French Corner Bakery & Patisserie review

Yesterday was my first visit to French Corner Bakery & Patisserie. I am now planning many more visits.  ^^

20160324_154025

French Corner is located at 1224 Dundas Street West, Unit 114, Mississauga, ON, L5C 4G7.  They have an active Facebook page and you can see many delightful pictures of their wares from Yelp reviewers.

My friend and I ventured forth in the aftermath of a freezing rain to sample the goods.  She has been there many times and told me about how much the bakery has expanded since she started visiting.

Review:

Another pasty gem hiding in plain site, what is with these amazing French patisseries in unexpected neighbourhoods?

We visited around 3:30 pm on a Thursday afternoon.  There were a few other customers but it wasn’t packed (thank you weather!), which was nice. Both counter staff were friendly and helpful. The food we tried was very good, and reasonably priced.

The front area is a long rectangle, with a counter running lengthwise and a large display case. You can see into the back where the staff are at work creating their works of art which is neat.

Aside from pastries and baked goodies, they also offer fresh breads, soups and salads, hot drinks, lots of lovely things.  The only thing I found odd was that the pastry displays are not labelled, this for example is obviously a lemon tart, but some other items were not so obvious to me what they were called. It was fine however, the lady behind the counter patiently explained each item that I was interested in.

20160324_154020

I had the lemon tart and the night and day mouse.  The tart was wonderful, the lemon curd was tangy and light, in a nice firm crust.  The mousse was amazing, I will definitely try both of these items again!

My friend had pistachio mouse and a red raspberry item, which I forget the name.

20160324_154030

The cup of hot chocolate was perfect for a cold spring day.

20160324_154042

I’m looking forward to bringing Boyfriend Unit to this bakery with me next time.

Paradise redux at Tony’s Bistro & Pâtisserie

This summer past I ended up back home again for a little while, and you know what is just 30 minutes from back home?  Tony’s Bistro & Pâtisserie

For the uninitiated this gem is located at 137 McLaughlin Drive, Moncton, NB, E1A 4P4.

20150714_115913

A lot of people say you can’t recapture the past and trying to recreate a treasured memory will only serve to tarnish its glow.  In my personal experience however, that is not always true.  Some things remain spectacular.  Such is food at Tony’s.

It was precisely one year after my first visit to Tony’s that I got to make my second visit to Tony’s.  July 2015 will live forever as the summer I ate at Tony’s four times in one week.

20150715_110539

That may seem excessive, but I was determined to try the breakfast and lunch items, not just the desserts.  Do not fear, plenty of desserts were tried too.

20150715_110555

I’m pleased to report lunch was just as good as breakfast.

20150714_113436

For readers who enjoy factual reviews, I recommend Tony’s because:

  • delicious food with nice presentation
  • glorious desserts
  • nice ambiance
  • very reasonable pricing
  • pleasant and efficient staff
  • well-stocked, fresh pastry cabinet

20150714_115128

Everything I have tried so far (and I have tried a lot of the desserts so far!) has tasted as wonderful as it looks.  You don’t always find that in a pâtisserie.

20150714_115907

This summer I had the lemon flan, the chocolate royale, and the paradis.  Ah; the paradis. It is chocolate mousse, white chocolate mousse, and crème brûlée, and such an interesting presentation. Baking is my hobby, but it’s always been chocolatiering and fancy desserts that make my heart sing.

20150714_115935

It was the first time I have ever sat looking at a dessert for a few minutes, not wanting to ruin it with my spoon.  Then curiosity got the better of me.

20150714_120535

What I like so much about Tony’s is the variety and the artistry of each dessert.  The paradis was incredibly good.  Every layer was so complimentary to the whole, and it was just so delicious.

Leave a shout-out to your favourite restaurant in the comments. I’d like to hear who you recommend and why.

 

McCall’s puff pastry 1 review

Well it’s been awhile. I haven’t been able to bake much in about a year, because reasons, but something I’ve wanted to share is that for my birthday last month, Boyfriend Unit sent me to pastry school at McCall’s for a day! It was absolutely spectacular. I learned to make all sorts of treats.

20151003_172730

Cost: $160

Course length: 7 hours

What did we learn:

  • puff pastry
  • pastry cream
  • strudel
  • Mille-Feuille
  • turnovers
  • pastry cream
  • lots of small pastry and savory stuff too

Once again Kay was my instructor, she is a great teacher and very skilled. I recommend this course to anyone aspiring to learn more about pastry and has an interest in hands-on learning. One day I hope to make pastry as effortlessly as Kay makes it, one day… I made this!!!

