Dessert Pizza…is there any other kind?

Seriously, two words: dessert pizza. Oh so delicious. Fruit and nutella. What a combo. It’s the perfect way to get your chocolate fix while using summer foods. Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and mint are at their prime. So why not take advantage of them and indulge in a non-traditional dessert.

This is how you do it:

I bought fresh pizza dough and rolled it out into small circles. Then I put nutella on top. In another bowl I had cut up strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and mint. The berries has been marinating in sugar and lime juice. I preheated the oven to 350° and put the pizzas in for about 15-20 minutes.

This is a fun, personalized and delicious dessert. I would recommend it for a night in or a dinner party. Everyone loves pizza, fruit and chocolate. What more could you ask for?

 

Lemon Tart with Rosemary Crust.

The other night I was in the mood to bake. Since I graciously received my kitchen aid mixer I have only used it a couple of times. I needed to use it. I wanted to use it. Since it’s summer I wanted to bake something citrusy and fresh tasting. I found this lemon tart on Happyolks. Instantly I decided it was what I had been searching for. It was such a simple recipe and so easy to follow. The rosemary and lemon went together so well. This is a very sweet tart. A small slice is all I could handle. The recipe called for the zest of a lemon. I realized I did not have a zester. After moving into my apartment I am finding I do not have a lot of gadgets I need. Anyway, since I did not have a zester I decided to use my vegetable peeler and put chunks of zest into the filling of the tart. It was just as delicious in my opinion and it gave the tart some texture.

I would highly recommend this tart. It’s light, citrusy and oh so delicious.

This is how you do it:

Lemon Tart with Rosemary Crust

for the crust

  • 1 1/3 cup spelt flour
  • 3 tablespoons cane sugar (I used regular sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup cold butter, cubed
  • 1-2 tablespoon ice water

for the filling

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup cane sugar (I used regular sugar)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (I used lemon shavings)

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Lightly butter a 9-inch tart pan and set aside.

Place the flour, sugar, rosemary, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times. Add the butter and pulse until little pea sized bits start to form. Add in the ice water, starting with just 1 tablespoon. Pulse a few more times, then check the dough to see if it holds together when pressed between your fingers. If not, add the 2nd tablespoon. The dough may still seem crumbly, but as long as it holds together when pressed it will be perfect.

Dump the dough out into the prepared tart pan. Starting from the center, work your way out to the sides by pressing the dough firmly into the pan. Make sure you press it up along the sides evenly. Pierce the bottom with a fork a few times and place in the oven to bake for about 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for at least 5 minutes before filling.

Meanwhile prepare the filling. Place the yogurt and sugar in a bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, then add the lemon juice and zest. Whisk until smooth and everything is evenly combined.

Pour the filling into the crust and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the center is set and only slightly jiggles when shaken lightly.

Allow to cool completely then place in the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour before serving. Tart can be made the day before and kept covered and chilled in the fridge.

A Cool Way to Beat the Heat.

Popsicles. Ahhh, I dream of popsicles in the summer. They remind me of my childhood and how they would cool you down on a hot summer day. Whether it was the sound coming down the street and the ice cream man was here, otter pops or just a plain old orange (my favorite flavor) popsicle from the fridge, the frozen treat never ceases to do its job.

In college I fell in love with paletas, which are Mexican-inspired frozen pops. There was a restaurant called Mary’s Paleteria.It served Mexican-inspired cold treats.It was definitely an underrated place. While I was the arts editor for our university newspaper, I wrote a review on Mary’s, thus my obsession with the place began.

With flavors such as rice pudding, hibiscus mint, passion fruit, etc. Definitely something different for the palate. I have a love for coconut, so the coconut paleta was my favorite. And so, drum roll, I give you the recipe for Creamy Coconut Paletas. It’s so simple and delicious. It’s bursting with rich coconut and will cool you off after a day at the pool.

Creamy Coconut Paletas
Makes six to eight pops

Ingredients
1 13½-oz. can coconut milk
1 14-oz. can organic sweetened condensed milk
2/3 c. half-and-half
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pure vanilla extract
¾ c. unsweetened shredded coconut*

*For a toasted coconut flavor, spread a thin layer of shreds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven at 325° for 10-15 minutes.

1. Put the coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, half-and-half, salt, and vanilla in a blender; blend until smooth.

