Friday, October 30, 2009

Mixed Berry Parfait with Grand Marnier Cream

Have you ever wondered when you’re eating a delicious dish in a restaurant how to make it? You’d be surprised how often chefs, even famous ones, will come out from their steaming kitchens to tell you how to make what you enjoyed so much. Everyone appreciates a little praise.

This berry parfait recipe comes from the fabled Venetian Room at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. Our friend’s parents were celebrating their wedding anniversary there many years ago and ordered the “Coppa de Venezia” (Cup of Venice) for dessert. They loved the light and elegant parfait so much they asked for the recipe, which the chef was delighted to share with them. Our friend made it for us and we in turn asked for the recipe! This light and lovely parfait is incredibly easy to make, but will charm your guests with its pretty presentation of colorful berries and rich and velvety cream.

The gorgeous, ornate Venetian Room was where the swells of San Francisco went to dine and dance and first heard Tony Bennett sing 'I Left My Heart in San Francisco.' The supper club closed to the public in the eighties (I was fortunate enough to have dined there before it closed), and the beautiful room is now used for wedding receptions and other private gatherings.
Mixed Berry Parfait with Grand Marnier Cream

Serves 4
4 cups berries (strawberries, blue berries, raspberries, blackberries, any combination of fresh berries)
1 ½ cup sour cream
¼ cup white sugar
1 tbls. brandy
¼ cup Grand Marnier

Wash berries and de-stem and cut strawberries in half. Drain thoroughly and toss together carefully. In separate bowl, combine sour cream, white sugar, brandy and Grand Marnier and mix well.

In four glasses, alternate berries and cream mixture, starting with berries and ending with berries on top. Chill for an hour (and up to four hours).

Tips and Tidbits
You can add “extras” between the layers of this dish including crushed cookie crumbs or roasted chopped nuts such as pistachios (or a combination of those two).
We tried using light sour cream without much success; it made the cream mixture too runny, which ruined the layered, parfait effect.

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