Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Semolina Pudding

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Yeah. Sorry about that. A two week lull after what was a phoned in post to begin with is kind of a harsh toke. A brief early spring funk set in, leaving me with the overwhelming urge to do nothing but go through the motions.

And watch a lot of bad movies. Like, Bruce Campbell bad.

I did manage too eek out something interesting a few weeks ago- A semolina pudding. This was inspired by Heather of Gild the (voodoo)lily. Last February, she was in Seattle and met my sister and I for drinks. Over wine and blog gossip, she told me about her upcoming Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 feast that focused on African cuisine (Heather's 24's are always insane. She has another one up featuring nettles. It's so springy and delightful I could just wet myself). Anyway, she mentioned the hominy grits pudding she was planning to end the meal with. Which is where I realized that in nearly ten years of baking for a living, I had never once made a cooked cereal like that for dessert.

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After Heather's post, I began tinkering. So as to not completely rip her off, I explored the flavors of Spain and Morocco. Sweet spices like cardamom, star anise, and cinnamon; the pulp of a vanilla bean, orange zest, and saffron. I opted for semolina over hominy, as it is what I had on hand and seemed to snuggle up with the flavors I was working with.

The warmly scented semolina is cooked, egg is added. Then it's baked in a water bath until it's just set. I baked mine in individual ramekins, because thats usually how I roll- but you could make a big one. You'll have to adjust the baking time.

To garnish, I gave it a drizzle of the clear seville orange caramel I had in the fridge, fresh blood oranges (because they're pretty), fresh mint, crushed salty marcona almonds, and a naughty little dollop of rose scented whipped cream. It made for a lovely weekend dessert special.

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I will leave you with the recipe for my version, but the method is a canvas.
I encourage you to play.

Semolina Pudding
serves 7

2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 cardamom pods, crushed
1/2 of a cinnamon stick
1/4 of a vanilla bean, split open
1 star anise
pinch saffron
1/4 cup + 2 Tb semolina
2 oz. butter
1/2 tsp grated orange zest
pinch sea salt
3 eggs
1 egg yolk

Bring the milk, sugar, spices, vanilla bean, and saffron to a boil. Cover, remove from heat, and let steep for one hour.

Cut parchment paper into circles the same size as your ramekins.
spray 7 3" ramekins with pan spray. Line the bottoms with parchment paper circles and spray again. Place ramekins in a roasting pan that has been lined with a tea towel (prevents sliding).

Whisk eggs, yolk, and salt together in a bowl
Return the infused milk to a boil. Strain into a clean pot and bring back to a boil. Slowly whisk in the semolina. Continue whisking over medium heat until mixture has thickened- about 4 or 5 minutes.

Pour a small amount of cooked pudding into the eggs and whisk well. Then, whisk the tempered eggs into the pot. Add the butter and orange zest, then spoon pudding into prepared ramekins. Pour very hot water into the roasting pan until the ramekins are at least 3/4 of the way submerged. Cover pan with foil.

Poke holes in the foil and bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes. Lift the corner of the foil to release steam (Be Careful!!), then recover and bake about 20-30 minutes longer, or until puddings are set. Cool to room temperature- at least an hour, then invert onto plates. Don't forget to peel off the parchment paper!
Serve with your preferred accompaniments


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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Paddy's!

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Oh how I love this holiday. I'm not Catholic, but there is just enough Irish in me to really get in to the drunken revelry of St. Patrick's Day.

I have a full bottle of Jameson's and a fridge full of Guinness, The Quiet Man- and in a few hours, a giant plate of food that will go straight to me'arteries.
The Menu:

Braised pork shoulder w/ grain mustard jus- so sue me, I'm not making corned beef. I forgot to start the brine and had to wing it. We'll have pulled pork sandwiches rather than reubens. I'm a little depressed about it, but I'm sure I'll pull through.

Colcannon heavy on the kale, for the sake of my lovehandles

soda bread that actually tastes good.

Guinness ice cream with whiskey caramel hence all of the open bottles of guinness- for the reduction...

I'll most likely not be blogging any of this. I'm just hanging out, waiting for the ice cream to finish churning and felt like sharing.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Now, with less swears and more chocolate

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In January, I came to the realization that somehow, this blog had not featured chocolate in over nine months. Admittedly, I am more of a fruit person, but I love good chocolate and did not intentionally give it the silent treatment. My bad.

I've been sitting on this post for a while, for reasons of sheer vanity. I couldn't get a decent shot of the sorbet before it started to melt on me. I meant to re-shoot it, but it disappeared before I had the chance- as is standard practice around here when it comes to things that taste good.

