Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cupcake Camp and the Smoked Fruit

Yellow everyone,
Back again!
This time to talk about the 2nd annual Cupcake Camp Montreal. I was at last year's and while it was very successful, nothing could have prepared me for this year's success. I cautiously agreed to participate this year because it took place November 21st, 6 days before my due date, thankfully the kid didn't come early and I was able to honour my commitment. Although I REALLY REALLY wanted to help out and be part of the organization, I thought it would be smarter if I waited until next year. So hit me up for any kind of help you need next year guys! I WILL be bugging you... but this year I stuck to baking only. My submission was Smoked Apple Cupcakes with Maple Cardamom Buttercream. So here goes, the recipe....

The cupcake recipe is partially pilfered from... um... well, uh *sigh* Martha Stewart. 
I'm sorry, I know, I know she's built of pure evil, but I'm sure she had nothing to do with it!!! I know A LOT of good people who went on to work for her. It's okay right?


Initially, I smoked the apples whole, but then I realized that peeling them was hell. So, word of advice, peel, core and cut your apples into 8ths or 6ths. It's much easier than trying to peel a smoked apple.

•2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
•2 teaspoons baking soda
•1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
•1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
•1 teaspoon salt
•1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
•1 cups sugar
•1/2 cup demerara sugar
•1/4 cup demerara sugar
•2 large eggs
•1 inch vanilla bean scraped to death
•8 apples (4 yellow delicious, 4 MacIntosh, if possible) peeled, cored, and cut

Start off by putting your apples in a disposable pie pan (or 2) and sprinkle the 1/4 cup of demerara sugar on top. Smoke for 1.5 hours at about 220 degrees. It's best if you do it a few days before because some liquid leaches out of the apples and has a very strong smoky sweet flavour. When you first take the apples out of the smoker, a lot of the smoky flavour is caught in the sugar residue that you won't be able to get into the batter. The apple juices that leach out sort of wash the sugar off the pie plate and you get a smokier flavour in your batter.

(pssst. these are Martha's instructions slightly adapted)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside. Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

Put butter and both sugars (1/2 cup demerara, 1 cup regular white) into a bowl and mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Coarsely chop apples in a food processo and mix in apples to the wet mixture. Add flour mixture; mix, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, until just combined.

Divide batter among lined cups, filling halfway; bake until tops are springy to the touch, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove cupcakes from tins; transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely. (makes 24)

For the icing, I will try to give you the recipe but I really winged it

•1 cup room temperature unsalted butter
•2 1/2 cups sifted icing sugar
•1/4 cup + 2 tbsp REAL maple syrup
•1 tbsp ground cardamom

Whip up the butter with an electric mixer pouring in the maple syrup slowly.  It will be clumpy and weird looking. As you sift in the sugar (I did it 1/2  a cup at a time because my hand was getting tired) it will become smoother.

About halfway through, I added the cardamom, mixing on medium speed. Once all your sugar is in and you're satisfied with the consistency, then you can ice your cupcakes.

If you want a stiffer icing, simply add more icing sugar.

Also, something that I will share with you.... I made a test batch... and I didn't find them smoky enough, so I added 1 or 2 dashes of liquid smoke to the icing.  It was only for the test batch, but I feel guilty divulging that fact. Anyways, if you need it, liquid smoke will help you out and won't ask for anything in return.

So here's the picture of my finished cakes. Next year I think I'll spend more time on the beauty aspect.  But they were tasty : )

So once these were iced and packed up, we brought them downtown to Cupcake Camp Montreal 2010!!
And even though I had a panic attack there, I take that as a good sign. THERE WERE TOO MANY PEOPLE -- bad for sensitive wimps like me, good for the organizers and the charities (Kids Help Phone and La Tablée des Chefs). This year they raised $34,500!!!!

Kyle and I got some phenomenal cupakes, there was the Double Chocolate with sugar cookie on top from Macchi Inc. (Make sure you read The Mrs Macchi Blog and follow her on twitter), there was the Double Cupcake: Mini chocolate on the top, vanilla on the bottom with a lovely snowflake detail from Montreal Confections (who incidentally did our wedding cake last year and she's super nice).  There was the ridiculously poufy and decadent Oreo cupcake with some sort of cream cheese icing covered in oreo dust from RawSugr. And unfortunately we don't know where the other three came from: another Oreo creation, Cookie Dough cupcake with a wee cookie on top, and a caramel fleur de sel. 

