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.

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Once You Go Stack, You Never Go Back

“What would you do…?”  For a Klondike Bar, to buy and eat it – both – are plausible answers.  As for me, I’d get inspired and make my own – only proportionally mountainous!  Requiring no arduous trek, venturing unexplored territory – in baking – is simply too irresistible to ignore.  In response to the delectably infamous ice cream cookie sandwich, why not add a ‘well-rounded’ hit to an existing ‘discography’ – cookie repertoire – with the creation of my very own ice-box-worthy treat?ICS 2 arr

Since I can, I will – end of story!  The concept first started upon a midsummer’s craved dream.  Taking a cookie ‘n’ cream sandwich to higher elevations, my interpretation – like the original – still embodies crumbed goodness and frozen dairy contents.  For an even better spin-off, I present an overhaul of chocolaty bliss – the Big Stack Cookie Monster Sandwich.

Just imagine:  triple decker, mammoth-size homemade chocolate chip cookies – times three – embedded with a trifecta of palatably dense vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream.  Inexcusably decadent, this oversized ‘wide load’ knows no limits.  And to a sweet tooth’s delight, this colossal frozen dessert’s exterior is further enrobed with all that appeases one’s taste – dark chocolate shavings, chopped toasted almonds, and rainbow sprinkles.

ICS 3 arrWasting no time, then, the order of priority follows in three steps:  bake, make and decorate – Scout’s honour!  First thing’s first, take your preferred cookie dough recipe – any kind – and whip up three batches.  A childhood favourite – for most – I use Martha Stewart’s reliable “Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies.”  While this speckled dough is normally arranged by the tablespoon, hand-held treats are not what I’m after – essentially, “Go big or go home!”  This time, I prepare and refrigerate three separate batches of big and beautiful.  Time-elapsed, the chilled ‘discs’ are easier to handle with which I evenly spread out onto a parchment-lined pizza dish; and when bake-ready, the trays are placed into a preheated oven.  Word of caution:  this cookie dough will rise and expand, so avoid thin crust styled ‘pies’ as they will burn; definitely not – for this hefty layered confection – a “good thing.”  Advisory noted, attentive watch yields triple a dreamy outcome – three ‘fortunate’ cookies – that evidently, is revealing of a crisp circumference and a chewy middle center.  Almost famous, cooling ‘hot stuff’ is a must prior to assemblage of a three-tier towered masterpiece.

ICS 1 arrMelting over double chocolate and mint chip, instead?  Aside from obvious compatible ‘couplings,’ anyone can actualize their own match-made pairing of tempting cookie and ice cream flavours.  Options abound, just think fast and brainstorm your way to a successful baking session.  Once complete, finish stacking those sugared ‘plates’ with your choice of frozen dairy or alternative filling, and – for fun – a final touch of textured ‘extras.’  Hands down, this rocky road novelty is not only sky-high, but a sandwich that measures up in pure taste and sliced portability.  And while best enjoyed immediately, you can always tightly seal this ‘deal’ – quantified quality dessert – with plastic wrap, and save it in the freezer.  Bottom line:  a Klondike-esque sugar rush validates that dreams, however sizeable, can be realized.

© DISHFUL, 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

A Nutty Obsession

Tav7 arrNuts for nuts?  Absolutely!  Almonds, pistachios, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts – especially with chocolate – and even macadamia nuts, I love tree nuts – all varieties.  When impatient to chomp on some of nature’s best shelled treasures, one place comes to mind – Tavazo.Tav4 arr

Serving the best in dried fruits, nuts, preserves and other Persian delights, Tavazo is my preferred gateway to glorious snacks and confections.  Richmond Hill or Thornhill, make your way to either location and behold:  countless rows of self-serve decorative stands abundantly filled with candy-coated, salt-crusted as well as ‘au natural’ snack options for our health-conscious peckish friends. Tav3 arr

Uptown or midtown, select the closest destination and you’ll not be disappointed.  In addition to mixed nuts, familiar appearances are spotted as seen with dehydrated blueberries, cranberries, currants, strawberries, plums, pineapples, and apricots.  All delicious – agreeably so!  Unbeknownst to some, however, remain staples to Persian cuisine – meet the mulberry and barberry.  Eaten alone or in combination with other fine specimens, mulberries are golden – literally.  Reminiscent of raisins, in texture, they carry an appearance close to an oval-shaped version of a yellow raspberry; distinctly sweet, chewy and with an overall multifaceted surface.  Providers of goji berries, too, Tavazo is no stranger to the Persian cook – in you – if you looking to make ‘zereshk polo’ (a barberry and saffron-infused rice dish).Tav2 arr

