Sunday, April 30, 2006

jihva for ingredients # 1 : mango pudding with coconut sago

mango coconut pudding with coconut sago

I discovered Indira and her lovely blog Mahanandi on IMBB. There, I read about her event “Jihva for Ingredients” and was struck by the poetic meaning of the word “Jihva”. In Sanskrit, Jihva means taste, desire and deep longing. The theme for Jihva for Ingredients #1 is mango – a fruit that I have always loved. Whether it’s mangoes from Mexico, Haiti, the Caribbean, South America or the Philippines, I deeply appreciate this fruit. I was surprised to learn, though, that there are over 1,000 varieties of mangoes in the world. When you are selecting mangoes, ripeness can be determined by smelling the end or by squeezing the fruit – it should be slightly soft to the touch.

My first thought was to make mango pudding, which resembles a cross between a jelly and a pannacotta. Mango pudding is something that I always make room for when I go for dim sum. It is made in a variety of ways: sometimes with cream, sometimes with diced mango, and sometimes with agar-agar. The recipe that I made, mango coconut pudding with coconut sago, combines mango with coconut – two flavours that compliment each other perfectly. It is a dessert that counterbalances the creamy texture of mango pudding with the small pearls of tapioca in coconut milk.

Note: Since mangoes are not always in season, I suggest using pre-made mango puree in desserts, as the puree has a more consistent taste and sweetness. Many bakeries, restaurants and hotels use puree because it is also cost effective. Mango puree is often sold in specialty and ethnic food stores. I have found mango puree at Loblaws/The Real Canadian Superstore, for all you Canadians.

mango coconut pudding

500ml mango puree
100g sour cream
250 ml heavy cream
400ml whole milk
100 ml coconut milk
90g sugar
10g gelatin

1. Mix mango puree and sour cream together in a small bowl and set aside.
2. In a small bowl add gelatin and 2 Tbsp of water; let it sit for 5 minutes before using.
3. In a small pot, add heavy cream, whole milk, coconut milk and sugar and bring to a gentle boil. Add the gelatin to the cream mixture and stir until dissolved.
4. Let the mixture cool a bit; add the mango and sour cream mixture and then mix until fully combined.
5. Pour the mixture into glasses, cups or ramekins, and chill until set.

coconut sago

15g sago tapioca pearls
250ml coconut milk
250ml whole milk
60g sugar

1. In a small pot or saucepan add whole milk and tapioca pearls. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for approximately 30 minutes.
2. Add sugar to the mixture and simmer for another 10 minutes.
3. Once the tapioca mixture is finished cooking, stir in coconut milk and simmer for 5 more minutes.
4. Let the mixture cool, then cover and refrigerate overnight. If the mixture is too thick, gradually add coconut milk or whole milk until you achieve the desired consistency.
5. Spoon coconut sago onto mango coconut pudding and enjoy.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

caramelized pear tarts

pears tarts laying in the sun after their caramel bath

A few years ago I learned how to make this delicious pear tart during a stage at Bishop’s restaurant in Vancouver. The stage was under pastry chefs Dawne Gourley and Lisa Miki. For many years Bishop’s, which emphasizes seasonal, local and organic produce, has been one of Vancouver’s top restaurants. I was impressed by Bishop’s warm refined atmosphere, personable service and lovely high quality food. During my stage, Dawne and Lisa, who I highly respect as pastry chefs, were wonderful teachers and mentors.

Bishop’s pear tart, which is simple but spectacular, is a variation on the traditional tarte tatin made with apples. Cornmeal pastry is used rather than puff pastry to make single-serving tart shells. The pastry forms over the shape of the pear, creating a form-fitting shell. I used ripe organic pears and organic cornmeal, but regular pears and cornmeal work just fine.

Cornmeal pastry

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter
2 Tbsp cold water

Filling: caramel and pear

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
3 pears

Makes 6 tarts, each 3.5 – 4 inches in diameter

To make pastry:

1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF/200ºC
2. Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt in a bowl. Cut butter into small pieces and work into flour mixture until the texture becomes mealy.
3. Add water and stir until just combined.
4. Cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rest in the refrigerator to 20 minutes.
5. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut out six, 3.5 – 4 inch circles.


