Bananas Foster Monkey Bread

Bananas Foster Monkey Bread

Travel is the best way to draw inspiration in life. For me traveling means exploring the food of the city I am visiting. I spend hours of research mapping out my food journey to ensure I eat only the best the city has to offer. Oftentimes the result is overindulgence over a short period of hours.

Two weekends ago I found myself in New Orleans. One of my favorite southern cities of all time. I am lucky to have family in Louisiana which gives me more than enough legitimate reasons to explore the land of endless sugar cane fields. If you have never visited, I strongly urge you to add NOLA to your short list of destinations. Wrought with history and culture, the French influenced city has no shortage of things to see and do. Live music in every bar, towering historical buildings, and more voodoo shops that you can stand. I have been many times yet I have never seen the same thing twice.

Louisiana a state that is know for the origin of Cajun cuisine which is heavily influenced by Creole cooking with French technique. Technically, Cajun food did not start in Louisiana, but through immigrants who eventually settled in the state. And yes, there is a large difference in the Cajun and Creole, which I plan on breaching in a later post.

For now I would like to spend a little bit of time focusing on the Creole and French side of the state. The city folk, those in New Orleans, cook Creole food, unlike the country folk who cook Cajun. Since I spent time in the city, everything I ate could be considered Cajun—even the non-Cajun food—and here is why:

If you have ever visited New Orleans it is easy to see that the town is a culmination cultures created through the settlement of immigrants, which is still occurring today. There are more restaurants that a visitor could reasonably conquer, all of which are a different—even if only slightly. Restauranteurs present patrons with their interpretation of local food, adding in their own influences and ideas. This is a practice that has been occurring in NOLA since before my time. The food of our ancestors is not the food of our towns as we now know them.

A world-wide known dessert is the perfect example of the evolution of the food in NOLA. Bananas foster was created in New Orleans at famous New Orleans restaurant Brennan’s by Chef Paul Blange. Today you can still visit Brennan’s and try the food that has been nominated for multiple James Beard Awards. The recipe was created in 1951 and even published by the New York Times in 1957. The concept is simple: smother ripe bananas in butter, sugar, and liquor then set it aflame.

Although widely considered a traditional southern dish, by no means it is so in the literal sense of the word. The recipe was not contemplated until the mid 20th century. When comparing so many dishes that are said to be traditionally southern, bananas fosters is much younger than say hoppin’ john, which can be dated back to the 19th century.

This dish epitomizes both Southern and Louisiana cuisine, ever progressing into new fare that features a nod to the past. So why not draw inspiration from a City and State that has drawn culinary inspiration from it’s inhabitants, landscape, and visitors, and create something totally new from already known and loved recipe (also my husband begged me to make monkey bread, so the idea was streamline).

Many recipes call for canned biscuit dough. I believe that fresh is best, so my recipe makes the dough from scratch.

If you draw any inspiration from this post or recipe, I hope you take the idea of bananas foster and add it into a something to create a brand new dessert…or savory dish. I would love to hear about what you come up with!

The finished loaf turned out from the pan

Bananas Foster Monkey Bread

The baked bread cooling in the pan

Ingredients

  • For the Dough:
  • ⅔ Cup of Warm Whole Milk, no higher than 110°F
  • 1 Tablespoon of Sugar
  • 1 0.25 Ounce Package Dry Yeast
  • 3¼ Cups of Flour, divided
  • ¼ Cup of Butter, melted
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 Teaspoon of Salt
  • For the coating:
  • 1 Cup of Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon of Cinnamon
  • For the Bananas Foster:
  • 4 Very Ripe Bananas, peeled and sliced
  • 4 Tablespoons of Butter
  • 1 Cup of Firmly Packed Light Brown Sugar
  • ½ Cup of Heavy Whipping Cream, room temperature
  • 3 Tablespoons of Bourbon
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 4 ripe bananas, sliced

