Vango turns 40!

chocolate & hazelnut layer cake with a delicious purple basil whipped cream filling & decorated with crystalized purple basil leaves.... entirely gluten free

Haaaaaaaave you met Vango?

No?

Vangelis happens to be the Co-Head of the happy little catering company known as Chili Catering. The very same company I’ve been working for, for the last 2+ weeks. With him, I also work with Eirini, you know, that wonderful girl I made the strawberry & mint macarons with & also did a series of trials before arriving at the idea of a roulade with.

chocolate & hazelnut layer cake with a delicious purple basil whipped cream filling & decorated with crystalized purple basil leaves.... entirely gluten free

It’s a fabulous team. There’s also Costas, he can come across as a little grumpy & be hard to know, but once you crack through, he’s pretty fantastic too.

Back to Vangelis….

Did you know he’s turning 40 today? That’s quite impressive if you ask me. He’s been persistent that he wants nothing to do with a birthday cake…

Eirini & I don’t care one little bit what he wants. We’re going against his wishes & whipping him up one any way. Why should he get to deny us the joy of making a cake just because he’s said so?

chocolate & hazelnut layer cake with a delicious purple basil whipped cream filling & decorated with crystalized purple basil leaves.... entirely gluten free

Since he’s quite the Chef & very imaginative with flavors, I’ve decided to do a cake that will be layered…. • hazelnut • hazelnut & milk chocolate • hazelnut & dark chocolate •
Then, in between each of these delicious layers, there will be a wonderfully light, basil whipped cream.

layers of hazelnut & chocolate sponge cake filled with a purple basil whipped cream... gluten free

It’s heaven.

Even more heavenly, the design.

More often than not, I finish a cake & I’m sorely disappointed with it. Not that it isn’t good, it’s just, I always tell myself “I can do so much better”. Not to brag or anything, but I am so ridiculously pleased with myself over this cake that there is no bringing me down. Not today. Can’t wait to show him what Eirini & I did!!!

Did I mention that I lovingly crystalized each & every basil leaf myself? From purple basil plants growing in my garden which I actually grew all by myself from seed?!?! Oh yea, every single part of the process.

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balsamic-glazed black cherry tart

balsamic glazed black cherry tart, completely gluten-free

I’ve been back in the kitchen recipe testing. Not so much for the blog, but because Eirini & I (the girl I made the strawberry & mint macarons with) are trying to come up with dessert proposals for a few upcoming events.

She came over to the house the other day so that we could make a mess in the kitchen & figure a few things out. Prior to her arrival, I found myself wondering around the green grocers picking up fruit & asking it to speak to me for inspiration. Finally, I settled on peaches, apples & black cherries.

Good thing I got the cherries too! As soon as I showed them to Mel, he picked them up & started going on & on about caramelizing them in balsamic vinegar & honey….

My mouth was watering. Not to mention I was overcome with joy since as you may or may not have noticed, but it’s been a little while since he’s participated in anything other than eating when it comes to the site.

I let him have his way & complete artistic license to do his own thing. I managed to contribute by whipping up a batch of pâte sucrée to turn into tart shells & also a chantilly cream to fill them with.

There they sat, ready & waiting whilst I watched him prepare all his ingredients & put a huge knob of butter into the pan.

I love it when he cooks.

Is it wrong of me to say that I love him especially when he cooks? Cause I do. Not to mention I’m a tad envious as he has this raw talent for it.

I’m afraid that in todays post, the picture just doesn’t do the dish justice. It’s a shame really, but I only had a limited opportunity to photograph it & in that time, I was lacking all inspiration.

I wont deny you the recipe however. If you make it & take a better picture, show me… I’ll amend the image above & link it back to your site with a glorious, glowing review of your beautiful work.

….happy weekend everyone!

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midnight macarons

dark chocolate macarons with a vanilla vodka buttercream filling

I have something extra special for you.

They’re my midnight macarons. Dark chocolate macaron shells, filled with a creamy vanilla vodka buttercream. As an extra special touch, I dusted them with luster-dust so that they’d resemble the stars in a moonless sky.

It wasn’t easy getting here though. Two failed attempts & a lot of frustration took place before I reached these miraculous little gems.

I learnt a bunch along the way too. For example, I learnt that I’d really wished someone had told me that chocolate macaron shells were the hardest macarons to make. Or that cocoa is very absorbent & if you take too long, your shells will crack during baking.

No one told me that luster-dust is an incredibly addictive substance. All that glitter. All that sparkle!

The most important lesson that I learned, is that I have a very long way to go before I can consider myself a master of the macaron.

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banana, chocolate & meringue pie

gluten-free banana, chocolate meringue pie

All I can think about is Montreal.

When my sisters & I were little, our grandfather had this beautiful farm in Montreal that was our little slice of heaven. We used to go every summer & spend the entire time outside & dirty. If we weren’t in a riding lesson, or competing at a competition, we were in the fields hunting for wild blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, climbing up trees, exploring in the woods looking for abandoned tree-houses built by hunters, or swimming.

Our bedroom was located in the barn directly above our horses. We originally used to sleep in the main house, but eventually everyone caught on that we wanted to be as close to our four legged friends as possible, & my grandfather had the attic in the barn converted into one large room. Andy, our resident handy man & grounds keeper (also the sweetest, kindest man one could ever meet) had even build us a balcony overlooking the fields. On a clear night, we had the best view anyone could ask for.

This is a painting someone once did of the farm, just so you get a sense of the magic:
Pope's Hill Farm, Montreal, QuebecI tell you all this because my sister Amyra & I were once again reminiscing about the magic & missing it terribly.

More often than not, when I miss a time or place, I remember the food & the smells that were associated with it. For the farm, chocolate & meringue pie is always the first thing that comes to mind. Rich, creamy, & delicious.

I told you, pie for me embodies love. If you don’t feel overwhelmed by love when you’re making it, it wont be amazing. Good, but not amazing.

So, feeling completely nostalgic & romanticizing the past, I decided it was time I posted up my very own recipe. I made a small adjustment by adding in bananas, but the rest of the pie is as close to the original as I could make it. Every single bit is bliss. Every single mouthful makes me feel all warm & fussy inside.

I miss my sisters. & I miss our paradise.

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fantabulous sugar cookies, literally

vanilla & almond sugar cookies

It’s no secret that I have an affinity for the word “fantabulous”.

I know it’s not a real word, & I’m not trying to suggest that other people get on board with my blatant disregard for the english language.

What I am saying is, that this is a word that reminds me of my sister Amyra. She & I have a deep-seeded love for Eddie Izzard & his comic marveling. So when I miss her, I use it more often.

I also felt that the word was appropriate for today. I’ve decided my future will be fantabulous!

Ok. Truth time.

Our future at Hotel Ploes has come to a rather abrupt end. There is no ill will held by either parties as nothing was actually done wrong, however, they have decided to close down the kitchen & all its production. Kitchens take a lot of work & when it was fully understood how many changes would need to be made & how much work was involved, it was decided that they weren’t up to the task.

We part on peaceful & pleasant terms though.

I did myself a little comfort baking last night. You know, just to soften the blow. Sugar cookies have a way of softening blows. Whilst doing this baking I was half missing my sister, terribly, & half contemplating the future & what I reckoned it held for me. I decided that no matter what would happen, it should in fact be fantabulous.

Hence the cookies. I’m starting the new chapter of my life with a sweet & positive attitude. A vanilla & almond flavored attitude.

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