Melon Ice Pops

Are hot and humid days leaving you with a muggy disposition? Fortunately, taming boiling temperaments is possible with a clear solution ─ ice pops to the rescue! Evading sugary selects, this summer encourages the making of your very own icebox “go-to” treat. For my take, I forgo the freezer aisle and opt for fresh and seasonally fragrant produce. Both naturally sweet, either watermelon or cantaloupe is ideal for your choice of melon pops though other varieties ─ canary, honeydew or casaba ─ are equally formidable substitutes.

Melon Ice Pops 3 arrSimply delicious and irresistibly quick to make, here’s how: cut your melon of choice into chunks, then place fleshy cubes into a food processor and pulse until a purée consistency is reached; and finally, pour contents into a popsicle mold and set it into a freezer. It’s truly that easy! Just chop, blend, and let it go into the icebox to solidify. To enjoy, simply remove the frozen pops from the icebox and leave them at room temperature to slightly defrost. Melon Ice Pops 2 arrOr, if you can’t wait, run hot tap water over the surface of the container’s exterior until a popsicle loosens and is ready for a lift. ‘Et voilà!’ ─ no-fuss frosticles!

Subtly sweet and virtually guilt-free, I did not add any sugar to my batch of cantaloupe melon pops. Hopefully, you will also luck out with ripened fruit. But if not, no worries! Keeping a cool head, you can most definitely adjust this recipe with extra helpings ─ tablespoon(s) of sugar or honey ─ and ultimately appease your sweet tooth. As a rule of thumb, remember: give blitzed contents a taste and, then, fine-tune ingredients to create a palatably suitable concoction.Melon Ice Pops 7 arr

No food processor? ─ No problem! In keeping with a cool summer and the above steps, you can conveniently use a blender to make melon pops. As a friendly tip, liquid may be required to facilitate movement of solid watermelon or cantaloupe with this particular kitchen gadget. In this case, adding some water ─ just as I have for the cantaloupe pops ─ can help yield a liquefied texture. If watching your sugar-intake is a non-issue, replacing water with a splash or two of simple syrup ─ or a little more ─ is completely fine. Getting creative, you can even try elevating these frozen fruit pops with flavourful bursts of freshly squeezed orange or lemon citrus. Putting a lip-smacking spin on this recipe, I combine watermelon with good old-fashioned lemonade to create the best of both worlds ─ a tartly sweet edible duality that works, tastefully!

© DISHFUL, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

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Chiado Is What Chiado Does

Chiado 1 arr Summertime is sizzling and for one reason ─ Summerlicious! If you haven’t heard, no worries, there’s still time. Every year, this Toronto food event caters to hungry, enthusiastic and curious patrons. Foodie or not, now is the time to literally sample a three course menu from that establishment you’ve been eyeing for some time. Among friends, here’s a little piece of FYI: please do, R.S.V.P. Chiado 2 arr“I used to be indecisive, but now I’m not so sure.” This expression clearly resonates, given we’re ready to eat but uncertain in which locale to invest. Choices galore, the range of participating venues leave many to contemplate between fair to fine dining hosts. This year, however, I just had to taste my way through a ‘prix-fixe’ that was inclusive to an item never tried. And so, I must ─ “must-indulge,” at Chiado. Chiado 3 arrDid someone say ‘sizzle’? ─ Sim, sim, sim!!! ‘Chiado’ ─ as in the Portuguese term ─ indicates ‘sizzle,’ and for a reason. Happy to greet, seat and serve guests, the start of my experience is sizzling with great service. Waiting not, prompt seating and tableside attention is not an issue ─ mind you, former reservation had been made. Evidently still, staff are welcomingly present, professional and do their very best to accommodate patrons. First thing’s first, treat your senses with a taste of complimentary: black cured olives, an overfilled bread basket, and dipping olive oil. Already noted ─ here ─ it’s all about quality.Chiado 4 arr Eager for more appetizing delights, the menu selection is consistent with palatable options. For starters, opt for a seaside inspiration via saffron and cognac-infused shrimp bisque, grilled lemon garlic sardines or salmon tartar à la avocado mousse. Agreeably tempting, I forgo the aforementioned for a vegan appetizer that satisfies while taking account of needed room for the ‘main’ choice to come. In the meantime, my first course leaves a pleasantly earthy and enriching taste that is: portabella mushroom and eggplant that is topped with delicately broiled goat cheese, and justly flavoured with champagne vinaigrette.  Chiado 6 arr A true reflection of the Mediterranean, Chiado succeeds in a menu that well-encompasses regional cuisine as seen with: ‘dourada’ or fileted sea bream, grilled squid and a salted cod terrine, in addition to other piscatorial dishes such as pan-seared skate fish and Atlantic salmon. Seafood cooked right is an incomparable experience in its own right. Chiado 5 arrNonetheless, I set my ‘mainly’ mind on Chiado’s apparent “rule of the roost.” Tried for the first time, the garlic and herb-crusted “Roasted breast of Capon” is overbearingly succulent, adequately heated with ‘piri piri’ sauce, and persists to be undeniably preferred over the usual ‘white meat’ chicken alternative.  Absolutely hearty, the generous serving of ‘capon’ is enough to satisfy one’s eyes and appetite, though the root vegetable and ‘haricots verts’ accompaniments are worth savouring. Chiado 7 arrAnd now, time for dessert! Beyond comfortably-full ─ several bites ago, into the second course ─ how can I ignore Portuguese tradition? Treated to a pillow slice of light ‘molotof’ ─ egg white meringue ─ enrobed in caramel, this cotton candy-like cloud denotes both a sweet finale to this delicious meal, and a prelude to a necessary siesta. Happy eats and sweet dreams in, this Summerlicious experience is ─ most definitely ─ ‘Chiado.’

