“L’envie en rose”

If you ever find yourself hungry in Paris’ 5th ‘arrondisement’, there are a few places you may want to visit. Between fresh fruit stalls and seafood markets, in addition to local pâtisseries, this district boasts full of restaurants that cater to various palettes.

Au Jardin de Lutece 1 arrKeeping you well informed, here’s a little taste of what I spotted along the streets of Rue Monge, Paris. Not to be confused with ‘mange’ that means ‘eat,’ Rue Monge is not your typical tourist attraction and, however quiet, it remains worthy of some notable buzz.

Starting with a duo – literally neighbouring markets – Poissonerie Monge and Au Jardin de Lutèce are considerably destined stops for local Parisians who seek fresh seafood and a bountiful of tropical fruits and garden vegetables. While I haven’t had the fortune to cook the ‘catch of the day’ – chez Poissonerie Monge – my testing of freshly squeezed orange juice, decadent honey-sweet dates among other seasonal berries are to be discussed.  Beginning the day with vitamin-rich essentials, locating this fruit stall all began with a quick passage down the street. Like many happy accidents, some hidden gems are best identified when merely walking. Once there, this roofed ‘garden’ does not disappoint. Eyeing a rainbow display of every fruit and vegetable you can name from A to Z, there’s clearly no shortage of items.

As for my impromptu excursion, the prices are a bit steep but, the quality reigns supreme and leaves a lasting impression from first to last bite. Personally, I recommend the ‘jus d’orange’ as it’s prepared on the spot, and is consistent of sweet and tart flavours – seriously, a delicious way to start the day. Like the citrus, this vendor knows how to pick dates. Au Jardin de Lutece 6 arrToo mesmerized to ask their origin, whether Medjools or not, there’s no mistaking these dates were certainly fresh with a soft outer layer, meaty in size – not dried up or shrivelled like some other varieties – and, jam-packed with sweetness.  Surely, a date or two is the perfect lightweight snack to keep anyone energized.  Consisting of more happy surprises, each corner of this small shop carries pockets of nature’s beauty. For instance, while indulging in ruby red currants and organic strawberries did amaze, the one that got away – hopefully, to be sampled on a future trip – was the box-load of once again ‘fresh’ hazelnuts. Can you believe it? Now, I know from former experience what fresh almonds look and taste like but, much to my excitement, seeing fresh hazelnuts was a first! Luckily, for those in the area, they can be found here Au Jardin de Lutèce. Now you know – ‘je vous en prie,’ you’re welcome!

Maison Gregoire 1 arrFrom land and sea to farm fresh and freshly baked or cooked, there’s an endless list of gastronomic stops to recount. Briefly, for those with a sweet tooth, Rue Monge is also host to an array of ‘viennoiserie’ and classic French pastries – pain au chocolat, brioche, croissant, flan, tarte aux pommes, macarons, etc. – as well as simple cheese sandwiches, all courtesy of Maison Grégoire. Maison Gregoire 2 arrHaving said that, those after a more hearty lunch or late night dinner must-visit and must-walk further along Rue Monge and take a detour – all within walking distance, I promise – to Rue Mouffetard. Once there, behold: foodie central! Taking a late night promenade to Rue Mouffetard, myself, I find this street to be lively and boasting with a mélange of young and young-at-heart patrons. Likewise, the diverse spread of dessert parlours, tea houses, international fare – Greek, Italian, Turkish – and authentically French cuisine-oriented bistros run plenty.

Crepe 1 arrVenturing to satisfy sweet and savoury senses, I opt for a cheese and egg-filled paper thin crêpe. How so very typical – I know, but don’t mind! Almost an equivalent to what we – North Americans – commonly identify as a pancake house, this ‘crêperie’ offers both Nutella/fruit options and meat/veg components, and speedily prepares them ‘à emporter,’ for takeout.

