25 September, 2013

When I Say "S'Mores", YOU Say "More"... S'Mores!!!!

Every summer, in almost every town in the United States (for sure) someone, SOMEwhere is making a s'more.  I haven't "Googled" this but my guess, after having eaten about a bajillion of these myself, is that "s'more" HAS to stand for "some more" because I can NEVER eat just one, I always want some MORE.  Makes sense to this English major...

I am sure there is a sweet little story behind how these came about but I am gonna skip right over it and get to the baking...  Sounds good, right?  Sure it does...

I tried to figure out a way to make this delectable delight in a mass quantity and easily distributable amongst a crowd..say, a church "potluck".  Yeah...hmmm...  So I made a tart one night.  Graham cracker bottom, ricemellow creme in the middle and a chocolate ganache on top that I garnished with vegan marshmallows and more graham cracker crumbs.  This is what I ended up with...

Not TOO bad to look at before slicing, but what a ooey gooey lookin MESS after serving.  The ricemellow kinda oozed down the sides, hiding the beautiful thickness of the graham crust...  We just can't have that!  And...honestly, even if you were conservative with portions on this tart....at a potluck it would only feed about 20 people with some SUPER tiny slices.  I had to go back to the drawing board with this one.  This is the first time I felt satisfied with something I just made up on my own and then changed my mind after I saw the result.  But...the best things come out of failure, which make those mistakes no failure at all!

I decided what I had to do was instead change up the marshmallow layer into actual toasted marshmallow, then cover them with the chocolate and again for a garnish top it with mini marshmallows and some extra graham crumbs just for good measure and obvious identification...

These bars turned out better than the tart as far as the messy factor and are in the right direction of what I was aiming for.  The people that I passed these goodies on to loved them.  Both versions, noting that the tart version with the ricemellow fluff was indeed very messy.  I personally wasn't a fan of the solid marshmallow version because I didn't like the taste of "toasted marshmallow" in the middle.  I'm not sure how I achieved that in my oven but those marshmallows literally tasted like I roasted them over a fire...  Hmmm....I wasn't too keen on that.

My guinea pigs (random people I shove stuff on to at church) tell me that both the tart and bars were fabulous in taste but after having both they LOVED the bars more and only because they were less gooey to handle.

In an ideal world I would make up a recipe of cookie dough that tastes like a graham cracker then top it with a marshmallow fluff type frosting and drizzle it with chocolate OR a graham cracker flavored cupcake/cake that I fill with marshmallow creme and top with liquid milk chocolate.

Because I believe the world can be as ideal as we make it, I decided to take a leap and make up some cupcakes...  Portable, flavorful but still graham crackery, marshmallowy, ooey gooey milk chocolatey as the classic S'More itself.  Below you will find ALL THREE recipes for the love I was cooking up in the kitchen.  The tart, the bars and the cupcakes.  There is just NO end to the ways that you can have fun with S'Mores!!

S'Mores Tart
1 recipe of graham cracker crust, baked and cooled
1 bag of dairy free Enjoy Life! chocolate chips
4 T. vegan shortening
1 tub of vegan Ricemellow fluff
Sweet & Sara vegan mini marshmallows for garnish
extra crushed graham cracker crumbs for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 F

To make the graham cracker crust mix 1 3/4 c. graham cracker crumbs with 1 T. of sugar and 1/2 c. of melted butter.  Either pulse this in a food processor or do it in a medium bowl with a fork.  When the crumbs are sufficiently coated in the butter, pat firmly into the bottom of a round or rectangular tart pan.  Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes.  Set baked crust aside and allow it to cool completely before adding the ricemellow fluff.

When crust has cooled completely (1-2 hours) evenly spread on your ricemellow fluff then set it aside until you are ready to ladle on the melted chocolate.

In the microwave or on the stove top, melt all of your chocolate chips with the shortening.  (The shortening helps the chocolate stay shiny and keeps it from turning the dreaded white once it resets.)  Once the chocolate is completely smooth, ladle it onto the ricemellow fluff until it is completely covered in chocolate.