© DISHFUL, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Froyo Inferno

Banana ChocoFro arrHot and hazy days call for an ice-box favourite ─ say it is so, “ICE CREAM!”  Sweet, creamy and undoubtedly refreshing, who wouldn’t want to indulge in this summertime favourite?  I know I do, but with another ‘seasonal must’ beckoning ─ teenie weenie swimsuits ─ dreaded bouts of foreseeable guilt supersede advanced signs of temptation.  Fortunately, sunny days remain bright with an evasion of processed “sugar-free” and “fat-free” alternatives in exchange for homemade batches of fruit-flavoured frozen treats.

Banana Fro arrRecipes abound, there’s no shortage of instructions that call upon the usual suspects ─ sugar, cream, eggs, vanilla ─ and use of an ice-cream maker.  Having both the ingredients and the machinery ‘chez-moi,’ the common necessities aren’t an issue.  What it really comes down to, however, is the “s” word ─ SUGAR!  And so, I continue to scour the net and happily find an effortless frozen recipe that calls for two things:  bananas, and a food processor.  Ultimately working with a blank canvas, be brave and personalize your soon-to-be congealed treat with tasty additions ─ dash of cinnamon, a handful of nuts for added crunch, and even a tablespoon or two of either peanut butter or Nutella.

Blueberry FroYo arrStarting with the basics, follow these steps:  first peel and slice ripened bananas, then place cut pieces into a freezer-proof container, and freeze for a few hours or overnight.  How many bananas?  Good question!  As a rule of thumb, you can start with three but, just remember:  if you use more, you’ll get more.  So, it really depends on how large a batch you seek.  Once frozen, place the banana slices into a food processor and keep pulsing ─ about three to five minutes ─ until you yield a smooth consistency likened to soft-serve.  Finally, enjoy this naturally sweet delight immediately or store it in the freezer ─ once again ─ for a more solidified confection.  Requiring minimal ingredients but resulting in superior taste, it truly doesn’t get any easier than this.  So easy, in fact, I couldn’t resist dividing my potassium-rich batch into two and by proceeding to blend it with some cocoa powder ─ ‘et voilà,’ my very own chocolaty banana ice-cream.

Strawberry FroYo arrHooked on something wonderful, why stop now?  Equally achievable, making homemade strawberry and blueberry frozen yogurt is next on my list.  Courtesy of Just A Taste, I adhere to directions that call for three ingredients:  four cups of berries, ½ cup of yogurt, and three tablespoons of honey.  Like the banana recipe, begin with your choice of frozen berries and pulse the fruit using a food processor.  Catering to my taste, I combine the frozen fruit purée with ½ cup of thick and creamy Balkan-style yogurt, in addition to Manuka honey.  So far so good, I pour the vibrant batch of semi-frozen yogurt into a temperature-safe container and leave it in the freezer to solidify.  That’s it ─ done and done!

