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.

Custard
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!




June 19, 2015

Pineapple & Mint Juice / Slush

I could not resist making a special post for this refreshingly delicious Pineapple & Mint Juice featured in Claire's free online magazine. It is so easy and simple to make, and besides these two ingredients are loaded with vitamins, nutrients and antioxidant properties.

If you are anything like me and like fresh homemade drinks during the summer, this is going to be your new favorite drink. It's refreshing, naturally sweet and bright from the pineapple and also delightfully aromatic from the mint. It's definitely a keeper.

Pineapple & Mint Juice
Makes 1

♥ 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh, or frozen pineapple
♥ Springs of mint, to taste
♥ Handful of ice

♥ I always use fresh or frozen pineapple, but canned pineapple will work as long as it comes in natural juice
♥ Frozen pineapple gives this juice a slushie-like consistency.

In a blender, juice the chopped pineapple (when using frozen fruit, add a little bit of water to help juice it), add the mint leaves and ice blending it all together until it reaches your desired consistency.

Fresh homemade juices are best if sipped right away, so pour it into a glass and drink it up!



June 14, 2015

For the love of handmade & homemade

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind. Long and warm days make me feel like enjoying the outdoors. Photographing nature, gardening, long walks in beautiful paths, gathering with friends, cold beer, sunbathing...

Meanwhile, I flew to Portugal for a food styling and photography workshop. It was my first time in that county, where I stayed for a week. I'll make a post able this memorable trip, but not now. First things first, and by this I mean share with you a very cool project by dear Claire from Heart Hankmade UK, a free Summer Craft online magazine, in which I have the pleasure to be one of the contributors.


I was not sure how I could contribute to this awesome magazine, but quite frankly, I was excited to be part of this project along with so many talented and inspiring ladies, including my dearest blogger friends, Ayda, from Cafe noHut, and Sibel, from Turuncu oda.

There are a huge range of projects in the magazine, like sewing, crochet, papercrafts, scrapbook, rubber stamping and recipes.

I contributed with two recipes - a yummy and healthy Coconut Milk, Chia and Raspberry Pudding, and a refreshingly delicious Pineapple & Mint Juice. I cooked, stylished, and photographed this Summer Feast.































































So if you want a relaxing and creative me time, just download your free magazine here and get inspired!

May 15, 2015

Cooling off in a summer day in the middle of May with a Watermelon, Raspberry, Lime Juice



Nothing is more refreshing in the summer than a fresh and cold fruit drink. Oh wait, it's not summer yet! Well, but that's how it felt  from last Sunday through Tuesday, gorgeous and warm hot summer days.



We'd been working hard in our yard. I woke up with the birds, so I started early in the morning and by midday I was ready to relax in the deck and watch Brady still working under that hot sun.
I could see he was happy doing a lot of outdoor work, but he looked exhausted, covered in sweat, and he was starting getting red!

"Perhaps I should give him something cold to drink", I thought. I went inside looking for something and saw some fruits I had bought the day before, they were perfect for a refreshing and healthy juice to cool him off - watermelon, raspberry and lime.





I believe a juice can hardly be called a recipe, just mix and match some ingredients to taste and most of the time we will find ourselves having a delicious drink, but if you need a guideline, here is how I made it.

It's best to use seedless watermelon so you don't have to de-seeding it. The watermelon I used had seeds and I couldn't get rid of all of them, but I didn't mind, I like fruit juices with texture, with body, not to miss any of their flavors and nutrients, so I didin't strain the puree to remove any pulp. Also, I never sweeten my fruit juices, but again, this is a personal preference.



Watermelon, Raspberry & Lime Juice

2 cups diced watermelon
1 handful of raspberries
♥ juice of 2 small limes - freshly squeezed
♥ sugar, syrup, or honey to taste

Simply combine the watermelon cubes, lemon juice, raspberries and ice in a blender and give it a whirl to create a slushy puree.

"What is that?" Brady asked me when I offered the juice to him. "It's a refreshing and nutritious juice, try it", I told him. "Yum, this is good!", he murmured after the first sip. "Can I have some more? This is what I needed!"
























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