Oh right, the one in the middle. That was the raspberry truffle ice cream cupcake from Bilboquet. That one didn't make it home - partially because it was awesome and partially because of the melt factor.  Here's a bad picture of a 'cross section' (AKA after we bit into it) of the ice cream one :)

So that was Cupcake Camp Montreal 2010. Now my next task is to spit out a person.  She's supposed to arrive this saturday, but you never know what can happen. I guess that's all for now. Thanks again for taking the time to browse the aisles of the Cheese and Olive Superstore. 


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Stay with me here... Potato... Ice Cream... trust me okay?

Hello everyone!
Look!!! It’s me again! And without a 3 month break!
How exciting....

Any-hoo, on the 12th of October I went to a product launch by infoods for their incusin line of purees with the effervescent Chuck Hughes.

There was quite a bit of awesome food presented and served. Being a big giant gestational pod, I couldn’t sample the salmon tartare and the parsley vodka shooter. But the blinis with caramelized onions were fantastic. There were potato croquettes on a stick which I didn’t photograph. A cauliflower cappucino, and a scallop atop a puree with carrot butter. There were also 2 sweet offerings, that I didn’t exactly catch what they consisted of except that they were CHOCK FULL of awesome.

See the pictures below, and make sure you bring a napkin to mop up the drool.

There was also sort of a blog challenge to create something with the insnax / incuisin line and then blog about it. It’s technically a contest, but since there’s no chance of me winning, I’ll just call it a blog challenge.

I decided to turn one of the purees into an ice cream. Since I don’t have an ice cream maker, and am wholly inexperienced at ice cream making, I expected it to fail spectacularly. It wasn’t too bad though. I think it would have been better if I could find a way to extract some of the water from the potato puree but even in this format it was very tasty. AND it did taste of the potato puree, so it’s not like it was just a textural thing.

I scoured the internet for how to make ice cream without an ice cream maker and it does take a bit of diligence.

Here goes....
What you'll need
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp unsalted butter
3/4 cup incuisin butter and cream potato puree
tiny pinch of salt
1 1/2 tbsp sugar (or more if you want)

A shallow pan that can go in the freezer
A freezer
about 2h to wait

Pour the milk into a saucepan and bring slowly up to boiling point but DO NOT LET IT BOIL. Add the butter and mix it up

In a bowl, beat together the egg yolks and sugar until thick. Pour the milk into the mixture of egg yolks and sugar whilst stirring. Pour the mixture back into the pan and heat gently, stirring until the custard thickens - DO NOT BRING TO THE BOIL BECAUSE CURDLED CUSTARD BLOWS. When it's nice and thick and about halfway to pudding texture, add the frozen potato puree.

The potato will cool the custard and the custard will thaw the potato puree. If necessary turn the heat on again just low though. When the custard/potato mix is cold stir in the cream and salt.
Your next step is to pour everything into a baking dish made of something that can handle being frozen and throw it in the freezer. From here on I defer to Mr. David Lebovitz because that's where I found the technique.  After 45 minutes have passed, go back and stir it up really well.

Then go back every half hour or 20 minutes and mix it up again. And there you have it.  Eat it.
The only problem was that after it reached the perfect consistency, it kept freezing, rock hard. I think it's because of the water content  in the potato. I didn't want to cook the potato down into oblivion so I'm kind of at a loss how to fix it.  But I'm sure SOMEONE out there will have a suggestion.
AND if you get it at its perfect moment of frozen-ness, it's really quite fabulously tasty and indulgent.