Instructions

  1. Start by making the dough.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, pour in the milk then sprinkle over the yeast and sugar. Let sit for at least 10 minutes until the yeast is bubbly.
  3. With the dough hook attached, turn the speed to low. Pour in 1 cup of flour, mixing until combine. Next the melted butter, and finish 1 cup of flour.
  4. Mix in the eggs, then finish with the remaining flour and salt.
  5. Once dough is fully combined turn the speed to medium and kneed for 3-5 minutes. A soft dough should form and pull away from the sides of the bowl.
  6. Coat a large bowl with cooking spray. Place the dough in the bowl, coat with spray, and allow to rise, covered, in a draft free place for one hour or until double in size.
  7. In a small bowl, combine the topping sugar and cinnamon. Mix until combined then set aside for later.
  8. Prepare your bananas fosters. In a medium sauce pan, over medium-high heat, add brown sugar and butter. Cook for approximately 3-5 minutes until mixture is an amber color.
  9. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream, salt, and bananas. Stir to fully coat bananas. Set aside and allow to cool.
  10. Prepare a bundt pan by coating it in cooking spray.
  11. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  12. Once dough has doubled, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Gently shape dough into a ball.
  13. Pinch off one inch pieces, roll them into a ball, then dunk them into the cinnamon sugar mixture.
  14. Start assembling by placing a small amount of bananas fosters mix into the bottom of the pan.
  15. Create a layer of dough balls in the bottom of the pan, then coat in your bananas fosters. Continuing layering dough and sauce until the pan is full.
  16. Bake until golden brown, 35-40 minutes.
  17. Let cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before turning it out.
  18. Eat!
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White Chocolate Mousse Tart + Pink Peppercorn Strawberry Sauce

White Chocolate Mousse Tart + Pink Peppercorn Strawberry Sauce

Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope your day is filled with joy and love–even if that means cuddling your dog a little extra.

I did not plan on posting for Valentine’s Day. That all changed when I watched the latest episode of Kids Baking Championship. I watch almost any baking show available.

On the last episode, the challenge was to create a tart with crazy ingredient. Pink peppercorns were one of the ingredients given to use. So, laying in bed, watching these kids kill it in the kitchen I thought, “I can do that!”

Strawberry, chocolate, and a little spice from peppercorns just seemed like the perfect Valentines combination. So the stars aligned, and this recipe would be the perfect one to post on Valentine’s.

Also, I knew my husband would love it. Two birds, one stone.

The tart itself is nothing crazy–simple dark chocolate pate sucree (crust) sits on the bottom with a swirled airy white chocolate mousse to full it. The crazy comes in with the sauce for the top, cooked down fresh strawberries with pulverized pink peppercorns.

Pink peppercorns work perfectly with fruit because they are much more floral than normal black peppercorns. They also have less of a peppery bite.

Finished tart ready to be served

This is not a beginners recipe so as always I want to give you a few tips to help:

  • Creating a light mousse only takes a few ingredients and proper technique. You use both meringue and whipped cream. To create a perfect meringue use room temperature egg whites and ensure there is not even a fleck of egg yolk in the whites.
  • Folding is how your incorporate meringue and whipped cream into the chocolate. Folding is not like whisking or stirring. To fold you gently cut down the middle of your mixture with a spatula, then fold over one half of the mixture over the second half. Repeat until everything is blended.
  • Always chill your tart shell before rolling it out, fit the shell to the tart pan once cooled, and also chill again before baking it once it is fit into the tart pan. This will prevent shrinkage.
  • Always poke holes with a fork in the bottom of the tart dough to prevent it from puffing during baking.

White Chocolate Mousse Tart + Pink Peppercorn Strawberry Sauce

A slice of tart with sauce on top and a bite taken out

Ingredients

  • For the Crust:
  • 1/3 Stick of Cold Butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 1/3 Cups of All Purpose Flour
  • 3 Tablespoons of Dutch Process Cocoa Powder
  • 1/2 Cup of Powdered Sugar
  • 1/8 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1 Large Egg
  • For the Mousse:
  • 6 Ounces of Good White Chocolate
  • 1 1/4 Cups of Whipping Cream
  • 2 Large Egg Whites, room temperature
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
  • 1/8 Teaspoon of Cream of Tartar
  • For the Sauce:
  • 1lb of Fresh Strawberries
  • Juice from 1/2 Lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon of Pink Peppercorns
  • 1/4 Cup of Sugar