FroYo Palette arrAs for overall impressions, taste is not an issue so much as texture.  Clean and refreshing to the palette, both berry-inspired frozen yogurts are light and far from saturated ─ no cream, no refined sugar, no problem?  Not quite!  As any ice-cream maker well knows, sugar helps reduce the formation of ice crystals.  Honey, on that note, has purposefully been incorporated into this somewhat health-conscious recipe.  Making a valiant appearance, however slight, the ‘sweet stuff’ ─ agave nectar or other sweetener ─ does not share similar proportions as one would typically find in the rich custard original.  That said, the absence of fat and white sugar in this recipe indicates a less than creamy outcome that fares closer to a ‘granita.’  Needless to say, this fro-yo recipe may cater to some but not all.  On the plus side, there’s no denying this:  bright authentic taste of hand-picked strawberries trump any artificially-packed tub load.  So is fro-yo a go go?  I’d say so!  It’s definitely good as-is, and worth repeating using an ice-cream maker, at least for curiosity’s sake ─ churn baby churn!

© DISHFUL, 2015.  All Rights Reserved.

Irish You a Happy St. Paddy’s!

GuinnessCCakes 7 arr“Kiss me, I’m Irish!” ─ well, not quite!  Definitely Irish-ish in spirit, who wouldn’t be?  Painting the town green, St. Patrick’s Day is definitely to be seen, heard and celebrated both near and far.  GuinnessCCakes 3 arrGetting early festivities under way, the baker in me feels equally happy-go-lucky to colour my kitchen with my next must-make-bake-and-indulge Emerald Isle inspired treat.  Kissing one decadent recipe “hello,” here’s a moist cake worth touting:  Guinness Chocolate Cake with Bailey’s Cream Cheese Frosting.

GuinnessCCakes 4 arrTraditional or not, a beer-infused dessert is to be truly tried and tasted, at least once.  And in case you’re wondering, the answer is yes ─ yes you can switch things up, and make cupcakes!  Courtesy of Epicurious, anyone can take the original recipe and still yield great flavour with a pan swap-out.  Caring to share a taste of Ireland with friends, then, just exchange a round cake pan for a muffin tin and your mini cakes are set by the dozen.  Needless to say, crack open and pour ‘Made in Ireland’ exports, then prepare and evenly distribute the cake batter into cupcake papers for the start of your very own ‘nouveau’ 12-pack.  GuinnessCCakes 5 arr

Lament-free upon a baking session gone right, these Guinness ‘cups’ are undeniably cocoa-rich, infused with dry ebony stout, and baking ‘familiars’ ─ a.p. flour, eggs, butter, sugar, salt, baking soda and sour cream.  Spirits already elated, you may forgo addition of ‘magical’ hints ─ authentic aged whiskey ─ and opt to top solidified pints of brew-baked cake with modest butter cream.   Going the extra mile, however, Bailey’s cream liqueur befits the occasion and mood for a double-double dose of Irish flavour.  GuinnessCCakes 6 arrEnd result, I deem frosted stout cupcakes to be a clover of a dessert find ─ they’re saporous, sweet and simply shamrockin’!

© DISHFUL, 2015.  All Rights Reserved.

This Is How We Do Vegas

BBP4 arr“Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada!”  Landing in “Entertainment Capital,” this inviting foodie haven is bound to appease every sense.  Fortunately, the need to feed can be accomplished northbound or heading south of Las Vegas Boulevard.  Hungering over Vegas sights, who knew walking along “the strip” quickly leaves one simply hungry.  Sleepless in 702, and with an insatiable appetite for sinfully delicious calories, BBP is a worthy pit stop to replenish and re-energize.