Gelati d'Alberto 8 arr

In continuation of the next sought after treat, I set out for a real beauty – an edible rose – at Gelati d’Alberto.  Truly, a sight for tasteful eyes, this gelateria impresses not by its compact dimensions but, instead, by its glass-encased selection of uniquely flavoured congealed confections. At initial glance, I’m left intrigued by flavours such as açaí berry, “Alibaba” – a mixture of sesame and orange blossom water – litchi, and even aloe vera. Gelati d'Alberto 6 arrUltimately, request is made for a delicate yet vibrant trio of: rose, pistachio and strawberry gelato. Taking time to savour this ‘fleur,’ each petal layer at a time, the distinct combination of the three gelati did make for a pleasantly memorable experience. Undeniably fragrant, this perfumed hand-crafted rose smelled sweet as much as it tasted intoxicatingly true to the essence of rose water – simply, magnifique!

Needless to say, it’s all in the way it tastes!  And, in keeping with homemade tradition, Alberto’s use of pure fruit and quality ingredients speak volumes in the final product of gelati and sorbets that is clean and refreshing on the palette.  It’s no wonder, then, that gelati and sorbets made by this ‘maître glacier’ – master ice-cream maker – are self-proclaimed to be the envy of town, “L’envie en rose,” and rightfully so. All in a day’s work, this food-hunting escapade just touches the surface of all there is to explore. While I’m sure I could go on with more mention of French food or the artisans who craft them, there’s no denying this fact: “La vie est belle, et vous êtes comme elle!” Life’s beautiful – and even more so with ‘la cuisine française’!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved.

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I Saw the Sign: L’As du Fallafel

L'As du Fallafel 1 arrLooking for an ideal grab ‘n’ go snack, in Paris? Look no further than L’As du Fallafel. Situated along 34 Rue des Rosiers, this falafel hut serves up orders as quickly as they take them. Getting my ‘fill’ of a widely popular mid-east treat, I order piping hot deep fried pillows of falafel rounds that are sandwiched into a soft pita. Specifically asking for the ‘fallafel spécial,’ it’s consistent of the famous falafels plus hummus, veggies – lettuce, tomato, cucumber, grilled eggplant – and for added spice, I also get mine topped off with piquante sauce. Loving the hand I’m dealt, the verdict’s in: this ‘ace’ of a sandwich delivers in bold taste!

L'As du Fallafel 4 arrWhat’s more, word of mouth still works! And, in little to no time you’ll find crowds gather by this hotspot. So in case you’re running low on energy or simply can’t wait to get your falafel fix, be in-the-know of the how-to’s when it comes to speedy service at this restaurant. Taking out the guesswork, here’s what to expect for takeout: first, spot the staff/rep – most likely standing outside, infront of the venue, already taking orders – then, find your place amid the open air queue of patrons and submit your request. In following, provide payment directly to the ‘outdoor’ staff who will, in exchange, provide a paper receipt to be presented to the cooks. Simply put, the invoice is key: no paper – proof of purchase – no falafel.

L'As du Fallafel 3 arrLuckily for tourists, both English and French are spoken/understood here. Appreciating the spontaneous French lesson, ‘on peut bien y practiquer le français!’ But if learning languages is not your thing, fear not as all foodies are well aware of this certainty: no matter the destination, expression of ‘hunger pangs’ – not words – remain the universal language.

Equally vocalizing my desire for food, I pursue the vegetarian route and stick to the “must-indulge” menu item of choice – pure falafels. L'As du Fallafel 2 arrMore than ‘a’ chickpea, it’s the culmination of chickpeas plural in addition to the compounded mixture of fresh herbs and spices that make for tasty bites of falafel. Generously wrapped, this veggie sandwich bodes well in freshness as in portion. Catering to meatlovers as well, other selects include: chicken or turkey shawarma, meatballs, schnitzel, sausage and fries that are available for takeout. Food-excursion of the day complete – with a falafel pita – I attest that L’As du Fallafel does indeed transform an otherwise mildly flavoured légume into something palatably wonderful. Whilst feeling peckish in the Marais district, then, look for the righteously named sign of this Parisian food-stop and sample the ‘ace’ – the base of falafels!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved. 

