Friday, November 30, 2012

Moscato Zabaglione

Last night, my wine class was doing wines of Italy. As always, I wanted to do something appropriate for the potluck. Looking at what was available, I thought I'd go with a zabaglione, a traditional Italian dessert, which is a light, foamy custard-like dessert. Typically, it uses Marsala wine. I've never liked the one's I've had that had Marsala in them. But, I've long since learned that just because haven't liked a food, means I don't like a food. My tastes may have changed, or I just haven't had the right variation, yet. I had some Moscato, so I thought I'd use that. It is a fairly easy dessert, as long as you are careful. It involves whipping egg yolks, sugar, and wine over a double boiler until it is light, fluffy, and stable. That gets cooled, and then whipped cream is folded in.

A classmate made homemade biscotti, and the two desserts went very well together. For a change, my classmates didn't devour everything, so I had enough to take back to the spouse. Given she licked out her bowl, I'm guessing she liked it.

There is something to Marsala that gives a funky taste to the zabaglione that I find unpleasant. I liked the Moscato a lot, however. It was much lighter, and somewhat sweeter. Also, since this is cooked over a double boiler, it does not get hot enough to evaporate out the alcohol. Since Marsala is fortified, it may be the higher alcohol taste that puts me off. I wished I'd had some blackberries, because I think that would have gone very well with this dessert. Zabagliones are typically served in a martini glass.

Moscato Zabaglione

6 egg yolks
3/4 cup Moscato
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup whipping cream

Whip cream to stiff peaks, set aside.

You will need a stock pot and a stainless steel bowl. Put enough water in the stockpot such that, when you put the bowl on top of the pot, the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Place pot on medium-low heat, and bring just to a simmer. Turn heat down slightly.

Place bowl on top of the pot. Place egg yolks, sugar, and wine in the bowl. Whisk vigorously, until mixture is lighter in color, and fluffy, about the consistency of whipped cream at soft peaks. Remove from heat, place bowl in an ice water bath, and continue to whisk until zabaglione is at room temperature. Gently fold in whipped cream. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Happy Eating!


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Spring Registration

I have registered for the fall semester. I got into both the basic savory and basic baking classes. I'm very excited, and a little nervous. Here's where I really see what I am made of. Can I hack it? I think so, but we'll see. A friend promised me she'd buy my knives as a christmas gift. I'll see what the baking kit requires, the spouse has a lot of stuff from her Wilton courses, so I might already have a fair amount of stuff. Need to see if the books are available used on Amazon.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Black Hat Tea Recipes: Part III, the Sweet Course

This is the third post with recipes for the Black Hat Tea. Part I, the Savory Course, and Part II, the Scone Course, are already posted. The three sweets were Sparkling Cider Pound Cake, Sweet Potato Tarts, and Lady Grey Tea Cookies. The spouse did all these recipes, I can't take credit.


Sparkling Cider Pound Cake

For the glaze:

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. sour apple schnapps, approximately

In a bowl, cream butter into sugar. Add schnapps one teaspoon at a time, whisking glaze after each addition, until glaze is smooth, and thin enough to dip in. Set aside.

For the cake:

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. coarse sea salt
3/4 cup sparkling apple cider
1/4 cup sour apple schnapps
3/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup canola oil
5 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a non-stick mini-bundt pan.

Mix together cider and schnapps. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixture, beat together sugar, oil, and butter until well combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Add vanilla extract, beat on high for 3 to 5 minutes, until thicker and lighter in color. Add one third of the flour, beat then add one third of the sour cream and cider mixture, beating until smooth. Repeat, adding baking powder and salt with the second third of the flour.

Spoon each depression of the pan 2/3's full. Bake until golden brown, about 15 to `18 minutes.

Cool on a rack. When cool, trim bottom flat. Dip cakes in glaze.

Sweet Potato Tarts

for the crust:

1 1/2 cup biscotti crumbs
6 tbsp. melted butter

Mix together crumbs and butter until well combined.

for the custard:

2 cups sweet potato, mashed and forced through a sieve
1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
1/2 cup melted butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Mix together all ingredients.

