Being from Massachusetts and a descendant of John White, who came over on the Mayflower to avoid religious persecution in England, I am very nostalgic around Thanksgiving. I wonder what really happened in those early days of escape to a new world but what I do know is this. After a late fall start, the Mayflower set sail from England and landed at Plymouth Rock, in Plymouth Massachusetts just before Christmas on December 21, 1620. There is an actual holiday to celebrate and commemorate this great day called Forefathers Day, which is largely celebrated in New England but only first celebrated in 1769, a long time after the landing of the Mayflower. Such a magnanimous event needed celebrating and I am one Pilgrim ...
I was delighted to find a Blue Hubbard squash at my local grocers the other day. I felt immediately homesick for New England when I laid my eyes on it. There is only one thing a chef can do to cure that. Cook that sucker! ...
I was on twitter one day last week just hanging out and tweeting away. Then this recipe for Raspberry Buttermilk Cake came along from @MYFOODTHOUGHTS Brian Samuels. I love buttermilk and usually anything made with it so I sent it to myself in email and had a look at it later on in the day. I read over the recipe once and knew I had to make this cake. So easy, so delicious and not too sweet, which is perfect for me. It's even better the next day if you can leave it alone that lone. This cake will be a staple around my house from now on. Terrific recipe Brian! And thanks for letting me share with my readers here as well. His recipe called for just raspberries, but I have tons of blackberries in my yard so of course I did half and half. After tasting this cake I think you could use just about any fruit in it. I am going to make it again with blackberries and peaches this week.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1/2 cup fresh raspberries (about 5 oz)
1/2 cup fresh blackberries (about 5 oz)
Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat butter and 2/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes, then beat in vanilla. Add egg and beat well. At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, and mixing until just combined.
Makes a rich, beautiful batter!
Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing top. Scatter raspberries evenly over top and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar.
Bake for 24 to 30 minutes.
Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool to warm, 10 to 15 minutes more. Invert onto a plate.
This cake won't last one night!
Used by permission, from Brian Samuel @myfoodthoughts http://www.athoughtforfood.net (c) 2010
This is a great little "mouth adventure" for you to try. Make the peanut brittle - crack it up and dip them in the sauce to serve! We are going to have it with Venge's 2008 Oakville, Napa Valley Late Harvest Zin. If this is the only thing you make on the menu, make it! And please let me know you liked it!
Pine Nut Brittle & Chocolate Sauce
Pine Nut Brittle Recipe
Ingredients: Makes about 1 pound
1 cup pine nuts, toasted in oven 8-10 minutes
1 tbsp fresh Rosemary, rough chopped
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup corn syrup 4 tbsp fresh unsalted butter
3/8 tbsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 piece of fresh lemon
Toast the pine nuts in a 350 degree oven until slightly golden. Remove from oven and transfer to a plate add the chopped rosemary and toss. Set aside until needed.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and oil rub some oil all over the paper to have it ready for when brittle come out of pan. This all happens in seconds - so take my advice - get set up and ready early because when it's done, it's done. You don't have time to think about it later. Make sure you have half a lemon piece sitting right there, because you'll use that as your "spreader".
Here goes; put the sugar water and corn syrup in a medium pot. When sugar dissolves, add the butter. Do not stir this mixture at all. Simply swirl the pan once in a while and try not to touch it too much. Continue to cook for about 8-10 minutes until a nice golden brown.
Remove pan from the heat. (This part goes very quickly so be ready everything is in place to make it easier.) This is the final step and it’s one fell swoop! Whisk in baking soda, and salt. Quickly add the pine nuts and rosemary. Stir quickly to coat all the nuts. Immediately pour the mixture onto the prepared parchment paper and spread it around using the piece of lemon and flatten the mixture to your desired thickness. (I spread mine as thin as it would let me.) Let cool. It will harden in about a hour. Then crack it in the bite size pieces. Good news: you can have this as a treat all week. It keeps well in a airtight container at room temp for about that long.
Easy Chocolate Sauce
You can add any herb flavor to this sauce that you like, or just leave it plain. This great, rich, not-too-sweet sauce goes well with anything. I used Rosemary in this recipe. Feel free to experiment a bit and have some fun. Try new things.
