citrus press. i heart you.

I will not lie.  I hosted (well, actually co-hosted) a Pampered Chef event.  Yep.  Kailey and I gathered some friends together in order to help a former co-worker’s wife start her business.  And… it was fun.  Lots of fun.

My favourite discovery (because I did make some discoveries) was… the citrus press. 

pampered chef’s citrus press

I have balked at the idea of buying a citrus press for quite some time… I can squeeze the juice out of a lemon no problem.. You know, roll it, cut it, squeeze it.  I’m pretty good at getting most of the juice out.  Lemons I can do.  Limes on the other hand… sigh.  Limes are a real pain in my hand (ha!  I am so witty)!  Hard to juice… but so worth it. 

So the anti-juicer girl was shown the citrus press… and was duly impressed.  You should see it in action!  That lime didn’t stand a chance – very smart of Triscilla (our Pampered Chef rep) to demonstrate with a lime… the more difficult of the citrus fruits to juice. 

using a lemon this time round…

All you have to do is cut, place in the hole and… the juice runneth over.  BRILLIANT!  I ordered one on the spot.  And it arrived.

At this point I have my new toy, some lemons and limes… and a recipe for lemonade concentrate.  My cousin-in-law Nicole (also  blogger) posted a recipe for her mother’s homemade lemonade concentrate.  It caught my eye.  Not surprising really… since I heart lemons… and sugar… and making a syrup.  With my new press in hand (pardon the pun), I was ready to make my version of this recipe – a lemon-lime concentrate.  Perfect to get through this ridiculous summer heat.

Thanks Nicole for sharing the recipe ;0)

lemon-lime concentrate

ingredients:

1 c. water

1 c. sugar

1 each lemon and lime,  finely zested

juice of each 2 lemons and limes

In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring the water, sugar and zest to a boil.  Stir the sugar to dissolve.  Also – to ensure that there isn’t crystallization, cover the pan with a lid for a minute – the steam will dissolve any sugar crystallization that gathers on the sides of  pot.  Remove the lid, and boil for 2 minutes.

Strain the syrup into a bowl – discarding the zest. 

Whisk in both the lemon and lime juice.  As per Nicole’s instructions, I transferred the concentrate to a mason jar – refrigerate until needed.   Combine a couple good tablespoons with 1 cup of water.  Since I don’t use as many lemons as Nicole’s original recipe, this recipe doesn’t need any added sugar.  Tart and slightly sweet.  DELISH!

 I’ve been going through it pretty quickly… time to make another batch :0)

rhubarb and passionfruit… sigh worthy

You’ll notice that I’ve been going on and on about the rhubarb / passionfruit combo since Chloé made her rhubarb passionfruit fool.  It was moan worthy… even the following day.  I’ve also been using the combo in creating sundaes at the Whalesbone – – Jenna’s passionfruit coulis is absolutely a-maz-ing… I snuck a look at her recipe and saw her secret ingredient – – LIME! Lime juice and lime zest are the perfect punch to the passionfruit; those two flavours go hand in hand.

But back to my obsession… I really love the combo but I honestly just wanted to make the fool recipe that Chloé had made for us at Oz Café.  It was tart and bright and light and decadent all at once… in a word, it was PERFECTION.  And it was exactly what I wanted to make my papa for father’s day.

In order to make the fool I needed a few things:

Chloé needed to pass along her recipe.  Which she did (GROS MERCI).  So recipe – – check.

Then I needed some rhubarb.  Thankfully, my boss decided to give me fresh stalks from his garden.  Ingredient #1 – – check.

Time for the passionfruit.  Charlotte came through on that one… 1 container of passionfruit purée – – check.

As for the heavy cream – – a quick look in my fridge and I had that one taken care of all on my own! – – check.

All that was left to do was to make a curd, reduce some rhubarb, whip up some cream… et violà my fool was born!

whipped cream / passionfruit curd / rhubarb compot

You’ll notice that there are 4 steps to this recipe – BUT each step is simple and straightforward: worth the time and energy to make everything yourself.  I promise… this recipe will blow your mind.  Totally and utterly moan and sigh worthy!

Chloé’s Fool

ingredients:

1 batch passionfruit curd

1 batch rhubarb compot

1 batch whipped cream

note: I was torn between using Chloé’s passionfruit curd recipe or using Jenna’s.  At the end of the day, I didn’t have a lime… or cornstarch… so I picked Chloé’s version.  But I feel both would work and I’ll be using Jenna’s recipe next week when I make a cheesecake (don’t worry… I’ll be blogging about that too!) :0)

Step 1:  passionfruit curd

ingredients:

4 eggs

2 egg yolks

150 g white sugar

1 1/2 c. passionfruit purée (Chloé recommends 8 passionfruit, pulp… I had the purée so I used that instead)

125 g cold butter, cubed (I used… 1/2 c. of butter… it was a lot of butter… so next time I’ll use 1/4 c. butter instead)

If you have a bain marie (I actually had a real bain marie!!! merci Marielle!) place enough water in the bottom pot and bring to a simmer.  Place all your ingredients, except the butter, in the upper pot and start to whisk.

If you don’t have a bain marie, grab a medium pot and bring an inch or so of water to a simmer.  Place a large metal bowl with all the ingredients (except the butter) on top (make sure that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the simmering water) .

Keep your stove-top at about medium / medium-high heat.  Don’t over heat your saucepan, and don’t let the water completely evaporate.

