Kaffeeklatsch

Last Sunday Janice and I participated in an culinary event I will not soon forget; Kaffeeklatsch at Laloux.

Kaffeeklastch is an event created by Michelle Marek, pastry chef at Laloux. For a small fixed fee we got the choice of a pastry and a petit four, with coffee from Cafe Myriade. In the past all of the pastries at Kaffeeklatsch were made by Marek, but this time Stéphanie Labelle of Pâtisserie Rhubarbe also provide some incredible treats for us to try.

I don’t usually do restaurant reviews; I’m too busy eating to take pictures. These pastries were so pretty I had to take some pictures of them. The light at Laloux is incredible. The bistro has huge windows along the sides and front that stream light through in such a pretty way.

Because of nut allergies, our choices were limited, but we were still very pleased. Janice chose the Religieuse à la Rhubarbe (above) while I had the Tarte à la Rhubarbe (below). Religieuse are similar to cream puffs, but stacked. In this case they were filled with a rhubarb cream and came with a rhubarb compote. The cream was the perfect sweet/tart combination, and the compote added an extra kick of rhubarb. Labelle’s pastry is also incredible; it’s not like a typical choux pastry. I’d love to know how she makes it. My mom and discussed a few options, some experimenting will be done.

The Tarte was also wonderful. It had a frangipane like filling, which complimented the rhubarb  very nicely. Again there was a great sweet tart balance. I’m going to try to replicate this myself too, although I doubt I can come close to this.

The pastries were followed by petit fours. Janice order rum balls, while I had the chocolate raspberry linzer cookie. Since these were petit we didn’t share them, but I can tell you the linzer was very good; it had a hint of cinnamon. Janice really enjoyed the rum ball.

We were there with a few other Montreal foodies, including Mayssam, Katerine, and Andrea. After watching them order everything (I mean everything) on the menu, we decided a little more pastry wouldn’t hurt. So we split the Sachertorte. Sachertorte is an Austrian chocolate torte. The slice I had was dense and moist, and Marek did an incredible job.

If that wasn’t enough, we took more pastries to go. We both chose the strudel and religieuse. Unfortunately, the strudel is full of walnuts so I didn’t get to try it, but my parents loved it.

All in all it was a wonderful Sunday afternoon. I’m already dreaming of the next Kaffeeklatsch!

Blueberry Raspberry Mille Feuilles

I’ve been waiting for an occasion to make this dessert for a while, but nothing ever seemed right. Then yesterday I realized a simple meal with good friends is always an occasion to eat a pretty dessert.

This has a lot of components, but each of them is very easy to do, and a lot of it can be done in advance. I based this recipe on Anna Olson’s Cranberry Mille Feuilles. I have to say this was yumm-ie. I had the leftovers for breakfast this morning (I think that’s fine because it has fruit and the custard is made with eggs and milk, so I got all my major food groups).

I sent Janice a sneak preview pic, and she asked me to let her know if I figure out the optimal way to eat mille feuilles. I don’t think there is an optimal way, you just have to get your hands in there and hope not to make too much of a mess. If anyone out there has a technique, please let me know.

Blueberry Raspberry Mille Feuilles

Pastry Cream

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 strips of lemon peel
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped
  1. Put milk, cream, vanilla and lemon strips in a large sauce pan. Bring to a simmer.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch together.
  3. Once milk has simmered, add it to egg mixture one laddle full at a time, whisking constantly. Be careful not to add to much hot liquid in the first addition so that the eggs don’t scramble.
  4. Return the mixture to the sauce pan on medium high heat. Whisk vigorously until the custard has thickened.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and cool.
  6. Once completely cooled pull out lemon pieces and fold in whipped cream. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to assemble.

Blueberry Raspberry

  • 1/2 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom (you could also use cinnamon)
  • 1 tbsp rum
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  1. Put all ingredients in a large sauce pan. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, then let simmer for 10 minutes. Stir often.
  2. Cover in plastic wrap and let cool till ready to assemble.

Puff Pastry

  • 1 package puff pastry
  • flour for dusting
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F
  2. Cut the puff pastry into 3 equal sized pieces. Roll each out till 1/4 cm thick. Cut them into equal sized shapes ( I did rectangles because that way they would all fit on one baking sheet, Anna did an 8 inch squares).
  3. Place puff pastry on a baking sheet, dock the pastry (poke little holes with a fork), cover with parchment paper and then weight the pastry (I used beans, if you have another baking sheet that will fit on top that works too). Bake with the weights for 12 minutes. Remove weights and bake for 10 to 12 more minutes.
  4. Let cool completely and assemble.


Assembly

  1. On one layer of puff pastry, spread half of the pastry cream, and then top with the fruit mixture.
  2. Top with second sheet of puff pastry, and cover with remaining pastry cream and some of the fruit mixture.
  3. Place last sheet of puff pastry, top with some fresh berries and a dusting of icing sugar.

The original recipe called for one layer of cream and one layer of fruit, but my fruit mixture was much too liquidy for that to work. If your fruit mixture is thicker (you could add gelatin), I think that would make a very pretty presentation.

A Taste of Portugal

Portugal Day is finally here!

One of my favourite places to eat is Jano, a Portuguese grill on St Laurent. Everything is always perfectly cooked, with a wonderful grilled flavour. And the piri piri sauce .. oh. my. god. soo good.

I thought I had seen piri piri sauce at Loblaws, but its turns out all they have is piri piri chips (also delicious). So I decided to make my own piri piri. (Can you tell I like saying piri piri?).

Piri Piri

  • 1/2 cup hot peppers
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 oil
  • tsp salt

Directions

  1. Finely dice the hot peppers and garlic. I used 2 scotch bonnet, which is less than what the recipe calls for, but those little guys are HOT.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a small jar. Stir and let sit in the fridge for one week for the flavours to combine.
  3. Use a brush to spread over grilled meats.

Scotch Bonnets are cute but really hot. Based on my experience with these I would say leave the hot sauce making to the professionals. Or at the very least, wear gloves while working with them. My hands were burning for hours after dicing them.

The solution to the burning? Hand sanitizer. Because I didn’t use actual piri piri peppers (an African pepper), the sauce tasted a little different than the original, but still quite good.

Piri Piri sauce goes great with chicken, but I wasn’t able to find a recipe that I liked, so I just used a smoked paprika marinade and roasted the chicken, and made a portuguese side dish, Peixinhos da Horta, deep-fried green beans. The recipe for the green beans and the piri piri both come from Leite’s Culinaria.

Deep Fried Green Beans

  • 1/2 pound green beans, cleaned and blanched.
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • salt
  • oil for frying

Directions

  1. Combine the flour, water, egg, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Mix until smooth.
  2. Dip green beans in batter, cover completely.
  3. Fry in 350 F oil for 3 to 4 minutes, turning the green beans to make sure they brown evenly.

I also made Pasteis de Nata, using this recipe, but they were an epic baking fail. The recipe says to bake them at 300 F for 15, but after 15 minutes they weren’t even close to done. I bumped the temp up to 350 for another 15 minutes, still not enough. The custard never set, and the puff pastry was barely cooked through. I think they need to be baked at at least 400 F to get that caramalized top. One recipe I found after the disaster even said 550 F. I will try again, as the custard itself tasted great. And honestly, ordering more than one of these in a restaurant is a little embarrassing, but I could eat at least 10 all to my self.  At least.

Trying out different portuguese recipes was a lot of fun. Thanks to Casey for organizing the event. Be sure to check out her blog on June 1oth to see what everyone else made!