Spring is almost here. I could not be more excited!
As a child, spring brought mud puddles, thunderstorms and tulips. Tulips are a garden staple here in Michigan. You know that spring is here to stay when tulips begin to pop through the cold winter soil. The tulips haven't shown up yet, and there is still a thin layer of snow in our front yard, but that doesn't mean I can't celebrate spring's impending arrival with a classic spring dessert.
Have you ever had something so simple, but deliciously decadent at a restaurant that you risked embarrassing your dining companions to take a photo of it? This happened to me while recently on vacation. The waiter arrived with my selection and it looked so delicious and beautiful, that I struggled with the dilemma of standing up, hauling out my professional camera and taking the shot. I am often faced with this dilemma, and many times I have passed up the opportunity to photograph an amazing dish as a courtesy to fellow diners. (However, there are times that I regret it later!)
This time, however, I forewarned my companions, and chalked it up to research for work. I can always blame it on my relentless pursuit of photographic and culinary perfection! I am so thrilled that I did because bananas foster french toast was one of the most decadent and beautiful breakfast entrees I had had in a very long time. The soft egg-based french toast was grilled to perfection -- not too crunchy and definitely not soggy. Cascading over the top of the bread were toasted walnuts, fresh bananas, a brown-sugar caramel sauce and a scoop of Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream in the middle. "Yum" does not even begin to describe this sweet breakfast masterpiece.
The beignet is a classic New Orleans breakfast treat. It is a staple in the New Orleans food culture, dating back to the early 1900’s. Café Du Monde is the most famous and well recognized purveyor of beignets, but many bakeries in and around the French quarter have their own recipes for these light and filling breakfast treats.
The easiest and simplest way to describe a beignet is a cross between a rich and dense egg-based French pastry (such as a profiterole) and a classic American yeast donut. The beignet dough is fried to a light golden brown and covered in powdered sugar. They are served in sets of three and brought to your table piping hot. A simple pairing of a classic café au lait with your beignet, and you will feel as though you are transported to French Quarter café.
Granola can be a pretty boring breakfast option. It often is dry and practically void of flavor. In addition to that, most store-bought versions are loaded with fat, sugar and preservatives (you thought you were being healthy, didn’t you!?). However, Homemade granola is easy to create in your own kitchen. In addition to ease of preparation, it is easily portioned and can keep for up to a month in a tightly closed container. The addition of dried exotic fruits, sweet coconut and maybe the occasional dark chocolate chip adds flavor and texture to a basic, tasteless granola. Adding Tahitian vanilla beans amps up the flavor even more; the sweet, fruity and floral notes of the beans mix with the dried fruits and coconut to create an exciting granola you will jump out of bed for. Plus, it looks beautiful in the bowl!Continue reading
Did you ever have a time in your life where you ate so much of one particular food item that you can’t stand the smell, taste or look of that item any longer? For me, it is the peanut butter cookie. I know you are thinking, “How could you not like peanut butter cookies?” I have one very good reason...my father! My father is a wonderful man that I truly enjoy spending time with, but when he becomes fixated on a certain food item, it tends to make an appearance many, many times! A good example is peanut butter cookies. He decided that homemade peanut butter cookies would be a thoughtful and delicious addition to our school lunches… and they were… for the first week. After a month of peanut butter cookies making a daily appearance, we began to tire of them. At two months, we kindly asked him to please refrain from putting them in the lunches (I’m pretty sure it wasn't so eloquently asked, but I think he finally got the point). We were wrong. The peanut butter cookies continued to make an appearance, but this time they were topped with a Hershey kiss. This did not improve upon them! Thankfully, he finally grew tired of them himself, and one glorious day, they were no longer gracing the top of our lunches, halleluja! This was over 25 years ago and, until recently, I would not make any peanut butter cookies, often blaming food allergies for their lack of appearance in our home.Continue reading
Chocolate cake makes me weak in the knees. It's not just, "That dessert looks good. I think I will throw all inclinations of eating healthy today out the window," but, "I want to sit down and eat a giant slice cold from the fridge at six in the morning with a big glass of cold milk."