BBP2 arrCourtesy of Bobby Flay’s very own burger palace, this fast-food joint flame-broils three selects ─ Angus beef, chicken or ground turkey ─ and with endless savoury ‘stately’-inspired toppings.  Debating not over the east or west, burger-lovers can go coastal with picks such as the “Miami,” the “Dallas” and even the “Bobby Blue.”  What’s more?  Choose your preferred meat patty, and get it “Crunchified.”  That’s right, even if you’re not keen on the “Crunchburger” ─ double cheeseburger with chips ─ this burger house will generously tower any desired protein plate with golden crisps.  So there you have it:  the addition of complimentary potato chips fit for preferential treatment ─ burger of choice ─ and, ultimately a high stakes noshing session of tasty bites of Americana.

BBP1 arrDo we ever learn from jokes?  I do like my coffee ‘hot,’ my chips ‘crisp’ and while in a restaurant, I’ll definitely ─ especially, when given the choice ─ take my burger “Topless.”  Inside-joke ─ perhaps ─ but, when you’re at BBP in Vegas, this is the way to order.  On the menu, and soon to be my very own, I opt for a “Topless” ─ hold the buns, carb-free ─ “L.A.” style Angus beef burger salad with a serving of chicken.  Clearly, ‘someone’ hearts protein and veg.  Even better, my plateful is promptly delivered tableside and ─ utensils in-hand ─ ready for consumption.  All in all, the combination of succulent ─ doubled ─ meat with sweet baby greens, creamy avocado relish, refreshing tomato, watercress, and balsamic dressing is without a doubt one delectable gamble for a meal gone right.

BBP3 arrFully satisfied at BBP, a ‘good’ food experience is like winning the jackpot.  Luckily, Bobby’s Burger Palace offers plenty of highly mentionable items to leave many with ‘won-over’ appetites, post-indulging.  Tender yet crisp, the sea salted sweet potato fries are quite good and a possible accompaniment as are other sides.  Leaving enticing malts and milkshakes for a future visit, here’s my overall first impression of Mr. Iron Chef’s burger restaurant:  it does reign in supreme flavour and service.  On that note, “Allez cuisine!” ─ and, make a trip to BBP.

© DISHFUL, 2015.  All Rights Reserved.

“A Festive Miracle!”

Festivus Fudge 3 arrSweet mother of decadence:  when in doubt, fudge-it-out!  Traditional and full-proof, silent nights are guaranteed with bonbons made righteous.  And when made especially right ─ sans a candy thermometer ─ quiet consumption is the only indicator to echo volumes of successful homemade batches of soft and creamy goodness.  Fortunately, one need not live in a marshmallow world to whip up mouth-watering morsels of confectionery cheer.  Unrestricted to snowy seasons, the art of fudge-making is an incredibly effortless endeavour for anyone to take on many ‘wonderful’ times of year.Festivus Fudge 5 arr

Getting back to the basics, the starting process for this old-fashioned novelty involves a handful of ingredients and three simple steps:  melt, mix and chill.  Scoring brownie points ─ for closest in flavour ─ the combination of semi-sweet chocolate and walnuts remain a timeless classic.  Cookies and cream, maple, and peanut butter are quite common varieties as well.  Ultimately, adding tasty ‘extras’ or fragrant essences via vanilla, peppermint or other extracts will delightfully transform any fudgy creation.

Rocky Road Fudge 3 arrForgetting not the rest of us, feeling festive for fudge leads me to the making of an edible colour swatch up ─ elegant white chocolate, cranberry and pistachio fudge.  Both palatable yet palette-inspired, this show-stopping sugary delight is sure to fancy any sweet-tooth.  To make your own embellished block of ‘nuit blanche,’ simply get your hands on the “must-haves”:  chocolate, condensed milk, dried cranberries and shelled roasted pistachios.  Chocolate and condensed milk,  once melted, stir in the remaining coarsely chopped ‘friendlies’ until well combined, and proceed to pour the mixture into a parchment-lined refrigerator-proof dish.  With the magic of real-time ─ elapsing of two hours ─ cut the fudge into bite-sized pieces and enjoy.Rocky Road Fudge 1 arr

For a cocoa-rich alternative, fudge can equally be made using either dark or milk chocolate ─ essentially, real chocolate.  Repeating similar steps, rough chop and melt your preferred quality chocolate (750 grams) ─ chips work fine, too ─ with a can of condensed milk (300ml), then combine the mixture with candied fruit and/or toasted nuts.  Adding texture and taste, my interpretation of rocky road is decorated with ─ as expected ─ soft miniature marshmallows, in addition to nutty cascades of toasted almonds and hazelnuts.  Convenient and clearly exhaustion-free, thank goodness for this hectic-free treat.  Finally, a dessert recipe anyone can be proud to ─ intentionally ─ fudge-up.

