LIVESTRONG with A Taste of Yellow

Sometimes, I can be a great big procrastinator, especially when the task at hand is something that I don't really want to do. I've been futzing around with this post for over two weeks. Every day, I would sit down to write it, and every day I would find something else to do instead. I would stare at the blank computer screen for a while and then move on to something else. Why? Because this post is about cancer, and I hate cancer. I hate talking about cancer. I hate writing about cancer. I hate thinking about cancer. Cancer is a thief and a liar and a cruel, sadistic bastard. The last thing I wanted to do was talk, write or even think about it.
Many of you who are regular readers of this blog may already know that I lost my father to renal cancer in November, 2006. I've written about him before, here and here. He was an extraordinary man - strong, yet warm; tough, yet kind; shrewd, yet caring. He was my hero. In the span of one short year I watched as cancer sapped the life out of this robust and vital man, bit by bit, breath by breath, until his body was nothing more than an unwelcoming host for his beautiful soul. Each day, my heart broke a little bit more as he slipped further and further away from us. When he died, a piece of me died with him.
Since then, I have watched others that I care about become afflicted with this scourge. My assistant, M., recently completed seven weeks of radiation and chemotherapy. My next door neighbors on either side of me, J. and T., have each been battling the disease as well. One of them has three little children under the age of ten. I lost one friend and colleague to colon cancer. She was the mother of a preschooler. One other close friend of mine is (thankfully) now in remission from breast cancer.
When my dad was sick, sometimes the despair was so great, it was like having a big, heavy cloak draped over me. It was so hard to find anything positive amidst all of that negativity. A friend of mine, who had recently lost her daughter to cancer gave me the following verse in the hope that I might find some comfort in it. I didn't at the time, but since then, I have come to see the wisdom in these words. I am passing it on to you so that it can maybe ease the burden of others whose lives have been touched by this dreadful disease.

When I first read about the A Taste of Yellow event hosted by Barbara at Winos and Foodies, I knew that I had to participate. This event was conceived to commemorate LIVESTRONG Day. LIVESTRONG Day is sponsored by the Lance Armstrong Foundation. It's purpose is to unify people affected by cancer and to raise cancer awareness on a national level and in local communities across the country. This year, LIVESTRONG Day will occur on Tuesday, May 13. Barbara plans to post the roundup for A Taste of Yellow to coincide with this.
The participants in A Taste of Yellow are to make and post a recipe of their choosing containing some element of yellow food. Yellow is the official color of the LIVESTRONG program. Last year, almost one hundred fifty food bloggers participated in this event. I've been seeing an awful lot of yellow food around the blogosphere lately, so I suspect we just might beat that number this time around.
For my entry in this event, I made mini lemon cream filled filo cups with a ginger-spiced whipped creme fraiche and fresh berries. I used Pierre Hermes' divine and decadent lemon cream recipe from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours. Yes, I know that this cream was the featured recipe in last week's Baking with Dorie event, but remember, I made this over two weeks ago before I knew that! So, you'll just have to deal with it! This recipe makes a lot of cream. You can make a whole batch and use the rest for something else or just half the recipe.

Once the lemon cream is made, the rest of the recipe is a breeze to make. You can buy frozen filo sheets as well as pre-baked filo cups in most supermarkets. Since I already had the sheets in my freezer, I opted to use them. I just cut out three inch circles of filo and formed a few layers into mini muffin tins, brushing with a little melted butter. Then I baked them, filled them, garnished them, photographed them and ate them! The mini cups are just the right size for these treats as the lemon cream is so rich. The perfect bite, if you will.

My thanks go out to Barbara for taking on the challenge of hosting this great event. Please make sure to take some time to visit her site when the roundup is posted.

Mini Filo Cups with Lemon Cream, Ginger-Spiced Creme Fraiche Whipped Cream and Fresh Berries
(Printable Recipe)
1/2 package frozen filo dough, cut into 3-inch rounds (or pre-baked filo cups)
Pierre Hermes' French Lemon Cream (recipe to follow)
Ginger-Spiced Whipped Creme Fraiche (recipe to follow)
Fresh berries of your choosing
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Form 2 or 3 rounds of filo into each form of a mini muffin tin. Brush lightly with melted butter.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden and crispy. Set aside to cool.
Pipe or spoon lemon cream into each cup. Pipe a dot of creme fraiche over the lemon cream, and garnish with a fresh berry.

Pierre Hermes' French Lemon Cream
Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
1 cup sugar
Finely grated zest of 3 lemons
4 large eggs
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 4 to 5 lemons)
2 sticks plus 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
Getting ready: Have a thermometer, preferably an instant-read, a strainer and a blender (first choice) or food processor at the ready. Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.
Put the sugar and zest in a large metal bowl that can be fitted into the pan of simmering water.