Working quickly (before the chocolate sets) toss on your vegan marshmallows and sprinkle on the crushed graham crackers.  Let it set for up to 4 hours at room temperature or 2 hours in the fridge before serving.

S'Mores Bars
1 recipe of graham cracker crust, baked
1 bag of dairy free Enjoy Life! chocolate chips
14 oz. of Sweet & Sara vegan marshmallows
4 T. vegan shortening
Sweet & Sara vegan mini marshmallows for garnish
extra crushed graham cracker crumbs for garnish

To make the graham cracker crust mix 1 3/4 c. graham cracker crumbs with 1 T. of sugar and 1/2 c. of melted butter.  Either pulse this in a food processor or do it in a medium bowl with a fork.  When the crumbs are sufficiently coated in the butter, pat firmly into the bottom of a square or rectangular baking dish. (Choose your shape and pan size based on how thick you want your crust to be.)  

Bake in the oven for 12 minutes then quickly remove it from the oven and spread an even layer of marshmallows over the crust and return it back to the oven.  Watch it closely, the marshmallows will expand to almost double their size.  Remove it from the oven before the marshmallows start to brown.  Set the pan aside and let the pan cool for 1-2 hours before ladling the chocolate on top (you don't want to collapse the marshmallow layer).

In the microwave or on the stove top, melt all of your chocolate chips with the shortening.  (The shortening helps the chocolate stay shiny and keeps it from turning the dreaded white once it resets.)  Once the chocolate is completely smooth, ladle it onto the marshmallow layer until it is completely covered in chocolate.

Working quickly (before the chocolate sets) toss on your vegan marshmallows and sprinkle on the crushed graham crackers.  Let it set for up to 4 hours at room temperature or 2 hours in the fridge before serving.

S'Mores Cupcakes
1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs (about 15 whole crackers)
1/2 c. flour

2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. (1 stick) vegan buttery spread, room temperature
3/4 c. sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 c. milk (you can use soy here with no problem!)

8 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

(for dairy free option use Enjoy Life! chips in place of milk chocolate and use 6 T. of vegan buttery spread instead of cream)

Marshmallow Cream
1 c. sugar, divided
4 egg whites
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 c. water

*This can be made into a 9 x 13 cake as well.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick clean.  Allow to cool completely (2 hours at least) before filling and decorating.  Once cooled, simply score the cake into 1 x 1 or 1 x 2 inch slices with a sharp knife and use the cupcake corer to remove portions of the cake so you can fill each hole with marshmallow creme.  Cover the whole top of the cake with the milk chocolate ganache and garnish with toasted marshmallows and graham crumbs.  (pictured below)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 12 standard muffin cups with paper liners.

Whisk graham crumbs, flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating to blend between additions. Beat in vanilla. Add graham-cracker mixture in 3 additions alternately with milk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with graham-cracker mixture. Divide batter among muffin cups.  Bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center come out clean, about 22 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to rack; cool completely.

Place chocolate in medium bowl. Bring cream just to boil in small saucepan; pour over chocolate. Let stand 1 minute; stir until smooth. Cool ganache until lukewarm.  You can also do this in a microwave in 30 second spurts.

Combine 3/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and simmer syrup without stirring until the thermometer reads 240°, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush.

Meanwhile, place egg whites, salt, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment. Whip on high until frothy. Slowly add remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Whip until soft peaks form. Continue whipping until medium peaks form. Reduce speed to medium, then pour hot syrup into meringue in a slow, steady stream while whipping. Increase speed to high and continue whipping until stiff peaks form. Reduce speed to medium and whip until meringue is cool.

Using a small knife or apple corer, cut a small whole in the top of each cupcake, approximately 1 inch deep.  Spoon or pipe marshmallow fluff into each cupcake.

Dip the tops of each filled cupcake into the chocolate ganache.  Decorate with toasted mini marshmallows and graham crumbs.

The cake version of this cupcake may feel a little more involved, but it really isn't any more fiddle farty than the cupcakes.  The cake is just as ideal to bring to a potluck event as the cupcakes are and the slices are an even smaller portion but they DO pack the same flavor wallop with less calories.