Well thanks to infoods and Miss Mayssam Samaha For inviting me to that lovely evening, and my apologies to Chuck for accidentally tripping him with my bag.... (that was embarrassing)
If anyone has any suggestions on how to combat the over-freezing let me know because it was definitely something I would want to make again.
Merci and thanks for washing your feet in the fountain of Candace.... (ew, that was a little weird) anyways, thanks for reading. Come back soon


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Stock, make it or I mock you mercilessly

Hello again everyone,
I felt I needed to check in, it’s been a long while since I posted and I’m not giving up cheeseandolive, but I’ve had much much less inspiration to write.
I thought I was alone in this but I’ve been reading the lovely and talented Esther Walker’s blog She’s recently announced her own knocked-uppedness and how her interest in food has waned.
She clearly regained her interest. Me on the other hand I’ve gotten lazy. No interest in retouching photos so that they’re not so blue or so that you can’t tell that I’m a total slob and my stovetop is filthy. But I’m trying.

In the meantime, I think I’ll rehash an issue that I frequently bitch about and that is food fear / food laziness. Maybe that’s not the right name for it either.
Let me tell you the story.
I used to take the train to work every day (I started taking my car in the last few weeks of the gestation), and there are 2 women that I often hear talking about food. The thing is, they’re both dreadfully obese and are always talking about using this or that out of a can. Pasta sauce, soups, and worst of all, chicken stock. I think they fancy themselves gourmets, but everything that they talk about starts out partially or completely prepared. Pasta sauce, soups, and worst of all, chicken stock. Their reasoning? “It’s too complicated”. I can understand if you want to buy frozen puff pastry because it’s too complicated, or jarred curry pastes, or even frozen dumplings, but chicken stock?!?!?
Now I admit, in a pinch, if I don’t have any already made, or if there’s no chicken carcass waiting for me in my freezer, I’ve used the canned / frozen / or boxed stuff. But NEVER tell me that it’s because it’s TOO COMPLICATED.
“It’s too hot out” for sure.
“I have no chicken pieces” valid.
“I don’t have time right now” it happens.

But It’s too complicated? Pull the other one!

Maybe I’m getting too worked up about this issue, but just to be on the safe side, I’ll give you all a little primer on how to make your own chicken stock. And if you’re ever out and chatting about how complicated something as simple as tomato sauce, or broth, or soup is, and you spot someone staring at you giving you the stink eye, come over and say hello, it’s surely me.

To start out, you’ll need one very crucial thing, chicken.
Whether it’s a stock chicken (will explain more about that one in a bit — it’s a traumatic story) or pieces / bones of a chicken that was used in a previous meal, cooked or raw, it will all work (just not rotten, fools). Turkeys and ducks also work.
I must say though, if you want to make pork or beef stock, you will need to roast the bones otherwise you won’t get a very rich flavour. I will not be touching on that in this post because I don’t have pictures of it. Google it if you care.

Onions are also pretty important, but in essence, my theory is “use what you’ve got”
When you’re cooking, there are invariably things that you will chop off of a vegetable. Such as the top of a pepper, the tops and bottoms of onions, the ribs from chard, the leafy parts of celery. All of this you don’t have to throw out right away. Store it in your freezer in a plastic bag (make sure it’s clean though, no amount of boiling will remove sand and/or DDT) and when it’s time to make stock, you have a wide assortment of vegetables to choose from. My only counsel would be to avoid broccoli, brussel sprouts, and rapini because you don’t want to add any bitterness.

The standard configuration is to use carrots, celery, and onions (I like to use garlic too), chop them into manageable pieces and throw them in a large pot. Put your chicken in, if it’s whole or full meaty pieces, it’s better to be thawed, but if it’s a carcass, it can go in frozen. Add herbs such as thyme, bay leaves, rosemary, peppercorns, nothing too delicate. Cover with water and turn the heat on.

I prefer to let it come to a boil because I feel like I’m killing off any nasty germies, but if you want a clear stock you’ll only let it simmer... Hell if you want a clear stock, you’ll probably know how to do this already and won’t be bothering with this read. What I’m trying to do here is get people to make their own stock not to get the clearest most perfect broth. Once you embrace the idea that it’s not hard, tastes good, and makes your house smell awesome, then you can refine your technique.

So let it simmer for an hour or 2 and strain out the liquid into re-sealable containers and freeze. If you see a foam form while it is simmering, you can skim that off, or you can leave it. It is impurities coming from the chicken, but it won’t kill you. And like I said before, make stock now, refine later.
If you have the patience and are so inclined, you can refrigerate them and when the fat solidifies you can skim it off (much faster than skimming it when it’s in its liquid state) or you can get super lazy like me and freeze it as is then when you’re defrosting it just pick or scrape off the frozen fat, which will melt faster than the stock itself.

