Monthly Archives: January 2008

Foie the Love of…

Foie Gras Torchon With Sauternes Fig Compote

1 lobe of foie gras
1 quart of milk
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon pink salt (nitrates)
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon pepper
1 carton chicken broth
1 bottle Sauternes
1 pint of fresh figs
1 loaf of Brioche

Let the lobe site at room temperature for one hour, so it softens up. Using a small sharp knife, separate the lobe into its two halves and carefully pull out the veins. It’s ok if pieces fall off. You will be squishing it all back together at another time. Put the foie into a container and cover it with the milk. Put a lid or plastic wrap over it and place it back in the fridge, over night.

Drain the foie and briefly rinse it off. Pat it dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle the foie with the salts, sugar and pepper. Put it back in the container and back in the fridge. Let it cure over night.

The next day, let the foie sit out for at least an hour to soften up. In a large stock pout heat up the chicken broth and sauternes, until it is a light boil. Squish all of the foie together to form a log. Roll it up in cheese cloth and tie the ends. Boil the log in the chicken broth for 2o minutes and immediately submerge it in an ice bath.

Wrap the log in a dish town, tightly, and tie the ends together. Hang the torchon in your fridge at least over night.

Reduce the chicken broth mixture til there is only about a cup or two of liquid. Thinly slice the figs and add them to the reduced liquid. Boil it all down, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Cut the torchon into ½ inch disks. One at a time, in a very hot skillet, quickly sear each side of the torchon. Remove the melted fate between each piece to guarantee a crispy sear.

Serve each piece of foie with a piace of Brioche toast and some of the warm fig compote.

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream…

The most decedent dessert is homemade ice cream. I made this tangy creamy treat to accompany the Apple Hazelnut tart. I think this version was way too eggy. I don’t like the yellow color. But its still yummy.

Crème Fraîche Ice Cream
1 cup half and half
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3/4 cup sugar
6 large egg yolks

1 cup crème fraîche

Combine half and half and cream in heavy large saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Bring to boil. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand 15 minutes.

Using electric mixer, beat sugar and yolks in large bowl until thick and pale yellow, about 4 minutes. Gradually beat in warm cream mixture. Return mixture to saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until custard thickens and leaves path on spoon when finger is drawn across, about 6 minutes (do not boil). Remove from heat. Cool 15 minutes. Discard vanilla bean. Whisk in crème fraîche. Cover and chill custard until cold, about 3 hours.

Process custard in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer ice cream to covered container. Freeze until firm.

Sweet Tart

Tarts are a quick solution for that impressive desert. There is something about the arrangement of glossy fruit that make’s people’s mouths water. My crust recipe can be use to make a double crusted pie, so why not make two tarts instead. The more the merrier.

Christmas tarts: Apple Hazelnut and Chocolate Raspberry

Crust
1 ½ cups flour
1 stick of butter, slightly cooler than room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons sugar
¼ cup water

In a large metal bowl, mix all ingredients, except the water with a fork or pastry cutter. The goal is to incorporate the butter until it is the texture of course meal. Slowly sprinkle in the water and quickly mix. Making sure not to put in too much water, briefly kneed the pastry so that it forms a cohesive ball.

Separate the dough into two equal rounds. On a well flowered counter top, roll out each round of dough till it fits into each tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough into the corners and trim off the top. Set each aside.

Apple and Hazelnut Filling
1 cup shelled hazelnuts, toasted
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 large egg
1 stick unsalted butter, divided
¼ teaspoon vanilla
3 large granny smith apples, pealed, cored and sliced into 1/8 inch slices
Juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons apricot preserves
¼ cup water

Toss the apple slices in the lemon juice and set aside.

Pre heat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a blender puree the hazelnuts, sugar, egg, ½ stick of butter and vanilla until they form a paste. Spread the hazelnut paste over the bottom of the pastry.

Starting from the outside arrange the apple slices, over lapping to make a rose pattern. There should be no pastry or hazelnut peeking through. Really pack in all of the apples. Sprinkle the apples with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and dot the remaining ½ stick of butter over the apple. Back in the over until the apple and crust are golden brown, about 1 hour.

