Quality. What does the word mean to you? Does it have to be expensive? Do some cultures care about it more than others? Does it even matter? I've been thinking a lot about quality lately.
For me, quality is important. In the kitchen, the taste of a recipe is drastically altered with the addition of superior chocolate. A pasta dish takes on whole new life when served with fresh, local vegetables. A cheese plate with carefully crafted cheese enlivens the palette and introduces a whole new world of flavor.
I've never been a fan of quantity. I'd much prefer a few bites of a well-crafted dessert over a monstrously over-portioned piece of cake at a local eatery. I'd rather stay in a good hotel for 5 days than be in a lousy environment for 2 weeks. I'd rather buy clothing made of carefully woven fabric than buy something that shrinks the second I wash it. And in furniture, I'd rather get something with a solid frame that can be reupholstered rather prepare for a complete overhaul of the living room every few years. If I can't find decent quality, I'd rather wait or save until I can.
Many people tell me quality "is too expensive." Is it? When you buy something of inferior quality you buy it time and again. When you eat poor quality food, you get sick. When expect less than quality in people, you get it and you pay for it in lost years of life.
Quality (n.): The degree of excellence in something.
To me, quality and beauty go hand in hand.
Often people are told they should settle for less. After all, if you don't settle, you won't buy into what's being sold, right?
Never, ever settle.
Incidentally, quality need not be expensive. Someone left a comment about the piece of furniture pictured in the lower right frame and said it must have been expensive. It is wood, it is solid, and it is well made. But in all honesty, I found it at a local antiques market for less than $70.00 US (sssshhhh...don't tell anyone)! I know for a fact that you can find quality items for excellent prices. You just have to know what you're looking for.
So, is quality important to you? How do you feel about quality vs. quantity?
In honor of quality, I made you a batch of Petit Fours filled with raspberry and Framboise liqueur and smothered in a beautiful white chocolate. They are divine.
Petit Fours with Framboise and White Chocolate
1 recipe Genoise made in square pan - cooled, trimmed, sliced into 2 layers.
2 lbs. tempered white chocolate
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. Framboise liqueur
1/2 cup fresh raspberry juice (Puree fresh raspberries and strain)
3/4 cup good quality raspberry jam
1 tbs. Framboise liqueur
2-3 tbs. pectin (start with 2 & sprinkle on more if needed)
Washed, fresh raspberries
Heat water, sugar and 2 tsp. Framboise in saucepan until sugar is dissolved. Cool and refrigerate.
In a medium saucepan, stir and heat raspberry juice, raspberry jam, and Framboise liqueur. Slowly sprinkle in pectin while stirring rigorously. Boil for about 8-10 minutes until mixture is thick, dark and bubbly. Pour into square mold (the same size as your cake pan) lined with a silpat. Cool and refrigerate.
To prepare the petite fours, remove all ingredients from the refrigerator. Using a pastry brush, brush the cake layers all over with the simple syrup. Peel the raspberry filling off of the silpat (it will be soft but should peel off with the pectin addition) and place on the bottom layer of the cake. Affix the top layer of cake to the bottom layer of cake. Your basically making a sandwich with the raspberry filling in the middle. Cut into squares (or diamonds or whatever shape you prefer) and separate into mini-cakes. Brush off excess crumbs and chill for 30 minutes to overnight.
Place disposable paper under a baking rack. Line up the petit fours on the baking rack. Temper the white chocolate and pour over each cake, smoothing out with a small spatula where necessary. Garnish with a half raspberry.
Here's to quality of life. Bon Appetit!