The other day I was sitting with a friend during her own food photo shoot for a international critically acclaimed newspaper, and she reminisced about the first food she tasted of mine over a decade ago. It was cheesecake which she loved. It got me to thinking I haven’t made one in a while. While I love to bake , I’m not a frantic baker as Certain Someone and I prefer the savory side . But every now and then I knock a dessert out of the park he loves, like my trifles or puddings. It’s no wonder he enjoyed this creation too. If you have some boxes of Girl Scout Samoas, obligatorily procured a few month ago from co-workers, some macadamias in the freezer, and cream cheese and eggs, this recipe is for you. Rather than use cream or sour cream in this cake I decided to add coconut to the theme by using Cream of Coconut, which is thicker and sweeter than coconut milk. Continue reading “Coconut Macadamia Girl Scout Samoas Cheesecake”
According the Oxford Dictionary a Trifle is British noun meaning.
a cold dessert of sponge cake and fruit covered with layers of custard, jelly, and cream.
I love trifles as they are a great way to use odd pieces of this and that and compose into a comforting dessert enjoyed by all. You can make a large one or series of smaller individual ones for your guest in glasses when entertaining. I have served trifles when catering and they are always well received. I’m not going to provide an exact recipe , but show you how I assembled this through pictures and words. Add your own embellishments. I used Luxardo products as my flavor basis and theme. I love the richness, sweetness, aroma and flavor of the luxurious maraschino cherry liqueur. A jar of the cherries is really a worthwhile splurge to amp up your cocktails, deserts, or mocktails. My new thing as the weather gets warmer is to add a cherry and some of the syrup to my lemonade. This trifle uses both the liquer and about half the jar of cherries. You can use more if you wish.
The Components of The Trifle are:
Crème Anglais ( a thin custard) ( Here is a good recipe you will need to double.) Save half of your crème to fold into the Whipped Cream.
I actually used 7 yolks, and 3/4 cup of sugar that I grinded old dried vanilla beans in ( I never throw anything away and this was left from homemade extract). You can infuse a split vanilla bean in the milk/cream as it heats. I wanted a yolkier custard. Be sure not to overcook as it will curdle and scramble quick. If it does, you may save it by running it through a blender. It should coat a spoon but it wont be very thick. Also another pro tip is to strain your custard through a fine mesh sieve when complete, before cooling.
Heavy Cream whipped ( I always use 40 percent heavy whipping cream)
( About 3-4 cups whipped until stiff. Add some of Luxardo Cherries syrup and a few teaspoons of sugar to sweeten. You will be adding sweetened cooled cream anglais to this as well, so be careful with the sugar.
Frozen Cake ( yellow cake, pound cake, chocolate cake , etc.) I always have some plain cake in the freezer left over from a project. You want a denser cake to absorb the liqueur.
Make a Bottom layer of Frozen Cake cut into cubes. Drizzle Luxardo Liquor over the cake to soak. Don’t over drench.
Pour Crème Anglais over the soaked cake
Add some Luxardo Cherries sporadically around the edge.
Cover first layer with Whipped Cream mixed with half of the Cream Anglais. Add some of the Luxardo cherry syrup to the mix and fold gently. Be sure your bowl is cold when whipping.
Repeat all the steps until bowl is filled. Sprinkle top with a dusting of Cocoa Powder.
Chill and allow to set for several hours before serving , so the flavors meld.
Above is a quick water color I did of some Bach sheet music my dear friend and todays subject Dr. Eugenia Cheng posted on her social media after her long awaited piano arrived from the UK. To see her joy reunited with it via Facebook was palpable.
I can imagine to be separated from it must feel like being separated from a loved one or even a limb. It’s a part of Eugenia. The piano was a part of her, that was across the ocean, as she settled into her new role here in Chicago at The Art Institute of Chicago.I met Dr. Eugenia Cheng a long time ago. I lost cost count of the years, it’s been over a decade. Eugenia was and is this brilliant mathematician, who loved to bake, listen to opera and classical music. We met when she became involved on an Opera board I was active in at Lyric Opera Chicago. One would normally feel intimidated by a Cambridge educated classically trained pianist and mathematician. But that’s the beauty of Eugenia, you don’t and that’s why book How to Bake Pi: An Edible Exploration of the Mathematics of Mathematics is an international best seller.
I admire her dedication , passion and focus. You don’t see that passion exuded by anyone, as you will with Eugenia. She has weekly salon called Liederstube where other like minded souls can congregate and create more beauty through song.