Scored Cake

Coring the Cake Slices

The ONLY difference with the way you core cake slices and the way you core a cupcake is what you see in the picture.  With a cupcake you stick the corer ALL the way in until the guard you see there in the picture touches the top of the cupcake.  But because the CAKE isn't as thick as a cupcake, you only stick the corer about half way in and just as you would with the cupcakes when you core them, you gently twist a full 360 degree circle before attempting to remove the core.  Plop them onto a plate...our Sprout loves to eat the cored pieces of S'More cake and cupcake!

Cored Cake

Marshmallow Creme Filled Cores

Completed Cake Slice

NO matter how you put this recipe together, cupcakes or cake, this is going to be a winner with your crowd.  I hope that you have fun with this one!

18 September, 2013

Hit The Spot...

I end up eating out WAY too often when I am visiting Minnesota to miss out on the opportunity to try new, great places and flog them up.  So I was hangin with my big bro and his loverly bride down in Blaine and I went through my "to eat" list...yeah, there are places in almost every place in the world on that list, even little ol' Minnesota.

I had heard about some great Japanese that wasn't too far from their house.  The way the heat and humidity was going since we had crossed the border into Minnesota, I wasn't planning on cooking any time soon and I wasn't about to ask my sister to either.  So when I told them I wanted to eat at Hajime my big bro gave his approval right away.  He loves the place!  Well...that was easy.


They weren't that busy when we walked in at 6ish in the pm.  I was glad.  With a 3 month old and a 3.5 year old, there is NO telling what mayhem can ensue.  The Sprout has been pushing to skip his naps these days and has been winning the battle because we're visiting grandfolks and just like them...we don't want him to miss a single opportunity to make some memories so we've caved.  Little did we know...the "over tired" bad behavior for ALL of his missed naps was about to come pouring out all at ONE time right here at Hajime.  *sigh*

We four adults, whenever my Mister or I wasn't wrangling the 3.5 year old, were scouring the menu.  Next to Indian, Japanese/Sushi is one of my most favorite things to eat.  When I was pregnant with the Sweet Pea I just couldn't lay off of it.  I knew I wasn't going to be able to eat here again for a long time so I carefully read the menu.  Then I asked for recommendations from our waiter.  I was in luck, most of the things he recommended were things I had my eye on.  For our table we ordered an appetizer of Pork Gyoza and Wasabi Red Snapper, for myself I ordered the Phoenix Roll and Chicken Yaki Soba.  I was SO hungry that I almost ordered MORE than that, but I had been tipped off that their portions were large so I showed some uncharacteristic restraint and only ordered the two things for myself.  Then I got to looking around...

Sushi Bar

They are quite a different atmosphere than what I think most people from this area of the Twin Cities are used to...and that is a GREAT thing!  The Twin Cities area is FILLED to the brim with bars, SPORTS bars, taverns and cookie cutter fast food Asian places.  Lucky for Blaine...they Hajime takes modern chic to a new high.  Not the dive bars or middle of the road tavern sort of places that are ALL over the place in the Twin Cities area.  Hajime has class.

It didn't take long before our appetizers were in front of us.  Yay for fast service!

Pork Gyoza

One of my favorite things to eat with my sushi has always been pork gyoza.  These fabulously soft pillows of dough were filled with JUST the right amount of pork.  The pork was just lightly seasoned so as not to outshine the dipping sauce.  The dipping sauce was a perfect balance of salty and sweet and was a wonderful compliment to the filling.  The gyoza skin itself was cooked perfectly.  The seared portion was crisp and the tops were steamed to a precise softness.  There wasn't a single place on my gyoza where the skin wasn't cooked all of the way through.  I've been disappointed by that situation many, many times before.  It was hard for me not to take a second one...I knew I had save room for the snapper.

Wasabi Red Snapper
 The wasabi honey sauce was really the first element of this dish that hit my taste buds and I have to say my mouth just LOVED the combination of heat and sweet.  It was smooth though, the wasabi didn't smack me upside the head and make me regret my bite.  It was a gentle little tap and it had to be...red snapper is a delicate fish.  It takes on flavors so easily and this snapper was quite flaky in texture.  Red snapper can range from soft and flaky (like our fish) to firm (which is better suited for grilling).  Tempura battering it and frying it was a great idea to maintaining the integrity of the fillet without it disintegrating into nothingness.  The tempura texture was smooth and crisp and allowed perfect amounts wasabi honey to settle into crevices so there was sauce in every single bite.  Fabulous...I highly recommend you try this when you are there!