But, I'm also trying to turn over a new leaf with The Pie Lady. Some of the goals I've set include using the term 'fuck' less frequently, post weekly, and to stop ignoring chocolate. So I will bravely set my ego aside and assure you that while it looks a little melty, this sorbet is fucking amazing (I've already said it once. fuck it.)

I have met my monthly chocolate quota.
PS to those interested- this stuff is rich and indulgent, but not that bad for you.
And trust me on this one- You will think you are eating chocolate ice cream.

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Dark Chocolate Sorbet

I like to serve mine with big sprigs of mint, because chocolate-mint is one of those flavor combos that makes my toes curl.

3 T corn syrup
2 1/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar

7 oz bittersweet chocolate (good quality), finely chopped
2 1/2 oz coco powder (dutch process)
1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla
2 T brandy

Combine the chopped chocolate, salt, and coco in a large bowl.
Combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a pot and bring to a full boil.

Slowly pour 1/3 of the hot sugar syrup into the bowl of chocolate and whisk thoroughly. Continue adding the syrup and whisking in 2 more additions. The mixture may seize up when you first add the syrup, but it will come together.
Stir in the vanilla and brandy. Strain the base through a fine sieve and chill until completely cold. The base will thicken slightly.
Once base is completely cold, churn in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer's instructions.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Bread and Chocolate

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baked chocolate truffle, blood orange-port reduction, toasted cocoa nibs, sweet crostini

This is one of those dishes that just evolved into itself, completely by accident. It was inspired by the random grazing of a line cook, and the chocolate bar made by local company, Theo (and only organic, fair trade chocolate company in the country. Seriously. Click that link and buy some chocolate. I highly recommend the coconut curry).

The original idea was for just the baked truffle, the blood orange-port reduction, and perhaps an olive oil gelato- and I still mean to try that one day. But while I was working it out in my head, a question of texture kept popping up. I wanted something crunchy. But something other than the cocoa nibs or standard issue praline/brittle-type situation.

I was fiddling with the truffle recipe- which has the exact same texture as softened butter, when I put out a sample batch for the cooks to nosh on. We were standing around bullshitting and having coffee when one of them tore off a piece of fresh baguette, ripped it open, and smeared the truffle down the middle. Without a word, the rest of us followed suit. It was as delicious as it sounds, and I was mentally bitch slapping myself for not putting a spin on bread and chocolate on the menu until now.

I knew I couldn't serve it the way we had it, which to honest, might be how I like it best. This is where the Theo 'bread and chocolate' candy bar enters in. It's dark chocolate with baguette crumbs mixed it. It's crispy and salty-sweet and if I am ever in a munchy, it's a good place to turn. I sliced up a fresh baguette, moments after it's delivery, brushed it with melted butter, sprinkled it with raw sugar (I'm now using crystal sugar because it's prettier), and baked at 400 for about 8 minutes. Then I smeared one with a thick layer of the truffle and didn't look back.
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see instructions for sweet crostini in post. Blood orange-port reduction is equal parts tawny port and blood orange juice, a small handful of sugar, and a piece of star anise. Simmer until reduced and syrupy.

Baked Chocolate Truffle
slightly tinkered with version of the recipe from
Susan G. Purdy's
Pie in the Skyserves four

4 oz 70% good quality dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp espresso powder
4 oz very soft butter (like, the texture of mayonnaise)
2 room temperature eggs
1/4 tsp sea salt

Pre heat oven to 300 degrees. In a food processor, gind up chocolate until you have fine crumbs. Brush 4 small ramekins with melted butter. Line the bottoms with small circles of parchment paper and brush with more butter. Place ramekins in a tea towel lined roasting pan.
Bring the sugar, espresso powder and water just to a simmer, do not boil. Add to chocolate in a slow steady stream through the feeding tube with the machine running. Once all the syrup has been added, continue to process for about 10 seconds. Scrape the bowl down, then turn machine back on. Add the butter, a few tablespoons at a time, through the feeding tube with the machine running. Continue to process for about 30 seconds. Scrape the bowl and process a few seconds more.
Whisk the eggs and salt together. Slowly add to the chocolate mixture, pulsing every few seconds just to combine. You do not want to add much air at this point.
Divide the mixture between the ramekins and fill roasting pan with enough hot water to submerge them halfway. Cover pan with foil and bake for about 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake 5-7 more minutes. Truffles will be set, but still look moist.
Always serve at room temperature.
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Thanks Norm!