Friday, December 31, 2010

Six Classic Cocktails-Week Three-The Old Fashioned

Print Friendly and PDF Photobucket Still celebrating the holidays? Tonight is a big one-grand parties with lots of delicious food and drink. I can't wait!  In the spirit of the coming New Year, Thirsty Thursday is posting on New Years Eve.For auld lang syne-a venerable cocktail-the nostalgic Old Fashioned.

The Old Fashioned is not for the faint at heart. It is pure alcohol with a minuscule addition of sugar in the form of a sugar cube or  simple syrup and a few dashes of bitters. Not a true cocktail as most believe, but actually a short highball, according to the late  David Embury, author of "The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks". Embury takes a no nonsense approach to the Old Fashioned, one of the six  basic cocktails he says that all hosts need to know how to mix in in order to be a successful home bartender. In the past two Thirsty  Thursdays editions, I have showcased the Manhattan and the Jack Rose.

 According to Embury, water should never be added to the drink and it's only place would be to dissolve the sugar, then quickly poured off. Simple syrup is the preferred sweetener, cutting the time down from the twenty minutes it takes to make an old fashioned with a sugar cube, to about two minutes. Garnishes for the old fashioned are a single maraschino cherry and a twist of lemon peel. Excessive garnishes are unnecessary and would only bastardize the old fashioned. However, for a slightly sweeter drink, try adding a teaspoonful of juice from the maraschino cherries or a splash of Cointreau. Photobucket

Old fashioned's and other classic cocktails have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity with the showing of the AMC series Mad Men. In the opening scene, Don Draper, founding partner for Sterling Cooper Draper Price, the fictional 1960's ad agency in the series, orders an old fashioned while seated at a bar. While Draper's preference is Canadian Club, an old fashioned can be made with other liquors besides traditional bourbon or rye whiskey. Scotch, rum, brandy or even applejack can be used . If using rum, orange bitters are substituted or used in addition to the angostura bitters.

 Old Fashioned Deluxe

1-2 teaspoons simple syrup
1-3 dashes of Angostura bitters
1 ounce whiskey, plus more to complete the drink
2 large cubes of cracked ice
Twist of lemon and a maraschino cherry

In each highball glass, pour in the simple syrup and add the desired amount of Angostura bitters. Stir with a spoon to mix. Add 1 ounce whiskey and stir again. Add cracked ice. Add additional whiskey to taste; stir again. Decorate with lemon peel and maraschino cherry on a cocktail spear.

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Split Level Pudding with Spiced Pecans-Tuesdays with Dorie-Rewind

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PhotobucketNext Tuesday will be a new year of posting for the Tuesdays with Dorie baking group, but for this last tuesday of 2010, a rewind is in order. That is, our baking group is allowed to post a completed recipe a second time. It took me only a short time to decide to make the Split Level Pudding, a total disaster when I made them back in October of 2009. The pudding was a liquid mess even after the prescribed four hours of chilling.  Now that I look back, I think the culprit was old cornstarch or maybe the kitchen gremlins.

This time, the puddings were a success.I served them in delicate antique cups and saucers that my mother must have found in a flea market years ago, stuck them in the china cabinet and forgot about them. My sister and I found them while clearing out my mother's house after she passed away.

The puddings have a surprise layer of chocolate ganache nestled in the bottom of the cup. Adding crunch are pecans baked in a cardamom, allspice and clove sugar mixture lending an exotic touch to the puddings.

Split Level Puddings

For the Chocolate Layer

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream

For the Vanilla Layer

2-1/4 cups whole milk
6 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
2-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Spiced pecans for garnish-recipe follows

Have six ramekins or pudding cups, each holding 4-6 ounces, (1/2-3/4 cup), at hand.

To make the Chocolate Layer
Put the chocolate in a 1-or 2-cup glass measuring cup. Bring the heavy cream to a boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let it sit for 30 seconds, then gently stir to blend. Divide the chocolate ganache among the cups and set aside.

To Make the Vanilla Layer
Bring 2 cups of the milk and 3 tablespoons of the sugar to a boil in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan.

While the milk is heating, put the cornstarch and salt into a food processor and whir to blend. Turn them out onto a piece of wax paper, put the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and the egg yolks into the processor and blend for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the remaining 1/4 cup milk and pulse just to mix, then add the dry ingredients and pulse a few times to blend.

With the machine running, very slowly pour in the hot milk mixture. Process for a few seconds, then pour everything back into the saucepan. Whisk without stopping over medium heat-making sure to get into the edges of the pan-until the pudding thickens and a couple of bubbles burble up to the surface and pop (about 2 minutes). You don't want the pudding to boil, but you do want it to thicken, so lower the heat, if necessary.