1. Make a caramel by combining sugar and butter in a saucepan on medium heat; cook until golden, 3 – 4 minutes. Pour approximately 2 Tbsp/30ml of caramel into six small tart sized pans.
2. Peel, halve and core pears. Place a half pear, cored sized down, on top of the caramel in each pan. Take the pastry round and place it on top of each half pear, pressing down around it to follow the shape of the fruit.
3. Bake in the oven until pastry is golden and pear is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow it to rest for 5 minutes.
4. To serve, invert the tarts onto individual plates.

* Recipe from John Bishop & Dennis Green, Simply Bishop’s

The tarts can be made a few hours ahead of time and can be rested in the refrigerator. When you are ready, simply heat pears in the oven till warm and then serve. The tarts are lovely served with the remainder of the leftover caramel in the tart pans, with caramel sauce and with vanilla bean ice cream! I hope you enjoy making and eating these I much as I do.

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Sunday, April 23, 2006

what's for pud? : tipsy cake

When I first saw that Sam from Becks and Posh and Monkey Gland from Jam Faced was hosting “What’s for Pud?”, I was intrigued. Their directions were clear and simple, make an English dessert: “English not British. No Irish, Scottish or Welsh delicacies today, thank you.” I’ve sampled a few English desserts, partly because I did my Master’s degree in London a few years back. During that time, I did what any student would do: workout, eat, text message friends, shop, drink at cafes, eat, go clubbing, sleep and try to study before class. With this post, I was flooded with fantastic memories of shopping in the food sections at Sainsbury’s, Marks and Spencer, Fortnum and Mason, Harrods, Blue Bird, and all the wonderful markets in London. I fortunately had a chance to eat and sample some really amazing food and dessert there.

So, when I decided to make trifle, I wanted to make one that was reminiscent of the classic “English” version. Here is what the Larousse Gastronomique tells us about trifle:

“A favourite English dessert – despite its name meaning ‘of no account’ – eaten on festive occasions. Also called tipsy cake, it is usually made of sherry-soaked sponge cake with custard and often jam, decorated with cream and sometimes fruit; however, recipes go back to the 16th century with many variations…”

I believe that this dessert is popular for a number of reasons. It’s simple (traditionally using left-overs). It contains delicious ingredients like whipped cream, pastry cream, macerated fruit, and alcohol-soaked cake (the English like their alcohol). Finally, all of this is combined to make a muddle of tasty goodness. After flipping through many of my cooking and pastry books, I chose two or three recipes that jumped out at me. I then amalgamated recipes to create a contemporary English trifle. The version that I made uses Nigella Lawson’s Madeira cake, Grand Marnier, raspberries, strawberries, my favourite pastry cream from Michel Bras, whipped cream and finally is topped with chocolate and pistachios. If you are bringing this to a party or event, trifle looks magical in a glass bowl. However, if you are serving this at a dinner party, I suggest using small glasses or cups as it will look beautiful and be easy to serve.

Madeira cake

240g softened unsalted butter
200g sugar
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 eggs
300g flour
10g baking powder

Butter and line a loaf tin (23 x13 x 7 cm) or circular cake pan (20 x 20 cm)

1. Cream butter and sugar together and add lemon zest.
2. Add one egg at a time and mix until combined.
3. Add flour and mix, then add lemon juice until just combined.
4. Pour mixture into the prepared cake pan and bake in the oven for approximately 1 hour or until a cake tester comes out clean.

*Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess

vanilla pastry cream

1 vanilla bean (spit lengthwise as scraped)
250 ml whole milk
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
45g sugar
15g cornstarch

1. In a small pot add milk and the vanilla bean seeds and pod. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Let the vanilla infuse in the milk for five minutes.
2. In a small bowl mix the egg, egg yolk and sugar together. Mix until it turns pale. Then whisk in the cornstarch and mix thoroughly.
3. Temper the egg mixture with a small amount of the milk mixture.
4. Once tempered, add the rest of the egg mixture to the milk mixture.
5. Put the mixture back onto the stove and bring the mixture to a boil stirring constantly with the whisk. When the mixture comes to a boil, lower heat and cook until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon.
6. Once the mixture is done, pass it through a fine sieve into a shallow container. Immediately cover the pastry with plastic wrap directly over the pastry cream. This is done to prevent a skin from forming on the top of the pastry cream.
7. Refrigerate until completely cool.

