Tiramisu – In a Glass

t5I am always drawn to it whenever I see it on the list of desserts during a nice dinner out. Tiramisu. How true the saying, there is always room for dessert. Bruno is more of a dessert person than I am. I mean, he LOVES desserts. I don’t mind them once in a while. I can easily go without them. Face starting to twitch. Sweets don’t do it for me. I’m really neither here nor there about it. Nose beginning to grow. If I never had dessert again – ok, fine, who am I kidding. I too love desserts. I don’t think I’ve ever turned one down. Whether it’s offered to me, or teased in front of me in the shape of a nicely printed restaurant menu. My inner monologue about not having dessert is gone, evaporated. 

A couple of days ago I decided to make lady fingers. Decadent cookies made from egg whites gently folded with egg yolks, sugar and vanilla, then baked until fluffy and weightless. I’m not sure why I came to think of them, but I’m certain my subconscious craving for this moist cake had something to do with it. 

I have to admit we ate most of them with coffee that same afternoon. Trust me, eating just the one fresh out of the oven lady finger is nearby impossible. Not having enough cookies left for a proper cake, this is what came out of it. I replaced whipping cream with ice cream. Blended all the ingredients together and voila- the elegant flavours of tiramisu- in a glass. t7

 

8 lady fingers cookies

1 double espressos, cold (or 1/4 cup strong cold coffee)

1 cup mascarpone cheese

1/2 tbsp vanilla essence

1 tbsp cocoa

2 cups vanilla ice cream

4 Lady Fingers for decoration

 

Place the lady fingers in the bottom of a bowl and pour over the espresso. Set aside to soak. Add mascarpone cheese, vanilla and cocoa to a blender and mix until smooth. Add the softened cookies and leftover liquid to the blender. Scoop the ice cream in small pieces and add as well. Pulse a couple of times, but not until completely mixed.

Pour into glasses, powder with cocoa powder and decorate with a Lady Finger. Serve immediately.Serves 4.t2

If you don’t want to buy lady fingers but want to make your own below is the recipe I use. It is taken from Hilaire Walden’s The Great Big Cookie Book.  

 2/3 cup plain flour

pinch of salt

4 eggs, separated

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

icing sugar for sprinkling

 

Preheat oven to 300F.

Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper and sprinkle with a thin layer of icing sugar.

Sift the flour and salt together twice. With an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks with half of the sugar until thick enough to leave a ribbon trail when the beaters are lifted.

In another bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. Beat in the remaining sugar until glossy. Sift the flour over the yolks and spoon a large dollop of egg whites over the flour. Carefully fold in with a large spoon or spatula, adding the vanilla essence. Gently fold in the remaining whites.

Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a large plain nozzle. Pipe 3in long lines on the parchment paper about 1in apart. Sift over a thin layer of icing sugar.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes until crusty on the outside but soft in the centre. Cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack.t9t6 t3

 

Tarragon Chicken

tc1Memories. Some of them will bring a smile to our face and some will make us turn bright red. The other day a song by Phil Collins came on the radio. In an instant, I was thrown back 25 years to the 9th grade. A week long school trip in a double decker bus to Paris. I remember killing travel time by listening to this live album on my portable “Walkman” cd-player. Even though I had a proper seat assigned to me, most of the trip I sat in the corner of the spiral stairs connecting the first and second floor of the bus. Not sure why since it wasn’t the slightest bit comfortable and people constantly bumped into me on their way up or down. Maybe it was the quietest spot around. I’m not sure. Either way, it didn’t seem to bother me. I was a serious day dreamer growing up. Part of my brain was always in my own world. I drifted away, gazing out the window, pretending to be attending an amazing live concert by Phil Collins. 

A few hours before arriving in Paris the bus pulled off the road and we all got out in front of what seemed to be a rather non-pretentious and run down gargote. I turned off Phil. Time for lunch. I ordered the special – tarragon chicken. Ridiculously delicious. Chicken cooked with vegetables and broth. A splash of cream and lots of tarragon. What a match. When I got back home I told my parents about the dish and that evening my mom made the Swedish adaptation of the same dish. Very close. She said it’s a Swedish classic. Who knew.

