“Alice Eats: A Wonderland Cookbook” Review

I am a lover of all things Disney. I have a massive cabinet filled with Disney snow globes of all characters and every Disney DVD that has ever been released. When I noticed this adorable cookbook combined with the classic literature of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland I knew I had to get my hands on it!

In “Alice Eats: A Wonderland Cookbook”, Julie Van Rosendaal creates the most sumptuous Wonderland delicacies based on the storyline. Pierre Lamielle creates modern, whimsical and beautiful illustrations that are unlike any other interpretation of Alice that I have ever seen (and probably one of my favourite parts of the book, other than the recipes themselves!)

It never occurred to me how many references there are to food items throughout the story, despite reading and watching the movies several times. What a brilliant idea to create this most adorable keepsake book. Something that I look forward to passing on to my daughter once she’s old enough (and passes the “ripping pages out of books” stage)

With recipes like Alice’s “Eat Me” Cakes with Blackcurrant Icing, The Queen of Hearts’ Red Velvet Cupcakes with Regal Cream-Cheese Frosting, and the Milky Mystic Matcha we can bring ourselves and our imaginations deep into Alice’s Wonderland and feel like we are there right beside her sharing the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. Speaking of which, there is an adorable Mad Hatter’s Tea Party Section that outlines each of the following 4 characters: the Dormouse, the March Hare, the Mad Hatter and Alice and their own versions of a scone, a savory, a sweet and a unique tea concoction. How sweet!

Included is a section on brewing a proper pot of tea; assembling your cups and saucers, stirring your tea “never clanging the sides of the cup or spilling over the sides”. Another cute little section on tea sandwiches including a visual guide of different kinds.

Another notable (and adorable may I add) 2 pages on Tasseography. I actually had to Google this when I was reading it as I wasn’t sure if it was made up or actually real! For those of you who aren’t familiar, Tasseography is the ancient art of reading your fortune in tea leaves. “The finer the tea, the more detail you will find in the images.” Instructions on how exactly to do it are included along with the creative illustrations with Alice characters on interpreting your fortune wherever the tea leaves may land. Loved it and it is something I would definitely incorporate at my next tea party/brunch with the girls!

It was nice for a change to open a cookbook and not have a thousand pages on equipment and ingredients, etc. Not that I don’t appreciate what authors write (I actually do learn a lot despite being an avid cook and baker myself) but just nice to cut to the chase and see simple recipes that anyone can recreate without a boat load of Do’s and Don’ts.

The Recipes

Each recipe begins with an adorable little “Alice in Wonderland” description of what is to come. The recipes range from savory to sweet including specialty drinks. They are easy to follow and are appropriate for the beginner cook/baker. Ingredients are listed in order of use and instructions are simple, organized and well laid out.

The book is divided into the same chapters you will see in the classic story as told by Carol Lewis. Under each chapter you will find a collection ranging from 1-5 recipes that reflect that particular chapter. Here is an example:

Chapter 4: Rabbit sends in a Little Bill

White Rabbits Cucumber Frames with Three Fillings

Bill’s Brandy Snap-to-Its

Alice’s Little Cake Pebbles

I managed to recreate the Mock Turtles Chocolates, which consisted of pecan halves topped with square caramels and a piece of dark chocolate. They were ridiculously easy to make despite the fact that I left them in the oven too long (opps!) This is a perfect quick dessert to make if you have last minute guests coming over. I didn’t have pecan halves at home but rather pecan pieces that were already chopped so I tried my best to recreate what I saw in the picture.  My picture below isn’t the greatest but hey..they tasted awesome regardless and I can’t complain. For presentation purposes, buy pecan halves!

Mock Turtle’s Mock Turtle Chocolates

Makes about 2 dozen tasty turtles

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups (250 mL) pecan halves
  • 24 individually wrapped square caramels
  • 1 bar (3 oz/90g) dark chocolate, broken into about 24 pieces

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees (180 C).
  • On a parchment-lined baking sheet, arrange the pecan halves in groups of four, all pointing away from eachother, like the legs of a turtle. Unwrap the caramels and place one on top of each cluster, right in the middle.
  • Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the caramel softens and starts to melt. Remove from the oven and place a square of chocolate on top of each caramel, pressing lightly so that the caramel oozes out a bit on the sides. If the turtles have spread out too much, you can push the pecans back together while the caramel is still soft.
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Topping the pecans with carmel squares. Please don’t mind my not-so pecan halves!