* From The Notebooks of Michel Bras: Desserts

other ingredients

alcohol: Sherry, Madeira wine, Port, Grand Marnier or Cointreau
raspberries, strawberries and other fruits
whipped cream
chopped or sliced nuts: almonds, pistachios, etc.
chocolate (optional)

English trifle assembly:

1. Cut Madeira cake into slices or cubes and place in small bowls or a large glass bowl.
2. Drench the Madeira cake with 1/4 – 1/2 cup of your chosen liquor.
3. Mash some of the raspberries and strawberries and mix with whole berries, spoon overtop of the drenched Madeira cake.
4. Mix pastry cream and pour over top of the berry compote.
5. Whip some cream and dollop or pipe over top of the pastry cream.
6. Let the flavours of the liquor, berries, pastry cream and cream soak into the cake and each other. Let the trifle rest in the refrigerator overnight or for 4-6 hours.
7. Top with nuts, chocolate or other condiments.
8. Spoon the trifle out and eat!

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

sugar high friday # 18 : midori liqueur kanten jelly

The lovely Chandra of Lick the Spoon, who may love desserts just as much as me, is hosting this month’s Sugar High Friday #18: Liquor. I contemplated the vast array of things I could make that contained liquor, and when all was said and done, I decided to make a Midori liqueur kanten jelly. By the way, if you have never made Nigella’s gin and tonic jelly, I highly recommend it! Jelly after all is fun, simple and satisfying. Oh wait! So is liquor – mind you, in sensible doses. When I first came across Nobou Iwaseya’s recipe for Midori liqueur kanten jelly, I was floored by the mesmerizing image of fruit suspended in green jelly. Midori is a beautiful green-coloured liqueur made from melon by Suntory. It does not taste artificial or sickly sweet like some other liqueurs and has a wonderful light and subtle melon flavour. The Midori liqueur kanten jelly is a sexy show stopping dessert that is flavourful, refreshing and light.

midori liqueur kanten jelly:

2-3 figs, peeled
juice of 1/2 lemon
2-3 Tbsp water
125 ml Midori liqueur
1 kanten (agar-agar) stick (10 g.)
450 ml mineral water
4 Tbsp granulated sugar
12 seedless green grapes, peeled and halved
12 blueberries
6 small strawberries
3-4 white marshmallows (optional)

1. First prepare the fruits. If using figs, mix the lemon juice and water in a small bowl, dip the peeled figs in it, and drain on paper towels. Cut crossways into 3 to 4 rounds depending on size.
2. Put the Midori liqueur in a small saucepan and heat over high heat for 2-3 minutes until the alcohol has evaporated. Remove from the heat and set to cool.
3. Soak the kanten (agar-agar) in plenty of water for 5 minutes, then drain and squeeze out excess water. Break the kanten into small pieces, place in a saucepan with the mineral water, and cook on moderate heat for 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it has completely melted. Remove from the heat and strain through a sieve into another saucepan. Place the saucepan on a moderate heat, add the sugar to the kanten liquid and stir until dissolved. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. When it is about body temperature, mix the Midori liqueur. It will set quickly so do not leave for long.
4. Arrange the fruits, and marshmallows if using, artistically in a 560ml/1pint jelly (jello) mould or small clear glasses, and pour over the kanten and Midori mixture. All the fruits rise to the surface; so if you want to avoid this, use half the fruits and half the kanten mixture while warm, leave in the refrigerator for 10 minutes, and then arrange the remaining ingredients on top when the mixture is body temperature. Leave to set for 20 minutes. Kanten liquid sets very quickly so it needn’t be chilled. When set, remove from the mould and cut into 4 pieces. Arrange on individual plates and serve.
*Recipe adapted from Nobou Iwaseya, Masterclass in Japanese Cooking

Nobou Iwaseya, the chief chef for all Suntory restaurants abroad, shows how to make green jelly using kanten (agar-agar), a healthy, vegetarian alternative to animal gelatin. This vegetarian version sets quickly at a higher room temperature; so start cooking the kanten after all the other ingredients have been prepared. Midori, probably Suntory’s most renowned product outside Japan, is a liqueur made from melon.

