This Mars Ice Cream is Out of this World

Want to be the cool mom for your (young and old) kid’s next birthday party? Make this easy Planet Mars Ice Cream inspired by the movie The Martian.

No potatoes for me! Because potatoes is the main food of choice in this movie.  We were asked to watch the film The Martian and make an inspired recipe. And I knew most people would do potatoes. Got nothing against them, but I would loose points for my infamous crazy idea loopy creative reputation. So I came up with an ice cream.
Yep ………….. a Planet Mars Ice Cream!

Mars ice cream

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

Lemon Cupcakes are just Beachy

Got a party in the works? How about serving up these adorable beach themed lemon cupcakes and cake! No special skills are required to prepare these sweets and your dessert just may steel the spotlight from the honored guest!

As you get older you realize that one of the most important things in life is being well surrounded by people you love. Or to keep certain people close enough to you that they are willing to plan a huge party for you. Just kidding! On May 31st 2015 the party organization team of Sue and Evelyne threw a big 50th Birthday bash for our dearest friend Michele. It was an absolute pleasure to plan Michele’s birthday as she is like family to me and I know it is a mutual feeling. So one more time: Happy 50th Birthday Michele!

Beach themed Lemon Cupcakes tier

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

5 Star Makeover: Tarte Tatin with Sage, Vanilla and Clove Infused Butter

This month’s theme for the 5 Star Makeover is quite seasonal: Apples. With such an easily adaptable ingredient to field of options was pretty wide open. But I decided finally to go for a very classical dish, a wonderful French apple pie cooked in a luscious caramel sauce. It is a very sophisticated tasting pie which consists of 3 ingredients in profusion: lots of butter, lots of sugar and lots of apples.

It may not be the absolutely prettiest pie in the world but the taste is really gourmet. The first time I had a Tarte Tatin was at a lovely French restaurant in Montreal called Tonnerre de Brest. This charming true french bistro serves outstanding French classics and the small place is true to a real bistro like you find in France. I believe it was my first visit that I ordered this dessert. I was blown away and conquered for ever. If I see it on a menu I always get it. I added an interesting little twist to my version. I infused my butter with an interesting combination of sage, cloves and vanilla. The notes of this infusion was beautifully subtle and very welcomed.

I love the folkloric tale recounting the origin of this pie. The Tarte Tatin was first created by accident in a French Inn, in the 1880s. The hotel was run by the two Tatin  sisters. Supposedly one of the sister was work in the kitchen preparing meals for the customers. She started to make a traditional apple pie but left the apples cooking in butter and sugar for too long. In an attempt to save the pie, she tried to rescue the dish by putting the pastry base on top of the pan of apples and baking it in the whole pan in the oven. She then served the pie by flipping it onto a plate. Another version to the story I heard is that when taking the pie out of the oven the sister would have dropped it on the floor and she tried to save it by slipping it onto a plate and serving it upside down. Either story had the same result: the Tarte Tatin was a success.

Ξ Tarte Tatin with Sage, Vanilla and Clove Infused Butter Ξ

8 to 10 firm apples: a mixture of sweet and acidic varieties. I used Fuji and Gala.
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, slightly soft
4 cloves (1/4 tsp rounded, ground)
8 sage leaves (2/3 tsp dried)
vanilla bean, 2 inch segment
1 cup sugar
8 ounces (half a box) puff pastry

1. In a small sauce pan heat the butter over medium heat. When the butter is frothing and bubbly, turn heat to low, halve a 2 inch segment of vanilla bean and scrape the beans into the butter, then add 4 cloves and 8 sage leaves. Heat for five minutes, stirring occasionally, then off the heat and set aside to steep. Strain the infused butter.

2. While your butter is infusing, peel, core and halve lengthwise the apples.

3. Preheat the oven to 400F. Pour the butter in a cold large skillet. Make sure to cover the bottom and sides of the skillet. Sprinkle the sugar on the top and shake to ensure it is evenly distributed. Arrange the apples standing on their sides, in concentric circles, embedding them in the butter/sugar mix. Pack the apples in as tight as you can.

4. Turn the burner on med-high and cook the apples. It will take 10 to 20 minutes. I like to turn them half way if the piece  are still solid. As the apples cook, the sugar will turn to a caramel as well. Keep an eye on the pan, ideally you want a rich deep toffee color.

5. Roll out the puff pastry into a disc 1 inch wider than the rim of the pan. When the apples are ready, drop the disc of pastry onto the apples and let the edges hang over the sides of the pan. Place the pan in a preheated oven and bake for fifteen minutes, or until the pastry is nicely browned.