Next out to the table was my sushi roll.  I was actually feeling like I was starting to run out of room in my tummy...  Nooooo!!!!

Phoenix Roll

 I had my eye on this gem when our waiter recommended it to me.  Let me tell you what is in this masterpiece...  Spicy tuna wrapped around tempura shrimp and mango with tobiko on top.  Everything about this roll was delicious.  The tempura shrimp was cooked perfectly, the fish roe was a wonderful little "pop" of saltiness in every bite and the tuna was smooth in flavor and delicately meaty in texture, the rice was cooked properly and the sauce on top rounded the combination of flavors out adding a richness and spice to each slice.  Add a bit of pickled ginger, dab of wasabi and a tweency drizzle of soy...and my friend...you have some of the best sushi in Blaine.  My big bro asked for a piece...I actually thought two or three times before I said "Sure.".  I was getting uber full and I knew it.  But, the feeding frenzy wasn't over for me quite yet.

Chicken Yaki Soba

I won't lie..I didn't get to eat very much of this.  In fact, I took most of it to go.  I was so unbelievably full I felt like my tummy was going to bust open.  I took three bites...  The noodles with veg by themselves.  Marvelous.  The chicken by itself....surprisingly good.  They seasoned the meat; good idea.  The third bite was all of the elements of the dish at once...noodles, veggies and chicken.  It was a subtle, flavorful bowl of noodles.  I would order it again.  Though, our waiter told me if I liked "lo mein" (wheat noodles) I would like the soba (buckwheat) noodles.  I kind of chuckled a bit to myself...not the same noodle.  Lo mein noodles are much thicker and substantial than these soba noodles were.  But, that didn't take away from the fact that this bowl of buckwheat noodles hit the spot for me that night.

Hajime is a new favorite for me.  Fabulous atmosphere, attentive service, posh decor, and an innovative, daring menu...a winning combination overall.  I can see why my big bro and his misses hit this place up when they are feelin' like inhaling some great Japanese.  For the food quality and a price that is just right, head over to Hajime for dinner tonight.  It will be the best decision you made this week!

11 September, 2013

Ginger, Lemon, and Yum!

Something I love to do is bake for other people.  A lady I know from church that is from England happens to love a good ginger cake every once in a while.  I'd never heard of "sticky stem" ginger in all of my life.  This is an English ingredient...that would be why!  When I picked up a jar of it from one of the local shops I smelled it and tasted it...  Basically what you get with sticky stem ginger is a bit of ginger pared down to a ball shape and then preserved in a syrup.  Voila!  Grate that and toss it in a cake....well, now you're talkin!

There are three ingredients in this cake that you may have to look in a specialty shop for.  "Sticky Stem Ginger", "Lyle's Golden Syrup", and "Mixed Spice".  If you can't find mixed spice in your grocery store, a recipe follows that is as close to mixed spice as I've been able to get.  Lyle's Golden Syrup (near as I can tell) seems to be a combination of corn syrup and honey.  I have no idea what the ratios are, but I suppose you could try half corn syrup and half honey...so for this recipe, a 1/4 c. of each corn syrup and honey.  If you want to step it up a notch you could try "treacle" instead of Lyle's..."treacle" in England is black strap molasses.  If you don't have black strap, regular will do in a pinch and lend an IMMENSE amount of flavor to this cake.  So that would be a FULL CUP of molasses if you omit the Lyle's.

Sticky Stem Ginger Bundt Cake with Lemon Icing 
2 c. self-raising flour
1 tsp. soda
1 T. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground mixed spice
1 stick of unsalted butter , cut into cubes
1/2 c. dark brown sugar
1/2 c. black strap molasses/treacle
1/2 c. Lyle’s golden syrup
1 c. soy milk
1/3 c. drained stem ginger, finely grated
1 egg

3.5 T. organic cane powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1 T. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. lemon oil, optional

Mixed Spice
1 T. allspice
1 T. ground cinnamon
1 T. ground nutmeg
2 tsp. mace
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground ginger

Mix spices together and store in an airtight container.  This spice mixture would be called for in a traditional English "mince pie" as well and would work beautifully in a pumpkin pie rather than "pumpkin pie spice".