2. Stir in the shredded coconut.

3. If using conventional popsicle molds, divide the mixture among the molds, snap on the lid, and freeze until solid, about 6 hours. If using glasses (try shot glasses for mini paletas) or other unconventional molds, freeze until pops begin to set (about 2 hours), then insert sticks and freeze until solid.

Chocolate Almond Mousse.

Two things I love together: Chocolate and almonds. There is nothing better than something sweet, savory and buttery all in one dish. I am enamored with the idea of mousse for dessert because it’s so flavorful, light and fluffy and you only need a small amount of it. Too much and it’s mousse overload… mousse choma. This recipe is simple and so inviting when made in these white teacups. This would be perfect for a dinner party or a tea themed party.

Of course, top with whipped cream for perfection (obviously real whipped cream, not cool whip). When it’s all said and done, I will definitely be a member of the clean plate club.

Chocolate Almond Mousse

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 cup warm water
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon almond extract
9.35 ounces dark chocolate (at least 70%), chopped into pieces
6 tablespoons granulated sugar

Directions:

To start, make an ice bath using two large bowls. Fill the bottom of the first bowl with a handful of ice and a little water and set the second bowl on top. Set to the side.

In a sauce pan, not on a burner, dissolve espresso powder in the warm water. Once dissolved, add almond extract, chocolate, and sugar. Place on a burner and turn it on at medium heat.

Continually stir until melted. You do not want to over heat it, just until the chocolate is melted completely and everything is well combined. Immediately remove from the burner and carefully pour into the large bowl over the water bath.

Grab the biggest whisk you got, and get to whisking until the mixture has thickened. Keep whisking….and more whisking…and more whisking. Think your arm is going to fall off? Good. That means you are getting close. You will know when the mixture has thickened, you can just feel and see it. It will look like chocolate pudding.

Be careful not to over whisk. You will know you have over-whisked if it takes on a grainy consistency. If that happens, just reheat the chocolate and then start again. But if you watch closely you should not have a problem. Divide mousse among 4 different glasses, cover with saran wrap and refrigerate for 12 hours.

Serve cold and with a large dollop of whipped cream on top. You can even sprinkle a few chocolate shavings on top if you feel like getting fancy.

{The Novice Chef}

 

Pink Lemonade Pops.

Another splendid perk of summer.

LEMONADE BASE RECIPE
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup room temperature water
  • 3 cups cold water
  • 1 cup lemon juice
FOR PINK LEMONADE
  • 3 teaspoons grenadine
FOR PASSION TEA LEMONADE
  • 4 Tazo Passion tea bags
  • 3 to 4 cups boiling water
Create simple syrup: Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and place the saucepan over medium heat. Stir the mixture occasionally to help it dissolve, if necessary, then remove the saucepan from the heat when the sugar has completely dissolved. Set aside to cool.
Pour the lemon juice (either fresh squeezed or store bought is fine) into a pitcher. Dilute the lemonade with the cold water, then add the simple syrup and stir thoroughly to combine.
Create additional batches of the basic lemonade for the other flavors. To create pink lemonade, add the grenadine and stir thoroughly to combine. To create the Passion tea lemonade, steep the tea bags in the boiling water. If you’d prefer a stronger Passion flavor, use a lower amount of water, as the lemonade will dilute it (I generally use, and recommend, only three cups for a more concentrated flavor). Set the tea aside to cool, then combine with the base lemonade recipe.
To assemble the popsicles, arrange a line of small paper cups in a line and pour in the desired amount of lemonade. To create even, equal sections as shown, I used a ¼ cup measuring spoon to measure out the liquid. When all the cups are filled with their first flavor layer, carefully transfer them to the freezer and let them set for about 30 minutes or until almost solid through – soft enough to insert the stick, but firm enough to support it. Insert the popsicle stick part way through the first layer (but not clean through to the bottom of the cup). Transfer the cups back to the freezer to allow the first layer to set completely.
Continue to add additional layers of the various flavors as desired, ensuring each layer is allowed to be frozen through before continuing. If the layer isn’t completely set, you may get a little bleeding between the layers rather than a crisp line (which you may prefer!). Stop creating layers once the cup is about ¾ of the way full to avoid any accidental overflow. After the last layer is frozen, serve when ready by ripping open the paper cup.

{Somewhere Splendid}

Fruit of the Day

Rhubarb.

Now, there has been debate wether rhubarb is a fruit or vegetable. But the U.S. has decided it’s a fruit, so I’m going to stick with it as a fruit. My old neighbors use to make rhubarb pie and jam all the time. I never really embraced the fruit; though, it is delicious. I like sweets (who doesn’t), but I am more of a bitter and tart person. There is something about those two flavors that appeal to me much more.

