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Archive for August, 2009

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While having my good friends Donna and Michael over for dinner last week I made a dessert that I was planning on posting but then decided it was not up to par. It was a blackberry yogurt cake layered with a blueberry “chiffon” and then frozen for a few hours. The chiffon was a variation of a recipe taken from Cooking Light Magazine that is called frozen lemon blackberry chiffon pie. The recipe is a really good one but I wanted something with just a little bit ” more”.  The only problem was that my take on it wasn’t any good! The cake part was just too frozen  and the chiffon part was too soft by the time the cake was ready. Good thought but not good enough. While we were discussing the recipe and how it could be better this is what we came up with. Instead of cake layers I would use a nut laced  meringue which would then get nice, soft and chewy. It would be layered between the berry chiffon, and I would also brush the  meringue with dark chocolate to add  a little crunch. I also changed  the blueberry to cherry (I still have a lot of cherries)

I have an  interestingly shaped springform pan that I wanted to use for this, it is somewhat rectangular shaped and a nice change from the standard circle.IMG_3692 While a springform pan is not absolutely necessary, it would be my first choice. This way you can unmold the cake to slice it, and it makes a nicer presentation.

So…. I have chosen to make this over a few days- it’s just easier for me, maybe not for you. I find meringue a breeze to make but it likes a lot of drying time.  I find that  if  I make it one day and use it later it works just fine. This recipe is definitely a  make ahead one, but isn’t it easier to have your dessert ready before everything else? Don’t be put off by the time it takes, most of it is waiting for the meringue to dry and the chiffon to freeze. the overall work is only about 25 minutes.

 I served it after a meal of pizza on the BBQ, and it was a smashing success. Really tasty with amazing textures, but still light.

Cherry Chiffon and Nut Meringue Torte

Part One- for the meringue

Before you start, take a piece of parchment paper and outline the bottom of the pan your using with a pencil. Flip this over- now you have a template for your meringue. IMG_3680

4 egg whites (I used simply egg whites so I wouldn’t have to find another use for the yolks-they work great)
1 C sugar
1/2 C ground toasted almonds
1/4 tsp almond extract
Whip the egg whites until frothy. Slowly start adding the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until it is all gone and your meringue is stiff and shiny. IMG_3683Fold in the ground almonds and extract. Place into a piping bag and fill in your traced template. If you don’t have a piping bag you can you a large ziploc bag with a corner cut out or just use the back of a spoon to spread the meringue around. There is always a way around things!IMG_3690

Place the meringues in a preheated 200 degree oven and bake for 40 minutes and then turn the oven off and leave the meringues in the oven for a few hours (I left mine in overnight). You want to dry out the meringue, not brown it, hence the low temp. These will now keep for at least 2 weeks in a lightly covered (not airtight-they must be breathe)container.IMG_3694

Part Two- the Cherry Chiffon

4 egg whites (again, I used simply egg whites for this. 8 tablespoons = 4 egg whites) 
1/4 tsp salt
1 C plus 2 Tblsp sugar
6 Tblsp water
3 cups pitted cherries
1/4 c fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp almond extract

Combine cherries,lemon juice and extract in a blender and process until smooth. You will end up with 2 cups puree.

Place salt and egg whites in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until foamy. Combine sugar and 6 tablespoons water in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until a thermometer registers 250°. Gradually pour the hot sugar syrup into egg white mixture, beating at medium speed, then at high speed, until stiff peaks form (about 8 minutes). Fold in the cherry puree .I like to place the whole bowl then in the freezer for 1/2 hour to firm it up a little.

Part Three- assembly

If neccesary, trim your meringue to fit into the springform pan that you are using. Melt a few squares of dark chocolate and gently spread over this layer.IMG_3696 Place in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up the chocolate. Spread half of the cherry chiffon over this and then place the other meringue layer over this,cover with chocolate, freeze for a few minutes and then spread with the rest of the cherry mixture.

Place this in the freezer for a least 6 hours or overnight. Let sit for 5 minutes before unmolding the cake and slicing.

This was sooooo good!

This was sooooo good!