When the tart is close to being finished, heat the jam and water in a small saucepan until melted. Once the tart comes out of the oven brush the jam mixture over the apples, coating lightly, so that they apples are shinny. Let the tart cool to room temperature before serving.

Chocolate Raspberry Filling

1 lb semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup of cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 pints raspberries
2 tablespoons apricot preserves 

¼ cup water

Fill the tart shell with beans or pie weights. Bake in a 350 degree oven until it is golden brown.

Place the raspberries into a colander and lightly rinse. Cover with paper towels and let dry.

While the tart shell is cooling, place the chopped chocolate into a metal or heat proof bowl. Heat the cream in a small sauce pan on medium high until scalding. Pour the cream over the chopped chocolate and add the vanilla. Let the chocolate sit for 5 minutes so that the chocolate melts. Using a whisk, submerged vertically in the center of the bowl, whisk in a circular motion until the cream combines with the chocolate to form a silky ganache. Pour the chocolate into the tart shell.

Starting at the outside, arrange the berries, stem side down, in concentric circle till all of the chocolate is covered as much as possible.

Heat the jam and water in a small saucepan until melted. Brush the jam mixture over the berries, coating lightly, so that they are shinny. Let the tart cool so that the chocolate sets, before serving.

I’m dreaming of a chocolate Christmas

To me, Christmas means desserts. This year I spent Christmas eve in New York City with some of my closest friends. It took two days for me to make this cake and it was worth every second. This is so rich and impressive looking. Unfortunately after just one piece, I was satiated.

Chocolate Strawberry Mousse Cake

Cake
2 cups and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon dalt
2 cups sugar
¾ cup cocoa
½ cup shortening
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla

Mousse
2 pints strawberries, stems removed
16 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into 1/2-ounce pieces
4 ounces white chocolate, broken into 1/2-ounce pieces
6 egg whites
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream

Ganache
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into 1/2 ounce pieces

Garnish
1 cup heavy cream
¼ teaspoon vanilla

Pre heat the over to 350 degrees. Heavily grease one 10 inch round cake plan.

Combine all of the dry ingredients in the bowl of an electric stand mixer with a spoon. Put the bowl into the mixer and add all of the wet ingredients. Beat the batter on low with the balloon whisk. Once the ingredients look combined, scrap down the sides with a rubber spatula and then mix the batter on high till it turns a lighter brown color. Pour the cake batter into the cake pan and cook for at least 3o minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan, on top of a wire rack, for 10 minutes. Invert the cake onto the wire rack and gently tap the bottom of the pan. Lift the pan and let the cake cool completely on the wire rack. Once the cake is cooled, using a serrated knife, cut the cake into two equal rounds.

To prepare the chocolate and strawberry mousse, reserve the 12 best-looking strawberries to decorate the top of the cake. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, puree 10 strawberries and then strain it, to remove the seeds, so that it yields ½ a cup of puree. Set aside until needed. Refrigerate the remaining berries until needed (that includes the 12 berries for decoration) Heat 1-inch of water in the bottom half of a double boiler over medium heat. Place 16 ounces semisweet chocolate, the white chocolate and the strawberry puree in the top half of the double boiler. Tightly cover the top with film wrap. Allow to heat for 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir until smooth. Transfer to a stainless steel bowl, using a rubber spatula to remove all of the melted chocolate mixture. Keep at room temperature until needed. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a balloon whip, whisk the 6 egg whites on high until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Continue to whisk on high while gradually adding 2 tablespoons sugar. Whisk until stiff but not dry, about 30 seconds. Set aside at room temperature until needed.
Using a hand-held whisk, whip the heavy cream in a well-chilled stainless steel bowl until stiff. Fold a quarter of the egg whites into the melted chocolate mixture, then fold in the whipped cream. Now fold in the remaining egg whites. Set aside at room temperature until needed.