I currently have rhubarb growing in my backyard. It has a pretty pink color and tastes wonderful in pies. I think, more like I am, going to embrace the fruit more this summer. You should, too. What’s better than a pink, tart pie. Delicious!

Blue Bell.

The best ice cream ever has finally come to Colorado. In Texas, you don’t even question what kind of ice cream you buy. The answer is always Blue Bell. Now that it’s in Denver, I will never crave Blue Bell again. Thank you Blue Bell.

 

Zengo.

Reservation #3: Zengo

Located in Riverfront Park, Zengo is a Latin-Asian fusion restaurant. The atmosphere is vibrant and eclectic. I love the design and aura of the bar, seating area and dining room. Vibrant colors and food make it a great eating spot.

Their menu included three courses: appetizer, main dish and dessert. Before diving into the food, I had one of their signature drinks, a cucumber mojito. So refreshing and had just the right amount of cucumber and mint. Okay, first course. We ordered the Angry Zengo Roll (Spicy yellowfin tuna/cucumber/avocado wasabi tobiko/sesame chipotle rouille) and Give ‘n Take Chicken Salad (Togarshi candied pecan/mandarin/cabbage piloncillo ginger vinaigrette). Both had excellent presentation and flavor. On to the second course… we ordered Pan Seared Baramundi (Charred bok choy/green apple crab salad/Chile guajillo – lobster dashi) and the Beef Short Rib (Manchego potato puree/blistered corn salsa/hoisin adobo). The green apple crab salad was perfect and the short ribs could melt in your mouth; forget about a knife, the fork slid right through them. In case that wasn’t enough food, for the third course we ordered Chocolate Passion Mousse Cake (Chocolate/coconut/passion fruit crème/pecan) and Honey Semi-Freddo (Miso caramel apples/cinnamon ice cream/oat crumble). Both of these were on the opposite spectrum of dessert; one was rich and the other was mild. I had no idea what semi-freddo was, and I found out it was cream that was frozen and then set out to soften before plating. Now, I am not a huge fan of milk or cream, really anything white, but this grew on me after a couple of bites, especially since it was accompanied with apples and cinnamon ice cream.

After all of this, I was about stuffed. Nothing about Zengo disappointed. The whole place was vibrant and delicious, I would definitely go back for more.

Panzano.

Reservation #2: Panzano

“Chi mangia bene, viva bene”  — Those who eat well, live well. Those Italians know what they’re talking about when it comes to food, and so does Panzano. Located downtown on the corner of 17th St. and Champa (next to Hotel Monaco), Panzanos atmosphere is classy and accented in red. From white table cloths to red floors and chandeliers, this busy restaurant is a sight for sore eyes. Personally, I have never been to a restaurant in Denver that will offer regular water or sparkling water when you sit down. I have a love for sparkling water, so you can imagine my excitement when this option rolled around. So, here it comes, the four courses…

As you should do at restaurant week, each party eating has to order something different off the menu. That way you each get to try eight different things rather than four. For the first course we ordered Cavolini di Bruxelles (fried brussels sprouts tossed with apple cider vinegar, pistachios and green apples) and Crespelle ai Funghi (hazel dell mushroom stuffed crepes, fonduta sauce, white truffle oil). Both so tempting and pleasing; full of flavor and color. For the second course we went with the traditional and ordered a Caesar (hearts of romaine, anchovies, garlic, parmesan, croutons, crispy capers) and an Insalata Mista (hand picked organic greens, sherry vinaigrette). The third course, the main course, were surprisingly large portions. Panzano went all out. We ordered Rosmarino Tagliatelle (rosemary pasta with cranberries, toasted pine nuts and goat cheese, with a lemon emulsion) and Pollo Val d’Aosta (lightly breaded chicken layered with prosciutto and and fontina cheese over mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach). Both dishes were engaging and divine. There were so many flavors in the dishes but one never overpowered the other. On to the fourth course (as if I could eat anymore), dessert was Cioccolato Cannoli (housemade cannoli filled with gianduia and dark chocolate mousse and a italian dark cherry sauce) and Selezione di Sorbetto (made in house daily and a scoop of passion fruit, raspberry and cassis).

Whew. If there was another course someone would have had to roll me out of the restaurant. With all of that food, nothing disappointed. It was an opulent and robust meal. Delizioso!

Pollo Val d’Aosta