This is one of my favorite desserts. I haven’t made it in quite a while, because I have a minor child, and A) don’t want to share with him, and B) don’t want to eat the whole thing myself. So when Easter came, and I knew people were coming over, it was a perfect opportunity.
We have a wonderful Persian bakery, Flor De Cafe, in Glendale, and that was where I was finally able to find real lady fingers. Real lady fingers are crisp and readily absorb liquids. The stuff at the supermarket that comes out in Strawberry season is spongy and will not absorb the liquids correctly for this classic dessert. Ergo, another reason I have made this in a long time.
I was able to find Mascarpone, a wonderful Italian cheese with a texture reminiscent of cream cheese. Mascarpone is slightly sweet, and has a silky texture. It is made from cream and some kind of citric acid. It’s expensive, another reason I don’t make this dessert very often. Well, I found some at my local Armenian store, from the wonderful folks at Sadaf, and it was great. As I was writing this, I came across a method for making homemade Mascarpone, so I will be doing that from now on.
We have a wonderful Farmer’s Market in Glendale on Thursdays, and I was able to get some big, lovely, organic strawberries form my Tiramisu. It made it very special.
I recently joined a great MeetUp, Entrepreneurs Professionals Glendale, and wanted to bring something nice for everyone to share. One of the members, Aron Ganz of Ganz Media gave the berries their name, Strawberry Torpedoes, a much shorter name, and I am grateful for that!
This is a group of entrepreneurs and professionals, who own small to medium businesses. We are not drones of the corporate world, and realize that even though being self-employed has its difficulties, it has huge rewards. Our group, led by Lynn Sarkany of MarketFinders, meets to exchange ideas to help our businesses, share stories, and network with each other. If you are a like-minded individual, you might consider joining us. Please visit Entrepreneurs and Professionals to find out more.
I had recently found a whole bunch of baking chocolate on sale, had some strawberries and a package of cream cheese. But, instead of making the Cheesecake Stuffed Chocolate Dipped Strawberries that I made last time, I thought I would add a little more adult flavor to the dish.
I added cocoa, coffee, vanilla, almond and cinnamon to the cream cheese filling, and I injected the berries with balsamic vinegar. When you bite into these berries, they explode flavor into your mouth.
When thinking about making this Balsamic Strawberry and Blueberry Trifle with Lemon Cream, it reminded me of something that happened many years ago. I was asked to bring something to a 4th of July potluck. I was making a yellow cake and using strawberries and blueberries for filling, with a whipped cream topping. As I was taking the cake out of the pan, my cat Lazer startled me, and I dropped the cake on the counter. I went into bunch of little pieces. Well, I had a trifle bowl, so I scooped everything up, put in the bowl with the cream and fruit, presented it as Oops 4th of July Trifle, and called it a day.
This year, I wanted something along the same lines, but a little more fun. Strawberries and balsamic vinegar are perfect together. Strawberries and Mascarpone are even better together, but I didn’t want anything that thick. So I developed a wonderful lemon cream.
The other day, when I was perusing Pinterest, I came across something that looked fabulous. It was strawberries stuffed with cream cheese, and it was called Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries. I pinned it, and decided it would make a nice treat for the kids in Spane’s class going to the Planetarium field trip. Last year, I made White Chocolate Rum Raisin Cookies for Mrs. Mary’s class when we went to The Natural Science Museum.
I lucked out, and strawberries were Buy One box, Get One Free. There are 24 kids in Spane’s class, plus the teacher, and possibly one or two more parents who, like me, volunteered to go on the trip to help with the children. There were enough strawberries, with a few extra for the house.
I decided to change the original recipe a little and dip the strawberries in chocolate. All the recipes on the Internet tell you to add shortening to the chocolate to temper it. I don’t like shortening, and I knew that I had dipped strawberries before without it. Of course, looking in The Joy of Cooking, I found that I didn’t need shortening at all, just a candy thermometer, that I have a nice glass one with a clip. There are instructions later in this post about how to do this.
This morning, our friends Barney and Charlie came by because we were going to UCLA to see the baseball game against the Oregon Ducks. Spane’s first grade class (Mrs. Francisco) was chosen by number 33 Eric Goeddel to come to the game at UCLA today.
Out friend, Maria, was with us as she is on all Sunday mornings. I love Maria Torres so much! She is so much fun, and when she tells those headline jokes, it’s just too much!
Anyway, you’re here to hear about the food, right? Well, when I had asked Bonnie to come from breakfast, and what she liked, she had said pancakes. Hmmm, I thought to myself last night – that’s a lot of pancakes to stand there and make (and this is right after making Cheddar Cheese Spritz Crackers last night). I vaguely remembered hearing about a baked pancake, so I decided to make Dutch Babies, otherwise known as Baked Pancakes.
I served the pancake with fresh strawberries and sweetened sour cream. Baked bacon was also on the menu. It was truly a hit!
I am a practicing Catholic. What does that mean? It means I go to Mass every Sunday where I have Communion , I try to go to Confession once a month (and definitely before a Holy day), and I share the Good Word with others. When I was growing up I heard about the Passover Seder, and my mother had friends who were Jewish, but we never went to one. It was not until a year after I went through RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) that I went to any form of Seder, and that was put on by a lovely Catholic couple. I thought it was such a nice way to help celebrate what God has given us, that I decided that I was going to have my own Seder. Last night was that first attempt, and was the start of a new tradition in our small family. I did not do a full Seder, I just presented a Seder plate, said some words of explanation where we all participated, and then I served a great dinner that brought it all together. I will share that with you here.