Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Rustic Cauliflower Soup

A strange breeze blew into town this past weekend. It must be a sign autumn will be arriving shortly. Not quite yet, but soon enough. I welcome the hot weather to stay as long as it likes, but I am partial to autumn. The summer zombies lose their stupor from being miserable in the heat, whereas I've been frolicking in the haziness. Everyone seems to be more comfortable and in a better mood overall, making them easier to be around. Autumn is like my slow cool down from the summer until I go into hibernation since I dislike the cold so much.

The peculiar wind put me in a changing mood, so I decided to go ahead and make an autumn-like soup a little early. I have plenty of milk laying around for a great soup base and all it needed were some spices and veggies thrown in the mix. The process was still simple and lazy like summer, but the warm flavor and texture feels like autumn.

The soup ended up with quite a pleasant Indian-esque flair with the spices. The soup had an extra layer of warmth of mild spiciness from the ginger and peppers. Enjoying both whole and puréed cauliflower was a real treat since I rarely purée any dishes; however, the soup can be left whole or completely puréed to match your favorite soup texture. But the overall balance of flavors was a true melody from a handful of simple ingredients you're likely to have in your cupboard and a quick way to enjoy a little comfort.

Rustic Cauliflower Soup
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large leek, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, diced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tbsp ground coriander
1/2 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp celery seeds
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
4 cups raw milk
1/2 cup chicken broth
4 cups cauliflower

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat and then add the olive oil. Add the onion through ginger and sweat for 10 min, stirring occasionally. Next add all the spices of curry through celery seeds, stirring well, and cook for 3 min.

Add the flour and mix until incorporated.

Next, add the raw milk in 1 cup increments every minute (as to not chill the soup), stirring slowly. Then add the chicken broth and cauliflower. Bring the soup to a boil, stirring constantly so the raw milk does not scald on the bottom, and then lower the temperature to a simmer. Allow the soup to reduce for 30 min, stirring occasionally.

Finally, carefully purée half the soup in a blender for 5 seconds, then stir back into the soup. Garnish with crème fraîche and green onions if desired. Serve immediately.

~Yields 2 hearty servings, or 4 small bowls.

~Original by Brie.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Guest Post on Stetted: Dried Fruit & Nut Couscous

Dried Fruit & Nut Couscous

I had the pleasure of submitting a guest post on Stetted. Megan and I share some of the same food morals, so I gladly shared this easy couscous dish to enjoy during these hot summer days. Make sure to sneak a peak for the recipe!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sex & Candy Cake and Sweet, Sweet Violation Martini

Dante has taunted me for a second time.

This time it was in response to a Friday Recitation referencing the infamous song by Marcy Playground "Sex & Candy". Ah, that certainly brings back memories of high school. And, no, not *those* kinds of memories.

This was definitely a challenge. How in the world am I to capture the smell of sex and candy? More importantly, how can I do this in an appetizing manner to such a wide audience?

When people think of sex and candy, chocolate has to be involved somehow, so I knew that needed to be incorporated. And store bought candy is too cliché, so I made a note to make some myself that could be molded to whatever I ended up making. People are also normally aroused by the exotic, so sweet fruits were also listed. I started searching for recipes with these ingredients and soon found my answer: Passion Fruit & Mango Chocolate Cake. Awwhh, yeeeah.

Sex & Candy Cake
Mango slices give you a peek of what's inside.

But this wasn't good enough. It needed to be even sexier. Then I found a chocolate mirror glaze, so clear you can see yourself - ok, I won't go there.

Sex & Candy Cake
With the Passion Fruit Hard Candy.

I can tell you one thing - this cake got plenty of foreplay. It has a lot of steps and needs wooing before it's ready to assemble and enjoy. If you've been following along this past week, you'll have the instructions for making the ghee, cream, and butter. That's right baby, everything is made from scratch. You can't expect to get any love in return if you don't put in the effort.

Sex & Candy Cake
A slice of naked cake.

I decided to create the cake over several days, which was more exciting and less exhausting than trying to do everything at once. Sadly, my local markets are not carrying passion fruit, so I had to use juice. And I attempted to make organic hard candy this past Spring, but that didn't go too well, so hard candy is the first recipe you'll see on the blog using non-organic ingredients. I also took it off the burner a little too soon since I was so afraid of burning it, but the freezer is a great back-up for hardening the candy.

This was quite the experience and it certainly was sexy with all the different types of chocolate and exotic fruit aromas lingering in the air. And the taste. Oh, goodness, the taste. The cake is very light and soaks up the Mango Syrup beautifully. Plus your teeth sink through all the different layers as you begin to taste and feel all the layers melting together. And the hard candy was kept to the back of the cake so eating the cake first remained sexy and not messy, but it's a nice treat to suck on and allow all those layers of chocolate to linger in your mouth. And that martini is certain to make any situation both sweet and sexy. Between the chocolate, sweet fruits, vodka, and spiced rum - you'll have anyone smiling after these two delicacies.

