Triple Play

An Invincible Summer

“Au milieu de l’hiver, j’apprenais enfin qu’il y avait en moi un été invincible.”
– Albert Camus, Noces L’Eté

In the midst of winter, I finally understood that there’s an invincible summer inside me.

Lemon Risotto Smoke Paprika CalamariOh wow. Who ever coined the recipe of Lemon Risotto, I’m forever indebted. This is ridiculously fresh and refreshing. Fresh because this is a nice change from the usual mushroom risotto. It’s not scary, unlike my beetroot risotto. And it’s refreshing because the flavor of the lemon just screams summer!!

The risotto is also good enough to eat on its own, as a meatless meal but because this is lunch, and lunch is our primary source of meat protein, I paired this with grilled calamari marinated with smoke paprika.



Gorgonzola Take 3: We’re on Paradise

Oh this is really, really, really (!) delicious. Very interesting flavour. Like ordering cheese platter with nuts and dried fruits, you have all those flavors in one mouth. A little sour from the apple, a bit salty from the gorgonzola, the buttery puff pastry gives it a very fragrant smell and the walnut gives the extra crunch. Ooh la.. ils sont tellement bon, comme le paradis. Quelqu’un va se regaler ce soir. 

(adapted from Simply Recipes)
make 12

1 puff pastry sheet, thawed completely
About 1.5 medium-sized Apples, peeled and diced small – I used Granny Smith
1/4 C chopped walnuts
1/2 C crumbled gorgonzola
1 tbsp honey
pinch dried thyme
1 egg, beaten

  • Preheat oven to 200 C.
  • Place chopped apples in a bowl and cook in microwave over high heat for 5 mins. Let it cool down.
  • In a small bowl, mix the apple, walnuts, gorgonzola, honey and thyme.
  • Cut the puff pastry sheet into 12 equal squares. Place the filling into each square and fold into triangles. Pull and stretch a little bit if needed. Using a fork, scrimp the edges.
  • Place in the fridge for 5 mins before baking.
  • Brush the triangles with egg and bake for 15-20 mins till golden colour. Let it cool down a little bit before devouring.

C’est tout! C’est facile, non?

I’m not really sure about the thyme addition. I understand why, but I don’t know if it’s needed taste-wise. And call me crazy, but I want to add a pinch of salt.

Gorgonzola Take 2: The Promise of Spring

Looks like Gorgonzola will be a Triple Play after all.

This is Gorgonzola-stuffed eggplant. Original recipe calls for mozzarella, which is fine. I’ve tried it, but I think eggplant works better with stronger cheese because it needs a strong partner. Whatever cheese you use, I would suggest using a strong flavor and liquid-y cheese.

And for the same reason, I opt for basil leaves instead of parsley.

I also realize since I have an electric griller on loan, might as well use it. I forgo roasting the eggplant 30 mins in the oven for grilling them 5 mins flat. Ha! I opt for Panko breadcrumbs as the final coat for extra crunch.

This doesn’t look a lot, but trust me it’s filling, so you might want to watch out.

(adapted from Bon Appetit)
makes about 10-12 balls

6 slices (1-cm thick) of large eggplant
2 large eggs
1/4 C grated Parmesan
3-4 tbsp (normal) breadcrumbs
2 tbsp chopped basil
gorgonzola cut into 12 small cubes
black pepper
1.5 C panko bread crumbs for coating
1.5 tbsp all purpose flour
oil for deep frying

  • Grill the eggplants for 5 mins in the electric griller, or bake it in oven 175 C for 30 mins till soft.
    Let it cool down a bit before transferring to food processor. Pulse several times but still firm, not mushy.
  • In a medium bowl, add in the eggplant, 1 egg, parmesan cheese, your normal breadcrumbs and basil. Generously season it with pepper and mix well. If the mixture is too wet, add more breadcrumbs.
  • Using ice cream scoop, scoop half a ball and transfer to a plate. When done, stuff each mixture with one cube of gorgonzola, roll the mixture in your palm until it forms a ball and set aside. Repeat till all is done.
  • In a bowl, mix 1 egg with 1.5 tbsp flour. Whisk well till it reach a consistent batter.
  • On a plate, mix in enough panko breadcrumbs, sprinkled with salt and pepper.
  • Dip or coat the stuffed ball with the egg-flour batter and transfer onto a plate with panko breadcrumbs.
  • Fry in a wok or a skillet until brown, turning often. Drain and serve while hot and cheese is melting.