It takes virtually no attention, minimal skill, and almost free (If using scraps or carcasses)
HOWEVER, if you have a chicken that is a stock chicken, it is traditionally smaller and more slender than your regular roasters and may still have the head on. It will be cheaper. USE THIS FOR STOCK ONLY! We bought one once and tried to roast it. Firstly, it wasn’t 100% clean (organpalooza), and then there were the flat, rubbery breasts that cooked to the thickness of and iphone. Oh and don’t let me forget the crop. The crop is a fatty mass at the neck/shoulder area of the chicken. It is part of the digestive system. It holds excess food to be digested. When I cut into it, it crackled. There were white chips in amongst the fat, which I can only assume were pieces of chicken feed (roasted from being in my oven). But at first I thought that they were bone chips.
It was awful, I cried, we threw it out in its entirety and only had side dishes for dinner. I was a domestic failure and an energy / food squanderer. So to save you all the trauma of roasting a chicken that was meant for the stock pot. I share with you my story. So read your labels and by all means, buy the boiling chicken but be careful, if it looks puny, and still has a crop, chuck it in the stock pot, don’t waste your tasty cilantro red curry based rub (or however you choose to season your chicken) on this beastie.

Thank you for reading again after a long hiatus. I am hoping to blog again very soon. I have an event that I am attending next week, and am very much looking forward to chronicling that. So don’t give up on me, I’m still alive. And if you're bored with me, at least take a look at Recipe Rifle, she's managed to work through the temporary inspiration void. I'm confident I'll be able to do the same, and soon I’ll have all the time in the world to write on my maternity leave *wink*
Oh and NEVER let me catch you saying that chicken broth is hard to make or I’ll out your laziness all over the internets.
That’s all for now.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Artichoke Challenge

Hello once again! It's been a while since I've been here, and for that I have to apologize. The truth is, I've been keeping a secret and it's been a little bit hard for me to be social and talkative for fear of spilling the beans. But the beans are out of the bag now (to mix a metaphor) and I'm back!

Oh, so you wanted to know the secret? Really? Mmmm, okay... well the two of us, Kyle and I, are about to become three!! No, we're not entering into some illegal polygamous relationship, there's a wee one in the works!

So now that I've cleared the air and there are no secrets anymore... on to the real meat of it, the meat of the artichoke! This challenge was the artichoke challenge and my entry is sautéed artichoke hearts with mushrooms over risotto style orzo. This challenge circle is turning into a real little community. We're welcoming our 4th member to the challenge Katrina! So make sure to check all of our artichoke entries. I will update the entry when links are available!

The thing about artichokes is that they're a real pain to clean. You certainly don't need to take off as much as I did if you plan on using more than just the very heart, but I just wanted the softest most tender chunks. Apparently if you buy the little ones, they sometimes come with no choke.

I have never seen this happen.

Instead I always end up elbow deep in these little white prickly bristles, with a melon baller that looks like I've been involved in the perverse torture of a hedgehog. Once you strip off the outer leaves, the stem, and the hard green parts around the base, you're left with the yellowy heart. There are also beautiful purple inner leaves that are a little bit sharp and should be pulled out or trimmed. And the hated choke. It is the bristly fur in the middle of the artichoke. A grapefruit spoon is actually the best method for removing this, but ours broke so I use a melon baller now.

I also like to do this in water, for two reasons: 1) because the fibres of the choke will stick to you and this helps to clean them off, and 2) because the artichoke flesh will oxidize and turn dark in the air. Rubbing all the cut surfaces with a lemon will help to stave off the browning, but immersing in water (or lemony water) will further ensure you don't end up with a blackened heart... artichoke heart.

