Dessert: Chocolate Mousse

Father’s Day was almost a week ago and its taken me this long to get this going. Mostly because I misplaced the recipe. These things happen and I’m able to share it now. Full disclosure that a few years back, I did attempt to make Chocolate Mousse and it was a failure to say the least. Something along the lines of a chocolate liquid. Although, apparently, it still was a delicious chocolate-y drink. With more kitchen tools and more experience, we decided to give this a second shot and with a new recipe.

This time, I’m working with Food Network Magazine’s Chocolate Lover’s Handbook, called Chocolate-Chestnut Mousse but modified it to not use chestnut puree. We did end up using a replacement for it to give it a thicker consistency. We used a roasted nut chocolate spread and it worked really well. Here’s how it look. (Sorry for bad presentation)

Chocolate Mousse

Serves: 4 (halved from the original 8)

Ingredients

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup chocolate spread
1/8 tsp pure almond extract
pinch of salt
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
1 cup heavy cream

  1. Put the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring, until melted, about 2 minutes. Blend the chocolate spread, almond extract, salt and 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and fold in half of the melted chocolate.
  2. Beat the heavy cream and the remaining 1 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar with a mixer until soft peaks form. Reserve 1/2 cup for topping. Fold one-quarter of the remaining whipped cream into the chocolate spread mixture, then fold in the rest. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. Divide the mousse among dessert glasses. Top with the reserved whipped cream. Remelt the remaining chocolate in the microwave, if necessary, then drizzle on top.

Surprisingly, chocolate mousse is pretty easy to make, although very hard to get the right consistency. This recipe worked really well. I’d venture to say that if you don’t have fancy chocolate spread that Nutella might work also or peanut butter even. It probably would still have similar results. I did this one the night before I had to go over to my in-laws and bring this over and that also helps. However, ours didn’t have the drizzle because I did make a mistake and put too much confectioners’ sugar so had probably instead of the 1 tablespoon for the whipped cream mix, I had two because I read it wrong.

Of course, if you do want to do the actual recipe, it serves 8. Double all the ingredients from the list above and replace the chocolate spread with chestnut puree.

Despite the mistake in the ingredients, I think not putting the drizzle worked to balance the taste. My in-laws liked it a lot and said the sweetness was just enough. My husband also liked it a lot. Unfortunately, because of the heavy cream and the semi-sweet chocolate, it had milk so I couldn’t try it out for myself.

Have you made Chocolate Mousse? What recipe do you use?

Dessert: Classic Brownies

Mother’s Day was this past weekend. My husband made a request to bake some brownies for my mother-in-law.

Last year’s Food Network magazine came incredibly handy as it was all about chocolatey desserts. This is the recipe that I used. Do note that this is the full recipe that they had and I halved most of the ingredients as I used a square pan which was maybe 8 by 8 inch or so.

CLASSIC BROWNIES
(from Food Network magazine Chocolate Lover’s Cookbook)

Brownies

Makes: 36

Ingredients
Cooking spray
2 sticks unsalted butter
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 9 by 13 inch baking dish with foil, leaving a 2 inch overhang on two sides; coat the foil with cooking spray. Melt the butter and chocolate in a large saucepan over low heat; let cool slightly. Stir in sugar and eggs. Whisk in the flour, cocoa powder and salt.
  2. Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool on a rack, then cut into bars.

The only substitute used here was the semisweet chocolate was instead semisweet chocolate chips. Also, I forgot to set low heat when melting the butter and chocolate so not sure if that changed the consistency. It might have since I felt like the recipe didn’t make as thick as I’d like but it did rise a little in the oven.

However, we did leave before my in-laws had a chance to try this out. My husband told me they said it was delicious and liked it. My only concern was not that it wouldn’t taste good but that while adjusting the recipe to a lesser portion, it would change the consistency. It did look like it had a decent consistency if not thinner than usual brownies.

 Do you like making brownies?
My next project is to make vegan brownies. Hopefully I’ll work on that soon! 🙂

Battle of Ingredients #2: Maple Syrup

Welcome to Round 2 of Battle of Ingredients!
If you missed the first round, you can find it here. I will be putting something on the side or above so that it’ll be easier to track soon.

This month’s Battle of Ingredients is all about maple syrup! Why? Because here in our lovely province of Quebec, we have the cabane a sucre (aka sugar shack) tradition. Maple syrup is a big deal around this parts (and apparently also in Riverdale according to the new TV series). It was a no brainer for myself and Phoebe that it would be our choice ingredient as well as trying out a new formula of doing a collaborated full course meal. All our dishes had maple syrup so lets just say, we were in for a sugar rush.

Let’s check out our menu, along with the wines we used to pair with it (although one of them we didn’t end up drinking…yet).

