Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Raspberry Lemon Parfaits

This dessert is the result of a Mother's Day culinary mishap.

I had a plan. I was going to bake a triple-layer cake filled with fluffy cream and fresh raspberries. And then, for unknown reasons, my cake fell. It was too ugly to fill with anything, so I had to come up with a Plan B.

So I diced up the cake, adjusted the cream filling and made parfaits!

I ended up making four large parfaits, but you could easily make six regular-sized ones or eight small ones.

The cake and cream are light and fluffy with a refreshing lemon flavor and the sweet raspberries were perfect. Of course, you can use another berry if that's your preference.

I made my cake from scratch, but if that's not your thing please feel free to purchase one from the store. It's warm outside... no need to overdo it with the oven in the kitchen!

This is a quick and easy dessert for your Memorial Day celebrations! Enjoy!

Raspberry Lemon Parfaits
serves about 6

diced cake, about 6 cups (no need to be precise) from scratch or store-bought
about 2 pints of fresh raspberries berries, washed and dried
1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped until soft peaks form
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups confectioner's (powdered) sugar
1 teaspoon pure lemon extract

With an electric mixer, mix together cream cheese, lemon extract and powdered sugar until blended. Gently fold in whipped cream. Set aside.

Place a few pieces of cake on the bottom of each dish/cup. Put whipped cream over the cake and then top with berries. Repeat with each dish/cup until all are full.

Cover each dish with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving.

You can make these parfaits about 6 hours before serving, but try to consume them within 24 hours or the whipped cream will deflate.

Friday, May 16, 2014

San Diego | Brunch at Hotel del Coronado

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of spending 8 days in San Diego. I was traveling for work and I didn't have much free time. I did, however, make time (and room in my personal budget on my only free morning) for a very special brunch at the famous Hotel del Coronado.

This was my first trip to California and a few people back home told me that this brunch was the best they've ever had and worth the $85 (gulp!) price tag. Yes, nearly $100 for brunch. But, how many times am I going to be in San Diego with a free schedule on a Sunday morning? I have no idea. So I just splurged and went. It was so worth it.

Hotel del Coronado is located on Coronado Island which is separated from downtown San Diego by a bridge that's a couple of miles long. The hotel is famous, over a century old and some people say it's haunted. I'll assure you that it's beautiful and not creepy at all. The entire town of Coronado is well worth the visit if you're ever in San Diego.

I visited Hotel del Coronado early in my trip, so it was here that I got my first view of the Pacific Ocean (at least from the ground). Yes, it was amazing. Unlike the Atlantic Ocean, here I saw cacti and succulents growing in the dry sand on the beach. I'm pretty sure we don't have anything like that on the east coast. I was also amazed that you can see mountains within sight of the beach. If you visit Coronado, the beach is right there.

But let's talk about the food. The selection was amazing and I thoroughly enjoyed 90% of what I tasted. There was a huge seafood section, a cheese bar (warm brie, dried fruits, nuts!), a bit of Mexican cuisine, plenty of fresh fruits, all types of vegetables, every salad imaginable (with and without meat and/or seafood), a massive carving station, beautiful desserts, bottomless mimosas and bloody Marys, and every traditional breakfast food you'd expect (waffles, french toast, pancakes, an omelet station). The service was fantastic, as well. My glasses were always full, my table was always clean and cleared of crumbs and I never had to wait for any food to be replenished.

Some of the seafood:

A few salads (one with calamari and the other with scallops):

Cheeses and condiments:

Roasted vegetables:

Just a few of the desserts:

Mini breakfast souflees and Grand Marnier French Toast:

Ranchero beans:

Roasted Brussels sprouts sizzling on a hot plate (the best I've ever eaten):

Watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, and pineapple, soaked in a sweet basil solution:

This brunch was an awesome splurge and I'll remember it for years to come. What impressed me the most is that while the food is mass produced (it is a buffet, after all), each dish tastes like it was prepared with care in a small batch by an expert chef... because I'm sure it was! I also appreciate the presentation of the food on the buffet. You feel like you're serving yourself at an intimate dinner party instead of a huge buffet.

I am so happy that I decided to enjoy this memorable brunch experience. I think this meal would be a great choice for a special celebration like a milestone birthday or anniversary. Plus I got some great ideas for my own meals at home. I'm hoping to attempt Grand Marnier French Toast sometime in the near future.

Are you into brunch? Have you splurged on a special meal lately?
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