Scrape the pudding back into the processor and pulse a couple of times. Add the butter and vanilla and pulse until everything is evenly blended.

Pour the pudding into the cups-depending on how warm the ganache in the bottom of the cups was, you might find that it runs up the sides of the cups and forms a lacy circle around it. It will be pretty, if it does; if not, the chocolate will be a surprise. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the puddings to create an airtight seal and prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate at least 4 hours. Recipe from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.


Spiced Pecans

1 egg white, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon water
3 cups whole pecans
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. In a medium bowl, beat egg white with water until frothy.  Add pecans and mix until moistened.
In a small bowl, mix together salt, sugar and spices.  Add to bowl and mix well. Spread in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake about 30 minutes, stirring every 8-10 minutes. Take care not to overcook and burn the nuts. Adapted from Allrecipes.

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Six Classic Cocktails-Week Two-The Jack Rose

Print Friendly and PDF Photobucket While reading David Embury's timeless cocktail guide, The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, first published in 1948, I was intrigued by the name of one of his six classic cocktails-the Jack Rose.  Upon further reading, I found several clashing renditions regarding the origin of the Jack Rose cocktail.   Was it named for a rose called a "jacquemint", a bald gambler and crook named Jack Rose or a bartender in New Jersey named Joseph Rose? Most likely the "jack" came from the applejack brandy and the "rose" from the grenadine; both, plus lemon or lime juice are ingredients in the Jack Rose cocktail.  Jake Barnes, the narrator of Ernest Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises" ordered a jack rose in a Paris bar while awaiting the arrival of Lady Brett Ashley. Source. Laird's Applejack is the spirit of choice when making the jack rose. Distilled since 1780 in New Jersey, Laird's Applejack is a truly American spirit. Supplied by the Laird family, George Washington served it to his troops and was given the recipe for the applejack. PhotobucketIf you like daiquiris, margaritas and any other drink in the sweet sour family of cocktails, you'll love the Jack Rose cocktail. Similar to a sidecar, but slightly less boozy, this cheerful rosy pink libation will brighten up the gloom of a cold and dark winter day. Lemon juice is the traditional citrus of choice, but lime juice can be substituted. I'm more of a lime juice person, so I made mine with lime juice. If you like a sweeter drink, increase the grenadine.

Jack Rose 
2 ounces applejack, or apple brandy, Calvados or apple eau-de vie 
1 teaspoon grenadine
1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice

Shake vigorously with ice in a cocktail shaker. Strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with lime or lemon peel. Makes one drink.


Please do not use images or text without my permission.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Apple Yogurt Cake with Fig Glaze

Print Friendly and PDF Nearly every morning, I have yogurt with whatever fresh fruit I have on hand. Usually I add some ginger honey or a small amount of jam or jelly just to sweeten it up a bit. Lately, my favorite combination has been chopped apples topped with the yogurt and a dollop of fig preserves. When I saw that the apple coconut family cake was chosen for this TWD edition by Amber of CobbleDuMonde, I thought my favorite breakfast combo would be lovely incorporated  into a cake. I didn't add the coconut, but in retrospect, it wouldn't have altered the flavors, but would have been delicious, also. Here is the recipe with substitutions in parentheses.
Apple Coconut Family Cake

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 (1/2) teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch salt
3 apples, peeled and cored
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup, plus 2 teaspoons sugar (1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar)
6 tablespoons flavorless oil (3 tablespoons flavorless oil plus 3 tablespoons fig preserves)
1 tablespoon dark rum (2 tablespoons vanilla rum)
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (omit)
1/2 cup apple jelly for glaze(1 cup fig preserves, pressed through a sieve)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 350°. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and place it on a baking sheet line with parchment or a silicone mat. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda,
cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

Cut two of the apples into dice and set aside. Cut the 3rd apple from blossom to stem into thin slices, about 1/4-inch.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs together with the 1/2 cup sugar for one minutes. Add the oil, fig preserves and vanilla rum. Fold in the flour mixture and the diced apples. Scrape the batter into the springform pan and jiggle a bit to even out batter.  Arrange the sliced apples in an attractive pattern like th sunburst pattern and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar.Bake 45-50 minutes until knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the springform pan to a cooling rack and let cool 20 minutes.

