A Fruit Mousse your Hips Will Love plus misc food stuff

This is just a quicky weird post for you today.

I am blessed with many friendships from food bloggers around the word but I am even more blessed to know so many from real life right in my city. A few have become very good friends, even if we do not see each other to regularly. Today I will share my version of a dessert my dear friend Claudia posted on her blog Foodessa.

Please go to her site and check out her complete recipe and how to make this treat…of course I adapted it to my taste. Hers is more heavy on the fruit while mine is heavy on light fluffiness. Both make great sorbets IF you have leftovers.

Just so you know my adaptations I used 1/3 of her fruit quantity…the rest I kept the same. I tried it with blueberries. Is was so succulent and perfectly glossy. I got 4 servings out of it and trust me you won’t feel guilty eating this mousse all summer long. Go check out her recipe now and WHIP IT real good…after reading the rest of this post of course.

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I have accumulated a few random pictures that I want to show you. They are more like quick blurbs with a pic or two. Here we go:

Blurb no. 1

Breakfast at the Burgundy Lion Pub includes many British classic I have never heard of, like the Bubble n’ Squeak ??? I had to go for it. So apparently this is ‘the leftovers’ breaky of steak, eggs, and a mash-up of potatoes and cabbage and I chose crumpets to go along with it. Love the concept and all was delicious except for the hard roasted potatoes.

Blurb no. 2

Remember when I had a huge water damage problem in my apartment in May 2010 and then AGAIN in November 2011 which at least finally lead to the demolition and installation of a new kitchen (2 weeks without a kitchen)….to the taste and like of the landlord of course. Well I never did that post about the process but you deserve a before and after pic. I am very happy to say the least with the new kitchen. As you can see it is a tiny lab kitchen yet very functional and now feels a bit bigger.

Out with the fugly Old

In with the new, the walls are now a pastel sunny sky blue

Blurb no. 3

Camellia Sinensis in the Quartier Latin. Wonderful large selecting with top teas from around the world and many little treats to accompany your tea perfectly, such as this Matcha Cheesecake. Really sublime and a calm place. Just go!

Blurb no. 4

Indulge me in 1 cat story from my 2 cats. Most of you loved seeing Mickey sniff out the Terrine. Well 2 days later I saw for the first time, in the 4 years I own him, his hunter instinct…when he saw a pigeon on the balcony. Pigeons don’t come often so this was a unique moment. I was afraid he may jump the 18 floors down if he went for it when the pigeon flew away.

cat foodie turned into a hunter

Rosemary Walnut Ice Cream

As a rule I usually do my ice creams without eggs not because of the taste but more out of laziness. You see ice cream with eggs is richer tasting because you have to cook it on the stove first and make you ice cream base a custard. Yummy indeed but you have to let the mixture cool down in the fridge completely before you can put it in you ice cream machine. If I have an ice cream craving I do not have such great patience lol.

To convert you egg ice cream recipes into egg-less ones you can leave out the egg, skip the heating part and toss it all in the ice cream machine right away. Some say that ice cream made without eggs is not likely to store as well and for as long…but why would one not eat up their ice cream ???

Yes I pearched it on my balcony...18th floors

Delicate flavored ice creams, like with fresh fruits or herbs like lavender, do better in a no egg recipe as the custard can mask the fine aromas. In this case I chose to make a Rosemary Walnut Ice Cream that can be found on the California Walnuts Comission Recipes page but with a few adjustments. I removed the eggs but kept the heating process as you need to infuse the natural oils out of the rosemary.

≡ Rosemary Walnut Ice Cream ≡

1/2 cup of palm sugar (or 1/2 cup granulated sugar + 1 tbsp packed brown sugar)
2 cups 35% cream
2 cups milk
1/4 cup fresh rosemary, chopped
1 cup California Walnuts chopped, toasted
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

In medium saucepan, over medium low heat, bring sugar, cream, milk and rosemary to a simmer, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in California Walnuts. Let sit 15 minutes and sieve out rosemary. Stir in vanilla and let cool. Cover and refrigerate until completely cold, about 2 to 4 hours.