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Wow, talk about cherry heaven…. While driving down to Lolo Hot Springs, MT this weekend we took Highway 35 (the Bigfork side of The Flathead Lake). We normally take 93 but decided for a change of scenery and I am glad we did. It’s cherry orchards as far as the eye can see…IMG_3576
It was so hard to decide at which stand to stop. One stand advertised the cherries at 65 cents per pound but we couldn’t find it so we ended up stopping for a lovely little old lady waving to us from her stand and was selling her cherries for  99 per pound. Still a big bargain in my book for fresh off the tree fruitIMG_3584The big bags of the Rainer cherries were $20 a bag but I must say, I don’t care for them as much as the dark reds. They don’t have much flavor- what’s the big deal about them? Anyway, I bought a big bag of dark, sweet, juicy reds for 10 bucks and a pound of huckleberrys for another $10. What we really loved was the sign “by the ton”IMG_3586 Was anybody really driving by and saying “Let’s pick up a ton of cherries?” But, it turned out, they sold 2 tons the week before!!

So… I have been busy eating cherries and pitting them one at a time with my dollar store pitter. I have been able to freeze 3 trays so far and made a cherry buttermilk sorbet the other day with my new ice cream maker. My old one gave me 10 years of good service but finally gave out on me.

Cherry Buttermilk Sorbet

Boil: 2 cups water and 2 cups sugar – let cool
Mix with: 2 cups cold buttermilk
and
3 cups fresh cherries that have been pureed in a blender
Pour into your ice cream maker, turn it on and in about 30 minutes you will have yummy soft serve cherry sorbet -or- put it in a container and put in the freezer for a few hours for firmer ice cream

ANYWAY….. I wanted to make something that I hadn’t made before so I tried a Cherry BBQ sauce. I don’t think I have ever made a BBQ sauce before and thought this might be pretty tasty since I love raspberry and huckleberry BBQ sauces. I made this up as I went along but wrote it all down….

Cherry BBQ Sauce

3 cups pitted cherries
1 cup Ketchup
1 bottle of Beer (I used a lager)

IMG_3594I’m sure you could use any beer but I would think a stronger tasting beer would be nice…
1/4 cup runny Honey
6 Tblsp Molasses
3 Tblsp Dark Brown Sugar
1 Tblsp Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Sesame Oil
1 Head of Garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp Liquid Smoke
1/4 tsp Smoked Habernaro powder (Omit if you don’t want it spicy)
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 28oz can diced tomatoes, drained

Put everything into a pot and just let it simmer for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.IMG_3596You want to make sure all the flavors have a chance to mellow out and flavor each other. After a few hours very carefully puree your mixture in batches in a blender, or use a  hand emulsifier if you have one. If using a blender don’t put too much of the hot sauce in at once, only half way full at a time. Pour it all back in the panIMG_3614and simmer until it is the thickness that you desire. Since it has a decent amount of sugars in it, this sauce is only for the final basting. I cooked my ribs three quarters of the way and then basted them with this yummy sauce for the final 15 minutes,being careful not to let them burnIMG_3627

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With summer coming to end I am finding myself with so many berries around the house and I still can’t resist a good buy when I see them at the store, so besides being busy freezing fruit for the winter I am, of course, baking.  This past weekend we stayed at our friends place in Fernie, BC for the night to break up our drive down to Montana. Since they were so gracious as to lend us their house for the night I thought I would leave them a little treat for when they arrived the next day. This tart is so easy it doesn’t even really need a “recipe” but is still so yummy and summery that it should be made over and over again.

The base of  tart was, obviously, a tart shell. I still had a batch of  pate sucree in the freezer from when I made the Raspberry tart last week so I was already half way there. You could easily use a store bought shell but it is so much easier (and tastier)to just make a double batch and freeze the leftover portion so you will have it ready in a pinch.Your choice.
After blind baking my shell for 20 minutes, I left it to cool while I prepared the blueberries. Since my berry tart last week used uncooked berries I decided to cook these blueberries just a bit. I put the blueberries in a saucepan IMG_3522with sugar, orange zest, and orange juice and cooked it down over medium heat for only 5 minutes before adding  the cornstarch slurry. I then brought it up to a boil , stirring it, and then took it off the heat to cool.

The marscapone layer took even less time to make but is so sublime you realize once again that the simplest recipes, if made with good ingredients, are simply, the best.

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I simply whipped up the room temperature marscapone cheese by hand and added honey,orange zest and juice.

Again, I said this was easy.

Next I spread this luscious cheese fiiling into the tart shell and then covered with the cooled blueberry filling and placed in the fridge  until ready to go.

