Monday, October 31, 2011

Pumpkin Carving at the Union Square Green Market

The Story of How a Florentine Became a Truffle

My friend Ian commented to me today about the post I did on a recipe that I had made that it didn't turn out so well.  He thought it was odd that on a food blog I would actually talk about things that didn't work.  I think that cooking, even when you have been doing it as long as I have, can sometimes surprise you and sometimes those surprises aren't good.  To me there is a valuable lesson in there.  Usually there is some way to make your mistake better.  Todays post is an example of this.

You can see by how many pictures there are that I was planning on doing a post on this hard to make but utterly tasty Candied Orange and Crystalized Ginger Florentines.  I've made this cookies twice before and I remember that each time I made them they were a challenge.  This time the challenge was too much for me.  Here is the recipe and tale of how these Candied Orange and Crystalized Ginger Florentines became:  Candied Orange and Crystalized Ginger Truffles.

If you don't have a serrated swivel peeler it's well worth the 8 bucks, it allows you to peel an orange perfectly without getting any of the pith (they also peel peaches perfectly eliminating the need for a hot water bath).

This recipe was adapted from Judith Olney's: The Joy of Chocolate

Candied Orange, Almond and Crystalized Ginger Truffles

So with your serrated swivel peeler in hand, peel 2 medium oranges (I think Valencia have better flavor and organic ones have less pesticide residue than conventional).  Cut the peel into thin 1" julienne and place in a pan with 1/2 cup Water and 1/4 cup of Sugar, let simmer over very low heat until the bottom of the pan is covered only with glazed strips of oranges.  Don't let them caramelize, discard extra syrup.
Once thoroughly drained toss in about 2 Tablespoons of sugar.
Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a large bowl add 2 Tablespoons of roughly chopped crystalized ginger, 1/2 cup of sliced Almond, and the Candied Orange.
 In a heavy bottomed sauce pan melt 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter1/3 cup of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of salt over medium high heat, let just come to a boil then quickly remove from heat and stir in 2 Tablespoons of heavy cream.
Add to the orange/ginger/almond mixture.
OK this is were things started to go wrong.  According to the recipe you butter and flour a cookie sheet and spoon out tablespoon portion of the batter onto it.  DON'T DO THIS.
Instead cover a cookie sheet with parchment and butter it.  Pour the enture batter on the pan and spread the mixture out - trying to get the nuts and candied fruit well placed all over the pan. It will spread like wild fire so don't be too fussy with this part.  Be sure when you butter the pan you butter the sides as well.

Place the cookie sheet in the oven and bake for about 8-10 minutes or until the misture is ever so lightly browned.
You can see here how those dainty little rounds went ballistic and how you are then to swoop in with a cookie cutter and cut out nice rounds from the mess.  Which you then place on another cookie sheet and refrigerate.  DON'T DO THIS.

It's not so clear in the above picture, but a lot of those florentines are reassembled pieces that I figured would be fine once I did the chocolate phase.

Instead of this insanity  - when the brittle has browned remove it from the oven and let cool.  After about 10 minutes lift the parchment off the pan and crumble the brittle into a big bowl.
 Below was the next step, the chocolate coating - don't get me started on this.
Grrrrrrrr so you see I managed to get 4 Florentines made which I realize had already started to melt and adhere to the platter I had place them on.  At this point I took the entire kit and kaboodle and dumped it into a pot.  DON'T DO THIS.
Melt 2 tablespoons of Unsalted Butter in a heavy bottomed pot, add 2 Tablespoons of Heavy Cream and heat until just about to boil then add 6 ounces of finely chopped 70 percent Dark Chocolate and stir, off the heat, until it is melted.  

Stir into the chocolate half of the brittle.  Place in the fridge for about 30 minutes or until the mixture is cool, but pliable.  Roll into balls (about 1 tablespoon) then roll each ball into the remaining brittle.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Late Afternoon on The Fly Wedding Menu

it's only on the fly because we weren't going to do anything, but then we had to by law have 2 witnesses and we couldn't just invite 2 of our friends so we made some last minute addition to the corn cakes I made Blinis for the first time.   They were delicious and our friend Jane bought a huge tin of amazing caviar from Russ and Daughters....

