September 2, 2015

Back to basics - A simple raw summer Salad

One of the reasons I enjoy summertime so much it's because it allows me to experiment with fresh foods I buy directly from farmers, or are from my own garden. They are not only beautiful and vibrant, but also delicious and healthy, like this simple and colorful salad.

The idea of eating flowers never crossed my mind before, not that I lack cooking imagination, or anything of the kind, but because having flowers around me causes a shift in my mood, giving me a feeling of wonderment and peace, and I've preferred admiring them than eaten them.

However, as my palate has evolved and my desire to experiment in the kitchen has broadened, I decided to use a few edible flowers and fruits I have in my garden to add a lovely touch to my salad.

I paired the sweeteness of gorgeous strawberries, the mild and fresh flavor of lovely pansies with the peppery taste of vibrant nasturtiums with arugula, radish and boiled egg. Did it work? Probably so, as I prepared this salad twice last week.

When I look at radishes I  keep wondering how delicious and vibrant in color they are, and like gorgeous-looking strawberries, they simply inspire me to photograph them, again and again...

The beauty of this salad is in the freshness of the ingredients, and that's the idea - use ingredients that are local and fresh, ingredients that are your favorites. Salads are such a venue of creativity, have fun while creating your own.

This is a dish full of vitaminstastecolor and texture, it's a simple salad you will want to eat over and over again. 

Raw Summer Salad

♥ radish
♥ boiled egg
♥ strawberry
♥ nasturtium
♥ pansies & herbs you have handy
♥ olive oil, lime juice, salt & ground pepper

Toss all salad ingredients together, add a drizzle of olive oil, salt, freshly ground pepper and freshly squeezed lime (or lemon if you prefer) juice, sprinkle all fresh herbs you have handy. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.

This salad gets better as it sits and the flavors mesh together, so if you can, let it chill for a few minutes before enjoy it.

August 25, 2015

A walk in the garden

I thought I would share with you
a few shots I took of the
many shades of violet
when the light comes to the garden...

August 19, 2015

The simplest treats can be the best - No-Churn Homemade Coconut & Pistachio Ice Cream

We all know ice cream is sweet, soft, creamy and smooth, just to give it a few adjectives, but that it can be homemade without having to be churned, that I did not know!
I would not be surprised if you think of me something such as what kind of world has she been living in?

In my favor, I only have to say I simply never paid attention to it until I saw this post at Marcela's blog, and after that, withouth having to search for them, all kinds of no-churn homemade ice cream recipes were falling on my lap,  and I knew I had to make my own.

It's ridiculous how easy and delicious this recipe is, with just two ingredients, whipping cream and sweeteened condensed milk, along with the flavors I chose, coconut and pistachio, and in a few minutes, not counting freezing time, I made this crazzy good ice cream.

No Churn Homemade Coconut & Pistachio Ice Cream

 1 can sweetened condensed milk
 16 fl oz (473ml) whipping cream
♥ shredded unsweetened coconut, to taste
♥ chopped pistachio, to taste

Pour the whipping cream into a mixing bowl and whip it until it holds stiff. Gently begin folding the condensed milk into the whipped cream. At first, it looks lumpy, but as you continue to fold the mixture will smooth out and become soft and silky. Be careful not to over mix, stop when you see just a few small lumps here and there.

Add the shredded coconut and chopped pistachio to the mixture.

Transfer the mixture to a container. Smooth the top, and press a piece of wax paper against the surface to prevent ice crystals from forming. Cover, and freeze for at least 6 hours.

Flavor possibilities are endless for ice cream, we can add nuts, fruits, caramel, vanilla, chocolate chips, anything to our taste.

It may not last as machine made ice cream, I do not know of that,

but I do know that

it's creamy, 

it's scoopable,

it melts in your mouth.

In resume, it's simply delicious!

July 28, 2015

Vanilla-flavored Custard topped with homemade Fruit Sauce

Hello, I hope you are well and enjoying these long days of summer. Do you love it as much as I do?

I am upstairs, the window let in a soft breeze, birds sing, and a soft rain falls quietly. I feel relaxed and profoundly happy.

This is the time for early morning walks, time for beautiful flowers and gorgeous-looking fruits.

Time away from the computer.

"What do we have for dessert?" Brady asked me. A dessert that tastes like summer - colorful, fresh and light, vanilla-flavored custard, topped with homemade fruit sauce and fresh fruits, I said.

