Monday, April 21, 2008

Pie #5- Little Mango Pies with Brown Sugar-Grand Marnier Ice Cream

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It's been waaay too long since I royal foodie jousted. I just have to say this- don't hate me- but the term "foodie" kind of grates on my nerves. I don't blame people who use the word. It's whoever came up with it who'd ass I'd like to kick. I know I'll probably receive hate-mail for that, but it's my blog and I can say whatever I want.

You know what I love though? I LOVE Jenn, the Leftover Queen (who is recently married to the leftover King, Roberto- they are such a gorgeous couple. Their kids will be so hot) and her forum, where the monthly royal foodie joust occurs.

Last month's winning entry, submitted by the hilarious and fowl Michelle at Thursday night smackdown will be hard to follow. But she picked some pretty awesome ingredients for us to work with this month: Mango, Cardamom, and Brown Sugar- as well as the instructions "I want to see your mad pastry skillz".
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Here ya go Michelle. I have submitted a very pie lady entry:
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Little Mango Pies with Brown Sugar-Grand Marnier Ice Cream

The hands-down best part of this dessert was the ice cream. I must try it with chocolate cake some time. Making new discoveries for my dessert menu is one of the main reasons why I participate with these events. I'm thinking a scoop of this atop a warm flour less chocolate cake would be pretty orgasmic. Don't you?
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Pie Dough:

1 cup pastry flour
4 oz cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 T vodka
2 T ice water

In a food processor, pulse up the butter with the flour and salt until butter is the size of peas. Add the water and vodka and pulse briefly until flour is moistened. Dump contents out onto a work surface and frisage into a disc. Chill overnight, or for at least 3 hours.
Roll chilled dough out on a lightly floured surface and cut into 6 4 inch circles (I used a cookie cutter). Chill dough circles until ready to use.
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Mango Filling:
2 ripe mangoes
1 T fresh lime juice
3 T sugar
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp cornstarch

Cube up the mangoes and toss with the remaining ingredients.
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don't forget to gnaw on your mango pit. And don't forget to floss afterwards

Assembly/Baking:
Ease the dough circles into small muffin tins (no need for pan spray- there is enough butter in the dough for it to release on it's own). Divide mango filling amongst the dough-lined compartments. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes. Turn oven down to 350 and continue baking for 35 minutes.

Ice Cream:

2 cups whole milk
1 quart heavy cream
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
12 egg yolks
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 oz grand marnier

Whisk together the yolks and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
In a large pot, combine the brown sugar with the milk and cream. Heat slowly, stirring occasionally to dissolve the brown sugar. Once sugar is dissolved, turn heat up and bring to a boil. Slowly temper into the yolks. Return mixture to the pot and continue cooking over low heat, stirring constantly with a heat-proof spatula, until mixture thickens. Strain into a container and place in an ice bath to chill. Once cold, stir in the grand marnier and churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturers instructions.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

It's snowing in April

I am in a snit today. Exactly one week ago, Seattle had it's first 80 degree day of the year. I was basking in it- sitting on the deck with Trevor drinking my own incarnation of a mint julep, eating sunflower seeds, and wearing funny looking sunglasses. I can't recall a time that I was so happy to be in the sun.

The very next day, it was cold and rainy. Fine. I'm a Seattle native. I have learned to deal with that. What I refuse to accept, is snow in fucking April. I call bullshit. It has been snowing off and on since Friday. And no, it's not the fun kind of snow that piles up so we can all be confined to our homes making snowmen and snuggling by the fire. It's the wet stuff- mixed with rain and melting the second it hits the ground.
Not to mention, every couple of hours, it stops and the sun comes out for about ten minutes. Just to fuck with us.
Being that I plan my dessert menu around the seasons, all I can do it cringe at what this must be doing to the poor rhubarb that I depend on. It gets me through until the local strawberries and cherries arrive. That feels like a lifetime from now.