Note: I didn’t add any salt in the eggplant mixture because the gorgonzola alone is sufficient for us. But you can add if it’s not salty enough for you.

Finally, pour some red wine and listen to the beautiful voice of Jane Monheit. Have a jazzy weekend. We’re hanging out on the balcony tonight cause spring is coming!

Triple Play: Mix Berries Part III

I’m very happy this turns out extremely well. But what I am really pleased about is how I can use the cheese triangles (La Vache Qui Rit, or The Laughing Cow) instead of say, Philadelphia Cream Cheese. I have done several desserts with the cheese triangles but not very successful. The Laughing Cow is denser in texture, so it’s not ideal to make cheese-base icing (think of carrot cake frosting) that doesn’t require cooking. It’s not suitable for pastry filling too (think of fruit tarts that use cheese, instead of creme patissiere).

The obsession I have with The Laughing Cow, because it is always available in all supermarkets, costs only half of Philadelphia Cream Cheese and one third of Mascarpone. Why, when it’s french cheese? Because the Laughing Cow for Angolan market is produced in Morocco. I can’t tell the difference in terms of taste (H can), but whatever it is, it’s ignorable. What’s more evident is how the peeling system doesn’t always work with the Moroccan one.

Anyway, back to baking cheese cake in a very affordable fashion: due to its density, it took several turbo pulses to mix the egg, sugar, lemon juice and cheese into a thick consistency paste. More importantly, I think baking time can be reduced to avoid cracks on the cheese surface. That or reduce the temperature. Next time then.

I am just going to steal the entire recipe from the versatile Miss OhMyOhmiyage. She’s done the hardwork conversion for me (tee hee..). I only switched the fruits (and its quantity)

Source Oh My Omiyage and Brown Eyed Baker

For the crust:
9 digestive biscuits (or 12 graham crackers)
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
4 tbsp melted unsalted butter

For the cheesecake:
300 grams cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup lemon juice
2/3 cup frozen mix berries

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Line a 18cm x 18cm baking pan with parchment paper, allowing the ends to hang over the sides.

2. To make the crust, blend together the digestive biscuits, sugar, and cinnamon in a food processor until it has the texture of bread crumbs. Add in the melted butter and pulse a few times until incorporated. Pour this mixture into the lined baking pan. Flatten evenly along the bottom of the pan, and press it lightly to form a crust. Bake it for 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

3. To make the cheesecake: Wipe out your food processor to get rid of any crumbs. Add the cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and lemon juice and blend until smooth and fully incorporated. Pour this mixture onto your cooled crust and shake the pan gently to spread the mixture evenly on the crust. Drop the fruits one by one on top of your cheesecake. They will sink into the mixture a bit, but the tops should stay exposed.

4. Place the baking pan on a larger baking tray and pour 1-2 cups of water on the larger baking tray, careful not to get any water on your cheesecake. Bake for 30 minutes or until the center only slightly jiggles. Cool to room temperature, and then place it in the fridge to cool for 3 hours.

5. Remove the cheesecake from the pan using the wax paper. Cut it into 9 bars, trying to avoid the fruits. Enjoy!

~ I used a 18cm X 24cm tray. Hence my brown bottom is not as thick. In the future I probably increase by 2-3 more digestive biscuits to make it thicker (it is my fave part) and take it from there.
~ Using Laughing Cow cheese triangles, I used 19.5 triangles. Loads of tin foils for garbage. Employ your husband to peel. Make him feel useful.
~ Using Laughing Cow cheese triangles that’s denser in texture, I suggest reducing the baking time to 25 mins and monitor. Reduce the temperature if needed. Bake until the cheeses set, but not broken.
~ Lastly, I added more than 2 cups of water on my larger baking tray. I added water till the smaller baking tray is submerged half way.

Triple Play: Mix Berries Part II

I had this idea from making crumbles for my muffins. The concept is not very different from making apple crumbles, but perhaps simpler and Fancier with a capital F. This can be eaten on its own (esp. when it’s still a bit warm), but make sure increase the ingredients.