Sex & Candy Cake
Oh, my. It's getting a little hot in here...the candy is melting.

All in all, this sexy cake and martini were easier than making Peppermint Fried Stork. I hope they exceed your expectations. They certainly satisfied mine. Now what to do with all this leftover chocolate ganache...

Sex & Candy Cake
Printable Recipe

Day 1

Passion Fruit & Mango Curd

3 egg yolks
1/2 cup turbinado
3 tbsp butter
1/3 cup passion fruit juice
1/4 cup mango purée

Passion Fruit & Mango Curd

In a small sauce pan, whisk together the yolks, turbinado, and butter.

Passion Fruit & Mango Puree

Add the passion fruit juice and cook over medium-low heat for several minutes. The water needs to evaporate until the curd begins to thickly coat the back of the mixing spoon.

Passion Fruit & Mango Puree

Next, pour the curd through a strainer.

Mango Puree

Then add the mango purée and mix together well.

Passion Fruit & Mango Puree

Cover with plastic wrap touching the curd and place in the refrigerator for at least three hours, although the curd will keep for several days.

Passion Fruit Hard Candy

2 cups white sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup passion fruit juice

candy thermometer

Passion Fruit Hard Candy

Prepare molds beforehand.

Passion Fruit Hard Candy

In a small sauce pan equipped with a candy thermometer over high heat, whisk together the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Once blended, allow the mixture to boil, but do not stir anymore. The mixture needs to reach 300*F. Once it has reached the hard crack stage, remove from the heat and add the passion fruit juice and blend evenly.

Passion Fruit Hard Candy

Quickly pour the mixture into a greased mold and allow to set until cool.

Day Two

Chocolate Génoise Cake

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup organic cocoa powder
6 large eggs
1 cup turbinado
4 1/2 tbsp ghee
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Buttered Pan

Preheat the oven to 350*F. Butter a 9" cake pan and place a layer of parchment paper on the bottom and also butter.

Preparing Chocolate Genoise Cake

Sift the flour into a large bowl.

Preparing Chocolate Genoise Cake

Then sift the cocoa powder into the bowl.

Preparing Chocolate Genoise Cake

Then sift the flour and cocoa until the mixture is evenly blended.

Preparing Chocolate Genoise Cake

Next, in a medium sauce pan, whisk the eggs and turbinado together over medium-low heat. The mixture must be whisked the entire time to prevent the eggs from cooking. Remove from the stove once the mixture is warm to the touch, which should take 7-10 min. (Do not rush this step - plus your arms could use the workout.)

Chocolate Genoise Cake Batter

Then carefully sift and fold the dry ingredients into the mixture in thirds to prevent lumps from forming. Next whisk in the warm ghee and vanilla, still stirring constantly to prevent the eggs from cooking, until the batter is smooth and all ingredients are evenly incorporated.

Chocolate Genoise Cake Batter

Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for 25 min. Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool for 10 min.

Chocolate Genoise Cake

Transfer the cake to a cooling rack, remembering to remove the parchment paper, and allow it to cool completely. The cake can remain stored overnight on the counter if covered.

Chocolate Ganache

1 cup cream
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
12 oz bittersweet chocolate

Preparing Chocolate Ganache

Place a small sauce pan over low heat half filled with water and allow it to steam.

Preparing Chocolate Ganache

Pour all ingredients into a medium metal bowl and melt over a steam bath for 17-20 min, stirring occasionally and allowing some of the water from the cream to steam off.

Chocolate Ganache

Remove the ganache from the stove and bring it to room temperature on the counter; then cover and place in the refrigerator until time to use. Remove it from the refrigerator at least one hour before needed so it is easier to manipulate.

Mango Syrup

1 vanilla bean
3/4 cup turbinado
2/3 cup mango purée

Organic Vanilla Bean

Slice the vanilla bean in half and gently scrap out the seeds.

Organic Vanilla Bean & Turbinado

In a small sauce pan, pour in the turbinado and add the vanilla seeds and bean. Stir in the mango purée until no dry turbinado remains.

Boiling Mango Syrup

Place over medium-high heat and allow the mixture to boil for 3-5min without stirring.

Mango Syrup

Remove from the heat and transfer to a glass bowl. Allow it to reach room temperature before placing in the refrigerator. Before using, allow the syrup to reach room temperature and remove the vanilla bean.

Day Three

Lacquer Chocolate Glaze

1/4 cup cold water
2 tsp agar agar
2/3 cup turbinado
1/3 cup water
1 1/4 tbsp honey
3/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1/3 cup cream

In a small bowl, mix cold water and agar agar together and set aside.