© DISHFUL, 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

Peace, Love & Joyful Desserts

PanettoneBombe2 arrWhen Jamie and Chuck make dessert recipes seemingly easy-to-follow, a spark of hope is all I need to make this holiday season a festive one!  Tried, tested and rewarded with plausible results, here are a few of my favourite holiday ‘star’ treats courtesy of those in-the-know:  Jamie Oliver’s “Winter Pudding Bombe” and “Delicious Chocolate Mousse,” and Chuck Hughes’ – Chuckmas – “Carrot Cake.”

Like most fine dessert recipes, the art of making triumphant sweet-endings for any occasion requires patience and precision.  In the spirit of indulging guests, however, why not add more edible cheer to already scrumptious recipes?  ChocolateMousse1 arrFor the making of the ‘bombe’ of frozen desserts, my take incorporates the necessary Milanese sweet bread in addition to equal parts of holly and jolly – vanilla and pistachio ice creams.  Gloriously fragrant on its own, use of ready-made quality panettone instantly adds light and buttery texture while layers of other ‘must-haves’ heighten this frozen dessert:  sour cherries, pistachios, chocolate, raspberry preserve, Vin Santo and clementines.  Clearly simple to make, if not easier to enjoy, this palatably vibrant dessert lives true to its versatility.  Changing things up – ‘encore une fois’ – I replace the aforementioned glacé citrus with mandarins.  It’s still merry and bright in flavour – I figure – so, why not?

PanettoneBombe3 arr“Choco-más?”  Making for a decadent equalizer, the holidays wouldn’t be the same without more chocolate.  Needless to say, serving rich chocolate mousse cups to any chocophile is a bona fide way to make it on the nice list.  And thanks to Jamie, getting more of what ‘yule’ love is accomplished with heavenly spoonful’s of cocoa-induced semi-liquid velvet.  Before getting started, be aware that a conversion chart may prove useful as Jamie’s measurements are outlined in grams.  Eggs separated, chocolate shaved, sugar scooped and set aside, let the magic begin!  Again, this seasonal miracle of a nearly all-chocolate treat allows for alternative ingredients.  For a French twist, my spin on this creamy mousse omits the use of cherries or sesame snaps, and yields equal spike by replacing Amaretto with Grand Marnier – orange liqueur.  Less additions, in this case, means more pure chocolate taste worth celebrating.   CarrotCake1 arr

Last but not least, a banquet feast fit for a king would not be complete without the presentation of a substantial candied maple-walnut crowned carrot cake.  Step-by-step, follow Chuck’s instructions and be amazed by the pro-in-you.  End result:  a moist pineapple, cranberry and raisin embedded, beta-carotene saturated layered cream-cheese frosted – almost – piece of cake.  With a little elbow grease and a spirited mood, these three highlighted crowd-pleasers are sure to warm the first or twelfth day of Christmas with comfort and joy.  This winter, then, happy holidays to all and to all good eats!

© DISHFUL, 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

The Toronto Chocolate Show

ChocShow1 arr“Do you know the muffin man?” Whether you do or don’t, I have met someone better – the chocolate man!  Clearly at the Toronto Chocolate Show, the Mayan Gods have spoken as a day is molded for chocophiles.   To be seen and tasted, a bountiful discovery of cocoa-inspired creations awaits everyone in the mood for all things chocolate.  Finding no place like a homely invite, a visual feast awaits at Dolcini’s.  Here, master chocolatier Joseph proudly presents rows upon rows of magically transformed pods into bite-size spectacular:  handcrafted chocolate sculptures, rich truffles and individual specialty confections. ChocShow2 arr

Options abound, the age-old question hits, “Which is one to sample first?” When it comes to an endless array of chocolate, there’s only one route to take:  some of everything!  Sampling lychee and hibiscus-infused bonbons first, I easily return in queue for more.  Second round, encapsulated coffee flavoured chocolate and dark chocolate dried fruit and nut encrusted mendiant fit the bill. ChocShow3 arr