Instructions

  1. First create the tart dough.
  2. In a food processor combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Pulse until the ingredients are combined.
  3. Next add in the cold butter. Pulse the mixture together for approximatley 15 seconds or until the mixture resembles chunky sand. You want the butter to be in shape of various sized pebbles.
  4. Add the egg into the food processor and mix until combined.
  5. Pour the dough out onto a floured surface and form it into a ball. Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and allow it rest in the fridge for one hour.
  6. While the dough chills, create your mousse.
  7. In a double boiler over medium heat, combine 1/4 cup of the whipping cream with the white chocolate.
  8. Stir continually until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Once smooth, set aside to allow it to cool for at least 15 minutes.
  9. Next make your merigue by combining the egg whites and cream of tarter in a stand mixer. Beat the egg whites on medium speed until stiff peaks form.
  10. Place the meringue in a seperate bowl, and then clean the mixing bowl.
  11. Make the whipped cream by combining the remaining heavy whipping cream and the vanilla extract in the bowl of your stand mixer. Mix on medium speed until stiff whipped cream forms.
  12. In a large bowl, fold 1/2 of your meringue into the white chocolate until it is fully incorporated. Fold the remaining 1/2 of meringue into the mixture.
  13. Next fold 1/2 of your whipped cream into the merigue and white chocolate mixture until it is well combined. After fully combined, fold in the remaining 1/2.
  14. Cover and allow the white chocolate mousse to rest in the fridge while you finish the tart crust.
  15. After the tart dough has chilled for one hour, place your dough on a well floured surface. With a floured rolling pin, roll out your tart dough into a sphere that is two inches larger than the tart pan you plan to use.
  16. Place the tart dough into the pan and pressing it in. You want to form the dough to the pan completely then trim off the ends. Poke the bottom of the tart pan with a fork.
  17. Place the tart pan in the fridge to allow the dough to cool while you preheat your oven. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  18. Once the oven is heated, line the dough with parchment paper then fill it with pie weights.
  19. Bake for 20 minutes.
  20. Allow the crust to cool completely before filling it.
  21. While the crust cools, create your strawberry sauce.
  22. Rinse, hull, and slice your strawberries into large chunks.
  23. Place the strawberries into a small saucepan along with the sugar and lemon juice.
  24. Heat the mixture over medium heat until it reaches a boil.
  25. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and allow the strawberries to cook for 20 minutes.
  26. While the strawberries cook, grind or pulverize the pink peppercorns into a course powder.
  27. After 20 minutes is up, remove the strawberry sauce from the heat and stir in the pink pepper. Set the mixture aside to cool.
  28. Finish the tart by smoothing the white chocolate mousse into the chilled tart shell. Then, allow it to set up in the fridge for at least one hour.
  29. Slice and serve the tart with the stawberry sauce.
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A close up of the tart

A Review of Savannah’s Newest Teahouse: La Petite Abeilles

A Review of Savannah’s Newest Teahouse: La Petite Abeilles

Hospitality is one of the major qualities that defines being Southern. For many of us, anytime we host a guest we immediately offer them a glass of iced tea or some warm food. The same applies when we are guests in our another Southerner’s abode.

When I heard about the concept of a new tea house in Savannah, La Petite Abeilles, I thought the restaurant would be nothing short of a perfect fit in our town.

Chef and Owner Mia Guerin opened the doors to her home and La Petite Abeilles only a few short weeks ago. The Teahouse and restaurant sits within the walls of a classic and beautiful historic Victorian home on Barnard Street.

Guerin is doing the Southern thing and offering her guests the opportunity to sit on her wraparound porch and drink some tea. She relocated to Savannah from San Diego because her daughter began studying at SCAD. Before her short-lived move to San Diego, Guerin operated Miss Guerin’s Tea House and a full size bakery in Mesa, Arizona.

As for the name, Guerin explains why coming up with that was the easy part:“My dad is French. Growing up there were three daughters, and my dad used to sing that to us, La Petite Abeilles — the little bees. It is actually spelled incorrectly…but my dad used to sing the La, so it is personal.”

The menu of La Petite Abeilles pays homage to parts of Guerin’s menu at Miss Guerin’s Tea House while incorporating new creations as well.

Guerin explains how she approached creating her new menu as college English major: “Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors, so you will see there is Jane Austen characters within the menu. Everybody who is not from Jane Austen is either one of my kids or one of my nieces or nephews.”

As Guerin puts it, almost every single item available is made in house. She says “there are very few cans, tomatoes and beans I think we have in cans.”

To properly execute each dish, Guerin hired two Chefs that just graduated from The Virginia College, Tyler and Maddie. Every single baked good used by the restaurant is baked in their kitchen, even the sliced bread.

I asked Guerin where she sourced some of her local ingredients and her response doesn’t disappoint: “We use all fresh herbs, and I grow those here. From the rosemary, thyme, sage, mint, and pretty much everything. Tyler will walkout with a pair of sissies to clip the rosemary for his rosemary bread”.

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My husband and I went to try the brunch menu. He spotted the Grand Mariner Stuffed French Toast and could not resist. The menu offers more than just brunch or tea—lunch is available as well.

Four thick-cut triangles of toast are dunked in an egg wash before being seared to a golden brown, artfully arranged on a delicate plate, and finished with strawberries and a citrusy Grand Marnier infused cream.