Off heat, work the sugar and zest together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, grainy and very aromatic. Whisk in the eggs followed by the lemon juice.
Fit the bowl into the pan (make certain the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl) and cook, stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture feels tepid to the touch. You want to cook the cream until it reaches 180°F. As you whisk the cream over heat—and you must whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling—you’ll see that the cream will start out light and foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger, and then, as the cream is getting closer to 180°F, it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks. Heads up at this point—the tracks mean the cream is almost ready. Don’t stop whisking and don’t stop checking the temperature. And have patience—depending on how much heat you’re giving the cream, getting to temp can take as long as 10 minutes.
As soon as you reach 180°F, pull the cream from the heat and strain it into the container of a blender (or food processor); discard the zest. Let the cream rest at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until it cools to 140°F, about 10 minutes.
Turn the blender to high and, with the machine going, add about 5 pieces of butter at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed while you’re incorporating the butter. Once the butter is in, keep the machine going—to get the perfect light, airy texture of lemon-cream dreams, you must continue to beat the cream for another 3 minutes. If your machine protests and gets a bit too hot, work in 1-minute intervals, giving the machine a little rest between beats.
Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal and chill the cream for at least 4 hours or overnight. When you are ready to use the cream, just whisk to loosen it.

Creme Fraiche Whipped Cream
1 cup whipping cream
3 tbsps sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup creme fraiche
Whip cream until it begins to thicken. Sprinkle with sugar. continue to beat cream until it
makes a soft, lazy peak.
Fold or gently whisk in creme fraiche.

Dollop on everything.


Jen Yu said…
These filo cups are beautiful, just like you, love. I can't help but feel both sadness and inspiration whenever you mention your father. I know he must have been an incredible man because he raised such a dear daughter in you. Thanks for the never-ending flow of support that you have given me and to countless others. You're a gem.
Susan, Just one look at the picture of your Dad tells me what a vibrant man he was! This is a beautiful post as well as a tribute to you Dad. Your photo's are woderful!
A delicious post and a beautiful tribute to your dad. Even though your time together was cut short, you were both fortunate for having one another in your lives.
LyB said…
What a touching post, I don't know you personally but right now, I feel like hugging you. Funny how words on a computer screen can stir up so much emotion. The lemon cream is divine (I made it last week)and the filo cups are cute as can be, what a great idea!
Peter M said…
Thank you for opening up to us about your dad. These kind of emotions can be very private.

Kudos to your mountain range of berry tarts!
What a beautiful, moving post, Susan. I can relate a bit to what you feel - my mom died of cancer 22 years ago, when she was 32, such a shame. Being raised without her is a pain that never goes away.
I think this is a magnificent tribute you're paying to your dad and I know he's proud of you wherever he is right now.
Susan @ SGCC said…
Jen- You're so sweet. I appreciate your kind words, but I should be thanking you! You've been such a source of support and inspiration for me! You are one of the best people I know, on or off the Internet! I'm looking forward to the day we can celebrate your remission with a big bowl of Whoopass Soup!

Marie- Thank you so much. He was a wonderful man. I'm glad you liked both the post and the photos.

Terry- Thank you. We were very fortunate. We had a wonderful relationship and a lot of great times.

LyB- Awww! I can always use a good hug. ;) Thanks! I'm glad you like those little guys. They were one bite wonders for sure!

Peter- The only thing that stoicism ever got me was ulcers! I learned a long time ago that you have to purge out all the bad stuff or else it festers.

Mountain range, huh? Hehehe! They do kind of look like that! :)

Thank you, Patricia. I'm so sorry about your mom. I can't even imagine how hard that must have been for you!
Your post really does remind us that we have to live in every moment Your dad sounds like be was a wonderful man whom many had the priveledge to know. If you gave a tiny lemony and yet virtual tart to each of us it is like bringing the hope of sunshine into each of our lives..sounds kind of korny, but that is how I felt after reading your post.
Gretchen Noelle said…
Wonderful combination of lemon and ginger! Thanks for sharing about how cancer has affected those around you. It reminds us that life is truly precious!
Nicole said…
These look heavenly!
RecipeGirl said…
Yet more we have in common... my dad died of renal cancer too. The ironic thing was that he had had a kidney transplant and they left the old dead kidney inside him. That was the one that got the cancer. Horrible thing.

On a better note, your little tarts look light, bright, fun and delicious. All for a great cause :)
Manggy said…
Thank you for sharing your story, Susan.. I wanna give you a hug too :) My parents and I are relatively young, but if I lost one of them no matter what age I am I'd probably be curled up and comatose.
PH's Lemon Cream should be a national treasure.. I'm not fortunate enough to have had it with berries, but I think I may have some frozen blackberries still..
Nina Timm said…
Can I have this whole tray just for myself. They are just gorgeous...
Pixie said…
Susan, you wrote such a wonderful tribute to your dad and friends. I had trouble writing the post as well-hence, just the one line. However, your post moved me and said all that I felt inside. Thank you.

and the berry tarts just bring lots of sunshine our way!
Cakelaw said…
Sorry to hear about your Dad, Susan. He sounds like a wonderful man.

