Tag Archives: berries

Frozen Berry Dessert & How A Failed Meringue Led To A Celebrity Encounter

July 2012

The Agenda:
A BBQ/Potluck on one of the best decks in the city, hosted by a loyal and true friend.

The Plan:
A more summery version of this maple mousse pie.

The Fail, the EPIC FAIL:
The mousse pie recipe has a meringue component. Oh that meringue! I totally bombarded it with hot honey, and the poor, fluffy cloud didn’t stand a chance! It collapsed like an uncapped air mattress under a sleepy soul.

The Recalculation:
I pride myself on being the Daughter of Invention, but try though I did, the meringue had failed. There was no salvaging the eggy mess, so I had to “click” undo a little farther back into my history. What I had was a perfectly good crust, a fresh fruit puree and a new idea borrowed from the very woman who inspired me to improvise- my mom. What I didn’t have was more heavy cream. What I did have was my special one’s car!

Recalculating Route…:
To Whole Foods! To the dairy aisle! (I also tried to buy an air conditioner at Home Depot, but that effort lingered on the fail side of the spectrum).

The Moment That Made Me Grateful the Meringue Had Failed So Miserably:
As I walked to retrieve a cart, I saw a tall man with thick, thick, thick glasses and dark hair. Could it be…no…but…is it? His voice even sounded familiar as he spoke to his shopping companion who was retrieving a cart. She looked familiar as well! It was them! It was! My heart raced a little bit and fluttered with glee.  I worked up the courage to be that dorky fan girl and approach them in the produce aisle.

The Celebrity Encounter:

“Excuse me, I have to ask. Were you in Party Down [ie: one of the best shows ever!!!]?”
“Yeah…yeah, I was, and so was she [points to Kristen Bell as she picked berries].”
“It was such a great show! It got me through the winter! You guys were amazing!”
“Thanks, thanks very much! I’m Martin.  What’s your name?”
“Quelcy.”
“Nice to meet you, Quelcy.”

I was blown away by his sincerity and humility. Not only had he introduced himself, but he had taken the time to ask my name, repeat it, and furthermore, he had pronounced it correctly! I asked about the rumors of a comeback movie, and he said they had to keep pushing the writers! Meanwhile, the two of them were in Pittsburgh “to pick up some food at Whole Foods” and to shoot a movie together. Between Anne Hathaway in my yoga class and Party Down cast members at Whole Foods, Pittsburgh is becoming quite the little Hollywood.

The Uplifting Moral of the Story

Have you ever noticed how most life lessons have at least one kitchen counterpart? Susan Sarandon (and others probably) said, “If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not doing anything.” Had I not failed my meringue but persevered with my dessert, I wouldn’t have had the serendipitous encounter in the produce section. Silly as it may seem, that little twist in my day really set a positive tone for my week. On top of the encounter, my friends really enjoyed the dessert.  All in all, I am a really lucky girl, and it pays to appreciate these moments in life!

Coconut Walnut Crust

Ingredients

2 cups walnuts
3 Tablespoons organic light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
4 Tablespoons organic coconut oil
1 teaspoon organic almond extract

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spread the walnuts on a parchment lined baking stone, and bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until fragrant. Let cool completely.

In a food processor, pulse the walnuts, brown sugar, nutmeg and almond extract until the nuts are finely chopped.

Add the coconut oil, and pulse to incorporate.

Press the crumbs into a 9-inch springform pan in an even layer.

Refrigerate until firm.

I know science would say otherwise, but I prefer to see the making of whipped cream akin to the making of magic. Suddenly cold, heavy cream turns into fluffy clouds.  The bowl of clouds holds the imagination if you stare and allow yourself a spoonful of creativity while the mixing blades spin. What do you see, friends..?

Whipped Cream Filling

Ingredients

1 pint organic heavy cream, chilled
8 oz organic Neufchatel cheese
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup wildflower amber honey
3 Tablespoons Kraken Rum (or the like)

Directions

In a large bowl, beat the heavy cream and the Neufchatel cheese until soft peaks form.

Add the vanilla, honey and rum and beat until combined.

Scoop the filling onto the crust, and spread evenly.

Fruit Filling

3 cups cherries, pits removed
1 cup fresh blueberries

Directions

Puree the cherries and blueberries in a food processor. Either set the fruit puree aside or strain to drain off some of the excess juices.

Add the fruit in dollops, and use knife to swirl the fruit with the filling.

Freeze until the top begins to set slightly. Remove from the freezer, and add the fruit garnishes. Return to freezer, and freeze until firm.

Garnish

4-5 large strawberries, sliced
Blackberries to your aesthetic liking

The revised and rather improvised dessert remained in the freezer until the kielbasa was grilled, loaded with fixins on a bun and eaten with corn on the cob and fancy butter. The dessert remained in the freezer while the band played atop a neighborhood hill. The dessert remained in the freezer until the happy neighbors returned to the deck with the beautiful views of a sky changing from blue to pink.  Stay tuned, and I’ll show you what that all looked like.

-QTK

Happy Red, White & Blueberry!

July 4th, 2012

This Fourth of July, I’m not responsible for a thing except documenting my special one’s pyro side as he choreographs his spectacle, swimming in a creek, swaying in a hammock and riding through the forest on a zippy scooter.  However, there’s always room for a biteful of thematic eating.

Hopefully the grill sends pleasant aromas your way, and the sun shines on your holiday!

-WTG

Pancakes & Purples (Berry Port Wine Sauce, Round III)

May 2012

I like pancakes as much, if not more than, the next brunch-loving lady, but I especially like our partnership of pancakes.  I make the batter, and he flips the ‘cakes.  On this gluten-free Sunday morning, we took our partnership of pancakes into the sunshine for a perfectly relaxing, coffee-accompanied start of a sunny day.  Then we drizzled our griddle stacks with the berry bursts of flavor leftover from a special birthday dessert.

“To love someone is to see a miracle invisible to others.”

Chestnut Flour & Berry Pancakes

Note:  Depending on the origin of yours oats, this recipe is gluten free.  For more on oats in a gluten free diet, here’s an intro to the issues.  

Ingredients

1 cup chestnut flour (more if fruit is watery)
1/2 cup organic quick-cooking oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 eggs (local/free-range), at room temperature
2 Tablespoons honey
3/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 Tablespoons goat butter, browned
1 1/4 cup frozen cherries, thawed

Directions

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees or the lowest temperature available.

Combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and lemon zest.

Next, whisk the egg in a bowl and add it to the dry mix.

Add the honey, milk, vanilla extract, almond extract and browned butter. Stir to combine.

Heat a cast iron griddle or skillet over medium heat and lightly coat with oil.

Using a ¼-cup scoop, pour the pancake batter onto the skillet and add 6-8 blueberries on top of each pancake.

Cook until browned on each side (they are ready to flip when the tops start to bubble a little).

To keep already made pancakes warm, place them on an ovenproof dish or baking pan in the oven.

Serve with berry port wine whipped topping and extra berry port wine sauce.

Berry Port Wine Whipped Topping

Ingredients

4 oz organic Neufchatel cheese
1/2 cup organic whipping cream, chilled
1/2 cup blueberry-cherry sauce (mostly the liquid)
2 Tablespoons organic brown sugar

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to whip until well combined. Keep chilled until ready to serve.