Anyway- I'm making the best of it. I've been sitting under a blankie with my book and a cup of the best black tea known to man.
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Market Spice is this little shop in the Pike Place Market that sells honey, tea, spices, and whatnot. Their original blend is a dark and spicy orange tea, which rocks the house when infused into a creme brulee base. But the huckleberry tea has become a nightly ritual. I am not much of a "berry" tea girl, but there is something about this one. With a splash of milk, and if I am feeling lavish- a twist of orange rind, I have my dessert in a cup. I am tasting desserts all day, so when the after dinner urge for sweetness comes, I reach for a hot drink. Caffeine has very little effect on me (unless there is an absence of it), so rather than keeping me up, it actually puts me to sleep. I sip on this while Trevor eats his fudgesicle- this man married a pastry chef and all I can make for him is ice cream or chocolate chip cookies, and still, he is just as happy with his fat free fudgesicle (yes, he prefers the fat free ones)...but that is the subject of another rant.....
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Monday, April 14, 2008

SHF #42- Asian Invasion!

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Coconut-Jasmine Ice Cream

It's Sugar High Friday time again....yaaaaay! These days, it seems to be the only blog event I can get my shit together for. This month's host, Amrita at La Petite Boulangette chose the theme "Asian Invasion".
This had to be providence; just hours before I read the announcement, I happened to be at World Spice and picked up some pearl jasmine. It was begging to be used for this.

Pearl Jasmine, which is mostly used for tea, can also be used for infusions. Pairing it with another Thai ingredient- coconut, seemed like a damn fine idea to me.

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Southeast Asian persuasion: pearl jasmine and coconut

I had thought of doing a panna cotta or a creme brulee, but it the end, ice cream was what I (husband's constant bitching about how I never make him homemade ice cream anymore had nothing to do with it. I swear.) really wanted. Coconut milk served as a replacement for most of the whole milk, I also used some unsweetened flaked coconut in the infusion to help pronounce the flavor. Jasmine can be a very assertive ingredient, and I didn't want it to over power everything.
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Final verdict? OH.MY.SWEET.LORD. Sooooo good. The two flavors were balanced together in perfect ying-yang harmony. Not included in this post are the lime sugar cookies I made to go with them, but they are certainly worth mentioning.

You want to know what else is worth mentioning? The Dali Lama is in town! This very day, he is literally blocks from my home at the Key Arena. He's been here all weekend- how kick ass is that?

Coconut-Jasmine Ice Cream

1 can coconut milk
1/4 cup whole milk
4 cups heavy cream
3 T pearl jasmine
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
12 egg yolks
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Combine both milks, cream, sugar, and coconut flakes in a pot. Bring to a boil, then add the jasmine. Remove pot from heat, cover, and let steep for 1 hour. Whisk together the eggs and salt in a large bowl. Return the infused dairy to a boil, then slowly temper it into the eggs, about 1 cup at a time. Return mixture to low heat and stir constantly with a heatproof spatula until it thickens (make sure you are scraping the bottom of the pot with the spatula). Immediately remove from heat and pour through a fine mesh strainer. Place custard over an ice water bath. Once custard is very cold, churn in an ice cream maker following manufacturer's instructions.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Milk 'n Cookies

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For your inner "skinned knee"

Who likes chocolate?
My hand is raised too. I'm not like, weird about it though. I have known some people who shall remain nameless who have a freakish addiction to it. If I had to desert-island it, I'd go for some sort of pie over chocolate. But I have nothing but love in my heart for the balls-out chocoholics. They make my job so easy. Molding good quality chocolate into an exquisite dessert is a breeze. Flavor-wise, most of the work has already been done.

For the last year or so, Scharffen Berger has been my chocolate of choice. It has a brightness to it that seems to make it stand out from others I have tried. I'm sure there are many pastry chefs out there that would both agree and disagree with that. I really think that amongst the top few contenders of really good stuff out there, it becomes a personal matter of taste. Really they're all pretty damn tasty. But I stand by my choice.

