summer

jane's next door : take-away picnic baskets

Jane Wright is a restaurant legend in Halifax so I was more than a little delighted when she contacted me about a new project she was putting together. Take-away picnic baskets!!!

Isn't that the cutest idea?

You can phone jane's next door (902-431-5697) and they will custom create a picnic basket for you. Say you're heading to the beach for the day with the kids - call jane's, place your order and pick up your basket on the way. The best part? You KEEP the basket! A great place to store sandy towels when you're ready to go home. Huh? Huh? Isnt that the coolest?

I think so too.

Lemon Curdsicles

When the idea for Lemon Curdsicles first popped into my head, I Googled it right away. I mean, COME ON, surely SOMEONE has already thought of them before and posted them SOMEWHERE on the web?

But no - nobody has

(NO Google, I did NOT mean Lemon curd cyclesAnd what the hell is a beef tallow curdsicle anyway?!?)

Anyhoo, these are one of the BEST things I've made since I first started my blog in 2010. A bold statement yes but so so true!

I've made homemade ice cream in the past that's been pretty darn good however, it always seems to freeze just a little too hard. I've mentioned my love of David Lebovitz before here and here and am absolutely enthralled with his latest book 'My Paris Kitchen' published by Random House. Seriously - it's lovely. David wrote another book in 2007 called 'The Perfect Scoop', so trust me when I say this man knows his ice cream. For the Lemon Curdsicles I used David's recipe for Apricot Kernel Ice Cream (without Apricot Kernels) found in 'My Paris Kitchen'. You can find basically the same recipe on David's website if you click here. His recipe calls for 5 yolks - the recipe I usually use only has three. I think the extra yolks in David's recipe lend extra creaminess to the ice cream and prevent it from freezing hard as a rock - it's the perfect compliment to the tart brightness of the lemon curd. You could also make the 6-Minute Microwave Lemon Curd and layer it in popsicle molds with softened store-bought vanilla ice cream.

SO GOOD.

Lemon Curdsicles

1 batch of David Lebovitz's Vanilla Ice Cream (recipe from www.davidlebovitz.com):

For a richer custard, you can add up to 3 more egg yolks. For a less-rich custard, substitute half-and-half for the heavy cream, realizing that the final texture won’t be as rich or as smooth as if using cream.

  • 1 cup (250ml) whole milk
  • A pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup (150g) sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 2 cups (500ml) heavy cream
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

- Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk with a paring knife, then add the bean pod to the milk. Cover, remove from heat, and infuse for one hour.

- To make the ice cream, set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart (2l) bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice and water. Set a strainer over the top of the smaller bowl and pour the cream into the bowl.

- In a separate bowl, stir together the egg yolks. Rewarm the milk then gradually pour some of the milk into the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. Scrape the warmed yolks and milk back into the saucepan.

- Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.

- Strain the custard into the heavy cream. Stir over the ice until cool, add the vanilla extract, then refrigerate to chill thoroughly. Preferably overnight.

- Remove the vanilla bean and freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Note: Used vanilla beans can be rinsed and dried, then stored in a bin of sugar. That sugar can be used for baking and, of course, for future ice cream making.

 

1 batch of 6-Minute Microwave Lemon Curd (original recipe from Out Of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens by Marie Nightingale):

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 C sugar
  • 3 lemons
  • 1/4 C butter
  • pinch of salt (optional - not included in the recipe, but I usually add a pinch to any curd I make)

- In a large microwaveable bowl, ***whisk eggs + sugar until smooth*** - zest all 3 lemons into the eggs and sugar and then juice them right into the bowl - break butter into small pieces with your hands and throw into bowl - whisk everything together

- Microwave, one minute at a time, for 5-6 minutes, whisking between each minute 'until it is as thick as honey' (Out Of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens, p 171) - mine took 6 minutes - pour into a jar - refrigerate

***IMPORTANT*** - IF YOU DO NOT WHISK YOUR EGGS AND BUTTER SILKY SMOOTH FIRST you will end up with cooked scrambled egg bits. That's fine but IF THIS HAPPENS - pour your curd through a sieve BEFORE you jar it. It will pretty much run right through - you may have to press the last bit with the back of a spoon. The sieve will catch all of the scrambled bits.