Wine

Wine

We drank the Kung Fu Girl which is one of my favorite wines. Apparently, it has somewhat of a sour taste which I never really thought about but always found it smooth. Regardless, hopefully we’ll keep the Fetzer in our fridge till the next Battle.

Appetizer – Kim

Bourbon Maple Glazed Chicken Wings

Bourbon Maple Glazed Chicken Wings

Recipe via Pinterest: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/bourbon_maple_glazed_chicken_wings/

A very simple recipe to put together in general although you do need to simmer the sauce before putting it on the chicken wings and then have to simmer again to thicken it. I somehow managed to get it thicker the first time so that it wasn’t necessary to simmer again. I did have extra sauce however it was covered enough so I put it to the side in case anyone wanted anymore. This one was delicious and definitely a hit. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that I used our good bourbon without knowing it. Whatever the reason, these turned out much better than I expected and honestly, I kind of want to make another batch already.

From our friends: Not dry at all with the sauce, and it matched well. No extra sauce needed for me!

Main Meal + Side – Phoebe

Prosciutto Maple Salmon

Prosciutto Maple Salmon

Recipe via Pinterest: http://gardeninthekitchen.com/prosciutto-maple-salmon/

Phoebe chose this recipe off Pinterest. We don’t usually get the chance to use prosciutto frequently and never had thought to use to wrap around fish and yet, it came together really nicely. She hadn’t worked with dill before and I haven’t been a fan either, however we do have dill lovers at the table. This came together really nicely. Phoebe was a little nervous about the whole grilling part before baking it and we timed it all very nice to serve this and the sides, which we will talk about below.

From our friends: I personally find the dill to match well with the fish. Again, not dry the way it was made, the only slight annoyance was that the prociutto is hard to cut through, so putting any sort of pressure would crush the salmon under… But with patience of sliding your knife back and forth, it’s perfect.

Maple Syrup Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Maple Syrup Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Recipe via Pinterest: http://www.thewholesomedish.com/maple-syrup-roasted-brussels-sprouts/

Huge fan of brussel sprouts here, I found this recipe for Phoebe and she was totally into it, which is great. I’ve always wondered how maple syrup in Brussel Sprouts would work and actually it was the one the absorbed the maple syrup enough to actually taste it the most. It was much more subtle in the salmon for example. However, in the balance of the meal, it worked well.

Dessert

Chewy Maple Cookies

Chewy Maple Cookies

Recipe via Pinterest: http://www.cleverlysimple.com/chewy-maple-cookies/

I decided on making these cookies very last minute. Like an hour before our cooking meet-up. Fact is, I was going to make Maple Ice but that needed Maple Water and Ice Cream Maker, both things that I don’t have or haven’t figured out how to use yet. Then there was the idea of making little maple syrup tarts but that was really complex with heating the pizza stone plate in the oven beforehand and the worry that it would just fail because I was changing this complicated tart recipe from a pie pan to little tarts. Anyways, point is cookies are the safe bet and thankfully, it worked well to not hog up the oven and we were able to get everything we needed done and ready on track.

From our friends: Cookies were good! Wasn’t dry, but wasn’t butter fest either! Maybe it would be even better with some nut in it like cashew, but then again, might alter the taste… But it was great.

Maple Flavored Popcorn (Bad Monkey)

Bad Monkey Maple Flavored Popcorn

In addition, Phoebe brought this Bad Monkey brand Maple Syrup flavored popcorn to match with the theme. I don’t eat a lot of popcorn for health issues but I did try a few and it was pretty delicious. Phoebe did find it a little on the sweet side however our friends did like this one as well. they actually put the popcorn and the cookie together and apparently, it went well together particularly because of the contrast in textures.

That’s it for this Battle!
Maple Syrup was a fun adventure and on all fronts this was a win.
We learned some new recipes and had a great time with friends.
Next month’s Battle is still deciding what will be the star(s) of the show! 

Perhaps this will be the structure from now on as it is easier to get together an acceptable meal but we will shift the courses around to who is responsible next time.
We will see…like I said in the first round, a work in progress. If you have any suggestions, do share with us. 🙂

Dessert: Jell-O Candy

An oldie but a goodie is here today!

My mom’s hit dessert when she used to throw me birthday parties when I was a little girl are these yummy Jell-O treats. Its probably why to this day, I love Jell-O so much! Not even sure why. Much opposite from my husband who doesn’t like the texture. These little rainbow Jell-O candies take a few hours and a little patience but not a whole lot of ingredients. They look colorful and usually are a cheerful addition to a party.