Four very delicious chocolaty gems already devoured, blood sugar hasn’t peaked – yet! Seeking for more unseen and must-indulge specimens, I venture to Earl’s next.  Men hard at work – melting, stirring, shaping and decorating portions of paradise – it’s no wonder fine quality product carries a handsome cost.  Fortunately, a little patience goes a long way.  Exchanging wait-time for bites of heaven, patrons are generously rewarded with delectably smooth hazelnut ganache squares that are studded with crushed feuilletine cookie, and a hint of refreshing mint garnish.  Caring to share, I take two – one for me, and the other for my ‘friend.’  All in all, both were highly enjoyable.  ChocShow6 arrChocShow5 arr

But, that’s not all. With a name like “Hotti Biscotti,” I had to see what the buzz was about.  Doing just that, I realize this Hamilton sweet’s shop specializes in more than ‘softer’ biscotti cookies.  In addition, cake pops and chocolate coated pretzel sticks offer admirers a selection of both sweet and salty crave-curbing treats.  Living up to pure ‘nutty’ flavour, the peanut butter pop is a moist chocolaty morsel that’s definitely worth a try.

Almost done, a ‘final’ stop turns out to be a pleasantly enduring trail of velvety cocoa perfection. ‘Last’ but certainly not falling short on variety, the following vendors show case their finest in edible art:  Indulgence Truffles, The Golden Apple, Two Friends Chocolates, and Brix Chocolate.  From chocolate topiaries and sushi rolls to 24 karat gold leaf topped truffles, there’s no doubt that serotonin compounded cocoa ‘bundles’ are plenty and abound for everyone. ChocShow7 arr Equally enjoying a vast selection of treats, I leave contently full on a happy-meal-of-chocolate.  Without a doubt, mission to delight in chocolate has been successfully accomplished!

© DISHFUL, 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

Ma petite citrouille

Pumpkin Truffle 1 arrFind yourself fall-ing for seasonal harvests? Me too!  From pumpkin farm to pie, orange and round are not the only indicators of a very good-for-you veg.  Far from Cinderella’s magically converted carriage-mobile, sweater-weather introduces a modern dose of delicious reality in a mug – PSL.   As advertised, coffee lovers find frothy steamed comfort in a tall order of pumpkin, spice and everything latte.

“Drink your veggies? Don’t mind if I do!”  Pumpkin Truffle 5 arrGiving many thanks, latte lovers will surely cozy up to this flavourful hot beverage.  Fit for a festive affair, some will wait in line for their own drink while others will recreate PSL at home.  This Thanksgiving, I’m feeling equally appreciative:  family, friends, health and a celebration of a particular homemade confection – Pumpkin Cheesecake Truffles.

Somewhat like the Pumpkin Spice Latte, but not quite, I take this ingenious drink to different ‘states.’ Calling upon PSL’s spherical cousin, these creamy truffles are a celebratory innovation that combines the best of a coffee-inspired delight into a solidified chocolaty morsel bite-size dessert.  Pumpkin Truffle 2 arrOn that note, all in favour – of short and sweet – say, “Aye.”  Clearly impartial to chocolate, how dare I not say, “Aye” – “I, indeed!”

Online shopping for recipes complete, I tweaked and altered “must-have” ingredients to suit personal preference. With additions, an omission, and even doubled measurements made, my interpretation includes:  1 cup of white chocolate, 4 oz. cream cheese, ½ cup of graham crackers and ¾ cup gingersnap cookies – both pulverized to crumbs – ½ cup pumpkin purée, a generous pinch of salt and spices.  Pumpkin Truffle 3 arrHeeding first to the list of basic items, I omitted powdered sugar altogether given the inclusion of white chocolate – technically not chocolate, but cocoa butter and sugar – is palatably sweet, as is.  Similarly, a taste of the blended mix seemingly required a spicy citrus lift despite the already seasoned gingersnap cookies.  Hence, a little of the following elevated the overall mixture:  ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon each of ground allspice and nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon of freshly grated ginger, as well as the zest of a whole lemon and orange.