The finished flavor is that of a classic French toast with grown-up kick of orange liqueur. On the side comes crispy fried bacon, the ideal kick of savory, salty seasoning to balance the overall sweetness of the dish.

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I ordered the Emma’s Breakfast, a plate of vegetable-jammed crustless quiche, rosemary roasted potatoes, and a warm scone. The vegetable to egg ratio in the quiche was mind-boggling, as it takes a skilled chef to be able to fill a quiche with so many items yet be able to keep the eggs from falling apart once baked. And although brimming with fresh vegetables, the eggs remained perfectly cooked and delicate.

As for what patrons have ordered the most, “quiche has been the number one thing, and it was the number one thing from before. It has three different types of cheese in it and it is veggie,” Guerin tells me.

Sarah’s Belgian Waffle was my husband’s second choice breakfast, and we decided to go for it too. For this creation you get a plate-sized airy waffle topped with your pick of candied pecans and maple syrup or a berry sauce and whipped cream.

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He opted for the candied pecan version, due partially because of the Southern in him, and it did not disappoint. The sprinkling of crunchy roasted pecans added the right amount to texture to the weightless waffle.

To partake in one of La Petite’s Afternoon Tea Luncheons, you must make a reservation in advance. There are seven available options in meals to devour with your tea. The tricky part is deciding the tea to drink, because La Petite offers over fifty different varieties of tea.

Guerin hand-selected the various tea options through her worldly travels. “I really was fortunate that I got to go to Africa and all these places to got to tea farms and see how it is rolled, how it is made, how it smoked, how it is dried,” she explains as we sit in the ornate dining room of her Victorian.

High Tea Service is available from 4-6 p.m., by reservation only. The service is enough for two people and comes with a choice of two teas and various delectables; including scones, puff pastries, bruschetta, and a crostino.

The final trick up Guerin’s sleeve is her catering skills. La Petite has not limited itself to breakfast, lunch, and tea service, but also offer locals catering options.

And even if you are not catering a big party, this holiday season the store is opening up its baking services to fill any holiday baking goods.

In fact while I was there, I took home a mini pumpkin loaf painted with chocolate, an ideal treat for any holiday table.

Original article can be found here.

Salted Caramel Filled Kouign Amann

Salted Caramel Filled Kouign Amann

My latest Connect Savannah food feature on The Topiary Cake Design (I will post the article this week) reminded me just how much I love to bake. So this week I told myself I would get back into the kitchen and practice what I love.

I am not going to sugar coat it–I have been slacking in the blog/baking/cooking department. The holidays drained me, especially considering how much of an introvert I tend to be. I truly have no excuse considering my Christmas decorations and house have been cleaned since the day after Christmas. Truly, I have just been lazy.

Going back into the kitchen needed to start with a bang. I have been baking since I was young, so an intermediate pastry recipe would be a great challenge.

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For those who do not know the difference in pastries verses regular baked goods let me explain. Unlike cakes, breads, or other common baked goods, making a pastry refers to a very specific type of dough or baked item that is created using a sweet dough. For example, when you make a pie crust for a pie, you are making a pastry. Other common pastries include croissants, eclairs, macarons, profiteroles, tart shells, and Kouign Amann. The dough for making a pastry is commonly made with flour, fat, sugar, and water, which you can see is very different than the dough for making a bread. The tricky part in making a proper pastry comes with the type of pastry for which you opt—for example croissants require a process called lamination. Lamination is the folding in of cold butter to create layers. It takes many hours and proper technique to succeed.

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You may be asking, what the heck is a Kougin Amann? By far it is one of the most delicious pastries put on this earth. Originating in France, the time consuming bite sized croissant and brioche cross is made with a ton of butter, which is to be expected with a French pastry. The end result of folding cold butter into your dough (laminating), then slicing it, coating it in coarse sugar, and smashing it into muffin tins creates a sweet crunchy flaky palm sized treat. The best part, the technique of using a muffin pan leaves a large hole in the center of the pastry, perfect for filling your Kougin Amann with anything you desire.

My selection was salted caramel. The butter used to create the layers of your Kougin Amann bring saltiness to the pastry, so why not complement the overall flavor of the baked good by amplifying its qualities with a salty-sweet filling.

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I will warn you, this recipe is not for a beginner. It takes patience and love to get through the process. I do not want to discourage anyone from trying the recipe, I truly hope you are inspired, even beginners, to try this recipe out. The only way to learn is to try. I could probably fill a dumpster with the amount of baked goods I have thrown out due to trying. You have to start somewhere.