 

6. Remove from oven and let it rest for 5 minute. Then place an inverted plate, slightly bigger than the pan, over the top. Hold with one hand firmly the plate and grip the handle with a cloth firmly with the other hand. Quickly flip the skillet over so the plate is underneath. Lower the plate and pan onto a steady surface, pause a moment, and then lift off the pan. Serve warm.

hosted by 5 Star Foodie & Lazaro Cooks!

Fish tortilla citrus vanilla gastrique radish salsa

A wonderful new way to enjoy a fish tortilla: top it with a fabulous citrus & vanilla gastrique and a radish salsa! Served with battered radish leaves.

Well, I guess it had to happen sooner or later. Ladies and Germs: 5 Star Makeovers is at WAR this month. Yes you read me right. We have created our very own friendly competition based on Restaurant Wars, like the popular part of the Top Chef show. Members of this fabulous gourmet group were divided into teams of 3. We had to come up with a restaurant or menu based on an ingredient or concept. My personal challenge: radishes meet fish tortilla!

Does life imitate art or art imitate life? Who knows but unfortunately we did loose some teams along the way following incidents. Mine survived without any battle. I am so happy to have worked with my 2 particular team members Faith and Shannon. We all got along fabulously, came to decisions rather fast and we were very encouraging of one another.

Fish tortilla with a citrus & vanilla gastrique radish salsa

My team chose radishes and we announced our menu about a month ago here: Raphanus! Celebrating the Radish. Not one of us were particular fans of this vegetable but we all appreciated the challenge of turning this foe into a shinning star for our dishes. And since that was not tough enough we added another aspect: there must be a citrus vanilla component to our dish. All 3 of us were ready to confront our radish dish with our chef’s sleeves rolled up. Who won? In the end the radish won us all over.

After reading my post please go visit the rest of my team so you can see our complete menu. You will find Shannon’s radish themed appetizer and Faith’s radish themed dessert  by clicking on their respective links. I can’t wait to go check them out. But first let’s take a look at my dish, the main course:

Fish tortilla with a citrus & vanilla gastrique radish salsa, battered radish leaves.

Say that 3 times fast lol. It’s a mouth full…but a so delicious one. OK so my vanilla component is a vanilla gastrique. I never made one before so this was new. A gastrique is a reduction of a sweet and sour element, usually sugar and vinegar. I added a vanilla bean to mine. This stuff is freaking addictive it’s ridiculous. I used it as part of my Radish salsa vinaigrette.

I more then covered the citrus factor. In total I used satsuma mandarin juice, Yuzu lemon juice, dried orange peel and lime juice. I also wanted to add a little heat to my dish since it has a Tex Mex flair. I chose a Serrano pepper and some habanero infused salt, just a touch.

My radish salsa plays the crowning jewel atop of a fantastic fish tortilla dish. Although I enjoy it I don’t prepare a whole lot of Tex Mex, it’s not part of my culture. And I had never had a fish in a tortilla before, something I had been curious about after seeing such a dish featured on a few blogs. Well it was just fantastic and the sweet tanginess of the radish salsa gave it a perfect flavor kick.

And there is a side dish surprise recipe all the way at the bottom of this post!

 

Vanilla Gastrique

1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup Zinfandel vinegar (you can use any vinegar)
1/2 vanilla bean, split length wise

Add all ingredients to a pan and place on medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until the mixture has reduced by 1/3 and is syrupy. Allow to cool and discard bean.

Red and Black Radishes, the Stars of the show

 

Radish Salsa adapted from Figareau

12 radishes
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice from 1 satsuma mandarin (or orange)
1 1/2 tbsp Yuzu lemon juice (or lime)
1 tbsp vanilla gastrique
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Pinch habanero infused salt (or plain salt)
Pepper to taste

Washed, trim and dice finely the radishes. Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill for at least an hour before serving.

Ξ Fish tortilla with a citrus & vanilla gastrique radish salsa Ξ

team radish 15

For the fish

1 1/2 lbs firm white fish (I used Tilapia)
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek
1/2 teaspoon dried orange peel
Dash of salt and pepper

Heat grill or oven to 400F. Place fish in an aluminum pan, coat with olive oil, lime juice and spices. Cook about 10 minutes (more or less) until fish comes apart with a fork.

team radish 6  team radish 7

team radish 1  team radish 5b

Assembly

tortillas
red bean paste
prepared fish
red onions, thinly sliced
cilantro
sour cream with a touch of lime juice and diced Serrano pepper.
radish salsa

Line plate with tortillas. Spoon a layer of red bean paste. Place fish on top of red beans.
Top fish with red onions, cilantro, sour cream and radish salsa. Makes 4 individual servings or 1 big plate to divide.