20151003_172817

A nice feature of McCall’s courses is that the day of the class, you are given a 10% discount on in-store purchases, and a coupon for 10% off the next time you shop there. It’s fun to see the tools in person and figure out what I want vs. what I need to try things at home.

Everything was so delicious too. Puff pastry is a lot of work. It takes hours and requires a lot of folding the dough, letting it rest and chill, and rolling it out to fold again. It was actually pretty exhausting.

For a few years I’ve been reading about pricing in the baking industry; how people balk at the cost of large items like wedding cakes or mass amounts of pastry, but think nothing of going to a restaurant and paying $6 to $12 for one dessert. After these work shop I’m convinced pastry is under priced.  What you pay is not only priced to cover ingredient cost and overhead, it has to account for the skill of the baker and the time it takes to prepare baked goods. Someone is working that dough for hours and they have spent years honing their craft. If you are in a nice restaurant try their pastry! Most times it’s worth your while. 🙂

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.

20140723_185316

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.

20140723_184746

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.

20140723_185230

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

20140723_185412

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!

20140723_190014

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.

20140723_185323

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?

Mascarpone round 2 (Eureka!)

After the disappointing results of Saturday I pondered for awhile and came home from work to try again. Behold! A puff pastry stuffed with fresh mascarpone and drizzled with hot fudge sauce.

20140707_090922

Mascarpone. That hideously over-priced Italian dessert cheese used in real tiramisu. Difficult to find in the grocery store. Case in point, I checked 5 stores and when I finally found it:

20140704_195330

Shocking!

Lately I’ve been uninspired in the kitchen. I was talking dessert ideas with my sister and asked if she had ever eaten something with mascarpone? Her response was to lapse into silence for a moment, before rapturously describing the best dessert she had ever eaten. I figure that anything which evokes that response is something I must learn how to cook with. I wasn’t sure what I even wanted to make with it, just the possibility of working with it got me thinking. Lo and behold, making it only takes 2 ingredients; heavy cream 36% and a lemon. Ah hah!

20140705_121203

Recipe source: I’m not sure where this idea originated, I found it on Pastry Affair, and searched around, everybody seems to use the same method; heat the cream and lemon juice, strain and chill and voila (hopefully). It looks the same on Mother Would Know. I found some very good pictures of the process on Savory Bites.

Time required: 1 hour of work + 8 hours to set

Yields: uh, maybe about 2 cups?

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: under $5 if cream is on sale

Kitchen implements I used:

  • heavy-bottom sauce pot
  • candy thermometer
  • strainer
  • cheese cloth
  • plastic wrap

Ingredients:

  • 2 C heavy cream, aim for 36% milk fat, avoid ultra pasteurized
  • 1 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice

Instructions:

1. Heat the cream to 88°C / 190°F. Stir often. Note for next time, skip the heat diffuser.

20140705_123323

2. Stir in the lemon juice, and heat mixture for 5 min, trying to keep temperature constant.

UPDATED JULY 26: after 3rd try at this, have determined 5 minutes it just not enough, I think other people might have a gas stove with consistent heat? It took about 25 min on a coil-top stove for rounds 2 and 3 

20140706_214135

Disclosure: it’s supposed to take 5 minutes. It took me 20. The temperature kept dropping. I was using a heat diffuser which I discarded. The cream should curdle and thicken a bit. I found this part strangely difficult.

3. Cool to room temperature, either 20 min in a cold water bath or 45 min on the counter should do it.

20140705_125142

4. Dampen cheese cloth lightly with water and line strainer, 4 layers of cloth. Put bowl under strainer.

5. Plop the mixture into the centre of the cloth. Don’t push it down. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 8 hours.

20140706_223902

This looks much different from the first attempt where nearly half the “cheese” ran through the cloth within one second. You don’t believe that, do you? Here, preserved for posterity.

20140705_132433

If yours looks like that ^, go back to the drawing board.

Meanwhile, go make some pastry or something.

20140705_205938

6. In the morning, cross your fingers and invert mass into container.

20140707_085638

Peel off cloth. Ah hah!

20140707_085708

Look at it, holding it’s shape and everything!

7. Stir well.

20140707_085851

8. Spread into pastry and garnish. I made some hot fudge sauce the other night and figured why not.

20140707_090044

Enjoy what you have wrought!

20140707_090504

Verdict: Definitely good. Making it at home is much more sensible than buying a wee-sized container. If I had some fresh fruit I’d put that in a pastry but I’m out of fruit at the moment. You really need to make sure the cream thickens, something so simple was surprisingly easy to ruin. I declare making this yourself to be worth the effort.