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This picture doesn’t do justice! They were so so good! This picture comes from the second batch I made. Can you tell I was running out of good looking pecans? Ha!

Tips from Melissa’s Kitchen:

Use the cooking times above as simply a guideline and not an exact duration to bake/melt. Each oven varies in temperature so it is best to keep your eye on these turtles very often as the carmel melts. I had expected that the carmel was supposed to be oozing in the oven prior to taking them out but I was wrong! I ended up making 2 batches of these because I I had waited for the oozing and by then it was too late…they had started to burn. They only need to be slightly softened when you top them with the chocolate, otherwise the carmel will harden too much causing a much difficult dessert to eat and possibly some broken teeth!

Comment below if you try these out, I would love to know!

** All opinions and thoughts in this blog post are 100% my own. A big thank you to White Cap Books for sending over this gorgeous cookbook!

“Alice Eats: A Wonderland Cookbook” may be purchased at http://www.whitecap.ca for $34.95. For more information on this cookbook, click on the following link: http://www.whitecap.ca/Detail/1770501916

Social Media-White Cap Books:

Social Media-Julie Van Rosendaal:

Social Media-Pierre A. Lamielle:

 

 

 

“3 Times a Day” Cookbook Review

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“3 times a day” is written by Marilou and Alexandre Champagne, a husband and wife team who are also the creators of a blog called “Trois Fois Par Jour”. Marilou created this blog after overcoming a recent battle with anorexia in which she named her blog after eating 3 meals a day. Alexandre has a passion for photography and as Marliou begun her blog, he started taking beautiful pictures of her creations. If you have not had a chance to check out this blog, I would suggest you do so now. It is just lovely! http://www.troisfoisparjour.com/en/accueil There are plenty of easy to follow recipes, videos, and more all in a clean layout.

This cookbook is simply beautiful. The introduction is touching and the food photography is stunning. As you read it, you can feel the passion and the love that has gone into every recipe and every word on each page.

One of my favourite parts of this wonderful cookbook is the introduction, which speaks of Marlilou’s struggles and passions in life. She went from being a popular pop sensation in Quebec to food blogger and author. I think that a lot of us can relate to her words, which I absolutely love. How many of us want to change careers and are too afraid to do so?! How many of us don’t listen to what we want and listen to what other people want for us? Marilou speaks about finally following her heart rather than other people and what others wanted her to do and thus begun her journey and passion for cooking.

In the beginning of this cookbook you will find a page dedicated to tips and tricks for cooking, as well as recipe categories. Each recipe has a couple categories listed underneath so that you can easily identify and anticipate what type of recipe it is or what it can be used for. Categories include: economical, entertaining, gift, gluten free, indulgent, lactose free, quick and easy, raw and vegetarian.

This cookbook is beautifully laid out with pictures for every recipe. I absolutely love this! I know some people argue that pictures are deceiving and “it doesn’t always turn out like the pictures!” But for me it is what lures me into recreating the meal and I don’t care what it looks like in the end when I make it, as long as it tastes good.

Contents of the book are divided into the following:

  • Breakfast & brunch,
  • Snacks & small bites,
  • Lunch & salads
  • Soup & stews
  • Fish & seafood
  • Meat
  • Pasta, rice & pizza
  • Desserts

I can’t lie, my favourite recipes in this book all fall under the “indulgent” categories, mainly the pasta, rice & pizza section (which is probably the Italian in me). Everything just looks so succulent I couldn’t wait to get in the kitchen! The recipes in this cookbook are simple enough for a beginner and only require tools that you likely already have in your kitchen. One of the dessert recipes even uses mason jar lids as a mini tart pan with a removable bottom. Genius! (This particular recipe is actually the pie you see on the front cover of the book but in mini form.)

