed offerings, the aforementioned herbal and blossoming teas are undeniably flavourful; chocolate infused rooibos, in addition to ‘spicy’ appearances – cardamom, cinnamon, clove, and ginger – in the concentrated chai make for two intriguing speciality beverages.  Spotting another delicately spiced variety, order’s in:  “Cococream Rooibos!”  Steamed up and ready to be poured, I tipped my pot of steeped comfort to pleasantly awaken my semi-hibernated senses.  Deliciously familiar, my preferred selection well-integrates hints of sweet vanilla, spicy ginger and cinnamon, coconut shavings, as well as rose and marigold.  With dried flower petals ‘abloom’ – in my cup – how can one not feel as if they have escaped the winter blues?  Afternoon or not, ‘defrosting’ at home doesn’t get any easier than inviting whistling shouts into your kitchen – kettle’s on!

© DISHFUL, 2013.  All Rights Reserved.

Silver and Gold

Gingerbread Cookie Steps arrIt’s that time of year again – Christmas – and, I love it!  The time of year where sweet things are made of these:  white sugar, brown sugar and molasses.  While mom’s red and green glistening sugar cookies can never be duplicated, I can’t think of a better way to get into the holiday spirit than to start a baking blitz.  After all, nothing spreads holiday cheer faster than filling a room with the essence of homemade cookies.

One part delicious and one part décor, I present to you my take on tradition with none other than the, “Oh – how sweet it is – Christmas tree!”  It all started with a ‘moment.’  That moment when I saw it, wanted it, but knew I didn’t need it.  Then, the dilemma – should I buy it or not?  Next question to ask, “Must I have it?”  Yes!  I absolutely must own a set of star-shaped cookie cutters.  And yes, I must create my very own cookie tree.  So, I did exactly that! Sugar Cookie Tree arr

Silver and gold or ‘au naturel,’ the best part of making your own edible centerpiece is its versatility; they can be embellished to fit any thematic scheme, and one’s personal preference.  Following a reliable sugar or gingerbread cookie recipe – I use Martha Stewart’s – I proceed to whip up and roll out a batch of cookie dough, and then pop my star cut-outs into the oven for the instructed time.  Once baked and cooled, let the tree trimming begin!

Decorated Cookie Tree 2013 arrMinimalists may choose to leave their towering 3-D spectacle as is – a pure display of subdue shining glory.  As for me, ‘tis the season and that means adding sparkle, royal icing, and metallic-tone dragées to capture much sought twinkling nostalgia.   With or without the addition of ‘toppers,’ this layered treat is a sight for the eyes, and is certain to please cookie monsters everywhere.  Word to the wise, taste trumps design.  So to yield deliciously festive results – worthy of the ‘nice’ list – heed a tried and tested recipe.  Happy baking!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2013.

O-re-o

Traditionalists will tell you to:  twist it, dunk it, and then bite it.  But, if I give you an Oreo cookie, you can crush and slice it.  Yes, I did mess with a good thing.  Even better, in doing so, I found there are plenty of delicious ways to consume an Oreo cookie.

Oreo IceBox Cake arrThanks to an online bank of recipes, locating the necessary steps and ingredients for a personal production of newly transformed filled cookie indulgences was fast and reliable.  My particular use of Oreo cookies resulted in triumphant truffles and a no-bake, no-fuss Oreo ice-box cake that your friends and family will adore.

Baking with Oreos is as easy as:  shop, unpack and assemble.  Truly!  Well, almost – truly worth some elbow grease.  Calling for an overload of the famed versatile cookie sandwich, both recipes – though transformed in structure – remain true in taste.  All you need for the ice-box cake are the cream-filled cookies – the real deal – and ice cream of your choice.  If you want to get fancy, just layer the ice cream onto a chocolate pie shell, then top with more cookies – intact, pieces or crumbs – and take it one step further by decorating your frozen dessert with more candy toppings, though optional.

Oreo Truffles arrAs for the truffles, create a smooth sweet and savoury mixture by combining crushed cookies with plain cream cheese.  And, chill.  Wait – the truffle or me?  Accurate, twice!  Patience remains a virtue, and this recipe demands that you refrigerate the mixture, and take a time out.  Once chilled, the firmed mixture is more manageable to scoop, shape into hand-rolled balls, and dip into melted chocolate.  Remember ‘patience’?  Yes, after a second cooling off period – of course – the end result is worth acquiescing to:  rich and scrumptious two-bite pieces of chocolate coated decadent joy.

Something good can be told of eating of Oreos the old-fashioned way – no additions, no adaptations, and no wait time.  Equally satisfying, however, remains revamping a store-shelf favourite into a batch of edible luxury – an irresistible change, I’m sure Oreo-conformists will welcome.

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2013.