 

Salted Caramel Filled Kouign Amann

a tray of finished pastries

Ingredients

  • For the Salted Caramel:
  • 1 Cup of Granulated Sugar
  • ½ Cup of Heavy Cream, room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/4 Cup of Water
  • For the Pastry:
  • 2½ Tablespoons of Dry Yeast
  • 1⅓ Cups of Warm Water, do not exceed 105°F
  • 4 Cups of All Purpose Flour
  • 2 Teaspoons of Salt
  • 1¾ Cups Of Salted Butter, cold
  • 1 Cups of Granulated Sugar

Instructions

  1. First make your salted caramel.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine your sugar and water then stir to combine.
  3. Heat mixture over medium heat, do not stir anymore. Cook it until the mixture has turned a deep amber, approximately 10 minutes.
  4. Once cooked, turn of the heat of the stove and whisk in your butter, cream, and salt. Stir until the mixture is smooth and fully combined, then remove it from the stove.
  5. Set the caramel aside, covered, to cool while you make your pastry.
  6. In your stand mixer, combine your yeast and warm water. Allow yeast to bloom for approximately five minutes.
  7. Attach your dough hook, then add in your flour and salt. Mix on low until combined and a dough begins to form.
  8. Turn the stand mixer speed to medium, and mix for five minutes or until dough shapes into a smooth elastic ball.
  9. Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise for twenty minutes.
  10. While the dough rises, prepare your butter block.
  11. Shape your butter into one mound, then shape and flatten the butter until it is a rectangle approximately 10x8 inches.
  12. Cover your butter in plastic wrap and place it back in the fridge to cool until you are ready to use it.
  13. Turn you risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
  14. Roll out your dough into a 16x10 rectangle. Place your butter block in the center of your dough.
  15. Fold the exposed edges over your butter as to completely enclose your block of butter. Next, roll the dough into a 18x8 rectangle.
  16. Fold your dough by thirds, like a letter, to start creating layers.
  17. Plastic wrap your dough, then place it in the fridge to allow the butter to get cold again. Let the dough rest for 1 hour.
  18. After the hour, place your dough back onto your floured surface and roll out into an 18x8 rectangle. Fold the dough again like a letter. Place the dough back in the fridge to let it rest for an 1 hour.
  19. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a 12 cup muffin pan by coating it in butter. Set aside the pan aside.
  20. Roll your chilled dough to a 17x13 rectangle, then slice off 1/2 inch from each end of the rectangle.
  21. Generously coat both sides of your dough with your 1 cup of granulated sugar. This will create the crunchy outside.
  22. Slice dough into equal 4x4 inch squares.
  23. Place each square into the center of each muffin cup.
  24. Fill each cup with approximately 1 tablespoon of your cooled salted caramel. Fold in the four corners of each square to meet in the center.
  25. Loosely cover the muffin pan and allow the dough to rise for another 20 minutes.
  26. Bake your dough for 25-30 minutes on the center rack.
  27. Once golden brown, remove from the oven to allow them to cool.
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Vedette Creperie

Vedette Creperie

Savannah is known for its beautiful squares that are surrounded with historic homes and filled with moss-laden, low-hanging trees.

Much credit for Savannah’s growth and continuing beauty can be attributed to the Savannah College of Art and Design, and the college’s efforts to preserve and restore many buildings within the Historic District.

Now the same thing can be said for the ever changing culinary scene in Savannah. SCAD not only renewed many buildings that can be found all over the city, but the school has also opened five culinary shops around town.

As part of their efforts, SCAD has opened Vedette Creperie and Sweets within the Lucas Theatre. Vedette is Savannah’s newest crepe and baked good shop that serves patrons of both the Lucas and all of Savannah alike. You can grab a quick crepe and drink to enjoy as you enjoy the Lucas’s latest offering, or pop in just for a crepe itself.

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First on the menu you will find Vedette’s sweet crepes, and at the very top of the list is the Red Velvet Cake Crepe. Upon reading the menu, I imagined the crepe batter itself to be red and made to taste like red velvet.

Vedette outsmarted me, and when the crepe arrived at the table I was delightfully surprised to find that instead they layer the crepe with fresh moist crumbles of actual red velvet cake, mascarpone cheese, and chocolate chips.

The red velvet cake is baked specifically for their special crepe. The mascarpone cheese keeps the dish lighter than its traditional counterpart, cream cheese, while the chocolate chips add the perfect crunchy texture.

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As for the star of the dish, the cake, it is light and moist, just like your mom makes it.
Beyond the decadent fillings, the size of Vedette’s crepes truly sets them apart. I would consider theirs to be two to three times larger than your average crepe, and to accommodate their size the store has a special paper holder for taking the crepe with you and eating it on the go.