Line the cups of a mini-muffin pan with paper liners. Press a thin layer of crust in the bottom of each liner. Fill liners with custard, about 3/4 full. Bake in a 350 degree oven until custard sets, about 20 minutes. Cool on a rack.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip together one cup heavy cream and one tbsp. sugar, until cream forms stiff peaks. Fill a piping bag with cream. Pipe onto tarts.


Lady Grey Tea Cookies

for the cookies:

1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp. Lady Grey tea leaves
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. water
1/2 cup butter

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together flour, sugars, salt, and tea leaves until tea is well incorporated.  Add vanilla, water, and butter. Pulse until a dough forms.

On a floured surface, roll dough very thin. Cut out cookies, place on an ungreased sheet pan. Bake until crisp, about 10 minutes. Cool on a rack.

For the frosting:

Place one cup white chocolate candy melts in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 15 second intervals, stirring each time, until all the candy is melted. Brush cookies with a thin layer of the melted chocolate.

Happy Eating!

Vine Cottage

For my Wines of the World class, we were required to go to a wine bar, and ask questions. The spouse had signed up with the San Diego Union-Tribune to get special deals notices in her e-mail. Knowing about the assignment, she purchased a pay $25, get a $50 coupon for the Vine Cottage
The Vine Cottage is a little place at 6062 Lake Murray Blvd. in La Mesa, Ca. It has a small dining area, and a small bar. The interior is warmly lit, with lots of natural wood, but a modern aesthetic. It manages to feel cozy but up-to-date at the same time. They need a light on their sign, however. The Brown on beige color scheme of the sign isn't the most visible at the best of times. At twilight, it was almost invisible.

Our server, Audrey, was very pleasant. Cheerful and helpful, she really made us feel welcome. She was more than willing to answer my assignment questions, but kept it to one per table visit. That was fair, she had other tables to deal with.

We decided to get a couple of appetizers, and then see if we were hungry enough for dinner as well. The menu is small, but comprehensive enough. Looking over the menu, they had black mussels. They had me right there. I adore mussels. They offer three sauce choices, we went with the Basque. The Basque sauce has tomatoes, leeks, spicy sausage, and smoked paprika. The mussels were superb. It is ridiculously easy to overcook mussels. These were cooked perfectly. Extraordinarily tender, and perfectly complemented by the sauce.

The other starter we got was the Artisanal Charcuterie & Cheese Board. It came with three very nice cheeses, crusty bread, pate, prosciutto and salami, and some jam and dried fruit. The cheeses were quite good, including a blue that I actually liked, especially with the jam, that mellowed that blue cheese funk down just enough for me to enjoy it. I am generally not fond of moldy cheese. The bread was good, and seriously crusty. There just wasn't enough for the amount of cheese and pate. Luckily, some very nice pub fries came with the mussels, and made a very good base to spread pate onto. It also had some very nice homemade pickles.

I had a glass of a very nice Spanish garnacha to go with the mussels. It was mildly spicy, and matched really well.

We were mostly full, but well under the $50, so decided to have dessert. We had a very nice pear panna cotta. The panna cotta itself was lovely, the poached pears needed a few more minutes poaching, they were still a little crunchy.

I had a very pleasant glass of a dryish tawny port with dessert.

Overall, and excellent experience. The service was friendly, and the server knowledgeable about the food and wines. The food, especially the mussels, was very good. Definitely worth it.

Happy Eating!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Black Hat Tea Recipes: Part II, Scone Course

This is the second post containing recipes for the Black Hat tea. Part I, with the savory course recipes, has already been posted. These are the three scones, Cilantro-Pepita Pesto, Brown Sugar-Pecan with molasses butter, and Caramel Apple Pie. I hope you enjoy.


Cilantro-Pepita Pesto Scones

For the Pesto:

1 cup cilantro leaves
2/3 cup pepitas
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt

Place everything except olive oil in a food processor. While processor is running, slowly dribble in olive oil until pesto is smooth.