Pumpkin batch mixed, mingled and thoroughly blended, proceed to refrigerate prior to handling. Pumpkin Truffle 4 arrOnce solidified, remove the mix and use a small ice-cream scoop to measure even rounds.  For a smoother exterior, hand roll the portions to form truffle balls and place them onto a parchment lined baking sheet; chill, once again.  To prepare the truffle coating, melt white, milk or dark chocolate shavings over a double-boiler.  Finally, enrobe each miniature ‘pumpkin’ into melted chocolate using a toothpick or fork, place them onto a lined sheet and allow it to set.   And that’s all – no trick, all treat!  Fortunately it’s also no-bake, which leaves for a delectably speedy preparation suitable for any holiday or gathered occasion.  Clearly, a truffle patch worthy of a perennial harvest.

© DISHFUL, 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

“That Monsieur, is a Load of Croque!”

croque-monsieur 3 arrWhich came first, the ‘Cuban’ or the ‘Croque’? Either way, it doesn’t matter!  When it comes to the oozing, gooey and stringy stuff, all you really need is an affinity for coagulated dairy – say, “Cheese!”  All smiles, most do respond to the call of hunger, especially when it includes fondue-happy melting pots of ‘gold’ or marble slabs of sophistication.

“Is it Gouda or Havarti, for you?” Certainly nutrient-rich, there’s no denying of this ancient food’s benefits.  Even better, there’s something for everyone!  Going international, cheese knows diversity.  An arduous process left for experts, production methods are uniquely complex as are endless varieties.  Still, there’s no fooling a connoisseur or their acute senses; incredibly, despite the year or origin, genuine cheese whizzes accurately distinguish among cured, wheeled, and curdled artisan favourites.  Between aged pungency and sharp carvings from an old block, cheesemongers highly revere the object of their trade – inarguably, an epicurean admiration that amicably stinks! croque-monsieur 1 arr

Proudly made or devoured, enthusiasts of all sorts rejoice in impressionable national darlings – possibly, more than ‘la vâche qui rit.’ As seen and delighted in a Parisian boulangerie, one soon learns nothing beats the aroma and taste of steaming hot and crusty – baked on premise – French baguette.  But then, the French outdo themselves and entice you with something exquisitely simple:  torn baguette that is buttered and filled with mildly fragrant rind-encased soft-ripened regional Brie.  In essence, a semi-soft ivory treat that evokes pure AOC certified authenticity.   croque-monsieur 2 arr

Fortunately, a sumptuous Parisian snack need not be in-house or ‘à emporter’ – to go (food) – from a local bistro. Like the American grilled classic, pairing bread and fine quality cheese can easily be prepared in the comforts of one’s own kitchen.  As for my take, and in ode to a cheesy memory, my menu is set on recreating the one and only ‘mister’ of widely popular sandwiches – le croque! Precisely, it’s ‘Monsieur’ – le Croque Monsieur.

Definitely getting bites of ‘crunch,’ this sandwich is typically pan-fried to a golden crisp exterior from which it derives its name – ‘croque’ is for crunch. As multifaceted in texture as in flavour, a true croque-monsieur is an irresistibly elevated ham and cheese sandwich.  Equally non-partisan, Emmental or Gruyère are traditionally the choice of hard yellow Swiss cheeses to be used in the making of this ‘tosti.’  croque-monsieur 4 arr While some give their sandwich a French toast-like treatment – an egg and milk batter coating prior to frying – I forgo the making of a Monte Cristo.  Courtesy of Béchamel sauce, a generous pouring of lusciously creamy nutmeg-kissed roux instantly enriches undressed deli.  And for added elasticized pull, sprinkling more crafted cheese shavings makes for a successfully honed day of cookery.  ‘Mister-men’ lined-up and enrobed with dairy accompaniments, the prepared tray is baked-off into the oven until the bread’s toasted and the sauce reaches a bubbling boil.  Once cooled, anticipated bites of infused personality allow for an incidence of welcome déjà vu.  Clearly, if ‘cheese-eyes’ or holes – as prominent in Swiss types – are the windows to a glutton’s soul, there’s no refuting the obvious:  a croque-ful will goes hand-in-hand with a touch of ‘whey!’

© DISHFUL, 2014. All Rights Reserved.