Monday, September 30, 2013

Fresh Fruit Tart with Vanilla Creme Diplomat

It's Fall and I decided to make a not-so-Fall dessert: a fruit tart.
I have never been a fan of fresh fruit tarts although I always found them very pretty to look at. My brother would always get a few when we drop into a Chinese/Hong Kong bakery while I stuck to my cream puffs or egg tarts.

I've never made a fruit tart. I know how to make the separate components and how the tart is put together but I never made it because I never liked them. I decided to suck it up and use fruits that I would normally like to eat (I'm not a huge fruit-eater either) and make a large tart for the family (mostly for my brother).
I made a shortcrust pastry and instead of the usual pastry cream filling, I made a creme diplomat. Creme diplomat is essentially pastry cream with whipped cream folded into it for a lighter cream. THAT was deliscious.

Creme Diplomat

2 cups milk
1 vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp Cointreau liqueur
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/2 cups all purpose flour; sifted
1 tbsp unsalted butter

1 1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped

Creme Patisserie 
In a saucepan, heat milk, vanilla and 1/4 sugar on medium heat and stir occasionally. When milk bubbles, remove from heat and set aside.

In a stainless steel bowl, whisk remaining sugar, liqueur,and flour until well blended and sugar has dissolved. Slowly add in a ladle of the hot milk while stirring the egg mixture constantly to avoid scrambling the eggs. Continue doing this until all the milk has been used.
Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook on medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat, remove the vanilla beans (using a sieve helps) and stir in butter.
Cool the cream completely and quickly by lining a shallow baking tray with plastic wrap and spreading the cream on the tray. Cover cream with another layer of plastic, placing it directly onto the cream to avoid a skin to form on the surface.

Once the cream cools completely, transfer to a clean bowl and fold in the whipped cream. Chill in the fridge for 1 hour before placing in tart shell. Voila! Store in a air-tight container for up to 3 days.

Creme Diplomat complete!

Shortcrust pastry


Fruit! Plums, peaches, kiwi, strawberries, mango, and oranges.


Mini fruit tarts from leftover ingredients!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

F---ing Amazing Vegan Chili (and updates)

Hello! My golly-gosh I have not maintained this blog since June! I've actually been busy traveling and working during the summer and have not has enough time to make anything worthwhile in the kitchen! But alas, autumn is arriving soon and my schedule/routine has now settled enough for me to get back into the kitchen and experiment!
During the last week of  August, my family and boyfriend took a week-long trip to the Florida and a two-day cruise to the Bahamas. In Florida, we went to Disney World and my boyfriend grabbed a Chili cheese dog due to a tradition that ran in his family. The dish, though it looked greatly unhealthy, smelled really good and according to him, "didn't taste bad either".
Well, lo-and-behold, I had a sudden craving for a chili cheese dog, even though I was never a fan of chili or hot dogs. I blame it on the spices and my love for cheese.

Anyways, I concocted a hearty vegan chili recipe to go with my vegetarian hot dogs. Heck, I also smothered it on top of beef sausages for the rest of my family who are meat-eaters. Needless to say, the chili was fucking amazing.
My method of making the chili was a very lengthy process because I used dried kidney beans, so the soaking and cooking process took around 10 hours in my slow cooker. I also used tomatoes I harvested in my garden, so the blanching, peeling and dicing process took a while. Of course, you can always use a can of diced tomatoes and beans
What makes this chili so "fucking amazing" is the charred pepper coulis, which is the pureed or strained flesh of the peppers. What makes it special is how I char the peppers prior to blending which naturally enhances  that sweet, smoky and spicy flavor. This is then added to the chili and mingles with the existing flavors of the dried spices n' herbs. Delicious!


F---ing Amazing Vegan Chili 

2 Jalapeno peppers, charred or Chipotle peppers in oil
1 red sweet pepper, dice half and char other half
1 yellow sweet pepper, dice half and char other half (optional)
1 green sweet pepper, dice half and char other half (optional)

Olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
half a white onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 packages Yves veggie ground*

1 tsp dried marjoram 
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper powder
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
 4 stalks of celery, diced (optional)
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups kidney beans with juice

Cilantro and sour cream to garnish (optional)

*You can also used coarsely crushed raw walnuts, whole raw cashews or crumbled extra firm tofu.

Remove the charred skin off the peppers and slice the flesh away to remove seeds (be careful when handling jalapenos). Place in a food processor or blender and blitz until a puree is formed. Set aside.

In a pot, heat olive oil and add in onions. Season with a bit of salt and sweat the onions until almost soft. Add in the garlic and cook until aromatic. Add in the diced peppers, remaining ingredients and the pepper puree. Simmer on low heat for around 10 minutes. If it is too thick, add 1/4 of water. If it is too runny, let simmer, uncovered until desired thickness. Season to taste.
Serve on fries, on a hot dog, or as is with garlic bread or tortilla chips.
I placed my chili in the slow cooker to keep warm so I could eat it the next day for lunch!

Beef Sausages for the rest of the family (I had Yves Veggie dogs)