For the scones:

3 1/4 cups flour
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup pesto
3/4 cup butter, cut into small cubes
1 tbsp. sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut butter into flour mixture, until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add buttermilk and pesto, stirring until just mixed. Dough should be soft. Turn onto a floured surface, knead just until dough holds together, and is not sticky on the surface. Pat to about three-quarters of an inch thick, cut out in three inch diameter circles. Place scones on a well greased sheet pan. Bake until golden brown, between 10 and 12 minutes.

Brown Sugar-Pecan Scones with Molasses Butter

For the scones:

4 cups flour
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. coarse sea salt
1 cup butter, cut into small cubes
1 3/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups chopped toasted pecans

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut butter into flour mixture, until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cream and pecans, until mixture is just moistened. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead just until dough holds together and is not sticky. Pat flat until about 3/4 inch thick. Using a sharp knife, cut into 2 inch squares.Brush tops of scones with additional cream. Place scones on a well greased sheet pan. bake until golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes.

for the butter:

Beat together 1/2 cup butter with 2 tbsp. molasses, until well combined, and butter is fluffy.


Caramel Apple Pie Scones

for the caramel:

1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

In a heavy sauce pan over medium-high heat, whisk together water and sugar until mixture is combined and starting to boil. swirl occasionally, until mixture turns amber. Whisk in butter. Remove from heat, wait three seconds, then slowly whisk in cream. Let cool, set aside.

for the glaze:

1 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. apple juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar

In a microwave proof bowl, heat butter and juice just until butter is melted in a microwave. Whisk in sugar and vanilla until smooth.

For the scones:

 1 gala apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1/4 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
3 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. coarse sea salt
1 ½ cups butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup apple juice
1/2 cup buttermilk

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

In a small bowl, toss together apple, lemon juice, and spices, set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut butter into flour mixture, until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add in apple mixture, stir until well combined.

In a measuring cup, mix together buttermilk and juice. Pour a little liquid at a time into the flour mixture Fold the liquid in. Do this just until all dry ingredients are brought in. You may not need to use all the liquid.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead just until dough holds together, and is not sticky. Pat to about 3/4 inch thick;. Using a sharp knife, cut into triangles. Place scones on a well greased sheet pan. Bake until golden brown, about  15 - 20 minutes.

Remove from oven, place on a cooling rack over a sheet pan. While scones are hot, brush with glaze.

Let cool. Just before serving, drizzle lightly with caramel.

As always, Happy Eating!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Black Hat Tea Recipes: Part I, Savory Course

Sorry for the delay. I've been swamped co-ordinating a Medieval Islamic banquet. I hope to get caught up soon. This is the first post for the Black Hat Tea, putting up the recipes for dishes served in the Savory Course. There will be following posts for the Scone and Sweet Courses.


Cold Apple Soup with Apple Schnapps Cream

10 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1 quart apple juice
1 cup moscato
1 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2 tsp. ground ginger
2 whole cloves
1 cup whipping cream
4 tbsp. sour apple schnapps

Place all ingredients except cream ans schnappes in a soup pot over medium heat. Simmer until apples are very soft. Remove from heat. Remove cinnamon stick and cloves. Using a immersion blender, process soup until smooth. Let cool, then refrigerate over night.

Place cream in the bowl of a stand mixer with the schnapps. Beat at medium speed, until cream is a little fluffy, but stop before peaks form.

To serve, place soup in bowl. Add a dollop of cream to the center of the bowl.

Pumpkin Bread with Walnut Butter and Pear

For the Pumpkin Bread:

2 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup shortening
1/4 cup milk
2 eggs
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves

In a bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together brown sugar and shortening. Add eggs, beat until well combined. Add pumpkin and milk. Mix well. Slowly add flour mixture, mixing until all is combined, and batter is smooth.

Turn batter into a well greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50 to 60 minutes.

For the Walnut Butter:

1 lb. shelled walnuts
1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil (approximately)

Place walnuts in the bowl of a food processor with the salt. Process, slowly dribbling in oil, until they become the texture of peanut butter.

To assemble sandwiches:

Refrigerate bread over night. Using a serrated knife, trim loaf until it is rectangular. Slice thinly. Spread slices with a thin layer of walnut butter, then add a thin slice of ripe pear.