For the recipe, you will need the following:
5 large artichokes
1 lemon
7 white or café mushrooms (cleaned and sliced thinly)
1/4 cup dried chanterelle mushrooms (reconstituted in boiling water for 2 minutes and chopped roughly)
3 oz pork belly diced into cubes the size of a single lego (think one peg)
1 small onion sliced
a shot of sherry vinegar (about 1/2 - 1 oz)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 pieces of parmesan rind
1/3 - 1/2 cup dried orzo
4 cups chicken stock

Once you have the hearts properly cleaned and de-choked slice them into thin strips and put them in a bowl of acidulated water (with lemon or vinegar)

In a sauté pan, brown the onions in oil and remove. Add the little cubed pork belly and fry until browned. Then both types of mushrooms, once browned add the artichoke slices and fry until golden on the edges and a little crispy. Then add your shot of sherry vinegar and scrape down the pan. Remove from the heat and mix in the crispied onions. Ordinarily I would suggest keeping the liquid that you reonstituted the dried mushrooms in, but chanterelle mushrooms are notoriously gritty and unless you fancy worn down little nubs for teeth, just discard the mushroom liquid.

And then we tackle the orzo. Parmesan rinds are very handy little buggers. They're cheap and they very useful in risottos, soup stocks, and pasta sauces. Keep them in the freezer and they'll last for quite a while. You can usually find them from stores that sell chunks of the cheese in a hollowed out rind, they will usually cut up the rind when they're done with it and sell them rrrrreal cheap.

To prepare the orzo risotto style is very easy, but a) it sticks more than traditional risotto, and b) it takes less time. Heat some oil in a pan and add the orzo and stir for about 30 seconds. Reduce the heat to medium. Add about 1/3 cup of broth and stir. Once the broth is absorbed, add more broth. Don't add all the broth at once because you'll just boil it like traditional pasta and the starches won't be pulled out creating a creamy texture - which, if you hadn't guessed already is the goal. Once there's a little goop in the pan (the starch - probably after 2 or 3 ladles of broth) add the parmesan rind. It will soften and release its cheesy flavour. Keep adding broth (1/3 of a cup, or 1-2 ladles at a time) until the pasta is cooked and the texture is creamy. You don't have to use all the broth. Once it is done, remove the parmesan pieces (I like to chew them like gum because they're all soft and chewy at that point -- should I not have mentioned that? Are you all grossed out and judging me now?)

And there you have it. Top the risotto with the artichoke mushroom mixture and eat it. I garnished with lemon zest, but like these old gems you can choose your own... garnish... adventure

Well that's it, sorry for the long gap between posts, I promise that I'll be better now that I have nothing to hide -- or do I?
Well thanks for visiting the museum, please comment otherwise... you know... need I remind you?



Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hazelnut Pasta -- WOW so time consuming

Holy hell! I can't believe it's been a month and a half since I last posted. A lot has happened in the last 6 weeks. We went on our honeymoon! We went to El Salvador, and I REALLY reccomend it to people. It is beautiful and the people are so nice and there's so much to do. Volcanoes to climb, forests, beaches and a vibrant culture. It was amazing. We even got to watch gold medal olympic hockey due to the kindness of the resort staff, a vacationer with a laptop, and a spotty WiFi feed. Check out the story over at the husband's blog Cowhide & Rubber.

Anyways, I tried to blog about pupusas (national dish of El Salvador), and I tried to write about my disdain for those who refuse to eat out of their comfort zones, but it didn't work out. And then I decided to make hazelnut pasta. Spurred on by finding that Bob's Red Mill offered a hazelnut flour, I scoured the western end of the island of Montreal and didn't find any. I did manage to find finely ground hazelnuts, not quite at the level of 'flour' but I thought it would be fine enough.... oh it worked... but it took SUCH a long time. As it turns out they weren't ground fine enough. But I'm getting ahead of myself. The pasta recipe was as follows:

1 cup semolina
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup finely ground hazelnuts, or hazelnut flour
1 tbsp oil (preferrably a nut oil like walnut or hazelnut)
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs (whisked together)

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and add the eggs and oil. Remove your rings and dig your hands in! Mix together the ingredients until it becomes a flexible cohesive dough. If it is too dry add a little bit of water at a time until you acheive a ductile consistency. Roll the dough into a ball and cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap. Refigerate for at least half an hour.

Once it has rested, remove from the refigerator and chop the dough into manageable pieces (below) and cover the pieces with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out.