Canning With Michael

My friend Michael invited me over for dinner the other night with some other friends, he'd gone apple picking upstate and was canning some maple apple butter and applesauce.

I feel like even though I did do a huge batch of tomatoes this year and have some vague plans for a few more things that my canning this year hasn't been as robust as last year.  So I'm always glad to go over to Michael's apartment and be inspired.  The Apple Maple Butter is amazing!


Occupy Against Big Food

The folks at Food Democracy Now are heading down to Zucotti Park today from 1 - 4 with a lineup of food reform speakers including authors Marion Nestle and Anna Lappe who will speak out against the abuse of corporate power and how it impacts our food supply.

Come join us!

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Sign the petition: One

Don't Want To Cook

City Bakery has been making Thanksgiving so you don't need to for many years, it's delicious and it sure is easy!

October 27th And Still Sitting Outside

It's probably the Canadian in me that thinks the minute September is upon us it's all bout sweaters and central heat.  Now nowadays that is simply not true, global warming along with a deep desire to sit outside has push outdoor cafe society as far as we can - given the way things are going I'd say it'll be mid November before we give up and go inside!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Label My Food

if you haven't already signed now is your chance:

Make sure Commissioner Hamburg knows you want GMO's labeled here is the link.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sounds Better Than it Tastes

Last week I posted a video recipe for Beet Risotto and sumac marinated fish.  It seemed colorful and unusual so I posted it and thought I'd try making it.  First off the recipe as published is different then
the one he makes in the video. Not a big deal, but still...I went to the fish monger at the monger and get what was fresh caught that day that was meaty: Albacore Tuna.  It probably was a bit thick for this marinate but 6 hot green chilies (I used Jalapeno) and the peel of 3 oranges not to mention the Sumac seemed like it would make a nice spicy citrusy crust.  It didn't. I found the Risotto bland (and kind of garish) and the fish in need of saucing.  i was surprised how lacking in spice it was considering all the chilies.

Now it was my first time making it and I will give you that the risotto could have been saucier, a little more al dente and probably better with a sharper cheese (I used  Pecorino) but the whole exercise made me wonder what I had done wrong...I'm even more curious to taste the dish as made to see what flavor there was that they found so appealing and that I'm just not getting.  Still experimenting is always encouraged, even if sometimes it doesn't work out.

Monday, October 24, 2011

This trailer for the new documentary Growthbusters is I think in part why the DIY movement has such momentum, people are growing their own food, canning and preserving and trying to figure out how to
install solar panels, the economy can't keep growing, a paradigm shift is imperative - foodies and environmentalists see this clearly and are on the cutting edge of making this change happen.

Looks like an interesting if depressing movie:

Zen and The Art of Harvesting Seaweed

The Perennial Plate Episode 76: Seaweed Man from Daniel Klein on Vimeo.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Concord Grape Round Up

Last year I posted a recipe I had created which was a Concord Grape Crumble Tart made in a fluted tart pan with a sweet nutty crust and a crumble topping, an update of sorts of the traditional Concord Grape Pie. I even made Concord Grape Ketchup during on of my more adventuresome canning moments.   This year I tinkered a little bit with the Tart and made it with my new favorite pie dough recipe which I was using to make all those galettes this Summer.

Here it is before topping.
 With Topping 
 In the oven ( love the oven lighting)
 Bubbling fresh out of the oven,
My goal is to make some Concord Grape Jelly....but it has to happen this week or I think the season will be over.

Ghandi In Union Square

This little patch of garden at the South West corner of Unions Square is where the market starts - I always love it when people drape garlands of flowers around the Ghandi statue, it feels like he is the parton saint of the market.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Blue Fin

I seem to be fish obsessed lately.  The more I hear and understand about commercial fisheries the more I think eating any fish at all is problematic.  I try to just buy locally caught fish from the market, so seafood caught off of Long Island, but even this is problematic as quotas require a lot of the fish that is caught to be put back in the water, either because it is by catch or over quota or out of season fish that isn't allowed.  Most of the fish that is put back is dead.

