Patty’s vegan muffins 2.0

This is the same recipe as the first vegan muffins with two minor additions. They turned out great for a healthy and delicious breakfast.

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I used the organic lemon extract I purchased at The Spice Trader, and added ground cinnamon. These were so good fresh out of the oven, Boyfriend Unit just woke up as they finished and we ate them for breakfast. The smelled so amazing.

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Dessert at Tony’s Bistro & Pâtisserie

Finally! I have been to Tony’s Bistro & Pâtisserie, and it’s totally worth a flight to Moncton. My sister has been raving about it for months. After sampling the goods I completely understand. Let this sink in for a minute.

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Tony’s is located at 137 McLaughlin Drive, Moncton, NB, E1A 4P4. It opened in 2013 and the owner/chef is Tony Holden, who has cooked for Queen Elizabeth II and Emperor Akihito. He has almost 30 years of experience and trained under French pastry chefs. Tony’s is a licensed bistro, with a varied menu, and a pastry display cabinet that will halt you in your tracks.

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We had just eaten dinner with my family, so we ordered dessert; carrot cake, raspberry cheesecake, crème brûlée, chocolate mousse, lemon tart, and coffee. Yes I know. Totally sinful. It all looked so good and I couldn’t decide on just one thing.

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What was it like? Firstly, the presentation was gorgeous. Someone takes pride in their work.

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And everything was delicious. The mousse (paradise in a cup) was so creamy!  The meringue is covering the lemon tart, which was exquisite. And the crème brûlée was impressive!

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How do they get the sugar to glass like that? When I make it, my sugar topping does not look like that! It was like stained glass and you could hear the snap when you broke it with the spoon. I was intrigued to see a tray of the custards in the display fridge, as every recipe I’ve read for this dessert says don’t caramelize the sugar ahead of time or it will sink into the custard. Clearly there is a way to make this work! I must learn this.

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The carrot cake and the cheesecake were both excellent as well. Oh, yum, so glad we went!

Review:

From the street, you really cannot tell what’s inside. I grew up 30 minutes from Moncton and Tony’s is not located in a neighbourhood that screams “delicious high-end food here”. The decor inside was pretty and spacious and bright. It’s a nice shock to find a place like Tony’s in that part of Moncton.

We visited around 6:30pm on a Wednesday. The server was pleasant and efficient.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the variety and quantity of desserts in the pastry cabinet. Some restaurants are pretty bare at that time of day, so it was really nice to see such a gorgeous display, and to get to try whatever I wanted.

The food was sublime, and reasonably priced.

I’ve decided on two new personal goals for myself. The first is that I shall visit Tony’s more often when I am in the area, just once was not enough! The second is that I shall become a person of international acclaim so perhaps Tony will cook for me. God, can you imagine?

Patty’s lemon yo-fu

If you are tired of your spousal unit eating all your desserts, make something they won’t touch. Fruit! Citrus! Yogurt! TOFU!

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It’s kind of weird but good. This was inspired by my Healthy Desserts cookbook. I added banana and yogurt because it was tasting rather blah without it.

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Time required: 30 min

Yields: 4

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $26

Cost per portion: $6.50 (almost as ridiculous as going to Booster Juice actually)

Kitchen implements I used:

  • bad ass blender
  • zester
  • juicer

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of extra-firm silken tofu, drained
  • 1 lemon, use zest and juice
  • 1 banana
  • box of raspberries
  • ¼ C honey
  • 4 heaping spoonfuls of vanilla yogurt

Instructions:

1. Blend the shit out of the tofu. Which is harder than it sounds.

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2. Zest and juice the lemon.

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3. Throw everything in the blender except the raspberries and puree or whatever until it’s smooth.

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4. Chill for a bit, add berries, voila!

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Verdict: I liked this but I’d like it better if it came out yogurt smooth, it was a bit gritty going down. It tasted good. I doubt Boyfriend will eat it. His eyebrows almost shot off his face when he saw me pickup tofu at the grocery store (which by the way was in the deli aisle).

Playlist: construction

Graham cracker lemon squares

I recently purchased more lemons so I’d have an excuse to make another lemon… something, anything. The lemon tart I made the other week vanished mysteriously from the fridge, and we were a house sans lemon. And that’s no state to be. I wondered if lemons and graham crackers would be good together, so I got working on a little idea.

Time required: 1 hour

Yields: maybe 30

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $19

Cost per slice: $1.57

Kitchen implements I used:

  • Nemo the KitchenAid
  • sauce pan
  • juicer
  • zester
  • mesh plate
  • shallow baking pan

Crust:

  • ⅓ C butter, unsalted
  • 1½ C graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 TBSP granulated white sugar

Filling:

  • 1 C lemon juice (2-3 large lemons)
  • grated zest of one lemon, wash and dry it first
  • 1 C granulated white sugar
  • 6 TBSP unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 176°C / 350°F. Line baking pan with foil.