You can of course use gelatin for this dessert if you are making it in individual dishes, but if you make one large jelly and cut it into four, kanten is a much better choice as it is easier to cut in straight lines. Midori is a strong liqueur; so boil to evaporate all alcohol content before use otherwise it won’t set properly. You can use any fruit or combination of two or three kinds in this beautiful green jelly.

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Saturday, April 15, 2006

chocolate, fruit and almonds

Another quick and easy dessert for Passover is chocolate fondue! Just make sure to use kosher for Passover chocolate if you are making the recipe for Passover. What is kosher for Passover chocolate? Well, it is chocolate that does not contain lecithin. Lecithin is a soy-based emulsifier that helps bind and smoothen all the chocolaty goodness in most chocolate. The several different types of chocolate that I had in my pantry contained lecithin, including Valrhona, Callebaut, Scharfenberg and Lindt!

Chocolate fondue is a dessert that is good for any occasion. I served it with fruit including: pineapples, strawberries, raspberries, clementines and bananas (which mysteriously disappeared when I photographed the dessert). To complement the chocolate and fruit, I often like to have small madeleines or small cubes of pound cake. Since flour wasn’t an option, I decided to try a new recipe. I recalled that, about a month ago, Ivonne from Cream Puffs in Venice posted her family’s amaretti recipe and the pitures looked spectacular. The recipe also contained no flour. So, instead of making something cakey, I made Ivonne’s wonderful amaretti. Thanks Ivonne! The key to this dessert is good quality chocolate, fruit and almonds as the recipes are simple, straightforward and very satisfying.

chocolate ganache: for your fondue

250g good quality bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate
250ml heavy cream 35%

1. Chop chocolate up into small pieces.
2. Heat cream in the microwave or boil cream on the stove.
3. Pour the hot cream onto the chocolate and let it sit for 10 minutes.
4. Stir the chocolate and cream mixture until smooth.
5. The ganache can be made ahead – just heat the ganache for 30 seconds or until warm before serving. Serve the chocolate fondue warm with the fruit and cookies. I like to serve the chocolate fondue in small, individual, ramekins so that everyone can dip as much as they want!

nuts! hazelnut, pecan and walnut macaroons with almond ice cream

During the holiday weekend, I was invited to a Seder. I gladly offered to bring dessert, but little did I know how many restrictions there are during the Passover holiday. This was not my first Seder, but previously I had not had the responsibility for making dessert. Instead, I simply took it upon myself to drink the four required glasses of wine and to eat a large amount of food.

Since the Seder normally has multiple courses, I decided that I would make a light dessert. My first idea was to make macaroons. Classic French macaroons are made with ground almonds, sugar and egg whites and are often sandwiched with either an almond filling, a flavoured butter cream or chocolate ganache. I thought I would make different flavours of macaroons by using various types of ground nuts in the batter. The three types I chose were hazelnuts, pecans and walnuts. I enjoy these three, and they are amazingly versatile in baking. I also had never before experienced hazelnuts, pecans and walnuts in macaroons. Each produced lovely cookies that highlighted their delicious flavours. To compliment the macaroons, I made a roasted almond ice cream.

*Note: If you want these macaroons to be kosher for Passover, you need to substitute the icing sugar for a kosher for Passover version. Kosher for Passover icing sugar can be made by pulverizing 1 cup of granulated sugar with 1 Tbsp of potato starch in a food processor. I have found, though, that you may taste a little potato starch flavour in the Kosher icing sugar.

French macaroons:

100g icing sugar
100g ground almonds (With each type of macaroon, I substituted 100g of its particular nut. When I ground the nuts in a food processor, I found it helpful to add the icing sugar for a finer grind.)
35g egg whites
70g granulated sugar
20g water
35g egg whites

Makes approximately 60 cookies – 30 cookies when filled and sandwiched.