Playlist: Halo – Mjolnir mix

Patty’s apple strudel explosion

If a pastry explodes in the oven, does it make a sound? More importantly, does it still taste good?

IMG_1985

I researched how to make traditional strudel pastry but it sounds like a nightmare so, not today. I trawled the entire grocery store looking for phyllo pastry and discovered it’s kept near the frozen berries. This is my first strudel and I’m pleased with the results, however next time I’ll add raisins and reduce the lemon juice.

Shout-out to Boyfriend for being my camera man.

IMG_1980

Time required: 1.5 hours

Yields: 6 pieces

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

Cost per piece: $4

Kitchen implements I used:

  • large baking sheet
  • parchment paper

Ingredients:

  • 3 apples
  • 3 TBSP golden brown sugar
  • 2 TBSP water
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 TBSP powdered corn starch
  • ¼ C lemon juice
  • 4 sheets of phyllo pastry
  • 2 TBSP melted butter
  • 3 tsp finely ground bread crumbs

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F / 176°C. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and dust with flour.

2. Peel, core, and mince the apples. Toss them in a sauce pan with the water, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Bring to a simmer and cook on Med-Low for 10 min, stirring often.

IMG_1923

3. Combine corn starch and lemon juice, whisk until smooth, then add to cooked apple mixture and simmer for 1 more minute before removing from heat.

IMG_1922

We do not want juicy strudel.

IMG_1936

4. Place one piece of phyllo on the baking tray. Brush with butter, and sprinkle one teaspoon of breadcrumbs. Don’t stress about making this even, doesn’t really matter.

IMG_1925

Do this two more times, then add fourth and final layer (do not add butter or crumbs to top layer).

IMG_1930

5. Spoon the filling down one side vertically, leaving room at the edges.

IMG_1944

Give camera man 2 thumbs up.

IMG_1949

6. Use the parchment paper to support the pastry as you lift it, you’re trying to tuck it over and under the apple filling, and then carefully roll it over like so. Once you’ve got the first turn, peel the parchment paper back towards you.

IMG_1950

IMG_1951

Keep turning it, and between turns try to smooth it with your hands to an even shape.

IMG_1952

This was a little nerve-wracking, worried about tearing it.

IMG_1958

Roll it up 3-4 times until it’s at the edge.

IMG_1961

7. Brush butter inside the open edge then flip it so the seam is on the bottom. Tuck the ends in.

8. Dust with a cinnamon sugar mix.

IMG_1974

9. Bake 20-25 min until golden brown.

10. Cool on rack at least 5 min before serving. Mein gott! What is this?

IMG_1981

Verdict:

You want to get judged harshly? Tell people in advance you are using phyllo instead of making the pastry yourself. 

Response from best friend: “0_0 That is really shocking.”

This was fairly simple to make. Aside from the explosion, it turned out great. I may have had a tantrum when I saw that, but I cut it in thirds first, and got 4 nicely sliced pieces, and 2 messy pieces. Cutting through the strudel after it’s baked it harder than I anticipated.

Playlist: Eric Carmen – Hungry Eyes

Tarte au citron vert

Well it finally happened. I tired of looking for my truant tart pan, and bought a new one. Therefore I expect to find the old one any day now. Tonight Boyfriend lent a hand and we made a lime tart together, from the recipe used for the lemon tart, just made with limes instead.

Time required: 1 hour

Yields: who knows

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

Kitchen implements I used:

  • sauce pan
  • glass bowl
  • juicer
  • zester
  • mesh strainer
  • fluted 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:

  • ½ C lime juice (5 key lemons)
  • grated zest of 3 limes, wash and dry them 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. Stir in flour.

4. Stir quickly until it forms a ball.

5. Transfer to tart pan and use spoon to press down. Pierce shell with fork a few times.

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

TIME TO LOWER OVEN TEMPERATURE TO 180°C / 350°F.

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

(This was right before I got lime juice in the face.)

Heat it up:

I added a few drops of dye, because so far it was looking just like the lemon tart and I thought that’d be boring.

8. Meanwhile… whisk eggs and egg yolks.

9. 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.

10. Cook on low until mixture thickens and small bubbles start to form. Stir often.

11. Pour mixture through strainer directly onto tart.

Spread with a spatula…

12. Shake tin to level it out, bake 5 min.

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

Remove the pan bottom from the sides, and behold!!

So cute!

Verdict:  I do admire a well turned tart crust. This was delicious.

PlaylistFinal Fantasy OSTs