After meticulously passing the dough through the pasta maker and collecting the scrappy shreds, putting it back together and passing it through again, this ragged strip is what I got. As I passed it through the increasingly tighter settings of the pasta maker, the pieces of nuts that were too large for the opening ripped through the dough. IT TOOK FOREVER. After I picked out the nut pieces that were too large it went fairly smoothly. But up until that point, it was utterly tedious.

Eventually I was able to get decent pasta out of it. Sure there's little holes in it, but over all, it looks okay. At this point I was really regretting not finding that hazelnut flour...

For the sauce I combined 2 shallots, about 1/2 a container of mushrooms (sliced), About 4 slices of bacon, chopped finely, 1 1/2 tbsp butter, 1/2 cup of white wine, and 1 tbsp chopped fresh sage.

Frying up the bacon and shallots in the fat of the bacon as it renders out, I added the mushrooms and continued to sauté until the mushrooms had browned slightly. I deglazed w/ the white wine and then added the butter to melt, finally tossing in the sage. I left it to cook for another minute or two and then tossed it with the freshly cooked pasta.

The final touch was a handful of shredded Comté cheese. It was a nice touch, adding some salt and a subtle nutty taste that complements the nuts in the pasta. All in all it worked out. It was super tasty and a real learning experience, but I threw out a lot of dough because I didn't have until 1 am to be making pasta. I will search for the elusive hazelnut flour and report back with new pasta and new photos.

A slow reentry into the blogging world, but I have another one planned very soon. The next one will focus on the upcoming event benefitting Wine to Water. We've partnered with Barefoot wines to bring you the first event of its kind in Canada. We're changing the format of the event to be a pairing event. If anyone is interested in being a food sponsor for pairings with Pinot Grigio or Zinfandel contact me and I will jump up and down repeatedly shrieking with glee.
And if anyone has any suggestions as to how to make the hazelnut pasta a little more efficient, please leave a comment. My hand is now asleep so I will leave you with that. Thanks again for taking the time to read this! xoxoxoox

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mango Showdown

Ahh here we are again, the first challenge of 2010. You may remember the chicken challenge from last year. Well, we're back again with mango challenge, AND we've added another contender. TINA! from Brooks Pepperfire / Peppermaster and Operation Ayiti and don't forget to head over to Snack to check out Caty's submission.
So this is Challenge #2 Mango Showdown. 2 dishes for this one, Mango Scallop Ceviche, and Smoky Spicy Mango Sorbet.

#1 Mango Scallop Ceviche: This summer I was fortunate enough to attend a cooking class in Old Montreal with 4 wonderful friends. One of the dishes we made was a scallop ceviche. A ceviche is a raw fish preparation, but the amount of citrus in the marinade 'cooks' the fish. I've adapted the recipe to be spicier and more tropical (i.e. Mango).

1 1/2 tbsp finely chopped or grated zest of orange, lemon, and lime. Whatever combination / ratio you prefer.
3 toes garlic, minced (A Dutch friend of mine once sent me a recipe where he listed the garlic cloves as 'toes' I have loved that ever since)
The juice of 1 orange, 1 lime, and 1/2 lemon
8 large sea scallops (not bay scallops) sliced thinly
a pinch of salt
1 habanero pepper, minced
1 1/2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
the cheeks of an underripe mango. What cheeks means is the broad flat sides of the mango where you can get the most meat. If you want you can take the rest of the mago flesh off the narrow sides, but I found that it was enough just to use the cheeks. The mango needs to be hard enough that it doesn't fall apart or add too much juice to the marinade but ripe enough that it's actually edible.

So, right, the pictures...
I used a vegetable peeler to remove the zest (the outer coloured area of the peel) from the citrus fruits. However, I guess the skin on the lime was too thin and I trespassed into the pith. You can see in the picture below, the white part. This is bitter and must be removed.

Here are some nice plump scallops, they shouldn't be mushy or smell like fish at all.

And don't forget to tweet while juicing the fruits :)

All ingredients except for the cilantro and put it in the fridge for a few hours. At least 3. You can see that the scallops have already started to turn whitish, this means that the 'cooking' process is starting.