Open Faced Canadian Bacon and Swiss Sandwiches

4 English muffins, split
8 slices Canadian bacon
8 slices Swiss cheese
1/4 cup chipotle jelly
1/4 cup spicy brown mustard

On each half of an English muffin, spread a thin layer of the jelly. Add a piece of Canadian bacon, and place a slice of swiss cheese on top. Spread a thin layer of brown mustard on the cheese. Place under a hot broiler until cheese is melted, bubbly, and just starting to brown, about 3 to 5 minutes.

For the tea, we quartered the sandwiches, since we wanted just small bites.

Stuffing Rounds with Roast Turkey and Cranberry Mustard

For the Stuffing Rounds:

2 cups small peices of dried bread
1 small white onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cups milk
4 eggs
2 packages Knorr homestyle chicken stock
1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. dried basil
15 large fresh sage leaves, chiffonaded
Sweat onions and celery in olive oil until tender. Set aside.

Beat together eggs, milk, stock base, salt, oregano, and basil.

Grease a muffin tin. Place a small layer of bread peices in the bottom. Scatter a little onion, celery, and sage in each cup. Ladle in just enough custard mix to cover. Bake in a 350 degree oven until custard sets, about 15 minutes. Remove disks, let cool on racks. Makes about 36 rounds. 

For the sandwiches:

Place a thin slice of turkey breast on a round. Spread a thin layer of cranberry mustard on the turkey slice.

Happy Eating!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Stuffed Pumpkin, Too

Last night for Halloween, the spouse requested stuffed pumpkin. Since I made one recently, I decided I wanted to go in a completely different direction this time. The spouse had purchased a couple of nice little one pound pumpkins, the kind that make great one person meals. She bought two different varieties; one all white, one white with orange stripes. Since I had some chicken breast that needed cooking, I decided to use that. As well I had a lot of apples, and I always have dried bread cubes. I decided a chicken, apple, and cheddar stuffing sounded good.

I sauteed the chicken with some red onion, then mixed it with dried bread cubes, diced apples, and cheddar cheese. I moistened the stuffing with cream, then stuffed the pumpkins. I ended up with enough stuffing for about five or six small pumpkins, so mixed a couple of eggs into the extra and made it into a bread pudding.

I thought this turned out quite good. Chicken, cheddar, and apple is a classic combination. Between the cream and the liquid exuded by the pumpkin, the stuffing was quite moist. The pumpkins picked up the flavor of the onion and cheese as well. The pumpkin is quite good with just a dab of butter or margarine.

Chicken, Apple, and Cheddar Stuffed Pumpkin

6 one pound pumpkins, cleaned
1 1/2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
1/2 small red onion, diced
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cups dried bread cubes
1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1 gala apple, peeled, cored, and diced
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup heavy cream, approximately
salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, saute chicken in olive oil until about halfway done. Add onion and garlic, and cook until chicken is cooked, and onion is tender. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, mix chicken, bread cubes, apple, and cheese. Moisten with cream, until moist but not soggy.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Stuff mixture into pumpkins,then cover with lid of the pumpkin. Place pumpkins in a shallow baking dish in the oven, then add about 3/4 inch of hot tap water to dish. Bake until stuffing is set, and pumpkin is tender, about one and a half hours. Remove lids about 20 minutes before done, to brown top of stuffing.

Remove from oven, and let rest five minutes. Slice pumpkins in half to serve.

Happy Eating!

HalloweenTreats from My CSA

Halloween was my pickup day from my CSA. It seemed to be a particularly bountiful box. This time we got a head of bronze leaf lettuce, some beets with greens, some variegated eggplant, a lot of kale, two spaghetti squash, some late season tomatoes, some mixed herbs, a couple of onions, clover sprouts, carrots with greens, fennel root, and a large bunch of mint.

I'm particularly happy to have the carrot greens, inasmuch as they make terrific pesto. I love fennel, the spouse isn't so thrilled. I'm looking at a Spanish cream of celery and fennel soup, though, that looks fabulous.

As always, any suggestions on different things to do with the bounty are always appreciated in the comments.

Happy Eating!