Saturday, April 13, 2013

Pie Party 2013 in Pictures

What a great night! Fabulous folks, tons of pie, and my friend James, the self proclaimed "Pie Virgin" was converted to the joys of pie! It has taken me a little while to post the pictures, my apologies, but I figured better late than never! There were great pies both sweet and savory, Shepards pie, pasties, caramel apple hand pies and peach pie all using local in March in New England, and a slew of other tasty delights... lobster pie, coconut cream pie, chocolate cream pie with a bird made out of fruit on top, lemon curd tartlets, key lime pie, peach and ricotta hand pies, chess pie and more....see for yourself....

And James eating his first bite of pie EVER!!!

It was fun and delicious...and I don't think I want to eat pie again for a long long time...

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Rainbow Parfaits

April is birthday land in my house. My husband, daughter, son and mother all have b-days this month. Lucky for me, while my little girl loves birthdays, she is not so into cake, so for her celebration I get to be b-day creative with something other than flour for one out of the four celebrations. Last year I made these chocolate cups with lemon verbena cream, this year she wanted something with a rainbow, so I made rainbow parfaits. Luscious whipped cream layered with homemade fruit purees: raspberry, passion fruit, mango, kiwi and blackberry. Simple to make, although a bit time consuming, but fabulous, and well worth the effort. I topped these with meringues, another 5 year old favorite. 

 The more labor intensive rainbow treats were reserved for the kids, so for the adults I made a large decadent fruit fool: layers of whipped cream sweetened with condensed milk, layered with passion fruit syrup, and sliced fruit. For another version of this treat I brought to a pot luck later that weekend I added pieces of coconut cake to soak up the juices turning the fool into a triffle.  The passion fruit puree has an incredible flavor and really adds the most amazing accent to these fruit and whipped cream desserts, you can certainly use another orange fruit, but if you can find it, the passion fruit puree is well worth the extra effort!  Look in the frozen food section of grocery stores in areas where there is a latino community, they often carry Goya or La Fey brand frozen fruit pulps.

While the birthday dessert was a huge hit, I think her favorite part of the party was the rainbow candy machine she invented. It was her version of a piƱata re-imagined," you don't hit it, papa will shake it and treats with come out wooden slides sticking out the side".  I filled it with chocolates, stickers and other little party favors. 

Food for the party was a rainbow buffet of fruits, vegetables and snacks. The kids ran an obstacle course in our neighbor's driveway, and I basked in the joy of making my little girl's birthday wishes come true for her special day.  

The cheese dish on the right was a big hit with the adults. I had intended to use farmer's cheese, but saw a great looking South American cheese at the market called Aztec Cheese, a fresh cheese, a little firmer and saltier than farmers cheese. I topped it with a drizzle of blood orange flavored olive oil (you could just add a little orange zest to some good olive oil), a good dose of black pepper and chopped scallions. It was delicious, refreshing and a great accompaniment to the rest of the food. 

Rainbow Fruit Triffle
Composed individual version (10 triffles) - simple big bowl version below

1 quart whipping cream (2 pints)
1 can condensed milk (or powdered sugar to taste)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2-3 cups each of a rainbow of fruits, I used raspberries, mango, kiwi and black berries
2 frozen blocks of passion fruit (in the frozen section with goya or other latino food brand products
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup sugar
Sugar - to sweeten each fruit puree to taste

1. Using fresh fruit or frozen but thawed fruit, make a simple puree out of each fruit by mashing it or putting it into the blender with a little sugar to your liking. I barely sweetened the fruit. Place each puree in a ziplock bag. This can be done a day or two in advance.

2. To thicken the passion fruit juice, put thawed juice or frozen juice into a small sauce pot over medium heat, add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup sugar to taste. Mix 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with a few tablespoons of thawed juice or water until it is completely dissolved. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the passion fruit juice, bring to a boil and simmer for 30 seconds or so until it thickens. Cool completely and put into a ziplock bag. 

3. Whip cream until thickened, sweetening it with condensed milk, or powdered sugar if you prefer. The condensed milk results in a creamier whipped cream. Place whipped cream in a pipping bag fitted with a small circle tip or in a gallon sized ziplock bag. 

4. To assemble: find small (4oz or less) glasses or plastic cups. I found these at a local dollar store, and have saved them to use again. Snip the corner off of the whipped cream ziplock bag and each fruit puree as you need it. Starting with whipped cream, pipe a thin layer over the bottom of the cup, continue alternating with each fruit puree and whipped cream in color order. I used the passion fruit puree for orange, and the mango for yellow. You can top these with a big dollop of whipped cream, decorate with fruit or make baked meringues as I did. 

Simplified Big Bowl Triffle
1 Quart Cream
1 can condensed milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 frozen packet passion fruit juice
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup sugar or other sweetener to taste
Assortment of fruits, sliced
Coconut or vanilla cake, angel food cake or lady finders, or other treat to soak up the fruit juices (optional)

  1. Slice fruit and place in separate containers. Berries can be sprinkled with sugar to help the juices come out. Thaw passion fruit juice, sweeten with sugar, honey or other sweetener to taste.
  2. Whip the cream with the condensed milk and vanilla. 
  3. Layer all of the ingredients in a glass bowl making a lovely pattern on the outside of the bowl. Each cake layer can be topped with fruit and passion fruit juice so it soaks of the juices. 
Note: if you don't have any cake, the whipped cream and fruit alone make a fabulous decadent dessert. 

Do you have any great birthday food ideas to share?