Category: no-bake

French custard cream (or Creme Patisserie) with fruit.

Creme Patisseries with fresh fruit.

I know, they’re beautiful, right? I’m calling these little things French custards, but they’re really Creme Patisseries. It’s essentially just pastry cream, but it’s delicious. I think really it’s a dessert in it’s own right. Why hide it as a filling- it’s perfection on it’s own with some fresh fruit.

That’s probably not what most folks would do with it… but I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel. Most people fill cakes or cupcakes or eclairs with it, or Napoleons maybe. But why not just fill up a little dish with it and top with fruit?

I can’t think of a reason. I mean, it’s usually the creamy part of a fruit tart anyway. Just cut out the middle man!

Creme Patisserie (pastry cream) with fruit.

It’s also very simple to make, which is why I made these look extra fancy with some fruit and mint leaves.

See, I grow strawberries. And the strawberries that I grow are a very very old kind that was first grown in gardens in the 12th century. They’re known as Alpine strawberries. And not only are they a very old variety, but they’re quite unique. The ones pictured here are fully grown at just 3/4″ long. That’s right- they do not become those giant monstrosities you see in the supermarket. These are a “wild” berry, they do not send off runners either, they stay bushy and compact and adorable.

They also have a unique flavor; as ReneesGarden.com says:

[…] berries with an intensely concentrated flavor I can only describe as truly ambrosial. [And] their aroma and flavor are unmatched as garden berries.

And as written on this website:

Order strawberries in a deluxe Parisian restaurant and you’re likely to be served berries that are very small, very expensive, and also very delicious. Such fruits are not merely scaled-down or poorly grown versions of regular strawberries, but a completely different species—the near-wild alpine strawberry, Fragaria vesca.

Creme Patisserie with fresh fruit.

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Vanilla panna cotta with fresh cherry sauce.

Vanilla bean panna cotta with fresh sweet cherry sauce.

Don’t you just LOVE when desserts look like murder scenes?

Panna Cotta is one of the most perfect summertime desserts. Not only does it take about  5 ingredients, but it’s a dream to make, and you can make it ahead of time. Oh, and it requires only about 10 minutes on the stove! And it’s impressive to say. Panna cotta.

Panna cotta is kind of what would happen if Jell-O and vanilla pudding had a baby. It’s gelatinous, yet creamy. Almost flan-like. In Italian, “panna cotta” means “cooked cream,” and that’s essentially what it is. With sugar, vanilla, gelatin and yogurt. In Italy it’s traditionally eaten with chocolate sauce or fresh berries, or both. Some types of panna cotta can hold their shape when unmolded, this particular one is a crap shoot. If you leave it in longer than overnight, in a very cold spot in the fridge, you might be able to unmold it.

However- forget it if it’s a hot, humid day, or if your custard cups have an unusual shape. It ain’t gonna happen.

Vanilla bean panna cotta with fresh sweet cherry sauce.

The first time I made this recipe, my mother asked for it for her birthday. I made two types; the original Ina Garten recipe with balsamic strawberries, and some with just mini-chocolate chips mixed in before chilling it. Since then I’ve made it many times over- usually for her, since it’s one of her favorite things- and never really deviated from that.

But this year I made some fresh cherry sauce with all of those beautiful Rainier Fruit Company cherries I received, and I thought that would be a delicious variation to spoon on top.

And I was correct. And you should make it too, if you were smart like me and froze some of those gorgeous cherries.

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Cherries in the snow- uh, syrup.

Cherries in a light almond-y syrup. #sweetpreservation

Remember that Revlon lipstick, Cherries in the Snow? I believe they still make it. I remember as a kid my mom wore it, and I loved the name. What a great name for a lipstick. It was one of their best sellers for many, many years by the time I came along. Anyway… I always think of that lipstick when I see cherries, so it was more than a great name, it was great marketing!

This post isn’t really about Revlon or makeup or anything related to it at all, actually. It is, however, about cherries. Sweet, perfect cherries from the Rainier Fruit Company. And of course, part 1 (part 1… yes, there will be more) of what I did with them!

Rainier Company cherries! #sweetpreservation

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A simple simple syrup & vodka cocktail, please.

A refreshing spring & summer cocktail with lime simple syrup, vodka and seltzer.

As of last night, Mad Men is over. Forever. Adieu, Don Draper/Dick Whittman. Goodbye, Peggy Olson. Adios, Joan Harris. And Roger Sterling! Oh, how I’ll miss Roger & his antics. Now that this show is over, who are we to look to for suave yet incredibly sexist reminders of days gone by? Who else on TV will remind us not only how far we’ve come socially, but also remind us on a weekly basis that men (…and women) today dress like slobs? Who else will have us yearning for cocktails – and cigarettes- constantly?

I don’t know. All I do know is that I happen to love the idea of the “cocktail.” Especially this time of year. Open windows, sunshine, and a nice cool cocktail.

A simple simple syrup & vodka cocktail, with lemon and lime.

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Pseudo-Dutch potato salad.

It just so happens, I am part Dutch. Not Pennsylvania Dutch, just Dutch. From the Netherlands. Land of the wooden shoes. I’m many things actually- but yes, Dutch is one of them. However I’m not a big fan of potato salad (Dutch or otherwise). I come from a family who LOVES all kinds of mayonnaise-dressed carbohydrate salads; macaroni, potato, etc. And coleslaw too. I did not inherit the love.

But ’tis the season to have barbecues, picnics and eat outside in general. And those usually include a type of salad; be it made with lettuces & greens or potatoes, macaroni or eggs.

Pseudo-Dutch potato salad.

I used farm fresh eggs from Queens County Farm. Obviously, any eggs will do. But just in case you were wondering where I got the blue egg, that should explain it. *wink*

A few of the farm eggs were on the small side, so I made an extra few. If you’re using regular store-bought large eggs, use only 5. For me, the farm fresh unpasteurized eggs seem to boil quicker, maybe because they’re sizes are so varied its hard to figure out the exact timing for boiling a bunch but I always end up with a bit of a darker circle around the yolk when using them. It’s harmless (it’s just ferrous sulfide) so it doesn’t bother me.

Easy pseudo-Dutch potato salad with hardboiled eggs, pickles & optional bacon.

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Recipe redux: three cheese stovetop mac!

Quick and easy stovetop three cheese macaroni.

It’s warm, it’s sticky, and you don’t want to cook. It’s that time of year when you just don’t feel like it. You’re not in the mood to turn on the stove- nor are you prepared to grill anything & it’s far too hot to have the oven on. We’ve  spent all freakin’ winter cooking! ENOUGH! Or maybe it’s late; no time to defrost anything or go to the store. But you’ve still got mouths to feed (or you’re starving yourself!) & they won’t take no for an answer.

Well I have the solution: three cheese stovetop macaroni.

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This chocolate pudding will make you feel like a kid again.

I never really understood people who didn’t make their own pudding, and relied on the store-bought instant variety. It takes the same amount of time to make it from scratch. Seriously. And it’s EASY. Not only all that- but you get to know exactly what you’re eating.

In this chocolate pudding, there are 10 ingredients, most of which you probably have already. And you can pronounce them all.

Double chocolate pudding! Just like the kind you had as a kid, but homemade.

You love chocolate pudding, don’t you? Who doesn’t? What kid DOESN’T like chocolate pudding? It’s the great equalizer, like pizza. Everyone loves it. I know as a kid I was obsessed with homemade butterscotch pudding & chocolate pudding, equally. I was so excited when my mom made pudding, I hated waiting for it to chill. But NO SKIN- if there was skin on it, it was peeled off & thrown away promptly.

I still don’t like to have skin on my pudding.

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