Warm fig preserves over low heat until liquid. Add a splash of water. Glaze apple cake with the fig preserves. Serves 8.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Six Classic Cocktails-Week One-The Manhattan

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According to David Embury, author of the classic cocktail book, "The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks", there are six basic, or classic cocktails-the Manhattan, the Martini, the Sidecar, the Daiquiri, the Old Fashioned and, one I have never heard of called the Jack Rose. Embury had no ties to the liquor business and was a well-respected attorney in a Manhattan law firm, but had an intense curiosity regarding the food and drink industry. His book is casual and witty in tone, but a meticulous investigation into the fine art of the cocktail. The six classic cocktails is just one chapter among the seventeen chapters in Embury's book. Over the next six weeks of Thirsty Thursday, I will feature each classic cocktail. First comes the Manhattan, a heady, amber colored cocktail garnished with the traditional maraschino cherry, introduced to me by my son-in-law, Doug who could be a first class bartender if he so desired. He's witty like Embury, but also is very knowledgeable and proficient in the art of the cocktail.

As with many classic cocktails, legends abound regarding the origin of the Manhattan. Prevailing history suggests that the cocktail originated at the Manhattan Club in New York in early 1870's at a banquet hosted by Jenny Jerome, better known as Lady Randolph Churchill, mother of Winston Churchill. The banquet was in honor of Samuel Tilden, the democratic candidate for President in the highly disputed election of 1876. However, some say that Lady Churchill was, in fact, attending Winston's christening during that time so couldn't have possibly been the host. Another myth suggests that the cocktail was named the Manhattan after the river whose waters were brown. Still another says the Manhattan was invented in the 1860's by a bartender named Black at a bar near Houston Street.

The original Manhattan cocktail was a meld of American whiskey (probably Rye, which is traditional), Italian sweet vermouth and Angostura bitters. Today, ingredients vary as do techniques, possibly depending upon the creativity of the bartender. Here is Doug's Manhattan-

2 ounces Crown Royal whiskey
2 ounces red vermouth
4 dashes Angostura bitters
4 dashes Orange bitters
A splash of maraschino cherry juice, to taste
Garnish-maraschino cherries

In a cocktail glass, combine whiskey, vermouth, Angostura bitters, orange bitters and a splash of maraschino cherry juice, if desired. Add ice, shake and strain into a cocktail glass.  Garnish with a maraschino cherry. Serves 2.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Translucent Maple Tuiles with Honey Walnut Orange Drizzled Panna Cotta

Print Friendly and PDF Translucent Maple TuilesWalnut Orange Honey Drizzled Panna Cotta with Translucent Maple Tules

A "tuile" is a very thin lacy cookie normally baked, then while warm, molded around a shape such as a rolling pin or a dowel. When the tuile has cooled, it retains this shape. French for "tile", the tuile when placed in rows bears resemblance to the ancient clay roof tiles used in China and the Middle East around 10,000 BC. Although ancient, the tuile is better known in its French parentage . If you have visited Paris, you may have seen the Tuileries Gardens, the site of the Tuileries Palace built by Catherine de' Medici after the death of Henry 11 of France. So named for the tile kilns that previously occupied the site.  Source.

Traditionally made with egg whites, flour , white sugar and butter,  this adaptation from "Baking From My Home to Yours" by Dorie Greenspan omits the egg whites, substitutes brown sugar for the white,  adds maple syrup while decreasing the amount of flour. This results in a translucent caramelized cookie with a lovely lacy pattern. This elegant cookie was chosen by Hindy aka Clivia of Bubie's Little Baker for this TWD edition. The recipe can be found on her blog or from Dorie's book.

Never willing to leave well enough alone, I decided to serve my French translucent maple tuiles with an Italian panna cotta drizzled with a honey walnut orange topping. A panna cotta is a very simple concoction of cream, sugar, vanilla or other flavorings and gelatin and can be put together in a short time.
The addition of sour cream adds a tangy flavor, perfect with the sweet honey topping.

Panna Cotta 

2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
3 tablespoons cold water
3 cups whipping cream or a combination of half and half and whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch salt
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste, or pure vanilla flavoring
1 cup sour cream

Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water. Let stand 5 minutes. In a medium saucepan, over medium-high heat,warm the cream or combination of half and half and cream, sugar, salt and vanilla. Take care not to boil the cream. Stir in the gelatin until thoroughly combined. Remove from heat and let sit about 5 minutes.

Place the sour cream in a bowl. Whisk in the warm cream a little at a time until smooth. Rinse 8 (2/3 cup) ramekins or vessel of choice with cold water. Fill each 3/4 full with cream. Refrigerate 4-24 hours. To unmold, wrap the molds in hot towels and turn out in a dessert dish.  The panna cotta can also be served unmolded. Drizzle with  the honey walnut orange topping and serve with the tuiles. Recipe adapted from  
The Splendid Table by Lynne Rosetto Casper.