I wonder if Phil Collins likes tarragon.tc3

1 large carrot

1 large onion

1/2 bulb of fennel

1 tbsp butter

2 tbsp olive oil

8-10  skinless, boneless chicken thighs

3 cups chicken stock

3 cloves garlic, peeled

1 bunch fresh tarragon

1/2 cup cream

1/3 cup white vermouth

2 tbsp flour

1 green onion

1 tsp salt

1 tsp white pepper

1/2 tbsp dijon mustard

Peel and roughly dice the carrot, onion and fennel. In a large cast iron pot, melt the butter and olive oil. Brown the chicken on medium-high heat 2-3 min/side. Drain off the fat from the chicken, then add vegetables and chicken stock along with the garlic and half the tarragon. Let simmer for 20-25 min or until chicken is cooked through.

Remove the chicken and drain the broth into a separate pot. Discard the vegetables. On high heat, reduce the broth by half or 2/3. Add cream and vermouth. Mix the flour in a little bit of water and add to the broth. Finely chop the green onion and the rest of the tarragon and add as well along with salt, pepper and mustard. Place the chicken back into the sauce and let simmer for a couple of minutes.

Serve with rice or potatoes. Serves 4-5tc6 tc2tc4

Crumble – Apple or Blueberry?

c1And just like that it’s fall. The excitement of harvest. A flurry of activity. Long days. Very long days. Our grapes have all been picked, hand sorted, fermented and pressed. It’s a nice feeling. We are now in control, rather than being dependent on Mother Nature. I have to say, she’s been generous most of the summer. A bumper crop is always nice to get. 

Now that the grapes are in, the apples are next. Luscious golden russets. Bin after bin arriving at the winery to be sorted, crushed and pressed into what will be 2015 sparkling cider. They are good apples. Crazy good. Just as we constantly taste the grapes at harvest, we munch on the apples when they come in as well. 

The other night we had friends over for dinner and I wanted to make a crumble – Swedish style. It’s a fairly recurring dessert here. Simple, but delicious. I mostly make this crumble using blueberries but is equally as tasty using apples. One can opt for vanilla ice cream alongside the crumble, but nothing beats a smooth mouthwatering homemade vanilla custard. I always make the custard in advance and serve it slightly chilled with a warm crumble. Heaven.

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Crumble Blueberry or Apple

Crumble:

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/4 cup flour

125g cold butter, cut into 1/2″ pieces

3 cups blueberries

1/4 cup sugar

OR:

5 apples, peeled, cored and sliced in thin wedges

1/4 cup sugar

 

In a food processor, add the sugar, flour and butter. Pulse until the butter are in tiny pieces. This will not create a moist sticky dough. It looks more like a powder.

In a pie dish, add the apple slices (or blueberries). Sprinkle with the sugar.

Pour the flour/sugar/butter on top. Spread out evenly to cover. 

Place in the upper part of the oven for 25-30 minutes or until soft and golden brown. 

Vanilla Custard

2 cups milk

1 cup cream

8 egg yolks

2 tbsp corn starch

3/4 cup sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

In a large sauce pot, heat up milk and cream over medium heat. Remove from heat when bubbles form along the edges of the pot. 

In a large bowl, add the egg yolks, sugar and corn starch and whisk until light and fluffy. 

Very slowly, while whisking, add the warm milk. It’s important to add the warm milk slowly since you don’t want to shock the yolks. 

Pour the egg/milk mixture back into the sauce pot and slowly heat it up over low heat. Stir constantly with a whisk or flat edged wooden spoon. Take off the heat once the custard thickens and coats the back of a spoon, 10-15 min. Set aside and add the vanilla extract. Mix well.

Use warm, or, sprinkle with a thin layer of sugar if you want to leave it to cool. This will prevent skin forming on the surface.

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