Floating Islands in the Mist?

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In the mist-Cape Town

In the mist-Cape Town

On a scale of weirdness these past two months were just that, weird. I did not travel(by plane) for two months. First time in eight years. I am a commuter and work in two cities. One where my whole heart lies and where I live and the other where I need to be to do what I do. My body and mind is so used to leaving on a jet plane that at first I was at a loss as to why I felt between two worlds, as if I needed to be somewhere where I am not. The broken up weeks of the past two months with public holidays, Easter Weekend and Workers Day added to the stop-start, stop-start of normal routines. A bit like floating around in the mist really. At least I spent quality time with good people and great mini road trips in between. Just as sudden as this small hiatus started, it stopped and I am on my way again. More sudden is winter that descended with a vengeance and is now here to stay. Good soups, curries and pot pies come to mind!

Walking, walking, walking in Paris a year ago.

Walking, walking, walking in Paris a year ago.

It is now a year since I visited my friend OddlylivinginParis and I miss the walking,walking and talking, talking with her (not to mention the eating-eating…) and sitting in front of her picture perfect Parisian window putting the world to rights! Her written piece on “hands” make me weak in the knees, so beautiful.

Odette's view

Odette’s view

The floating island dessert I made and blogged on my return needs a re-mention to celebrate remembrance.

Oeufs a la Neige/Floating Islands

Oeufs a la Neige/Floating Islands

It is to remember and celebrate mothers passed, mothers around me, sisters near and far and children of my heart. One so far and one so near. Happy Mothers Day.

Thank you Boxofrecipes and lapetitartichaut with their lovely blogs for the rewards, much appreciated. This dessert is also for you!

Random Photo:

Very quirky upside down, inside out display in Paris. I like!

Upside down, inside out!

Upside down, inside out!

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Coconut-lime Cream Dessert

Coconut-lime Cream

Coconut-lime Cream

I’ve been making this dessert fot a while after I first landed in cream heaven at my friends dinner table when she served a similar one. Ina gave me the recipe and we both started tweaking and adjusting and I suppose we shall forever keep on doing so as we dream up new varieties of the same theme. It is just so versatile. Her original recipe uses full cream yogurt and evaporated milk and I adjusted it to use coconut cream for that subtle coconut flavour together with whatever fruit flavour I choose to use. This time it was lime and drumrrrrroll…pomegranate-chilli preserve, which I was lucky enough to find at a local market.

Steps coconut- lime cream

Steps coconut- lime cream

Scoop your choice of fruit compote/ preserve in the bottom of a glass.

On high speed beat together:

1x tin (400 ml) coconut cream-beat until thick and then add

250ml cream and 2 packets of jelly(flavour of your choice)- beat all together until thick and creamy

Pour into individual glasses, garnish and refrigerate (who am I kidding, we never even reach the refrigeration stage!)

Coconut-lime cream & Chili-pomegranate

Coconut-lime cream & Chili-pomegranate

I have made it in various flavours but must say, the best one yet is the lime and I dread the day that my jar of pomegranate-chilli preserve is finished. Check out the producer and all of their great product at http://www.passionatepomegranate.co.za.

Coconut-lime cream. Thank you Ina!

Coconut-lime cream. Thank you Ina!

*I paid for all of the products used in this post.

Random photo for today: Penguins! Ahhhh, just love the way they shuffle.

Feb 2013 at Boulder's Beach, Simon's Town, Western Cape

Feb 2013 at Boulder’s Beach, Simon’s Town, Western Cape

Floating Island (Oeufs A La Neige)

In this case a dessert, not a real ocean island. I had this dessert one night in Paris( sounds so nice just to say it, this Paris thing!) at the Le Montparnasse 1900 Restaurant. Art Noveau everything in all it’s glory. Big names and painters were hanging out there at the turn of the century and today it is a monument to that era.  Dinner was fantastic(thank you Dirk and Odette!) to say the least but the brain-stopping moment came with dessert. It was just so damn good and one of those ones where every morsel just tasted perfect. Don’t know if it was the place or the good company or just the dish or all of the above, it just worked for me and of course I had to make it and had the same experience again! Clearly my kind of food.

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A floating island is a French dessert consisting of meringue floating on crème anglaise (a vanilla custard).There is some confusion about the name. In French cuisine, the terms œufs à la neige (“eggs in snow”) and île flottante (floating island) are sometimes used interchangeably; the latter is the source of the English name. The difference between the two dishes is that île flottante sometimes contains islands made of “alternate layers of alcohol-soaked dessert biscuits and jam but generally speaking the dessert is just called floating island.

Herewith the recipe for my little islands of wonder as I found it on Allrecipes.com and it tastes perfect, just like in Paris!

3 eggs
1/2 cup white sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Toasted almond flakes to spinkle just before serving
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 Separate two of the eggs. In top of double boiler, combine 1 whole egg and 2 yolks with 1/4 cup sugar and the salt, whisking until smooth. Whisk in the milk and cook over simmering water, stirring constantly with a spatula or wooden spoon. When the custard thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, remove it from the heat. (Do not boil. If custard should start to curdle, remove from heat and beat vigorously until smooth.) Pour the custard through a strainer into a bowl and stir in the vanilla extract. Cool and refrigerate.(i did not strain the custard and it was perfect).
In a heat-proof bowl, lightly whisk the 2 egg whites with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, just enough to dissolve the sugar. Place the bowl on top of a pot of simmering water and stir constantly until the temperature of the whites reaches 145 degrees F (63 C) or hotter. (I did not have a thermometer and it just tested the heat on my hand, luke warm is the right moment to take the next step).
Immediately remove the bowl from the heat, and use an electric mixer to beat the warm egg whites until they form stiff, glossy peaks.
Pour the chilled custard into a serving dish. Drop the meringue by heaping tablespoons onto the custard to make islands. Chill before serving.
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Sprinkle with toasted almon flakes before serving. It is so easy and can be made the night before a dinner party to save time on the day.
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I found these translations on the interwebs
Afrikaans: drywende eilande/ sneeu eiers
French : île flottante, œufs à la neige
German : Schnee-Eier (“snow eggs”)
Polish : zupa nic
Austrian : Kanarimilch
Hungarian : madártej (“bird’s milk”)
Croatian : schneenockerln, šnenokle
Romanian : lapte de pasăre (“bird’s milk”)
Italian : uova alla neve, uova di neve
Spanish : isla flotante
Portuguese: forofa

Russian Napoleon Cake – Family Challenge Part 2

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What with my obsessive compulsive following of the Oscar Pistorius saga this week, I almost forgot to finish the Russian challenge blog. RIP Reeva.
The dessert on the evening of my Russian Plov night was this Napoleon Cake with a lot of short cuts. The original cake is of course made with home made dough but us mere mortals with limited time look for recipes that work fast, very fast…..
The recipe is from http://www.russianbites.com and is simply layers of puff pastry with custard creme (creme patisserie)  in between.
Bake squares (4 or more) of puff pastry at 180 C and cool down.
Make custard as follows: ( I would not use store bought custard as you need a thick custard).
1 1/4 cups full cream milk
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8th cup flour
2T plus 2 t cornstarch
In a small saucepan, warm the milk over low heat until it is just hot enough to steam. While the milk is warming, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, flour, and cornstarch until the mixture is completely smooth.
Once the milk is steaming, add half of it, whisking constantly, to the egg mixture. Add the milk and eggs back into the hot milk, continue stirring, and heat it for 1-2 minutes, until the custard is very thick. Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla extract, and chill before filling pastry.
I added grated orange peel for an orangy taste and flaked puff pastry on the top layer.