2. Melt butter in the microwave. Stir in sugar and graham crumbs.

3. Pat into prepared pan and bake 10 min. Cool on wire rack.

4. Get started on the lemon curd. Combine the juice, zest, sugar, and butter in a sauce pan and heat on Low until the butter is melted. Remove from heat.

5. Beat the eggs and yolks, and temper in the hot butter mix.

6. Return to stove and heat on Low until curd thickens (stir often), and when it starts to bubble, remove from heat.

7. Strain and pour directly onto crust. Ah, beautiful!

8. Bake 5 min. Cool on rack, then cover and chill for at least an hour before slicing.

Swear like a sailor when the saran wrap ruins the surface.

Verdict: Very tart. Very good. Wishing I had let the lemon settle before baking, as it’s rather high on one end, and bare on the other, but aside from the cosmetic issues this is pretty good. One day I will find the bottom of my fluted tart pan, which is still M.I.A., and then maybe I’ll make, oh I don’t know, an actual tart.

Playlist: Depeche Mode

Tarte au citron

After the glorious lemon dessert I enjoyed last week, I spent Saturday walking around the city with Boyfriend Unit, and came away with two important purchases: new shoes, and lemons. I had the place to myself today, and envisioned a leisurely Sunday afternoon re-creating that lovely lemon tart.

I’ve no idea how to make a tarte au citron, so my Google-fu led me to David Lebovitz’s blog and I liked his posts on making tart shells and lemon curd which is the recipe I’m using below. I had all my ingredients on the counter when I realized that half of my fluted tart pan was missing. Annoyance!

How can I make a tart without a proper tart pan? I was actually quite excited to use my tart pan, it hasn’t seen any action since it’s debut in 2010 and I was looking forward to using it again. I found the fluted part, but the bottom was missing. I emptied every cupboard, and washed a metric tonne of dishes, alas my efforts did not yield my truant tart pan, so I settled for a pie tin.

Good to know before you start: You need to lower the oven temperature after baking the empty tart shell, once it’s filled the baking temperature is lower.

Time required: 1 hour

Yields: 8 slices

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $24

Kitchen implements I used:

  • sauce pan
  • juicer
  • zester
  • mesh strainer
  • pie plate in lieu of a tart pan  :[

Crust ingredients:

  •  6 TBSP unsalted butter, cut in pieces
  • 1 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 3 TBSP water
  • 1 TBSP granulated white sugar
  • ⅛ TSP salt
  • 1 C flour, rounded

Filling ingredients:

  • 1 C lemon juice (2-3 large lemons)
  • grated zest of one lemon, wash and dry it first
  • 1 C granulated white sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 210°C / 410° F. Weigh out flour and set aside.

2. In an oven-safe bowl combine: butter, veg oil, water, sugar, and salt.

3. Bake 15 min and remove from oven.

4. Immediate add flour and stir quickly until it forms a ball.

5. Transfer to tart pan and use spoon or hand to press down.

6. Once you fuss with the edges to your satisfaction, pierce with fork many times.

7. Bake shell 15 min, then cool on wire rack.

TIME TO LOWER OVEN TEMPERATURE.

8. Pre-heat oven to 180°C / 350°F.

9. In a sauce pan combine: lemon juice, zest, sugar, and butter. Heat on low.

When I slice or juice lemons, I do it with my eyes shut. That’s probably really dumb, but that’s how I do it. I’d like to convince you that I do this because I have ninja-like reflexes in the kitchen, but really I am just scared of getting lemon juice in the face.

10. In a bowl whisk eggs and egg yolks.

11. Once the butter has melted on the stove, temper some of the hot liquid into the eggs, then pour the warmed egg mixture back into the sauce pan.

12. Cook on low until mixture thickens and small bubbles start to form. Stir non-stop.

13. Pour lemon mixture through strainer directly onto tart.

Shake tin to level it out, bake 5 min.

14. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack, and chill before serving.

Slice it up…

Verdict:

“Mmmm, tangy.”

So good. I’m having another piece, just so you know.”

After the euphoric glow wore off, I compared these to the one I ate at Le Papillon, and it held up very favourably. Theirs was a pale yellow, with a difference type of crust, and although mine was a bit different it was equally delicious. Success!

Playlist: Carina Round – For Everything a Reason

Lemon tarts at Le Papillon!

Ah, lemons. Today I hit up the St. Lawrence Market with Hobby Victim. I was looking for some pure vanilla extract by the Saffron Imports Co. (my supply is dangerously low but alas, none was to be found).

After checking out the lower level of the market, we took a stroll to find a nice restaurant for lunch. We stopped at Le Papillon.