Just before serving, add the cilantro and mix it up. I garnished. Yeah, you know it.

#2 Smoky Spicy Mango Sorbet: So January is sorbet month, as I may have mentioned. This one is not designed to cool you however. I paired the sweet juicy mango with the smoky spiciness of a VERY hot pepper. The Bhut Jolokia (AKA Naga Jolokia) peppers that I bought from Épices de Cru were of the smoked variety, and VERY VERY hot.

2 ripe mangoes (for some reason I can't help typing Mangies, I like that word better)
1 dried smoked Bhut Jolokia Pepper. For those of you who might be intimidated by the 'HOTTEST PEPPER' you might want to substitute with a chipotle or even an Ancho Pepper would be nice.
1/2 cup mango juice
2 cups simple syrup
1 1/2 cups of water
1/2 tsp vanilla

To add to the smokiness, I cut and peeled the mangoes and then placed them in a very hot pan in order to char them. This WILL make a mess of your pan (burnt sugar is eeeeevil). After the fruit is removed I added 1 1/2 cups of water and the dried pepper. This will dislodge some of the material from the bottom of the pan and help to reconstitute the pepper.

To make the simple syrup, just combine a 1:1 ratio of granulated sugar with water and heat until the mixture turns completely clear. Add that to a pot with the chopped charred mangoes (mangies) and the reconstituted pepper (also chopped), and the liquid from the frying pan.

Cook over medium heat until the mangoes are mushy and cooked through. Add 1/2 tsp vanilla and blend with an immersion blender or in a conventional blender. Add 2 tsp vodka and pour into a shallow pan. Freeze over night. And as usual, since the vodka is out, make a drink, otherwise it won't freeze, honest!

Then shave it with a spoon and put it into small cups to serve. Consider serving it with a piece of cake or buttered scone. This baby's spicy, you're going to need some help.

I can't wait to see what my 2 other challengers have cooked up, and you should too!

Mangoes are tasty, but one last thing to note, don't cut too close to the seed. The seed is fibrous and you will be flossing for hours if you eat the flesh that's too close to the seed.

That's all for now kiddies. I will post very soon about the upcoming Wine to Water event in Montreal (tentatively scheduled for mid-May) sponsored by Barefoot wines. Until then, happy mangoes and thanks for visiting the cheeseandolive national zoo!

xoxo -Candace

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sore Bays

I’ve been thinking a lot about sorbets, sorbets and non-traditional ingredients. In this post, I’ve done three. 2 were a success, one was a sad, perfumey mess. Rosewater is a harsh mistress my friends; tread lightly along that path. So January is sorbet month at the SnookRoussel Ranch. I’ve really enjoyed playing with it because you can experiment to your heart’s content. And if there’s a misstep, it doesn’t feel like such a big deal. My first stumbling block I was faced with was my lack of ice cream maker. You would think that you could just stick it in the freezer and presto, frozen right? Well, yes, it’s frozen, but you could also kill a man with it. The goal is something softer that you can then turn into an edible treat. The solution? Vodka. 2 tsps of vodka in a pan of sorbet prevents it freezing to a diamond-like consistency. It stays a little soft and you can easily shave it with a spoon. I WOULD like to know if there was an alternative to vodka, or spirits of any kind. While MY veins run with pure wine, I can understand if someone wouldn’t want to feed their child a spiked sorbet, even if it is only 2 tsp for the whole thing. Does anyone know of anything else one could use in the absence of an ice cream maker?

Well anyways, the three flavours of sorbet that I made were:
1) Grapefruit Basil
2) Pear Vanilla Rosemary
3) Blooming Tea and Rosewater (fail)

The beginning of all sweet sorbets should be a simple syrup. The recipe for that is simple, as the name suggests. Combine a 1:1 ratio of water to granulated sugar, and heat until the sugar is completely dissolved and the syrup is clear. Let it cool.

For the grapefruit basil sorbet, I used 2 cups of simple syrup, 2 cups of fresh squeezed pink grapefruit juice, and some nice wide strips of grapefruit zest. I heated it until it was boiling just a little bit and then shut off the heat and threw a handful of basil leaves in there to steep. About a 1/4 of a cup, maybe a bit less.

