Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Crostata di Lamponi - My RaspberryTart

Hi Guys,

How berry nice of you to drop in! 

Lamponi is Italian for Raspberries. I got the recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks called "Florence" by Williams-Sonoma.

Ever feel like flying to Florence but just don't  have the time??
Make this dessert, sit on your balcony on a warm night, close your eyes, take a bite and pretend you're there! Why not have a Prosecco with that?... Sure, I'll have a Prosecco....Now, imgine George Clooney...George? Ok. Why not....That will surely help the imagination along.  Next, you'll need  some peircingly loud ambulance or police sirens and you're practically there!  
*Poof!* -  Day dream over - for now.

(Little note about my beloved Florence:
Everyone who's been there knows that it is one of the most beautiful cities in the world but the abulance and police sirens are super loud - it freaks me out - its heart stopping when you're in relaxation mode! We were like .."Who's injured again!!? Where are we, the ghetto!? Who's been arrested??...its only been 90 times today!!") (In tense moments, we speak like Dane Cook or Rodney Dangerfield )

Ok. back to the dessert...
Even though this is a Raspberry tart recipe, feel free to add whatever berries you like as long as they are similar in size. 

I would call this a "dainty" dessert. No heavy cheesecake, no chocolate, no cakey texture. This is a light, fruity dessert..great when served with coffee or tea but it should be paired with a dessert wine or even a Prosecco. That stuff goes with anything!

Don't let the picture throw you off. It looked difficult to me too when I first saw the recipe. In truth, it was simple. For instance, the dough is a no-brainer. Take it from someone that has had many, many failed dough attempts. Try it.

Here is the recipe:


3/4 cup of unsalted butter, at room temp
1 large egg

1/3 cup of granulated sugar
2 cups of flour - preferably soft cake&pastry flower (they sell small bags at IGA)

I added a nice pinch of Cinnamon - I recommend it.

Custard  A.K.A - Cholesterol
3 cups of whole milk ( I used 3.25)
Now hold on to your hats.... 8 large egg yolks (save the whites and make an omelet)
3/4 cup of granulated sugar
1/4 cup of cornstarch

2 cups of raspberries (or any fresh berries)
Confectioner's sugar  (icing sugar) for dusting

To make the crust, in a large bowl, use a wooden spoon to combine the butter, egg and sugar.
Add the flour and mix with the wooden spoon until a homogeneous dough forms.
Roll into a ball and cover with plastic wrap.
Refrigerate at least 2 hours , up to 8 hours.

-Preheat your oven to 400 F.
-Butter a 9 1/2 inch tart pan with removable bottom (preferably with straight sides) - I used my regular spring form pan and it worked out fine too.
-Unwrap the refrigerated dough and place onto a lightly floured work surface. (let the dough sit a bit if its too hard to work with. Its tough when its cold)
-Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out into a round, 1/8th inch (2-3 mm) thick.
-Separate the tart pan bottom from the sides.
-Lay the dough round over the bottom, then trim the overhanging dough.
-Replace the dough-lined bottom into the pan sides.
-Gather up the dough scraps and roll it into a rope about as thick as a finger.
-Lay the rope along the inside edge of the pan and press it into the bottom and up the sides of the pan to a height of 3/4inch (2cm).
-If desired create a zigzag edge by using a knife to cut the dough so that its edges form triangular points. (up sidown triangle cutouts)

-Line the inside of the tart shell with foil.
-Fill the pan with a generous layer of dried beans or pie weights (this will stop the dough from bubbling and becoming uneven.)
-Bake until pale and dry, about 30 minutes.
-Remove the beans and foil
-Return the crust to the oven and bake until golden - about 5 more minutes
-Let cool. Then carefully remove the crust from the tart pan and transfer to your serving plate. Set aside.

To make the Custard, in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, warm the milk until small bubbles appear along the edges of the pan, about 5 min.

-Meanwhile in a bowl, combine the egg yolks, granulated sugar and cornstarch. Whisk until pale and creamy.

-Whisking constantly, slowly add about 1/2 cup of the warm milk to the egg mixture.
-Return the egg mixture to the remaining milk in the saucepan and cook, whisking constantly until the mixture begins to thicken and begins to bubble around the edges of the pan, 5-8 min.
-Remove from the heat and continue stirring for 1 minute longer. Pour the custard through a medium mesh sieve into a bowl. (I used a colander with small holes - it worked)
-Let it cool slightly, stirring occasionally, then pour the custard into the tart crust using a rubber spatula to distribute evenly.

When the custard has cooled completely, arrange the raspberries in a single layer.

Dust lightly with confectioner's sugar and serve.  

Note: make sure to dust your tart with the sugar right before serving because the natural juices from the fruit and/or condensation will dissolve the sugar after a few minutes.

Nice option:
Barefoot Contessa has a similar recipe but she uses Raspberry jam instead of Custard.  
This was exactly the way it was served to us in Florence -at Cibreo, a quaint cafe located right near my sister's and cousin's apartment. What a gem.
So anyway, I made the crust shown in this recipe but used the jam. It adds a nice tang and just feels lighter. Note: Don't buy jam with chunky pieces of fruit in it.