Use ice cream maker and prepare according to manufacturer’s instructions.

OR

Spoon chilled custard into shallow metal pan, freeze until almost firm, about 3 hours. Break into chunks; purée in food processor. Pack into airtight container and freeze until firm, about 1 hour.

Transfer to refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving. Makes 8 servings.

Sprinkled with Bee Pollen

Thank you t0 the California Walnut Commission and Faye Clack for sending me these delicious walnuts to test in my kitchen.

Aloe Leaf? Aloe Candy!

In my ever continuing search for unusual ingredients, today I bring you the Aloe Vera plant. I have lathered my body in the past with many Aloe Vera enhanced creams and lotions in my life, even broke of a leaf from a house Aloe plant to help ease a burn…but I never saw it as something I could really consume.

NOTE: I would not recommend trying this with your houseplant. There are about 200 species of Aloe…stick to the one sold in the markets grown for consumption…just to be sure!

Well apparently it can  be eaten…or sipped. A few month ago I discovered Aloe juice bottles from an Asian grocery store. They always have the coolest weird drinks! I really liked it and I loved the fact that the juice contained tiny slivers of Aloe flesh. On a side note it’s great with Tequila too as a cocktail. But back to serious business, when I was hunting down those un-findable white asparagus for the 5 Star makeover challenge I found myself again in another Asian market. No white asparagus in sight but they did sell giant leaves (or stalk?) of Aloe Vera. I had to get one.

As you can see it is very big: here it is with my home cordless phone which is maybe 6 or 7 inches long. I barely could get it in the fridge comfortably. great so now what do I do with it I thought. I started searching online and guess what, there are not many appealing or edible recipes out there for Aloe. Finally I settled on Poached Aloe that I found here. Unfortunately I cooked it too much and I wound up with a mass of sticky sweet Aloe gel….so let’s make Aloe candy! This was inspired by the ginger chewy candies I adore that you can find in Chinatown. But let’s start at the beginning and let me show you how to prepare the flesh.

Get a good knife, a big cutting board and get ready to get slimmed. Start of by cutting along leaf edge where there are sharp points. Cut also the bottom part off…you can see below the gel in cross section. After a little nudge with the knife the flat top part will peel right off.

Next you have the bottom curved edge of the leave. This is a bit more tricky. You have 2 choices: either run knife under the gel (you may miss a lot of meat) and/or  scoop out with a spoon. Make sure to remove all rind or yellow parts which are bitter. You can see below the translucent strips of solid gel. Cool eh?

Now you can cut up your strips of flesh into small cubes. Oh did I mention this stuff is slimy? Like think Ghostbusters slimy. try to keep things as clean as possible…good luck! Slimy and stretchy. Now your flesh is ready for making candy.

Aloe Candy

1 large aloe leaves peeled and cubed
1/2  cup sugar
1 tbs lime juice
cornstarch

Cook the aloe over medium low heat stirring occasionally until the liquid is no longer slimy and a candy thermometer reads firm ball stage 245ºF (118ºC). Allow to cool to touch. Spread some cornstarch on your counter so the aloe does not stick and roll it out into a cylinder. Cut into pieces and roll them out into balls with some cornstarch.

Yep, all that gave me 7 candies. As you can see it is very similar to the ginger chew that I placed in the upper right corner. The taste is hard to describe, sweet aloe but not overpowering. I would totally eat Aloe candy if I could buy it but I am not planning on making this recipe again. It was cool trying it once.

April Fools Faux Cappuccino and Contest

April Fools is a very special day for me. Not only is it the day where you can be a naughty (but still nice) prankster for 24hrs….it is also my mom’s birthday. So she does not usually get a trick played on her (always) but we do remind her of the funny coincidence.

This year my mom might get a surprise trick at the dinner table though. The folks over at the California Walnut Commission have come up with a great recipe for a trick. It is a dessert made to resemble as a cappuccino. This Faux Cappuccino is one of 100s of amazing recipes with walnuts found on their website. I just might make this one on April Fools day. One lucky winner will win a sample bag of California walnuts and that is no joke. Just check the entry rules at the bottom of the post.