Your little filo cups look so cute, and combine three of my favourite flavours - ginger, lemon and berries. In a word, devine!
grace said…
what lovely and touching words. i know this because my eyes seemed to have welled up with tears, and that's generally a pretty good indication of such things. thanks for sharing your memories! :)
Anonymous said…
I am so sorry Susan. I'm sorry for your loss and my heart breaks with yours. I'm sorry that after a few lines I had to stop reading your post, I cannot finish it and I won't. I lost my mom in June and am still a little raw. I'm sorry that I can't reach out and squeeze your hand. I'm sorry I can't offer you a coffee - or a cocktail. I'm sorry for so many things. Thank you for sharing and posting and forgive me for not being able to finish.
Beautiful post Susan. I love when you write about your father.

Also, on a much lighter note, my mom always says "futzing around" and it always cracks me up ;)
Lore said…
Susan thanks for sharing more about you! Although I can't say I'm religious, I feel like the great souls we miss every day somehow look after us. It might seem just like a naive story to some but for me is what keeps me go on.
Your filo cups look so heavenly delicate!
test it comm said…
Great way to use phyllo dough. Those cups look really good!
Susan @ SGCC said…
Thank you all so much for your kind and thoughtful comments. It means a lot to me. This was a hard post for me to write, because it dredged up memories that I'd rather not think about. It appears that I am not alone in my experience, as so many of you have shared similar ones.

Hopefully, through the work of wonderful organizations like the LiveStrong Foundstion, the ACS and Komen Foundation, we someday, won't have these stories to tell.

RecipeGirl- I'm so sorry to hear of the loss of your father to renal cancer. It's a bitch, isn't it!

Joanne- I am so very sorry for your loss! I completely understand how you are feeling. I still can't talk about it without tearing up. Healing will take a long, long time. If you ever need to talk, I'm here. :)

Even though it seems a little trivial, I really am glad that you all liked my little filo cups. I have to say, they were pretty darn tasty! ;)
Anonymous said…
Thank you for such a profound and honest post. As someone who also has lost several family members to cancer, it is so easy to live in constant fear, or try to avoid it. Those look so delicious, the flaky shells look like they would melt in your mouth!
love these! great submission, with soul and meaning to you. what a beautiful smile your father had!
Astra Libris said…
Your post is so beautiful, warm, and touching... Your elegant, gracious dessert, and especially your words, are a wonderful tribute to all families who have and who are battling cancer. Thank you for your strength and insight.
Sophie said…
I am new to your blog and haven't read all of your posts yet, but my heart goes out to you for your loss. This is a beautiful way to remember your dad via your food blog. This looks like a delicious dessert, and even though life's not always as sweet, you've definitely captured its beauty in this entry :).
Susan @ SGCC said…
Rebekka- You're very welcome. Unfortunately,burying your head in the sand doen't make it go away. It only plugs up your ears. ;)

Aran- Thank you. I'm glad you like them. He did have a beatiful smile, didn't he! :)

Astra Libris- Thank you for such a kind and sweet comment. This post came straight from my heart.

Sophie- Welcome! Thank you for your lovely comment. I know that my father is smiling down on me. He was always my biggest supporter.

I'm glad you like my little filo cups too! :)
Unknown said…
This is such a lovely tribute to your father Susan. Thank you for sharing your story and recipe.
Thank you for supporting l
LiveSTRONG With A Taste OF Yellow.
Deborah said…
A beautiful post about those you have loved and lost. And your filo cups are just adorable!
Anonymous said…
You are so full of love and kindness, your father must have been so proud of you , as you are of him. His smile beams of warmth and kindness as well.
You and your dessert are like rays of sunshine, we are always happier when we are here at your blog.
Susan @ SGCC said…
Thank you, Barbara. I'm glad you liked it. I think you're wonderful for hosting this event. It has raised a lot of awareness.

Deborah- Thank you on both counts.

WoR Couple- You are too sweet! I am so lucky to have found such lovely blogger friends like you. Your comments always leave me smiling! :)
Nic said…
Beautiful post!
Life can be so unfair. I lost my dad when I was 23 and have never really gotten over it :(

Your little filo cups are perfect for this event. (((Sending hugs your way)))
Anonymous said…
What a wonderful tribute. You are right Cancer is a bastard. I am brimming with tears here, your words are so touching.

Your filos are supurb! I would love to have tasted one of those little beauties!

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