1. mix icing sugar, ground nut and egg whites in a mixer w/ a paddle until incorporated. set aside.
2. in a thick bottomed pot, bring granulated sugar and water to a boil, 107ºC – 110ºC (like an Italian meringue)
3. whip egg whites with a whisk attachment to medium peaks and add sugar and water mixture. whip until mixture cools to body temp.
4. fold the nut mixture with the meringue until incorporated. do not fold too much.

add a little colour to make pastel coloured macaroons.
pipe out dots, roughly the size of a loonie (3cm) in diameter
it is helpful to let macaroons sit for 15 minutes after piping, so that the mixture can settle before placing in the oven; this results in a macaroon with a nice foot

Bake at 160ºC for approximately 15 minutes in a double pan.

If you want to sandwich these cookies…

macaroon filling:

80g almond paste
40g butter

mix together until fully incorporated and soft, pipe neatly into French macaroons.

roasted almond ice cream:

1 cup cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
5 egg yolks
150g roasted almonds

Makes approximately 500ml
1. roast almonds in the oven at 350ºF for 5 to 10 minutes.
2. boil cream and roasted almonds, let simmer and then sit for 30 minutes.
3. in another small pot, add milk and half the sugar and bring to a boil. In a small bowl, mix sugar and egg yolks. Then temper egg yolks with a small portion of the heated milk. Once tempered, add the rest of the egg mixture into the milk and bring mixture up to 85ºC or until it coats the back of a wooden spoon.
4. let the mixture cool and then add in the cream and roasted nuts. Let the mixture sit in the refrigerator over night or until completely cool, at least two hours.
5. put the mixture through a fine sieve. process in an ice cream maker.

Friday, April 07, 2006

dark chocolate mousse

About a week ago, when I asked Josh what he wanted for dessert for his 11th birthday, he immediately answered chocolate mousse. To tell you the truth, I was hoping to make something more challenging, but it was his birthday after all; so chocolate mousse it was. When making chocolate desserts, I usually go by the following guideline: use good chocolate! The types of chocolate that I prefer to use are Valrhona, Scharfenberg, Callebaut or Lindt. Seeing that the dessert I was making was for a eleven-year-old boy, I decided to use a 43% dark chocolate from Lindt.

To make the dessert more interesting, I decided to pair it with a chocolate sorbet and double chocolate biscotti. I thought that the chocolate mousse would compliment the intensity of the chocolate sorbet and crunchiness of the chocolate biscotti. The dark chocolate mousse was a standard recipe of mine that I often use. Yet, it was the first time I’d made the chocolate sorbet. The sorbet was intense and would definitely not be to everyone’s liking; only people who appreciate an extremely high cocoa content in their chocolate would appreciate it. The double chocolate biscotti recipe delivered a good chocolate flavour with the right amount of crunch.

Having made the three elements and tasting them together, I decided that including the sorbet made the dessert more for a grown up than a child. So I omitted the sorbet and served the mousse with just the double chocolate biscotti.

dark chocolate mousse, whipped cream and cocoa brut served with chocolate sorbet and double chocolate biscotti

dark chocolate mousse:

100 ml eggs
35 g sugar
200 g dark chocolate
250 ml whipping cream 35%
25 ml dark rum or brandy (optional)

makes about 8 servings

Whip eggs and sugar into a sabayon over a bain-marie. Melt chocolate and add to the sabayon mixture. Whip up cream and fold into chocolate mixture as soon as it has cooled down a little, so that it does not melt the cream instantaneously. Fold in rum or brandy if you are adding. Pour the mousse into glasses, ramekins or a plastic container. If you let it set in a container, you can later, scoop the mousse into a pastry bag and pipe the mousse with a star tip into glasses, bowls, tarts or anything you desire.

chocolate sorbet

4 oz (115 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened alkalized cocoa power, sifted
3 Tbsp whipping cream 35%
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

makes about 1 quart

Place the chocolate in a medium bowl; set aside. Combine the sugar and 2 1/2cups (550 g) water in a medium saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil. Whisk in the cocoa powder and boil for another minute. Pour the hot syrup over the chocolate and whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Cool in an ice-bath, then refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours. Whisk the heavy cream and vanilla into the chocolate mixture. Pour into and ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Serve immediately or pack into an airtight container and store in the freezer for up to one week.