WAIT, one more recipe, a SIDE DISH adapted from Kitchen Gossip. Why throw away those lovely radish greens? These fritters are like a cross between hush puppies and an Indian Bahji – unique to say the least.

team radish 4  team radish 11

team radish 12

Ξ Battered radish leaves Ξ

2 cups radish leaves, chopped
3 heaping tbsp cornmeal
2 tbsp rice flour
1 Serrano chili, finely chopped
1 tsp Cumin Powder
1 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Paprika
Salt to taste
Oil to Deep Fry
Water

Mix leaves, flours and spices in a bowl. Add a little bit of water at a time and mix until batter is sticky
Shape into small balls and deep fry in oil at 375F until golden brown.
Drain on paper towels before serving. Enjoy hot or cold.

Don’t forget to go visit Shannon’s radish themed appetizer and Faith’s radish themed dessert  by clicking on their respective links after leaving a comment. Thank you to our amazing organizer who came up with this brilliant concept: Natasha at 5 Star Foodie &  Laz at Lazaro Cooks!

Introducing Team Radish

I’ve got two special announcements today. First I just got back from the hospital the cast is OFF, freedom and physio therapy ahead. And second, a huge event, as part of the 5 Star Foodie Makeover group!  We have a May Event – Restaurant Wars.

For this event, the group got divided into teams of three.  Each team was responsible for choosing the theme or main ingredient for their restaurant.  Then each member produces an appetizer, main course or dessert.

The first challenge was to decide on a main ingredient with my teammates Faith and Shannon.  We wanted something a little different…  something challenging…  a vegetable none of us like?  Indeed, we’re trying to come around to this root vegetable ourselves 🙂

Photo from risingriverfarm.com

Radishes are members of the mustard family Brassicaceae, along the likes of broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.  The flesh of radishes is crisp with a peppery flavor.  Some of the more common varieties of radishes include red globe, black, breakfast and daikon.

A favorite of any gardener, radishes are easy to grow and their rapid germination means that radishes will be one of your first harvests!  Radishes are a good source of fiber, vitamin B6, riboflavin, magnesium, copper, calcium, potassium, folate and vitamin C.

When buying radishes, choose ones that are firm, unblemished and brightly colored.  It is also good to make sure that the attached greens are nice and healthy as well.  If you aren’t using them right away, cut away the greens and pop the radishes into a jar and cover with water.  They’ll stay nice and crisp in the fridge until you’re ready to use them.

While they’re most often enjoyed raw or pickled, we thought radishes would be a worthy challenge for Restaurant Wars, where they are going to take center stage through a three course meal.  To make things even more interesting, citrus and vanilla will be incorporated into each dish.  Go ahead, have a taste!

Thursday’s Thingamajig: Foodbuzz Daily Specials 2/6

Foodbuzz has a Daily Special feature going on for the next 6 weeks. Every day of the week a cool product will be highlighted.

I though this would fit so well in combination with my Thursday’s Thingamajig…so the next 6 weeks I will present the Daily Special. This week is the….

Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Vanilla, 32 oz

This rich, unsurpassed vanilla comes from a single variety of orchid found only on the island of Madagascar. Made from hand-selected beans through an exclusive cold-process method to preserve the complex flavor and bouquet, it enriches homemade ice cream, custard, creme brulee and baked goods. It also boosts the flavor of dishes containing chocolate and coffee. More concentrated than extract, the pure vanilla bean paste is a sweet, slightly spicy syrup with flecks of handpicked vanilla seeds and is used when the distinctive look of seeds is desired. From Nielsen-Massey, makers of the world’s finest vanilla since 1907 and the choice of chefs worldwide.

GLUTEN-FREE! Nielsen-Massey is the first extract company and ingredient supplier in America to be certified by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO).

  • Rich, intense vanilla flavor
  • Flecks of handpicked vanilla bean seeds in paste
  • Exclusive cold-process method to preserve complex flavor and bouquet
  • Gluten-free
  • Kosher pareve, certified by the Chicago Rabbinical Council
  • Size: 32 oz.

Vanilla Craving

Ok this will be a weird post cause its like got no real point to it. But this is the story….

So this morning I am on the bus and reading my book UNTIL these two guys, early 20s, stand right by where I am sitting and talk. They were just to distracting – and entertaining -  to keep reading so I put the book away and eavesdropped. I love listening in to people’s conversations sometimes. And the most entertaining are usually those of mid 20s guys cause they think they know everything and can solve all the world’s problems (as like legalizing ALL drugs as this pair mentioned today). I digress!

So this pair of boys are real upbeat and funny, both going soon on the classic Euro tour to party in Europe’s finest cities. Then they talk about their current jobs. Yes this is where there is actually a link with this blog haha. One of the guys said he worked for a vanilla bean import comapny here in Montreal. Guess what I googled first thing in the office. And I found them: Aust & Hachmann Canada

I’ll contact them and see if they can organize a little visit for the group…may be a fun outing!

Hugs and Biscuits
Evelyne