Tag Archives: Strawberries

Cafe Lift ***

Cafe Lift French Toast
 
428 N. 13th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123
215.922.3031

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Breakfast is my FAVORITE meal of the day. But it is not just an indulgence for me, it is a necessary ritual. God forbid I don’t eat my four-egg omelet before leaving the house in the morning, and I am like Atilla the Hun for the remainder of the day—just ask any of my friends.

Having spent almost all of my life with a passion for both breakfast and cooking, you can imagine that I have become quite talented at preparing 5-star omelets, fluffy pancakes, hearty oatmeals, and fresh yogurt parfaits (or at least I think so!). That being said, I am highly critical of breakfasts served outside of my own kitchen. Every now and then though, I venture to a restaurant to check out their version of breakfast and I did so this weekend at Café Lift.

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The restaurant is a modern loft space, decorated as if Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel had a love child. It is verging on the edge of hipster, but it is comfortable and cozy to patrons of all ages (and there is a wide variety!).

Inside Cafe Lift

I ordered the Plum Tomato Frittata with Asparagus, Roasted Plum Tomatoes, and Fontina Cheese, drizzled with Homemade Basil Pesto ($8).

Frittata 1edited

The basil pesto was so fresh and summery, and the frittata was executed very well, without being overcooked or hard. The parmesan-crusted home fries were tasty, but a bit overcooked and consequently mushy for my liking (I told you I was critical!). The multigrain toast was god awful, but I’m watching my carb intake so I’ll consider that a blessing in disguise!

To accompany my enormous frittata, I also ordered a Lemon Ricotta Pancake topped with Fresh Strawberries ($3).

Lemon Ricotta Pancakeedited

It sounded amazing, but fell a little flat for me. I thought the batter could have benefitted from some and/or more lemon zest. I just didn’t get that bright citrus flavor to compliment the creaminess of the ricotta. It did photograph quite lovely though. #pancakefoodporn

My friend Sara ordered the Special Eggs Florentine served with Jumbo Lump Crab Meat, Spinach, and Truffle Hollandaise Sauce ($11.50).

Crab Eggs Florentine2edited

Normally, the dish would be served on an English muffin, but Sara is Gluten-Free so she had it open-face instead. She enjoyed it, although we both agreed the hollandaise was lacking a bit in truffle flavor…aka the best part.

All in all, the food was good but is it better than my own version of breakfast?

Nope.

I will definitely say that it is an awesome value for what you get though, and if you’re not as high maintenance about breakfast as I am, you will probably love it!

Here’s a look at what I would serve if I could have my very own brunch spot…

……..someday!

Black Bean and Corn Omelet

garden omelet

Omelet with Goat Cheese

Huevos Rancheros KB

Brocoli and Gruyere Quiche

Veggie Omelet ad Hash Browns

Mushroom Spinach and Goat Cheese Oetitie Quiche

Mexican Scramble

IMG_2257

Yogurt with Berries and Granola

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Filed under Bakery, Breakfast, Brunch, Buck's County, Cafe / Bistro, Coffee Shop, Lunch Spots, Pennsylvania

{ Triple Berry Lemon Curd Trifle }

I am always looking for an excuse to try out a new dessert recipe, and my parent’s garden party this past Sunday was a perfect occasion. The gathering was held in honor of my father’s boss, who will soon be retiring, and I was in charge of creating the sweet final note for the evening. Rather than go the cupcake route (which has become my signature), I decided to attempt my very first trifle. Given the beautiful summer weather, I figured I would keep the dessert light and do something with citrus flavors and fresh seasonal berries. I browsed the food network online, and was very drawn to Tyler Florence’s lemon curd trifle with fresh berries, however, there were an abundance of complaints with regards to the lemon curd recipe. So I took inspiration from his recipe, but tweaked it to my liking to produce this one! It might just become my new signature dessert because it is sinfully good. Everyone enjoyed it…including myself, which is rare. Most of the time once I see what goes into a dessert (i.e. a pound of butter, 3 cups of sugar, 2 cups of lard, ect..) I can’t enjoy eating it…some things are best not to know! This dessert isn’t exactly healthy either, but I couldn’t stop myself from devouring forkful upon forkful. It has the perfect balance of flavors and textures. The citrus from the lemon helps to cut the heaviness of the whipped cream, and the density of the pound cake is perfectly complimented by the fluffy lemon curd mousse. I used Paula Deen’s “Southwest Georgia Pound Cake” recipe, which I highly recommend. It has an awesome vanilla and almond flavor and it is strong enough to hold up the layers of the trifle.

Ingredients }

  • 5 extra large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Zest of 3 lemons
  • ½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 stick of butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 pint of fresh strawberries
  • 1 pint of fresh raspberries
  • 1 pint of fresh blackberries and/or blueberries
  • 2 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 prepared pound cake (I use Paula Deen’s “Southwest Georgia Pound Cake”)
  • ½ cup orange liquor (such as Grand Marnier)
  • Fresh mint leaves for garnish

Directions for lemon curd } Bring a shallow pot of water to a simmer over medium-low heat. Combine the egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, and zest in a metal or glass heat-resistant bowl and whisk until smooth. Set the bowl over the pot of simmering water, without letting the bottom rest in the water and continue to whisk (I use a double-boiler to do this, but it you don’t have one then you’ll have to devise a contraption to make do).