I’ve walked by Le Papillon many times but never ventured inside. We both ordered the Crêpe du Marché, which is a galette containing St-Laurent bacon, cooked apples, and cheddar cheese. The apples had a flavour I cannot identify, but it was quite tasty.

Choosing dessert was so hard. I just could not make up my mind, but after several agonizing minutes we narrowed it down.

Hobby Victim ordered the Gâteau au Chocolat, and I ordered the Tarte au Citron (French lemon pie).

How was it? From the first bite, as I felt that elusive afterglow feeling creeping over me, my taste buds sang. I could not stop smiling. It was truly delicious. So tart, so good.

Whoever does the desserts at Le Papillon is an artist of the highest calibre.

I know what I’m going to learn to make on the weekend.

Charred apple crumb squares

Few desserts really include a synonym for “burnt” in their name, and sadly, this isn’t one of them.  Foiled by my own hubris, burnt apple crumble. :[

This recipe is the last one that I plan to post from Good Housekeeping Brownies: favourite recipes for Blondies, Bars & Brownies, which as always is available on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.

Good to know before you start: I did this recipe backwards.  You are supposed to cook the apple filling before baking the crust on its own.

It doesn’t matter if the apples brown.

I have read that 4 pounds of apples equals about 8-9 medium sized apples. I used 8 and that was not enough by far.  You’ll see why soon enough.

Time required: 3 hours

Yields: 24 pieces

Cost per square: $1.63

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $39.00

Special kitchen implements I used:

  • baking pan: 14½” x 10½”
  • tin foil
  • plastic wrap
  • apple peeler & corer
  • pastry blender

Crumb topping:

  • 1 C flour
  • ½ C butter (1 stick), softened
  • ½ C dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 TSP ground cinnamon
  • 1 TBSP vanilla extract

Crust:

  • 3 C flour
  • ⅓ C granulated white sugar
  • ¼ TSP salt
  • ¾ C cold butter (one and a half sticks)

Apple filling:

  • 4 lbs of tart apples
  • 4 TBSP butter
  • ¾ C dark seedless raisins
  • ½ C dark brown sugar, packed
  • ¾ TSP ground cinnamon
  • 1 TBSP powdered cornstarch
  • 2 lemons (need 3 TBSP fresh lemon juice)

Instructions:

Step 1 – Prepare topping: in a medium bowl combine all the ingredients with your hands.

I added the vanilla after the first 4 were combined.  Just pick it up and squish it through your hands, working all the ingredients into each other.

Ugh I hate touching stuff with my hands. That is why I fail at gardening.

Squash it into a ball-type shape, cover in plastic wrap, and chill.

Step 2 – Preheat oven to 191°C / 375°F.  Line baking pan with tin foil.  Grease foil.

Step 3 – In a large bowl, mix flour, salt, and white sugar.  Use pastry blender to cut in butter.

Keep doing this tedious task until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

Step 4 – Press mixture into prepared pan by hand and bake 20 min.  It’s normal for crust to crack.  Meanwhile!

Step 5 – Prepare apple filling; peel and core the apples, and cut each slice into thirds.  In a large skillet on Medium heat, cook: apples, raisins, brown sugar, and cinnamon.

Stir often, this should take 25 min.  It’s done when the apples are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated.

Step 6 – Mix the cornstarch and lemon juice, and stir that into the apple mix to thicken it up.

Step 7 – “Use spoon to spread the filling over hot crust”. Oh dear. How did the apples burn in the one minute it took to add the lemon juice? Oh my God. This is dreadful.

Step 8 – Why don’t I have enough apples!? I tried spreading it evenly, but it became obvious there wasn’t enough filling. I smoothed it back over to the side, figuring the naked part on the end will be a casualty of this experiment.

Step 9 – Take topping out of fridge, break into crumbs (??) and spread onto filling. Hmmmm. I’m betting it is not supposed to look like this.

Step 10 – Bake 40 minutes until topping is golden.

Cool completely in pan (1-2 hours) on wire rack.

Dear God… what kind of horror is this?

Step 11 – To serve, lift dessert out of pan, peel foil off. Cut lengthwise into 4 strips, then cut crosswise into 6 squares if you are feeling adventurous.

Verdict: The topping is burnt, and the filling is very burnt, in a not-so-subtle flavour I like to call “charred”. Who knew a dessert that smelled so good in the making could go so wrong? I had high hopes for this, you know, until it went to hell and all.

I think this definitely has potential, it would probably be really good if it hadn’t burned and if I understood how to crumble the topping to make it look presentable.

The disappointment of slaving over something that smells like apple pie, and ruining it, reminds me of this passage:

“I hope I never smell the smell of apples again!” said Fili. “My tub was full of it. To smell apples everlastingly when you can scarcely move and are cold and sick with hunger is maddening. I could eat anything in the wide world now, for hours on end – but not an apple.” – The Hobbit

Playlist: Sailor Moon Japanese soundtrack