This dessert recipe is quick and simple to prepare, one you might like to keep handy.

Vanilla-Flavored Custard topped with Homemade Fruit Sauce & Fresh Fruits
Makes about 4 

For the Custard
 1 can sweetened condensed milk
♥ 1 3/4 cup whole milk (use the condensed milk can to measure the milk amount)
♥ 3 egg yolks
♥ 1 tbsp cornstarch + 1/2 cup milk to dissolve it
♥ 1 tsp vanilla extract, or more to taste

For the Fruit Sauce
♥ 2 cups seasonal fruits - this time I used strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and cherries
♥ 1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar, depending on the sweetness of the fruits
♥ 2 tbsp water

♥ Fresh fruits to serve.

Beat the egg yolks until completely dissolved and smooth. Place them in a saucepan over medium heat. 
Add the milk, and stir the mixture slowly. 
Add the sweetened condensed milk and the vanilla extract. 
Mix the cornstarch with 1/2 cup of milk, and gradually pour the dissolved cornstarch into the pan. Keep stirring until it becomes a thick and creamy texture. Do not let it boil.

Fruit Sauce
Puree the fruits in a blender or food processor. 
Combine the fruit puree, sugar, and water in a saucepan over medium heat stirring occcasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low, cook until mixture thickens.

♥ Pour the custard into small glasses and let it cool completely until ready to serve. Once ready to serve pour the fruit sauce on top of the cream and freshly diced fruits over it, and enjoy this simple and delicious dessert.

The versatility of this recipe makes it a truly an all-occasion dessert. I have experimented with it a number of times, like adding chocolate or coconut instead of vanilla extract, and you can use all sorts of seasonal fruits according to your mood and fancy.

Another variation is to pour the custard over pie crust and top off with the fruit sauce and freshly cut fruits instead of using small glasses. The results are always extremely delicious.

June 28, 2015

A week in Portugal - photography, food, friendship

The idea to spend a few days with people I don't know, in places I've never been, it's quite a challenge. I am actually shy, and being in a group of talented and experienced people in a field I'm just crawling can be intimidate. But I'm ready, I'm ready to challenge myself, to be pushed out of my comfort zone and follow my heart.

I was lucky to finally snag one of the tickets for a workshop organized by Ritchie Ace Camps. I had tried it before, twice to tell you the truth, or I was late, the tickets are sold out fast, or some requirements I did not have, well, this may be a subject for another post...

It helped my confidence that I had already attended a food styling and photography workshop held by Béa Peltre in Ingland last year, which was such an unforgettable experience. This time I went to Portugal to spend time learning from the talented photographer, food stylist and cook Aran Goyoaga from Cannelle et Vanille. I've been inspired by Aran's talent to tell a story through food and beautiful photography for quite a while.

Aran talked to us about her process for styling, photographing and editing her photos. We spent time photographing food made and stylished by her, then we styled food ourselves and spent more time photographing them. 

Everybody was so motivated and full of energy. I felt lucky to be in this worshop with Aran, Angela and such talented people

The workshop was held in Melides, in the region of Grândola. Melides is a typical small Alentejo village, where the houses keep the traditional white and blue look, which reminded me of the historic towns in my beloved Minas Gerais.

Early morning walks in the summer are such a bliss, and that was my routine in Melides. Some days I would walk toward the small village, some days toward the beach.

In a hot and bright afternoon, we headed to the beach to style and photograph a picnic. To me it was a challenge to photograph in those extreme light conditions. Such an amazing learning experience.

On our last night , we all dined out in a restaurant by the Praia do Pêgo, where we were blessed by this amazing sunset. 

The next day, I left the Portuguese countryside heading to Lisbon, where I stay for a couple of days with a special friend, a friend I had just met the day I arrived in Portugal.

You might ask "how can you call a person you've just met a friend?" Well, Rosa, from the blog Le Paquet, and I were online friends for some time, and when I was certain I was going to Portugal I wrote her an email. 

I hesitate  when she invited me to stay at her home, but I'm glad I accepted. When I arrived at the airport she was there waiting for me. I felt I already knew her for a long time, and thank to her my two days in Lisbon were intense and special.

A few participants of the workshop joined Rosa and I to wander the streets of this culturally rich and charming city, a city of colors, tiles, and stone streets. It was lovely to have their company.

I returned home feeling inspired,  met wonderful people, made new friends.

Goodbye Portugal, thanks for the experience and memories!

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