Vedette also offers kid size crepes which “are smaller and slightly easier to hold,” says Director of Auxiliary Services Lauren Bell.

Next on the menu you will find the Bananas Foster Crepe, which tasted even better than you can imagine. Banana bread pudding and fresh bananas are piled inside of this crepe.

For the crunch factor, banana chips are added to the top along with whipped cream and a sticky rum sauce. The mixture of fresh, dried, and bread pudding bananas contribute a deep banana flavor to the dish without overpowering the palate.

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The Blueberry Lemon Crepe features classic flavors of summer dessert, lemon curd and fresh blueberries. Ricotta is the cheese of choice to fill this sweet treat, which is a mild flavored cheese that adds a creamy airy balance to a the tangy lemon curd.

Just like most everything featured on their menu, the lemon curd is made from scratch and not poured from a can. The blueberry lemon crepe has been their “most popular just because it is great for summer, it is light and fresh. If you like lemon it is the right amount of tart,” Lauren explains.

My favorite of the bunch was the Italian Crepe, and no, it does not come stuffed full of meats like you’d find in an Italian sub — it’s much better than that.

Layered inside the delicate crepe is salty sweet prosciutto ham, nutty tangy manchego cheese, bright yet sweet fig jam, and spicy fresh arugula.

To finish the dish is a dark sticky drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette. Manchego cheese, my favorite cheese, is Spanish cheese made from sheep’s milk.

Like I said, this version trumps a typical Italian sub by using elevated ingredients to create a more adult version. As you cut into the crepe, or just pick it up and bite it, the fig jam immediately oozes out.
Next your tongue is coated in the salty flavor of pork before being washed away with the bright peppery flavor of the arugula and warm melted manchego. As for the balsamic, it adds just the right amount of tang.

If you are looking for a crepe that is a bit more classic, the Croque-Monsieur should be your go-to. For Vedette’s version, they stuff their oversized crepe with ham, bechamel, Gruyere, and arugula.

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The opposite of classic is the Banh Mi Crepe, which takes inspiration from the spicy Vietnamese sandwich. Traditionally a banh mi is layered with pork or chicken, pickled vegetables, cucumbers, and a spicy mayonnaise, all atop a sliced crunchy baguette.

Vedette gets rid of the clunky french bread and layers their crepe version of the Vietnamese sandwich with fresh, tender shrimp, making the entire dish feel light — perfect for a summer lunch in our Savannah summer heat.

Other unique savory crepe creations you will find available is the Mediterranean crepe with hummus, red pepper, cucumber, and feta, and the Korean BBQ jammed with pulled pork and pickled vegetables. Both of which I will be back to try.

Vedette’s menu is not limited to crepes, as of a few weeks ago the store began offering fresh smoothies.
“The yellow smoothie is President Wallace’s favorite” smoothie, I am told by Lauren. She explains that SCAD President Paula Wallace has come into each restaurant operated by SCAD to taste the dishes.

In the store you will also find an assortment of delicate baked goods made in-house at their sister store, Gryphon Tea Room. Also available is an assortment of fresh hot brewed coffee drinks, because what goes better with dessert than coffee?

The menu changes with the seasons, and “has something for every part of your day,” Lauren says. You can come in for a morning coffee or smoothie, stop by for a light savory lunch crepe, and finish your day with a sweet unique crepe.

My original article can be found here.

A French Mousse Tart

A French Mousse Tart

Can you believe that Easter is almost here? It feels like just last week I was coming up with something to bake for Valentine’s Day. Regardless of your beliefs, I know for most people Easter is a wonderful time to dress up and enjoy a bountiful meal with your family.

Creamy deviled eggs, sticky glazed ham, and a few gooey casseroles are just some of the things my family normally fixes for Easter dinner. My favorite part of the meal are all of the desserts. Banana puddin’, humming bird cake, and pound cake are just some of the sweets you can normally expect one of our southern gatherings. Besides loading a tiny paper plate with a sampling of each pie, puddin’, or cake, I love being someone who contributes to the dessert table. My family responds a bit more positively to my baked goods than my covered dishes.

At least a week before the gathering, I thumb through my library of cook books or have a heated but friendly discussion with my husband on what to bake. The inspiration for this one came from a true classic: Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

The below recipe is adapted from her recipe for a normal Pate Sablee, a tender sweet tart crust and a Chocolate Mousse. If you have never made a mousse (this was my first time too) just remember to be gentle when folding in your egg whites. Mixing the egg whites in thirds will help with the process.