Favorite Jam quote:

"Sir, the radar appears to be ...jammed."
"Hmm..Raspberry. There's only one man who would dare give me the Raspberry... LONE STAR!!!"
Whomever guesses where that quote is from will be in my heart forever.

DON'T Google it - cheaters! 

Now take a look about my pictures.

 Then I performed an experiment...I had these sturdy gold foiled cupcake liners so I decided to make mini tarts. I bought these liners at Ares Kitchen Supplies.
Anyways, they turned out great!

Voila! Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Holy Macaroni (bar), Batman!

Macaroni Bar
4448, Boul. St-Laurent (Corner Mont-Royal)
Montreal, Qc
Metro: Mont-Royal


Hey Guys,

I'm sorry for taking so long between posts but I have a few lined up for you.

So I was hearing a lot about this "happening" place called Macaroni Bar from my friends who still go out lol.
Many had mentionned that they have Gnocci Poutine. 
So,way before Bufala, Macaroni Bar had it on their menu. This lead me to believe that they were current, and innovative. My sister and I couldn't wait to go.

The decor is stylish, modern with some great photo art found on columns throughout the restaurant. They picture a late 50's , early 60's pizzeria scene - a busy restaurant with patrons eating, discussing and so on...nobody's looking at the camera except for this cute pudgy boy. Love him :)

Although the decor was interesting, the place had a distressed feel to it..or rather a "clubbed in" feel.
Its a popular spot for 5 a 7 crowds, Friday and Saturday night crowds.  Although, for a Tuesday night, there were quite a lot of people.

The bar looked stocked. The bar maid - experienced. She was expertly whipping up some great looking drinks - Mojitos and such.  My Caesar was so good!

This place has some of the most attractive waitresses around and patrons to match.
I felt a little out of place...no tan...no platforms...no glamorous hair...no extra long legs..lol   
I got stuck in the rain....Shall I go on? I think not. Maybe it was model night.

The staff was polite, gracious and knowledgeable.

Now, the food...As appetizers we had :

-Braised Pork belly lollipops - I don't know how they did this..its tender braised meat shaped, into a little ball, battered, fried and placed on a stick. Unfortunately, although they looked so very interesting...they were so very over-fried. They tasted a little burnt. The sweet sauce which accompanied this dish was so-so.
They look great though, don't they? A for Art guys!

-Tuna Bomb which is tuna tartar mixed with tempura pieces that resembled Rice Crispies with a little spice. This was great! So tasty, crunchy and satisfying. We forgot about the picture for a sec and dug in..

-Arancini stuffed with aged cheddar and prosciutto, served with a side of tomato sauce. These were good . I don't have a pic...they just looked like Arancini.

The main:

My sis had veal stuffed ravioli served in a creamy mushroom sauce. Over all, this dish tasted great but her pasta was undercooked which kinda' ruined it for her.

I had ricotta and spinach stuffed Agnolotti with tomato-basil sauce. This was FANTASTIC. Why? because it reminded me of Italy. The tomato sauce was fresh and tasty - loved the fresh basil and best of all , they drizzled very fresh and fragrant olive oil underneath the pasta. The flavor of the olive oil just came through with every bite. My compliments to the Chef


They had a lot of interesting dessert choices but we went with the S'mores.
Ok...may I please be frank? (I imagine you all saying "YES! You may be frank")

This dessert was stupid...It frustrated me and when I'm frustrated I often call inanimate objects "stupid"  (even if that, in itself, is "stupid"..)

When it was presented to us we were so excited, especially about those great looking grilled marshmallows.

They weren't classic S'mores but that part is ok - you can be creative!
It was comprised of vanilla ice cream that tasted of nothing but sugar,   great looking grilled marshmallows that disappointingly tasted of nothing. It was like eating a picture of a dessert!
I was chewing slowly...trying to detect flavor...It looked so good though. It was a SHERADE!..
Then, there were these thin imitation graham wafers that ALSO tasted of nothing but sugar. They looked like Golden Grahams cereal. In fact I remember wishing that they were..
Then there were brownies. Those were fine.

They should have described this dish as follows...
S'mores - Brownies with sugar flavored ice cream, graham impostors and lightly grilled styrofoam.

The picture is deceiving eh?

Star Rating:
I give it 2 stars for food. It would have been a 1 but my pasta dish and the Tuna Bomb were very good.
So, out of 3 appetizers, only one was good and for our main, only one out of two were good.
The dessert - a big fat "0"!

However, I give it 3 stars for its vibrant lounge/club scene. - Note: Bring your tan-in-a-can.

In summary, I recommend this place for its lively 5 a 7 or weekend evening scene. You'll have fun for sure.
Great cocktails, fun dishes to snack on and beautiful people. Don't go there searching for dishes with depth. They're all about looks.

The End