Good Things End with ‘É’

Herme Macarons 1 arr

When you can’t meet the King of Macaron himself – Pierre Hermé – a visit to his ’round’ table is the best substitute. Saying, “Oui, oui!” to my absolute favourite city – Paris, of course – a trip to this magical place would not be complete without a must-see and must-visit stop for food shopping at noneother than Monsieur Hermé‘s boutique of sweets.

Yes, indeed, I can now attest to having tried select artisan-made delectable almond French macarons. Conviently dispersed throughout Parisian streets, I make my way to one of many of this master’s stores. Strolling along 18 Rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie, in particular, I’m introduced to a quaint sized shop beholding a gateway to chocolates, dessert spreads, and the highly anticipated glass-encased table of lovely ’rounds.’

Herme Macarons 10 arrA picture worthy of thousands of words, who wouldn’t capture this Kodak moment of sorts? Politely asking permission first to do exactly that, I’m clearly too enticed to leave such a moment to memory alone. And, afterall, how better to timelessly share Hermé’s offerings – even if it’s only in pixel format. Access happily granted, capturing the multitude of unique treats didn’t take too long and equally deserved more than a photographic close-up.

Pleasantly tried and taste tested, my order of palatable macarons did not disappoint. Worth the pretty Euro – and souvenir tin – any patron can be sure to fill their dessert coffers with the best of the best in quality macarons. Likewise, Hermé offers 18 distinct flavour profiles ranging from the traditionally expected to surprising flavour pairings. Herme Macarons 11 arrWanting a bit of this and that, here’s what I enjoyed: Madagascar Vanilla, coffee, chocolate, Mogador (duo of milk chocolate and passion fruit), Ispahan (evoking hints of rose, litchi fruit and raspberry), Infinitely Jasmine, and Montebello (a signature combo of pistachio and raspberry). Unequivocally divine, macarons by Hermé do satisfy! What’s more, recounts of previous macaron-making endeavours ‘chez-moi’ leave me to attest that the amount of work, skill and purity of high grade ingredients involved with Hermé’s handheld gems are evidently synonymous in his final product. Artisan, to say the least, these cookies deliver in premium taste and texture from first to last bite. Simply stated, they’re ‘magnifique!’ Clearly, well made – and, well received!

Hoping you’ll make your way to Pierre Hermé’s shop for your own box of truffles, macarons or jar of hazelnut spread, other reputable Parisian macaron houses exists. Among them include Ladurée, which remains a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. But if long queues are not your thing, fear not as many local pastry shops – a.k.a. ‘pâtisseries’ – often offer macarons in their own right. Ultimately, wherever you go, venturing to Paris persists to be a deliciously good idea!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved. 

INSTA Ice Cream

Insta Ice Cream 13 arrInstantly made for “insta” yum, no-churn ice cream is the answer to all things delicious and frozen.  Essentially, the dessert for summer time.

Truly no fuss and easy to make, anyone can whip up their very own batch of homemade frozen confection. For the start of your own, all you need are three ingredients – heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla essence.

To prepare humble vanilla ice cream – also the base to future flavourful variations – first pour the ‘necessities’ into a mixing bowl, whip the combined trio until soft peaks form and then set contents into the ice box to fully solidify. Et voilà! You’ve mastered no-churn ice cream.

From here, the possibilies are endless. You can create a menu of delectable dairy rich frozen treats. To start, mix-in palatable additions of choice whether via fruit compote, crushed cookies or biscuits, chocolate chunks, chopped almonds or walnuts, and even broken pieces of your preferred candy bar.

Insta Ice Cream 2 arrHaving fun with the making of several ice creams, I couldn’t stop at one or two. Essentially setting up my own ice cream parlour – if only for a day – going for gold is the aim. And so, when a couple flavours just don’t cut it, I set my eyes on building a dream team of flavour pairings to include mine, yours, and everyone’s favourites: mint chip, mocha almond fudge, cherry cheesecake, caramel macchiato crunch, Oreos ‘n’ cream, and a peachy-esque spin resulting in ‘nouveau’ nectarines and cream. Likewise, candy coated cones with sprinkles and the works are a must – a match-made winning combo for the otherwise already beautified real cream scoops.