Blue Fin Tuna is something I have written about often here, from what I can tell it is on the brink of total extinction and we are really not doing anything to stop our wholesale slaughter of this very popular fish.  I am amazed at how many Sushi restaurants still carry it on there menu's. I personally don't think it should be on any menu at all - we need a moratorium on eating and fishing it until the Blue Fin populations can come back from the edge. Of course that's not going to happen, but like anything the more people know, the better informed we are, the more likely we as consumer as start to make wiser choices when we are out: don't order it.  As long as demand is there it will be overfished.  It seems like in my lifetime it could become totally extinct.

This video from the Pew Foundation is a great overview of what is happening in regards to the European Blue Fin industry and how they are trying to reign in the out of control fishing of this precious fish.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Watch this NYT video and please just don't eat a piece of Salmon unless it's Wild otherwise this diverse ecosystem will be gone in a decade. As will killer whales, wild salmon and black bear to name just a few.  Fish farms are Death farms created to fill a demand by American consumers they are not sustainable and they are have a devastating impact on the environment.  Watch this video, then never eat a piece of farmed salmon again and that includes smoked salmon you don't know where it came from:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Clafouti with Lakemont Grapes and Quark

Clafouti is a simple French baked custard that usually is made with cherries.   The other day I was at my favorite cheese shop talking to my favorite cheese monger, Anne Saxelby, asking her what the Cheese of the Day was so I could get 40% off with my American Cheese Month Passport.

Anne said that the cheese of the day was Quark, which got us into a conversation about what does one actually do with Quark?  Anne said that the chef at Blue Hill was making it into beignets, which sounded yummy, but anything deep fried always sounds yummy to me.  So I bought some Quark having no idea what I was going to do with it and brought it home to ponder.

In the fridge I had some Lakemont grapes that I'd gotten from Buzzard Crest Vineyards Farms who, for only a few weeks a year, sells amazing, local, organic grapes. The Lakemont is a seedless, green grape that, in my opinion, is the best eating grape in the Northeast. (Marquis is a close second.)  Anyway I got this crazy idea that I would make clafouti replacing the cherries with Lakemont grapes.  Here's what I came up with:

Clafouti with Lakemont Grapes and Quark

Generously butter a 9" pie plate.

Preheat the oven to 350 F

In the bowl of a standing mixer add 2/3 cup organic cane sugar, 3 large organic eggs (local ones are best) and 1 large egg yolk,  beat until the whisk leaves a trail and the mixture has increased considerably in volume about 4-6 minutes.  Stir in 2 Tablespoons of Sauternes or Ice Wine (or a fruity white wine will do in a pinch) and 2 Teaspoons of Vanilla Extract.
To the egg mixture add 3/4 cups Quark and 3/4 cups whole milk.  Whip until incorporated.

In a small bowl add 1/2 cup of flour and a pinch of salt.  Add all at once to the egg mixture and beat until the mixture is smooth, scrapping down the sides with a spatula if  need be.

Pour a third of the egg mixture into the prepared pie dish over which add 2 Cups (picked over and rinsed) Lakemont Grapes sprinkle with 2 Tablespoons of cane sugar, cover with the rest of the egg mixture.
Sprinkle the top of the clafouti with 1 Tablespoon of cane sugar and place in the middle of the preheated oven.

Cook for 30-35 minutes or until nicely browned and a tester comes out clean.
Just out of the oven the clafouti will be puffy...
But as it settles it deflates.
Lightly sprinkle with some organic icing sugar. (Note on icing sugar: this is finely ground sugar with corn starch added to prevent caking. Corn starch if it is not organic is a GMO food and you don't want to be putting it in your mouth! Whole foods sells a reasonably priced organic icing sugar.)
To serve toss in a few fresh grapes and if you really want to make it a fancy ass dessert add a dollop of some freshly whipped, slightly sweetened cream (you could add a splash of Sauternes into it as well if you fancy a little booziness).
 My guest had a small portion, then she left and I managed to finish off half of it before bed!
The great thing about clafouti is that it is easy to make and you can make it with fruit or just keep it plain and use it as a base for stewed dry fruits, fruit compotes, fresh seasonal fruit or even maple syrup and toasted pecans!

Oh, and there are lots of recipes out there that don't call for quark, but using it allowed me to use less flour then is often called for and I thought the quark added a nice, tangy depth of flavor you don't usually get.
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