Last year, I picked up John Scharffen Berger and Robert Steinberg's The Essence of chocolate. I love it when I drop 40 bucks on a cook book and it turns out to be worth EVERY G.D. PENNY. Every recipe I've tried out of here has turned out to be a winner. Plus there is added information about the origins of chocolate. It's also beautiful. Pretty cookbooks are like my dollies.
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Worth it's weight in delicious chocolaty goodness

Here is a recipe from the book that I find myself making all the time- Chocolate shortbread with cacao nibs and salt. They are perfect for grown-up milk and cookies. I keep a log in the freezer for when one of us has had a no good, rotten old day. The salty-sweet factor is kind of like crack for me, and it's well represented in these cookies. This is a great one to try if you have one of those 50 dollar jars of fancy pants salt that you're scared to even open sitting in your cupboard. It will shine like Elvis in these.
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Chocolate Shortbread with Cacao Nibs
adapted from The Essence of Chocolate

6 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
3/4 cup Scharffen Berger natural cocoa powder
3/4 tsp good quality salt (or 1/2 tsp kosher salt)
3/4 cup cacao nibs

Crush the nibs using a rolling pin, or bottom of an iron skillet. Set aside. Sift together the flour and cocoa powder.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the butter and sugar with the paddle attachment until fluffy and smooth (scrape bowl as needed).
Add the vanilla and salt and mix until combined.
add half of the sifted dry ingredients and mix until barely absorbed. Add remaining dry ingredients and mix until combined. Add nibs and mix just until they are evenly dispersed through out the dough.
Either roll the dough out and cut out shapes, or form it into a log and slice off cookies (about 1/4 ").
Bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes. Rotate halfway through baking time.

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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Pass it on....

I am sitting here on a lazy Sunday afternoon drinking vodka and listening to Soundgarden.....a lot of vodka. I am probably on my 4th or 5th shot of Luksusowa, plus a few mixed drinks thrown in there- which is a lot for me. Advanced apologies if this post is bloated with drunken ramblings and early 90's Seattle nostalgia. It's my f'ing day off, alright?
Anyway- I'm blogsurfing while Trevor is changing his guitar strings. He's at least 2 shots ahead of me. I don't know why that needs to be public information....this will all come together in the end- I promise.
So like I said, I'm cruising down my blog roll when I get to the very last one- wrightfood, which I must say is one of my favorite blogs out there. His most recent post is a crispy skinned salmon with purple potatoes and Dijon broth. I was drooling all over my keyboard when I remembered the droolworthy blogger award bestowed upon me by Marye a way long time ago for my sweet potato flan, and my promise to pass it on. "It is time", my inner jedi told me.

Let me tell you, dear readers, some of the many reasons why Matt's blog is one that I visit almost daily. First of all- the friggin' amazing recipes. Matt's take on food is completely in sync with mine: simple, local, seasonal. He is also a Seattleite, so it's fun to chat with him about restaurants, the weather, etc. Shameless plug- it's also super cool that he is an ardent supporter of my own place of employment: Crow- Hell yeeeah! Though he has yet to visit our sister restaurant, Betty. (Don't think I haven't forgotten that, Matt.) However, he and his wife do have a toddler toddling around, so his delay in making it over to Queen Anne to dine can be forgiven.
Every time I visit wrightfood, I am blown away. The food, the photography, the writing- this guy should have a cookbook. Oh wait, I forgot! He is currently working on one! I don't know exactly where he is at with that right now- last I heard, he was "publisher shopping", but I have seen advanced previews of it and it is definitely one every home cook should have- particularly those living in the northwest, as his recipes reflect a love for seafood. Having said that, he does give meat and veggies their due props with posts such as grilled leeks, and braised pork spare rib and belly.Another thing I love- Matt is British. Being the total yank that I am, and not knowing many Brits personally, I never get to hear terms such as "bloody" and "bloke" used regularly. I don't know why, but I get kind of a thrill out of it. I am SO. PAINFULLY. AMERICAN.
So, Matt- this shot of Polish vodka is for you. Snag this award and pass it on. You deserve it and then some. Readers- add Wrightfood to your blogroll. Cook up some of his recipes. You can thank me later.
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Thanks Norm!