Made in an instant and ‘flash’ frozen, personalizing your ice cream to create a range of tastes is a cinch. To do so, simply remember the magic of three: three items and three steps – combine, whip and freeze. Word to the wise: for mint chip, I omit vanilla essence and replace it with pure mint extract. Alternatively, deconstructed banana split ice cream can made by using banana flavouring as well. Once again, the sky’s the limit when creating your very own plain or fusion ice cream, especially when starting with the original no-churn base. Rocky road or what ever route you take your ice cream, there’s one ultimate certainty: no-churn ice cream is an “insta” success.

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved. 

But First, Kahve Turk

Turkish Coffee 4 arrCoffee lovers love coffee. Obviously, it’s a no-brainer. But all the same, true coffee lovers enjoy more than a ‘cup of joe.’ Equally keen on java, my morning ritual consists of freshly brewed Arabica beans. And as for the weekends, afternoon pick-me-ups are synonymous with none other than an intensely robust shot of ‘kahve turk.’

Talking about Turkish coffee, this coffee beverage is the common favourite both near – ‘chez-moi’ – and as far as Europe and the Middle East. Somewhat like Italian espresso, Turkish coffee is a staple in many coffee houses abroad and homes alike. Delighted for its strong and sweet flavours, Turkish coffee is bold and not for the faint of heart.

Turkish Coffee 2 arrFortunately, I’ve gained an early introduction on the how to’s of all things ‘cezve’ – a Turkish coffee pot – and my acquired Turkish coffee education is in great part thanks to my Persian heritage. Easy as 1-2-3, coffee aficionados everywhere can also make Turksh coffee with ease. Simple in technique as in contents, all you truly require is a ‘cezve’ and these following ingredients: ground Turkish coffee, sugar, and water. That’s – almost – all! As a rule of thumb, here are a few helpful hints: I use a heaping teaspoon of coffee per person as well as equal parts sugar – about a teaspoon – and an espresso cup worth of water per drink. Likewise, albeit a standard method in coffee making, I always try to use filtered water whenever possible.

Turkish Coffee 1 arrMeasurements aside, here’s how to make a fresh pot of Turkish coffee: fill the ‘cezve’ with exact portions of water per person, and place it on the stovetop over medium heat. Once the water has heated, add the spoonful(s) of coffee but be careful not to stir. Then, add the sugar and omit from stirring. Keeping a watchful eye, begin to stir the coffee and sugar as soon as they have seemingly dissolved or have sunk to the bottom of the pot. At this point, continue to stir until the liquid coffee mixture is well-combined and appears frothy and thicker in consistency. Upon ample stirring, leave the coffee on the stovetop but turn the tempertature to ‘low’, and allow the coffee to continue heating up until it’s ready. As for when it’s coffee time, it’s safe to remove the coffee upon noticing a ring of bubbles form around the edges of the pot. At this point in time, the coffee has sufficiently heated and you want to avoid boiling the coffee at all costs. If you didn’t know beforehand now you know: boiling Turkish coffee is a “no-no” – don’t let it happen to yours!

Tavazo Pastries 1 arrFinally ready to enjoy, I love Turkish coffee on its own for its rich and intoxicating flavour, and even more so when accompanied with pastry. Finding both ground Turkish coffee and Persian desserts at Tavazo, you don’t have to ask me twice to make a pot of ‘kahve turk.’ Afternoon well spent and recharged, you can do the same by visiting a local Persian grocer or by grinding your own preferred medium roast beans – just be sure to use the Turkish/’finest’ setting. Leaving you to it, then, “no ‘more’ talkie before coffee!”

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved. 

Mom Knows Best!

Persian Ice Cream 5 arrMy mom has taught me everything I know – from Persian culture to family values, and the importance of ongoing learning. A gem in her own right, my mother has and persists to display multifaceted talents. Crafty yet studious, successful in business ventures as much as a leading parental figure, she’s – without a doubt – the person to whom I look up and admire, and fortunately, my personal ‘go-to’ when presented with life’s question however big or recipe-related.