*Recipe from Francois Payard’s, Simply Sensational Desserts

double chocolate biscotti

makes about 30 biscotti

The recipe that I used for my double chocolate biscotti can be found at www. The original recipe is actually triple-chocolate biscotti that I have made into a double by omitting the white chocolate chips.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

the orange called blood

“The blood orange is a variety of orange (Citrus sinensis) with crimson, blood-coloured flesh. The fruit ranges from small- to medium-sized; its skin can be pitted or smooth. Blood oranges owe their distinctive appearance to a pigment called anthocyanin not typically found in citrus, but common in other red fruits and flowers. Not only is the inside of the orange darkly pigmented, but depending on the variety, the outside may feature dark washes of red. The exact reasons for the unusual inside colour are unknown. However, it seems that light, temperature and variety are important contributors.

There are three types of blood oranges, the Tarocco (native to Italy), the Sanguinello (native to Spain), and the Moro, which is the newest of the three and is grown in San Diego, California. The Tarocco is a medium-sized fruit and is perhaps the sweetest and most flavourful of the three types. However, its internal reddish color is unreliable. The Sanguinello, discovered in Spain in 1929, has a reddish skin, few seeds, and a sweet and tender flesh. The Moro, a recent introduction into the blood orange family, is the most colorful of the three types, with a deep purple flesh and reddish orange rind. This fruit has a sweet flavour with a hint of raspberry. Blood oranges cultivated in the United States are in season from December to March (Texas), and from November to May (California).” (Wikipedia)

I am sad that the blood orange season is ending. So I decided to make one more dessert this season to celebrate this lovely orange. I fell in love with this orange a few years ago because of its juicy, sweet and less acidic interior, as well as its amazingly beautiful colour. But really it is the taste that I have grown fond of, and I think that it is a wonderful orange for desserts. The dessert that I have composed is built around Martha’s blood orange gelato. The gelato sits on a pound cake, which includes blood orange zest, and is accompanied by segments of orange and a blood orange jelly. The flavours blended easily to create a casual and comforting ode to the blood orange.

blood orange gelato on blood orange pound cake, blood orange segments and blood orange jelly

blood orange gelato

2 cups whole milk
zest of 1 blood orange
1 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice
5 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream

makes approximately 1 quart

In a medium saucepan, combine milk and orange zest. Bring to a gentle boil, cover, and remove pan from heat. Let steep 30 minutes. In a small saucepan, cook orange juice over medium-low heat until reduced by three-fourths, 30-40 minutes. Remove pan from heat, and let orange syrup cool completely. Combine egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream at medium-high speed until very thick and pale yellow, 3-5 minutes. Return milk to a simmer. Add half of the warm milk to egg-yolk mixture; whisk until blended. Return new mixture to saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat back of a wooden spoon. Have ready an ice-water bath. Remove saucepan from heat; immediately stir in cream. Pass mixture through a sieve set over a medium bowl. Place bowl in ice-water bath; chill. Stir in orange syrup. Freeze in ice-cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Store in an airtight container.

*Recipe from Martha Stewart’s, Desserts

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

canadian blogging by post

Canadian Blogging By Post #1

Welcome to sweet pleasure : plaisir sucré. I’m Sam and I have the pleasure of hosting the first Canadian Blogging By Post (CBBP) event. Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice and Tania of The Candied Quince will be hosting future CBBP events.

Open to food bloggers who reside in Canada, Canadian Blogging By Post is an exchange of care packages.

Four easy steps:

1. Make a recipe: it could be your favourite, something passed down, or something you have created.
2. Post it on your site.
3. Send me your information (see below for details).
4. Make a care package, and send it off once you have received an address.

The plan is to put together a package that includes:

The recipe you have posted with one or more of the following:
a. Ingredients (e.g. that are for your recipe; that are interesting specialty items; or, that are local products).
b. An accompaniment that you might pair with the recipe (e.g. a drink, a sweet confection, a photograph, or a text).
c. Something homemade (e.g. a card, a handmade craft, a drawing or a sketch).
d. Anything else that you would like to include.

It is really up to you to interpret and decide what to put in. You are welcome to be creative. Just make sure it’s safe and sound for a care package.

Given that my site is dedicated to all things sweet, I have chosen "chocolate" as our theme, but please do not feel that you need to restrict yourself to the sweet kitchen.