Mulberries, barberries, almond-pistachio-walnut-cashew-hazelnut-peanut-goji-strawberry-blueberry-and raisin blended, mixed and bagged – by yours truly – my checklist is just about complete.  Hands on a little bit of everything, I am not quite ready to make a great escape – to a happy trail-mix of eating – until I revisit the confectionary aisle.  Individually wrapped, I am intrigued by the rose petal-laced and pistachio embedded jelly treats similar to Turkish delight, but only it’s Persian; so, it goes without saying, handfuls must be added to my basket. Tav1 arr

‘Healing waters’ situated on the end-cap, I find tamarind paste on the opposite side that leads to other equally palatable treats.  To be seen and explored, a trip down to memory lane – few steps, really – is easily spotted around the corner.  Reliving youth – if only for a moment – I find traces of past memories, shelved via assorted piles of neatly arranged Persian fruit leathers.

Tav9 arrBefore I even heard of Fruit Roll-ups, fruit leather – as far as I knew – came in one colour and taste:  a deep plum purple sheet of concentrated sour flavour.  Intensely irresistible, this lip-numbing treat is too good to pass on.  If Gushers and the like are not for you, fruit leather is made available – here – in all shapes and ‘sweetened’ varieties:  cherry, pomegranate, grape and the notorious plum.   For nostalgia’s sake, I take a few of those too.  “That’s so dry!?”  Indicatively so!  Laughing on the way to finalize a total sum – of more than I can carry – I wouldn’t want my purchased loot any other way but dehydrated, of course.

© DISHFUL, 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

‘Healing’ Waters

Poppins – who?  Before Mary came into the scene, traditionalists have long used sweet sugar to ease ‘troubles.’  Also requiring no sing-along, my Persian mom – like others before her – already knew the soluble response to minor stomach ailments.  Hunger pangs or over-indulgence, the known ‘treatment’ remains unchanged and in following ‘the method’ – the old-fashioned way.

MintWater arrThanks to the former housewives of Persianville, trusted homemade solutions are safely locked into memory and made using a touch of age-old necessity – ‘healing’ waters.  Diverse in application as in scent, find these ‘waters’ in tall translucent bottles – possibly – along the “international aisle,” and definitely available on the shelf of local Persian grocers.  To name a few, popular varieties of floral-infused waters – also stored in my fridge – include:  rosewater, orange blossom water and mint water.  While the number of distilled ‘waters’ are endless, aromatics via fruits, herbs and flowers are commonly used to create these wonderfully fragrant liquid elixirs.

Ancient in existence, but perhaps recent to some, perfumed waters have been around for centuries – talking about past generations!  With yesterday’s ‘news’ – now recycled – daily appearances of these ‘waters’ are more common than one may think.  Gently washed onto one’s face or incorporated into food, rosewater can be identified with beauty regimens or among Middle-eastern baking staples and fusion cuisine.  Still confused?  Just think about the last time you ate simple syrup-laden baklava – that mystery component was most likely rosewater.  Clearly a multi-purpose item, some even resort to these ‘waters’ for its medicinal purposes.   And, if you’re like my mom, mint water is the remedy to realign your ‘center.’  Equally appealing to my preference for all that’s effective, reliable and natural, this digestive aid works – all the proof I need.RoseOBlossomWaters arr

Previously tried, I can attest to mint water’s restorative ‘powers.’  But, people are people – we’re different!  As such, unique tastes will undeniably carry diverging reactions.  So if you don’t like mint, are allergic or – heaven forbid – are suffering from appendicitis, please don’t try this at home.  Seriously, in case of emergency – needless to say – you know what to do!  In the meantime, this agreeable recipe stands as my sure-fit non-prescription for refreshing alleviation.  Non-accidently made aware of this ‘medicinal’ drink, it comes highly recommended – even directly made – by my Persian matriarch line of ‘naturally’ instinctive doctors.  For your own glass of settling comfort, simply blend these ingredients:  a generous pouring – tablespoon or two – of mint water; then dilute with actual water – H2O; and to complete, mix the ‘remedy’ with a stick of crystalized sugar rocks or the famed alternative – “spoonful of sugar” – until ‘caster’ is dissolved.  Easily prepared and fitting of fast relief, this pleasant beverage need not be limited to a minty ‘curative.’  So go ahead, if you wish, and drink your ‘greens’ – anytime!