 

On this Mother’s Day, my mind easily trails to an endless memory bank of times I shared with my mom. Moments for which I’m grateful, and instances that are now family stories in great thanks to my mother who selflessly took every spare moment she had to spend with her children. Always giving of herself, she put ‘quality’ in every minute, hour and all times that are now made eternal.

Persian Ice Cream 3 arrIn celebration of my mom and all mother figures, I like to dedicate this post to past memories and some made new. Regardless of the month or season, every year has been touched by my mom. From devouring a plateful of homemade Christmas cookies, to custom-made birthday cakes, my mom started traditions that were made to last. Effortlessly working to make every occasion special, she continues to approach holiday dinners with the same level of attentive care and happily creates festive menus and table spreads that are thematic and attune with hand-selected patterned dishes, flatware, drinking glasses and centrepiece arrangements. Again taking time, she not only ‘makes things happen’ but, too, adds an element of magic to transform otherwise ordinary events into something beautiful.

In recollection of one of my fondest childhood memories, every trip to the mall included a stop at the ice cream parlour – my favourite scoop in a cone, mint chip for my sister, and French vanilla for my mom. Clearly, this family loves ice cream. And for the creation of more sweet memories, my mother has passed on the tradition of making and appreciating Persian food, including traditional desserts.

Persian Ice Cream 8 arrGladly following in my mother’s footsteps, I hope to have honoured both her teachings and our heritage with the making of a delectable recipe fully-loaded with nostalgia. Hoping you, too, will share something sweet with your mother-figure, here’s what I learnt from the ‘wise’ one: a popular Persian Ice Cream commonly known as ‘bastani Akbar Mashti’ and ‘faloodeh’.

Having the fortune to savour my mother’s cooking, I need no formal introduction to the distinct floral tastes identified with these icy desserts. Inclusive of saffron, rosewater, pistachios and frozen pieces of whipping cream, this vanilla-based ice cream dessert was first invented by ‘the man,’ Akbar Mashti. Rightfully named, then, ‘bastani’ simply refers to ice cream in Farsi.

As easy to make as reading the ingredient list, anyone can share and delight in their very own homemade batch of Persian Ice Cream. Starting with pure vanilla bean ice cream – homemade or already-made, preferably premium grade – allow the ice cream contents to slightly soften, and then mix-in the following: 1 cup of pistachios, 1/4 cup of rosewater, 1/16 teaspoon ground saffron, and 500 mL of whipping cream for ultra richness – freeze cream separately, and break into pieces prior to incorporating – and when well-combined, place the container back into the freezer to solidify the jewelled ice cream prior to serving. In case it helps, here’s some pearls of wisdom passed from mum: a little goes a long way with saffron so – however tempted to intensify colour of your ice cream – be careful not to overpower the dairy contents or otherwise risk gaining an adversely medicinal tasting dessert. Also, I first bloomed the portioned saffron into the measured rosewater, and later incorporated the perfumed liquid gold to the ice cream.

Persian Ice Cream 10 arrHighly satisfying as-is, ‘bastani’ can even be sandwiched between two wafers or enjoyed alongside ‘faloodeh’. Perhaps unfamiliar to some, ‘faloodeh’ is essentially cooked rice noodles that have been frozen with rosewater infused simple syrup. Short on ingredients and steps, less is definitely more with this fragrant dessert. Once prepared and semi-frozen, be sure to comb it over with a fork – like a granita – as it does not share the same consistency as ice cream. Finally ready to serve, you can enjoy ‘faloodeh’ in all its rosy glory for an extra hint of tart and sweet tastes top it with a squeeze of fresh lime juice or sour black cherry syrup – and, that’s all she wrote!

From my mother’s kitchen to yours, these Persian desserts are family favourites and simply worth having any time of year. Using these recipes or alternate expressions of thanks, I hope you have the opportunity to treat the parental figure who has left a lasting imprint on your life with daily tokens of gratitude. And on that note, this one’s for you – Love you, Mum!!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Bombe au C’ChoColat

Weekend getaway to Paris North – pourquoi pas? Why not, indeed, to a fab Canadian stay-cation worthy of good eats in beautiful Montréal, Québec. Arriving ‘tout à l’heure,’ I waste no time and make my way downtown where ‘le centre-ville’ is home to several locally authentic French cuisine finds. Forgoing ‘foie gras’ – this time – I have reason for travelling through the hustle and bustle of the city’s artery, and it’s prime – believe me!

