Oh my heart. It goes pitter patter. My tummy is happy, too. Merci.
Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to dine at the Ritz-Carlton in Clayton for a variety of reasons. It always has been a remarkable experience. Last week, I went to a tasting of French cuisine prepared by Chefs (and husband/wife team) Damien and Simone Faure. The Ritz-Carlton has planned an exclusive Valentine’s Day evening for 75 guests called Soirée d’Amour. The hotel invited the media to preview what will be served Feb. 14.
There will be four courses, with three choices in each for diners. Last Thursday, about a dozen of us food-media types tried them all — in sampling sizes, of course.
What I tasted was as delicious as the names are beautiful. Some of my favorites were a starter of Oysters Ménage à Trois; a salad of Frisée and Arugula, Dried Cranberries, Duet of Roasted Duck and Foie Gras Poêlé, Champagne Sabayon; a middle course of Sea Bass en Amandine, Kalettes, Romanesco, Lemon Creamy Stone-Ground Grains, Corn Shoots, Beurre Blanc; and a dessert of La Forêt-Noire Preserved Blackberries, Wine-Soaked Black Cherry Gelée, Vanilla- Scented Yogurt Mousse, Soft Chocolate Cake.
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If you are a culinary Francophile, you may be fanning yourself right now.
The charming and funny Chefs Faure play host the evening of Valentine’s Day, with reservations being made from 5 to 8 p.m. Damien Faure is the award-winning chef for The Grill at The Ritz-Carlton, while Simone is owner/operator of the popular La Pâtisserie Chouquette (shoe-KETT) in St. Louis. They used a photo of themselves in Paris by la Tour Eiffel as the cover for the menu program. He’s French and they met in her hometown, New Orleans.
Evoking the charms of Old World Paris, there will be a Champagne toast, live French music and authentic decor to accompany this Valentine’s Day experience. Cost is $149 per person (plus tax/gratuity). Call 314-719-1433 for reservations.
Back to everyday cooking
What is with so many of my friends talking about making Monkey Bread? I’ve never made it. I thought it was just one dessert or bread or something. Then, I got in the middle of a conversation and found that recipes for it abound — in many variations. I admit I don’t own a Bundt pan, which I understand is necessary for making Monkey Bread. I’ve had issues with this pan in the past not unsticking its contents and ruining my desserts. (This may be my fault.) So, I got rid of it, or put it away somewhere I can’t remember.
Some of the Monkey Bread recipes are making me rethink my relationship with such a pan. In the meantime, Apple-Cream Cheese Monkey Breads made in a muffin tin sounds right up my alley.
But while I’m considering where I stowed the Bundt pan, consider this amazing cookie recipe that is heart-healthy and tastes great.
Apple-Cream Cheese Monkey Breads
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons milk
1 can (8 ounces) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls (8 rolls)
3/4 cup canned apple pie filling, chopped
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 8 regular-size muffin cups with cooking spray.
In small bowl, mix 3 tablespoons of the sugar and the cinnamon; set aside. In another small bowl, mix cream cheese, remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and the milk.
Unroll crescent dough onto work surface; press perforations to seal. Cut dough into 8 squares. Cut each of the 8 squares into 5 rows by 4 rows to make 20 mini squares each.
Add 20 squares of crescent dough to bottoms and halfway up sides of muffin cups.
Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon-sugar on top of crescent dough in each. Layer with about 2 teaspoons cream cheese mixture, a rounded tablespoon of pie filling, and top with another 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon-sugar mixture.
Bake 16 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes; remove from pan. Serve warm.
Tips: To chop apple pie filling before using in recipe, measure apple pie filling, spoon onto cutting board, and chop apple slices using sharp knife. Also, a pizza cutter makes it easier to cut dough into strips and squares.
The Ultimate Heart Smart Chocolate Chip Cookies
Parchment paper or nonstick cooking spray
1/4 cup trans fat-free margarine
1/4 cup (2 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup miniature chocolate chips
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or coat with cooking spray; set aside.
In a medium bowl, beat together margarine, cream cheese, brown sugar, granulated sugar, egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt and stir into sugar mixture. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.
Drop by rounded tablespoon onto prepared baking sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until edges begin to brown. Cool on wire rack.
Makes 24, each with 145 calories, 5 grams fat, 24 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, 91 mg sodium, 10 mg cholesterol, 14 mg calcium, 1 gram fiber. Food exchanges: 1 1/2 starch, 1 fat.
Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press