Appetite redeemed, satisfying cravings for more ‘aromatics’ is another flavourful bottle away.  As your bonus instruction, simply scoop and combine into a bowl:  premium quality real-cream vanilla ice cream, dash of rosewater or orange blossom water, and – though optional – top with a hint of ground saffron and crushed pistachios.  Sweet tooth or sore throat, whatever the ‘suffering,’ being under the weather is immediately corrected with ‘rosier’ alternatives – Persian food and drink!

© DISHFUL, 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

Minutes of Your Time

Afternoon ‘pick-me-up,’ ring a bell?  How about that late night sudden urge for a guilty pleasure – usually chocolate.  Why delivery service – for a “desserts-only” menu – is still non-existent, is beyond my comprehension?  While someone somewhere, decides to someday draft up a much desired business plan to fulfill bouts of unshakable cravings, there is an immediate solution.  Next time you’re overcome by that snack attack, here’s an easy – satisfaction guaranteed – fix:  zap it!

MC final arrBlinding lasers absent, behold a magic spectacle with your very own microwave.  Love it or hate it, this electrical cooking device creates cake in minutes.  Proud owner of an “Easy-bake Oven” – from childhood – it’s been long lost, in the basement.  Given the grown-up alternative, however, find no love lost for greasing of Bundt pans or replacing of burnt light bulbs.  Getting ready to de-rumble – my stomach – I collect the necessities for CHOCOLATE MUG CAKE.

“Microwave-safe?”  These two words – other than health/safety – can’t be stressed enough!  Regardless of colour, size or shape please ensure your mug is viable to withstand heat, and safe for microwave use.   Proactive and avoiding all disaster, then, it’s time to go pantry hunting.  ‘Collectibles’ in hand, first add the ‘dry’ ingredients, and follow with the ‘wet’ into your “microwave-safe” mug:  four tablespoons – each – of all-purpose flour and caster/granulated sugar, two tablespoons of cocoa powder, a quarter teaspoon of baking powder, three tablespoons of chocolate chips, a pinch of salt; and now mix in one egg, three tablespoons – each – of milk and vegetable oil; and finally, a dash of vanilla essence.   Well-combined – in the mug – this mess-free recipe is now ready to be ‘radiated.’MC mug arr

Grand entry made, sit the mug onto the middle of the microwave and set the time.   Eyes fixated and fingers-crossed, my ‘greased-lightening’ puffs to a gooey chocolate pudding dessert.  FYI:  microwaves – as you’re aware – vary in power.  As such, laser spectacles may last up to two minutes.  Only enduring one minute and forty-five seconds, at ‘100 power,’ my end result is revealing of a speedy bargain – bolted cake, and show!

Taking minutes of your time, cake-making – in a mug – doesn’t get more convenient than this.  Better yet, sky’s the limit with flavour options.  Catering to your palette, easily customize this recipe with creative additions and/or replacements:  peppermint, orange or almond extracts; chopped nuts or butterscotch bits, in place or combination with chocolate chips; and, if you must, a spoonful of peanut butter or Nutella – possibilities are endless!  Clearly effortless, guiltless devouring of this luscious cake knocks-out any midnight impulse.  Unapologetically caving into temptation, how can one not be all smiles? – take a ‘mug shot!’

© DISHFUL, 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

Eat Your Heart Out!

“Hearts, hearts everywhere – I’m seeing red!”  Fuchsia pink, sultry crimson and every lipstick rouge shade imaginable, it’s abundantly clear 2.14 – V-Day – is upon us.  Aiming to please, hopeless romantics will likely splurge on the – obvious-to-me – “works”:  handwritten poem-inscribed cards, long-stem Ecuadorian roses, and Godiva chocolate truffles.  Arrow-stricken or not, give the little cherub – that could/would/should – a break!  Valentine’s still remains a day – like any other – for all to love, be loved, and most definitely to love what you do.  And for foodies, this calendar day is reason enough to celebrate fabulous eats – cheers to delicious!