April Fool’s Faux Cappuccino

1 cup California walnut pieces 250 mL
10 oz soft or silken tofu 300 g
3 tbsp honey 45 mL
2 oz milk chocolate, melted 50 g
2 oz dark chocolate, melted 50 g
1/4 cup whipped cream 50 mL
cinnamon

1. With a hand blender or food processor, purée walnuts, tofu, honey and chocolate until smooth.
2. Divide among 6 cappuccino cups and refrigerate to set. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Would you like to win a sample bag of California walnuts?

– Leave a comment in this post telling me if you have ever played an Aprils Fool’s trick and what was it.

Extra entry…
– Tweet about the giveaway, copy paste…1 entry per day
California Walnut Contest at @cheapethniceatz http://cultureatz.com/april-fools-faux-cappuccino-and-contest/

Alas, this contest is only open to Canadian residents. You have till April 1st 2011, 1 AM EST to enter.


Sweet and Savory California Walnuts

I was just absolutely thrilled when I was contacted by the wonderful folks at Faye Clack Communications to try a sample of wonderful California walnuts. I have had wonderful review opportunities so far with this blog but I believe it was the first time I was offered such a raw product and I had already heard great things about these nuts. To my surprise I received an enormous bag of absolute fresh and sweet walnuts. I was giving away small samples to my friends I had so many.

Walnuts have been part of our diet for thousands of years. As a matter of fact walnuts are the oldest tree food known to man, going back to about 7000 BC. Walnuts are commonly featured in Greek and Roman lore and mythology. Seems our ancestors knew about the goodness of the walnut long before science proved the healthy benefits. Did you know that 3/4 of the fat found in the walnut is actually a cholesterol fighter? They are also packed with Omega-3s, they can reduce the overall risk of coronary heart disease, defend against some cancers and help ease symptoms of inflammatory diseases like arthritis. So keeping a bowl around to snack on is a pretty good idea!

I did not even know California grew nuts but apparently the mild climate and fertile soil is a perfect match. And I have to say these California walnuts were probably the best I have ever tasted: so fresh, almost chewy, lovely nutty flavor and jam packed with goodness. If you have extra remember to store them in a dry cool place. I put my leftovers in the freezer in an airtight container. A great idea when using older nuts is to toast them to bring out the flavor. Easiest way is to bake them at 350ºF for 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly browned.

Tip: sure you can chop your walnuts on a board with a big knife and have them fly all over the place. Or nothing beats the zip lock and rolling pin method. Make sure to take the air out of the zip lock before sealing it and wack away, great stress reliever too!

Not only are walnuts great on their own as a snack but they can be so versatile in recipes. You can add them to almost anything like salads, meats, sweets and veggies. The website provides a long list of fabulous walnut recipes but I went ahead and made my own recipes. I wanted to do both a sweet and a savory dish and I had puff pastry on my mind for both. The first is a Walnut and Mushroom en Croute which is a great vegetarian dish and fresh thyme does make all the difference here. I kept my walnuts fairly coarse so they added a lot of texture. For my sweet one I went with a Walnut Strudel: if you use dark chocolate like me it will not be too sweet so if you want a more chocolaty result go for milk chocolate.

Now if you want something savory….

Mushroom and Walnut en Croute

Ingredients:

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 minced onion
1 minced garlic clove
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 pound mushrooms, chopped
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 package puff pastry dough
1 egg

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 390 degrees F.

2. In preheating oven, spread walnuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet and toast for 7 minutes, or until lightly browned.

3. In a large pan, cook onions and garlic in butter over medium heat until translucent. Add mushrooms, thyme, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until mushrooms are golden. Toss in walnuts and remove from heat.

4.Roll the pastry out so you can wrap the pan mixture in it completely (approx. 2-3 mm thick) and lay it on a buttered or oiled baking sheet. Put the mushroom mixture in the middle.

5. Now fold the pastry over into a neat parcel (fold sides in and then fold long flaps in making sure no filling can leek). Brush with the egg glaze. Bake for 30 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and browned.

and for something sweet….