Continue to whisk the egg mixture until it firms up and just about doubles in volume. I find that this takes anywhere between 10-15 minutes so get ready for an arm workout! It is really important that the egg mixture does not come to a boil so be careful that the bowl does not sit directly in the water and don’t stop mixing!! The curd should look like this once it is done:

When it does, remove from the heat and whisk in the butter a couple of chucks at a time, until melted and combined. Then put the curd into the fridge until it is good and firm (about an hour), or until you are ready to use it.

Directions for the homemade whipped cream } Using an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Gradually add the vanilla extract and confectioner’s sugar until stiff peaks form, but be careful not to over beat the cream or it will become grainy.

To assemble the trifle } Gently fold the lemon curd into the whipped cream so that it becomes a mousse. Do not mix too hard though, or the whipped cream will loose volume and get become runny. Next line the bottom of the trifle bowl with ½ inch thick slices of pound cake, cut to fit. Drizzle or brush the cake layer with some of the orange liquor until it is slightly moist (not soggy!!). Spoon a layer of the lemon curd mousse over the cake and then top with a layer of fresh berries. Repeat the layers until all of the ingredients have been used up, trying to end on the whipped cream layer so that you can decorate the top with berries! Chill and then serve!

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{ Strawberry Shortcakes }

Strawberry Piking at Del Val Farm

I am fully aware that it is no longer strawberry-picking season (which seriously dates this blog post and/or showcases my aptitude for procrastination), but this recipe makes for a fabulous summer dessert and I figure that its only August, so better late than never! Anyways, the second largest BBQ celebration of the season (Labor Day) is just around the corner, and I know a lot of you are going to parties that will entail you to bring something…a dessert, perhaps?!

Rather than going the Betty Crocker brownie route or bringing the horrendously outdated and predictable pineapple upside-down cake, why not surprise everyone with these light and delicious strawberry shortcakes? I promise you that people WILL be relieved to see a desert that boasts fresh fruit, rather than miniature gems of unnaturally bright maraschino cherries. And I’ve never met anyone that doesn’t like shortcake. I’ve met people who love it and people who are indifferent to it, but its almost too cheerful of a desert to really hate. I mean its fresh fruit and whipped cream on a vanilla scented biscuit that’s composed of butter and sugar…what is there to dislike?

This recipe is very simple and especially perfect for a party because it can be made ahead of time. I usually make the shortcakes a day prior to serving them, using an airtight container for storage, and I also like to marinate the sliced strawberries in powdered sugar overnight so that they produce a naturally sweet syrup!

Depending on the number of people that you are serving, you can either allow guests to assemble their own shortcakes (using canned whipped cream or Cool Whip as a shortcut), or you can go for aesthetics, make homemade whipped cream, and put together the shortcakes for them with a lovely presentation. If you chose to go the latter route, then blackberries, raspberries, and mint leaves make for great plate garnishes (as well as a generous dusting of powdered sugar!).

Ingredients }

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) of cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 pints of fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • Powdered sugar
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream

To Make Shortcakes } Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a baking sheet (or line it with parchment paper as I do) and set aside. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir to mix.

Add the butter cubes into the flour mixture, using your finger tips to crumble the mixture until it resembles a coarse meal. (You can also cut the butter into the flour using a pastry blender, but I don’t have one yet 😦 )

Add the cream and stir to mix until the dough begins to come together. Be careful not to overwork the dough though, or the shortcakes will be tough!

Move the dough onto a lightly floured surface and work into a round shape. Roll the dough to a thickness of 1/2 – 3/4 inch. Then use a round cookie cutter (I used 3″ in diameter) to cut out small biscuit shapes. Remove the disks and place on prepared baking sheet, baking for 12-15 minutes (or until the tops are a golden brown). Place on baking rack to cool completely.

Shortcakes, before they're baked

Shortcakes, after they're baked!

To Make Homemade Whipped Cream } In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream using a whisk attachment, until soft peaks form. Gradually, add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Do not over beat though, or the mixture will become grainy. Refrigerate up to 6 hours, until ready to use!


{ To Make Strawberry Topping } Place the hulled and stemmed strawberries into a large glass bowl and top with a generous dusting of powdered sugar, mixing to combine (Remember: The more sugar, the more syrup!). Allow to sit for at least a few hours or overnight.

{ To Assemble Shortcakes } Cut the shortcakes in half using a serrated knife. Using an ice cream scooper, put a generous dollop of strawberries with their syrup onto the bottom cake. Using another ice cream scooper, put a heap of whipped cream onto of the strawberries. Gently press the top piece of shortcake back on top of the whipped cream and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

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Filed under Baking, Recipes