One hot day, I decided to scoop in some vanilla ice cream, sprinkled with toasted almonds.

(Adapted from Cuisine Actuelle)
Serve 2 as ice cream toppings

4 tbsp of frozen mixed berries
2 tbsp honey
37 gr butter, room temperature
37 gr brown sugar
55 gr all purpose flour
2 tbsp oats

  • Preheat the oven to 200 C.
  • Over medium-small fire, heat up the honey. Once the honey has fully turned into liquid, put in the frozen berries. Stir until the berries aren’t frozen anymore. Turn so that none of the fruits are burnt (or turn brown, worse black). Cook 2-3 mins more before turning off the fire.
  • In a small bowl, using only your fingers mix the flour, butter and brown sugar. Make sure no big crumbles.
  • In a pyrex bowl, scoop in the berries to form the base, the sprinkle in the crumbles, but don’t press down, we want it to be a bit airy, but not dense. Bake on middle rack for 20 mins or until the top turn golden. Let it cool down a bit before eating.

Another Triple Play: Mix Berries

Certain food is expensive, so to justify buying it, I try to prepare it many different ways. To savour it, in a way. Last time I bought strawberries, I turned them into strawberry tarts, fruit pops and strawberry sabayon. This time, I bought a box of frozen berries and here’s one of the most basic way you can play with it. The hardest part is to get the ice cream off the glass mould (to the point I put it in microwave for few seconds!). But it seems things work just fine with plastic glass.

(inspired by so many things that I can’t pinpoint one)
make 2

1/2 tub vanilla ice cream
5-6 heaping tablespoonful of mixed berries
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp lemon juice
couple of biscuits, preferably the chewy type with strong flavor such as orange or ginger biscuits

  • In a small pot, add in the mixed berries (even if they are still frozen), the lemon juice and the honey. Over small fire, boil them about 2-3 minutes. Mashed the berries a little bit with the back of your spoon. You would want to still be able to see and bite the fruits. Transfer into a bowl.
  • Place 2 scoops of ice cream into the same bowl and leave it in room temperature until the ice cream has thawed a little bit.
  • Mix the ice cream with the berries, making sure the vanilla ice cream is stained with berries evenly.
  • Using a (small) glass (preferably a plastic one), scoop in the plain vanilla ice cream 2/3 through. Then add in the mixed berries vanilla ice cream to the rim.
  • Put them into freezer until serving time.
  • To plate it: with the aid of warm towels (or simply wash your hands with warm water), release/ dislocate the ice cream off its mold.
  • Once the ice cream is releasable, top the glass with biscuit and a serving plate, and turn it upside down. Voila!
  • Garnish with fruits and melted chocolate, if you like.

And if you’re particularly genius, like me (ahem), create a Pisa leaning tower. C’mon, I challenge you.

One Strawberry, Three Ways: Part III

This is pretty straight forward. I have a big boy at home who’s been nagging at me to buy tons of Solero. He doesn’t like sharing his Solero with me since apparently I’m a biter while he’s a licker. After stressing for few days for not being able to find the time to go and buy, suddenly I had a Newton-Apple moment: hey, it’s just flavored ice, isn’t it? I can do that! .. and the rest is history.

(makes 6 petite pops) 

2 kiwis, peeled and diced
handful of strawberries, of equal quantity to kiwis when cubed
fruit juice of your choice – I used tropical fruit mix.
pinch of sugar, optional
6 mini cups
6 mini spoons

  • In a bowl, mix the kiwis and strawberries. Sprinkle with sugar if they aren’t very sweet.
  • Start filling the cups with the fruits, half way through, stick in the spoons in the middle and carefully fill up the cups. Make sure the spoons are still standing straight.
  • Pour in the juice just till it covers the fruits.
  • Freeze for at least 4 hrs before eating.
  • To remove the pops, fill a bowl with warm water and dunk the pops half way through several times and twist. They will come out easily.

Note: use watermelons, pineapples or pureed some mango. I think they would work too.

“And this is my Solero giving your Solero a little french kiss. I love you, mon coeur..”

P/s: I actually have a fourth way of using strawberry. But that’s for another day.. I first need to buy vanilla ice cream.