C'ChoColat 2 arrGood company and good times! And, as for the weather? Certainly, ‘je me souviens’ – a city to be remembered. But, don’t let the clear skies fool you! Brisk air to some, I would comparatively rate the weather as well below freezing temperature. Nonetheless, this trip was never about the windchill. Food shopping on the mind, this chocoholic-epicurean – that is ‘moi’ – landed in front of the doors of 1255 Rue Bishop for one precise item: C’ChoColat’s signature house dessert, the C’Wow.

Wowed – 100% – by this memorable chocolate bomb, this sweet plate is truly unlike anything I’ve yet had the pleasure to witness. Scanning the menu, the composition of listed ingredients for the C’Wow already sounds pleasantly familiar. Just imagine, a plated dish that includes: a scoop of artisan gelato surrounded by broken pieces of waffles, brownies, pecans, fresh berries, and crumble that is then encapsulated in a chocolate dome. But wait, this dessert gets better when served table side – ‘à table,’ chocolate lover!

Like a page stolen from history, suspenseful anticipation for this Trojan horse is no where near reached until post delivery of this gorgeous cocoa structure. Don’t worry, however, this sweet invasion equally makes for one delectably welcome fateful ending. In a nutshell: the C’Wow came, was seen and conquered – by caramel! Ultimately covered by heated caramel sauce, behold: a demolished collapse of layered confection toppling over a rocky bed of waffle and brownie bits. Jaw dropped, bearing witness to a fantastic chocolate demise, a moment of fascination is soon replaced with reality and the realization that it’s taste-testing time – finalement!

C'ChoColat 10 arrAs hoped, every bite of the C’Wow encompasses a mélange of delightful flavours. Inclusion of fresh berries justly brighten the flavours of the dense and rich cakey components. Generous in size and highly caloric, this select is a feat to finish. As such, here’s word to wise: the C’Wow can easily be shared by two or ordered for one large appetite. Either way, this chocolate themed venue offers more than meets the eye and is sure to appease many a sweet tooth.

C'ChoColat 6 arrSatisfying the chocophile-in-anyone, enjoying the finer things in life – if only via chocolate – is a dream come to fruition at C’ChoColat. Never ceasing to disappoint, there’s something for everyone from chocolate-infused beverages dubbed ‘choctails’ to Hong Kong style honeycomb waffles and savoury dishes. Too tempting not to try, the pistachio gelato is truly divine. Still in vacay mode, adding accompaniments like a latté and the Matcha Matcha Man frappé make for an accepted and extended guilt-free indulge-a-thon. Between green tea and herbal varieties, the assortment of milkshakes, ‘chocolat chaud’, hot/cold coffee beverages and Parisian crêpes run plenty. Heart happy in #MTL, C’ChoColat’s C’Wow is a clear winner to be experienced for yourself, ideally in person or just a click away.  It’s seriously, ‘the bomb’ of chocolate desserts!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved.

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Pudding It Out There

Liquid sunshine, anyone? Once in a while, a baker will come across excess yolks – probably having whipped up a whites-based dessert like meringues, angel food cake and the sort. Finding myself in a similar predicament, a bowl of golden yolks and perfect timing leaves me with the ideal March-inspired treat. Celebrating with high spirits, Baileys Chocolate Pudding was made for St. Paddy’s Day festivities.Baileys Chocolate Pudding 3 arr

Combining my favourite ingredient – undoubtedly chocolate – with a very special Irish Cream, you really can’t go wrong with the complementary pairing of the aforementioned duo. Rich, chocolatey and infused with a hint of an old country export, homemade pudding is something else: it’s elevated nostalgia. Clearly, a must-indulge item in my books!

