Cherries, chocolate or wine/champagne anyone?

Since the start of June, I cannot help noticing all the popping red colour of cherries front of store everywhere I shop. Cherries always remind me of my childhood and our Aussie Summer Christmases. My Mother would fill a large bowl on display to brighten up the house and we couldn’t wait to take a handful!

Some of the things I love when celebrations start in Summer are cherries, chocolate and champagne – it’s the simple things in life right?

Although I know that while I am here in Vancouver, cherries are in season come Summertime but sadly without Christmas to enjoy. So when I saw that Whole Foods Market were selling these beautiful organic cherries at a special price this week, I couldn’t resist.

Our celebration was to have our first dinner party at our home here in Vancouver with our closest friends who have been amazing and awesome to us since the first day we arrived. We love entertaining and wanted to treat them to something special and came up with a vegetarian menu (catering to dietary requirements) which was delicious and not too heavy. I was also looking for a good reason to indulge in the local BC Salt Spring Island, Chèvres (which is a very soft, fresh goat’s cheese).

Our friends brought us an exceptional wine which I also want to make a mention of from the Okanagan Valley, BC; ‘Joie Farm’ Pinot Blanc 2011. Joie means “Joy” in French and this wine certainly lives up to its name and is inspired by Alsace with a beautiful tropical fruit intensity. This was a very memorable drop and I look forward to exploring the Okanagan vineyards very soon.

Our menu:-

Entrée – Sashimi grade salmon + Edamame                                                                     Main – Beetroot and goats cheese tart accompanied with a Fennel, radicchio and walnut salad (recipes sourced from delicious. magazine Australian edition). and the dessert…

Dessert – Chocolate meringues with amaretto cherries and coconut gelato (dairy-free)

The Kid’s menu was cheese and vegetable frittata with fries followed by banana gelato (sugar-free) with raspberries and a petite meringue on the side.

The sun has rolled on consecutively for over a week now and it is reminding me more of what our Summers are like back home in Australia.  I will combine a Christmas Summer favourite with the beautiful cherries that are in abundant supply which is just singing for an opportunity to entertain with these.

Cherry topped mini-chocolate meringues with coconut gelato (makes 6)              This meringue recipe is inspired and adapted from Valli Little’s recipe in delicious. magazine.

Ingredients 

4 eggwhites, at room temperature

11/4 cups caster sugar (or berry sugar)

1 tablespoon cocoa, sifted

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon cornflour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

24 cherries pitted

2 Tablespoons of caster sugar (or berry sugar)

3/4 cup Amaretto liqueur

Coconut gelato (a good quality creamy one)

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 150 Celcius / 302 F. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.

2. Whisk eggwhites in the bowl of an electric mixer with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form. Add caster sugar, one tablespoon at a time, every minute or so whisking until thick and glossy. Fold in cocoa, vinegar, cornflour and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract until well combined.

3. Dollop 6 rounds of the mixture onto the lined tray. Using the back of a spoon make an indent in the top of each one. Place in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 120 C /250 F. Bake for 45 minutes then turn the oven off and leave the meringues in the oven to cool completely.

4. Meanwhile, add amaretto and sugar to pitted cherries and leave in fridge for an hour. Remove when ready to serve and heat up in small saucepan till syrupy consistency.

5. Using an ice-cream scoop place coconut gelato on meringues and pour amaretto cherries on top. Garnish with a few fresh cherries in the bowl as well.

A champagne to match for a celebratory note? Moët & Chandon’s Rosé Impérial – Enjoy!

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I’m calling it the Vancouver diet…

as we have only arrived a little over ten weeks ago, I wanted to share an exciting discovery with you…I fit back into my ‘Nudies’ – Yay! These were, or should I say still are my favourite jeans which were given to me as a present by my husband just prior to falling pregnant. Needless to say, its been almost three and half years and I am finally reacquainting myself with them again. They have travelled around with me ever since; three house moves later and I was almost ready to give my denim friend a burial service and lay them to rest.

All the outdoor activities, scenic landscape and green living are certainly reasons why I am loving Vancouver, however this is a benchmark to demonstrate the difference its making in more ways than just feeling better!

Yes, it is a triumphant day and I will celebrate by enjoying some of my favourite chocolate.

If my Mother is reading this now, she might be rolling her eyes with a wry smile knowing very well I don’t have the greatest self-discipline when it comes to chocolate…especially Lindt or Green & Black’s. My Mother has always shared the adage with me “everything in moderation”. Okay, so I’ve already had a square or two prior to writing this but I must note to my Mother in the Southern hemisphere that I have the three-thirty-itis right now!

I am also enjoying a creamy coffee and what its missing is Lindt flakes which I can’t locate anywhere in Vancouver. My Mum will also know that item is going to be on my wish list for when she comes to visit as it was ‘she’ who bred my addiction by adding it to the top of our cappuccinos in the morning.

So, I created the closest I could by finely chopping up a Lindt milk chocolate square to make flakes.

Even if my jeans are feeling a little taut, I will sip my coffee with a sweet smile on my face.