VDay Molten Lava arrLove-struck, I require no unofficial holiday reminders for a match-made pairing.  Simply stated, “I can’t help falling in love with you…” – dessert recipes.  ‘LOL’ indeed!  Revamping a passion for baking, I rightfully designate the “Look of Love” at two enticing treats:  decadent molten chocolate lava cake, and strawberry-filled thumbprint cookies.  In the spirit of Saint Valentine, then, preheat the oven and keep – stove – flames burning with the creation of tantalizingly sweets.

VDay Cookies arr“So happy together?” – always!  In suit of a delectable chocolate cake, these ingredients get along best when mixed in a bowl:  melted dark chocolate, caster sugar, eggs, butter, flour, and a pinch of salt.  Once prepared, evenly distribute the batter into a greased and cocoa-dusted muffin tin, and bake.  In the meantime, the lure of motifs leads me to prepare decorative stencils.  Easy to make and highly transferable, love – of parchment – is truly all you need.  To create heart-shaped cut-outs, simply:  tear a piece of paper, draw onto the sheet, and use scissors to cut around markings.  When ready for use, place the template on top of the cooled cakes, and finish with a generous dusting of icing sugar.  Love-stamped, be certain not to miss any marks in aesthetic appeal and intoxicating aroma with this ‘heart-felt’ cake.  Equally impressive, a properly-timed – not overdone – cakelette is moist, can be cut with a fork and, in doing so, will release a rich semi-liquid chocolatey interior.  Sinfully irresistible, breaking this ache-free ‘heart’ is easy to do and destined for repeat devouring – seconds, please!

VDay PB&J Cookies arrAs for the cookies, adhere to a trusted shortbread-like or peanut butter thumbprint recipe.  Contents mixed and dough made, bake the cookies half-way through.  At this point, remove the tray and using the back of a wooden spoon make impressions of choice – hearts, x’s or o’s.  Designs made, return the ‘blushing dozens’ back to the oven for the remaining bake time.  Cooled and ready for a reunion, no ‘hug’ or ‘kiss’ would be complete without an added touch of sweetness – spoonful of fruit preserve.  Just add desired jam filling into the indentations, and allow the cookies to set prior to enjoyment.  Saving ribbons and bows for another occasion, offerings of your darling’s ‘love’ – baked indulgences – need not be masked or hidden in fancy packaging.  Ultimately expressive of thought and care, a baker’s dozen comes with more than an extra surprise – ‘homemade’ genuinely is where the heart is.

© DISHFUL, 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

Mixology 101

Put ‘what’ in the coconut?   Lime would be the predictable response – for cocktail drinks.  For a baker in need, however, sweetened condensed milk is a friend indeed.  Intentionally flying off grocery shelves, a single can of ‘Eagle Brand’ is ideal for the creation of fragrant coconut macaroons.  But, don’t let the compact size fool you.  Guaranteed grandiosity – in results – a little bit of ‘this’ certainly goes a long way.

macaroon before arrTo make yours, let’s get ‘cracking!’  Can’t break an egg?  Don’t worry!  Courtesy of the ‘Eagle,’ this no-fuss recipe caters to all bakers – entry-level, advanced and food-sensitive.  With your ‘dozen’ safely nestled away, a complete omission of eggs happily equates to no separating, no beating of egg whites, and clearly no walking on eggshells around this task.

Where the ‘bird’ is the word, a checklist  of “must-haves” include:  one can of s.c.m plus shredded coconut, and spiked flavourings – dash of vanilla essence and almond extract.  Textured additions – chocolate, nuts and/or candied fruit – also make for the many faces of this chameleon cookie.  Ignorant of complications, whipping up a basic batch of pure coconut macaroons is bliss.  Simply shake contents, out of their package, and well-combine the ‘four’ into a bowl.  Keeping up with efficiency, continue by measuring uniform portions of the blended mix, using an ice-cream scoop, and neatly arrange the mounds onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Ready for a heat treatment, pop your bountiful tray into a 325 F preheated oven, and bake for 10-12 minutes.  Can’t get enough of golden crisp – edges?  I don’t blame you!  macaroon after arrTawny glow reached, ‘before’ shots of this tropical treat are undeniably pale in comparison to its dramatic bake-over – toasted success!