**This cake habitually falls in the center when NOT baked in a bundt pan.  I made it multiple times in a 10 inch round, 3 inch deep cake pan and it caved in the middle each time.  It ONLY results properly in a bundt pan.**

Preheat oven to 350 F

Spray your bundt pan with a cooking spray that has flour in it or with a brand like Wilton's Cake Release.  Baker's Joy is what I used and it released perfectly.

Put the flour, soda and all of the spices in a large mixing bowl.  Add the butter and rub it into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs or mix it on the lowest setting in your stand mixer until you reach the crumby consistency.

Put the sugar, treacle/molasses, golden syrup and milk in a medium saucepan and heat, gently stirring until the sugar has dissolved.  Turn up the heat and bring the mixture to just below the boiling point.

Add the grated stem ginger to the flour mixture, then pour in the milk mixture, stirring as you go with a wooden spoon.  Break in the egg and beat it into the mixture until everything is combined and it resembles a thick pancake batter.  Pour this into a prepared bundt pan and bake for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick clean.

Remove it from the oven to cool on a wire rack.  Allow to cool at LEAST 15 minutes before inverting the pan and removing the cake to cool completely.  

**IF you would like to save this cake for a later time, freeze it at this point.  It keeps for up to 1 month.  Remove from the freezer and allow to sit until it comes to room temperature (about 4 hours) then proceed to make and pour on the icing.

To make the icing mix together the powdered sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice.  Stir until you have a smooth, gooey consistency.  If it doesn't taste "lemony" enough, feel free to add more zest or lemon oil if you have it.

This cake, once iced, keeps for up to 2 weeks stored in an airtight container.

Dairy-Free Sticky Stem Ginger Cake


Imagine the fabulously pungent flavor of gingerbread cookies transformed into a perfectly textured, moist slice of bundt cake then kissed with a bright, sweet lemony smooch.  That's what you have here on a plate.  I made this and failed to have it turn out a couple of times...apparently the third time was the charm and TOTALLY worth the failures to hit the one HUGE success that this cake turned out to be!  Even the Mister who isn't a fan of molasses or ginger quite enjoyed this cake.  The Sprout has always been a fan of gingerbread, so he was easy to please with this concoction.

I hope you try this at least once, don't be afraid of these bold flavors!  It will become a new favorite at the kitchen table.  Have fun!

04 September, 2013

Happy Anniversary 2013!!!

This year, still being stationed in Ottawa and FINALLY not being in the middle of recovery from something (brain surgery or c section birth, what have you...) the Mister and I decided it was high time to do all of the things that most folks would if they were in Ontario.  We entrusted the Sprout to a wonderful family from church and packed up the Sweet Pea's duds and hit the road for a whirl wind adventure that included a night in Toronto with dinner at one of the best places in town, Niagara Falls the next morning, and by the evening of that night we planned on being in Palmyra, NY.  What one man we know called "the trip around the lake".  Sure thing...  My husband asked me before we left "What do you want to do FOR sure in Toronto?"  My answer was simple "Eat.".  What else IS there???  Nothing.  Nothing I care about anyhow...

I did a bit of digging and I narrowed it down to 3 places that all seemed to be owned by the same company but, based on menu and decor one of the 3 places won our business...  Auberge du Pommier.  (Sorry this photo is a bit crooked...I had one shoe on and one shoe off.  Don't ask....)