Grab your whisk and start whisking… for about 10 minutes.  Yes… your wrist will likely get tired, mine did… switch hands.  Whisk, whisk, whisk until you see the curd start to come together.  It thickens up, going from a loose yellow sauce type thing to a thick, creamy, yellow type thing.  It should be thick enough that when you stick a wooden spoon into the mixture, it leaves a layer on the back of the spoon.

passionfruit curd

At that point, remove the curd from the heat (don’t forget to turn off your stove) and whisk in the cubes of butter – – a little at a time.  You want to allow the cube to melt and be incorporated before adding any more.  The result is a decadently creamy curd.  Gorgeous.

Step 2:  rhubarb compot

note: you’ll notice that I don’t have exact measurements for this recipe… I really just guesstimated.  Apologies for not being more precise.

ingredients:

many stalks of rhubarb, diced (like a big bunch of rhubarb)

1/2 c. of sugar (approx… I added some and then added some more while it was simmering away)

zest and juice of 1 lemon (remember to discard those seeds!)

In a medium saucepan over medium – high heat, combine your rhubarb, some of the sugar, lemon juice and zest, add a little bit of water if needed, and just get everything combined.  Keep an eye on it… but really, you simply want the rhubarb to break-down and all the water to evaporate.  Taste test it and see if you want to add a bit more sugar to cut the tartness… this is really all about personal tastes.  You’ll know when it’s ready…

rhubarb compot

Allow both the curd and the rhubarb to cool to room temperature before moving onto the next stage.

Step 3: whipped cream

note: Again… this is estimated.  Chloé’s recipe simply stated that she whipped BEAUCOUP (a lot) of heavy cream

ingredients:

750 mL heavy cream

1/4 c (approx) white sugar (use as much or as little as you like)

In the bowl of your stand mixer (or a large glass /metal bowl)  use your whisk attachment (or handheld mixer) to gently froth the cream.  At that point, whisk in the sugar.  Increase the speed to max and just let the electric mixer to all the work for you – – until you end up with a nice, thick, white whipped cream.  You want it to be stiff enough that it holds onto the whisk attachment, but not so stiff that it is no longer glossy (over beaten cream isn’t pretty).

whipped cream

Step 4:  Finishing the fool

Now for my favourite part of Chloé’s recipe… I’m going to use her words exactly – – because they made me smile.

“J’ai bien mélangé le curd et mal mélangé le rhubarbe ( pour que ca fasse des streaks)”

translation:  Completely fold in the curd, and then “poorly mix in” the rhubrab – – you want the red streaks through out the cream/ curd mixture.

mal mélangé

That’s it.  You’re done.  A perfect dessert on it’s own… or serve with some sort of cookie for an added crunch.  It was certainly enjoyed on father’s day… My papa emitted little sighs of pleasure (yep… I guess I do take after himand my brother Louis ate his bowl… and a second helping!  Whoot Whoot!

finished rhubarb passionfruit fool

Afterward:  I brought some back to Ottawa and shared the fool with some friends… Chloé loved it and see my bff Téana… she gave me 2 thumbs up!

happy little eater of fool

fancy popcorn

I had a reunion of sorts… you see, some friends and I met up on Monday afternoon. I know I enjoyed their company… I laughed a whole lot, and loved the fun stories they shared with me. Are you kind of curious as to who I met up with? Well the ladies… you know… Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte. Yep. those ladies. Not really my friends, but I sure did enjoy the two and a half hours I spent with them…

There are two things I have been looking forward to in the last month; seeing Sex and the City 2 and trying out this popcorn recipe. You see… I saw it (the recipe) in the happy baker and just knew that it (the popcorn) and I would be the bestest of friends. The crunch of popcorn, drizzled in a melted chocolate and corn syrup mixture with toffee pieces tossed in. I mean really! How could I not love this popcorn?!

It looks more complicated and time consuming than it really is. It does require about three different steps – but simple simple. I promise. I even made it recovering from running my first marathon.

I enjoyed half the batch while catching up with the ladies, and don’t worry if you can’t eat it all in one shot… store it in an air tight container for a couple of days. You’re golden. I actually think it gets betters the longer it sits.

fresh kernels ;0)

Step 1: The art of popping corn on your stove top.

You’ll need some canola oil and about 1/2 c. kernels.

In a large pot (you need to have a lid), heat a thin layer of canola oil over medium heat – you want to just cover the entire bottom of the pot. You’ll know that the oil is ready when you flick a little water into the pot – it’ll sizzle (careful! don’t flick too much, otherwise the oil will spray everywhere).
Take the pot off the heat, toss your kernels into a single layer all over the base and cover with the lid. Return to the burner, increase the heat to medium-high and gently shake the pot, side to side, over the heat. You’ll hear the popcorn start popping… don’t remove the lid otherwise it’ll fly everywhere! Once the steady stream of popping ends, remove the pot from heat and there you have it! Popcorn!

popcorn over the stove

Fancy Popcorn (aka toffee chocolate popcorn)
ingredients:
8 c. popped popcorn (about that 1/2 c. kernels you just popped)
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. dark corn syrup
1/4 c. butter
1/3 c. toffee pieces

the beginnings of adding the fancy to the popcorn

Preheat your oven to 300 F.

Place your popped popcorn in a large rectangular baking dish… I used two half trays instead, which cut down on the baking time, but either will work.

In a medium pot over medium-high heat, bring the chocolate chips, corn syrup and butter to a boil; whisking often.

Pour the syrup over the popcorn and stir until evenly coated. I used my hands – I thought it was simplest… remember, it is a little hot at this point :0)

Toss in the toffee pieces, stir it around again.

This is when you place your pan in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Since I used two pans I baked it for 30 minutes and stirred every 10 minutes.

the final product… before I ate it all

Let cool. And then enjoy.

I heart this popcorn so much I think I should host a movie night… only, not at my place since I don’t have a tv. Who wants to host? I’ll bring the popcorn! And I bet it’s even better with some red wine… any takers?