Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Black Hat Tea 2013: The Savory Course

It's fall again, time once more for the spouse to hold her Black Hat Society Tea. Last year, the signature fall flavor was apple. This year, we decided that pear should be the featured flavor would be pear. I think we had about twice as many people attending. I want to thank the two friends that helped me in the kitchen, one acting as my sous chef, and the other washing dishes and keeping tea pots flowing. Also, a huge thank you to Rebecca Freeburn of Freeburn inc. who came out and took great photos of the food.

For the savory course, we served three items. We had a number of people attending that were gluten free, so only served one tea sandwich, and added a soup and a salad.

We opened with a soup. This was a shooter of a cold spicy pecan soup, with a garnish of a little chipotle pepper. This soup is pecans simmered in vegetable stock, and flavored with chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, garlic, onion, and cilantro. It is then thickened with heavy cream. I rinsed the adobo sauce off some of the peppers, and then cut them into fine ribbons as a garnish.

I was very happy with this soup. I got just enough spice to notice, without it being overwhelming. It was very rich, and the cream gave it a luscious mouth feel.

I also made a vegan version, where I used almond milk instead of the cream. It was also very good. It was a bit sweeter, and did not have quite as silky a texture.

The next item was a tea sandwich of walnut onion bread with slices of pear and Gorgonzola cheese.

The bread is a yeast bread with onions and pieces of walnuts.  I alternated slices of red and Bartlett pears, leaving the skin on for the color. I added the Gorgonzola crumbles.

The flavor combinations were good. I think next time I will cut the bread a trifle thicker, and toast it. I might also work the Gorgonzola into some cream cheese and make a spread.

The last item was a three  bean salad with a vinaigrette of date vinegar and olive oil, flavored with basil mustard and herbs.

I used black, kidney, and garbanzo beans. There is some minced red onion mixed in.

The  dressing is a  vinaigrette using date vinegar and olive oil. I added some Trader Joe's Basil Mustard. I also added dried basil, oregano, rosemary, and thyme.

The salad was served in half of a miniature sweet pepper. I added a chiffonade of fresh basil as a garnish.


Spicy Cold Pecan Soup

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup minced onion
3 Tbsp. minced garlic
6 cups vegetable stock
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
3 cups pecan pieces
3 Tbsp. canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, minced
1 Tbsp. dried cilantro
2 cups heavy cream
salt to taste

In a stock pot over medium heat, add olive oil. Saute onion and garlic until tender. Add stock, juice, pecans, chilies, and cilantro. Simmer for two hours. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. Place pan in an ice bath to cool. Refrigerate soup until time for service. Stir in cream. Adjust salt as needed.

This soup can be made vegan by replacing the cream with the same amount of almond milk.

Onion Walnut Bread

1/2 cup  walnut oil
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 cups warm water (105°F. to 115°F.)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 envelopes dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
5 cups (about) bread flour
3 oz. by wt. walnut pieces

In a skillet over medium to medium high heat, add walnut oil. Add onion, and saute until tender. Set aside to cool.

Combine water, yeast, and sugar. Let stand until foamy.

Sift flour. Place yeast mixture in the bowl of a food processor with onions, salt, and 1 cup of flour. Pulse to combine. Add flour 1 cup at a time, processing after each addition. Do this until dough forms a smooth ball. (My food processor was straining before I got that far. I kneaded the last cup or so in by hand.)

Transfer the dough to a well floured surface. Need until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Add flour as necessary to keep dough from sticking.

Oil a bowl with walnut oil. Place dough in bowl, rotate to coat surface with oil. Cover, let rise until doubled in size.

Punch down dough, let rest for five minutes.

Transfer to a well floured surface. Roll out to about 1 inch thick. Spread walnuts evenly over surface. Knead dough to incorporate walnuts.

Coat the insides of two loaf pans with oil. Divide dough in half. Shape each half into an  oblong, place each oblong in a loaf pan. Cover, let rise until doubled in size.

Pre-heat oven to 400 F. Bake about twenty five minutes, until golden brown and it sound hollow when thumped. (I think next time, I will try it at 375 F, and bake it longer. I'd like to see if I can get the bottom a bit crisper.)

Remove from oven, place on wire racks to cool.

Three Bean Salad

1 large can each kidney, black, and garbanzo beans
1/2 large red onion, diced
4 oz. by vol. date vinegar
12 oz. by vol. olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp. Basil Mustard
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried rosemary
salt and pepper to taste

Drain beans, and rinse thoroughly. Place in a bowl, stir in onion. In another bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard, and herbs.  While whisking vigorously, slowly add oil, until dressing thickens. If necessary, a little water can be added to thin it out.

Pour dressing over beans. Mix. Refrigerate until service.

Happy eating!

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