Jell-O Candy

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Ingredients
(for 5 layer Jell-O Candy)

5 boxes of Jell-O Candy (go for 3 darks to contrast with 2 lights)
5 pouches Unflavored gelatin
Boiled Water

Other items:
Liquid Measuring Cup
9×13 inch Glass Dish

How to make it

  1. Pour one pouch of Jell-O and one pouch of Unflavored gelatin into your liquid measuring cup. Dissolve with boiled water, aim for the 300 – 350 mL mark in order to have enough liquid to cover the bottom of the glass dish.
  2. Let it cool, then pour it into the glass dish. Make sure it covers the entire bottom.
  3. Place it into the fridge for 30 minutes or until it is solid.
  4. Boil more water (if needed) while you wait and prepare for the next layer.
  5. Follow instructions 1-4 for the next layers.
  6. Let sit in fridge overnight (optimally), if not, for a few hours. The longer it has to cool in the fridge, the better the texture.

Colorful and simple, although a little bit more time consuming and requires some patience, but the payoff is well worth it. Maybe a bit of it is nostalgia talking and because I really love eating this. I make this as a treat when there’s some special occasion. In this case, it was for my friend’s birthday and she likes this Jell-O candy thing.

MTL a Table: Restaurant de L’Institut-ITHQ

The weekend is here again! MTL a Table entered into the final few days of the event.

Next up on the list is a restaurant that comes recommended from my friends who was organizing this whole thing together. Restaurant de L’Institut – ITHQ is pretty much a student-based restaurant. Its a training ground for culinary students under the watchful eyes of their professors to create fine dining for their guests. It is located in the Hotel de L’Institut.

Let us look at the menu for MTL a Table ($31).

Restaurant de L’Institut

*A note for those looking for this restaurant on Google Maps, search Hotel de L’Institut instead. We searched for Restaurant de L’Institut and it was completely different location. Our fault that we didn’t look carefully but just a friendly note in case you decide to go.*

Restaurant de L'Institut

Starter tasting

This starter tasting thing was a salmon, spicy mayonnaise and olive oil thing (if I remember correctly) and I thought it was delicious!

First service: Appetizer

Restaurant de L'Institut

Crispy Arctic Char, apple gel, radishes, green apples, marinated onions

Restaurant de L'Institut

Variations on beet, roasted pine nuts, goat cheese, honey-maple vinaigrette

Restaurant de L'Institut

Parsnip velouté, caramelized onions, sherry vinegar, hazelnuts and smoked bacon

A recap of the appetizers: My husband took the Arctic char along with my friend. Funny enough, they had opposing views. While my husband didn’t like it, he didn’t exactly hate it either. It was more the texture of the fish he wasn’t too sure about. I took the Variations on beet as that was the only choice that worked with my lactose intolerance and yet they had to remove the cheese. While it didn’t feel like anything super special, the different types of beets made it rather unique and it was refreshing to eat to say the least. Only one person on our table took the parsnip velouté and he said that it was interesting and tasty.

Second service: Main course

Restaurant de L'Institut

Braised veal shank, butternut squash, roasted cipollini onions, Romanesco broccoli, Canotier de l’Isle shavings

Restaurant de L'Institut

Guinea fowl, fingerling potatoes, oyster mushroom, Jerusalem artichoke, Brussels sprouts

Restaurant de L'Institut

Catch of the Day (Halibut), barley pilaf, dulse, tomato confit, fennel, sweet and sour sauce, mullet roe

Recap of the main course: two of my friends took the veal shank and their significant others had a tasting of it. It seems that for one couple, it was bland and really nothing to call home about in terms of taste. However, it was braised very well. I took the guinea fowl along with someone else also. We talked about it and agreed that it was very good. Although, there was a comment about it tasting like turkey, which I can’t really disagree with. However, one point to note is that the sauce was really good, potatoes and Brussels sprouts were very good. It was the first time I tasted oyster mushrooms and that was super tasty as well. Only thing I’m not so sure about is the artichoke. Last, we have the catch of the day which was halibut. My husband took this choice and it seems fish shouldn’t be what he orders anymore because he felt like it wasn’t cooked enough. However, I did have a taste of it and it was done well although the onion or perhaps fennel taste was a tad strong.

Third service: Dessert

Restaurant de L'Institut

Cherry soup with kirsch and candied oranges, dark chocolate cremeux, gingerbread tuile

Restaurant de L'Institut

Apricot and buckwheat honey tart, lemon thyme ghost cheese cremeux, raspberry cube

And we got to the dessert. Cherry soup had the white pieces on top that seemed like it was meringue. I’m not exactly sure about the verdict of the cherry soup but the cherries tasted a little like maraschino cherries as one comment I remember but I can’t tell if that is a good or bad thing. However, the apricot and buckwheat honey tart was quite good. I got the version without the goat cheese on top and was compensated with more raspberry cubes. That part is awesome because the raspberry cubes were absolutely heavenly. The dash of sour fruity taste is just perfect. Its rare to find apricot desserts and this definitely had a nice taste to it. I can’t say it was the best tart (or more streudal) I’ve had but it was memorable because the thyme taste was also quite apparent adding an extra level of taste.