The deadline for submitting your entry is May 5th. I will do the match up that weekend and send you a postal address. On May 7th you mail off your package and wait with eager longing for your parcel to arrive from a mystery sender!

*Things to note:

Use your judgement before including anything fresh – beware of spoilage!
You don’t need to send tons! 3-4 items are fine. Remember, if someone isn’t home, they have to collect it at the post office.
Please try and post on the Monday so that the package is delivered that week rather than sitting at the post office over the weekend.

Include the following information in your email to me:

θ The name of your recipe
θ The permalink URL of your Canadian Blogging By Post entry
θ Your name
θ Your blog’s name
θ Your blog’s front page URL
θ Your postal address
θ Any allergies or dislikes that you have

I will post your initial recipe entry as a round up; so, email me your entry details at

Once you have received the package, you are welcome to leave a comment in the round up for the lovely person who sent it to you. If you post the contents of the package on your blog, remember to leave a message and a link in the CBBP round-up comment section. This is because we are all curious!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

something out of nothing: poached pears

When I read Lindy from Toast proposing a blogging event titled, to make something from nothing, I was intrigued. Having finished school not so long ago, I definitely understood financial constraints. I have enjoyed fine dining when I have been able to afford it; however, I have found solace in foods that are tasty, cheap, cheerful and comforting. So, I appreciated Lindy’s concept of putting together a collection of recipes that are enjoyable, affordable, and creative and was up for the challenge of trying to make fantastic eats for little money! I decided not to buy any ingredients and instead used what was in my kitchen. I had 3 pears sitting in my fruit bowl; so poached pears it was! This recipe is simple, cost effective, and good for any occasion.

poached pear with spiced granitè and honey

poached pears

4 pears, peeled and cored.
You can cut the pears in half to core them. Or, you can use a whole pear and dig out the core from the blossom end with a melon baller or apple corer, leaving the pear in tact. The latter method works best when poaching pears.

poaching liquid (enough for 4 pears)

3/4 cup sugar
3 cups water
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
1 stick cinnamon
1 star anise
1 cardamom pod, broken open
1 tsp vanilla extract or 1/2 vanilla bean (cut length wise)

Add all the ingredients into a small pot and bring to a boil. Take off the stove, and let sit for 10 minutes or until semi-cool. Add peeled and cored pears to the poaching liquid and simmer with a piece of parchment paper over top of the pears, so that no oxidization occurs. Poach pears for 20 – 30 minutes or until tender and soft to touch. Take off the heat, and let sit for another 10 – 15 minutes before removing pears. Serve pears once they have cooled, or leave the pears in the fridge soaking in the poaching liquid, tightly covered, until needed or for up to two days.

so there’s no waste: a granitè from your poaching liquid

If you would like to make a granitè with the remaining poaching liquid, sieve out the spices, and pour liquid into a flat shallow container to cool. Freeze, covered, until frozen. Use a fork to scrape the ice into small shards. Transfer the granitè to a plastic container and keep frozen until ready to use. If you don’t want the granitè to melt too quickly, try chilling your glasses or bowls in the freezer. Then, serve a lovely poached pear with the granitè. Whether it is a casual or fancy affair, poached pears are always simple and elegant.

*Note: If you have some leftover wine, substitute half the water in the poaching liquid for wine. You’ll then have poached pears in wine with a wine granitè – yum.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

swans down cake flour

I have recently come across Swans Down extra fine cake flour. On the package is this statement: “Since 1895, Swans Down cake flour has been specially milled from soft winter wheat to give all your cakes a fine, velvety texture.” If it’s been around since 1895, why haven’t I heard of it till now? Oh, I know, it’s because it’s made by a company that markets to Eastern Canada and I grew up in the West and because it’s not easy to find. I discovered Swans Down at Summerhill Market in Toronto and have heard it’s only available at a small handful of stores in Toronto. The 1 kg bag at Summerhill Market costs $4.29.

Milled incredibly fine, this flour has the feel of potato starch. I think it is useful for cakes that require a light, delicate crumb. I plan to experiment with it over the coming months. If you know other places to purchase Swans Down in Toronto, please let me know.