Eugenia inspires you and makes terrifying subjects fun and interesting, whether it be baking or math. Did you catch her on Stephen Colbert breaking down Puff Pastry?
1) What food makes you happy?
Almost all food makes me happy! But especially chocolate, very dark chocolate that I make from unroasted ingredients. I eat it first thing in the morning every single day – that’s my only food rule.
2) What food makes you cringe?
Tripe. I’m shuddering even just typing the word. Tripe is a specialty of the region my father is from, and when I went to visit as a child everyone kept giving me tripe to eat as a “special treat”. I discovered that if I held my breath while eating it then I wouldn’t taste anything, but that didn’t stop me from feeling the texture on my tongue…
3) What music do you like to listen to or hum when you cook or bake?
I don’t usually listen to music when I cook as I find it distracting, but if I need to do something for a certain number of minutes sometimes I’ll sing a particular song that I know takes that number of minutes. I went through a phase of singing Strauss’s “Befreit” while whisking egg whites, for example. At Christmas when I’m roasting my goose I will put on Bach’s Christmas Oratorio. I’m liable to gesticulate to the music though, and this can scare my guests when I start gesticulating while wielding a cleaver.
4) Tell me about a culinary goal? A dish you want attempt, a book you want to write?
I still want to perfect the making of macarons! It is driving me slightly nutty that sometimes they come out perfectly and sometimes they don’t, know matter how carefully I control what I’m doing.
5) Where is your favorite place in the world to eat?
Paris. Paris is a magical place for me where I can eat whatever I want and not get fat. I think it’s because everything is so extremely delicious I don’t need to eat so much to be satisfied, and stuffing my face there would seem like a waste of that deliciousness.
Like I said , she’s an inspiration. I only wish I had a strong female influence like this in my life as I tackled the subject of math. Check out her You Tube Channel.
Thank you Eugenia,
Here is a quick and easy idea for a twist on the usual standard dinner fare. I’m not a big fan of skinless boneless chicken breasts, but utilize them occasionally in cooking. I always have some puff pastry in the freezer left over from catering. This particular evening I had some frozen béchamel sauce I had leftover from making lasagna. As a chef I save as much I can in the freezer to repurpose later in another dish. “Waste not , want not” especially with food costs soaring. Some frozen broccoli, béchamel, chicken breasts, Dijon mustard, and Gouda make for an easy elegant stunning meal. I called these galettes which we normally associate with a free from sweet pastry. Why not savory? The chicken breast stays tender as it cooks up in the creamy sauce and puff pastry. Be sure to use a thermometer to check chickens doneness without compromising the presentation before serving. Poultry should reach an internal temperature of 165-175 F . Here is quick link for Béchamel , a mother sauce that should be in your repertoire.
- Chicken breasts
- Thawed frozen Puff pastry sheets to equal amount of chicken pieces
- 2 cups Béchamel sauce ( see link in post)
- 1 cup grated Gouda
- 2 tbsp. Dijon Mustard
- 1 cup frozen broccoli
- ¼ cup chicken broth
- 1 egg beaten for pastry wash
- salt and pepper to taste
- Prepare you béchamel. Add grated gouda and broccoli. Let sit for 20 min until a little thickened and cooler before assembly.
- Preheat oven to 375 F
- Line a sheet pan with a silpat or parchment paper .
- Place a chicken breast atop a piece of puff pastry on the sheet pan.
- Add a few tablespoons of thickened cooled sauce and quickly wrap to seal. Brush with egg yolk.
- Reheat Béchamel with chicken stock.
- One galetttes are browned and chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165-175 F , remove from oven.
- Serve hot with more sauce ladled over the pastry.
In other news this has been an amazing week as I go through some career transformations and validations. An illustration I did a while ago and forgot about for my former employers contest, was picked up and reposted on the Cosmetic Brands IG page! For me this is a huge validation of my creative talents and skills .
Easter is upon us. The most important religious holiday for Christians as it symbolizes Resurrection. If you don’t practice Christianity, spring time is about renewal and hope. That is why this holiday is the most energizing and inspiring time for me. New colors, new foods, new looks. It’s about a fresh start and forgiveness. When I think about where I am merging art, lifestyle and foods I thought about what images I love to see for Easter. I love the richness and nobility of a Faberge Egg . I love dainty teas or coffee breaks with exquisite pastry. So using what I had on hand, marzipan, frozen cake, and edible colors from a cake decoration kit, I wanted to create exquisite edible gifts to celebrate this cleansing season. Continue reading “Marzipan Petit Fours For Easter, A Time of Resurrection”