Baileys Chocolate Pudding 2 arrTo make your own holiday pudding, choose a scratch recipe of choice. Following the steps of the Barefoot Contessa – Ms. Ina Garten, of course – I really enjoyed following her simple instructions for a double chocolate pudding. Doing things my way, however, I take her very good recipe and tweak it to cater to my preferences. Specifically, I had nine yolks to start though the original recipe calls for six. Presented with three more than less of what’s required, I still count myself lucky. Glass bowl looking beyond half-full, circumstance is boding well and, so, I persist to do as any good baker would – I sharpen my math skills. In other words, I take note of the existing quantities and appropriately increase measured amounts for all remaining ingredients, including: sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, salt, milk, heavy cream, pure vanilla essence and fine quality chocolate. Though Ina’s original calls for butter and semisweet chocolate, I omit the butter altogether and use premium dark chocolate – minimum 70% cocoa.

Baileys Chocolate Pudding 4 arrFortunately, the outcome of this cocoa-rich indulgence is nothing short of pure decadence. And, although I-rish I could stop at the making of double chocolate pudding, a must-indulge St. Paddy’s dessert must-have a little touch of Shamrock. As for the final touches, then, I keep with precision and happily exchange the plain heavy cream with an addition of Baileys Original Irish Cream. From here, the well-mixed pudding mixture is poured into individual dessert dishes and refrigerated. Ultra delicious and made for chocophiles, serving chilled portions of Baileys Chocolate Pudding on its own – as-is – or topped with sweetened whipped cream will surely yield happy hours to come. Ultimately ‘pudding’ a spin on a classic, this crowd-pleasing custard is meant to be shared and savoured responsibly – please, use a spoon! Happy Saint Patrick’s, everyone!!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Red Velvet That Will Please

 

beet-red-velvet-cupcakes-8-arrWant a Valentine’s dessert that will make your special someone blush beet red? Saying “YES” to all things homemade, I have the perfect baked treat in mind. For your sweet – or sweet tooth – I’m thinking: Red Velvet Cupcakes. Satisfying for more than its V-Day symbolic hints of love – chocolate and heart-red hue – this cocoa-rich yet moist bite-size indulgence is made extra irresistible thanks to a generous smothering of cream cheese frosting. As scrumptious as it sounds, red velvet is not for everyone but, when made right, is sure to leave you with a smile.

beet-red-velvet-cupcakes-4-arrEnticed, yet? Love it or hate it, I’m in the mood to whip up a batch of red velvet cupcakes. Still tempting to some, red velvet persists to be a sought-after southern delight since its revival on the big screen – watch the retro hit, Steel Magnolias. Movie buff or not, however, others find nothing delectable about consuming a piece of red-dye cake that’s, too, criticized for being bland. Honestly, I can’t blame them! Also choosing to forgo the Texas band-waggon – sorry, Adams Extract – a little research is all it took to find the ‘one.’ Clearly convinced that ‘red’ can be made right, I’ve found a non-greasy red velvet cake instruction that’s highly flavourful all the while omitting oil and food colouring.

beet-red-velvet-cupcakes-6-arrGetting back to the basics, the start to producing a genuine ‘rouge’ cake batter is as simple as this: just ‘beet’ it! Truly, the inclusion of beetroot veg will evoke desired vibrancy without emptying an entire bottle of food colour – L-O-V-E this! Further match-made for more reasons than one, I use Pamela Moxley’s Red Velvet Cake recipe that calls on butter, equally appeasing to my desire for an oil-free batter. And as if things couldn’t get any better, directions ask that you purée the cooked and peeled beets so you’re solely left with smooth – ‘au naturel’ red – velvety liquid texture. As for the taste, this cake is not intended to be overly chocolatey nor are you left with a strong beet flavour.  In contrast, these cupcakes are mildly sweet and are all about a ‘chemical romance.’ Explanation provided: the appearance of reddish earth tones should result upon combining neutralized Dutch-process cocoa powder with buttermilk, and acids such as white vinegar and the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon, as Moxley’s steps indicate.

beet-red-velvet-cupcakes-11-arrAs for my experiment, I can attest to a fairly ‘reactive’ outcome in the test kitchen. From burgundy to crimson, the looks of lovely red are pleasantly evident and ever-changing between baking stages. A chameleon cake of sorts, that’s exactly what you want to see when attempting this vegetable-infused dessert recipe. Be bold, then, and prepare to welcome variations of red that doesn’t include lipstick or candy apple – any other shade, mind you, wouldn’t reflect an authentic beet cake.