I managed to recreate the ricotta gnocchi (which were out of this world!) and the Oatmeal, espresso and dark chocolate cookies. I have made Martha Stewart’s ricotta gnocchi before but they definitely did not taste like these! I am of Italian decent so please trust me on this one…they were phenomenal. My 2 year old and my husband devoured them. The recipe says prep time is 25 min but they took me 10 minutes and I’m generally a slow cook. They were super simple and this recipe will definitely be a staple in my house. Since the gnocchi were my favourite of the two, I have provided the recipe below.

RICOTTA GNOCCHI

Quantity: 30-35 gnocchi

Prep time: 25 min

Categories: economical, vegetarian

Ingredients:

1 cup ricotta

1 egg

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

¾ cup all-purpose flour

¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg *I used the dry spice as that is what I had in the pantry.

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Steps:

  1. In a bowl, combine all ingredients until the flour is fully incorporated and a smooth dough forms.
  2. Shape the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 1 hour.
  3. Sprinkle a baking sheet with flour. Set aside.
  4. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut it in half.
  5. On a floured surface, roll one portion of the dough into a rope, about 1 inch diameter. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  6. Cut the ropes into ½-inch pieces and place them on the floured baking sheet. Using your thumb, make a small indentation in the centre of each gnocchi.
  7. Freeze the gnocchi for later, or cook them immediately in a pot of boiling salted water just until they float to the surface, about 3 minutes. Serve with the sauce of your choice. *I served with my homemade tomato sauce and fresh basil and it was perfection.
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Ricotta gnocchi dough (step.1)
Step.6 , Cutting the ropes into 1/2-inch pieces.
Step.6 Cutting the ropes into 1/2-inch pieces.
Ricotta gnocchi in tomato basil sauce.
Ricotta gnocchi in tomato basil sauce.
Oatmeal, espresso, & dark chocolate cookies dipped in 70% Lindt chocolate.
Oatmeal, espresso, & dark chocolate cookies dipped in 70% Lindt chocolate.
Oatmeal, espresso, dark (Lindt) chocolate cookies... perfect with a cup of coffee!
Oatmeal, espresso, dark (Lindt) chocolate cookies… perfect with a cup of coffee!

I made 2 batches of these since my tub of ricotta was 500 grams. (and thank God I did because the family devoured them) I accidentally used Pecorino Romano cheese for one of the batches. Initially I panicked but they ended up being just as tasty!

If you purchase this book, please take the time to read the acknowledgements. I know most of you probably bypass this section but it really was so beautifully written. Marilou and Alexandre’s note of thanksgiving to each other was so sweet and endearing. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and it really just validates how much heart and soul they put into the making of this cookbook.

**I received this book from the generous House of Anansi to give an honest review. All opinions and thoughts in this blog post are 100% my own. You can purchase it from chapters.indigo.ca or amazon.ca for $25.

**Stay tuned to my social media accounts as I recreate more of the recipes in this book. Pictures will be posted!

Decadent Mocha Eclairs

I try to recreate at least one recipe from each food magazine I receive monthly…as long as something catches my eye! November’s Chatelaine Magazine had a super tasty looking Decadent Mocha Éclair recipe and omg were they ever decadent! I tried my best to get some cool looking pics of these tasty desserts but keep in mind I have an (almost) 2 year old running around my crammed condo and well..you know, I try my best! This recipe was super easy and let me tell you..SUPER TASTY!! I have shared the link to the recipe below, pictures and some tips on my journey to recreating them.

Decadent Mocha Eclairs Recipe (click on the link below)

http://www.chatelaine.com/recipe/desserts/decadent-mocha-eclairs/

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Step 2 after stirring flour in mixture.
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Step 2 after stirring in eggs to prepare for pastry bag.
The Eclairs all baked up.
The Eclairs all baked up.
Slicing the eclairs in half to make way for the mocha filling.
Slicing the eclairs in half to make way for the mocha filling.
Piping the mocha cream on each eclair & spooning the chocolate on top.
Piping the mocha cream on each eclair & spooning the chocolate on top.
Eclairs all done!
Eclairs all done!