For this recipe you will want to start with the tart base. You have to let it rest in the fridge for several hours.

I topped the tart with those adorable milk chocolate eggs that you can find in the Easter candy section at the grocery store. They are so adorably festive, and they taste delicious too.

Chocolate Pate Sablee

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 Cups of Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons of Chilled Shortening
  • 5 Tablespoons of Cold Butter
  • 3 Tablespoons of Coco Powder
  • 1/8 Teaspoon of Baking Powder
  • 5 Tablespoons of Sugar
  • A Pinch of Salt
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Tablespoon of Cold Water

Directions:

  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine your flour, sugar, salt, coco powder, and baking powder. Stir to combine.
  2. With you finger tips, mix in the two types of fat. The ending result should look similar to dry oatmeal.
  3. Beat together your egg and water, then pour over your mixture.
  4. Kneed mixture together to create a ball.
  5. Wrap the dough and chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours.
  6. After chilled, roll out to appropriate size to fit a 9 or 10 inch tart pan.
  7. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  8. Place dough in tart pan, cover dough with parchment paper and pie weights.
  9. Bake for 15 minutes.
  10. Remove and let cool completely before adding mousse.

Strawberry Mousse

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Pound of Fresh Strawberry’s, hulls removed
  • 1/4 Cup of Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon fo Fresh Lemon Juice
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 2 Eggs, separated
  • 1/2 Cup of Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Vanilla

Directions:

  1. Purée strawberries to create strawberry juice.
  2. In a small saucepan combine strawberry juice, lemon juice, sugar, and egg yolks. Cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until mixture thickens to coat the back of a spoon.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  4. After the mixture has cooled, begin making your merengue. Beat the two egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  5. Working in thirds, gently fold in the egg whites into your chilled strawberry mixture. Place in the fridge to rest while you make the whipped cream.
  6. Whip the heavy whipping cream and vanilla with a mixer until stiff peaks form.
  7. Fold the whipped cream, working in thirds, until fully combined with the strawberry mixture.
  8. Evenly spoon into the bottom of your chilled tart crust. Only fill with enough mouse to create an amount even with the top of the tart shell.
  9. Allow to set in the fridge until the white chocolate mousse layer is ready to add.

White Chocolate Mousse

Ingredients:

  • 3 Eggs, divided
  • 1/3 Cup of Sugar Plus 1/2 Tablespoon
  • 4 Ounces of White Chocolate Chips, or 1/2 of a Cup
  • 5 Tablespoons of Butter, softened
  • 1/2 Cup of Heavy Whipping Cream Plus 2 Tablespoons

Directions:

  • Prepare a double boiler, heating the water over medium heat. In a bowl used for the double boiler, combine three egg yolks and 1/3 cup of sugar.
  • Whip the mixture, by hand or with a beater, until the eggs are pale yellow and fall back on themselves dissolving in a slow ribbon. Should take 3-4 minutes by hand.
  • Place the mixture over the double boiler and beat for another 3-4 minutes until the mixture is too warm to touch.
  • Remove from the heat and continue to beat the egg yolks until they form the consistency of mayonnaise, another 3-4 minutes. Set aside.
  • Using another bowl that will work as part of the double boiler, combine the white chocolate and 2 tablespoons of heavy cream.
  • Heat in the double boiler, constantly stirring until the chocolate has melted.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the softened butter, mixing until fully combined.
  • Combine your chocolate mixture and egg yolk mixture. Set aside.
  • With beaters or in a stand mixer, beat your egg whites until soft peaks form.
  • Pour in 1/2 Tablespoon of sugar, continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
  • In thirds, gently found the stiff egg whites into your white chocolate mixture. Set in the fridge while you make the whipped cream.
  • With beaters or in a stand mixer, beat the remaining heavy cream until it forms stiff whipping cream.
  • In thirds, gently fold the whipped cream into your white chocolate mixture.
  • Cover and let rest in the fridge for an hour.
  • When ready, use a piping bag with the desired tip to pipe the mousse as the top layer of your tart.
  • Cover and let the completed tart set up in the fridge for at least two more hours.
  • When ready to serve, top with desired decoration. I used chocolate milk eggs.

Review: Le Cafe Gourmet

Review: Le Cafe Gourmet

Tucked away in a quaint corner off of Montgomery Street near Broughton is a bustling warm French cafe that offers both savory and sweet treats to patrons and local Savannah businesses alike.

Le Cafe Gourmet is the creation of owners and culinary power couple, Darbousset Alexandre and Yeo Angela.

