Monday, May 17, 2010

Hors D'esserts

This past week was something else.  

First came the started out great with a trip to Ottawa to visit family followed by a leisurely trip to Montreal. The weather was pretty nasty with lots of heavy rain and winds, but we made the best of it knowing we had some great foodie hot spots to check out. On the top of our list was a small market that featured various fruits, smoked fish (the salmon was amazing!), cheeses, local asparagus and gorgeous leeks, which I had to buy. Next we strolled over to a small quirky restaurant known for their Poutine Bourguignonne. It had all the usual suspects of poutine, including freshly cut fries and squeaky cheese curds, but with the flare of a classic French dish called  boeuf bourguignonne. The sauce had a rich base of red wine and the whole lot was topped with beef, mushrooms, fried onions, garlic and herbs. It was good...I was extremely hungry, so anything probably would've tasted good at that point. But, really, I think it was quite tasty.

Ok, next was Schwartz's Hebrew Delicatessen. The famous smoked meat (brisket) warehouse. We ordered a smoked meat sandwich which almost doesn't classify as a sandwich considering the very high meat-to-bread ratio...but I think that's the point they're trying to make. It was delicious, buttery and ridiculously tender....the best smoked brisket I've ever had by far.

Everything seemed to be great until we arrived back at the car to realize it had been vandalized. What was the reason of the vandalism? To steal my lunch cooler in the front seat! Yup, I said lunch cooler. I guess it is, or was (*tear*), quite a fashionable lunch bag as it does sort of resemble a purse, but come on! So, it seems like food is always getting me into trouble somehow. I guess that's what happens when you're obsessed with food & drink that you can't let it leave your side, even when driving in a car.... oh well. Just imagine the surprise on the thief's face when he opened the "purse" only to find a few granola bars and bottle of water. I hope he/she was hungry because I'd hate to see the food go to waste.

When we finally arrived back home, I knew that I had a big week ahead of me because I had been asked to cater desserts for a retirement party. The crowd involved a large group of University professors and other important people who enjoy mingling whilst eating fancy treats. Luckily, I love making appetizer- or canape-style tiny desserts that pack a rich punch of flavour and can be eaten in a single bite (perfect for mingling). All this dainty baking really cheered me up after a traumatizing weekend of getting my lunch bag stollen. Geez, you'd think I visited an elementary schoolyard or something huh?

On the Menu:

Chocolate Caramel Tartlets
Rich chocolate shortcrust filled with homemade salted caramel and dark chocolate ganache; finished with milk chocolate or white chocolate drizzle

 Miniature Spiced Apple Turnovers
Flaky puff pastry filled with moist, sauteed spiced apples and topped with lemon glaze

Miniature Orange Spice Cupcakes
Moist orange-infused, spiced butter cake topped with silky smooth Bourbon vanilla meringue buttercream and homemade candied orange peel

A good quick tip for drizzling small quantities of chocolate over desserts is to use a plastic sandwich bag and snip the tip off one of the corners with scissors. Apply gentle pressure as if you were using a pastry bag. Just remember to let the melted chocolate cool slightly, otherwise it will melt the plastic. The best chocolate to use for this purpose is couverture chocolate due it's higher cocoa butter content, which gives it more fluidity.

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