Dextery: May 2008 Archives

We celebrated the birthday of my good friend Louis-Vincent yesterday, and what is a birthday without a birthday cake? Since I wanted to make him a real feast (more on that later), the dessert had to be fancy too, so I opted for a crème de marron fondant, which is similar to a brownie, but flavored with crème de marrons. The fleur de lys decorations where inspired by the little gift I gave him along with the dessert (you'll see it on the photos ;-) )

gateau1.jpgThe thing I love with marzipan is that it behaves like play dough, but it tastes good. ;-) I can eat marzipan just as is, like a candy, so if I can turn it into a cute decoration on a cake, it's a bonus. Since it is a bit sticky, I worked on a sheet of parchment paper and I transfered the decorations on the cake afterward. I used a sharp, small knife to cut out some details.

fleur_de_lys.jpgThe cake was a big hit and was received with much enthusiasm :

louis_gateau.jpg... and was eaten while reading delightful citations by René Lévesque (it's a bit awkward to write this post in English, actually)

rene_levesque.jpgFor those who wonder how to gain some weight, here is the recipe for the fondant :

Ingredients :

  • 300 to 425 grams of crème de marron (depending of the size of the can you find)
  • 50 grams of black chocolate (fair trade if possible)
  • 100 grams of butter
  • 50 grams of sugar (then again, unrefined fair trade sugar is better)
  • 50 to 60 grams of corn starch (depending on how much crème de marrons you have)
  • 4 eggs, yolks and whites separated
Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until the mixture is creamy an the sugar is dissolved. Add the corn starch and mix well.

In a saucepan, melt the chocolate along with the butter, then add the crème de marrons and mix until the mixture is homogeneous.

Mix the crème de marrons mixture into the eggs mixture.

Beat the egg whites until firm peaks form. (tip : use a pinch of cream of tartar)

Delicately mix the egg whites into the batter with a spatula, so to keep the maximum of bubbles.

Pour the batter into a greased mold (round or square, it doesn't matter) and cook for 30 minutes at 180C (350F). Insert a clean knife or toothpick to check if the cake is done. If not, continue to cook a bit longer. Mine took about 45 minutes to cook.

Let cool completely and decorate, if desired.

My first bento

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I'm quite passionate with Japanese culture these days, because I'm going there to "disseminate my research" this summer (lucky me!). So I'm learning Japanese, cook Japanese, listen to Japanese music and watch Japanese anime. Oh, and I read a lot of travel books/websites. No wonder I came across the concept of bento, the Japanese lunch box.

As the summer semester starts, all the students cafés are closing one after the other and it is increasingly hard to find decent vegetarian food on the campus. (No more cafeteria cheese sandwich, pleeeeaase!) So it's the perfect timing to take the good resolution to bring my own lunch, and I know this habit will stay longer if I have fun doing it. Bento is just perfect for this. The concept is to make a varied, good looking lunch. (By the way, good looking doesn't necessarily means Hello Kitty or anime themed bento.) There are rules about the ratio of grains:proteins:vegetable:treat, but I don't follow them. In fact, I find the good looking rule to be sufficient : if everything is beige-brown (like rice and stir-fried tofu), it's not pretty enough, so I will add green and orange vegetables to make it more appealing. Voilà. Variety and nutrition is added instantly! Everything bento is discussed at the very nice Just Bento blog.

I would like to share with you my very first bento I made 2 or 3 weeks ago. The first tier looked like this :

bento1.jpgThe feline rice ball is an onigiri, the green hairy beans are edamame (fresh soy beans) and the meal on the right is soba noodles with stir-fried tofu, carrots and green onions.

Here is the second tier:

bento2.jpgIt contains a dorayaki (Japanese pastry that is basically red bean sweet paste sandwiched between 2 pancakes), dates, almonds, a cute kiwi fruit and orange slices.

Everything holds together with a custom home-made elastic band decorated with buttons to hide the seams.

bento3.jpgBeing made by hand (in less than 10 minutes with 0.50$ worth of material), it fits perfectly and has a handy loop for holding chopsticks :

Don't you ever buy expensive bento elastic bands again. Make your own perfect-fitting, customized, ass-kicking bento gear!


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I am probably not the only knitter who is curious to know how yarn is made. I quenched that thirst of knowledge by taking a first class introduction to the wonderful world of spinning by signing up for a class with Leslie. If you live near Montreal or Ottawa, I highly recommend you look for her class.

I already turned a load of woolly fluffiness :

spindle.jpginto decent knittable yarns of different weights:

spinned_yarn.jpgI really like the natural color of wool, but I think it would be fun to experiment with dying the top before spinning it. Hey, I'm an experimentalist after all.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries written by Dextery in May 2008.

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Dextery: June 2008 is the next archive.

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