This is a dessert I did in the midst of Summer. In the heart of winter I am clearly reminiscing of warmer weather. I remember spotting these strawberries teeming in their blue cardboard boxes at the farmer’s market, beckoning and glistening in the sun like rubies. I just had to have them. When produce is this ripe & delicious, always keep it simple (my motto!). These berries are cut and lightly sprinkled with sugar & a tiny drop of rosewater and left to sit for a few minutes. They are incased in a sugar cookie crumb, held lightly together with some melted butter, like a cheesecake base. I wanted them to be crumbly when a dessert spoon dived right in. I did a quick pickle with some nasturtium leaves in champagne vinegar. Enough for a slight tang to offset the punchy flavor, but not overly sour. The ice cream (really, sherbet) is a really good buttermilk. It’s sweet, peppery, tangy, & just refreshing enough to cool you down in the heat.
Finally, a Spring dessert! I call this, pistachio ³ (actually it's just pistachio parfait on the menu lol). I adore pistachios, especially the bright green Sicilian variety and decided to add it as part of the Spring & Summer dessert menu. This dessert is a pistachio parfait, a frozen dessert made with cream, eggs, and sugar. To get a rich pistachio flavor, we use a combination of ground pistachio paste, including one made in house. On the bottom is a very thin dacquoise, made with pistachio flour which acts as a base. The entire parfait is then sprayed with a Valrhona Opalys white chocolate spray for a neat finish (and a nice cocoa butter snap). It is paired with a steamed pistachio cake and lime yogurt. The crumble is flavored with fresh lime zest, chopped sicilian pistachios, and green tea. The crumble is sweet, acidic, and earthy thanks to the green tea. So far in the season, the most beautiful things at the market is rhubarb, which we use for the sorbet. All of these components are combined with a strawberry and rhubarb sorbet. On top is a crunchy pistachio honey tuile and it is finished with red-veined sorrel, a lovely acidic addition.
I call this a deconstructed cannoli in the loosest possible way. I remember a dessert that I learned in one the first restaurant I worked in, that was an interpretation of a cannoli. It was one of my favorite desserts, and whenever I plated it, I would inevitably eat some of the mise en place involved. Instead of the traditional shell, we fried up pasta strips that would be topped with confectioners sugar. It was delicious and funnily enough, tasted like funnel cake. I sought to recreate this aspect for the dessert, but changed everything else. This is comprised of deep fried pasta strips, whipped ricotta with honey and vanilla, and super ripe figs and strawberries. It's pretty simplistic, and I sought to add more to the dish. I played around with pistachio honey, caramelized nuts, ice cream, but in the end, I left it as is. When the fruit is ripe, the ricotta is fluffy and smooth, and deep fried pasta warm from the fryer and topped with sugar, that's all you need.
At the market this week, the last of the stone fruits could be seen in the abundance of peaches, plums, and nectarines piled high at the market stalls. With that in mind, I decided to take a couple of plums and use them for the last time. This dessert was a quick concoction of the best available fruits I could find. This is a microwave pistachio sponge cake, pistachio ice cream, strawberry sauce, poached plums, fraises de bois, lakewood green grapes, and a bit of fennel flowers. Very simple and light. The pistachio is a great flavor to pair with fruits as it contrasts nicely with the wild strawberries, plums, and grapes. Im obsessed with the lakewood green grapes, as they are crunchy, sweet, tart, and so addictive. The plums were poached in a mixture of sugar, water, and Maker's Mark. Sweet and bit boozy. The microwaveable cake is great, as it is served warm and fluffy. Basically, a mixture of eggs, egg whites, sugar and pistachio paste are mixed in the blender and poured in a whipped cream dispenser. Put batter in a paper cup and microwave. Fresh cake! The texture is fluffy due to the aeration and it's ready in less than 30 seconds. Warm cake, ripe fruits, and creamy ice cream, what more can you ask for?
Strawberries rarely make it on the menu for long. Some days heaps of beautiful strawberries can be found at the market, and other days, nary a decent strawberry to be found. With an abundance of strawberries for once, I played around with some leftover mise en place at my disposal. These fraises de bois (wild strawberries) are tiny, the size of raspberries! They are tangy, with a sweet refreshing finish. Lightyears away from the supermarket variety packaged in plastic and refridgerated. It's paired with a lemon ricotta cheesecake, strawberry reduction, pea flowers, caramelized hazelnuts and sweet cream ice cream. Super simple. Simplicity reigns when you get fresh market goods, good ricotta, and local milk and cream. Bonus question: Can you spot the mini pea sprouting from a flower?