Ultimately doing all things in love, I hope you try a scratch recipe of choice or cake mix – no judgement here – and, when the little cakes are cooled, begin to decorate with frosting: butter-cream, cream cheese or ‘roux’ icing. beet-red-velvet-cupcakes-13-arrCreating cream cheese frosting for my individual ‘reds,’ all I do is combine the following in a bowl: softened unsalted butter and cream cheese – both left out, at room temperature – icing sugar, plus a final dash of Madagascar vanilla essence. Once fluffy and ready to go, I divide the frosting into separate containers, get a piping bag and tip assembled, and do the unexpected: I use food colouring gel. It’s true but, only a few drops – promise! All in the name of happy baking, I couldn’t resist arranging a bed of edible roses. Seriously worth the addition of colour, who would deny wanting these thorn-free flowers for V-Day? Admittedly beautiful, lush, and fragrantly sweet, red velvet rosette frosted cupcakes are for the making, baking, and taking – by the dozens!

© DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Let’s Get Started!

prima-pavlova-2-arrNew year, new dessert? Right on – my sentiments exact! Paving 2017 with all that is light, sweet and timeless, I’m resolute in making a classic dessert that echoes effortless sophistication. And for this “must-indulge” endeavour, whipping up divine pavlova is nothing short of pav-u-lous.

Originally made to honour ballerina Anna Pavlova, this delicate meringue topped with heavy cream and fruit promises an impressionable display upon presentation. For my dessert stage, then, here’s two ovation-worthy variations to prepare: soft and chewy vanilla pavlova embellished with whipped cream and seasonal berries, in addition to a two-tier chocolate and raspberry layered pavlova cake.prima-pavlova-3-arr

Instructions abound, pursuing any pavlova recipe is a cinch. While I’m a Martha Stewart loyalist – surprise, surprise – be confident that ingredients and steps for the making of meringues are pleasingly similar. Tried, tested, and happily achieved – thanks to Ms. Stewart – here’s a sum of what you’ll need for the meringue base: egg whites, salt, sugar, cornstarch, vinegar, and vanilla extract. For the chocolate alternative, omit vinegar and cornstarch but add premium quality unsweetened cocoa powder and brown sugar accordingly. Once the ingredients are mixed to a glossy stiff consistency, continue to bake and cool the meringue discs in the oven. Finally, proceed to add finishing touches to the domed base. prima-pavlova-4-arr

Generously topping my vanilla meringue with sweetened whipped cream, strawberries and blackberries, fear not if your baked structure slightly cracks or deflates, even post cooling. Instead, remember: this show-stopping beauty is not done until it’s fully dressed via flavourful cream, berries, other fruits – kiwi, banana, raspberry, blueberries, etc. – chocolate shavings, ganache, and even caramel sauce. Garnishes being optional, I brighten the already vibrant fruit pavlova with fresh sprigs of mint, and do so for extra colour and taste. prima-pavlova-1-arrEqually, and like the vanilla pav, the cocoa-rich-lo-va incorporates both fruit and sweetened whipped cream. To ensure even levels – between the first and second floors of cake – simply spoonful proportionate amounts of whipped cream onto the surface of each chocolate meringue. Getting the tiniest bit technical, carefully spread the filling from the center outward – an offset spatula works like a charm – and proceed by topping one cream-laden round with the other. Finding no swan song here, a bountiful shower of lush red raspberries and dusting of dark chocolate shavings is all you require for this adorned ‘prima’. So, there you have it! Dramatically ‘made-up’ and ready for a close reveal, wowing guests is as easy as gracing them with front-row standing to their very own slice of cloud cake – PAV-tastico!

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