Luckily, I was able to do just that this morning! I recently posted a recipe for drunken cherries on the Beanilla blog. As I sat down to plan out my posts for the week, I remembered a previous post for drunken cherries. I grabbed them out of the fridge and pried off the lid. The most amazing aroma greeted me; hints of almond, beautiful vanilla beans from Beanilla, and cherries. I knew that those cherries were crying out to be paired with rich chocolate cake. So, I made one, and guess what? It was amazing! My son begged for a piece, my husband (who doesn't eat dessert) ate an entire slice and me, well... I had two! I know you're thinking, "You're a pastry chef. You probably eat sweets all the time". But that is simply not the case......Continue reading
Profiteroles, or cream puffs as they are called here in the states, are a classic French dessert. You will most likely find them filled with a sweet whipped cream and garnished with a dusting of powdered sugar or hard caramel. My favorite is the latter version. I vividly remember going to the patisserie in Paris, and blissfully enjoying this light and filling pastry. I love the chewy texture of the Pâte à Choux (cream puff dough) the soft cream filling and the crunchy texture of the hard caramel glaze.
Almonds and vanilla are a match made in heaven. Tahitian vanilla beans, fresh roasted almonds and sweet cream provide a decadent base for the second part of a scrumptious recipe I guarantee you will drool over. You may wonder what I am talking about... creamy, rich and decadent almond vanilla whipped cream. So deceptively simple to prepare, but impossible to resist.
There is nothing quite as delicious as a chocolate chip cookie straight from the oven! Hot, gooey, and delicious, the chocolate still melted and the center of the cookie so soft and delicious it breaks apart in your hand... My mouth waters just thinking about it!Continue reading
I know what you are thinking…….. Ugh, not another smoothie recipe! This smoothie recipe is not your typical smoothie. It’s special just like the person I make it for. My daughter is a vegetarian, and she has been for the majority of her life. Throughout her life it has been a struggle to prepare nutritious and protein-packed meals for her (especially when she only wanted to eat cheese. Cheese smoothies are definitely not palatable!).
Grab a cup of coffee (or tea), sit down with a good old fashion newspaper, and enjoy the simple pleasure that is coffee cake. In this very hectic and digitalized world it is nice, on occasion, to put it all aside and reflect on the simple pleasures. Now don't get me wrong, I couldn't live without my iPhone, computer or camera, and nor would I want to, but every once in a while the hectic, fast-paced digital world that is our lives needs a rest -- a time to breathe and think about how quickly time passes, and how we sometimes forget to appreciate the small things that can bring so much pleasure.
Roses are red, violets are blue, Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, I’m ready--are you? Dinner reservations, store bought candy and jewelry are certainly appreciated and show us that you care, but nothing is sweeter than homemade cupcakes!Continue reading
Do you remember the vanilla candied lemon post, and how beautiful those bright yellow lemons looked in the jar? Did you look at those vanilla candied lemons and think, "I should make those!"? Maybe you made them, and now they stare at you every time you open the fridge door. You wonder, "What in the world am I going to do with these?" I have just the solution: lucious mini-lemon cheesecakes with vanilla candied lemon slices.Continue reading
Super Bowl Sunday brings many families together; it is the quintessential American holiday. Nachos sit happily with pizza and potato skins on the buffet table, vegetable platters are politely accepted and then placed discretely at the back of the kitchen counter. While the other snack foods are delicious, chicken wings always seem to be the star at any Super Bowl party. Sweet and spicy, sticky and delicious barbecue wings made with Tonga vanilla beans will become a staple in your house all year long. Our Tonga vanilla beans add a rich and smoky flavor to homemade barbecue sauce, your family and friends will beg you for more!
Edamame is not what comes to mind when you think about vanilla! Beautiful lemon coconut raspberry cakes, fresh fruit tarts smothered in rich custard fillings, and gooey chocolate fudge brownies seem much more suited to the vanilla bean, but I'm here to inform you that vanilla and savory are a match made in heaven.
Each species of vanilla bean has a unique flavor profile; for instance, the Ugandan vanilla bean has rich chocolate undertones that enhance any mole. Indonesian vanilla beans are sweet with a smoky undertone perfect for barbecue sauces and grilling. Tahitian vanilla beans have a rich floral and fruity undertone that pairs beautifully with demi glace for rich savory sauces. As you can see, the vanilla bean is very versatile and does not need to be limited to sweet applications.Continue reading