***ANOTHER NOTE*** - Wednesday January 29, 2014 - I made this recipe again, with 3/4 C of sugar instead of a full cup - it was really nice - more tart, less sweet - BUT IT COOKED FASTER - 4.5 minutes

 

- After churning ice cream batter, layer it in popsicle molds with dollops of chilled lemon curd - freeze overnight

 YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT.

Monthly Miettes : Raspberry Charlotte

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Make no mistake. I am sad to see my beloved strawberries go for another year. Oh, I mean sure - you can still find a few straw-coloured pints hanging around here and there, but it's just not the same as it was a couple of weeks ago.

But that's ok.

I'll survive.

Because the end of the strawberries heralds the arrival of something almost as good.

Fresh RASPBERRIES.

With luscious red juice that can stain your fingers for days, there is no doubt that the raspberries have returned.

It's been a few months since I participated in Aimée'sMonthly Miettes and I decided I was up for July's challenge of Strawberry Charlotte. I swapped the strawberries in the recipe for raspberries and let me tell you - that was a very good decision indeed.

Once again, I will say - flavour-wise, Meg Ray's recipes yield terrific results, and yet, for the second time, I think the recipe loses a little in translation.

THE CAKE

  • The cake in the Charlotte is Miette's Hot Milk Cake. The recipe was pretty easy to follow but I couldn't figure out why the directions instruct the butter to be at room temperature when you are just going to put it in a pot and heat it with milk.

  • Also, the Charlotte assembly recipe says that you should split your cake into two layers but the photo included with the recipe shows only one layer of cake topped with about three inches of mousse. I didn't split my cake in two. Instead I used my two 6-inch cakes whole with the tops levelled as the two layers.

  • The recipe says to bake the cake batter in two 6-inch round pans and then to build the Charlotte itself in a 6-inch round cake pan with 3-inch high sides. I realized this too late. If I had noticed earlier, I would have baked the cake batter in two 8-inch round cake pans and then built the Charlotte in my 8-inch springform pan which has high sides. Instead, I built a 'collar' for my cake. I placed two sheets of plastic wrap over the bottom of the cake pan in a cross-formation then I placed my first cake layer inside. I built the collar by inserting three 8.5 x 11-inch sheets of uncut stencil plastic around the first layer of cake securing the seams with duct tape.

First layer of cake with collar built around it.

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Both layers of cake topped with mousse inside the collar.

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THE SIMPLE SYRUP

Miette's recipe calls for simple syrup flavoured with Strawberry Eau de Vie. I don't have any kind of Eau de Vie so I made a basic Raspberry Simple Syrup:

1/2 C water

1/2 C sugar

20 raspberries

  • simmer everything for 20 minutes - strain TWICE

Uncollared and unwrapped the next morning out of the fridge.

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THE MOUSSE

The Raspberry Mousse tasted fantastic, however, after about an hour in the fridge, it seemed kind of thin so I whipped an additional 1/2 C of 35% heavy cream and folded it into the mousse which made it perfect.

The Charlotte with the first ring of raspberries.

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THE LADYFINGERS

The ladyfinger were great - soft, spongy, perfect for wrapping around the cake, however, the recipe for ladyfingers makes enough cookies to wrap around about SIX WHOLE CAKES. If you are only making one, make sure you reduce the recipe.

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WAS IT WORTH IT?

Miette's Charlotte took me two days to make.

The Hot Milk Cake was DELICIOUS.

I would definitely make the mousse again, maybe for a dinner party, because the flavour was awesome and it set beautifully.

Next time, I would probably eliminate the ladyfingers because they were kind of bland and I think the cake looked prettier without them. 

Overall, making the Raspberry Charlotte was a fun challenge and a great way to connect with Aimée and Monthly Miettes again!!

NSLC Occasions Magazine Summer 2012

WOOHOO!!! Only my second issue and my bucket of lobster made the cover!!!

I was incorrectly given credit for photography in this issue - the photos in the lobster article that I worked on were actually taken by Halifax photographer Perry Jackson. I didn't take any of the photos. I did however, make all of the food and was the food stylist for the entire lobster article (except for one photo of a lone lobster on a turquoise platter that I have ommitted).