In a nutshell, macaroon-making can be fast and far from tedious.  Did I mention there’s a catch?  Well, there is – but, just one!  Brace yourselves:  you must like coconuts, and plenty of it; six cups worth, to be exact!  Surmountable in coconut flesh and outlasting in intense nutty flavour, there really is no substitute for this palatable delight – the ‘ultimate survivor.’  So if you’re after a taste of the islands but not necessarily “cuckoo for coconuts,” a great escape may lie in another fruit-inspired indulgence.  Team ‘coco’ or not, rest-assured, a following persists.  Ceasing to leave any, not one delectable morsel, abandoned – on a dessert plate – macaroon fans will turn coconut into something wonderfully edible.  At last, paradise found!

© DISHFUL, 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

Season’s Gr-eat-ings!

October is a month that marks many seasonal preludes.  More than burnt tinges of red being apparent on fallen poplar and maple leaves, the initiation of sweater-weather is reminiscent of delicious holiday warm-ups to anticipate.  Standing in my kitchen, pouring my daily brew – coffee – my mug of neutralized-acidic comfort reminds me of one particular toasty fall offering – Turkey Day.

With a drop in the barometer, finding a tantalisingly manner to seek some heat-retreat on this thankful day was easy.  Strategically volunteering to resume my annual kitchen post, dessert-making and turkey basting, my dual-positions served me well; periodically opening the modern-day hearth – stainless steel oven – not only allowed me to keep a watchful eye on the savoury ‘goods’ but, too, released a welcoming steamy backdraft that appeased my senses.  From start to finish of cooking production, fast-track a quarter of a day later and, finally, edible abundance – roasted pepper squash, moist turkey carvings, and generously herbed and butter-intoxicated sides – in all its succulent glory.  Fortunately, the earlier arrival of Thanksgiving – compared to our American cousins – is, without a doubt, an occasion for which Canadians are to be thankful – humbly, of course.

Turkey Dinner arr

While everyone’s prudent to maintain their table-side manners, over-indulgence – during the holidays – is a must!  Let’s be honest.  If not now – the holidays – when?  It would be a shame, to say the least, to pass up the opportunity to sample the fruits of your family’s labour.  With thanks in mind, and hunger on the rise, I did what any good daughter would do – I politely made my way down the food-chain of holiday dishes, and filled my plate with a journey of aromatic flavours.

Blame it on tryptophan!  Undeniably scrumptious, my gobbled meal left me feeling satisfied, loved, and incredibly stuffed.  Loaded on a surplus of heart-warming cinnamon and nutmeg-kissed helpings of veg could mean one thing; one full plate eaten within one hour leaves for one appropriately-fitting intermission prior to dessert – power nap.

Just recounting epic portions leaves me tired.  My goodness!  Why do we do this to ourselves?  First, we’re cautious not to fill-up on breakfast, in anticipation of ‘the meal’ ahead.  Then, we over-eat convincing ourselves it’s a one-time guilt-free occasion; and, only to endure a day-long recovery period, followed by a capricious annunciation to abolish all-things-turkey until next year.  Lesson unlearned:  delicious food is meant to be tasted, never wasted.  In the spirit of the holidays, indulgences must be satisfied, belts will continue to be loosened, and in good measure, safe-guards will be put into gear to look forward to upcoming cornucopia of eats.  In other words, do yourself a favour and appreciate future harvests by making a very grateful investment in stretchy pants – “spandex, all spandex!”

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2013.

Let’s Go to the Ex-treme!

CNE Entrance arrWhere do the deliciously good – but, bad for you – and hungry meet? The EX! Also referred to as the Canadian National Exhibition, this 18-day stream of fun carnival rides, games, competitions, and shopping is Toronto’s annual gathering spot for the latest finds – including, fair fare.CNE Ferris Wheel arr

Carrying a no holds bar approach to all that is blissfully sweet and fried, satisfying your need to feed is by no means difficult. Here, walk and feast your way to a surplus of guilty pleasures. Sugar shack or hot potato stand, food caddies are not so far nor away. Already bagged or cooked to order, merry-go-round your way to a vast selection of artery-clogging classics – cotton candy, popcorn, hamburgers, corndogs, and more.CNE Cotton Candy arrCNE Corn arr

