Monday, July 23, 2012

Vanilla Cardamom Quinoa Pudding

Just as I have become a reformed rice pudding hater, quinoa is another food that I've come around to slowly. It's seemingly exotic, can be somewhat bland and, let's be honest, I was one of those people still calling it "kin-oh-uh" until that Whole Foods Parking Lot viral rap.

But in a half-assed hearted attempt to improve some of my carb choices, I thought there must be a way to combine this super food with a little bit of the sweetness I still crave. As a high-quality protein with lots of fiber, iron, calcium, riboflavin, magnesium, yadda, yadda, yadda--basically all the good stuff you need that you never want to eat (if you're a cupcake fiend like me), quinoa is an awesome gluten-free replacement for rice in this light summer pudding.

I used almond milk because it's all I had on hand, but you could easily replace it with regular milk, or even substitute for the heavy cream to make this recipe completely dairy free, and vegan.

A couple of notes: Be sure to rinse your quinoa before using it. The seeds are actually coated with a chemical (saponin) that is usually washed off during processing but, just in case, you'll want to give it another rinse as it can interfere with the digestion of all the yummy healthful benefits mentioned above. In that case, you might as well just eat rice pudding :)

Vanilla Cardamom Quinoa Pudding
     adapted from Enlightened Cooking
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
3 cups almond milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon rosewater (optional)
Chopped pistachios for garnish (optional)

1. In a medium saucepan, combine quinoa, sugar, cardamom, salt, milk and cream. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover leaving lid ajar, and simmer stirring occasionally for 30-35 minutes, or until quinoa is very soft and mixture is thickened.

2. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and rosewater (if using). Transfer to a heatproof bowl and let cool to room temperature. Serve cool or chilled topped with chopped pistachios if desired. Serves 4-6.

Friday, July 13, 2012

La Pâtisserie des Rêves, Paris

I'm not really sure why I never visited La Pâtisserie des Rêves before on a trip to Paris, other than it's possible that I was so intimidated by its sheer amazingness that I felt more comfortable sticking to my usual canelés and pain au chocolat until I was truly ready to experience its awesomeness.

La Pâtisserie des Rêves, in fact, means "Pastry Shop of Dreams." Seriously. Creating inspired versions of classic French pastries, this shop is like no other you'll find in Paris. In addition to gorgeous craftsmanship, the shop itself is like something out of The Jetsons. The tiny shop is almost more like a showroom, with flashy colors, pastries raised by futuristic dumbwaiters, uber-modern takes on the classic sweets, and the most sophisticated packaging system I've ever seen to make sure your treats get home in one piece.

Somehow we managed to limit ourselves to 5 pastries (and one bag of marshmallows...) but I could have tried one of everything. Next time you can bet I'll be back for a Moka and a Paris-Brest (calm down, it's just a pastry).

Thinking this doesn't look like any St. Honoré you've seen before? You'd be right.
Fruitier du Saison. I thought the topping was marshmallow or meringue, but it turned out to be an impossibly thin shell of white chocolate!

Parisian marshmallows!! The inspiration for one of my 2012 baking resolutions
Opened by Philippe Conticini in 2009, the shop has received nothing but awards and rave reviews and definitely deserves to be on your bakery rotation if you happen to find yourself in the City of Light. The rue du Bac location I visited is carry-out only, but rumor has it the rue de Longchamp shop has a tea salon as well, presumably where everyone can see you (just something to keep in mind if you plan to devour 5+ pastries...)

If you go (and you MUST)
93 rue du Bac
Paris, 75007
Metro- rue du Bac (line 12)

111 rue de Longchamp
Paris, 75016
Metro- rue de la Pompe (line 9)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Sugar Plum Cake Shop, Paris

After what seemed like many months of excruciating waiting, last month I finally set sail for the latest trip to my favorite city in the entire world--Paris.  Along with plotting out the perfect stops for sightseeing, as you can imagine I spent at least as much time picking out which bakeries to hit on this week-long trip.

On past trips to the City of Lights, I've tried to seek out Parisian cupcakeries to see how the continental counterparts compare. Unfortunately, I've found them to be exclusively dense, dry, and hard. Not necessarily a surprise, since cupcakes are an American import and not exactly the forte of Parisian pastry chefs.

Not to fear, however, because on this trip I was able to wallow in what Paris does do best: macarons, tarts, pain au chocolat, St. Honorés, Opéras, canelés, and the list goes on, and on, and on, and...

If you have had your fill of Parisian pastry however and are looking for a little taste of home, Sugar Plum Cake Shop is a must see for American style drip coffee, drinks that actually come with ice in them, free wifi, and huge slabs of moist and flavorful layer cake.

After a long, hot day of walking through the streets of Paris (tough life, I know) The homemade lemonade and sweet tea on offer that day were a welcome sight.

Of course I couldn't help myself and had to try a red velvet cupcake. Also on offer were cookies and cream, peanut butter chocolate and pistachio, and if you're in town for awhile you can also place orders for all your favorite brownies, cookies, pies and cheesecake.

The international Red Velvet
If you go:
Sugar Plum Cake Shop
68 rue du Cardinal Lemoine
Paris 75005
Tuesday-Sunday 12pm-7pm
Metro: Cardinal Lemoine (Line 10), Place Monge (Line 7)