Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Time for something sweet...

Something that I wish would come back into fashions is only using seasonal food. We have lost so much flavor in our produce. Why do we expect tomatoes in the dead of winter? Have you ever noticed that they never taste as good as when you use them in the summer? When I cook I try really hard to do so with seasonal produce.

I decided to step away from the savory and try a dessert. I wanted something light and refreshing to go along with a pretty heavy dinner... was I successful? Somewhat...overall the dish wasn't very fattening, but it wasn't as light as I wanted. I made a strawberry cream cheese napoleon. It was a huge hit and something that someone like the Prince of Wales would have loved.

Phyllo Diamonds
10 sheets phyllo dough
2T Lemon Zest
Melted Butter
Vegetable oil

Strawberry Sauce
4c Chopped Strawberries
1/2 c Sugar
1T Lemon Juice

Cream Cheese Mousse
1 Package of cream cheese
1 Stick of butter
1c Powdered Sugar
1t Lemon Zest
2c Whipped Cream

Phyllo Diamonds
Strawberry Sauce
Cream Cheese Mousse
Sliced Strawberries
Lemon Zest (for garnish)

The first thing you should make is the sauce. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and cook on medium heat until the fruit starts to fall apart.


Next use a immersion blender or food processor to puree your sauce.


You can either use the sauce as is or strain it to remove the seeds. As my friend Shawna says the seeds give it character and show that's its not out of a jar. Taste the sauce and adjust sugar as needed. Refrigerate and serve cold.

Now its time to move onto the mouse. Cream the butter and cream cheese until it is lump free. Add the powdered sugar and lemon zest and cream. Slowly fold in your whipped cream with a spatula or whisk. Put in fridge until ready to serve.

For the phyllo diamonds layer sheets of dough one by one with butter, sugar, and lemon zest. Next you are going to cut out your shapes. You need 9 total but sometimes its good if you can get a few extra. Any shape cutter will do... I love my diamond cutters so that's what I used.


Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of your pan to 350 degrees. Place the diamonds in oil and let brown. Be careful when turn them they are very delicate. Don't worry if they get a little dark... its just the sugar caramelizing... it adds dimension to the flavors and makes it very European which equals... yum!


Place on paper towels to drain excess oil but move them before the completely cool or the caramelized sugar will stick to the towels.


Time for assembly! Put a couple drops of sauce on the center of the plate. This will help hold the dessert in place. Take a phyllo diamond and place it on top of the sauce. Layer a couple sliced strawberries then top with a spoonful of mousse. Add another diamond... you can alternate the direction it is facing to add another angle to the dish. Repeat strawberries and mousse. Make one last layer. Sprinkle some zest on top and drizzle plate with sauce.


Enjoy! If someone asks you how they are supposed to eat this, it is easiest to eat it layer by layer! Until next time!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

An interesting start to my adventure...

So the first recipe I decided to try was Spinage-Pan-Pie. I am planning on using this as a side at the ball next month. This dish was very interesting but needs a lot of work still. I didn't have a recipe going into this so I had to guess how much to use of each ingredient. I now have a better idea of how much of everything to use. The dish mixes spinach with white wine, lemon zest, cinnamon, sugar, and ground almonds. It is then topped with layers of phyllo dough that have been brushed with butter and sugar.

The directions are as follows:

* Wash spinach thoroughly to remove any dirt. Then blanch in white wine until tender.

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* Drain out all liquid and mix in remaining ingredients. Distribute into baking dishes.

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* Lay out sheets of phyllo dough one by one and brush with butter then sprinkle with sugar.

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* Cut out phyllo dough to fit your dish size then lay on top and brush with butter and sugar. Bake at 350 until dark golden brown.

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I will post the recipe once i develop it to near perfection. I also made some very yummy and easy roasted veggies as my dinner.

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* I tossed the veggies with olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin, cayenne, and a dash of nutmeg then threw them on the george foreman.

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Here is the finished dish.... can I just say YUM!

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Friday, August 21, 2009

My Project

What is this blog all about?

So I have taken it upon myself to try and cook a 3 course regency feast as historically accurate as possible. The feast is in January and I began my research about a month ago. Its time to start trying out the mass amounts of recipes that I have found. Not all the recipes have been changed to suit modern ingredients so I will have a chance to play around. I am very excited about this project. I will also be cooking for two balls prior to the feast so I may be able to try out dishes for those as well.

Here is a little of my history:

I basically grew up in the kitchen... my mother has been my biggest inspiration when it comes too the culinary field. Through out the years while visiting my grandma Diane I was always in awe of her cooking and baking... it was always so beautiful. She made me strive to make things as beautiful as they tasted. My mother taught me that anyone can follow a recipe but it would never turn out the same as when you poured your heart into it. I am now a firm believer that your emotions go into the food you are cooking.

I remember begging anybody and everybody to have free rein in the kitchen. One time I made "muffins" out of the most random ingredients (Tabasco included). The excitement of watching them bake in the oven was very hard for me to contain. Still to this day I am inpatient to see the outcome. Lets just say only one person was brave enough to try the muffins made by a aspiring 5 year old chef. He was sweet enough not to spit out the disaster! I was given my first "real" kitchen set at the age of 7. It included cookie sheets, spatulas, wooden spoons, and pot holders. I will never forget how excited I was! I made my first batch of cookies all by myself while my mom looked on. When I was in third grade I entered my first cake into a cake walk at school for Halloween (I will try and find the picture and post it). I was very proud of myself and determined to improve my skills. I was already cooking dinner for the family by that time and loved every minute of it. I spent the summer of 96 in Florida with my grandpa who sadly isn't the best cook in the world. I had to rescue him from eating out all the time and begged him for the "New Junior Cook Book" by Better Homes and Gardens. I fell in love with this and cooked my way through it... I will never forget my grandpa's look of pure pleasure when I made the peanut butter and honey cookies... he said they were the best pb cookies he had ever had and that meant a lot to an insecure little girl. Cooking had become a passion of mine and I never let anyone forget it. I did my first wedding reception all by myself during the summer between 7th and 8th grade. I was so proud of myself and had so much fun running the show and being put in charge of making sure everything ran smoothly. I took my first cooking class in 8th grade and found that it was not enough of a challenge and ended up doing demonstrations for the class. As high school came to a close I was cooking food for cast parties, fundraisers, and special dinners. I decided that I wanted to be an elementary school teacher so enrolled in college in Southern California. I panicked a few weeks before high school graduation and decided that I wasn't ready for college. A little over a year later I got a call from The Culinary Institute of America asking me if I was interested in starting school in 10 days. I was a little unsure but decided what the heck. I packed my life up and was soon on a plane with my mom. The next day my mom dropped me off at school and was gone in less than 30 minutes to catch her plane home. I was terrified but so excited. I had decided to pursue the pastry arts instead of the culinary arts because I didn't want to butcher animals and I wanted to have more of a creative and scientific outlet. I learned a lot from the many chefs and classmates I had while attending. I graduated with a AOS in the Baking and Pastry Arts in November of 2007. After graduation I started Sweets By Stephanie. I have had a blast making cakes and catering events!

Well its off to the kitchen... I'm making 400 cupcakes, a princess first birthday cake, and my first historical recipe tonight.