6 oz bittersweet or extra bittersweet chocolate at least 70 %, finely chopped
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 cup heavy cream
Chop the chocolate and put it in a heat-proof bowl. Then, set aside. Heat the cream in a pot, and be sure this pot has a tight fitting cover. Add your herb of choice and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and cover tightly. I used one sprig of rosemary ( I wanted just subtle rosemary flavor) and let steep for 30 minutes. Discard the herbs and set aside. Meanwhile get a pot and add the sugar and water. Put over medium heat and stir only to dissolve sugar. Leave it alone - only swirl the pan once in a while. Cook until a golden amber color.
Remove from heat at this stage and add the cream. Mixture will bubble up. Stir and put back on heat for just a minute to be sure all the caramel is melted in. Pour this mixture over the chocolate and stir until chocolate is melted thoroughly. (You can store this sauce in fridge up to a week until needed.) You can reheat this mixture care fully in a metal bowl over lightly simmering water. Don’t let the water touch the bowl or it could seize the sauce. When heated through and liquid again remove from heat and keep warm until you need it.
On October 13th, 2012, a group of coffee-loving women will gather at my home outside of Chicago - and we will have an "espresso dinner". I'm pretty excited about this because it was so much fun to orchestrate recipes around the bold flavors of espresso. The folks at Saeco are letting me try out their espresso machine for this event and I've worked to learn the nuances of grinds to get the flavors where I wanted them to be. Check out the menu here - try them with us on the night of Oct. 13th - and enjoy the depth of this exotic flavor in some very new ways.
Recipe 1 / The Espresso Martini
• 2 cups freshly brewed espresso, chilled
• 2 cups orange-flavored vodka, your favorite
• 1 cup coffee liqueur, your favorite
8 slices orange peel, thin slices Instructions -Fill a shaker halfway with ice. Add the espresso, vodka, and coffee liquor of your choice. Shake for 30 seconds or so. Strain into a chilled glass and decorate with the orange peel. Serve at once because everyone will be waiting to indulge.
Recipe 2 / Heirloom Tomato Salad with an Espresso Balsamic Reduction
• 1/2 cup freshly-brewed espresso
• 1/4 cup of local honey
• 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar plus 1 tablespoon honey if your balsamic is not that sweet
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
Zest of one lemon Start by setting up the reduction. Pour the coffee, vinegar, salt, and honey into a small saucepan. Zest the lemon directly into the saucepan using a microplane. Stir to combine and dissolve the honey, then simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally. cook until reduced by 1/3. This can be down a day ahead. bring dressing to room temp before using on the salad
You can build your salad however you wish
I am using a goat cheese log rolled in fresh cracked pepper and fresh basil.
4 slices of medium tomato per person 1 1/2 inch slice of the goat cheese and a couple of torn fresh basil leaves drizzle a small amount of the dressing over the salad and finish with some nice sea salt or pink salt .
Recipe #3 / Espresso BBQ sauce & Assorted Grilled Meats I am going to be grilling some locally raised chickens and using this BBQ sauce for the main part of this amazing espresso dinner using my Saeco Espresso Machine.
Espresso BBQ Sauce on Grilled Prawns / Serves 12 as an appetizer
3/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt 1/4 cup extra-large capers, drained well and finely chopped 5 Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped fine tbsp fresh shallot, finely minced 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice S and P to taste 24 large prawns, about 1 1/2 pound, peeled, deveined, tail left on Olive oil, for grilling
Prepare as follows:
Preheat a your grill out side or a stove top grill pan to high heat. In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, capers, olives, shallots, lemon juice and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Let stand to allow flavors to blend. Toss the prawns with oil and season well with salt and pepper. Grill the shrimp, turning once, until bright pink and just cooked through, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side.
To serve, put dollop of sauce on a plate; stand the shrimp upright with their tails touching around the yogurt. Great little app served with a tasting of Assyrtiko, a great little greek wine to go with these greek flavors. If you cannot find it a nice Sauvignon Blanc, not to flowery, will due just fine.