It was beautiful from the outside and there was no shortage of beauty once we got inside either.  I walked in wearing my black cargo pants and olive green long sleeved shirt...with my black silk dress and slip in my LV.  I walked in and asked for the ladies restroom and said "Don't worry, I'm not wearing this..." to which my comment was promptly replied to by a waiter saying "We never judge Miss."  It made me kind of giggle to myself.  I booked it down the stairs to change and came back up ready for a romantic dinner...which is not what the Sweet Pea ended up having in mind for us.  Hopefully we'll figure out before TOO much longer that anniversary dinners that include our posterity typically won't end with anything but tears.  This time it was Sweet Pea tears instead of those of the Sprout.  She was a total dream all day but a total ball of tears the whole time we were out to dinner.  Typical for my luck, which is to say...I have none.  Not even "bad luck"...I have NO luck.

We were showed to our table, for which we DID make a reservation and I would highly recommend on a weekend evening that you do the same.  As the evening wore on, I'm very glad we made a reservation and also very relieved we showed up early.  Auberge fills up quickly on a Friday night.  The good news was that once I had changed I felt like I fit in a better with the waiters who were dressed to the nines.

We made our way through the dinner menu and ordered our mains.  Then, after our waiter had already walked away I realized we hadn't ordered an appetizer.  *facepalm*  That is usually what I worry about FIRST, not remember later.  I'm not sure if motherhood is making me more forgetful or if I just felt rushed because she was already starting to fuss but, I completely overlooked the appetizer menu.  We stared at it for a couple minutes...  Foie Gras, Green Asparagus Soup, Tartare, Frog Legs...  Wait a second...FROG legs??  Ha!  Okay Kermit, let's do it up.  We knew we didn't want anything else, we were gettin' amphibious up in there that night.  I had heard what frog legs tasted like, but I've always wanted to try them for myself.  That's just how I roll with food.  After we sent in our order of Kerm...uh...I mean a random frog's legs and our main entrees I went on my walk about the restaurant to see what there was to see.  Boy, oh boy...was there a lot to see!  Auberge is HUGE and gorgeous...




I felt like I was dining in a beautiful French villa.  But, it didn't make me forget for one second we had a 4.5 month old baby that was losing her patience with us.  What that translates to is I was about to rush myself and my Mister through a fabulous dinner to make our wee little girl happy.  Just around the first episode of crying our waiter showed up with a little tray...


 Butter with Truffle Oil

The olives were a nice introduction to the dinner.  Briny, but sweet and a nice meaty texture.  I ate most of them and loved every second of it...even if I was fishing pits out of my mouth like a ruffian while doing it.  I stared at the butter for a while wondering what it was for, then a waiter showed up with a bread basket.  His selection was whole wheat, apple, or sourdough.  I chose apple bread and slapped some butter on it as soon as it landed on my plate.

Apple Bread

I was about halfway through eating my wonderfully tender slice of apple bread when someone from the kitchen showed up with an amuse...

Potato Puff with Creme Fraiche & Caviar

It was one of the smallest things I'd ever been given as an amuse that packed such a HUGE wallop of flavor in one bite.  I wanted MORE!!  The potato was so soft and the creme fraiche set off the caviar so perfectly...I could have eaten just these all night and been happy to do it.  Shortly after I took a sip of my water our appetizer made its way to the table.

Cuisses de Grenouille

Those are frogs legs folks.  I loved everything about this appetizer, prepare for my gushing!  I was impressed with the plating so much that I was hesitant to touch the dill coulis.  But, I snapped out of my awe and grabbed a leg, dipping it in the coulis first, and then a shmear of the amandine remoulade, and parked it all on my plate.  Then I took a healthy bite of frog leg where the coulis was and forked some of the remoulade into my mouth immediately so I could taste all of the elements of the dish in one bite.  It is impossible for me to get across to you how fabulous this plate is.  So complex in appearance but...the flavors were so clean and bright!  If you have ever wondered what frog legs taste like, I can tell you they have the texture of fish but taste NOTHING like fish.  They taste instead like a light, tender poultry.  Not chicken or turkey though...frog is a flavor all its own; much like alligator.  That is what it reminded me of, it made me recall when I ate alligator for the first time in Florida back in 2007.  Quite unique and delicate.  The remoulade with toasted almonds was the perfect creamy, crunchy element to the frog legs.  This appetizer is a winner!  Don't be afraid to try this; you'll fall in love with it, I promise.