Overall…Restaurant de L’Institut is pretty decent. The service was very good especially seeing as we had myself with the allergies and while they kept forgetting to remove the goat cheese, they were always gracious enough to take care of it immediately. They offers a good wine service and nice explanation. We did have a glass of white wine that they recommended but I forgot to take a picture of it and the waitress described it very well also. The meal itself looked pretty and represented the fine dining aspect quite well. The food was pretty tasty.

Dessert: Apple Crumble Tart

A gloomy (and busy) Sunday brings on a nice simple post with a delicious recipe!

Its a little delayed as always but I did make this Apple Crumble Tart about two weeks or so ago, again from the Made in Quebec book that I had bought which looks at the Quebec harvests per season and shows some cool recipes (in case I never talked about it before). We bought a ton of apples from the Atwater Market and it was the last thing from that shopping trip that I hadn’t used yet so I looked at making something simple and to use up the pie shell sitting in my freezer.

It goes to say that the only change in this recipe is that I didn’t make the pie crust myself but used a frozen one. Other than that, this  one didn’t have any changes to it.

Here’s how it turned out!

Apple Crumble Tart

Apple Crumble Tart
(from Made in Quebec: A Culinary Journey by Julian Armstrong)

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

Pastry for single- crust, 9-inch pie
2 tbsp butter
5 cooking apples, peeled, cored, and cut in 1 inch pieces
1 tbsp granulated sugar
pinch ground cinnamon
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 2/3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup butter, cut in small pieces and softened

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. In a large, heavy frying pan, melt butter over medium heat and cook apples, turning to saute on all sides just until golden and caramelized. Combine granulated sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over apples. Transfer to pie shell.
  3. In a bowl, mix together brown sugar and oats, then add butter and mix into oat mixture with your fingers.  Spead oat topping over apples in pie shell.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes or until topping is crisp and lightly browned. Cool on a rack to room temperature before serving.

One of the hardest parts of making apple crumble tart (and it isn’t really a hard recipe) is to find the perfect texture for the apples and find that good balance between the tartness of the apples and the sweetness along with making a good topping with a nice bite to it. I’ve done a few of this recipes and sometimes, I don’t post everything. While I didn’t use the pie crust from this recipe that they specified, the apples were done really well. Usually I wouldn’t cook them first so I find recipes that take the easy way  out however, I did realize that cooking them first and getting them caramelized was a good move. It helped flavors it more. It is definitely a step a plan to take again.

This didn’t particularly take a long time to make and honestly, I’d even use this as an apple crisp recipe if I didn’t have the crust. It would still work out, I believe. Maybe I’ll try that out again. Its been ages since I’ve made apple crisp anyways.

Baking: Cherry-Cranberry Crumb Bars

Spring cooking date with my friend! Remember my road trip buddy that I hang out with for movies and baking dates? Well, we only had one baking date before Christmas last year where we made this and this. We’re back this time for the long Victoria’s Day weekend and with cherries and eggs, I went over to her place and we did some research and ended up making some Cherry-Cranberry Crumb Bars.

Cherry-Cranberry Crumb Bars
Adapted from: Blueberry Crumb Bars from Smitten Kitchen

Cherry Cranberry Crumb Bars

Ingredients

1 cup white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cold unsalted flour
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt
*zest and juice of one lime
4 cups *fresh cherries & cranberries
1/2 cup white sugar
4 tsp cornstarch

  1. Preheat over to 375F. Grease a 9×13 inch pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup white sugar, 3 cups flour and baking powder. Mix in salt and lime zest. Use a fork to blend in the butter and egg. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half the dough into the prepared pan.
  3. In another bowl, stir together the 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the cherries and cranberries. Sprinkle the fruit mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble the remaining dough over the fruit layer.
  4. Bake in preheated over for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Cherry-Cranberry Crumb Bar

There were no substitutions for anything here. Although this one is already modified to how we made it.  There was only two ingredients from the original recipe that we’ve changed.  The first is that we made cherry and cranberry instead of blueberry and the other is that we used lime zest and juice instead of lemon.

The last time I made crumb bars was in 2012! Almost four years ago! That’s crazy! Last time was good but the pan was too small so the levels didn’t work out well in that sense.  However, these crumb bars were rather tart, probably because of the cranberries.  I personally love it like this more.  The pan we used was perfect and had a great texture in layers.  The fruity bits balanced well with the crumb on the top and when it cooled, it became firm enough to actually feel like a bar and didn’t fall apart.

This recipe is rather easy to do.  Of course, it would be less time consuming if you used blueberries.  We had a bit more prep time just because we had to pit the cherries.  Now, I am thinking of redoing the Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumb Bars I did four years ago but using the right sized pan and making it the perfect fit for this time of year, especially when my rhubarb plant is fabulously ready for harvesting! 🙂

What flavor do you like crumb bars or just granola bars or whatnot?