Assemble a 10 inch springform pan. Place one layer in the bottom of the pan, trim ever so slightly, if necessary to get it to snuggle fit. Spread 1/2 cup of chocolate strawberry mousse onto the cake layer in the assembled springform pan. Arrange the reserved strawberries (not including the 12 for decoration), stem side down, into the mousse. The berries should be arranged in 2 rings: the first ring being 3/4-inch from the outside edge of the cake, and the second, inside ring, 3/4-inch away from the first. Distribute the rest of the mousse over the berries, being careful to keep the berries in position. Holding the pan by the top rim, gently but firmly tap the bottom of the pan 2 to 3 times on your work surface (this will eliminate air pockets). Position a cake layer on top of the mousse and gently press into position. Refrigerate the cake for 2 hours (do not freeze).

Make the ganache. Heat the heavy cream, butter, and sugar in a 2 1/2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil. Place the chocolate in a stainless steel bowl. Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Remove the sides from the springform pan (do not remove the bottom of the pan from the cake; this will make it easier to handle later). Use a cake spatula to smooth and fill in the sides of the cake with 2 to 3 tablespoons of room-temperature ganache. Evenly spread the remaining amount of this ganache over the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate the cake for 1 hour.

Whip the heavy cream and vanilla until it is full and thick. Transfer the whipped cream into a piping bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe rosettes around the edge of the cake and a large one in the center of the cake. Place a strawberry, stem side down, into each whipped cream rosette. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes.

Cut the cake with a serrated slicer, heating the blade of the slicer under hot running water before making each slice. Allow the slices to come to room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before serving.

Cheesy Goodness

Sometimes I like to make this with cheddar cheese and beer. If you dip apples, kielbasa and broccoli into it, it is truly the all American treat, and goes really will with boring football games. This version uses the classic Swiss cheese and a classic German wine, a Riesling. Serve this with a crisp bib lettuce salad and a mustard vinaigrette.

Swiss Fondue
1 shallot, finely minced
1 clove of garlic, finely minces
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups of white wine
3/4 lb Gruyere cheese, grated
½ lb Emmental, grated
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons Kirsch or water
Salt, pepper and sugar to taste
Bite sized for dipping: bead, seasoned and cooked chicken, cooked sausage, sautéed shrimp, blanched broccoli, blanched asparagus spears, sautéed mushrooms, raw pears

In a large pot on medium high, heat the olive oil and sautée the shallots and garlic until soft but not brown. Add the wine and let it reduce by half. Add the cheese to the pot and melt. Mix the kirsch or water with the cornstarch till smooth. Using a whisk, add the cornstarch to the cheese mixture and continually stir until the fondue resembles a silky shinny dip. Taste the cheese and season with the salt, pepper and maybe a pinch of sugar to taste.

Sever immediately with the items for dipping.

A Late October Fest

Apple Strudel is an easy version of apple pie. It is lighter and more refreshing and takes no time to make. I made this for our weekly Sunday dinner, served with some fresh whipped cream, and got rave reviews. Feel free to mix up with you put in with the apples. The raisins and walnuts are a tradition approach, but you could always try cranberries, currents or maybe hazelnuts or almonds. I like to slice the apples really thin so that they bake faster.

Apple Strudel

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, meted
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
Juice of ½ a lemon
1/2 cup plus 2 table spoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts, toasted and finely chopped
8 (17×13-inch) sheets phyllo pastry, thawed if frozen

In a large bowl, mix apples, lemon juice, sugar, salt, cinnamon, raisins and walnuts. Set aside.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silpat mat. Transfer 1 large phyllo sheet to baking sheet. Brush lightly with melted butter. Repeat process with all 8 sheets of phyllo.

Fill the phyllo with the apple mixture, longwise. Fold over each of the short edges and then roll the apples into a log. Position the strudel on the baking sheet, seam side down. Brush the outside with butter and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar.

Cut the strudel into even slices, but not cutting all the way down to the baking sheet. This will make it easier to cut after the strudel is cooked.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake strudel until golden brown, about 60 minutes. Cool 15 minutes. Cut using a serrated knife.

Procrastination

Ok I admit it, I procrastinate. But it was worth the wait. I have been cooking up a storm, mostly sweet treats, and here they are, for your cooking spender.