Somewhere after we finished the plate of frog legs, the Mister had to take the Sweet Pea for a walk.  She couldn't be comforted or soothed, not even with a bottle and some singing, which is usually a sure thing with her.  Oh, little girl...what are we gonna do with you??  While they were walking around, our entrees showed up...

PEI Beef Rib Eye

Pomme Surprise

Surprise!!  It's Oxtail!!

The PEI Beef with Pomme Suprise was my entree...and I adored it!  I love a good surprise and I love some rare cow...  I felt like I was eating in a dream.  The beef was so tender and juicy, the chanterelles complimented the caviar and beef SO well; it was a perfect symphony of flavor on my plate.  FYI:  Symphony is an accurate description of what goes on when a chef is cooking.  They "compose" their plates and every single thing that goes on has a purpose, a flavor, and either contributes or ends up taking away from the dish.  Luckily for me, it all added TO and took nothing away!

The Pomme Surprise was quite interesting.  I've never seen anything or heard of anything quite like it.  A seemingly static looking portion of potatoes BUT...with a totally decadent, tender snippet of oxtail hidden inside.  Just enough oxtail to make you consider leaving your spouse for the chef...  The accompanying jus with the oxtail was fruity and bold; if someone brought me a bowl of that jus with nothing but a loaf of bread for dinner I would have felt like I ate like a queen!  Couldn't get it in my mouth fast enough.

Grilled Swordfish Confit

This was my Mister's dinner...  I only had a small bite of the swordfish to make certain it was cooked properly.  It was, he devoured it...end of story.  It was quite a loverly presentation and quite a portion of fish.  I was impressed.  My Mister says he would order it again, but it was "a lot" even for him.  That's new to hear.

We were getting ready to leave, sans dessert because we THOUGHT the only desserts they had there were the ones that were in the dinner menu, specifically, the desserts on the tasting menus of which there are TWO.  There is a vegetarian tasting menu and the chef's tasting menu which features meat.  On those two tasting menus there was a napoleon or a candied fennel meringue with rhubarb consomme...  No thanks on both accounts.  As soon as our waiter slapped down these petit fours in front of us...

I noticed the table next to us had 3 menus on their table...  I wondered if they were dessert menus.  SO I asked our waiter...  Turns out they were dessert menus.  We sent in an order for a Souffle Citron and waited the 15 minutes it was going to take to get it...  The Sweet Pea was fading fast.  The Mister was on his 3rd walk about with her.  Oy...

That 15 minutes flew by pretty quickly, the next thing I knew the waiter was setting this beautiful puff of yummly goodness in front of me and the Mister...

Souffle Citron

When our waiter set this down in front of us, he took a spoon and made a little opening in the middle, and proceeded to pour in a generous amount of white chocolate ganache.  While I am sure there are folks out there that love a good souffle, my Mister and I both had about 3 bites of this one and just couldn't go on.  It was the texture of scrambled eggs, then add to it the white chocolate ganache that our waiter poured in and...meh.  I wouldn't order that again.  It was a stretch to think we'd enjoy it in the first place.  Should have gone for a seasonal fruit sorbet instead.  Live and learn...live and learn.

On our way out we asked the hostess to please take a shot of us for the memory book.  As tired and frazzled as our little trio was, I've learned the hard way in life...it could have turned out much worse with the Sweet Pea than it did.  We finally made it a point to get out of there when a lovely couple took the table next to us that were obviously out for a "child free" dining experience, I didn't want to disappoint them.

Would I eat here again??  C'mon, do you have to ask?  Of course I would.  My biggest problem would be do I order the same things that I KNOW I am going to love or do I try the other things that I didn't this go 'round?  I'm not sure what I would do...those frog legs were quite magical.

When you've gotten used to eating whatever the 3.5 year old deems "yummy" every night for the past year you want to try something a bit more daring than breaded baked haddock every other night or something that features chicken and rice.  If you are looking for a dining experience that will leave you breathless with every bite, check out Auberge du Pommier.  I guarantee you that no matter what night you go...it will STILL be the best thing you ate that week.  Thank you for a fabulously flavorful evening Auberge!  It was worth every single loonie.  And then some...  Happy Anniversary to us!!

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