It then gets strained and poured into a shallow pan. This is the point where you add the 2 tsp of vodka. This is also the point where you make yourself a drink, you know, since the bottle is out already.

Wait overnight or many hours and you can shave it with a spoon into a bowl very easily, due to the vodka. Serve as a light dessert :)

Sorbet #2 Pear Rosemary Vanilla. I started out with the same 2 cups simple syrup. Then cooked 3 VERY RIPE pears and their juices in the simple syrup until they were mashably soft, the time really depends on how ripe your pears were to start out with. In retrospect, I would have added about 1 cup of pear nectar / juice because I found it too light on pear flavour. Then turn the heat down to low and add about 1 tsp dried rosemary (or more if you want) and the seeds of 1/2 a vanilla bean, or vanilla extract.

The next part gets a little messy, and I suppose you can use the same method for any flavour that has real fruit pieces in it. Our mesh strainer was being used so I used cheese cloth (available at supermarkets). After draining the liquid out into a shallow pan, I put the pear pulp into a little cheese cloth sack and twisted it tighter and tighter to extract the liquid from the pulp. I suspect that pushing the pears through a mesh strainer with the back of a spoon would have been easier, but then I wouldn't have been able to share this slightly gross photo with you.

Again, it all goes into a shallow pan with 2 tsp of vodka. And have another drink at this point.
It won't work unless you do...

And overnight, PRESTO! Sorbet.
I love the little black seeds that you get from using the real vanilla bean.

Ugh, and Sorbet #3
Do I have to? ehhh okay. I thought this would be a great idea, it would be flowery and comforting. But it turned out to be a mouthful of bitter perfume. Blooming tea (don't know what flavour) and rosewater sorbet. It started with the same 2 cups simple syrup, 2 balls of blooming tea steeped in 1 1/2 cups of water, 1 tbsp of rosewater... why am I writing this? It was terrible, no one wants the recipe... well after I realized it was terrible and all hell broke loose and I started adding vanilla extract and lemon juice, but nothing could save it. However it started out with a very pretty picture of the blooming tea. Incidentally, this was quite a difficult picture to take... when you have the perfect sunbeam on the floor and 2 cats.

Don't be fooled by my prompting, this was AFTER they had already had their way with the tea and I had to chase it across the floor three times. Oh and make sure you listen to it with the audio, apparently the music from the TV ties it all together... especially at the end heh heh heh (flush)

At this point I still thought that the sorbet would be a success, it was so pretty and then I forgot about the tea. This is where the bitter comes in. The other failing was WAY too much rosewater, as I may have mentioned before.

And then to add insult to injury, I thought that adding gin as the antifreeze alcohol would go well with the combination. Yeah, it didn't.

So I put it in the freezer anyways, and it was actually really pretty with lovely ice shapes. But by this point I knew it would not actually TASTE good.

Here is a picture of the scraping. I thought it might be helpful for the other more succesful sorbet attempts if I showed the scraping. It works very quickly and with not a lot of elbow grease.

And the final product. Kyle says that it's not that bad, as a garnish or in small quantities it is okay. But I think it's horrid and so I photoshopped the background in this picture to be all dark so that it looks a little sinister.

So the moral of the story is, sorbets are easy and fast to prepare (even though they take a while to freeze) but just be careful with the intensity of your flavours. You need to 'over flavour' a little bit to counteract the effects of the cold, but don't go overboard. If it's offensive before you freeze it, it will be offensive after you freeze it. And if anyone knows of an anti-freeze solution that doesn't involve alcohol, please let me know. Oh! And share your sorbets if you make any, I'd be interested to hear what people have tried or made.

On the Wine to Water Montreal Event newsfront, we have a wine sponsor!!!! Barefoot Wines will be sponsoring half the wine for the event!!! It's alive and well and we're well on our way to making it happen, so stay tuned for more developments.

Another reason to stay tuned is that Caty Marzi of Snack & I will be having another blog challenge at the end of the month, AND we have recruited Tina Brooks of Brooks Pepperfire Foods as our 3rd challenge member. VERY exciting! It is the Mango Challenge. Thanks again