Tips: When piping the eclairs, make sure you make them wide enough. I piped them to be about 1inch in width post baking. (sorry I can’t remember what the width was pre-baking)..probably half that. The problem is, if you pipe them too thin as I did, when you pipe the mocha cream on each bottom half of the eclair, it will topple over as the cream will be too heavy for it. Because of this, I was not able to pipe as much as I was supposed to and threw out a lot of the cream. (ok maybe I piped some into my mouth..shhhh!)

Tip #2: In step number 4, at the very end where it says to spoon the melted chocolate over the eclairs…make sure you save some of that chocolate you microwaved.  I made the mistake of putting all the chocolate in the mocha cream! Opps…

NOTE: I prefer to fill eclairs traditionally by poking them and squeezing the filling inside. I liked that this recipe was different and the cream swirls were so visually appealing but I found eating them kinda messy and the mocha would squish out of the sides.

All in all, these were super tasty. You don’t know the mistakes you will make unless you make them! If I were to make them again I am confident they would come out perfect. Everyone that tried them loved them. Its a recipe keeper!

I receive Chatelaine magazine monthly through my Rogers account and I pay $1.50/month.  You can also get a subscription on their website for $14.99/year. http://www.chatelaine.com.

Nutella Truffles

I am a self-confessed Nutella nut. I love everything Nutella. I have Nutella in my latte every single morning. Any time I see a recipe with Nutella in it, I have to put it to the test immediately. I first saw this recipe for Nutella truffles in a special issue of America’s Test Kitchen, Christmas Cookies 2013. I never toss collectors issues of desserts and always refer to them even years later as there are so many great recipes, but of course not always a lot of time to get through them all!

I first made these truffles 2 years ago when I was pregnant with my daughter. I went on a baking binge, baking as many treats as I possibly could before giving birth (which turned out to be mid December). My goal was to create tasty treats that were freezer friendly so that once she was born, and people came to visit I could just bust them out of the freezer. It turned out these truffles froze exceptionally well. I only froze them for about a month, so I didn’t test beyond that. You can defrost them in the fridge if planning to have a little later or on the counter if you would like them sooner. These truffles are also perfect for Holiday events and gift giving. Pop them into mini paper cups and your good to go! Check out the recipe below:

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Nutella Truffles

Nutella Truffles

(makes 24 truffles)

Ingredients:

2 cups (2 oz) cornflakes

½ cup hazelnuts, toasted & skinned, plus 24 hazelnuts, toasted & skinned. *Note: I buy hazelnuts pre-skinned. I find skinning them messy and a pain in the butt.

½ cup (3 ½ oz) sugar

3 tbsp unsalted butter

¼ cup whole milk

1 tbsp Dutch-processed cocoa powder

¾ cup Nutella

Directions:

  1. Make foil sling for 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Spray aluminum foil with vegetable oil spray. (or just rub vegetable oil on it)
  2. Pulse cornflakes in food processor until finely ground, about 10 pulses; transfer to bowl. Process ½ cup hazelnuts in food processor to fine crumbs, about 15 seconds. Spread processed hazelnuts in shallow dish and set aside.
  3. Microwave sugar and butter in bowl, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth, about 45 seconds. Whisk in milk and cocoa until combined. Whisk in Nutella until fully incorporated. Stir in finely ground cornflakes. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and press firmly into even layer with greased spatula. Freeze, uncovered, until firm, about 10 minutes.
  4. Using foil overhang, lift chilled Nutella mixture out of pan and transfer to cutting board. Cut 24 pieces, then mold each 1 whole hazelnut to encase completely. Roll truffles in processed hazelnuts to coat and transfer to platter. Freeze, uncovered, until firm, about 10 minutes. Serve, or store in refrigerator until serving time.

How to skin hazelnuts: Transfer the hot, toasted hazelnuts to the centre of a dish towel. Fold the towel around the hazelnuts to seal them inside: then rub them together in the towel to scrape off as much brown skin as possible. Once you open the towel, you will see that the skins have come away from the hazelnuts. Its fine if some small patches of skin still remain.

Recipe excerpt, Americas Test Kitchen “Christmas Cookies, 64 Foolproof Recipes, from Classics to New Favourites”, 2013.

Happy Baking! XO