Walnut Strudel from Chef in You

Ingredients:

1/2 cup dark chocolate
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
cinnamon to taste
1/2 package puff pastry dough
1 egg

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. In a bowl melt chocolate with milk and butter in a microwave, 30sec. Stir well.

3. Roll out the puff pastry sheet on a floured surface and spread the chocolate mixture on the pastry leaving 1 inch clear.

4. Sprinkle the walnuts on the chocolate along with cinnamon. Roll it up like a jelly role and seal with egg.

5. Bake for 30-45min until golden brown. Remove and dust with cinnamon. Cut into slices.

Chocolate Apple Pie with Nut Crust

Looking for a practically guilty free pie when the sweet tooth attacks? Well I have a recipe for you. This recipe was given to me by Stef. The crust of the pie is made of crushed nuts, and egg white and a bit of sugar. That is it. You could fill it any way you like but here is our somewhat low cal version. Note the ingredients are to make one pie, we just happen t make two when he showed me.

Chocolate Apple Pie with Nut Crust

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups crushed nuts of your choice (we did 1/2 almonds and 1/2 hazelnut)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1-2 tbsp sugar is desired
  • you can add cinnamon, nutmeg or what you like for extra flavor
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 3 apples
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • cinnamon to taste
  • sliced almonds
  • 2 oz dark chocolate, melted

Directions:

  1. Crush your nuts if whole, use about 1 cup of whole nuts to get 3/4 cups crushed.
  2. Mix nuts with egg and sugar plus spices is desired.
  3. Spread in a pie shell evenly and cook at 350F till the crust is golden.
  4. Melt chocolate and mix in cream until homogenized. Spread in the bottom of crust.
  5. Sprinkle a layer of sliced almonds.
  6. Peel and core apples and then cut in thin slices.
  7. In a pan melt the butter and add apples with sugar and cinnamon. Cook until just tender.
  8. Poor apples into the pie crust and spread evenly.
  9. Sprinkle a few sliced almonds again and swirl decoratively the remaining dark chocolate.
  10. Refrigerate 2 hours before serving.

Tipping the Digital Scale

Holiday countdown is at 14 days. Got hard to find items on your list? CSN Stores have over 200 online stores where you can find anything, and I mean anything you need. Whether it is a pet bed, air compressors, a corner tv stand or a wicker chair you will find it at CSNstores.com.

I must admit I recently bought myself a little present recently for no particular reason. I had been coveting the idea of a digital scale for some time. My online foodie blogger circle is really global so measurements can vary from one continent to another. A lot more recipes I make have the ingredients listed in grams. My old fashion small needle scale with the basket that kept falling off on top just was not cutting it anymore. Let me mention here I really bought this scale in a store with my own money and I really am extremely satisfied with this purchase.

Also I needed a scale that could measure really minute weights, like 1 gram at a time, for molecular gastronomy. Digital was the only way to go. I shopped around for a while and settled on the yellow Escali Primo Digital Scale. And I just love it. This scale is very compact, on the lower end budget wise than most digital scales, and very easy to use.

But what I like best is that I can put a recipient on the scale, subtract its weight, and then add my ingredient to weight in the recipient. That is very practical if I need 2 grams of salt but I don’t want to put salt on a large flat surface which would be hard to pick up after wards. Also you can switch between metric and imperial (grams and ounces).

Another great use for it is weight packages for the Foodie Exchanges I do. I try to keep my boxes under 500 gr to keep the cost of shipping down. With this scale I get an exact reading of how much my box weights and I avoid nasty surprises at the postal counter.

Features:

  • Digital Scale
  • Escali Primo digital scale is compact, portable, easy to store and easy to transport
  • Capacity is 11 pounds and measures in ounces, pounds plus ounces, or in grams
  • Accurately measures in 0.1 of an ounce or 1 gram increments
  • Rated Best Value by a leading independent consumer magazine
  • 5 Year Warranty
  • Comes is a whole slew of colors
  • Material: ABS Plastic
  • Dimensions: 1.25″ H x 6″ W x 8″ D