Truly dedicated to his craft, as the Baker Chef Alexandre wakes up to start baking at about 2 or 3 a.m. every day. Considering the amount of local businesses Le Cafe supplies with their delicious bakes, it is surprising that he does not have to wake up earlier.

Just a few of baked goods supplied include bread for the Westin Savannah Harbor, the buttery croissants for the Doubletree, those delicious baguettes at Zunzi’s, and an assortment of baked goods for both Vic’s on the River and the Paris Market.

Not only does he service a variety of local businesses with his baked goods, but Alexandre also employees three baker apprentices from Savannah Tech so he can work alongside aspiring local bakers as well.

On the menu are sweet crepes that are flavored with orange blossom or savory crepes made in a super thin buckwheat crepe, and with every order you can watch them create your very own French pancake. Surprisingly, the flavor of the buckwheat is light and does not overpower the filling in the savory crepes.

The La Complete crepe comes jammed with thick, salty ham, fluffy eggs, gooey Brie, and is topped with sour cream. Immediately upon slicing into the delicate shell, which is so thin that you barely have to apply pressure to it before you see the warm cheese ooze onto your plate.

The pork is salty and a stark contrast to the nutty Brie, which is all completely melted and pairs well with a touch of luscious  sour cream. As for the paper thin pastry, the care that the chefs used in preparing the batter is only outshined by the execution of the actual cooking of the crepe.

The Cafe Bonbon is almost too pretty to drink, layered with coffee, chocolate, whipped cream, and the choice of condensed milk or Nutella (almost an unfair choice to make). Angela’s “favorite is with Nutella,” but I had the pleasure of tasting the condensed milk version.

The condensed milk, which is whole milk that has been reduced through the process of evaporation and had sugar added in, adds a velvety texture to the drink making the coffee so smooth it is likely you will consume it in two gulps.

The coffee dances on the back of your tongue for a comfortingly long amount of time, as your taste buds hold on to the richness of the condensed milk and the bite of the coffee.

Speaking of the coffee, Le Cafe Gourmet has one of the gems of Savannah reserved for its customers’ caffeine cravings. Sourced from the local roaster Cup to Cup Coffee Roasters, the owners chose this brew from a long list of local brews because it is “close to what they have in France,” Alexandre tells me.

The brew is smooth and deeply flavored, lacking even a hint of bitterness. If straightforward coffee is more your thing, Alexandre “recommends espresso that is just black… because coffee is always espresso in France.”

This is also a good tidbit of knowledge just in case you needed another reason to be jealous of the French way of life.

As for the Macarons, you can tell how skillful the bakers are just by looking at the height of the feet on each shell. They lightly crunch on the outside, then dissolve in your mouth as you bite through the tender rounds of goodness.

As tender as these Macarons are, one would expect them to fall apart in your hand. Au contraire!

Though the egg-white based cookies are crumbly on top, the bake on them allows for a soft texture underneath without being the least bit battery in the middle. Sandwiched between each shell rests the ideal amount of creamy filling.

The raspberry macarons were tart and in stark contrast to the rich traditional chocolate macarons. The store “tries to have two to three flavors per week, one with fruit,” Alexandre tells me. He went on to say that he likes to use “passion fruit or mandarin when [the fruits are] seasonal.”

Not only do the flavors of the Macarons change regularly, but each week the restaurant features a Chef’s Special. When I visited the special was a Strawberry and Chocolate Entremet. An Entremet is a layered mouse based cake often covered in glaze or ganache.

This one was created with a chocolate cream and a raspberry pastry cream then coated in a dark chocolate ganache and finished with strawberry chips made in house. Delicate but decadent,  this small treat was creamy and rich with a texture as smooth as the velvet on a king’s robe.

Le Cafe only makes “forty to fifty croissants per day…preferring to work with a small quantity to keep the quality,” Chef Alexandre explains when describing their Pear Croissant.

With what seems like a thousand layers of buttery flaky pastry, this pastry was created by first making the time-consuming layers then filling it with an almond pastry cream, fresh pears, and slivered almonds.

It is not surprising that it is a best seller at Le Cafe because the pastry is so large and impressive that it hangs off the sides of the plate it is served on.

Another flavored croissant offered the day I visited was a Croissant Cake, which were tiny little round croissants rolled with coconut and Nutella.

The store plans on pairing with SAVtakeOut.com for food delivery and lunch box options for locals. And for the future, they hope to expand into catering and wholesale.

But for the time being the Cafe’s aim is not “to be number one, just want to offer good food,” according to Alexandre.

Original article can be found here.