Making Lacquer Chocolate Glaze

In a small sauce pan over medium-high heat, melt together the turbinado and water. Once melted, mix in honey and then cocoa with a whisk until smooth.

Making Lacquer Chocolate Glaze

Return the pan to the stove set on medium-high heat and stir in the cream. Once boiling, remove from the stove and strain into a medium bowl. Allow it to cool for 12-15 min.

Lacquer Chocolate Glaze

Then mix in the gelatin mixture and allow the glaze to reach room temperature before using.


Building The Cake

Using a long knife, carefully level the top of the cake in small patches. Use your hand the feel if the cake is level.

Building The Cake

Take the knife and make a shallow cut around the entire cake. Keep the tip of the knife on the outside of the cake and make deeper cuts. Rotate the cake in a circle until it both pieces are separated.

Building The Cake

Building The Cake

Brush the Mango Syrup onto the bottom layer of the cake.

Building The Cake

Take the Chocolate Ganache out of the refrigerator and spoon it into a plastic zip top bag with a corner cut off. Pipe the ganache around the rim of the cake about half an inch from the edge.

Building The Cake

Pour in the Passion Fruit & Mango Curd and level with a knife.

Building The Cake

Place on the top layer of the cake and tuck in some wax paper under the edges. Then pour on the Lacquer Chocolate Glaze.

Chocolate Genoise Cake with Glaze

Chocolate Genoise Cake with Glaze

The glaze will settle in a few minutes, then the wax paper can be removed to reveal clean edges for presentation. The cake will likely need to be put in the refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes at this point since the ganache will become soft and spread. This cake cannot sit out for long periods of time from all the different soft layers.

~Recipes adapted from Café Fernando: Passion Fruit, Mango and Chocolate Cake & L'Orange.

And like Dante mentioned, such a sexy cake cannot stand alone. This martini is sweet in more ways than one.

Sweet, Sweet Violation Martini
Printable Recipe

thin slice of mango
fine turbinado sugar
1 oz spiced rum
1 oz vodka
1 oz passion fruit juice
3 oz mango juice

Sweet, Sweet Violation Martini

Using a piece of mango, rub it along the rim of a martini glass and dip the glass into fine turbinado sugar. Add the rum through mango juice and lightly stir. Garnish with a strip of mango and enjoy.

~Original by Brie.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Tart Cherry Scones

For this month's International Incident Party by Jeroxie, with co-hosts Anh and Cherrie, the theme is scones.

This is another recipe from this month's Book Club, keeping with the theme of English tea snacks. It also is the first time I baked with coconut concentrate, which is a becoming a more versatile ingredient in my kitchen as of late.

If you've been noticing, I still cannot get enough of these dried tart cherries from my local co-op. I'm fairly certain I may need to join a support group to break my habit of using them in nearly every dish I cook, but they're that good! They paired beautifully with these scones and added a tone of sweetness to match with the sweeter cornmeal dough. These are the easiest and best scones I've made to date. The scones are not sweet like typical sugary desserts, but are just enough to satisfy my wicked sweet tooth.

Tart Cherry Scones

Tart Cherry Scones
Printable Recipe

1 large egg
1/2 cup cream
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup turbinado
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
6 tbsp butter, diced
1/4 cup coconut concentrate
3/4 cup dried tart cherries

1 egg yolk + 1 tbsp raw milk
1/4 cup turbinado

Preheat the oven to 400*F and butter a cookie sheet. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and cream. In a large bowl, stir together the ingredients of flour through salt. Mix in the butter so it is incorporated, but not creamed. It should be pea sized, and this can be done by hand or carefully with a mixer. Add the egg mixture and coconut concentrate, stirring to combine and make the dough wet. Then add the dried tart cherries and mix until just incorporated.

Tart Cherry Scones

Using your hands, shape the dough into a ball and lay on parchment paper. On the counter, press the dough into a disk about 2" tall and 8" wide with a floured rolling pin.

Tart Cherry Scones

Use a knife to cut the dough into 8 equal wedges.

Tart Cherry Scones

Place the scones onto the greased cookie sheet and brush with the egg yolk and milk mixture. Then sprinkle each scone liberally with turbinado. Bake for 22-25 min until the edges are browned.

~Yields 8 scones.

~Recipe adapted from David Lebovitz.

Update: Hello! Thanks for your kind comments and questions about the coconut concentrate. I've included two photos below of the bottle from Tropical Traditions. It's a mixture of coconut meat and oil, so it's very thick, like honey. It's a wonderful and very versatile ingredient to have in the kitchen. They have sales and specials often, so visit their website if you'd like to order some of your own!