Honey Walnut Orange Topping

1 cup mild honey-I used ginger honey
1-1/2 strips of zest from 1 whole orange
1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts

In a small saucepan, bring honey and orange zest to a low boil. Reduce heat and cook over a very low boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in walnuts. Cool to room temperature. Recipe adapted from California Walnuts.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Blue Cornmeal Pizza Topped with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

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Still playing around with ways to use blue cornmeal, I was inspired to develop a recipe for a Southwestern pizza with the blue cornmeal incorporated in the pizza crust. Aesthetically speaking, I wasn't sure how a blue pizza crust would go over in my family of die-hard pizza aficionados, but luckily, they are used to my experimentation in the kitchen. This pizza was a hit! A very earthy pizza which reminds me so much of the Southwest flavors I love.

Using the basic ratio dough for bread from Michael Rhulman's book, "Ratio-The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking", I substituted blue cornmeal for part of the flour in the recipe, then threw in a teaspoon of minced chipotles en adobo to add a tiny bit of heat to the pizza dough. "Ratio" should be in everyone's library of must have cookbooks. Rhulman's theory is simple.When you know a culinary ratio, a proportion of one part to another, such as the bread dough from which my blue cornmeal pizza dough is made from, you are able to make many variations. Basically, you are working with parts.  Bread  dough is 5 parts flour and 3 parts water. To ensure accurate measuring, a digital scale that measures in ounces and grams up to 5 pounds with a "tare"or zero button is essential. Rhulman's book, "Ratio" is available not only in hardback and paperback, but has a Kindle edition and an app for a Smartphone.

A simple tomatillo sauce, roasted along with red onions, jalapeno peppers, garlic and onion to bring out its complex flavors, serves as a base for the toppings of jack cheese, halved cherry tomatoes and a sprinkle of dried oregano. Diced avocado  scattered over the pizza after baking perfect this rustic Mexican style pizza. Roasted tomatillo salsa recipe here. Michael Ruhlman's  homemade pizza here.

After making this dough several times, I have reduced the amount of blue cornmeal that I used in the original recipe. The pizza was a bit too "earthy". Here is the amended recipe based on the master recipe (recipe follows pizza dough) for bread dough in "Ratio". The dough is easily made in the bread machine.

Blue Cornmeal Pizza Dough

1-1/2 cups water-12 ounces
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon bread machine yeast
3 cups bread flour-14 ounces
1/2 cup blue cornmeal-3 ounces
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal-3 ounces
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon minced canned Chipotles en Adobo, or to taste

According to manufacturer's for your bread machine, add the ingredients to the pan. Process on the dough cycle. Regarding the chipotles, I usually knead them in after removing the dough from the bread machine pan or during the last knead cycle on the bread machine. Most bread machines have the modes broken down into total time and the duration of each cycle. While dough is being processed, prepare roasted tomatillo sauce. Preheat a baking stone in a 450° oven for at least 30 minutes.When dough cycle is complete, transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Divide into desired number of balls. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.  Roll out dough into a thin circle. Place on a peel which has been dusted with cornmeal. Spread salsa over the dough. Sprinkle with shredded jack cheese, halved cherry tomatoes and dried oregano. Slide pizza onto baking stone in oven. Bake 15-20 minutes or until cheese had melted and pizza is bubbly. Remove from oven.  Repeat process with remaining pizza dough.To serve, garnish with diced avocados and cilantro.    Makes two large or 4 small pizzas.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

8 ounces fresh tomatillos, husked, rinsed and halved
2 large cloves garlic, peeled
1-2 jalapeno peppers, halved and seeded
1/2 red onion, sliced
1/3 cup cilantro leaves
Salt, to taste

In a non-stick saucepan over medium high heat, place the tomatillos, cut side down, the garlic, jalapeno peppers, and red onion. When browned, about 3 minutes, turn everything over and roast the other side. When browned, remove from heat and pour into the bowl of a food processor to cool. Add cilantro and blend to a coarse puree. Add salt to taste. If mixture is too thick, add a few tablespoons water. Set aside while rolling out pizza dough.

1/3 to 1/2 cup shredded jack cheese
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
Dried oregano
Diced avocado

Master Bread Dough From "Ratio"
20 ounces flour
12 ounces water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon active dry yeast

Process dough either by bread machine or conventional method.
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