Swans Down Cake Flour is made in Canada and is a product of Dover Industries Limited, The website, however, does not list their retailers.

angel food cake

Martha + Jaime = this week’s dessert! An unlikely duo – not really. I think the emphasis on simplicity and flavour in some of their recipes work well together.

The dessert that I made for this Friday night dinner was a vanilla bean angel food cake, oven roasted strawberries, lemon, lime and peppermint sorbet, and whip cream and lemon sauce. It turned out to be a light, fresh, and tasty dessert. Angel food cake is a lovely light and white cake with a tender crumb. It’s distinguished by its lack of egg yolks, chemical leaveners and fat. In my cake, I added vanilla bean to heighten and highlight the flavour of vanilla. Roasting strawberries, which is incredibly simple, increases their flavour, and I think they would also be fantastic with yogurt, ice cream or even on their own. The sorbet is simple, light, tangy and refreshing. I enjoy the look and taste of the tiny bits of zest and mint in the sorbet, but if your not sure, just sieve out the zest and mint, and you will still have a wonderful sorbet. The angel food cake compliments the roasted strawberries, sorbet and lemon sauce; it also acted as a sponge soaking in the wonderful flavours. Deceptively simple and quick, this dessert will have your guests thinking you slaved away!

vanilla bean angel food cake with oven roasted strawberries and lemon, lime and peppermint sorbet

vanilla bean angel food cake

1 1/4 cups sifted flour (not self-rising) – I used Swans Down extra fine cake flour; sifted flour means sift the flour first before measuring!
1 1/2 cups sugar
a pinch of salt
1 3/4 cups eggs whites
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean (split lengthwise and use scraped seeds)

you will also need a 10 inch tube pan
makes one 10 inch cake

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. with a rack in the lower third. Cut parchment to fit the bottom of the tube pan. Fit the paper into the pan. Do not grease the pan. Sift the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and the salt together. Sift again into a bowl. (You should have sifted the flour 3 times by now; this is necessary, as you want to incorporate as much air as you can.) In a small bowl, add the remaining sugar and the seeds of one vanilla bean. Mix and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Beat in the cream of tartar and vanilla extract. Raise speed to medium high; beat until the whites are nearly stiff. Reduce speed to medium low; beat in the reserved vanilla sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time. Beat until the peaks are almost stiff but not all dry. Transfer the egg whites to a large bowl. Sift the flour mixture over the egg whites; fold in gently with a large rubber spatula. Gently transfer the batter into the tube pan. Bake until the top of the cake is lightly golden and the cake springs back when pressed lightly, 35 – 45 minutes. Invert the pan onto its legs or hang it over the neck of a bottle or funnel; let it stand, in the pan, until completely cool, about 1 hour. Run a knife around the edges to loosen the sides. Unmold cake, and remove parchment paper.

oven roasted strawberries

1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp sugar
1 pint strawberries

Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Using a piece of parchment paper, coat the bottom of a casserole dish with butter. De-stem strawberries and place strawberries in the casserole dish cut side down. Sprinkle the strawberries with sugar and place into oven. Roast until strawberries start to “slump” and feel soft when squeezed, 10 – 20 minutes. After the strawberries are cool, transfer into a container or use immediately.

*both recipes have been adapted from Martha Stewart.

lemon, lime and peppermint sorbet

200 g, or 1 cup, sugar
275 ml water
zest and juice of 5 lemons
zest and juice of 5 limes
1 bunch of peppermint

Place the sugar and water in a pan, bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minute. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a while. Zest and squeeze your limes and lemons. Chop the peppermint and the lemon and lime zests, the finer the chop the better. Mix everything together, cover and refrigerate until cold or overnight. Stir sorbet mixture and freeze in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

*based on a recipe from Jamie Oliver

This sorbet should be eaten as soon a possible, or within a couple of days, as it will likely get icy, although you shouldn’t have a problem finishing it off. I have made this sorbet many times, and I haven’t tampered with the recipe because it is simple and good. If you want the sorbet to last longer, you will need to add an invert sugar like glucose or trimoline and reduce the amount of sugar. You can also add an alcohol like gin or vodka (use approximately 5% alcohol in the total amount of liquid) to reduce the iciness of sorbet and to keep it for a longer period.