 

BLUEBERRY TART WITH MARSCAPONE FILLING
Cooled tart shell
2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1 tsp orange zest
3 tblsp sugar
1 tblsp fresh orange juice
Cornstarch slurry: 1 tblsp corstarch mixed with 2 tblsp cool water
1 small tub marscapone cheese
4 tblsp runny honey (or to suit your sweet tooth)
2 tsp orange zest
1 tblsp fresh orange juice

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Spinach Pie for Dinner

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At my local produce market today I picked up a 5lb bag of fresh spinach for $2.99 and immediately started thinking about what I would do with it all. I was originally thinking along the lines of spinach bread but in the end thought that spinach pie would make a great dinner choice since I had some puff pastry in the freezer already. I realize that normally fillo dough is traditionally used but puff pastry is a fantastic substitute when the other is not on hand. I also have a huge, and I mean huge, oregeno plant in front of my house and knew what a great addition that would be in the mix

my massive oregano plant!

my massive oregano plant!

I have to apologize that when I cook (vs. baking) I rarely ever measure anything and just do things by eye. Anyway, while the puff pastry was defrosting on the counter I popped up to the stores and bought a large tub of 1% cottage cheese- maybe that would help balance out the calories from the puff pastry??? So… I boiled the spinach for about 5 minutes and let it cool off and drain for about an hour, then squeezing out as much of the liquid as possible, which of course left me with about 3 cups of spinach, probably the same as 2 boxes of frozen.
While that was cooling down, I chopped up a vidalia onion still lingering in my crisper drawer and slowly cooked it down on the stove, about 25 minutes I would say, then tossed it with the spinach, the tub of cottage cheese, a large handful of chopped oregano and 3 egg whites (to help bind it all together).

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I have this really cool enamel lasagna pan that used to belong to my mother that I love to use for so many things from lasagna to brownies to well, spinach pie! I lined the bottom with a rolled out sheet of puff pastry, layed down the spinach filling and then topped if off with another rolled out sheet of puff pastry.IMG_3506

Bake at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes or until golden brown. This is a great meal with a nice tossed salad and a glass of white wine.

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Fresh Berries

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When I first moved to Calgary 6 years ago I planted this little Charlie Brown raspberry stick into the ground that has slowly but surely been growing little by little every year. Well, this year it is finally coming into it’s own. While it still can’t compete with other raspberry groves out there, I have been very happy with the amount of berries I have been getting this year. My daughter Scarlet is out there almost every morning eating most of them off the bushes before I can even get to them but I was still able to get this nice bowlfull to make a fresh fruit tart for my husband to take to a b-b-q.

IMG_3491I made a pate sucree,filled it with a somewhat thin layer of pastry cream, then topped with my luscious rasberries and a few blueberries

dough:
2 C flour
3/4 c sugar
zest of 1 lemon
10 Tbsp butter, cold and cut up
2 eggs
1 Tbsp ice water

whirl up in the food processor, wrap in plastic wrap and put in the fridge for about an hour. Roll out and blind bake for 15 minutes at 425 and then for another 7-8 minutes. Let cool.

Pastry Cream:
1 C light cream
1/8 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp almond
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 egg yolks
pinch salt

bring the cream ,vanilla,almond,& 1 Tbsp sugar to a boil. Meanwhile, stir together the yolks,the other Tbsp sugar, salt and the cornstarch.Temper with the hot milk, then pour back into the pot and cook over low heat,stirring the entire time, until thickened-maybe 3 minutes. Cool in an ice bath or cover with wrap and place in the fridge.
When cool, spread into the tart chell and cover with the fruit of your choice. I lightly glazed mine with some pansy jam to give it a nice sheen and in the end I sprinkled some toasted almond slices on topIMG_3496

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Pike Place Market

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My mom has been visiting us from New York for the past 2 weeks and we went on a driving holiday for 10 days. One of the places that we visited was Seattle, WA, home of the infamous Pike Place Market. I had always wanted to go there and my husband was kind enough to include this on our destination list and were we ever happy!! What a place to spend the day (or two in our case). We just could not get over the flowers-absolutely stunning bouquets filled with lilies, sunflowers,dalias, etc.. for $5!!! The most expensive bunch we saw was $15. It was a flower paradise…
Anyway, on to the important stuff… food. If you love seafood this is a “must visit” on your to do list.
Here are a few pictures to wet your appetite

Jumbo shrimp

Jumbo shrimp

These were mouthwatering….

 

 

 

 

 

 
and the biggest lobster tails I have EVER seen!
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We bought a piece of alderwood smoked salmon but ate it before I had a chance to take a photo of it! sorry

IMG_3344 This is when you wish you had a bbq in your hotel room

 

IMG_3343 I just had to share a few pictures, now back to baking!

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