Topping the list, however, of fried ‘show-offs’ remains one intact batter-dipped reveal – the “Colossal Onion.” Move aside “spiral spuds,” this novel take on the onion ring is an atypical festive blossom. Deep-fried entirely whole – in all its fist-size splendour – there’s minimal chance of losing any fly-away pieces of this golden bulb. Inherently, the only disappearing act is the devouring of this layered vegetable aromatic – one crispy strip at a time.CNE Colossal Onion arr

The CNE, undoubtedly, is known for its grand spectacle of unusual eats. Just follow the arrow-route road, and enter an enclosed snack-attack compound – the “Food Building.” CNE Spice Cream arrAlso, home of the infamous “Cronut Burger,” weird-food aficionados can easily exchange one missed tasting opportunity for another. Taking taste buds on a flavour ride, Just Cone It puts a spin on the common crêpe cone by making theirs “dirty” – with a smear of Nutella. Fans of edible geometry can even get their hands on the “Spice Cream” cone. Combination of hot and cold, this fully-loaded handheld comes equipped with vanilla ice-cream, chocolate hazelnut spread, bacon bits, and chilli peppers. Evidently, the math is simple – sweet plus savoury equals an irresistibly refreshing piquant treat. CNE Sand Sculpture arr

Aside from the collaboratively entertaining dinner and dessert duo – “dinnert” wrap – the sand sculpting competition and garden show are worth a look as well. CNE Chuck arrBut, on my day off, I had my eyes set on one specific site – the Food Network Celebrity Stage. If it sounds, looks, and cooks like Chuck, can it be? ‘Absolument!’ Yes, indeed, I was in the presence of Chef Hughes, doing was he does best – sharing his passion for food – live on stage! Accompanied by Danny Smiles, former Top Chef Canada competitor, the tag-team prepared a storm of dishes for two fortunate audience members. Still happy-go-lucky – post the hour-long demonstration – I received my share of attention from the Montréal natives with a brief, yet memorable, encounter. Delightful to watch, both on and off-screen, these masters of the trade are kind, skilled and clearly hardworking – above all, the ‘exhibiting talents’ at this year’s fair.

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2013.

American Pie

Penn's Farm Horses arrTravelling borders, you know you’re in Dutch Country – Pennsylvania – when you see: miles of relaxing green pastures, man-made windmills, and a landmark of tradition in unchanged symbolic Germanic references in décor and timeless regional cuisine.Dutch Pantry Windmill arr

High hopes for “sugar pie, honey bunch?” Taking it easy, I got a taste of old-country heritage along a roadside stop, at the Dutch Pantry; the next best substitute to grandma’s kitchen. Offering smothery warm and comforting hugs – on a plate – the fritter and apple dumpling selections will undoubtedly leave you cinnamon-kissed with wholesome love. While tart lemon meringue and coconut cream pies also remain fixtures on the classic menu, one freshly baked good left me both amused, and equally intrigued – “shoo-fly pie.” Dutch Pantry Motif arr

A deep-dish delight, formerly unbeknownst to me, I marveled in fascination as I wanted to learn more. And so, I had to take an intermittent pose from my daily business – of eating lunch – to detect this charming ‘wunderbar.’ Es-pie-onage in effect, examination of the golden and flaky crust exterior is revealing of flour and butter used for this typical pastry dough base. Continuing with a subsequent character profile, “shoo-fly’s” bubbly and burnt tinged surface is accurately indicative of its moist filling; a mixture of brown sugar, magnesium-rich molasses, eggs and creamy butter that makes for an unapologetically luring humble pie. Analysis and inspection complete, I deduce this syrupy shelled dessert to be a homegrown native – this state’s ultimate ‘sweetie pie.’ Dutch Pantry Menu arr

Still, why ‘shoo’ and ‘fly’? Eureka – I got it! Matching the modest lifestyle and traditional fare of the Pennsylvania Dutch, the answer is as understated. Irresistibly aromatic, the pie’s sweet contents are too tempting to ignore, making perfect sense for its attraction and one’s aim to detract – “shoo” away – flies. It’s that simple! Baking no-fuss pies, the Pennsylvanian Dutch unclutter life from unnecessary complications, and refer to things as they are – no sugar-coating. City folk or not, all can agree that this simple pie is what it is – ‘das Deutsch-gut!’

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2013.